The sky was grey and brooding with dark clouds as we left Hamburg. It didn’t take long for the heavens to open.
At first, it was light, nothing more than a drizzle. On and off. But the further we cycled from Hamburg, the heavier it got. It was one of those days that had we had the luxury of time, we would have stopped and found somewhere dry and warm to camp. Preferably a hotel with a comfortable bed.
But with the Brexit deadline clock ticking relentlessly, time was not our ally, and we had no choice but to keep pushing on.
Somewhere near a small village of Harmstorf, the rain got so heavy it forced us to seek shelter. Especially since we were not soaked to the bone (yet) and wanted to stay that way.
A morning view in Hamburg and the bus shelter book swap.
We found a charming bus stop with enough space to wheel our bikes under, too. The best thing about the shelter, that warmed a book lover’s heart, were the books.
The locals used the bus shelter as a book swap place and there were shelves full of books. Shame they were all in German and my German is not quite good enough to tackle books. Picture books maybe.
. . .
A little side note about languages. In Finland, we learn a lot more languages at school than in the UK (for example). We kind of have to. You can’t rely on people speaking Finnish when you travel. Unless you go to Malaga.
I learnt Swedish, English, German, French and Spanish. Can I have a conversation in those languages now? Yes, to English, of course. But the others? No, I cannot.
I can use basic phrases but often struggle to understand the responses. It’s such a shame. Which is why I will dedicate time to improving my language skills once the dust settles on our move.
. . .
We sheltered under the bus stop until the heaviest rain passed and we deemed it safe to carry on.
Things got rather wetter and muddier in Lüneburger Heide National Park.
From there, our route took us through a beautiful national park, Lüneburger Heide. We could have easily spent a couple of days riding around the park and exploring it properly, but of course time didn’t allow that either. Nor was the weather the best for exploring.
The rain had also made some trails tricky to tackle on a touring bike. But it was worth it. Especially when we stumbled upon Totengrund with a stunning view of the valley below.
Thankfully, it stopped raining for a moment so we could get some photos. Which once again don’t do justice to the view in real life. That’s why we need to invest in a proper camera so can get better pictures. Any recommendations on lightweight cameras gratefully received.
The rain, however, had not finished with us yet.
As we left the park, the heavens opened again and this time we got drenched. It was a soaking on bar with the one we had in Finland. By the end of the ride, I was squeezing water out of my socks.
Which was why we had to camp at a campsite rather than in the wild. With rain forecast for the whole night and into the following morning, the only option to dry our clothes was to find a campsite with a washer-dryer.
Oh, the joy of getting out of the wet clothes and into a warm shower.
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The morning after the drenching, I said goodbye to another piece of equipment. This time on purpose.
Instead of using padded shorts, I used extra padding for my seat. It was still soaked through in the morning, so it was no good. It also weighed a ton in its dripping wet state. So I left it behind. By this point, my bottom had become used to hours in the saddle, so I didn’t really need it anymore.
The skies were still threatening when we left the campsite in Bisbinger, but as we headed further south, more breaks appeared in the dark clouds.
By the time we reached Stolzenau where we camped that night, we had covered 108 kilometres and made up some distance. We’d only managed 65 kilometers the day before because of the heavy rain. But that’s just how it goes.
Sometimes it’s the heavy winds that slow you down, sometimes it’s the rain. Other times it might be the terrain or you are just not feeling it.
Thankfully, there were only a few days when one of us wasn’t feeling it. Neither did we ever have a slump day at the same time. When one of us had an off day, the other could keep the show running. Sometimes with kind encouragement, sometimes with tough love. Maybe more often with tough love if I’m being truthful.
In Stolzenau we found another C&A and a Woolworths! Justin tried to get another discounted pair of the shorts, but they were out of his size. We were tempted by ice-cream shops in every corner (they seem to love their ice-cream in Germany), but passed them by. Daily €5 ice-cream stops were not in our budget.
The C&A and Woollies in Stolzenau.
Since there was no need to charge our phones or to dry our clothes (yay!), we opted for ‘wild’ camping. We found a great spot by the river on the edge of a campervan stop.
They are cheaper alternatives to campsites for campervans and caravans. You can still get electricity and have some facilities like running water and a place to empty your toilet. An actual toilet would have been a bonus for us, but by now we were very used to digging holes in bushes.
It was an incredibly calm night. A welcome break from all the winds and rain we’d had lately. Once again, we wished we had a proper camera to better capture the beautiful reflections of the bridge and the full moon on the still surface of the river.
Views at our camping spot in Stolzenau.
After dinner (and a couple of cheap German beers), it was time to crawl into bed.
Before I go, a word about the price of alcohol. Why is it that it has to be so expensive in some countries and so cheap in others?
In Germany, we could get very decent lager for 29 cents per can. And then you got some of your money back (can’t remember how much) when you took the cans back.
You also get money back in Finland, Sweden and I think Denmark, too, but the alcohol is so much more expensive. As it is in the UK.
Saying that people would drink more if it were cheaper is total bollocks. Like saying that people will smoke less when cigarettes are expensive. The truth is that if people want to drink or smoke, they’ll find the money somewhere.
Maybe eat less or have their kids wear the same old shoes and jacket for longer.
So higher prices as a prevention don’t work. We should demand cheaper alcohol for all!
I hope you had an enjoyable reading experience today. If you are a new reader, and haven’t yet ordered our newsletter, you can do that here and get notified of new posts.
Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.