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 arrests or incomprehensible yelling matches.
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 on the ferry over the Szczecin Lagoon. Incidentally, he was on his way home because the tent had fallen off the back of his bike. One of my general exploration tips has always been:
Don’t store equipment on the outside of your panniers or backpack! If you absolutely have to, loop a strap through somewhere where it is impossible to come off even if being dragged behind you.
The bicycle tourer 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? Most likely 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, 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.
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.