The One about Fighting the Sexism and Crying like a girl!

With the report of cycling in Germany

Cycling in Germany was not bad as I expected. If you cycle over Holland you think that it can be only worse and worse. But it wasn´t! There have not been such hills to gave up! The cycle paths are in a quite good condition, sometimes they are shared with the pedestrians so it can be a bit uncomfortable to cycle on but nothing so disastrous!

More distracted was my mood. Further, I cycled to the direction of the Czech Republic the landscape was changing and reminding me home and my childhood! The smell of mackerel bbq; wheat, and corn fields; the bunches of straw; starks having their nests on the tall chimneys; flying “luckiness”; thistles; mosquitos; and tractors; conifers and the scent of a pitch!

Here is what I took on my phone, if it was not out of battery!

Sometimes it was rainy but I got very good advice from the couchsurfer Jan in Winsum, the Netherlands and bought a very good rain jacket! However, sometimes it was worth to hide anyway.

I enjoyed stopping at Restplatz set along the way, saw those little sculptures of dwarfs in the gardens and behind the windows, passed by the hunters´ festivals and stopping on the border where Germany and thus the whole Europe was divided into the West and East block. Obviously, I cycled in the football period which means that everybody was watching!

My favourite part of cycling came when my friend Zoli joined me =) He took the train from Berlin and cycled with me for two days! We were camping in the corn field, having the coffee and the scrambled eggs in the local cafe, he helped me to carry the trailer and I managed to break my pannier rack. We were a bit delayed and wanted to have proper time to rest and have the beer together before his train back departs. So we decided to take the train from Dessau-Roßlau to Lutherstadt Wittenberg and enjoyed it all! Here are some pictures which mainly Zoli took.

From there I continued again alone and hoped I could see my other friends in Dresden. Well, the time did not allow us so I stayed with some nice people from Warm showers and followed Elbe to the Czech borders. I think the cycle path along the Elbe is just amazing! Especially, my last day in Germany I was going the whole day along the Elberadweg (The Elbe cycle path), stopping just to have some nice coffee with a bird and finish the letter. My phone was nearly dead so I did not take so many pictures, so I guess you will have to visit this part of the paradise by yourself!

In Dresden I took the picture of the view to the city centre. Somebody wrote on the path “FIGHT SEXISM”, the few hours later I was practising it in Dolní Žleb, the Czech Republic. When cycling I saw some boy repairing his bike, I stopped and asked if he needs any help. He had a puncture and no kit to repair. Well, actually I did not have a kit neither because I donated the glue few days before to one daddy who was about to repair his daughter´s broken dingy. I had a spare inner tube instead so I started to repair the puncture. He was shy and still repeating that it should be the other way around. He should know how to repair it because he is the boy. I say – the girl knows it too! During the journey, I had three punctures, lost screw from the rare wheel and broken pannier rack. There were always some good people around who helped me out of the troubles but I am happy I know how to help myself too!

I think cycling from Dresden took me some while. I really wished to be finally at home, but at the same time, I knew that the adventure is about to finish. My tempo was slow and I was just enjoying watching everything around. When I was very near to the border I heard first Czech sentences. One of them came from the father of the family on the cycling tour. They were resting next to the path and the father said: “So alright we gonna vote. Who is up to go back?” All three kids were shouting: “Me! Me! Me!”. I was touched and on the edge of the cry. When I crossed the Czechoslovakian border (yes the time stop around Labská stezka), I started to cry like a small girl. On the table, there was a sticker saying “Who is at home here?”. I suddenly felt that I do not want to have more stories, adventures or new friends but it is the time to go home! Well, next cycling adventure is just behind the corner!

I cycled along Labe (Elbe) until Ústí nad Labem and took the last train to Prague. The full moon was accompanying me and the biggest hill of the trip was at Kamýcká street in Praha-Suchdol!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One about the borders and the reflective vest

Devoted to good people! With the memory to Vazrik who would always used to ask: “Have you been a good girl?”

Recently, so many words are spinning in my head and I do not know how to take them out of there. I am happy to travel with my bike but I would love to tear apart into the small pieces and be everywhere and with everyone and finally, be alone! I crossed four borders already. I crossed four borders of the nations in 20 days and every day, I cross borders of what I am able to stand, achieve, cope with.. I meet new people and I am welcomed to cross their door sills. I crossed the path with good people and left them again.

I thought about how crossing the borders were important mile stones and how many angels accompanied me when cycling. I would like to write something about them.

Johan and Regine

When I was crossing borders to Belgium I met Johan and Regine! Two amazing people living in the small town De Panne at the coast. I did not really want to stay another night in France but my leaving was postponed because of the heavy rain. I started to cycle around 5 pm and managed to get to Belgium at nearly 10 pm. When arriving to the town, one man stopped me and ask where I go. I answered that my direction is the Czech Republic because “Ik kom uit Tsjechie” (what I remember from the classes of Flemish when I used to live in Antwerpen). He said I can sleep over in his place. That was suspicious and I did not want to go. But he also said his wife is at home so I asked if I can pitch my tent in their garden and went with him. And I am happy I have done so.

13497721_10208201548468552_6877134643055348532_o.jpg

Johan and Regine are heartful people, having 5 kids and 17 grandchildren and they took care of me like I am theirs! Johan said that it is him who always brings strangers home but Regine is the one who keeps in touch with them when they leave. In the kitchen, they have a big wall full of greetings from people from around the world who spent time in their lovely house. I also had to write my contribution!

13582440_1362537133763683_1698039584_o

Johan used to be a politician in his town and I thought how nice it would be if all politicians are open minded like him. I also thought about my mum how she is worried that some strangers will hurt me and I always think that there are good and bad people in the world. We can stay home in our safe zone but if we do not go out we will never meet those good people living out there. Well, I always thought that missing that opportunity to meet them at least once in our life would make our life just much poorer. That´s the reason why it is worth to risk it!

I got the reflective vest from Johan and Regine and I wear it all the time!

Vazrik

When I was leaving the Netherlands I have not been in the best state of mind. My very good friend Vazrik died just few days ago back in the UK. I worked for him 2 years in antique shop and learnt a huge amount of things about furniture. I entered his shop coincidantely like a stranger in July 2014 exactly like now I am entering the houses of strangers met during the way. It is so wierd! He became my buddy, I was listening to his stories from the past and  we were laughing a lot and arguing too! I wanted to write him a letter or send a postcard but I was postponing it. I was upset on him for some reasons which now look silly.

000006.JPG

When cycling to Germany I was delayed to couchsurfing in Papenburg. The road was so uneven and I was getting worried that I destroy my trailer. Anyway, I was trying to ride as fast as I can. Silently, I was pleasing Vazrik to blow to my back. It was my birthday the next day and I did not want to be somewhere alone and broken. Suddenly the road ahead was closed and I could not continue further. I get off my bike and saw that the screw from the rare wheel which also holds my trailer is missing. I imagined how dangerous it is and what could happened when cycling fast down the hill. I started to cry because that is something I have been doing lately all the time..

Michael

Then I calmed down and looked around how to solve the situation. On the other side of the lock where the small bridge with stairs leads was a guy  wandering around. Michael grew up in the area and came to reflect his childhood as he is selling his family house. He looks similarly to Daniel Landa, the Czech singer with some fashist history.. Well, at first I hesitated, but then I asked him for help to get my bike on the other side. He offered me that he takes me with the bike to couchsurfers in his car! Probably, we both were there to help each other out of our sadness, the life goes on. At night, I shine in the reflective vest which I got from Johan and Regine.

IMG_3731

We never know who we meet and how big influence he/she/they will leave on us. Like now I am sitting in Charlotte´s flat, very lovely girl who was working in Australia and now offering her couch in Germany to strangers. I am waiting for the right time to pick up my friend Zoli from the station. He is my very good friend from the Erasmus time, living in Berlin and joining me for two days cycle tour. After that I am meeting another important friend of my life Steffen and his girlfriend Anne. They will give me the push over the borders again!

I can´t wait to be at home!

 

The One about cycling in the Netherlands

Some pieces I remember and recorded

Yesterday I passed the borders of the Netherlands and Germany. Here are the small pieces I recorded along the way. No more flat roads and the wide cycle paths. No more lifted asphalt roads and big ships passing slowly by. No more rabbits jumping in the grass with their white little tails, wild horses, all kind of cattle eating the grass along the cycle paths. No more sheep and their shit everywhere. No more crunching sand in between the teeth when cycling against the wind along the dunes. The pictures are not the best ones as I have a crappy mobile but hopefully, I can add soon the ones I took with the Olympus-Pen camera.

It is funny when you cycle in the Netherlands there are always roads lifted in the sky. Because of the huge sea transport, the ships are passing by every day. However, if you manage to appear in front of the opened lock, do not wait there. I was told that sometimes it takes even 3 hours when ships pass by. When you look at the map there is usually another part of the lock where you can get over it.

It is just interesting to watch the infrastructure along the cycle paths, the shapes, and the shadows. The Netherlands is full of the viaducts or water barriers. If there is not bridge the little ferry will take you on the other side.

Of course the wind power stations are everywhere. Making noise and cold wind blowing around. However, not everybody is happy about them.

I fall in love with the bins specially shaped for cyclists so you can throw out your rubbish without stopping the bike. The bicycles are everywhere, although the wind can be very strong everybody is cycling, kids to school, parents to the jobs. The animals are accompanying your whole way so there are a lot of interesting creatures to watch around. The cycle paths are wide and at some places they can even be in the better condition than the roads for cars in the Czech Republic! Sometimes they are crossing the sheep fields. Then you have to struggle with the shit which is set on the road like a mine-field. Sheep do not poo on the grass because that would be like shitting into their own plate, instead, they do the need on the cycle path! That makes sense, isn´t that!

Well, cycling in Holland was a pleasure and I am looking forward to coming back, there is more than is shown here! Go and explore it too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One about the Showers

Rain and Warm Shower

From Belgium, I went to cycle to Breskens, the city on the edge of the river Schelde delta in the Netherlands. After 30 km ride, I continued back to Belgium, to Antwerpen along the river via Terneuzen and then along the E34 where is a speed cycle path to see my friend Živile. I made 100 km that day, it was sunny but not too hot. Just 5 km before Antwerpen It started to rain a lot. Somebody was pouring the buckets of the water and I got completely soaked! There are no bridges over the river Schelde in Antwerpen because of the huge ships passing by. If you want to get on the other side of the river you have to use a tunnel. There is one very old tunnel called Sint-Annatunnel and my friend Živile lives nearly opposite to it. But..

323526_374802095870530_1328684511_o

(I made this picture when I used to live in Antwerpen 6 years ago, well it is enough time to forget there are no bridges!)

Well, the tunnel Sint-Annatunnel is beautiful, but the elevator does not work so I could not take my bike and a trailer on the other side of the river. I was wet anyway so I went to cycle along the river to look for the bridge. It did not stop showering and the dry people were watching television behind their living room windows. I was crying, laughing about it and getting crazy. Finally, I asked two boys sitting in the car to help me find the way. They said that there are no bridges in Antwerpen. When I asked how they get on the other side they answered that they live on that side of the city and if they really want to go to the centre they use the Sint-Annatunnel. Well, I asked what they do if the elevator does not work, they were trying to convince me to get back to the tunnel anyway. The situation was getting more and more grotesque. My nose was running, the rain was washing it, they were sitting in the car googling if there is any other way how to get to the other side with a heavy bike. I imagined what they do with disabled people who want to get on the other side of the river if the lift is broken. Finally, they found another tunnel a bit further down the river and I got to the street where my friend lives 3 hours later! Unfortunately, I remembered wrong house number and my mobile died, I was shouting on the street her name and some people invited me to warm up to the pub. They must have thought I am crazy. Coincidentally, a waitress was from the Czech Republic and she made me a hot tea, but there was already my friend Živile coming for me, treating me with a vegetarian pizza and a shot of liqueur served directly to the shower. I spent two days with my friend, who cared about me in the best way! Nobody said it will be always sunny on the road!

13632856_1367995239884539_412658233_o

Well, after spending some days with my friend I continued along the other bank of Schelde up to Zeeland to the small town called Kortgene where I got my first stay at Warm Showers, the couchsurfing version for touring cyclists. I was meeting great people who opened their homes for sweaty strangers on the bicycles. I guess, it is not a shower like a shower!