23 October 2019

Update October 2019

Countries visited: Sweden, Germany

Cycled mileage in October: 826.4km
Cycled mileage per country: 44.7km Sweden, 781.7km Germany
Total cycled mileage incl. October: 58,273.8km
October mileage not cycled: 440.8km (Ferry)

Days per country: 3d - Sweden, 13d - Germany
Days cycling: 12d

Technical failures: 3 Punctures

Link to this month's route

We had finished last month in Kungsbacka about 40 kilometres south of Gothenburg. In Kungsbacka we had found a host on Warmshowers (a hospitality network for touring cyclists). The night had been stormy outside and even the next morning the wind was fairly strong. At least it was rather sunny. We got a late start and despite the headwind and the photogenic landscape on the way to Gothenburg we rolled into town in the early afternoon. We had sent requests to a number of Warmshowers members in town but when we checked our emails we hadn't heard back from any of them. Reluctantly we booked a cheap-ish hostel. Together with the booking confirmation we received an invitation from one of the hosts we had texted. Bummer! Needless to say that the hostel booking was non-refundable. We checked in to our rather filthy hostel. Unsurprisingly the price was the only thing it had going for it. We couldn't be bothered to spend much time indoors really and so we just crammed our bags in the ramshackle lockers and went out to explore Gothenburg. We had booked tickets for the ferry to Kiel in Germany for the day after tomorrow. This left us with another day for sightseeing anyway and so we mostly just wandered around aimlessly.
The last kilometres to Gothenburg
Strolling around Gothenburg
After a rather sleepless night in our disgusting hostel we set off to another round of sightseeing the next morning. We explored the historic Haga neighbourhood, the Cathedral, the indoor Fish Market and the Market Hall. By mid-afternoon we were back in the hostel and chatted with other travellers for the remainder of the day.
Market Hall
On the way to the Haga neighbourhood
Fish Market
The next day we were booked on the evening ferry to Kiel. Unfortunately check out at our hostel was at 10am. We persuaded them to let us stay in the communal area and so we put in an admin-day until we left in the late afternoon. We briefly stopped to do some shopping and then we cycled straight to the ferry terminal. Boarding for the sailing had just begun and so we were ushered to the car deck immediately. We parked our bikes in a storage room and then continued to the passenger deck where we checked in to our 2-bed cabin. We had dinner with the stuff we had bought earlier, Dominik popped some anti-nausea pills as he is prone to sea-sickness and then we went straight to bed.
Ready for the sailing to Kiel
Our cabin
Thanks to the anti-nausea pills Dominik slept like a stone while Simon was kept awake by the loud music from the discotheque on the deck underneath. Whoever visited the discotheque – they kept partying until 2am and Simon was rather shattered when we arrived in Kiel just after 9am the next morning. After some rather sunny days in Gothenburg, Germany greeted us with overcast skies and drizzle. It was 4th October and the day before had been German Unity Day. When we arrived in town they were busy cleaning up after the big party. Even though we craved a coffee we couldn't be bothered to stay in the city centre while the cleaning was in full swing. Instead we pushed on and got our well-deserved coffee at a bakery well out of town. The rest of the day went by rather uneventfully. The route could have been nice but it was almost continuous rain. In the evening, drenched and shivering we reached Hennstedt where we had found a Warmshowers host. A hot shower, some delicious pasta and good conversations with our host Jürgen brought a miserable first day back in Germany to a nice ending.
Arrival in Kiel
First kilometres in Germany
On the way south
Waiting out another rain shower
Jürgen had to leave at 7am the next morning and so we got up early as well. We said our farewells and just after dawn we hit the road. Not for long anyway. It was damp and freezing cold. In the next village we sat down in a cafe and decided to wait until the sun was a bit higher. When we left the cafe it turned out Dominik's rear tyre was flat. There was a gas station just down the road so we pushed the bikes there, fixed the puncture and used the compressor at the gas station to inflate the tyre. Today's destination was Hamburg. The shortest route from Hennstedt would have been a mere 70 kilometres but we had elected for the more scenic route along the Elbe river. That route would work out at 120 kilometres. We had found another Warmshowers host in Hamburg and Jochen wouldn't be back home until 8pm anyway. The weather was rather sunny and the route through forests was quite nice. Until the next puncture that is. And the third puncture a mere ten kilometres after the second. Eventually we reached the outskirts of Hamburg in the late afternoon. It was too early to meet with our host Jochen and so we asked Tobias, a friend from Warmshowers, whether he would be in to meeting for a coffee. He was and an hour later we sat in a cosy cafe and were chatting about bicycles and cycle touring. Conveniently the cafe was open till 8pm and so we said farewell to Tobias when the cafe closed and continued straight to Jochen's flat. We parked our bike in the cellar and then we chatted some more.
Sunny weather on the way to Hamburg
Arrival in Hamburg
The next morning Jochen was off early. It was the weekend but he would be on a hike with friends all day. While Jochen was away we were planning to take a day off the bikes and to stroll around Hamburg for a bit. We wandered around the port, the old warehouse district Speicherstadt, the Old Elbe Tunnel and the old town with the famous Town Hall. The weather was rather mixed and it was pretty chilly and so we also spent some time indoors in a cafe. In the late afternoon we slowly walked back to Jochen's flat where we spent some more time exchanging travel stories with our host.
Hamburg old town
Hamburg Port
Old Elbe Tunnel
The next morning we got up early but outside it was still freezing cold and so we faffed about for a while. When we left around 10am the temperatures were back to pleasant and there was ample sunshine. We cycled to the Port of Hamburg and took a ferry across the Elbe. From there we continued towards Bremen on the route that Jochen had recommended. It was a nice ride but as always the scenic route was much longer than the direct route. Our friends Judith and Mirko were expecting us in Bremen that night and we had a whopping 130 kilometres to go. It was a slog. Some of the roads were unpaved and fairly muddy and for the second part of the day we had to battle strong headwind. Just after sunset we rolled into town, found our friend's flat and called it a day.
On the ferry across the Elbe
The way to Bremen
We had been chatting with Judith and Mirko until 1am last night and predictably it was quite late when we got up the next morning. During a very late breakfast Judith invited us to stay one more day and we happily accepted. For most of the day we stayed indoors, exchanged travel stories and prepared dinner together.
With our friend Judith in Bremen
The next morning we got a late start and said farewell to our friends. We briefly stopped in the old town and took some pictures of the Market Place, the Town Hall and St. Peter's Church. It was overcast when we left Bremen and it remained like that with some on-and-off drizzle. In the afternoon we reached Vechta. Not much special about the town itself but we had found some cheap accommodation in the centre.
Sightseeing in Bremen
The grey weather continued the next morning but at least it was a bit warmer. Today's destination was Osnabrück where Warmshowers hosts Susanne and Stefan were waiting for us. The ride to Osnabrück was rather uneventful. The only noteworthy sights along the way were a massive stretch of marshland where they were cutting peat. The other sight was the site of the Varus Battle where an alliance of Germanic tribes destroyed three Roman legions in 9AD. After that battle the Romans never again attempted to extend their empire east of the Rhine river.
In the afternoon we reached Osnabrück and quickly found the house of our hosts. After a hot shower and some chatting Susanne and Stefan gave us a quick tour around the old town and through the medieval Town Hall. We rounded off the day with a visit to a local brewery where we had some delicious food – and some beers obviously.
Signpost for the site of the Varus Battle
Osnabrück old town
Susanne had to leave for work early the next morning but Stefan had a day off. We had breakfast with Stefan and then he accompanied us for a good 20 kilometres towards the town of Münster. The route he had recommended worked out to be rather beautiful and wouldn't it have been for the strong headwind and the occasional rain showers it would have been an enjoyable day. In the late afternoon we reached Münster where another Warmshowers host was waiting for us. Lars lived in a flat share and soon we sat in the kitchen together with his flatmate Ralf and were exchanging travel stories.
Crossing into our home state North Rhine-Westphalia
After some more chatting during the breakfast we didn't get going before late morning. And we didn't go far. Lars and Ralf wanted to show us the Saturday market and so we joined them for an early lunch at one of the market stalls. We also got to know some more friends of them and ended up chatting with them until mid-afternoon. We were planning to continue to Haltern where we had an invitation from another Warmshowers host. The original plan had been to take a long, if scenic, route but we soon realized it was too late to take the long way. Eventually we said our farewells and left Münster just after 3pm. We elected for the shortest route possible. A mere two hours later we rolled into Haltern. We were welcomed by Sabine and Thorsten and their two kids and invariably we found ourselves with a bottle of beer in our hands chatting about cycle touring. Sabine and Thorsten had done a bicycle trip from Germany to Singapore themselves and so there were a lot of stories and experiences to be discussed. We didn't get to bed until well after midnight.
Posing with our hosts in Münster
On the way to Haltern
Predictably we got up late the next morning. We had planned to cycle on but Sabine invited us to stay longer. After many short nights since our return to Germany we felt shattered and happily accepted. In the afternoon and with the help of some coffee we did find the energy to accompany our hosts on a walk through the heathland around Haltern. There were some scattered rain showers but overall the weather cleared up during the afternoon. After a delicious lunch in an Indian restaurant the weather finally switched to sunny and we spent the rest of the day in the garden of our hosts, chatting some more.
Heathland around Haltern
We didn't get a super early start the next morning but we did manage to leave before noon. We didn't have to go far anyway. Next on was Wesel where new Warmshowers hosts were waiting for us. Nina and Gregor wouldn't be home before 6pm and so we faffed about on the way. The weather was sunny and pleasantly warm and we took some extensive breaks in the sunshine. Just after 5pm we crossed the Rhine river. The first time we saw Germany's most famous river in 3.5 years! Only kilometres later we reached the house of our hosts. We had a nice evening chatting with Nina and Gregor.
On the way to Wesel
Back on the Rhine river
We did get an early start the next morning. Unfortunately the weather was back to overcast and just minutes after leaving the first rain shower started. The rest of the day went by rather uneventfully. In the late afternoon we reached a suburb of Krefeld and took a break in a cafe. Our friends Lina and Christian had invited us to stay with them on the last night of this journey and their flat was just a few kilometres away. They wouldn't be back from work before 5pm and so we had to pass some time. Eventually we left the cafe and cycled the short way into the centre of Krefeld. Lina and Christian welcomed us with some sparkling wine. Later we prepared dinner together and after a lot more chatting we went to bed well after midnight.
Coffee break in Krefeld
With Lina and Christian
The next day was the 16th October 2019 and the last day of this journey. We had embarked on this journey 3.5 years earlier on 16th April 2016. On this morning we were a mere 60 kilometres away from our starting point in Langenfeld. Lina and Christian had to leave early and so we got an early start as well. Against all odds the weather was sunny and we made good progress. We stopped for a second breakfast in Düsseldorf and then we tackled the last kilometres. Eventually we reached the outskirts of Langenfeld and at 1pm we were back where we had started exactly 58,273.8 kilometres earlier. We were welcomed by family and friends and just minutes later new rain started. What a finale!
We will follow up with some thoughts on being back home and with sort of an epilogue shortly. Stay tuned!
Passing through Düsseldorf
Back in Langenfeld