Monday, November 21, 2011

The last (so called) stage

Tuesday, 6th of October. This morning there was a silent knocking on my door, hardly noticeable. When I boot on my lended computer to look for the time it was actually 8:18 A.M. – so I really had tu hurry, because my train would depart at 9:07 A.M. from 10 kilometres afar Nennig. Fast packing, fast symbolic breakfast… I angled my brakes more wide, so the wheel didn't hit so bad. My ability to slowdown wasn't so good now, but still working. And I also swapped the package of the panniers, so it was less weight on the carrier's broken side. Both helped.

I went on hurrying when I was on my bike, and surely it was uphill for a long time – but the outlook when being on top and also the high-angle downhill was great, and at this time I became more confident to catch the time. When I passed the German border – second border this day after first passing from France to Luxembourg – it was stormy and I felt some raindrops, so welcome back home! – but it were actually just this few drops. Nevertheless it was a cloudy and windy day.

As the station in Nennig was a very small one, there wasn't any lift but even no other help for people on wheels. I was quite impressed of myself, that I was able to shoulder my packed bike without any difficulty.

When I bought my ticket at the vending machine I was wondering, why it costed more than the railway website had informed me before. And when having a look at the itinerary it was also another route with less change but it would keep me via Cologne. I was wondering but just thinking this could maybe caused of the fact that I mentioned my bike when I did the internet search, so probably the vending machine had made his decision on shorter connecting times (but somehow in both cases I would arrive nearly at the same time at my destination – as I said, I didn't really thought about it). I needed the help of a train conductor to see my mistake: I had bought a ticket to Dortmund instead of Darmstadt, where I wanted to visit some friends and meet Klaus on Friday to visit the birthday party of his cousin. In Trier – first connecting station for both goals, so till then I was never the less in the right train – I had to go to the counter. Fortunately I had 25 minutes transfer time (but according to the line in front of the counter, I also needed this time). Surprisingly the Deutsche Bahn cancelled my old ticket and gave me the right one without any extra charge, so in the end I got some money back.

It was curious to sit in a German train. The people around me appeared to be grouchy, crabby, mopish. It's strange how prejudices and generalisation are working. I suppose half of my impression was caused by the fact, that I wasn't able to see my home country's people from an open minded curious view. In fact it wasn't that bad.

I visited some friends in Darmstadt and stayed overnight. Nice guitar session, interesting talks. Exiting sense of self, the changed me in a familiar context. Next day I met Klaus and we visited the birthday party of his cousin together. Great meal and many lovely people and all of them so fascinated about what I did. On Sunday another of Klaus' cousins who also had joined the party took us home with his car.

Being back is weird. Nice but very different. Live is easier when the only thing you have to do is cycling. Summer is definitely gone now. Things have changed. But I still contend with the same things I did before I went on my tour. I'm still learning to become free.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A daytrip to Luxembourg city

Wednesday, 5th of October. I slept until 10 A.M. and some minutes after waking up Pierre knocked on my door. When having breakfast he suggested to spend the day in Luxembourg, we would take the car and later pick up Jordane, who is working in this town. When sitting in the car I felt strange, somehow like a bad headache, but before the pain comes. My neck muscles were totally hard, I felt completely tired all of sudden. Because of additional noise and light hypersensitivity it could have been a migraine, so I took some medicine against that. But it wasn't really better when we started walking, so I asked for a coffee break and this really helped. We just sat and relaxed for a while and I tried two different types of coffee drink and after that I felt definitely better, so much better, that it was also distinctly and visibly for Pierre, because he mentioned that I seemed to be much more alive and also had a smile in the face and some glance in the eyes.

Luxembourg is really nice, it has lots of green, and the historic part is exiting. To me it was great discovering, I found lots of curious sights – I took many photos. And it was also fun to talk with Pierre. He told a lot about history when showing interesting places. When talking about favourite films and music we had also some excursuses about European culture and music theory – mainly the movies were much more a way to talk about things that were meaningful to us, no topic for small talk. And it really felt good to discover that we had lots in common, so I was and still are very lucky to meet him and also Jordane. When being altogether we went on having good talk on a personal level. I loved the anecdote, when a female friend of Jordane, whom she told they now would have their first couchsurfer and that it would be a woman, asked her, if she wouldn't be frightened that this woman could steal her husband.

Later we made some music together. Although both said they're just learners, both know a lot about music and also have extremely good equipment. Jordane is doing drums and Pierre is playing the guitar, and when he started to play it was really impressive – thereafter I first felt to shy to start myself. While to me the guitar is a way to accompany my singing, Pierre is able to play amazing turns and melodies, and he knows several styles – his sleight of hand is on a level I can only dream about. Curiously Pierre himself was impressed of my strumming technique and had problems to copy or do ordinary accord sequences. That's strange to me, but maybe it shows that it's just a question of practice – I definitely want to work on my guitar play and extend my abilities. It would be great to go on with music exchange (and of course exchange at all!) and I'm highly motivated to go on with learning from the guitar book I already have.

To me meeting Pierre and Jordane was very special and the best last hosts one could wish – just the right thing for the end of my trip.

Not my day (but in the end it became much more better)

Tuesday, 4th of October. This wasn't my day. I felt nervous from the moment I woke up, I have had crazy, unpleasant dreams, I felt somehow confused. I only wanted to go on my bike as soon as possible, but somehow this didn't work. I couldn't find my map about this day's stage, so Ben printed some maps from the internet but we had a misunderstanding, so these maps were mostly useless for me. When starting to pack my bike I discovered my carrier now totally cark it – not only more than one assembly seam were free, also the main frame was broken at the position where the pannier used to hang up. We tried to make an improvisational repairing. But nevertheless now it was no longer static. Next I discovered I had lost some air in my back wheel. So what to do? Just use the air pump and see how long this would work or stay and search if there's a hole in the tube? I decided to push one's luck and it lasted for four kilometres until my wheel suddenly was flat. During reparation I found an old patch loosened. I decided to do it the easy way and just change the tube.

Going on with cycling I followed an asphalt track which leaded into a non asphaltic track through a forest. Hard ground but all of it bumps and potholes. Anything from comfortable cycling. I was really annoyed. Then the road became crazy – no straight forward, but lots of turns and windings in every direction. I had asked some people I met where this road would lead to and they named the village I was looking for, but they really should have told me that it wouldn't be a straight way. To me it felt like cycling in circles. Once I followed a branch path, because I could see the end of the forest, but at its end there was only a field, locked with a wire fence, non passable. So next thing I tried was following a dirt track parallel to the field with my bike – dirt track means sparsely grown forests one can tell tractors had driven along in earlier times. Of course I wasn't able to cycle. I stumped to the ground, overgrown with bramble springs, and tried not to get caught in these mantraps. Nevertheless my legs had lots of stitches and scratches after that. After getting over the second blown down tree and still no chance to leave the forest I gave up and went back, went on following the winding road wherever it would lead me to. When it came to an end after some more kilometres and I could also see the village from where I would knew my route, it became cold, windy and cloudy. I wouldn't had been surprised if some rain had come next, it would had fit to the day. Surprisingly the rain hold off.

Größere Kartenansicht
  • A) start
  • B) flat tyre
  • C) met people who said, the road would lead to Ville-en-Woëvre
  • D) followed branch path, then tried to follow a dirt track parallel to the field for maybe 500 metres, then returned
  • E) reached Ville-en-Woëvre to follow D 908 road – no more experiments!

It was 12 o'clock when I thought I would go on my bike, 1 o'clock when I finally had done the check up, decided to go on and had done the package (funny thing was that thereby I found my missing map), 2 o'clock when I had repaired my wheel, 3 o'clock when I was back on my route (and so far I had cycled maybe 15 kilometres). I had planed to arrive at today's hosts' home at 6 o'clock, and today's stage was also planed as a short and easy one with only 80 kilometres. I worried about this failing time schedule, I was looking forward to meet Pierre and Jordane since yesterday, they were looking forward to meet me, and now I would arrive probably very late so we wouldn't have much time together – stupid thing.

Also the problems with my bike became more serious. When I was back on the normal road I noticed a regularly bumming caused by my back wheel, with every rotation it gave me hitches – definitely no comfortable way to cycle and also much more cumbersome than it would have been with a ideal bike, but I would go on like this – with the decision on my mind, that this would be my last stage. After this I only would do the distance to the next train station in Germany. 4,000 kilometres in total would be definitely enough.

Still it wasn't easy to make a phone call. Close to 6 P.M. I found an ability in a bakery where I bought a piece of cheese cake (my first cheese cake since I left Germany!), as Pierre and Jordane expected me by this time – they had also pronounced some meal… But I could only reach the mailbox. It became night cycling and around 9 P.M. I finally arrived. It had been 95 kilometres.

Pierre was glad to see me, he had worried about me – my call hadn't arrived, later we assumed I must have had dialled a wrong number – he actually have had a look on my website, had found my phone number there and had called Klaus, who becalmed him, that I surely just would have some problems with the bike, but would soon or later arrive. I felt really moved about so much care. From the very first moment – already in they way they had answered my request – these people seemed to be so open and warm.

Most important thing to me this evening: For the second time in period I met people, who had decided not to define themselves about work. Pierre had quitted one and a half year ago when feeling constantly uncomfortable with the social relationships in his company. Nevertheless he's doing lots of things. He's an inspiring photographer – nothing one can live from, but a good thing to spend time with. It doesn't seem to be so impossible – even if society declared it to be unthinkable to have other plans and concepts for life then just go to work until getting retired. And it was good to hear that others also knew respectively had felt the social pressure, that one have to work – when visiting some relatives, Pierres mother took him by the side and whispered: “Don't tell you're not working – they wouldn't understand!” All these people, Pierre and Jordane as less as Ben, don't want to life on others and they all have to care about how to get some money for living, but there seams to be much more freedom to live different, as one would think.

It gave me such a good feeling to talk with Pierre and Jordane, I felt so good and welcome, so I suggested to stay for one more night, and both were glad about it. So in the end there was no loss caused by arriving so late.