l cycled off my ferry at Ijmuiden in Holland into warm sunshine that felt like summer. Bart was waiting in shorts and t-shirt with a well stocked bicycle and trailer. We had an idyllic cycle across Holland in warm sunshine following its fabulous network of bike paths and cycling alongside canals and pavement cafes as we crossed Amsterdam. As we cycled on into the countryside, lingering winter geese honked in the fields and grebes performed their spring mating dance on the waterways. There is water everywhere in Holland.
A couple of days later we passed into Germany and continued in hot sunshine along its maze of bike paths that every now and then popped out at some gorgeous German town or village, like Verden with its cobbled streets, grand churches and pretty stone houses crosshatched with wooden beams. At least most of the time we followed the bike paths and only once did Bart's GPS take us into a field!
Although the first few days were hot, the early mornings were freezing cold and we were wrapped up in fleeces, hats and gloves until the day warmed and the mists cleared from the fields.
The rain came as we pushed as east and arrived at the River Elbe. When we crossed, the only two passengers on the small ferry on a wet afternoon, we crossed into the old East Germany. If you have a preconception of East Germany being grey and dull, then you are possibly right. It felt very different to West Germany. The towns and villages were shabby and poorly kept with lots of abandoned houses. The village parks were overgrown and unkept. But most of all there seemed to be a grey, deserted atmosphere at odds with the vibrant towns of West Germany.
We pushed further east, cycling roads that crossed freshly ploughed fields of rich, brown earth where groups of cranes huddled in the middle as if whispering a secret between themselves, before taking to the air, their huge wings like a pair of flying barn doors. One evening we camped in woods by a reed-fringed lake as rain drops pattered on the tent and the boom of a bittern echoed across the water.
I am writing from our last stop in Germany before we cross the border into Poland. But I must dash now as I need to decide what clothes to wear for the next few days of weather.
More pics on Flickr.
Daylight hours - 13 hrs, 16 mins
Distance cycled - 556 miles
Days - 8
Route - Ijmuiden, Holland to Meppen, Germany and across Germany via Verden, Munster, crossing the Elbe at Lenzen and onto Locknitz near the Polish border.