Day 1: Departure & Highways (Amsterdam – Berlin)

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Customers at the cafe getting emotional about my departure.

After having a ‘final’ morning coffee with my brother the time had come to say goodbye and hit the road. Although I did some extensive packing the day before, I somehow forgot to take my passport. This trip could have been off to quite a false start as I would only have noticed forgetting it when leaving the EU, i.e. Albania…. Luckily my flat mate found it lying on the table and gave me a call. So, with an hour delay we’re off! Onward – to Berlin!

Highways on a bike are pretty tiresome, somewhat boring and a strain on your back. Therefor, I cut the trip in half. My ‘target’ for the day was a little a hostel in Ahrbergen located near the Naturpark Weserbergland Schaumburg-Hamein.

The monotonous roar of the engine brought me back to life on the road – extremely awesome to be on the bike again!  A hundred kilometers before arriving at the hostel I got off the highway and drove through the natural reserve. Absolutely amazing. Beautiful roads lined with trees winding through large fields of grain.

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good weather + great scenery = happy biker

 

According to my GPS the hostel was very close. Just twenty kilometers to go! But the dutch proverb goes: “de laatste loodjes wegen het zwaarst”, meaning something like “the last mile is the longest”. Well, actually it means exactly that. Getting carried of there. Let me break down the situation. The issue was as follows: I had to cross some swamp-ish territory but all bridges were closed do to Hochwasser. After happily driving from closed bridge to closed bridge I was starting to worry I would not be able to cross without taking an 80 kilometer detour! Not exactly what I was looking forward to after a full day of driving. After two hours of closed roads and bridges I finally found one that was could get me to the other side of the swamp. I had not thought much of the Hochwasser, but glancing off the bridge I noticed houses around me were completely submerged!

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truckloads of sand in the middle of the road for filling sandbags

When I finally arrived at the Hostel Ahrbergen, the owner was laying sandbags around the building. It looked like a war zone (slight over dramatization maybe…). He told me the entire region was experiencing flooding due to two weeks of extensive rain and they expected flooding this evening. Quite the reassurance. However, I was tired, the guy was nice and the hostel was pretty much deserted (wonder why…) and therefor nice and calm. I laid all my gear out across the room, including the wet laundry I packed in the morning.

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water rising…

During the night lights of fire engines flashed through the curtains and people seemed extremely busy outside. I hardly noticed this, until a generator was placed in front of my window which started humming loudly (quite the understatement). When I looked outside to see what was going on I was astounded to see the entire village was out there. Everybody was carrying sand bags, pulling hoses and shouting commands. I heard the next day that the situation had been critical…

 

3 thoughts on “Day 1: Departure & Highways (Amsterdam – Berlin)

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