Berlin to Copenhagen: 550 km in 17 days. Solo Cycling & Camping

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So yes this big trip happened. *Pinches myself to wake up* ;D

After planning on paper and speaking to select, relevant people to get insights and tips I was off to make this trip happen. I was concerned that there maybe a gap between all my research and what was needed on ground, but it went of fairly well. Of course last minute adaptations were needed, but managed.

There were many moments where I questioned whether I was taking up too much and can I do this?

But well, just keep plodding on – that I have realised is the secret to many things in life.

Choosing the route,

(In case you are looking to plan your cycling trip, I have jotted down notes here about choosing your long distance cycling route)

GERMANY – the country of choice because it is well cheaper, very cycle friendly and fairly flat – great combination for a first trip.

Berlin was where my base would be. I spent the first 12 days here to get my gear. Very hectic with a bit of city exploration added. 15 days would have been better.

I considered different routes,
– north coastal France, Netherlands & Belgium
– Berlin, Dresden to Prague

France didn’t seem to have adequate campsites in that region. Czech wasn’t that cycle friendly. And overall none were feeling right.
More research.
Came across the Berlin – Copenhagen route, felt right. Fits in with my plan to keep Berlin as base of this trip. It would take me to Denmark & I totally wanted to cycle in Scandinavian countries. I would also love to visit Copenhahagen! So Berlin to Copenhagen it is!

Transport back from Copenhagen wasn’t the easiest and there were many other difficulties bit I think any route would have some difficulties  and so I went ahead researching it more.

Bikeway Berlin – Copenhagen is an official international travel route:
http://www.bike-berlin-copenhagen.com

They have identified three sections,
Brandenburg – Germany
Mecklenburg – Germany
Eastern coast of Denmark

You can of course find lot of info on the website… They split each section into day wise trips ranging from 35 km to 70 km. For most avid cyclists in Europe this distance is fine.

However, I chose to do a cycling trip as a slow traveler – I love cycling but am not really an avid cyclist. I planned to cycle just abt 30 – 40km a day. So the stops I took and daily coverage was lot different. I often stopped at a place for many days, just absorbing the camping experience and cycling around in the nearby town.

The daily stops would also depend on the accommodation.

Accommodations can be managed with,

Campsites – in which case you need camping gear but on the upside you can be entirely impromptu

AirBnB/Couchsurfing – this can be budget but needs planning on the road

Hostels/Hotels – this may not be budget as the route touches many small towns. Also you would need to book in advance to get better deals.

The advantage of camping or keeping accommodation impromptu is that it allows you to be flexible. When cycling, your plans change. Depending on the weather or your health or some other factor you may not be able to cycle the planned distance.

I camped almost all the days as it let’s me be impromptu and budget.

So here is how I covered the entire route and some brief notes,

 

Berlin to Copenhagen Map

View the map here

I will blog in detail about the various places and then link those blogs here so you can get additional info.

Ride 1:
Berlin to Oranienburg (~35 km)
After a really late start from Berlin reached the lovely Oranienburg campsite by end of day. My first camping experience. 🙂

Here I made a German friend here using Google Translate

A trip to Sachsenhausen concentration camp (10km)

Ride 2: Oranienburg to Zehdenick/Zielegar Nature Park (~45km)
Lovely route by river Havel. Towns Liebenwalde and Zehdenick – really picturesque.

Ride 3: Zielegar Nature park to Furstenberg Havel (~45km)
This is when the route gets really scenic! I think this was one of best routes in the German section in terms of scenic and flatness… The later parts get a bit hilly.

The Umbracke concentration camp was located on the way

I visited Santas house @ Himmelpfort 😉 

Explored Furstenberg Havel (10km)
Shocked an Italian restaurenteer and got  free drink. 😉

Ride 4: Furstenberg Havel to Wesenberg (~35km)
Route got hilly.  Not much for experienced people – but I am not experienced!! In fact I didn’t know how to use gears on hilly. ;D
Spent two days at Wesenberg campsite & figured out.

Ride 5: Wesenberg to Waren (~65km)
Managed the hilly. On verge of enjoying. Took a “detour” which turned out to be a pot-holed mud path. The second maddest ride in the trip.

Explored Waren (10km)

Ride 6: Waren to Krakow am See (~50km)
Krakow am See again a lovely town. Had dinner at a lake facing restaurant 🙂

Ride 7: Krakow am See to Gustrow & Rostock (~20km)
Cycled to Gustrow. Enroute met some lovely and somewhat eccentric people including an almost-round-the-world cyclist. Spent some time here… So then decided to take a train from Gustrow to Rostock.

Explored Gustrow: 10km

& reached Denmark by ferry!

Ride 8: Gedser to Marielyst Strand ( ~20km)
A crazy ride from 7pm to 9.15pm on a windy night!

Ride 9: Marielyst strand to Nykobing Falsing (~20km)
Explored marielyst strand – award winning Denmark beach. Realised that here in Denmark I can have conversations with locals because they know English.. Unlike in Germany. Though this wasn’t true later as the area got more rural.

Ride 10: Nykobing Falster to Stubbekobing (~45km)
Great fun riding. Wind was picking up. I didn’t know what was in store for next day. So amazing scenery, can’t even say. But the best was yet to come! Oh yea n I didn’t get any food.

Ride 11: Stubbekobing/Bogo to Stege
(~25km)
Winds. Mad winds. 45 km/hr. The brilliant North Baltic sea. This was my maddest ride and also one of the most awesome.

Ancient limestone frescoes @ Fanefjord Church

Ride 12: Stege to Tappernoje (~30km)
Calmer weather and a private farm camping experience

So much wind!

Ride 13: Tappernoje to Rodvig (~40km)
Learnt: drink enough water! Cramps. And over-all pondering on the fact that the trip was ending!

Bio-luminescence at the beach, Faxe Ladeplads!

Rodvig to Store Hedding (~15km)
& a train back to Copenhagen

Ending the trip was really difficult, but there were many practical considerations. I had to sell the cycle and camping gear because I couldn’t transport it back to India. The cycle was really good and I am still wondering whether I should have somehow got it back to India.

Camping gear I anyway did not want, I would like to buy better quality, if and when I am doing this again.

What a mad trip though, I absolutely enjoyed it.

I will be writing about the budget for this trip later, to give people an idea. I managed to sell my stuff later so the overall costs were really decent.

And here are some of the best trip pics, watch full screen! 🙂

 Media Mentions: 🙂

Berlin to Copenhagen
Gujarati newspaper Janmabhoomi
Berlin to Copenhagen
Marathi newspaper Navakaal

*I am not sure of exact km cycled. It was about 500 to 550 km. My cycle computer stopped working and I didn’t track it via any GPS app. Just calculated roughly on basis of the kms given on the route site and using Google maps.

Why I am Solo Cycling & Camping on my First Europe Trip

A lot of things to write, about this Europe trip which is already underway. I am lazing around at a campsite this Sunday afternoon. My tent is well shaded by surrounding trees so I can spend time in it without getting baked. 🙂

One of the common questions a lot of people have asked is Why Solo Cycling & Camping.

Here I would like to first touch upon –  planning your first Europe trip. For most avid travelers including me, Europe is a dream destination. And it is not a easy one given the money, visa and work-leave requirements.

Everywhere, I am repeatedly highlighting, how important it is for a person to know themselves before doing something. Do what is right for You! This is what I did and it is what I would suggest to people when they are planning their first Europe trip.

What do you want from it? What do you enjoy when traveling? What will make it very memorable for you?

Because whatever your travel need and interests are, Schengen with 27 countries will offer it.  And as per those interests you can plan your trip. Also remember, you can never do all of it! So don’t run around trying to do so many points… Just figure what you truly want from your trip and plan accordingly.

So I had only a few things in mind at first,
– no crowds
– cool temperature
– pushing my solo experience further, as this is an overall safer place for solo woman

While the first two are quite generic the third point was really challenging.

How should I push further my solo experience?

While researching I came across how big and popular the cycling culture was in Europe. It seemed really exciting and it also gave me a way to just be on the road on my own in a way that I might never do in India.

And there were many reasons why this solo cycling and camping trip idea worked for me.

– solitude : it would give me the solitude I was looking for. Away from crowds, close to nature and just on my own.

Solo cycling and camping in europe
Rolling meadows and fields that stretch into the horizon became a daily thing…. Sigh… 🙂
– slow travel : I am anyway a slow traveler. Spending many days in one location. This mode of transport also excited me as a slow travel opportunity through many quaint villages and towns.

– cycling : I grew up on a cycle. N after the days of childhood I never really cycled seriously but I think that something about cycling really appealed to me and felt right. I remember often as a kid I wanted to ride away on my yellow BMX. However, the traffic jammed roads and highways with trucks pounding down, quickly scared me out of this idea. I think deep down though, I always wanted to do this.

Solo cycling and camping in europe
Oooh cycle!
– route less : I always wanted to travel  without a planned route in mind. Cycle traveling is ideal for it.

– other far off places : this way of traveling opens up possibilities of traveling the RIGHT way in many other places. Iceland comes to mind. How else would one travel in those places which are so remote and unhabitated?

– budget : and over time this might be a more budget way of traveling. I don’t know yet, only after I do my trip math will I know.

So all of these various culminated in me really wanting to do this.

I was still of course not sure because everything was new! I had absolutely no idea of long distance cycling nor camping.

But then I spoke to the only person who I knew at that time who had done such a trip. Kunal Mithrill. I had heard a barcamp talk by him earlier. So I connected with… “I want to do this kind of trip but I have many Qs. Starting from, where do I get a bike?”

From there on it was kind of easy because Kunal made it sound all damn easy. Hehe. Believe it isn’t really “easy”. But it all turned out to be quite manageable. And from there on, I just kept finishing off one thing and next, to get this trip to happen. 🙂

Another blog on stuff to do for such a trip later 🙂

Tchüss!

PS: you can follow my updates on Fb n Twitter at #maproute