14-15/7/16. Brrrrr! It’s chilly here in Europe! After 7+ months of 25-35°, it has to be said that northern European temperatures of 15-20° feel decidedly nippy. Even Stephen has been wearing 3 layers at times. Please can we have our third successive summer?!
Still recovering from the travelling, we had a leisurely (i.e. late!) start to Thursday which was to be our first day back on the bikes.
Waving goodbye and expressing our thanks to Charlotte for her and Bernard’s kind, warm hospitality, we set off into the centre of Berlin. What a lovely ride to the Brandenburg Gate! Segregated cycle paths, dedicated traffic lights, smooth surfaces. This is how it should be done. Everywhere.
London, are you taking notes? After all, if the Brexit campaigners are to be believed we now have £350 million more each week to spend on whatever we want, don’t we? Oops! I’ve just remembered that Boris and Farage had their fingers crossed when “someone else” uttered that lie! Oh well. “Not to worry. Let’s mess up the future for our children anyway because we want to live in the past.”
Getting off the soapbox and returning to the narrative, we went to our second favourite sort of shop (camping equipment) to try to buy a replacement part for our stove, Stephen having managed to make it inoperative due to cross threading the join with the gas canister. No joy. So it was a new, cheapo stove unfortunately.
Heading for the German/Polish border on the Baltic coast, we made our way out of the centre following the route in a book lent to us by Charlotte (the never-ending stream of kindness shown to us by Warmshowers hosts continues to warm the cockles of our hearts and reinforce our determination to offer to reciprocate once we are back home). We were not always in the smartest parts of the city but the contrast to Japanese urban areas was marked – there was much more feeling of “space” and more greenery. And also far, far fewer electrical and telephone cables marring the view.
Surprisingly quickly (although if we think about it Berlin is not a “large” city in world terms) we emerged into patches of countryside interspersed with a mixture of smart commuter villages and towns “blessed” with Communist era architecture. It is an area of lakes and forests which appeals to the German psyche – and ours.
The time spent “faffing” around shopping in the centre meant that we did not get as far along the route as intended so we took a 5 km detour to a campsite beside Liepnitzsee (“see” = lake) where Christine “crashed”, having nearly 11 hours sleep – more travel recovery on top of the renewed exertions of cycling.
On Friday morning we were faced with the dilemma of how to get back to the main route. Did we simply reverse the previous evening’s detour or try to “cut the corner” and join the route further up? We plumped for the latter.
Initially we followed the route suggested by the Garmin – which took us along forest tracks that gradually deteriorated into nothing. Retracing our steps to the road, we decided to avoid the ultimate humiliation of returning all the way to our starying point and headed the opposite way.
It was a pleasant ride but it was the long way round. We ended up doing about 25 km to reach a village that we had thought was 7 or 8 km from our campsite! So again we had to adjust our expectations of where we would be spending the night. Luckily this part of Germany is a holiday area and campsites are not too far apart.
It was extremely pleasant, riding along mainly flat roads and paths through forest areas and alongside lakes. In one small village we stopped at a “Farradkirche” (bicycle church). The connection with bikes was not clear to us unless it was that it was beside a recognised cycle route but it was a nice little church that was restored in the 1990’s.
Arriving at the campsite the lady expressed some surprise that we had found it (it wasn’t straightfoward with only the map and no signage to go by). It seemed to be mainly for a dozen or so permanent caravans rather than passing tent-based campers but we were joined later by two other cycling couples.
The campsite was at the basic end of the spectrum with one compisting toilet, a single tap supplying drinking water and no shower but it was cheap at €9 and beautifully peaceful right by the lake in which Stephen took a dip next morning.