To Leer and beyond

Last night we had fantasies of cycling 87 miles from Winschoten to Bremen, or maybe just 60 miles to Oldenburg, with coffee-stops at Papenburg (21 miles) and Bad Zwischenahn (34 miles).

a fantasy too far!

This morning, reality struck in the form of rain, then rain, then more rain. It was too warm for me to wear full gloves when we started, so those were stowed deep in my panniers, and I just wore mitts in my hands. The route was too wet and lacking in shelter to want to stop and fish for gloves, jacket or overshoes, so I got wet and cold. Elly’s jacket was handier (she was wearing it) but perhaps we should have brought rainproofs we can put on without stopping. (Annoyingly, I have one but I left it in Edinburgh to reduce the amount of stuff strapped to Lev.)

So we changed plan, and headed for the nearest station that had regular trains to Bremen. This was Leer, 24 miles from Winschoten. (We also stopped at the station in Bunde (Wikipedia) but it didn’t offer us any useful connections.) It took us 2 hours 40 minutes to dribble 28 miles. Stop time includes visiting an Aldi just outside Leer for supplies (including much-wanted chocolate), because we were only going to Germany’s 11th most populous city (Wikipedia), where there would t be any supermarkets at all! This stop had enough shelter to make fishing for waterproofs in panniers a non-pyrrhic activity, by now it had stopped raining. The wind had died down too, so waterproofs would have just caused overheating. We did make our first cycled border-crossing:

In Germany, where my pretence to speak the language isn’t a *total* lie

We were fortunate about bike-spaces: there were 6 on the next train to Bremen. The ticket-office was closed, and the ticket-machine appeared to not sell reservations or bike-berths. However, the conductor let us use two unreserved bike-berths. Another cyclist got on just after us but had no bike-reservation either. He got an, er, strongly explanatory mouthful that there were no bike-berths left, so he could take his bike elsewhere or elsewhen, tough!

The bike berths combine wheel-pinchers and rim-hooks. I’m not sure these are good things.

We arrived in Bremen about 4pm, were installed in our room very soon hereafter, and fantasising about clean, dry clothes on clean, warm, dry bodies. The latter was quickly achieved, a waschsalon was 10 minutes away by tram, and 60 minutes of watching our lycra rotate achieved the former.

A walk back to the hotel, stringing laundry across our room, and a trudge almost all the way back to the waschsalon got us to Vengo die Gemüseküche . Their website said they are open until 10, but when we arrived just after 8, we were told their kitchen had just closed. However, they did have two unwanted, already plated vegan curries. Under other circumstances, we might have demurred. But that would have been our loss: we’d have missed out on some fine curry, and the best vegan cake ever. Three layers of chocolate cake separated and iced with a nutty cream filling. I think it was better than Loving Hut’s cake, and I’d crawl through 20 miles of midden for that.

We’ll be ambulatory tourists in Bremen tomorrow, then head to Hamburg. Trains may or may not be involved. Meanwhile, here’s a few more of today’s photos

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looking around Winschoten

More pix to be added later!

And here’s Bruce’s pix of bumbling around Bremen on the 29th


And here’s Bruce’s pix from the 30th:



2 thoughts on “To Leer and beyond

    • Ive not used German/continental trains enough to have a valid opinion. However, my non-valid, anecdotal opinion is: better organised and more punctual, with better bike accommodation than the ghastly ‘hang your bike by the front wheel’ nonsense I’ve encountered on some UK trains. Bike spaces can be limited, and if you don’t have a reservation for a bike space, you’ll get told firmly that you can’t bring your bike on that train. One related problem we encountered is that we couldn’t make bike reservations on the DB phone app. We had to got to a station Reisebüro for that.


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