Slough calling !!

We have made it back after 3600 miles / 5800 km – phew. Anyway….back to our last update.

The day in Berlin was an epic in the end. We saw all the sights, East Side gallery paintings on the wall, Bauhaus museum, Schloss Charlottenburg (huge palace with free gardens), Reichstag and the Brandenburg gate. After dashing to the train station for our last connection we missed it by 20 secs. Fortunately we had 2 beers with us to drink while waiting an hour for the next train and there was another bus for the 6km to the campsite after all. At the campsite Ian discovered ‘competative morgening’ where he reckoned that everyone would say ‘Guten Morgen’ to him then give him a hard stare until he replied. It was quite exhausting saying morning to everyone on the campsite, some people more than once.

We headed north through more lakes and started to realize we will be back in Denmark too soon so dallied in Schwerin (bonkers Bavarian style castle on an island and huge arsenal building), Wismar (coastal town once owned by Sweden with nice old buildings and Quark ballschen) and Lubeck (twin towered town gate, home of marzipan and scary theatre figure doll museum).

At this point I have to say something about the state of German food – its dire. The menu is mainly schnitzel or kotlet and even Germans seem to prefer Chinese, Greek or kebabs if the number of restaurants are anything to go by. Thanks to the Germans invading all the way to the Baltics at some point and leaving their cuisine in their wake we had been eating Germanic food for weeks now and we had had enough. Mind you I would not recommend Uncle Bens curry sauce to anyone who has eaten a real curry (bought in a moment of desparation for some flavour). Poland has Leclerc and Intermarche but Germany has Netto, Lidl, Aldi and Penny Markt for supermarkets. Its like an ephisode of Ready, Steady, Cook, trying to assemble a meal from random ingredients. Things came to a head when I actually had a dream about going to a supermarket and buying a large lump of Cheddar for £1.50 !!

I spent the evening of my 40th birthday hiding in the tent hoping the rain would stop. German rain seemed to start at 5.30 pm and finish at 7.00am which was very handy for cycling. Even the deer are organized there – we saw signs warning of deer crossing the road between 5pm and 8am !! We were told off in Germany more than any other country e.g. cycling on the road not the cycle path, cycling on the wrong side of the cycle path, putting rubbish in the wrong bin etc. But Germans do have a sense of humour. On a ferry crossing for a large canal it was €1 for a cyclist and 50c for an adult. I got the adults fare as I did not have a bike of my own !!

Our first 2 days back in Denmark were horrendously windy. I’m not talking annoying headwind, but scary huge gusts that were enough to blow us into the verge twice. It was exhausting for Ian to try and keep the bike in a straight line and for me with clenched hands, toes and teeth. We headed to the island of Fyn to kill some time and Ian was VERY happy to be back in country where people speak English. I have been getting languages mixed too. In Poland a campsite owner asked me what a tent was in English and I said – telt. It took me a few seconds to realize my mistake – telt, telk, zelt, tent, namiot…. arrrgh. 3 nights were spent in Odense, home of Hans Christian Andersen and we just realaxed with the Art museum, Fyn village museum and a box of red wine to polish off. We even did a privately owned motor museum that was opened especially for us.

Time to start heading for the ferry and we stopped at Doris and Kristians farm outside Kolding. Kristian retired over 10 years ago and cycled to Switzerland and decided there were not enough cheap places to stop so when he got back they opened the farm with free camping for cyclists ! A sign at the entrance invites you to pitch your tent in the garden and make yourself at home. Infact we stayed in their hay barn (very comfy but VERY cold) and in the morning we were invited into the kitchen for breakfast – what lovely people.

Our last town to visit was Ribe on the west coast, Demarks oldest town with many original buildings. We then cycled along the coastal dyke (very windy) to Esbjerg. After a choppy night at sea with broken sleep we cycled home in 1.5 days arriving back at 5.15pm, just before rush hour. Our first meal at home being an Indian takeaway – yummy.

So now its back to ‘normal’ life. We have to get used to sleeping in a stuffy room again and we have started to attack the garden that has gone mad in our absence. Its been a great trip, but very tiring with more bike problems, heat and illness than we had hoped. Ian has already mentioned Romania, Bulgaria etc. for the next trip !! I will nag him into uploading some pictures this weekend.

Thanks to my parents, Albert and Brian for keeping an eye on our house and for Simon who rescued our car from being lifted and taken away by pikies. Until next time………