Haret AlfasiThe Long Way To Italy | Autumn 2016

Day 4: Germany and the cutest old couple

Morning of the fourth day! Sluggishness was the best word I can think of to describe how I felt. I dragged myself to breakfast which I must say was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! The waitress didn’t speak a single word of English but explained that the buffet spread on the left side of the breakfast area was inclusive of the cost I had paid, while the finer more “exquisite” selects on the bar counter would cost me €5 extra. There was enough food and variety in the regular buffet to feed a continent, and happily, so I didn’t bother with the freshly sliced watermelons and re-stuffed boiled eggs.

I must give this to the Germans. They make the most amazing bread rolls ever! Gosh. Absolutely to die for! I had some scrambled eggs, butter, tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese and I basically made canapés with them. A dash of salt and pepper on the top and I was golden. I genuinely felt that it couldn’t get more royal than this. Taste buds partying like a Woodstock concert, every bite slid down like a slice of heaven. And did I mention the bread roll? Oh that bread roll! The crunch on the outside, the softness of the dough……I’m salivating just thinking about it. I want bread rolls…now :(

I hopped shortly thereafter back upstairs and knew that I needed to roll up my sleeves and get some work done, and that’s exactly what I did. I continued to do my freelance stuffs till checkout time waltzed in on me at 12 noon. Packing up super-quick, I skipped downstairs, handed back the key and took my bike out of the garage. I knew that I’d lost a ton of time and needed some catching up to do. At the same time, I was also keen not to super rush and just hit the motorway.

While pouring over the map, I received a call from a UK number. It was HSBC telling me that they’d noticed suspicious activity and had temporarily blocked my card. Whaaaaaat? You serious? How what when why where? They explained that a few suspicious purchases (there was nothing suspicious trust me…unless Airbnb is suspicious) had been attempted and so they ran a few checks and reactivated my card immediately. Phew! Back to the map, I decided on a route that would take me to Bremerhaven and then on to Bremervorde. The idea was to use the motorway part-way and then hop off to see something more scenic. A few taps into the navigator and on my way I went! Everything seemed to be going fine at first, but as the minutes ticked by, I started to feel that discomfort creep over my ears once again….and then slither down to my neck. I tried to shrug it off, and that worked for a while….but then it simply became unbearable. The earphones were pressing on the speakers and my plan wasn’t working :(. In that moment a little light shone. I remembered how when I would have my ear tests they would actually put this instrument on the bone behind my ears and I could still hear! So……I thought why not shift the speakers to that position? That way I can still listen to the prompts of the communicator when I start and stop recording etc. Awesome! I parked up on the hard shoulder and made the switch. I cranked up the volume of the SENA, plugged my earphones back on, put my helmet on and….YES! It actually worked! I could hear the prompts very well, hahaha. These are the problem solving moments that make you feel king, and boy was I feeling double kingly today after that awesome breakfast!

There really wasn’t anything eventful on the way to Bremervorde. The landscapes were agricultural and extremely flat. I enjoyed the odd straight run, letting the throttle go, but other than that I simply drifted to the music in the background and glided along. Upon reaching Bremervode however, the day took a different turn and I was left grinning from cheek to cheek.

I had stopped to get out the map and plan the next leg of the trip. I saw that there were a number of scenic routes highlighted so I had the idea of stringing as many of them as possible by riding to Lubeck first, and then to Ploon, Preets and Kiel. While doing this and chomping away on a Snickers bar, I was approached by an old couple. The man did all the talking and spoke in a very slow and articulated English. It was as though he sipping the perfect cup of tea every time he ushered out a sentence. He enquired about where I’d come from and mentioned that he saw the odd number plates. What followed was probably the most heart-warming conversation I have had in such a long time. We spoke about ourselves and our shared our stories; he told me that he was 82 and that his wife was 78 and how they’d been together for 54 years! Waaaaah! Fifty four years! They seemed so happy and still extremely smitten with each other! He spoke about their children (3 boys and a girl) and one how one of their boys had passed away at the tender age of 18 in a road accident, and how I should be extra careful. They asked me about my trip and why I am doing it alone. They asked if I had a girlfriend or a wife, and then asked WHY NOT? Hahaha. Apparently I was very handsome and that it was strange how I could not be committed! They then extended a gracious invitation to their home and gave me their address and email. They said that I had a room in their home and that they would love that we meet again in the future. I was genuinely on the verge of tears from how nice they were being. The best I could do in that moment was ask them if they liked chocolate (the answer was a quick YES!) and offer them the Twirls I had left, haha. They were overjoyed themselves and insisted that they wait till I rode off. This was too much! Seriously….too too much! As I got ready, the old gentleman came and asked me if I was doing this trip for business or pleasure. I told him pleasure and added that it was “because there are things I know that I can only do while I’m young, so I want to do them now”. He beamed with the smile of a million strong and hurriedly ran over to his wife to explain what I just said. I was in a daze at this point. Cuteness overload that was reaching the point of suffocation, hahaha. As I rode and waved them off, I knew that this was the highlight of my day, and a much needed boost to my overall morale during this trip. Sometimes you just need that little kick to lift your spirits back up, and I couldn’t have asked for a better kick than this.

To think that I had randomly picked this town in the morning…..who would’ve guessed that I would be crossing paths with this wonderful couple at that time? This is what amazes me the most….

Lunch was just that by the way….a Snickers and a Twirl xD.

Back on the road, I slipped on the A1 motorway towards Lubeck and from there I swung back out towards Ahrensbok, Plon and Preetz. The weather was simply stupendous, and the sprinkled lakes on either side of the road made for such pleasant scenery that I clearly recall screaming with glee inside my helmet. This was what this was all about. Wonderful people and stunning roads. This was it. THIS was it! This was also the moment when I realised that today was the first proper day where I wasn’t making stops in cities to get out and walk. This was my typical travelling day where only the necessary stops were being made. Other than that, it was pure riding and soaking in the landscapes around me.

On the way I made a sudden stop when I saw a view that caught my eye. Rolling green hills towards a stupendous sunset, and a group of no less than 6 or 7 horses beautifully silhouetted in the light. Photo time i told myself! As I proceeded towards them, one of the horses immediately came up to the fence. Super curious horsie! A few moments later, a second mare came over but the first one ended up biting her neck and pushing her away! Talk about a super curious bully horsie! I spent a few minutes with them, took the pictures and videos I needed and was back on my way.

The evening sun prepared herself quicker than I thought, and no sooner had I thought that I could push a little further except that she plonked herself in front of me and demanded that I start looking for a place to stay the night. I hadn’t even reached Kiel and my dreamy plans of getting to Flensburg were quickly being flushed down the loo. I parked up to find accommodation on booking.com but everything in the vicinity was literally booked out. Like…it wasn’t even an option. I decided to push on a little further and as much as I didn’t favour it, I felt like camping might be the only real option to go at this point. And…….I was in luck. Out of nowhere, camping signs started appearing everywhere to the point that I had the luxury of choosing xD. I ended up picking one at random and rode down to it. Upon entering, a short stocky old man came up to me so I asked him two things: Wifi and cost? He told me to go to the boathouse a 100 meters down towards the water and I’ll find someone there who can help me, so I did. There, I met a young man called Ole with a rasta-esque look who very generously helped me with all my enquiries. Turns out he worked at the canoe rental shop next to the boathouse and helped organise day events for the guests (Thanks Ole!). Soon after the boss came over; a very pretty lady with short cut hair sweeping across her forehead. Ole and I had been struggling at that moment to get the Wifi to work so she first explained that and got it out the way. Next she answered my queries about the cost and beaconed me to the office behind the counter to complete my registration details. She gave me the key fob to access the barrier and showers and told me that I could pay in the morning. With that I was on my way! I had a place to sleep, internet and sufficient battery in my laptop to hopefully complete the work needed from me by the end of the day.

My neighbours in the campsite were predominantly German. I was hoping to bump into some Italians and get some practise in but they were absolutely nowhere to be seen….or heard! I busied myself immediately with putting the tent up as it was getting darker and darker. I freshened up afterwards, prayed and cracked on with the work I needed to get done. To converse the battery life of the laptop, I dimmed the screen to the maximum setting, closed all unnecessary applications and changed the desktop background to black. I also made sure that any windows/applications with a white backdrop (like browsers) were resized to the minimum possible. The logic is that more battery power is used to illuminate white pixels than black. Full stop.

Work done and everything in place, I wrapped myself up in my sleeping bag as best as I could, zipped myself in to the maximum and simply….drifted off.

Another day gone, another day gone.