(21) 3,000 miles and lots of smiles
Thursday 9th August
We woke up in the rest area early and had breakfast on the bench. Tim thoroughly enjoyed his bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes and even shared them!
The view from the other side of the road at the rest area
Tim and Sara had heard owls in the night and said they were really funny as it was like they were talking to each other with party blowers. As usual Sharon slept through it all. The road was getting busier as time went on which was a shame as it was a great spot.
Tim’s bike at our first German camp spot
We had a long day ahead of us as we had to be at Hamburg airport by 3pm the following day and we didn’t want to leave too many miles to do the next morning.
We arrived at a town called Husum and picked up a road map for Germany. It was a lovely town and we wandered around the market streets, enjoying the architecture. Sara offered us a coffee and a cake at a café so we felt like proper tourists for a while, enjoying watching the world go by with a piece of chocolate cheese cake.
Tim and Sara enjoying the café culture
We stopped again at a lovely town called Fredrichstadt which had cobbled streets and old buildings. Tim popped into a bike shop to be greeted by a gorgeous Golden retriever. He started looking through a box of bells and saw a tortoise shaped one. Tim wasn’t able to resist a squeeze and the dog leapt into the box followed by the shop owner who was keen for the contents of the box to stay intact. Tim left the shop laughing having apologised for the disruption. He came to the conclusion that it would be Sharon’s worst nightmare having a squeaky bell as it would attract dogs trying to get at the handlebars!
The pretty town of Fredrichstadt
We rode out of this pretty town over a canal and headed south trying to get on to quieter back roads. The cycle paths which ran alongside the main roads were pretty bad in places, with tree roots making it bumpy going – not great for someone with a bad back. We finally started making good progress by riding on the roads when the paths got uneven and arrived at a National park where we thought it would be easier to find somewhere to camp. We stopped in a town called Henstedt to cook Chilli con carne on a park bench– it was the last dinner we were going to have with Sara for a long while so we wanted it to be a good one! We rode on looking for somewhere to camp and found some woodland about 40 miles north of Hamburg. We turned our lights off and headed into the woods. It was a lovely spot and we found some clear flat ground and pitched our tents wishing each other a good night’s sleep. It was horrible to think we would be saying goodbye to Sara again the following day.
Friday 10th August
We woke up in the woods at around 6am to find Sara packing up. Sara had been woken by a beetle crunching on a piece of wood in the night and couldn’t believe how noisy it was!
Our camp in the woods
She said it was so loud that she had to move the tent! We rode on to a good breakfast spot in a town called Kellinghusen and treated ourselves to a pastry. We then got our heads down to ride the mileage to Hamburg – we both noticed how much stronger Sara was on a bike. It was a damp day but we made good progress and had the chance to ride along some lovely quiet lanes.
The roads were getting busier and more built up so we knew we were getting close to the city. We stopped for lunch at a supermarket about 5 miles from the airport and Sara treated us to a tub of chocolate ice-cream. Sara discovered a tick in Sharon’s leg which she dutifully pulled out – unfortunately she’d forgotten her tick remover ; ) It looked hilarious from where Tim was sat as it looked like the human version of monkeys preening each other in a supermarket car park.
We had a little trouble finding a way to cycle into the airport as the road directly to it was forbidden for cyclists. We finally arrived at the departures terminal and wheeled our bikes in.
Tim helping Sara pack for her flight home
We sorted out some things for Sara to take back to England – our 2 ‘fisherman’s jumpers’ as we called them were sent home as they were heavy and we no longer needed them as we were heading south to a warmer climate. It was a tearful goodbye not only for our jumpers : ( It was strange saying goodbye as Sara had started out with us on our adventure and it felt like she hadn’t left us. It didn’t really sink in that we wouldn’t see her for a long while but we hope she’ll meet up with us again in South America ; ) She left us with lots of goodies including some socks and hot chocolate!!
With Sara safely on the plane to England, we headed off towards the centre of Hamburg and feeling hungry stopped at a Lidl’s for a pastry. A lady came out of the shop and walked over to a bike that we had been admiring as it had brown tyres. We asked her if there was a camp site nearby and she told us no and that the centre was still 40 minutes ride away. After a pause, clearly thinking of a solution for us, she invited us to stay at her house – which was an incredible gesture as she had only known us for 10 minutes. We headed off with Sabine to her house which was about 10 minutes ride. She told us that her husband will be shocked by her decision to take in strangers but she said ‘why not!’ We arrived at her home to be greeted by her cousin Georg and daughter who looked at us with surprised faces! We had a tour of the house and were shown our room. Her daughter was off to stay with her Dad for the weekend which was a shame as she seemed lovely and keen to speak English. We had a shower and Sabine baked pizza for dinner. Her husband Wolfgang came home, clearly not so pleased to find strangers sat in his house.
We were invited into the conservatory for dinner and once the wine, beer and pizza started flowing we all relaxed and had a lovely evening chatting about our trip and learning about German history – not just the history we learned at school.
Sharon, Wolfgang, Georg and Sabine
Sabine popped back to the supermarket to get some ice-cream for pudding and commented that she had hoped to see more cycle tourists there but there wasn’t any! We were glad as we didn’t want to share the ice-cream ; ) Once again we were amazed and thankful for people’s generosity and fell asleep in a nice comfy bed.
Saturday 11th August
We woke for breakfast, grabbing another quick shower. Georg had been to the local bakery and had bought 10 different types of bread roll for us to try – the German’s do make very good bread. We did our best to work through them and Sabine said we could make a packed lunch with the remaining rolls. We told them about our planned route to Berlin which started out along the river Elbe – a route recommended by the German couple we met in Geiranger in Norway – Chiara and Ulli who had invited us to stay with them in Berlin. Georg kindly downloaded the route for us and saved it to our laptop.
Georg had given Sharon a bag of PG tips – he was also a fan and could buy them in Sweden where he lived. Wolfgang had given Tim a bottle of whisky the night before which would come in useful on cold nights! We our goodbyes and headed off to the city.
We picked up a cycle path along the river that Sabine had told us about. It was lovely riding through the park and we stopped to have a 10 minute nap in the sunshine.
Riding into Hamburg
The city of Hamburg
We enjoyed walking around the city – it was really busy so we didn’t stay long and the centre was full of shops and we didn’t have room in our panniers for anymore things!
We found our river route difficult to find at first as there were so many tributaries of it but finally found a chap on a bike who was wearing a Sky jersey – he was Andy from England who was living in Hamburg. He gave us good directions and we soon found ourselves on the cycle path. It was stunning, great riding through small villages with beautiful thatched houses.
Along the Hamburg to Berlin cycle route
As we were pottering along, it had got late and we found ourselves in the dusk with nowhere to camp and no dinner. We asked about a supermarket and kept being told there was one about 7km away but it took asking 3 people to find it. On our way there we stopped by an interesting looking place that turned out to be an old concentration camp from the war. We walked around, reading the information boards in silence, not quite believing that we were standing where so many vulnerable people had once stood.
We rode on grateful for living in the age we do and got our food for dinner. We were told that if we got to the other side of the river, it was a different region of Germany and they were more lenient to people free camping. We crossed the bridge and saw another man camping in a farmer’s field. Tim went over to him and he told Tim that he’d been there for 2 hours and no-one had told him to move on. We decided to camp just down the field from him and cooked dinner in the dark – we were nervous to cook with our head torches on in case we were seen and asked to move on. This proved slightly tricky… Sharon was sat chopping an onion and heard rustling in the grass. She threw some loose grass towards the noise and it stopped. It turned out to be a hedgehog. We climbed into our sleeping bags and fell asleep. During the night Tim woke to a rustling noise and a couple of tiny sneezes. He giggled and woke Sharon to look outside of the tent – we found another hedgehog exploring our rubbish bag which was next to our bikes enjoying the remains of our rice.
Sunday 12th August
We woke early still nervous that someone would move us on so we swiftly packed up as the sun rose and moved down the cycle path about a km. We found a great breakfast spot and sat and relaxed for an hour or so. Sharon had a deer come within about 15metres of her- they eye-balled each other before the deer turned around.
It was a really sunny day and as we cycled along we discussed the plan for the day. We’d cycled about 25 miles as we arrived at a pretty town called Lauenburg. We passed a nice looking campsite and decided that we would stay the night and relax in the afternoon. We went over the bridge to the old part of town to have a nose about before we headed back. It was stunning. Mainly oak timber framed buildings with red brick infill and cobbled streets.
Riding into the old part of Lauenburg
While we were in town, we thought we’d check out the price of the Youth hostel – thinking it would be about £20 for the two of us but it was over £20 each so we peddled on…
It took us ages to find a supermarket, mainly because it was Sunday and the first couple we found were closed. Finally we found one open and picked up supplies for a couple of days in case we decided to stay longer. As we made our way back to the bridge to head to the campsite we found ourselves in a busy market. As always it was good to potter around – there was even line dancing. We didn’t feel like joining in in our cycling gear ; ) We tried to take a short cut and ended up heading down 6 flights of steps with fully laden bikes much to the amusement of the people on their way up!
We finally got back to the campsite and were pleased to find it was a very reasonable 8 euros per night (about £6). The lady who ran it is was very friendly and laid back which sealed our decision to stay. We found a great spot right next to the river with a small sandy beach and a bench. The view of the old town across the water was stunning (much better than the Youth hostel on the other side) and as the sun set it really showed up the red brick. The only down side was the toilet was a good stroll away – not so good in the middle of the night.
We spent the afternoon reading, sleeping and writing our blog- Tim also had a dip in the river. We met a German couple Andi and Matze who were heading off to South America for 1 ½ years so it was great to chat with them, share stories and compare kit. As the weather was clear we had our first proper starry night and it was great to see the same stars that we would see at home – it made Sharon home sick though : (
Lauenburg at night from our camp site
Monday 13th August
Had a great lie in and decided to stay another night as the campsite was nice and quiet and there were no distractions. We were really behind on our blog and wanted to use to the day to catch up and relax. We spent the day blog writing, reading and eating. Tim also gave the bikes a good clean and did a few minor repairs.
In the evening we headed to a supermarket and treated ourselves to a tasty carbonara and salad and ice-cream and tinned fruit for pudding. We also treated ourselves to a couple of beers each. It was a mighty feast. A friendly German couple Ernst and Karin, who were next to us, donated some fresh parsley and snickers bars to add to our meal. We sorted some photos for the blog and then headed to bed. We both slept really well.
Tuesday 14th August
Finding out that we had further to go than we thought to Berlin we decided to get up early. It took a while to pack up and dry the tent. Karin kindly made us coffee which saved us getting the stove out. They wished us well on our future journey.
Tim with Ernst and Karin
We continued along the south side of the river Elbe for about 25 miles and stopped for a pastry but it wasn’t fresh much to our disappointment! We took the ferry from the village of Darchau across to the north side of the river to continue our journey. The weather was great but it got to about 30 degrees late morning so we took shelter under a tree for a while.
Enjoying the stunning cycling and weather
We had ridden 45 miles before we stopped for lunch in a town called Domitz outside of a castle. Sharon made some sandwiches but noticed the butter was quite pale – it also didn’t taste of anything. After consuming what we realised was a lard and salad sandwich, Sharon set off in haste to find a shop to buy some butter.
Eating lard sandwiches in Domitz
We rode on and towards the end of the day arrived in the town of Lenzen. We bought another pastry in order to help us forget about the earlier dry one. We also filled our water bag and headed out to the cycle track. We spotted an old wathc tower which was now used for bird watching. We climbed to the top which was about 20 metres and gained a good view of the bird life. We saw a buzzard and watched it busily looking for its dinner. We found a camp spot on the edge of the path, cooked dinner and settled down to sleep.
Wednesday 15th August
We woke to a cool misty morning but the tent was soaking with condensation. We put everything on the path in the sun to dry and had our breakfast. A lady cycled past and gave us a disapproving look – probably because it was a bird watching area or maybe she was jealous of our breakfast…
Waking in the morning to a beautiful mist
By the time we had drank our tea the tent was dry and we packed everything away and continued along the cycle track. We rode through the pretty village of Cumlosen.
Tim was concerned something had ‘come loose’
The beautiful scenery along the path
We rode 45 miles before stopping for lunch in the town of Havelburg. We rode down to the water’s edge and found a great spot in the shade. Tim went for a dip fully clothed to help him cool down. The road continued to weave through pretty villages and long tree lined roads. The weather continued to be warm and sunny with a gentle head wind that kept us cool.
Riding through the trees
In the afternoon we passed our 3,000th mile and stopped to congratulate each other. We had climbed 38,056 metres to that point. We had a reminisce about our trip and couldn’t believe we’d only been on the road for 2 and a half months. We have had so many incredible experiences so far.
Celebrating our 3,000th mile
We arrived in the town in Rathenow after 75 miles from breaking camp that morning and started to look for a place to camp. It was dusk already so we stopped to cook on the side of the cycle path and some woodland. By the time we had eaten and washed up, it was dark which made looking for a suitable camp spot more difficult. The ground in the wood was uneven or too soft to pitch the tent. Eventually our patience paid off and Tim found a great little spot. We cleared the pine cones and put the tent up. We had heated some water while cooking dinner for our evening wash which made a nice change from using cold water! Before climbing into the tent we looked up to see the stars through the tree canopy.
Thursday 16th August
We had about 65 miles to ride to Berlin so set off at a good pace. We rode about 6 miles before hunger got the better of us and we stopped to have breakfast just past the village of Kotzen. We continued on through the pretty villages enjoying the quiet of the village roads and cycle paths.
Tim riding through one of the many villages with cobbled streets
We made good progress and the roads remained quiet even though we were getting close to Berlin. This was probably due to the fact that a motorway was running parallel to us.
We stopped at the town of Falkensee to get our bearings. By this point the blue sky had disappeared and it had started to rain. We disagreed on the direction we needed to take and back-tracked a bit still unsure before Tim suggested we stop at an internet cafe to get a better map. We took photos on Sharon’s ipod of the route to Chiara and Ulli’s house which was in the south-east of the city. We noted down key street names and headed off.
Arriving in the city of Berlin
This system of navigating worked well for a while and we felt like we were making good progress. However, we missed a couple of road signs which were on the other side of a wide street and it then took a while to relocate ourselves. It took us a lot longer than we thought it would but we finally arrived at their spacious apartment and it was great to see them again. We were made to feel instantly at home and chatted about Norway over a delicious Asian meal and beer.
Next instalment coming soon….