Germany - France
June 2o24

Bernberg (Saale) - Blankenberg  14 June 2024
80 km / 50 ml

A short ride again today, which was just as well because I’ve come in to the Harz mountains, which aren’t exactly what I would call mountains, but they still provide enough elevation for some tiring cycling.  Especially when you are loaded with all your kit and caboodle.

The camping was fine.  I was in to my tent by 9 pm, even though it was still light, and slept pretty well for most of the night, interrupted by feeling chilly at one point, which I solved by putting on another layer, and the usual toilet trip during the night.  It comes with age. I woke ay 5:30 am, but there was no sign of any activity, so I stayed slumbering until 6:30 am, when there was still no sign of activity.  I would have though the Germans would have been up and at it at first light.  Apparently not.  I did all my domestic chores and by 8:00 am was heading in to Bernberg to look for some breakfast, which I found at a little bakery that also served coffee.  Very nice.  I sat and watched the locals coming in to buy their bread, rolls, cakes etc., evidently a daily routine.  They are very formal with each other, even though they probably see each other every day.  None of our usual “Hi, Mate”.  I especially dislike being called ‘Bud’.   I once got called ‘Bud’ by a check out clerk in Waitrose, so I asked him what had happened to ‘Sir’?  Did they not train them to address clients as Sir / Madam at John Lewis / Waitrose anymore ?  He looked at me as though I was from Mars.  Oh, and he was chewing gum as well.  Standards, standards !  Maybe National Service would not be such a bad idea after all.

The ride today was mostly on cycle paths, as usual in Germany, with a little headwind, and quite a few long climbs.  And then downhill to climb back up again.  I’m in Blankenburg, not a huge town, but it looks as though it caters for the holiday trade, walkers and hill climbers.  Lots of earnest looking walkers with Nordic poles. The hotel looks like it has had better times, but is fine and very clean.  I think it probably dates originally from the communist days, updated thereafter, but needs a further 21st century update. The restaurant only serves burgers.  Nice burgers, but I would have liked to have had some other choice.  It is at the top of a hill, which I had to climb.  I’ve settled my mind that at the end of a day’s cycling, the buggeration of life is such that it will rain in the last half hour when it hasn’t rained all day, or there will be a sharp climb to my lodging to finish the day.  I’m rarely wrong.  I offer it up.

The body and the bike are performing well, although I am very aware that 100 kms / 60 mls is an optimum distance for me when doing loaded touring these days.  I remember when I would happily have done 100 miles and thought nothing of it.  Well, 25 years ago, that is.  Anyhow, the slower pace is nice and it’s good just to go with the flow and enjoy the surroundings, rather than head down and just going for it.

Tonight Scotland is playing Germany in Munich in the Euros.  I’m not aware of too much excitement or enthusiasm about the place.  I did hear that some Germans are a bit dubious about their football team representing the real Germany, because there are too many brown and black people on the team.  I suspect it’s a metaphor for the very difficult conversations that are going on in Germany about immigration.  Although, I have to say, in this bit of eastern Germany there is not much evidence of racial, ethnic, cultural diversity.  They are pretty much all white, and all very German looking .  Sounds to me that they want to keep it that way.  I think the picture is very different over in the west side of Germany.  Immigration is a very difficult subject to talk about, isn’t it ?  As soon as you say anything, other than being laissez faire about it or effusively in favour, you run the risk of being called a racist. Any qualification makes you a racist.  So, people, and especially politicians, run scared of the issue.  I continue to be surprised as to why so many people want to come to the UK.   I mean, we’re not even nice to them and make life difficult for them.  What’s the draw ?  I’d happily emigrate if I could, and were younger.  Especially for better and more predictable weather.

Tomorrow, I will head further west.  No camping, because the site I enquired of is full for the weekend.  Next week I plan a couple of nights camping as I make progress further west.

Berlin-Lutherstadt  :   Lutherstadt - Bernberg. :   Bernberg - Blankenberg  :  Blankenberg - Einbeck  :  Einbeck - Kassel  : 

Kassel - Kirchheim  :  Kirchheim - Marburg  :  Kirchheim - Limberg/Diez  :  Limberg/Diez - Mainz  :  Mainz - Koblenz  :

Koblenz - Krov  :  Krov - Remich  :  Remich - Verdun  Verdun : Verdun - Reims  :  Reims - Amiens  :  Amiens - Arras

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