Km on the clock: 990
Still tired - due to numerous mosquitos in my room - I went to Celle city center. First, I explored the historic part of that town. Afterwards I got breakfast at a café and listened to the music of a guy with his guitar at the next corner. The relaxed atmosphere got disturbed after some time. A guy came down the mall street. He wore headphones and pretended to be Germany's next superstar by singing German rap songs so loud that literally everyone in town could hear him. Although I am German it was really hard for me to understand his ‘singing’. Seriously, it was just gibberish but he was really feeling it. Not enough that he showed up once, he appeared another two times in a ten minutes routine. I guess he was walking the same lap over and over again to harass people with his 'talent'.
On my way out of Celle I stopped at a flower shop to ask if they would refill my water bottles. The four ladies working there didn't only refill my bottles, they even offered me a bottle of lemonade which I gratefully accepted. While chatting and sharing our traveling and camping experiences they even apologized that they didn't have any food that they could offer me. This was definitely nothing that they had to apologize for. I only hoped to get some water but even got a lemonade out of it which was very unexpected. Some people are just awesome. At some point I asked them for the nicest trails to take and if there were hills on them. One of the ladies answered: Hills? There are no hills here! and gave me some suggestions which way to take best. That is what I wanted to hear. So I took the suggested trails and ended up on some pretty muddy and bumpy trails. Some parts were that muddy that it was simply impossible to cycle through them. So I was forced to push my bike. This is literally the last thing you want to do when you are on a cycling trip. At least the area was flat as the lady from the flower shop said.
I stopped at a café in the city Soltau for ice cream and coffee. I texted my friend Torben from Hamburg that I would come through his town the next day and that we should meet. He called me back in just that moment when I hopped on my bike again to keep going. He asked me where I was in that right moment. At a gas station in the city center of Soltau I said. He answered: I know which gas station you mean. It's not far from my office. Wait there! I'm leaving my office right now and will be there in a few minutes. Literally just a few minutes later he and his girlfriend showed up. We decided to go to a restaurant in the city center to get dinner together. It was great to catch up and to reminisce about our mutual studies abroad in Ireland. After having a pizza and more ice cream I kept pedaling direction north. I checked in to a camp site for that night.
Once again it started to rain really bad right before I arrived Hamburg the next day. So my sexy plastic bag rain outfit was used again. I planned to crush the couch of an old military friend who lives in the northern part of Hamburg that night. Means, I had to go through entire Hamburg. I followed the signs for cycling paths to make my way to the northern end. Unfortunately they sometimes just ended somewhere in nowhere which made it difficult and also annoying to find to my friend’s house. Pedaling through the heavy rain didn't make the situation better at all. Also, there was one more thing that made the situation even worse. Some pedestrians didn't seem to care about me or any other cyclist. They had only eyes for their phones. Instead of watching out for cyclist when crossing the cycling lane they were only staring into their phones. Most of them were even yelling at me when I used the bell or shouted to warn them that I was coming. Very strange! I started to realize that cyclists apparently are at the end of the traffic hierarchy. It seems to be motorized vehicles first, then pedestrians, then probably everything else and then cyclists last.
I arrived wet but happy at my friend’s house and got exuberantly welcomed by his dog which couldn't stop to lick my legs. I had no idea that I was that delicious after sitting in the saddle for almost two weeks. Due to the shitty weather there was no reason to leave the house that night. So we stayed in, had a few beers and caught up and created ideas for our next trips and challenges. I didn't have a single drink on this trip and I also didn't drink for a while before I started it. So I was really feeling the beers when I went to bed late at night.
I left Hamburg the next afternoon and got to experience some of the worst cycling lanes that I have ever used in my life. Some of them were in really bad conditions. They were either broken through tree roots or more like cross bike tracks. This was something I didn't expect of Hamburg at all. Thus far I experienced this city always as a very cyclist friendly place. Cycling through Hamburg this day and the day before gave me another perspective on this place. It seems like that only the cycling lanes in city center and the popular areas of Hamburg are in good conditions but the more you leave those areas behind the worse it gets.
The first thought I had when I left Hamburg and entered my home state Schleswig-Holstein was: I am almost home. Only two more days. I think there is no greater motivation than knowing that you'll be home soon. At that point all the frustrations and thoughts about giving up were blown away. I pedaled through the country side and numerous villages and of course it started to rain again after some time. What else!? I thought: It is actually unbelievable how much it can rain during midsummer. Can you even call it summer? Are these the effects of climate change? I really have no answer to these questions. I negotiated a good price at a guest house in the city Bad Bramstedt where I stayed that night.
I met with my younger brother Thomas in the city Neumünster the next day. As soon as I arrived it started shivering again. So we spend some time in a café and got coffee and cake. Luckily it stopped raining after some time so I got back on my bike continued my way. Thomas escorted me for a few kilometers on his new bicycle but turned at some point to go home again. I thought: Tomorrow I'll also be home. Finally! The closer I got to Flensburg the more signs I saw saying: Flensburg XX kilometers. Every single sign made me feel really excited. The last night of this trip I stayed at a hostel in the city Schleswig which is only 40 kilometers away from my final destination - Flensburg. Now it would take only another 2-3 hours until I would be back at home.
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