Monday 6th August
Donauworth to Augsburg: 2 hours 24 minutes, 40km
“It was a short cycling day, today. I followed my own route from Donauworth to Augsburg, picking smaller, quieter looking roads on Google maps. While there is no signposted route to follow and often its less scenic, I enjoy finding my own route between towns. It requires looking at the map more, planning and getting lost, but makes for an adventure. The most satisfying thing however, is how few other cyclists there are along the way, making my trip feel a bit less insignificant.
Augsburg, just like almost every town it seems, has a lot of charm. There is a great sense of history to the place. I guess that might be because it is the 3rd oldest town in Germany. Like Ulm it is a Goldilocks town. Not too big and overwhelming, yet not too small and quiet – its the perfect size, laid back with enough to keep one busy and happy. The main square is lined with cafes, luckily a colleague of mine from my 5 month internship back in Cape Town, grew up in Augsburg and so I knew exactly which one to go to, for an ice cream. (Thanks Jacs)
I was feeling quite lethargic and didn’t really feel like doing touristy things but eventually conjured up the energy to leave the comfort of the cafe. I headed up to the old catholic church and arrived just as it started raining. I found a nice place under a canopy just outside the church. I sat down and pulled out my phone and began reading an ebook. About five metres to my left was a man also sitting down and writing feverishly on a notepad.
He started talking to me in German, I didn’t really want to chat as I had just started reading my book and told him I don’t speak German, which is true and thought would be sufficient as a conversation ender. He was wearing a battered old coat jacket and remained hunched over, smoking a cigarette. He spoke again, in broken English saying that people say he’s a mad man. I just smiled, dismissively nodded and turned back to my book. I couldn’t help but notice the length of his fingernails. Each was long, yellow and eye catching, even from a distance.
He got up and approached me and started telling me about the towns history. All was normal up until this point. He then said “let me show you my system” and flipped out his notepad and placing it on a nearby table, proceeded to scrawl out his name. Scratching out letters here and there, he would form a new sentence using the letters in his name. He did this -seemingly well rehearsed routine- multiple times, and each resulting sentence ended up being a biblical type of quote, concept or saying. He claimed to be telepathic and in his past life he was a German philosopher and that Emmylou Harris (an American country singer) was his soul mate (he proved this by scratching out more letters found on the side of a cigarette box). The thought of not being reunited with Emmylou until the year 2037, was obviously too much to bear, as he broke down in tears and retreated back to his original seat. Five minutes later he got up, left the canopy and walked into the church. I left shortly after that, finding a more peaceful place to read my book.
I was staying that evening with Astrid and Mewes, a couple of cycle tourists who have spent a total of 5 years on the road, covering almost 40 countries. They have a wonderfully minimalistic flat, and we had a large pasta dinner, whilst seated on the floor around a low wooden table. They were both very friendly and had many interesting stories to share from their travels; including encounters with grizzly bears in Canada, harsh weather in Patagonia and challenging desert crossings in Asia. They are busy working now to save up for further bicycling adventures and Astrid is writing a book about their experiences. I feel very inspired by them.”