Hello from Regensburg! We finally found an internet cafe here in Germany. They seem to be few and far between in this region we are traveling through. Maybe it is because this country is more developed and everybody has an internet connection at home or maybe because all the tourists here are over 65 years old! We’ll see if there is an improvement in the Czech Republic.
We are still really loving the touring in Germany – it almost feels like we are on a luxury bicycle vacation! One of the nicest parts are the impressive network of bicycle trails the cover the entire country. These are not bicycle lanes that are part of the actual road, meaning you ride beside cars all day but have your own tiny bicycle lane. Instead, these are small roads for bicycles only – they weave through forests, along rivers, through the centers of tiny villages, and beside fields of wheat and corn. We can ride side by side and chat all day long, stopping for a picnic lunch of German bread, cheese, and meat at one of the many benches along the way. Here’s a typical lunch for us – Jamie is especially delighted by the huge selection of sausages and salami. I love the cheese.
There are also Haribo gummy candies everywhere here. This makes Jamie very happy. Here is how he preps his bike for a long ride; note the gummy candies lined up on his handlebar bag for easy access:
Here is another favorite snack for James. Bratwurst. Touring German style people!.
We tend to make very slow progress during our actual riding time. This is in part due to the bicycle trails – they tend to be full of twists and turns, which makes building up speed almost impossible. Also, the signs indicating turns on the trail are very tiny. We are so busy sightseeing that we ride right pass the trail signs and get lost. This happens at least a few times per day, which is really frustrating. As a result, we have finally begun to use our compass to determine which way we need to ride to re-find the bike trail. Germany is the absolute last place I thought we’d be breaking out our compass, but it has turned out to be very useful!
Yesterday we got lost and found ourselves completely off the bicycle trail, riding along a small rut in the grass next to some train tracks in the middle of nowhere. We used our trusty compass to determine that the city we could see far in the distance was in the correct direction of our final destination for the day, so we pushed on and ran into the bicycle trail a few kilometers later. I felt like Indiana Jones, finding my way through the remote wilderness of a German farm back to the civilization of the bicycle trail using only a compass!
Another reason for our slow progress is the wind. It has been extremely windy here for the past week – just as bad as parts of New Zealand! It is great fun when the wind is behind you because you can cruise along at 20km/hr without even pedaling! Riding into the wind is miserable though. It makes the riding as difficult as climbing up a big hill, but the difference is that with the wind it can go on all day long. You never know when or if it will end, which drives me crazy. Here’s Jamie giving a wind-strength demonstration using our map:
And here he is attempting to stay upright in the fierce gale!
Speaking of wind, let’s talk gas. The human kind. One surprising thing we noticed in Asia is that we never farted there. I mean never. We had been in Thailand for about ten days when we both realized we hadn’t passes gas in over a week. Something about that Asian diet really worked wonders for us! But after about three days back on this diet of bread, meat, cheese, milk, and yogurt we were back to our usual gassy selves. So, if you have a hot date planned for the night you might want to choose the Thai restaurant over the German deli.
A final reason behind our slow daily progress are a all the diversions along the way. Yesterday we rode past a park with lots of fun playground equipment that we don’t have in the parks back home. For example – a zip line!!
And a giant basket-like swing that you can lay down in, for extra scariness on those high pushes:
The scenery in the country side is very pretty with rolling hills, farmed fields, and small rivers. Every village we pass through is beautiful and almost fake looking. It is hard to believe all these buildings weren’t built for decoration in a theme park, but are originals from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Germans think it is hilarious that we are amazed by a building from 1700. They are only impressed if it was built in year 600 or 700.
They used to pour hot pitch through this mask on attackers!
We took a break from staying with German families for the past two nights and instead tested out our free camping skills. Both nights we were able to find very nice secluded spots next to farmed fields. The only thing we have to worry about before camping for the night is getting enough water for dinner, drinking, and breakfast. We can carry 6 1/2 liters in our water bottle cages, and then we have 3 3-liter water bags. We can drink the tap water here, so instead of buying water for the night like we did in Asia we find somewhere to get it for free here. Businesses like gas stations and coffee shops are the easiest, but twice we have found ourselves far from any businesses and had to get water from people’s houses. The first time we filled up from someone’s front yard hose (with their blessing), and the second time we had to knock on a few doors in the early afternoon to find someone at home. We were a little nervous about doing this, but the woman we ended up meeting was more than happy to let us use her kitchen sink to refill our bottles. She even offered us a snack and apologized she didn’t have something substantial for us to eat! These Germans are amazing!
Here are our peaceful camping spots.
I learned how to squat like a true Asian in Thailand so now I never need a picnic table to eat my breakfast in the morning!
We are about to turn northeast and head for the border with the Czech Republic. We think we should make it to Prague in three to four days.