Die deutsche Gemütlichkeit

Frozen Altmuhlsee near Gunzenhausen in Bayern

Despite the cold winter conditions during the last week, I have been surprised by the friendly people I encountered in Germany. One illustration is the multitude of generous warmshowers hosts that have invited me into their homes over the last two weeks. Another is when random strangers stop and ask if I need any directions or help (perhaps they sympathize with the lone fahrradtourer in winter). Or when I lost my newly-bought sleeping bag liner near Frankfurt airport, only to find that some kind person had found it and hung it on a tree in the hope that the owner (me) might retrieve it. The story with Vicky and the thermos, I already posted on Instagram (see below). I try to repay the kindness of my hosts by sharing food and mind and being a respectful guest, but their generosity continues to overwhelm me. When I am back home, I hope to extend their kindness to any cyclists that come my way.

Another interesting experience has been the diversity in hosts. Some were students living in dormitories or WGs (shared housing), others young couples and families. But there have also been older or retired couples and hosts living by themselves. While we all share a passion for bicycle travel, the differences in age and paths of life have led to interesting evenings and many different viewpoints on (German) culture. It also shows that bicycle touring is an activity for all ages. Traveling by myself, I have often looked forward to meeting new hosts as it keeps solitude at bay. It’s also made me realize that meeting different, new people can be more rewarding than visiting building X in location Y. In that sense, I look forward to encountering lots of people along my journey. It’ll be interesting to experience differences in culture, social norms and ways of thinking. My assumption is that most of us are in essence quite similar in our aspirations and dreams. I hope I can keep an open mind in places that appear less benign than Southern Germany and that the inevitable language barrier will prove pregnable!

After a rest day, I continue cycling on the 28th towards Regensburg where I will hit the Donau. Next I continue to Passau and I will leave Germany. In Austria I will make a small detour for a special visit, but more on that later ;). Many thanks to those on the road that have helped me so far! I extend a warm thank you to: Bela, Sam, Cristina, Sabina, Helga, Dieter, Susanne, Yohann, Ulrike, Victoria,  Tobias, Heinz and Lydia.  Let me finish this post with my favorite picture of the last two weeks: the late afternoon sun setting over the river Main near the city of Mainz. I particularly like the warm colors and the reflections in the water:

Auf wiedersehn!

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