Luluboo and the long straw

GERMANY 2 – 15th to 20th June

Posted in Uncategorized by luluboo on 08/07/2010

Not on Garmin GPS:

Sonder Bjert to Kropp (160km)

Kropp to Wingst (180km)

Wingst to Syke (140km)

Syke to Birgte (160km)

Birgte to Appeldorn (145km)

With just over a week to go when I crossed back into Germany on the 15th June, I was pretty engrossed in a new-found mission to clock up as many kilometres as reasonably possible before I boarded my train, in Brussels, back to the UK on the 23rd. Flensberg proved much prettier than Hendrik had made it out to be and, after stopping to buy a map of northern Germany (at 1:500,000 it was the best compromise I could get between having to buy a dozen large scale regional maps and a single one at miniscule scale), headed off into the countryside to find a good camping spot in one of the numerous and highly accessible forests.

Crossing the magnificent Elbe

The next morning I started early with the intention of stopping at a real, proper, bonafide, campsite near Hamburg so I could spend the evening exploring the city. After two hours getting lost and cycling in a large figure-of-eight on country roads not featured on my new map, before wasting another hour mending one and then another puncture, I gave up on that plan and settled on staying at a campsite in Wingst on the other side of the Elbe. It was an impressive ferry ride over the river, which was greatly enlarged since I’d parted company with it back near Magdeburg, and we had to pause to let a massive Chinese cargo ship cross our path in the middle of the shipping channel.

Pig herding the Bremen way

By the time I arrived at Wingst and located the campsite, which had looked very promising on my map, it was 9pm and the reception, which claimed to be open until 10pm, was deserted. I rushed to the loo in the only style possible for someone that has just spent two hours trying to cross her legs while furiously cycling to reach her destination (i.e. with great relief). The campsite was full of motorhomes and a few people wandering about, but I realised on returning to the entrance that everything was smart, all the notices were written only in German and that it looked suspiciously as though you had to be a member of one of the caravanning clubs to stay there. Bearing in mind that dusk was arriving, and after five nights of wild camping I was desperate for a shower, I decided to worry about that in the morning and to find a discreet spot to camp in the meantime. The spot I found was on a manicured lawn overlooking the private fishing lake and tucked behind a thick hawthorn bush. I cooked up my dinner, took a hot shower and contemplated the welcome I’d get in the morning when I introduced myself at reception. Clearly they would be pretty non-plussed with me and probably wouldn’t know what to do with a random cyclist that wanted to pay for a night’s tent pitch on their caravan-club campsite. All in all it made much more sense to save them the aggravation by slipping away before they even noticed I was there. So I set my alarm for 5:15 the next morning and was wheeling the packed-up Steed up the drive by 6am. Feeling extremely light hearted and only marginally guilty I slipped past the reception and out onto the main road. Stopping for breakfast an hour later I half expected to be tracked down by a police patrol on the hunt for the cycling sneak, but all my paranoia was forgotten by the time I arrived in Bremen for a few hours exploring the city and trying to escape the heat of the afternoon. I got lost once again trying to exit the city (so much for 1:500,000 scale maps) and ended up camping on a sorry little field track 150m off the main road outside Syke on the edge of a protected nature reserve.


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