Bicycle touring in Germany
We approached Germany with some apprehension, everyone knows the German reputation for being strict and law-abiding so we thought they probably wouldn’t be so thrilled to find us camped in the corner of a graveyard or on their pristine football pitch. Our worries turned out to be unfounded as we made it across to Dusseldorf without any incomprehensible yelling matches or arrests.
After the relative poverty of the Baltic States, we were overjoyed when our first German town had a bridge with a slide attached for no reason other than fun. We noticed more random features of entertainment throughout Germany than any of the other countries and always tried to make the most of it.
Our first adventure in Germany was meeting another tourer from New Zealand (who lives in Germany) on the ferry over the Szczecin Lagoon. He told us he was was on a direct route home when the tent had fallen off the back of his bike and been lost. One of my general exploration tips has always been:
‘Touring Tip 4: Don’t store equipment on the outside of your panniers or backpack! Unless you absolutely have to, in which case loop a strap through somewhere where it is impossible to come off even if being dragged behind you.’
The bicycle tourer told us how he felt that the younger generation are swept up in their digital lives and was amazed at meeting tourers as young as us. He invited us to a cafe and we ended up chatting all morning, and not leaving until 12. The delay wasn’t ideal for our planned long day to get us well into Germany. In the end, we still did a huge distance (85 miles) and managed to take smaller roads. I noticed that autumn was arriving and felt odd having left home mid-spring and still travelling at the beginning of autumn.
Something we found entertaining was the state of German roads. Unlike Poland or any other country I saw, Germany seems to like chopping the roads up and filling them back in to make a patchwork quilt effect. We couldn’t puzzle out why they would need to cut such peculiar shapes out of the road. Is it because of pipes or wires? Roots? Treasure hunting? Our conclusion was that its most likely due tree roots, judging by the huge trees either side.
After spending a little too much money at the supermarket the previous day, we decided that we really should find a wild campsite for the evening. I noticed a road leading up to a large clump of trees just outside a small village. After some exploring through the trees, I found a small disused sandy quarry with a beautiful open spot overlooking it. Tractors drove past in the morning and got a good look at our washing drying on the trees, they paused for a bit but didn’t stop to investigate.
The next day was Sunday, and extremely windy. All food shops are closed on a Sunday in Germany so we were carrying a fair bit more weight whilst also fighting through the wind. We cycled past a graveyard surrounded by fields and decided to stop a little bit early. The following morning our choice of campsite was rewarded with the best sunrise I’ve ever seen.
The tent is tucked away on the left beside the trees. It was a great spot, other than an endless barrage of slugs crawling towards us. They were those horrible long, black ones that ooze goo and refuse to go away. We woke up to a few on the outside of the tent-inner and tried hitting them off from the inside. It didn’t work. Instead, we upgraded the problem to squashed, leaking slugs. Ten minutes of scraping the tent and we were ready to pack up and move on.
We cycled as far as Celle and then caught a train to Dusseldorf for 134 euros, which saved roughly five days cycling. It was always the plan to catch a train somewhere in Germany as we knew by this stage of the holiday that staying with my sister would be a welcome break and we would need to get back faster to be home in time for start of university.
Germany technically marks the end of the Baltic Sea Bicycle Tour as our route back via Belgium and France doesn’t go anywhere near it, nor do the countries even border it. Next up, we attempt to navigate the Flanders Cycle Route through Belgium.
The cycle tour so far:
England – Cornwall to Wales
Ireland – Winding Westwards
Ireland – Starting the Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland – The Wild Atlantic
Ireland – Causeway Coastal Route
England – Stopover in the Peaks
Netherlands – Bicycle touring through the Netherlands
Germany – Hamburg and Lubeck
Denmark – Reaching the Baltic Sea
Denmark – Exploring Copenhagen
Sweden – Cycling Southern Sweden
Sweden – Destination: Gotland
Sweden – Cycling to Stockholm
Finland – Åland Islands and the Archipelago Sea
Finland – The King’s Road
Estonia – Our first Baltic state
Latvia – Disaster strikes in Latvia
Lithuania – Border troubles in Lithuania
Poland – Bicycle touring through Poland
Germany – Bicycle touring in Germany