Our first day off was to be for my 28th birthday and it was such luck that we were in Bremen with friends.
We began with a visit to the sweet shop and a wander around the older part of Bremen. The day only got better with a German sausage for lunch (oi oi) and a relaxing late afternoon chilling back at the flat.
We had anticipated the next day to Hamburg to be an easy one, but as we had learnt so far, easy days turn out to be the extra difficult ones! Side winds can often be as hard as head winds simply because you're constantly fighting to keep your front wheel straight and not get blown into traffic or off into the verge. The terrain itself was simple; just a few mild undulations. We had welcomed the hills into Bremen two days before but now they felt ridiculously difficult for reasons we couldn't explain. We got to a small town on the outskirts of Hamburg and decided to take the advice of our friends' and avoid cycling directly into Hamburg because it's a city built for cars and navigation is difficult. However, we learnt that public transport can be no better! There was a rail replacement bus service (a term British readers will be most familiar with) and by this point I really needed the toilet but we had to cycle another 6 miles to the next train station to get on *another* train to get to our destination. Once we got there, there was no lift and I had somehow lost my train ticket.
Maybe we hit this point in Hamburg at the wrong time, maybe it was just the wrong day, or maybe it was the bystander effect. But I was sat in a station in Hamburg almost in tears and we both looked lost because we didn't know whether we could take our bikes to the platform, what to do about tickets, where to go and who to ask, and no one offered any help for about 20 minutes. We just didn't know what to do. Finally, the security guard who had stood near us, staring at us, offered to help put our bikes on the escalator down to the platform and help us on the train. That was allowed, although signs said otherwise.
Anyway, we got to Hamburg to stay with the lovely Dennis, a friend of our friends from Bremen. He let us into his flat to cook and make ourselves at home and fall asleep whilst he, rightfully, continued to celebrate the Easter weekend at the local pub. I wished we had enough energy to join him!
We woke up 12 hours later and decided to take an unplanned day off in Hamburg. Unfortunately everything was closed for Good Friday but we had a little wander and then back to the apartment for a Game of Thrones marathon and a completely relaxing and rejuvenating evening.
Because of the palaver getting into Hamburg, we decided to get a train straight out of the city the next day. We got off of the (double decker) train in Bad Oldesloe and cycled easily up to our next Warm Showers host in Grube. Dear Helge, what a wonderful stay we had with you! See this link for pictures of our escapades and where we stayed.
Our journey to Grube was not without amazing weather. Short, sharp, freezing episodes of hail would wash over the landscape with extremely strong winds. You could see them coming from miles away and they were so brief, sometimes we would just stop in a bus stop to let them pass. I'll never forget one passing storm which has such strong winds our 45KG bikes plus ourselves were blown uphill. We weren't pedalling for a long time, but just kept going uphill. The weather was weird, but fantastic, that day.