12-13/7/16. We and, more importantly, the bikes made it to Germany in one piece. The flights (plural – we had a 3 hour stopover at Heathrow) were unremarkable thankfully other than a bit of a struggle to get Euro coin(s) for the baggage trolleys at Berlin as we had only brought notes with us which was a sensible decision at the time (less weight, uncertain if/when we would be in the Eurozone and high chance of losing loose coins).
Charlotte, our Warmshowers host, had kindly offered to meet us at the airport and whisked Stephen and the luggage to her home, only to find that Christine’s taxi driver obviously knew a quicker route or had driven faster.
While breakfasting in the garden the next morning, we could see the rainclouds gathering. Perhaps we had brought the rain with us from Japan.
Fortunately it did not last long, allowing Stephen to reconstruct the bikes outside while Christine unpacked the blue Ikea bags which we used on the plane (to avoid the charge for more than one bag each) into the panniers and went shopping for toiletries and to restock the food stores (we had a clear out of old stuff and potentially leaky bottles before leaving Japan). Stephen had his own shopping expedition later – to Germany’s largest bike shop for new chains! Although our German was very rusty (and Stephen’s starts from a much lower base) it was a relief to accomplish these tasks much more easily than in Japan. That is not to say we didn’t enjoy the challenges and different experiences there – it was simply good to be somewhere where we know how things “work”!
Over dinner we met Bernhard, Charlotte’s husband, who had been in Stuttgart on business the previous evening, with the conversation majoring on sharing experiences of bike touring of course!
After dinner, we (Christine at least) had to “sing for our supper”. Charlotte had suggested that we give a talk on our travels to a local group which meets regularly to discuss a variety of topics. They were a friendly bunch of about 10, all of similar age to us, and it was a very pleasant evening.