Berlin to Groningen (NL)

May 31st, 2012 by DC

I’ve been offline for a week riding through the flat landscape from Hanover to Groningen. (As those of you who follow the FB page will know I’ve been making up for lost time with lots of posts!) It was almost 600km in 5.5 days of great weather. Here are the details!

So on day one I rode to the Berlin train station early, and waited for the train. When it did arrive, of course my carriage was at the other end of the platform to where it should’ve been, so I had to dash through the crowds. I eventually made it on, with Indie, just in time. I’d managed to arrange my gear so that I had just my 4 panniers on the bike, with the rack pack (the big bag that goes across the rack and rear panniers) on my back. This meant I could get everything onto the train and on and off the bike easily and quickly – the rack pack slows everything down. Indie was hung up by the front wheel and I settled in for the 2 hour train ride to Hanover.

Outside the station.
Indie outside the train station

Berlin has all these painted bears around the place- here’s the only photo I got of one with Indie inside the station.
Indie with a Berlin Bear at the train station

Indie on the train.
Indie on the train

I didn’t arrive in Hanover till almost 3pm, but I decided to ride to a lake that I knew was west of Hanover and had some campgrounds beside it. It was an easy 56km ride along cycle paths. The main incident of note was when I was trying to take a shortcut along the side of a canal. I thought it was strange that the path degraded to gravel and then noticed that all the sunbathers weren’t wearing anything! We don’t get a lot of nude sunbathing in New Zealand (must be the Ozone hole), and so that combined with finding out that it wasn’t a shortcut and I had to turn around and ride back past them all again had me quite flustered!
I made it to a cheap campsite that I had all to myself beside the lake.

Canal (the nudists where behind me (I didn’t know they were there at this point)).
Crossing a canal

Canal and canal boat:
Riding beside a canal

Nice bit of forest to ride through.
Nice forest riding

The next day was pretty nondescript. I hit the Romantic Road cycleway that I had previously followed north from Fussen in Bavaria. Here it was just following the Weser River to the North Sea. I rode for 116km, almost to Bremen, and stayed in a largish campsite beside the river.

Small quiet roads make good and popular cycleways.
Group of older cyclists on the road

I stopped and watched a few boats go through a lock at one point- that was interesting.
Watching a canal lock in action

The next morning it was through Bremen and on down the river to reach the North Sea. It was very easy riding- almost never anywhere near traffic, and the only concern was keeping an eye out for some of the quite rough bumps in the road. These were made even worse because u often weren’t expecting them in the nice smooth asphalt.
This day was 110km, and I stayed in a huge campground beside the sea (actually between the dyke and the sea) at one of the little towns with little ports along this part of the coast (with the name of Fedderwardersiel).
The view for most of the day- canal, canal boats, wind turbines.
Riverboats and wind turbines- my view for the day

Lots of the buildings up here have thatched roofs.
A real thatched roof!

At one point I got to wait for a drawbridge.
Waiting for the drawbridge

Once I made it to the North Sea I could look across at the Bremerhaven port- pretty impressive number of cranes.
Sheep with the port of Bremenhaven in the distance

Right in front of the campground there were some kite-surfers doing some tricks and getting some air.
Getting some air

Here’s a view of some of the boats in the little harbour.

To get where I wanted to go the next day I had a choice- take a ferry, or ride around a boring estuary for 60km.. Obviously I took the ferry. It was a good decision. While waiting for it I met a German guy from Hamburg called Jorg, who gave me some good tips about the route ahead as he’d ridden here a lot before. I kept bumping into him for the next couple of days (although we didn’t ride together), and we had some good chats. Anyway, I ended up riding 83km to Neuharlingersiel, another town beside a little harbour. This town was quite different to Fedderwardensiel however. This place had a massive campground and seems to be the big stopping off point for ferries to the islands offshore. There were so many tourists there for their beach holiday- sitting in the sun, flying kites or learning to kite-surf..

Riding to the ferry
HDR of a creek

Here comes my ferry. It took about 50 cyclists across!
Here comes my ferry!

Cows on a dyke. They have big doors that they close if there’s risk from inundation.
Cows on a dyke

Setting up camp
Setting up camp beside Jorg's tent

That’s a lot of caravans!
Lots of caravans!

More boats in a harbour. I don’t know why they’re not fishing.
Why aren't they out fishing? Are they just here for the tourists?!

My next day was a 140km ride around the rest of the North Sea coast of Germany to the city of Emden, then up the river to the town of Leer. The riding around the coast was more of the same- little towns and seawalls. I was getting a bit sick of all the flat riding at this stage, so the weather played ball by giving me a slight headwind which was a nice challenge.

Small town that was full of tourists.
Cute little town I passed through

And interesting beacon that was surrounded by people (it was a public holiday).
Indie taking a break beside the beacon

Standard view for a lot of today. Flat flat flat.
Cycle path on the water-side of the dyke

You can tell they get a bit of wind here judging by their wind turbine investment!
Windy place!

By the time I got to Emden I’d ridden over 100km and was feeling in need of a beer and sausage. Luckily Germany’s the country for that and I found a restored windmill with a place selling bratwurst and beers beside it. I bought my Brat and beer and this rather jolly German guy starts talking to me. He used to be a sailor and spoke good English (although he kept confusing NZ and Australia). But his real passion was music- he told me stories about talking to Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. He bought me a couple of beers to keep me there to talk to and we later got a Chinese guy to sit with us for a bit. The Chinese guy worked at a restaurant in town, and spoke some English (although the German guy struggled to understand it)- he had a truckers hat with CHINA written on it.
The most interesting thing was I reckon the German guy looks quite similar to one of my previous workmates at LINZ- Kelvin. LINZ people tell me what you think! Must be the white chopper I reckon- Kelvin doesn’t show off any tattoos if he’s got them! :-D

My drinking friends in Emden.
Tatooed, music obsessed ex-sailor who bought me a couple of beers, and the Chinese guy with a great hat and works at a restaurant in town

The windmill with the seats outside.
The windmill that I stopped at

From Emden I rode on to a campground near Leer for the night- there were lots of other cyclists. Crazily the reception closed at 5pm which meant a cold water handbasin wash for me that night as the showers needed special coins!
The next morning I rode to the town of Weener (and bloody forgot to get a photo of the sign), and met 4 Canadian cyclists at the bakery who were touring around for 10 weeks. We chatted for a while, although we’re heading in the same direction so couldn’t get any real pearls of wisdom about what’s ahead. It was a flat 73km ride to Groningen in the Netherlands and disappointingly they don’t put the border signs on cycle paths so I didn’t get a photo of a sign saying I entered the country!

A little harbour on a river in the town of Weener.
The town of Weener!

An old canal in the Netherlands
Small bridge over a  creek

Another canal boat just outside Groningen
Canal boat

Canal in Groningen
Canal in Groningen

Street in Groningen
Cyclists trying to get home before the rain

So I’m here for another couple of nights, then I’m meeting my friend Hilary and riding down to Amsterdam over a couple of days. Then it’s on down through The Hague (unfortunately I miss any International Criminal Court hearings- they’re this week), and on to visit my friend Tina.. So lots to see over the next wee while- hopefully more interesting than flat countryside and sea-walls! :-D

Posted in Germany, Netherlands, Photos