Germans Can’t Build Bridges




Another morning, another grey sky. I can’t believe that after 300 miles in continental Europe the weather has managed to stay so dismal! I was off in good time, but the going was slow: the main road was closed to bikes, so I had to use the indirect lanes and back-roads instead. It’s times like these that the GPS is a life saver, and I managed to wind my way to the ferry that would take me across the Elbe.

Apart from the crossing of the Elbe, I made my way across several other rivers today – the sort that would usually be unremarkably bridged. But in Germany they seem instead to favour small car ferries – three times today I had to stop and wait, making for a long day on the bike, especially seeing as the crossing of the Elbe took over an hour. In truth however these pauses were a welcome distraction from the monotony of the landscape – flat farmland disrupted occasionally by the odd wind farm, the grey turbines indistinct against the iron sky. The weather stayed persistently grim, until around 6 the sun finally peaked out from the clouds, and began to burn them away.

After crossing the Elbe I travelled south-west, passing Bremen late in the day. Having cycled my 100 miles, I picked up signs for a campsite: when I arrived I was beckoned to follow a man in a car, who spoke little English, but apparently owned the site. He led me through a small shanty town of semi-permanent caravans, many of which were rundown and decorated with garish gnomes. Arriving at the pitch, he gave me a key to the bathroom and left me to my own devices. My expectations of the showers wasn’t high, but they turned out to be palatial in proportion, and well maintained. Happy to be clean I spent the evening chatting to an older Dutch couple who were the only other people in a tent. The lady told me about a trip she’d done last year, cycling from Holland to east Africa, and warned me about the roads in Spain which had claimed the life of one the others on that expedition. On that sombre note, I went or bed.

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