“Where Have All The Ferries Gone?”

17-18/8/16. The improvement in the weather and the wide open countryside made for a spectacular sunset over the sea to the west and the next morning dawn was lovely too, although drying the dew on the tent again took a while. With nothing around us apart from the now closed restaurant we had to get under way to find a bakery for the rolls for breakfast.

Once fed, we followed the coast southwards to the Weser, the river that flows through Bremen. The city itself is a fair way inland but its modern day port, Bremerhaven, is on the estuary and is a busy container port. The route took us through this and we were mighty impressed with the scale of the operation.

We pottered about in Bremerhaven, having lunch (always important) and trying to buy the map of the last section of the German coast (unsuccessfully) before heading to the ferry across the river. Or so we thought!

Arriving at the dock there were big signs saying that, because of damage to the dock on the other side of the river, ferry operations were cancelled for the next few months. We did read that there was a “ferry replacement” bus service which caused our hearts to sink, given that the UK equivalents for trains do not take bikes, but then we noticed that there was capacity for a limited number of bikes. As we were the only cyclists around at the time we guessed we were “first in the queue” so were hopeful that we would get a ride.

So it was to prove, and, in fact, 5 other bikes turned up after us and all were allowed onboard. The journey took more than half an hour since we had to go quite a long way inland to the first crossing point – not surprising really since if it was close the ferry would soon go out of business.

A leisurely afternoon’s ride took us to Burhave where there was a busy campsite which offered a free bottle of beer or packet of Haribo sweets on check-in. I am sure you can guess which of us went for the beer and which for the sweets!

The next morning (Thursday) saw us riding to the next ferry, to cross the bay to Wilhelmshaven rather than cycle all the way round, only to find there were only two crossings a day and we had missed the first one by an hour and faced a 7 hour wait for the next one!

That will teach us to try cheating on cycling the whole coast! We set off by bike and it was all rather lovely – not least because we had a gentle tailwind from the north pushing us along. The big excitement was finding somewhere to buy lunch. We had anticipated getting it in Wilhelmshaven but there was nothing in the way of shops on the ride around the bay.

Stopping to inspect a map at a road junction near the bottom of the bay, Stephen noticed a trolley sign in a village a little way inland so we headed for it only to find the small supermarket was closed from 12 until 2. Grrr! Christine then noticed a small bakery just around the corner which was open. At least someone wanted our custom.

And it was a real find because in addition to the usual bread rolls and coffee they had a rhubarb and meringue cake which came in enormous portions for €3. We shared one between us and it was superb.

As we changed direction to head towards Wilhelmshaven the wind, of course, became more of a hindrance. We stopped in the little town of Varel to look for a map – becoming more urgent as the one we had only went as far as Wilhelmshaven – unsuccessfully, before riding the 10 km to Dangast where we had decided to spend the night.

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