this site is about my bicycle trip from my now hometown Katrineholm, Sweden to COP26 in Glasgow, Scootland, Great Britain.
Why was I biking to the COP26? In short: It is a sustainable way to travel and I hope, I can make a difference by biking all the way as a 71-year-old. I hope, the political leaders of the world will understand, that they have to act now, when a 70+ year old woman is coming by bike. I know, it is a dream, but sometimes dreams come true and if I do not try, I can never change anything.
What means COP26? COP is a shortening for UN Climate Change Conference and the no 26 is for, because it is how it is count. You can read more about COP26 by following the link. The COP 21 was held in Paris from 30th November to 12th December 2015. Negotiations resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12th December, governing climate change reduction measures from 2020. In real, not much has changed in benefit for the climate.
When and where did I start? I started 1st September 2021 in Katrineholm, Sweden.
1st SEPTEMBER 2021
Katrineholm – Norrköping; 77 km; host: Peder af Geijerstam (warmshowers)
After month of preparations and looking for travel buddies, it finally was time to start the ride. The plan was to use “warmshowers” and “couchsurfing” for the overnight stays. Even this a sustainable way to travel. There were some hosts, who already had invited me and that felt good. Other hosts I have to find on the way. Most hosts does not like requests more than a week in advance and a lot of hosts are happy about last-minute-requests as well. Though, I had my fingers crossed, that I wanted to find hosts in every town or village with overnight stays. – I did not find any travel buddies, but that did not really matter, because I am used to traveling by my own.
By the way, it is too dangerous to ride the Highway 55 between Katrineholm and Norrköping by bike, therefore I had to ride around 70 km instead for 40 km, using minor roads.
I thought, I need to charge my bike battery around halfway av my day-trip, but actually it was not necessary by using assistance level 2 and 3 most of the time.
It was a wonderful day, biking on small roads enjoying nature and even some deer crossing the road. I came close to the home av MaryAnn, my vegetable supplier, but not close enough to greet her. Once I used the forest as a bathroom, the other time I found a rest area. There were some camper vans as well and I had to trust that the travelers won’t take anything and they didn’t. I imagine, that people with camper vans have so much money, that they are not interested in stealing.
I used maps.me most of the day, but when the app told me, that I have to take a fenced and closed road, I switched to Google Maps. It worked fine, because I was already close enough to my goal for the day – to Norrköping.
By the way, my smartphone run out of charge, though I took a rest and charged it by my power-bank – enough for being able to continue, meanwhile I had a snack. At that time I was in an old village, called Virå bruk.
Later, I made a stop to message my host, that I soon will arrive and by that, I read an email message of a journalist, working in Norrköping. He was interested in, to write about my trip. We agreed to meet the next day. By the way, in Katrineholm no journalist did met me in the city-park, but I had hoped. Nearly outside, I met a woman of my circle of acquaintances, who was on her daily walk, stopped by and wished me good luck on my travel. I was very happy about it. Luckily, I have had friends at home for some days. They left today. Before they left, they did take photos of me.
It was a little difficult to reach my hosts home because of street work, which parted his street. Finally I found my way and his address. Peder did take my bike up into his apartment on the third floor for security reasons and you have to know, that the house does not have an elevator. He also carried my big bags up. I only tog my cooler bag and a cotton bag with groceries, which was not even filled to the top. Close after showing me his apartment, especially the bathroom and the kitchen, he had to work online for an hour again. I think it is amazing, how he lays the jigsaw without being stressed. In the contrary, he was calm and very nice.
During dinner, which was a salad with beans, carrots and rice as a side dish – as simple it was as delicious it was, we talked about our travels, of course and were going to sleep around 10pm, because we had to be up early the upcoming day.
2nd September 2021
Norrköping – Linköping; 48 km; host: Heinz Ericson (warmshowers)
We took an early good-bye after Peder had carried down my panniers and my bike. I had plenty of time to fasten my panniers on my bike, even he already had left for work. I also ate a banana and had a mouth full of a cold coffee drink from a bottle.
Afterwards I was going to the city center. I stayed on S:t Pedersgatan / corner Gamla Rådstugugatan on a bench with my bike close to me. It was only +10°C, though it was a little cold, but it may become worse soon. I waited for an email from a reporter av Folkbladet, which I have got soon. He asked me, if 10am would be fine for an interview. It was only 8:30am, though I asked him, if it was possible to meet earlier and explained the situation for him. Meanwhile I was waiting for him I really needed a bathroom. A driving school, right at this corner was already open and I was allowed to use their bathroom, having my bike directly in front of one of their big windows. The assistant at the counter agreed to have an eye on it. Though I was ready to meet the reporter and we met at 9:30am. After the interview I asked him to email his text to me before publishing and told him my bad experiences from Katrineholm and Gnesta. He accepted my wish and luckily sent me the text in the afternoon, because there were two wrong facts in it. He promised to correct them. He also had taken some photographs with a Canon system camera – even when I was cycling.
Going by bike to Linköping should have been very easy, but I had head wind most of the time. The landscape was not as flat as I remembered. Therefore I got concerned about my battery – using much more as I expected. Fortunately it is not very far between the two cities and I arrived around 2:30pm at my host. My battery had not run out off charge, but was close to it. I also was happy about the wide shoulders on the highway I was using. It was a very secure road.
Coincidentally I met my warmshowers host outside the house of his apartment with his trash. He welcomed me, opened the front door and told me to park my bike under the stairs, because it is saver than outside. The door is always locked.
He showed me around in his apartment, cooked a coffee for me, served some Digestive, butter and cheese and told me then, he has to continue working. It was really nice, giving me that time even I arrived earlier than expected.
When his work was done, we had a chat at the patio e.g. about climate issues and nuclear energy. We also have seen a hedgehog.
Later he cooked a meal – a vegetable pot, which was delicious. Even we were talking about different issues during the meal, we continued our chat afterwards and actually had discussions about different faith and humanism. I really enjoyed it. He also invited me for an vanilla ice-cream with bananas and plum jam. It was very good.
Around 10pm we said good night after we had agreed about the time for breakfast.
3rd September 2021
Linköping – Tokarp Lyckebo; 80 km; host: Jon and Matilda Forsärla (mp/Naturskyddsföreningen via fb)
My host Heinz served a good and generous breakfast. He also followed me on his bike to help me find my way further. I am very grateful to him.
The weather was nice, but a little cloudy today, even it was a little windy. Heinz told me, it was the perfect weather for biking. Even this day, there was no incident. I was going by bike to Mjölby, but during that ride, Google sent me via an odd dirt road, I never had chosen by myself. In Great Britain they call this kind of road “Bridleway”. There were three farms on the side of this road and in front of the last one was a “Mind the dog” sign. I had to go through there anyway, but fortunately there was no dog. At a gas station I used the bathroom and bought a yogurt drink. Later I stopped at the outskirts of Mjölby and had lunch sitting on a bench.
Afterwards I tried to find highway 32 by Google maps. It took a while, but finally I was on it. There was much more traffic as I expected, especially more trucks. The shoulder was very small and sometimes even smaller. Therefore I did not feel safe.
In the town of Boxholm I took a rest, because I understood, that I have to charge my battery – it will not last all the way to my host for this night. I found the Boxholms New Viennacafe. I parked my e-bike at their outdoor place, entered and told them, that I will have something soon and asked, if I am allowed to charge my battery. That was OK and I ordered a cappuccino and a bit of carrot cake. I was sitting at the café for around one and a half hour and I was not asked to leave. There was also a group of men sitting at a table. They were there, when I was entering and still when I was leaving. They started a small talk with me. One of them told me, that I should not use the highway 32 from the town of Sommen to Tranås, but the older road, called Mjölbyvägen. I already read this on maps.me. He added useful tips.
The Boxholms “Nya Wienercafé”
I was happy, when there was a bike path from the town of Sommen and it continued on an old road with much less traffic and no trucks.
In Tranås I met my new host: Jon Forsärla outside his work space, the firefighters. We were biking together to his home. The road was mostly going uphill and Jon also rides an e-bike. By the way, I was allowed to choose the path: Mostly dirt road or mostly paved road. I chose, of course, the latter. At the short part of dirt road I was unlucky and close to fall with my bike, but it did not happen. Entering the yard of the F. home, I was blind by the sun and was laying down my bike on the ground, but really slowly.
All went well and I was welcomed by the rest of the family. I got to know the children and the wife. The parents shortly renovated their kitchen. The most eye-catching details are the spoons as handles on the cupboard doors and the drawers. It was taco-evening. It is a kind of a different world to be hosted by a family with young kids. The parents had their things to do and luckily, they had WiFi. Jon asked me, if I have hosts all the way, therefore I answered him, that I don’t have any for Värnamo yet. He offered, to find me a host. I was very grateful for it. I will see, if he succeeds. We continued sitting around the kitchen table och were chatting a little. Matilda, the woman in the house, told me, that they have tried to get couch-surfers, but did not have any, because they are living at the countryside.
I have got an email from the reporter of Folkbladet. The article about my “BikingForFuture” was on side 6, but there was also a notice on the front-page:
Later, Jon changed a couch into my bed, but with a cozy mattress on the top. It was nice to sleep on it.
The Forsärla couple and I have a lot in common. We both care for the environment. None of us has a car and we like to have guests. We also know the same Green Party member. I thought, it was for him, I was invited to this family, but actually it was because of my blog.
By the way, both Jon and I have written to the Tranås’ newspaper, that I will come to Tranås. Jon got a thank you for the information. I didn’t get anything and also they missed their chance, because tomorrow I won’t be in Tranås anymore. I will go the shortest way further.
4th September 2021
Tokarp Lyckebo – Jönköping; 74 km; host: Hojjat Erfani (couchsurfing)
I awoke twice during the night. The first time I only was to the bathroom and immediately to bed again. The other time was around a quarter past three. I did continue with my blog, wrote to Jönköping’s and Värnamo’s newspapers. Around six o’clock, the family awoke and breakfast was already before 8am. I forgot to take my medicines, but did it before leaving. For breakfast there was a lot to choose and they explained, that they usually have it this way for their children – that they find something they like.
After breakfast I was first in the bathroom brushing my teeth etc. Not many minutes later I left – after photos were taken:
The children have the unusual names Frey and Gro.
I was only using paved roads this day and mostly without Google Maps. I thought, I can remember where I should go and find my way easily. I had to go to the left twice, but I was counting wrong I found out, when I came to a dirt road. Though I was going back. Later I saw a sign to the little town of Sunhultsbrunn I was on my way to. In the continuing direction was another name. Later I found out, I should have continued straight, because I soon entered a bigger road, which was not fun to go by bike. Sometimes it feeled very dangerous, because this road also had a tiny shoulder only. Before I came to Sunhultsbrunn I saw the highway 132 and that was the one I should use, which I did, but I did not come through all the towns and villages I know and should have passed. Maybe this way was shorter. Anyway I nearly run out of battery and asked at a service shop with an automatic gas station for allowance to charge my battery. I did get it, had a coffee and a cake and updated my blog meanwhile I was waiting. All the time it was easy to have my eyes on my bike. Though I had left it with the panniers.
By the way a reporter from Värnamo Nyheter did contact me by email and I answered him during my lunch, which I ate sitting on a bigger stone. I had already continued, when he called me, though I had to stop. By the traffic, I could not really hear him, but I understood that he was awaiting me today in Värnamo. I had to tell him, that I will arrive in Värnamo the next evening. He told me, he need a picture of me – which I later sent him by email. I did not here anything of him for hours.
I continued on my way and had to use the serpentines down to the town of Huskvarna. I had been a little afraid for going there by bike, but fortunately it was working well. Huskvarna is the sister-town of Jönköping. There was a point, I didn’t understand Google maps. I had to cross a European highway, but could not see, where. There was a bridge, but for me it seemed, it was for trains. I called my host and told him, where I am – in the hope, I will get some help. Unfortunately he thought, I was closer to his home, but sent me his directions by Whats App. This was exactly the same, which I was using. When I had followed Google maps directions and was for the second time at the same gas station, I was entering it and asked the shop assistant, how to cross the highway and he told me, the bridge is for pedestrians and cyclists and also, where I could enter it. The cycle pass was very close to the street, which Google maps did not tell me. It only told me the name of the street.
Going further it first went well, but soon I had the sun in my eyes and it was hard to see the cyclist and pedestrians, which came against me. At one point, two cyclist met me on the site of the cycle pass, one on the pedestrians site and there also was a pedestrian. I had to go between them and I shouted, I cannot see well because of the sun. Nobody cared, but it was going well. I don’t know, what the cyclist, going on the pedestrians pass was thinking, but he must have been a bit crazy.
When Google told me (again), that I was understanding it’s direction wrong, I started pushing my bike. There were so many opportunities, I had to check the map all the time and it was hard to know, where to continue when I was told: southwards. Finally I was close, but felt, I might be wrong again. Therefore I asked an elderly lady, who was walking her dog. Luckily she had the same goal as I and I could follow her. By the way, I was following the wrong street, when I met her. Soon we were at the described house and I was looking for the correct number, because it had two entrances. At the bell system I tried to choose the name of my host, when he was coming out of the house, welcoming and helping me.
First we were going downstairs to the garage by elevator and put my bike there. He told me, it is safe there. We did take my panniers to the elevator, he was carrying the most of my luggage. When we were at the fourth floor, we entered his apartment.
His wife welcomed me as well and I was offered to choose somewhere to sit, though I chose the most comfortable place on the couch, because I had a little pain in my butt. They have a beautiful dog, a Golden Retriever. He loves to greet people, but because my light allergy against dog and cats hair, he was held calm and a bit out off my way.
I don’t really remember, what we were talking about, but I remember, that it was an interesting conversation. Two of the subjects where about painting, because he is an artist and about, how they were coming to Sweden. When they left their homeland Iran, they first lived in India for ten years. The reason for leaving Iran was the government/politics. They did not like the Shah either. What they really like is democracy.
I was invited to an Iranian meal. It was vegetarian only because I am a vegetarian and was an Aubergine dish with walnuts, Iranian bread and a cucumber dip similar to Tzatziki. That was such a delicious meal and the cucumber dip was a very good supplement to the Aubergine dish.
We were now talking about customs and traditions in different countries, especially in Mexico and Iran. They showed a documentary about Iran as well. There were so many beautiful art expressions and also a lot of ancient culture. I would like to see that country as well. I was told, I could knock every door and the people living there will give me a bed for the night and food to eat.
We were going to bed around a quarter past ten. Actually when they asked if I was tired some minutes before, I told them, I am not. It was magic that I became sleepy so fast.
5th September 2021
Jönköping – Värnamo (Ulås); 98 km; host: Peder Thorén (Naturskyddsföreningen)
In the middle of the night Jon messaged me, that I have got a host. It is a member of the board at Naturskyddsföreningen i Värnamo. He is living some kilometers outside town.
I was awake around 7am and tog my medicine and stayed up, but my host was still sleeping – we had agreed about 8am. I was happy, that I could take both my medicines before breakfast and I didn’t need to apologize for waiting to eat breakfast. They served both tea and coffee as well as honey and an Iranian jam plus two different kind of bread. I was happy with this breakfast. At the end, we tasted a ginger shot, but it was very hot. It felt, like it burnt my tung, though I was served a cup of tea and I was surprised, because it helped immediately.
After I had taken a shower – I am really surprised about all the famous equipment in their apartment, even they pay around 10.000 SEK/month for the one bedroom apartment, time was come to take good bye. It was later, that I am used to, but that I only realized afterwards. They helped me with all my things I have to carry and they were right, my bike had been safe during the night. Last but not least they showed me the shortest way out of town. Even this I was very happy about.
Leaving Jönköping in the direction of Värnamo is by heavy cycling. Without my e-bike it would have been very hard and I should have pushed my bike for more than one km. I took a rest, when I was out of town and during this my alarm clock told me, it was already high noon.
By the way, Google maps made me confused at one point (next right, then left plus next left, then right) and I was happy to meet a couple of cyclists, who told me the correct direction. Later Google told me too early to go to the left and still later, it want me to take unpaved road. I did not do it, but as soon as possible I stopped a car and asked for the correct way. I had to go back to the place, where I had turned left. The rest to Vaggeryd was easier. There I have seen a Preem gas station, where I could both buy something to eat as well as I could charge my battery. Here I read an email, offering me a bed for a night in English (in the subject). The name of the sender was Swedish. There was no more information. I answered her, that she was the second one in line and I already had agreed staying at the first ones home.
The shop assistant was great. First she told me, that I don’t need to feel stressed for charging my battery. I bought a meal. Later she invited me to a cappuccino and also sent bananas with me. She told me, that she could not sell the bananas anymore, because they were getting brown. She explained, that I could go all the way to the next town by a bicycle path and also told respectively showed me the direction. I was not able to remember all of it, though I asked a young woman, who was out and running, when I did not remember the directions. It was very easy to come to the next town, to Skillingaryd.
To leave Skillingaryd in the right direction however was a problem. I had to ask Google maps and it was directing me to a dirt road – I was turning around, but could stop a car and ask for help. They told me, that it only was around 500m of dirt road, then I had to go the the right and later to the left. I thanked them and did push my bike the 500m. I did as I was taught, but unfortunately, I was too early to go to the left. Therefore I came after a while to another dirt road, but it seemed to be OK to ride. Unfortunately after a while it got so bad and also was going downhill, that I had to push my bike again. I also slipped on the surface which made it hard for me to hold my bike, but I succeeded. I was happy, when, after more than one km, the road was paved again. Now it was accompanying a railroad. After some kilometers I reached a village and the road was crossing the railroad there. It was the village to which I should have come by paved road all the way. I was very happy when I after a while saw the sign of Värnamo kommun. Even it was the outer border, I understood, that I do not need Google maps for a while.
There were no hills any more and I could ride my bike in a good speed. Entering Värnamo I had to decide in which direction I had to go and I chose the town center. Fortunately I did choose right. Anyway I had to contact my host for this night for the directions. First I tried by text, but got no answer. Then I tried to call him, but the answering machine was activated, though I asked pedestrians. The first two had never heard about the village of Ulås or the address Ulåsledet. Afterwards I asked a small group of pedestrians and two of them started to explain, but my phone was ringing. It was my host. He asked me, where I am and by his answer, I understood that he knows the town very well. Luckily I only had to go further. Anyway, I had to call him one more time. Less than halfway, he met me and I was very grateful for that, because it already became dark. My light was working great meanwhile he did neither have a light nor wear a helmet.
At his home, I had to put a “waterproof plaid” over the bike for not getting wet, because the bike had to be outside. Peder invited me for a dinner (a Felix pie). We were also talking about the environment and biodiversity.
Later he made his bed for me and he was sleeping on his couch. Even I told him, that I could sleep on the couch, he insisted, that I had to sleep in his bed.
6th September 2021
Värnamo – Ljungby; 45 km; host: Daniel Elwér (warmshowers)
I awoke several times during the night and also got cramps in my feet – mostly the right one. Luckily I felt asleep again every time. At 7am I took my medicine. Peder awoke at that time and asked me, if I wanted breakfast. Though I told him, I first have to take another medicine and breakfast can wait. He was happy to have time to sleep a little more.
When I had taken my medicines, I cared about my bike battery and a power-bank as well. Afterwards I checked the trip of the day, wrote a tips to the newspaper in the next town, where I will stay, wrote a reference for my host in Jönköping and updated my blog somewhat. Unfortunately the connection was to bad for uploading photos. – The photo of my host in Ulås and me I uploaded at Daniel’s home, where I had WiFi.
I had no problems at all in going to my next destination – to Ljunby. I took a photo, when entering Kronobergs län, which is a part av Småland. I have seen Canada geese and stopped for a photo as well. From the place Lagan there was a bike path all the way to Ljungby. A part of it is called “Banvallen” and is a part of the bike path network Sweden.
Daniel, my new host, really pampered me. He shared his WiFi with me, serves everything I want and bring it to me. I was sitting on his balcony meanwhile he was working (he works from home) and in between his job he served me coffee with chocolate and dates as well as goat milk. Actually goat milk in the coffee is tasting good.
For the shower he provided me a towel and I also was allowed to use his soap, but I used my own soap. It feels so good to have a shower in a clean home. I used the WiFi, when he was working and even, when he was out for errands. By the way, he carried my panniers as well as my bike into his apartment on the second floor.
He also served me a late lunch and in the evening we cooked together (with his ingredients). We had vegetables, bought by a Reko-ring, from the oven together with a salad (he also has a garden outside the town). We were still sitting with the kitchen table and talking about the lifestyle, he would like to have – a small house at the countryside with a garden, growing vegetables etc and also about traveling until we were going to sleep around 10pm, but I actually sent some emails and requests to hosts in Denmark. He offered me his bed, but I insisted to sleep on the couch. By the way, in Sweden we have a proverb: With friends we are sitting in the kitchen, with strangers in the living room.
7th September 2021
Ljungby – Markaryd; 55 km; host: Lucas Berglund (couchsurfing)
I had a good sleep during the night even I woke up twice – for using the bathroom. I also got cramp in my feet, but not as long and not as hard as the night before. Finally I awoke a quarter past six and heard Daniel leaving the apartment. He had told me the evening before, that he uses to go jogging in the morning.
I was to the bathroom and sent then a message to my host for the next night, telling him, that I am in Ljungby and a guess, when I will arrive at his home. He answered immediately and told me, he will be at home at 5pm. Then I used Google maps and saw, that he is living outside Markaryd – in Timsfors, actually 5 km before entering that town. I also did see, that it was not so far to Markaryd as I remembered. I had split the tour in staying in Ljungby and Markaryd, because all the way to Markaryd from Värnamo would have been too long. Therefore I sent a new message to this host.
Daniel told me, he will email the chairman of the City Council (maybe he will be interested in to meet me) before he made breakfast for me. The chairman did not answer before I left.
Daniel had explained in which direction I have to continue. Actually Google maps agreed with him at the start. Later it told me to go to the left on a dirt road. I hesitated, but the road was not bad, though I continued. After a while Google maps told me to go to the right, what was not possible, because the road I should use now, was only allowed for vehicles with special allowance. I turned around and was going back. At the junction, where I had turned into the dirt road, I stopped a car and ask the driver, an old man with a beard, which way to go to Markaryd (my goal for the day). He told me, there is a motorway and I replied, there should be another road close to the motorway. Finally he answered “to the left” and then it is signed. I was on the road again, where I first came from, turned left, where possible and was happy, that there was a bike path. Most of the time, there were bike paths beside the roads. Once I also was directed to a very small, but paved road. I used the highest assistance level nearly all the time, because I had only to go between 50 and 60 km. By the way, I discovered, that Google maps distances sometimes are incorrect and it can differ about 200m. At one point, I was directed to turn to the right, where no road was to turn into. I need to have that in mind next time, when I am asked to turn into dirt roads.
I had got two phone calls from the company “3”. I know that, because I tried to call back the first time and the answering machine told me. I sent a message, that I am going by bike and therefore don’t have the possibility to answer. After the second call, they stopped calling me. I also had contact with Moa, a journalist at the newspaper “Smålänningen”. We agreed a time and place to meet. Furthermore I have got an email from the chairman of the board at Naturskyddsföreningen in Helsingborg. Unfortunately she could not help me, but promised to find someone else for my overnight stay, which she didn’t.
I arrived 5 min before the agreed time and at the agreed place meeting Moa. She had a lot more questions as the other journalists before. She was writing down all my answers. Anyway, I asked her to send me the text before publishing it, which she promised.
I was at Lucas home half an hour earlier as he arrived. Julia, a neighbor, came over and talked with me. She told me how good Lucas is working with the garden and how handsome he is as well as the house from the inside is cute.
Time was running fast and Lucas arrived by car. He is working too far from home to make it without car. He first showed me the rooms in his house and afterwards he showed me his garden – the flowerbeds and the vegetables.
Later, in the kitchen, when Lucas prepared our dinner and even afterwards we were talking about doctor / patient related issues. It was the first time a doctor had time to listen to me since I am back in Sweden (from my jobs abroad). I also could ask him about different medical issues like autoimmunity and COVID-19. He was very good in explaining.
If I remember right, we were going to bed around 10pm and he had told me, that he will leave for work at 8m. I slept in the room under the roof with morning sun.
8th September 2021
Markaryd – Åstorp; 67 km; Milano hotel
Even I awoke in time to leave with Lucas, I was too tired to get up. Though I didn’t take my medicine either, but later. Lucas was up half an hour before he left. He did not only manage to dress, but also had a coffee and sandwich.
I made him company during breakfast, but I just had taken my second medicine and had to wait for half an hour more. He trusted me so much, that he left a key to me and asked me to leave it, when I was leaving the house as well. I promised – and did, of course.
Around 10am I was ready to leave. I took my bike out of the shed, where it had been during the night and packed it. After a while I had finished and was going further.
I have not found a host in Scania yet and tried it with Facebook. I also was waiting for answers of the four couchsurfing hosts in Helsingborg I requested to stay days ago. I never got an answer of one of them. Furthermore I was in contact with the board at Naturskyddsföreningen, as I already wrote. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a host this way either, because of health related problems of the intended hosts.
I really was thinking to try my luck at the firefighters in Åstorp, where I had arrived with a very low battery, when I saw a sign for a hotel. Actually I had to ask pedestrians for the directions, because there were no more signs. The first one told me, he don’t know, he is only working here. The other one gave me the exact directions. Well there, the reception was closed and I was rounding the house for asking at the pizzeria Milano – the same name as the hotel has, but they were not related. Though I went back and checked the Internet. First I found out, that there is no hostel in Åstorp, then I saw, there may be no vacant room and finally I found the website for this hotel. There was an opportunity to book a room, but I was not sure, that it would be cared for that booking soon. Therefore I called the owner. He was driving a car and the connection was really bad. He told me, that he is on his way to the hotel and will arrive in half an hour. I waited for him. He only had an empty hut for 715 SEK (70 EUR)/night. That was the one I have seen on the Internet. I rented it, because I felt, I have no other choice.
The owner put my bike on the patio of that hut, for locking it to the railing. I put all my belongings into the hut, tried the offered WiFi, which was very bad and only worked somewhat outside the hut. I was going to that pizzeria Milano and had a vegetarian pizza. The owner was not service-minded and spoke in a raw tone – in the same way the owner of the hotel had spoken to me before. Maybe it is related to the area. After a rest I walked to a nearby grocery shop and bought some food. Back at the hut I was sending a request to Susan in Rødbyhavn, Denmark. My host for Vordingborg i Denmark was already fixed. I also tried to update my blog, but I was too tired and going to sleep.
9th September 2021
Åstorp – Helsingborg – Ramlösa – Malmö; 25 km + 8 km + 2 km. Host: My daughter Maria
I slept like I have done at my hosts, during the trip – no better, no worse. I didn’t use the shower. It didn’t look inviting, even I think, it was somewhat clean. I had the breakfast of the food I had bought the evening before and cooked two eggs in the electric kettle.
When I left at 10:30am (it got late because of the breakfast) the owner of the hotel came to me for collecting the key. He might have seen, when I attached my belongings to my bike. The official check-out time was 11am at the latest.
My first stop (Helsingborg) depended on, that I was visiting my son Marcus there. We had a late lunch together, which we cooked together, a chat (of course) and a barbecue with two neighbors of him. Unfortunately I had soon to leave afterwards.
I was going further by train of three reasons. I was tired of biking and really in need of a rest, I had not got a host in Helsingborg and I had planned to visit my daughter Maria as well as she had booked the laundry room for the upcoming day (for washing my dirty clothes).
From the closest train station only “Pågatåg” (the regional trains in Scania) are going. I was happy, that there was no need to go to the train station in the city center. Anyway, even on these trains one is allowed to take a bike on board. I was not sure, that I could use the elevators at the train station (for the size only), though I tried to find out, if I could. I couldn’t find that on the Internet, but I could chat with the train company and I was told, it should be possible. Though I tried after I had said good-bye to my son Marcus.
It was only eight km to the train station. Before I took the elevator down to the rails, I had to install an app for booking and paying for my trip. Fortunately I could get in my bike into the elevator, but it was no space at all left between the door and the bike.
Finally, the train I had booked my ticket for, arrived. There was only one car of four for carrying bikes. Luckily I had seen at the train before, how a girl entered with her bike. The first place for bikes was already occupied, therefore I had to round it and take the next place, but it was difficult. I have got help of the ticket collector.
The young man with his bike left soon and in Lund a young woman entered with her bike. She told me, she has the same panniers as I and even in the same color. We did chat with each other. I could see and hear, that she was not comfortable with the Swedish language. She now told me, that she is from Germany and studying in Lund. She added, that she tries to speak Swedish at the university, but people are switching to English instead to help her using Swedish, though I continued to speak Swedish with her. When I was leaving the train with my bike, she helped me to leave.
In Malmö they have elevators, really big enough for bikes. It was easy to move up from the underground. Looking for the way out of the railway station, I found out, that there only is one opportunity for bikes, wheelchairs, prams and strollers. I used that one, of course. I used Google maps to find the directions to my daughter. By my experiences with Google maps I did not trust it. Though I was pushing my bike to my daughter’s place.
She is living in an apartment house for students. There are neither names nor bells outside the doors and I had to call her. Soon she came down and helped me to put my bike in a save place. Then we were taking the elevator to the sixth floor, where her apartment is.
She shared a meal with me, we had a short chat and afterwards we were going to bed.
10th September 2021
This day was my first official day off, but actually the day before I did not go by bike a lot either. I really needed this day off – and should have needed it a couple of days before. I was tired – the whole of me. I also finally got time to update the list of my hosts and check, where I am missing one. Anyway, the most important was the feeling about the trip. I was no longer really sure, that I can do it – the whole one, I mean. I wondered, if I just should turn back home, but then I was thinking about my mission and also, that I had met a journalist from the newspaper “Sydsvenskan”, this morning, who will write about my trip.
I decided to try and go further by bike the next day. I also thought, that it is good, that I have put in a day off once a week. I know now, that it is really necessary for me.
My daughter used the laundry and I did my laundry, too. I only had dirty clothes for one washing machine, of course. I think the laundry room and the booking system is good, but my daughter told me, that she don’t like the big windows, so everyone, who passes by, can see, what one put in or take out the drying cabinets. When I was thinking about that, I agreed with her. There also is a football table in the laundry room and I am wondering, why it is standing there. The art, in the contrary, I really like. It illustrates the history of Malmö and especially of this area.
My daughter served me breakfast and lunch, though I invited her for dinner. I was looking for a real restaurant, but Malmö is an expensive town. At the end, we chose a pizzeria. I had invited my son Daniel as well, but he was too tired and told me, he has to go to sleep.
When we were going to the pizzeria, we first turned for the wrong way, but then we found the right direction. It was nice to see a little more of the new area of Malmö.
I had a Falafel plate with French fries and my daughter had a chicken plate with French fries. Back at home we were going to bed early again.
11th September 2021 – Entering Denmark
Malmö – Kastrup Airport – Vordingborg; 98 km from Kastrup Airport to Vordingborg; host: Klaus Michael Jensen (varmshowers)
For crossing “The Sound” (a strait) between Sweden and Denmark we have to take the train, because no bicycles or pedestrian are allowed on the bridge. I was at the train station around 10am and took the first train I could catch. It was announced, that it should be a short train, which means a train with only three cars, but it was a long one. I didn’t see all the people sitting in the low floor department, though I entered. All fold-able seats were occupied and nobody raised, when I entered with the bike, therefore i was staying in the passage. The ticket collector neither said anything nor checked the tickets. I always thought, these low floor departments were mainly for prams, strollers and bikes and people only was allowed to sit there if available. When it was time to leave at the station Kastrup Airport, I thought, all the people with suitcases will leave, too. I was wrong. Most of those people were going further and I had to ask them, to make space for me and my bike.
Out of the train, I was lucky, I did see the signs for the elevators straight above my head. There were lots of people going to the elevators with their luggage, prams or strollers. I waited until all the others had left by the elevators. Meanwhile I was waiting for the elevator coming down again, some more travelers came and queued with me. I asked them for using the other elevator, where only three persons where waiting by telling the newcomers, that the elevator will be full, when I have entered with the bike. First they were going to queue for the other elevator, but suddenly they were going further, I think, they were looking for the escalator instead. I had to wait for a while, before the elevator was at my level again. I was going up one floor only – to the hall for arrivals. There I tried to find my way out. The doors were not suitable for leaving by bike, I thought, but then an information assistant proved me wrong. I had expected, that she would show me the place, where I officially could enter Denmark – with the whole procedure – that I had to show them my COVID-19 vaccination document etc, but she did not.
Outside the building, I first took a picture for you:
and then I tried to find the way out of the area. I guessed the One Way Road was the one to use and it was right. When I came to the main-street, I was wondering in which direction I should go and asked Google maps for help, but it couldn’t find my exact position. First I was going in that direction I thought, I have to go, then I ask a worker and he explained to me. I thanked him so much and was going by my bike as he told me, but a couple of streets further, I had to ask again. The first three or four couldn’t answer me, because they didn’t speak English or they didn’t understand my question.
Finally I was going into the right directions. After a while I was looking for a gas station or a café for recharging my battery. I hoped, I found one at my side of the street, that I don’t need to cross the street. I passed by some, but they all did neither have a shop nor a toilet. When I did not find one for a long time, I anyway crossed the street, but instead of the usual shop at a gas station, there were only a flower-shop. The owner or seller did deny to charge my battery. Luckily my battery had some energy left. After a long while I came to Tureby and found, what I was looking for:
The gas station and shop had CCTV and i had put my e-bike directly under one of the cameras, without knowing it. I asked here, if I am allowed to charge my battery and I was. I bought a snack and was waiting outside for taking care about my bike. From time to time I checked my battery, if it was charged enough. It took a long time before it was – for continuing on my trip.
I had messaged my upcoming host, that I’ll be late. He answered, he is at home. During the rest of the ride it became dark. I first tried to use the bike path, when there was, but there were no lights on that bike path and no white lines. The light of the bike was not good enough to see the whole wide of the path and to espy the vegetation on the side of it, therefore I was cycling on the road again.
Finally I reached the house of my host, opened the gate, put in my bike into the garden and closed the gate again (of course). I ringed the bell and was welcomed, but had to ask for, where to have my bike. Klaus, my host, showed me to the back part of his garden. There was a small passage to it, between two parts of a hedge. I nearly did not come through, but he told me, it is OK. I had to carry all my luggage by myself into the house. Klaus asked me, if I have had dinner and I answered “no, unfortunately I have not had time for it”. Though, he offered me the usual dinner of the house, I think it was – bread, cold cuts and something to drink. We later had a short conversation and a young men joined in. It was him, who was more talk-active, even it stayed at the questions about my route, but starting with, that Klaus had been cycling all of South America.
I was expected to go to bed after the meal, but they were concerned, that I did not have bed-linen or a sleeping-bag with me. They put a sheet on the bed and a thin, lightweight sleeping-bag. Klaus also told me, that breakfast was at 7:30am next day and added, that I have to bike further.
12th September 2021
Vordingborg – Rødbyhavn; 66 km; host: Susan Daniels (couchsurfing)
I became cold during the night, but anyway I have had some hours of sleep. I was up in good time and had all my things ready before breakfast. I was dressed as well, of course. I was very surprised when I saw, that the people of the house (now there was also a little girl) already have had breakfast. The men where sitting in armchairs, reading newspapers. The woman asked me, what I want for breakfast. I answered porridge, because she just held an empty porridge pot in her hands. Some minutes later I was served breakfast, which was porridge, raisins, watermelon and tea. I asked for milk and had the porridge with raisins and milk.
During this breakfast, the woman was sitting at the table with me for telling me, that warmshowers is just what the name says: a warm shower. I told her, that on warmshowers hosts describe, what they are offering. She was interested in to see the app and the text Klaus had written. She was surprised about, that the notice was “private room, camping space, bathroom access – dinner provided, breakfast provided – laundry”. – He has not changed it yet 😉 (The latest I checked it was on 22nd Nov this year.)
The atmosphere was cold all the time, maybe they are different to male warmshowers guests. Anyway, they were very different to the Danish people I know. Before I left, he asked me to write something in his guest book. I did, but it was only a short notice, thanking for bed and board.
I biked further in the direction of Rødbyhavn. Google sent me via a beautiful cycle path.
Later the paths were not so beautiful any more. Actually there were no bigger problems to find my way, but once. However, I found it out very quickly. I arrived at Susan’s home earlier than expected. Her garden gate was open, though I put my bike there and also tog a seat in one of her garden chairs.
I had to wait a quite long while, before she arrived. First she thought I was one of her B&B guests, but then she understood better. Not being a B&B guest meant, that I could not put my bike a bit longer into her garden, but that, actually, did not matter. She explained, that she mostly has B&B guests, but sometimes takes couchsurfing guests as well and that she had accepted my request, because I will go such a long way. She also added, it would be too expensive for her, if she would welcome couch-surfers more often.
When she showed me “my” room, there were three beds in it, but nice anyway. The stairs up to the first floor were steep, like it is common in Denmark. The tiny bathroom was on the “1 1/4 floor”, the tiniest floor I ever have seen. She asked me for my own sheets and I explained, that I am traveling light as well, that I was not thinking about that, because we don’t need to have sheets with us in Sweden. Though she told me, I have to buy a sleeping-bag of silk in Hamburg, because they are not heavy at all and don’t need a lot of space. I remembered, I have had such one on my first part of my “travel around the world”, but can’t remember, why I don’t have it anymore.
Despite this harsh comment, Susan and I had good conversations during my stay. She also served dinner and breakfast and did have the breakfast table beautiful decorated. Even here I was early to bed.
13th September 2021 – Entering Germany
Rödbyhaven – ferry; 2 km; Puttgarden – Neustadt in Holstein; 85 km; host: Kirsten Jöllenbeck
I left Susan’s home together with her. Meanwhile she was going to work, I was going by bike to the ferry to cross the Baltic Sea. There is no other opportunity I know. Susan had explained to me, how to go to the ferry as well as how to continue in Germany.
I had read on the Internet, that the ferry is going every twenty minutes, but when I arrived at the top of my lane after I had paid the fee at the counter, of course, I read, that the next ferry was at 9:40am. Time of my arrival was around 8:50am. By the way, I had to pay 116 SEK and was told: No coins. Though I gave the cashier 120 SEK – and got a 5 SEK coin as change.
Meanwhile I was waiting for the ferry, I was thinking about, how I could manage to cycle upwards the ramp. When I saw the ferry come in, it was not tied at the pier I expected. First I could not see the ramp for the cars. Finally, I was advised to go forward just a couple of meters. I had to wait there until all the trucks and cars were on board. When a car with a caravan had passed, I was asked to follow it. I was cycling as fast as I could for not being a reason for delay. I had not to use the ramp, I came to the department for trucks and buses. At the ferry, I had to go to the most right there is. There were two places for motorbikes and bikes and a simple belt for them. I did not know, how to use that, though I was shown. It was very simple indeed. The service employee told me, to take my valuables with me and I showed him, that I already had.
I had to go upstairs – to the 6th floor, where the restaurants and the shops are. People were advised to use face masks, but I did not realize that in time and had left mine in my panniers. I saw people looking at me suspicious, but in the shop, where I bought a Ritter Sport chocolate and something to drink, the cashier didn’t say anything. I stayed away from the crowds, but when it was time to go down the stairs to the cars etc, I ended up in the middle of them.
Before I left the ferry, I had opened my European COVID-19 vaccination document as a PDF on my smartphone, but I did not need it. I was not checked. I also had heard of Susan, that not everyone was checked any longer, that they only make spot checks.
I was looking for the road to the right, but biking in the first one, it was continuing in the wrong direction, though I was going back and tried the next one, which was correct. I now was cycling on the island of Fehmarn, looking for the way to the Fehmarn Sound bridge. There were cycle paths most of the way and also a lot of signs for the cycle pass, but I missed the one for the bridge and ask a citizen in the village of Strukkamp. She told me, there is no way from Strukkamp up to the bridge and added, that I have to go the next to the right and then to right again. I tried that, but I could not enter the bridge anyway, but was soon back in the village of Fehmarnsund (where I had started to look for the bridge). I took another round and luckily found a sign for the bridge. I became confused after a while and asked a cyclist, who seemed coming from the direction of the bridge and he really was coming down from it. He described, that there is a bicycle path up to the bridge at the end of the road and added, that I have to go there, where other cyclists are coming from. So I did.
At the end I have seen that steep (upwards) path. There was a sign, that cyclist have to unmount their bike, so I did, but some others were trying to bike there and had to go off their bike when meeting other bikers. Also on the bridge, the bike path was very small and for bikers in both directions. In addition to that, roadwork was ongoing. Though I pushed my bike all the way over the bridge, but most cyclist did ride their bikes. There was a little problem, meeting me with my panniers on the bike.
For leaving the path down from the bridge, one had to open a gate, which was not easy with my heavy equipment, but I did it all by my own. Fortunately there was a bench very close to that gate, where I had my lunch.
The original plan was to visit an ex-class-mate in Kiel, but she was not at home since 7th September for a few days, though I could use a shorter route instead and had less stress.
On the way to Neustadt in Holstein, Google showed me the wrong way again, therefore there were some extra kilometers again. It was a similar situation like in that harbor, where I was not allowed to go further.
At around 6pm I was in front of the house of Kirsten. She has her own health care company. Actually it is only her and she is a podiatrist. She has her company in a special room in her home and on the window of that room is her company’s name.
When I ringed the bell, she opened with her grown up son behind her. I asked for her, because at that stage I didn’t know, that “only” she was working there. She told me, she is, looking confused for a moment and then she quickly understood, that I was her couch-surfer.
She did care about me well, introduced her son and cooked delicious pancakes with plums for all of us. Later we were talking about children etc and had an interesting, cozy time together until we were going to bed. Her son did show me a self-made giraffe in glazed ceramics. It was very beautiful. I was sleeping on the couch in the winter-garden. Should the sky had been cloudless, I would have seen the stars.
14th September 2021
Neustadt in Holstein – Lübeck; 35 km; host: Andreas Schneiderbanger (couchsurfing)
I knew, Kirsten had to work from 7am and would not have time to say good-bye to me this morning, though we already had done that the night before.
I did not have a hurry, because I only had to go fore around 30 km this day. When I had taken my medicines Kirsten surprised me with breakfast, served at the bed. She told me, she had got a cancellation. We had time for a chat, before she had to go back to work. Around half an hour later I was on the road again.
I had my lunch at an Asian restaurant in the city of Bad Schwartau, because I could sit outside and check my bike all the time. A kind guest came out and offered me to take a photo of me, the meal and the bike with my camera with the words “you are never on your pictures”. I was happy about it.
I mainly could follow the road 75, there were bicycle path on the side of it. I really like that and that is also, what I wish, we would have in Sweden. It would e.g. reduce the number of kilometers between Katrineholm and Norrköping nearly half.
Unfortunately (and I am ashamed about it), close to my hosts home, in the outskirts of the city of Lübeck, I tried to shorten a little to enter a cycle path, but the curb was too high, which I had not seen in time. I fell with my bike. I didn’t hurt me. Even it was on the side of the road and not a hinder, the cars on the other side stopped and two drivers were coming to help me. The first one helped me on my feet and also raised my bike. The other one told me, where I had to go ;-). Another accident happened to me not far away. I couldn’t stop in time at a junction, when I thought, I was on the wrong way – on the path for pedestrians and cyclists. I ended up in a hedge. Two teenage girls, who have seen that, shouted something and I answered “ursäkta”, which is Swedish and means “sorry”. They didn’t try to speak to me anymore. I was more careful, of course, when I continued and arrived at Andreas’ home around half an hour later.
I was chocked, when I saw the house, he was living in. I was wondering if he became unemployed and/or if his profile on couchsurfing is a fake. I didn’t feel safe there. I won’t leave my bike for a moment, though I messaged him to come and meet me. It took a while before he came – from the rear of the house. His home was 100% different as I had expected and very clean. Moreover, it was beautiful decorated. Everyone could see, that he loves the sea. He also told me, that the rent is low and he loves his backyard. He had made it into an oasis with quirky figured out details like the two benches on the flight of stairs (with longer and shorter legs). We put my bike in his yard meanwhile he told me, that none ever had stolen things from his yard.
He already had prepared a meal (with pasta), but did talk so much – explaining me all about his apartment and his way to treat couch-surfers and other guests as well as about the books he is writing. He also told me, that he has to go to the post office and pick up a parcel. Furthermore he had to go to the supermarket (the only one for the whole suburb) and buy cat litter and more. After a while, we were really walking to the named places. Unfortunately the supermarket did not have cat litter, but Andreas bought a lot of food. He had to pick up the parcel further away at a kind of box station. He didn’t do it this day.
Back at his home we had the pasta meal and continued with our chat. We had so much to talk about, though it became late. Before we were going to bed, I asked him, when I have to leave. He told me, breakfast will be at 9am.
15th September 2021
Lübeck – Hamburg; 48 km; host: My friend Michael and family
Andreas served me breakfast and chatted a while about the same subjects from the day before. Unfortunately I had to interrupt him and tell him, that I have to leave soon. It was already around 11pm and it started raining, when I was on the road again.
It did rain the entire day and my friend Michael sent me a message around 3pm, asking me how and where I am. He offered to pick me up by a rented car, but I denied – mostly because of the costs.
I also was a little unlucky, when I came to the village of Neritz. There had been a sign for Bargteheide as well, but it was pointing in another direction, therefore I thought I was wrong at the beginning of the village of Neritz. In addition to that, the street now had cobblestones and was hard to use by bicycle. Though I turned around, looking for the right one. That other cycle path was first using a street, where farm transports were allowed. In the beginning, it was full of soil and really slippery as well as it was going downwards. I did push my bike for that. The paved road became a track across the fields. Therefore I continued to push my bicycle. The end of that dirt road was at the other side of the village of Neritz. I could continue on a bike path, which was like most of the bike paths I had used in Germany: Often too narrow, damaged by roots of the trees close to it and sometimes also horse poo on it.
Finally I was in Bargteheide and messaged Michael, that I was there, asking for a commuter train in this small town. It was still raining, but I was happy, that I had found a roof, under which I could be with my bike. Michael’s answer was, that there is a commuter train from this town, but from the next little town, Ahrensburg-West, the subway is going. He added, that this subway is going all the way to his home, but it takes a while and if I would change the line, I would arrive faster. I answered, that I hate to change trains of any kind with my bike.
I continued biking, now in the direction of Ahrensburg. There was no sign for Ahrensburg-West. I didn’t use Google maps, because my smartphone was low on battery and I couldn’t charge it, because it had become wet even I had it in my special bag all the time. Arriving in Ahrensburg I tried to find my way by checking Google maps, because of the lack of signs for Ahrensburg-West here as well. I have seen, that I was going in the wrong direction and turned around, but had to ask pedestrians, where I finally had to go, which was good. Otherwise I would have taken a wrong direction again.
Well at the underground station I was going to the elevator, but there was a sign, that and where I have to buy my ticket before going down to the tracks by the elevator. I did so and tried to pay with my debit Visa card as well as with my debit Master card, but the vending machine did not accept them. Now I had to find an ATM and I was lucky, there was a branch of a bank close, too and it had an ATM, easy to reach. I took 100 EUR out off the machine and got 2 x 50. I hoped, that will do it. Unfortunately the vending machine only accepted notes up to 20 EUR. I asked a woman (the only person around) at the nearby bus stop for change, but she had not. I had to go back to the ATM and fetch 10 EUR, which was possible.
Back at the vending machine I bought a ticket by putting in the station Fuhlsbüttel, where I had to go to. The ticket was for 3.40 EUR. Now I was going to the tracks by the elevator. I am happy about the clear signs at every underground station, though it was easy to see on which side of the platform I had to wait. I was not sure, if there was a special car for bikes, though I was asking a young man, who was there with his bike as well. He told me, there is not. I can use which car ever, if there are no bikes already.
Around 10 minutes later I entered a car and I had to hold hard in my bike all the time, even I had tilted my bike against a rack in the middle of the space in between the doors. The ride was for 58 minutes and my bike just fitted in the elevator at the target station. First time, the doors did not close, though I had to give my bike another position. It went well and Michael was waiting for me. He pushed my bike to his home.
Michael and his wife now rent two apartments in the same house. One is on the first floor and the other one on the floor above – under the roof. That apartment is dedicated for work. I did get a room in the apartment under the roof, but the meals and conversations we had together in the other apartment. I also got my laundry done this evening. I was happy, I could care for my wet clothes and used my long undergarment instead. By the way, I had not used the rain cover for my shoes, because I was afraid, that it won’t be safe riding with them, therefore my shoes were very wet and I had to dry them.
I have got the WiFi password of Michael without asking and did update my blog somewhat when I was back in “my” room, but I was too tired and had to go to sleep instead for continuing.
16th September 2021
This day was fortunately a day off. After a late breakfast I was updating my blog a little more, because Michael was working and my clothes not dry yet. We had also talked about the climate crisis and Michael told me, the three characteristics he wishes most for his nearly 3-year-old daughter. The first he named was sympathy.
In the middle of the day I had a cold, short shower and dressed. Afterwards I was downstairs with my friends family and did get to know his little daughter. She was shy in the beginning, but later she was talking with me, too. She is very sweet in all meanings.
In the late afternoon I took the underground to another friend of mine and his family. When I arrived, the children’s grandparents were still there, but they did leave soon. Lars and his wife have two children – a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. The kids were very active now and actually all the time before and after the evening meal. I think, it depended on my presence. The kids seem to be used to grandparents and other relatives, but not to friends like me, who they meet for the first time.
I was at Michael’s again around 10:30pm. Lars had insisted to drive me there. Even this evening I updated my blog somewhat.
17th September 2021
Hamburg – Hammah; 65 km; host: Peter Seifert (couchsurfing)
I had to go further and fortunately my shoes were dry now. The evening before I had used them with plastic bags inside. Michael and I had breakfast together again, than I packed. His wife has short working days on Fridays, though I did meet her, before I left.
I had decided to take the S-Bahn (a commuter train) to St. Pauli Landungsbrücken and then the ferry to Finkenwerder, biking from there for not needing to face the traffic in town. Michael did push my bike to the S-Bahn station Ohlsdorf, which is the closest one. On the way there, he bought me the vegetarian sausage salad, which I wanted to buy and a buttermilk as well. The train was waiting, when we arrived, though I did not have any waiting time. This train had no rack in the middle (between the doors) and actually it was easier to handle my bike in there.
I did ride an extra round in Finkenwerder, because of the different names Google maps told me and in real. When I discovered, that the other real name was only for a very short distance, I understood that I was right. Out off Finkenwerder, the road was following the seawall. It was a really nice ride with special, pretty houses to see. They are not only built half-timbered, they also have roofs of reed. Unfortunately I did not take the time to take photos.
When I was looking for a bench to have my lunch, I soon found a real good place for it. It was a little hut and actually nearly perfect. It would have been perfect, if there had bin a loo as well.
Continuing, the road did leave the seawall after a while and was going throughout forest. Here, the bike paths were not so good anymore. Lots of villages I saw this day were road villages. This means, the houses are build along only one road. Also my goal village was such one. Anyway, when Google maps told me at the end of this easy ride, that I have reached my goal and it is on my right hand side, it was incorrect. The house, I was looking for, was on the other side of the road and a little bit further.
When I was looking for the number of the house, I was waited. Peter waved to me from an open window on the upper floor. He looked very happy. His wife was at the front door, holding their 2 and a half year old daughter on her arms. It was a very happy welcome.
With all my stuff in the house and my e-bike in the garage, I was asked, what I would like to drink: Coffee or tea and I answered hot chocolate, please. I was just feeling for it and tried, if it was possible to get.
Peter was very happy about my wish and told me, I will get a real Spanish hot chocolate. He had bought the powder in Spain some years ago. It took a while and did not really look like Spanish chocolate, but it tasted usual chocolate and was hot as well as sweet.
Afterwards they showed me the most of their house, then Peter and his wife started with cooking dinner as well as he were chatting with me about my trip, the environment etc.
We have had the hot chocolate in the kitchen, but the dinner was served in the living room, where Peter had lit a fire in the fireplace. All of us around the table, I suddenly felt home and like I am staying with friends I have known for a long time. It really was strange.
We had discussions and where telling stories until late. We also talked about my lack of an upcoming host. I had tried for Osterholz-Scharmbeck as well as for Bremen, but had not got any answer. Peter told me, I should go via Worpswede – a well-known artist village. I was looking for a youth-hostel there and was happy to find one. On their page, it looked like there were still many rooms available. In addition to that, there was no need to cross the town of Bremen while going from Worpswede to Bad Zwischenahn (my next goal). I was happy for their advice.
18th September 2021
Hammah – Lilienthal; 71 km; host: None – I booked a hotel room last minute at “The Flying Guinea Fowl”
I had breakfast with this lovely family in their living room and was ready to go around 10am. Peter checked my tires and pumped them up before he took photos of all of us together and promised to sent copies to me. Directly afterwards it was time to say good-bye. I will always remember this stay as very special.
This day I actually took the time and made a photo of one of the pretty and typical houses for the area:
… and later of another one:
Even this day was very easy to ride and I was happy, when I arrived around 4pm in the town of Worpswede. I made the 1000 km full close to the place of Elm:
I directly was going to the hostel and tried my luck to get a bed. There was no receptionist, but an advice, to pick up the phone nearby and dial a short number. So did I. Unfortunately I was told, that there was no empty bed, though I tried to find a bed somewhere else. I did neither find any by booking.com nor by air b&b, but by the homepage of the tourism information. I tried to book the cheapest one, but only got the answer, that my request will be answered in a while. Meanwhile I was waiting for the answer, I was using booking.com again, looking for a bed close by. I hadn’t got an answer of the tourist information (by the way, I never did) when I booked a room in Lilienthal – around 10 km away. I still had some battery left and hoped, I will make it all the way there.
It was working! The town of Lilienthal was larger than I had expected, there was a tram as well. I think it connects the town with a larger town close by, the town of Bremen.
The hotel had a none human check-in, that means I had to pay for the night in a kind of vending machine, got my code for the house and the room as well as the room number. Well in front of the door of my room I used the code, but I could not open the room. I had to try several times, because the handle (just a long button to turn) was not working well – it slipped. First I sent a message to the hotel, but the answer was, we’ll get back to you within 24 hours. Though I tried more times and luckily finally it worked.
The room was under the roof and the space over the head would have been very low, if I had not decided to move the pillow to the other side of the bed. There was also a comfortable armchair and a desk in the room as well as a wardrobe. The bathroom was nice.
I did take a walk into town looking for a restaurant. The first place served pizza, I thought, but they only baked pizzas for orders. One could not eat there. Anyway, they were busy with the four ovens they had. After a while I came to a Greek restaurant. I read their menu, finding out, that they serve vegetarian meals as well. There were four of them to choose. Though I entered the restaurant and asked for a table. Luckily there was one for two and there was no reservation on it. The restaurant was full. I ordered the grilled vegetables with aubergine etc. I also got a salad, which I didn’t touch, because I became full anyway. I had an apple spritzer to drink. The whole meal was for 15.50 EUR and I gave 2 EUR as a tip. The waiter seemed to be a little disappointed before I did gave the tip, but grateful then. I think, it depended on, that I gave him a 20 EUR note as well as 50 cents. Therefore he was not expecting a tip.
Back at the hotel I tried to update my blog, but didn’t get a lot done, because I was too tired.
19th September 2021
Lilienthal – Rostrup, Bad Zwischenahn; 80 km; host: Lydia Eibach (warmshowers)
I had to leave the hotel room before 10am and I did 9:30am. There were already a male cleaner working on this floor. When I opened my door, he hurried downstairs and hid himself.
Finally I had all my panniers etc carried downstairs, I left the house and packed my bike. I was going further soon, but found, that I have to cross the city of Bremen in it’s entire length. It went well. It actually was a comfortable route, even I sometimes felt like I was sent back and forth.
I was looking for a gas station or an open shop, but it was Sunday. Not even the Lidl supermarket was open. Finally I found an open bakery. I did not have anything left to eat – I had eaten the last egg and the rest of the vegetarian sausage salad for breakfast, but a bar of chocolate, therefore I bought a croissant and an “American”, which is a special round cake with sugar icing. That was my lunch and I had it later, sitting in a bus booth.
The trip went well and I arrived at my destination for the day around 5pm. My host was not at home and I did not know, when she will come, because she was not answering my messages. I became nervous and tried to get in touch with another host, but meanwhile I was writing the request, my host arrived together with her boyfriend. She apologized so much. She had mixed up the weekdays, she told me. She welcomed me.
Her boyfriend cooked the dinner, a chili sin carne sin chili 😉 and Lydia was chatting with me – about my trip and other travels (mine and hers).
All of us had dinner together, than he was going to the loft. Lydia and I continued chatting. When I had asked her, which subject she studies, she told me, she is studying to become a GP. Afterwards all was about health service etc. She also told me, that I can take pain killers, when my knees are hurting as well as I could buy an ointment against the inflammation in my knees at a drugstore. Furthermore she pointed out, that a drugstore is very close and gave me the directions. Even this day I was going to bed around 10pm – after Lydia had left the room.
20th September 2021 – Entering The Netherlands
Rostrup, Bad Zwischenahn – Blijham (Winschoten); 80 km; host: Anneke Hidding and family (warmshowers)
I left Lydia and her boyfriend around 10am. The guy was one of the gentlemen, who helped me with my luggage, but Lydia helped me as well. Her boyfriend was interested in the technical details of my bike, especially the brakes. That was my opportunity to ask, how long my rear brake will work and he told me: around 30,000km. I was happy about that, because I had worried, that it don’t last so long at all.
Even this day I was lucky. The weather was dry and the cycle path quite good. For the most it was flat.
I entered the area of Ostfriesland and I have got that wonderful feeling, that I am soon in the Netherlands, what means, I have been coming a lot further since I started 1st September and it will be my 4th country, Sweden included, which I am riding my bike through on my way to my goal.
I was not only cycling throughout Leer, but also some small villages. At the countryside I found a bakery and café and stopped to buy some bread. They had a kind of very small pizzas, but unfortunately none vegetarian. Therefore I bought a big bun with cheese on the top and a croissant. I was sitting in the garden and finally, before continuing I used the bathroom.
Google maps showed me roads off the grid and that way I was entering the Netherlands. I think, there was a bridge over a small river or stream. On both sides of it was a boom. On the German side I saw a bicycle and a man coming out off the bushes. It might have been a German officer. I don’t know, but he was looking surprised. I have got the idea, that this border was not used often.
On the side of the Netherlands none was watching. I just continued and also checked, if that really has been the border. The road was paved in the next village, but there was no cycle path (fietspad). I continued after the signs on the road as well as by Google maps. After around 30 minutes I arrived at my host’s home and they were already looking for me.
When I entered the street, where my host has her home, I decided to push my bike, because it was a dirt road.
Well there, I was very welcomed by my host Anneke and her two eldest daughters: Janthe and Laura. Now also Anneke’s husband Robert showed up. I was shown the bed under the roof, where I could sleep and was then invited for dinner, which we had on the patio for lack of space in the house. The parents had decided to renovate a part of the house. It actually was the kitchen and the living room – they will have water piped underfloor heating and I was told, that it is hard to find craftsmen, because of the pandemic every house owner will renovate it’s house. Anneke manages the situation very well, has very good organized and the parents really work together to make it work, e.g. the camper van is put directly beside the main door of the house and Anneke is cooking there. I was also told, that they are lucky and have had dry weather all the time during which they could not eat in the house.
During dinner I also got to know the youngest girl in the house: Sien and her brother Walt.
I was not allowed to help with anything and was told, that I have been cycling all the day while Anneke has had a day off. We spent a couple of hours in their couch together, which they had moved into the master bedroom. Luckily the bathroom is working, so is the shower.
By the way, Anneke asked me quite early after my arrival, if I have hosts for all places in the Netherlands. When I told her, that I have no host for Groningen – maybe you remember, that I had a host in Yde, close to Groningen. Unfortunately the whole family had got the flew and since I knew that, I did look for a host i Groningen instead, which also had been my first choice. Anneke offered me to ask her brother to host me, who lives in Groningen. I agreed and she got a positive answer on her question.
21st September 2021
Blijham to Groningen; 47 km; host: Jeroen Eefting (warmshowers)
The bike ride from Blijham to Groningen was like the bike rides in Northern Germany – even here was horse poo on the bike paths and also the bike paths were damaged off and on. It was getting better the closer I came to Groningen. However there was no longer a very need for Google maps, because of the signs on the bike path.
Unfortunately, also in Groningen road work was ongoing, but the worst challenge in the traffic where the four-way-junctions, where all cyclists have to move at the same time. It was especially hard for me, because I am not so fast on the pedals and not riding so fast either like the people living in the Netherlands. I really was afraid a couple of times, that other cyclists would crash into my bike. I was happy, when I had found my hosts home and could put my bike aside.
When I arrived, my host was still at work. Twice a week, he works as a postman. He starts at high noon and picks up the post sorted for streets and numbers.
There is a little yard with benches between the houses for one, where he is living. I took a seat on a bench and was waiting for him.
If I remember right, I was waiting for an hour, but time did not feel long. He welcomed me and by entering his tiny house, he apologized for the mess, telling me, that it was for the short notice he had not have time to prepare the house for me. Together we put my bike in his backyard and he gave me a key, telling me, that the key both fits for the door to the backyard and the front-door.
Soon he also told me, that these houses are in the social living program and added, that he has a diagnosis within the autism spectrum, get some money from the state, works as a postman two days a week, delivers medicine two days a week and volunteers one day a week in a secondhand shop. Furthermore he told me, that he was trying to take a master in social geography, but missed two exams. He is lucky, that he don’t need to pay back the students loan, because at that time still the old law was in effect. Nowadays that is changed. Also the law for social benefits for people with diagnoses has changed. Under the new rules, he would not be entitled to the benefit he gets.
He was then asking for my plans and what I want to eat for dinner and breakfast. I told him, that I will eat out and also go to a supermarket for something for my breakfast. He was happy about it – not so much for the money, but for the not expected situation. He also told me, that he always cooks his lunch for two days in a row and that he is not a good cook.
He explained, how to go to the city center, which is pretty close by walking. Soon I left for exploring the city of Groningen. In the direction I had to go I saw an interesting building – like a half of a globe and was going there, but first I did buy a soft ice-cream. The owner, of the place where I bought it, did not act service-minded. Though I decided not to buy there anything more. I was disappointed by the “half globe”, because it was only a café. I continued further to the center and came to the “Grote Markt”. Almost on one side of it where restaurants with tables and chairs on the marketplace. I chose one of them and ordered a Falafel in bread (it was not possible to get it with French fries) as well as a beer. After this dinner I was walking further, looking at all the beautiful old houses.
At another marketplace there was an impressive building with columns at the entrance. I was very surprised, when I found a supermarket inside. Anyway, I took the opportunity and bought some food for breakfast. I was walking around a little longer, before I was going back to Jeroen’s home. He was coming home a few minutes later than me.
We had another chat – e.g. he explained, that the building with the columns and the supermarket inside had been a market hall. We were going to bed soon.
22nd September 2021 – Groningen
I had breakfast around 9pm, but stayed in the house, updating my blog. After lunch, I walked to the city center again, but following a canal. I was disappointed, because of the seaweed and surprised, that birds and wild ducks were swimming in that sludge.
Back in the city center I took a lot of photos of beautiful buildings and also came to another canal.
Jeroen had recommended a vegan / vegetarian restaurant, before I left his home this day and I was going there for dinner. They opened at 5pm and I was their first guest, but soon they had more guests. Reading the menu, I understood, that their dishes are spicy and I asked, if there were none spicy dishes as well. The waiter offered to talk with the chef for a none spicy dish – the most expensive of them 🙄. When I well had got it served, it was spicy anyway. I only could eat part of it. For getting full, I was interested in a dessert and asked for the menu. Actually the desserts were very expensive, which even the main dishes were. I did not order a dessert. Anyway I had to pay 19.50 EUR and only have had a glass of water with the main dish.
Interior of the restaurant “bla bla” and the dish I paid for.
On my way back to my host I entered a supermarket and bought waffles as well as yogurt. I had some of the waffles as a dessert, before I was going to sleep. – Jeroen was at home, when I arrived. He was watching TV and switched it off, when I talked with him.
23rd September 2021
Groningen – Meppel; 77 km; host: Inge Leonora de Ouden (warmshowers)
I left Jeroen at 8:30am this day, because the weather forecast promised rain in the afternoon. Unfortunately it was quite a bit windy. Some gusts did move my bike and me sideways, others came from the front and made it hard to succeed forward. I tried to save as much battery as possible to make it all the way to Inge’s home in Meppel.
Inge had invited me via the group warmshowers on Facebook. She told me, she is a Jehovah’s Witnesses, but we do not need to talk about God. I will see, if she really can help it. Otherwise I have to find another host. Most of the way I was riding my bike on the side of canals. I was afraid, that a wind gust could carry me into the canal, though I rode on the wrong side of the bike path.
I took a rest around 11am in a little village, when I saw a bench and ate cooked eggs, camembert and waffles as a dessert. I got full of it.
After around three hours of biking, I was so tired of fighting the wind, I was going off my bike and pushing it for a little while. I also tried the battery lasting during the entire trip. Therefore I only used assistance level 3. Around 2pm it started drizzling, but not for long. Finally I reached the town of Meppel. I only had 10% of battery left and, when I was close to Inge’s home, only 4%, though I did push my bike the last km, that my battery will work properly in the future as well.
I was welcomed by Inge and she showed me, where I could put my bike. I took my stuff into the room, she had showed me and I was offered coffee, which I really wished now. She also served a specialty from the Netherlands, a kind of hard waffle which was filled with jam and I liked.
Inge has two dogs at home. One of them moved in recently. Both are 14 years old. We had a conversation about my trip, COP26 and related subjects, before Inge had to take a walk with the dogs and offered me to follow as well as taking the route throughout the city center. Soon we were on our way, but I had forgotten to take my smartphone with me, that means I cannot present photos of beautiful or special houses of Meppel. Nearly back at her apartment again, it started drizzling again.
Soon it was time for dinner – Inge eats dinner at 5pm. She had cooked a kind of vegetarian macaroni box. When we had finished eating, we stayed seated and were talking about family, art (she makes beautiful paintings), needlework and related subjects.
She also served tea with “cheese hearts” before we were going to bed. They were tasting very good – I could have eaten all there were.
I could not fall asleep for a while for different reasons, though I updated my blog and I am happy, that I can present an up-to-date blog now.
24th September 2021
Meppel – Apeldoorn – Beekbergen; 80 km; host: Krista van Velzen (warmshowers)
There is not much to write about my trip this day. It was as usual, even quite cold (around +14°C, which I feel cold, when biking). There were the usual Google maps issues. I didn’t see much of Apeldoorn, because Google maps did send me via the suburbs, which I actually appreciate. I don’t like cycling in the bigger cities. There is too much traffic, even cyclists as well as too many traffic lights, which means too many stops and starts. Anyway, when I found the address, there were some houses there with only one number. The biggest one had been a sanatorium for people who were suffering from tuberculosis. I had to message Krista and ask her, in which house she is living.
Krista had messaged me before, that I was invited for a dinner with people from Extinction Rebellion on my arrival day as well as she told me, the press will be there.
She was herself disappointed, that she only was invited for talking in the local radio and no press was interested in my trip.
The dinner was a tasty soup and a fruit salad. There were Krista and her boyfriend, a father with his son and daughter and another man. Krista explained, that the group recently started and they hope for more members soon. One of them left an envelop, which another member, who could not make it to this meeting, had left for me. There were 50 EUR in that envelop. I could not refuse that gift.
I had asked for a soft chair, when I arrived, though, when we moved out into the garden for dinner, the chair was moved out as well. I also was asked about the day before and if I have had a good sleep. When I told them, that I was freezing the night before and did not sleep well, they did put the heating on in “my” room.
When the other members had left, Krista started a conversation, asking me more about myself etc. She also told me, that the rent for that house is cheap, because the owner has not decided yet, what he wants to do with it and they can have to move out very quickly. We were to bed around 11pm and an early day was awaiting us. It was really hot in the room, they lend me, though I switched off the heating.
25th September 2021
Beekbergen – Utrecht; 78 km; host: Adrian
We were up quite early and breakfast was already ready, when I came down to the living-room. Directly afterwards we packed – Krista and Michel were going to a demonstration with the motto “More bikes no bombs” and I was going further.
My host in Utrecht is not (yet) a couchsurfing or warmshowers host. It was my former host Lucas, who had helped me with this contact. When Google maps told me, that I had arrived at his home, I was confused. I was looking for all the houses respectively doors, which should be in this area. I could not see the number of the house from some meters away, though I was going closer to it. The house has a name: Berk (Birch/Birke/Björk) and then I saw the numbers. Each apartment has an own number like otherwise houses have. I ringed the bell and it activated a security system. Adrian could see me by a camera. He did speak Swedish with me, what I realized, when I had answered in English. He was coming down soon and he helped me with my bicycle and put it into his store room. The panniers, battery etc did we take with us into his apartment on the fourth floor. Luckily, there is an elevator in the house he lives.
Adrian has been working in Sweden for a lot of years, therefore he speaks Swedish and Lucas and he know each other from that time.
We took a walk together to a supermarket and came throughout a park. On the other side of the park is a shopping center. Meanwhile he bought something, he needed, I did buy, something I want. I still had the cheese from the farner’s shop, though I bought bread and also a smoothy as well as a banana and a yogurt.
Back at his home he served dinner soon. He was setting the table very nice, even with a candle. We had a soup with broccoli, spinach and chick peas, which I liked. The main dish was a warm pasta creation with vegetables and more. He served a salad as well, which was spicy. He told me then, he put some chili in. If I remember right, we also had a dessert.
We were talking during the meal and he decided soon to start with couchsurfing, because he likes to get to know people and has discussions with them and learn of their experiences.
Unfortunately I had to try to change my itinerary and find a host for Harwich, because I finally had decided not to go to Calais for crossing the channel. I have two reasons for it. On the one hand side, I could not find hosts in the South of the Netherlands, Bruges (BE) and Calais (FR). On the other side, I get more and more tired by biking day after day. I hope, I will make it to Glasgow. The shortened route gives me also the opportunity to make less km a day – if it fits with the beds for the nights. I did not get a lot done this evening, I cannot really see, which opportunities there are in minor places. – Adrian was watching TV meanwhile I tried to change my itinerary.
26th September 2021
Utrecht – Rotterdam; 65 km; host: Hanneke Vis (warmshowers)
This Sunday I was on my way further a little earlier than usual. Adrian had to leave for his Sunday swimming training at 10:30am. I did not have to leave earlier than usual, but it just happened, that I was on my way half an hour earlier than usual. Adrian did take photos of me and also made a selfie with both of us. In addition to that he told me, that I am welcome even on my way home (like most of my hosts did).
I had only to go by bike in around 60 km, but they felt very long – maybe because of the warm weather. I had not come very far, when I was wondering, if I was on the right way, when a woman on a moped asked me, what I am looking for and then described the route for me. She also told me, that there are minor road works on that route, but I could push my bike through. Actually I could ride my bike all the time, because the work was only on the road and, because of it was Sunday, no work was done and the bike path not impacted.
I had messaged my new host, Hanneke, that I will arrive around 2pm, but couldn’t make it. Though I was happy, when I read she will not be at home before 4:15pm. Around halfway I found a bench to sit and have my lunch – close to a town center and a church nearby, which clock did play a short melody every quarter of an hour. Even it was nice, if I would live there, I think I would not like too hear it so often. By the way, there was a biker sitting on that bench, when I arrived. Meanwhile I was taking my lunch off the bike and locked it, he was going further.
I didn’t make it to 4:15 either. I became so tired, when there were another construction work by which the road was closed and I continued in the only possible direction, but Google maps told me several times “make a u-turn”. Fortunately I found a bench, where I could sit for a while. I locked my bicycle, because I was afraid to fall asleep. I did not fall asleep, because I was afraid, that someone could steel my panniers, but the rest was helping me to finally arrive at Hanneke’s home. During the other half of the day’s ride, I used assistance level 4 and 5. The Netherlands are not so very flat here.
I was already awaited, when I finally arrived. I had sent another message, when I had sat on that bench. Close to my host’s home, I had pushed my bike again. Otherwise it was not possible to read the names of the street, which was necessary. When I arrived, there was not the name of my host at the door, even I was at the right one. Though I sent another message to her. She opened the front door av the house immediately.
Here in Rotterdam every apartment has it’s own number, similar to, but different as I described you that house in Utrecht. Here the apartments in the house have a number and a capital letter. The apartment on the ground floor has the letter A behind the number, on the second floor the letter B etc.
Together did Hanneke and I carry my bike into her garden. Lucky us, that she lives on the first floor and has a garden. I had taken off the panniers, the battery etc before we carried the bike into the house, of course.
Hanneke really welcomed me. After a short chat she served dinner. We were talking about warmshowers, hosting, couchsurfing etc until around 9pm, when she was going to bed, because she had an early morning next day.
27th September 2021
I had a day off in Rotterdam and was first taking the PCR-test, which is mandatory for being allowed to enter England – even for fully vaccinated people. By that I finally know, how to take such a test properly. The male nurse did it first in my mouth – not really as long back as I thought, one has to do and then, with the same stick in my nose, which did tickle.
I continued to the town center by walking and came throughout a tunnel, called the Maastunnel. It was only for pedestrians and cyclists, but there were two floors. The upper floor was for cyclists and the lower floor for pedestrians. In front of the cyclists floor was an officer each on both sides, that people were using the correct floor. For coming down to the cyclist floor, there were escalators. From that floor to the pedestrians floor were stairs, but there was also en elevator on each side of the tunnel. The tunnel inside was very simple, only on the wall above the escalators were paintings as well as there were photos on the side of the escalators, which seems to be old and a little difficult to use. Anyway, most of the cyclists were handy, taking there bikes up and down by the escalators. The tunnel itself was not decorated. Leaving the entrance on the other side, I saw another nice painting.
While I continued into the city, I was coming along a harbor, where tourist boats were anchored. One of them offered “as much you can eat pancakes” during the sightseeing, but they were not working on Mondays.
On the other side of the road was the “Euromast” – a tower with a restaurant, a sightseeing platform and more. Eating at the restaurant, one was forced to pre-book and upon arrival show the ticket, an ID and the COVID-19 vaccination or similar. For sightseeing only there were no restrictions. As an elderly person I only did have to pay one (1) EUR less than younger adults. The restaurant was on platform 4, the sightseeing platform was on level 5. From there it was possible to take stairs to a kind of elevator to go up to 185 meters. I was happy with the sightseeing platform and took some photos. I also watched two barges leaving respectively entering a lock. I can tell you, that I have seen all of Rotterdam ;-).
The next place to name was the museums-park. There were flowers still in bloom.
I thought, I already was in the city center, when I saw the statue below, but Google maps was right this time, telling me, I was not.
Soon I came too an area with a lot of restaurants and beautiful buildings. The area was called the “Witte de Withkwartier”.
At a combined café / bicycle shop I had a smoothie (vanilla, mango, banana) and a bit of an apple-cinnamon-cake. Unfortunately the smoothie did taste synthetic, even it had been in a blender and the cake tasted mostly cinnamon and only had a few, very small pieces of apple. I paid 9.50 EUR. Both together, were not worth its price.
I was looking for the Market Hall, because I thought, I will find there genuine Dutch food. I checked all the stalls when I finally was there, but only the cheese seemed to be originally Dutch. There were two stalls with cheese. One of them had three packs of small cheese, made by cow, goat and sheep each. They also had bigger cheese, but it seemed, they only sold the three-packs and the others were for decoration only. At the other stall with cheese, one could buy bigger and smaller parts as wished from a lot of different kind of cheese. Unfortunately it was first crowded at this stall and when I returned to it, nobody was there.
Furthermore there was a Portuguese stall. There were e.g. “pastel de nata” sold. I could not resist the temptation and bought two – one I had thought for my host.
I was still hungry, though I had a meal as well. I chose a Lebanese counter. They had lots of different dishes, but I was afraid, that they would be too spicy, therefore I only ordered a warm sandwich with Brie and avocado. The sales assistant had recommended the cheese with walnut and honey and I was surprised, when I had both, walnut, honey and avocado on it. I had a bottle of still water as well.
Finally on my way out of the market hall, it had started raining. First I waited indoors, but when it came a little less rain I started walking. My rain jacket is not really waterproof even it officially is. Therefore it does not help to put something under the jacket. I realized that soon and decided to eat the pastel de nata, when the rain became heavier again. I was standing in a roofed gate at that time. Afterwards I walked further in the direction, where I was coming from – I had no problems to remember it. Only a few minutes later I was taking protection under another roof, because the rain became heavier again. I was happy, that I had found that one, because the rain increased. When I continued, it was still raining, but not so much anymore. I found the way back to the tunnel, partly with the help of the signs for pedestrians. You have to know, that the signs for bicycles and pedestrians are similar in size, but not in colors.
I entered the tunnel, happy not to get more vet. Leaving the tunnel, it had stopped raining. Anyway, I checked Google maps to find the shortest way “home”. I could not have it on all the time, because my phone was low in battery and I had not taken a power-bank with me.
Soon I entered Hanneke’s apartment, I charged my phone by a power-bank, checked my messages and started updating my blog.
Hanneke came home earlier than expected, but tired. She watched TV for around half an hour and was then using her smartphone, though I continued updating my blog and I was happy about, that I could do that.
28th September 2021 – Entering Great Britain
Rotterdam – Hook of Holland – Harwich; 35 + 5 km; host: None, I had a room at the Goodlife Guesthouse.
I was up early, because Hanneke had to leave early for her job and we had to move my bike from the garden to the street. She was not very early and in a hurry, she helped me, fed the chickens and the cats. I locked my bike at the same post as hers were. When she had left, I made my own breakfast and started to pack. I had not done it all, when her daughter came to pick up something for school. She was also asking for her mother. Though I told her, that she is at work and that I will leave very soon. My goal was to leave at 9am at the latest and so I did.
It was only around 35 km to the harbor, Google maps told me, but by my experiences I would need almost three hours for it and I had to be at the ferry terminal before 1pm. I was very happy, that I had started so early, because I finally reached the harbor at 12:30pm. The delays were for the Maastunnel, which I had to use. I was very happy, that I had used it the day before and already know it, but I did not find the elevator and had to ask for it. There was, of course, some waiting time for the elevator and the same at the end of the tunnel, even it was no problem to find it there. Later a woman was cycling on the side of me during a short time, asking me, if I am on my way to Copenhagen. I had experienced it lots of times before, that people don’t know, what COP26 stands for. As usual, at some points I did not find my way directly and some cycle paths were in a bad condition and it was not possible to go fast there. Anyway, I was lucky, that I directly did arrive at the harbor and not needed to cross the city.
I had to stand in line behind the cars. First I had chosen the longest queue, but changed than to the other one, because I found no reason, why not to be there. When we were taken on board, I had to go together with the cars. Only at the ferry, I had my own line and I had to push my bike onto it. On the ferry, I first did not see, where to be with my bike, but then a worker did advice me. There were two or three places for bikes and at every place three straps. I fastened my bike as secure as possible and used an elevator to the restaurant deck. I had not known, which deck I had to go to, if it hadn’t been for the two truckers, who already were in the elevator.
I was entering the sun deck, enjoyed the view and ate my lunch, but it was getting cold outside and I entered inside. There were comfortable armchairs and not many people using them. After a short while in one of those, I felt asleep. I don’t know for how long. The ferry should already had left the harbor, but it had to wait for a towboat. As it seemed, there was a shortage of such ones. We left 45 minutes late.
The passage between Hook of Holland to Harwich takes six or seven hours. Though I became hungry again and was going to the restaurant, where no pre-booking was necessary. I think, it also was the cheaper one. I chose a vegetarian lasagna, but was disappointed about the meal. The lasagna was mostly pasta and tomato puree. There were only a few and small slices of eggplant and zucchini and by the tomato puree all was only tasting tomatoes. There was a side salad as well, but with lots of spicy vinaigrette, why I could not eat it. The lasagna did make me feel full soon. I think it was by the taste and texture. I did only eat half of it. The “dish picker” asked me, if there was something wrong about the food and I told him, what I just have written. I was going back to the comfortable armchairs.
To leave the ferry was not as easy as I thought. To push my bike out of it, was OK, even it was raining here, but then I was directed to a high ramp, by which usually cars enter the ferry. I had to push my bike all the way up. Coming down again on the other side, I arrived at the immigration officers booths and was first placed behind a queue of cars. This queue didn’t move for a while and I was taken out of it and directly placed after the in-checking car. Soon it was my turn. The procedure didn’t take a long time. I still had the face-mask on and was asked to take it of. I did, of course. While the officer checked my passport, I asked him, if he wants to see all the other documents like the “COVID-19 passport”, but he told me, they are all connected to my passport, though he can see them all. I was welcomed into Great Britain. The customs officers did not stop me and I finally could ride my bike to the city center of Harwich, which wasn’t as easy as I hoped.
To ride my bike on the left hand side of the street was no problem, because there was still some traffic, which reminded me how to do. It was already dark at this time, which later did make it a little harder for me, when I had to use an alley, as I was told. It was more like a pedestrians and cycle path. I had asked youth for the way to the High Street, where the guesthouse was, where I had booked a room, because there is no warmshowers host in or around Harwich and the couchsurfing host, I had asked (there are only two), didn’t answer me. The directions, the young man gave me, after he had told me, that the High Street is far away, were actually correct, but not exactly enough, therefore I had to try with Google maps anyway. Unfortunately, it showed me around in circles, though I tried with maps.me and I succeeded. The alley, which I soon reached, was not only narrow, but also totally dark. There was no light, therefore I pushed my bike all the way through. After a while I came to a steep (which the young man correctly had told me). I could nearly not push my bike up this steep and the darkness made it worse, because I could not see, how steep it is. Luckily the e-system on my bike also helps me, when I push my bike (if I use that function). After a long while, I could leave that alley into a housing area, but maps.me tried to direct me back to the alley, though I ask a woman, who was at the right place at the right time for me, how to come to the High Street. She explained, that I have to go behind the estate and use the road… Unfortunately, I did not know, how big the estate was respectively, what the exact definition of estate is. Therefore I tried again and again to find my way out, which I finally did. The rest worked out as she had told me.
On High Street in the town of Harwich, I could not find the numbers of the house, though I called the guesthouse and asked for, how far away it is. Meanwhile I explained, where I was, I saw, that just that house had a number on it. The receptionist of the guesthouse described exactly, which business I will pass, though, when I thought, I was close to it, but had not found, e.g. the unemployment agency, I knew, that I wasn’t that close. Finally I arrived, ringed the bell and faced, after the door was opened, a steep flight of stairs. I had to unload my bike, place the panniers etc on the stairs (which was not the easiest, because they were short and narrow). I was advised to park my bike on the private car park of the guesthouse and I asked the receptionist, if it really is safe there. She told me, it is, even there was no gate to lock. I tried to fasten my bike by a lock at the fence of the car park, but that was not possible. Finally I put the plastic cover over my bike, in the hope, it will stay there (if it becomes windy during the night, probably it will not).
Back at the guesthouse on the other side of the road, I carried all my luggage up the stairs. I did not get any help with it and didn’t ask the receptionist for help either, because she was an elderly lady. She checked me in, showed me my room, the toilet and the shower as well as she explained the code lock system for me. She pointed out, that I only had to share the shower and toilet with one more person. By the way, even here the toilet and the shower were in separate rooms and the room for the toilet very small. There was no sink in the toilet room. Both was the same in the Netherlands, but newer houses had a very small sink in the toilet rooms. – I slept well this night as well.
29th September 2021
Harwich – Woodbridge; 45 km; host: Ruth Redgrave (warmshowers)
I had breakfast at 8:30am as agreed and had already packed my panniers. The breakfast was a Continental without ham. I had got four buttered slices of bread, three slices of cheese, 2 x jam, 1 small yogurt, a banana + an apple. There were milk, cereals, coffee and tea on an extra table. Though I did take a glass of milk as well, but did put the apple on that table. I could not eat all of it and took the banana and a slice of bread (cut in halves) with cheese with me. That became my lunch. This breakfast was for £ 6.50 (€ 7.50; SEK 77). It was not expensive, being enough for both breakfast and lunch. I told the cook, that it was a lovely breakfast and she was happy. When I paid for the breakfast, I asked, if I could pay in Euro, but that was not possible. I had to pay with card instead, which is not a good choice abroad – for the small amount, because my Maltese bank does charge me extra for such small amounts. I asked about an ATM, but did not really understand the answer, however I should have gone back in the direction, where I was coming from. I decided to look for an ATM in the next town instead and also for a Sustrans’ map (about the recommended, low traffic bicycle routes – called National Cycle Network, shortend to NCN).
On the recommended routes for the day I had to use a ferry. I chose the one with the shortest ferry trip and was lucky to find that ferry quite quickly. There were already a couple with bikes and a worker at the end of the gangway, waiting for a ferry. We had been waiting for some minutes, when the worker closed the gangway and told us, there will be no ferry, because of the rough sea.
The couple told me, it will be 10 miles extra to use the road only. Unfortunately my brain did count in Swedish miles (1 Swedish mile = 10 kms) and I thought, my battery will not last for such a long trip and it would also be too hard for me, to ride this whole distance during one day. When the couple told me, I could take the train to Ipswich and that it is very easy to get my bike on this train, I asked them for the directions. They were cycling with me to the railway station and afterwards starting their trip.
This train route was going between Harwich town and Manningtree. For Ipswich I needed to change to another route. I decided, to go to Manningtree only, but did not find it at the ticket machine, though I bought a ticket for Ipswich instead.
Meanwhile I was waiting for the train, three young men arrived, but only one of them came to the wind protection, where I was standing. He started a conversation with me and helped me later, getting my bike into the coach. There is actually only one step to take into the coach. I stood with my bike in the entrance space, there was no other option.
I took to the road in Manningtre and used the highest assistance level of my bike, because I only had to go between 30 and 40 km. I still used Google maps and I was a little angry about, that it is not possible to choose km instead of miles, when using it in the UK (that is only for the app).
I had got the close direction to my host and tried to find them, thinking I can ask for her, once I am close enough. On that road, where Ruth’s house is situated, I stayed at the first house and I didn’t need to ask for the direction, because a woman was asking me, were I will head. She told me, that Ruth is living in the first house on the right hand side and that the house is pink. I found that house quickly and was wondering for myself, if the pink color is special for Suffolk, because I have seen a lot of pink houses in this area.
I did not have time to knock the door, when Ruth came out of the house and welcomed me. Soon my bike was put into the shed and my panniers taken into the house.
Ruth cared about me and during dinner, her husband Jesse asked me about Sweden, naming the Swedish brands he knows. I also asked Ruth, if a parcel had arrived for me, but it had not. I explained, that I was waiting for the Day 2 PCR-test, which I had purchased online. She agreed to ask at the post office or the postman for the parcel and that she will send it to my upcoming host in Stamford, if it arrives. Later we were talking about my travel and more about Sweden.
Before I went to bed, I was told, that Ruth has to leave early next morning for an art class at the university.
30th September 2021
Woodbridge – Bergh Apton (Norwich); 70 km; host: Julia Gooch (warmshowers)
I met Ruth in the morning. She had not to leave before 9am. She asked me to write down the address of my host in Stamford and my phone number. She had already bread sandwiches and packed as lunch for me. Each one with different spread: Peanut-butter, jam, egg and cheese – together a real energy booster. Jesse picked up my bike from the shed, where it had been during the night. No host photo was taken here, because I just forgot it before Ruth left. I took photos of their house instead, when I was leaving.
I had an offer from another host in Norwich, but she told me, that I have to leave my bike outside and to go through a narrow alley as well as her house has difficult steep stairs. She assumed, that I am nimble. Actually I do not feel nimble and I am sure, I will have problems with her stairs, though I decided for Julia instead. She is living outside Norwich, four miles off the NCN1.
Julia had messaged me, that I should send a message, when I am in Brandon, though her partner Lyndon could meet me and help me find their home. Well in Brandon, I did so at the library, because I had run out av 4G and at the library was free WI-fi offered. I also needed a toilet. Unfortunately the library did not have a toilet, but I did get WI-fi for free. After I had sent the message, I was pushing my bike to the market place and the toilet(s), which was/were free of charge. I had to push my bike – for the One Way street and coming from the “wrong” side, back to the library in hope of an answer from Julia. There was. I had to go further to Thwaite St Mary, where Lyndon would meet me.
I made a little detour before I was on the correct road to our meeting, because I had to take to another direction at a difficult point. I didn’t think, I should go there. After all, I understood, that this point had been the right direction and was going back.
Lyndon was already waiting for me at the church. We were the only cyclists around there for the moment, though we both understood, that we should meet. I was lucky, that I could use assistance level 5 and keep up with Lyndon on his non-electric bike. It was a good distance we had to go by using different roads. It would have taken a lot of time for me, to find my way without him. During our ride I discovered how good it feels to have a buddy on the road.
I was very happy to get to know Julia as well. She was not really alert by a heath issue, but welcomed me anyway and did her best to pamper me. Lyndon helped her. The evening was interesting with a plumber and another handyman coming and fix things in the bath-room, which was newly refurbished and not finished to 100%. I had to wait with the shower to the next morning, which did not matter for me. We couldn’t either use the sink in the bathroom at this evening, so we brushed our teeth in the kitchen.
The evening meal was pasta with pizza-bread (some things on the top. I think it was onion on one and butter and herbs on the other). I was offered wine to the meal.
We ate in the kitchen and continued after the meal in the living-room. Julia’s sister had company with us.
1st OCTOBER 2021
Bergh Apton – Day off
Julia had offered me one more night the night before. This morning I accepted, because I had not found a host in Downham Market or close to it. It was too far to go to Stamford in one day. I also had been in contact with a couple, living in Titchmarsh, because they had written to me on Facebook, that they will “pick me up everywhere”. Unfortunately they were on holidays in Norway.
We did not do much during the day, but looking for a host. I had decided to go by train from Norwich to Peterborough. I could have continued to Stamford right away, but my host was not at home. He was in France and will be back at home 3rd of Oct. – I understood.
Julia was using her Facebook contacts of a group of female cyclists. Actually she got two positive answers. The first, who answered, lives around 10 miles outside Peterborough. The other one, only 4 miles outside Peterborough. Fortunately I chose the last one. She messaged us, that she will pick me up at the train station in Peterborough.
Julia is not the first host, who helped me to find another roof over my head and I am very grateful for all the help. It feels so good, that they understand my tight budget, even I usually don’t talk about it, neither did I with Julia, but after she found me a host.
We have got some time to talk about life and travels, which I appreciated.
2nd October 2021
Bergh Apton – Norwich + Peterborough – Bretton ; 27 km; host: Paula (Facebook – friend of Julia)
I had booked a train ticket from Norwich to Peterborough as well as a space for my bike. The later was easy to book by the Internet, but my debit cards were not accepted by the system, though I had to call. I think, that it was a quite expensive call. I will see, when I’ll get my bill from my Internet provider.
The off-peak ticket I bought was for £ 15,50 (€ 18 / SEK 180). Leaving time from Norwich was 13:53 and arrival time in Peterborough 15:23.
Lyndon offered me to ride with me to the railway station in Norwich, which I happily accepted. We agreed to leave from their home at 12pm, because I also had to go to a pharmacy. In addition to that we were talking about a kind of hat, to use under the helmet and we were talking about to go to a sport shop, where I could buy one.
We three enjoyed the morning together and Lyndon and I started at high noon for Norwich after Julia had hugged me good bye. The weather was dry, but chilly. The weather forecast showed expected rain from 1pm. Lyndon did not care about it.
We were in good time in Norwich and it took no time to buy Magnesium “medicine” at the pharmacy. It was warmer now, though I told Lyndon, I could buy that hat in Peterborough. Therefore we were going directly to the railway station, where we arrived around 13:15. I picked up my train ticket of the ticket machine. Now we took a look at the announcements for the trains and saw, that mine was cancelled, because of an unavailable crew member. I did enter the information area, showing my ticket and wondering, which train I could go with. The assistant named others and I asked her to write it down. She printed it out. While the original train, I had booked, was a direct train, I had to change now. The train I was allowed to use should leave 13:27, though I had to go directly to that train. I needed my ticket to come to the platforms. Lyndon said good-bye to me at this check-in point. At the train there was the driver (as I thought, actually he was the ticket collector). I asked him, if it was the correct train for me and told him, I have to get my bike on the train. He answered “yes” and, that the bike compartment was just there. I entered the train, put the bike into the marked place and fastened it. There was already a bike on the opposite side. Later two more bikes were attached at the opposite side – with only one strap, because there was only one strap at either side, but three bicycles allowed on each side. I had a little problem to put my entire bike to the wall. Fortunately a young man helped me. The train became really full, but only a few were wearing face-masks, which is required in trains – and railway stations.
I had to change train at Ely and the announcement was: Ely, leave here for Ely cathedral. It also seemed to be a railway node. I was happy, when I found out, that I did not need to go to another platform. An elderly man was also changing to the same train as I and had a short talk with me.
It was windy and quite cold at the railway station and I was happy, when the train finally arrived. At the next station a woman with a bike entered and was a great help for me, when I was leaving, because she knew the railway station in Peterborough very well and she told me about the elevators at the station. There was no COVID-19 distancing in the elevators!
Paula was waiting for me at the railway station, though I had no problems to find her home. She told me, that it is 4 miles to her home, but even it was raining cats and dogs, the distance did not feel so long.
We were soaked, when we arrived at her home and had both to change clothes. Paula put our wet clothes in the washing machine, telling me, they would dry better then. She put the heating on, before we had a meal and a chat. When the laundry was done, she hanged the clothes close to a radiator. She also had put our shoes under a radiator. Even she did not have any newspaper and could not put such paper in my shoes for drying faster.
We were talking about warmshowers and the environment before we were going to bed.
3rd October 2021
Peterborough – Stamford; 24 km; host: Paul and Mary McCormick
Paula accompanied me nearly halfway to Stamford. She was going to a meeting of cyclist, who would take a ride together this Sunday morning. Before we finally said good-bye to each other, we were taking photos of each other – on the road.
I was surprised, how soon I was in Stamford. I actually arrived at 10am. My host’s wife, Mary, was at home, but had not expected me before high noon. My host was, like Paula, on a bike trip with a group and should be back in the early afternoon. She welcomed me anyway and we have got a good connection from the first moment. This couple also has four grown-up children: A girl and three boys. Paul, my host, is originally from Scotland, but Mary from England. They have lived in Stamford for more than 20 years.
By my early arrival I got a tea with biscuits and a lunch more, than usual. Mary never asked me to go out, having lunch in town. Even here, I was not allowed to help with anything like at all the other hosts I have had so far.
My bicycle was put into a shed with other bicycles and I even could charge it there. Mary and I were even talking about my trip, but also our backgrounds, education, children – you name it.
My 2nd day COVID-19 test had arrived the day before. I was wondering about it and was told, that I have to wait for the upcoming day, because it has to be taken on weekdays only for transportation by the English mail company. Mary offered me one of the tests, they get every month (or week) for free of the NHS (National Health Service). It was such a test even Ruth was wondering if I could take as a 2nd day test, but here it was only a private offer and hope, it would be negative – and it was.
Paul was not much around before dinner, but around a quarter before, he asked me, if I would like to have a glass of wine. I expected, because I thought, he meant for dinner, but offered me one right away, which I didn’t take with the words: I only have wine with food. Though, when dinner was ready, all of us had a glass of wine, but the 24-year old son (still living at home), who was drinking something without alcohol.
Afterwards we were talking about the upcoming day and when I will leave. Mary offered me to show me the Best of Stamford from the different periods like the Victorian and the Georgian ones. I did not have a long ride the next day either and I happily accepted as well as I told them, that there is no need for me to leave before 1pm. The weather report showed, that it will be raining after 4pm, but I will be at my next host at that time already anyway.
4th October 2021
Stamford – Folkingham, Low Farm; 35 km; host: Harriet and Fred (parents to warmshowers’ host Rosie)
Directly after breakfast I did my COVID-19 test with the assistance of my host – Paul folded the box, which I had to send the test in and Mary answered my questions for how to do, when the description was not clear enough. Finally all the necessary in the box and the box sealed, we soon went to the city center of Stamford. Our first stop was a post office.
Mary did not only show me all the interesting buildings and the flood prevention green area,
but also where they have the delivery of food, they (a charity organization, of which she is an active member) pick up from a supermarket. It works similar as in Katrineholm. The food, they get, has reached the “best before date”. The charity only give that food away on Fridays, but they have a fridge as well, where everyone can pick, what is in it, during the other days of the week. There is no need for showing, that you are poor. Everyone can go there. It is as much as helping the poor as to care about the climate.
Some things I remember of the buildings is about the Church of all Saints, which has been a catholic church and still his stained glass windows left, but has no paintings, no gold ornaments left. The church became an Anglican church by King Henry VIII, when he declared himself to be the head of the church.
There is also really cheap housing for poor, but well deserved people. They must have lived in Stamford for many years and have had a glorious life. In former times, they also had to wear a special mantel. It is still a charity committee, which decides, who is allowed to live there.
There are a lot of new houses, build in old styles, because only those houses are allowed in Stamford. Unfortunately each of those buildings have the styles from different periods.
Last but not least I will name the public gallow, which is still there and even has been refurbished.
In general, there are a lot of old things, which will not be exchanged, because most of the English won’t change anything, Mary told me, e.g. post boxes and phone boxes. In the last named they have heart defibrillators now.
Mary did buy a few things at a supermarket and took me than to a café with local products. They had a lot of amazing layer cakes. We had our “lunch” there – she invited me, before we were going back to their home and I said good-bye for this time. We agreed to try to meet in Edinburgh, because we will be there at the same time.
It was a good and quite easy ride with a couple of hills to my next host, who are the parents of Rosie on warmshowers. I arrived much earlier than I had announced. Nevertheless I was very welcomed here as well. Even here I was offered tea and biscuits. This evening I have got a different dinner. Usual are soups and pots, but Harriet served pancakes with zucchini and a dessert (warm raspberries with cream).
We were talking about pandemic restrictions and the Brexit. So far I have talked with all my hosts about Brexit and the consent was, that it was a bad decision and that the poor in the South had voted for Brexit, because they only have seen, that UK payed a lot of money into the system, but don’t think about, that the UK also has got a lot of payments and just these voters benefited of them. One of the impairments is, that there are not enough lorry and truck drivers, though a lot of gas stations have run out of gasoline. There is even a food shortage. Another impairment is, that they only are allowed to visit the European Union during three months at a time and have to wait for another period of three months for being accepted again.
5th October 2021
Folkingham, Low Farm – Newark-on-Trent; 38 km; host: Michael Lawrence (warmshowers)
I left in the morning 10:15am. Harriet and Fred were also packing. They will visit friends in the South of the UK.
Around two hours after leaving I needed a toilet and where somewhere in a town. There was a gas station, though I stopped there to ask for a toilet. Trying to put my bike on it’s stand I realized, that the stand was broken. Actually the lower half was missing. It didn’t look like, that any force had been used, it looked more like, that the bad roads made it loosen and slip. I think, I cannot get such a stand here in England, especially that none so far have had a fitting pump for my tires. I was not allowed to use a toilet at the gas station, but told “We don’t have a public toilet, darling”. I hate it, when they say darling (it has happened some times before). For me it sounds downgrading. I need to ask one of my hosts to know, how it is meant.
I tried to be at my next place before the expected rain is coming, but I could not make it until a quarter past 5. I was very surprised, that I needed so many hours for the few kilometers, but it was windy and hilly and I also couldn’t find my way in Grantham, a bigger town, I was coming through. I was close to cry, but switched then from Google maps to maps.me. That helped. My battery run out of energy, though I pushed my bike for a view kilometers and I really cannot believe, that I only was going for 38 km by my bike. Something seems to be wrong.
I ringed the bell, but none answered, therefore I called Michael. He told me, that he can see me and met me soon in front of his house.
He offered tea and dinner as usual and was already cooking a pot with white, big beans, carrots and other vegetables.
He had already told me, that he won’t be home for some hours, because it was a club movie night – at a cinema. The movies title was “No time to die” (a James Bond movie). It was the first time since the pandemic, he added now and apologized again, that he cannot be with me. I was allowed to stay at his home all the time and I expected to be awake, when he will be back. I updated my blog, but became very tired and was to bed around 9pm. That had not happened before during my trip.
6th October 2021
Newark-on-Trent – Scunthorpe; 76 km; host: Maggie Moreira (warmshowers)
I did get a breakfast after my wishes, but had to eat alone. Michael had been up earlier than me and already has had his breakfast. Therefore I could eat in the kitchen at the table for one.
Ready to go, Michael was going with me and showed me the river and the castle as well as the city center. He didn’t mind, when I was pushing my bike throughout narrow avenues respectively in the city center (here because of all the pedestrians). We took some photos close to the castle.
Fortunately I had remembered to ask him for a bicycle repair shop and he was taking me to the one, he usual is going to. Luckily they could help me, because they had adapters for the tires “from the woods” as they said. I also got such an adapter for free. By the way, when I started my bike tour, I never had expected, that the throttle of the tires would not be the same in all of Europe. The workers of the bicycle shop and we had a chat and they asked me for a photo before we left.
Michael accompanied me on the NCN 64 for around two hours. He told me, that it is good for him to bike and that he hasn’t done it for a while. When I couldn’t use the NCN 64 anymore, but a minor road all the way to my destination Scunthorpe, he left me and was cycling back home.
The rest of the way to Scunthorpe was really easy to find and I also found a bench for lunch in the outskirt of a little town.
Anyway it was a long ride this day and I needed another rest. This time for my butt. I didn’t find a bench, but after a while a little wall, where I could sit on and fortunately it was high enough as a bike stand as well.
Close to Scunthorpe the traffic increased, though I was happy to find a bench at a place, which should be easy to find. I called Maggie, my host for Scunthorpe, as agreed (she had messaged me, she will meet me in the outskirt of Scunthorpe and take me to her home) and told her, that I have arrived and where I am – it was actually close to a Steakhouse (restaurant). She needed around 30 minutes to arrive with her 3-year old son Bruno on a children’s seat on the back.
I had to find a toilet and I had seen people coming out of the restaurant before. Therefore I guessed it was open. Entering the restaurant, I called, but none was answering or coming. I found my way to the toilet and when I was leaving I didn’t see anyone either.
I was happy about Maggie’s “service”. If possible she chose the streets with less traffic and we also pushed our bikes in one or two roundabouts. A part of our way was going throughout a park, which I appreciated.
Well at her place, she explained, that she had moved in two days ago and was before living only a couple of houses away. She had rented the other house, which was smaller and bought this one.
She also told me, that she has made a road-trip years ago throughout Norway, Sweden and Denmark and loves Sweden. She added, that her dream is to move to Sweden, when she has paid off this house and thinks she can do it in seven years. Her dream is a little house with a garden, where she can grow vegetables etc. in the North of Sweden, where houses are cheaper. I told her, that it is not easy to grow vegetables in the North of Sweden.
She was born and raised in Poland, but started hitchhiking to and throughout other countries at an early age. When she came to England, she got a job very soon in a chicken factory. She started at the lowest level and has now a totally different job, working from home for the pandemic. She furthermore told me, that her contract was changed, though she always can work from home.
Before dinner, her two older sons Michael and Martin arrived. They have been with her father. Both were calm and very nice. The younger one did his homework meanwhile Maggie cooked the dinner. It was spaghetti with vegan “meat” sauce. She also had made a salad. As usual here in England, she put the food on the plates for everyone, even for me. I had told her, that I don’t eat a lot. Anyway, it was so much, that I couldn’t eat of the salad, because I was full.
Her sons were going to sleep quite late this evening. I think it depended on my presence. I have had got Maggie’s bedroom for the night and she and Bruno was sleeping on a couch in the hallway. It was very kind of her.
7th October 2021
Scunthorpe – Beverly ; 47 km; host: Paula and John Nichols (warmshowers)
I heard Maggie’s family getting ready for school. I stayed in the bedroom for not disturbing them. When I took my medicines (both times) and even one time more I was bumping my head into the wall beside the window. It was an oriel window in this room and I was coming from the side. I didn’t realize, that the wall was just there. Fortunately I didn’t get a bulge.
When Maggie had left Michael and Martin at school and Bruno at the kinder-garden, she came back and made breakfast. She already had told me the day before, that she has a day off this day, though she was accompanying me a bit, but first, she took photos of me and us.
She was going by bike with me to the bridge of Horkstow, which is an old suspension bridge. We made a detour for it, but it was worth it. By the way, one time we were going one or two kilometers in a wrong direction. The road was leading to a bridge, but not the one we wanted to go to. The sign for that bridge was just there, where the road got very rough. Another time, we turned around for an unpaved road. Anyway, the last two or three kilometers to the Horkstow bridge was dirt road. We were going very carefully on that road.
After going back to a main road, she was going home, because she had to be in time to pick up Bruno at the kinder-garden. I really appreciated, that she made this detour with me, but I also have bad conscience, because I think, she had needed the time for getting her house clear after their moving.
The first challenge for me was the very hill, exactly after Maggie had turned home. There was a lot of traffic and no bike path. I made it by riding my bike. The rest was a little easier, but after a while I had to cross the Humber bridge. Michael from Newark-on-Trent already had told me about it and named, that it is the longest bridge in Europe accessible for biking.
The bike area on one side of the bridge was closed and on the other side, bikers and pedestrians in both directions had to get on well together, though I pushed my bike. The other reason, why I pushed my bike was the low railing. It felt unsafe for me for biking, because of my fear of highs. There was a building site on the other side of the bridge and by that a diversion. I had to find out, where to go, without using the busy road A15. I managed even that and arrived at Beverly in the late afternoon.
Paula and John live in a three floor, but anyway tiny town house. Paula opened for me and it took a while, before I was getting to know John. Paula took my bike into their hallway after I had dismounted the panniers. I was told, that it had happened a lot of bike thefts in Beverly. They don’t do bike packing, but are interested in to welcome bike packers and couch surfers. Even here, I have got all I needed. I was sleeping on a very comfy couch in the living-room. I also was allowed to use the radiator during the entire night. Though it was warm and cozy. Even this house had central heating, but it was broken for the moment.
John is a scientist, working for a university in Dublin. They would like to live there as well, but told me, that the prices for real estates are very too high there. Therefore they are still living in Britain even they are very unhappy with the Brexit – as everyone of my hosts so far.
8th October 2021
Beverly – Scarborough; 67 km; host: Gill Pullen (warmshowers)
I have got breakfast of Paula, John helped me to get my bike on the road again. I actually forgot my battery in their house, but discovered it right away, when I tried to start the display. Though I went back and fetched my battery. Luckily John is working from home.
Before leaving, John told me, that he is working with historical climate data. By that, he knows, that we just now should be in a mini ice age and he pointed out, that the now climate crisis is much worse as it is communicated.
I knew, that it would be a long ride this day and had decided to go by bike close to the coast. Unfortunately Google maps directed me anyway by other roads, which were very hilly. Even the nature was nice and the roads mainly well maintained, I could not enjoy this trip as much as I would have liked to do, because I understood, that my battery will not last long enough. I made the 2,000 km full and added more.
Around 10 kilometers before my goal I understood, that I have to find a café or gas station, where I can charge my battery. The village, I just was coming through, had none of this in that part, which was on my route. Around 3 km further I came to the parish of Cayton. First I saw a Mini Mart shop and was asking there for a café and the shop assistant was interpreting it, like I would like to drink a coffee and told me, they have. Though I answered her, that I need to charge my battery and need a toilet as well. Did I already tell you, that it isn’t common anymore in the UK to ask for t bathroom? One plainly has to ask for the toilet – at least in this part of the country, where I am traveling. She told me, that she can’t help me. Though I asked her one more time for a café and she told me, that there is something (I don’t remember what it was) behind (or in front) of the nearby church, but I did not find what I was looking for.
I continued and was pushing my bike to look for anything, which could help me. An elderly man was crossing the road in front of me, though I asked him for a gas station instead and he answered “indeed there is” and explained where. On my way to find it, I saw a PUB. I decided to eat something there and to charge my battery. I sent a message to my host, that I will be late, because I have to charge my battery. I didn’t get an answer on that message.
I had a vegetarian pie (cheese and onion) with chips and vegetables. It was a big portion, though I put a lot of it in my box in my cooling bag. I couldn’t only charge my battery, but have also got free WiFi. It was even working outside the PUB, where I was waiting for my battery getting charged enough to continue.
I had not got an answer yet of my host Gill in Scarborough, though I did contact her by the warmshowers’ app. Her answer came quickly. She wrote, that she will send Lorraine to pick me up by car. I was worried, that my bike would not get space in the car and questioned that. Luckily, she confirmed, that there is space for my bike as well. I fetched my battery in the PUB and dismounted all my panniers while waiting for Lorraine. It was getting dark now and I was happy, that I didn’t need to ride my bike in the dark.
Lorraine arrived by a car with a bike rack. There was space for three bikes. After I helped her to get the bike on the rack and meanwhile she secured my bike. I put all my stuff into the car.
On the way to hers and Gill’s home (they are registered partners and have been together for more than 30 years) Lorraine was driving throughout the city of Scarborough, even it would not have been necessary. The view reminded me on Las Vegas, even this town seemed not to be so glorious. Lorraine told me, that there is another bay, where nature is kept as it is. At their home, she showed me my room, which has a shower en-suite. The two dogs where welcoming me as well. Both are old, but one of them was already 15 years old.
Afterwards she invited me to a cup of tea and we were chatting in hours – about the usual like bike packing, traveling and Brexit. Gill was to a literature class. We were going to bed around 10pm.
9th October 2021
Scarborough – Thornton-le-Dale; 22 km; host: John Derek Owen (warmshowers)
I was allowed to sleep as long as I wanted, but was awake early. I used some time for updating my blog and was then going down for breakfast. I saw Lorraine in the garden, but she was coming in soon. Gill was at the breakfast table. I was offered breakfast as well. Then I was told, that Lorraine and Gill had checked the map and that the road to Thornton-le-Dale is very hilly. Though, they offered me, that Lorraine will drive me to a place after those hills, but she had to be back until 11am, because Gill needed the car then. I agreed with them and accepted as well as I was ready soon. I know, that is not very environment friendly, but even I have limits and especially my bike battery has. There was no opportunity in the forest to charge it.
While Lorraine drove me throughout the forest, I could see steep hills, which I was happy not to need to force. I think, I could have forced them, but would have needed a lot of time as well as I would not have had enough battery. I was very grateful for their help.
There is only one road throughout the forest, though I had no problems with the directions, when Lorraine had left me. However, close to the end of that road, another steep hill was to force. You have to know, that an event or competition was ongoing and a lot of cyclists were on the road. I understood, I had to ride quite fast, if I will be able to manage that hill. Though I started with a quite high speed and could also hold it until I was on the top of the hill. I don’t know, how the young men on their racer bikes felt, who were overtaken by me with all my panniers. I hope they understood, that I was riding an e-bike. This hill had also a downside, of course. I don’t like to ride too fast downhills, though, when I was nearly all the way down, I was overtaken by one of those other cyclists, but I could not see more of them.
Thornton-le-Dale is a busy village, especially when the sun is shining and, of course, also by biking events. I had to find the house of my host, but Google maps did only show me the street. Maps.me only shows villages and towns, but not the streets. Anyway, when I saw a bike shop, I tried to make my way into it. It was very hard to come around with my panniers. Therefore I let people into it, meanwhile I was trying. The first was a girl, maybe in her early twenties, maybe still a teenager. The others was a couple around my age and they were asking me, with a very happy face: “Are you Dorothee from Sweden?”. Then they explained, that Derek (my host) is their neighbor and they have been invited for dinner of him two days ago. They also introduced themselves, but I only remember, that his name was James. Maybe her name was Harriet. During that dinner Derek had talked about me and told them, that I will arrive soon. The couple invited me for a coffee – the café is in the same space as the bike shop and can only be reached by walking throughout the shop. I told them, I am happy to meet them, because I could not really find Derek’s home on the map. After I had asked the bike shop owner for a stand, James did follow me to Derek’s home and was then directly going back to the café, where his wife was waiting. By the way, the owner of the bike shop did really try to help me. When he couldn’t find a fitting stand in his shop, he was calling another one and told me then, that he will get a stand, which might fit my bike, the next morning, but he could not guarantee it. If it fits, he will put it on the bike the next morning, even it is Sunday. I had to leave the bike at his shop and agreed, that I will bring it back after I have dismounted the panniers etc.
Derek welcomed me, even I was earlier as expected. I told him about my bike stand, the shop and his neighbors and dismounted all my panniers as well as the battery, because I had to charge it. Directly afterwards I brought my bike back to the bike shop and asked for a receipt, which I have got. Now I joined his neighbors for a cappuccino. Together we went back to their respectively Derek’s home.
Before dinner, Derek and I were chatting about bike packing. He first told me, that I am his first warmshowers’ guest, that he usually is camping during his trips and hasn’t used warmshowers yet, though he was wondering, what we should talk about.
The dinner was a bean mix with sweet potato mash on the top. He offered me a beer for dinner. Later we were also talking about personal issues and he told me, that he feels very lonely since he divorced 12 years ago, but the days, when his daughter is staying with him. The daughter has a boyfriend in Liverpool and is not at home often anymore. Furthermore we were talking about my route next day and he told me, it is very hilly with steep hills. He offered me, to drive me with his car over all that hills. I answered, I will decide the next morning.
10th October 2021
Thornton-le-Dale – Middelsbrough; 20 km by bike; host: Matt Steyert (couchsurfing)
I had to be at the bike shop at 10:30am, which was late for my further trip. This with the new knowledge from yesterday about the hills combined with the distance to Middlesbrough, I agreed to the help of Derek. In time he put the bike rack on his VW Westfalia and we put my panniers in his car. We were going by car to the bike shop, but didn’t find a space to park. Therefore Derek parked the car a little further, but not really far away.
Unfortunately the bike shop owner did tell us, that the stand, he has ordered, doesn’t fit my bike. He apologized, that he could not help me.
I took my bike and left together with Derek, walking to his car. Derek drove me so far, that we had left all steep (up)hills behind us. At that place he let me out, dismounted the bike and hold it, that I could attach my panniers to the bike. There were only 22kms left to Middlesbrough, Google maps showed me. I had to start with a steep downhill road. Derek even told me, that there is a nice café in Stokesley, which is to the left of my route.
I had a lot of time to spend and needed something to eat, though I really was looking for a café in Stokesley. I found Bexter’s Tea Room, which Derek may haft meant. I waited to be seated with my bike outside one of their big windows and asked for a seat, where I could see my bike. The unexpected happened! I was offered to take my bike inside and put it on the side of the table, where I was seated.
Other guests also made the thumb up and finally helped me during the way out of the café. There was no guest, who was irritated about my bike inside.
I was sure, I will be soon in Middlesbrough, but by pushing my bike a bit in the city center I arrived at my host Matt’s home around 3pm. He had written, that he will take a nap until 3:30pm, because he has to go to work at 5:30pm for the night shift. Though I was waiting outside and sent a message to him at 3:30pm, asking for, which number I should buzz. He was coming down soon. He lives on the first floor, but there are lots of stairs to use for coming there. The elevator was too small for my bike. Though I dismounted all my stuff as well as the battery and Matt started to carry my bike up for the stairs. A young man came to his help. He was fortunately just around.
Matt lives in an apartment building, which is the only one in the mostly industrial area. A branch of the university is nearby and his workplace as well. He works for the LNER, a railway company. He also told me, that he will work from 1st Nov in York, but for the same company and better paid as well as he is looking for an other apartment in Darlington – which is closer to York, has a direct line in between and the housing is cheaper there as in York.
We didn’t have more time to chat, because he needed to get ready to go to work. Anyway, he told me, that I could take a walk in the close surroundings and that I might be lucky and see a seal. He left his keys for this reason.
I didn’t feel for going outside into the damp air. Unfortunately I could not update my blog a lot, because of the lack of WiFi.
11th October 2021
Middelsbrough – Sunderland; 51 km by bike; host: Catriona Howson (warmshowers)
I had to let Matt in around 6am. That was no problem. I had anyway been to the toilet every second hour and did not sleep deeply.
Matt slept only a very short time and did chat with me then, e.g. about the route I should take this day. He told me, that the NCN1 is going all the way from Middlesbrough to Sunderland and that I should use it. Matt had to prepare for a holiday trip, on which he will go by train, which will leave around 3pm. I left around 9am, after Matt had carried my bike down – by himself this time.
Google maps sent me via A66 to NCN1. There was so much traffic on this road, that I did push my bike on the small shoulder. I was relieved, when I finally was on the bicycle path.
Even this day I made a short detour, because I was not able to interpret Google maps in a round about. Soon I was crossing an old bridge.
After a while, the NCN1 became a real bike path – throughout forest and other parts of England far away from the roads. Unfortunately this cycle path, which at the beginning was a gravel path, but sometimes was paved, became worse and worse. I was close to trying to find another way to go, because the path was blocked by barriers. Their upper half were so narrow , that I could not get my handlebars throughout it. Fortunately, the lower half was wide enough for my bike with the panniers attached. A biker, who unexpected arrived, did help me throughout two of the barriers by lifting my bike by the handlebars meanwhile I pushed it from the back, that the panniers and my bag came through.
At one point was a high bridge crossing the path. By the bad maintained and dirty path I did not see the bigger part of a stone and felt with my bike. Before I could manage to come on my feet again, I saw a man on the bridge, looking down on me. Even their was a stairway down from the bridge, he did not come and help me. I managed to raise my bike as well and was very happy about that. I also put that stone as well as another big stone on the very side of the path, though other cyclists should not fall because of them.
The further I came the worse the bike path was. I had to push my bike for a long time. The path was going throughout a very wet area. The good thing there was the wooden parts, even they also were for pushing my bike only, but the most bad thing was the flooded part of the path. Fortunately there was another path close to it. I think, that was a foot path. Using it I came after a while to a village and decided to take the road instead. That was also possible for a while, but finally I was back on the NCN1 anyway. It was not better than the other parts before, but the wet area and the flooded area. I was afraid, that my bike – or almost the electrical system, would be destroyed, though I pushed my bike again. Finally arriving in Sunderland, I couldn’t get my bike through the gate again. Luckily even here I had male help. I am really wondering, who signed that bike path and never checked for the quality again and also, who designed these worthless barriers. It cannot have been a bike-packer with a touring bike.
It became dark now very fast and I was riding my bike for around one km, but contacted soon my host, Catriona, because she had offered to pick me up, if it gets dark on my way. I stayed at a shopping area and waited for her. She came with a car without bike rack and told me, that she has had more than one bike (but one at a time) in her trunk. Together we did fit in my bike in the car by taking the back of my bike first. Catriona told me, that she originally was from Uruguay. We arrived around half an hour later at her home.
The guest room was under the roof – on the second floor. The house, they rent of the church, is huge. I have not been in such a big one-family-house in the UK before. Catriona and her daughter Klara helped me with my stuff. I was served dinner and we started talking, when Catriona had to pick up her daughter Angela. I didn’t see Catriona that evening again, because the car’s electric system was breaking down when she was far from home.
Catriona’s husband cared about me. We were sitting in a kind of living-room and he put the heat on. He is a chaplain, he told me and one of his duties is to care about students, though the next morning they will early go somewhere, where they can see the sunrise and enjoy bird-life. Their daughter Angela came home after a while. She is a very energetic and happy girl. – We spent a little more time together before I was going to bed.
12th October 2021
Sunderland – Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 28 km; host: Shelly Knots (couchsurfing)
Catriona had told me already, that I could take the breakfast I wished, though I had taken Vetabix with milk, when her husband came into the kitchen. He cooked coffee or tea for Catriona and himself. The ready coffee/tea, he brought to Catriona and was then back in the kitchen to warm croissants. He prepared one for me as well and also pancakes. It was like a birthday breakfast even they didn’t know, that it was my birthday.
Catriona had to leave early. On the way out, she apologized, that she has no time to talk with me, but she would have enjoyed it.
Her husband helped me then with my bike and took a couple of photos of me. Unfortunately he was not on these photos as well. Anyway, it was taken in their garage.
It was raining, when I left Sunderland, but the weather became better soon. I was following the coastline until South Shields. The cycle path beside the road was good. When I saw the light house, my host had talked about, I took a rest and had a cheese scone with butter and jam at the café. My bike had to be outside, but here were nearly no people coming and the few tourists, entering the café did not touch my bike.
From now on I mostly had to cycle on the road. I had chosen to take the ferry from South Shields to North Shields, because of the recommendation of my host – to cycle along the cost helped me to avoid a lot of hills.
The ferry ride was cheap – only £1.99, but they did not take cash. To pay such a small amount by card can get expensive. For not having to pay an extra charge on my Malta account, I used my Swedish card, because they usually don’t charge for small amounts.
On the ferry, they had bike racks. I was happy about it, but stayed with my bike anyway and was not sitting down.
While leaving the ferry in North Shields the passengers for South Shield were already waiting. A woman in her 40ies or 50ies were close to entering on board, but changed her mind and came closer to me, thanking me for going to COP26 by bike and asking me to be her spokeswoman as well.
From North Shields I had to bike inland and to force one or two hills. In Newcastle-upon-Tyne I pushed my bike, when there were some traffic lights and a lot of cars. By that I also became aware, that there is a supermarket very close to my host’s home. My host for the upcoming two days had messaged me, that I may not arrive between 4pm and 5pm, because she cannot let me in during those hours. She had an online section for her work.
I arrived at her place at 4:04pm, of course. It would have been too easy if I had arrived before 4pm 😉. I put my bike outside the wall of the front garden and also sat down on it. After a while her female neighbor opened her door and asked, if she could help me. Though I explained in short the situation to her. A little later I managed to get my bike to my host’s apartment stairs. It was difficult because the entrance of the garden was higher than the pedestrians’ path and I had to force one high step. This done, I put my bike on the side of the stairs and sat down on a bench in front of the house.
When Shelly, my host, had finished her work, she was coming down and opened up for me. First we tog my panniers and bags up to her apartment, then we carried together the bike up the steep in-house stairway. I don’t remember, if I already told you, but the houses in the cities, I have been in, almost all have had these steep stairways and the stairs are very short.
I was making myself at home and Shelly and I were chatting, mostly about my trip. She offered me tea and I was allowed to chose a tea bag from a box. There was a kind with a German text, though I asked her, if she speaks German as well. She answered, that her father is German.
After a while, her partner came home from work. He is an IT developer and usually also works from home, but was at his work place this day. I was told, that he was German. They also have a dog.
During the evening, they told me, that they will go on holidays soon and have problems with the dog-food, because of the Brexit, they are not allowed to bring dog-food into the EU and they don’t know, how expensive dog-food is in Germany and the other countries, they will go to. By the way, they are going by train with an Interrail ticket.
I was served a vegetarian lasagna (if I remember right) and a pie with berries as a dessert, because of my birthday. That was very kind of them.
13th October 2021
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Day off
I was sightseeing Newcastle this day by walking. I had left the bike at Shelly’s home. It was easy to find my way to the city center – not only of Shelly’s description, but also of the signposts, which were many.
I was first looking around in the city center and afterwards visiting the castle. I was disappointed, when I read, that it isn’t original. Too much had been changed. Anyway, I tried, to get a look inside, but I didn’t find an open door.
I was walking the “Strandpromenad” and could see some different bridges as well as a recreation area with a kind of hammocks and unusual chairs.
On my way back I had a snack at a vegan café, bad when it was served, I didn’t feel hungry anymore. Though I put it in my napkin and a little plastic bag, I had with me and took it “home”.
I also was to the supermarket close to my host. I was going there, because I needed tissues and eggs, but even I bought eggs and a lot of other food, I forgot to buy tissues. I didn’t went back to the supermarket. I tried to use the few I have left wisely. Shelly had an online meeting for three hours (two were planned as she told me before), but she had not locked the door, though I was able to enter.
I had my own meal this evening, but was invited to the rest of the dessert from the day before. We did chat a lot after we had finished our meals.
14 October 2021
Newcastle-upon-Tyne – Alnwick; 22 km by bike; host: Peter Edge (warmshowers)
I left Shelly and her partner around 9:30am. Shelly was not at home, she had to attend a meeting in person. Her partner carried my bike down the stairs and, if I remember right, even my panniers and my big bag.
I was told, that the road between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Alnwick has very steep and many hills, though I took the train to Almouth, because there is no train station in Alnwick. The train was for 10:42 from Newcastle. The railway station was easy to find, even I had to use Google maps in the pedestrians zone. I had cycled into the city center, but from here I did push my bike. Only a few meters from the station a middle-aged man started to talk to me. He told me, how amazing I am to go by bike to Glasgow. I told him, that I am cheating and will take the train to Almouth, but he answered, he anyway would not make such a trip and that I am brave anyway.
I found easily the platform, where the train was going from. There also were assistants, who I could ask about the bike compartment. They told me, that I have to unmount the panniers and all there is, because I have to hang my bike. Therefore I asked them, how I can be sure, that I’ll can exit with my bike and all my stuff in Almouth in time. I was answered, in that case, I neither do need to unload my bike nor hang it. These two assistants also helped me into the compartment and I thought, they will inform Almouth, that I need help to get off. There was a third person with the two assistants and one of the latter told him about three times, that I just want to go to Almouth.
At the railway station in Almouth, there was none waiting for me, but because it took time for me, there was an “assistant” coming, telling me, that I should have unmounted my stuff and also had to be the first out of that compartment. Actually, I was happy, that other passengers left the train here and the one, who did exit first, pushed the button for the opening of the door. That “assistant” did tell me then, that he “is not supposed to do that”, but helped me out with my bike, adding, that the bike is heavy.
I should only have to ride my bike in 7 or 8 kms, but the bike path between Almouth and Alnwick was closed by repair work of a bridge. There were official signs to that path and they were not covered anywhere, therefore I only got aware of it, where the path started. I already had went down a steep road. I checked the map and it seemed, like I could continue on that steep road and find another road to use, but, unfortunately, at the end of this steep road, there were no road – only a bridle way in the wrong direction.
Finally at the top again of the steep road I found the way back to Almouth and a road to continue on. In Alnwick I had a lot of time to spend and visited the Alnwick gardens, which I enjoyed. It was quite cold and also windy, therefore I also had a bit of a layer cake (with a coconut lime filling) and a hot chocolate in one of their restaurants.
In good time I left for my host. All was OK until I came to the last part of my trip for the day, when Google maps told me, to use a path. In the beginning, there was no problem, but soon it became more narrow. It was hard to push my bike now, but there was no place either to turn around. At one point (around halfway this path), a tree had fallen over the path, because of, it was a minor one, I could lift my bike over it, but it was very hard to do. Suddenly the path ended after some kilometers. There were still signs and Google maps told me to go to the right, but at that point was a fence without any gate.
While I was wondering, if I had to push my bike all the way back – over that tree again, and where to find a road in the right direction, I saw a man with a dog a little far away. I was waving my arms, screaming hello, can you help me. The man had a walking stick, but was good in walking and reached me soon. He was almost 50+. I explained my situation to him and also pointed at the signs, there were. He told me: “There is a get (gate) there and a get (gate) there” and pointed in those directions as well “Over there is the cottage you are looking for.” He actually had a hard to understand dialect.
I could not see a path to the first gate, though I asked him for that. There actually was no path, but he offered me to walk with me. Soon he also pushed my bike. Meanwhile we were walking to the first gate another man with a dog came around. He asked, what was going on and if we need some help. He had the same hard spoken dialect as the first one.
He then carried the walking stick of the first man. I have had the same idea, but was not sure, how to ask him and how he would interpret that question. We were close to the first gate, when the first man told the other, that they should cut the grass and make a path. A bit on the way we found a path to the next gate – as narrow as the path had been, where I was coming from. The first man, still pushing my bike asked for riding it on the path – because it is an e-bike. I told him, it is not as easy at it sounds. He tried, but gave up soon.
First later I saw, that I had put the assistance for the bike to zero, which is a walking assistance and only works by holding a button during the entire time, the assistance is needed. I was ashamed, that I did not remember that and did not change the assistance level. – All the time, the two men were faster as me, but were waiting for me off and on. Finally at the nearby road, I thanked them as much as possible. They were really kind all the time and answered now “No problem, we are happy, we could help you.” They also wished me good luck for the rest of my travel as well as they pointed out the cottage, were my host lives.
My host Peter’s partner saw me from the window, when I was pushing my bike on the driveway, which was a gravel road. She was coming and welcoming me around halfway. She told me, that she just had come home from work and coincidentally saw me. It didn’t take a long time, when Peter was coming home as well.
They warmed a “Bolognese”sauce of lentils and more and cooked spaghetti. Peter was in a hurry, because he is a councilor and had to attend a meeting. He left 6pm by their electric car, which battery only reaches for around 90 km. They told me, that they had bought that car secondhand some years ago and it is around 10 years old.
Peters female partner is originally from France, but now a citizen of the UK. I was surprised about her very good English. I couldn’t hear any accent. We were talking about, why they are living in that cottage, that the central heating only works if they make a fire in the fireplace and that it anyway don’t works properly, because of the radiators, which are very thin. She also put on a little electric heater, because I was freezing. The cold had come to almost this part of the UK. She told me, that they use the heater as little as possible, because of the costs of electric energy. By the way, I had got my own room and at bedtime, she put a heater in my room.
This and other cottages belongs to the Alnwick castle, I was told and that the castle is unlike the others, because out off the touristic season, the owner is living there and has a very nice furnished residence – even with a TV, but matching the style of the rest of the residence. I was sorry, that I wasn’t visiting the castle as well, but happy, that I was at my host in time.
When Peter was back, we were talking about environmental questions and politics. He also showed me on paper maps, which way should be the best to my next host. For finding the correct roads and path he asked me to take photos of the related areas on the maps, which I did.
15th October 2021
Alnwick – Kirk Yetholm (Kelso); 48 km; host: Ian Douglas King (warmshowers)
I had to leave at 8’o clock in the morning, because Peter had to go to work early (he is a gardener, worked for some years at Alnwick Gardens, but now further away) and his partner were going to meet up with friends. While Peter was biking to work, his partner did take the car. She also will give another participant a ride.
It was only +5°C, when I left and I dressed in my winter jacket, the hat, I have got of Paula in Peterborough and my gloves including my inner gloves.
From Peters home to Kelso, it was only around 60 km. What I didn’t know, when I started this day, was that Kirk Yetholm was situated around 14 km before Kelso. This day went very well, even it was drizzling a while.
I was wondering by myself if Kelso – and Kirk Yetholm, is an english or scottish place and was thinking about, to ask my upcoming host about it, but there was no need. The border, who actually isn’t a border, was well signed.
None was there to ask me about my PCR-test or something else. No wonder, as I already wrote, it is not a real border. A man, who came driving a motorbike, was asking me, if all was OK, when I continued after I had taken the photo.
Arriving in Kirk Yetholm I was surprised by the white painted houses. It looked so much prettier as the others, I have seen before. When Google maps told me, that I had to go downhill a steep, but short road, I started pushing my bike for not missing my host’s home. Halfway down, a man on a bike came behind me and welcomed me. It was my host. Though I didn’t have any problem to find his home, of course. He put my bike in his shed – as many hosts have done before and afterwards as well.
In the house were his wife. I was offered tea and biscuits as usual, even I was early. I have got my own room as well and it was not cold at this place. While I was drinking my tea, we started talking about bike-packing and a little later, even his wife was with us and I asked her, if she also was bike-packing, but she was no longer going by bike, because of an accident.
Ian was also talking about his children. The son is building boats, cooking including jam and in photography – all as a hobby. He had been a cycle carrier in full time for a company, which was very effected of the COVID-19 restrictions and works now only part time for another company. He is happy with that, Ian added.
One of his daughters is a nurse and the other one an artist – mostly in painting. When she finished her studies, she was happy to get an award for her paintings and she sells a lot of her paintings. Her husband is an IT developer and they have a little girl, which Ian and his wife cares about three times a week, because of the pandemic. This small family are expecting another child soon.
Ian has not been outside Europe for his bicycle trips, but was volunteering in other European countries during cycling events. He also plays the fiddle and has it in it’s box on his back, when he is going by bike to the weekly sessions.
He did most of the “cooking” for dinner, his wife was handling the stove – a similar to the AGA one, but another make. The result was a “smörgåsbord” with lots of different vegetables including salad, a couscous mix and grilled halloumi. It was a long time ago I have eaten so much for one meal than this night.
16th October 2021
Kirk Yetholm – Edinburgh; 51 km; host: Andrew Dickson (warmshowers)
I left around 10am. It was still cold and I had two choices to go further. The one was via Kelso, the other one was less hilly. I was also told, that the streets of the city of Kelso are cobblestone streets. Therefore I chose the other way, earning some kilometers as well.
I was actually only going to Tweedbank, because it was raining all the day, but also for the distance – it would have been much more than 100 kms, if I would have cycled all the way. I had tried to get a host on the way and split it up, but that host and her partner did get COVID-19. Fortunately some days before my planned stay, though they could inform me in time.
From Tweedbank I tog a commuter train to Edinburgh Waverly, which is the central station in Edinburgh. From there I had a lot of kilometers left to my host, which lives in the outskirt of Edinburgh, but anyway in the right direction for my further ride.
I pushed my bike as usual throughout the city of Edinburgh. That gave me also the opportunity to see the park, the National Gallery (outside only) and the castle (from afar).
I tried to ride my bike, when I came to the path beside the Union canal, but first there were a lot of pedestrians in both directions, a lot of them with dogs as well as meeting bicycles and afterwards the path was less wide. I was afraid to ride my bike so close to the canal, because the water level was nearly at the same level as the path as well as there were no barriers between the canal and the path. I continued to push my bike and when I had to cross the first viaduct, I was very scared, because the path here was even more narrow and had cobblestones. It was also raining most of the time. The path became mysterious sometimes, when the branches of the trees were hanging over the path. Partly the path was dirty by leaves and soil, which made it slippery and my situation worse.
I was happy, when I finally arrived at my host Andrew’s home. I reached it around 5pm and he was already at home, I could see, because the light was on in one of the rooms. Andrew had messaged me before, that I should go to the back with my bike and leave it there, if he is not at home, when I arrive. In addition to that he had written, where he will hide a key for me. I think, that was very nice of him and I was grateful, that he trusted me so much.
Because of, that he was at home, we directly put my bike in his garage after I had taken of my panniers and the other stuff including my battery. He showed me “my” room, which was lovely and “my” bathroom as well. He also told me, that his room and bathroom was on the upper floor.
Soon he prepared a meal. He cooked the vegetables including potatoes in the microwave and warmed the pie in the gas oven. His heating was also working with gas. He had a kind of stove in the living-room, which was time restricted. He put it on twice this evening and that just for me, because it was cold in the house and I was freezing. Anyway the temperature in Edinburgh was much higher then in the surroundings of Kelso and Tweedbank. When I pushed my bike from the railway station to Andrew’s home, I did get sweat.
We were talking about the climate crisis and he told me, he had no car and does all he can to reduce his impact on the climate, but he also told me, that he was biking from coast to coast in the USA and also had biked throughout New Zealand and Australia, which means, that he had taken flights. I suppose, that he at that time was not aware of the impact of flights to the climate crisis – the same way as I have not been before 2019.
17th October 2021
Edinburgh – day off
I had a day off and was going by bus into the city of Edinburgh. Andrew had written down for me the next departures of the bus from the bus stop very close to his house as well as the names of the bus stops, which I had to use – both close to his home and in the city for the return. He also had made two drafts, explaining where the bus stops are and which one I should take and even at which one I will arrive – at which side of the street. The bus ticket was for £1.80 and one has to have the exact amount, because no change will be given.
I had decided to visit the castle, because this one is intact. I tried to find the way up to it from the park, but those paths were closed by security reasons. The hill, where the castle was built on, is basalt and stones are falling down from it from time to time. I had to ask, how to come to the castle and finally got an useful explanation from a gardener.
After a long and steep walk uphill, I arrived at the entrance site. There was no opportunity to buy tickets, one had to buy online and then use a data screen (on the site) to print the ticket. I made it to the next entrance time – I actually had to wait for a few minutes.
I also had booked an audio guide. I had to ask for, where to pick it up, because all information kiosks were not open. At the entrance site as well as inside the castle were souvenir shops and food stalls, an ice cream car included.
I did not find all the numbers from the audio guide at the castle, but I did not care about it. Neither did I miss the Scottish crown jewels nor the most important rooms. You can read about the castle by following this link.
I had spent a lot of time at the castle and was starving, when I left. Despite this, I didn’t enter the closets restaurant, because of the prices. Unfortunately I fell for a sweets shop, where I bought fudge with a (very little) taste of whisky. Soon afterwards I found a café even offering light meals. I did eat a cheese platter, which seemed to be inexpensive, but it was not for the size of the cheese bites.
On my way to the shopping mall I also saw a lonely bagpipe player, who was playing for the money pedestrians gave to him. He did get £1 of me, though I had a good conscience while listening to him. Afterwards I made my shopping. I needed tissues and other things and had to visit different shops before I found all I needed.
18th October 2021
Edinburgh – Airdrie – Stand; 28 km + train between Uphall – Airdrie; host: None – Fairview B&B
Andrew was cycling with me to the canal. Close to his home he helped me to come trough the barriers at traffic lights, because the barriers were put too tight, though I could not come through with my panniers without help. I was wondering again, how people with strollers or prams can make it through. Even for wheelchair users it must be difficult. At the canal he told me, that I have to go to the left and he will go into the other direction, because he will go to town.
Most of the time I pushed my bike along the Union canal, because the path was small and off and on slippery.
Around halfway I came to the village of Ratho and here some houseboats were anchored at the Marina. Two walking women overtook me, when I nearly had come to the road, where I should continue. The one told me, I am brave and the other one told me, that I am brave, even I am pushing my bike. I nearly walked 20 km this day.
Finally I found the railway station in Uphall after I had been looking for a room in Broxburn, but the hotel was closed for two more days. From Broxburn Google told me to take the A89, which is a very busy road. Luckily and with the help of a kind woman, I found a combined foot/cykelpath close to it. At the train station I asked waiting passengers for the correct platform in the direction of Glasgow as well as I asked one with a bike if I need to book a (free) ticket for the bike. That is not necessary for the commuter trains, he told me.
In Airdrie I left the train. This is the station even for Chapelhall, where my new host lives – the couchsurfing host, who had invited me for the entire time of COP26 and agreed, that I could stay with her and her husband from 20th Nov. By my early arrival on 18th, I could not be hosted of them right away, I was told, because the guestroom was not prepared.
Though I was looking for a B&B in Airdrie and was lucky, that there was one. Finally there, I was so happy by reading the sign “vacancy”, but my happiness was soon gone, because when I had ringed the bell and the owner had opened, I was told, that there is no vacancy and she only had forgotten to turn the sign around.
There was no hostel in town I already had found out and I won’t stay at an expensive hotel. Though I tried with booking.com and found, what I was looking for, but almost 3 km outside Airdrie in a little village called Stand. I booked the cheapest room I could get. It was for around 580 SEK (58 EUR)/night including breakfast.
There was no other way to go there but by using the busy road A73. There was no signed cyclepath, therefore I pushed my bike all the way to the B&B Fairview. An elderly woman opened and called then for her daughter, who was out with the dog. When she came, she told me twice or maybe three times, that she has a dog. I answered her, yes I know, what is the problem? She didn’t tell me the problem, but put the dog in a fenced area. I asked for a secure place for my bike and I was allowed to put it in the shed. Thereafter she let me start with the registration process, which here is handled the same way even when one enters a restaurant or a shop. There is an app for it or one can use a barcode. I usually use the barcode, which brings me to an Internet site.
This done, I was shown the room I had booked and also the “living/breakfast room”. The bathroom was en suite. I also have got the code for the WiFi. The owner was wearing a face mask all the time and seemed to be very afraid to come too close to people. By the way, I told her, that I expect that she will carry my panniers upstairs – and she did ;-).
The house only had two floors. The upper floor was under the roof. There were the three rooms. Mine was a little cheaper, because it had two single beds instead of a double bed. They were placed like an L, but with space in between. I chose the bed I could sit in comfortablely. The bedside lamp had a touch system for on/off as well as different light intensity. It was good to use it during the night as well. The best off all was, that the radiator was on and made the room warm and cozy. Furthermore it was possible to regulate the heat of the radiator. – I updated my blog before I was going to sleep.
19th October 2021
Airdrie – day off
When I dressed in the morning, I decided to ask for another night at the B&B, because I was not sure, that I could find a room in Chapelhall – my final destination for COP26 (I still thought at this time). Though, when I saw the owner, I asked her for the room and also, if I have to book by booking.com or could directly book by her as well as, how much I have to pay for the room by the later option. She told me £50 (60 €, 600 SEK) in cash. I didn’t care about that little difference and booked for another night.
I was updating my blog after breakfast until 2pm, when I left the place for finding something to eat in Airdrie. Stand is such a little village, there are no restaurants. The owner of the B&B wrote down the numbers of the buses I could chose and the last stop for the buses for knowing the direction. I thought I left in time, but there was none of the buses coming I should take, but there was another line after a while, also going to Airdrie town center. I had to pay £2 for the ride.
I was walking around the town looking for an ATM as well as for a restaurant. Close to a branch of the Bank of Scotland with an ATM I found a café selling baked potatoes and other warm meals. As a vegetarian I had not a lot to choose. I ordered a baked potato with cheese and coleslaw to eat in the café. I sat in a corner far away from the desk. When I was served, I was told, that I only had paid for a take away and had to pay £1 more. I had not really finished my meal, when the cleaner started with it’s work. Though I asked, if the café will close for the day and the answer was yes, but it is no hurry. They were closing directly after I had left.
Now I was looking for a supermarket and continued on the street I were, when I finally found an Aldi. It surprised me a lot, that this German chain also had shops in the UK, but then I remembered, that there were Aldi and Lidl supermarketes in Ireland as well. I bought some food to eat at the B&B. Airdrie is not a special place as it seemed to me, though I was looking for a bus stop for buses to Stand. After a while a smaler bus for the correct direction arrived. I had to pay £2 again. Unfortunately I was not sure about the bus stop for the B&B and pushed the button too late – when I already did see the B&B and the driver did not stop, but around a km later.
Back in the room, the bed was not made and I asked the owner about it. She told me, it is because of the COVID-19, which I had to accept even I do not understand that reason. Why should she get COVID-19 of making my bed as well as she anyway has to change the bed-linen after I will have left.
I ate in the room of the food I had bought at the Aldi store. I also updated my blog. When laying in my bed, I heard someone coughing and was wondering about it for myself.
20th October 2021
Airdrie – Chapelhall; 8 km; host: “Berucri” (couchsurfing)
I left the Fairview B&B after breakfast around 9pm. The owner was not there, though I could not take my bike out off the shed. I knocked at her mothers door and she was going to her daughter’s apartment, but instead of her daughter, a man came for helping me. It was this man, who had a cough. Suddenly I was wondering if the owner was afraid to get COVID-19 of her guests or to spread it.
I started to push my bike on the pedestrians way. Soon I found a cycle path and used it – that was easier to find at daylight. Unfortunately it didn’t go to the town center, which I had to cross. It was a detour, but anyway I could ride my bike a bit. Throughout the town center and all the way to my host in Chapelhall I did push my bike on the pedestrians path, because of the heavy traffic on the A73 (Google maps) and the lack of bike path. I also saw some special road signs on my way out off the town of Airdrie.
My hosts home was easy to find. She had sent me photos by WhatsApp and it even had a number beside the door. When she opened I was surprised, because she was wearing a dressing gown upon her clothes and did not look like as at her profile. I thought, she was much younger as she looked. My bike was stored in their garage with other items. The car was parked outside. It would not had fit into the garage, because of all the other things stored there.
I was offered tea and got to know her husband William. By the way, her real name is Cristina. She is from Italy and moved to the UK after their marriage.
Soon she showed me “my room” with the foldable bed, which she had bought used the day before. She also talked about all her decorations, especially in the living room. Soon she started to talk about her health issues, which surprised me a lot for knowing each other as little as we did.
Her husband joined us later – also wearing a dressing gown upon his clothes and asked me, of what reason I started traveling after I retired. By the way, I later understood, that they wear that dressing gowns because of the cold for saving gas and by that, saving money.
This evening I also was asked what I will see / do before the COP26 starts in Glasgow. They understood, that I have hosts in Glasgow as well. To have hosts in Glasgow was also positive for the upcoming situation, when the railway workers are going on the announced strike. Unfortunately I had declined at hosts in Glasgow, because Cristina had told me, that I can be with them for the entire time of COP26. She had written, that it is a 23 minutes train ride from their home to Glasgow, but neither about the bad bus connections to the train station nor, that the train stration is 5 km from their home.
Because of the expected strike, they asked me, if I have hosts in Glasgow for all the time of COP26, which I had not. That evening I sent couch requests via couchsurfing and warmshowers – for warmshowers I contacted hosts, who earlier had answered me, that I am welcome at their place. Cristina and William tried to find me a host by asking relatives and friends. It was, of course, too late for finding a host. Most of the people already had guests during those days.
Cristina washed my clothes, but it was hard to get them try. Anyway, they put the heating on, which was only luke warm before it no longer was working. There were two problems they discovered. They had run out of gas (they pay in advance each time they need more gas) and there was even a problem with the heater. It took three days before a plumber was coming – on a Saturday. They were all occupied until that.
I have got an extra blanket for the cold weather and lack of heating. By the way, it is William who cooks. Cristina has a special diet and is not eating at the same time, though William was happy to have company during his meals. I was quite early to bed, but could not fall asleep before 4am. I was freezing so much, that my skin on my legs hurt.
21st October 2021
Chapelhall – day off (day 1)
During breakfast I was told, that they will go with me by car to Linlithgow. I was happy about that, because my host in Kirk Yetholm had told me, that he was born there and also grew up there as well as that I should see it for both the beauty and for it is the birthplace of Maria Stuart.
Around 11am I was going to the close COOP supermarket to buy a pen and tissues. I also asked there for cardboard, which I needed for a sign. They showed me different emptied cardboard boxes, which I could choose of for free.
It became almost three o’clock before we started on that sightseeing trip. Cristina was not ready to go earlier, which William did not like.
Well in Linlithgow we took a walk around the lake, had a look at the castle – from outside. It was not possible to go inside and were then strolling throughout the village. We also had a coffee and a biscuit at the café in the town hall, but bought then a piece of cake in another café as well as we bought some food in an Italian shop. I bought colloni with different fillings there, which I later shared with Cristina and William.
From here, we were directly going home. After the evening meal, William asked me again for which dates I need a host in Glasgow. I also got an extra duvet for the night, because the weather forecast told, it will be a cold night again. I was anyway freezing this night as well.
22nd October 2021
Chapelhall – day off (day 2)
Even this day they took me for sightseeing. This time to the Kelpies as well as to the William Wallace monument, because they like the Kelpies very much and think it is a must see art and William’s other name is Wallace, even it is not his surname. We started in the afternoon again, therefore it was getting dark after we have looked at the Wallace monument from down the road. We bought fish and chips respectively pizza in a take away restaurant and ate in the car, though we won’t get COVID-19. William was surpised, that the café on the side of the take away restaurant was full. I was not happy about this sightseeing on two days. We were going nearly the same route both days. To go by car so frequent, when it was possible to make it in one day, just starting in time, gave me bad conscience.
I have got another duvet for the night and finally I could sleep and felt warm enough.
23rd October 2021
Chapelhall – day off (3)
Cristina was going with me to the New Larnak World Heritage Village. William was not following us, because the path around was hilly and he is not healthy enough for it. We started arond 2pm in Chapelhall. It was an interesting place, an imperium build of an Industrial giving jobs to poor people, who often were alcoholics. There were hard rules made up of him. They were not allowed to drink anything with alcohol (of course), but also had to go to church. The workers did not get a lot of money, but a roof over their heads and three meals a day. The Industrial made a fortune, of course and the workers finally a revolution as Cristina told me. In the linked article above, there is nothing written about that.
We were walking to the river Clyde and it’s waterfall, which did not have a lot of water at this time. Before leaving the area, we did look at the artisans’ work and I bought a pastry, because I was very hungry now. Afterwards we were going further by car to the ruin of the Bothwell Castle, which was fenced in it’s entire length. There was no opportunity to come close, but there were remains of the castle on the greens outside the fence. Cristina told me, that lots of people having picnic here during summertime.
Back at home, William had a long chat with me about God, faith and the part of his life, when he was a munk. Cristina was going to a Ceilidh dance in Glasgow. She used her car to go there. She had invited me, but with regard to Williams health, I did not follow her. I won’t be the one, infecting him with COVID-19. Cristina did not think that way, which made William unhappy, of course.
24th October 2021
Chapelhall – day off (4)
This day William and Cristina was taking me to Dunblane. They liked to take a walk at the riverside, which they told me, is very nice and they love. When we had left the car, we were taking a look at the Cathedral, but only from the outside, because it was not open even this was a Sunday afternoon. I had to find a toilet and fortunately there was an open Pub close by, which allowed me to use their toilet for free. William told me, that in Great Britain, the Pubs are not as public as in e.g. New Zealand.
When we continued, we passed a shop, selling unpacked food – everyone had to bring his own container. By the way, these shops are called “zero waste stores” in Scotland and the one in Dunblane is named “Weigh Ahead”. I was really surprised to find this shop in such a small town. Not far away flows the river Allan Water. It was very massive and I did not get the pictures from the floods in Ahrweiler, Germany out of my head, especially because I was told, that the river usually is calm. Though I did check all the time, that the water was not coming higher up. I did not feel well at all. I was very happy, when we left the path near the river, looking for a restaurant to find something to eat. We stopped at a restaurant, where we could sit outside – even it was a little chilly and where all kind of meals were offered, even vegetarian and vegan meals. It was not cheap, but I paid the bill, thinking about, that Cristina and William would not have eaten out, if it would not have been for me. William did thank me for the invitation. I first did not understand, what he was thanking for, therefore he explained ;-).
I also told William, that I would like to see the Scottish Highlands, going there by bus or train. At the end I decided to go there by train, because it does not take so much time as by bus and it is more sustainable. He recommended me to go to Inverness, the port to the Highlands, though I booked a bed in a hostel in the centrum of Inverness, close to the railway station for three nights.
25th October 2021
Chapelhall – Inverness, day off (5) = by train; Staying at the Black Isle Hostel
Cristina gave me a lift to the Airdrie station. Even William was following in the car. I had told them, the day I was arriving, that I had taken the train from Uphall to Airdrie, but it seemed, they were not remembering it, because they were keen to show me, where to enter the train station. Though I answered her, I know. Cristina had stopped the car as close as possible, even it was very near a traffic light. William left the car, when I left and was walking the few steps to that entrance with me, telling me, that Cristina is meaning well.
This day I could enjoy the train ride, because I had not to think about my bike. I only had a little shopping bag with one change of clothes and my travel towel, my freezer bag (with my medicines) and my body-care bag. At the train station in Glasgow, I was a little surprised about the system they used. There was the usual barrier, where everyone has to validate it’s ticket, but everyone had to wait in front of this barrier until the respective train was announced with the track number. The announcement only happened, when the train already had arrived.
The train ride between Glasgow and Inverness was nice and, fortunately there were no many parts of the tracks, which were secured by high walls of different kinds. The hostel in Inverness was easy to find. It was on the same street as the railway station. The check-in, at the third floor, was smooth. Here was also a little kitchen and a living-room with three or four couches in the back and two tables with each two simple benches, in the front part. Unfortunately it was quite cold in that room. I think, it depended on, that the door to the check-in always was open, but during night-time. On the second floor were the dormitories. All around looked new, nice decorated and clean. The keys were digital – one only got one key-card and could enter all the necessary rooms. By the way, there was a big bathroom for femals with around 10 showers, 10 toilets and five sinks. All had water-saving fittings. On the side of the female bathroom was also a male bathroom, but I don’t know, how many showers etc there were. When I entered the dormitory with two bunkbeds with their own nightlights and two lockers under each of them, I was the only guest. The room had a lot of space, The only thing I missed were hooks for jackets and towels. Later that evening a guy arrived as well. By the way, all the rooms were mixed rooms (males and femals), which also is named in the hostel’s description.
I was hungry now. I did not have had a lot of food with me, though I was looking for a restaurant with vegan or almost vegetarian meals. In this street were some different restaurants, there was an Indish one and a Thai restaurant, but the Indish cuisine is too spicy for me and the Thai can be as well. Therefore I decided for a Hamburger place, called Coyote Burger. They had two vegan options and two vegetarian options of burgers and different kinds of chips – with or without cheese. I first ordered only a vegan burger, but I still was hungry after I had eaten it. Now I ordered chips with cheese – you may imagine, that I still was really hungry. I had a soft drink with the hamburger, but before I left I also ordered a chocolate milk shake, wich I did not like. It seemed, there was no ice cream in it. The bill was higher as I had expected and I decided to buy food at the supermarket for the upcoming days.
As I have been the first one in the dormitory, I chose a lower bed. The guy did choose the bed on top of me. The beds were made of metal. so where the lockers. When the guy above me turned around in his bed, it was squeaking. It did not bother me too much, I did fell asleep anyway.
26th October 2021
Inverness – day off (6)
Before breakfast I was going to a supermarket, which also were on the same street as the hostel. Unfortunately I had forgotten my shopping bag and by buying food for the rest of my stay, it was too much for carrying it in my bare hands. Though I bought a souvenir ;-), a shopping bag made of jute with the name of the shop on it. I bought food like yogurt, eggs, cheese and a ready-to-eat meal. Coffee and tea was for free at the hostel and there was also other food including salt, spices and oil, others had left and was now for free.
I tried to book a tour for the Highlands and didn’t actually find one for the upcoming day. This day I spent by sightseeing Inverness. Even I already was walking some streets the day before, now I was to the castle and other places. The castle actually is situated quite central in town, not far away from the town hall – or maybe I should better explain it the other way around, because the castle was built first. Unfortunately the castle was surrounded by a fence, because of the maintenance of the castle, but on that fence there was a lot of really nice decorated information about the history of the castle, which had been destroyed many times and was owned be Scottish and English rulers from time to time.
I also was to an island (I thought) and crossed bridges, but back at the hostel I have seen on a map, that I was not far enough. The island was further away. I only had crossed the river to the other part of Inverness. It had started raining, when I decided to go for a little window seeing and also buy a new, plaided face mask. The idea with a plaided face mask was, that it will be a nice souvenir as well. My face masks has to be tied, which is not so comfortable by using them for entering shops, restaurants, trains etc. on and off all day long. If you remember, I have got two German FFP2 mask of one of my hosts, but one broke and the other one I had used a lot of times already, I thought it was not save any more, though I put it in a bin after entering the UK. The FFP2 masks had elastic bands on the back – not using the ears to hold it, what I appreciated. At a shop, selling woolen, plaided Scottish clothes, plaids and accessoires I was asking for just such one the shop assistant was wearing – I did not have to explain, what I was looking for. She told me, that they, unfortunately, didn’t have any left, but that they have another shop, not far away, which still may have one. There was one in the window of the other shop, but not really the color I was looking for. When asking the shop assistant for face masks, he told me, they don’t have, but they can order and told me the price and the delivery time, when I was wondering about it. His boss told him, that there is a McDonald’s (clan) facemask in the window and fetched it for me, telling me, that it has the elastic “behind the head”. I told him, that I just was looking for such one (and accepted in my heart the colors of it). Actually I bought two more at another store, before I was going back to the hostel. They were half as expensive as the McDonalds’s one, but they have the elastic for the ears, which I have to change. They don’t have that quality either of the McDolnald’s either.
I had a meal, when I was back at the hostel. When I entered the dormitory, the guy on the upper bed had company of a girl. I didn’t care about it, but tried not to disturb them. Afterwards I was one more time surfing the Internet for a Highland tour for the following day. This time I was lucky. That tour is going to a castle, the Loch (lake) Ness and the Highlands. I would have liked more of the Highlands, but the other tour was first running on Thursday. Then I tried to update my blog, but the Internet connection was not good enough for it. I was going to bed quite early, because I was tired.
27th October 2021
Inverness – day off (7)
I had to be at the bus station at least at 8:45am. Though I was up at 7am. Now I recognized, that there were two more guys in the dormitory. All the guys were still sleeping, therefore I tried to be very silent, even with the door. I was in good time at the bus station, but the tourist bus (a mini bus) had already arrived. Anyway, we had to wait for longer, because three of our eight passengers were still missing. After a while, a couple arrived and apologized. They have had problems to find a parking space for their car. I was happy, that the bus station only was a five minutes walk from the hostel. The 8th passenger arrived later as well, I think she has had another problem.
A woman in her 60ies and her husband (70+?) were our driver and tour guide. I was really impressed of her skills, still driving these narrow roads. Her husband was a little annoying, he was talking all the time even about things not related to the tour. Maybe I was the only one, thinking that way. The Urquhart castle was not very far away and was our first stop. We had enough with time to visit it, but not enough for attending the movie about it (anyway not for me). There were a shop, we had to cross, before and after we had visited the castle, of course. By the way, the entrance for the castle had to be paid extra as well as the boat tour on Loch Ness – additional to the costs for the tour. All this had to be paid, when booking the tour.
We were coming throughout a beautiful scenery on our way to Loch Ness. Before the boat tour we had an hour for eating a meal at one of all the restaurants there are as well as time for visiting tourist shops. I had a take away meal, sitting outside on a wall – part of the lock, there is. I only was window seeing. The boat tour on the Loch was OK, but the best was still coming. It was a really long tour throughout this part of the Highlands. It was so beautiful! The tour was also interrupted by visiting an old bridge over a dramatic river. The bridge was constructed by Thomas Telford, who was a self learned engineer and also has constructed the Göta Kanal – with all the locks, in Sweden. We stopped at a view point on a hill as well. Later we were to a waterfall, called the “Falls of Foyer“. The path was steep and not good for my fear of highs. At this time of the year it was quite wet and slippery at some points. It was not even either, though I have got a hand of one of the other participants of our tour. Our guide was walking with a stick and had enough to care for himself. We were not going all the way down to the downside of the waterfall, keeping in mind, that we also have to climb all the way back. We had a good view on the waterfall anyway. Last but not least we were to Dores Beach, where we were allowed to use the toilet of the pub. There was only one toilet and I was happy, that we were no more than five or six women. Some did buy a warm drink (coffee, tea …) at the pub. We would have liked to take a short walk, but we were unhappy, because it was very wet around there. There was also a souvenir shop close by – only selling handmade ceramics (if I remember right), which I did not enter.
I was happy about the tour and I wish, I will have the opportunity to come back to the Scottish Highlands with more time and money.
28th October 2021
Inverness – Chapelhall; by train; day off (8)
I had been the only guest in the dormitory this night. I had to check out from the hostel at 10am at the latest, though I had breakfast around 9am. My direct train back to Airdrie should have left around 10:30am, but when I arrived at Inverness train station, I had to wait for two hours extra with a message, that the train only will go to Perth and we have to change there. The reason was heavy rain – the trains could only drive with reduced speed.
Around 12:30 there was a train to Edinburgh, but – as told – all passengers had to change train in Perth. Though I was going with that one. There was a female bike-packing traveller on that train and we had a interesting conversation. She was from France and not good in English, but we managed it. In Perth I had to wait for the train to Glasgow for almost two hours. Luckily I did not have any problem to get from Glasgow to Airdrie by a commuter train. This evening I walked from Airdrie to Chapelhall. I made my decision, because I did not have my bike with me and I wont’t call Cristina to pick me up at the train station, because it would not be environmental friendly. I also was to the COOP supermarket nearby Cristina’s and William’s home to buy some food and tissues.
Later in the evening Cristina, William and I were talking about couchsurfing. It started with, that they asked me, how easy or difficult it is to find hosts and I told them, that I had found out, that it is best to look for members, who had paid for using the site and that it is a kind of verification – making sure, it is no fake etc. Cristina first told me, that it is not a verification, but I answered her, that I can show her (by the app), that it is. In addition to that, members can’t answer couch requests, when they haven’t paid the annual fee, which is quite low. Cristina sounded very angry, when she explained, that she has the costs of extra heating, food, gasoline etc while hosting. I told her, that others will have the same, when she will be hosted. I also told her, she is very welcome at my home. It did hurt me a lot, that Cristina quoted all this, because I had told her, that I can pay for my food and I never asked her to take me for sightseeing. Cristina left the room angry. William and I continued chatting. He had not found any host for me in Glasgow, but I could tell him, that I have had some success.
29th October 2021
Chapelhall – day off (9)
I felt cold, though William offered me to put the heating on, but with the conversation from the evening before in mind, I told him, that it is not a good idea, because Cristina will not like it. William switched the heating on anyway.
During the day I was told, that both Cristina and William will spend the upcoming day with friends and that I cannot stay at their home. I asked, when they will leave and when they will be back. Cristina told me, she will leave at 10am and I could get a ride with her to the train station in Airdrie. She will spend the day with her female friends and in the evening she will go to Glasgow for the weekly Ceilidh dance. William didn’t give me any time. Later he warmed up a convenient Spanish omelett for dinner, which he shared with me.
30th October 2021
Chapelhall – Glasgow – Chapelhall; by train; day off (10)
I was up and dressed before 9am, but had not had breakfast yet, because of the medicines I take and their waiting times. Cristina came in fully dressed and told me, that she is ready to go. The following short conversation with me she made by William, telling me, that she will leave at 9am. Cristina, who usually never is ready before afternoon, surprised both of us. I told her, that I have to eat breakfast before I will leave and added, that I can take a walk to the train station in Aidrie. Though she actually wished me a nice day.
When I was ready and left their house, I started to walk. The weather was sunny, but chilly. At the bus stop was a woman waiting, therefore I asked her, if there will be a bus coming soon and if that one will go to Airdrie. She answered yes on both questions. I also asked her, how much a bus ride will cost, but she didn’t know, because she had a monthly ticket. When the bus arrived, I let her enter first and ask then the bus driver, how much it is to Aidrie. He told me 2 pounds, but I only had 1.50 in cash. I continued asking, this time how far I can go for 1.50. He checked it up and told me, there is no place, where I can go for 1.50. I was leaving, but one of the passengers of the bus was starting to offer me the difference. She was not able to, because the bus driver himself already picked up pocket money. I was very thankful. It saved time for me.
I had never taken that bus before, though I tried to recognize where we are. When I thought, we were close to the train station in Airdrie, I asked a passenger, who had raised from his seat for leaving, about the train station. He told me, how to come there and yes, it is this bus stop. Both were correct, but because I had not asked him about Airdrie train station, I arrived at the Drumgelloch train station. That was not bad either, just surprising. The ticket fee for Drumgelloch to Glasgow was the same like the one for Airdrie to Glasgow. It was just one station before the Airdrie station. These trains are all going via Glasgow Queen station – the lower floor to Helensburgh central station (on the East coast). The faster trains (not the communters) and the trains to other destinations departs and arrive on the upper floor, which is the ground floor. There is almost another train station in Glasgow, the Central station, where trains are going to other directions or some also to the same destinations like the trains to Inverness. Maybe it has more to do with the railway company than with the directions of the trains.
Arriving at Queens station in Glasgow, I took a look around. Close to the station was a big open place, George square, where demonstrations were held. I was looking for other cultural things and found my way to the Glasgow cathedral, which I was told is a must see. By the pandemic, every visitor had to register and there was a limited number of people, who was allowed to enter in a special time frame. The next one was soon. I had no hope to come with that one, but started to register online and this time frame was still open. The cathedral is quite big with a lot of different chapels. It was interesting and in a way also beautiful, especially the windows.
Leaving the cathedral I took another way – throughout the nearby park. There was a very big puddle on one side of a street, though I had to choose another crossing. I tried to find a café or restaurant, but I was going along the university, though I did not find one before I was back close to George square, where I found a Costa café. I was not only hungry, my feet also hurt, though I was sitting in. To buy a cake and a big cup with hot chocolate was not so easy, because I had to wear a face mask and that, not only combined by my clases, but also a light cold (outside). I managed it as well as I found a vacant table.
A guy from Katrineholm had posted an information on Facebook about a walk at 2pm somewhere in Glasgow. I did see it too late for being able to get there. I was a little disappointed.
I had been in contact with my upcoming host and asked him, if I could leave my sign for COP26 at his home already and he had agreed. Therefore I had it taken with me. When I left the café I started to walk to my new host’s place. By that I have seen a lot more of Glasgow, even the most was not touristic. It took more than one hour to walk there. I didn’t find the shortest way. My host lives with his family in the South of Glasgow, which was a good base for COP26 I learned soon. Only my host Gregory was at home. He welcomed me, even he was cleaning the apartment, which was on one floor only, but with lots of space. He promised, that the apartment will shine, when I will come the next day and be their warmshower guest. He also asked, which way I had been coming and that there is another, better and shorter way with a cycle path.
Though, when I was going back to the train station, I took another way and fortunately it was the one with the bike path. On my way to Queen station I passed the Central station and entered it, looking for a train to Airdrie (direction of Edinburgh), but there was none going from this station. At Queen station the first train for Edinburgh, stopping in Airdrie was cancelled by a lack of personal. I don’t know, if it had to do with the strike or the pandemic, especially because William had told me, that the strike of the rail workers during COP26 was cancelled. The next train was very crowded and a lot of younger people were wearing Halloween costumes. Most of them left the train in Airdrie. It was still early evening and I expected, that they will have a party sonewhere in Airdre.
I walked back to Chapelhall again, even it was dark. When I ringed the bell William didn’t open. Though I tried to reach him by WhatsApp. After my second or third try he came down from the upper floor and opened for me. He also opened the garage door and was then going to the supermarket. When he came back from the supermarket he closed the garage door again. He had a hurry up to his room, but I still had the opportunity to ask him, how his day has been. He told me, that he has been with his friend next street and that it has been OK. While I packed my clothes and other belongings into my panniers and bag I heard William talking on the phone.
31st October 2021
Chapelhall – Airdrie – Glasgow; (Airdrie train station to Queen station, Glasgow by train); 5+3 km; host: Gregory, Lillias and kids (warmshowers)
I would have liked to go by bike all the way to Glasgow, but it was raining. I was really wet, when I arrived at the train station in Airdrie. Though I bought a ticket and put my bike on the train again. When I bought the ticket, the train had just arrived. It was waiting for me. Unfortunately I could not see in which cars bikes were allowed, I just entered by the door, closest to me. When the ticket collector later arrived I told her, why I was standing, where I was. She told me, it is OK, you can either change car at the next stop or stay here. Therefore I stayed in that car.
I was happy, that I knew, where to go, when arriving at Queen station in Glasgow, but I had to find the way out without stairs, which I finally did. I was pushing my bike in the centrum of the city. At a traffic light a guy was asking me, if I am coming from far away. I answered, I am from Sweden. He was impressed.
I had messaged Gregory, that I think I will arrive at his home at high noon. I was there 11:30am. When I tried to push my bike upwards the car drive it was not possible, because it was very steep. Therefore I unmounted the panniers and my bag and tried again. Luckily I could do it now. Both times I had used the assistance of my bike. Gregories neighbor was in the garden – in front of the house, raking the leaves. He was talking with me. When I had ringed the bell, Gregory did not only take my bike into the house, but also fetched – together with his neighbor, my panniers and my bag. By the way, my bike was added to all the other bikes in the first hallway.
Directly afterwards I have got to know his wife Lillias and their two year old daughter Solenne. A short time later I also met Leo, their 5 year old son. Before lunch I have got the WiFi passwords of Gregory. There were different routers, because the thick walls of the house made it impossible to have WiFi in the entire apartment by one router only. For lunch a turnip soup was served and dades, figs etc. as a dessert. I was also told, that they usually eat dinner at 5pm, because of the kids and that I am welcome to join them.
Gregory was very keen to give me information about the meetings, demonstrations and other events during COP26. For this day, he told me, that there was an event at the TRAMWAY. When the family left for a Halloween party, I left for that place, which was quite close to my host’s home. I also had got a key for their home.
Either Gregory had misunderstood the announcement of the event of the day or he had not really read all about it. However the movie, which was shown, had to do with indigenous people. Unfortunately, it was only in sign language and with music. The movie was only for 20 minutes. I watched it twice. Afterwards I was wandering in the “Hidden Gardens”, where some art from indigenous people were shown. I was to the toilet almost twice at this place. I also had a glas of water and a biscuit at the café.
I had to go to the toilet a lot of times this day, I must have gotten cold during the last days. By the way I needed a toilet again on my way to the “forbidden” zone (where the COP26 will take place (see below), therefore I was entering a pub. I did not see a bartender or other worker in the pub. I was looking for a toilet anyway, even the pub was crowded, but only by men and they were bawling, when they saw me. It seemed to be a sports pub. Luckily I found a ladies’ toilet. In the pub I felt like I would run the gantlet, but necessity don’t know laws.
Then I was continuing to the area of the COP26. There was a “blue zone” and a “green zone”. The blue one was close to the city and all the offical meetings will take place there. It is very fenced. I was not sure, that someone, who is not invited, can even be close to the fence. The green one is for activist groups and people interested in the activities of those groups. One had to sign up for free tickets for the different talks, but when I got to know that – a time ago, it was not longer possible. Anyway, there was also announced, that one can come and line up for these events and may find a place if not all, who have signed up, are coming. Anyway, one has to have a ticket for the green zone, which also is for free. Luckily I could sign up for tickets for the green zone, even one only was allowed to sign up for tickets on three different days. It was quite far to walk from the “blue zone” to the “green zone”, but I found the entrance and made it easier for me, the day I was going there by bike. I tried to use a bridge on my way back, but was not allowed, It was too close to the “blue zone”. I asked, where I could cross the river instead and was adviced about it. My feet felt very tired, when I reached the other bridge and people must have seen that, because a police woman gave me a smile.
Back at the area close to the Central station I was looking for an inexpensive restaurant, but not a McDonald’s or Burger King. There were some expensive Italian restaurants and some pubs as well, but at the pubs I only could see men and I didn’t want to run the gauntlet one more time. I didn’t find, what I was looking for and ended up at a Taco Bell. I ordered a vegetarian taco for eating in. I had to wait a long time for it, because there were lots of customers picking up their take away meals – I think they ordered online. The taco was not worth it’s price.
Afterwards I took the train from the Central station to the station Pollokshields East, which was not far away from my host’s home. Gregory and Lillias were still awake. I planned to update my blog somewhat, but I was too tired.
1st NOVEMBER 2021
Glasgow = COP26
Gregory updated me on the events of the day, e.g. the bagpipe music at the Green zone and even a group of singers. Unfortunately I neither remembered nor checked, if I had a ticket for the Green zone for this day. I thought I have not – sometimes I am afraid I have Alzheimers.
Instead I was keen to participate in a Ceilidh at the Adelaide Place Baptist Church in the evening. To be allowed to enter, I needed a COVID-19 test, which could be done on Sauchiehall Street in the city center. I trusted Google maps again and had to force a very steep hill with traffic lights. The first traffic light was green, though I made half of the hill by cycling – to the next traffic light, which was changing to red, when I arrived. When it switched to green, I could not start biking, because of the steep. On the top of the hill I became aware, that I had gone too far up the hill. I had to turn around and go halfway down again.
Eventually I found the van of the NHL and queued for a test. The waiting time was very short, because I was the second one in the queue. A woman did register me outside the van with the help of her tablet. When that was done, I have got a card with a QR-cod to open the related NHL-site. The test was done in the van. I was promised an answer in around half an hour. I stayed close to the van, but on a bench, where I ate a vegan wrap, which I have got of people advertising for a vegan life style. I had water with me, though there was not need to go into a shop. By the way, I had locked my bike at a bike rack and was carrying my battery with me. The test was negative and I was looking for the Adelaide Place Baptist church. Well there I entered, after I had locked my bike at the fence outside and carrying my bike battery. They announced day events and even meals. I was stopped at the counter, because I did not have a wrist-band. I was not the only one. I was surprised and angry, that I couldn’t get the wrist-band there. There were more people in the same situation and with the same reaction. The wrist-band had to be picked up on Sauchiehall Street, close to the van of the NHL and we were also told, that we need such a wrist-band for all (their) other events as well. At that moment I was not sure, that I will go back to Adelaide Place.
I didn’t have anything else to do, though I was going and looking for the place, where I could get the wrist-band. I could not find anyone there, where I was told, because I was not expecting, that the people have the party tents. I thought instead, that the party tents where for people advertising something. I asked at the NHL-van and luckily they new and could tell me, that I should go there. I was discussing the subject with them, telling them, that it takes a lot of time to go to the NHL-van every day and afterwards to pick up the wrist-bands, because they told me, it was a different color for every day. I did get a weekly self-test-pack like the people, living in the UK, get by mail, but for the wrist-band I had to go there anyway. The thing was, that for entering the Green zone, one also needs a negative COVID-19 test, but not a wrist-band. I would not go often to the Adelaide Place, I already knew, though I could live with that.
There was an afternoon discussion about climate change, which I attendet, but I was leaving directly afterwards, because we were told, that the open mic, which was announced on the advertising, was not open this night. It also got crowded for the Ceilidh and I was not so keen to be in a crowd, even I was wearing my face-mask. There had not been any new knowledge for me during that discussion. There had been VIP guests from the USA etc talking.
I made my way back to Gregory and his family by cycling after I had bought something to eat in a convenient shop. I had a little difficulty to find my way back, because I was not thinking, that I had to go so far in the direction as I had to (sorry for the bad sentence, I hope you understand). Even this evening I was too tired to update my blog.
2nd November 2021
Glasgow = COP26 – Scottish Event Campus (SEC)
This day was the first day visiting the Green zone. I had taken my self-test in the morning and it was negative again. I did go to the Green zone by bike. I had seen signs, when I had been walking and had no problems to find the corret direction. When cycling I was always wearing my security west. As you could see on the photos, I had written on the back “On my way to COP26 – #GrandmaForFuture”. This text I had upgraded since I had arrived in Glasgow and was now “I was On my way to COP26 – #GrandmaForFuture – I made 2318km by bike”. At a red traffic light a young man started talking with me. He also was on his way to the Green zone and he already had been there the day before, though I had only to follow him for finding the entrance. He also showed me, where I could lock my bicycle. I was very happy about it. – Even there were a lot of policemen around, I did take the battery of my bike with me.
Entering the building of the Green zone was not a problem. I only had to show the ticket. I was not asked for the COVID-test. Inside there was a security-check-point like there are on airports. I put all my personal items into two of that boxes including the battery of my bike. I was stopped for a moment, because the security officer did not know, if I am allowed to take the bike battery inside. He asked his (female) boss. She told him “no problem”. When I was walking throughout that security frame, it flashed red. I actually had forgotten to take my keys out off my pockets. That done and trying one more time walking throughout that frame all was OK. I apologized for my mistake, of course.
There was a cloakroom for outerwear and also backpacks, where I also left my bike battery. We were told, we should take a photo of our tickets, in case of we loose them. I did as told, even I stored them secure.
The first session I tried to get in to was about water. It should have been about how much it costs to distributed and how valuable it is, but it was mostly “bla, bla, bla”. A lot of the audience left the room soon again. There were also some groups with stalls in the Green zone and on the second and third floor the University of Glasgow had tricky physical entertainment as well as an observatory – it looked like that, but there were only photos, though I did not care about it. I had a sandwich and an apple juice before attending the session about water in the café at this zone. It was a little expensive. I was disappointed about the plastic wraps around everything, but the the bottles and cups. I later read, that all was environmental friendly material. I really hope so. Btw, it was so crowded in that café, that I was making space for another person on my table – which actually was a table for four, but she only checked her smartphone and was no fun company.
I was back at my host’s home at 5:30pm. I apologized being late for dinner and asked modest, if they may have some leftovers. They were late with dinner, I was told and Lillias started cooking dinner soon. I was welcomed to join.
When the kids where to bed, I was asked, about my day and the Green zone in general. Later I booked tickets for the 4th November at the TRAMWAY, where indigenous people will have sessions. I had to pay £6 for each of them.
3rd November 2021
Glasgow = COP26 – Scottish Event Campus (SEC)
I was going by bike to the Green zone again. Unfortunately I was wrong. I did not have a ticket for this day, but maybe Alzheimer’s. I remembered, that I have tickets for two days in a row during the first week and one of them was the second, but it was the first and the second and not the second and the third. Though I missed the first with the bagpipes band, but their where interesting sessions on this day. I was happy, that I was allowed in. I only had to go to the information desk, where they added this day on my ticket. Otherwise it was the same procedure like the day before, but I did empty all my pockets 😉 before walking throughout that security frame.
I was lucky again and was allowed into all sessions I asked for. The first one was called “Role of Indigenous peoples and their communities and nature-based solutions”. We were all surprised, when the session was held in Spanish. It was not announced, but natural, because these peoples were from the Amazon area. Most of them talked their local language and Spanish, one his local language and Portuguese and a woman only her local language, but she was singing. I was very happy, that I could understand the most. I almost got the meanings of their speeches. There were an English speaking man, who was speaking Spanish and Portuguese as well and after a while started translating for the people, who only understood English. Both the Indigenous and the translater were not used to such a situation, though the translater did write down on his laptop, what the Indigenous were saying and translated some meanings in a row. It was a very interesting session. The Indigenous told about their knowledge of the nature of the Amazon and how they care about it as well as the unlegal behaviors of big companies and the Indigenous’ lack of rights.
The next session I attended was called “Faiths Together for Carbon Neutral Cities: An Interfaith Panel Discussion with Grassrots leaders”. There were priests or members from the following “churches”: Anglican, Catholic, Muslims, Hindu and Sikh. There was a Jewish rabbin amoung the audience and the Anglican priest apologized and told us, there was not enough space in the panel to let him be a member of the panel as well. I think, that was a bad apologize. They were talking about, how they all try to make their communities and even priests aware of the changing world and climate emergency. What impressed me the most was the Muslim official, who told us, that they teach their priests to use computers, the Internet etc and also to see the world a more modern way for not loosing the younger generations.
The last session I attendet was also the last session for the day and called “Walk the Talk to Talk the Walk” – a camino from the South of the England to COP26. The female initiator was wearing a “coat of hope”, which got a new pattern at every place she stayed and every new member of the group were wearing this coat of hope for a while as well as people on their route were asked to wear it for a while. The group was storytelling about their walk, some played an instrument and a couple of them were singing a song. They tried also, that we joined them in the chorus of a song. At the end, they were looking for someone to wear that coat of hope for a while and I was eager to do that, because I was interested in, how heavy it is and how it feels to have it on. Btw it was not as heavy as I thought. We were walking to the entrance of the Green zone building and would have walked back to the room for the session, if we would have been stopped, because the zone was closing down. Their was an evening program, but in the cinema in another part of that building. Fortunately I could use a toilet at that part, before going back by bike to my host. In the ladies room, one of the group of the last session thanked me, that I wore the coat of hope. She told me, that the group was afraid, they would not find any, who want. I told her, she was welcome, but not, why I was wearing it. 😉
Even it was dark, I was not afraid to cycle back to my host, because I had no problem to find my way. I was to bed as soon as I was there.
4th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26; 6 km; host: Donald Reid and Mauricio (couchsurfing)
The events at the TRAMWAY were about the Minga indigenous people. First there was a scientist from a foundation talking about the foundation and how the foundation helped the Mingas (I think it is the other way around). He was talking English and did not translate to Spanish respectively did not have any translator. When some of the Minga people were talking, there was a female translator. A medicine man was playing the flute and dancing as well. In the panel was a Zapoteca woman (Mexico) and South American Mingas.
In the other session it was told, who the indigenous made a special sail. The first woman, who was asked to make it with help of others, were asking her neighbors (a lot of). They all distributed with fabrics and all was stichted by hand. It became a beautiful, colorful sail:
I moved to another host in the late afternoon. I did get this one last minute. When it became dark and I did not know the area, I pushed my bike again. I also pushed it, because of my sign. Google maps “told” me to cross the Kelvingrove park, but there were no lights in the park, though I was going around. I was coming throughout an area, were mostly people from India were living. The had a feast with fireworks. Finally at Donald’s and Mauricio’s home, Donald put my bike into the house, where they rent an apartment on the second floor. My bike was left in the basement, but it was safe there. The front door always was locked. I have got to know the rescue cats Ella and Sam as well. They also had a female subtenant, Klara, who is a student from Italy, but she was not at home this evening. Donald and Mauricio are registered partners and habe been together for 20 years (if I remember right). Mauricio was born in Brazil. He is an arcitect, but working at a supermarket. Donald is retired and has been a minister/clergyman. I was invited to a good tasting lentil soup. I was offered the study room with a futon for the nights at their home. By that, I had my privacy. I was also told, that I can have for breakfast what ever I want of that, they have at home and I can have breakfast at the time it suits me best. – They are going to bed at 10pm, I was told as well.
Glasgow = COP26; 0 km; host: Donald and Mauricio (couchsurfing)
The 5th of November was a Friday. Both Donald, Mauricio and I, of course, joint the FridaysForFurture demonstration. It started at Kelvingrove Park, which was close to, where Donald and Mauricio are living. Neither Donald nor Mauricio had a sign, but Donald found one from XR (Extinction Rebellion) at Kelvins Way and took it. Noboday was asking him for that, thought it might have been a free sign for people, who wanted it. Mauricio was the photographer. Therefore I have a lot of photos from this day.
Already at Kelvins Way, waiting for the demonstration to start, journalists were interested in me. I think, the first one, who was asking me for an intervju, was the guy from Taiwan. Also a female journalist from the UK made a short intervju with me. By the way, there were mostly female journalists interested in me and my demonstration. The demonstration was going to George Square, were Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and others talked. Unfortunately I only could hear Greta. It was too crowded to see her, even she was on a scene. You also have to think about, that I am quite short and Greta is even shorter. In the papers on 6th Nov I have read, that around 8,000 people had participated in this demonstration. On George Square, there were more journalists, reporters and similar people asking me for interviews. Most of them also asked, if they were allowed to take a picture and have it on their site. I agreed, thinking it will be good for my goal. Actually, I was a little surprised, but also very happy about the attention I did get.
I was sitting down for a while and next to me sat a 93-year-old man. As it seems, he had company with his granddaughter, but maybe she was just a friend of him. I was getting hungry and Mauricio was buying sandwiches. He had bought one for each of us. Mine was with ham and cheese and I asked him to take the ham. The sandwich was parted in two pieces like sandwiches are used to. While I was answering someone I dropped the second piece on the square. When I had the opportunity I put it in a bin, but it was not easy to find a bin and less easy to find a bin with space for trash.
Mauricio and Donald left before me. I did have some more interviews afterwards and was then going to the Costa café both for something to eat and for a toilet. A security guard was standing outside and telling all expected customers, that it was only take-away shopping and no toilets could be used. Though I tried to find another place. Unfortunately I did not find a restaurant or café, which was not expensive, though I only bought a Bounty and a lemonade quite close back to my host. At the end I was getting really tired, therefore I put my sign around my neck.
Klara was preparing dinner for us and invited guests. She cooked Spaghetti Carbonara. One of the guests was originally from Bangladesh, though he did get seafood instead for the Carbonara. They did not have anything vegetarina or vegan and I was offered more of the lentil soup from the day before, which I was happy about. Amoung the guests were another woman from Italy as well as a man from Italy, but none was related. They all were only friends. By the way, Klara was born in Ethiopia, but her mother moved with her to Italy, when Klara still was a child. They guy from Bangladesh was Donald’s godson. We had a very nice evening together and it became late, before we were going to bed.
6th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26
This day was announced as Global Day of Action for the Climate. I had heard about it, the day before – during the FridaysForFuture demonstration. The difference to the Friday demonstration was, that cyclists should come be bike and demonstrate at the end of the event, pushing their bikes for safety reasons. I decided to go there and participate with my bike as well. The weather forecast for the 6th told about +10°C at 7am and rain during the entire day. I was wondering, if the demonstration anyway will take place, but decided att see, if it will – also thinking about, the Scottish people are used to rainy days.
The start for this demonstration was as well at Kelvin Way in Kelvingrove Park. Time was sett to 11:30am. I left my host at 11am, though I was a little early. Soon other cyclists arrived and there were coming more and more. There were also a lot of walking protesters. Unexpected a guy asked me, if I was Dorothee. He then told me, that he is Gordon, my upcoming host. We had company for hours! The demonstration started to move around 11:30am as said, but there were so many protesters, most of them had been waiting in the park, that we (the cyclists) could not start before 2:30pm. At that time it had stopped raining, but I have had wet feet and cold and frozen hands since around 12:30pm, because the very expensive cycle gloves I had bought in Sweden, did not help. They were soon soaked in moisture. the temperature did not raise during the day. Some of us cyclists were jumping up and down for not freezing too much. A few did give up, but the most withstood the weather.
We were very happy, when we were allowed to move, but we did not come far – not soon. It took two and a half hours to go to Glasgow Green, the final destination and place for the talks! The reason was, that the police had encircled a group of Antifa protesters halfway on our route. They did not take them to a back road, but closed half of the road, we were using. From time to time cyclists dropped off. We were not so many arriving at the destination and the talks had all already been. It was only to go home again. I think the police did choose that group, even they were not aggressive, for delaying the entire demonstration, because we were all together (walking protesters including us cyclists) more than 100,000 people. Later I read “21 Scientist Rebellion protesters were arrested for chaining themselves to Glasgow’s King George V Bridge”. Maybe they did delay us as well.
I was starving. I didn’t expect, that we will be for such a long time without opportunity to eat. Luckily I had a bottle with water with me. When I left Glasgow Green I was looking for an restaurant, but all were full or places were reserved. I met to Swedish girls, also looking for a place to eat. I asked them, if we could try together, because it is hard to find a space as a single person. They agreed, but it did not help, there were no vacant tables anywhere. The only restaurant with space was a McDonald’s. I also had to find a toilet very quickly. I entered the fast food restaurant and told the female security guard, that I will buy a meal, but first I have to use the toilet. She was OK with it and gave me the code for the toilet door. I did carry my bike battery with me, though I decided to let my meal be served to the table. It was an offer and it was for free. I was very happy about it.
I felt better after the meal, even I was not full and despite of the dark, I did go by bike back to my host Donald, where I arrived at 7pm. I was offered pasta with mushrooms and did happily accept it. Afterwards I was going to bed. I was afraid, I will get a cold and hoped, that I can avoid it, by going to bed early.
7th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26; ? km; host: Gordon and Kathy (warmshowers)
After breakfast I moved to my third host in Glasgow, Gordon. He has had bike-packers from the Netherlands the days before – during the time, when I was staying at Donald’s home. Otherwise I could have been at his’ earlier. He was one of the hosts I had told, that I had a host for the entire time in Glasgow. I am so grateful, that he anyway opened his home for me. He livs together with his girlfriend Kathy, who is from Australia. They will marry soon.
Actually, I had a problem to find their home, because Google maps told me to go the street to the right, but not the one, where Gordon and Kathy lives. I checked more then once, because I was coming on a very busy street. I was following the street some hundred meters and found out, it was the wrong one, but I could not find, where to go. Therefore I called Gordon, told him, that I am at the Pollok Country Park / Haggs Castle Golf Club and asked him to meet me there. He told me, he will be with me soon. I expected, that he will come by bike, but he was walking and my waiting time was a little longer. Well at his home, I understood the mistake. It was just the distance, which had made me confused and not understanding, that Gordon’s apartment is in the first building in the very short cul-de-sac.
Gordon was working from home. His work-space was in his living-room. I made company with him, but was quiet and using the Internet. At last I could update my blog. After lunch, Gordon was taking a run, but I continued working with my blog. I also was reading on the Internet, e.g. about Net-Zero and Real-Zero for the CO2 reduction. Furthermore I answered a survey from Greenpeace about this subject, but I could not share the Net-Zero / Real-Zero article, because of the stupid system of Google. Before the evening meal I was looking for a warmshowers host in Newcastle for the night before I will go by ferry from there to IJmuiden, Amsterdam. I would have liked a host in North Shields, close to the harbor. I also asked the one listet there.
The dinner was too spicy for me, but by adding yogurt, I could eat it. This day I also was drinking a lot of healthy tea (with lemon, ginger and honey) against my cold. Even this evening I was early to bed, but it was cold in the room, where I was sleeping and the bed clothes a little damp. Though I had to go to the toilet many times this night.
8th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26
I would have liked to attend different venues, but either they were starting at early mornings or were sold out respectively on places, I did not know how to go to and the way seemed to be very complicated. Gordon had offered to show me, how to got by bike to the river Clyde – from where I could attend the city by using a bridge, but it was raining the entire day and we didn’t think, it was so important, that we stayed at home, especially because of my cold. By the way, since I had taken the first COVID-19 test in Glasgow, I did take a test every morning and it always was negative.
I continued with the update of my blog. In the afternoon it was not raining anymore and I was visiting my first Glasgow host, Gregory, picking up my forgotten rain trousers and paying for the bike stand, he had ordered for me and also had attached. I paid this late by the lack of cash. Back at Gordon’s I continued with my blog. Kathy and Gordon were interested in it and reading it, when I had given them my blog-address.
9th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26 – Scottish Event Campus (SEC)
I was early up this morning, because I had decided to attend an event in the Green Zone at 9am. The subject was Walk in Beauty – Future Dreaming through Indigenous Knowledges and Western Science. Gordon was at early as me, keeping his promise to show me the way to the river. Actually, we did not come so far, before I told him, that I now know the area and can find my way by my own. For the SEC I did not need to cross the river either.
I made it in time. I was at the entrance for the Green Zone around 8:45am. First I was told, that only employees were allowed in before 9am, but I told them, that I will attend that event, starting at 9am and they made an exception. I was waiting in the queue as the only one in the queue at this early hour. I also discovered, that the queue was not longer at the same place from the first week, but closer to the room, where the events were hold. Though – at the end, it couldn’t enter at 9am, but 5 past 9am. The seats in the room were not all occupied. Around half-time in the event, the first people were leaving and before the end, most of the people already had left. The problem was, I think, that it was not the way it was announced. In the announcement, the audience would be involved, but it was an panel discussion by the Groundswell Climate Collective and the Center for Emergent Diplomacy. There were no Indigenous people either in the debate, if I remember correct.
There were more events I would like to see. The first one was “African Women’s Grassroots Climate Actions”, starting 12:30pm and at 13:30pm “A conversation with FridaysForFuture – Meet the Youth Activists from around the World” respectively at 2pm “Migrant Justice = Climate Justice”, which was easier to attend after the 12:30pm event.
I had an early lunch – a warm baguette and an apple drink, for being ready in time for the 12:30pm event. It went well and I was allowed to attend again, even this time like all the times before without a ticket. The “African Women’s Grassroots Climate Actions” was represented by a foundation again. The African women were all from Zimbabwe – not bad with that. Anyway I don’t really like when foundations tell us, that they have done great things, even the people, who they are working with are allowed to talk. Anyway, it was interesting.
I could not find the place, where I should have been able to meet the youth activists from around the world, though I attendet the Migrant Justice = Climate Justice event instead. A video was shown about the travel of a giant doll, carried by a man inside her. She was a refugee from Syria, looking for her parents and how she was welcomed in all the countries, she was traveling through. She also did get gifts like flowers, bread etc. She made all the way to COP26 and was a theatre project of “Good chance”, which was started some years ago among refugees in Calais. We were told, that there is hope, that people are friendly to refugees, but it is a difference, if real people are migrating or such a doll. One woman in the audience told the panel, that they should talk about racism instead, because it is real. The panel was not willing to do so and the woman was escorted out off the room.
I had no problem to find my way back to Gordon and Kathy. It was very easy to go there and I did bike all the way. As you may have understood already, if I know the way, I have to go by bike, I don’t have a problem by using my bike for it. The problem I have – why I am pushing my bike in cities, is to follow and interpret Google maps. Gordon was at home and he carried my bike into their living room, as he usual was doing. I made my notices on paper this evening, because Gordon, Kathy and I were chatting about relatives and names.
10th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26; 2 km; host: Karolis and Natalia (warmshowers)
It was time to move to another host – the last one for Glasgow. I could have stayed with Gordon and Kathy, but when Karolis agreed with me, I did not know that. Karolis was not at home before late afternoon and Gordon answered me, it is OK to have my panniers at his home until afternoon and pick them up then. He also recommended me to visit the Pollok Country Park. Furthermore he told me, that there are Scottish Highland cows and deers in the park. At the entrance of the park was a sign, by which I could see, where the animals should be. I found the cows, but they were in the middle of the enclosure ore more far away. It was hard to take photos of them. Unfortunately I could not find any deers. Instead I found an area where dogs could go without leash, some places, where pre-school-kids and their teachers were enjoying the woods and also a wild camping space, where XR (Extinction Rebellion) activist stayed overnight – mostly by the lack of hostel beds and hosts. It was so noisy in this park, which may have been a reason, why I didn’t see any deer. When I became hungry, I was leaving the park and walking into an unknown area, because close to Gordon’s home was neither a restaurant nor a grocery shop or supermarket. I found a restaurant, but there I was told, that they did not serve lunch, but coffee/tea and cakes. Though I chose a cake and had a coffee. Afterwards I was walking further in that direction and found a Lidl supermarket, where I bought bread and tissues, because I still was hungry and I always need tissues.
Gregory had sent me a message, that XR will have a demonstration in front of the entrance of the Blue Zone of COP26. I was very grateful for that message, even I was doubtful about to attend their demonstration. In the contrary, I thought, if they can be there, I can be there as well. Though in the afternoon I biked to the Finnieston Street via the Finnieston Bridge. Not sure, what was allowed, I parked my bike at the corner of the street, close to the bridge. I was a little afraid, that my battery could be stolen, but it was placed very close to a police car, with the officers inside it. I was walking some meters into Finneston Street and later, was asked of the police to walk a little further up the street, closer to the entrance/exit of the Blue Zone. It was not only me, who had to move. All was calm around, but lots of professional photographers and journalists trying to find some interesting objects. It seemed, I was one of these objects with my sign – almost for some of the professionals. People arriving and leaving the Blue Zone or just walking the street were also interested in me and my sign, asking me for photos and selfies. I was overwhelmed about the respons. One or two were asking, where my bike is and I pointed it out. The two newspaper photographers and journalists I remember from this day were from the GP (Göteborgs Posten), a Swedish newspaper and from the Washington Post.
When it was getting dark, I was cycling back to Gordon and picked up my panniers and my bag for moving to Karolis on Leven Street. By the way, both Gregory, Gorden and Karolis were living in the South of Glasgow and by that, south of the Clyde River and anyway not far away from the river, though meanwhile they were ideal situated both for the Green Zone and the Blue Zone as well for the “Tramway” Donald’s place was very comfy situated for the demonstrations, starting in Kelvingroves park. I felt very lucky about these circumstances.
Arriving at Karolis’ home, who lives together with his girlfriend Natalia in a ground flour apartment, he showed me around in their apartment and explained things I should know like about the light “button” in the bathroom (it was a string to pull), which I appreciated. Natalia was coming home soon, but Karolis had already made the dinner. Luckily I was asking him, which dinner he is preparing. Otherwise I only had been able to eat potato and salad (he thought to have fish for dinner, but changed, when I told him, that I am allergic against fish). Instead he took me to a minor supermarket and back at home, made a kind of quiche with pumpkin from the own garden. Karolis was born and raised in Lithuania and is a bike mechanic as well as he started the charity bike shop together with Gregory. Karolis is an administrator at the shops (there are more than one of them in Glasgow now). Natalia, who was born and raised in Poland, is a conservator, working at an architect’s office.
After dinner I was allowed to wash my clothes and dry them in the kitchen on the dry rack under the ceiling. These I have seen in more houses with high rooms. Even at Gregory’s it was the same way, but not only at his place.
Natalia was preparing for an interview on the upcoming day. She is looking for a new job. Karolis played a video game. It is his way to relax, he told me. I was reading news on the Internet before I was going to bed.
11th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26
During breakfast I was told, how to put the heating on during the day, because it is time framed for morning and evening hours. Natalia also told me, that she is switching on the heating during daytime, when she is working from home.
When I was looking for my bike gloves I remembered, that I truly had forgotten them at Gordon’s place, though I messaged and asked him about them. His answer was “yes” and I was welcome to pick them up after 2pm. I did take care about my newly washed and dried clothes and did wash another machine.
It was time to cycle to the Tramway, where I was interviewed of a female journalist for a Finnish magazine and also a bike journal. She came together with her boyfriend, who adored me for my “biking for future”, she told me. Afterwards I was going to a café called Ground House. I had been there some days before, only using their toilet. Now it was time to have lunch. Eating a spinach pie, I had a chat with a couple on the table on the side of me, because they had noticed my bike battery on my table.
I was going to Karolis’ home and put my new-washed clothes on the dry rack before I continued to Gordon’s place and picked up my gloves. He was just coming back from a walk. That was good timing! Next stop was on the other side of the Clyde river – at Sauchiestreet. I was looking for a wristband (I wrote about the wristbands before), but there were no party-tents anymore. Neither the people of the NHL COVID-19 test van did know anything about, where to get a wristband nor the volunteers in the nearby premises. The only opportunity to find it out, was to go to the Adelaide Place Baptist Church and to ask there. So I did. Actually, they now have the wristbands there and I asked for one for the evening ceilidh, showing them the test-result for the day of the home NHL-test.
Now it was time to visit Finnieston Street and demonstrate again. This time I tried to have my bike with me and a policeman told me, that I can be there with my bike as long as I wish. Even this day journalists and professional photographers as well as activists etc were interested in my tour and me. Having my bike close to me made it even more interesting for them as it seemed. A young woman from Honduras or El Salvador was talking with me. She told me, that she now is studying in Costa Rica, but mainly about the impact of the climate change in her home country and the lack of change and the empty words by most of the world leaders of the industrial countries. I saw the tears in her eyes, when she was talking with me.
I was leaving my post outside the Blue Zone just in time to make it to the ceilidh at the Adelaide Place Baptist Church. I bought a stew and, fortunately did get it with yogurt. The stew was for £7 in cash, but I only had £6. I asked them, If I could get a plate of stew without bread for the £6, but I have got the bread as well and was allowed to pay with the cash I had. The Ceilidh was starting later as announced and we were explained, that ceilidh means gathering. There were people singing and reciting poems. A woman from India was dancing a special dance from her home country. Though I was disappointed, because I still belived in ceilidhs with dancing – like the Irish Ceili.
I had problems to find my way back to the river Clyde, because of the dark. Therefore I asked a policeman, but he couldn’t help me, because he was from London and only in Glasgow for the COP26. I started asking pedestrians if they were from Glasgow. It took a while and a lot of asking before I met a Glaswegian. Anyway, I didn’t become much wiser of his explanation and tried to walk a little further. Yes, I was pushing my bike and hoped it would make it easier for me to find my way. It didn’t take a long time after I had met the gentleman before I recognized the area and soon could find the Finnieston street and bridge. When I arrived at Karolis’ home, it was dark. Fortunately I had got a key of him and could enter anyway. I also managed to take my bike inside. Btw it has been usual during this trip, that I have got a key of hosts, where I was staying more than one night.
12th November 2021
Glasgow = COP26
This day it was raining and very windy most of the day. Karolis told me, that it was unusual bad weather for this time of the year. I was reading at the Internet and also my emails – and answering some during the morning hours. Anyway I was going by bike to the COP26 Blue Zone Entrance/Exit site in the afternoon. Even this day, despite the bad weather, I received attention from journalists and podcasters. There were also two gentelmen asking me for a photo together with me. They were different to the poeple, who had asked me before, therefore I asked them, who they are. One of them told me, that they are the minister for environment and energy of Irak. It really surprised me. I never would have dreamed about, that they would be interested in a woman cycling for the climate.
For this night’s dinner Natalia had invited a couple of friends. We were five persons around the table. A soup was served – the rest from the evening before, stretched with another vegetable and mixed in the blender. Afterwards we were offered gnochi, salad and baked small tomatoes. We also had a dessert. The friends did not stay for very long and I was early to bed having a very cold.
13th November 2021
Glasgow – day off
Officially COP26 had come to its end on 12th Nov, but as we could read in the papers and see on TV, the negotiations were still ongoing. This Saturday evening a deal was agreed for this year. Unfortunately it was not much more than a bla, bla, bla on paper and we will see, if the few agreements, which could be worth something, will be fullfilled. I heard about the ongoing negotiations in time, that I could have been outside the Blue Zone again, but I did not expect that the important people I would like to reach, had time to leave the negotiations. Though I stayed with Karolis and Natalia.
I started the day instead with reading on the Internet – mostly news as usual. I also checked my emails. I was late taking my medicine, but I knew, it was no hurry. Karolis asked me if I will follow him for a bike ride and I answered, that I will love to – the bike rides in mind, when I had company. I didn’t even ask him, where we will go. We started in the middle of the day. The first stop was at his workplace, where he picked up some things. Here I have got an impression of the bikes, the charity gets as donations, but also could se, that they sell new bikes. Furthermore there was a good range of accessories. We came here mostly on bike path and also continued on bike path to a place from and for the communities, where on old building was refurbished, but there were also containers. In one of the containers were bikes and accessories of the charity. From this place some Saturdays bike trips throughout Glasgow starts for people not used to bike in the city to get to know bike paths and minor streets as well as to learn, who to bike safe in traffic. The tour was going to Glasgow Green and I think, we were around 12 people plus the leaders. Some of the participants did their first bike ride this day. I was surprised, that they could ride a bike just from zero. They didn’t even had an own bike, but borrowed one of the charity. Karolis was a little disappointed and explained for me, that it was not the meaning of this offer, that people making their first biking experiences should follow. He was not happy, that the tour took such a long time. Also one of the participants’ bike didn’t have more than one gear. Though she was not cycling fast as well. Glasgow is quite hilly and even Karolis did shorten the tour and avoided the hilliest part, it was a little up and down anyway.
We continued from Glasgow Green to Pollokshield, if I am right. Anyway, it was not very far from Karolis’ home and at another shop of the charity. He told us, that we could cycle back to our homes or follow with him to the start place of the tour, because he had to go there with those bikers, who had to leave the borrowed bikes back. I thanked him for the tour and tried to find my way to his home. Fortunately, two guys, knowing the area, did make company with me, helping me finding my way.
Back at Karolis’ I started baking Swedish cinnamon rolls. I had promised them, because two days before, Karolis had bought Scottish cinnamon rolls, who had a lot of icing on the top and a very different shape as our Swedish ones. Though I told them about Swedish cinnamon rolls, that I had thought, that they are very special, but I had learned, that more countries have cinnamon rolls even not similar to ours and added, that I will bake some for them. Natalia answered, that I am not permitted to leave before I have baked cinnamon rolls. I know, it was a joke, but I was buying the ingredients the day after and Natalia promised me and did buy yeast at a Polish shop, because both Karolis and she told me, that Scottish shops don’t sell yeast.
I was happy, that the baking was working really good. We had talked about the evening before to go to a Scottish pub this evening, but we played bord games instead and enjoyed some Swedish cinnamon rolls. There were so many, that I told them, they could freeze some and also asked them to give some of them to Gregory and his family. I would have liked to give to my other hosts in Glasgow as well, but there were not so very many rolls.
– I also had got a final positive answer from a warmshowers host in Newcastle. It was not the first one – the one in North Shields, because he did not answer me at all. It was one of the three hosts I had asked for hosting me in the town of Newcastle.
14th November 2021
Glasgow – Newcastle (by train); 4 km from host i Glasgow to Queen station; 12 km from Newcastle station to host; host: Meg and Jon (warmshowers)
I left Karolis and Natalia during the morning hours for the Queen Street train station, because it would have been a three days ride by bike from Glasgow to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I have had contact with my upcoming host and was told, that I have to go via Carlisle for going by communter trains, which I would have liked to do, because it is easier to have bikes on them. Unfortunately, when I was bying my ticket, the ticket assistant did tell me, that it is dubble the cost to go via Carlisle to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I told him, that I am not able to hang my bike, therefore I cannot us the LNER for example. He told me, I have to go to the Central station for a train to Carlisle. Though I answered him, give me just a ticket to Edinburgh. I was thinking, I can buy a ticket to Carlisle from there. He didn’t, but started again to tell me, how expensive the ride to Newcastle via Carlisle is and added, that the train from Glasgow via Edinburgh is going along the cost and to Carlisle is going inland. I did know that. I had checked all the options and told him again, that I am not able to hang my bike. After discussing it one more time, I finally bought a ticket from Glasgow via Edinburgh along the coast to Newcastle. I was nervous if I will get the train in Edinburgh to Newcastle, because there were only ten minutes to change train.
I found the track for the train to Newcastle in Edinburgh very easily. I looked for the train, leaving at the departure time on my ticket. There was only one at that time for Newcastle. When I tried to enter that train, the ticket controller checked my ticket outside the train and told me, his train is not from the company the ticket is for and told me, to take the train on the other side of the platform, which was an LNER train. I actually gått assistance to enter the train with my bike – of two assistants, a male and a female. Together we tried to hang my bike, but the hooks were not big enought for my tires ;-), though they checked, if there will be another bike on that train before Newcastle. There was no booking and I was allowed to have my bike on the floor in the bike space. When the ticket collector checked my ticket, she told me, that I was on the wrong train. Though I told her the story and she checked one more time about bookings of the bike space, then I was allowed to stay on the train to Newcastle. There were two or three stops before Newcastle during the ca 90 minutes drive and I had to hold my bike all the time. I was happy, when I finally could leave the train.
Leaving the train station in Newcastle, it was raining and to my host Meg and her family, I had to ride my bike to the outskirts of Newcastle. First I took wrong and was close to entering the motorway, but could avoid it. By pushing my bike for some km, I did find the path to her area. It was a nice bike path I could use. Mostly going alongside a park. Arriving at Meg’s home, nobody opened. While I checked, if I was at the right address, I read, that I should have informed her about my arrival already in Carlisle. Not taking the train via Carlisle I also forgot to inform her about my changed plans. I just was to stressed, I think. Though I did send her a message now and I was happy, because she arrived within ten minutes. She was coming together with her seven weeks old baby boy and her mother by her mothers car, wich is an e-car.
I was very welcomed, got tea when Meg had cared about her baby and I had to tell her about the train ride. Afterwards we were chatting about her and her husband Joe bike packing trips as well as mine. After dinner she gave me a book, printed av her blog about a bike packing ride, when she still was single. She had named her bike “Olive” and was telling about her like a person. It was a very interesting book, but I could not finish it in the evening, though I asked to continue with it next morning, because I did not have a hurry to go to the ferry, which should leave at 5pm and the last check-in was 90 minutes in advance.
I slept on the couch in the lounge, because her mother slept in the guestroom, of course.
15th November 2021
Newcastle-upon-Tyne – IJmuiden (ferry); 16 km from host to ferry; Overnight-ferry
I took my last COVID-19 test and it was negative as usual. Before leaving Meg and her family at high noon, but after breakfast, I had read her book to the end. I was impressed, she made 110 – 120 km nearly every day, some days even more.
I had to go into the city center and from there or, more exactly, from the café the Cycle Hub, where I bought some snacks and cold drinks for my ride, to follow the NCN72. It actually is one of the better. It was raining all the way throughout Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but when I left the town, it stopped raining.
I arrived at the DFDS ferry terminal around 14:45pm. Even I already was vaccinated twice I was told, that I have to take a COVID-19 test. When I told the assistant, that I already had taken one in the morning, she answered, that no European country accept the NHL-tests. I refered to my vaccinations, but she did not care about them, but sent me to take an antigen-test in the waiting area. I had to pay £75 and a test was taken halfway up in my nose. I was not expecting other, than a negative result and I think, with this kind of testing, everyone will test negative. I had to wait for half an hour for the result and was going back to the check-in booth, waiting close for it. I became a little nervous, because time for the check-in was running out. Just in that moment I have got the result of the test – negative, of course. I also had to fill in a passenger locator form, but was informed, that I could do that on the ferry, it is only important to have done it, before the ferry arrive in IJmuiden, NL.
Well onboard I had to put my cycle in the middle of the car deck – against some pillars. A crew member did secure it. On board CET was used not GMT. I did have a four bed My boked dinner was for 7pm GMT and, unfortunately, had to wait for 8pm CET, because I was already hungry. I bought a piece of layer cake and a hot chocolate at the café and enjoyed sitting in an armchair. Meanwhile I was waiting for the dinner, I was looking around the passengers area and became interested in the cinema. There was a different movie every hour, because there were two cinemas. At 9pm CET the new James Bond movie “No time to die” were shown. I bought a ticket for it, because I was curious about that one, because of the advertising and that my host in Newark-on-Trent had seen it. He was not heavily happy in it, but his judgment had not been so bad. I had to pay €8,50 for it.
The dinner was a buffet and there were quite a lot vegetarian and vegan options, especially the desserts ;-). I took twice of the cheese and the desserts. Full and satisfied it was time for the cinema. I was the only one with a ticket for this movie that night and was told, how I can get in touch with the crew, if there is a situation I need to. What can I say about the movie? I was disappointed. The story didn’t have the quality at all of the former James Bond movies. Actually after the third I have seen, I did not like the James Bond movies so much any more, because of too much violence and to much sex. I liked some scenes – the ones with the secretary Moneypenny and the Q, who came with those “intelligent tools”. Anyway this movie was more flat as all the others before. I don’t regret, that I did see this one, because without having seen it, I could not have an opinion about it.
I had some difficulties to fell asleep, even I was the only passenger in the inside cabin for four. I thought I heard the maskines working, but maybe it just was the noise from the ferry “going forward” in the water. After some time I fell asleep anyway. I had not switched off my smartphone totally for the alarm clock, but didn’t think about, that I should have put the alarm for an hour earlier, because without Internet, the clock will not change time automatically. Next time I have to take a small alarm clock with me for such occasions.
16th November 2021 – Entering Netherlands + Entering Germany
IJmuiden – Amsterdam – Osnabrück; 30 km from ferry to Central station; 3 km from Osnabrück station to my host; host: Alexander Pfaff (couchsurfing)
I had planned to be awakened by my alarm clock at 6:30CET, but was awake one hour too late. Anyway, it was time enough for breakfast – and I had a big one. I finished just in time to pick up my belongings from the cabin and go down to my bike. Even we had been asked for to go to our vehicles, it took very long time before we could leave the ferry. A woman in a car close to me started talking with me – about my trip, of course. When I finally was allowed to leave the ferry, a crew member did push my bike out of it.
It took a little while before I understood, which way I had to leave the harbor and go to Amsterdam train station. I was still in IJmuiden, when I asked pedestrians for the direction for the train station and was told, there is no train station. Though I told them, the train station in Amsterdam. I actually was thinking, that IJmuiden is a suburb of Amsterdam, but it seems to be wrong. They did tell me now, which direction I can go by bike to Amsterdam. I only saw a busy road there and was wondering, if it is possible to go by bike there as well. They answered, yes it is. Entering that named busy road, I saw, that there are bike paths, separated from the road and they were very nice as well. It was 30km between IJmuiden and Amsterdam.
At some place I had to ask, how to go further, but it was easy to find my way. I would have had no waiting time for the train to Osnabrück in Germany, but I had to find the ticket office. For International trains it was outside the modern train station in an old building. I did take my bike into the customer area. I was not allowed to take it all the way to the ticket booths, but close to them, though I still could have an eye on it. Back at the train station I had to ask for, where I will come to the tracks, because the description was for me not easy to understand. Nobody was caring about my “sorry”, but after a while a woman in her 50ies. The elevator to the track was just big enough for my bike.
I arrived early on the platform, but the train arrived only five minutes before leaving, even it starts in Amsterdam. The car for bikes was at the end of the train – furthest from the space, where all the passengers are waiting and even I was. Though I had a hurry going to that car, but that was not enough! The car had three steps to force. Though I took all the panniers, my big bag and my battery off the bike and put them into the car. Now the conductor already whistled. Therefore I put my bike on the lowest step and was calling for help, but nobody was coming to help me, not even the conductor. Finally I tried to get my bike onboard by myself only. I tried several times until I managed it. The door was automatically closed directly afterwards and I fell on the floor together with my bike. Fortunately I did not hurt me.
The bike compartment was spacious, but why do they have three steps into that car? When the conductor finally arrived and checked my ticket, I tried to speak English with him, but he told me in German, that he doesn’t understand me, though I spoke German with him. He explained, that everyone only can take on the train, what he/she is able to carry him-/herself on the train. I think, for such a bike compartment it should be different, because the way it is, it is age discrimination. He also told me, that he is not working in a Kindergarten. That was very rude!
Later I was talking with him, wondering why he is not speaking English, expecting that in International traffic. He told me, still in German, that he can speak English. He did not proof it. Furthermore I asked him, of which he is employed – the Railway of the Netherlands (NS) or the Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB). He told me, he is employed by NS, but he was wearing a uniform of the DB, which he explained, that the customers prefer it. I am still wondering. I tried to make a complaint, but could only make it by twitter and only with the #NS #DB. I never ever heard anything from them.
It was getting worse. As I learned, the locomotives from the NS have another electrical system for their engines as the German locomotives. Therefore they are changed at the border station, Bentheim, in Germany. If you think and expect, that there would be an other locomotive waiting for the train, you are as wrong as me. We had to wait for almost one hour for the German locomotive, because we had to wait for the one coming from Berlin – for the train to Amsterdam. Later I was told, that it is usual, that the German train is delayed. We did not get any information, because the speaker in my car was broken. I had to go to another car and to ask, what was happening. When I complaint about it, I was told of an employee of the train, that I have to do so. I think, the conductor should have come and told me, instead. I was not happy to leave my bike unattended.
While we where at the station in Bentheim, two polismen were entering the car for the bikes and on their way to the other cars. I thought, they will see my passport or my vaccination pass, but they told me instead, they won’t anything of me, just need space for coming through. I apologized, because I didn’t think about, that I was in their way by sitting as close as possible to my bike.
When we finally continued – with the German locomotive, we had another conductor. He was angry and told me unfriendly, that I have to wear a medical face mask and not what kind of face mask ever. He added, that the rule is applied for 1 1/2 year already. He didn’t ask where I came from or something else, but told me, that I have to go to the bistro and ask there for a medical mask. I thought, it was very stupid, but also very German. One has to do as it is written somewhere without thinking, if it makes sence. Just blind following the rules. There was no other passenger in the compartment, but I had to walk throughout the entire cars of the train to get a face mask. If I would have had the COVID-19 virus, I could have spread it to lots of passengers by the walk – even on the way back, because those face masks don’t fit me, they are too big for me.
Fortunately, in Rheine, the train station before Osnabrueck, where I have to leave a man in his 60ies entered with his bike. It was also an e-bike. I asked him, where he will leave and, when he told me, in Osnabrueck, he also asked me, if I can help him a little. I answered, yes, of course and asked him as well for help, telling him, that I have problems to get all my belongings out in time inclusive my bike. He agreed and answered me, even he has a problem with it. I had already asked my host to meet me at the train station and help me out of the train, but was not sure, he will make it in time. I was happy for the other passenger, especially for, that my host didn’t arrive in time. I thanked him several times, when we were standing with or bikes and belongings on the platform in Osnabrueck. Alexander, my host, was now close to us.
Alexander came by bike as well. He told me, that it is the best way to move in Osnabrueck. It takes much longer for the buses and also would take longer by car. Though we were riding our bikes to his place. He helped me with my bike into the house – close to a door, where it won’t be in the way for other tenants. I was hungry now and asked him for supermarket or a restaurant. Closest was a new-opened tapas restaurant. I haven’t eaten tapas for more than two years, though I told him, that it will be interesting to eat tapas. I tried to invite Alexander, but the restaurant did only take cash. I only had €15 with me and Alexander had €10. The owner of the restaurant was OK with it. Though we have got the meals for €25 instead for €28.80. It was late now, therefore we did not chat a lot before we were going to bed respectively on the couch. Mostly we were talking about practical things, e.g. when I have to leave.
17th November 2021 – Entering Denmark + Entering Sweden
Osnabrück – Hamburg – Copenhagen – Malmö; 3 km from host to Osnabrück station; 2 km from Malmö Central station to my daughter
I was awake early – for me early is at 7am 😉 and nervous, because Alexander was late. He cooked porridge for both of us anyway. I became stressed and was afraid to miss my train, but finally at the train station I had plenty of time to buy my ticket for Hamburg to Copenhagen. Even this I had tried to buy online, but even here it was not possible, because the train is crossing the border from Germany to Denmark. By the way, the ticket for Hamburg I already had bought online. By the impossibility to buy online tickets when haveing my bike with me on the train in international traffic, the tickets were much more expensive than without the bike. The small fee for the bike on the train, didn’t make the difference.
Alexander helped me onboard the train with my bike, because even this train had almost two steps up for entering it. In Hamburg I was happy, that a woman, waiting on the plattform, did help me with me bike – she took the front of it and I could lift the back. Still I had to take my panniers, bag and battery off it. I found the departure track for my train to Copenhagen easily in Hamburg, because I am used to that train station and it has not changed a lot the last past years. A lot of people were waiting for the cars to open the doors. I waited a little while as well, but when we came closer and closer to the departure time, I used the button on the outside and the door did open. I should have tried that earlier. There were only one high step for entering this train, but still too much for me, though I was asking for help – addressed to the men near me, but when I finally got help, it was a woman again, who helped me.
I was surprised, but happy about it, when I discovered, that the train was going all the way to Copenhagen over land. It was not using the ferry. I think, it was the reason, why I did not see a train on the ferry, when I was going from Rödbyhavn to Puttgarden. The train was going via Flensburg and stopped at a lot of small train station. Almost twice it was crossing the sea by a bridge. I am wondering, if bicycles are allowed on that bridges as well or maybe on bridges nearby. I have to find out, next time I am cycling throughout Europe.
In Copenhagen I had to use an elevator to come up to the ground level for buying a ticket to Malmö. When done, I was going downwards again by the same elevator. I had to wait for a short while for a train, called Öresundståget. I know, they are very bikefriendly and I felt calm.
It would have been so easy, if the train didn’t have to stop at a train station in a suburb of Malmö (Hyllie) and could not go further. We were told, that it has happened an accident between Malmö Central and Lund. I didn’t understand, why we could not go to Malmö Central, because the accident had happened on the other side on the line. I also was very hungry, though I was leaving not only the train, but also the train station and looking for a restaurant, where I could put my bike somewhere safely. My choice was a McDonalds, just for that reason. I bought a take-away meal and was then eating outside. It was quite cold, around zero degree Celsius. Afterwards I did take a Pågatåg till Malmö, because I thought – because of the different platforms, they may use other tracks and it seemed, they do. Anyway, I was wondering, why it was not announced, that we could continue by Pågatåg, only by bus. I didn’t find anything about that accident in the news this evening.
Well arrived at Malmö Central Station I was going by bike the two missing kilometers to my daughter Maria. We were going together to a supermarket nearby to buy some food – we have different kinds of diets (I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian and she, unfortunately, eats a LCHF diet). Back at her apartment we discovered, that her cat had vomitted on her laptop. She was not happy about it, of course. The cat did vomitt more times during the evening and even night. Anyway we had a quite cozy evening.
18th November 2021
Malmö – day off (1)
I would have liked to meet my son Daniel, but he was too tired after an early morning activity. Maria and I were tired as well, thought we slept most of the time during the day. Off and on we had to care about the cat’s vomitting.
19th November 2021
Malmö – day off (2)
There were a lot of challengers about the cat, because he was still vomitting. Unfortunately my daughter and I misunderstood each other respectively I could not interpret, what she meant.
I met my son Daniel in the city center and invited him for lunch. Unfortunately he isn’t a vegetarian any more and told me, his skin is much better, since he became an omnivore again. The restaurant sold pizza and other meals, e.g. Souvlaki, which my son ordered with extra meat, but also vegetarian and vegan meals. I ordered an aubergine dish. The dish included a salad wiht a spicy sås and the dish itself wasn’t what I had expected. I did not like it. The owner of the place was wondering, why I only ate very little of the portion, therefore I told him that. He offered me a dessert for free and I could choose one of them there were. I chose a mascarpone dessert. Now he asked, if my son also would have one and he was keen to chose one as well. When I have got the bill, there were two extra amounts on it. I don’t know, if they were for both of the desserts or one for the extra meat. Both were for 37 SEK (ca 3,50 EUR). I decided to avoid this place next time.
After lunch we were walking throughout Malmö in the direction to Maria’s home. When I asked Daniel, if he had been at her new place before, he denied it and he was following me all the way as well as he visited her for a short while. At that time, it was 4pm and Maria had not been to the veterinary with her cat yet. I was wondering, if the vet still was open, but Maria told me, it is too late. When I during the evening checked the opening hours I saw, that the vet was open until 5pm. We could have made it there without any problem. I talked about that with Maria, but she told me, we should have been there in the middle of the day and even an appointment was not needed, she thought, one cannot go there ours after calling the vet. I see it different.
This day I also got a message of my Swedish host Lucas. He is following my blog and was worried about me, because I had not uppdated my blog for a long while. He was happy, that all was OK with me. It varmed my heart, that he was caring.
20th November 2021
Malmö – day off (3)
I would have liked to go home, but I was too tired. I checked the trains time tables instead and made a scheme for Sunday. I tried to avoid too short as well as very long times for the changes.
My German girlfriend Sandra sent me a WhatsApp message. I always am happy, when I get messages or emails from friends.
Ludvig, the cat, is still vomitting, but by a misunderstanding I was not going with the cat to the vet. Maria called her former boyfriend instead. He picked up the cat and drove with him to the vet instead. That was much easier, because I would have needed to call a cab. Her ex-boyfriend called from the vet and asked important questions. The vet also told them, that to check the cat’s health will cost 20,000 SEK (around 2,000 EUR). Fortunately, Maria has an insurance for such problems, but she has to pay around 25% av the amount by herself.
The stress with the cat made Maria angry about everyone and everything. I had washed the dishes, but it was not good enough, she told me. I became very sad that night.
21st November 2021
Malmö – Katrineholm (by train); 2 km from my daughter’s to Malmö Central station; 3 km from Katrineholm station to my home = 2504 km cycled on the entire route.
I took off the bed linen after I had taken my first medicine. I offered my daughter to take the trash out, but she told me not to do. My first train will leave 13:49 and I at 1pm, because I am always afraid to miss trains. I already had bought all the tickets for the day and had two hours left before leaving Maria and her apartment. Unfortunately she was still angry with me (and all her relatives). It was an Odyssey to go by train throughout Sweden, because one cannot take the national trains, one has to use commuter trains and change trains often. Below you find my time table:
Departure 13:46 Malmö Central station –> Alvesta train station = arriving at 15:36 – Öresundståg*
Departure 15:52 Alvesta train station –> Nässjö central stationo = arriving at 16:44 – Krösatåget**
Departure 17:14 Nässjö central station –> Tranås train station = arriving at 17:41 – Krösatåget
Departure 17:55 Tranås train station –> Mjölby train station = arriving at 18:15 – Östgötapendeln***
Departure 18:25 Mjölby train station –> Norrköping train station = arriving at 19:12 – Östgötapendeln
Departure 20:37 Norrköping train station –> Katrineholm = arriving at 21:02 – Mälartåget****
*Öresundståg is the name of trains crossing the sound to Copenhagen in Denmark. The have the best cars, when you take your bike on the train = enough with space and low entrance, no stairs. One to two cars at each train = one car of every four cars, that car included. With a little luck it is possible to take a seat close to the bike. I was lucky. It is for free in Sweden to have the bike on these trains.
**Krösatåg is the name of trains in Småland (three different counties). The trains are old and have two or three stairs to enter, even for cyclists. The conducter helps to get the bike into the train, if that help is necessary. Even passengers are kean to help – both when entering and when leaving. At the end or front of the train. The train has only two cars. There was no opportunity to sit down during the train rides. I had to hold my bike all the time. In two of the three counties one has to pay for taking a bike onto the train. It is quite a little difficult to know, in which of the counties one is travelling, even I am quite good in Swedish geography.
***Östgötapendeln is the name of the trains in the county of Östergötland. The trains are quite new and have special places for cycles, which are easy to reach. Low entrance, no stairs. Anyway it is more complicated to reach the places for bikes in this train as in the Öresundståg. It is similar like at the Pågatåg, which traffic in Scania. I had a photo of one on the 9th of September, low entrance, no stairs. There was one car with the opportunity for bikes. Actually, it was possible to take a seat here too, but I had to find out, how to, because one has to sit behind the bike. It is for free to take the bike on the train.
****Mälartåg is the name of the trains around the lake Mälaren. There are different routes, one is going to Stockholm. They have new cars/trains. All have low entrances, no stairs. It is very easy to put the bike in the bike place, but if you are unlucky, there is already a pram or stroller there, but there is no need to compete with wheel chairs. They have their own space. There is usually one car for bikes, but if they have more than four cars, they also have another car for bikes. There is no opportunity to sit down, when both sides are occupied by bikes or strollers etc. Later I found a security belt for the bike, but the other side/bike etc space was occupied. Even here it is for free to take the bike on the train.
oMeanwhile I didn’t have any problems with the elevators at the train stations, in Nässjö I had. My bike didn’t fit in there. I think it is because of the age of the whole station. These elevators have been there for many years. Anyway it was a challenge, but I was lucky and found help = young men, who were “carrying” my bike with help of the escalators. I had taken of my bag, the panniers and the battery, of course. By the way, not at all train stations I needed to use an elevator.
Finally in Katrineholm it was dark and cold – anyway not colder than +/-0oC, but not only there. It was already dark, when I arrived in Nassjö and quite cold during daytime. In Norrköping I did take my bike into the waiting room and none was complaining about it. The last three kms I was happy going by bike. I was tired, when arriving at home, because of the hardchips taking my bike on the trains, but very happy to be at home again.
I am happy and proud, I made it – even I changed my planes and was going home with my bike on trains. The reason was mostly weather related, but it was also for the short days – I don’t like to ride in the dark. When we got -10oC to -14oC in Katrineholm, I was very delighted about my choice. I might have been able to bike for some more days throughout the UK, but even there the weather was changing soon and not to the better.
I am disappointed, I did not demonstrate at Finnieston Street in Glasgow during the entire COP26, but I think, the press etc would have got tired to write about me and it is not likely, that more ministers had been aware of me.
I am grateful to all my hosts. Without them, this trip would not have been possible.
I hope, that I can be a good example for others.
I wish me a better infrastructure for cyclists. I am sure, it would be good for the environment as well.
I thought, this trip was one in a lifetime, but
I am wondering, if I will make it to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. To ride my bike to Greece, Turkey or maybe Spain will not be the challenge. The Middle East is a real challenge and it depends on the circumstances if I try to find a ferry/boat for crossing the Mediterranean Sea or dare to go overland. Maybe I will find a buddy that time. Anyway the result of COP26 has not been good enough, that I could be satisfied and I have to try almost one more time.