After being home for a while this is the day when the journey continues. I am taking the ferry to Travemünde (Germany) via Ventspils (Latvia). The ferry leaves at 10:00 and I have to be there at least 2 hours before that.
Yesterday and today there has been technical problems on the commuter train that is taking me to Nynäshamn, so I decide to take the earliest possibly train at 05:01 and arrives in Nynäshamn at 07:40.
Once in Nynäshamn I try to find some breakfast, the only places that are open are the ones next to the train, not so nice and very expensive.
Stena Lines web page says that I should go to the freight terminal and check-in, just follow the signs for freight vehicles. After some asking around it seems this is not where I should be, I have to go to the Gotland/Poland ferry terminal and show my passport to get my tickets. Then I have to queue with the cars.
The ferry arrives just after nine and trucks starts to pour out, the car decks are almost 2.5 km long, it’s an amazing amount of trucks. It takes a very long time to get them all out and I don’t get to bike in until 10:20.
Once on the ferry all passengers have to check-in again and show their passports. I have a pullman seat in the silent room.
The ferry is almost empty. It’s purpose is to transport trucks, the passengers are confided to about 1/3 of deck 5. There is a bar and a restaurant which share staff so they are never open at the same time. It’s really tiny. I start the journey with a 3 hours siesta.
A great surprise is that they do not accept credit cards while at sea, luckily I have some funny money. Prices are very low, 50 cl beer 2.1 Euro, lunch buffet 7.5 Euro. The sea is very calm and the ferry moves very slowly, the route is between Gotska sandön and Fårö.
There is a bunch of people (hopefully not drivers) partying to the max in the bar, when the ferry arrives in Ventspils they are very drunk.
I go for the 10 Euro dinner hoping that it will last me until breakfast on the next ferry. We arrive in Ventspils ahead of schedule, I try to check-in at the terminal but they are processing the return to Nynäshamn and can not check in any other passengers until midnight. Happy days ! So I sit outside the terminal and enjoy their free wifi.
After a while a Basque couple arrives at the terminal, they are also going to Travemünde. We talk and kill time until the magic moment when we get to show our passports in exchange for some small pieces of paper. One for the person at the gate, one for the person that handles check-in on the ferry.
Later a German solo cyclist also joins our party, after Travemünde he’s going to Kiel and pick up his car to go home which is in the Mainz area. At about 01:20 I am in my cabin, I am so tired I don’t know my name. From the window I can see endless rows with trucks that are boarding the ferry that will sail at 04:00.
I sleep lightly during the night, there seems to be a bunch of drunk Russians roaming the ferry and using the Russian walkie talkie. I sleep very late and almost miss breakfast. This is a very slow day, I spend it in the cabin reading, walking around the ferry. This ferry is called Stena Flavia and is almost and exact copy of the Scotish Viking that sails Sweden-Latvia. So there is basically nothing to do, except on Stena Flavia they have a TV that is blasting Russian TV shows on max volume. Great Stuff !
I bump in to the Basque couple several times during the day, it seems that they flew in to Stockholm and started their trip from there. Also they may have stayed at the camping near where I live, we never manage to clarify that. Their names are Ainoa and Jokin (not sure about the spelling), they obviously live in the Basque country, since I am biking through there in a couple of months we decided that I will get in touch and we will see what we can organize.
We also decide to bike together to Lübeck the next morning. I need to get a SIM card with some local cheap 3G Data on and they are looking for maps. We sail close to Gotland and southern Sweden, so at times my phone can call home and download some e-mail. There is some very heavy drinking going on, unfortunately it seems to be the truck drivers that drink the most.
Slept pretty ok this night, I had set the alarm so I would have time to have breakfast on the ferry. I meet the gang at breakfast and the ferry seems to be ahead of schedule so hurry hurry.
I am parked next to the exit so I get out of the ferry first, the Travemünde ferry terminal is not bike friendly, so big and full of trucks. Given the heavy drinking on the ferry I didn’t want to bump in to one of those drivers. At the end of the terminal area all lanes merge to one line of non-moving trucks.
Had to zig-zag some trucks before I could escape to the sidewalk. When I reach the bike path outside the terminal I pull over and start to re-pack a bit and wait for the others. They arrive soon and I get appointed to be Reiseleiter since I have the GPS with a prepared track to Lübeck.
I already have a reservation on airbnb.com for a room in Mölln, at this point I feel that it wasn’t such a good idea to make that reservation. I am meeting my friend Andreas on the 15′th of August and it’s only 300 km or so to bike there. It would have been great to ride with Jokin & Ainoa for a couple of days, they are heading in the general direction south-west towards France where a train will take them home. But I can’t cancel the room now and also the airbnb.com experience also looks exciting.
We start to head to Lübeck, I get to ride in front and feel important, such a great responsibility. Actually it’s no challenge to bike in Germany, the route was signposted in such way that it probably would be impossible to get lost. After a while we arrive at a tunnel where they have a free shuttle bus for bikers and pedestrians. Thank you Lübeck ! All the cars get to pay for using the tunnel and the important people get to ride a bus for free, progressive thinking !
When we arrive in Lübeck our German friend leaves us and goes to Kiel. I find the telekom.de shop and get a SIM card, it has 3G FLAT RATE DATA !!! WOW !!! The deal is that it has 3G speed for the first 100 MB and then it switches to 64 kb/s (Year 199x modem speed). But at 10 Euros it’s a bargain. There are 100 different options to be had with the card, totally incomprehensible, isn’t flat flat ?
We find the tourist information and get directions to a book/map shop. Ainoa and Jokin gets the maps they need and we go shopping for food and a small lunch picnic. I am riding south to get to my airbnb.com check-in at 18:00, they tag along without any solid plan for where to spend the night. We ride south to Ratzeburg and hang out in a park for a while and then we go to Mölln and have a final drink together.
I have a short ride across a hill to get where I am going, I find the road that the airbnb is on, it’s just a gravel dual-track. It feels like I am in the forest far far away from any city. I find the place and there is a warning for the dog sign at the gate, I enter and there is barking. The room is in the basement and there is a private bathroom, everything looks great.
Once I have settled in, the host, Jan, offers me a beer. He works from home a lot (Internet connection is fantastic), by public transport he can reach central Hamburg in 45-50 minutes. His house is fantastic, there is an amazing garden and chickens. We talked for a while but unfortunately I was very tired from only sleeping approx 10 hours the last 60 hours. So I went to bed and fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.
I wake up after a good night sleep, it’s completely quiet. I pack my stuff and go upstairs and have breakfast with Jan. We talk for a long while and it’s after 10 when I get going. I keep going south of Hamburg, it’s the country side, big big fields and cows. I had no idea that Germany could be so rural only a few kilometers from Hamburg. I cross the river Elbe and continue south-west. I find a McWifi and have some lunch and free wifi.
Today there is no sun, just grey or black clouds, sometimes some rain. I feel low on energy and a need to rest some more and decide to make it a short day when I find a Landhaus with accommodation. I don’t know if it’s because I am tired already, but the check-in procedure is very, very, very slow and annoying.
I have to show my passport and fill out complete address and so on. Internet access is a separate A4 page with things to fill out. Very annoying. Later it turns out that Internet is so slow that it’s useless. So far it seems very easy to be a bicycle tourist in Germany, bike paths everywhere, it seems every little village has a shop and a bakery so no planning needed. Compared to Finland and Sweden everything is very cheap.
Also cyclists seem to be high up in the hierarchy on the road, cars are very careful not to block or annoy cyclist.
I had a nice room and a nice sleep. The breakfast is a bit so so but it’s included in the price. I have decided to go to this place Lüneburger Heide, from the Internet I find out that this place is so great that it can almost not be described.
So I have to go there and have a look. I have made a route and loaded on my GPS, it takes me through the forest on gravel tracks. I go for hours without seeing a car. I stop at the local baker and have some snacks, what a great institution the local bakery is. It seems that most Lidl also has a bakery.
Eventually I arrived in the small village Wilsede and saw that they had a Tourist Information there. I went in and explained that I was a tourist and I wanted information, they had maps and the lots.
They helped me to call around and find a place to sleep. They also gave a map for the Wümme radweg, a signposted bike route that went to Bremen where I was headed. Fantastic service. This village was so small that their telephone numbers only had 3 digits.
It seems this Heide is called heath in English, and ljung in Swedish. We have a bunch of that in Sweden so it wasn’t all that exciting to me. But the whole area was full of cyclist and it was a great area to bike through. I am starting to learn what to look after when I want lunch, and it seems that most places serve up a great schnitzel with vegetables and potatoes for 6-8 Euro. The food is cooked to order and really fresh and tasty for less than the price of a greasy pizza at home.
At the Gasthof they have streamlined the check-in, I walk in to the bar and ask if they have a room free. Yes they have, here is the key, the entrance is around the corner. That’s it, no passport, no address, nothing, and since there is no Internet I didn’t need to sign for that either. I can’t find anything to lock the bike to so when I go to bed I bring it inside the room.
When I enter the restaurant where the breakfast is served I am promptly directed to the table where I must sit. There can be no un-ordnung in the morning so they have prepared everything in great detail. The breakfast is mainly bread and stuff to put on it. I slept very well in the room and it’s very quiet on the countryside. At 28 Euro the room was a bargain.
There is a slight rain when I leave, I am following the Wümme radweg that is clearly signposted. It so easy to follow I don’t really need a map or GPS. The radweg takes me through nice and calm landscapes on mostly great bike paths.
It’s Saturday and Germany is full of cyclists. When I get to the town Lauenbrück there is a bunch of bikes parked outside a restaurant, this must be a good sign I think. They have a massive buffet for 18 Euro but they don’t start to serve it until noon, another 30 minutes to go. So I decide to bike on and try to find something else.
I didn’t find anything to eat until I reached Sottrum where they served some hotdogs and fries. Not very nice. I am close to the camping in Everinghausen where I am going for the night.
At the camping everything seems to be very well organized, I show my camping card and they manually enter all the information in to their computer. There is a small plastic smart card that opens doors and operates the showers. The price is 15.50 Euro and it includes 6 minutes of hot water.
My spot is 120 m2 and I guess it’s intended for a big caravan and car. But there is plenty of room and easy to pitch the tent.
The autobahn is near, there are some people over at the pool drinking and making noises but I am so tired I fall asleep anyway.
There has been some light rain during the night but I slept well. I have breakfast in the tent and use my new kitchen to boil water. The tent is almost dry and the skies are promising more rain so I pack up quickly.
I look at all the facilities and it’s really hard to overview what the total cost would be if staying here a longer time. Everything cost a few cents per minute. If the campings will be around 15 Euro and the cheaper hotels around 30 Euro I guess my tent will not be used a lot.
When I leave the camping it starts to rain again. When I cross the autobahn on a bridge I recognize the service station from when I used to drive on the autobahn going back to Sweden.
Yesterday I left the Wümme radweg when I went to the camping, now I am trying to find it again.
Since I don’t want to go back to Sottrum I bike for a while until I find the route in Ottersberg. So most things are closed on Sundays, it seems that the local bakery shops are open for some few hours in the morning. So I have some more breakfast with fresh baked bread in Pattesen.
The town Fischerhude is very picturesque and I start to meet the first waves of Sunday bikers from Bremen. When I get closer to Bremen there is a bike route that goes like a ring around Bremen and it totally full of biker, joggers, inline skaters. Must have been several thousands of people.
I ride the ring road for a while and then I go towards the city, I have no idea where I am going to stay since I haven’t had access to Internet for some days now. When I think I am close enough to the city center I start to look for accommodation in the GPS and there is a cheap sounding hotel.
I look it up on my phone and it seems they have only gotten great reviews so I head over there. The Prizeotel in Bremen had rooms available and a safe place to park the bike. So even if it was a bit more expensive than I had hoped for I got a room for 2 days. I had to make a reservation on a computer they had in the hotel, then I got a number that I showed to the reception.
Then I had to fill out a form by hand with the same information and then I was checked-in. Absolutely brilliant.
The Hotel and the room was really great, my room was on the fifth floor and had a view of the train station.
View from top floor
Rest day in Bremen, slept very late and had breakfast late. I needed to do some shopping so I went to the tourist information to find out where the best outdoors shop could be found and if they had any nice maps for going up to the coast. They didn’t have any such maps but there was a ADFC Radstation next to the central station.
At the Radstation there is an indoors parking for bikes and also a repair shop that can repair and service your bike while you are at work. There was also a ADFC office that had all the maps I ever could dream of, unfortunately they cost money and where in such a scale I needed 3 of them for a 130 km bike ride. So I decided to make my own track on google maps instead.
I also found the outdoors shop and a Steripen, which is a device that sterilizes funky water. I left my water filter at home so I wanted this device just in case I can’t find clean water.
After some nice lunch, 6 Euro Schnitzel, I retired to the hotel and rested for the rest of the day.