One country after another closes their borders and very quickly it becomes apparent that I will not be cycling outside of Thailand for a while. The visa situation is also unclear and after weeks of considerations I finally decide that being stuck in Thailand for an uncertain amount of time is not desirable and I fly back to Germany in April.

3 months later

In July, Norway opens its borders to EU citizens. That’s my sign! Days later I find myself heading to Scandinavia. Yet without a clear-cut goal or route, but with an idea of a Scandinavia+Baltics round-trip, possibly leading me through Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland.

  • Will Covid19 stop me again?
    → Let’s hope not!
  • Will my 3 season gear hold up to the Nordic climates?
    → I do hope so!
  • Am I up for the task?
    → Almost definitely!

For the second time starting from my parents’ home in Trier. However now I cycle North instead of South.

Touring through Germany

Initially very happy to be back on the road, I quickly realize that touring as a German in Germany is neither the most exciting nor especially interesting, even less so in the West where I spent most of my life and even less so after just spending 18 months traveling 2 continents.

Anyhow I make some fun acquaintances such as a Turkish-Luxembourgian cyclist that I meet during my single day cycling in the Netherlands. Especially interesting is my stay with a “rainbow family” who let me camp in their garden for 3 nights. At the time of my visit the family consists of a couple with kids and a woman, living in separate buildings on a 7000 sqm compound and sharing a kitchen and “living hall” in one of the buildings of what used to be a farm.

The food for the family is often provided by the “Tafel”, an organization which supplies those in need with outdated / overdue foods from the supermarkets. After surviving India, my stomach can handle that with ease...

What I have more trouble with handling is the amount of ticks that I’m attracting: within the first 10 days of cycling I'm counting no less than 7 bites (luckily all spotted within hours) and brush off easily more than 50 of the dangerously annoying insects from my legs and arms.

Luckily I have come prepared and the use of a special tick removal tool - that I had purchased just days before - doesn’t pose any challenge.

The tick situation does make finding a camping spot more challenging though: as soon as I walk through higher grass or among the forest, I can almost be certain to find several ticks on my legs, sometimes even within seconds.

At least while wearing sandals and shorts, I can spot them quickly enough, which is why I have opted against long pants +closed shoes: in my theory this would just offer the ticks a hiding place and potentially introduce them into my tent.

As I begin looking for “safer” campgrounds I come across the websites welcometomygarden.org and 1nitetent.com through which people offer trekkers or cyclists an outdoor space on their estate.

The offers aren’t as plentiful as warmshowers but at least the success rate of 100% (3/3 requests approved) is unparalleled for me. One time my request is even accepted 30 minutes before arrival and the owners even let their door open so I can use the bathroom at night (thanks, Karin + Bernd).

For bicycle touring definitely a good alternative to Warmshowers and Couchsurfing, even more so in times of a global pandemic.

Entering Denmark

I had grown a bit anxious about entering Denmark lately. Stories about people getting rejected at the border, the necessity to “provide a good reason” to enter and the need to make reservations for at least 6 nights were a bit off-putting. To be fair, I also met a couple of Dutch cyclists who said they weren’t checked on either entering or leaving Denmark.

Still, after taking a look at the map I decide to cross not at the “official border” but merely take on the backcountry roads that connect Germany with its Northern neighbor. The road is blocked, kind of, but after lifting my bike partially over the obstacle (my new Ortlieb Pro rear panniers are too fat!) Denmark is conquered - under the angry glare of a German local who warns me of the Danish police. Oh well.

Quick run to the ATM to get some local currency. Hello, Danish Krone!

The rest of the day and the following, much needed rest day is spent on my first official camp site in a while. For merely 20 DKK (3 EUR) this simple site is again geared to hikers or cyclists and offers among drinking water a simple shower, toilet, sink, fireplace incl. wood and 2 huts for people traveling without a tent. I’m in awe.

Later a family of Syrian Kurds arrive on site to have a BBQ. They live in Germany and are now visiting relatives in Denmark for a couple of days. Needless to say they invite me to join in, but I have to keep my Corona distance and enjoy some delicious pieces of lamb kebab at my own table.

The lively atmosphere and the mixed chatter in Kurdish and Arab language quickly catapults me back to my time in Turkey, where I spent around 6 months in 2018/2019. Good times!

Going on

In Denmark I will roughly follow the EV3 route. The signage isn’t too great and I often get confused. The landscape is not terribly exciting. After all, I’m not going to the coast but I’m merely following the “quickest” way North in order to not miss the Summer in Norway.

Danish camping

Denmark offers quite a few “simple campsites” also known as “shelterplads”, which sometimes offer nothing more than a fireplace and a sign “camping allowed”, but often enough also have drinking water, wooden shelters, trash bins or even a simple toilet on site.

Throughout my travel in Denmark I will almost exclusively rely on those free-to-use sites, who seem to be spread out over the whole country in both remote areas and near / amidst towns alike.

On the downside, food can get expensive in Scandinavia and Denmark offers a first glimpse of what’s to come. By my estimation, groceries are about 30% pricier than in Germany and I’m only eating out a single time -- at a Swedish “restaurant”.

Hirtshals

My last stop on mainland Europe will be in Hirtshals. From here I'll take the ferry to Larvik (44 EUR incl. bicycle). Only by chance I had learned of the free bunker museum its coast, which I promptly visited. However the site is huge and I wish I had brought more time than the 1 hour before my ferry is leaving. You can easily spend 2 hours or more walking around the bunkers which were built by the Germans during the occupation in WW2.