I was up and about ridiculously early this morning. We ate and drank well the previous evening so I can’t really explain why I did get up so early. Perhaps it was the bright sunshine outside which gave 6am the look of 8am. The days are now noticeably longer than they were further south earlier in the year. In a couple of weeks of course it will be the longest day of the year but as I move further north my days will continue to get longer and longer until I’m in the 24 hour sunlight zone. I wonder how my body clock will cope with that…
Anyway, at least being up early today allowed me to get packed up after my two rest days staying with my friends Dominic and Annet in Hamburg and also spend time planning the next two to three days of cycling (see previous post). Both Dominic and Annet are as relaxed as they are welcoming and it’s been wonderful to take a step back from the constant travelling, get the bike serviced (at a price! – see yesterday’s post), refresh my wardrobe in preparation for the chilly nights that await me further north and do a bit of relaxing sightseeing. That said, the day I spent leading some of the lessons at Dominic’s school on Friday left me bereft of energy by the end of the day; a reminder of just how tiring teaching can be compared to the relative ease of cycling across a continent!
So, with my day planned and my panniers packed I waved (at length) goodbye to Dominic, Annet and their children Lena and Nick and cycled off down the road. As mentioned in the previous post, the plan was to find the Ochsenweg cycle route and follow it, not just today but tomorrow as well. I cycled through the northern suburbs of Hamburg for 28 km to the village of Langeln where I found, very easily, the signs for the cycle route and began to follow it. It was all very reminiscent of following the HH-HB route last Thursday (cycling day 50 which I have yet to write about); well-signposted with regular arrows at points where there might be the slightest cause for confusion. The countryside through which I’m cycling isn’t yet as ‘Scandinavian’ as I perhaps imagined it would be, but then again I’m not yet in Scandinavia and having never previously visited Scandinavia, my impression as to what Scandinavian countryside looks like is based merely upon what I have seen in pictures or on the TV. Are such carefully selected images ever a true reflection of what a region actually looks like when you get there? There’s a discussion point.
But back to Germany. A car boot sale was taking up much of the centre of the centre of Bad Branstedt. I paused for coffee in a nearby ice cream parlour but didn’t invest in either an ice cream or any of the assorted junk being sold off. An hour or so later while cycling through Padenstedt I missed the Ochsenweg signs and ended up in the larger town of Neumünster. It was a far cry from old Münster that I visited last weekend and with no reason to stop I just kept on pedalling eventually hooking back up with the cycle route a few kilometres north of the town.
During this last section of the day the wind picked up considerably. It seemed to be coming from the north which made for more strenuous pedalling but also as I sit on the campsite tonight, makes for a chilly evening. My investment in a thick fleece jacket yesterday afternoon in Hamburg is already paying off. On the subject of the campsite… Well, it’s not going to get into the top 5 or probably even the top 10. Upon arrival I stood for a few minutes waiting for someone to come to the reception desk and admired the pretty view of the lake next to the site and an almost adjacent empty field. This is going to be a lovely place to camp! Alas no… The chap serving me was to the point and made me feel that I was being admitted to a remand facility with his matter of fact requests; fill in this form, sign at the bottom, do you want a shower? (There’s a charge of 50 cents per minute via a smart card; perhaps I’ll get a refund if found innocent…), here’s your toilet roll… Once I had been processed I was escorted to the cell, sorry, pitch, or rather the plot of land between two pitches that are already taken by the caravans of long-term residents (their cases must be clogged up in the legal system…) both of whom are absent (escaped?). The field – still presumably mostly empty – and the nice view of the lake is somewhere beyond a few more rows of caravans. I wonder if the terms of my stay allow me to venture that far without an alarm sounding? [Stop!]
So, that’s the first day of part 2 of the ride done. It’s nice to be back on the road cycling a fully-functioning (no clicks!) bicycle. Long may it continue!
Update, 7.30pm: There’s now an alarm going off!!!