Leaving the hotel after the breakfast buffet I am thinking that this will probably be the fanciest accommodation for a long time to come. I am following my GPS track out of Bremen, I meet up with the river Weser.
It’s easy to bike along the Weser, there is a separate infrastructure for bicycles, it’s very very relaxing to bike away from cars and buses. I have headwind and there is a nasty storm coming from the North sea. Very dark clouds ahead.
There are drops of rain most of the day so I ride with my rain gear on. There are some thunder and lightning very near and just as it starts to pour down I manage to spot a Gasthaus that serves a plate of the day for 6 Euro. There is even a small roof to park the bike under. It’s turkey with veggies and potatoes.
I enjoy the food and getting dry until the shower outside stops. A bit further on I find a resting area for cyclists and pedestrians, there is o way to enter it by car.
I really like Germany so far, everything is so well organized for cyclists. You can ride bike lanes and be almost 100% sure that they do not leave you stranded in some stupid place. Also simple things like hangers in the showers and toilets to hang your bags and clothes on.
Unlike in Finland I have not yet found a toilet door that can’t be closed due to the fact that the toilet is to small. There always seem to be a place to park your bike, many places have bike stands that actually work for a loaded touring bike. It’s a real holiday for the left half of the brain, alles in ordnung, someone else already did the thinking and it’s really working out.
I ride through a small town called Varel and find a McWifi and use the Internet to try to find somewhere to stay the night. It seems most places are full due to it being summer and all. When I arrive in Dangast, a small cheesy fishing village gone tourist trap, there are two camping’s and some full hotels.
One huge down by the beach, the price list is so complicated that I cant tell if it’s going to be expensive or über-expensive.
I decide to go to the other camping instead. It’s very small and uncomplicated. Just hand over 9 Euro and the transaction is done. A shower is 0.80 Euro extra and can only be paid cash when taking the shower. Not in advance.
The space that I get is between two other tents and to small for my tent, I can’t extend the lines of the tent. There is a storm coming and just as I get the tent up and all my stuff is inside the rain from hell starts.
Later it turns out that this camping is full of screaming and shouting people, also some dogs join in to the serenade. Everything is so packed together that I expect that all people will die if there is a fire in a gas tube or something similar.
Also I notice that both my neighboring tents are inhabited by people with the rare syndrome IHTSOAL, which means that they are incapable of walking outside without stepping on my tent lines. And to save electricity they have no flashlight to use when walking between the tents during the night.
Not so many hours of solid sleep before the people that didn’t drink and scream until late needs to get up and walk their barking dogs and yell to each other. The night was very cold and the sky was completely clear and full of stars. So in short – if you haven’t been to Dangast, there is absolutely no need to go there – at all – ever.
There is a break in the rain and I have a chance to dry my tent a bit before I pack it. I start by going to the supermarket in Dangast. There are big signs everywhere informing me that I am under video surveillance and that if I steal something there will be a 100 Euro extra fee for something.
Outside the supermarket there are some cafes with no-parking signs for bikes. When I find a spot where I want to park my bike and have breakfast at the over-priced cafe some old grumpy lady complains I can’t park my bike in front of the cafe. I just leave Dangast as fast as possible.
Dangast is one of these place that I really hate, to them tourists are like shoes that causes blisters, every moment around a tourist is painful and all tourists are stupid. They just need the money then the tourist can fuck off.
I will make an extreme effort to not go to places like this in the future, it’s better to bike all night than staying in a place like Dangast.
Since I was in no hurry to get to the coast town where I was going to meet my friend Andreas I started to look for accommodation well away from the coast. After just 22 km I found the town Schortens, with only 30 km or so to ride to Neuharlingersiel tomorrow.
I entered the tourist information office, was greeted by the nice staff. I said I was looking for some cheap accommodation, something like 25-30 Euro would be nice.
He started to call around and they found a room for 20 Euros without breakfast and it was only 200- 300 meters away. Sounded great to me.
When I was outside the tourist information just leaving, the guy from the tourist information left for lunch, he was going my way so he guided me to my accommodation. So much better than video surveillance and no-parking signs for bikes.
The master of the house was about 90 years old, I could understand his German quite ok. I don’t know if he made an effort to speak clearly and slowly or if he spoke a German that was in sync with my school German from the beginning of the 1980′s.
He was in to running and he showed me lots of his diplomas from races and such. In 2009 he had run 10 km in 46 minutes in the male >85 years category.
So instead of rushing to the coast in the rain I spent the afternoon and evening in my zimmer sleeping and reading.
In the morning I got my bike that had been locked away during the night, I went to Lidl and had breakfast at the bakery. Then I started to cycle through the beautiful landscape along an old railway that had been turned in to bike path.
The sun was shining and I had some tailwind. Imagine finally tailwind and this is the day when my journey will go north to the coast and then turn south for the next weeks. So my guess was that I should enjoy the tailwind as much as possible.
Soon enough I was in Neuharlingersiel, it is a small very expensive fishing village gone tourist “paradise”. I had some hours to kill before Andreas would arrive by ferry from the island Spiekeroog.
I had some lunch, it was really great food but expensive, at the local bakery they had excellent cake but again very, very expensive.
I had a look at the camping, it was about 500 meter long and 20 meter wide. One road going through it and another road going just outside it. Again a very complicated price list, I can’t really say if it would have been more expensive than my 20 Euro room or not.
Have a look for your self, and don’t forget to add the kurbeitrag, which is some tax or fee for the maintenance of something or similar.
As soon as Andreas arrived we could get out of this place and start to bike south. Since the tailwind I had been enjoying all day now was headwind I could not bike so fast. With the help of GPS and Internet and Andreas speaking German we managed to find somewhere to stay, it was some kind of movable cabin possibly used at construction sites or the circus.
We though we at least go there and have a look. When we arrived they also had a two room apartment which decided to take instead. By now it was very late and we hurried to the Landhaus where we could get some food. The restaurant had a noisy smoker room (year 2013 and smoking is still allowed indoors….) and another section for the cooler people.
The food was amazing and not very expensive. We stayed and talked until very late so in a way it was great the we couldn’t have breakfast until 9 tomorrow.
The breakfast was not so great, we sat around a big table with all the other guests, I didn’t really enjoy that concept. We packed up and got started very late.
The weather was mostly great but there was some headwind so going wasn’t so fast for me. As I mentioned earlier cycling in Germany is like balm for the left side of the brain, in addition to this I had appointed Andreas to be Reiseleiter in charge of all navigation and accommodation finding. So I just could put my brain in neutral and have a very relaxing day of cycling.
We went over fields, saw cows, went through forests, along the Ems river, over some locks, along some roads. We circled the towns of Leer and Papenburg. Once we got close to the town Heede the clouds started to be very black and I was starting to get tired. We started to check out some accommodation and Andreas had a bunch of Bike+Bett places in his GPS.
The first one we got to only had one single room left but he was nice enough to call another place in the same village and they had something. We rode over to Ferienwohnungen Mauer and they had a 2 room apartment for 28.50 Euro including breakfast.
Great deal it was, the rain started shortly after we got inside. It seems the Mauer family had done some thinking and had placed a “mini-bar” on the table.
Since it rained and we had locked our bikes away we decided to have a pizza delivered to the apartment. A family pizza and 4 beers was 17 Euro.
Since it seems to be very hard to have breakfast before 9 in this part of the world we got a late start on this day to. The breakfast was served in a strange room with one shared table, we were the only guests so I didn’t mind.
Yesterday I found a part of a plastic crate which looked like a great candidate for a DIY tent support on my bike. Today it was going to be put to the test.
Today was a repeat of yesterdays wonderful ride, today there was more riding along the water. We rode along Ems-kanal and Dortmund-ems-kanal, we saw many ships with cargo going up and down the rivers. There were many locks and we crossed forth and back over the water.
The morning was a bit cold and cloudy but the weather improved. When we stopped at Lidl to do some shopping I spied some Dutch cars, the border is just a few kilometers away and I get roaming from the Dutch mobile networks. Judging from what was in the Dutch shopping carts alcohol and soft drinks must be cheaper in Germany.
As the day progresses we see many many cyclist out riding for Saturday fun. About one in ten bikes are outfitted with rear panniers, also electric bikes are very popular.
If there is some construction work on the bike roads, there are plenty of signs saying “Umleitnung” explaining where to ride instead. If this was in Sweden the bike path/road would just end with a sign “We dug a hole” and then nothing more.
As we reached the town Meppen we started to look for accommodation, the lucky winner was Park Hotel in Lingen. It was a bit expensive but the facilities sounded promising and who wouldn’t like to live in a park?
Well, the hotel was so so and later it would turn out that it was in between the train station and the drinking district. So there was lots of disturbance from outside and also from party goers arriving back to their rooms. The hotel was a bit worn down, but not to bad. Since they had a fan in the room I decided to do some “wild washing” and drying the clothes with the fan.
We had dinner in the hotel since we got a 5 Euro voucher at check-in, the food was great, much better than the hotel.
I wanted a nice headset for my new smart phone so that I can listen to music, we went to Mediamarkt to see if they had some “Scheisse Billigt” ones. And they had.
The thing that really pisses me off is that not even really big shops with expensive stuff accepts Mastercard or Visa, just this EC card which apparently is not built in to my cards. So this means going back to the 1980′s and always looking in my wallet before ordering lunch or buying something.
It’s very annoying to have to go to the ATM all the time. I can’t blame Germany for this but I still needed to complain !
After waking up a few times from the party people in the street this nights sleep was so so. I found a note in the info material saying that they were aware of the massive disturbance from the street and that they were also really sorry about this.
Yeah right, if you are that sorry you should probably mention this before you get the money. They also said that the contents of the minibar was free so that ended up in the food bag.
The breakfast was ok, not as great as I would have expected. Today was a designated train day, maybe because I didn’t really wanted to bike all of the way in the rain.
We rolled over the street to the Lingen Hauptbahnhof and got our tickets. The train ride to Greven was uneventful, from here we had to ride our bikes 27 km to Telgte where Andreas friend Jürgen lives.
After a windy (take a guess, headwind or tailwind) ride we arrived in Telgte and Jürgens place. He makes us a fruit cake and we just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. Later there are some beers and we go out for dinner, I have a nice pizza.
As Jürgen is a painter Meister he quickly helps me with my tent support and paints it black so that it matches the rack on the bike. It looks very professional now.
We start the day with having breakfast with Jürgen before he leaves for work. Jürgen, thank you very much for your hospitality and hope to see you soon again.
We ride the short distance to the train station and start to look at interesting train information. It seemed that there were some maintenance going on so we couldn’t take the direct train to Bielefeld where we were going.
Instead we had to go in the other direction to Münster and then go on another train via Hamm. Luckily Andreas was in charge of train riding, but there was this friendly station attendant that even started to speak English to Andreas.
That never happens to me, maybe because I look more German with all my Ortlieb bags, hihi.
So I got to go to Münster and change platforms and then ride to Bielefeld, very exciting. When we arrive in Bielefeld we go to Cafe Kachelhaus , then we go to the bike store where Andreas works to see if they have spare parts for my saddle. After this we go to Andreas apartment on the top of a 950 meter high mountain. Ok, it wasn’t that high but there were some killer grades to bike up with my loaded bike.
After getting installed we go shopping and then for a tram ride to downtown, we get some fantastic sushi and then we walk back up the mountain to Andreas place. He is spending the night at his girlfriends house so I am left in charge of the apartment and mountain, there is fast Internet and a fridge so I have no problem entertaining myself.
I send an e-mail to chez Rohloff 130 km south of here asking about the possibilities for them to have a look at my crying speedhub. So I plan to stay here in Bielefeld for 3-4 days and then start to move south.