Wednesday, 6 August 2008


Over the Border into Aachen and at last, Germany - a country we would spend the most time traveling as a pair. I had visited Northern Germany the previous year and I was delighted to be back. Instead of the pancake-flat Elbe river lowlands of the last visit, this time we would be traversing the hilly interior of the country, the heartland of Germany, starting with the Eifel National Park.

It was a startling change from the flat northern farmlands of Europe to be in a mountainous forest, but the scenery, breathtaking it it's semi-alpine beauty invigorated us with the extra energy required for the steep inclines.

After our contour exertions, we made camp on the Rhine River, bathed and relaxed. Following an offshoot of the Rhine, the Lahn River, Frankfurt Am Main - a metropolis, was thankfully skirted and we were more than halfway across the vast country, having quite an enjoyable time. We camped much of the time and bathed and washed our clothes in rivers and the like. It was a well-honed practice after a while, and I much preferred the mosquito netting and nylon of the tent to the brick-and-mortar of conventional dwellings. The freedom to stop anywhere along the route we took and the feeling of being close to nature had me hooked.

We continued through the dark green hues and summer bloom of Germany, stopping to stay with friends in Fulda and Suhl, two days of rest from cycling the mind and certainly the body needed greatly.

France, Belgium, Netherlands

It has been over a month on the road since leaving the daily comforts and ease of everyday life in England. I set off from Dover with my good friend Rachel, our hearts set on traveling East. In France, fresh off the ferry, things got off to a shaky start. It was late at night in the seedy port town of Calais, an awful place - full of neon-boarded and dodgy looking casinos. Without a place to stay, we pitched the tent in the town's park, and made a rather ealy start the next day, keen to get out of the place.

The north of France passed quickly out of our lives, an we started making headway in Belgium, only to be stopped about 15km outside Bruges by a young lady and her slightly less young, but equally friendly husband. We were welcomed into their house as if we were old friends - food, drink and animated conversation a definite improvement on Calais and a good welcome to Belgium.

The usual touring deeds were undertaken in the beautiful towns of Bruges and Gent th next day. Germany was at the forefront of my mind, so we followed the horizon-straight Albert Canal through the heart of the small country to Maastricht, and the Netherlands. We met another couple there, and they showed us the magnificent sights of this ancient and well-conquered(14 times, I recall) city.

Friday, 1 August 2008