Before we knew it, we were leaving Hamburg. It took ages to get out of the city properly and the views along the way were nothing too special. The flat lands had now disappeared though and were replaced by rolling hills.
After the long days we’d recently experienced we now had the luxury of taking things easier to Rugen, where our next extended break would be. Around 40 miles away was the town of Lübeck. I’d attempted to arrange a night there through Warmshowers however it seemed our luck was out. It was around 2pm that day when I checked my phone and after a quick chat we had ourselves a home for the night. Arne and Martina very kindly put us up at the last minute and I got plenty of inspiration for future tours from looking at their photos of Myanmar and Laos.
On the bike front, I’d been having trouble with my rear wheel the previous day and needed to get to a bike shop. Arne had a look and agreed so early morning I went to their local one. The chap had a look and said the spokes basically needed realigning and I shouldn’t be riding it in its current condition. I thought I might be taking the train when he said it would be ready by 5pm but after a bit of a chat he said he could have it done in an hour! My bike (recently named Rhonda) was good to go again! Lübeck itself seemed like a very nice place even if most of my time was spent at a bike shop.
We finally got going just as it started to rain. It wasn’t long before the rain turned to hail and as we sought refuge in a bus shelter, the hail turned to snow! Luckily it didn’t last long and although there were a couple more rain showers, the day got progressively better. By mid-afternoon the sun came out. We cooked a giant lunch with the food we were planning to eat the previous evening before Arne and Martina got in touch. As evening approached we found a place to camp just outside of Wismar and less than 50m from the sea. It was nice to be back by the coast as we hadn’t seen it since shortly after leaving Calais. Our camping spot was also only a few hundred metres from a public toilet and a tap which was an added bonus! The day felt like a real cycle touring day where we had all four seasons and numerous ups and downs but all ended well.
We started the day slowly and cycled into Wismar which was a quaint little town. It was also full of middle aged Asian tourists walking around with name badges, a sure sign that it’s a nice place to visit! We stopped for coffee and pastries before pressing on. Not the most eventful of days, nor the longest but we were both enjoying the shorter mileages! Another wild camp, this time in some meadowy woods. A reasonably early night and only two days until Rugen and more days off!
Another fairly unmemorable day I’m afraid. I’m writing this blog from Sweden so it’s not so easy to recall. The weather was good. I know this because my camera has photos of the sun. In the evening we turned up a small lane looking for a place to camp. We passed a lone house where a man and his wife were outside. We said hallo and they returned the greeting albeit looking slightly bemused. Moments later we realised why as the lane ended and theirs was the only house on it. With our tails between our legs we rolled back past and I asked the chap if it was possible to camp here. His face lit up with a smile and he lead us to the edge of a field. For many, I’m sure the corner of a track doesn’t sound like the most appealing of places, for us it was perfect. We eagerly set up, wolfed down some dinner and got to bed.
Next morning we made quick work of the 20km to Stralsund which marked the end of the German mainland. To celebrate we had numerous bratwursts and a bottle of beer (it’s legal to drink on the streets in Germany). From there we crossed the bridge and arrived on to Rugen where we spent a few hours meandering around the countryside before arriving to Puddemin where Hanna had booked the two of us into an airbnb. We were on the island or Rugen partly because we could take the ferry to Trelleborg, Sweden and also because one of Hanna’s best friends, Nina lived there. Nina came round and took us back to her house in Garz where we celebrated the completion of Leg 2 of the trip. Hanna arrived later that evening to Stralsund train station after a 7hr journey, 5 of which was standing. It might have been a bit faster than our method of transport but at least we got to sit down.
Although these were supposed to be days off the bike, Saturday morning actually started with a 25km ride to the town of Binz. Both of us were suffering from very creaky gears and wheels that weren’t running true. We’d rapidly learnt that we are not yet bike mechanics and with the cost of everything about to increase in Scandinavia, now was the time to do it. Hanna and Nina joined us for lunch and we had a wander around the town while trying to avoid the torrential rain. Later that evening Al and Nina came round for dinner along with Luna, a dog Nina was looking after for a few days. It was a lovely evening with good food, wine and company. All very civilised!
Next day Hanna, Nina and I headed to a beach while Al unfortunately had to get some work done. The weather was far better than the day before although still a way off swimming weather! Rugen was a beautiful place, if a little isolated and it reminded me of the Isle of Wight somewhat. Our final evening with Hanna and Nina was another pleasant one with homemade pizzas. It was good to have a few days off consecutively and recharge the batteries before the Scandinavian adventure began and lovely to see Hanna again, of course.
Before we knew it Monday had rolled around and it was time for another goodbye. With everything packed into Nina’s car we drove back to Binz, collected our vastly improved bikes and then went our separate ways. Hanna started her return journey home (this time with a seat reservation!) and Al and I to Mukran near Sassnitz where we took the ferry to Trelleborg, Sweden.