Day 16

I am sat in Magdeburg, my legs are aching, I am drinking bad coffee in an internet cafe that sells hard liquor and I have just spent half an hour trying to explain in a german bicycle shop that I need to replace the cleats for the pedals on my bike. Anway.. enough of such nonsense I am two days away from Berlin. The clock reads 672.2 miles 72.2 of which where done yesterday through driving snow. The wind was so strong as I came down from Goslar that I was having to steer the bike into the wind just to stay on the road. It is fun until you run out of energy then you question why on earth you are doing this. As did the very nice fat man in a brand new BMW who as he drove past gave the international symbol for ‘what the **** are you doing?’. Thanks for that. Wait till the oil runs out  :)

But in saying that one hour earlier I had a man in a gas line repair van pull an emergancy stop, come running over and tell me how much he wants to cycle again. In his youth he had cycled down from germany to yugoslavia and now wishes to repeat the experince and ride to his daughter in Linz. We chatted about the best way to get there, then looking at my bike he laughs and say’s ‘I do not have 24 gears like you, I have only 5. But 5 is all you need’. Anybody who can ride a fully loaded bike with just 5 gears deserves a medal. We swapped contact details and I rode away smiling as yet another huge bird of prey circled over head and the clouds parted to reveal the sun. 100m down the road my radio fell out of the handlebar bag, trapped itself under the rear wheel and I ended up skidding and falling off. Good and bad. Good and bad always on this trip. The radio refuses to die though. Scuffed, smashed, melted, wet with snow it still works..

The radio is a godsend as it keeps your mind off what you are doing and you get to listen to the local radio stations. the problems arises in that you are hammering alongin the middle of nowhere with the radio fairly loud, you then enter a small hamlet where you encouter half a dozen people that no offense intended look like they came in off the ark and ‘its raining men’ is blasting from the handlebar. German radio seems to be a mixture of really bad power ballards and the worst of international pop. But in saying that English radio is hardly anything to write home about away from the major cities.

So last night I came into Magdeburg and stayed with Marc from hospitality club. I was shown around the city and given a wonderful tour followed by a trip a languagecafe where people go and practise their language skills. Naturally I took the opportuitty to speak english and spoke to a gentleman who’s name I shamefully forget, who had lived in the old GDR as an engineer. I think his lasting quote was that as a pensioner in the new germany he is better off than as an engineeer in the old germany..

It was very strange, and perhps once again my ignorace has got the better of me but I always thought of Eastern Germany being further east – starting down the centre of Berlin. It took me by surprise to ride through a field in the middle of nowhere, through the cobbled roads between two non descript villages to see a sign which I could just about translate as saying that this was the site of the old dividing line between the two opposing factions.

The change is quite noticable if it is pointed out. A lot of the buildings here in magdeburg where built by communist decree and they are suprisingly nice. The change from Goslar to here though is worlds apart. Oh and as point of reference if you want to rent a very big room in the centre of magdeburg try 180 euros a month. It makes you want to cry.

So thanks again to Marc for giving me a room for the night. Today is a lazy day, a bit of sight seeing and maybe a drink tonight with another random person who stopped me half an hour ago explaining about how he too wishes to take a bicycle tour. Its almost becoming passe :)

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