The campsite at Missunde really was a gem. Every box on the Cycling-Europe-travelling-cyclist-ideal-campsite list was ticked. Twice. The previous number one site of the trip had been in Orléans; but it didn’t have this:
By the time I went to bed last night, as you can see, the sky was clear (making for a chilly night – more of that in a moment), and when I awoke this morning there were still no clouds to be seen. The sun was rising above the opposite shore of the loch / fiord / sea lake (take your pick) and I assumed a meerkat-like position by my tent in order to take in the beautiful view as well as the warming rays. Stunning! And to think, it was only bad planning that had got me there… How fortunate that forward cycle planning is not my style.
As I packed up I chatted at length with a chap called William from South Africa. I had exchanged nods with him last night but we had a good old talk about life, the universe and everything. He had lived in Germany for some time and was staying on the site in a tiny tent as he had not yet completed the renovation of his boat which was, apparently, bobbing in the water just around the corner. He talked about his two older children, burnt out with the stresses of their jobs at 40 and 45 respectively. At 70 he couldn’t really figure out why they did what they did to end up in such a state. He has a younger son – just 8 years old – here in Germany (although William is not with his mother); let’s hope that by the time he turns 40 he isn’t as frazzled as his two half brothers. The conversation gave me time to reflect that having decided to quit the minor level rat race of teaching for a while wasn’t a bad idea at all.
On a more practical level, William advised me on the correct use of a solar panel. Back in Hamburg I bought a replacement PowerMonkey Extreme. It means that I now have two batteries and an updated solar panel as I head north into more remote areas of Europe. Alas the cable link between the panel and the battery has failed and I need to replace it. I’ve been in touch with the manufacturers via Twitter and they’ve been very useful in giving advice about how to find out what the problem is. They will send out a replacement cable if needed (but to where?) or I could try and buy another one myself (I’ve already been to Saturn – the German shop rather than the planet – but no luck there). William’s thoughts on how to maximise power from the panels, once the set up is working again, were noted.
The cycling started with a short ride back to the ferry that I had taken yesterday afternoon. Once on the other side of the water I decided to no longer follow the Ochsenweg that I’ve been trying to keep to (most of the time) north of Hamburg choosing instead to link the small twins and villages together by taking the back roads. The tactic worked well and I was already at my destination before midday. Another bit of crap planning on my part – it was only 40 km from Missunde to Flensburg – but my average Is maintained, just, at 75.1 km/day and I will have some time later today to think about cycling through Denmark.
Hills have returned to be a feature of the cycling, albeit only small ones. This has been the first time for several weeks I have actually looked at the profile generated by Cyclemeter:
Flensburg is most definitely more Scandinavian than Germanic. I think the Danish influence here in the border area is significant. William mentioned the existence of Danish language schools in the area during our early morning chat – I passed one en route (see picture below) – and the Danish flag crops up now and again. Am I hearing Danish when I listen to people in the street? I think that perhaps I am. My assumption was that it was heavily accented German but I’m suspecting otherwise. The town has only been in Prussian hands since 1864 which, in the great scheme of things, is no time at all. Prior to that it was part of Denmark which is now just a couple of kilometres away.
Tonight I’m back in the tent in the garden of WarmShowers hosts close to the centre of Flemsburg. Argentinian Javier (who I saw in Orléans and then met properly in Maastricht and who is also cycling to Nordkapp) is also in Flensburg tonight. I’ve suggested he join me in the garden (the hosts described it as ‘large’ so I hope that’s OK) but meeting up with him could be an issue as he doesn’t have access to mobile internet.
Apart from my continued search for the replacement lead, I also need to invest in a new sleeping bag. The last few nights have been decidedly chilly in the tent and I can’t seeing getting warmer the further I travel north. I’ve already found a potential Mountain Equipment replacement which will suffice down to 3°c. I just need to check the specifications of my current bag to avoid replacing like with like.
Tomorrow Denmark and, well, I have no idea. Stayed tuned for more fun from country number 6 in the days to come…
UPDATE: I’m now with the WarmShowers hosts and have just enjoyed a good meal with Franziska and Klaus. Communicating with Javier did prove to be an issue and he is on a campsite elsewhere. I bumped into him however at the outdoors shop earlier this evening where I was looking into replacing my sleeping bag. On that score, life is complicated! The manufacturer – Mountain Equipment – has changed the way it describes its bags making a like for like comparison tricky. I didn’t buy. It’s not yet urgent; I will keep researching…