From the rain in the eaves
On Sunday, we drove back to Beijing from Hangzhou in six hours with the new express train, which runs at 305 km / h. So that we did not have any problems with our bike, we drove the day before we left specially to the airport to clarify everything. At the terminal we were assured that we could easily arrive there 3 hours before the flight with our bike. Back at the hotel, we buried our Lonely Planet China travel guide in a big ceremony and went to bed early as our flight started at 6:10 am the next day.
Punctually at 3:00 am we were at the airport. There the whole nightmare started. At the check-in nobody knew exactly what to do with the bike. First we had to pay $ 250 overweight and when the bike did not fit through the scanner, we were asked to wait. About an hour before departure, we were getting nervous and asked what was going on. No one informed us and all other passengers had already left their luggage. Only when I hit the table for the first time did the employees start to move.
We were brought to the arrival terminal where we should try again. After 20 minutes of searching, we were back in front of the same scanner as before. Now my mother and I got really angry. We knew that the plane would fly off without us. When we asked for a written statement so that we could demand our money back and find a new flight to take us to Berlin, the manager of the airline was called. He refused to sign anything and seemed completely incompetent. A little later, frustrated, we stood in front of the terminal and asked ourselves how we should leave China.
After a while we found out that at Terminal 3 the same day a plane would fly to Frankfurt. However, since this terminal was 20 kilometers away, we had to take a taxi (300 yuan = $ 50) to get there. At this terminal we were already much more competent advice. The airline first sent us to the duty manager, who took my bike and phoned the captain to make sure my bike came with me. The next problem came right afterwards. The flight cost $ 3,100 and was only affordable in yuan or dollar bills. So we had no choice but to exchange all our cash and clear my account. The bike then had to be packed and with much effort we brought the whole package through the scanner.
We were heavily relieved and frustrated at the same time as we were finally able to sit down for 9 hours. Punctually at 14:00 clock we could then get on our plane. At the departure, I vowed to visit China not so fast. All the trouble at the end has increased my attitude towards the communist system.
In my view, the Middle Kingdom is a huge and fascinating country, with an ancient, traditional culture. Unfortunately, under the guise of communism, many of these values are destroyed. For the people of this country, I hope that one day they too will be free to express their opinions and that human rights in general will be respected. The smog cloud over Beijing was also impressive to observe from the airplane window. Unbelievable how heavily polluted this city is! The 10 hour flight time we both spent without much sleep.
Already on arrival at the airport in Frankfurt came the first culture shock. Suddenly you can communicate with all the people and there are so many delicious things to eat. What also struck us immediately were the many overweight people. In relation to Asia, people in Germany seem a lot bulkier. Of course, our connecting flight to Berlin was an hour late and after landing, the conveyor belt at the baggage claim did not work anymore. My bike arrived unscathed, but without packaging. Chinese quality is just not the best!
Exactly at midnight, after 30 hours, we arrived at our hotel and soon fell to bed. The jet lag combined with the culture shock caused the next day for easy starting difficulties. We also had to take care of the airport debacle. Luckily, I set up a small emergency reserve account before leaving and was able to transfer this money via the Internet. Otherwise, my trip would probably have ended.
After a wonderful breakfast we went to Alexanderplatz, where we met Sandra and Stefanie. They had flown in the morning from Zurich to Berlin to visit me. First of course we had to exchange a little bit. After all, it's been 16 months since we saw each other for the last time. The next day, my mother and I visited the Jewish Museum. In none of the museums in Asia were things explained as detailed as here. After 2 hours my head was overcrowded and not able to take more information.
For dinner, Sandra and Stefanie took us to a delicious Indian restaurant. Rain, cold, the clean streets and much more. are already getting used to. Especially stupid you look, when suddenly no more honking and the cars brake, if you want to cross the street. Already the next day we had to say goodbye to Sandra and Stefanie again. Dankä many times you two and schöni trip!
Our urge to visit was slowly quenched after these 3 weeks. So my mother and I enjoyed the last hours together comfortably in the hotel before we had to say goodbye to each other at the airport. Many thanks Mom for the great time and see you soon! The next morning greeted me with a strong rain shower. Olaf, a friend of the clown school was also in Berlin and so we arranged to have lunch. It was great to chat with him about old times. Olaf flew to Thailand on the same day and I wanted to leave the city by bike before it got dark. So we said goodbye to each other pretty soon. Thanks Olaf and enjoy your vacation.
Thanks to a map and Olaf's description, the way out of Berlin was soon found. Past the Charlottenburg Palace, over a few canals and always follow the bike path. Unbelievable, what is in Germany! I have not seen such a bike-friendly country in a long time. I was close to tears.
The first two days were pretty cool from the weather and wet with a lot of headwind. For very flat. Shortly before Magdeburg I met two Liegevelofahrer from Austria, who are passionate Reiseradler.
Their aerodynamics were definitely better than mine and I had a hard time following them. So we said goodbye to each other after a short time. But by chance, our paths crossed again the next day as I drove through Magdeburg. Wildcamping is not very difficult here in Germany. You can always find a place somewhere.
After a short time I arrived in Lutherstadt Eisleben. The Lutherstadt Eisleben is known as the place of birth and death of Martin Luther. In honor of the city's greatest son, Eisleben has been known as "Lutherstadt" since 1946. The Luther memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1996.
Martin Luther was the theological author and teacher of the Reformation. As a theology professor belonging to the Augustinian monks, he carried out a reformatory turn in his faith and thought, according to which he oriented himself exclusively to Jesus Christ as the "incarnate Word of God". According to this standard, he wanted to overcome undesirable developments in the history of Christianity, which according to his judgment existed. He is thus considered a representative of a theology of preaching.
His emphasis on the grace of God, his sermons and writings - especially his Luther Bible - changed the dominated by the Roman Catholic Church society in the late Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times sustainable. They were used by some European principalities of the 16th century to push back the central powers of Pope and Emperor. Under her influence, contrary to Luther's intention, there was a division of the church, the formation of Protestant-Lutheran churches and other denominations of Protestantism. I first visited the birthplace and then the baptistery. Both buildings are beautifully renovated.
As I had the need for a shower after four days, I decided to spend the night at a reservoir at the campsite. It's crazy what you pay for here. 10 euros for a night in the square. In Southeast Asia I would have stayed the same price for two nights in a hostel. In the evening I met a father with his daughter from Copenhagen. They were very interested in my little cycle trip and invited me for breakfast the next morning.
Two days later I reached the Wera Valley. Thanks to the signposted bike paths, the orientation was child's play. In Hannelore Münden the Wera flows into the Weser north. Exactly my direction, then. Passing sheep pastures, it was always along the river with some downpours. Just before noon, I enjoyed each of the huge selection of food in the supermarkets. After 16 months in Asia, I have to pinch myself from time to time to realize that this is the reality.
On Saturday I crossed the Deister, branched off at Barsinghausen left and was around noon in Bantorf.
There was a huge reunion with Silke, Steffen, Heike and the whole crew. When I was here for the last time shortly before my departure, in March 2011, everything looked very different. In the meantime, Silke and Steffen got married, completely rebuilt the old sheepfold and conjured up a café. I was speechless. The construction has become really beautiful.
In addition, half a zoo moved here. Otto, the dog. Two geese, two peacocks, four pygmy goats, five chickens, two running ducks and of course the many horses.
Farm holidays are of course very healthy. That's how I got involved in the work the very next day. Cut trees and shrubs, clean the gutter, dig in the garden, pound in piles, etc. It never gets boring here on the Weberhof. Heike and her family invited me in the evening to the Small Festival in the Great Garden in the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hannover. We were very lucky with the weather and could enjoy the many spectacles that took place on and off the stage in beautiful sunshine.
For a week I was able to help actively on the farm. Now it is time to get back in the saddle, first to drive back to the Weser and then cycle via Bremerhaven along the coast to the Netherlands. Many thanks Silke, Steffen, Heike and the whole crew for the great week with you and see you next time. I'm always looking forward to news firstname.lastname@example.org. Until then, I just say, "Moin Moin and ship Ahoy!"