Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Ferries!?

That's right. The northern coast of Germany is where many of those small rivers we followed earlier in the summer meet the North Sea. They are too wide for bridges at that point. After crossing the Ems, we thought we'd take 2 days to cross the land between the Ems and the Jadebusen, a kind a huge inlet. Then we had another day of riding across a kind of non-peninsula to the massive mouth of the Weser River, the combination of the Fulda and Werra Rivers which we followed after leaving Kassel and heading north. We arrived in Bremerhaven and went due north along the North Sea, towards Cuxhaven, where we took another ferry to get across to Brunsbuttel. Ferry happy. Check out the map, it's hard to describe that northern Germany coast.

So, from Emden at the Ems River to Jadebusen, we had a pretty straight shot along the Ems-Jade Canal. Thank goodness we finally got some sun again! We started out on the Friesischer Heerweg, the axe and bicycle wheel path, which reminded us fondly of our work with the Bicycle Kitchen in LA, getting people on bikes and carving out a space for bicycle culture. Spare parts and battle-axes.

Beautiful weather! Yes, it makes a difference...

The Ems-Jade Canal is lovely and we find ourselves smiley and taking deep breaths.

Finally, we were looking at the fronts of windmills again, the wind blowing us towards Wilhelmshaven. We took a stop in the afternoon and thought we might even stay to camp, but it turned out to be late Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, nothing is open in small towns. If you're lucky a small bakery will be open in the morning, or even the grocery store, but by noon most every place is closed. And in many places, everything closes starting on Saturday afternoon. We were in a very small village. And we didn't have the supplies to stay there overnight without somewhere to eat. So we pushed on. We thought we would go to a campsite off the path, taking us out of our way quite a distance. But things were rolling so smoothly, and we still had the light and a good wind, that we ended up flying all the way to Wilhelmshaven in one day. It felt great, and we had decided to take advantage of as much good weather as we could, seeing as bad weather slowed us down so much.

But once in Wilhelmshaven, after 7pm on a Saturday night at the end of August, we realized we were in for another kind of problem. We first found the ferry terminal, and figured out that the ferry left at 9am the next morning. Lucky us. Then we looked around for a hotel. At the first hotel we stopped into, they were all sold out except for the 200€ per night suite. The guy was nice, they had a restaurant, and when I grimaced at the price he said I should check the other hotels along the row. Turned out, they were all full. Not a single room. We then went back into the center of town, hoping that it was just the hotels out on the strand that were booked. Of course, it would be nice to have a hotel within a few minutes of the ferry, but we'd just have to get up 15 minutes earlier and be sure to get to the ferry on time. Alas, no rooms. Anywhere. A woman on the street told us about another hotel that sounded like it was quite far away. We had no idea if there would be a room. It was starting to get dark and cold and we were getting hungry. What do you do?

Stay happy. We treated ourselves to a very, very expensive hotel room and delicious dinner to match. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and call it, even if it hurts. They had a place downstairs, indoors for our bikes. Breakfast was included. We both took bubble baths and tried to appreciate our apartment-like hotel room as much as we could in the 24 hours we occupied it. But it still hurt a little, even if it was quiet good. And we did make the ferry in the morning.

It turned out to be a ferry just for bike riders taking the International North Sea Bike Route

Oh good weather, we love you

All that day the wind was pretty good. It was big, and mostly behind us, although sometimes at our side. At least it wasn't raining. 

Joshua's map view

Joshua's road view

Rolling into Blexen, for the ferry across to Bremerhaven, we saw a sign we recognized - 
we were back on the Weser Radweg!

Ferry across the Weser

Not too shabby, but kinda crowded with pedestrians heading to the Bremerhaven Sail

In Bremerhaven we had a quick sandwich lunch in a park and then headed north. We had checked the ferry schedule from Cuxhaven to Brunsbuttel, and we knew that it only ran a couple of days per week. Our blast across the Ems-Jade Canal have given us a bit of an advantage, but we decided we'd best head north from Bremerhaven as far as we felt like going, to make sure we had plenty of time in Cuxhaven to check the schedule again and make sure what we saw online was real. Sometimes the information online is not as accurate as going up to a ticket booth (or calling in advance) - very important to know. With no phone we have learned to be flexible and early. 

Just as we rolled out of Bremerhaven, an ominous cloud was moving towards the city. We have learned that the best thing to do when it's raining is either find a cafe and hide out for a while or just keep going - riding in the rain isn't all that bad when you have good gear, as long as the wind isn't against you, too. This thing coming towards us was a storm.

So we got prepped for a downpour

Both wearing the new booties from Rinia Fietsen

Somedays look more like this than you want them to. Bleak weather, downpour with a side wind, and huge industrial concrete desert. At least the gigantic warehouses protected us from the wind when we were beside them. We went by some of the biggest windmills yet, and closer than ever. They make an enormous sound, like a blender whipping butter in really slow motion, deep and swaying. 

And then the weather let up. We found ourselves on the inland side of another dyke, this time hanging with cows. Cow shit is much bigger than sheep shit.

As we close in on a gate, the crap gets to be more and the cows are waiting for someone to feed them or take them home, perhaps. Joshua guided us through, clapping and yelling like a good farmer. The cows mostly moved out of the way. He did that at least three times, as we went through many gates. Below you see the awesome crap we had to ride through. Just what our bikes needed, a poop bath.

Since we had the time, and the energy, to go only as far north as we felt like going, we could explore a little. We checked out a road that went up onto the dyke, and then down along the North Sea.

That's not snow between the rocks, but some kind of human invention - 
it looked like hardened toothpaste

It's not windy

I'm not singing little mermaid songs at the top of my lungs

The path promptly ended, into a sheep field.

Up the hill we hiked, after another couple on bikes who did the same as we had

No joke, pushing your bike up a dyke when the grass is wet

Oh, right, and we were back with the great German maps we had used before, and there were a lot of campsites along the North Sea Bike Route, so we had our pick of campsites. 

Let's not camp here!

This place looks even worse!

We found a quiet site on the protected side of the dyke (I'm sure it's nice to stay on the North Sea side in the middle of summer, but isn't there a reason they build those dykes?). We arrived early enough to go to a restaurant that was warm and dry while it rained off and on out the window. We read our books and wrote postcards until an early evening dry spell when we went back to set up the tent and get ourselves into bed early. 

The following day wasn't very long, and we arrived in Cuxhaven with plenty of time to check the ferry times. The next ferry was going to Brunsbuttel the following day at 11am. That was late enough for us to go back out of town to a campsite we had seen on the way in, where there was a big fancy bakery close enough to get fresh rolls for breakfast the next morning. We even did some laundry, and had a sunny enough afternoon for it to dry. 

And the ferry to Brunsbuttel?

Lots of bikes - big boat - 2+ hours

we'll be okay

1 comment:

kelly said...

i got all teary, beauties!