Day 353 – GERMANY and THE NETHERLANDS: From Viersen to Aezee

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 80.4km
Average speed / 平均速度: 12.4km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 6h 28m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 547.35km (plus 428.5km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km

It was a great sleep last night. Sleeping on hay is just as comfy as any mattress…

This morning was a morning of great anticipation for The Netherlands. The Netherlands will be the last country I travel through on the Eurasian continent on my way to England. This is it. This is the last country!

Church in Nettetal, Germany

I entered The Netherlands with little fanfare however. My visions of joyfully handing my passport over to the border control for my last stamp of the continent were not fulfilled. The only evidence of a border was a sign indicating that I was now in The Netherlands. Talk about boring.

Nonetheless, The Netherlands has a great feeling about it. Smooth cycle paths, ordered and neat villages, fine clipped front yards, lowlying swamps and flat, flat, flat roads.

Swamp near Griendstveen, The Netherlands

I did discover however that the rumour that The Netherlands is windy is indeed true. For most of the afternoon I battled a stiff westerly in my face. This would become a common thing as I travelled across the country.

The wind died down however in the evening, allowing me to make good progress through the countryside, meeting some of the natives.

Horse near Deurne, The Netherlands

The last few kilometers of the day was on one of the smoothest, hardest surfaces I have skated on to date. A runway-grade concrete cycle path projected me onwards to a nice thicket where I slept under a tree for the night, after a big six and a half hour day.

Smooth, smooth cycle path near Deurne, The Netherlands

Day 352 – GERMANY: From Koln to near Viersen

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 74.7km
Average speed / 平均速度: 13.4km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 5h 34m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 466.96km (plus 428.5km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km

Church entrance in Cologne, Germany

I jumped on the train back to Koln and was out of the city by about 8am. It took most of the morning to find my rhythym after the two days rest, but as the day went on I felt stronger.

By 2pm I had found myself rather lost in a massive area comprised mostly of open cast coal mines. The area is called Tagebau Garzweiler, and services the many powerstations in the area.

Tagebau Garzweiler open-cast coal mine near Gustorf, Germany

The nearby powerstaions were billowing steam high up into the sky, manmade clouds drifting off into the distant blue sky.

Coal power station near Neurath, Germany

Now, usually this is not an area that the general public are allowed into. However it wasn’t entirely clear that I wasn’t allowed to be on the road that led me to the open-cast mine. I thought that it would connect me with Grevenbroich, but the mine worker who discovered me skateboarding along the private road, after getting over the initial shock, filled me in on my situation. He thought it rather amusing that a New Zealander had found his way into the mine area, and gave me a lift back out to the main road.

In the end I made it to Viersen, where I found an old barn with nice soft hay to sleep on. A great night’s sleep.

Nice soft hay to sleep on near Viersen, Germany

Days 350 and 351 – GERMANY: From Godorf to Koln, and then a day at the airport

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 11.8km
Average speed / 平均速度: 12.5km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 56m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 392.29km (plus 428.5km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km

The small blister that had appeared on my left heel over the last few days was alive and kicking this morning. That coupled with the fact that my body decided to go into suspend mode for the day made for a very tough day. The 11km into the center of Koln was done on sheer will power. There would be no more skating today.

I waited outside the public library until 10am when it opened, went in, found a power outlet, plugged the battery charger in to charge some batteries, grabbed a book, and promptly dozed off to sleep slumped over a desk in the study area. I was done for the day.

In an attempt to at least look as though I wasn’t just free-loading, I did manage to spend some time reading the book I had grabbed. It was ‘Animal Farm‘ by George Orwell – a piece of social commentary literature that would have meant much more to me had I known a little bit more about Soviet totalitarianism (see the Wikipedia article about the book).

By the time came when all my batteries were charged, my head was still fuzzy with fatigue and a general feeling of non-well-being. I decided to try the famed ‘sleeping in airports‘ method of accommodation by heading to the Koln/Bonn International Airport, and spending a night and day there to recouperate from whatever was ailing me. I figured that the airport would have toilets, benches to sleep on, and would be preferrable to sleeping outside.

Just so I don’t have to re-type it all, here is my review of the airport:


I was feeling a little under the weather after skateboarding more than 200km over the past four days to get to Koln along the Rhine River. I usually find some hosts to stay with at cities, but couldn’t get a hold of any for my stay in Koln. So I decided to head to the airport to sleep for that night, the following day, and the night of the following day. It was my full intention just to recover by sleeping in the airport for two days.

The Koln/Bonn Airport Terminal 2 is new and modern with nice toilets. There is an area at the end of Terminal 2 (at the western end) behind the travel agency booths that is relatively quiet and doesn’t get much foot traffic. Only the occassional security guard or staff member.

Koln/Bonn Airport, Germany

These staff members were understanding of my need to sleep there (I did feel the need to make up a story of how I was waiting for a stand-by flight), and generally left me alone. A security guard asked to see my passport, and seeing that I was an extensive traveller, was more interested in hearing about my travels than knowing why I was there.

The announcements could get annoying if you don’t have earplugs. But with earplugs, I slept soundly in my sleeping bag on my Thermarest sleeping pad overnight, and on benches during the day.

I was able to cook pasta and other meals on my Redbull can stove outside near the taxi waiting area, and only got a few odd looks from the taxi drivers.

Airplane motifs at Koln/Bonn airport, Germany

By the way, even though it is risky, I managed to get to and from the Koln Central train station for free on the train (15 minutes). Tickets are not regularly checked, so makes for a nice free transfer to the airport (do so at your own risk – not having a ticket and being caught incurs a 40 Euro fine).

Advertising at the Koln train station, Germany


A generally fruitful two days of resting, and doing nothing in particular. Except sleeping in a fine airport…

Day 349 – GERMANY: From Koblenz to Godorf

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 50.3km (plus 28.5km not on GPS)
Average speed / 平均速度: 13.7km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 3h 40m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 379.87km (plus 428.5km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km

Last night I slept in a disused industrial estate just outside of Koblenz. It was dry enough, but the echoey concrete walls made sleep difficult. I got away from there at first light, enjoying the quiet cool of the early morning.

A gull rests near Koblenz, Germany

The cycle path from Koblenz to Bad Breisig is one of the better that I have been on so far in Germany. Following right beside the Rhine, it is smooth and scenic.

Morning shadows near Koblenz, Germany

Being on a skateboard really makes you appreciate the small diffrences in paving stones. In general, asphelt or concrete are the best surfaces to skate on. Paving stones on the whole give a much too regular clacking sound and accompanying vibrations. However, in Germany they have paving stones as featured in the photo above that fit tightly together and do not have the usual indents. They are the best kind of paving. So. Now you know.

In Bad Briesig I spent about two hours dozing on the grass outside of a public toilets in a park, waiting for my batteries to charge. The toilets had a power outlet that I plugged my charger into.

The rest of the day was straight forward along the Rhine, up until I got to Godorf, just before Koln. I stopped and found a secluded spot near the river to sleep for the night.

Looking towards the Koln industrial area from Godorf, Germany

Day 348 – GERMANY: From Lorch to Koplenz

No data for today – dead batteries on GPS

Sleep was not good last night. I had chosen a spot next to the railway that runs along the side of the Rhine River – not a good idea. Trains come in about half hour intervals. Heavy, noisy trains that shake the ground and your eardrums.

I stopped at a Lidl – a discount supermarket chain in Europe – and bought some heavy Rogenbrot bread for breakfast. I noticed this little fella hiding in a corner on a nearby wall in the open.

A bat rests near Lorchhausen, Germany

Currently I have two sets of rechargable batteries for my GPS unit. One set tends to last about one and a half days of skating. It looks as though I will have to get myself another couple of sets to last between recharges. I missed out on about 30km of data today because of the inability to find a spot to recharge the batteries.

Despite the lack of data however, my camera was still going strong. I tried to capture the immense size of the Rhine River at this point in its journey to the North Sea. Bridges are becoming more and more scarce as the breadth of the river increases.

Rhine river near Wiesbaden, Germany

At Koblenz the surrounding area becomes flat again, however from Mainz, most of the way the river cuts through low hills, most covered with vineyards.

The Rhine river near Lorch, Germany

Day 347 – GERMANY: From Mainz to near Lorch

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 55.8km
Average speed / 平均速度: 14.0km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 3h 59m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 299.00km (plus 400km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km
Ascent / 上り: +95m
Descent / 下り: -120m

The roads were tough going on the skateboard this morning. Cobblestones and unenven paved surfaces made getting into a rythym impossible, and I spent much time feeling sorry for myself, watching the river flow by…

Old town Mainz, Germany

It was slightly cooler today than previous days, however the fine white crystals on the straps of my pack reminded me of how hot it had been.

The white stuff is dry sweat (near Oestrich, Germany)

My spirits were picked up somewhat by a guy from Georgia, USA. He had been in the US army on a base in Germany for 15 years, and had chosen to stay on once his duty was over. In his thick southern accent he told me how much safer it was to live in Germany than back in the States. He hasn’t been back to his homeland in 11 years.

Day 346 – GERMANY: From Mannheim to Mainz

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 77.6km
Average speed / 平均速度: 14.1km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 5h 31m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 243.16km (plus 400km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km
Ascent / 上り: +420m
Descent / 下り: -355m

Remembering the heat of midday two days ago, I decided to head out early today. I left Mili’s place at 6am, skating through a quiet city. The early start made it tough to find a rythym, and by 8:30am when I arrived in Worms, I was ready for a break.

Crow interested in my longboard in Mannheim, Germany

In Worms, the Sunday flea market was already in full swing, so I had a wander about taking a look at things on offer. There were a bunch of Turks trying to sell fruit, clothes, sofas…their chattering in Turkish took me back to the interesting times I had in Turkey during winter.

Hot day and big views near Mainz, Germany

It was just as well that I made an early start. By noon, when I was having lunch in a small village called Guntersblum, it was 34 degrees Celcius in the shade. Quite possibly one of the hottest days I have experienced since South Korea last year.

From Guntersblum I decided to take a short cut over the low hills to Mainz. That was 1.5 hours of skating in a furnace. The hills were treeless – a dry hot wind blew over the golden wheat growing in the fields. It was my kind of scenery however – open and barren.

34 degrees Celcius in the shade - hot weather near Mainz, Germany

I arrived in Mainz and thankfully Sina had checked her email and accepted to host me for tonight in the city. Sina and her husband Dennis picked me up from the center of town and their cool apartment was a welcome escape from the heat. We enjoyed a BBQ and chatting about travelling the world – Sina and Dennis are planning their own long term working holiday around the world, scheduled to leave next year.

Day 344 – GERMANY: From Karlsruhe to Mannheim

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 72km
Average speed / 平均速度: 15.3km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 4h 42m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 165.54km (plus 400km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km
Ascent / 上り: +125m
Descent / 下り: -115m

A big thanks to Dennis from CouchSurfing for putting me up last night at his place. Thank you for the meal and good times.

'Dragon Steak' in Karlsruhe, Germany

From Karsruhe I headed in the general direction of Mannheim, not sure if I would be able to make contact with some CouchSurfing hosts that I had contacted at Dennis’s place. Due to the nature of my style of travel, it is hard to contact people too far in advance…

I was away from Karsruhe by 10am, and enjoyed good cycle paths and a tailwind through Linkenheim, Leidolsheim, Russheim, and Phillipsburg. It was very hot, but a welcome cool breeze kept me cool during breaks in the shade.

A jumping jack near Karlsruhe, Germany

By 4:30pm I had arrived in Hockenheim for a welcome break. Hot and sweaty, I spent half an hour sitting in a shadey bus stop on the main street watching luxury car after luxury car drive by. I still don’t know why, but Hockenheim seems to have comparitively more flash cars than anywhere else I have seen in Germany.

Boy racers (the upper strata version) in Hockenheim, Germany

I stopped by an internet cafe and checked my email. To my delight one of the CouchSurfing hosts I had emailed had replied – Mili, a university student from Peru. I gave her a call and organised to meet her in Mannheim. What’s more, the Turkish owner of the internet cafe/call shop didn’t charge me for the 15 minutes I was in there.

By about 6pm I was in Mannheim, enjoying the great industrial squallor that is this wonderful stinky city. As you enter the city from the south, you pass through great areas of factories, some of which are producing deodorants and other domestic cleaning products. The mix of scents and grey factories makes for a welcome change to the old architecture of the rest of Europe.

Sun setting over Mannheim, Switzerland

Day 343 – GERMANY: From Winden to Karlsruhe

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 39.7km
Average speed / 平均速度: 15.0km/h
Time on skateboard / 走行時間: 2h 39m
Total skateboarding distance to date / 今までスケボで走った距離: 93.52km (plus 400km)
Total cycling distance to date / 今まで自転車で走った距離: 11,800km
Ascent / 上り: +130m
Descent / 下り: -130m

Thank you to the Wallers once again for their kind hospitality last night. The Wallers are part of the YFU network here in Germany. They have travelled extensively around the world, and entertained me with stories from Tibet, Tansania, Turkey, and other exotic places.

After updating the website and uploading photos, I got away at about 9:40am. By the time I had arrived in the small town of Haueneberstein after almost 6km at 10:30am, there was a strong tailwind helping me along. This tailwind stayed with me all day, and gave me some extra confidence as I skated on the main road due to the absence of a cycle path.

Between the small towns of Haueneberstein and Kuppenheim, the usually impeccable cycle path was non-existant, but cars gave me a wide berth, no doubt startled by my bright fluorescent vest attached to my pack.

After 13km at 11am, I had a snack break of 15minutes. Even though it wasn’t particularly cold, I had to find shelter out of the wind behind a large cherry tree to keep warm. At this stage my average speed was a rather nice 15.2km/h.

The town of Malsch was perhaps one of the most drab I have seen so far in Germany. I rolled through there just before noon, and admired the symetry of same-shaped houses.

German town (Malsch, Germany)

The town was all but deserted, with only the more daring locals braving the dark cloudy weather to venture outside.

After 25km, at noon, it was high time for a lunch break. Just a few minutes before stopping I had been tooted at by a highway maintenance van for skating on the road when there was a cycle path next to the road. The cycle path was in such bad condition however, that it was impractable to skate on it.

Since I only had a few more kms to go until Karlsruhe, I took a long lunch break. Three hours long. I slept for most of it. By lunch time my average speed had increased to 15.9km/h. Tailwinds are my friend.

Karlsruhe is a funny place. At 4 o’clock I arrived, and didn’t quite know what to make of it. The city center is a busy place, with pedestrians and trams bustling and jostling for dominance in the open square. And there is a stratling disproportionate amount of people eating icecreams.

Icecream eaters in Karlsruhe, Germany Icecream eaters in Karlsruhe, Germany

Icecream eaters in Karlsruhe, Germany Icecream eaters in Karlsruhe, Germany

Like, usually you don’t notice people eating icecream. But I tell you, they are everywhere in Karlsruhe. I think the icecream vendors in Karlsruhe must be putting something in the mix, if you know that I mean…

Castle in Karlsruhe, Germany