Category Archives: Scandinavia 2011

Day 6 Marburg, Germany

Day 6 Marburg, Germany, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

I start the first proper day of travel in relaxed style, making the most of kid hotel buffet breakfast. The relaxation does when I put my back out while loading the bike. Great. A few painkillers and I set course for the Mosel valley and some surprisingly scenic roads. I pass loads of nice looking camp sites, guest houses, and picnic spots, and know all too well that when I need one later, there won’t be any. And late,, when I want to stop, there aren’t any, so I keep riding. By chance I spot a camp site and pull in, feeling quite lucky, until I notice it’s like a scene from deliverance. When the "receptionist" starts talking about death and making throat cutting gestures, I decide to try my luck elsewhere. I think he was saying that the owner had died and if was filling in, but still. Some time later, I find another, and this one is great. The receptionist is lovely, helpful and speaks English, and the place is clean and tidy, although it’s yet everywhere from the rain. I select a pitch and park the bike, only for it to immediately fall on top of me when the side stand sinks into the wet ground, proving that the extended stand foot I fitted wasn’t worth the effort. Levergmg the bike up by the bars as I often practiced on the first trip, I rescue the situation with a handy flat rock under the stand, set us the tent, put the stove on for some military rations, and discover that the bottle of locally produced wine I bought earlier, is in fact Spanish. Never mind, after a long first day in the saddle, it’s great to be in camp, and the wine is bound to better than that horrific sweet stuff in Kyrgyzstan. All day while riding I have flashbacks to the first few days of the last trip, with fond memories of how amazing it was. So I fish out my chicken and dumplings and offer a toast to Dave with memories of our first camping in France, back in May 2009. Cheers!

Day 7 Herz mountains, Germany

Day 7 Herz mountains, Germany, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Stopped quite early today when map and gps suggested camp now or in about 3 hours. Next time I do a trip like this I need much better information about camp site locations. On the first trip, I’d spent months planning the route, researching possible over night stops and finding places with potential, mainly working on the theory that lakes and rivers and national parks are a good bet. It didn’t always work out, but having spent nowhere near as much effort planning the route for this trip, I’m glad I did so first time round. How come some camp sites are superb, and others are rubbish? Trouble is, if you find a rubbish one it’s always a gamble to move on and look for another. On the first trip we called it "stick or twist?". Sometimes you win, sometimes you end up sleeping at the side of the road, like that night in Turkey, and a few times in Russia. At least here its just a little lacking in facilities. The wilds of Mongolia had little in the way of facilities, but at least there you weren’t surrounded by fat old German camper van tourists…

Day 8 waren, northern Germany

Day 8 waren, northern Germany, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

The previous night’s rain lets up just in time for breakfast, and I leave in sunshine. It’s windy though, and this part of northern Germany is wide open, rural, and quite dull. It’s an event free day, and I find a camp site by a lake, which turns out to be the size of a small town. After cruising round for a while, I select a spot that is relatively free of sprawling German motorhomes complete with fences, washing lines, satellite dishes and garden gnomes, and set up camp. The second I finish erecting the tent and unloading all my gear, 3 bus loads of school kids arrive and it seems my spot was quiet for a reason – all the locals know this is picadilly circus. Good job I’ve got ear plugs and am half deaf from wind roar on the bike. The kids are almost as annoying as the gazillions of flying insects. No, actually the German tourists who all insist on doing the really naff socks and sandals thing is worse.

Day 9 1km south of Denmark

Day 8 1km south of Denmark, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

This photo is co attempt at capturing me sitting in a posh hotel restaurant surrounded by glamorously dressed wedding guests, while I’m wearing wet smelly biker gear. What a day! Northern Germany is crap. Crap weather, crap roads, crap food, crap scenery, crap traffic. After trying to stick to the plan for a while, I decide that the aimless meandering thing isn’t for me. I need a purpose, a target, a reason. So I decide that Copenhagen is my next target and hop on the motorway to cover some miles. The beemer is so much better than the XT for motorways, but it’s still hard work concentrating on riding a top heavy adventure bike at 100mph, in the rain, being passed by big Audis doing 140, navigating, keeping one eye on the gps, one on the fuel gauge, one on the road and one on the traffic. That’s four eyes, but I do have four. Knew it would come in handy. I see brooding, grumbling storm clouds threatening, and despite racing to out run them, I get a cold bath. My heated gloves and jacket make it so much more tolerable that I decide to add heated trousers to the mix one day. I head for a hotel, camping clearly out of the question in this rain and after last nights noise, but I arrive in town in The middle of a yacht festival thing and every hotel is full, the street s are full of people, it’s chaos. I head on, and get the same story for the next 2 hours of riding. Every hotel is full, and the rain gets worse. Utterly exhausted, and just when I’m sure I’m running out of options, I know I have run out when I see a sign saying Denmark 1 km. That means I’ve done over 500 miles today! And then, salvation, a hotel. It’s a bit posh do, my budget, but view have a room, and I’ll take anything at this point. 30 minutes later all the hard times are forgotten as I tuck into a steak and a beer. Another typical day on the road!

Day 10 Odense, Denmark

Day 10 Odense, Denmark, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Sorry Denmark, but if you’re going to lay on horrendous weather and make hotels so expensive that I need to sell a kidney, then I’m going to have to do what every other tourist does and go straight to Copenhagen for a couple of days and then leave. Denmark turns out to be much like northern Germany – cold, wet, grey, flat and empty. The rain eases as I enter Odense, where I decide to stop at a cheap hotel rather than push on for the capital. After yesterday’s marathon, I need to have a shorter stint. Odense turns out to be quite pleasant in the old town, with lots of pavement cafes and people who seem a lot friendlier than most Germans. It isn’t cheap, though!

Day 11 Baltic coast

Day 11 Baltic coast, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

I leave the Ansgarhus motel (surprisingly good) in dry, but predictably cold, grey and windy weather, heading east. The wind and the kamikaze seagulls nearly take me out crossing the long bridge to Sjaelland, and then I turn north to see some of the coastline. The rain comes back with a vengeance, and I’m very glad I invested in the Gerbing heated jacket and gloves. It makes a huge difference, like being inside with a real fire watching a storm rage outside, instead of being out in the storm getting cold and wet. I pass a desolate coastline, and villages that are probably quite nice when the sun is shining. I see Helsingore castle, as in Hamlet (I think), but it’s too wet to bother stopping and I continue to Copenhagen. The traffic is pretty bad but I make it to the hotel, where ham pleased to discover a secure underground car park for the bike, and working wi-fi for a change. Now begins a couple of days off the bike doing the regular tourist thing.