|Journal for 7-06-2007 : Tamstadt|
Did something smart last night. I set the bike fly up over the head of my tent. When it got light at 4:30am I was able to roll over and go back to sleep.
Did something stupid last night. I couldn't find the garbage bins, so I left my rubbish in a bag outside tent. Woken by mice rummage through my rubbish (until I moved it outside someone else's tent :-).
Decided it (probably) wasn't that far to Bremen today, so decided that even though I got a late start, I'd follow the Wesser bike route to see here it would lead me. On a tour of every bit of parve (cobble stones, the worst of all cycling surfaces with panniers) they could find, and put in a few new bits for me. By Neinburg, 30km north of where I'd camped, I'd ridden 50km (and only gotten lost once) and it was time to stop for lunch.
There have been thousands of other cycle tourists in Germany. They are usually 50yo or more, ride a 27" hybrid style bike with big 2" tyres - back one usually flat - riding bolt upright at 15kph downhill. They set out at 9am, follow their ultra detail bike route atlases to the letter, stop at precisely 12 noon for beer and food at the uncountably numerous Gasthouses (cross between a B&B and a pub) along the route, do another hour or two in the afternoon (usually slightly lubricated), then stop for the night another gasthouse. They must be the only people in the world who gain weight cycle touring.
I'm starting to get the hang of German signage. ALL German primary and secondary roads have uniform signage. At every point these roads meet there are signs explaining the next town, and usually also the next major town found in that direction. At the entrance to a built up area, there is a sign with the name of that town, and occasionally a "stadtplan" (town map). When leaving there is always a sign saying the name of the town you are leaving, the name of the next town, and how far it is. Route numbers are wussy French concept, so are particularly rare.
I have learned the hard way that I need to check *every* time I leave a German town that I am in on the road I think I am. Leaving Neinburg today I missed a turn (i think it was while giving the finger to a driver telling me to ride on the footpath), and rode for 7km before the built up area became farmland (this tends to happen instantly, as no paddock is too small to cultivate in Europe) and the sign told me I was heading the wrong way.
Plotted my own course from Neinburg. For the most part it was a great route (i even had a tailwind!), the only exception being when I slipped back onto the Wesser bike route for what looked on my maps to be a short cut. It was in fact another stretch of cobbles.
Lots of great riding on the open road leading to Bremen. Stopped for another punnet of fresh strawberries. (Who'd have thought that of me!) Chatted to the vendor lady while I scoffed the lot. And the chat was all in German. (Who'd have thought that of me!)
Had to ditch road and rejoin the bike path into Bremen (for navigation reasons). After some more awful cobbles I was speeding along next to the part of the Wesser (almost) navigable to major shipping. Path lead me right into down town, comprised of cathedrals, moder buildings, tram tracks and bike paths (made of cobbles and pavers).
Took a stupid photo of myself in front if the cathedral.
Found my second "WC" in Germany at the main train station. This was no ordinary toilet, it was a "WC - Centre", which means you have to pay to get in. Intricate system of bars and gates with a supervising attendant (who is definitely *not* a cleaner) prevents people getting in without paying. I accidentally set off the emergency exit alarm trying to get out.
Very very popular bike path lead me out of town, no worries. At one intersection, simultaneous signs for 13 distinct tourist bike routes.
Campground lady spoke excellent English with a perfect Aussie accent. She'd spent her formative years in Australia.
Camped next to Bambi and friends.
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