„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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