Day 8: Papenburg to Bremen

12·5 miles by bike to Leer: https://cyclemeter.com/3432aa395de1d505/Cycle-20220814-1029-88409, then by train to Bremen. Cycling total so far 145·9 miles

We needed to get a day in hand to be sure of arriving in Kiel in time for our ferry. Currently we can do about 20 miles a day before arse-ache, foot-pain, calf-cramps or blood-sugar stops it being fun. To be honest, I am pissed off with my blood-sugar for going suddenly low, despite filling up with low-GI breakfasts, or staying high no matter how much headwind we battle, then crashing early evening. Thanks goodness for half a pannier of glucose tablets and Clif bars.

Apart from a canal-side bridge which required some push to mount, today’s cycling has been fine. Very little headwind, no navigation problems, mostly smooth (dare I say Dutch-like?) tarmac and a coffee-stop just when it was wanted in Großwolde (Café Kuchenliebe Ostfriesland). If you are in the market for beans, potatoes and/or strawberries go there. Otherwise go there, drink cold drinks and enjoy a junior engineer-of-tomorrow playing in the sandpit.) This contrasts with yesterday: cyclepaths made of often-uneven brick, or staying on the road to avoid gefahrliches Berm or allergenic crops. Owwww!

So that got us to Leer. Now, why call a town ‘Empty’ or is it a bit of Frysk I don’t understand? (There are many!) Our plan was to get a train to Bremen, then take another to Hamburg. The ticket office at Leer was closed, along with much else in this sabbath-observing area, so we just bought tickets from a machine to get us from there (Leer) to Bremen. According to Deutsche Bahn’s website, the next train with bike spaces from Bremen to Hamburg would have departed around 6pm, dumping us in a huge and mostly unfamiliar city late in the evening.

  • But according to the first ticket office attendant I asked; there were no trains with bike spaces at all today.
  • Quick consultation with Elly, then try second attendant: there are no bike spaces on Sundays on regional trains to Hamburg, apart from one leaving Bremen’s other station (some distance away) after 10pm.
  • OK, what about tomorrow?
  • Buy a 9 euro ticket each: that will take you anywhere in Germany until the end of August, and buy a bike ticket for tomorrow. Trains are every half hour – get on when there is space!

So, all being well, we get to Hamburg tomorrow lunchtime. Then we’ll cycle to Henstedt-Ulzburg (about 20 miles). On Tuesday we’ll cycle to Neumünster (about 25 miles), and on Wednesday get to Kiel (about 21 miles) for the holy German trinity of Hans im Glück, Drogerie-Markt and Eco-Express Waschsalon – and our ferry to Oslo!

Our hotel is on a big square outside the main station. There are lots of people: a few obvious backpackers and other travellers, but mostly lots of people just sitting in groups, some looking down and out. A lot of people walking and drinking beer, and more smokers than I’m used to. One fairly inebriated bloke was hauled off by the Schupo* as we necked cold drinks outside the Übersee Museum. Cheap holidays in other peoples’ misery?**

Back to the hotel to flop for a bit, and then time for the first Hans im Glück*** of the trip. Now we are flopped out. It’s nearly 10pm and yet I’m dripping!

* https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schutzpolizei

** https://genius.com/Sex-pistols-holidays-in-the-sun-lyrics

*** https://hansimglueck-burgergrill.de

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