Berlin calling…

Day 4, Berlin, 344 km

Before starting with the story of my adventures, I would first like to thank you all for all your messages and comments on the blog, it was a nice surprise when I turned my phone back on when I arrived in Berlin. I hope you won’t be mad at me for the delay in my answers, but I leave the phone in airplane mode most of the time to save battery power and only use it when I’m in town with the possibility to charge it in the evening. And for those who would have wanted a daily blog update, I think I will probably do it rather once or twice a week at most, so don’t worry if you don’t have any news for a few days, if it’s a week you may start wondering… The next post will come from Dresden, probably Friday or Saturday…

Then Jay and I want to tell you about a happy event (yes, it’s true it’s a bit early in the trip, but that sort of thing cannot be planned): our family has grown in size! A little Bob, 10.8 cm and 7.3 g of happiness that fell on us before we even left last Saturday (some of you may have already noticed that the « About » section of the blog has been updated, with a song that a fan met on the road composed for our new family member). He has proudly sat on Jay’s handlebars ever since and signals our arrival to all cyclists and pedestrians we pass by. You may see him appear from time to time in the photos of the trip…

But no more jokes, let’s get down to business. Firstly, a few figures on this first stage: 3 days, 341 kilometers, 19 hours and 5 minutes of pedaling, 0 (!!) sunburns (I know, some will call me a liar but I assure you that it is true), 3,448 flies, mosquitos and other insects exterminated, 6 Länder crossed, 13 liters of water, a portion of fries and a Coke.

First stages

It was also 2 nights in the forest. For a first experience of wild camping, I think we are doing quite well. With the cans full of water, I manage to find a little space in the woods every evening to pitch my tent. The only problem is that I am constantly attacked by mosquitoes, woken up by the slightest crack of a branch or the bark of a dog in the distance, convinced that 1. a bear will come and lick my toes, or 2. the local game ranger will come to dislodge me with buckshot but that in any case it will end badly (in reality, no problem to report except mosquito bites, but as I am not in sugar, I ignore them and I move on… it’s all in the head). I believe Bob’s presence was dissuasive enough that no wild beasts dared to come near us.

First night’s camp
Second night: under the pines
Under Bob’s watch

It was also 2 stopover towns: First night: Dömitz, a small town on the banks of the Elbe which was very close to the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, so that one of its districts, Rüterberg, proclaimed the “Village Republic of Rüterberg” on the 8th of November 1989 to protest against the isolation measures. Probably impressed by the villagers’ resolve, the East German government announced on November 9th that all East German citizens would be able to move freely to the West. Second night: Ohnewitz. This is not a joke. (For non-German speakers, Ohnewitz could be split into 2 words (Ohne and Witz) which is a commonly used expression in German and meaning “No kidding”). Apart from these little anecdotes, I don’t even have pictures to show you, nothing out of the ordinary in these charming towns…

Finally, this stage was above all the Elbe, the cycle path on the dam, the flat land, the rows of trees at the edge of the road, giving a little shade and freshness, the cyclists (many!) met on the way, young and old, who seem to have gone for a short ride for the weekend or like me engaged on a longer trip, electric bikes, race bikes, trekking bikes but no mountain bikes (with no mountains it is probably no fun). It was smiles, « Moin », « Hallo », « Hi », small hand signs while passing by. It was also mostly sun, a few clouds every now and then to keep the temperature within the bearable range and a little rain on the last day about 40 kilometers from Berlin. It was also a big thunderstorm, but an hour after arriving in Berlin, safe inside a cafe. Very little wind, except for a light breeze in the back on the morning of the third day. It was the traces of the Iron Curtain, those commemorative signs that you sometimes see on the side of the road. It was this old German who recommends a better route than the one suggested by the GPS while we are discussing on the terrace of a bakery around breakfast (It was a great idea to follow his advice, that was a treat). But the best part of it is that this is just the beginning…

Flat land
The lazy flow of the Elbe
Under the shade of the trees
Arrival in Berlin!

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