Wahey! My first blog post from the road! The last ten days have consisted mainly of me trundling along, muttering to myself about the weather and where to stick my tent for the night. Although I was calm about the whole trip building up to my departure date, as soon as I got on the ferry it was like a switch had been flicked and all of the nerves I should have been feeling for the last few weeks kicked in at once. Coupled with the depressing weather of Europe in winter, the first couple of days proved quite tough as i slowly came to terms with how long I'll be spending away from my friends, family and my comfortable way of life. As I had expected though, getting into the rhythm of cycling and camping each day took my mind off things and I'm beginning to enjoy the ride.
Cycling in the Netherlands and Germany is made easy by their comprehensive networks of cycle routes and the relatively flat terrain. Camping at this time of year, however, is pretty grim. There's a lot of mud and it's not warm. I'm pleased I brought my bivvy bag along though, three nights in a row, confronted with terrible ground for a tent, I've stumbled on roofed structures of various descriptions, including a castle. Yep. A hill-top fort, uninhabited and just begging to be slept in. Unroll my mat, chuck the bivvy bag over my sleeping bag, get in, sleep. Job done.
The best thing about roughing it in my sleeping bag, is that I'm saving a significant amount on accommodation. Even hostels in this part of the world are not cheap and I'm operating on a tight budget. I haven't had to camp EVERY night though, due to the kindness of people I know (Or NOW know).
I met a great bloke in Cologne, Daniel, who'd found me through Twitter. A perfect host, he gave me a bed for the night and a tour of the city, as well as preparing me restaurant-standard food for every meal; Cheers mate! I've since made it as far as Kusel, where I'm spending a few days at a friend's to rest (As well as wash my clothes!), then it's onwards, continuing south-east until I cross my next border, into Austria and the alps, to which I'm not looking forward... I don't like hills.