I found a great B&B in Harlingen, on the coast of Holland. The owners Jouke & Karin have really looked after me, recommending a good restaurant last night and just chatting in general. They have informed the local press about my trip, so I now have my first press conference booked in!
Harlingen itself is a nice quiet town with plenty to sea (pun intended!). Lots of wooden sailing boats in the harbour and on the canals, Harlingen will be host to a huge tall ship regatta in 2018. More tall ships than Amsterdam, which is important apparently!
I’ve just realised that this is my first B&B of the trip. I told Jouke it was the best of the whole trip! In fairness though, I’ve stayed in a few other B&Bs in the past – and I have to say his place is excellent.
Yesterday was OK weather wise, even sunny at times. This morning I’m greeted with a familiar sky, completely grey. No discernable edges to the clouds and no colour. It’s like an unfinished painting where the sky has yet to be done.
It’s fairly typical of the location and time of year, another sign that I’m really not far from home now. My American friends have completed their journey, and this week will see me compete mine – I hope!
I’ll push into Holland today and maybe the north coast if the weather’s not too bad. I’d like to see the dike (dyke?) and explore some of the part that’s not Amsterdam. I’ve only been to Amsterdam and I’m curious as to what else lies in Holland.
It’s interesting to see the different attitudes towards smoking and drinking in different countries. In Sweden a lot if people use chewing tobacco, popping it under their gums. I don’t know of anyone from the UK that does it, I’ve never even seen it done by strangers.
In Denmark and Germany they haven’t banned smoking in pubs. (Or if they have, nobody takes any notice!). For the first time in a while I smelt stake cigarette smoke on my clothes, not something I’ve missed at all! However, sit outside for lunch and you’re not eating next to a load of smokers. No easy answer is there?
What surprised me most was the cigarette machines on the streets. I thought it was pretty bad that anyone could buy them, with no checks in place for age restrictions. (Save the height of the coin slot I suppose). However, when I took this photo tonight I noticed the driving licence reader. Effectively that makes it 17+ to buy them from the machine. I wonder if it’s a new thing, or if I just didn’t notice it on the other machines??
Not the best of names for a place, especially considering that apart from the campsite, there’s nothing particularly bad about it. I had a false start today as I left my spot at the campsite in Lübeck. I was half way to Hamburg when I realised, so I nipped back to fetch it. Another 80km or so won’t make any difference in the big scheme of things.
Bad Zwischenahn looks very posh, there’s lots of topiary in the gardens. Plenty of sports bikes around so I’m guessing there’s some good twisty roads nearby. I had my eye out for the cops, as they tend to go hand in hand with bikers having fun. I didn’t choose here as a stopping point, I was going to stay in Bremen. Bremen is where Becks larger is brewed and I don’t mind the odd Becks.
I had a campsite planned out on the island in the middle of Bremen city. Unfortunately when I arrived I found that the island is pedestrian and the campsite was a 2km walk in. I don’t mind the walk but carrying all my gear would be impossible. I couldn’t get WiFi anywhere so I blasted up the road some more.
After a lot of looking I finally found a campsite here. There’s no WiFi of course! Looks like I’m incommunicado for the day!
I thought I’d give the old girl a spot of TLC today, so I changed the oil and swapped the batteries over. The battery that’s been stood for a month spun the motor over as if it had been on charge all night. I’m never buying a conventional battery again! LiPo’s the go!
I had a look at the rear brake pads too, as they’re petty low. They’re not that old, but the knackered bearings meant the wheel could move and touch the pads – so they’ve worn prematurely. There’s still more meat on them then the old set, which I still have anyway. At least I know though.
I was going to fill up too, but the only fuel at the garage had 5% ethanol. If I can avoid it I will, as ethanol is evil shit that shouldn’t be in fuel. The aviation industry banned it years ago, knowing the damage it does to engines and engine components. The automotive industry don’t seem to care.
The oil companies sell it because naive governments believe it’s better for the environment and offer subsidies. It’s madness. Let’s grow some crops and (leaving aside the world food shortage just for a moment), turn it into a poor additive to fuel that wrecks engines. That way we’re doing our bit for the environment, helping preserve precious fossil fuels!
The Americans are having all sorts of problems with it forced on them in some states. So are the boating community as it attacks fibreglass. Just Google it if you’re bored someday. Unless I absolutely have to, I’m not using it.
Anyway, ethanol is for drinking, right??
I tried a different kind of panorama on my phone today. I’m not sure how it’ll look on the big screen. The markets seemed as good a place as any to try it out, very old, Germanic and pretty. (If that combination is possible?).
There were two kinds of event on today. Greenpeace were having a rally against world trade. Or for world trade, I’m not sure which. It was all in German. I followed the foreign office’s advice for travel, which is to “avoid public protests and demonstrations”.
The local school/college/university had something on too. Probably the end of exams, start or end of term, fresher’s week maybe? It was in German again but involved drinking, shouting and playing games in the fountains. All good natured fun.
If they’d combined the two then Greenpeace would have got a lot more signatures on their petition!!
Lübeck in Germany is somewhere I’ve been before. We came for a family holiday as a gift to my dad, who was stationed here during his time in the RAF. It was just after the war, when the Berlin air lift was in full swing. He was a mechanic working on the aircraft here.
When I saw on the map how close my route would take me, I had to stop off. Lübeck is a historic town with some of the buildings dating back to the 1600s. On a sunny day it’s lovely, with just the right amount of tourist support.
By that I mean that the city functions in its own right without tourists, it’s not packed with loud Americans or Chinese tour buses. However, you can get English menus, reasonably priced meals on the riverfront and all the usual trinkets to remember the place. I’d say they’ve got the balance perfect.
Last night I found a camp site just 4km from the old town, so no problems to walk in for dinner. It’s super cheap compared to where I’ve been, and as an added bonus I’ve got the place all to myself!!
I setup near a table and chairs and wondered off into the town. The buildings are fantastic, but they’re not lit up at night. I’ll try and get some daytime photos instead. Another strange thing is that there are no pubs here, only restaurants.
It was Friday night and I wanted an authentic German pub. Bad moustaches, leather trousers, 80s music etc.. Maybe they don’t exist any more? In the end I sat outside at a really busy restaurant. I waited 20 minutes for a beer, an hour for a pizza and then 15 for the bill. Good job I’m a patient man!
The hammock is performing well, another nights quality sleep and I’m really pleased I bought it. Camp Lübeck rocks!
Well the ferry is here and I’m about to board, so it’s goodbye Denmark! The weather has come good, I don’t know if it’s Denmark trying to keep me or Germany offering an early welcome. Either way it’s a nice change, thank you!