Speeding in Berlin
The drive to Berlin was meant to be a smooth 700km max 6 hour drive, however, after a few wrong turns, some coffees and a stroll away from the car in a lay-by to read a compass to indeed find out I was heading for France. I arrived very late with no host in 12 hours having covered just under 1000km. I’ve since learned I picked up a fine for speeding which was disappointingly a breach of an inner city 30km limit having just been on the autobahn which has no limit in places. A very kind hotel concierge helped me out in Berlin, I entered and opened with the line ‘I’m in a bit of a situation’ after checking I could speak with him in English of course. After solving the problems we spoke of his touring adventures - a humbling experience.
The chill-out in Berlin was great, my friend and I soon left for the sticks to work on an old property out there to get a few Euros in. Please don’t be alarmed with the video below (Baden Verboten – No Swimming), the water was good, just an example of privatised open water swimming; just around the corner was a fenced off pool. I swam off to do a reci as if I might discover a different species.
After the time off the bike, predictable restlessness was setting in and I rode for the city limit and headed south for Prague. I planned to join the River Albe at Dresden, south Germany and follow it to Prague as it wound though the hills. I’d been informed that the German countryside I would pass through was beautiful; and so it was. Such a refreshing change from rural northern France. Under an old windmill I took a long lunch/ sleep in some shade from the midday sun.
Similar laws existed in Germany as France and Switzerland regarding camping, I continued to evade discovery and enjoyed how simple it was all becoming especially with a clear weather window. On two occasions I camped in these forests with trees of long trunks and high foliage. One evening as the woods went dark; I just stood there thinking about it all for nearly an hour. Neutral thoughts of changing equivocal happenings floated by in a muse of apathy for nature. I was truly enjoying this adventure.
A few days passed, Dresden was close now. I met a fellow touring chap near a reservoir heading for Sweden. I loved learning about the adventures of other people. I lament that it’s quite frankly a revolving community in its own right. After solitude it’s such a boost to hear stories of ambition. Under a bridge upon the reservoir I took lunch and thought about the timing of my day; I was 2-3 hours from the city of Dresden, there would be no where to camp. Wing it and proceed or hold up before the city limit. Funny really, for most people they would plan the exact opposite. I suffer with a stroke of impatience combined with a potential host in Prague, killing time was not an option.
Well, I entered Dresden at 7pm, the gothic architecture was endearing enough to merit a brief walk round. A festival was taking place in the centre on the River Albe which added distraction, as I looked around worries of what to do at dark got pushed to the back of mind. I might of made it out in time but then got invited for a beer by a cheery couple who turned out to be a complimentary type of crazy for one another, the chap who’d been in the foreign legion and travelled since was fascinating, despite making everyone on the terrace uncomfortable, he had a unique tale. Regretfully, I departed and took a slow walk through the festival heading east up river.
One thing that makes wild camping a tricky business is trying to find a spot in the dark when the populous is close by. Two hours riding into the night, I eventually got into some forestry. I skipped off the cycleway and took a foot path into the black. After an intrepid search I was not getting lucky, at one point I came off the track into some woods and walked around with the bike, upon deciding it was inadequate I returned to the path; no path to be found. A few circles and I had done it, the thriller scene when you look around and everything looks the same. Not cool. The moon saved me in the end, I’d checked its direction before entering. I smashed through undergrowth heading for the moon and after some time, bingo, a path; very pleased with myself. After all I found an alcove of ferns with a few square metres that had my name all over it. Bon soir.
Up early that next morning I rode for the end of Germany. The River Albe was such a friendly place with more people touring than I’d seen on the whole trip. Gorgeous scenery with great cycle paths (mostly). I’d not yet shown my passport to cross a border and Czech was no exception, a colourful post on the river marked another country down.