AMSTERDAM TO BERLIN
(Part 2 – The Other Side)
I got to Minden and had nowhere to sleep.
I sent a few messages out on ‘Couchsurfing’ while I sat and ate a massive burger. I’d been so determined not to eat bad food, but I convinced myself the calories were more important at that stage…
No-one replied to my messages for a couple of hours. I eventually received a message… but they said they were busy studying.
So my next plan was to get chatty.
I’ve learnt from travelling solo in the past that instigating conversation and smiling is the only way to create opportunities, so I said hi to a family sitting next to me eating dinner. I found out that the Mum (and wife) lived in Minden. I told her what I was up to and that I was looking for a place to stay. She asked around to help me out and suggested a brand new hostel owned by one of her friends, called Simeons Herberge. It had only just opened for business!
I arrived and it was completely empty with no-one around to speak to. I tried phoning them and didn’t get an answer. I was just about to resort to paying for a hotel, when a girl who lived on the top floor called Annina turned up and saved the day! She phoned the owners and they let me stay for free!
I HAD THE WHOLE HOSTEL TO MYSELF.
The next morning, I woke up nice and early, feeling fresh and ready for action. I took my hearing-aids out of their protective pouch.
I put the right one in – ‘BING’ – I can hear!
I put the left one in – ‘NO BING’ – I cannot hear?!
It was broken. I was absolutely gutted.
It’s a real knock to my confidence when I can only hear from one side.
My Dad (the legend) informed me of a nearby hearing-aid shop, called Fiebing – Besser Hören. I made my way there to see if they could help and they bent over backwards for me! They sent my hearing-aid to Munster for repair, arranged a pickup for me in two-weeks-time in Berlin and fitted me with a spare ‘over-ear’ gadget!
That night, I met the busy student, Friedereke, and her fiends… and stayed over in her cosy little flat!
Hannover Town Hall
Bike or Train? BIKE! Not even a question!
The scenery through most of Germany wasn’t keeping me entertained for long… so to keep myself sane, I decided to play around with some hay bales, sang my own version of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ and I DROVE A COMBINE HARVESTER!
I’ll never forget the look on the farmers face…
as I stumbled across his field like a sweaty, dehydrated fugitive who’d just stolen a camera and was in desperate need for a getaway driver! His son was with him in the cabin and they were more than happy to let me drive. I eventually hit 2.7mph.
IT WAS EXHILARATING!
I was having so much fun I forgot to take a photo, but I filmed the whole episode!
I visited Helmstedt-Marienborn border crossing. It was the busiest border crossing between East and West Germany, in operation from 1945 through to 1990.
Just over three weeks of cycling and I finally arrived into Berlin on 3rd July.
I looked forward to resting my mind, body and soul…
So what have I learned this time?
You can only plan so much.
Planning completely takes the sense of adventure away. If I can enter most situations with an open mind and a big smile… things will fall into place and I’ll rarely feel very disappointed! The art of talking to people I don’t know is a skill that I’ve worked hard at, and it’s finally paying off!