Kit Crane from the UK cycled from London to New Zealand. During his stages through Germany he used the “warmshowers” platform which connects bicycle tourists with fellow cyclists offering free accommodation. Here he tells us about some of his experiences:
“When I finished uni in 2018, I needed a new challenge. So, why not cycle from London to New Zealand? Of course, I overestimated myself, and the year I’d planned for turned into 19 months in the end. But I made it! Germany was the fourth country out of a total of 25. I rode via Belgium and Luxembourg to the beautiful little town of Saarburg near Trier. After that, I rode alongside the Mosel, past innumerable vineyards and huge castles.
I soon realized that on a journey like this you need to actively do something tocombat loneliness. I was often alone with my thoughts for days on end. I camped a lot at the start of the journey. But after a couple of weeks, I sat there thinking: ‘OK, you haven’t spoken to anyone for days, so do something about it!’ The small talk, when you ask someone the way, doesn’t really count as a conversation.
So I decided to give it a go with “warmshowers”. At first the idea of staying overnight with strangers felt a bit weird. But my host from Mainz actually offered to cycle and meet me, because he really enjoys riding that route. The Rhine valley with the famous Loreley! He was a great guy, and he explained one particular thing to me that I’d been puzzling over: What on earth are all these men doing in the middle of the week, riding around on wooden horse-drawn carts loaded with crates of beer? He explained that it was a tradition on Father’s Day.
During this first encounter, I wanted to bring my own food along. But the general idea soon became clear: As in couch surfing, “warmshowers” is all about give and take. The hosts had already been guests themselves on long tours. My experiences with this form of overnight stays were absolutely positive.
The best thing about cycling is that it’s reasonably cheap. Normally you need to work for years in order to finance this kind of journey. I found a job for a few months after uni, and it turned out to be enough, because each day only cost me around five euros. And cycling is probably the most sustainable way to travel. Quite surprisingly, my bike has managed to survive to this day, including another tour through Scotland!”
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