Friday, May 17, 2013

Wustermark - Germany

--Há uma versão em português logo abaixo--

Even though I've been dreaming about this trip for a long time, the preparation didn't match the enthusiasm. As a person who isn't that organised I left a lot of things to be done in the last weeks, days, and hours, and I paid a price for that.

The days that preceded my departure were very busy, full of tension, and with a mix of feelings: the sadness of saying goodbye to a lot of nice people who were part of my life in Holland for such a long time, the uncertainty of this kind of trip, and things that in the end didn't go as planned.

However on Wednesday, May the 8th, the big day had arrived and it was time to forget the troubles and just jump into my dream.

I woke up at 04:00 am, at 05:40 I boarded my train from Purmerend to Amsterdam. I got to Amsterdam at 06:15 and rode about 10 minutes from Central Station to Vondelpark. At Vondelpark I reset my odometer and officially began my trip, went back to Central Station, updated my Facebook and this blog, and 08:45 I was leaving Amsterdam.

The feeling was amazing, I was so happy and I couldn't believe that after so long it was really happening. Around Purmerend I realized that the landscape that had become so familiar, was now a special part of my trip. I yelled out, celebrating that moment, and a man who was walking his dog turned back to see what that act of craziness was. When I passed him on my bike I just said: "It's my first day!" The man then laughed.

The weather really helped. There was almost no sun, no rain at all, and the wind was on my back the whole time.

It was a smooth ride until Den Oever, the town where I stayed my first night (at a Bed and Breakfast). The only problems I had were a result of my own stupidity. The first one was that I was able to break my bike on the first day of the trip (Yes, on the first day!!!!) I was on a very quiet road without any cars, and started to check extra information on my GPS. Suddenly I felt the hard impact of hitting something. Something that was just in front of me (Yes, just in front of me!!!!!).

At first I though everything was OK, but later in Den Oever I realized that the area that joins the handlebars and the front wheel was damaged. And the second problem was I had forgotten the power cable for my laptop.

The next day was a Holiday in Holland so I wasn't able to find any bike shop that was open. I decided to cycle to Groningen anyway, where I would definitely be able to repair my bike or even find parts for the bike if it was necessary.

So I crossed the Afsluitdijk dike with the kind help of the wind. It was very different from last year when I was going to Harlingen and had to face a big storm during my crossing, not being able to cycle faster than 7km/h, crossing the dike, which in normal conditions you can do in 1 or 1.5 hours, took me 4 or 5 hours. But this time everything was fine.

Even with my bike being broken I was able to ride about 120 Km and camp near Groningen. The day after I solved all my problems: I got my bike repaired (they repaired it but charged me only a screw: €3) bought a new power cable to my computer and by 12:30 I was heading to Germany.

I crossed the border around 17:00, and before crossing my GPS ran out of battery so I didn't know exactly if I was still in Holland or already in Germany. I am sure that on the road  there is some sign indicating the border, but the bike path was separated from the cars by farms, so I couldn't see one and because it's a rural area it was difficult to know.

I knew that I was no longer in Holland when I started asking for directions and wasn't able to find anyone who spoke English, so I had to stop in a cafe, recharge my GPS and ride to Leer, where I slept my first night in Germany.

In Leer my host was Markus, a CouchSurfing member that welcomed me into his apartment for the night. By the way, I find the CouchSurfing project amazing and I'll be using it during my trip as much as I can. (If you don't know what CouchSurfing is click here)

The next day I rode from Leer to a village called Wüsting, part of Oldenburg, where I stayed with another new friend from couch surfing during the weekend. Then I rode to Rotenburg, where I slept a night in a huge vila belonging to some nice guys. I got to Uelzen without a place to sleep, the person who was going to be my host had to cancel, I was just to tired to camp but that was looking like the only option, was it not for the kind hearted people from a big Lutheran Church in downtown, who provided me a room for the night.

Today I'm sleeping in a village called Wustermark, at a very nice couple's apartment. I'm the first CouchSurfing guest to come by. They said they were surprised when I sent the request, because it's a small village and not very far from Berlin. The guy has lived in Brazil and still speaks some Portuguese. They have a wonderful TV, the biggest and best TV I've ever seen, yesterday we went to bed at 02:30, after a lot of talking and playing with the TV.

So far I can only say that I'm happy, excited, and looking forward to what is ahead.

Ok guys, this is it for now, take care and I see you soon..