Auf Wiedersehen Germany, Goededag Netherlands!

Germany, The Netherlands

We spent three weeks at Peter’s place in Meinerzhagen and it was really nice to have a place to recover, relax and rejuvenate!

Since the last blog, we continued to relax and we also went to Koln or Cologne for some tourist sight-seeing as well as to have a look for some outdoor gear to prepare for the Faroe Islands. I have visited Cologne before and the cathedral didn’t lose its impressiveness! Another thing that was impressive was the Globetrotters store. These are around Germany and are a multi-level outdoor shop. It even had a jellyfish tank and a pool so people can try out canoes and diving equipment. Peter also said they have a wind and a rain room so you can test the quality of the clothes. Pretty amazing, though, also pretty expensive!!!!

Since we couldn’t justify spending 300 euro on a jacket, Kel was lucky enough to find a 39 euro Jack Wolfskin jacket from a second hand store. Such a bargain and it’s in such good condition. Now I just need to find one.

A great thing about Germany is that groceries are much cheaper than Australia! There are so many discount supermarkets like Aldi, Lidl, Netto, Hit, Penny and more – there’s lots of competition and this is great for travellers like us! A 500g packet of oats was 40 euro cents, bananas were about 49 euro cents a kilo, yoghurt was sooo cheap as was cheese. Honey was also very cheap – about 2.50 euro for a 400g jar. The Australian dollar is really not helping us at all so at least these prices aren’t too bad J

Peter is such a down to earth guy. We would always have great conversations and he was always interested in our travel stories as he did a lot of traveling when he was younger. He makes the best marble cake ever! Photo proof below 🙂

He is well known and respected by everyone in Meinerzhagen. When we’d walk the streets with him everyone would say hi. He is known mostly because his family run the local distillery which he was the owner of at one point. Kel was amazed by a story he told us. He would hitchhike a lot when travelling. A couple times when he would hitchhike, drivers would ask what his occupation was, and he said that he was in charge of Kruggman’s distillery (which at the time he was the employer of 80 workers under him) and the drivers wouldn’t believe him. He ended up changing his story when they would ask, saying that he just had local jobs. When he’d meet people on the road he would exchange addresses and many times random backpackers would knock on his door asking if they could stay at his. The three weeks went by quite quickly and before we knew it we were saying good bye to Peter and Meinerzhagen. Thanks so much for having us, Peter!!!

We were now headed for Nadia’s (a friend we made in Cambodia) place in Leiden, The Netherlands! Her place was about 320 km away and we wanted to get there quickly as we were so excited to see her so we split it up into two days’ worth of riding. Kel had organised a warm shower stay which was 153 km’s away, just inside the Netherlands’ border. We figured that the Netherlands is very flat so it shouldn’t take too long…. 153 kilometres is a long distance. Particularly when we hadn’t been riding at all in three whole weeks.

The first 40 kilometres, as expected, were a bit hilly and sometimes were on narrow roads. The best thing was that out of the whole day, we were on bike paths 90% of the time. Thank you Germany and the Netherlands! The rest of the day was the flattest we’ve ever experienced.

While we were still in Germany and riding through the countryside, Kel and I spotted a cow giving birth in the field. I thought it was odd a farmer wasn’t around to help. The mama cow got on with her job. At first I was a bit worried as she stopped pushing for a bit but not before too long, the little calf was wobbling around trying to stand on all fours. It was a particularly special moment as we knew that day that Kel’s sister, Teylor, was going into labour to have her little boy.

We had told our Warmshowers host, Ineke, that we’d probably arrive around 6-7pm. Bit of a bad estimation there haha. We ended up arriving at 9:10pm. We felt so bad as she had prepared a lovely meal for us and it was sitting there getting cold. Warm showers is honestly the best website out there. The people who host are just lovely and make such a difference in getting to know a country, as well as learning about other people’s lives and their own cycling adventures. So much better staying with locals who immediately become friends, rather than staying in a campsite or hostel or hotel! Ineke is 55 and has been on a few cycling tours when she was younger but just a few years ago she cycled to Portugal and back, solo! What an amazing achievement! She also plans to sell her beautiful home and live and tour around Portugal doing wwoof and workaway. We were absolutely exhausted but it was so interesting listening to her stories we didn’t go to bed until 1am.

The next morning, Ineke supplied us with a huge breakfast which was very much appreciated! We decided the night before that there was absolutely no way we would be doing 170 km’s to Nadia’s so worked out a plan to get a train for part of the way. My bottom felt like it could no longer ride but once I got back on the bike, that feeling of excitement came back and I managed to carry on! Ineke was kind enough to ride the first 20 kms of our journey with us, taking us through the country back roads. Thank you Ineke for a lovely welcome into The Netherlands and hope to see you in Australia one day J

Since being in the Netherlands, we’ve had nothing but awesome experiences. The bike lanes are EVERYWHERE! It feels so good seeing so many people, of all ages, riding bicycles and being active. It’s a strange concept to Australians but cars give way to cyclists and it’s great! The first roundabout we encountered, there was a bus approaching the lane and so of course Kel stopped to let the bus go but no, it stopped and let us go past as we have right of way! Oh yeah! I feel so safe riding here since everyone is used to there being so many cyclists around.

Next stop: Nadia’s!


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