Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Donau river and chis

Sorry havent been in touch, its been really difficult to get access to the internetin germany. The river danau as its known here is spectacular and the cycling paths are brilliant. Its been great to see Chris and share some stories with him  even though hes probably heard of them allready. he has a calming influence and so far there has been no trouble. There was this one night when chris fancied another beer even though he thinks the beer here is only fit for disinfectent, wed been walkink down a lane from a village and came accross a beer garden. we ventured in only to be told it was a private party. as we turned to leave  the german asked  our wish beer goood beer ok come in we were introduced to the private party and soon after a few beers and shots of some strange liquid we were shown around the shooting range !! then introduced to some men in leiderhousen thats not spelt right but i assure you it doesnt look right either, more beer and shots and photos exchange of numbers and some singing and cussing and we were all best friends. we returned to our camp site very giggly and sore heads the next morning. Chris is doing really  on the trip considering the temperature 30 36c no rain and  on average 70 miles a day and we will reach vienna 3 days earlier than he expected. Hope your all ok, seeing my daughter next week in vienna xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Germany did i mention the war

So i hit dresden (as the british do) with a bang at 6am and considering the city got one hell of a beating in '45 the city has done a fantastic job at restoring the old buildings to its former glory, atcthat time of morning the city was quiet, no tourists except for me . the road in had been a cycle path tarmacced by the river all the way in, great job. I left within an hour and continued with the wind behind me and i was travelling along at 22 mph. By lunchtime i looked at my speedo and i had clocked 127 miles by 4 pm 'id done 165 miles and i felt fine. I hit the town of eufart at 6 had some food and my speedo had clocked 194 miles. Then as i tried to set off again my body gave in, the wind changed into my face and even thoughthe road was flat it was like going up a mountain. I headed towards my destination of wanderslebean where i was going to meet and stay with a german family i'd met at my sisters in spring. I arived late evening stuggling to stay upright, i recived a great welcome with beer and great food my speedo clocked 214.7 miles. I sleep like a log.
The next morning my body feels suprisingly ok but at breakfast i eat like a pig and i realise ive been on the road for to long and so have my manners. Judith theperfect host thinks nothing of it and keeps supplying me with food and coffee. That evening i'm invited to a birthday party, where they sing happy birthday in english because in german they say sounds terible they show me it does. I demonstrate it in welsh they prefer english. im greeted by uncles aunts cousins, grandmothers and grandfathers with much affection. They are a lovely friendly people and after a few beers they ask me how do i like germany. I take a breath and say ' this is difficult for me to say and im not sure if i should say this as to the reaction ill get , but i wasn't sure if wanted to come to germany, before the czech republic i was in in poland and went to Auswicz'.  It goes quiet and they shake their heads and look sad, i continue, after leaving there i didnt want to come here because i hated germany, but i'm glad i have because i realise that it was the nazis that did this terrible thing, it's your past, but here you have greeted me with much friendship that i'm glad i've come. its awkward for a while and the fun has gone, we drink more beer some of them have been too and they said they wept. perhaps i shouldnt have said anything. this group of people have been so kind to me.

The next evening i'm invited to visit caro's brother i've never met him before, caro his sister i have and she has asked me to visit him. He arrives on his bike and we cycle off to his friends barbecue, i have a great time, such a welcome from his friends to a complete stranger. caro you were right your brother is a cool brother. The next morning i wake up with a hangover the beer was good the vodka too. I go to Stuttgart today to meet chris.  I'm going on the train, judiths boyfiend kail takes me to the station in his pick-up. he's even worked out the times for me.. Judith and kail see me on the station such lovely people youve been very kind, and judith's son henry 10 yrs old with a great smile. Louis the older son took me for a great walk into the country. great walk good luck louis have a good summer.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Mr L Gone

To Germany Via Dresden. There are some great cycling lanes in Germany along some beautiful rivers and it was by this river i saw a photo opertunity for mr L I perched him on the wall overlooking the river, stood back camera ready, wind blows mr L too over into the water nooooo I look over and hes floating down the river , its a 20ft drop and i run along the bank  and scramble down into the water and save him, i give him a shake hes wet through,a nd then we scramble up the bank to a group of onlookers bewildered at me soaking wet , i point to mr L and to the river, i get the crazy look. They turn and leave  I then do a Cast a way  moment of cursing Mr L  and then feel sorry for him  we make up and take photos together. Later on we come accross a field of sunflowers and then this shop full of gnomes etc a chance for a hidden mr l photo i put him in and took photo then this chineese man came out looking at me before i could retrieve him. i prtended to look around i must have looked suspicious  i think he thought i was going to steal something , very  quickly i managed to get him back while he sorted another customer out, phew try explaining thhe photo oppertunity to the chineese guy mind you how bizzare is his shop


Mr kellys words of wisdom are in my head fine city but beware of thieves and pickpockets!. The city is a fine city very rustic, bohemian  i like this city. I arrived at lunchtime and booked into the hostel and ventured into the city, headed over the old bridge where the artists are showing off their masterpieces to their audience. I saw the changing of the guard at the palace and an amazing wall named the john lennon wall down a back street, i dont know what the connection with lennon and prague is but the teenagers visiting knew of it and were adding their statements of love and wisdom
In the evening I walked into the old square and so amazing it was it had everything from all cultures. i wasx walking along when i was approached by a man. hello my friend you  like to see some pictures and at this point i can feel his hand going into my pocket i know hes after my wallet, which is in a deep pocket, hes showing me pictures of nude women, i wait till his hand is fully in, swing around and pull him to the floor his hand is stuck in my pöcket, i have pinned to the floor and hes shouting, next thing theres a crowd around and then the police, he is a known pick pocket and the police take him away, the police interview me in a transit style police van and im given a handshake. Im all pumped up and go and sit by the big statue in the square. Soon a tramp comes and sits next to me and offers me some of his beer, no thanks oh englishman, he talks i listen he is so drunk, i try not to engage and he starts to whistle I know the tune but cant place it, he prompts me to join in, i dort of hum along i cant whistle teeth gone, hes happy now, and blow me down this man comes up and gives him change, hes furious and goes after the man ranting at him, he returns and is annoyed he shows me his wallet theres money in there. I judged him wrong he continues to whistle I continue to hum we share his beer, oh prague

I have found Jesus

I have entered The Czech Republic and hills have greeted me with a welcoming heart. The Passport Control was non existent and as I crossed over the border i was greeted with so much glass i think its an international custom to throw your bottle out of your window as a celebration of leaving or entering a country, fair enough unless your trying to cycle through. so im going to get a puncture any minute now, but no nothing, the gods are smiling at me. I look at my tyres for glass front one good back one oh dear no glass problem but what i can see is the webbing in the tyre tred all gone, when did that happen!. Time for a new tyre that one has lasted from stockholm  to here. ok bike shop here we come.  I come of the main rd and head to a local town and within 10 miles manage to get a new tyre. for the equivellent of 5 pounds. things are still cheap here. New tyre on and off i go, its great comming into a new country very exciting  you just have no idea whats going to develop before you. So later in the day im sitting on a bench in alittle town eating lunch watching the world go by and looking at my map, when this couple come and sit next to me. The usual start Oh you english then my story,they listen with intrest and can speak english well.
Where are you going
To prague
and then you stop
no to germany and beyond
are you lost
I look at my map i think this road is good
The road  can be good and bad
oh ups and downs using hand signals as well to demonstrate
next thing he takes my hand and grips it tight and with his other hand on my head he repeats over and over jesu, jesu, jesu, i just go with it for a while, then they start to chant i dont know what but its ok, then water is on my head, then he lets go, stands up and leaves with this women. Thats it, what was that have i just been saved! I feel the same. I finish my lunch pack up and cycle on, to the next town and find this statue. welcome to the czech republic.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

My cycling friend in Pszczyna

Leaving Oswiecim with a heavy heart im pretty much shattered yesterday was mentally draining but nothing in comparrison to those who suffered in Auschwitz.
The next 30 miles or so were quiet and i entered a small town for lunch a pretty little town that i would have cycled past if i hadnt been hungry. I sat and eat my bread and cream cheese followed by a 50p enourmous cream cake and drank my tea watching the locals chatting away with hands in all directions while the girls in their little summer dresses teased the local boys.

As i was leaving the square fuelled up and ready to go this man pulled up to my side on his bike and spoke polish,sorry welsh, oh I speak english, and we talked. It turned out that he was off on a tour himself he was 50 and had decided to cycle to Croatia to meet up with his brother who was driving there. Looking at him he did not look like an athlete and i did wonder if he was up to it. He wanted to talk and with his cousin also on bike we went to a bar in the square where he bought me a cool beer. Time was ticking away and i was trying tohit he check border but something was telling me it was ok to wait. we carried on talking and he was looking for more information on touring. He was off to his sons house around the corner would i come for coffee and we talk more, hell why not, we went to his sons lovley appartment which i was warmly invited in met his son daughter in law and grandson philipp. Very kind people especially when you look from their eyes who the hell was I. After a while we had agreed that i would go with him on a little bike ride around his twn and to the bigest damn in poland that his father had worked on many years ago so the three of us cycled along in and around his town talking about our adventures ahead his cousin spoke no english and justkept smiling. we stopped at the impressive damn and headed off to have tea and cake paid by them they wouldnt let me pay, in a lovly little cafe he visits after his winter swi inyhe baths next door. we cycled on and he showed me more of his town a beautiful little garden he worked on when he wad a boy andthen onto his home. There i met his brother wife daughter son again father mother cousin and other members of his family he showed me his tent and cycle equipment and gave me food.  I told him that he must drink lots of water and food to keep his energy levels up and when i said goodbye to him and his family i think he felt happier to go on his journey, and  strange as it seemes he was good for me to i hadnt hit the border and there was no time leftin the day  but my day with this man and his smiling cousin had given me something to smile about and i thank him so much for that.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Oswiecim -Auschwitz-Birkenau

Oswiecm is a beautiful little town standing tall and proud over a beautiful river that slowly mianders past its castle and its 900 year old history. And then in 1940 the nazis came and took away its dignity and rights and Auschwitz  became its name. The town is doing its best to promote itself as the old town  of Oswiecm with a history pre 1940 and post 1945 but the hell of the 2 camps 2 miles away has a strangle hold so tight it will struggle to become a seperate identity.
The day before I was in kracow the old city of Poland and a city that has charm and beauty and also thousands of tourists like me taking pictures for the time when they return home to remind them of their travels of life when there stuck behind their 4 walls. Like all cities it needs to exist on tourism and it promotes its sights to the fullest. This is where it can ugly because there is a fine balance between being tactful advertising and downright crude. Kracow or the majority of its tourist operators sell its history so crudely its an insult to the city, the people and to poland.  'see Auschwitz the salt mines and a tour of the ghetos with fine food and beer all in one day 150 zl'
And then 70km away from  kracow im pitching my tent on a camp site  some 500yds from the 'death camps' ready for my visit the next morning. How stange and ugly to use camp twice in a sentence which has two very different outcomes.

There was a point in the morning where the tourist in me had  mixed feelings of going, but Poland and the world herritage site promote the Site very tactfully and with immense tact to the history that we all know.  I'm not going to talk about the visit itself i will let the pictures do that alot of the buildings were destroyed by the nazis fleeing to cover up their crimes so in some pics you will see ruins. The visit left me numb,cold and broken, i will also add that visitors from all over the world were there all showing total respect for the sites.