Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Come travel with me

The Jaeckels are on board the Schnelle Reise and it has just set sail. I was writing this morning and had the ship immediately heading out along the North Sea when I thought that I needed to check my geography. If you go to Google Maps and type in “BallinStadt Museum, Hamburg”, you will see where the dormitories for migrants were located. Select the “satellite” button then zoom out. The dormitories were on the Veddeler Bogen that fronted the M├╝ggenburger Zollhafen (or M├╝ggenburger Port of Entry). Ships would travel at least four kilometres west before meeting the main channel of the Elbe River. It was then 100 kilometres to the North Sea.

If you zoom outwards and follow the track of the Elbe to its mouth you can see images of the ships in the middle of a dredged shipping lane. On either side of the river are scrubby shorelines of low bushes, rocks and the occasional beach, backed with rows of orderly fields, cultivated as close to the shoreline as possible. It looks cold and not very welcoming.

Within 100 kilometres you are passing to the north of the Netherlands. If you zoom out far enough you can see the little balloon marking the BallinStadt Museum and all of Europe and Africa. The Antarctic lines the bottom of the page and you can get a sense of the distance and challenge such a journey would have been. At any point you can zoom in for a closer look at the shorelines past which the ship would sail. Look at Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Angola, Namibia, Capetown. Look at the cliffs, beaches and wild oceans of the Cape of Good Hope, at the shadow of the cape that darkens the deep waters then look at the Indian Ocean. Zoom out again and see the great distance of unbroken blue before the distinctive outline of Australia.

If it doesn’t fill you with awe and excitement, then you probably wouldn’t have chosen to be on such a voyage. Myself, I’m ready to get on a ship right now. Instead I’ll go pick up the children from school. If you haven’t been entirely devoured by the wonders of satellite imagery, take a moment to browse the website of the Ballinstadt Museum. It’s fascinating and might ground you back in reality if you so choose.

Postscript: I changed the search term on Google maps to "BallinStadt Museum, Hamburg" as I myself could not replicate the search when I used "Germany."

1 comment:

Vivi said...

Only catching up now (and not caught up yet). What a marvelous tour this post is! I'll join you on your trip.

An amusing oddity: When my US-centered computer zooms out from the Museum and northern Germany, the USA remains centered in the map -- so the trip from Germany to Australia is that much more expanse of blue water, across and under the South American continent and then across the South Pacific. It was a surprise to have you direct me down the coast of Africa.