Northern Germany – Hanseatic

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the office, looking out the window.  Dreaming, plotting, thinking of a place I would like to go.  The days go by here just as quickly as the last job.  The coffee breaks occur with the same regularity.  I still do it 5 days a week, sometimes even 6. The place is still digital, I still have numbers rolling in front of me.  A select few things matter more than these numbers, however I’m not required to be concerned with them yet.  I’m delighted with the new office space.  It’s what you could consider… expansive.

My office

For the last week we’ve been cycling in Northern Germany. South, from the Danish border, we made our way to Hamburg. Following the north sea cycle route was nice for a time, as we had tail winds (35km/hr!). Further south, we exchanged this cycle route for the Elbe river route, Elberadweg. Quite a lot of the cycle route following the river runs through sheep pasture.

North Sea Route

Hamburg proved a bit difficult to find a place to stay, as all of the hostels are booked, as everyone is on holidays. All of the warmshowers hosts are out of town, as they too are on holidays. Friday night we got really drunk, and marauded down to the Reeperbahn. The famous red light district in the city, more of a novelty tourist trap than anything else. Non of the bars are worth elaborating on, however a good inebriating night out was just what we need after putting down some more distance. The second night was a bit more entertaining. On the way out, we met two locals who wanted us to double them on our bikes back to their flat. ¿Porqué no? So we walked/double/drank all the way back to their flat and hung out.

After our rest day, we left for Bremen, 150km to the west. We camped a night in between, allowing ourselves to arrive early. Thinking that Hamburg was the big attraction in the north, Bremen was a pleasant surprise. There’s a lot to see.

Wet Bremen

I found out that when I swerved my bike into a guard rail leaving Hamburg, that I had smashed the lens on my DSLR. Having ridden for a couple weeks now, and weighted the point and shoot against the DSLR, the point and shoot still wins. I don’t mind the space or the weight of the big camera. The big advantage is that you can pull the point and shoot out while riding. It’s one thing to do it with a bike, and yet another with 50kg of gear loaded up. The ability to operate with one hand is essential. I finally caved and bought a cheap canon IXUS 90 for 150 Euro (200 CND). The store kindly through in a free 4 gig SD card as I bought the display model. This is my 8th canon point and shoot camera. Others have fallen into lakes, been crushed in car doors, gotten sand in the lense. At least I know how to use the software on the camera well.

I managed to get a hold of a two warmshowers hosts. Since we’d had no luck in Hamburg, I emailed quite a few. A fellow named Uwe replied that he was hosting four Danes, but that we were welcome. I got another reply from a young couchsurfer / warmshower guy, Torsten. It turns out that these two work part time jobs with each other, and had been discussing the odds that there were two Jeremie’s coming to town. Torsten was a great host, we cooked, ate, drank, shot the breeze about cycling, travelling, and everything else.

Torsten

Cycle touring information

  • Most of the major routes have cycling paths. Most of them have a seperate paved path that parallels the main highway. This  helps a lot. You can download the GPX if you wish to know where the cycling path is, but they are typically well signed, so it’s not a problem.  You can find the german cycle routes here
  • As with most other places, some of the cycle routes are not so direct. Not all of the secondary roads have routes. We found it better to improvise. Torsten sent me this link which a local cyclist had done the same thing. It will save you a lot of time to improvise the route.
  • A lot of the asphalt cycle paths have heaved a bit. Do make sure your panniers / gear stays attached.
  • None of the autobahns have cycling routes. Don’t even try, people will go out of their way to be sure you don’t cycle up there. What looked like a cycle path actually lead up to the autobahn, a car stopped, a truck driver yelled, and an auto mechanic appeared from nowhere all at the same time.
  • Camping here is ok, usually between 13-17 Euro for the two of us.
  • There are a lot of places one could wild camp in the nature reserves and hiking paths, although we did not.

As usual, I’ve posted my photos on flickr.  We’re currently in Amsterdam, “resting”.  We will leave tomorrow and ride south to Belgium.  We’ve picked up another Dutch cyclist who will join us for a week and a half to northern France.

There will certainly be more interesting things to come.

Peace, Love, and bicycle grease.

-jer