As I have written in my blog post, I am preparing for going by bicycle to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt this year. You may have read my site BikingForFuture about my trip to COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. If not, there is still time to do so. It was not the easiest for me – an untrained 71-y-o woman, to go by bicycle (even it is an e-bike) the around 2,500 km, but I learned a lot. The best thing, I learned, was, that I could make it – I reached my goal, but I also learned about my limits – both physically and mentally as well as the limits of an e-bike battery.
My first reaction, when I heard, that COP27 will be in Egypt, was a big disappointment, because of the situation in the Middle East and in Egypt as well. I really don’t understand, why they were choosing just Egypt of all the African countries. Maybe the government bribed.
There is a ferry from Spain to Morocco and from France and Italy to Tunisia. Though it would be much easier to go there by bike. On the contrary, to use one of those ferries and then go further to Egypt isn’t an option, because Libya, one of the most unsafe countries in the world, is in between. In addition to that one cannot enter Algeria from Morocco and Mali is closed. One should have to go way South before being able to enter Sudan and from there to Egypt. However it isn’t possible for me to go so far.
Last year my tour was totally unsupported – not counting an amount I have got of a girlfriend of mine, which I appreciated very much. I didn’t find any company or organization, which was willing to sponsor me. This time, it seems I am more lucky. I have got an amount of $400 of the World Explorer Grant for expenses. I paid the Airbnb room in Sharm el-Sheikh with it. It was a really good help, because for two weeks – the time, when the COP27 will be held, I cannot expect, that someone would host me. I wouldn’t have conscience for it either. The other sponsor is the German company VAUDE, which sells environmentally friendly and fair outdoor products. The first time I heard about VAUDE was on twitter by @meg_gyver and I am so grateful to her. Since then I have bought some products of the company, e.g. Aqua Back rear panniers. They are made of PVC-free tarpaulin material and 100% water tight. I was very happy with this products during my “BikingForFuture”-trip to COP26 in Glasgow, UK. Therefore I have got the idea to ask the company for sponsoring and it was very easy, because I only had to fill in a form on their homepage. Meanwhile I have got an extra battery and an extra charger for my e-bicycle and a GoPro camera as well as clothes, shoes and a handlebar bag. The marketing people of VAUDE has also taken contact with someone to record my trip, but actually they were not successful. It was a nice try, which I appreciate very much.
I had planned to go as much as possible by land, which meant, that I first would go North, crossing the land-border to Finland at Haparanda/Tornio. From there I would have continued South. There are two options: The EuroVelo 10 (close to the Baltic Sea) or the EuroVelo 11 (throughout the Lake district). From the capital of Finland, Helsinki, I would have visited St. Petersburg, Russia and from there went to Tallinn, Estonia. Unfortunately, Putin made war in Ukraine and Russia is no longer an option for me.
Instead I planned a new route, even this time using as many EuroVelo routes as possible, e.g. EV5 + EV15 along the river Rhen and EV6 along the river Danube. Those will be easy earned km. I bought a new app, called Komoot, for planing my route. First I had difficulties to define my route and save it online. After my smartphone crashed several times, I found out, how I could manage it. Anyway, I spend hours and hours with that app.
Here is the result (I used the OruxMapsGP app to show it properly):
I have some concerns about my trip, exactly about if the ferry isn’t going from Iskenderun, Turkey to Port Said, Egypt. Maybe I have to ride my bicycle throughout the Middle East. As my contact in Syria told me, it is quite safe now. In the Facebook group “Bicycle travelers” a cyclist had written about his trip crossing Syria and mentioned, that he didn’t have any problems with it. Nonetheless I would be happy, if there would be a ferry between the South of Greece and the North of Egypt.
Last year I had no time for training, but this year I started after the winter. First I made a mix of a few hours or entire days. In May I made a trip to Mora, Sweden. I needed 4 days to Mora and I was staying there for three as well as I did need 4 days home again. I made it. All together were around 700 km. You can read more on my blog post “Mora next”. Anyway the trip to Egypt will be more challenging.
1st July 2022! – 86 km
I am on the road again! I have had butterflies in my belly for the last few days and also this morning. I took a video outside the house I live, talking just about that feeling. Unfortunately, people were going behind my back and became part of the video why I thought, I will not use it. Just before I was ready to take the video, the garbage collectors came. I had to move my bicycle, though they could come close and one of the garbage collector asked me about my trip and added “that should be in the papers” and I was happy, that I could tell him, it is.
I really tried to get time for demonstrating in front of the Town Hall in Katrineholm before leaving, but it was only five minutes. Time did run away. I had to pick up a parcel and was interested in to buy a solar panel for charging my batteries as well as I was going to exchange my two power-banks, which did not work properly anymore, even they were not a year old. Though it was on warranty. I was a little concerned about, how to go into the electronic shop and leave my bicycle with the panniers etc outside without getting anything stolen, when the solution came walking. Members of the green party were on the way to wave good bye to me and offered to care about my bicycle meanwhile I was in the shop.
Soon afterwards we were in our town-park. Some people did show up as well as the guy we had ask to take photos of the event and the journalist from the local paper, who also took photos and by the way, everyone, who did wave me of. When I checked my clock it was two minutes past twelve and I had to go. I started in brilliant sun light even the weather forecast had announced rain.
The first part of my ride was well-known for me, but later I had to trust Komoot. I had started to use the navigation off line and the result was not great. Komoot sent me back, when the app thought, I was on the wrong road, but I was not. I did not have any charged power-bank, though I was careful with my smartphone and checked, which towns and villages I had to come through. I did not use my phone more than really necessary. I was already low of battery. Cycling on the highway, which luckily had the extra track for slow vehicles, I felt save and could cycle a little quicker. The best things ends soon and I had to turn away from this road, but that was amazing, because I now came closer to nature again. I love it. By the way, just before I had to turn I saw a gas station and there were also a shop and a restaurant. There were table and benches outside the restaurant. It was great, because I had not eaten during the day, but breakfast. Actually, I was not really hungry, but needed a rest. Though I bought an ice-cream for 20 SEK and took a seat, my bicycle very close to me, I also was allowed to use the toilet for free – there was a sign, that toilets are only for customers, someone else has to pay 10 SEK. In addition to that I was allowed to charge my phone for free as well.
Later on the minor roads nature was not only amazing, but also changing a lot. I have got the full picture, when a deer was crossing the road a couple of meters in front of me. I made videos and hope, I can soon upload them on YouTube. By the way, meanwhile my GoPro camera reacted correct on my first command, it later did not care about them at all. I was talking with high voice, but without success.
My phone run nearly out of battery again, which gave me a detour of around 3km. I am staying at a warmshowers host, who had told me in advance, that the last five km to his home are gravel road. Though I expected to push my bike. Luckily it was only unpaved road, even it had a lot of pot holes. The traffic was very low and I could ride my bike in the middle of the road most of the time. I was expecting just one, his house at his place, because of the road condition and his introduction, in real it was a whole little village and the interesting thing is, there only live relatives to him. Another unexpected story was the one I was told about the house, which is not typical for the village. All the others are wooden and Falu red colored, meanwhile his has clinkers.
Close to his home I did change track, because on mine was a very little “chicken” walking. Surprisingly had the chicken grey dots. Later that evening a seagull was calling for her chicken for a very long time and Arnaud, my host, told me, that a few days ago, she missed one, which was hit by a car.
Arnaud family’s home has a nice garden with wild and other flowers. Arnaud also has a lovely dog. He is a mix of Border Collie and another race, but looks so intelligent and also like to get in touch with people the mild way. He also eats strawberries! I was served a vegetarian meal and the salad of it was very nice decorated. Should I name, that Arnaud is French and came to Sweden for his love?
Around ten o’clock Arnaud was going to bed and had allowed me to use his study. Anyway, I tried to upload my videos, sitting in the living room. The new day had already began when I moved to the study for writing my blog and now, I am just tired, but also happy about such a wonderful day. Good night!
2nd July 2022 – 86 km
Today was windy and it increased in the afternoon. 1/3 of the time I had headwind, the other time it came sideway. Though I was tired when I finally arrived in Söderköping, but from the beginning.
Arnaud served breakfast as well. I was not allowed to make the dishes. As usual I took off the bed-linen. When I gave it to him, he answered “perfect” :-). He was working in the garden, meanwhile I packed my panniers and bags. It always takes a while, even I had not unpacked everything. Soon I was ready and had to take that unpaved road again. This time I made a video, unfortunately you have to wait a while, before I can upload it like the others, I have taken yesterday. I still have not figured out, where I can empty the folder with deleted items. I have done it once, but cannot find it again and I tried really hard.
After around 5 km the road was tarmac road. I was going to Nyköping (where I should have stayed over night, if I have had a host there). Komoot dit tell me, I have to go via a village, I already had been on the way to Arnaud, but the sign for Nyköping showed another direction. I followed the sign and saved some kilometers. I never have been in Nyköping before, though I did go to the center of the town and there, I pushed my bicycle to see the different buildings and more. It is a mix of new and old. The nice thing are all the benches and chairs in the pedestrian zone. There were also some tables.. Perfect for my lunch, which still were left overs from home. I continued further and came to an area with mostly older houses. I love them.
By the way, I have problems with the gears of my bicycle and I am very surprised about it, because I had it for service just before I was leaving Katrineholm. I think, I should let the bike-shop know it, that I have not to pay for another service. The problem is, that the gears do not change, when I turn that “button”. It takes a while before it is done and always with a very noise. Actually the gears 4 to 7 works fine, but just the 3 and 2 have that problem and they really have to change, when I want, not when they are ready for it. On a hill, I had to push my bike, because of this problem and it is harder to push but bike. Yesterday, the roads were more flat, therefore I did not have that problem.
Between Nyköping and Söderköping I had to use a ferry and that was really nice to do, by the chats I have had with people. Why waiting for the ferry I talked with elderly people in their 80s. The woman also send me 200 SEK by Swish (a Swedish way to send money by using phone numbers). On the ferry, which was for free, I had a chat with a German couple on their motorbikes. We started to chat, because their was no file or area for bicycles, though I was going with mine to the area of MC, telling the biker behind me, that I also have an engine. They were also very kind and let me go off the ferry in front of them.
Arriving in Söderköping I was looking for a place to sleep. I hoped to find a room, which usually are quite cheap. I did not see any signs about rooms. After a while, cycling in the direction of the city center I have seen signs for camping and a hostel. First I thought, the camping also was running the hostel, but they told me, I have to continue a little bit on the same street. Though I did and find one, called “Mangelgården”. There was a phone number to call, when there was no employee or owner at the hostel. I did and could rent the last room there was. It was a single room. In Sweden unfortunately there are no dorms in hostels. This room was for 800 SEK and I remember, it was cheaper to rent a single room in hotels with **** in Gemany, but that was some years ago and the prices may have increased there as well. I also find out online, that there were no cheaper hostel or hotel in town. Söderköping has been a spa and still have its health well. In addition to that, it is high season. The room is nice, even very small and the kitchen with dining tables and the living room are nice. There is WI-fi for free as well. Later the owners came and left some food for the breakfast next morning. They talked with me and also put my bike in a shed. They also told me, that I could take a sandwich with me the upcoming morning, because of my mission.
I decided to see the town on my way further the upcoming day. I will go to a place near Gamleby, where I will have a host again.
3rd July 2022 – 93 km
Where should I start? After breakfast, which was really good, because we guests could choose of a lot of different kinds of bread, yogurt, cheese, also two kinds of egg (boiled and fried) and much more. All guests were satisfied after breakfast. I told the helper, that I have not had the opportunity to pay for the room and he told me to pay by Swish, but I would pay by my Maltese card and that does not have Swish, therefore he had to go for a card machine. I asked him also for the way to the Spa. He did only answer, in which direction I can find it. When I came back, he told me more about it, but that was too late for me, because I had to go further.
I was a little late when I left the key to the tiny room I have had. By the way, the showers were very small indeed. There was not space for a bench or even a little stool. Fortunately there were two hooks outside the shower curtain, one on each side. Leaving the town my route was not going throughout the city center, though I missed it. Unfortunately I did not have time to take that detour. Anyway, it is not too far from my hometown, though I can go there another time.
The sun was shining and I was dressed in a long sleeve t-shirt and long pants for not getting burned by the sun. My knees already had a similar color as my bicycle. The afternoon was cloudy, but it did not rain. During this day’s ride I ate the rest of my lunch pack, but nuts and raisins.
I was coming throughout the town of Västervik and took a sightseeing tour in the city – by my bike, of course. The photos I took close to the place, where I have had my rest for lunch.
I had contact with my host during the afternoon and he had offered to meet me around 3 km from their summer house, because it was not easily to find. I expected to meet him at 6pm, but I was 30 min late. I needed to charge my smartphone and even I have power banks with me, which I charge by my solar pad, I had to stay at a place (in nature) to charge the phone. The bag for the phone is not designed for charging the phone while riding my bicycle. We met at the Lofta cafè in Lofta, Gamleby. The cafè had closed at 6pm, but the owner was still there, talking with my host Andreas. – I had to change my bike battery one more time after I had met Andreas. I had changed my batteries during the day, when I still had 16% left.
The road was unpaved and with gravel part of it, but that is the countryside of Sweden. I was very welcomed at Rosenberg by his wife as well and also a girlfriend of the couple. We were invited for dinner and afterwords a lemon liquor. For the night I had an own little hut. There was a double bed and a bunk bed in the only room of that hut. Later I was told, that the couple had 12 beds in all at their summer house. When the have more guests, they need to have a tent with them.
We had a very nice evening together, by talking about my trip and more similar subjects and could sit outside all the time.
4th July 2022 – 102 km
After an outside shower I had breakfast, which I could choose myself. Soon I was leaving, because I knew I had a long ride this day. Even I had adjusted my route, I couldn’t get it down under 96 km. In real, as you see, it became more.
I arrived in Oskarshamn around 8pm and was looking for a place to stay. I hadn’t found any host, even I have been writing to members of the Association for Nature Conservation (Andreas – my host from the day before, by the way, is one of it’s members), the green party and the church, but none was offering me a bed. I had tried with a hostel before, but all their beds were occupied. There was a sign for accommodation, which I followed and it was going to the “Sjöfartshotellet”. There were a lot of stairs into the hotel and I was still thinking if I should look for an entrance for disabled people, when the receptionist came out and asked me, if I wanted to rent a room. I asked for the price and the answer was 1,200 SEK for one night for a single person. I asked her, if she know a cheaper place and she told me, she will take a look, if there is. I do not know, if she was surfing on the Internet or if she called other hotels, anyway, she soon was with me again and told me. There are not. Though I asked her, if their maybe is a hotel or hostel outside Oskarshamn with cheaper prices, but after she had been away again, she told me, she could not find any. Therefore I asked her, if she could sponsor me and give me the room for 600 SEK, but she told me, we cannot do that. I was thinking, there will not be a lot of people asking for the room so late, though she had got an income for the room instead for no income at all.
I told her, I am not interested in renting a room for one night for that high price and was going further. She called after me, asking were I will go. I answered, I will find something. I had read on Facebook, that it is possible to stay overnight at the fire fighters, but I was not sure, if that also apply to Sweden. Anyway, I had a try. The fire brigade had its place outside town, but not really far away. I was pushing my bicycle now, because I was so tired and also it was easier to follow Google maps instructions by walking.
Well there, I took all my courage together and pushed the button. A friendly, good looking man, who must have been close to retirement, opened and I asked him, if I was allowed to stay there overnight and also told him, that I have read, that it should be possible. He told me kindly, that it is not possible. They also have new restrictions, which does not allow them, to let in strangers anymore. Though I asked him, if I am allowed to be on the bench outside during the night and he answered me, it is OK. He added, that there may be an opportunity, he had to check. When he came back, he told me, that there actually was not, but he continued trying to find an option for me and did not ask me, why I do not stay at a hotel. Unfortunately, he did not find a solution until I asked him, if he could charge my bicycle batteries, though I can go further the upcoming day. He promised, wondering how to and then told me, he will find a bed for me anyway. I think, he felt sorry for me and also understood, that I really would spend the night outside on the bench, if he does not help me. – The place he finally found for me I had to leave at 6:30am at the least. He also gave me his office phone number in case I will leave earlier than 6:30am. I had all I needed at the place I was. A clean room with a bed and a toilet-room with a shower as well.
You may wonder, why I did that. There were two reasons. I actually cannot afford high priced hotel rooms. I have saved money for this trip, but it is not enough for staying at those hotels. As a retired person, it is not easy to save a lot of money. I also think, people should be a little generous, because of the aim of my trip, The other reason is, just to prove, if it was possible to stay at the fire fighters. To sleep on a bench outside was also a new challenge and I never would try that during cold nights and, more important, I would never have tried if it wouldn’t have been on such a safe place. In addition to that, I was too tired for going back to the hotel. I know, I am crazy, but it is now I can do all the things I have never done before. I do not know, how many years I have left for trying out different things and accept challenges.
5th July 2022 – 91 km
Mainly this was an easy day, but raining off and on. First I put on my rain clothes, but it was only raining a few drops. Though I took off the rain clothes again – and got wet a while later. Fortunately I still had my rain jacket on and as I could feel, my pants were drying very fast. However at a junction, when I was looking for the sign for “Cykelspåret” my bicycle did fall over, but very slowly. By its weight with the panniers and more, I am not able to hold it, once it started to fall over. It did not happen anything to the bicycle and I was able to straighten it up without help. Meanwhile I was doing that an elderly man was coming from his garden with the help of his walker and offered to help me. I was both surprised and felt warm at heart by his intention to help me. We also had a little chat, before I was going further and found that sign I had been looking for at the next junction. Even at other places the signs for this route were difficult to find or understand, though I had to ask several times for the direction.
During the afternoon I got tired and was longing for a coffee, but beside the route respectively the minor roads were no cafe or coffee shop. I was half an hour late at my host Silvia Casanova – an Italian girl, living in Germany for most of her life and now at the end of her studies in Sweden, maybe going further to Finland for other studies. I had contact with Silvia in Kalmar during the afternoon and could tell her in advance, that I may be late. She answered, she is flexible.
Silvia welcomed as I am used from Italians – it is always a warm welcome! She is moving soon, but performed magic and served a nice dinner. She also offered red wine – one of the best kind. I told her, that I love to have a glass, but only one. I usually do not drink more than one glass of wine or beer at one time and also prefer to have it with a meal. I have got, what I asked for ;-). By the way, she also offered a special Italian cake with chocolate and walnuts (Torta di Nocci?), which was delicious.
6th July 2022 – 86 km
After a good nights sIeep – I have not slept an entire night through for many years, even this night I was sleeping with a thin mattress on the floor, I was on my way to Karlskrona, where I had rented a room for one night at the hostel Drottninggatans vandrarhem. The check-in time was 4 to 6pm.
When I left Silvia’s home, I thought my GoPro camera was broken. I had changed the battery and it did not work. I thought I may try in the evening with another battery – and, I can tell you already now, that I had taken an uncharged battery. I was happy, that it was no other reason.
I checked in at the hostel around 5pm asking myself and soon the receptionist for a save place for my bike. My idea was again about an entrance for people in wheelchairs or with walkers. There was none, but the receptionist offered me to carry my bike into the hostel. So we did and got help of a male guests, when he got aware of us. The receptionist just moved a chair in the hall and found a very good place for my bicycle. She also told me, that retired people can eat breakfast at the city-hotel (First Hotel Statt) for 55 SEK only and that it therefore should be no need to have breakfast in the kitchen of the hostel. I agreed. By the way, in front of the hostel there were an advertising for their rooms, stated that a room for one is available from 400 SEK. I had paid 590 for a night, though I asked the receptionist if I had paid for a room for two, because there were two beds in the room, but she told me, I have got the price for single use, but the 400 SEK is during the low season. I think, they should not have that sign outside during high season.
I did not have any dinner with me, though, by being so early, I was going to visit Karlskrona and looking for a dinner. I did not feel for eating pizza, but the places were pizza places or expensive restaurant, when I saw Sandy’s Diner. It remembered me on the Diner I have been in the State of Nevada 2016 and I was curios about to try it. It looked a little like the Diner in Nevada, but not much. Anyway they had falafel on the menu, therefore I stayed and ordered a falafel plate. I could only eat half of it as well as the Tzatziki sauce was very spicy and I had to leave a part for that. I have never before been served such a hot Tzatziki sauce.
Afterwards I was walking down Ronneby Street to the seaside, nearly buying an ice-cream in bulk. Fortunately the shop just closed for the day. On my way back I met Karl XI, the founder of Karlskrona ;-).
7th July 2022 – 72 km
Even in Karlshamn I did not find a host. The only couchsurfing host was not at home and there was neither a warmshowers or trustroots nor a BeWelcome host. I had written to the the Association of Nature Conservation, the green party and the church again. Nobody had even answered. About it later more.
This day it was raining a lot even there were dry hours. When I arrived in Ronneby, it had just stopped raining and I was frozen. I was looking for a cafè and found a perfect one with a yard – with tables and chairs. There was a sign about there opening hours, but I did not really understand, how it was meant. Though I pushed my bicycle into the yard. I was not sure, how to get service, but saw a baker and asked him. He told me, that I have to enter the cafe from the street. So I did. There were three people before me, buying some delicious sweet bread. It was a nice atmosphere inside the shop. When it was my turn, I asked for a cup of coffee and one of those delicious sweet breads. He told me, that they are closing down for the day, but also, that it will take a while for him, to manage all the necessary things. Though I was allowed to sit in the yard. A little later he even came with more coffee – for free. In Sweden we call it “påtår”. Already, when in the shop, he sent some bread buns with me for free. Before I left, he also sent some sweet buns with me. Now I had a problem. I did not know, how to carry on my bike. There was not space in my panniers or bags and I did not find my re-usable bag. At the end, I have got a re-usable bag of them as well, because they told me early, that they do not have plastic bags. Finally I was allowed to use the customer toilet before leaving.
For the bread I have got I had to take rests, when it was raining. I used my rain cape as a cover for the bread. That happened twice. The other time I was pushing my bike, for not loosing to much time.
Arriving in Karlshamn, just in time for the gospel-night as I had read first, I did not see any people going into the church and I know, it was the right one. I checked it several times. I thought, I may be a little late anyway and was waiting outside, even I read it was a service ongoing, not a gospel-night. The reason was, that I might find a host, when the people are leaving the church. I waited for nearly one and a half hour, but nobody left the church. I was not sure either, that someone will be inside. My phone battery was very low now and I did not have any charged power bank – they were all finished. Though I tried with the closest restaurant. It was a kebab place, but he was closing down. Luckily, he named two places, which were open until 10pm. I was going to the one in the same street. It was a pizzeria. I ordered a pizza, because I was very hungry now and asked for charging my phone, which they did. I told them, that I need the phone for finding a bed for the night and got the answer, that there are plenty of hotels in Karlshamn.
I had checked my emails many times during the day, but had not get any answer on my requests. Unfortunately, I did not see the answer I got around 8pm, offering me to stay over at a private place. When I was leaving the pizza place, I was looking for a bed on booking.com and found an affordable one. It was in the city center, not far away from the pizzeria. Instead for booking by the webb-side I was going there, ringing the bell and asking, if they have a room available. This way I did get the room a little cheaper as by booking.com. The room was really nice and the bathroom even better. The bathroom was on the same floor, but not attached to the room. So far all of the bathrooms at the places I have booked, were that way. The woman, who rented out the room to me was very kind and service-minded. She took my bicycle into the house. The hotel is called City Hotel Apartment, but it was a single room I rented. The only thing, which I did not like very much, was the two small windows, high up on the wall, which were open and I could not reach to close. Neither did I have the phone number of the receptionist. Anyway I slept well that night.
8th July 2022 – 67 km
There is a warmshowers host in Yngsjö, but unfortunately the couple is also on tour. It was good, that they answered immediately on my request. Therefore I had time to plan and a place to be during the night. Instead for Yngsjö, I was going to Åhus, because I did find a hostel there. It was quite late, when I finally left the City HotelApartment in Karlshamn, more precisely some minutes past 11am. In the early afternoon I had my lunch at a rest area in Pukavik, not far away from Mörrum. It was a very nice rest area and I ate of the sweet buns, the baker had given to me.
It was going very well until this place, but when I continued, there were hills and it was more windy again as well as the sky was grey like it would start raining every moment. I thought I was really good in cycling this day, but I was not better as usual. I also had to stop once for charging my smartphone (by a power-bank). Unfortunately my bag for the smartphone is not big enough for even the power-bank. I can put the power-bank underneath the phone, but the cable does not fit in. Anyway, I was happy about that three quarter of the distance today were cycleways.
I had booked another hostel. It was in Åhus, in Scania. The name of the hostel is Kärraton Vandrarhem och stugor. It was one of the most expensive I have been so far on this trip, but there was no breakfast included and if one need bedlinen, he has to pay extra. Also I had to call for the number of my room and the code for the main door, but then I was told, there is no code. Even the WiFi did not have a code. The key for the room was in the room itself and should be left there. It was really at the countryside and the closest shop was five km away. Unfortunately I did not pass the shop and I was too tired, to ride the 10 km for getting some food. Though I did live on peanuts this evening. We were not allowed to wear shoes in the house, but all the floors had tiles and even there were some rugs, it was not warm enough. The toilets and showers as well as sinks were in the same room – even there were a couple of rooms like that, because there were many bedrooms as well. The toilet rooms reminded me on my time at school. There were two kitchens on the floor, where I had my room, and plenty of tables. They did not look very fresh. It looked more old fashion and I was really surprised about the price for such a place.
Anyway, I have got some sleep and I actually was falling asleep early, even tried to find another hostel in Scania. The last one in Sweden, because the two night afterwards I will be at my daughter’s place. I had already found out, that there is no affordable hostel or hotel in Ystad, where I had planned to stay befre going further to Malmö. I also had checked around, how far it is from other places to Malmö and where it might be a room to rent for one night. There is a warmshowers host in Ystad, but he was not available and there is also a couchsurfing host in Ystad, but she did not answer my request. The room I found was in a hostel, called Svea hotel in Vollsjö. A place I could not remember to have heard about. Unfortunately in the description it was stated, that the hostel does not have WiFi. Therefore I did not book it that night. By searching for a room, I did not have the opportunity either to update my blog.
9th July 2022 – 70 km
If you think, Scania is all flat you have to read further. First of all, why a maybe behind the 70 km. Google maps really surprised me. The route I chose was for 45 km and that was good, I thought, because it was very windy today and the route also had a couple of very hills. I had booked the hostel, which is called Svea Hotel (I guess, once it was a real hotel). There was a generous time frame for checking in – already from 3pm. I had got a code for the main door and was thinking “oh no, not one more unattended hostel”. Anyway there were no extra pricing for bedlinen, which was good, of course. The hostel also is in the mid of the town – at the market place and a grocery shop is right on the opposite site of the market place. This, I did not know, of course, when I left Åhus.
I left the hostel in Åhus at 11am and there were others like me to check out last minute. We all were in a hurry, for not paying for another night, I guess. The first part of the ride was quite easy even it was windy. It felt like it was going downwards all the time, even I never had tailwind. The other part of my trip today was much worse. The wind increased and there the very hills were coming. Even there were only two of them, but the rest was hilly as well and only at the end there were two downhills, worth talking about. I needed nearly 4 hours for the trip and that is, what I assume is good for the 44 kms the route should be – or maybe 50 (there are always some more kilometers at the end, then first shown). I really cannot imagine, that I made 70 km in four hours in this weather, even not for I had to change my battery and I was thinking I should make the entire tour today with only one battery. It takes more battery when windy and also on the very hills I need more. Usually I trust Google about the kms, but this time I am concerned.
One nice place beside my route today I should name. It is the Castle of Vittskövle and the “Statargården” – a big farm or ranch, even in Vittskövle. It is surprising, that those small places have so much unknown history.
Leaving that behind, you should know, how lucky I am today. This hostel is not unattended and the couple, who runs the hostel are so very nice. The hostel itself is very nice decorated, has a great kitchen – with a big frying pan like in big restaurants. All is very good organized and anyway it is nearly like coming home or to a very close relative. In the living room are nice looking book shelves with books and board games one can borrow. You should see the bathrooms as well. They are spacey and clean, good looking. The rooms all have names, not numbers and all called after theater plays respectively the books of Fritiof Nilsson “Piraten”. One room is named “Bombi Bitt”, another one “Franskan” and mine “Texas ros”. I cannot remember the names of the rest. On the ground floor are in addition to the kitchen and the living room also other rooms for enjoyment like the billiards room. The guest rooms are on the first floor and I think, the owners live on the second floor. On the first floor is also a big room for big companies. Here it is possible to celebrate big birthday parties, weddings and so on. Thought there are not many rooms for rent. I guess, the owners make their living from another business as well. I really can recommend this hostel – and take some time with you. The museum about Fritiof Nilsson and other interesting places are waiting for you.
10th July 2022 – 66 km
I left Svea Hotell in Vollsjö just exactly at the last check-out time with a dark grey cloudy sky announcing a thunderstorm outside. I tried to hurry and hoped, the clouds will disperse, but after around 1 km raindrops were falling. Luckily there was a big tree, under which I could stand and dress in my rain clothes. Soon I was on the road again – and it was not raining anymore. Even grey clouds were always in the sky, it did not rain this day.
By starting from Vollsjö instead for Ystad I used Google maps again for orientation. This time it sent me via unpaved roads. Unfortunately I was not sure, but at the end of the unpaved road, that I could have followed the tarmac road instead. It had been a little longer, but would not have taken more time, because I cycle very slowly on unpaved roads. Google maps also sent me on an unpaved cykelway as it seemed to be, but I was turning back by the sign “military area”.
When my batteries had to be charged resp. changed, I found Sandy’s Stenungsbageri i Södra Sandby. I bought a coffee and a snack and was sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine and the warm weather while charging my smartphone. Before I left, I also changed the battery of my bicycle, because I knew, I only had 30 km more to ride.
These 30 km were very easy to ride – all flat and on cycleways. Before I was riding my bike between the outskirts of Lund and Malmö, I did not know at all, that there are cycleways in between and I was a little concerned about this part. I felt really happy now instead. On my way into Malmö, i started my GoPro camera and tog a video. Later, I will upload it on YouTube.
I was so happy, when I arrived at the place, where my daughter Maria lives and more happy, when we met again. It is not very often we meet in real. Btw, when I was going to Glasgow, I did not feel so happy and positive as this time. I am sure, this entire trip will be good.
11th July 2022 – 0 km
I had a day off, got vaccinated against rabies (1 dose of 3, because I am 50+) and got vaccines against Tyfoid + Kolera with me. The have to be stored chilly – a real challenge on a bicycle trip during the summer months.
My daughter did wash my clothes meanwhile I used her WiFi.
The rest of the day we spent together and enjoyed it.
12th July 2022 – 96 km
My morning (after the good-bye from my daughter) started with a train ride. I was just in time for a train and there were so many people already waiting. Among them a small group with three bicycles. I asked them in Swedish, if it was the right place to wait for the car for bicycles. They didn’t understand Swedish and asked me to speak English or German. Though I did talk German with them, but some of them didn’t even understand German. They didn’t know anything about the cars of the Öresundståg and I could add to their knowledge, which was, of course, good for them. Before the train arrived, we also had the opportunity to ask, who will leave the train first. It was me, because I was only going to the first train station in Denmark (Kastrup airport), but their goal was the Central station of Copenhagen. When the train was coming in, one of the first cars was a car for bicycles, but I also have seen, that it was a long train, a train with almost six cars – maybe more. Though I expected another car for bicycles. I told this the group of people with the bicycles and we were waiting for that car. I was right and that car was stopping close to us. I let this little group into that car before me. As usual were many people sitting on the extra seats in the area for the bicycles. They can be used, if no bicycle needs the space. The people sitting there didn’t raise for our bikes, though I had to tell them. Now some did and we could put our bicycles there, but we had all panniers on our bikes, though it was a little difficult to get space for them. People are so selfish, especially on trains.
At the train station I told the other passengers, that I was leaving, because there were some in the door way, who want to go further and not leave. Anyway, a man from behind me had a hurry. Though I had to tell him to be careful with my pannier. He made it out before me and now I had to try to back out my bicycle. That isn’t easy with a loaded bike. Fortunately a woman did give me a hand.
Arriving on the ground floor of the airport it took a little while for me to find the big exit door. That was not a problem, it just hooks a little time. The problem arose outside, because I neither did get 4G nor even 3G. I had read at my providers homepage that my subscription will be full good in Europe for four months. Though I was very disappointed, that it didn’t. Unfortunately I didn’t have my Denmark map with me.
I had to ask people about the way to Sorø – my destination for the day. First I was asking a mailman. He got a little angry, that I didn’t have anything, showing me the direction, but anyway, he pointed out the direction for me. Close to the point, where I should cross a bridge, I was unsure, where to continue, but got the direction of an other kind cyclist. The challenge was to find the correct path throughout the “grean area” (a nature reserve). I did choose totally wrong. I chose the longest tour. I think all together were almost five kilometers, but at the end I did get it right.
I had to ask later again and the third or forth I asked could give me the correct direction. I had to turn to the left twice. The second time at a corner with a McDonalds. I used McDonalds WiFi network for downloading the Komoot map for the area.
I was going in the direction to Sorö. My plan was, to go all the way there, but I did neither have a host in Sorö nor booked a room. I became tired, when I entered Ringsted, which is around 20/25 East of Sorö. I did not have a host to go to in Sorö, though it did not matter. I was using booking.com for finding a room by on open network, but there were only the Scandic hotel listed with the price for the room about 1,000 SEK. Though I tried to find another opportunity. I was asking people, if they know a hostel in town and I have got a positive answer, but after the description, I did not find it. Though I asked another human being, but he did not know and did not have his mobile phone with him, because he only was out for a run. He told me, I could asked the guests at the nearby restaurant and added, that a lot of locals are going there. Unfortunately in the garden in front of the restaurants, there were no locals, but, when I asked for the third or fourth time, the visitor did help me by using his smartphone. He also gave it to me for talking with the reception. In the hostel was not a single bed free. In B&B.s we were not lucky either. The only chance to get a room for the night was actually the Scandic hotel. By the way, the visitor and his wife were Swedish and not only that. There hometown was Flen, the next city to Katrineholm. It was surprising, of course.
I did not book the room by Booking.com, but directly and I first thought, I have got it cheaper, because I only had to pay 960 Kroner – for the cheapest room they had, but including breakfast. Later in my room I realized, that the amount was in DKK and not in SEK. The room was not bad for being the cheapest one. It had the shower inside. My bike was looked into a room for conferences, but not used as such one just now. There were other things stored as well.
13th July 2022 – 58 km
I started my day with a good and big breakfast. I never can eat as much as others, but I tried, because I have to pay the same price.
I was cycling via Sorö to Korsör, where I had to take the train crossing the Store Belt bridge. Bicycles are not allowed on the bridge. Unfortunately I did not remember the first train station on the other side of the bridge, therefore I bought a ticket to Odense, my destination for this day. In Korsör the conductor was so kind and helped me into the car with my bicycle. He was a little strange, when he left. Later I saw, that the spiral spring between the frame and the front wheel was not longer on its place on the front wheel. Maybe he was afraid I would claim something for it. Actually, for a guy or a strong woman it is easily to put back. In Odense a lot of cyclists entered the train with their bikes. I had to ask them, to let me out as well as I was asking for help. I girl, who just had carried her bike into the train, did carry mine out, even I had told her, that we could take it out together. When I told her, that she is strong, she answered, that she would not have been able to carry it into the train.
I booked a room in a DANhostel (there were no dorms either) last minute in Odense. I was happy, that it was possible. It was a little cheaper as in hotels and for 500 DKK, but breakfast was not included. The 100 DKK for breakfast came on the top of the price for the room.
After I had put all my belongings into the room, I was walking downtown with the intention to go to a restaurant and eat something. I found, that the prices were very high and bought something to eat at a supermarket instead. When looking for the city center I did ask a woman with a child for the directions. She was very kind and helpful.
14th July 2022 – 100 km
My route for this day was Odense – Middelfart – Kolding – Haderslev. There is a Warmshowers host in Haderslev, but he was not at home. Also on CS I found a host for Haderslev, but she declined as well. Therefore I also boked a bed, which came with an own rum. This time it was for around 550 DKK, breakfast included.
I had to leave the room in Odense before 10am and I made it just in time – breakfast had been at 8:30.
This day it was raining off and on again, but not very much. I had problems to find my way throughout Christianfels. There were some signs, but not the directions named and one road was only allowed for cars and similar. At the end I found the way, but it had been a waste of time and I had cykled more kms than originally necessary.
Arriving at the hostel I was quite tired. Unfortunately my room was on the second floor and at the end of the corridor.
15th July 2022 – 85 km
I am up to entering Germany today. I had planned to go to Flensburg only, but found a host by BeWelcome in Mohrkirch. Even this day it was raining, when I left the hostel in Haderslev. Though I put my rain clothes on, but even this day, they rain stopped directly afterwards.
I didn’t recognize before, that Denmark has a lot of hills, when going from East to West. In the North of Germany it was easier to ride and also there was a cykelway to cross the border and for riding bicycles throughout Flensburg. I was very happy about it. Cyclist were not stopped at the border.
I did take a dose of the Thyfoid medicin during my lunch breake.
In Germany there were road works, but I did arrive at my host Thomas around 5pm. He was working in the garden around their house. When he saw me, he welcomed me immediately. As soon as I had taken off my panniers and my bags from my bicycle, he put it in a shed. He also put the spring back to it’s correct place.
In the house I also met his wife Monika. This couple had been on long distance bicycle tours before. They did understand my needs and helped me to get in touch with a friend of them for hosting the other night.
Thomas, Monika and I had very interesting conversations about bikepacking and more. I was served dinner as well. – This place Moorkirch was a rather little village and there was no supermarket.
16th July 2022 – 60 km
In the North of Germany there were some Warmshowers hosts, but either they also were out and traveling or they didn’t answer. Therefore I was happy about the opportunity Thomas had helped me to.
It should have been very windy this day as the weather forecast told, but I was lucky. It was easy to ride. I only needed one battery for the entire distance. Anyway there was a place, where I was a little unlucky. There was a path on the side of the road marked as cycleway, but it was very narrow. Though I did take a photo there (will be added later), but before I could grabb my bike again, a gust of wind did overthrow it and it was falling on the slope. I couldn’t raise it myself. Fortunately, after a little while, a car came and the driver left it, asking me, if he could help me. He was happy, it was not worse and raised my bicycle. In the car was also a woman. When I saw her, she did smile at me.
Tonio was not at home, when I arrived, but he is living in a house he bought together with friends. Each one has his own apartment and additionally there is a big kitchen, which can be used of all together. I was of Petra and later also of Roland. I waited outside until Tonio arrived. He told me, he has an extra apartment on the ground floor for guests and it is seperated by a door to his apartment, but he usually is together with his female partner, who lives on the upper floor.
So far, so good. Unfortunately Tonio has no Wi-Fi. Actually there is no Wi-Fi in the whole building. They have a router for ADSL. In the early evening I was allowed to use Tonio’s computer for half an hour.
Later his partner did invite me to her apartment. We spent around two hours together. I was early to bed that evening.
17th July 2022 – 130 km
I had asked no less than seven warmshowers’s host for a night, but the only option I have got, was to stay at the home of one of them in Uetersen. He was not at home, but told me about the special place, where he has his key, which I was allowed to use to enter his house. To get the key, I had to open a gate, which I was not able to. I tried again and again, but finally gave up. Instead I tried to find a hostel or hotel. When I didn’t see one, I was asking about it. Most people told me, there is not, but one man told me, indeed there is and gave me the directions. On my way there, I saw a police station, which was uplighted. I continued to find the hotel, I was told, but unfortunately I was not successful. I was riding back to the police station with my bicycle for asking there about a place for the night. The police station was totally dark and closed now. I did cycle to the little market place, which I had seen before.
Luckily the night was not cold. I satt down on a bench, my bicycle close to me. A young man was crossing the market place. Later I saw him looking out of a window close by. It seemed, he was visiting a friend. He was walking cross the market place and also started a conversation with me. At the end, he offered me to sleep in his apartment. His name is Hazbollah, he told me and if I remember right, he was from Syria. He told me also, I couldn’t sit outside all the night. I felt, that I could trust him. He did take my bicycle into his apartment as well. It was a one room apartment and he apologized, that he was out of electricity. He told me, he had talked with the janitor and the electricity will be back the next day. He also told me, that he has to leave for work around 7am and if he isn’t at work in time, he will loose his job, adding that he never will get a new job if he miss the one he has now. I promised to leave in time. Surprisingly, he left the apartment and left me there by myself.
I only slept a couple of hours this night, mainly because I was overwhelmed of the kindness of this guy.
18th July – 45 km
I left Hazbollah’s apartment around 6:30am. He came to take my bicycle to the entrance floor.
Still in Uetersen I had breakfast nearby. I asked, if I was allowed to charge my battery. They were not keen in allowing me, but decided then, that it was OK as long as I had my breakfast. Though I had a big breakfast and took my time to eat and drink.
I only had a shorter distance this day on a mostly flat road. My goal was my friend Michael’s home in Hamburg. I saw on the map, that I will cross the little town of Wedel, where a cousin of mine is living. I called her and asked her, if I could visit her on my way to Hamburg, but she answered me, that she will have other guests this day and also would like, that I have more time to be with her and her husband.
Close to Wedel I was riding my bicycle on the river Elbe cycleway. I tried to continue along that river, but it was not possible all the time. Before I left the shore of the river I did see a place with some tools and a pump for bicyles. I decided to fasten my mirror, because it had loosened. I was not really there, when an elderly man offered me to check my tires and pumped then. Meanwhile a little younger man arrived and helped me with my mirror. In my mind I first was concerned, but then I was thinking, why to tell them, that I am able to, to do it myself. They will feel great, that they helped me and I had a good time to see their efforts.
I now had to use bigger streets, fortunately most of them had cycleways. I was happy, that I made all the way to my friend by bicycle. I didn’t push it this time and I also was lucky with the weather.
I was very welcomed of the entire family of my friend. After a much needed shower, I fixed the settings of my Internet, which I found in the FAQ of my provider. Michael asked me, what has been wrong and when I explained, he answered, that he didn’t know that before even he is very good in the subject. I felt a little proud, that I managed it. The best of all, of course, was that I finally had Internet again.
19th July – Day off
I had a rest day and tried to get an appointment for vaccination against rabies. I didn’t succeed, I would have to wait for almost one month.
I was going by bicycle to the closest S-train station, but I first missed it and was going too far. I had to ask around. It took quite long time until I found the correct one. It was going all the way to my destination town. Well there I had to use my bicycle again to go to my cousin’s home. The bicycle ride did save me a lot of time.
After a while with conversation at my cousin’s and her husband’s home, I was invited for lunch to a restaurant close by. It didn’t have the same service as usual – so much changed by COVID-19. We could only sitt outside. The food was so expensive, that my cousin’s husband reacted. Though we had the coffee and a layer cake later at their home, but directly, when we were back their, we had ice cream with strawberry sauce.
Back at my friends’s home I had a chat with Anna and her sister, who arrive during the afternoon.
20th July – 62 km
There were a lot of warmshowers’ host in and around my destination Bremen, but the one who had told me, when he stayed at my place, that I am welcome at his home, was himself on a trip. Others didn’t answer or were not at home as well. Nevertheless, Helga answered me, that I am welcome. It would have been a long ride, but it was flat, though it should have been possible.
I didn’t make it, because of the heat. Most of the day it was +38°C. In the middle of the day I entered an ice café and was not leaving before almost three ours later. First I bought a big ice cream and a bottle of water. Later I ordered an ice capucchino and at last I also had two small bottles of tonic water – they didn’t had bigger once. All together was for €20.
I did already understand, that I won’t make it to Bremen, when I took the rest at the ice café, therefore I messaged Helga.
I tried to find hosts closer to, where I just was. In Zeven there was no host at all and the host in Rotenburg (Wümme) answered me, that he is not at home, but in Hamburg. When I entered Scheeßel, I first had to eat something. I bought a pide and three Ayran. The third Ayran I took with me. Here in Scheeßel I understood, that I won’t make it further this evening. I booked a room in a B&B. After the booking I had to call a number, though they will let me into the building. The call was not answered until I had tried several times. I did contact booking.com and first after that, someone from the B&B called me back, telling me, they don’t answer foreign numbers. He also asked me, which language I speak and what is my mother tongue. I did speak German with him and was surprised about his question, because usually German people tells me, that I am speaking German very well 😉. Ill-tempered I answered one more time, that my mother tongue is German. He was also bad in explaining, which door I have to use to enter the building. There were almost three to choose, but the box with the keys were at the last one. I had, of course, to take my bicycle with me. He told me, I had to walk faster. It also seemed, that he could see me, from where he was. I didn’t understand the way he treated me and was very disappointed about it. Finally I was at the correct entrance and found the key. Luckily I was allowed to take the bicycle into the building.
I thought, he should be much more service-minded. There were still some vaccant rooms of the few there were.
21st July – 64 km
The breakfast was OK and the breakfast lady very nice. I checked out in time. It was raining a little, but in the afternoon I ran into a thunderstorm. I had contact again with Helga during the day and it stopped raining after a while. When I finally arrived closed to her home, she messaged me that she is in a café drinking a capucchino. Arriving at the café, she called my name.
I did push my bicycle on the way to her home not far away. He welcomed and pampered me and had a lot to talk about until we were going to bed.
22nd July – 72 km
Helga did go by bicycle with me for around 10 km, when I was leaving. I was very grateful to her. It saved time for me, because I didn’t need to find the way by myself and I also love to have company.
My host for the night were Frank and Ania in Diepholz. This town is not big and not important, but bicycle routes are crossing.
I had a hard time to find Frank’s and Ania’s house, even Frank had explained to me, that they live at a little path directly on the side of the Jewish grave yard. There were two difficulties. For the first, there was no sign at the Jewish grave yard, though I didn’t know, that I was there. The second difficulty was, that I didn’t know, on which side of the grave yard that path was, therefore I had to call him. Finally there, Frank told me, among others, that he likes a lot to have warmshowers’ guests and that he sometimes pick them from the street.
Frank is a neighborhood police and he is using a bicycle during his work. He told me, he knows all the citizens very well and has a big impact on the youth. He can prevent a lot of crimes. I like the idea with the polismen riding bikes very much. It is not only sustainable, but also to be close to the people.
Meanwhile we were waiting for Ania – she was still at work, Frank helped me with my bicycle. He both fastened the mirror and fixed the stand. He also checked the airpressure of the tires.
Later they had a barbecue. A befriended couple was invited as well. Unfortunately the conversation was mostly between Frank, Ania and the couple.
Frank had told me earlier, that I can sleep in the garden house and there will have my privacy, but his teenager daughter told me during the barbecue, that there is no Wi-Fi in the garden house. Though I asked, if I may sleep in the living room, which I was allowed. Unfortunately, Frank forgot to give me the code for the Wi-Fi.
23rd July – 58 km
Before I left the very hostpitable family this morning I was to the nearby supermarket and bought toothpaste as well as something to eat. Frank cycled with me for a while for finding my way out of town easily.
Even for the upcoming night, I haven’t got a warmshowers’ host, but I found a couchsurfing host last minute. Her name is Dorothee, to have the same Christian name may have helped. Unfortunately I had to push my bike from the city center of Osnabrück to my hosts place in a suburb, because the night before I had charged the wrong battery. I had only used one fully and the other one for around 10%.
Dorothee welcomed me and we had soon a lot to talk about. We spent a nice evening together.
24th July – 96 km
Dorothee and I had breakfast together before I left. My goal for the day was the city called Hamm. Already at 9am I stayed in the town of Münster for a snack at a café called Nachtisch (dessert).
I hadn’t found a host in Hamm, though I booked last minute a room in the Casino Hotel. The receptionist was really kind. She was carrying my paniers up to the room, which was nice and had a good size. I only had to pay 45€ for it – nowadays a really good price. Unfortunately the hotel was close to a train line, but the trains were not going all the night through, though I did get a good sleep anyway. For dinner I explored the surroundings and finally ate at a Burger King restaurant. I ordered a big portion of French fries and a milkshake.
25th July – 60 km
I was happy, because I looked forward to staying with friend Doris and her husband, though I didn’t mind, that the hotel didn’t serve breakfast. Instead I bought a light one at a gas station. It was an easy ride and I had a coffee with ice cream in a town called Unna.
Close to my friends home Google maps tried to send me over a mountain. Even I have been at my friends’ home more than once, I didn’t remember that, though I continued to the railway station instead. There I understood, that I was wrong and called my friend, asking her to meet me here. She came with her husband, who was driving. In fact, I had to cross the mountain and the easiest steep had more than 15%. We packed my panniers and bags in the trunk of the car and they were driving in front of me. It was going well untill the steepest part of the road, where I had to push my bicycle. I was happy, when we reached their home.
It was wonderful to meet again. For dinner their daughter and their son in law where joining us. We were talking a lot about Mexico and Chile.
I also got my laundry done.
26th July – 47 km
I had asked Doris if she could manage an appointment for me with a GP for my vaccination against rabies, which she had done. It was a kind of last minute for avoiding the need to start over again.
After breakfast her husband did drive us to the GP and I got my second vaccination against rabies. The price was 20€ for the vaccin and 75€ for the doctor – or vice versa. Doris did pay the amounts and told me, that it is her sponsering.
I continued further after lunch and the route for this day was going via Wuppertal to Ratingen, where a Couchsurfing host was waiting for me. It was hilly around Wuppertal, but later on more flat.
Despite his first name Henrico, he is German. His girlfriends name is Ly. Both have been Buddhist monks, when they met. They were both very kind and nice to me.
27th July – 94 km
Henrico and Ly had to leave early for work, but I was allowed to take my time. They told me, to leave the transponder for the garage (where my bicycle was) in their postbox. Unfortunately, I couldn’t open the garage. Luckily a man with a car, who told me he is waiting for his elderly mother, because he had made some shopping for her, could help me. The mother and landlady to my host, arrived before I left and was surprised, that I had that transponder, but after I had explained the situation for her and also put the transponder into the postbox of my host, she was OK with it. Actually I don’t know if she later complained to my host.
I was now on my way to another Couchsurfing host. Her name is Claudia. I arrived late, because of cycleways in bad conditions and some big cities to cross. Those were Düsseldorf, Leverkusen and Cologne. The worse was Cologne. The gps was not working correctly here and I was sent back and forth.
Finally I arrived at Claudia’s home. She was waiting for me with homemade newly fryed mushrooms.
I had a sleeping bag for the night, but before she was asking me about my trip, my apartment etc. She also told me, that she every second year takes three months off work and is going on a bicycle tour. Last time she had been in France, Italy and Switzerland.
28th July – 66 km
Even it was my plan to go all the way to Boppard this day, I only was going to Koblenz, because I knew, that the warmshowers’ host in Boppard wasn’t at home. Among the eight hosts in the greater area, Barbara, living in Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein, was the only one, who opened her home for me. I arrived a little late, though she had left for work, but her flatmaid was at home and also left a key to me.
I fell asleep on a couch and I am sure, I slept almost for an hour. Afterwards I fried two eggs and was drinking a glass of water. Later I updated my blig somewhat. I was a little surprised about all the moving boxes in the apartment and guessed, that Barbara newly moved in, but it was from another flatmate, who was moving out.
When Barbara came home, she cooked dinner for both of us. We were chatting until late and she also asked her brother, who lives in Mainz, if he will host me.
29th July – 89 km
As you may have considered I am following the river Rhine now. It makes it generally easier to ride a bike, because there are no hills or mountains to force. Following the EuroVelo 15 is anyway a challenge, because the roads are not always paved and from time to time one would need a gravel or mountainbike instead.
Early this day I was cycling with the river on my right hand side, which not only meant, that I often had a steep bank on my right hand side, which scared me. As soon as possible I crossed the Rhine and sometimes, when the road wasn’t paved, I prefered to cycle throughout villages instead.
Some small roads were going throughout farmland. When I was on such one, I came into a thunderstorm. I had seen the dark clouds in time and put on my rain clothes including my gaiters. Though I stayed dry, but part of the road had got new asphalt which quite high borders down to the side. When I rounded a corner, cycling on the right and by that correct side of the road, a car parked there (in the wrong direction). You even have to know, that there was a hedge on this side though I couldn’t see the car before last minute. I was not riding faster, than I could avoid a collision, but I came out off the newly made road. By stearing back onto the road, the angle to that border must have been bad, because I fell and the handlebar of my bicycle touched the car. The female driver of the car came out of it and after looking for, if I was hurt, she told me, that there was a bump in the car – even I couldn’t see one. Though we changed our addresses. When she read, that I was from Sweden, she told me, that she might not follow up the incident.
Meanwhile two guys (one of them was from the UK, the other one from Germany) on bicycles had arrived and they followed me for a while, when I continued, to be sure, that I am OK. By the way, they had no gaiters and there shoes were very wet. They told me, that it is a good idea to have gaiters.
I reached the home of Nathalia, who is a doctor and neighbor to Barbara’s brother Matthias around 5pm. Matthias lives with his wife Carmen in a very tiny house. Nathalia’s house is a little bigger. Though the couple had asked her friend to host me and she was happy about it. The couple came over with a meal and a cake. We also had strawberry ice cream for dessert.
30th July – 98 km
I have got an invitation from Alexandra – to stay with her in Mannheim and was on my way to her. I expected to arrive around 6pm, but didn’t make it before 8:15pm, because there were a lot of gravel roads by following EuroVelo 15. Even it was sparsly with signs and it was one of the hot days.
Finally close to Alexandra’s home, Google maps told me too early, that I have arrived at my goal. It was the street before. Though I called Alexandra, asking her, what the house, where she is living, looks like. Alexandra met me on the street.
She lives on the highest two floors and has a huge balcony. She and her boyfriend celebrated another part of the refurbishing of the apartment. I was invited, of course. Unfortunately, there was no vegetarian food, though I ate a little of, what was offered.
After the boyfriend had left, she asked me existential questions and was very interested in the reason for my trip.
Before I was going to bed, Fabian – my next host, who also had invited me, took contact with me by Signal.
31st July – 75 km
Fabian is a keen cyclist. He met me in Heidelberg at noon, starting from his home in Karlsruhe in the early morning.
I enjoyed a lot to have company for the rest of the day. I didn’t need to care about finding my way. We tried to avoid gravel roads – I have asked him for it. Unfortunately there was a part, we had to ride our bikes on a gravel road, otherwise it would have been a much longer distance.
Well at his home we ate ice cream and had something to drink. For dinner we ate pizza.
I did get a key of him for the next morning for feeling free to carry my bags and panniers one by one without need to be afraid, that I get locked out. He also prepared breakfast for me as much as possible.
When I already was to bed, I did chat with my son Marcus via Skype. Therefore I didn’t have time to update my blog.
By the way in Karlsruhe the train and the tram use the same rails.
1st Aug – 113 km
This was a day I won’t forget soon. I had read, that from Strasbourg the EuroVelo 15 is much more beautiful on the French side. There was another reason, why I was going to Strasbourg. In 1966 or 1967 I had been here with my parents and my brothers. We were on the way to Lake Luzern in Switzerland. It was our last and longest trip by bicycle. When we visited Strasbourg we only had a few hours and I would like to see more.
I had problems to find my way by the Komoot app. Even Google maps wasn’t a good help. Luckily some helpful cyclists had the same way. They also helped me with my bicycle over a high bridge. It had rails for bikes, but it was so steep that the kind gentlemen had a hard work to get it to the top with the panniers and all my bags. On the way down I helped to hold the bike in the back, but that was only possible, because I hold the railing at the same time. There were also gravel roads. Meanwhile I could take a detour on one part, there were no detour for the other part. Furthermore I had to take a ferry to cross the river Rhine, which I only found after diligently searching and asking people for it.
At one point, after a rest, I lost the rain cover for my rack bag back. I think, it was blowing away when I was in the bushes for peeing. I was looking for it for a while, but didn’t find it.
A part of the EuroVelo 15 was going throughout an industrial area. There was a sign “no entrance”. Though I first tried to use another way, but that was not possible. I had to ride my bicycle back and use the forbidden entrance. Nobody stopped me. During the day I was very unhappy about the spares signs for the Eurovelo 15.
Bevor I arrived in Strasbourg my host Leon let me know, that he will stay in Paris, where he is working. He told me to call him, when I arrived at the address he had given me, that he can tell me, where I can find the key.
Finally at the address I first had problems to open the gate to the garden. Well in there I called Leon and he told me the place for the key, but it was so high up, that I couldn’t reach. I was looking around for a stick, but didn’t find any. I was thinking feverishly, what to use and already ready to look for a hostel, when I was thinking about my tiny lock, which I use for my front basket and it was working.
Leon had explained to me, that I have to go to the first floor and which room I should use. It was a big house with sparesly with furniture. There was only a mattress in the room I was allowed to use. He had not told me, where the WC is, but I found it. I felt very uncomfortable in this empty house – I actually was scared, but I was tired after this unusual day and tried to make the best of it.
2nd Aug – 3 km walking
I soon understood, that I was far away from the city center and it was one of the hot days. I had to find a supermarket or grocery store to buy something to eat. Luckily I was walking in the right direction, but it took a while before I found what I was looking for. I was straight going back to the house and didn’t leave another time.
In the evening, Leon was coming. He offered me a meal and were explaining about the house. Once his grandparents and his parents had been living here. His parents moved out years ago. His grandma died some month ago – his grandpa did earlier. Leon will sell the house, but not to the neighbor, who only is interested in the plot. There are old trees in the garden and Leon would like them to be saved. Though he is using the house from time to time and even inviting couchsurfers, that the house looks inhabited.
He stayed overnight.
3rd Aug – 79 km
Leon made breakfast, afterwards I was trying to find my way out of Strasbourg, which took a while. My goal for the day was Logelheim, Alsace, France. In Alsace most people still speak German, which makes it easy for me to cycle on the French side of the Rhine river.
It was another one of these hot days. I stayed at a restaurant, but felt, that I had to leave soon after the coffee. Therefore I had to go further during the heat. I had left Leon’s house 8:30am and arrived in Logelheim at 4pm.
My host for the day was a warmshowers’ host, which I was very happy about. The couple was in their 50’s or 60’s and one of their two sons was still living with them. I think, it was a meaning with it, that I had chosen them, because their other son has Aspergers syndrom and I felt, I could be to some relief for them by talking about my situation. The son, who lives at home joined us after a while and was asking me some questions. I was so happy, when he asked me, if he was allowed to call me “du” instead for the very official “Sie”. I hopped his parents also would start to use the “du” now, unforutnately they got angry with their son, who was leaving immediately.
Before going to bed my male host did show me a road, which wasn’t a gravelroad. I was very happy about it, because the Komoot app had only shown me a gravelroad in this area.
4th Aug – 68 km
There are some warmshowers’ host in and close to Basel, Switzerland and I was happy, that one answered me, that I am welcome. Her name is Dorothee. Before I finally arrived at her place, something really unexpected happened.
I was cycling on a wide road throughout a park or forest. There were some other cyclists. A man in the other direction had stopped and seemed to be waiting for someone. I continued and soon I saw a women coming and behind her a teenager. Suddenly I recognized, that the teenage girl was cycling in the middle of the road, but drifting to her left. I was wondering, if I should continue on my right side or cycle in between the woman and the girl. I decided to cycle hard to the right. Unfortunately, the teenager came more and more over to my side. I was wondering, why she didn’t correct her path, but counted on, that there was enough with space for me to pass.
When we were at the same high, my handelbar touched her handelbar and I fell with my bike. She did fell as well, but a little further and I heard a surprised “oh”. I hurt my leg and my shoulder as well as I was also afraid, that my bicycle or the battery of my bicycle were broken.
The woman, I had seen, came and told me, that her daughter is not like others. Though I told her, that she has to take care of her better. I think, the daughter may have ADHD and the mother should not have been in front of the girl, because the mother couldn’t see, what her daughter was doing. She then were calling her husband and father. I tried first to speak English with him, because I don’t speak French, but he answered “no, Deutsch”. That made it, of course, easy for me to communicate with him. He apologized and told me, that his daughter had used her phone and didn’t see me. He also added, that they are riding their bicycles on a Monday to avoid the crowds on the Weekend. I told him, that he should not allow his daughter to have a smartphone, while cycling – infor my eyes I saw the situation and an angry daughter, though I nearly apologized for my words, but he agreed with me. Finally, we changed addresses in case, I had to go to a doctor or hospital respectively my bike or my battery was no longer working properly.
Even with this accident, some male cyclists came around and made company with me for a while – until they were sure, that all was OK with me. Later I was thinking about, if I am in a similar situation again, I will stopp and go off my bicycle before meeting the other part.
When I arrived in Basel the city was full of people. Many of them coming from the river in light dresses, partly with tiny tops or shirtless. There were also lots of people on their way to the river similar dressed.
I was too early. Dorothee had messaged me, that she still is at work and has to stay there for a while, though I was looking for an ice café, but only found a Mövenpick restaurant. I ordered ice cream and iced coffee for around 42€. Even the Mövenpick is expensive – and I new that, before I ordered, I just needed to pamper myself this evening.
I arrived late at Dorothee’s home, but she didn’t carw about it. In the contrary, she was kind and also carried my panniers and most of my bags up to the fourth floor, where she is living. Before we were going to bed, she helped me to find a solution for charging my bicycle battery, because the electrical contacts in Switzerland are a little different from the EU’s. She found out, that it is possible the use the cabel from the battery of her computer for the adapter of my bicycle battery. I was very happy and greatful for it.
5th Aug – 65 km
It was still hot this day – I already had two iced coffees at 11am and I also experienced a thunderstorm again this day, but I even had a nice surprise. During the day I met a little group of male cyclists off and on. When I found a nice place for lunch, the cyclists were already there and we made company. Therefore I’ve got to know, that two of them are 69 y-o and ride e-bicycles as well, but the younger one was riding a conventional bicycle, because the three had taken a car to a town, from which the were going back home. The weight would have been to heavy on the car, if all three have had e-bicycles. Though the younger cyclist had not has the opportunity to have an e-bicycle as well. For compensation, the two cyclists with the e-bikes had more weight in their panniers. By the way, the third cyclist was just one year younger than the other two.
In the afternoon I had to force some hills. I booked a room in a hotel, which announced, that cyclists usually are staying there as well as they have a garage as safe storage for the bicycles. It was also written, that there is Wi-Fi available, but it was not. This hotel was situated in Waldslust-Tiengen and very close to EuroVelo-routes.
Well there I wrote the feedbacks for my last hosts and also sent request to others.
6th Aug – 94 km
In the morning i tried to pick up my freezer blocks. I have them for cooling my medicines, which should not become warmer than +25°C. When staying at private hosts it was never a problem to have them in a freezer overnight. In this hotel a fridge with a freezer part was offered, where everyone could put in – and take out their food, drinks or, just freezer blocks. When I put in my two blocks, there were already some in there and I was afraid, that mine would disapear, but the receptionist told me, there was no other option. I put mine in the other direction than the others in the hope, people would recognize, that they didn’t put them in.
In the morning, when I was ready to leave the hotel I tried to pick my freezer blocks up, but the freezer part was empty! There was none in the reception, but I found an employee in the kitchen. She didn’t know anything, but told me, that there was one, which was left a time ago and she gave it to me. That was, of course, better than none, but I was not sure, that one was enough to keep my medicine cool.
With other words, I had a bad start this day and it continued the same way for a time. I did cycle in the wrong direction and entered the South Black Forest. The steeps uphill were just what I could cope with. It was especially hard because of the rolling grit on the roads. After an amazing view I discovered, that I had to roll down the mountain again. I think I made an extra 10 km, maybe more, but it was also an interesting part of my trip throughout typically villages for the area.
My plan was, to ride my bicycle on the German side of the river Rhein, but that was not possible. Most of the day I had to be on the Swiss side, because there were no EuroVelo-route at the other side. By the detour and also for visiting the Rhine Falls of Schaffhausen, which actually are in Neuhausen, I arrived around 9pm in Constance at the lake with the same name. I stayed at a host’s home.
7th Aug – 10 km walking
It was one of my so called days off. I had heard a lot about the Mainau Island e.g. by my oldest brother, who had visited the place years ago together with his late girlfriend.
I had bought the entrance ticket before I had started this trip to be sure to get one, but that also meant, that I had to follow my plan exactly for not missing out of this visit.
I also had booked a tour, which I had expected to start from the entrance, but I had to meet at the Butterfly house. I was in a very hurry to find it. Eventually I was a little late, but fortunately there were a few participants, why the female guide was waiting a little. It was an interesting tour throughout the garden. At the end of it, the guide and I had lunch together. We found a place on a table with two other visitors. The guide had to leave soon for her next tour, but had nice company.
Later I took a look at the castle and into the church. Afterwards I was strolling around the garden on path I haven’t used before. Finally I was looking at an installation with umbrellas. I left the garden around an hour before it closed. At the bus stop lots of people were already waiting. We had to wait for around half an hour. Two buses arrived close to each other, they were the same line, but going in the opposite directions. After dinner downtown, I went back to my host, who lives close. I was really tired this evening, because the path in the garden were all paved.
8th Aug – 37 km
My plan was to cycle around the most of the lake Constance, but my host told me, that part of it is in Switzerland. It would also have been around 100 km to ride and I expected a very climb at the end, though I did choose the shorter option taking a ferry between Constance-Staad and Meersburg. The ferry runs every 15 minutes. A single trip, including the bicycle, was for €5.30. There were a lot of cyclists on the ferry.
Well on the other shore of the lake, I had to find a bathroom. The solution was much closer as I had expected, therefore I first rode my bicycle a little into town. After asking for the bathroom, I had to cycle back to the harbour.
Feeling better, I was going back to Meersburg. I pushed my bicycle throughout the city center of two reasons: The city center was very crowded by visitors, walking on the streetd as well as I could see more of the buildings. There is also a castle on a top of a hill, which is a winery.
At this point I found a good cykelway leading all the way to Friedrichshafen.
My upcoming host Gitti and Martin Weber live i Tettnang, not far away from Friedrichshafen. They had informed me, that they will be at work until 5pm. Though I stayed in Friedrichshafen, had first an ice cream and tog later a seat on a bench at the market place. Occasionally I had company and a chat with people around my age. Some of them were locals, some visitors.
When I later was biking to Tettnang I was surprised, that the area wasn’t as hilly as I had expected.
Martin sent me a message, when they arrived at home. He also added a photo of their house. I was very welcomed of them. Among others they told me about there tours with the tandem. They also made Käsespätzle (a special kind of pasta, original from this region) for dinner. It was delicious.
9th Aug – 10 km
I had another “day off”. In real I was visiting my sponsor Vaude. I was happy, that I had left my panniers and bags at Gitti’s and Martin’s home. I only had a short ride, but it was very hilly.
I was a little early at Vaude even I had made a detour to their outlet, because Google maps only shows this. I was very welcome of a member of the marketing team. Soon I was invited for lunch and got to know the other members of this team. Afterwards I was guided throughout the manufacture as well as they explained their future plans for me. I asked some questions, which were friendly answered. Of course, there were also photos taken. Att the end I have got some minor souvenirs of them – sustainable and good to have.
They also walked the extra mile for me. By my different experiences about the possibility to get the vaccination against rabies, I had some days ago asked the marketing team, if they could find a doctor for me, who would help me. They actually had found one. He is a pediatrician and was also a helping hand during vaccination against COVID-19. One employee of the marketing team did drive me to this doctor and took me back to the VAUDE office building, where I picked up my bicycle and rode it back to my host, which was much easier than the other way around.
The day wasn’t finished yet. Back in Tettnang I had a problem to find Gitti’s and Martin’s home, but one of the employees of Vaude lives in this town as well. When I had turned around for the second time, he arrived by bike and helped me to find the address.
Martin did help me a lot with my bicycle this evening. He helped me with the mirror, my sign, put a flagg on my bicycle for safety reasons and helped me with my panniers as well. I really look forward to meet Gitti and Martin again.
10th Aug – 62 km
I enjoyed my day, had a mango smoothie around 11am and an hour later a sandwich with an iced coffee.
I hadn’t found a host nor a hostel or hotel in Stochach, therefore I booked a room by AirBnB. It was offered by Deborah “Struts”. Immediately I did get the answer, that I was welcome, but that she won’t be at home before 5pm. I arrived after 5pm, but nobody was at home. That I figured out after I had knocked at the wrong door. There were two floors I could see and there were no bell with Deborah’s name. The fact is, that there is a basement floor, which can’t be seen from the street.
I called Deborah, who answered that she is visiting a GP and will be back in around an hour. She also explained about her apartment and the room as well as she discribed how I can enter the apartment. I was very disappointed, when I saw the apartment and also the room. It was so dirty in the livingroom. The kitchen was not much better, but the room a little. Anyway there was the bedlinen thrown on the bed. It was not ironed and worse, it was still wet. The room also was very small. I told her, that I had found a wet cloth in the bedlinen, though she asked me to put all together in the bathtube. After she arrived at home, she gave me dry bedlinen, but I told her, that I expected a well-bedded bed and that she has to make the bedding. Finally she explained about the bathroom and told me, that I can use a part of her fridge. I didn’t feel comfortable with her and stayed at the room.
11th Aug – 66 km
I had breakfast in that little room, packed my bags and panniers and left. I couldn’t find Deborah, even I was knocking the doors. Though I left the way I had entered. On the way out or maybe later I forgot the safety flag, I had got of Martin, which I regret.
It was an easy day for me. At a rest place I have seen a farmer making hay balls with an older maskin. I found it interesting and took a video. I took two rests, eating of, what I had bought at a supermarket in Stockach. In the evening I only had an ice cream.
I had booked a room at “Villa Flora” in Riedlingen via booking.com, because I hadn’t found a host for the night either.
It seemed to me, that this guesthouse is run by a family. The father is very positive and service-minded. He recommended three restaurants, which should have delicious food. Unfortunately the Cafe Stadtgespräch, which lies directly on the shore of the river Danube was closed, because the birthday of one of the owners. The recommended Pizzeria had a long queue and the restaurant Rosen was too expensive for me. The ice cream bar was clising down soon after I had ordered, but I was allowed to keep my seat until I had finished my ice cream. I didn’t need to hurry.
Riedlingen is an old, beautiful town, but small. I bought some food at a supermarket nearby the guesthouse before going back there for the night. By the way, my bike was save in a shed.
12th Aug – 66 km
Actually I had planned to go to Donauwörth via Ulm, but I didn’t come further than to Ulm, where I last minute booked a room at Hotel Engel.
It was a stunning ride, but the signs were rare, though it took a lot of extra time and the one and other detour to find my way. Partly the road was unpaved, which delayed me as well.
Even in this hotel, my bicycle was stored in a shed. The hotel was rather impersonal, not much of decoration.
13th Aug – 89 km
The breakfast host changed all the time. There was quite a lot to choose for breakfast including cinnamon buns and I was looking forward to end my breakfast with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun. Unfortunately by the good social education my parents gave me, I didn’t take one of the buns from the beginning. When it was time for coffee and the bun, no bun was left and they didn’t have any left in the kitchen either. Of course, I was disappointed and thought, that I in the future should forget my education regarding to hotel breakfast.
I didn’t find a host in Donauwörth either and I arrived there pretty early, though I decided to continue for a while. Not far before Bissingen I understood, that this town has to be my goal for the day and I booked a room at the Gasthof Krone. It was a singel-room for 65€, there was no cheaper in the area.
It was a little hard to find out, which one of the two Gasthof Krone and Hotel Krone was the correct one, but at the Hotel the door was opened and I was welcomed – by the mother of the children, who run the hotel. She explained, that her children are on holiday, because it is off season and she is helping them. She added, that the house on the other side is the older one. By the way, the new hotel’s marketing is, that it is a hotel for cyclists and it really is. There is a dedicated room for bicycles including electrical contacts for e-bikes. This room is big and clean and it is only possible to enter from the inside of the hotel meanwhile one can leave the room directly to the street. It is like heaven for cyclists.
The lady also helped my with my panniers. Unfortunately, the restaurant was not open, though I had to go someone else for a meal.
14th Aug – 67 km
I made it to Ingolstadt. During the day I bought some bread at a baker, had an iced coffee at another place, but I started with breakfast at Hotel Krone, which was not included in the price.
I was following the signs for EuroVelo 6, which follows the river Danube. There were a lot of hills. Somewhere I only found the signs for the DRW (Donauradweg). It was on unpaved roads mostly on a dam along the river. The sides of the dam were steep and I was scared, though I pushed my bike for many km. Later, when it followed the road again there was a very hill, starting at a bridge, where one has to cross the street and should continue at a narrow cycelway. It was not only me, who had problems with the crossing and the uphill steep. Fortunately a young man from Hungary did push my bike that part. He did push his own at the same time even I had offered him to push it, because it was not at all as heavy as mine.
Somewhere among the fields were a bench, where i took a rest and ate the bread I had bought in the morning. Later, in Neuburg, I had an iced coffee.
I hadn’t got an answer from the Youthhostel even I had sent an email three days ago. I tried anyway to get a bed there and I was lucky, even I had to take a room, but I was charged for one bed only. The receptionist explained, that I should have called, because it is only his female boss, who can read the emails/enter the system and she don’t does it often. I paid 33,10 for the night including an extra membership fee.
The reason, that I booked a bed in Ingolstadt was, that I hoped I could meet one of my brothers there, but actually he moved to Munich. By not answering my email in time, I already had decided to go further the next day and the meet up he offered last minute was not compatible with my plans.
I did take a sightseeing tour (walking alone around) this evening and had a waffle with fruits.
15th Aug – 102 km
I was invited to stay with Alejandra, who is original from Panama. She lives together with a couple of other tenants in an apartment in Regensburg not far from the city center. She offered me a meal, before she took me out for sightseeing. It was getting dark, when we were at a well-known bridge. A guy talked to us with sentences, which seemed he tried to pick Alexandra up. She was not interested in it. He also told her, that she looks Asian, but she doesn’t at all.
Alexandra offered me everything, which was hers – even shampoo.
16th Aug – 91 km
Alejandra made breakfast for both of us. Unfortunately it took time and it became late for me. I anyway arrived at the next place – in Deggendorf around 6pm even Google Maps was hard to understand again and I had to ask for the railway station, where Zoreh lives close too.
Soon after I had arrived one of Zorehs’ girlfriends did as well. Zoreh talked with her in Farsi for a long time. When the girlfriend had left, Zoreh apologized and explained, that her girlfriend has problems in her relationship. Another girlfriend came this evening, but she only picked up a bag.
Zoreh offered dinner (toast with slices of vegetarian sausage and remoulade sauce. Zoreh only had a thin and small mattress for me, what she had told me already, but this evening, she offered me her bed. I used the mattress.
17th Aug – 47 km by bicycle, 18 km by walking
My goal was Passau, but the warmshowers’ host I found was living some 15 km before Passau.
After breakfast I started on my way to Vilshofen-Sandbach and saw, that it is not so far away as I had imagined. I took a good rest in Markt Windorf and thought, I could take a ferry from there to Vilshofen, what Christina, who I just had called also, also had confirmed. Additionally she had told me, that there are signs to the ferry. I did find one sign, but no more, though I asked two man on a bench. They told me, there is no ferry anymore and it had been years since there was a ferry. Though I had to go back for almost 5 km to another part of Vilshofen to cross the river by a bridge.
Christina welcomed me very warm. In the evening he took me to a Jazz performace in Passau and showed me later the town by night.
18th Aug – 8 km walking
Unfortunately there is no train between Vilshofen and Passau. Though Christina took her car again and drow to town. She showed me around in the city and was walking with me to the “Oberhaus“, where we had a snack.
The evening we spent at her home with wine and dark chocolate as we had done the evening before.
19th Aug – 103 km
Even for Linz I had an invitation. It was Elly, who had invited me, but it seemed her boyfriend Jakob was most interested in my story. I was close to there home, when Jakob saw me outside and asked me, if I am from Sweden. After my answer he told me, that he is on his way to the post office, but Elly is at home. Though I continued the few meters, which were left.
Even this day I was experience a thunderstorm. Luckily it started when I already was at Elly’s and Jakob’s home. Elly was not talk active and also there home was not as clean and tidy as I prefer it. We are all different and without this difference I might take spotless clean homes for granted.
20th Aug – 88 km + 6.5 km
You may wonder, why I don’t write the entire km as one sum. Look for the reason in the text below.
My host Alexander had very good references, but already, when he answered me “OK, you can come” I was a little surprised. He lives in the same house as his father, who lives at the ground floor while Alexander lives on the first floor. There also is a big garden around the house.
Last minute before reaching their home I saw Alexanders’ message, that he will come home at 6:30pm. Even it had been raining in the middle of the day and I had been waiting for almost an hour – in nice company of other bikers at Radstation Mitterkirchen, that the rain will stop, I arrived at Alexander’s home 3 km outside the city center of Ybbs an der Donau two hours to early. Though I messaged him, asking were I could put my panniers and bags for riding back to the city center for a meal. I didn’t get an answer. When he arrived at home an hour later he told me, that he hadn’t read it, but told me to take my bags and panniers into the room, where I was allowed to sleep. He also told me, that I should take my bicycle for going to the city center. All the circumstances around gave me the feeling, that he tries to hide me for his father.
It was hard to find an open restaurant in the city center, because at the first two I was told, that they only have space for pre-booked guests respectively no space for me. The restaurant, where I finally was welcome had a view on the river Donau. Fortunately it was not as expensive as I had expected, but it was not cheap either. The waitress was very nice even I was dressed in my biking pants.
Back at Alexanders, he “throw” the bedlinen to me. I had to make the bed myself, which I don’t mind. I also had to ask for the bathroom. He didn’t make company with me and it seemed, he wasn’t interested in to speak with me more than the absolutely necessary. I have got the impression, that he is not keen in talking with females.
21st Aug – 52 km
In the morning, Alexander’s far talked to me, when I was on my way down the stairs for taking a shower. He invited me for breakfast.
I saw Alexander briefly and told him about the invitation. He didn’t join us for breakfast, but came into the kitchen meanwhile we were eating. He stood at the window, looking out of it, that gave me the impression, he was afraid of me, getting involved with his father, who by the way is a widower (he told me) and maybe stay for longer. Alexander maybe also was jealous of his father.
In Krems, my next overnight stop, I didn’t have found a host. There were some, but they were neither answering nor at home. I was happy, that there was a hostel and I had pre-booked a bed in a room. I already arrived at 3pm even it wad a rainy day and the hostel didn’t open before 5pm. Luckily it was not raining in Krems. Though I was looking for an ATM in the area, because I needed cash. After a while I found one. There were still a lot of time left and I followed a sign to the old town. Here I had an ice cream, taking place at a table with already two man sitting.
Back at the hostel, the check-in was smooth and the receptionist very service-minded. She asked me, if I was born German and carried my panniers up the around 10 stairs. Furthermore she was also willing to help me to carry my bicycle into the hostel, but a kind male guest offered his help just in time.
I had a bed in a room for six. It was for 29€ including the extra membership fee. It sounds strange to me, when people address me “Frau Hildebrandt” even I should be used to it.
22nd Aug – 87 km
I am on my way to my friend Marion in Vienna. We met in 2013, when I was couchsurfing at her place. I visited her in springtime 2014 as well, when I was on my way to Malta (for work). Last time we had met – even at her home in Vienna, was a week after my 65 birthday. I wished to see Vienna in all seasons of the year, though it was perfect timing, but even more it was wonderful to meet again after seven years. Nonetheless I understood, that we both had changed a little.
Marion welcomed me warmly and the rest of the day until late we chatted.
23rd Aug – 7 km
Actually this was a day off, aimed to have time for each other, but I also had two errands. The most important was to vote. In September the political elections will be hold in Sweden. When I left Sweden it was too early to vote, though I planned to vote at the Swedish embassy in Vienna. In 2018 I had made it in Mexico city. Therefore I know that system. The other important thing was to get a new chain for my bicycle. Luckily both the embassy and the bicycle mechanic were not far away from, where Marion lives.
My voting was soon done and at the bike mechanic I could watch him throughout the whole process and also ask questions. Though I learned, that the chain should be changed every 8,000 to 10,000 km and every other time also the pinion. Last but not least I bought straps for my biking pants. I have lost so much weight, that my belt wasn’t a good solution anymore.
Back at Marion’s she had lunch ready. After the meal we chatted again – it happened a lot during the years we didn’t met and even we write emails, there was still a lot to talk about. Marion was more talk active than I.
24th Aug – 69 km
From one capital to the next was an easy ride following the Danube on paved roads only.
I entered Slovakia in the afternoon and it took not long time before I arrived in Bratislava, where I had a little problem, because my host lives at a very hill. Anyway, I could have ridden my bicycle to his door if I had known, which house exactly is his. Therefore I pushed my bike the last 50 m.
Tomas lives together with Anastasia, mostly called Anna. Both are engaged in the bikekitchen. The idea, I was told, was born in the USA, but adopted in many countries. Here, bicylces are repaired for free. There are additonal activities like bicycle trips etc.
In the evening, we cycled together to this bike kitchen and spent many hours there. Some of them attended en competition, so did Anna. As well as it was an competition it was marketing for an upcoming event.
Around midnight Anna and I were cycling back to their home. Tomas came later.
25th Aug – 88 km
Slovakia is a small country, though I actually made it to Hungary, exactly to the town of Györs, where I had booked a room at a hotel, because I didn’t find another place to sleep.
During the day I had a kind of meeting with a boy. He was cycling around and when he saw me, he cycled very fast in front of me. After a while he stopped, sat on a bench waiting for me, when I was close he started the same game again.
The hotel didn’t have any service. I had to find the box with the keys. Unfortunately, there was no space inside for my bicycle.
After I had checked in and carried mina panniers and bags to my room on the third floor, I went to the city center to find something to eat. I didn’t find anything better than a cheeseburger without meat and a tea with lemon and mynta. I didn’t like the tea and left half of it as well as I wasn’t able to it the entire burger.
26th Aug – 114 km
It was still hot, anyway I was riding a long distance and wondering, why the sunflowers are looking burnt. Was it by the sun or had it been a fire. I was aware of so many burnt plants over such a big area that I imagined, that they got sunburn.
Sometimes it was hard to follow the EuroVelo 6, especially when it only was a very small path. After a distance of 80 km I tried to find a room in lack of a host, but in e.g. Tata they were very expensive, therefore I continued.
Well in Esztergom I was looking for a hotel or similar. I found a pension for 57€ including breakfast. Unfortunately it was on a hill, but I made that as well. There was no restaurant in the area, though after I had occupied my room, I was cycling downwards to the city center, where I in a side street found a restaurant with reasonable prices. They didn’t understand English and I couldn’t pay with card I’ve got to know after I had ordered and they already had started to prepare my meal.
Though I had to find an ATM before my order was ready and also make them to understand, that I will be back soon. Both were working well and we were happy.
Satisfied I left the restaurant around half an hour later and riding up the hill back to my room, which was on the ground floor (I first was one assigned at the first floor, but I asked for one on the ground floor and the receptionist changed it. The bedlinen was colored with a nice pattern. I really liked it. My bicycle was safe in the yard, which was gated.
27th Aug – 57 km
I look forward to meeting my friend Anikó. She lives in Kecskemét, but has a relativ in Budapest, where we will meet and stay for a couple of nights.
Before I left the pension I saw another bicycle in the yard and soon also the rider. It was Zac from Texas. We had a chat and exchanged our phone numbers for WhatsApp. He was riding faster than me, but because of different detours we met several times on our way. I tried to follow the Danube, but didn’t come closer than on highway 11.
I had two rests this day, the second in Budapest, because I was too early. Anikó wouldn’t arrive before around 5pm and her relative was still at work. Well at the correct address I was allowed to put my bicycle in a storage room in the basement.
Around 7pm, we (Anikó, her son, her relative and I) left the home to see fireworks in the city center – on the other side of the Danube as the parliament building. For my age I was allowed to go for free on the buses and the tram. It is equal for Hungarians and foreigners. The fireworks lasted for half an hour and I was thinking about the CO2 inpact on the climate.
28th Aug – (4 x) 3,5 km walking
I had a day off again. I hadn’t planned for sightseeing, because I visited Budapest before and thought, I have seen all the interesting places already, but there was more to see.
We left for sightseeing in the middle of the day and were going by bus and tram to St. Matthias church and the nearby citadell, which I only had seen in the dark before. We would have liked to take a rest and ice-cream at a café, but all of it’s tables were occupied. We continued to the castle, where I haven’t been before. There were many steps and Anikó stayed halfway up meanwhile Eva was walking with Anikós son Lexi and me all the way up and invited us for ice-cream at the very top.
Anikó has had a heart attack last year and has not walked a lot since it, though she was not in the same good shape as I am. We were back at Eva’s at 6pm.
I also was wondering about, that Anikó is a real chicken mum to her son Lexi. I know, that she has helped her son with his studies, but taking care about him like she is doing and I could see now, surprised me. She told me, if Lexi will get a work somewhere else, she will move with him. Though I am wondering what will happen to him the day she dies?
I was really hungry this evening and at more as I am used to. By the way, when Eva’s 17-year-old daughter came home, they all spoke in the Hungarian language, which disappointed me.
29th Aug – 101 km
I had not planned to ride 100 km this day, but the 4G-connection was very bad. I was lucky that it worked in Budapest. At the countryside it suddenly broke down. Unfortunately the EuroVelo 6 was badly signed. In addition, the road I should have taken was not allowed for bicycles. Fortunately I found another one I could use, but after I first was biking in the wrong direction.
I didn’t have a host and booked some time before arriving a room at the “EuroVelo Stop” in Solt. I reached it earlier as expected. The owner was very nice. I have got a room on the ground floor and a safe place just outside for my bicycle.
There were no meals included in the. I booked breakfast and was asking for a vending machine, because I needed more to drink. I had not have a lot during the day. There was not such a machine and I was told, there are restaurants in town, which even have take away. She brought me a grapefruit drink for free and a homebrewed beer, which I had to pay for.
30th Aug – 90 km
After a delicious breakfast with vegetables and fruit grown in the own garden, eggs from their own hens and homemade vegetable stew, plum jam and a macron as well as a tasty cup of coffee I was on my way to another warmshowers’ host. He lives with his wife in a suburb of Szekszárd. This was also my last overnight stop in Hungary.
I had an easy ride this day even I twice didn’t directly find the correct roads, but I didn’t make any long detour. I already arrived at my host Peter’s place at 5pm and he soon stored Miss Piggy in a locked room in the basement. Until his wife arrived home – back from work, we chatted intensively. Soon she prepared dinner, which consisted of a cheese platter including camenbert from the oven. The cheese was delicious! In addition tomatoes from the own garden were served.
Around 10pm it was time to sleep and I was offered a sleeping bag.
31st Aug – 110 km
Yes, you guess right. The landscape was quite flat today as well. In Mohács, Hungary, I had problems to find my way to Osijek, Croatia. I had several times asked for help until I asked a woman on her bicycle. She started to explain, but than she chainged her mind, told me it was complicated and offered me to cycle with me until I was on the correct road. We cycled for almost 15 minutes together. When we took good-bye of each other, she told me, that she loves to cycle and was going by bicycle throughout all of Hungary.
The border controll between Hungary and Croatia was very smooth, even Croatia is not a Schengen country. The officer at the border didn’t even open my passport.
I didn’t find a warmshowers’ host for the night, but I was lucky, because my female couchsurfing host was not only a keen cyclist, she also was a good photographer. She met me in town and cycled together with me to her home.
Iva makes jewelry of avocado kernels. She opens them and uses only the outer parts. She engraves beautiful ornaments. She offered me one of them, but I was afraid, that it would break on my long trip, though I told her, unfortunately, I have no space for it. I have regretted this a lot of times. I could have tried to put it on a safe place in my luggage.
1st Sept – 91 km
Iva offered breakfast and was then going to made a new “Biking for Future and Peace” sign for me. My first one was a shit of paper and a piece of cardboard in a plastic cover. It became destroit by the rain and was mouldy now. She came back with two signs, which were plastered sheets and made for long-time use. I was so grateful to her.
She made company with me until we had left Osijek. Actually we had a problem to find the path, which should follow the Danube. First there were roadworks and at the end of it, the path was going on private property. It was fenced and not for use of public. I had to use the highway instead.
When I had to take a rest for using a bathroom I stopped at a gas station as many times before, but I wasn’t allowed, because I wasn’t a customer. Usually I buy something to drink after I had used the bathroom, but here I was just turning around and going further. At the next gas station we were more lucky, because I also bought a snack afterwards.
There was an official detour and there were many km more to ride to my goal for the day, which was Bačka Palanka in Serbia. I didn’t came so far, partly also depending, that I started too late in Osijek. I umderstood, that it would become dark before I could enter Serbia, though I stayed in Ilok instead. I booked Hotel Duvan by booking.com. I had nearly to cross all of Ilok, but it was mostly downhill and didn’t matter. The hotel was next to the Danube, unfortunately it didn’t have good service. They also wrote, that it is on EuroVelo 6 and also had a sign “Bike and Bed”, but only offered me to put my bicycle in a room with lot of chairs etc. There was not much space for my bike. The room was locked during the night.
It was the restaurant, where I didn’t get any service at all. Other people were eating there, but I was ignored. I had taken a seat and was waiting for a waitress or waiter. The one, who was close to me, did fold napkins and was not looking at me. I tried to get attention by raising my hand, then calling and later waving with both my arms. Nothing helped. After a while I raised and left the table. All I’ve got was a smile, when I was leaving. I was disappointed, angry and hungry on my way to the city center, looking for another restaurant. By the way, even the promised Wi-Fi was not working.
2nd Sept – 48 km
Without problem I was entering Serbia, which is neither an EU member nor a part of Schengen. I had mixed feelings to cycle throughout Serbia by the impressions I have got of the country when Jugoslavia broke apart as well by not accepting Kosovo as a sovereign country. Today I am happy that I have met some Serbians, but I’ll tell you the reason later.
Usually it is the hardest to find hosts in bigger cities, Novi Sad was no exception. Therefore I booked a bed in a hostel downtown. It was called “City Hostel Novi Sad”. By the short distance between Ilok and Novi Sad I arrived the in the town already around 2pm. I was hungry and looking for a restaurant. I chose one with a Mexican name and it was a good choice. The meal was tasty and the service excellent. They also had free, good working Wi-Fi.
I had downloaded my route on Komoot, that I could use it offline, buy I nearly became mad of the app. It was down again and again and again. Finally I reached the hostel and could directly check in. I was disappointed about the hostel. It wasn’t as god as described. It was not really clean and there were only two bathrooms. The kitchen was in the hallway and badly equipped. My bicycle had to be parked in the garden. The only positive was, that there were cafés and shops around. One of them was selling Börek and similar, but the expedit didn’t speak English. A young male customer helped me with translation.
I had tried to book the hostel by booking.com, but the side had told me, that all beds are occupied. Well there I have got a bed in a room with eight beds. I was the first one in the room, which during the night still had some vacant beds. It seemed to be the same with the other rooms. The place was not really nice, but a chat with a guy, who wanders Europe gave a little light to the situation.
3rd Sept – 5 km walking
On my way to the touristic area of the town I bought bread buns and juice in a supermarket.
I continued to the Freedom Square and the streets around as well as the back streets. I was lucky to see the start of a wedding – until the people entered the Cathedral. The most intetesting was the music, which was played mostly by drummers. I mist the fortress. I am somewhat tired of those. Some hours I spent in the little park – först walking around, but at the little lake with the fountain I was sitting on a bench watching people. There were many families with minors, but also a lot of elderly people. Strollers and even cyclists crossed as well.
I had a falafel in a little restaurant on my way to the park and pancakes with banana and chocolate sauce on my way back. It was a little afford to find a nice restaurant, because there was a fotball game this evening, which was shown in many restaurants, but I was not happy to have it so noisy. Later I bought some more items at the same supermarket, where I had been in the morning.
Back at the hostel I was chatting via Skype with my son Marcus until I had to look for hosts for the upcoming places. I tried different apps/communities and luckily found one for Belgrad.
4th Sept – 107 km
I already arrived in Belgrad around 4pm after a good ride even there was a very long 5% uphill to force. As often, hosts don’t live in the city center, but on the “wrong” side of the city. So does Aleksandra. In addition I missed one place where I had to turn, though from entering Belgrad to her home I needed nearly four hours, partly depending on that I pushed my bike sometimes, e.g. when following the Danube river for all the pedestrians and when I didn’t know where to turn. There was also a very hill, which I couldn’t force.
Finally at the right street I had problem to find the house. The numbers didn’t match like house number 12 was on the left hand side of the street and the numbers 12A and 12B on the right hand side. I had to call Aleksandra to find the house, where she lives. She came out of the house and helped me with my panniers. Miss Piggy had to wait outside during the entire night. Luckily I could lock her to the fence.
5th Sept – 10 km walking
I had a late morning. Aleksandra had left a key to me, but I prefered to wait for her, when she is coming home from her job as a teacher in computer science.
When I was wondering why Cyrillic as well as Latin letters are used for writing, she told me, that during some years the effort was done to switch to Latin letters, but the next parliment was going back to the Cyrillic signs. The reason for my question was, that the signs for the names of the villages and towns mostly are written in both Cyrillic and Latin letters, but some only in Cyrillic and a few only in Latin letters. I told her, it would have been better, if Serbia would have changed to Latin letters. Her unexpected answer was, that it wouldn’t help me as long as I couldn’t understand the text in the newspapers and that the grammar of the Serbian language is very complicated. In the contrary to her opinion, I know that it would help me, if I would be able to read the names of all villages and towns as well as the shops like pharmacies and supermarkets.
We tog the Metro together to the city center, but had to change to a bus, coming closer to the Tempel of Sava. Afterwards we were going back to the city center and finally to the Fortress before we returned to the city center for dinner in a typical Serbian restaurant, which I paid for. We were going back to her home by bus only. She was so kind and paid my ticket with her bus-card.
On the way from the bus I also was to a supermarket and bought food for the upcoming day.
6th Sept – 89 km
This worked out to be one of the days I never will forget, both for the dificulties and the kindness of the people I met.
I was proud, that I made the very hill in Belgrade when leaving. Aleksandra didn’t believe I would make it – as other people I have met on my way.
When I found a sign for EuroVelo 6 in the right direction I happily followed it. The little village or suburb only had T-crossings, but to highway 10. There was no other opportunity than using that. Fortunately I could use the bus lane most of the time. Later I had to change to highway 14 for Pančevo. Finally I found EuroVelo 6 again. It was on top of a damm and in bad shape. As it seemed was it mainly used by agriculture vehicles. To tell you, that there were lots of potholes is an understatement. I hoped for a long time, that the road will be better soon, but that never happend. In the countrary, the holes were now filled with water – dirty water, where I couln’t see the bottom, though I pushed my bike for an hour or two. I didn’t come far, of course, therefore I tried to ride my bike again, which was the wrong decision, because in such a waterfilled hole my bike fell. Fortunately I didn’t, but when I tried to ride further, the front wheel didn’t spinn anymore. I didn’t see as well as Icouldn’t understand why. Though I pushed my bike until I found a paved road, even in another direction. There were a few houses, but it seemed there was nobody at home. A few hundred meters were some dogs which blocked my way. I got scared, but when I screemed on them, they made space for me. It was very hard to ride my bike and took a lot of battery. Eventually I came to a bridge, where mostly teenage boys were fishing. They were supervised by an older man. This man spoke to me, but I didn’t understand him, though I stopped and told him that in English. I also added, that I need some help with my bike. Now he asked me, if I speak German. He then told me, that he had been working in Germany for many years, but returned to his hometown since he retired.
He drew my attention to the fact that the rubber is being scraped off the front wheel of my bike. I answered, that I hadn’t seen that before, but now understood, why my bicycle was so hard to ride. He took a closer look and asked me for tools, while he at the same time explained to me, that the fender of the front wheel was damaged. He started trying to fix that, but it was impossible without the right tools. Close to giving up, I asked, isn’t there anyone in this village, who is able to repair a bicycle? One of the teenage boys told me, that his grandfather does bike repairs and he called him. Meanwhile a man with a pick up had stopped and checked, if he can help. He didn’t have the right tools either and drove back into the village, called Banatski Brestovac. Nearly at the same time as he was back, the grandfather arrived. Together they repaired the fender.
The sun was now on her way to set and I asked the German speaking Serbian if there is a place in the village, where I could stay overnight. He explained, that the village is very small and doesn’t have any hotel or similar, but added, that there is a Cyclo Camp in the next town, which is Smederevo and only around 10 km away. He continued, that I have to ask for that camp in the town. I thanked the men for all the help and tried to give them some money, but the denied to take it. Instead they told me, it was their pleasure to be able to help me.
I made it to Smederevo with the remaining power of my battery. Well there, I asked two women, sitting on a bench infront of a house, if they know, where the camp is. One of them could explain to me, speaking some German, none of the two did understand any English. I was lucky, when i found the place and it was open. It wasn’t really a camp. It was a hostel with the opportunity to put tents up as well. I was the only guest this night, but very well treated. There was also a small supermarket nearby, though I could buy something for dinner.
7th Sept – 44 km
Not far from Smederevo Milos, a cyclist, talked with me and also told me, I can’t use the EuroVelo 6 to Požarevac, because it is closed. I thanked him for the information, anyway I hadn’t thought to use it after the experience from the day before. Požarevac is my goal for the day and had been the goal for the day before, therefore it was such a short distance this day.
I already arrived a 1pm at the Guesthouse Ellite, where I had booked a room, I was already welcomed and they found a safe place for Miss Piggy, even I had to cross the restaurant with her for coming there. It was also easier to carry my panniers and my bags from that place to my room. I remember this guesthouse happily for another reason as well. I had booked the room for the night before and messaged them in the evening, that I have had a minor accident and was not able to make it to Požarevac asking them as well, if I could postpone my arrival for one day without need to pay for another night. Even I had booked by booking.com without the opportunity for cancellation, they kindly made this change. I was very grateful for it. Furthermore I was surprised, that I could pay by my Visa card. On booking.com it was written, that only cash payment is accepted.
Even in the restaurant, where I had an overpriced pizza this evening, I could pay with my Visa card. I understood, that the low prices for the rooms are matched with the higher prices at the restaurant.
I was looking forward to to meet my host in Jagodina in the evening. I had a nice ride this day and came throughout Svilajnac, where I saw a sign for the historical center. Thinking about the city center I start to push my bicycle. A journalist from the local TV chanal was interested in me and started talking with me. He took me to that historical center, which was a special museum. He got me in for free and also a free guiding. I payed back by an interview and photoshots. It doesn’t happen often, that I get something for an interview, of course I was happy about it. After spending almost an hour in Svilajnac I continued on my ride.
8th Sept – 84 km
Breakfast was not included in my booking at the Ellite Guesthouse, but possible. How surprised I was, when it was not a breakfast buffet, but a la carte and the price that high.
I started as usually around 10am going further to Jagodina, where a host will wait for me in the evening. It was an easy ride. In the middle of the day I entered Svilajnac. It isn’t a big town. Soon I saw a sign for the “Historical Center”. Thinking about the center as the city center, I started pushing my bicycle. I hadn’t come far, when a journalist from the local TV-station talked to me, even asking about my trip. I answered him, that I was looking for the historical center and he was going with me to show me, where it is as well as he had the opportunity to ask me more questions.
The historical center is a museum, close to the school. The school is a modern building, which is only a few years old and was constructed after a flood, which had destroyed the old school. The historical center is quite new as well and is used for the pupils in history lessons. The special with the museum is the garden, where models of dinosaures are shown in their real sizes. For the biggest one, the model is of a baby dinosaur.
The journalist got me a guided tour for free. I only had to pay back by an interview for his TV-channel and some photoshots.
I was for almost an hour in Svilajnac and continued in good mood. In spite of the long rest I arrived in Jagodina at 5pm. The number of the house, where my host lives, was not easy to find and Google went crazy about it, though I called my host for meeting me on the street. So I found out, that I was really close to the entrance. Nikolai, my host helped me into his place. After a meal we had long, good and serious discussions. It was so much better than staying at a hotel or guesthouse.
9th Sept – 110 km
I made a hard and long ride on the Serbian patchwork roads this day and was riding my bicycle without battery on the last 10 km, depending on the hills I had to force. My host Igor in Niš had messaged me, that he won’t be att home between 7 and 8pm. I arrived at 7:45pm and was OK with to wait for him. He was a little late, what didn’t matter. I was happy to have a host at all after asking a lot of people, who denied or didn’t answer.
Igor carried my bike up to his apartment. He lives on the fourth floor. He wasn’t happy about the 25kg my bicycle weights and told me, that it was the last he needed this evening. Anyway, he invited my for pastry with yoghurt, which he has had in the freezer.
10th Sept – 12 km walking
I had another sightseeing day. They are I kind of reward I give myself. Even I call this days for days off, I am not lazy. I just switch the kind of moving.
My first goal was the fortress of Niš. It was not close to Igor’s apartment, but I prefer walking instead for taking a bus and not being sure, it is going in the right direction. I also prefer to walk instead for taking a taxi. I need that money for my daily expenses like food or hostel/hotel nights. Luckily, the only pair of shoes I have with me and therefore use daily, are as good for walking like for cycling. While I was on my way, I passed a church. The glass doors were closed, but I anyway could take a look inside and see the beautiful paintings. A wedding was ongoing inside.
The other place, Igor had recommended me, was The Tower of Skulls, which was at the other end of the town. It wasn’t very easy to find, though I was walking too far. In addition to that I was unlucky and was out for a heavy rain. Without rain clothes – which wouldn’t have helped a lot either, I found a roof to stand under until the rain stopped.
I arrived at the church with the Tower of skulls around an hour before they closed. There was an entrance fee. That “tower” was behind glass and it was hard to take a photo, which I didn’t mind. It is more the history behind it, which is interesting as well as scaring, but the monument.
Back at Igors place I met him briefly. He introduced his girlfriend to me. This evening I chatted with my son Marcus via Skype. We were happy about it. Last but not least it was time to look for further hosts.
11th Sept – 65 km
I had to cycle the same road as I had walked the day before to see the “Tower of Skulls”, but I was going much further. Luckily, the roads I used this day were in a good shape and it was easy to reach the town Pirot. In the middle of the day I met a couple on bicycles, who was trying to correct the stretch for the Sultan’s trail. They explained, that the road we are using had been very busy before the new road was built.
I took a rest at a café, which didn’t have Internet. I ate pancakes there. One portion were three pancakes, which was a good deal.
I already arrived at 3pm in Pirot. Even it had been an easy day, but the hill just before arriving in town, I didn’t felt for going further. While eating at another café I booked an apartment last minute, which was situated close to the city center. I had a little problem to find it, because I didn’t have Internet outside the cafè, but it was not too hard. Even the check-in was a little problematic by this reason. I finally checked in, when the owner arrived. There was a ramp on the side of the staires to the first floor, where the apartment was. Anyway it wasn’t easy to get Miss Piggy up there. I had to leave her outside the apartment. The night at the apartment was for 20€. Unfortunately it was not well maintained.
I was happy, that I checked in before the heavy rain, but I felt very lonely.
12th Sept – 81 km
It was time to enter another country. I nearly have a whole page with people offering to host in Sofia, but none of them gave me a positive answer. Finally Denny from host a sister was the angel I was looking for. By posting on Facebook in the group “Host a Sister” I then also got two additional offers, more than 1000 likes and lots of offers for other places. Furthermore I did get in touch with a woman, who wants to meet up the upcoming day. That was perfect, because Denny was very occupied.
I have no special notices about the roads, no incidents or accidents and entering Bulgaria was smooth. Again in an EU-country I didn’t encounter any problems with the 4G-Internet.
This day I also learned, that the Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet is different to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet as well as to the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. Actually every country, which uses Cyrillic alphabet has its own.
13th Sept – 7 km walking
This was a wonderful day. Denny had made a smoothy for us and I could wash my laundry in her apartment as well as put the clean clothes for drying on the balcony.
Soon I left for sightseeing. I was taking a short walk to the city center, but missed the 11am free walking tour. Though I walked the mall and visited the park. For lunch Ina and her Belgian boyfriend met up. Ina invited me to a restaurant with genuine Bulgarian food. Most of it was vegetarian. She had ordered different meals, which we shared.
Afterwards her boyfriend had to go back to work, but Ina did take a sightseeing tour with me. We were even seeign a part of town by taxi. During the time we spent toegther, she told me, that a village or two has been flooded a while ago and that she is one of the helpers for taking care of the mess, initating funding for needed items like a new kitchen as well, but she feels it is nothing against what I am doing. She therefore offered to pay hotel nights for me and also will get in touch with a friend, who could host me. I was surprised, but grateful and told her, that she does a lot by helping the people in the village.
In the evening Denny told me, she is helping in the flooded villages as well. I think, it is this kind of people who are helping strangers with hospitality as well.
14th Sept – 87 km
Leaving Denny, I first forgot the battery for my bicycle at her apartment. Luckily she was still at home and I did get it quickly.
The day hade been pleasant with low hills only and the energy of the batteries was enough for all of the km cycled. I had enough left for the remaining km to the hostel, I thought.
Ina has booked a room for me in the Villa Electra in Dupnitsa. The description on booking.com is, that the hotel is in the forrest, outside Dupnitsa and it is quite cheap. I had decided against it, but the price and part of the picture of this hotel was on the screenshot I had sent Ina. The hotel, I had chosen, was more expensive, but central in the town. When Ina asked me, if I mean the cheaper one, I agreed, because I was afraid, that the one in the city center would be too expensive to ask for.
I didn’t expect, that the hotel not only was in the forest, but on a mountain. I couldn’t make it by cycling since I entered to road for my destination. Already at the beginning I had to push my bicycle, because the road was so bad even it was very steep yet. The steep started some hundreds of meters behind this point. Even the road was a little better here, it was in a bad condition. I tried to use the left side of the road, but that didn’t help either. Now the uphill was steeper as well and I had to push my bike again, which was very hard. I hoped for help. Therefore I stopped a car, asking if they could take my panniers uphill. I only got a “no, indeed not”. I tried to go further, but had to stop again and again. I had problems to even hold my bicycle, when I saw a man coming walking up the hill in a good speed. I asked him for help, when he had reached me. He did. I tried to help by pushing Miss Piggy from the back, but he was pushing the bike faster than I was walking. He did take it all the way up to the hotel and didn’t accept the money I offered him. An employee helped me to carry my panniers to the room.
It seemed to be off season for the hotel. People were working in a part of the restaurant, maybe preparing for an event. I asked, if I could get something to eat and I was allowed to choose from the menu. All of it wasn’t available, but there was a meal to get. I had to wait for a very long time and when I finally was served, the food was horrible. The chop was more cooked than fried, but anyway burned. There was not much I could eat of the entire meal, though I only paid for, what I have eaten. I was told, that it is hard to find employees and they are not willing to work many hours. I could have offered them to work as a chef, but it was the wrong time and the wrong place.
Back at the room I got wet feet when I washed my hands. I was downstairs claiming a repair. A guy was coming to the room, tried to fix it, but couldn’t. Even there were no many rooms occupied I was not offered to change to another room.
15th Sept – 102 km
There was no breakfast included in the price. By the experience from the evening before, I didn’t even try to get breakfast, but had half a pizza I still had from the day before.
Most of the time I did push my bicycle down the hill. In the beginning I started cycling, but the road was too bad. It took a lot of time, of course, but I took my time to have a coffee and a croissant in one of the cafés downtown.
Luckily the road to Sandanski was going a little downwards or was flat. There were only a few uphills. Oringinally I had planned to go to Blagoevgrad only, but Ina’s friend Hvristo lives in Sandanski and he welcomed me to his home or more correct to his mother’s apartment.
I arrived 5:40pm. Hvristo was still at work, though I waited on the street close to no 31, because I couldn’t find out, which of the buildings was no 31.
Hvristo found me, when he was coming home and showed me “my apartment”. Yes, you read right, I did get a whole apartment for myself. His mother’s apartment was on the same floor. Later Hvristo told me, that he owns the entire house, but the ground floor, which his Aunt ownes. It is a family house. People start building the ground floor apartments. When they get children, they build the next floor. Depending on how many children they have they build less or more apartments. Nevertheless in Hvristos case he builds apartments for visitors. Maybe he will use them for Airbnb, when they all are ready – even the third floor. He never showed me his own apartment for what reason ever.
Later we were sitting on the roof terrace – eating pizza and drinking Prosecco. He told me, he likes it. His mother was coming home and made company with us for a while. She had been at the seaside in Greece during the day together with her girlfriends. They were going by car. Hvristo showed me how close Greece is from his place – as the crow flies.
16th Sept – 3 km walking
I was walking Sandanski. My first goal was the park. It is big for this little town and beautiful. It was a hot day and I tried to find shade. Unfortunately, when I had bought an ice-cream there were benches around, but no shade.
Afterwards I walked the shopping mall, which just is a street with shops, not even fancy. I saw a very old church and I found a café with many different kind of cakes, most of them looked great. I bought a piece Oreo cake and a cappuccino.
I found the hotel with the spa, which Ina and Hvristo had talked about. It looked very expensive. Though I didn’t enter it.
Back at my apartment I wrote reviews on Google and also la up some photos.
Hvristo had to work until 8pm. Then we had dinner at his mother’s place. She served Bulgarian homemade food: lentilsoup, a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers with grated cheese on the top as well as scrambled eggs with grilled red pepper.
Alone in my apartment I checked my GoPro-videos. I really have to get better in winkling the camera at the correct angle.
17th Sept – 2 km walking
Hvristo is an ophthalmologist and works Monday to Thursday in his own practice, on Friday mornings at the hospital and on Sundays at an optician. Saturday is his only day off. This Saturday however he is working after the principle “one hand washes the other” for a family of a neighboring town.
In the afternoon he was taking me to Melnik, the smallest town in Bulgaria. We walked the town, visited the museum and had dinner.
Back in Sadanski I followed Hvristo to a birthday party of a young woman he nows. It was not very well organized, but very interesting with the guests from different countries.
18 Sept – 94 km
Finally on the road again. I should have continued earlier, but it was hard to leave Hvristo and his mother earlier, offering me to stay for longer.
I had planned to go to Makedonia for avoiding the very hills in Greece, but Hvristo had convinced me to go directly to Greece. After I checked Komoot several times I understood that Hvristo was right.
I had got an invitation of a warmshowers’ host a long time ago, but didn’t find it now. There were no other warmshowers’ hosts in the area, though I had tried with couchsurfing without luck. Finally I have found a host via the Fb-group “Host a sister”, but I had to postpone my arrival för one day. It was too far from Sandanski to Thessaloniki. I only reached to Lithótopos, Greece.
The border controll was smooth even I had to ride on the highway again for reaching the border. I was not sure, if it was allowed to enter Greece with a bicycle on the highway, but I didn’t find any other opportunity. I wasn’t fined either.
I had checked my currency app and found Grekisk Drahme, though, when I stopped at a café I asked there, if I was allowed to pay in Euro – I had 50€ left from the last country I visited in the EUR-zone. The waitress was surprised about my question and answered: “You can only pay in Euro.” I felt dumb. The prices were in EUR and I should have remembered, that Greece is in the EUR-zone.
Going further from the café, I soon had problems to find the correct road. Luckily I could ask someone.
I had stopped in another town before Lithótopos and ask for a hotel or similar, but was told, that it only was a little village, which does not have any hotel. Nevertheless, I was told, that the closests hotels are in Lithótopos and in which direction I had to cycle. It was a detour, but I needed a roof over my head and electrical contacts for my batteries.
Well in Lithótopos I was looking for a hotel. There were only steep uphill roads from where I came. I took me up for one, where people were sitting on a balcony. For me it looked like a guesthouse, though I asked the people about it. The answer was, it is a private property and the way to the hotel. Finding the correct street I also found a hotel and asked for a room. They told me, they are full, but there is another hotel up the road. This hotel employee did call that other one and asked, if they have a vacant room. Luckily they had. The road up there was so steep and in such a bad condition, that I asked om help to get my bicycle and my panniers up there. I was told, my bicycle could be at that hotel. He drove my panniers, bags and me to the hotel on the top. I tried to pay him for the service, but he didn’t accept any payment.
The hotel was really nice. I have got a room with balcony and a beautiful view. The service was good as well. I paid 40€ for the room including breakfast.
19th Sept – 103 km
After a good and big breakfast I have got a lift down of the receptionist with my panniers and bags. She didn’t want any money either. My bicycle was waiting for me in the same condition as it was the day before where I had left it. I cycled down the hill and, what I thought, in the right direction. I had checked it three times on Google maps. I was not sure about it. I didn’t remember the bridge I had to cross and also further, I didn’t remember the places I came through. After a while, I asked someone for the direction and was told, that I eventually was riding my bicycle in the wrong direction. I tried to find a shortening, but the roads there were only gravelroads. Though I had to go back all the way to Lithótopos.
Some kilometers later I tried to avoid the motorway and asked a man in a car about it. He told me, that there is no other way for Thessaloniki and encouraged me to take it.
During a rest for lunch I charged one of my bicycle batteries around 40%, because I understood I couldn’t reach Thessaloniki if I didn’t for all the hills.
I finally arrived when it got dark and just running out off batterie.
Though I pushed Miss Piggy throughout Thessaloniki, but not further than to my host Maria. She livs on the fifth floor in an apartment house and the flat has a big balcony.
Maria was very welcoming. She carried Miss Piggy up to her apartment and was faster than her girlfriend and I by the elevator. Kristina, the girlfriend, talked a lot about her scooter. When I saw it, I was surprised, because it was just such a little, elictrical thing.
Maria was very kind and friendly and offered me not only everything I needed, but a little more. By the way, she has a nice and calm dog, even he has the size of a Schäferhund.
20th + 21st Sept – 13 + 11 km walking
I did some sightseeing in Thessaloniki as well as I needed to do some shopping of necessities like toothpaste. I started walking at the seaside and have e.g. seen a big stadium, which isn’t on the tourist map, but I like those surprises. Later I walked all the way back and in the other direction for looking at touristic places. There were a few I have seen. Most time I used to find one or two of them and on my way I have seen others, I hadn’t read about. I also visited a café choosing a for me unknown cake and dessert. I even had lunch at a restaurant. If I remember right it was palatskinka (pancakes).
Furthermore I was looking for a local market. Maria had found out for me, that they are on different places the different days of the week. Unfortunately, when I reached one, they were closing down for the day.
On the evening of the 21st Maria’s boyfriend Dimitri came home. He had been traveling for work. They invited me to a Greek restaurant where we had a risotto, which was different to the risottos I have known so far.
22nd Sept – 78 km
Maria and Dimitri had to leave for work early. She took my bicycle down and left it on the ground floor. When I was leaving, I only needed to close the door – it locked at the same time.
While leaving Thessaloniki I came throughout a local market in its best. Many years ago I have written a short story among others, which happened partly in Thessaloniki. Even I never before this time have been in Greece, though even never before in Thessaloniki, I had described a local farmers market and my description was so close to the real one, I could see now. I was very happy, that my imagination was so good.
For my next night I was invited to an old building outside Vrasna. The owner, en elderly man named Costa, used to have retreats there with his friends and guests. The house is maintained the old fashion way, they grow things in the garden as well. This time they thought to make wine.
Costa was coming with his friends from Thessaloniki in his old car. Ionna, one of his friends, was driving. We met at the Lidl car park in Vrasna, because I arrived earlier than them in this little town, even the road had been mountaneous at the beginning, and took care to buy a little bucket tahini with cacao. I had eaten it for the first time at Maria’s and I liked it more than Nutella (what I cannot eat anymore because of my allergy against hazelnuts). I was also happy about, that the Lidl had a WC. The cashier at the Lidl asked me to put all I had in the trolley on the band. I told her, that I am cycling and I only had my panniers and bags from the bicycle in the trolley. When she told me one more time, a customer explained it to her and all was fine. I also liftet my panniers and bags up, so she could see, that there was nothing else in the trolley. I was waiting outside then. The weather became a little rough and I was relieved, when Costa and his company finally arrived.
They were driving in front of me, but much faster than I could cycle. Sometimes they were waiting for me. In the village there was a very steep uphill and they were driving far to fast for me to follow, but I tried, because we had to go to the right, to the left etc and mostly not to follow the road straight away. The road was in a very bad condition and it got worse further on the way. I really tried my best to follow and had a good speed on this bad road. Suddenly, I lost the pedals under my feet and having my feet back on, I felt, that there was something wrong. Luckily I managed to go off the bicycle, because the chain had hoped off. Luckily Costa had seen, that I started to push my bicycle and come to help me. I was really depending on his help.
When we had arrived at his place I was shown around and asked to choose a bed in the room I was shown. Soon Costa checked the grapes and was very disappointed, that they weren’t really ripe yet, but he picked some and made juice of them instead, which we had for dinner. For dinner we had pre-cooked, homemade filled peper. Afterwards Ionna and I had a long chat.
23rd Sept – 85 km
After breakfast did Costa take me and Miss Piggy as well as my panniers and bags by car to a mechanic, who repairs both cars, bikes and bicycles. He fixed the chain for free.
Later, while riding my Miss Piggy, the sounds of my breaks got bad. I made it to Elffie in Kavala, where I arrived around 4pm. I couldn’t get in touch with her, but 2 hours later. She didn’t neither answer my messages nor my calls via Facebook messanger. She then apologized, explaining, that she has two Facebook accounts and unfortunately don’t get announcements from the one I used.
She offered me a good tasting soup. Around 9pm a girlfriend of Elffie came and stayed for a while. She helped me with a call to a bike mechanic, who answered, that he don’t know the kind of brake of my bicycle, but told us, that he will try to get such one, which means to order one. This evening I was already to bed at 10pm. I felt very tired.
24th Sept – 103 km
I left Kavala late because of the problems with my brake back and the visit of a bicycle repair shop. I was told there, that they don’t have any idea how to handle it. That was it!
Elffie called another of her girlfriends, which she should have been demonstrating with against police violence against a gay guy, who had died of it. There were no many participiants and they decided to realize the demonstration later that day, trying to find more people to come.
This girlfried drove me with her car down the steep mountain, from where I could continue safely. I arrived around 4pm in Xhanti, considering to stay over there, but did anyway continue to Komotini, the town I had planned to go to this day. I arrived at 7pm close to Eirini’s home. I actually couldn’t find the number on the house and had to ask her to meet me. I was actually very close.
Eirini is in her 60’s. She was born in Ukraine, but lives in Greece since 30 years. She helped me with my panniers, bags and the bicycle. We put all in the elevator. The first time we were taking all the bags etc with us. The second time, we put the bicycle upright into it. Eirini were holding it and going upwards to the 5th floor, where she livs while I was using the stairs.
She invited me for a delicious omelett and we had a lot to talk about travels in general and about my bicycle trip in particular. It was late before we were going to sleep.
25th Sept – 71 km
In the morning I dropped my false teeth from the lower palate and a part of it broke off. I tried to glu it, but that was not possible. Luckily I could put the bigger part in my mouth. I saved the other part in the hope a dentist would be able to put the two pieces together.
I had a nice trip this day, but I was going slowly because of the mountains between Komotini and Alexandropoli. I used the front brake all the time, when it was necessary to break and that happened a lot. Even there were a lot of uphills, which I actually managed to ride, I had the feeling, that there were more, steeper and especially longer downhills. I was thinking about, what would happen if my front brake would stop working.
First I was going by bicycle to the center of Alexandropoli in the hope to find a cheap hotel room there, but I didn’t find hotels there. Though I used booking.com again and booked two nights at the **Park Hotel. It sounded expensive, but was middle range. The room came with breakfast and was nice and clean. It seemed to be refurbished a little while ago. It came with two beds even I had booked a single room.
The hotel also had good Wi-Fi, even working in the room. In my lonelyness and after I have been out for dinner I checked friend requests etc on Facebook and my GoPro action camera.
26th Sept – 8 km by bike, 4 km walking
After breakfast I was surfing for a bike repair shop. I found three. The first one was only bicycle repair, the other two combined with shops. Unfortunately “The Bike Workshop” had closed down, but there was a phone number, one could call. I decided against calling and was looking for the next one, which was more central situated. I wasn’t sure at all, that they would have a bicycle mechanic at the shop called “bike-center”, but I tried. Luckily, they had – and a good one, who fixed the brake without need to change a lot. I had to wait for the repair for three hours, though I was going downtown.
Not only my pants have become to big for me, but also my belt has not enough holes anymore. I was happy, finding a workshop selling belts, making keys etc. I entered and asked if they could add two more holes in my belt (one which I need now and another one for future needs). That was no problem. When I asked for the price I was told it is for free, which surprised me.
Walking longer and coming to the very center of the city I saw a dentist and entered. Showing my artificial teeth and asking for a repair I was treated very well. Kindly I was told, that only the labb knows and the receptionist made a call. The answer was neither really what I expected nor what I had hoped for but obvious. The laboratory need to know the material of the teeth. Unfortunately I didn’t know, what they are made of, though I left with the broken ones.
Att the sea side I had a pancake and a coffee before I went back to the bike mechanic. He had finished the repair and tog only 10€ for it. Answering my question about what had been wrong he told me, that he maintained it and exchanged a little part. He added, that they are used to that tourists need help with their bicycles and usually have low prices for them. I cycled back to the hotel. Later I had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant.
27th Sept – 77 km
I am coming closer and closer to my goal. Starting at 9:30am från Alexandropoli, Greece some hours later I crossed the border till Turkiye near Keşan in the European part of the country.
The road was not so very hilly this day, but I didn’t find any other opportunity then using the motorway the last 10km before the border to cross it. There was a police car coming against me, but they didn’t care about me at all. I left Greece without any problem even there were border police with guns to pass. Directly afterwards I had to cross a bridge and arrived at the Turkish border police controll, also with guns. They didn’t say any word to me, just let me pass. Finally I arrived at the checkpoint. I lined up with the cars, because there was no line for bikes or bicycles.
The drivers had to open the trunks and the cars were very well checked for items, which aren’t allowed to take into Turkiye. An officer checked which country I am from – by my passport and told me then with a happy voice “Go Turkey”, he added, that I had to stopp one more time at the police.
My passport was checked a little more carefully, but it took not a long time and I was allowed into the country. However I couldn’t continue straight away. By using the car’s file, they were not thinking about, that I don’t need a custom declaration. In front of me was a man with a motorcycle and he had to show his plate for the female officer. Soon it was my turn and I told her, that I have a bicycle. She asked me for showing my plate anyway, though I answered: “I don’t have a plate. It’s a bicycle”. She didn’t realize it and asked me to show the front of Miss Piggy. Now she exclaimed: “Oh, it’s a bicycle.” Now I was really free to “go Turkey”.
On my way into Keşan I bought a pide in a restaurant close to a gas station. There were only men working, but one woman. The customers also were only men (truck drivers). The pide was very big. I couldn’t eat the whole. Going further I had problems with heavy wind. The worst was, that it was blowing the sand in my direction. I took my sjal over my hjelmet so it closed between my glasses and my head. It actually helped. I was happy when I arrived at Gözde’s home. I didn’t find numbers on most of the buildings in her street, but was so close that she could see me, when I messaged her, asking for how the building looks like, where she is living.
Gözde is a doctor, working at the emergency department at the hospital. She had a meal ready for us, which was white bean salad with onion, garlic and tomatoes. It tasted good. After the meal we chatted for a while about my trip and the upcoming places, but were early to bed, because Gözde had to work the next day, starting at 7am.
28th Sept – 64 km
I left early, actually before Gözde. She was picked up by a colleague. She told me about the hill to the hospital, but I anyway had to go that way. She also asked me for to visit her working space. Though I was waiting for her close to the emergency entrance. Her colleague and she arrived late. She didn’t care. She told me the hospital can be happy that all the doctors are coming, because of the bad salary and working conditions. She told me to take my bicycle into the department. We were in there restroom and she introduced me to some colleagues. One of them was very happy to meet me. Another one would have liked to meet me, but he had overslept and didn’t make it to the hospital for a long time, though I left without meeting him. I also were wondering about Gözde spending so much time with me at her workplace, because it already was her working hour.
It was a wonderful day, cycling was fun. I took a rest at a gas station. Luckily the young man working at the nearby restaurant was speaking English. I had a toast and a tea. The toast was made of the same bread, which is used for pide.
I had read, that there is a group of female cyclists in Gallipoli. My first idea had been to stay in Gallipoli over night, but I didn’t find a host. Anyway I stopped in town, meeting members of that group at a café (which had the bathrooms on the third floor). Only two of the members spook English. I also met Murat, an art teacher and journalist. It was bad timing. The group did collect money for a surgery for a little child with MRS and all was about her. Anyway, some members cared about me and Murat asked me questions, but didn’t write down a lot of my answers. His English was not good, therefore we used Google translate. He did take a lot of pictures, some in front of the Ata Türk. I was als told that Erdogan isn’t their leader, but Ata Türk.
Murat had been cycling with me to the statue of Ata Türk and was then cycling with me to the ferry, which cross the Dardanells. There is a bridge as well, but only for cars and trucks. Nevertheless there were cars and trucks on the ferry as well. Murat paid the ferry for me. The fare was 10 TL.
This ferry was going to Lapseki where Serkan, my host for the night was awaiting me. He came by bicycle and we were first going to a restaurant, where he invited me for dinner. They didn’t sell vegetarian food, though I chose “köfte”. I asked if it was spicy or not. It wasn’t and Serkan told me, that he cannot eat spicy either.
At Serkan’s home I did get everthing I needed incl. a towel. He also offered me a beer, which he had taken home from one of his travels. It was a Berliner Kindl. Even it is a pilsner it was not so bitter. We were talking about travels, but also Erdogan and he told me, he doesn’t like him and he had not voted for him. He agreed with me that Erdogan is a dictator and explained, that well-educated people don’t vote for Erdogan. The voters are less good educated and often frightened or bribed by Erdogan’s men.
29th Sept – 34 km
Actually I had planned to go from Gallipoli to Çanakkale, but by not finding a host in Gallipoli and staying over night i Lapseki instead the distance to Çanakkale was short. Well arrived in town, I was going a little to far, because I didn’t understand where I had to leave the highway and go into town. Just there, where I should have gone to the right, a car cut my way and really scared me. Therefore I called Ali, my host, from the next gas station and asked him to meet me by bicycle, but he has none. He met me instead by car and was then driving in front of me with his blinkers on. He was really driving in a low speed, though it was easy to follow him.
At his home, he invitated me for lunch. A homemade dish with chick peas. Afterwards he had an appointment. When he had left, I fell asleep (I haven’t had a lot of sleep the night before).
In the evening Ali took me out down town. He was taking his car. Anyway it wasn’t very close from the car park. The city center is close to the seaside. In front of the horse of Troja, which had been made for the movie about Troja – after the original, he took a lot of photos with me. He also recommended me to visit Troja the next day. Before we went back to his car and his home, he invited me for dinner. He first was going to a place with me, where sig only served very special Turkish food, called kokoreć – which are innards. I told him, that I won’t eat that and that I am vegetarian. He found something else, but typical Turkish food for me. Back at home he apologized that he didn’t think about, that I am vegetarian.
30th Sept – 77 km
I had an adventures day – both for the route and the place I finally found for the night.
I awoke early, but didn’t have Internet, therefore I decided to buy a Turkish sim-card. I left Çanakkale via the city center and bought a sim-card with 20 Gb fot one month at a Vodafone store. They needed my passport and registered the sim-card in my name. I had to pay 400 TL (ca 20€) in cash!
I was happy to be able to use Google maps and riding Miss Piggy on highway 650. There were very different views and ju closer I came to Ayvacik, ju smaler the road was. A part of it was actually unpaved. This part was going between a lot of small houses with big gardens.
I had a couple of rests as every day, but this time I found a nice rest area with geese. Unfortunately the rest area was not well maintained. I also have seen a very old tractor there. The café next to the rest area wasn’t open, but I could buy a snack and a coffee at the gas station, which was close there as well.
The second rest was not really so nice. The area only had asfalt, but benches. When I was done with everything – even the restroom, a coach with many people arrived and I felt lucky, that I didn’t have to queue with them.
A short time after my second rest I arrived in Ayvacik. I hadn’t found a host and there was neither a hostel nor a hotel on booking.com, though I looked for a place for the night from entering the town. I also checked on Google maps.
I was looking for a central situated place and thought I found one. There were none, but a phone number and I called. The owner arrived after a while on a light motorbike. He told me, that the place, where I was waiting in front of was only for men, but asked me to follow him for a place for women. Well there he told me, that close to it he has a place for students only, but in the house where we were livs he and his family as well as he has rooms for rent. Actually it was a big apartment with seven (7) beds and also couches he rented out – mainly during the summer month. Now it was empty. When I asked him, what the price for one bed is, he first told me 2,000 TL. I answered, that is too much for me and I am not interested in to rent the entire apartment, but only one bed. Though he changed his mind and said it, like he had taken wrong in English, that it was for 200 TL, which I, of course, agreed to. I paid and asked for a supermarket. One was really close to.
Back from my shopping I had a meal before I chatted via Skype with my son Marcus.
1st Oct – 130 km
I was nearly following the Komoot gps. I had prepared for the lowest hills possible and on paved roads only. Some small parts I had missed to change. I followed the highway anyway.
My lunch I had at a gas station again. This time it was in the little town of Edremit. I also took another rest, even that one at a gas station. It was close to Gömeç, but here only for buying something more to drink, because it was a really warm day again.
The road had a lot of 5% and 6% hills, but also lots of flat parts. I used the highway D550 most of the time and was surprised, that I came so far.
In Gömeç I was looking for a cheap hotel and was asking around. Not many people understand English there, meanwhile two women I asked did understand me anyway and described with a few words and mostly gestures, where I could find one. If I had continued on the highway and hadn’t entered the town, I would have found the only hotel in Gömeç myself.
The receptionist talked a little English. I hadn’t seen the sign behind him with the prices for the room (single ocupancy = 650 TL) and asked him for it. Först I didn’t uderstand him. I don’t know if that was the reason or if he anyway thought to offer me the room for 500 TL (ca 20 Euro). I was happy with that. The room was very nice and modern. I’ve got a Queen size bed and also a card key for the lock of the door as well for the electricity. It was the same card and had to be put into a special box. When this card key stuck there, the light could be switched on. That is actually a sustainable thing. The light is never left on when the room is empty.
2nd Oct – 111 km
The room came with a light breakfast in the restaurant. It was a pre-organized breakfast on a styrofoam plate.
Later I bought a cold coffee in a glass bottle at a gas station as well as a peach drink and bread. It was my lunch.
For dinner I actually bought a Döner Kebap and 2 bottles of water. There was no vegetarian meal to get. It was really hard to find vegetarian meals in Turkiye.
Even this day I followed the D550 and had some hills to force, but generally it was an easy ride. Anyway I had to look up for broken glass and bumps on the road, but luckily no pott holes. There were lots of trash on the side of the highway and not only this day. It was general that way in Turkiye and so disgusting!
Also this day I did take two rests. Even I left Gömeç at 9:45am I already arrived in Aliağa at 4:15pm. I tried to get in touch with a couchsurfing host, but without success. Though I was sightseeing in the town and hoped to find a cheap hostel or hotel. I must say, Aliağa is a nice town. When I had decided at which hotel I will ask for a room and arrived there at the Etap Altinel Hotel Aliağa, suddenly the host I tried to reach during the day was behind me and asked me, if I am Dorothee. He invited me to his home for the night and was showing me the sunset at a nice place as well as he took photos there with me, before we continued to his home.
Zekeriya is a teacher at a technical school and asked me to follow to his school the next morning. I agreed.
3rd Oct – 79 km
I should have made more km this day, but there were two reasons why I didn’t. The first was, that it took some time to visit the school were Zekeriya is teaching. He was very keen to show me around for the most important people as well as his friends and a couple of classes at his school. Everywhere photos were taken and at the end also with the director. It was like I was a celebrity and he got some glory of it. I was not comfortable with it.
Helga, my host in Bremen did tell me, when I was at her home, that she knows Mehmet, a man in or close to Izmir and she helped me to get in touch with him, since I had entered Turkiye. Unfortunately, he didn’t only live around 30 km away, but also in the mountains.
The roads between Aliağa and Izmir are really bad and also badly signed, though I made a detour of 10 km. Finally in Izmir I was so tired, I had tears in my eyes and called Mehmet, telling him, that I cannot make it to his home that evening. He fixed a host for me in Izmir. They welcomed me, even they were on their way to a party. Not knowing the town of Izmir and being confused by Google maps I did take a very busy road in town instead for the cycle path. Such busy roads take long time for me, because I am pushing my bicycle. Therefore I arrived late at the family’s home and they were already on their way to the party, but they turned around and let me into their apartment (over three floors). I did take a nap.
When they Murat, Alev and 1 child) were back home after the party they invited me for a meal and told me about the interesting places in town. We also talked about how to go to Kamelpaşa to meet Mehmet. We agreed that she will take me with her on the way to her work, but will leave me halfway at a café, where Mehmet can pick me up, because both of them told me, that the mountains around Kamelpaşa are too high for forcing them by bicycle.
4th Oct – 7 km walking
We did as planned. Mehmet is a teacher for English and was happy that I agreed to visit the school, where he was working. He arranged that I could visit some clases during their English lessons, one class in geography with a female teacher. They were talking about Sweden and I was surprised, that the teacher was browsing the Internet and choosing a random video from YouTube. It seemed, she didn’t know anything about Sweden herself. She asked me questions, about the subjects in the video.
Mehmet had prepared the lessons very good. Unfortunately some of the pupils talked with such tiny voices, that it was hard to understand them. He also invited me for lunch in a nearby restaurant. I chose lentil soup. It is not spicy, but it comes like a cream. No one can see, that it is made of lentils, only the color can get you to guess it.
We were invited for dinner at Mehmet’s sister, who lives with her family in Kamelpaşa as well. We left suddenly and in a hurry to participate in an opening of an art exhibition about sustainable design. Mehmet drove with his car to the outskirt of Izmir, where we later took the Metro. We were late – very late, but the cocktail party was still ongoing with some kinds of appetizers left. He even asked me to taste the Raki, what I did. I was surprised, that it wasn’t so strong. The explanation is, that it was a “long Raki”, which means water was added. We had prefered to drink of the white wine, but it was already gone.
Mehmet followed me back to my host’s home. We even took a ferry for avoiding traffic jams. Well there, my host’s family had a lot to talk about with Mehmet. It was late, when he left.
I was happy that I only needed to go to the next floor. It was like an own little apartment and lonely, but I know, it was well meant.
5th Oct – 14 km walking
I tried to see a little more of Izmir, but most of all I needed some things for the care of myself. I visited a pharnacy, a Rossmann branch and a Media Markt as well. The last two were German branches. It was a long walk, though I actually tog a bus to the ferry station “Konak” from where I walked back to my host.
In the evening tog Alev my med to her friends for a kurs in keramik technics. They all had so much fun, but I couldn’t understand anything they talked about, though it was very boring for me.
6th Oct – 126 km
A lot of the land, which is Turkey today, has been Greek hundreds of years ago, but more about it later.
It was one of those days, when I hadn’t find a host and booked a room at a cheap B&B/hotel instead. Sometimes I like to get some rest from too many people to socialize with, even I usually love that very much. My goal was the Ali Baba House in Selçuk. The photos on booking.com had been very nice and I was looking forward to, to stay there.
Mostly I used the EuroVelo 8, but didn’t have gravel roads. The detours to avoid the gravel roads felt natural. There were no mountains either and the many hills were not higher then easy to force by me, but once. Unfortunately I had to stop for a car escort, otherwise I would have ridden Miss Piggy every centimeter this day.
The road was going close by the sea or I almost had a very nice view onto the sea. I took more videos and photos as usual. Close to Selçuk I passed a street, which was going to “Efes” (Ephesos) and I decided to take a detour next day to visit that ancient place.
As often, I had to ask for the little hotel, but found it soon. From the outside it looked exactly like on the photo at the booking site. A young man did help me with my panniers and my bicycle into the room on the upper floor respectively garden. The room was so cosy. I liked it very much. The whole place was a little home and that feeling permeated the entire atmosphere.
7th Oct – 51 km
By visiting Ephesos, I didn’t make many kilometer this day. Anyway I was going further than I first was recommended in Izmir. It is amazing, that parts of the old Greek places still are in such a good shape and in addition, that thousands of years ago people made such wonderful art works in stone even their tools were by long not so effective as ours are today.
I had crossed Selçuk when it was stop on the highway. It took time to get told the reason and much longer before the road was opened again. The road works meant the mountain was blown up. I was the first, that was stopped but nearly at the same time the first car and the first motorcycle as well. Most of the cars went back in the direction of Selçuk. They actually did take the motorway instead. Only cars and buses, which drivers resp. passengers lives or had errands along this minor road were waiting. It took three (3)! hours before we were allowed to continue.
Fortunately I had a host in Aydin and had not planned to go further that night. I arrived at 7pm. Even this couple was on its way to an event. I’ve got a room on the second floor. They, Yasemin and Emre, had time enough to show me around in their apartment and we had a long chat, when they were back from the festivity. They also gave me an extra blanket, though I should not feel cold. Emre send a message to a friend, asking him to host me at my next place. It was funny, because his friend was the warmshowers’ host I already had asked and actually also had answered, but I had forgotten to check my emails.
8th Oct – 92 km
I cycled through the two recommended towns Koçarli and Çine and beautiful mountain views. I had been told, that there should be hotels in the towns, even I didn’t find any on booking.com – sometimes there really are. In Koçarli I didn’t see any hotel or similar at all. Çine had been recommended very much for me. I was told, it has such a nice city center, but that was not true. There was a part of the main street, which was quite nice, but nothing more. A hotel in Çine I couldn’t find, but way outside.
Adnan, who states is a warmshowers’ host and the member of the board of a bicycle club, take cyclists to the club house. That isn’t the usual way to host and as lonely as at hotels, even much more lonely. I agreed anyway.
It was hilly and I only came 92 km before both batteries were empty. The rest – around 12 more, were done by Adnan’s car from Muğla to a tiny village. He has a pick up and bought it just for the reason of bicycle transport, but usual for the club. He also drove me to a supermarket, though I could buy something to eat, because there is no opportunity near the club.
Before he left – at the club, he took a photo with me and the map about all visitors. He apologized he couldn’t stay for longer, but he was needed at home.
9th Oct – 82 km
Adnan told me the evening before, that I could buy breakfast at the café next door. Unfortunately they only sold loafs of bread and snacks. They even didn’t have coffee, but tea. Anyway, the owner of that small café helped me to lock the door of the bicycle club’s place.
Sometimes I don’t know in which direction I have to continue. This day was one of them. I almost rode my bicycle for 10 km until I understood that I have to turn around to come to Ortaca.
I hade a hilly way to go, the uphill steeps were up to 8%, but those are no problem for Miss Piggy and me. I was happy that I could take a video with my action camera, when I forced the mountains.
Akin is not so good in English, but he tried. He had a problem with his shower, though I had to fill a bucket with hot water and then pour the water on me by a jug. It worked OK. I didn’t need all the 10 l of the hink.
Akin offered me dinner, unfortunately it was too spicy for me, but I tried to eat of it anyway. It was so well meant of him and I was grateful for his offer. As a dessert he served Turkish gum coffee and chocolate with hazelnuts. Luckily there were only whole ones in the chocolate, though I could easily pull them out.
I also got in touch with Emre of the nearby school. He had asked me before to visit his school. We agreed, that I should visit the school between 11am and 12:30pm.
10th Oct – 40 km
I was already at 10am at the Bahçeşehir Koleji (school), because Akin had to leave his home for work and the school was very close to his home. Akin took me there.
I was welcomed even I was an hour earlier than agreed. A female teacher, who met me first was very happy to see me. Some minutes later Emre welcomed me. I spent some time with some teachers in their office.
Emre had arranged that I met the pupils in the theatre. Miss Piggy was on the scene as well. The boys and girls had prepared questions. First they tried to speak from their seats, but than they had to line up and by that way come closer to me, though it was easier for me to here them. I first had told them, what I am doing and then why I am going by bicycle from Sweden to Egypt. Before I left the school, photos were taken and Emre told me, he will recommend me to others of the Bahçeşehir schools.
I had an invitation from a “sister’s host” i Patara, but unfortunately it was way to much beside my route and even hilly. I really would have liked to meet Marion Traum, but decided to go to Fethiye and stay with another “sister”. Around halfway between Ortaca and Fethiye I took a 2 hours rest.
I didn’t directly find Lisa’s place, because the address was 1022 sokak (street), but the entrance was on 1023 sokak. Though I called Lisa and her son Sydney came out of the gate to show me, where they live.
Lisa offered me a Spanish omelett. We had a short chat and afterwards I was shown “my own apartment” on the third floor.
11th Oct – 105 km
A new milestone was reached this day by entering the city of Kaş.
I have seen on Komoot that the road between Fethiye and Kaş is very hilly. Even I tried all the time in Turkiye to go as close to the coast as possible, there were lots of hills and mountains to force, because the coast has not a lot of beaches and often the mountains reach the entire area to the sea.
Leaving Fethiye I first was looking for a bicycle mechanic, because the brake back was making noises again. I was sure, Miss Piggy doesn’t like the steep downhills even I was careful and didn’t use the brake back all the time. I found the Atlas shop and bicycle repair. The young man, who tried to help me, told me that he need a sparepart he doesn’t have at home and it would take weeks to get it. He recommended me to ask another bicycle mechanic and gave me the directions. When I finally found him, he told me, he doesn’t know anything about the brake. I was very surprised about it, because it is a Shimano system, which I thought is very common.
Looking for that road, Lisa told me about, without steep hills, I cycled around in Fethiye for a while. Because I couldn’t find that road, I asked a traffic policeman for it, but he told me, there is only the one highway, the D400.
Luckily I didn’t find the first and horrible hill Komoot showed me, what I was very happy about. Anyway there were still all the others waiting for me. By those hills I ran out of battery before I reached my host. I first pushed my bike, but there were around 15 km left. After I had pushed my bicycle around 5 km finally Ecem, my host, came with a colleague by car and picked me up.
12th Oct – 5 km walking
Ecem and her husband Matt live in an area, which is high up in Kaş.
In the morning I had an interview with a Danish female journalist. I did get coffee of Ecem before I had breakfast. I also have done my laundry before I was ready for sightseeing of Kaş.
Though, having a day off, I walked down to the sea side. I was looking around the city and even for a bicycle mechanic, but the recommended one was mostly a guide and not available.
Even my host didn’t know, that it was my birthday, he had told me, that I could have lunch or dinner at the vegan restaurant “Oburus Momus” for which he is the manager. I was happy about it and actually had a 3-course-dinner before I was taking a minibus back on the hills – close to my hosts home.
I also was happy about, that the couple really tries to live sustainable, which isn’t usual in Turkey – e.g. they reuse plastic bags of all sizes.
On Facebook and Instagram I’ve got a lot of congratulations for my birthday as well as of my relatives and friends.
13th Oct – 66 km
I awoke around 3am and couldn’t fall asleep again, because it was noisy outside. Already awake I used the time to surf for the email address to the customer service of Shimano. I found one for the Shimano Nordic Agency with a mail address in Norway, though I used English in the email. Among other things I was asking for an description of the Shimano Nexus 7 in English. – The answer I’ve got was in Swedish as well was the description 😭.
Leaving Kaş, even I already was halfway up the mountain I had to push my bicycle. The German couple I had met before was overtaking me. They were riding their non-electric bikes! The rest of the day I could force the hills by riding Miss Piggy, but she is noisy downhills again. I really need to find a good bicycle mechanic!
I hadn’t found a host in Finike, though Lily, a “Facebook sister”, living in the USA, booked a room at the Sever Otel for me. She had messaged me, that she unfortunately don’t live at my route, but would like to help me and book a hotel night for me. I also was asked to choose the hotel.
It seemed to by family run and absolutely no high season for the hotel, but the staff was friendly even they seemed not to be professional – maybe it is the culture, which gave me that impression. The facilities were OK. I had a lonely evening at the hotel.
14th Oct – 65 km
I was surprised about the for me unusual breakfast. It was half English, half Turkish. The only coffee I could get was Nescafé. So much plastic used as well.
Lily had told me the day before, that the hotel night in Finike was so cheap, though he offered me another hotel night and booked then a night in Kemer. My choice was the Murat hotel. I am so grateful for Lily’s kindness.
Even this day I had to cross mountains. The 7% uphill steep was neither a problem nor were the road works. Unfortunately after passing the road works the road was very bad. There was a tunnel, which I was allowed to use and made the day much easier for me.
I was already at 3pm at the hotel. The elderly male receptionist had problems to find my reservation. When he finally had found it, he was really service minded and carried my panniers to my room. I wasn’t happy about the poor lighting and the big and heavy curtains. It made the room so dark. There was a very old TV in the room, an oddity. It didn’t matter for me. I never use the TVs at the hotels. When I asked for bottled water later that evening I was sold water in a reused bottle, which I only was aware about by opening the lid. I was happy, that I didn’t get any problems with my stomach.
15th Oct – 65 km biking, 11 km walking
This day it was on my way and reached Antalya. According to my original planning I should have gone to Serik, but there was neither a host nor a hotel. For Antalya I had an invitation by a “Facebook sister”.
By the three tunnels I had a really great day for cycling and already arrived at Nez home around 12pm. Luckily she was at home. A neighbor helped me by carrying my bicycle up the stairs to Nez apartment. Soon after me, a befriended couple to Nez arrived, but they were not staying overnight. I am sorry, I wasn’t really engaged in the conversation, because I googled for bicycle repair shops. I also posted in the group “Bicycle travellers” on Facebook, that I was looking for a bicycle mechanic and got a recommendation for Mavi. The female friend helped me to carry it down again, though I could go to the bicycle mechanic, but didn’t find him.
I continued to Uğur bikes and left my bicycle there for picking it up the next day, hopefully repaired. I walked all the way back to Nez by following the coast/beach as long as possible. I had a rest at a café with a vegan cheesecake, which had a good taste. I also had a cup of coffee.
Back at Nez she offered me a soup and bread. We talked about taxis, airports, prices and more. Later she continued to work for her PhD. If I understood her right, she already had retired, but was still studying. At the same time she told me, that she is a teacher at the university. I was caring about my diary and finding hosts for the upcoming nights.
16th Oct – 14 km walking
It’s another day off, though I walked around in Antalya – first throughout the nearby park and then along the beach, but on the way back to Nez not throughout the park again. The walk wasn’t only nice, but also interesting. There was a lot of commerce along the beach. Luckily no intrusiv sellers. I took a lot photos!
17th Oct – 71 km
What a day 😯.
I was going by taxi with all my stuff to pick up my bicycle at 9:30am and was wondering, how they could repair it so fast. Unfortunately they hadn’t repaired it. They told me, that I need a new break back and that it will take two month to get it shipped, because they have to order it from the Netherlands.
Though I continued with the bad brake, lucky that the front brake still is working. I could use a cyclepath all the way out of town, but came only to Antalya airport, because the brake locked. I tried to find help and remembered that Adnan from Mugla had told me, that he knows people in Antalya, who can help me if I need. I was first calling one, who told me, that he neither lives close to Antalya nor has time to help me. With the other one = Tolga, who works with tourism in Antalya, I was lucky. He did come by car, picked Miss Piggy and me up and called bicycle mechanics on the way back to Antalya. Tolga was satisfied, that he found one, who offered to help me. Tolga, who is a keen cyclist, left me at the bicycle mechanic.
It didn’t take long time, when the problem was found. It was a tiny “ring”. He had such a thing at his workshop. When the work was done, he asked me for 350 TL (~ 18€). I gave him 400 TL, because he hadn’t change and I not the exact amount in cash.
It was already around 4pm when I could continue and ride again South-East. I tried to find a hotel room in Serik, but actually there was really none. Therefore I continued to Belek, where I found a cheap and good room at the Belek Gold Hotel not far from the town center. I should have had dinner already, but skipped it in the hope to arrive in Belek before dark. I was not so lucky, but the highway had good lights.
When I had checked in and put my stuff in the room, I was going downtown – just 500m ahead. Looking for a restaurant I finally had a waffle at a café. I decided to eat there, because I found it the best choice after I had explored downtown intensively.
18th Oct – 125 km
I have been looking for a host in Alanya without success, therefore I was happy when Orkide, also a “sister” on Facebook offered me to stay with her and her family in Demirtaş – 20 km further than Alanya. Mehmet, her husband was good in English and chatted with me before my arrival. I was happy, that there weren’t many steep uphills this day.
I arrived 6:30pm. Google Maps was a little inaccurate, though I had to call Mehmet and ask him to come outside his home, though I could find him. Orkide arrived a little later together with their children. I was invited for dinner and for the kids sake spaghetti with meet sauce was served.
When the kids were sleeping and we adults had been talking about my further route, Orkide called a relative or friend, who works in the harbour of Iskenderun about the ferry from there to Port Said in Egypt. The answer was, that the cargo boat don’t take passengers anymore. This relative or friend also told Orkide, that she will contact the harbour of Mersin as well as the harbour of Taşucu about the ferries to the Middle East. When she called back, she told Orkide, that there is no ferry/cargo boat for passengers from Mersin either, but from Taşucu to Tripoli, Lebanon. That meant as well, that I had to travel throughout a part of Syria.
Being so close to Egypt and COP27 I decided not to give up. I was ready to take the risk by crossing Syria. The ferry from Taşucu is sailing on Mondays and Thursdays only. I had time left and Orkide told me, that I shouldn’t already the next day go to Taşucu, which I understood as an invitation for staying another day at their home.
I wrote about my further planning on Facebook and was also asking for company from Tripoli onwards in the destinated group. Unfortunately, nobody offered to accompany me.
19th Oct – 22 km
I was surprised when I finally was told, that I couldn’t stay one more night, because other guests were awaited. Though I left Orkide’s home around noon.
I tried to get in touch with Anna B, who had invited me to her holiday home in Gazipaşa. I had informed her before, that I had a host only 20 km away, therefore my next overnight stop would be in Anamur. Now I hoped, we could change it. She didn’t answer in time. Though I took in at the “teachers hotel” (Gazipaşa Öğretmenevi) as Orkide had recommended me. Those hotels are run by regional governments. From the start they were only for teachers, because of their low income to make it possible for them to have affordable and well needed holidays. Times have changed, though this hotels are open for all tourists, but Turkish teachers have priority. The standard and with that, the prices are different from place to place. In Gazipaşa the hotel was on one or more upper floors of the government building. The price for one night stay was around 250 TL (12,50 €). Because of that low price I didn’t ask if breakfast is included.
My dinner were French fries at a Burger restaurant.
20 Oct – 81 km
The room came with a light breakfast in the restaurant. It was a pre-organized breakfast on a styrofoam plate.
Later I bought a cold coffee in a glass bottle at a gas station as well as a peach drink and bread. It was my lunch.
For dinner I actually bought a Döner Kebap and 2 bottles of water. There was no vegetarian meal to get. It was really hard to find vegetarian meals in Turkiye.
Even this day I followed the D550 and had some hills to force, but generally it was an easy ride. Anyway I had to look up for broken glass and bumps on the road, but luckily no pott holes. There were lots of trash on the side of the highway and not only this day. It was general that way in Turkiye and so disgusting!
Also this day I did take two rests. Even I left Gömeç at 9:45am I already arrived in Aliağa at 4:15pm. I tried to get in touch with a couchsurfing host, but without success. Though I was sightseeing in the town and hoped to find a cheap hostel or hotel. I must say, Aliağa is a nice town. When I had decided at which hotel I will ask for a room and arrived there at the Etap Altinel Hotel Aliağa, suddenly the host I tried to reach during the day was behind me and asked me, if I am Dorothee. He invited me to his home for the night and was showing me the sunset at a nice place as well as he took photos there with me, before we continued to his home.
Zekeriya is a teacher at a technical school and asked me to follow to his school the next morning. I agreed.
21st Oct – 49 km
There is no mountain high enough, but sometimes I need a little help. It is only 49 km between Anamur and Aydinçik, but the last 20 of them I hitchhiked. The kind driver’s name was Ahmed and I guess, he was in his 50’s. He drove a small panel truck. Luckily it was empty and Ahmed put Miss Piggy upright into the car. He fastened it carefully, though she couldn’t fall. I only had asked him to take me over the very hill. Luckily, he didn’t stop, because here the road was really narrow and no space for bicycles. When we arrived, Ahmed tried to invite me for lunch. I thanked him a lot, but said no. I was afraid, that my artifical teeth would get in the wrong position again and I had to take them out during the lunch. I ate bananas instead.
I’ve booked a room around 2pm and the policy for the check-in time was from 5pm, but actually it was not possible to check-in before 5:40pm and finally it was 6pm that it was done.
I went out for dinner, looking for a restaurant. I didn’t found any and bought a bottle of water. When I had turned around and was on my way back to the hostel, I found an open restaurant, but in the meantime I had been to a “Pastanesi” (kind of café). I had ordered 2 pieces of baklava with pistachios and 2 small biscuits, which were melting in my mouth. I also had a coffee, unfortunately I only could get a Turkish coffee. I had asked for a tea instead, but the shop didn’t even had it. In addition to that I bought two small bottles of water.
22nd Oct – 60 km
It doesn’t happen very often that I have lunch at a restaurant on my bicycle tour and it didn’t ever happen before, that I have got a lunch for free, but Mehmet – a waiter, was so impressed of my tour, that he did ask me to enter the restaurant to the employee’s area and served me a meal, I could chose myself as well as a lot of tea and a bottle of water. He first offered me a softdrink instead for the water. Before I arrived I had overcome a long, long 10% steep uphill. Actually I had taken a short rest during that distance.
Well-fed and with the promiss of Mehmet to help me, if I’ll be in trouble, I continued and had now only to face minor hills as well as a tunnel. It would have been even easier, if all the three tunnels, there were, would have been ready to use. I arrived already around 3:30pm and checked in another “teacher’s hostel” (Silifke Lütfi Elvan Öğretmenevi Aso Mündülügü), which was of better standard than the others before, but also more expensive. Anyway, the service was better AND the costs for two nights were paid by Kemir, a friendly soul.
I hadn’t found a host for the night in time, therefore I stayed at the “teacher’s hostel”. During the day I’ve got in contact with Ali. We first met at the Jiebu Coffee (a café) and went together to ship companies to find a solution for me to cross the Mediterranean. There were only two, but one of them was only sailing to Cyprus with no way to continue over the Mediterranean. The one, which really could get me to the Middle East, is the MedStar. Their ships are cargo ships, taking trucks as well as one and another car and cyclists. The most attention they spend on the cargo ships, of course. They are sailing to Tripoli, Lebanon. They told me, that I have to pay $250 for the crossing. I agreed with them and got to know, that it is not sure, when the next boat will leave, because it is winter time and the weather makes the crossing dangerous. I had to stay in touch with them and ask every morning, if a ship will leave that day. Officially the next boat will leave next Monday at 12am and I have to be at the boat at 8pm.
Ali had things to do, but suggested to meet later again, which we did – at the restaurant called “Route 33”, where Ali then was working with the speakers system and I did get a meal including juice as well for free, that means on his expenses. The restaurant is owned by a cousin of Ali.
Meanwhile I was waiting for the second meeting, I walked the town and the harbour. After Ali had finished his work, he tog me to his “baba’s boat”, which nowadays is a restaurant only. I asked Ali, which boats are big enough for making it safe over the Mediterranean. I asked the questions, that he couldn’t find out about my hope to find another ship than the MedStar cargo.
Btw Ali is living together with Natalia, a woman from Ukraine, living in Turkiye for many years. She was still working. Ali offered to host me.
23rd Oct – 2km walking
I was still in Taşucu, waiting for a boat leaving for Lebanon. I would have cycled over land, but Erdogan had closed the borders between Turkiye and Syria.
Ali was occupied with work, but we had contact by phone. I was walking the harbour again, this time asking if one of the sightseeing boats would go with me to Port Said or Haifa and what it would cost. Unfortunately they all declined.
The night had been very windy and I have had my basket on my bicycle. Though I needed a repair of my sign “Biking for future and ☮” and bought tape.
In the evening I had a “pasta Alfredo” at the teacher’s hostel restaurant. I thought the pasta will come with mushrooms, but it came with chicken 😢. It took a very long time until I was served. I also got a bottle of water, which I neither had ordered nor touched. I anyway had to pay for it 😡.
24th Oct – 2 km walking
Ali had offered to host me and because the cargo boat was not leaving this day either, I moved to his apartment.
Miss Piggy was left at Ali’s cousin restaurant, but all my bags and panniers were moved to Ali’s apartment. He transported the bags by his female cousin’s car, which was very dusty and not cared for.
I also have had a pizza at the restaurant “Route 33”, it’s bottom was very thin and crispy. I did like the pizza very much.
On the way to Ali’s apartment he bought some groceries and cooked dinner. He went to a neighbor after the meal and I became so tired, though I was going to sleep.
25th Oct – 2 km walking
It is a little windy, but shouldn’t be any problem for sailing. It was one of the few days I had a headache. Maybe I didn’t drink enough the day before.
Ali fried omelett for breakfast. He put a lid on the frying pan. I had three coffees!
This day I also got to know Natalie, who explained about her work. So far I thought it was suspicious, that Ali never knew, when Natalie will be at home, but she explained it to me. In Turkiye a 8h working day is very unusual even it official is. The employers expect their employees to work unpaid overtime whenever they are needed. To get a contract with an guaranteed working day of 8 hours is impossible. The employer will employ another person instead. She is working as a estate agent assistant and often works 14h/day. They all work 6 days/week.
Now I understood why Ali never knew, when Natalie will be at home. There is nothing shady about it.
I asked them as well about the many waiters in the restaurant. Every one of them have to serve a few tables only. That must be expensive for the employer and give low salaries and low tipps for the waiters. Though Natalie told me, that she has been working as a waitress and that the waiters don’t have a sufficient education for their profession. Therefore they make a lot of mistakes and another waiter has to correct them.
We also were talking about the yogurt we had for breakfast. I was told, that the first yogurt came from Silifke, which is very close to Taşucu and I explained about the special kind of yogurt we have in Sweden, which is called långfil and makes by a flower, which is smeared in the walls of a bowl before milk is added. The juice of the flower affects the texture. I think, they didn’t understand my explanation. One has to see the flower, how to smear the bowl and the result.
Furthermore I’ve got the Wi-Fi password of Ali and was working a bit on my blog.
I went to MedStar asking for the boat, but was told that the weather still was too hard and the boat hasn’t arrived in Tuşucu yet.
I asked them, if it is possible to get a visa on arrival in Tripoli, coming by boat. I have read that tourists can get visas on arrival at Beirut airport, but couldn’t find out for the port of Tripoli. The company told me, that they don’t know either, but they will take me on board anyway. They don’t care about it.
Finally I have got the WhatsApp number of the company, but without the country code. It took me a while to figure out, that this was the reason, why it wasn’t working.
The boat to Tripoli should sail the next day. I really hope so and tried to get USD out of an ATM, but that wasn’t possible and the bank next door couldn’t give me USD either, they told me. I did understand that answer like they don’t have USD at their branch. Though I was taking a minibus to the Silifke, the next town – that was for 10 TL, but I had a no luck there either. I security guy at one of the banks explained, that I have to take TL out of the ATM and then to exchange at the counter. My Visa card was not even working in their ATMs, nor was my Mastercard.
Back in Taşucu I tried my luck at the ATM one more time and got the amount I wished, even I had to split it up, because the slots for the cash were not high enough. I couldn’t exchange to USD, because the bank was already closed.
At a supermarket I bought – what I thought was a big – chocolate pudding before I was going back to Ali’s appartment. There I ate the pudding, which wasn’t so much, because of the very soft texture. When Natalie came home, she cooked for us.
26th Oct – 3 km by bicycle, 2 km walking
During breakfast Ali, Natalie and I planned for the day. Natalie luckily had USD at home and exchanged my TL. Ali called the MedStar, if I have to be at their office at 9am with all my stuff as I was told the day before. They answered him, it is OK when I’ll be there at 12pm (with all my stuff). Though Ali fixed the same car again like the days before for moving my panniers and bags. We were going to the restaurant “Route 33” to pick up Miss Piggy. There I packed it all as usual.
At MedStar I was only asked for $200 now for the ticket. I didn’t have to wait at the office, but was told to arrive at the boat in the harbour at 5pm the latest. Though we went back to “Route 33”, where I had a sandwich with different cheeses and two juice. I tried to pay for it without success.
Afterwards I used my time to google about visa for Syria and found a website with a link to a guide company, which I mailed. The answer was, that they need almost three days for getting the papers ready. They promised me soon, that I can enter their country on Friday thus week and a confirmation until Thursday 4pm. The Jordan border will close at 5pm on Friday.
Cici, a French female solo bicycle traveller in her twenties, which I have got in contact with by a WhatsApp group, met me at Route 33. She will take the same boat as I, but stay in Lebanon. She soon left again, telling me the place is too expensive for her (the toast was for 40 TL).
Still this afternoon I have got the price for the guiding throughout Syria including a 2h sightseeing tour in Damaskus. It is $350 and $70 for the visa. I didn’t have enough with USD, though I was to the ATM and then to the bank, but the bank didn’t have any USD, they explained it was by a system error.
Though I was back to Route 33 and talked with Ali, who made some calls and was then taking me to Europecars. Unfortunately the guy there had understand Ali wrong. The guy would like to buy USD not sell, but he called MedStar, which is very close to Europestar. They agreed to exchange TL to USD. In my mind I was wondering, why they asked me to pay in USD. Anyway I was happy, they helped me.
Back to Route 33 again from where I soon was leaving for the harbor. It was a quite long procedure at the harbor before I was allowed to enter the area. At the border control my passport and my ticket were checked one more time. They even called the office of MedStar. My bags were send through such a scanner like the airports have, but they didn’t check my coolerbag. This was followed by another passport control, where I’ve got my exit stamp. Then a car drove in front of me to the MedStar Cargo Ship. He drove fast and I had problems to follow him, especially by the bad surfaces.
I had to wait at the ramp into the ship close to me lots of trucks were waiting as well. Soon I was allowed to enter with my bicycle. I had to leave it close to the ports, but was told to take the things I need with me. Unfortunately I did only take half of it. With one of the sailors I had to use the elevator for the trucks, which doesn’t have any security. On the top of it, we were standing beside a truck and didn’t have much space. That wasn’t enough. We also had to climb almost three flights of stairs. I was placed in the room on the side of the officer’s mess. There was a bench and I was thinking, that it might be possible to get some sleep during the night on that bench.
The chef arrived soon with a bread roll, filled with chicken and vegetables. He told me, it is called Tahiti. Luckily it wasn’t spicy.
I was thinking about Cici and waiting for her. I was afraid, she will miss the boat. She arrived between 7pm and 8pm because of the wrong information of the office.
The chef showed up after a while again. This time he came with desserts. They were prepared in a bowl like chocolate pudding, but there were biscuits in them as well.
Meanwhile we ate the dessert and the chef was still with us, the captain came. For me it was the third time. The first time he told me, he was the captain and his name. He don’t has a uniform. The second time he told me, he will find a place for me for the night. This time he told us, that he has a room for us. He took us to the owner’s cabin. It has two rooms – a bedroom and a kind of livingroom. In the latter was a couch, where Cici later was sleeping. She was so kind and let me the bed. There was also a WC and even a shower, but that bathroom was very dirty.
I checked my messages and was surprised and angry, that my host in Sharm el-Sheikh cancelled my stay. Hi wrote, that his sister in Alexandria will soon have a baby and that he has to go and visit her. I couldn’t understand that argument. I would have understood, if he would be female. Later I heard that the minister for tourism or the authority for turism didn’t allow all employees (whereever they were employed in Sharm El-Sheikh) to stay in the city. I was so close to Egypt and COP27 and now I wasn’t sure I could stay in Sharm El-Sheikh during the climate conference, but I didn’t gave up. I used my Facebook groups and got links to more fb groups as well. I used them all, trying to find a room for the fortnight.
As we were told, the ship should have left the harbor at 8pm, at the latest at 9pm, but still more and more trucks were entering. Finally we left around midnight full to the brim. Even on the elevator was a truck and I was thinking about, how dangerous it looks like. If there would be a fire ombord, the trucks from the upper floor would not be able to escape. I fell asleep soon, but woke up, when the ship left the harbor around midnight.
27th Oct – Only a couple of km by bicycle, no walking
I managed to send birthday wishes to my daughter Maria before we lost the Internet connection. Soon I felt asleep again.
I awoke half past 6am and took my first medicine at 7am as well as I took my second medicine half an hour later. I also have seen the sunrise. The sun was like a red ball at the horizon straight ahead. The sea was calm.
We didn’t get any breakfast, because Cici, who speaks Arabic, had told the chef that she won’t awake before 9am and breakfast was scheduled to 8am. That didn’t matter a lot, because U didn’t know that we will have full board on bord and bought food in Taşucu, which I had taken with me.
I changed the Turkish simcard to my Swedish one and put the phone on flight mode for not risking a high bill of my 4G provider. The phone still shows the time. It is no time difference between the part of Asia I have been to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
On deck the captain asked me if I have had breakfast and fixed then a sandwich with cheese and a coffee with milk powder for me. He also put sugar in the coffee even I had told him “no sugar”. He informed me as well that lunch is at 1pm and dinner at 5pm.
This cargo ship had seen it’s best days and Cici and I also thought, that the lack of cleanliness depends on, that there are only men omboard. Btw, the whole crew was Syrian. A lot of them hadn’t left the ship for five years. They weren’t even aloud to leave it in the harbors. The only connections to their families and friends were by mobile phone, which was only working in the harbors and a little distance from there at sea. They were very happy about, when they got connected, but also shared their Internet with us.
On board I spent a lot of time with Cici. She has studiet Arabic and a good help in the contact with the crew. She cycles around the Mediterranean – from Refugee camp to refugee camp and write down the stories of the refugees and how they live in the camps. So far only a German magazine asked her for an article and paid her 100€.
After lunch, which was rice with pasta (the pasta looks like very short spaghetti) and something more, Cici started working with the translation of her interviews. I was only writing down what had happened this day. I miss Internet, but it wouldn’t be worth it’s price for writing my blog. I had an Ayran as well, which I had bought in Taşucu. Then I was going on the deck looking at all the trucks, the sea and the dirty steam from the engine. I was wondering, if that dirty power of the ship (they use raw oil) is worse as the CO2 emissions from all the trucks transported by it, if the would drive all the way over land – in the case it would be possible. I don’t have the answer.
We needed 24 hours to arrive in Tripoli! The arrival time we were told in Taşucu should have been 4pm, but it became 8pm and dark. Luckily I had got a contact in Tripoli via a site on Facebook “cycle friends”. Natheer, the cycle mayor of Tripoli got me in touch with another guy of the group. His name is Mohamad. I told Cici from the contact and that she could try with him as well. Though I soon was asked of my host if I would share the room with her – there were two separate beds and sure, I did. Mohamad has a bicycle shop close to the harbor of Tripoli. He was meeting us once we got our visa by a very comfortable procedure. The captain of the cargo ship had collected our passports and they arrived before us. When coming to the immigration office the visa was already done and it was for free!
Ahmed met us in the harbor. We had sent him a message, that we’ll be late. Luckily he can see the ships arriving from his home. At this time it was dark, of course and I was very greatful, that he met us.
At his home Miss Piggy got company in his bike shop and we followed Mohamad upstairs to his apartment. I was wondering about the iron door in front of his wooden one and he told me, that it is a “souvenir” from the time of the civile war.
He showed us the room and fed us as well as we had a lot to talk about after Cici and I had taken a shower.
28th Oct – 6 km walk
Cici was up early and had also an early breakfast, because she had decided to continue to the next refugee camp straight away. I used the early morning hour to try to find a host for Beirut and a room in Sharm El-Sheikh. I finally booked a bed in a HI-hostel in Beirut. I expected a clean and good quality place, as I am used to regarding to HI-hostels.
I didn’t have a hurry, because I decided not to use my bicycle throughout Lebanon. The reason is, that I read about the high crime rate in Lebanon and that I won’t loose Miss Piggy or my life. I discussed the issue with Mohamad after breakfast, for which I had to fry my own omelette and brew my own coffee. He told me, that I should go by taxi, but that I have to change to another taxi in Beirut. The taxis from Tripoli are not going further and the same applies to the taxis from the South. He helped me with the first one and called his second cousin. After a quite long waiting time, he arrived with an old VW-bus. We were able to put Miss Piggy upright in there – on the side of the seats. Before we left, Mohamad told me, that he had advised his second cousin not to smoke and not to drive too fast with me. While we said good bye, Mohamad took the opportunity to take pictures of us.
The VW-bus was not only dirty, but the seat in the front was broken. I was not able to use the seat belt 😭. The second cousin tried to smoke, but I told him “no”. Soon he started biting his fingernails. He was driving really fast, mostly on the left lane of the road even when other cars drove faster as him. I was relieved when we finally arrived at the hostel in Beirut. I had to pay $40 for the around 80 km as agreed with the help of Mohamad.
The hostel was not the way I had expected. It was not so clean as I wished and also strange. It was on the second floor in a building. It was mostly run by volunteers. I started to carry up my panniers and bags. Luckily a young man helped me. A volunteer from the hostel did carry my bike up, but I had to hold the entrance door.
I asked the receptionist, who luckily was an ordinary employee to help me book a taxi for the upcoming morning. He tried for a long time before he found one, who was willing to transport Miss Piggy and me to the Lebanon/Syrian border crossing at Masnaa. We agreed on 6pm, because the Syrian guide was waiting for me at the border from 8am.
I was confident that all will be well, when I saw the message on Facebook of Dorothea, living in Sharm El-Sheikh. She offered to let me a room during the climate conference for the amount I had planned. She also wrote, that she had been waiting for “the special guest” who should be an interesting woman.
Around 3pm I started walking to downtown. I asked people in a car, where downtown is and the answer was quite far away. The offered me to follow them in the car, but the car was already full, though I continued walking. A little while later I took a mini bus and was soon in the city center, where I bumped into the guys from the full car again. Both the driver and the passengers in the Minibus were kind and helpful. I came along a mosque and a church close to. Några hus looked like destroyed in a war, but then I remembered the big explosion in the harbor of Beirut some years ago. Jag was returning early, before I found a city mall. I was eager to be back at the hostel before dark. I walked all the way and even made it before sunset. Unfortunately there were a lot of mosquitoes and I had forgotten to take my insects spray with me.
Back at the hostel I used the Wi-Fi again before I ate cheese and crackers for dinner.
29th Oct – 29 km by bicycle, 2 km walking
Around 5am the electricity was gone like the night before. It wasn’t back in time for the trouble I had with the taxi. The taxi should arrive at 6am and I was infront of the hostel at 5:45am. The taxi didn’t come and finally at 7am I could call the taxi company with the help of a volunteer and also inform my guide in Syria about the problem. The taxi company couldn’t get in touch with the driver and sent me after a while another driver instead. It was 8:10am – the electricity was back since a short while, when a taxi finally arrived and was going South with Miss Piggy and me to the Lebanon/Syrian border.
There the taxi driver tried to stop long way before the Lebanon border control, but I told him to drive closer, because it was uphill. For leaving the country I had to go to the imigration office to get a stamp. I had to wait in line for a while.
Some minutes later I was at the Lebanon check-point and left the country into no mans land, but still with sellers around, trying to make some money with coffee, souvenirs etc.
If I remember right, the no mans land was 8km long and for sure it was hilly – almost with 6% slopes. Cars and buses were overtaking me, of course. I was happy that I could ride my bicycle all the way until the Syrian border.
There were check-points long before the immigration office and actually I had ask for it. I also was all the time looking out for my guide. Finally I found the immigration office, but not my guide. I was told to queue in a special line at a counter, but there were guides with bunches of papers in front of me and all were going around me. I was happy I’ve got in contact with a female guide, who explained the system for me and also told, she had seen my guide on that bench, pointing to a bench opposite the desks. Before I left her, she told me, that she had seen me cycling throughout the no mans land and told the group in the bus, they should take me as an exampel. She added that the tourists she accompanies already complain when they have to walk one or two km.
My guide wasn’t on the bench, but another guide, who told me, that my guide just had gone to the bathroom. Though I stayed at that bench waiting.
He did take me to the counter, when he arrived and clear papers. Then he asked me for 68 USD or 65 EUR. He meant, that I had to pay less, using EUR 🙄I gave him 70 USD and he went to another counter, finally coming back with my visa (in my passport).
Outside we met his driver with the car. Miss Piggy was put into the car and I was placed beside of her. The guide was sitting in the front beside the driver. I would have liked to sit in the front to see more, but didn’t say that.
We were going to Damaskus for sightseeing, which was included in the price. He was quick to show me a shop, where they sell baklava and similar sweets. I was eager to try of them – would have loved to try one of each, but the guide told the shop assistent different and, when I told him, I want 100g he told me, it is very little. I ended up with more, that was for 300 SYP, the change I had got for my 70 USD, when the guide paid my visa.
The guide soon walked me throughout the bazar and told me about the Syrian ice-cream I had to try – but not at the place we just were. They have more tasty ice-cream at another place of the bazar, I was told by him. When we arrived there, I still was eating the baklava sweat, though he actually understood, that I won’t buy ice cream at that point. Anyway, somewhere I bought a bottle of water and at another place some bread. Not having SYP, he covered my expenses in the shops and I paid him in USD before I left Syria.
He also should me historical buildings in the city center like old churches and mosques. At the end we had to go to a hotel, where we met the owner of the tour company in the lobby. I did get a “gift” after I had paid the agreed $350. I was even told to attend a website for getting an allowance to enter Jordan and to leave Syria without exit fee. I filled the first side of the form, but it was not possible for me to fill the other page of it, though the guide company explained, they will do it for me.
The last part of my day in Syria had begun. Miss Piggy was still in the back of the car and we continued to the border of Syria and Jordan. Unfortunately that allowance to enter Jordan had not arrived yet, though I had to pay the exit fee anyway. It was $7, but the guide got angry at me, because I had given him $10 as a tip – and the driver $5, because those were my last dollars and I thought, I didn’t need USD in Jordan resp. that there were an ATM at the border. Anyway, the fee was paid and the guide told me, where to leave the area to the (short stripe of) no mans land.
Same day, new chapter. There are a few check-points before arriving at the office for immigration of Jordan and I can tell you, they were a challenge, because the officers seem never before has seen a Swedish passport. It took around half an hour of investigation, but finally I was allowed to go further. At the next check-point it was similar. Luckily the waiting time was less. First at the third check-point I met an officer, who spoke English and also understood my passport.
There were a lot of stairs up to the imigration office and I had to leave Miss Piggy on the road. I hoped, that all my stuff will be there, when I’ll come back. I only tog the most important things with me like my passport and my credit cards.
I had not got the electronic document from Jordan yet. Sometimes it is really hard without Internet. Now it was. I tried to get a visa on arrival anyway, but had two problems. The first was the missing document, the second was the lack of cash in USD. I tried it at the money exchange office, but as the name says, there they only exchange money. It was not possible to withdraw money from my account. I had some TL left, though I asked if they exchange TL. Usually they don’t, but I was offered 15 JOD, which actually should be 30 JOD. Anyway it would not have been enough. I was going back again to the immigration office building, asking for another option. There were none. A driver had overheard my situation and offered me to give me the 40 JOD as a loan if he could collect 50 JOD at my host. I was not awaiting, that my host will agree with it, but I tried. It took a while until I has explained the situation and told her. I know this doesn’t sound good. I just could be an impostor. She apologized, but 50 JOD is a lot of money for her – as a student. I understood her so well.
Though, I didn’t know how to do, but the driver had shared his Internet with me and now, I have got that Jordanian document. Therefore I was going back in, showing that for the officer in charge. He does not speak English, though the English speaking officer came to me. He made now something very unusual. He tog me first to the exchange office for changing my TL. Even he was with me, I didn’t get more than 15 JOD. With those notes in his hand we were going back to the immigration office. Here he asked some people, he seemed to know about helping me. A woman donated 10 JOD, a man also donated 10 JOD, but telling me, he does it, because he is a Moslem. Finally the officer found a woman, who donated the missing amount of 5 JOD. If you are wondering, why the officer couldn’t just give me the visa without my payment has to know, that he had to add stamps in my passport.
I was very greatful about the donations, even the woman, who had donated the 10 JOD asked me, what I will do in Jordan without money. I told her, that I have enough money, but on my account – not in cash.
It was dark now. The most urgent for me now was to find a toilet. I had to asked more than once and not all people understood my question, though I used my dictionary without words.
I had to find a place for the night and started on my trip to the nearest town – to Mafraq. Luckily most of the road was uplight, but for some km I had to try to see by my light I have on my bicycle. It lights up the left side of my bicycle and the middle of the road. Therefore I cannot see, where the roads end to the right. Though I mostly road in the middle of the road, where I could see the stripe – there were neither a stripe on the left nor on the right side of the road. By the lack of Internet, I couldn’t book a room. I was hoping I would find one on the side of the main street once I entered Mafraq, but I couldn’t see any. When I saw a café, I stopped and was entering the place. Only some young men were sitting there, smoking shisha. I asked for a hotel. First they told me, there isn’t, but they were discussing and finally they told me, they will show me the way. One of them was driving with his car in front of me and another one behind me. Though I was really safe, even I was wondering, where they bring me, when they were using narrow streets, but I soon could see, that there was a festival in town and the main street was blocked. The brought me to a building with apartments to rent short term. I was shown two different and could choose. They were for 25 JOD/night each. I had to pay cash, though I needed an ATM. The two guys were following me to an ATM as well to a shop where I could buy a SIM-card. Unfortunately, I had forgotten my little backpack (with the battery) in one of the cars, but Osama had given me his phone number in the case I needed more help. I couldn’t call him, but the man, who let the apartment to me and soon Osama was back with my backpack. I was very tired now and going directly to sleep.
I was thinking about to give this day the title “Von der Freundlichkeit der Menschen” (About the Kindness of the People), but that is a titel of a book, written by Joe Lederer.
30th Oct – 66 km
I awoke early and checked out around 9am. The man, who let the apartment to me told me, that he is a refugee from Syria and asked for charity. I actually gave him a little amount.
I was cycling on a minor road in the morning after the Komoot app, but the GPS signal was week, though I soon was switching to Google maps using main roads. The landscape didn’t have a lot and only minor hills, but in Amman, the capital of Jordan. Amman is build in the mountains. I couldn’t make the steep, though I was looking for another street. Unfortunately it was nearly as steep as the first one, though I tried to hitchhike with Miss Piggy. It took a long time, but I’ve got one and it was worth the waiting time, because the driver brought us all the way to my host. Synneve wasn’t at home, when I arrived, but came after some minutes together with her roommate.
Well established in their rented apartment, they offered me coffee, biscuits and chocolate. Around an hour later we were walking downtown. They invited me to a restaurant, called Jafra and also friends of them were meeting us there. For two of them it was the last day in Jordan. One of them was going to Japan and the other one to South America.
Btw I did get a special drink with lemon and mint as well as a special kind of pizza. It was topped with cheese, thyme and humus. Synneve’s roommate followed their friends home, but Synneve was walking home together with me.
31st Oct – 82 km
I was awake early, but was wondering, if I was in the same timezone, though I restarted my smartphone and actually we were an hour earlier. Though I left around 11am instead for 10am. Synneve saw it as an honor to push my bicycle uphill – in the street, where she lives.
I needed already an ATM again. I had not taken out a lot of cash in Mafraq. There was a shopping center nearby and there also ATMs, of course.
It was not easy to find my way out of Amman in the direction to Aqaba, the border town to Egypt. I had to try three times. There was a lot of traffic in Amman – surprise 😉. Finally outside the town there was less traffic and I felt better, especially because there were no longer such high hills/mountains to cross. I have had one in the city, which I haven’t been able to ride and got help of a relatively young men.
Now I followed highway 15. The road was quite flat and mostly I could ride my bicycle on the emergency lane.
When the sun was on it’s way down I stopped at a supermarket in the village called Qadā’ Umm ar Raşāş, nära Al- Qatrana where Google told me there was a hostel or hotel. I ask at the supermarket and got the directions from two men, who both only spoke Arabic, but didn’t find that street. Though I asked one more time. At that place where some trucks were parking for the night. Luckily I found a driver with good English. He explained, that at the place Google shows, an older, single man is living and found me a family instead to stay overnight.
I was welcomed of the family and taken to the living room. Here the cushons were directly on the floor and I had to go down on them. One of the wifes did offer warm milk with sugar and biscuits. I was surprised, that the biscuits were packed one and one in plastic. I also was offered tea. Later I did get lunch together with the family. They had rice, boiled meatballs, raw tomatoes and a sauce with onions as well as bread.
Nobody of them were good in English, but some of the children knew some words. During dinner one of them made fun of the Beduins, which surprised me and also did touch me badly. By the lack of language skills, I couldn’t explain my feelings.
I had to sleep in the living room. In Sweden we show around in our home, but here it seemed not to be common. I didn’t ask for it.
1st Nov – 144 km
During the breakfast with my host family the father told me “come here”. I didn’t feel comfortable with that command, but was thinking about his poor English. He said then, that he would like to go to Sweden and for that, I had to visit them on my way back as well. I answered, he is welcome, but if he will go with me, he has to go by bicycle with me. We exchanged phone numbers, but I don’t remember on which sim card or on the phone. For sure, it was not my Egyptian one, because I didn’t have that one in Jordan. I don’t remember his name either. He showed me his full name, what I didn’t put in my phone. I even told him, that he should come with his wifes. The present one become really happy.
I left already some minutes after 8am. The breakfast had been milk with bread and melt butter respectively yogurt.
I only took some short rests this day. The road was not as flat as the day before, but had only small hills. Just when I arrived in Ma’an my second battery also ran out of power. In the town itself I had to push my bicycle.
Unfortunately the GPS was not working well in this area, though I had to ask for the hotels and was every time told different places. When I asked some teenage girls, who were laughing at me, three of them showed me a kind of hostel. We were almost walking for ten minutes, one of the girls did push my bike and they were laughing all the time including when they left me at the hostel. The owner of the hostel was serious as I expected. He had a laundry on the ground floor. He showed me the room and told me, it is for 25 JOD. That price I am used to since my first overnight stay in Jordan. It is without breakfast and the room was not the nicest, but it is anyway a good price even compared with e.g. Sweden or Germany. Though I accepted. The good thing was, that there was a “supermarket” just on the other side of the street.
Some km before I entered Ma’an a pick-up driver asked me if I want to go to Petra. From that place the distance was much shorter than from Ma’an, but I was so persistent to go by bicycle, though I told him, I was on my way to Ma’an.
2nd Nov – 38 km
I left Ma’an around 9am after I had been to the shop across the street and bought water and something for breakfast.
It was easy to find the way to Petra, even I used Google maps at the beginning to find my wait out of town and the correct direction. Meanwhile I had a lot of km downhills the day before, I now had to ride my bicycle mostly uphill and the hills were harder than the day before, but not more than 8%.
When I arrived in Petra I took some photos of a nice view. The owner of the Happy Night Hostel, as he said he was, talked to me. He told me, that the hostel is clean and for a night’s stay and breakfast it was for 25 JOD only. Though I agreed to stay there. He drove with his pick-up in front of me and showed me the way. The last meters to the hostel seemed dangerous to me and he came and pushed my bicycle after he had parked his car.
The hostel offered lunch and dinner as well, but one had to pay extra. The 3-course-dinner was for 7 JOD. The owner also offered me to drive me to the entrance of the historic and archaeological city of Petra and to pick me up again. The price was 8 JOD and he told me, a taxi would be more expensive. Furthermore he offered to drive me out of the town, when I will leave, because it is at the bottom of the valley and there were no other way out than climbing the mountain road.
I actually ordered a dinner and told them, that I am vegetarian and won’t have chicken, which the dinner was coming with. The delivered dinner was anyway with chicken. – After I had left a review about the hostel, I’ve got a message from the chef, that he had prepared a vegetarian meal for me. Though I think it was the staff placing the dinners, who gave me the wrong one.
Btw, when I was to the WC during the night, I saw the prepacked breakfast already beside the door of my room and similar to the other rooms.
I also was in contact with my couchsurfing friend Ibrahim, who told me, unfortunately he cannot host me, because he is very, very busy all the time.
3rd Nov – 94 km
I hate when people think they know what I am able to even they don’t know me, but I’ll start with breakfast. After I had taken my first medicine at 6am and was dressed and ready for breakfast at 7am, I was so disappointed about the breakfast. It was pre-packed. Nothing was fresh and if I remember right, there wasn’t even a boiled egg included.
At 8:30am I was ready for the ride out of the valley as the owner of the hostel had offered me. He was some minutes late. I tried to reduce the distance, he will bring me and for that also the price, but he got it wrong. He told me, the gasoline is so expensive, he cannot do it for less. I tried two times more, that I am interested in to start using my bicycle as soon as I am out of the valley, but he didn’t believe, that I could make the hills by myself. He told me, as soon as I would be on the highway the road was only going downhill – little did he know.
Anyway, the worst hills started around 10 km before Aqaba, from where I took the ferry to Nuweiba, Egypt. I would have loved to cycle overland via Taba, but had read, that the border crossing to Taba was still closed. Too late I was told, that it is open.
I was happy, that I was early, because the road to the port terminal was badly signed. Only the junction, where I had to go to the port instead for into the city of Aqaba was well-signed. I had to ask for the way to the ferry, before I found the correct road. It was the same as the trucks have to use in the beginning, but then I had to go a little further.
Outside the terminal were already lots of people, many of them with big and heavy goods. An officer had let me into the terminal building after a security check including check of my passport and I was allowed to take the bicycle with me right away. I had to ask around about the tickets and the exchange. For the tickets I had first been at the wrong counter. It was only for trucks and cars, but they told me, where I had to go. I found it in good time, I even had to wait, before I could buy the ticket and even longer for the man, who exchanged currencies.
I did exchange the 60 JOD I had left and got 84 USD for them. I bought 2800 EGP, partly by my Visa-card!
When I read my ticket, it was totally incorrect. Neither my name (it was spelled Dorothee Ursuila – like Ursuila would be my surname) nor the date of departure was OK (it was the 4th Nov). I was going back to the ticket office, but they told me, it doesn’t matter and luckily it really didn’t.
When I was going to the toilet during my waiting time, a men behind me shouted and apologized, when I went around. From the back he had thought, I was a man and I was on my way into the ladies department 😉. Btw this happend more than once to me and in Egypt as well.
I was sent to another counter to pay my departure tax, but there was none. First when all the other passengers were let into the building and came rushing to the counter an officer opened it. Some kind men told me to hang on and even told me to go forward in the queue. Here actually women were first helped. This also applied at the passport control, where the officer asked me for it.
Even when I then queued with my bicycle I was told to go to the front and I was let on board after a local woman. Another woman arrived as well. She wear a burka and had two minor daughters with her. These three were actually the very first when we entered the ferry. While waiting I had a chat with a father in his 30s, I guess, who had bought a bicycle for his little son. He cared somewhat about me. It wasn’t very easy to get my bicycle on board, but I have got help of a friendly soul.
At the ferry, I had to put my bicycle on the side and, trying to come on the other side of it for leaving, I fell over it and the bicycle fell as well, of course. Two strong men helped me on my feet and the father with the little bicycle did take care about my bicycle.
In the sitting area on board I had paper to fill in like going by an airoplane. I was lucky, that I had a pen with me. The first officer on board had a problem with my passport, but the second officer could read and understand it. I told him, that I have a visa for Egypt and he looked at it. He asked me, where I will stay in Egypt. On the paper I only could fill in one destination. He kept the passport for later.
I had forgot my phone on my bike. I only took biscuits and a bottle of water with me. I am tired and don’t know, which time it is. The officers still check the passport and papers of the Egyptian travellers. I was told, that my passport and my visa are OK. The officer had another passport with him and tried to gave it too me. I had to tell him a lot of times “that is NOT my passport” before he listened and gave me mine, but took it again. I am very tired and my right leg hurts.
When the ferry was close to the harbor, we foreigners were taken aside. The door to the inner area was locked with a key by the officer, when he had to go somewhere else.
Finally we were allowed to go on land, but the police officer was following us all the time. We did get our luggage and I even my bicycle and had then to walk throughout the entry hall. We had to wait together meanwhile some of us had to pay for their visa at arrival. First now we did get our passports back. Before I thought I’ll get mine, I was asked if the picture in my passport is me. He did still hold on our two passports – there was another visitor, who already had a visa.
Finally we were allowed to go to the customs for the x-ray of our luggage. I was asked to open one of my panniers. It was the one, in which I had the “solar cell charger”. I had to explain, what it is for a thing 😉. I was also asked for my medicines, but only once. After my explanation about the solar cell charger they didn’t care anymore about my medicines.
Outside the building with the arrival area taxidrivers were waiting. There were police as well. We were asked, where we are going. A taxi driver didn’t stop to offer me his help, even I told him, that I’ll picked up of a driver from the place, where I’ll stay – the Habiba farm. First when I asked him, if his name is Ibrahim, he was going away. I didn’t have any Internet connection and had ask the police to call Ibrahim for me, because the ferry arrived early. They did and after a while he arrived in a little car, but told us, that his brother will arrive soon with a pick-up for my bicycle. When we were ready to go, we got police escort. The car was driving behind us all the time.
The Habiba lounge and farm has a gate. A very young man opened it for me. His name is Saleh. He also showed me my room and wished me a good night.
I had asked for a room at the lounge as a couchsurfer, because I did hear about the Habiba farm by the couple, who cycles to farms. Lukas from the couple did contact Mageb, the owner, for me, trying to get the free stay for me, because Mageb and his sons first wanted to charge me.
4th Nov – 0 km
In the room was no duvet or plaid, though I was freezing a lot. Therefore I dressed more and more and actually could sleep a few hours.
Between 7am and 8am I was awake again and took my first medicine. I thought, I had missed breakfast when I later was looking around the place and saw, that people were served coffee from the kiosk. Therefore I asked there for breakfast and they did prepare breakfast for me. I’ve got a mixed salad, bread, two boiled eggs and some amount of soft cheese (like feta cheese, but more creamy). – Later that day I found out, that breakfast usually is served at 11am.
Maged showed me around the farm, explained how they get the vegetables etc. grow even the farm is in the desert. He also told me, what the farm is doing for the Beduins, who live in a village nearby, e.g. the school, where the children have art lessons and more, which the public school don’t offer. He added, that some of the Beduins adapted the way to grow vegetables etc. in their own gardens – like they do at the Habiba farm.
There was a woman called Chantelle. She cared a little about me. I was grateful for that. We also talked with the owner Maged, who told us, that he will have a talk at COP27. All the time a local police officer was staying at the farm and I also could see him talking with Mageb for a long while. He first left in the afternoon.
Chantelle managed, that I was welcomed at the dinner table and allowed to sit together with the owner Maged, Lorena (his wife) as well with farm helpers and volunteers. The meal was boiled rice with different boiled and grilled veggies and a mixed salad. The food was not spicy and tasted good. There was also a kind of pastry, which was very delicious. During the dinner I also had an interesting conversation with the young women, who were volunteering. I asked them questions about their life and work at the farm and they asked me about my trip.
I was leaving at the same time as Chantelle and we were going to our separate rooms. I was to bed around 10pm even I had a very short night the night before.
5th Nov – 3 km
Chantelle had the day before even told me, that breakfast is at 11am after the workers and volunteers already had done their share of morning work. I joined them for breakfast only and could choose from the buffet.
Before I left for Sharm El-Sheikh I cycled to Wasit, a village with some shops. There I bought a Vodafone sim-card, because it was the only one I could get there. I asked the shop assistant if he needs my passport and he answered “no”. I was surprised, that it wasn’t necessary in Egypt, paid the 400 EGP he asked for and cykled back to the Habiba farm to pick up my panniers and bags and go further. At that point I still was thinking to hitchhike with a local pick-up, because I knew that Lukas and Aisha (cycle to farms) had done that.
Surprisingly Mageb told me, that I wasn’t even allowed to do this, but had to take a taxi and the plate number of the taxi had to be reported to the police. Karim, the son of Mageb, is already trying to find an afordable taxi, he added. It took around an hour until I was told, Karim had found one, the price is 1,200 EGP (37 EUR) and the taxi will arrive in around two hours. Actually it took three hours and Karim had called the taxi driver again.
Finally, the taxi driver arrived with an old, scruffy VW-bus. Miss Piggy had space on the side of the seats and stood upright. The seat in the front was in bad shape as well and I just had to accept it. I felt unsafe during the ride and the driver was not only smoking, why he drove with open window, but also driving like a madman. In addition to that it smelled very much exhaust gases. There were some check-points on the way. The driver showed a paper everytime and his driver’s licence and was allowed to pass with me. Anyway, he stopped at the gas station in Dahab, filled the tank and told me then “money”. He asked for the entire amount.
Not far behind that gas station, this taxi driver met another one, coming from the South. I was told, that I had to go further with the new arrived taxi. The car was not big enough to take my bicycle, but had a rack on the roof. It was the first time I have seen Egyptian drivers to transport a bicycle on the roof of a car. If you think, that isn’t unusual, you are wrong, because they don’t have the special racks for bicycles, they just lay them down on the roof and luckily secure them with laces. Though the bicycle laid on one of the pedals, a part of the back wheel and the front wheel or handlebar. Samtimes the front wheel hangs down back on the window. This guy used a rather tiny lace. I was afraid, that Miss Piggy will fall off the car and be destroit. Before the new driver with his taxi left with Miss Piggy and me in the direction of Sharm El-Sheikh, he asked the first driver for money, who answered that Karim will do it. I’ve got the impression, that they all are brothers – sons to Mageb.
Even the new driver drove horrible. It was becoming dark, when we entered throughout the gate into Sharm El-Sheikh. On the road between Dahab and here we also had passed multiple check-points. On the wall around the town was the peace sign applicated – I think every one hundred meter.
The lady, I was lucky to rent a room of during the entire climate conference, told me, to meet at the Dahab Center, which is a shopping center close to her home. Her name is Dorothea. She is a German citizen and lives in Egypt for around 30 years.
She came by bicycle. It was dark now and I had problems to follow her, but all went well. At one point I nearly crashed with her, because I had seen, that the cars stopped for us, but she hadn’t. The drivers waited until we had crossed. The house with Dorothea’s apartment has also a garden with a safe place for Miss Piggy.
Doro has a big female cat. She has the size of a big male cat and she likes me. Doro is selling cruises at the coast of Sharm El-Sheikh and the Sinai peninsula. She did show me her apartment, my room and explained all the necessary I had to know. She also told me, that breakfast is included in the price. Furthermore she offered me clean clothes (of hers), though I could wash every piece of mine.
The cat did sleep together with me this first night.
6th Nov – 35 km
I had a simple breakfast, just sandwich with cheese and coffee. Afterwards I was going by my bicycle to the COP27 area (outside only) and was trying to find out, where the area is for allowed demonstrations. I had read in The Guardian, that it should be outside the area of the climate conference – somewhere in the desert. I used the Peace road, but didn’t find it and decided to try the next day again, but by using another road.
I had lunch at Doro’s home. I ate of the rice left over from the hostel in Petra, Jordan. It was still OK. Madeline from the newspaper Syre contacted me and asked for an interview the upcoming morning.
One of Doro’s friends came over, she is a doctor and responsible for the healthcare at COP27. She didn’t know about that area and called the German embassy, asking if they know, but they only had the same information.
At sunset I was going to the supermarket close to the Dahab center. I had Camenbert for dinner 😉. Doro offered me a blend of boiled potatoes and carrots.
I joined Doro during the TV hour. She watched “Tatort”, a German crime series. Afterwards I was reading the Egyptian official sites about COP27 again (I have done it many times before), but couldn’t find out anything about the place for demonstrations.
7th Nov – 30 km
I answered Madeline’s question online and sent also some of my photos from my trip to her.
Even this day I tried to find the area, where demonstrations were allowed, using the Ring Road. I wasn’t successful, but was again going by bicycle close to the “Blue Zone” and this time even the “Green Zone” of the COP27. The COP27 area is, like it was in Glasgow for COP26 as well, devided in these two zones. In the “Blue Zone” countries and organisations like the UN have their pavillions with talks and sometimes discussions about the climate situation today and solutions. The “Green Zone” is for NGOs. In Glasgow also inofficiell groups could have their information on scenes and everyone could sign up for a limited amount of sessions. Here in Egypt, one only got access as a member of a NGO. For both zones you needed a badge, but the badge for the “Blue Zone” also give you unlimited access to the “Green Zone”. Btw. the negotations were held in an extra building in the “Blue Zone”, but even the badge didn’t allow to attend. When the USA president Joe Biden visited this zone, one needed an extra allowance to join the building, where he was talking. That building was closed for the entire day, even Biden arrived in the afternoon. In the pavillion of the USA his talk was shown on a screen.
Returning in the dark, I recognized that the city now was decorated with rendeers, St. Claus and angels as Christmas decorations.
Back at Doro’s home I tried online to get permission to enter the “Green Zone” of COP27. I came through with her help, but some days later I was denied that badge, which didn’t bother me anymore. Furthermore I uploaded a required link to the newspaper Syre.
Even this evening I was watching TV together with Doro, especiella for the news.
8th Nov – 34 km
I had a lazy start of the day, but was later going by bicycle again to find that area, where demonstrations are allowed. I used another way, of course. It happened to be another waste of time. Anyway, I did take photos in front of the Congress center (“Blue Zone”) and even in front of the sign for the “Green Zone”. I didn’t have any problems with it by the police, who was protecting the areas in high numbers. Some people made the thumb up, a few others the peace sign, when they became aware of me and my sign.
I had a snack in a café close to the Point supermarket, was shopping at the supermarket and taking out money of an ATM in that area (only the third was working) before I was going back to Doro’s place. The first ATM had dispenser problem, the second was empty. The ATM, which was working had a maximum amount of 4,000 EGP, which it could dispense. Doro had asked me for half of the rent, though I had to made two withdrawals.
Back at Doro’s I gave her the money for the rent straight away.
I was on the Internet by using my notebook and sent photos, which Katrineholms Kuriren had asked for, but forgot to add, where I had taken them. Therefore I made a list for it and sent it by email.
I forgot the P4 interview via Zoom and was early to bed.
9th Nov – 0 km
This day was really special. It started with, that I discovered I have had a missed call on WhatsApp the evening before around 10:30pm. The next surprise were a lot of messages on Fb messenger. When I opened the first, I was impressed, because an employee of the Egyptian Ministry for Youth and Sports had written, that the minister would like to meet me and asked for my phone number. I actually answered that message and wrote down my Egyptian phone number. Then I opened the other messages and all had similar text, but had different names as senders. I didn’t answer all of them, but the fourth or fifth, asking if that is a hoax. The explanation came soon. The minister had ordered them all to get in touch with me. Btw this day I also got similar messages by Instagram and even twitter. It scared me somewhat and I was wondering, where they had found my usernames, because I have different usernames on all that networks.
The minister for youth and sports, Dr. Ashraf Soby’s secretary called me and agreed with me a time for the meeting. She also told me, that I’ll be picked up at my hotel / friend’s home. It became later as agreed, because the driver didn’t find the address for Google couldn’t give them the exact location. I was very surprised, that they arrived with a mini bus instead of a limousine. There were four men in it (the driver and three more – I think they were security persons), if I remember right and soon we also picked up another woman, who introduced herself as Asmaa, the secretary of the minister. I felt better, when she was with us. Btw I’ve got a ride back as well.
When I met the minister, he was taking me to a nice meeting room, but while entering the room a lot of cameras were pointed at us. The journalists and photographers had to leave the room very quickly. I understood, that this was for PR.
The minister and I were not the only people in the room. Asmaa was with us as well as security guards. Mr. Soby started with kind words. He told me, he had been riding a bicycle for 7 km and already thought, it is too much. He praised my effort and was then telling me, that the Egyptian president Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi also is a keen cyclist and would like, that I go by bicycle with him the upcoming morning. The president would like to have me as a positive example to get many more Egyptians on the bicycles. He added, that I could get help with whatever I need if I agree.
Guess how surprised I was. Anyway, it was a hard decision. On the one hand, I don’t like dictators, but on the other hand, it was my chance to get a badge, which allows me to enter COP27. I also considered, what may happen if I answer “no, thank you”. At the end I decided for the bloody badge and agreed to cycle with al-Sisi. Minister Soby asked me, if there is anything more, he can do for me. I told him about my problems with the break of my bicycle and he promissed to get it repaired.
Eventually, later that day he sent two employees to pick my bicycle up for repair, but before I’ve got the ride back to Doro’s place I was offered to move to the hotel of the Youth village and stay there for free (my answer was, that I like to stay with my friend), was shown around in the area and also invited for lunch. That lunch showed Egypt in a nutshell. When I told the chef, that I am vegetarian, I was refered to the rice, salad and the boiled vegetables. The facilities were a mix of canteen and served restaurant. I think they were security workers, who helped us – other employees were eating at the same time, but only a few at the table of the minister.
On the way back to Doro’s home I told Asmaa, that it has been so much easier to attend the “Green Zone” in Glasgow. She was really surprised.
10 Nov – 56 km
Asmaa had called me in the evening of the day before, that I have to be ready and outside Doro’s place at 3:15am. Therefore I was awake and made me ready at 3am. I was in time in front of the house, but not the ministry’s car. I was waiting and waiting, looking around, but couldn’t see it. 3:45am I got a call and was asked, where I am. I answered, of course, that I was waiting for them in front of the house since 3:15am and wondering, where they are. It turned out, that they have been waiting in a side street. It was not the same driver as the one the day before.
At the Youth city my bicycle was waiting for me, but it was not repaired, because they don’t know the Shimano Nexus 7 system, which is a hub break. I was told, it is an old system, they cannot deal with. Anyway they offered me that a motorbike mechanic could take a look at it. I didn’t agree with it.
Abdo, a motorbiker, who rides an electric motorbike was also there and keen to tell about the problem of the range of the batteries.
It took very long time before we were asked for a security check and told, where we had to wait for the president. All streets around were closed and secured now.
At 5am, when the sun arised, the president joined us, which means me, Abdo and a group of other bicycle riders. I was told to be next to the president. He greeted Abdo first and had a short konversation with him, then he came over to the security, me and another woman, who was a minister. He welcomed me to the event, but was talking so soft, that I nearly couldn’t understand him.
I understood, that the president even had an e-bike by the frame of his bicycle. He was close to lose his balance the first time he tried to get on the bike. The second try was OK.
We were riding our bicycles felt for around one km only even it was declared as a bicycle Marathon. He did highen his speed for a while, but I stayed on his side, even all the journalists and photographers, who were in front of us in the beginning, had disappeared. Somewhere a security person was parting us, but not for long.
So surprised I was, when we made a U-turn and came behind a hedge to his official, armored car. He was quick to go there, but I stopped him with asking him if I was allowed to ask him a question. The possible consequences in mind, I was a little shy in the beginning, but at the end I asked: “Why isn’t it allowed to demonstrate on the streets during COP27 – like it was in Glasgow”. His answer left me speechless. It was: “Everyone is everywhere allowed to demonstrate – in Kairo and Sharm El-Sheikh”.
I have got the badge for the “Blue Zone”. Employees of the presidency asked me then if there is anything more they can do for me. Unfortunately I answered no. I should have asked them for the allowance to go solo by bicycle everywhere in Egypt. Why? You will know later.
On my way back to Doro’s home I did first cycle into the wrong direction, but it didn’t matter for me. I was so angry about the president’s lie, that some km more or less didn’t count. While I still was on my way, Asmaa called me, asking me, where I will get picked up. I told her, that I am going by bicycle and she continued with another question about the bicycle repair. I answered, that I am not longer interested in it and also need my bicycle.
Around 8am I was back at Doro’s apartment. I ate breakfast and left soon for going to the “Blue Zone” at COP27. There I wasn’t allowed to take my bicycle into the venue, which I had not expected either. I hoped, I could have it close to the entrance. It would have felt safer, because of the security guards there, but even that I was not allowed. There was a bicycle rack for bicycles to rent and I was told, to have my bicycle there, which I didn’t like at all. Anyway, I put it with my sign “Biking for future and peace” against the visitors. — Actually once I anyway was asked about the rent of my bicycle.
I needed to go to the accreditation with my badge and I told them, that my last name was not correctly spelled. It was Hilderbrandt instead for Hildebrandt. I was send to the service desk, told them about the misspelling and was promised a corrected badge. I also had shown them my passport and explained the mistake. When I hold the new badge in my hand – I saw, that there still was the same mistake. Btw I never had problems with that, because they scan the barcode and if it is registered, the light is green.
Well passed the badge control, I entered the area. It was overwhelming how big it was and not easy to find the way even there were signs. The problem for me was, that the signs only were for the buildings around one yard and only on one place was a sign, where all the buildings were shown. In this moment I didn’t have the problem with the different yards yet, because I still was on the first yard, when my phone got nuts. I was called and got messages asking “What did the president say to you” and also about my trip, the reason for the trip … A lot of the messages I could answer in writing, but there was also a journalist interested in to make an interview with me for TV. It took a while before we found each other, because I told him (by phone) that I am at the hot dog stand. Unfortunately, there were two exactly similar hot dog stands on that yard.
I also had a problem, that I nearly ran out of battery. It didn’t help with my powerbank only. Luckily I found an electrical contact I could use.
I visited the Egypten pavilion and was happily welcomed by minister Soby. He shaked hand with me as long as the photographers noticed it. Afterwards he was no longer interested in me and told me, Mr. Abdullah is my contact person.
I had to eat something. I was so hungry around 4pm. I haven’t had time before. I found an open food truck and bought a slice of spinach pie. The piece was not big, but expensive. I had to pay 170 EGP (around 7 EUR) for it!
Before the “Zones” were closing I had to move to the “Green Zone” for two more interviews. The two announced became one, because the female journalist was not good in English, but the male journalist was. Before I could leave the “Green Zone” more journalists caught me. Btw this day all journalist were Egyptian.
I should have had a Zoom interview at 9:30pm, but I did forget it totally, because I was so tired that I fell asleep around 9pm.
11th Nov – 31 km
I should have been in the “Green Zone” at 9am, but I was a little late. The TV team was waiting for me and they seemed to be really professional. They checked photo and sound and the journalist had only to care about the interview.
I continued to the “Blue Zone”, where I was long awaited. Even this female journalist had help of technical staff, but this time, the technican belonged to the COP27 administration. It seemed, he later was told, that he shouldn’t have cared about it. The journalist was very styled. The skirt was too tight and she pulled it down all the time. She was wearing shoes with high heels and changed to tennis shoes after the interview. She didn’t seem to be very professional.
The technican talked to another journalist about me. She also asked me for an interview. She looked naturally good, but was eager not to be together with me on a photo. She then also had a camera operator and a recordist.
The best of the day was, that Lukas, Aisha and I met. The couple is “Cycling to farms” and teaching about permaculture as well as they are interested in, how they farm in other countries. It was great to meet them in real and not only on Instagram.
I had some time to look for the Swedish pavilion and asked later at the German pavilion if the scientist Johan Rockström will come for a talk. Unfortunately, he won’t. I was to the Swedish pavilion again and listened to a talk. I also hanged around a while at the Egyptian pavilion, but minister Soby was no longer there.
I had problems to find the Exit from the area. When I finally was outside it was quite a long way to go to my bicycle.
Around 7pm I was back at Doro’s home. An hour later I had one more interview. I thought, it would be a video, but it was only a written one. Then it was time to fix the photos for my sponsor VAUDE. When I had finished it, I checked my emails. Finally I wrote a post in the group “Klimataktionen” på Fb.
This evening I also got a call from the Singapor pavilion. I was asked to come to the pavilion next day after 2pm.
12th Nov – 30 km
The day started with an interview by Tom H, who works for AP and is one of Doro’s friends. He lives in the same street as she and is retiring. If I remember right, he arrived around 9am. The interview with movie lasted until high noon.
I was interested in to listen to Maged’s talk (from the Habibi farm), but missed it, because it has been the day before. I didn’t see Lukas and Aisha, even I had hoped for it. I took a round in the area of the “Blue Zone” and was looking for the BeNeLux pavilion, but didn’t find a contact person there. Though I returned to the Swedish pavilion, where I met Sweden’s ambassador. The Swedish embassy is in Cairo. He handed over one of his business cards to me, in the event that I need something.
I hoped to meet the Swedish Minister of the Climate and Environment, but she was not interested in it – almost not before I was going to Doro’s home.
The last I did before leaving was remembering the invitation to the Singapor pavilion. Unfortunately I was too late. From the official people at the pavilion nobody know anything about the invitation, but one told me, he will “find out”. I left the party.
I was back at Doro’s place a short time before 8pm. I should have had a Zoom interview at 8pm and we also connected. Unfortunately, they made it so complicated with the need of a second phone etc that I refrained. I answered instead a couple of written interviews.
13th Nov – 41 km
It was Sunday and I didn’t know if COP27 is open, though I was going there with Miss Piggy. It was closed. The interview I had agreed to was postponed after I had called them.
I’ve got a private message at twitter of Alexander L. He comes from the Netherlands and cycled as well to COP27. He came throughout Israel.
We spent this day together with coffee and ice cream – he invited me. He helped me to take the photos VAUDE had asked for and also to check the airpressure in my tires. Last but not least we were visiting the Old Market, which is quite new. So is the mosque there. It was dark when we took farewell.
14th Nov – 30 km
I visited the “Blue Zone” again and left it three times this day. After the first two times I returned quickly, because I only left for journalists taking photos with Miss Piggy and me.
I had five interviews this day and all in person. The first one was by a TV journalist from Norway. It was followed by another TV interview of an Egyptian sender. I had met a German journalist, who lives in Cairo and works for the dpa. Now he had time for an interview with me, which he was very interested in. Last but not least a Swedish female journalist interviewed me for both Götheborg’s Posten and SR (Sveriges Radio).
I hanged around at the Swedish pavilion a lot.
On my way home I bought a bottle of milk, I thought, but it was cream.
15th Nov – 30 km
I had some more interviews this day, e.g. by a female journalist from South Korea and another female journalist from Taiwan.
In the late afternoon I finally was allowed to meet the Swedish minister of Climate and Environment. I was first called by her assistant and we were together waiting for her, who was on the run away from journalists with uncomfortable questions. We talked outside or better: She started talking to me outside. She overrun me with her words until I interrupted her and asked to be allowed to question her. She agreed and answered, that she was thinking, that her talk would give answers on my questions. Actually I had mixed it up with another politican, who had told the Swedes, that she doesn’t believe in science. Though I should have asked her, how hard it is to make her job, when other politicans, who are deciding in the politics as well say that. Instead I asked her, why she doesn’t believe in science and got the answer, it wasn’t her, who said it.
16th Nov – 30 km
4 1/2 month without haircut are absolutely too many, when usually having a short hair dress. Therefore I had asked Doro a couple of days ago if she knows a hairdresser, who makes a good job for an affordable price. She had recommended her hairdresser and also called her and got an appointment for me. After breakfast, before going to COP27, Doro cycled with me to the hairdresser, but continued then to another place. I had taken a photo with me, which shows me with the hairdress I like. The hairdresser made a good job for 150 EGP (around 6 EUR) only.
Arriving at the “Blue Zone” of COP27 there were vegan activists outside, demonstrating. They have been there every day, but this day they gave away vegan lunch boxes. I ate it later at the Swedish pavillion, because they have some tables and chairs there.
In the early afternoon I was going to the “Green Zone”, because in the program a session was announced about the Beduins. I’ve got very disappointed during this session, because there was no Beduin in the panel, but a woman from India, who talked about agriculture in her country. The main subject was Beduin housing (small houses, which fill the Beduin’s needs and ar build regarding to there culture). Even a project in the Aswan Governorate amoung Nubian people was named, pointing on, that the Nubians are taught to sell their heritage to tourists at high prices.
Afterwards I admired the art works at the “Green Zone”, which was done only of recycled material, but I felt cold and was leaving before I had seen everything.
At 8pm I had a Zoom interview with the Swedish magazine Natur (Nature). While the interview still was ongoing, Doro was coming home and started watching TV, though I was going to the room I rented. Unfortunately there the receiving was not so good.
17th Nov – 30 km
A guy hade taken contact with me a few days ago, asking me to cycle together to the COP27 venue. We should have met at Delta Dream area. I was a little late and didn’t find him. I was waiting, tried to contact him by WhatsApp, but he didn’t answer, though I continued cycling. Later he messaged me, that he was on the WC, when he got my message. He was disappounted, that I was not waiting for longer. I think, he tried to get credits and attention for it, that he was going by bicycle to the venue. He even hadn’t an own bike, but rented one. I heard him later talking to a journalist, telling him, that he even was biking to COP27. The journalist didn’t care about him.
The German RTL television company recorded a session with me. Before we started, they introduced a bicycle traveler in his best age, who also had been cycling to COP27, but only had to ride his bicycle for around 800 km. He wasn’t involved in the session, which had interesting questions. I also got praise of the TV-team for my participation.
Lateron I had another interview with a female journalist from Taiwan. I wasn’t sure if it was the same as earlier or not, though I answered all her questions nicely.
Again at the Swedish pavillion three young activists from FridaysForFuture, Germany, visited me. We had a short talk. Soon afterwards I was leaving the COP27 area, cycling back to Doro’s home.
18th Nov – 0 km
Even the COP27 officially ended this day, there were no activities in the pavillions anymore.
After a late breakfast and opening a foundraising page at GoGetFunding, because the GoFundMe page is not working for me, Doro was going with me by car to the Go Bus bus station. We also asked at another one, but Go Bus was cheaper and had the station for entering the bus central in town, while the other bus started only at the bus station, which is situated outside town.
I bought a ticket for Cairo for the upcoming day. I had earlier discussed with Doro to go by bicycle to Cairo, but there were no many water holes on the way, but a lot of check points. I chose to get the ticket for Nasr City, Cairo, because my next host lives in that area.
Unfortunately I couldn’t already pay for my bicycle and my luggage, because the ticket seller had to know, how big the bus is, which will leave 12:30pm from Sharm El-Sheikh.
I contacted my upcoming host Zonia about the changed arrival date, because I would have reached Cairo later if I would have been biking all the way. My earlier arrival date was no problem.
Back at Doro’s I took a walk to the Italian bakery and pizzeria nearby. I chose a piece of layer cake and had a coffee Americano with cold milk. Unfortunately, there was a piece of plastic in the layer cake and even I ate the entire cake (but not the plastic 😉), I didn’t need to pay for it and neither for the coffee.
I tried to write a post in my blog, but I couldn’t do it, because there was a problem with WordPress. I didn’t even find the text I already had added. Though I didn’t try more.
19th Nov – 5 km
I was in good time to the bus station. Doro did follow me and helped me with the ticket for the bicycle and lagguage, even the ticket assistant speaks English. Doro said good bye to me, after that was done, but later, when the bus had arrived and my bicycle was put into a side compartment under the bus, she was there again – still with her bicycle. I felt controlled, but I think, she just cared about me.
It was a long ride to Cairo and took especially long time by all the check points we had to cope with. Usually they only checked the idendities of us passengers. They didn’t look so much at my passport, the people from India seemed to be more interesting. At the last check point before we entered Cairo, we also had to take out our luggage, stand in line with them and open it. The policemen checked some of them. They didn’t check mine at all. My panniers and bags had all been in the compartment with my bicycle, but when I was going to put them back in there, another passenger put his suitcase there. Though I told him, not to do, because my panniers and bags are not easily to put together with usual suitcases and I was afraid that they or part of the contents would breake. He got angry about me, but moved his suitcase.
Soon we entered Cairo. Around 8pm the bus reached the bus station Nasr City. Leaving the bus station, taxe drivers asked me, if I will have a ride, but I answered, I’ll ride my bicycle. Luckily at this time of the day the traffic was moderate. Anyway, I didn’t dare to ride my bicycle all the way to Zonia’s place, because of the cars parking in a second and third row.
Zonia had told me, that she has an appointment at a dentist and I therefore have to arrive before 6pm or after 8pm. Finally I was outside the apartment house around 9pm and I had to call and ask her, which house it is, because in the dark I couldn’t find the house numbers. At the house, where she lives, the number is painted in black on a grey wall. No light shines on the number. Some houses are really not provided with numbers.
Zonia was very welcoming. I was allowed to chose the room of the two, which were empty. One of them was a single room, the other one a dubble room. I decided for the single room.
20th Nov – 0 km
Zonia is a very kind soul in around my age. Originally she is from Venezuela. She married an Egyptian, but they emigrated to the USA many years ago. They keep the apartment in Cairo, because they or their children are visiting Cairo almost once a year – often separately. Zonia has three citizenships.
We chatted a lot this day and Zonia ordered an Uber car for going to a mall not so very far away. There we bought groceries and I was asked to choose. She told me, even when she is going to the dentist, who is in the next street, she takes an Uber, because she has to cross the street and it is too dangerous for the drivers don’t care about pedestrians crossings and their red lights. We took a taxi back to her home.
21st Nov – 0 km
Zonia awoke late this morning, though I was afraid, that she didn’t feel well. I made coffee around 9am and she prepared the breakfast afterwards. We were chatting a lot this morning.
Later she ordered an Uber for me for the ride to the Egyptian museum, which is close to the Tahrir square in Cairo. There is a Metro station nearby, but there is no Metro station, where Zonia lives. She also told me, that I have to come home by taxi. The museum’s area is fenced and on the way in, one has to enter by a control like it is common at airports. First I had a problem to find the entrance of the museum, because the building is far away from the gate.
As soon as I had bought a ticket a female guide offered me her service. She told me, she will show me around and explain for one hour. Though I answered her, that an hour is never enough for me when visiting museums. She also told me, that I could decide by myself, how much I want to pay. I anyway denied. I hope she found a visitor, who was interested in her service. Btw, the museum was not really as big as I expected. After a while I also got tired of all the mummies.
I was for hours at the museum. The sun did set when I left and looked for something to eat. By the problem with my artificial teeth I try to find soft food. Though after entering downtown and looking around I entered a café and at the end chose a Moltoncake from the menu. It is a chocolate cake, big for one person, but serves just for one. It looks like a usual sponge cake, but is served with melt chocolate all over the cake and in the middle of it. It fills one like a meal, even it is not very healthy. I did neither know, that it was so big nor about the melt chocolate. I had a cappucino with it.
When I left the café I was looking around a little in the area, but not for a long while, because it was really dark now. I tried to catch a taxi. Unfortunately the two first drivers didn’t understand any English and I was afraid, that they would not only drive me to the wrong address, but also rip me off (which is usual both in Cairo and the rest of Egypt). I couldn’t stopp any taxi at Tahrir square and started walking in the direction of Nasr City. I would have tried to catch a mini bus, but the destinations are all written in Arabic only and the drivers seldom speak any English. Walking further I was keen about, that the street had good lights as well as that there still were open shops, which I could enter for safety if I would be harassed. Finally an empty taxi stopped and the driver did speak so much English, that I trusted him. I bargained the fee from 150 EGP to 100 EGP, but when we arrived at Zonia’s place he anyway asked for the 150 EGP.
Well back Zonia was waiting with dinner for me.
22nd Nov – 0 km
Zonia tried to show me Kahlil, the Islamic quarter of Cairo and the Al Hussein mosque. She has had such a good intention. Unfortunately, she didn’t remember that this day was the birthday of the prophet Hussein. We started near the mosque. There were crowds of people: Old men and women, younger ones and families with children. As long as they were so young, that the parents carried them in their arms or on their shoulders, it felt safe for me, but all those children, who were for tall and heavy for that, but still not tall enough to reach to their parents neck, I was afraid for, that they will be pressed to dead. There was a family I was so close to, that I tried to safeguard their daughter. I screemed, that there are “children in here”. For a moment I helped the girl to breathe free, but soon her head was pressed into the crowed again. I had nightmares during the bright day and I was happy, that Zonia was leaving the crowds together with me. She didn’t remember the way to the bazar, which was nearly empty at this time, though she called one of the shop owners, her friend Mohammed, for advice. It seemed, Zonia was quite often to the bazar buying souvernirs for relatives, friends and it also happened, that she bought special things for her own household from time to time – as she told me.
We didn’t go back to the mosque, but spent a lot of time at the bazar. At the end Zonia bought a lot of things at Mohammed’s stall – for her children and especially her grandchildren. We had a meal in the area as well. It was an Egyptian pizza. I don’t really remember the difference to an Italian pizza, though it hasn’t been very big. Luckily we did get a taxi back to her home without a long waiting time.
Btw Zonia actually had paid $40 each for us for a free walkingtour in the area. We didn’t attend that tour because of the crowds.
23rd Nov – 7 km walking
On social media people get interested in someone of very different reasons. Sometimes they only will meet and spend hours with one to get a little bit of the glory, the other one seems to have. They are interested in selfies, that they can tell others: “I have met her, I spent time with her.” This is the impression I have got, especially since I was cycling with Al-Sisi, the president of Egypt.
I don’t really know, if Greg – an American with Swedish ancestors, was one of them, but we only met once. He invited me for breakfast at the Gezira Sports Club in Zamalek, Cairo. I was coming by an Uber car, which Zonia had ordered for me and I had paid. The driver didn’t find the entrance to the club, but I was close to it, when I left the car. Anyway I had to call Greg, who met me outside.
When I around an hour later thanked him for the breakfast, he told me, that it with the entrance fee for me, because I am not a member of the club, anyway was a cheap breakfast. It was nice, that he was honest. He tried to introduce me to his friends. One of them took later a walk with us.
We also have been to the Mariott hotel and took a look at the palace, which was the first part of the hotel and built for the inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869. It is now the middle section of the hotel with a tower each on the North and South side of it.
We took another walk on the island after we had been back to the club, where we met another friend of Greg. Close to the Cairo tower, he asked me, if I was interested in to visit the restaurant of the tower and also for the view. We then looked at the prices at the entrance. There were different options, the more expensive ones included to climb the highest sightseeing platform and also a dinner. There were two different options about the dinner. We took the cheaper of the most expensive one – and paid seperately. The price was 300 EGP – 200 EGP was the entrance fee and 100 EGP for the dinner. I had an open amount after the dinner and could choose two bottles of water for take away. Btw I never climb that highest platform. It was too open for me and my fear of high.
We continued downtown from where Greg ordered another Uber for me (which I also paid) back to Zonia’s home.
24th Nov – 0 km
Zonia went with me to another shopping mall. This with a big outside food court. You can get everything in food there, but no real vegan or vegetarian meal, but falafel. It was the first time I saw women smoke shisha. I was very surprised about it and it rhymed badly with the old fashion way, that women had to take seat on one side of the restaurant and the men sat on the other side.
Both Zonia and I tried to find a new pair of pants. She would like to replace a pair she distroyed by chlorine and I would like to have one, which fits. The sale was on, but we didn’t find, what we were looking for. She bought some clothes for her grandchildren instead.
For the evening I was invited to Lukas’ and Aisha’s host Ebla. She livs in another part of Cairo. One of them had to come down by the elevator, though I could use it, because it works only by using a chip. Ebla lives on the 7th floor.
During dinner, there were also other young people, one of them was her son. I was going there by an Uber car, which I had ordered myself after I installed the app. Unfortunately, I missed the first one and had to pay en amount for it. The gps of the app was not working well and for the reason I can’t read Arabic, I didn’t know I was waiting on the wrong place.
During the dinner I didn’t eat a lot – as usual. I felt already full before the main meal was served. We chattade until very late, though I was allowed to sleep on the couch in the livingroom. I also was offered a pyjamas. It was in size 40 and fitted me perfectly.
25th Nov – 0 km
I awoke between 7am and 8am and left around 9am. There was still nobody else awake, though I had to use the stairs. I ordered an Uber car. I was lucky, it came with a nice driver 😉.
At Zonia’s I first had to take my medicines and made then coffee. When it was ready I knocked at Zonia’s door. This day I didn’t have a usual breakfast. I had a yogurt with added strawberry jam as well as later a piece of cheese.
This day I spent my time by updating my blog. Anyway, I only wrote about the 17th and 18th July. Afterwards I was on the Internet for other reasons like checking mails, fb etc.
26th Nov – 0 km
I had a lazy day. I only used the Internet for reading news, checking emails etc. I didn’t even update my blog.
27th Nov – 3 km walking
Zonia was taking me to Giza, Cairo and the pyramids. She told me, she has been there three times already – always with couchsurfers, though she knows it well and we don’t need a guide. She also only bought the cheapest entrance fee and so did I, why I missed the most interesting things.
Zonia was very eager to take photos, both selfies and of me in all that positions typically for tourists.
As usual at those places, there were intrusive sellers. One of them tricked us. When we didn’t pay him the amount he finally asked for the gifts, he did take them back.
To walk around the pyramids is tiring and makes hungry, but we didn’t have enough of the view yet. We entered a restaurant with a view on the pyramids. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to sit at the empty table with the view, though we left and was going to another restaurant. There we sat at the table we chose without any problem. We would have had a even better view from the restaurant on the other side of the street, but that view made the meals much more expensive. We got a taxi, when it already was dark and were back at Zonia’s home around 6pm.
I didn’t like the massive attempts at Giza to sell souvenirs to us by both children and adults.
28th Nov – 0 km
I made coffee and breakfast for both Zonia and myself.
The big event this day was the lunch at the Swedish embassy. It was “only” the ambassador, Cecilia (who I also have met at COP27 – I think it was her idea to invite me for lunch) and me.
Meanwhile we had to wait for Cecilia, who had a still ongoing appointment, an employee showed me the garden, which borders to the Nile and is a wonderful oasis in the grey desert of stone buildings.
I was surprised, that this employee was dressed like in disappeared times with a white jacket and gloves. I didn’t really understand if it was the butler, the chef or a waiter. His skinn was very dark and I guess he doesn’t have a good salary. Unfortunately I didn’t ask about his function.
The lunch with three courses was delicious.
1st: Pie with Västerbotten cheese, sour cream and caviar. I have never before eaten such a delicious Västerbotten cheese pie!
2nd: Biff a lá Lindström, small green bean pods and potato mash
3rd: Vanilla ice cream with sauce of cloudberry jam
All really Swedish dishes and also easily to eat. I had to think about, what I read years ago. En explanation for the choice of food, cakes etc for visits of kings and queens. All has to be easy to eat and has not to leave stains. I felt really honored.
We had an interesting conversation during and after the lunch. I also was picked up and got a ride back to Zonia by a car from the embassy. It was such a nice experience.
Before I entered Zonia’s place I was to two pharmacies, but they didn’t have the medicines I need – not even my thyroid medicine.
29th Nov – 4 km
I was on a pharmacy “marathon”. Actually it was as short as the bicycle ride with Al-Sisi. I might have visited five pharmacies and found was I was looking for in three of them, that means in every one of them I found a part of, what I was looking for.
I still am looking for a new pair of pants because of my weight loss. So far I use the pants I have with a belt resp. suspenders. Also my sweaters are too wide now, though when I found a pair of pants, which I really liked and which were in my size, the seller told me, I need bigger ones. I didn’t buy any pants of him. I think you understand.
Later I found an area with shops, but they all had only men’s clothing. In one you also could buy sport clothes for children.
I’ve got hungry, but it was hard to find a café, though my lunch was a waffle. I ordered it with apple and cinnamon, but got one with melt chocolate on the top. By my choice of a hot drink chocolate, I had a little too much of it.
When I was back at Zonia’s she was still at home and we had a chat about my experience of the day. Around 5pm she left for a meeting with her Palestine friends. A couple of hours later she sent me a message, that she’ll be late, because she’ll have a dinner with her friends. I was happy about the message. Otherwise I would have been worried and stayed awake until she was coming home.
Myself had a short meeting in the evening with my Egyptian friend Ibrahim. I know him from my years, when I was living and working in Hamburg, Germany. Unfortunately I was late, because I had problems to get an Uber and was much too late to take the Metro. Though we only had a little more than an hour to talk. A fan of me interrupt us, asking for a photo with me. Ibrahim was angry at him. The most important message from his side was, that he is very occupied with his work until January 2023 and because he makes private tours, I cannot join any. It is his reputation he has to care about. He also told me, that he is happy about all the work, because his daughter is studying in France now and he need to help her financially. He didn’t either offer me to use the empty room in his apartment and I didn’t asked him for it. Anyway, he told me, I am great – for my bicycle tour. Actually I was a little disappointed. I had spent a lot of time with him and showed him around in Hamburg, when he was couchsurfing at my place. Therefore I was expecting another kind of reply. I don’t expect a 1:1 action, a lot of couchsurfers I never visited resp. a lot of hosts never came to visit me, but in this case I really hade higher expectations even I understand his situation as well.
He told me, that he didn’t believe me, when I had told him earlier, that I will go by bicycle from Sweden to Egypt. At least he sent me a to-do-list, what to see in and near Cairo and in Egypt.
30th Nov – 5 km
I left Zonia, because she expected to fly home after a couple of days with her teeth work done. She was happy to had some time to clean the apartment, before she leaves. On the other hand, she told me, if there is any problem with hosting, I was welcome back and I would even be allowed to stay there, when she is back in the USA.
My new host Susan is a teacher and originally from North Ireland, but let me start at Zonia’s place. I tried to ride my bicycle from Nadr City to Maadi, Cairo. Already after I turned right for the first time, coming from Zonia’s home, I had to break hard and for not rolling into the car in front of me – who suddenly stood still, jumped off my bicycle, which was painful for my right leg. I tried to continue cycling, but everytime, when I had to stand still and afterwards start cycling again the pain in my leg was worse. In addition to it, it was a lot of traffic and the gps was not working well. The signal was too week in Cairo. Though I started pushing my bicycle instead. The distance between Nasr city and Maadi is around 23 km. I usually walk 4 to 5km/h with my fully loaded bicycle, but with my hurting foot and still weak gps I didn’t make it, especially not for taking the wrong direction more than once. I called Susan and she sent me the phone number of Habib, who has a small taxi company. When I called him, he promised to find me a car. The problem is, that all the taxis in Cairo are of the same model and make and really small, showing, that they usually don’t have many passengers at the same time resp the passengers don’t have a lot of bags or suitcases for transport. A few of them have a roof rack. It took hours and was already dark, when the taxi arrived, where I was waiting. In the meanwhile motorbike riders did ask me, if I need help. One stayed with me until the taxi arrived. He was a gentlemen even quite young. Btw: In Cairo only motorbike riders did care.
The taxi driver put Miss Piggy on the roof rack and was driving me to Susan’s home. I had told him, that I need an ATM, that I can pay him, but he either didn’t understand or did forget it. Luckily there was an ATM close to her home. – Well arrived, Susan asked the janitor to carry my empty bicycle up to her apartment and he did. I gave him a backsheech, of course.
1st Dec – 0 km
Susan was leaving early for her work. She is a teacher for biology. She is so negative about Cairo and Egypt. She told me, that she had been working in another Arabic country before. As she told me, the Egyptian parents and pupils are so different to everyone she met before. They make the rules and don’t care much about a good education. She has no freedom as a teacher and won’t stay longer than the year of the contract. She is already thinking about, where she will try to get a new job and also had sent her application to one or two schools.
After a big breakfast with egg I put ointment against the pain on my right leg. I also wrapped the painful part with elastic bandage. Before I was walking to the Maadi Mall, I bought some food at a grocery shop called METRO. Unfortunately, they had not much to choose.
At the Maadi Mall I finally found pants, which I like, but in a grey color. Even I don’t like the color so much, it is easy to combine the trousers with sweaters, t-shirts and blouses in all the colors there are. Though I was happy to find them at the Intersport shop. My new pants are in the EU-size M!
Leaving the Maadi Mall I was going and looking for Street 9 as I have understood, it should be a street similar to the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin, Avenue de Champs-Élysées in Paris and the Oxford Street in London. Anyway, I couldn’t find it or better: I did find the Street 9, but that was only a short alley and dirty. Nevertheless, close to it I found Road 9, but was going into the wrong direction as I found out later. I tried to take a tuk tuk back to Susan’s place, but had to wait for a long time before one stopped. The driver of this one didn’t understand English. He couldn’t even tell me the price. Therefore I had to wait for one again. Finally a driver around 20 years of age stopped with his tuk tuk and told me, to drive me to the Metro, which I had asked for, is for 10 EGP, which I thought is very cheap. I was so surprised, when he tog another road than I expected and even more, when he stopped at the Metro station, which was just in the other direction of Road 9. Because he drove this road I could see all the shops, but by far not so glamorous as the Kurfürstendamm etc.
I told him, that I meant the shop Metro and he answered, that he don’t know a shop called Metro. I paid him and tried to find a driver/tuk tuk, who knows the shop Metro, but didn’t find any.
A young woman wearing a scarf around her head, told me, that she knows the shop and that the tuk tuks aren’t allowed to go so far. She offered me, to drive me home, but that we have to walk for 10 minutes to her car. I agreed. It turned out, that the car was at the parking space of her home.
During the ride she told me, that the family also offers to rent a room for 100 EGP/night. She brought me all the way to Susan’s place, but rejected any payment. In the contrary, she offered me to bring/pick me up wherever I want in Kairo and whenever I want. She told me, she will give me her phone number, but by the traffic situation it was not possible.
The bicyle mechanic finally came this night. He took Miss Piggy’s back wheel to his place.
Susan and I had a really nice and cozy evening together.
2nd Dec – 0 km
Susan prepared the breakfast for us including omelette. It was cozy to eat together as well.
Later I was looking for the green area, which was shown at Google maps, but I only found an area of sand, which nothing was built on yet and was a trash dump. I had been all the way to the street with the jail, situated just outside the Maadi area. The green I saw was in a gated housing area, but not on the same place Google maps showed the green area.
On my way back I bought sweet bread, which looked like a cinnamon bun. It had a sticky sweet cover instead for the very tiny sugar rockets we have on the buns at home. Afterwards I was taking a look at the clothes in the two shops with women clothing, which I found. I was looking for a red blouse or sweater for the Christmas season, but didn’t find anything in the right color. I was happy anyway.
I asked Susan for ordering a pizza for me, because she has the apps and it was not posdible for me to do it even I downloaded an app. She tried, but the restaurant was too busy, though they didn’t deliver this night. I ate cheese and a banana instead.
Susan likes to watch football on TV – especially the WM. Camerun and Brazil were meeting. I made her company. The Brazilians had such a good chance to win, but the players mostly kicked the ball to high – over the goal. It was late when we were going to bed.
3rd Dec – 0 km
I should have met Maggie, the host of Lukas and Aisha. We had an appointment in the afternoon. Anyway I was up early and also ready to leave Susan’s home quite early to see the hanging church and the Coptic area, but just in time before I left, the bicycle mechanic called telling me, he would come after 1pm. Though I stayed at Susan’s and was waiting for him – and waiting and waiting. He was very late and when he worked on the bicycle he was carrying it down from Susan’s apartment several times – and every time carrying it up again, of course. He needed so much time and it became too late for meeting Maggie.
When he had finished the bicycle mechanic told me, that he doesn’t trust his own work even he made the best he could. He changed the balls of the balls-bearing. He asked me for riding my bicycle the next day and try out the gears and the different stages of the assistance. Afterwards I have to call him about the result.
When I informed Maggie about the bicycle repair she answered, that she anyway has no time to meet me in the afternoon.
Even this evening Susan and I started watching the fotball VM. Unfortunately the Wi-Fi was so bad that we after a while couldn’t stay it anymore and Susan switched off the TV. Btw Susan had tried two different sender like the BBC.
4th Dec – 2 km
I was to the bathroom at 7am and got wet feet. I didn’t expect it, because there is a bathtube with a curtin in the room. Even it has the shower in the bathtube as well, I am not used to such a mess.
After breakfast I was riding Miss Piggy, but it wasn’t fun, because it was very hard to use the shifting for changing the gears as well as I only was able to find five of the seven gears. Though I called the bicycle mechanic and got a new appointment for the upcoming Tuesday.
Needing more food, I now was going to the other grocery shop, the Carrefour. They had a little more to choose about, but not at all as the supermarkets at home. I had found an HSBC ATM in front of the Metro supermarket and was very happy, because there I can withdraw cash for free. Sadly, it wasn’t working.
Using the recommended Habib taxi, I was going to the Coptic area in Kairo. The drivers name was Ayman and the tour for 120 EGP. I was happy, that the seat belt was working and his driving calm and relaxed. He couldn’t let me out really close to the area by the barriers, but I don’t mind to walk a hundred meter extra.
I started with the “Hanging Church”. The name tells not really the truth. The church is build above a gatehouse of a Babylon Fortress. Btw, the fortress was closed.
The next stop was the Coptic museum, which officially was open to 5pm, but I was told to leave it 4:30pm. It was interesting and I didn’t really made it to 4:30.
I had a meal at a restaurant before I was calling Habib for a taxi back to Susan’s home. Surprisingly I did get the same driver as earlier this day. The price was the same as well. A taxi driver had offered me before to drive me to Maadi. He told me, it costs 200 EGP only, though I answered him, that I arrived by a taxi for 120 EGP, but this offer stopped at 150 EGP. I didn’t trust him about the price.
During my sightseeing Susan contacted me by WhatsApp, asking me for how long I want to stay at her place. By the chats we have had I understood, that I was welcome to stay with her until 20th Dec, but that was a misunderstanding. Though I promised her to move on the upcoming Tuesday, which gave me a chance to find a new host. I had to eat a lot before moving out, because it was not possible for me to carry all that food with me. I left all the eggs I couldn’t eat, way more than I had borrowed of her.
Directly after Susan had told me to leave soon, because she does feel very stressed and not well, I did take contact with Maggie. She had offered me at the party, when Lukas and Aisha were there, to host me and was very eager to. Now she told me, she has been sick and cannot fullfill the promise, but will find a host for me. She has a female friend in Maadi.
When I was back at Susan’s she was at home, but resting. In the evening she ordered a meal and was than eating in front of the TV, watching football WM.
I tried to update my blog, but was occupied by answering a fb friend on messenger. I also experienced a power failure. It was the only one I had to cope with in Egypt and did not last for a long time. Anyway, I checked my emails and found an invitation for the Lucia celebration on 13th of December at the Swedish embassey.
5th Dec – 0 km
Even this morning the floor in the bathroom was wet, but this time I checked for it before entering the bathroom.
The big breakfast was good for the plans of the day. Around 11am I met Rosa, a girl from New Zealand. It was her last day in Cairo and Egypt. We met in a café nearby, had a hot chocolate each and decided, what to do. The Islamic quarter was our solution. By Uber and Metro we were going to the City center. We left the Metro at the station Nasser. Btw, this was my first time to use the Metro and I was happy to learn how easy it is. When we came up to the street, there was a demonstration at the next corner and the traffic was very heavy, though we decided to take the Metro one more time, even it was for one station only. None of us was keen to come closer to the demonstration. Before we decided to go underground again, a female Egyptian journalist started talking to us. Telling us, that we shouldn’t get involved to the demonstration and that she, as a journalist, had been disqualified for reporting about demonstrations.
From the Metro station Sadat we were walking to the Islamic quarter. We were trying to enter the Hussein mosque. That was only possible to the women’s prayer room, which is very small. A man with his wife, wearing a scarf (they looked like moslems) tried to enter the mosque by the main entrance, but she was denied. We also were to the bazar and bump into Zonia with a couple from Columbia, who were visiting her, she offered her hospitality again, because the dentist’s work took more time than planned. Zonia offered me to stay with her again and even stay alone in the apartment, when she is back in the USA. Adding, that I am so welcome. Rosa and I continued throughout the Islamic area and explored the back yards. We also ate falafel somewhere in this area.
Rosa and I hade company to the Metro station Sadat, before she left to pick up her backpack at a hostel and go to the airport for her flight home. I was going by Metro to Maadi station and from there taking an Uber to Susan’s home at 233rd Street.
Susan was in a good mood. She also had an online class with a pupil from Switzerland, if I understood her correct. She asked me, if I want tea. I had my evening meal and was then going to the bedroom, because I was tired.
6th Dec – 0 km
I was moving to another host in Maadi, Cairo. I left Susan’s apartment around 11am to go from Street 233 to Street 231. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the building no 8a, which doesn’t matter so much, because nobody was at home at Paola’s place at this time.
I thought, no 8 and 8a must be the house with Vittorios pizzeria, but first I took a round at the open space in front of it. I asked a shop owner, selling carpets and similar items. He didn’t know either, where that building is, but invited me for tea. I thanked him for it, but said no. Back at Vittorios I sat down on his stairs – but only on the side so I don’t get in the way. Miss Piggy was close to me with my panniers and bags. When the pizzeria opened, I was invited in, but answered the same as to the carpet shop owner. I sat outside Vittorio’s in around three hours, before I had to change my mind and ask for the bathroom. I spent a lot of time in there and ordered a starter (eggplant with cheese from the oven). My panniers and bags were now inside as well. I took my time to eat and waited some time before I ordered a main meal: Pasta with four cheeses. Even the main meal took time to eat for me. Now I waited around half an hour, in which I also used the bathroom again. Finally I ordered a dessert (apple pie, because they didn’t have Tiramisu as printed in the menu) and a cappuccino. I paid before I left, of course.
Directly after leaving I sent Paola a message by WhatsApp. She came and met me. The building no 8 and 8a were across the next street, but there were so many houses in between, that I was not expecting that. Btw on the other side of no 8 and 8a was a Mexican restaurant, called Gringo’s Burrito Grill.
Paola lives together with her boyfriend Marco and her 6-y-o daughter Ryana. The family has two dogs and a cat – all rescued. Paola comes from France, speaks French, English and Arabic and is a teacher. Marco comes from Spain, speaks Spanish, French, English and some Arabic and even the little daughter understand a lot of the languages. Marco gives private lessons in Spanish and does the cooking. They have a female cleaner, named Amal, who also makes the dishes and laundry. She comes 10 h/week.
My bicycle was safe in the back garden. I was told, that “mi casa es su casa” and that I was allowed to stay as long as I like.
7th Dec – 0 km
Most of the day I was writing the text for my blog. My leg feels better. The bicycle mechanic didn’t come nor send me a message.
During dinner I told my host about the Swedish Lucia celebrations and asked them, if they have time the evening of the 13th and would like to see it. They were happy about the invitation. Though I answered the Swedish embassy, that I’ll be happy to attend the Lucia celebrations and will have three guests with me.
Later this evening I had a WhatsApp video call with a group in Vingåker (a neighbor community to Katrineholm, where I live) talking about my trip to and my experience from COP27. As a thank you, they collected an amount among them, which I short time afterwards got as a donation via GoGetFunding.
8th Dec – 0 km
I emailed the name of my guests to the Swedish embassey, transfered an amount from my GoGetFunding account to my EUR account, sent an email to my bicycle mechanic, telling him that I was disappointed, made a lot of dishes for Amal arrived late and had a chat with Marco meanwhile we had some snacks.
In the afternoon I updated my blog, but when Ryana was at home we played board games.
The bicycle mechanic came in the evening. He was very angry and told me, that he has been sick, that his customers are so important to him, that only he is answering them as well as he told me, that he was coming to me this evening without having another customer in the same area, which costs him a lot of gasoline. Furthermore he was angry about that I have written, that he has destroyed the shifting of the gears. He didn’t understand how it feels for me, that he wasn’t coming to our appointment and the not working shifting of the gears. He had a new part with him as well. I didn’t know, what it was for. When he told me, the part costs 220 EGP I gave him 250 EGP instead. Btw it seems, he never has change with him.
For dinner we had a soup with Parmesan cheese. When Ryana was to bed, I watched “Godfather” together with Paola and Marco.
In bed I was reflecting over Paolas reaction earlier this day, when I told her, that there was very little toilet paper left, because she asked me: “Det räcker för dig nu?” with an quite angry voice. Maybe it had to do with, that I had told her, that Amal was late, though I wasn’t sure she will come and therefore made the dishes, because I couldn’t stand to see all the dishes anymore. Paola had answered me, that Amal never is late, she can come, when she wants. You are allowed to make the dishes if you wish. They don’t bother me or Marco.
9th Dec – 2 km
My smartphone wasn’t charged. Luckily I tried with another electrical contact. It was working.
I had breakfast together with Paola and Ryana. Afterwards I tested my bicycle. Unfortunately the shifting for the gears 4, 5, 6 didn’t work. The 4th and 5th didn’t snap and the gear 6 felt like a lower one. I hadn’t taken my smartphone with me and thought I’ll find my way back easyly, but it wasn’t so easy. I lost my orientation and had to ask people for the way to street 231. I though all the time, that I have to go more to the left, but the traffic police, the one who really could help me and did, told me, that I have to go to the right. Anyway I came to another junction, where I wasn’t sure if I had to continue straight or go to the left. Meanwhile I still tried to sort it out a pizza bud asked me, if I need help and he did know the area very well.
In the afternoon I followed with Paola and Ryana to the Swiss Christmas market. Paola did speak with her friends in French even she took the time to explain things for me. I felt as an outsider. In the queue at the open-air restaurant I met Greg. We exchanged some sentences. Later Johannes, the dpa journalist saw me, introduced me to his family (wife, son and mother) and all of us adults had a conversation.
On the way back home to Paola’s we walked some km and were visiting the Institut Francais for a book flea market.
In the evening we went all together, which means Marco as well to Victor and his wife. They are family friends and treat Ryana like an own grandchild. Victor comes from Belgium and speaks French and his wife is from Egypt.
10th Dec – 0 km
I checked my EUR account by the receipts from withdrawels and a few shoppings. All was OK.
With the help of Marco, who followed me to the stationary, I bought a new notebook. It is number two and starts 11th December.
I bought a quesadilla at “Gringo’s”. The owner and employees are Egyptians, not speaking English well at all.
A lot of time I spent on updating my blog before I had a chat via Skype with my son Marcus. Afterwards I sorted my photos from this trip in folders on my Google photos account and sent the links to him.
I also planned the next steps for Egypt, which are going to Alexandria via Sekem, Tanta and Damanhur. After some days in Alexandria I’ll go further to the oasis of Siwa via Mersa Matruh.
11th Dec – 0 km
I had a little late breakfast and the shower afterwards followed by shopping at the carrefour supermarket, where I bought bread, egg, milk, yogurt and juice. I left that at Paola’s and Marco’s place before I took a taxi to the Metro Maadi and continued to Mar Giris, the Metro station for the Coptic quarter. Unfortunately, I left the Metro station to the wrong side and it was hard to find the right direction throughout the narrow alleys, but worse was the dirt in that area.
Finally I reached the Greek Orthodox church St. George. I also was wandering around in the cemetery and looking at the synagoga there, but it was closed. Even the Babylon was closed again.
I had a meal at the restaurant “Old Cairo”. I know, it is very touristic, but it was the best option. I ordered an omelette with French fries. It was served with bread and Tahini as a starter. The Tahini was spicy. There were some different desserts on the menu, but in real they only had baklava. There were different kinds on the little plate I was served. I had ordered a cappuccino and had to pay 240 EGP (7.50 EUR) for all together.
I was going back to Maadi by the Metro and walked the rest to Paola’s place. My leg was OK, but not to 100%.
Amal had cooked wine dolmas with a vegan filling. There were two kinds of them. I only liked one kind of them with smoother leaves and not tasting sour.
In the evening I joined my hosts watching TV. I also finished the photo files in Google photos and emailed the links for the month of July to my son Marcus.
12th Dec – 0 km
The broadcasting journalist Edgar Mannheimer met me at a café. He told me, that he has an idea for a radio show, but does neither know yet exactly how to nor when it will be broadcasted. I was OK with it.
I continued working with my blog and used the rest of the day incl. the evening for it. I also sent more links for photos to my son Marcus. This time for the month of August.
The bicycle mechanic postponed his arrival and help.
Furthermore I reminded Paola and Marco about the Lucia celebration at the Swedish embassey and used YouTube for explaining what it is about.
I also bought some food for the two upcoming days. Marcos helped me to top up my Vodafone account with 100 EGP.
13th Dec – 0 km
I was promised, that my laundry would be done this day, but unfortunately I was too late, when I put it at 8am into the bathroom. The washing machine was already occupied by the family’s own.
Even this day I sent links for photos to Marcus. I caught up with the links for September. In addition I cleaned my messenger account from conversations, which had been a long time ago.
Amr Elsqeidy sent me an invitation by the couchsurfing app to stay with him in Tanta from 18th to 19th Dec.
Paola had told me in the morning, that she had forgotten Ryana’s piano playing test this evening and they therefore couldn’t follow me to the Swedish embassey for the Lucia celebration. Marco had apologized, that he’ll be late, because he had a private pupil in the late afternoon. Though in the early evening I took a taxi to the Maadi Metro station and continued with the Metro to the Swedish embassey. I had to change to another line for two or three stops. Rosa had told me, that one always has to pay 5 EGP for the Metro, but when I tried to leave, I didn’t come out and a security guy checked my ticket, then telling me, I had not paid enough money. He took me to his manager and I explained the situation. Actually I was neither asked to pay the fine nor the extra fee for the one station, which was too far, but got explained that one only is allowed to go 9 stopps for 5 EGP, from ten stopps one has to buy a ticket for 7 EGP.
I arrived early at the Swedish embassey, but I wasn’t the first guest. Some tables with high chairs were put on the green in the garden. There was also a big party tent with a stage in it. A choir was singing Lucia and Christmas songs. It was only the rehearsel. I took the chance and took a photo, aware that later, when all the guests have arrived, I can’t take a photo with the choir only. There will always be people in the way for a good photo.
There was a couple at a table and I asked to join them, which they agreed to. Later their two daughters came as well. They had been part of the choir. I did even get to know the wife of the ambassador. She lives and works in Sweden and visits her husband from time to time.
The celebration was really Swedish, but Marco arrived very late. He had time to mingle and eat the small pieces of food, which were served. Together we did take an Uber back to their home. Marco paid for it, but we had to wait a quite long time for the car. There were a lot of private cars and taxis as well and the Uber didn’t have space to stopp, when he arrived. All went well anyway.
14th Dec – 0 km
Marco made coffee for me in the morning as well as he fried egg for me, which he offered with toast.
I’ve got a WhatsApp message from the bicycle mechanic, that he is sick and cannot come.
I sent an email to the Sekem farm, asking if I can pay by card or need to have cash with me, when I stay with them. I heard about the farm of Lukas and Aisha, who cycle to farms. They had told me, that this one is much bigger than the Habibi farm in Nuweiba, though I’ve got interested in it.
The rest of the day I worked with my blog again.
15th Dec – 0 km
Starting the day by sending an email to one of my brothers for birthday celebrations I was later using the HSBC ATM – it was working now, because SEKEM had answered that I need to have cash with me.
I cancelled the stay with the host in Tanta, because it is too far away from the SEKEM farm. It will not be possible to go from the farm to Tanta in one day. Would I have gone directly from Cairo to Alexandra, that means without the detour via SEKEM, it would have been a comfortable distance.
Even this day I continued with my blog, but didn’t come further than to the 18th Sept. In the evening I was following with the family to their friends again. Marco had cooked a good soup with artichokes, potatoes, beans and white cabbage. He took the whole pot with him, but it was only him and me, who ate of it. All the others ate only of the food Victor’s wife was serving.
16th Dec – 82 km
I took my medicine a little earlier than usual, because I was keen to leave around 9am and I did. Unfortunately the close to Vodafone shop was closed. It seems, the shop owner is Moslem.
My gps wasn’t working, therefore I asked, which way I have to go for the Nile. They didn’t understand me until I said “Nilen”, which is Swedish and means “the Nile”. This way I found out, that Nil is the Egyptian Arabic word for Nile.
I needed to stopp a lot of times to see on the map, where I had to go. Anyway, it was quite easy, because I could follow the Nile for a long time. The traffic was sparse in the morning, because of the Moslem Sunday, but even later that day, there was no much traffic – when I was at the countryside. Luckily I found my way without detour. In addition to that, it was a sunny and warm day.
When I arrived at the SEKEM guesthouse I was taken care of very kindly. I did get a basket with fruits and two bottles of juice brought to my room. I couldn’t pay for the room, when I checked in, because the cashier had it’s day off. I had to wait with the payment until the following day. The shower was long awaited for the dusty roads I partly had to use.
Dinner in the restaurant was not only very tasty and had four courses, but also really enjoyable by the company of a German teacher and a female guest. I was early to bed. The room was warm enough by the AC.
17th Dec – 5 km walking
I didn’t sleep väl this night. I awoke several times and, surprisingly, I felt cold. That also means, that I had to use the toilet several times during the night. I had my medicine a little earlier as usual. Unfortunately I neither had Wi-Fi nor did 4G work.
Breakfast was at 8am and from 9am to 1pm I followed a tour throughout the farm. I’ve got to know, that the farm had grown to a holding and the place we were, was the tinyest of them. The founder had did a couple of years ago. He imigrated from Germany and had all the time a lot of contact with German companies and private persons. Over all the companies, which are parts of the holding, he also started almost two NGOs – a school and a polyclinic. The school also has practica, e.g. in carpentery and at the polyclinic. You can read more at SEKEM farm (link see above). As I understood during the tour, the couple for which the tour was, were interested in to invest into the farm.
Even this day we had a delicious lunch. Afterwards I did get the password for the Wi-Fi, but it was only working in the hall, not in my room. I checked my emails and updated my blog somewhat.
I was asked for to have dinner at 6:30pm and agreed. It was only me in the restaurant, but when I nearly had finished, a company, including the boss for the farm, arrived at the restaurant. Constanze, one of the V.I.P. invited me to their table. Soon also the German teacher and Marina arrived. They were also invited to that table. We all had space around the table, even it was a little crowded. I left at the first opportunity, because I didn’t feel comfortable when the boss started to talk business with the couple from the morning.
I tried to update my blog again, but there was no Internet. I put the AC on and hoped for a warm room. I also had pain in my knee again.
18th Dec – 85 km
I started at 9am from the SEKEM farm after a lonely breakfast. In the town of Zazaziq I didn’t find my way, which resulted in 20km extra this day.
When I asked a traffic police for the way, because Google maps tried to direct me via unpaved roads, he directed me via asphalt road. Some guys tried to tell me the same way as Google maps did, it was, when the policeman explained to all of us about the asphalt road. I was really grateful to him.
If I remember right, it was in Zizazaq as well, when I was waiting at a railroad crossing, that I have seen an accident. First I saw the woman, who was wailing and wringing her hands. Though we all looked at her and very quickly a lot of men, including a driver of a mini bus, came to her help and raised that special moped for her. She also cried about her baby. When the moped was on the wheels again she lifted a little plaid, but didn’t say anything. Therefore I hope, her baby was OK. Actually, I would have helped as well, but there was no space, where I could put my bicycle.
My host was Dr. Samir, a relative to Helen, a Swedish woman, who is married to an Egyptian man. They live in Sweden, but visited Egypt almost once a year. Dr. Samir is one of her husband’s brothers and has the Dr. in education sience. He has an overarching role in his community.
Dr. Samir called me several times this day, because it was only working that way around. I couldn’t call with my Egyptian number. Even I looked for a Vodafone branch the entire day, I didn’t find an open one. Dr. Samir and his family lives in a village called Beheyda, which is situated on the way from Mit Ghamra to Damas. I was told, I had to turn left ca 5 km efter Mit Ghamra, ca 3 km before Damas, where I can see a mosque and I had to cross a little bridge. There was no need for me to found out the exact road to their home, because he was meeting me by motorcycle before I had to turn. His son Mahmoud was on the motorcycle as well and a relative was also with him – by his own motorcycle. This help was great.
Finally at their home I also met Dr. Samir’s mother, his wife and Selma, their daughter. Later this evening even also another daughter arrived at home. She is studying psychology. A messenger video call with Helen and her husband was done as well. I was served the typical food of the area. Everyone got a big peace of rice – cooked in milk, but anyway different to rice pudding. It was served with a brown sauce vegetables resp. a salad.
Even I only stayed for one night, they did do my laundry. I also enjoyed to shower to get rid of the dust. Bedtime was around 10pm, we all had to wake up early the next morning. Btw I was asked for to stay for longer and promised them instead to return and stay for two nights. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep my promise, but I informed them in time.
19th Dec – 110 km
I have a CS host for the upcoming night I thought in the morning. His name is Adhm Abdallah and we agreed to meet at Abd El Salam El Shazly Street in Damanhur, next to the social club.
Dr. Samir left at 8am for work by his motorcycle and I followed him by bicycle, though it was easier for me to find the right direction. He did drive slowly and I tried to ride my bicycle as fast as I could. When I was on the Agriculture road again we took good bye, that he could be at his work in time.
A little later, but still in Mit Ghamra I asked someone if I was on the right way to Tanta, because sometimes I am going into the opposite direction as I should. Luckily I was right and I didn’t have any problems to find my way to Damanhur, which is on the way to Alexandria. I experienced something nasty this day. In a smaller town three guys on a motorcycle (all the three on the same motorcycle, which isn’t unusual in Egypt) drove for a longer time on the side of me and talked to me. The conversation did get more and more aggressive. Luckily I had my GoPro on my helmet, when they finally saw it, they were afraid, that I had recorded everything and drove away. Later I had a similar experience with a man in his 50ies. I was a little scared in both situations, but tried not to show it. There is a train line from Cairo to Alexandria and the road is often close to the tracks, which means, it is very noisy on the road as well, because the train driver use the “horn” very often. I also could see, that the cars of the trains are not comfortable for putting bicycles into them.
For the distance (and the time of the year), it was getting dark when I arrived in the city. Some boys were talking to me, kindly first, but they then started to ask me the same questions again and again and again, though the boys became rude. One of them told me “fuck you” and that more than once. It only stopped, when a male adult was talking to the boys.
I did push my bicycle in Damanhur because of the rush hour. Close to the place, where Adhm and I should meet, I found a Vodafone and was happy about it. Adhm had messaged me, that our meeting point is close to his apartment, but when he finally arrived – together with a friend, he told me, that his apartment was further away. First he didn’t care about my heavy bicycle, then he pushed it for a while and finally he told me, to push it myself again. It was now he asked me, if I have money. I asked “of course, I have, but why do you ask?” He answered “to pay for the room. It costs €300.” I told him, that couchsurfing is for free and I will not pay €300. Now he offered me to find a room, but I was not interested in it, of course and said, that I can find a room myself. I was going to a café close to where I was and in it’s light I booked a hotel.
Unfortunately, the name was in Arabic also in the confirmation, though I asked a guest for help. At the end, there were two or three men helping me. When nobody could get in contact with the hotel I discovered, that I hadn’t booked for the night, but for a month later and the booking was not refundable 😭. Btw, later I’ve got in touch with the hotel and they answered me “no problem”, when I explained the situation and asked for the money back, but I never got it. It was around €40 I had paid.
At the end, Miss Piggy and I was picked up by a car from the hotel. This hotel was a little unusual. The concierge spoke English. It was the one, who picked us up as well. He tried all to make our stay comfortable even we did talk by WhatsApp. Anyway, I had to ask for the towel. First I got a bigger room, but it was to the busy street. Even I have got the last room as I was told, he found another room for me. Unfortunately it was smaller and worn. Only one of the two elevators was working well, though I only used that one even I was told, that there is no problem to use the other one, with which one couldn’t be sure at what floor it will stopp and open.
It was around 8pm now and I was very hungry. I was offered that he could order a pizza for me, but I didn’t feel for pizza. Therefore I was walking the street for finding a nice restaurant. – Here I also have seen the first policeman on a motorcycle. He didn’t wear a helmet, but a ridiculous little hat. No wonder, that no Egyptian on a motorcycle wears a helmet. – There were mostly take away places and the menus only in Arabic. At the end I bought a piece of a layer cake and baklava 🙄.
Some people did party somewhere in the house. At 22:30 I was asking for silence. The concierge had to go there three times and ask for lower noise. After the first time, the music was getting louder. After the second time, it sounded like someone hit the wall with a hammer or sledgehammer. I couldn’t fall asleep before midnight.
The good thing was the AC, which was working well. After a few minutes it was really warm in the room.
20th Dec – 61 km
I awoke between 6am and 7am and got my breakfast as ordered at 8am, but it was not much for breakfast. There were three oblong buns, 2 small packed pieces of melt-cheese (triangle formed) and jam. There was neither coffee or tea nor water. Though I asked for coffee without sugar, but – if possible, with cold milk on the side of it. It took a while, before I was served it. It came not only with sugar on the side of it, but also was sweet. I sent the sugar in the papers mug directly back. Surprisingly, I didn’t get any water with the coffee, which is usual to get together here in Egypt. Therefore I asked for water as well and the employee had to come one more time. He seemed to be tired. I guess, he was working all night.
When I opened my breakfast package – it was on a Styropor tray, covered by cling film, unfortunately one of the buns was falling onto the floor and I had to throw it in the trash. Luckily I still had baklava and half of the delicious layer-cake from the evening before.
Before I dressed I wrote my notes about yesterday including that I had seen a group of people with Down’s syndrome at the entrance to the hotel the evening before, when I just had arrived. They did get food packages – just enough for one meal. I was surprised to see a whole group of them, because I haven’t seen disabled people in Egypt before. I also got the impression, that those I saw now, were working at the hotel, but I am not sure about it.
Going further this day with Miss Piggy I was lucky, that the gps and with it Google maps was working well. In Alexandria I experienced that not all streets are flat. There are some minor hills, which the citizens of Alexandra see like mountains. Anyway, I arrived during rush hour in the town (in Alexandria as well as in Cairo it all the time of everyday felt like rush hour for me, but on Friday mornings). I had to brake very often, therefore it was better for me to push my bicycle, because my leg still hurts. All that off and on the bicycle makes it worse. I needed an entire hour to reach my host Omar’s home. In addition to it, when I thought I had reached my address, I was at the wrong place, because the directions he had sent me before were somewhat incorrect. Luckily, there was a gym in that house, where I stopped. Though I sent Omar a photo of it – I hadn’t seen a name for the minor street. He was meeting me there soon and apologized, that it is hard to find the also minor street, where he lives.
Omar still lives with his parents. He is 22 y-o and studying. His mother attended, when we later were talking about my travel. Her English was not so good. Because of that, it appeared natural for me, that both were conversating with me. Later I was wondering by myself if her company depended on, that her son as a male was not allowed to speak with me alone because of the rules by their religion, even I am 72 years old.
His mother cooked for me. The first meal was pasta with tomato sauce, boiled eggs, leafy vegetables, green pepper and chocolate pudding with banana as a dessert as well as fresh juice. Btw during our conversation I also was asked, how I could effort my travels. When I had to take my medicine – I had to go into the guestroom and fetch it, both Omar and his mother disappeared into there private chambers. There was a heavy curtain between both parts of the apartment. I haven’t been told, where the bathroom is, only the WC, which is seperately. Luckily Omar came one more time and asked me, if I would like to go out to the city later that evening. I thanked him for the question and let him know, that I wasn’t interested in it.
A while later I could see him one more time, picking up his slippers.
When I was ready to charge my bicycle batteries, the contact of the charger didn’t fit the contact in the wall. Fortunately I’ve got the idea to try my Jordanian adapter and it worked very well.
Helen messaged me this day, that she has relatives in Alexandra as well in case I need a roof over my had. She had added, that they also can provide me with an orthopedist and a dentist for free. It sounded very positive and kind.
21st Dec – 12 km walking
After breakfast I was going for sightseeing. I first walked at the seaside, but also made some shopping downtown.
I was told to see St. Marc church and St:a Catherine church. They were close to downtown, though I couldn’t miss them. While I was waiting for St:a Catherine church to open, a driver of a mini (micro) bus was talking with me. It was his lunch break. He had a take-away meal from a restaurant and didn’t eat all of it. The rest he throw away right where he was. He didn’t have any understanding for cleanliness. A dog in the area will be happy, even those meals are not healthy for them.
Luckily the church had a bathroom in it’s area. Beside the church there were a couple of other buildings. I sent a message to Omar, asking him, if we could meet outside the church, because it will be dark soon. He promised and he came. I was further away from the place, where he livs. We were walking a while, but tried to go by mini (micro) bus then. It was still rush hour and all buses were ful, though Omar finally stopped a taxi. He paid the entire amount even I offered to share.
Soon after we were back at his home his mother served me an omelette – as we had agreed in the morning. Omar’s dad was at home and the whole family had a conversation with me. I had paid a pair of trousers and a sweater – instead for the woolen underwear, which broke. Omar’s mother asked me, how much I had paid and told me, that I had paid way too much for the pants, because I had paid the full price I was asked for. It was only 120 EGP (ca 5 EUR at that time). We also had Anis tea.
Omar ordered food to himself, when I was going to the guestroom. I finished my notes etc around 10pm and was going to bed.
22nd Dec – 21 km walking
During breakfast Omar’s mother did tell me, that the entire family will attend a wedding in Cairo, but Omar told me, that he will stay at home. Later he had to change that, because his parents will stay in Cairo for two nights and he has to follow with them to Cairo. I was a little surprised, of course, because Omar is 21 or 22 y-o, but other countries, other customs. He also told me, that the family will go to Cairo by car at 5pm.
I had agreed with Ahmed on couchsurfing to meet in front of the new library of Alexandria (the old unfortunately had burnt down). A female friend from the US was a little late. We attended the tour throughout the library. Fortunately I had a reduced price because of my age. It didn’t matter, that I was a visitor. We got explained the architectur of the building as well as the different spaces and departments. Afterwards, we three were visiting the Museum of the Juwels, which is far away from the library, though with Ahmed’s help we first took a mini (micro) bus and then the tram. It took time to go there. The tram was sliding by the wet tracks – it was raining a little).
Already when we left the museum I told Ahmed and his friend, that I have to be back at Omar’s place at 4pm – I told them this hour, because I want to be sure to be back in time to pick up my bicycle, panniers and bags. Ahmed told me, that we have to eat at a special place, because they have the most delicious sandwiches. We were late for lunch and I had to sit down for the meal. Anyway, he was taking us to a place without opportunity to sit, which I disagreed. Finally we had a meal called Kosheri, which is rice with short cut noodles, chickpeas and veggies. It is tasty and easy to eat. – The Kosheri place was full, though we had to wait for a table. I tried to pay for this lunch for all of us, e.g. because Ahmed had paid for the tram. They didn’t accept it.
I was very stressed, though the American girl did order en Uber car for me. I actually arrived some minutes past 4pm. Omar helped me down with Miss Piggy and I took care about my panniers and bags. It was rush hour, of course and I was pushing my bicycle to Helen’s relatives, who had accepted to host me. They live quite far away from the place, where Omar lives, in the Victoria neighborhood. The mother’s name is Layla. It was very hard to find the Alley, where she lives with his husband and son. The daughter Diana is married. Her husband’s name is Mohammed. They live in Cairo, but she was visiting her parents with her little baby. Btw Helen told me, that I could get help of an orthopedist as well a dentist for free while staying with Layla and her family.
I had to call Layla and she came and met me, but she was running so fast on her way back to her apartment, that I didn’t have time to put my smartphone in one of my bags. I just put it to the other bags in my basket. I didn’t hear, when I lost it.
I was aware of it later, when I already was installed at the family’s home. Helen, fortunately did call, asking for me and became aware of the drama. Her husband told Layla to ask the internet provider to track my phone. Though Layla called two young, related girls at Vodafone and told them, which messages they should sent. As the same time as they were tracking the phone, the guy, who had found my phone answered their messages. He told them, he is a driver and did find my phone as well as he was still at work and would bring me the phone around 10pm.
We females were all going to meet him, who arrived on a motorcycle. He got 200 EGP of me, even he hadn’t ask for it. Layla asked me about the amount and told me, that was the amount she also would have recommended. Anyway, she also told me, that she was convinced, that they guy had stolen it from me. I don’t think so. I was very happy to have my smartphone back and actually it was the first time in my life I lost one.
23rd Dec – 0 km
I have got full board during the days I stayed with this family, but was usually served the meals outside the hours of their meals. I have had some minor chats with them. They weren’t good in English, but I found out, that the husband, who’s name also is Mohammed, was a retired engineer, Layla had been a lawyer and the son is a gp working at a polyclinic, caring for emergencies. The daughter is an accountant, if I remember right.
It was raining a little, though I tried to update my blog. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi was weak, though I couldn’t save the text at the blog. I started reading instead on the Internet as well on Facebook and Instagram. I was also resting my leg.
Later i talked with my son Samuel via Signal and my son Marcus via Skype. I was surprised, that the software was working.
The family offered me Turkish coffee. I might already have told you, that I don’t like it. Another thing, which I didn’t like was the wet floor in the bathroom. It was wet most of the time, depending on, when the family members showered. Even the seat of the WC was wet at that times, but easier to dry. For the wet floor there was a pair of special slippers to use in the bathroom – one pair together for everyone of the family and me. I had to take the custom as it is, of course and I never complained, but I felt unease with it.
Diana, the daughter of the house, did give me a gift around breakfast – a silver ring. It was a little too big for me, but I could have it on the middle finger. It wasn’t really my style, but I was afraid to tell them that, because I won’t hurt them.
24th Dec – 3 km walking
Im the early morning I saw both Layla and her husband, but when I finally was dressed and ready, I couldn’t find anyone in the apartment – I didn’t knock the doors of the bedrooms, of course. After a while Diana and soon also Laily were coming out of the bedrooms. I was served breakfast, which was yogurt, potatoes, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber and bread.
When I was done, I checked if there are bicycle mechanics in Alexandria. I found one quite close to Layla’s home. My bicycle was in Layla’s and Mohammed’s apartment. They live on the third floor and the elevator was to small for it, as it often is the case. Though I was walking to the address of the bicycle mechanic to find out, if he speaks English and if he can help me with the shifting of the gears. The place was closed. I found another one nearby, but he didn’t speak English at all. I was satisfied with myself, that I hadn’t taken my bicycle with me, but very disappointed, that I in a town like Alexandria with 5 million inhabitants couldn’t find a bicycle mechanic, who speaks English.
I had more disappointments to cope with this day. Helen called and told me, that Layla and her family will go to their relatives in Beheyda, Mit Ghamra the following day for meeting Helen and her husband. Though I have to leave Layla and her family next morning. She did also write, that the orthopedist has to study for a Master examen and therefore no time for me. She added, that this was also the reason why Diana was visiting her parents, because the little baby is crying night time and Diana’s husband need to sleep well. I hadn’t ask for an appointment at the dentist, which I was happy for. I think, it wouldn’t have come true either.
Luckily I found another Couchsurfing host. His name is Mina and he lives quite central.
25th Dec – 12 km
I left Layla and her family around 9am and was going by bicycle to Mina’s apartment. Again I didn’t find the Alley, where I had to go. I was very close, but there was no name at the Alley, though I called him. He met me on the road, where I was.
At his home we had a short conversation. He is a Copt and I asked him, if he feels discriminated, because only up to 10% of all inhabitants in Egypt are Copts and nearly 90% are Moslems. He answered no.
Then he told me, that he is on sick leave and have had a surgery some days ago. Therefore I answered him, that he is not obliged to entertain me. I have to update my blog and could do that instead. He seemed to be happy about it.
A little later he told me, that he has to go to the super market and asked me, if I’ll follow him. I understood, that I have to buy my own food, which doesn’t matter for me. The most expensive is to have a roof over my head for every night and I am grateful he accepted to host me. On the way to the super market I saw not only an open air market with vegetable and fruit stalls, but also a polyclinic nearby, which are called hospitals in Egypt.
My son Samuel called me via Signal. We had a video chat. My son Daniel visited Samuel and his family during the holiday season and was learning to drive a car. Just when they called, they were outside a café called Lyran. In Sweden we have a proverb, that is “Hen är på lyran”, which means somebody is drunk. Me ex-husband, their father, once was backing into a tree at this place even he was sober, but the fun was on our side. Actually a “lyra” is a music instrument, which is an older type of stringed instrument with a book-shaped string holder and usually a round-shaped resonant body.
I had to charge my bicycle battery, but the contacts didn’t fit. Luckily, Mina had a triple contact, which at one end fitted his contact in the wall and the others did fit my needs. He used it for his microwave.
When I was writing my blog, I had that problem again, that I couldn’t save the text. Though I copied it and put it in my “notepad”, which is an app on my smartphone. I continued to write the text for my blog in this app, because it is easy to copy and paste it to my blog.
26th Dec – 13 km walking
Maybe you were surprised that I didn’t write anything about Christmas celebrations, but Layla and her family are Moslems and they don’t celebrate Christmas. Mina, even he is a Copt, didn’t celebrate Christmas either. I think, that depended on, that he is a solo guy and not very religious.
Mina told me, he had to leave for Cairo this day, but that I was allowed to stay in his apartment – even until Friday. I told him, that I already had booked a hostel. What I didn’t tell him was, that I did it for Wi-Fi and the opportunity to wash my clothes there. Before I left Mina’s apartment I visited the polyclinic for my hurting leg. It was very interesting to see, how the care of sick people works in Egypt. First of all there was no female doctor, though a woman of the staff had to be by my side. Then, there was no opportunity to get my leg x-rayed, but the doctor even asked me to dress of my pants, though he could take a look at it. When I showed him, with my pants on, where it hurts and asked him to examine there, he did it, but still with my pants on. He then wrote a prescription for a painkiller, a medicine against inflammation and a gel with magnesium. He told me when and how often to use it as well as I should come back if the medicine doesn’t help in two days. When I left, I bought the medicine at the pharmacy in tje same building. It was all together for 95 EGP and I had to pay 100 EGP (around 3 EUR) at the reception of the polyclinic. I made a detour on the way back to Mina’s apartment and bought strawberries at the market.
Later I left again and was looking for a restaurant. I had a pizza and took my medicine after the meal as I was told to do. I walked around, trying to find another bicycle mechanic, which Google showed me on the map, but I didn’t find it. I continued to walk for finding the hostel, where I’ll go to the upcoming day, because I feel it easier to find places in big cities for the first time by walking instead for by riding my bicycle. So I found out, that the hostel only is an apartment of many in an older building, but close to the city center.
On my way back to Mina’s place I had a coffee and a piece of cake at a café called “Ecuador coffee”. I expected a very good coffee at that place. Before I arrived at Mina’s home I also withdraw an amount of an HSBC ATM. I am always happy, when I find one, because there is no fee for my Visa card. This day I also saw a group of young people going by rollerblades on the streets. I think it was a testimony for space for them and not only cars.
Mina was not at home when I arrived there, which wasn’t a problem, because he had given me a key, but I felt lonely.
27th Dec – 6 km walking
Mina had left for Cairo during the night. A female journalist called Sissi was calling me as agreed. Actually she should have called at 9am, but called half an hour later. She wasn’t thinking about the time difference and I had sent her the info not earlier than 9am, when I was waiting for her call. The intervju was lasting for two hours.
Finished that I’ve got ready and was soon pushing my bicycle to the hostel. I pushed it because of the heavy traffic. I arrived at the hostel around 1pm. Unfortunately I didn’t read the sign, that I have to walk to the second floor, even there is an elevator. Though I had to continue to the third floor – or down again, for being able to leave the elevator. I didn’t get an answer, why the door to the first and second floor was closed. I did get help to carry my panniers down to the second, when I already was halfway. The check-in wasn’t nice either. I also had to leave a deposit of 100 EGP even I didn’t get a key. I asked for a receipt, which I later got by email. I asked for a lower bed as well, but it was first come, first get and I was told to ask the other girls myself, if we could change. Unfortunately, I didn’t see them before I was going to bed. I actually climbed that bed, which I had to take, in the evening.
The hostel has good reviews on booking.com, but it was so worn. The Internet wasn’t good either.
During the day I needed something to eat, of course. The hostel didn’t have a kitchen, though I was looking for restaurants with prices I could afford. I wasn’t in season, though only a few restaurants were open at the seaside, but they were anyway too expensive for me. I finally decided to eat at the Calithea restaurant, where I could get a vegetarian meal. It seemed to be a Greek restaurant. The staff I saw was in their retirement age. I ordered a mouzaka – without meat sauce. I’ve got a small portion. They also had dessert on the menu, but not in real. Though I continued to the Café de la Paix (Peace Café). Even here the staff was in their retirement age.
28th Dec – 13 km walking
When I had to go to the bathroom between 5 and 6am I nearly got hurt, because the girl in the lower bed had placed a plaid on the ladder, which I couldn’t see in the dark. Back from the bathroom I picked my pillow and my cover and was going to sleep on the couch in the “livingroom”. I was not the only one. This room was more a hall. It was hugh. It was devided in a smoker and non-smoker area, but with an open space. Along two walls of each of them were a good couch. Before I was going to sleep on the couch I told the night stuff, that I would like to have a lower bed, if someone is leaving.
When I brought my pillow and cover back to “my bed” after breakfast I saw, that a girl from a lower bed had checked out, though I was soon going to the reception and asked again for it. The female employe told me, I am too late. She already had changed the bed linen. It did neither help, that I already had told her the day before, that I have problems to climb that kind of ladders and need a lower bed nor that I had told the night staff, that I need a lower bed. I was not only very disappointed, but also angry that they didn’t care about people in my age resp. with my limits. That is discrimination.
Btw, the breakfast was not ready at 8am even time for breakfast was between 8 and 10am. When the cleaner, who also served the breakfast finally arrived at 8:30am, she made individuell breakfast to each of us, which took a lot of time for her. She also told us, that breakfast between 8 and 10am means, that we have to be happy if we get our breakfast at 10am.
This morning I was visiting the castle. You can see it as soon as you are walking along the seaside, though I’ve got interested in it and also, because of Ahmed, the guiding CS-member. He had told me, we will go there and see the sunset. I was not sure, that we would have time for it next day, when we’ll meet again. Ahmed can only guide on Thursdays and Fridays. I didn’t really understand if he is studying or working the other days of the week.
It was much longer to the castle as I expected, but I was not only walking all the way to the castle and back to the city center. I also was visiting it and walking around as well as walking lots of the stairs there are.
I’ve got hungry, of course and finally had a sandwich with Halumi and a coffee Americano with cold milk at a Starbuck. I was not only happy about the vegetarian meal and the coffee as I really like it, but also because of the waitress, who asked me, if I am the woman, who has been cycling with Al-Sissi, the Egypten president. I really needed her at this moment, because I am not happy. I am longing home.
Ahmed met me around 5pm in front of the Ithaka hostel, where I am staying. He had told me before, that there will be a piano concert at 6pm at a Russian club. There are a lot of people from the former Sovjetunion living in the Middle East. They were moving many, many years ago and have nothing to do with Putin and his war in Ukraine. Unfortunately, we were too late, because the time for the concert was changed last minute to start at 5pm instead. Though we only saw, when the dressed up artists got their Thank you. The place for that event was the Bab Sharqi WA Wabour Al Meyah cultural center.
Though we continued to a Sudan/Nubian music event, where participians also were dancing. It was an “Arts for Life” event and amazing. None was left outside the group and the people were so happy, that I was in it as well. The only bad thing was, that it was too short.
Ahmed took me afterwards to a café. Close to it, we bought a kosheri meal. The café owner didn’t deny us to eat it there. At this café Ahmed also met up with some friends. One of them walked me home together with Ahmed. He told me, that he feels for me like I would be his grandma, who he hardly remember, because she died, when he only was 10 years old. That is an honor for me. – It felt good not to be alone on the streets by night. I couldn’t thank them enough.
This night I slept on the couch the whole night and again, I was not the only one – even we may have had different reasons.
29th Dec – 4 km walk
Breakfast at the hostel was served around an hour late. I had an appointment with Ahmed at 11am. We agreed to meet at the tram station and his discription was “straight ahead from the hostel to the Alex-bank, there to the right and then straight ahead again”.
I was not the first one, who got the breakfast served, even I had told the receptionist, that we are waiting for it and that I have an appointment. I think, they don’t like little older people at this hostel.
Though I felt little late for the appointment. Luckily I only needed 20 min. to our meeting point. On the other hand, Ahmed was late, because of the accident between the minibus he was coming with and a motorcycle. Luckily, the driver of the motorcycle was still alive. He only broke an arm and a leg, Ahmed told me. Actually, I am surprised, that not more drivers of motorcycles are involved in accidents the way they are driving.
We walked together to the National museum of Alexandria, which is quite small and has sparse with artefacts even it has three floors, but it was worth to visit.
I was already hungry again, when we left the the museum. Close to it, but on the other side of the street I bought a snack and a bottle of water, which was for 9,50 EGP only.
Next stop, where we also had been walking to, was the Ancient Roman Theatre. It was much more interesting as I had expected, because there have been a lot of buildings around, which foundations and more had been digged out.
Close to that Roman theatre we had our lunch. I had told Ahmed, that I am inviting him. I think, I should have told him later, because he brought me to a street food restaurant where my bean falafel with French fries and his meal in pita bread were together for 25 EGP only. If I remember right, there were also water and Coke included.
Next place were the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa.
Unfortunately we arrived last minute and had to hurry through them. Anyway, they were like the pictures in my head of catacombs before I visited the catacombs outside Rome and on Malta.
This was the last possible sightseeing for the day, because all the other places were now also closed. I had planned to go further by bus the next day, because Helen had told me, that between Alexandra and Mersa Matruh, my next goal, there were no places to stay overnight. The distance is around 300 km. Though I asked Ahmed to go with me to the main bus station, which he did, even he had never been there. We tog a microbus once we were at the right road.
Ahmed did help me to buy the ticket and also promised me to help me onto the bus the next day. However, he was surprised, that I planned to cycle to the bus station from the hostel.
With a medibus we were going back to the city center, but not far away from the hostel. Ahmed dit follow me to the hostel again. During the bus ride we were talking about Mersa Matruh and the Siwa oasis. He was wondering, where I will stay. He told me, he knows a good CS-host in Mersa Matruh, but it was not the one, who had accepted me as a guest.
30th Dec – 11 km
I was dressed before breakfast, what I not always am. I tried to leave early for not missing the bus, but it became anyway 9:45am. Anyway, I already arrived at the bus station at 10:30am. It didn’t take so long time as I had expected and in addition I had been stopped of a journalist and camera man from the DMC tv-channel. They told me, that it is the DMCs birthday and asked me to say “Happy birthday DMC, I love DMC”. I know them from Sharm el-Sheikh.
As you may guess, it was a Friday morning, when I was leaving Alexandria. It was therefore I was brave enough to go by bicycle to the bus station. There were a lot of those micro, mini and other buses, but a very few cars, though the road was not crowded. It was also the reason why I was so early at the bus station.
An Uber driver tried to sell his service to me at the bus station. I told him, that I already have a bus ticket and he was OK with it. Ahmed arrived around 11:30am. I was already somewhat nervous, that he wouldn’t come in time, because I still had to buy the ticket for the bicycle. I tried to take him to the ticket counter right away, but he told me, to follow him to the bus and that he has an retired uncle, who was working for just this bus company. Vid bussen I was directly asked for the ticket for the bicycle and we had to go back to the ticket counter.
There was a problem to place Miss Piggy in the bus, because this bus from the Middle-East company had lower luggage departments as the Go-Busses have. Ahmed gave me some notes as souvenirs. 1 new EGP/each for Vincent and Leon and a 50 Piaster note for me, which is as little as 0,5 EGP. I had never seen them before. I was lucky that the guy on the seat on the side of me talks a little English and also was a friendly guy. He translated the Arabic anouncements for me, when I asked for it. Luckily he also was leaving in Mersa Matruh, because he took care about my little backpack and left it to me outside the bus.
I was not comfortable with the contact with my CS host Foad. I had asked him for his address but he didn’t answer me before I arrived in Mersa Matruh. I did see the message when I already had left the bus and taken care about Miss Piggy and my luggage. I wasn’t happy, how they handled her. Lots of luggage had been placed on the top of her and the guy, who had to care about the luggage was not happy at all, that he needed to take all that bags and suitcases out of the bus and afterwards put most of it in again.
My smartphone was low on battery and I didn’t find my powerbank. I already missed it at the hostel. Finally I’ve got Foads position. Luckily, the battery was enough for finding his home, even I didn’t really know if it was the first or the other one. Though I asked at the first one, which was in an Alley very close to the next corner of the street. They really tried to help me, but didn’t know the address. One was going into the house and came out with an elderly man. Unfortunately he only speaks Arabic and French. Anyway, I have got the opportunity to call Foad… and of course, it was the other house – the one at the main road, where he lives. When we met each other he told me, that he had been looking for me, because he was afraid, that I have lost my way.
I was placed in a room at the ground floor. He lived with his brother’s family and his sister on the first floor. His mother had been living on the ground floor Foad explained. He soon came down with food for me and later with tea.
Foad’s twin brother Mohammed talked to me during tea time. When his 10 y-o son tried to talk with me, he wasn’t allowed. He was instead told not to disturb us. I was unhappy with that kind of child upbringing – especially because we were talking about different countries only. Mohammed seemed to know a lot. Soon I found out, that it was knowledge he had found by social media. It seemed he never had heard about source critisism. Furthermore he did mix up Switzerland and Sweden. He told me, that it is strange that the Swedish social authority take children from families, who don’t have own income and only live by benefits from the authorities, which isn’t true, but has been spread on Facebook. Also Foad did conversate with me for a while. When he did get a phone call, he explained, that his brother will follow me to the market, though I could buy some food. Unfortunately, there was a desk and behind it the shop owner. Therefore I couldn’t really see, what was sold there. With Mohammed’s help I could buy tissues.
31st Dec – 14 km
This was a strange day. When I tried to leave the house for buying breakfast, the port was locked even it already was 9am. Though I took the stairs and then ringed the bell at the door on the first floor. First Foad’s sister opened. She called for him. When he came, he had a scarf around his neck and told me, that his throat is hurting and he think, he has the flu. I was a little afraid, that it could be COVID-19.
He followed me soon to the supermarket. We passed a place with lots of trash and I asked him about it. He explained, that he wasn’t happy about it, but that once a month someone were picking up the trash. Back home, he came with Columbian coffee and we had coffee together. He also told me, that his brother Mohammed will take me by car downtown. It rained a little even I was told “it never rains here”. Mohammed had something else to do and I was informed, that he couldn’t drive me. Though I took my bicycle downtown.
I was looking at a lot of shops, but couldn’t see any, who was selling underwear. Finally I found a mall. I was looking around, but couldn’t see there such a shop either. I had earlier talked to a shoe seller, but wouldn’t asked a man for women underwear. There were some women passing, but most elderly and I wasn’t sure, they use that kind of underwear I needed. Instead I was waiting a little longer and took the opportunity when a woman around 20 years all were going to pass by. She was very kind and explained to me. Before she could answer, the shoe seller asked us, if he could help, the young woman started to giggle and I told him with the smile “no, thank you”.
After I had got my answer I found my way to the right shop. Unfortunately, the female shop assistant was not good in English and even I first was looking among the underwear, she then asked the male shop assistant from the shop on the side of hers about help. I mixed it up and said, I need new underwear, because I gained weight. In real I needed it, because I lost weight. The male shop assistent recommeded “one size fits all” underwear. I tried it on and I was OK with it. I also bought a pair of socks, because it was not so easy as I had thought to have only two pairs of socks: One wearing, the other one washing, especially because of it is so cold during the nights that I wear socks when I sleep as well. That done I was looking for a restaurant, but didn’t find any with vegetarian food. At the end I had a Hamburger at the Latino café, which was starting to open. I had to wait for half an hour, than I was let in, but I was the only guest. They showed me a Hamburger menú and I ordered. It was strange, that they got it from the stall next door. When they served it, the French fries were missing, though I asked for them as well. They asked me later to pay extra for the fries, but I told them, that they were included in the price on the menu, though I didn’t.
On my way home I first was going to the bus stations (actually every bus company had their own bus station) and asked about the bus to the Siwa oasis. I started with the Go Bus, but the only one, which was big enough to take my bicycle was leaving around 10pm and arriving in the very early morning the next day. There were two other buses and both had a tour in the middle of the day. One of them guarantied me, that the bus is big enough and will take my bicycle. At lesst I stopped at a grocery shop and bought yogurt, a chocolate drink and a mango drink for the next morning. I then needed Google maps to find my way.
I had asked Foad in the morning, if I could wash my clothes. He did take my laundry and told me, it will be done. I hope they will be dry the next morning.
I try to find another host for three reasons. Foad had told me, that I was allowed to they there for two nights only. The other was, that I didn’t feel comfortable there. The bathroom was old, worn and dirty – even the sink. I was not invited to their family space. I felt as a very stranger, what isn’t the meaning with couchsurfing. The third reason was Foad’s cold. I sent a couch request to the CS ambassador for Mersa Matruh, but he didn’t answer me.
I told Foad that I would like to leave, but he didn’t accept it and told me, he will bring me to a room or apartment of a friend many floors upstairs – I think it was seven, with a wonderful view.
When I was back from downtown it was Mohammed who opened for me. I didn’t see Foad before he was coming down to the room he had given to me with my clothes. Unfortunately, they were not dry and it slipped out of my mouth “they aren’t even dry yet”, which Foad was angry about even I apologized directly afterwards – before he could say anything.
Btw: I was wondering by myself if it depended on, that I am not Moslem, that they didn’t offered me to enter their apartment, but I didn’t ask.
How long did I stay in Egypt? Which places did I visit? Did I ride Miss Piggy all the way?
All these questions I will answer soon. Though stay tuned!