We travelled from Milan all the way to Frankfurt on a 12 hour bus ride. It was a massive coach with a bike rack on the back – perfect for us. It even had really fast wifi and powerpoints to charge electronics. The main reason for cutting our time short in Italy and cheating our way through Switzerland was due to Kel’s broken rear rack.
Since we spent the most part of the bus ride traveling through Switzerland and Germany, we had the most picturesque scenery!!! We are actually feeling quite disappointed that we went via bus instead of cycling as we saw cycle paths right next to the road bordering beautiful lakes. That was until we stopped in Zurich for half an hour. We had been on the bus for 5 hours by now and were absolutely STARVING! Quickly searching for the nearest food outlet, I spotted Burger King. I hadn’t put the Swiss Franc into my currency converter app and thought it must be similar to the Euro I ddn’t think twice when Kel and I ordered our meals. I put our card into the machine to pay and to my surprise, horror, terror, shock the AUD conversion showed up saying $42!!!!!! I really had to do a double take but we really had no other option so I didn’t cancel the order. Between the time finding somewhere to eat and ordering, that didn’t leave much time to eat so we pretty much scoffed down this $42 burger and chips and ran back to board the bus – in a numbed out state still in shock from seeing the price. It was also kind of sad since we never spend that much money on one meal and for that price somewhere else we could have had an absolute feast! We were then very happy to not have cycle toured in Switzerland since our bank account surely would have decreased a lot!!!
Arriving in Frankfurt at about 1:30am, we quickly found a cheap-ish hotel to stay for two nights. Our plan was to, hopefully, find a touring bike rack so that we could continue on our way. After checking out 3 or 4 bike shops, no one sold proper touring racks so no luck there. Despite that, we packed up the next morning and tried to make a start on the 160 km journey to my Dad’s good friend, Peter, who lives in a small town 50 km from Cologne.
We didn’t even make one kilometre as Kel’s rack just couldn’t be held up despite all the bungee cords and rope Kel had fixed on to keep the rack and mud guard off of the wheel. No luck so we turned back into the city, wheeling our bikes to another place to stay. Since Kel’s bike was really in a bad state and there was no way we could ride, we booked another bus to Cologne and then we would just catch a train to Peter’s house.
After a 3 hour bus ride to Cologne and then a one hour 45 minute train, we had arrived in Meinerzhagen! I had actually been here before as when I was 18 I accompanied Dad on a work trip and I stayed 5 days with Peter in the middle of winter so it was nice to see the change in summer.
Peter is a regular reader of our blog and when we pulled up and saw Peter having just arrived home, I introduced him to Kel and he said he already felt like he knew Kel just from reading the blog and his posts haha. He did criticize us on the blog as we really hadn’t posted much (as kel said in the last post, we got a bit lazy) so that has given us some motivation to get back on top of it!
Peter is a really lovely man. He is one of those special people who can really get along with anyone of any age, is approachable, interested in the world and very friendly! We have had many great conversations and laughs. He has been kind enough to let us stay for 3 weeks (which we are in the middle of now) and we have really appreciated having a home to stay in, a nice comfy bed and for me I’ve loved having a kitchen to cook and bake in!
Over the past few days we did a bit of work for Peter (not just out of kindness haha but for the first time all year, some money!). It was definitely the most physically demanding job I’ve ever done and I don’t think I’ve been covered in as much dust!! It was a great eye opener to rule out doing this type of job in the future haha. We were definitely not used to setting the alarm each day and walking to work but was nice to have a bit of routine. It was fun working together and we were both proud of the job we had done and I did feel very accomplished!!!
Peter is an avid VW lover owning 3 kombi vans and 3 beetles – 2 older and one new. I also have a love of beetles and kombi vans so couldn’t wait for Kel to see these too. Peter has custom built a garage for one of the kombi’s and there is a room in the house where another kombi ‘lives’ though no photos of that one as it’s being repaired.
Last weekend, we helped Peter with some gardening and cut the hedges. We then put all the clippings into the pick-up kombi and the three of us sat in the front and rode to the tip. It was SO fun being in that car. It has a huge steering wheel, like one of a bus, and the style of it is seriously cool. I want one. And his red vw convertible beetle. My dream. He said he doesn’t tend to drive that one much in the summer as he prefers the kombi’s and said if I lived in Europe he’d happily sell it to me so one day… Kel also offered Peter to swap our bikes for one of the kombi’s haha… no luck!
Kate is his lovely girlfriend and next weekend they are both going in the kombi that he has set up a bed in. We are slightly jealous.
PS – A local bike shop had the bike rack we were looking for for Kels bike so all is good again!