2 weeks ago I left shoreditch, London, and waved farewell to my friends and loved ones.
Around 1,000km + later by bike and here I am sitting in a beautiful home in Oberstammheim, Switzerland, after being hosted by my (wait for it) best friends, Dad’s cousin! It truly has been a home away from home, and I have been struck by the kindness and generosity of others. So here is a quick round up of all the weird and wonderful things I have experienced on this bike packing adventure so far.
I’ve now biked through 4 countries and have seen some strange things that just baffle me. So here goes…
1. Public cigarette machines
Cigarette machines in towns and villages in Germany. Yes, this is still a thing and sticks out like a sore thumb. I even cycled through one tiny village that had no shops, no restaurants, simply nothing but a few homes, oh, but they did have 4 cigarette machines! Pretty strange to see, considering I saw no one use one!
2. Having seriously strange dreams
Ok, this isn’t necessarily about things I’ve seen or places I’ve been, but back home I never remember my dreams. If I’m lucky one or two a year. In 2 weeks already I have had the most vivid dreams including people from all walks of my life. It’s just weird and I don’t know why? Perhaps because my mind is de-cluttered from the daily grind, or perhaps my mind is also de-cluttering – I’ll never know!
3. Trainee medics timetable
In Freiburg I stayed with 2 wonderful hosts, Johannes and Jonas, both trainee doctors in their final year. We started to talk about their studies and the sorts of things they were learning, including their timetable for the next day which included learning about the following injuries: blunt force, asphyxiation and drowning. What a day they had ahead of them! Now count yourself lucky sitting in your nice cosy office right now!
Not only is cycling all day every day just a bloody wonderful thing to do (how lucky am I?!) but I have been absolutely blown away by meeting others and their endless generosity, seriously.
1. Anita and Hannes, Karlsruhe
I used warm showers for the first time and Anita and Hannes hosted me for one night. I had no idea what to expect. I’d never couch surfed before, nor had I used warm showers! I arrived and Anita was cooking pasta for the neighbours. They’d set up the tv outside for the Germany vs Sweden game. I was greeted with endless yummy pasta, beer, good company whilst watching the Germany game. It was absolute bliss.
They also had a trainee medic on Erasmus from Thessolinki, Christine. I got to learn about different cultures, as well as Anita and Hannes rides around Ireland, Scotland, Sweden and Denmark, very inspiring! I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome for my first warm shower stay and would highly recommend it to other bike packers, especially if you’re on your own and in need of some company!
2. Johannes and Jonas, Freiburg
I left Karlsruhe and Hannes suggested I stay with their friend in Freiburg which was on the way to Lake Constance. Hannes had also told me about Johannes’s solo ride from Germany to Russia, which I couldn’t wait to hear all about.
I arrived with such a warm and friendly welcome. We had some food and drinks and Johannes took me on a twilight tour of the beautiful city, taking in the cathedral, old waterways and views of the Black Forest, stunning. We spoke of cycling adventures, eco living and festivals! I will never forget this stay and feel like I’ve made life long friends 🙂
3. Mirila and Donal, Oberstammheim
One of my best friends Rachael got in touch to ask if she could help during my trip. I asked her about her family as knew of some near Australia, Switzerland. She immediately came back with a list of hosts and it just so happened that Oberstammheim was pretty much on my route to Lake Constance! Result! I arrived quite early with some cakes and wine as a gift – the least I could do.
Mirila, Donal and their two children, Bianca and Patrick were just wonderful company. They couldn’t have done anything more for me (other than cycled my bike for me!). I was treated to all my clothes (and sleeping bag) being washed, endless gorgeous home made food, local brewed beer (Donal had heard I like beer!) and complete generosity. It felt like a home away from home, I kinda don’t want to leave! Mirila is from Portugal so we spoke of where she grew up and I said how much I loved pasteis de nata. In the morning she has made a giant one! She is honestly like the fairy godmother, super Mum 🙂 I can’t thank them enough for such a cosy and heart felt stay and I hope to see them again in the future some time!