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From a Guru to Little India

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I want to go back to my mom!“ Such a sen­tence, one does not expect from a 28-year-old, prob­ably only in extreme situ­ation. For Stef­fen and me this happened on day one of our sus­tain­able world tour: thun­der­storm behind us and a moun­tain infront of us. Two hours of rid­ing in the low­est gear with roughly two ele­phants in our lug­gage. Exactly then, gasp­ing, beat, crawl­ing up the hill and stop­ping each 10 meters to gasp for breath, that line came up.
How­ever: after seem­ingly two more hours we had made it! We had reached the moun­tain top. Our first sun­set almost com­pletely com­pensated us for the enorm­ous effort.

Hot­headed at the European watershed

First day and a beau­ti­ful, hard-earned panorama

Shortly after­wards the world tour nearly was over: with 45km/h down the moun­tain my ele­phant bike starts to swing — OMG! In an abso­lute adren­aline kick I turn a little left and can thus avert the worst case scen­ario. As soon as we arrived in Tut­tlingen I diges­ted the severe shock with a deli­cious din­ner with my friend Leo, our first hostess!

Tooth­brush ses­sion with Leo

For­tu­nately noth­ing dan­ger­ous happened to us in the next days at the Ger­man Danube — although some people didn’t believe it… That is, because we stayed overnight with total strangers. Because that’s how we travel: Via the (online) plat­forms BeWel­come, Couch­surf­ing, SERVAS and warm­showers.

Once registered there, thou­sands of dearest people are wait­ing to wel­come you with warm showers, com­fy couches and inter­est­ing (travel) stor­ies. We’ve made some great acquaint­ances so far. From a salsa-dan­cing, pizza-burn­ing Fer­rari lov­er, to the food sav­ing and grow­ing eco-apart­ment to the hobby bee­keep­er look­ing at him­self in the mir­ror while sit­ting on the toi­let, to name some curi­os­it­ies. What they all have in com­mon: the great hos­pit­al­ity, excep­tion­al open-minded­ness and unbiased trust. We love you, our beloved hosts!

Two of them caught our fancy: GuruTom and IT-Ratul!

Tom and us on top of the Sommerberg.

Ashish, Ratul, Nahid, Mah­in and us at the second night in Passau.

The two have some par­al­lels, one could say Ratul could be the Indi­an coun­ter­part to Tom. Both are chat­ter­boxes with mono­logues as fas­cin­at­ing as Mount Everest for moun­tain­eers — highly emo­tion­al, inspir­ing and exhaust­ing on some stages. Besides, they’re both very anim­al-friendly, but in a very dif­fer­ent way: Tom loves his dog Mike and cat Bine. Ratul, on the oth­er hand, gives dust mites and snakes a home in corners and in the over­grown pool. There he lives in a crazy IT-house togeth­er with 2 oth­er Indi­ans and 2 Banglade­shi. Fun and enter­tain­ment were pre-programmed.

Besides, they both have inter­est­ing life stor­ies: Tom used to be an organ­ic bever­age retail­er in the indus­tri­al Ruhr area in West­ern Ger­many and is now a nutri­tion expert and sells Cel­lagon products so that every­one gets and stays healthy. Ratul oper­ated a food truck in India and dis­trib­uted the rest of the food in slums in Cal­cutta at 12 in the night. Now he stud­ies com­puter sci­ence and wants to open a res­taur­ant in 10 years where the needy get a free lunch so that every­one has enough to eat.

This brings us to the greatest pas­sion of both our newly won friends: Food. The two of them con­jure up unbe­liev­ably deli­cious food!

With Tom we also did a short hike through the nature reserve Braun­sel. The fol­low­ing pic­tures were taken there:

Char­ac­ter­ist­ics oft he Nature Reserve Braun­sel
Nature reserve since 1991
Size: 40.1 hec­tares
Brief descrip­tion: The Braun­sel is a karst spring that ori­gin­ates from 32 karst springs. It is a stream with a water volume of up to 1500l per second, which flows into the Danube after 920m at the Hochwart­felsen.
Spe­cies: King­fish­er, vari­ous migrat­ory birds, but­ter­flies, wild bees, insects
Plant spe­cies: At the 30m high Hochwart­felsen, spe­cies of steppe heath such as the com­mon pasque­flower, Ger­man gar­lic and Carthu­s­i­an pink occur; typ­ic­al veget­a­tion of allu­vi­al forests, canyon forests and steppe heath forests.

There are also many oth­er nature reserves along the Danube. A little off the beaten track, on the second day of our world tour, we made a detour to the largest peat bog in Baden-Württem­berg — Lake Fed­er­see. If you are an orni­tho­lo­gist you should def­in­itely go here. Here’s a little appetizer.

Romantic feel­ings at and for the Federsee

Dur­ing our jour­ney we had some anim­al encoun­ters — most of the time we had stowaways on board. Locusts, ants, beetles, flies and and and… All too lazy to crawl.…. unbe­liev­able! But our hero of the day was the Great Capri­corn Beetle, a beetle threatened with extinc­tion in Ger­many, which has made itself com­fort­able on our lunch bag. Must’ve been hungry, too… It is one of the largest beetles in Cent­ral Europe with a length of up to 5.3cm (plus their anten­nae with up to 10cm). We were really lucky to meet him, because adult beetles only leave the at best over 80 year old com­mon oak for 40 days dur­ing their lives.

Our side show: The Great Capri­corn Bettle ali­as Cerambyx cerdo

Now let’s switch from the anim­al world to the food top­ic (you could eat insects, too, but please not Cerambyx cerdo).

On our longest day so far — day 2 of our jour­ney with 110 km and 1000 m alti­tude dif­fer­ence — we were also the most suc­cess­ful in our search for food. Just as we were about to start the com­plic­ated lunch­time ritu­al, a woman from a nearby youth hostel came just in time: she had three bowls of Greek and pasta salad, eggs and baguette left over from the kayak­ing guests’ meals. We had enough food for three meals. We also found some­thing on oth­er days.

Our bel­lies have saved salads from death

Ripe cherry trees — a real bless­ing. Funny, why they’re still over­loaded with cherries!

In the eco-group there was a lot of dump­ster-dived and res­cued food – and we ate jun­e­ber­ries dir­ectly from the tree.

The sting­ing nettle has enriched a few of our meals. Washed in water it does not sting anymore.

On our way along the Danube we noticed many inter­est­ing things. First of all, the dif­fer­ent road and cyc­ling con­di­tions: on per­fect tar, green, pink and yel­low humans passed by. The elec­tric motors ran hot on steep hills and on the gravel tracks on the Danube dike every­body had a good shake. In Bav­aria we noticed the crosses on every corner. Between Recht­en­stein and Ulm there was a small hill with a 20% slope. As a reward for the tour de force to push the 20 — 80kg heavy bikes up there, the Detthausen­er people built a rest area with a well and a guest­book. Angry for­eign­ers are able to get rid of their anger about this cheeky climb… or write down a big thank you for the well. Ten books have been filled by com­ments already.

Also in our last stop in Pas­sau there was anoth­er 20% slope — only this time Ratul and his room­mate Ashish pushed our bikes uphill. Such an unbe­liev­able hos­pit­al­ity — even the people of Detthausen could take a leaf out of their book!

So these were our impres­sions from the sec­tion “Ger­man Danube”, which became thick­er and thick­er with each kilo­met­er. It would have been great to get to know Ger­many even bet­ter, but the health insur­ance costs kept us away from explor­ing our home coun­try. Sorry and shame on you, Ger­many! But we’ll be back soon — in about two years.

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