(We will add more photos and hopefully a couple of videos in next couple of days – unfortunately our internet connection is poor here)
The weather is said to be a British obsession and it could also be said to be a biker’ s obsession. It can make or break the day. Between the cold and the rain we have pretty much given up on camping so far this trip, staying in hyttes (small wooden camping huts) for the most part in rural Norway with a couple of hotels and hostels in towns which has given us the opportunity to dry everything out and catch up on laundry, etc. We have welcomed any dry, sunny days which have shown us Norway in all its majestic glory and scenery is something it has in abundance. No photos we take could ever really do it justice and as with South America it has the effect of making a person feel very small within the landscape. It certainly has the WOW factor.
We had been pre-warned that it was an expensive country to visit and this is undeniably true. Fuel is about a third more expensive and food, especially fresh food, can be very expensive. A nice loaf of bread will set you back about £3.75 (a tin of Heinz Baked Beans also £3.75). So buy it and savour every mouthful. Eating out is very pricey but we have gotten around that by cooking for ourselves most of the time and having picnic lunches when the weather allows. When you travel for a longer period it is a bit of a juggling act but can be done, so thank you to Norway for a memorable travel experience.
Leaving Bergen in a south easterly direction for our last 2 days of riding in Norway, we again set off in torrential rain. This continued for the next 5 days (thought it was supposed to be summer in europe)!!! By the third day we had arrived back at our usual campsite outside Hamburg where they welcomed us back with open arms (4th visit, we are now family). The first night we stayed in their wooden camping pod but they were fully booked thereafter so they opened up a caravan for us which was great as it had a large static awning so Bertie was parked in the dry. Bertie needed a service and new tyres by now, so Jim had booked him into the same bmw garage where he had had the ring antennae replaced on our way up just over 4 weeks earlier. Bertie has started every time since so we think he must really be a fickle female. At this point we have been soaking wet for 4 days.
Time to have a discussion. Continue across Germany to Poland and still try to get to Romania or turn west and head home. Our campsite host told us it was cruise day in Hamburg the next day with a simultaneous sail out of port of 5 cruise ships plus tall ships and anyone else who could get in on the act, together with fireworks; happens once every 1 or 2 years apparently. Also I really wanted to see the miniature wonderland which is a massive model world. Well we were there already, so another day in Hamburg was booked; the rain had to stop sometime. All I will say here is if you go to Hamburg go to Minatur Wunderland. It is not something that can be described in a few words. Even Jim thought it was amazing. The discussion continued. Weather reports checked. Rain stopped? For how long? Let’s carry on to Berlin and reassess there.
Berlin is quite special to both of us. For me, having lived here for 2 years between 1983 and 1985 when the Berlin wall was a daily feature in the lives of the people of Berlin, and Jim who last visited in 1989 not long before the wall came down (& ran in the Berlin 25km road race wearing a pair of plastic breasts – don’t ask!). We were both intrigued to see how it had changed.
To get the most out of our time we booked a walking tour entitled The Cold War tour. Our guide Pip, from the Wirral & a history graduate from Edinburgh Uni, was only a year old when the wall came down but she was fascinated by the whole era and was as interested in our recollections of Berlin in the 80’s as we were to see how things had changed.
There is no distinction now between what was the east and what was west other than the sections of preserved wall, and railway stations where you can read about the ghost stations. There are many small museums where you can absorb information from the Stazi museum to a small museum tucked away in a side street (that is full of street art).
This unassuming little museum is dedicated to Otto Weidt, a brush and broom maker and it’s within the rooms of his workshop. Otto employed blind and deaf Jews and tells of how he protected and hid his workers and what happened. A very humane and mostly very sad story.
Everything else has just been enveloped within the one vibrant city and it has been a joy to be here again. But tomorrow we move on and the decision has been made to head into Poland.
Let’s see how we get on ……