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Groovy Good Times in Germany

Suggestion : Print this out in draft form, on scrap paper, and use it for some bedtime, bathroom or weekend reading. Our journals are more like a chapter of a book and this is 4 pages. So relax and enjoy!

Exciting Photos: Just click the link below. Big thanks to Panasonic for the cameras:

My Czech guest rider Irena and I crossed the official border to Germany from Czech Republic just as a massive rain storm gave way to mostly sunny, crisp and clear skies with a fresh, clean smell in the air. We had just climbed over 600 meters and we knew it was all down hill to Dresden so all we had to do was relax and enjoy the ride. The small back road we choose could not have been more perfect with German country style homes, farms and lush green vegetation illuminated by the late afternoon sunshine. And the fact that I was with a Czech rider who made the journey into Germany with me made it the perfect entry into a new country!

As we weaved down the windy roads through small villages I began to smell bread baking as we hit our first Germany bakery. It was loaded with hearty breads, sweets and treats so we stocked up on some breads and pastries, hit up a market for final camping supplies and began looking for a place to call home for the night. Irena was not much of a camper so I was determined to get her hooked on the outdoors and this region of Germany was just perfect. We found a small hidden back road that led to a perfect free campsite right on the river. We set up a tent, bathed in the cool river, had some dinner and champagne, lounged in the hammock and well, life does not get much better. If you check the photo of us in the hammock you’ll see that the light was indeed shining on us that evening (and it’s not Photoshop job either)!

We slept like babies in the tent by the river and continued our gentle decent to Dresden. The ride was truly divine passing stunning scenery and enjoying the bike lanes I almost forgot existed since traveling in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. The original plan was for Irena to take a train back to Prague from Dresden but we were having such a good time, the weather was excellent and we had a formal invitation from Tim and Sybille in Berlin for Irena to join us. She was skeptical at first but finally aaccepted the invitation and we hopped a train from Dresden to Berlin for the weekend all filled with the glow of two days on the road!

I originally met Tim and Sybille, a truly adorable German couple of 27 years old, in South Africa in 2006 while pedaling and surfing my way along the coast. We got along so well and had some truly great memories together both in and out of the ocean. We were so excited to be reunited again in their old stomping grounds of Berlin. They have a huge flat with an extra room in an amazing part of central Berlin and they were excited to share it. They picked Irena and I up at the architectural masterpiece of a central station and we spent the weekend out touring the city of Berlin on bike, taking in the sights, doing some shopping, eating, drinking, meeting their friends and catching up on each others lives.

The entire weekend was bliss. Irena got along very well with everyone and was having a blast. From the historic sights and wild history, to the modern buildings and cafes, to the stunning parks and endless attractions the city of Berlin has no shortage of things to see and do. And the people of Berlin beat to an entirely different drum than the other Germany cities I’ve visited and are cool, alternative, laid back and genuine. If I had to live in Germany, this is where I would likely end up.

Monday was the day Irena would have to head back to Prague. I woke up that morning feeling a bit ill and we were both feeling quite sad about the reality. Just as we were having our last lunch together I got a call from one of the national TV stations who wanted to do so a story on us so I was able to delay Irena’s departure a bit as she would be in the spot together with me. On the way to the TV appointment I heard someone call out my name and when I stopped I could barely believe my eyes! It was a good friend of mine Mathieu who I met in Benin, West Africa who just happened to be in Berlin studying German and was in the exact place Irena and I were riding by. What’s the chance of that happening? We both felt it must be fate and took each others local German phone numbers to meet up and see what adventures we could drum up together.

After the TV gig I finally had to dropped off Irena at the central station and we both shed plenty tears as we sipped our last coffee together, wondering if it would really be our last or if we would some day meet again. We had grown very close and are still in touch to this day. We both made an impact in each others lives and this is the part of my life out Peace Pedaling that I don’t like so much—saying goodbye. As I rode away I felt a huge the sore throat I had earlier that morning getting a bit worse but I was determined not to let it win and make me sick.

I had a date with Tim and Sybille to play beach volleyball of all things. It had been years since I played and the weather was threatening once again to rain, but I knew I had to go. When I showed up I could not believe my eyes. There were dozens of professional nets, sand and great players all over. I met a new friend Axel and together we were four playing numerous games of 2 on 2 and having an absolute blast. The games were just what I needed to get over the sadness of Irena and by the time we finished I found my first long distance Germany rider as Axel said he could free up a day or two to ride!

Tuesday morning Tim gave me a special gift and woke up extra early with me to do a sunrise ride in Berlin. There is nothing better than riding with a local in the capitals before it really wakes up. The streets were almost empty, we ran three cameras and went out exploring various sights, the park, some remaining sections of the Berlin Wall and all sorts of funky back roads. We had a blast chatting away and he shared some nice nuggets for the camera that I’m sure will be of great value to the show.

I spent the rest of the day working away in their flat, fixing some issues with my bike, preparing accommodation in Denmark and Sweden via and touching base with Norwegian and Scottish friends I planned to meet up with in the next few weeks. I also got in touch with my long lost buddy Mathieu, the French surfer buddy I met in Benin, West Africa and bumped into in Berlin the day before. I was convinced that we were meant to spend some time together and invited him to pedal for a day outside Berlin heading north to Denmark. He was willing to take a day off school so I was now set with three riders from Berlin to the port to Denmark! Perfect!

Wednesday Mathieu and I began our glorious ride outside Berlin heading north towards Denmark. We first met in Benin and he was my very first host in West Africa. We spent several days in Africa together surfing, eating and enjoying African life but never did we expect to cross paths in Berlin, not to mention to be riding in Germany together! The weather was spot on perfect with blue skies and harmless scattered clouds. Mathieu is from Britney, France and is now dating a German woman he met in Benin so decided to crash course the language for a few weeks. He’s a genuine, gentle, adventurous man and we had a blast cycling, chatting and running the cameras together through the picturesque national parks.

That evening we were expecting our next character to the German adventure, Axel. After only spending a few hours together Axel was excited as ever about accompanying me on the tandem all the way to the port to Denmark. He had done a few bike tours himself and was excited to combine our passions of bike touring and exploring. He took a train and did some hitchhiking to arrive at our camp ground in time for all three of us to enjoy a few beers, a nice dinner and to catch the sun setting on the lake. We all got along very well together and it was nice to be around some male energy after quite a bit of female riders and company in the past few weeks.

Axel and I crashed a camp fire before bed and he ripped up the guitar and sang some classics for the Christian youth group who we befriended almost instantly. I liked Axel’s outgoing and open nature. I knew we would get along great over the next few days. Mathieu and Axel shared my tent and I camped under the stars for the first time in years. The weather was perfect and only getting better. We woke up the next morning to bid farewell when Mathieu who made an early departure to his German class back in Berlin. Axel and I slept in to charge up for our bike adventure to the coast and woke up fresh and excited.

We decided to stay off the main roads and venture into the small back roads of the national park. Axel sported these cut off cycling shorts he that were too classic—check the photos! The terrain was rich and intense with bright green vegetation, heaps of trees, lakes and rivers. Add to this the positive and progressive conversations and you have the ingredients for a perfect day of cycling. We did, however, manage to take a few wrong turns that brought us well off our original course. But we were having a blast and with the long summer days a few hours off did not make much of a difference.

Both of us were dying to get to the sea and, with the delays of our wrong turns, we had not chance to pedal there before sunset. We decided to hop a quick train to make up for some lost time and rolled into Rostock, Germany about two hours before sunset. We stocked up on some food and a bottle of white wine and pedaled like mad the last 25km to the sea. We arrived with plenty of time before the sun set and had a refreshing victory dip in the cool sea.

Axel and I first met while playing beach volleyball in Berlin and when we were on our way to the sea Axel was praying we would find someone who had a net set up. God must have been listening as the exact spot we rolled our bike into had a volleyball family all set up and ready for challengers. Axel and I got our butts kicked, but I was just so grateful to play again with Axel while drinking cool white wine as the sun set over Denmark. We could not ask for much more!

We both wanted to do some free camping so we stashed my bike in some bushes, grabbed our sleeping bags and mats and went out exploring for a place to sleep. On the way we ended up running into a Filipino woman running a tiny Brazilian theme bar while playing the Eagles live in USA on DVD there on a beach in Germany. It was pretty surreal so we had to enjoy a drink under the stars before finally finding a perfect spot to camp in the sand dunes where we slept like babies.

Our final day together we had some breakfast on the sandy beach followed by a ride to the ferry terminal back in Rostock We got a bit of a late start but still managed to do some filming and fun riding through the forest on the way back to town. We made it just in time to get Axel changed out of his clothes and me on the boat. I was a bit sad to say goodbye as we had built a nice friendship, but the weather was perfect and we both had exciting plans for the weekend so it was not nearly as sad as other departures in the past. I was off to Copenhagen, Denmark to meet heaps of great people and his best buddy was on his way up from Berlin to hit a Cuban beach party going on that night.

From the moment I crossed the border into Germany from Czech until the moment I left to Denmark I was blessed with great people, pristine nature and rich experiences I will not soon forget. My trip to Germany exceeded my expectations and the east and northern regions are a must visit in my opinion. Many thanks to Irena, Tim, Sybille, Mathieu, Axel and all those who helped make my trip in Germany so lovely.

Over n out from Norway…

Live Big. Give Big.

Jamie :)

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