Ben and Nick's European Vacation

Nick and Ben cycle from Sweden to Switzerland and beyond. Check out our cycling trip to Patagonia.

Ben Heumann
Nick Cowan

Thursday, July 07, 2005


A quick post that we are alive and doing well. In Germany now, south of Hamburg. We are trying to cycle 130km a day, but the actual distance in terms of reaching Koln is much less because we seem to get lost, a lot: too many roads and little towns with similar names (a least in a foriegn language). Fun fact: Nick and I forgot about getting a phrase book for Germany and neiter of us speaks any German. Ha! We are eating well and mostly camping except for a very nice B&B near Bornhoven, where we stayed because of heavy rain and the need for clean clothes. Only 1 near death experience and no angry farmers yet (in reference to Patagonia). Nick and I are pleasantly surprised by how nice Germany is both in general and for cycling, and really cheap too! Denmark was nice, excellent bike paths, wish we had stayed longer. The plan is to cycle to Koln in the next 3 days, hang out there for a day, then cycle down the Rhine for Basel and Zurich.
Cycling Notes
Day 1: Lund, Sweden to 15km south of Koge, Denmark; 60km
We took train from Lund to the airport in Copenhagen (switched trains in Malmo). From the airport, we followed bike paths along the shore out of Copenhagen past Koge. We camped in a farmer's hay field.

No Parking Signs in Koge, Denmark

"Dude, that building was built in 1644!"

DAY 2: Koge to Burg (Fehmarn), Germany; 110km
Woke to sunrise at 4am, slept until 7. Followed bike main highway south on Zeeland, then bike route 7 across pastoral Denmark to Rodbyhavn. Arrived at the ferry terminal around 8pm, and Puttgarden at 9pm. In Burg, we get Euros and eat at pizzeria. When we finish dinner, its dusk and we get lost trying to leave town in search of a campsite. In desperation, throw down our sleeping pads and bags at the end of a farmer's lane after dark.

Nick cycling next to a traditional Danish Building

Ben cycling on a cycling route through sheep pasture in Denmark

Ferry from Denmark to Germany

DAY 3: German Weather Gods (Burg to Bornhoven, Germany); 100km
Nick: “Hey, Ben. I thinks its raining.”
Ben (looking up at the black sky): “Shit, shit, shit”
(Rain drops the size of grapes begin to fall)
What a way to wake up. After retreating to a nearby woodlot to prepare for cycling in the rain, we head south along a major highway, stopping twice for coffee and chocolate. After two hours of cycling in the cold, pouring rain, my moral is crushed as I discover how my jacket is not waterproof anymore. As the rain starts to lift, we get lost and start cycling west through beautiful rolling hills of forest and farmland and lakes.
During the day, Nick had three interesting events. Event 1: Nick tries to adjust his jacket, goes off the cycling path, and into the path of an on-coming RV, narrowly missing certain pain. Event 2: Nick gets a flat tire. Event 3: Nick discovers that both of the screws holding his back rack to the frame of his bike have been shaken out by the cobblestone streets. Just a side note: cobblestones, bricks, and other non-asphalt/cement surfaces do not make good cycling paths.
Near Bornhoven, the weather threatens to rain again, and we take shelter at a lovely B&B where we can dry out things, Nick can do laundry, and we can have a hot dinner. Also, we can drink beer and watch highlights of the Tour de France. I decide to leave Nick to his laundry and go shopping for dinner in Bornhoven, 5km away. As I come out of the store, it begins to rain harder than in the morning. After 10 minutes, it lets up a little, and I make a break for it, only to get a flat tire at the other end of the parking lot. But at least I had beer.

Two chromoly steeds below Wilhelm I in Lutjenburg, Germany

We drink beer and dry off in a bed and breakfast near Bronhoven, Germany

DAY 4: Back on the Horse (Bornhoven to Laurensburg) 125km
With clean, mostly dry clothes and a big German breakfast in our bellies, we cycle south, mostly along small rural roads in an attempt to avoid cycling near Hamburg. The landscape of rolling hills and fields, continues. In Laurensburg, we discover the joy of Turkish food (doner kebab) in Gernmany: cheap and very filling. After crossing the Elbe River, we find a place to camp near the bike path next to a barn.

Nick tries to finish his book, but instead takes a nap in Titunau, Germany

Nick happy to cross the Elbe like the barbarian hordes!

Camping near the canal and wind turbines.

Day 5: Which Way? (Laurensburg to Rethem) 135km
With an early start, we cycle south along a canal from the Elbe. At Lunesburg, we are forced into an industrial park. Disoriented, we cycle into the center of town, check out of the fortress-like church, buy supplies, and cycle south-west, aiming between Hanover and Hamburg. Our route is small-rural roads, which sometimes are bike paths, but we discovered not to always trust the bike path signs as they would sometimes take us kilometers out of our. Similarly, we learned after a 9km detour not to trust our own sense of direction and to check the map at each intersection before proceeding.
For much of the day, we followed a bike path through forests adjacent to a military base. In Walsrode, we eat Turkish food and check e-mail at an internet café. Outside Rethem, we find a field hidden by a hedgerow to camp in. Just after we fall asleep (8pm), a tractor enters the field, drives around the perimeter, then starts to spread fertilizer pellets, being sure to spray the tent with each pass. After fifteen minutes, the tractors come to a stop outside the tent. We prepare for the worst, getting kicked out, but instead, the farmer roars the engine, and leaves.

Ben cycling on cobblestone road in Lunesburg, Germany

Happy cyclist even when it does rain!