I recently have a new found love – Black and White photos! It started with an impromptu black and white Taiwan Street Photography series. And couple of weeks back I started a series on European cities on Instagram. The idea was to create vintage type shots of a common city scene. Not particularly landmarks or sight seeing spots but just common, day to day scenes of the city in black and white. I really enjoyed this series. Let me know what you think.
And for you blog readers I am putting in one exclusive photo in this post, which is not on instagram. Yay! 😀
I prefer slow, immersive travel experiences. In the Summer of 2015 I went on my first trip to Europe, and tried out solo cycle touring. It was amazing and I found it very well suited for my tastes. Since then I have been on more cycling adventures in other countries and within India too. Writing details about these trips is time consuming and it typically happens only after the trip is over. Sometimes I get caught up with other stuff then it doesn’t happen at all. So, I have created this post to quickly jot down notes. As and when I write detailed blog posts I will link back here, so this becomes one big repository of my cycling experiences.
Also added articles on cycling gear, other logistical stuff and interviews with cyclists, they have been listed right at the end. All trips are solo unless otherwise stated.Continue reading
The second ferry of my cycle trip takes place at a quaint Danish town called Stubbekobing to another Danish town called Bogø. This was a very small ferry route. 15 minutes from one island to another. As I reached the other side, I didn’t see much of Bogø because I got off the ferry and just pedaled on wards.
After couple of weeks on the road – cycling & camping I found myself getting used to the lifestyle and loving it. Hence, it was a really grievous matter that I had totally only 17 days on the road, which meant just 2-3 more days to go before I head to Copenhagen (either reach it by bike or take a train or such quicker transport).
Faxe Ladeplads was one of the many quaint and charming coastal towns I passed through in Denmark and it was one of the last such towns on my cycling trip. I was on my way to Rodvig (or even Koge if I could manage a longer ride that day. Koge being 40 km or so from Copenhagen). However, it turned out that my distaste of buying water bottles from supermarkets bit me in my back. I ended up being dehydrated as I didn’t have enough water the previous day and got leg cramps. I had never got such leg cramps before so for a while I was really concerned but then a friendly German guy biking with his family came to my rescue. He lent me some water and told me that cramps are okay, you just have to drink more water and it should be ok. 🙂Continue reading
Vegetarian is Vegetarish in German and Vegetar in Danish. I used these words frequently on my Europe trip, along with actions saying ‘No Egg’ too. Because Vegetarish includes Egg, while we Indian vegetarians don’t have egg.
Some kindly soul suggested that it would be easy for me to get a vegetarian Pizza. & it is one of my favourite dishes. 🙂
Sometimes I would pick a non-veg pizza and ask them not to put the non-veg toppings but usually even in the smallest towns they have a ‘Vegetar Pizza’ for us vegetarians. I found it simpler to order this rather than ask to change toppings because there is some language problem and I didn’t want them to be confused about what is supposed to go in the pie!
In Germany I first came across the idea of potato as a topping on the Pizza – the Germans not just love Potato but they consider it a main food item like rice or noodles.
So in a witch-themed cafe in a little German town, I had one of my first Vegetarish Pizza,
So if you thought that was as elaborate, it gets better, check this one out. It has over 6 ingredients including pineapple, mushrooms and artichokes. I would never have imagined such combos!
I usually had only one big meal a day, so such a filling pizza was worth it. Couple of pieces would generally be left over so I would pack it and have it as a second light meal later.
The one below was at a little town called Faux Ladlepads in Denmark. The Italian restaurant was run but a guy from Kurdistan. Usually when people mention a country I know something about it – but I knew nothing about Kurdistan except that the people there are called Kurds. ;D
He barely knew English, so I just pointed at Vegetar pizza & fries to place order. & like a typical vegetarian I confirmed with him few times “It is vegetar, yes? – no egg, no meat, no fish…”
Once in a while, I did opt for simpler toppings – just to get a feel of normalcy. Like this one – I just asked them to remove the non-veg topping. So I just got some mushrooms on it.
Thought I had seen every possible topping…. but no…
Oh Yea baby, we got some leaves…..
Is it a salad, is it a tree… no it is a Pizza! 😀
I now miss being surprised with such eclectic pizza toppings.
I also gave it a serious thought – why are the toppings so bizzare?
Considering that ‘vegetarian’ is something new in this culture – I guess they still haven’t got the idea that being ‘vegetarian’ doesn’t mean we just eat a bunch of vegetables. Vegetarians can be picky about the vegetables they eat. This is how a chef at one of the pizza places described the vegetarian Pizza – “Oh you know, it has a whole bunch of vegetables on it like zucchini and eggplant.” Oh yea that is what I got…
Also, they are trying to make it as heavy and filling as possible. Because they may probably feel like “Oh no meat… what do these poor dears eat?? Let’s put some potatoes and artichoke and pineapples and mushrooms and …… ”
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.
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.
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:
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,
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.
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.
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: 🙂
*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.