Wow, that was tough.
9 days in North Western Germany, first day sunny, then rain, headwinds, mad German hippy/nazis, more headwinds, more rain. hills, hills, then a downhill that was actually more an uphill, and all this on a chest infection that kept threatening to turn into pnumonia (which I had last year), and seemed to rob me of about 50% of my energy.
But that said, the last two days were great, Trier to Traben Trabach a gentle, sunny downhill, with wine festivals, to boot, and then the last day a beautiful springlike morning, long climb up to Hahn, but then a great ride around in the rolling countryside.
Not riding round the world, I know, nor going to the North Pole, but tough going, all the same.
Still, I'd do it all again, just for the story.
Hey, Vik, I've been meening to say for ages, that I've been following your blog and enjoy it very much. Nice work and a good read.
Neo-Nazis? I've cycled all through Germany, thrice, and have never encountered any?
Well, not really Neo-Nazis in the skinhead/big boots sense, but peculiar gay hippie type Nazis. I know, I know, it's a difficult concept to get one's head around. But bear with me.
We'd got into Koblenz late, after a windy, rainy day on the Rhine, which wasn't that pretty, so, we were up for a drink. We went into the old town. It was dark by the time we got there, and being Sunday, pretty empty.
We found what looked like a promising bar called, I think, the Sansibar. It was an art bar, with some hippies inside and sculpture outside. We sat outside and ordered drinks from someone who gave a pretty good impression of being the bar tender. He seemed to take our order, anyway. After twenty minutes, we weren't so sure, and as we were getting up to see whether there'd been a misunderstanding, two middle aged hippies, one big and red faced and smiling, like an out of work Santa Claus, the other short and wirey with a look in his eye that suggested his hippyness was less the John Sebastien variety and more the Charles Manson.
He looked at us, and, hearing us speak in English sat down next to my friend and announced. "I will join you. Where are you from?"
"England," we told him.
"Ahh," said. "English. We are brothers. We are Saxons. You and we are the same." Then he paused and fixed me with his Charley Manson eye. "Of course, we won the war."
At first, I'd thought they were hitting on us for drinks, but then they called for a round of drinks from the man who was actually the bar tender, and who brought them far too quickly for us to make a plausible escape.
It was downhill from there, really. In the course of the conversation, we were informed (many times) that he was Westphallian, and the last true German. At one point he clasped my friend on the knee and told him that being Westphalian, he should show my friend his sword. My friend spluttered that it was quite all right; he really didn't have to. Luckily, his sword stayed in its sheath.
He informed us that he had lived in Texas for some years, and had been in a motorcycle gang there, but became vague when I asked him how come he'd returned to Germany. I began to wonder how many dusty post offices in the Lone Star State his mugshot decorated. He returned to the subject of the war quite often, telling us his grandfather and grandmother died in WW1, and his father in WW2, and that all this, indicating with a sweep of his arm, was rubble after "you left it."
His friend swayed at the far end of the table, and smiled benignly, only interjecting occasionally that they were the last true Germans. Yes, they were. He was eventually joined by a boy in his twenties who stood too close to him and whispered in his ear and occasionally laughed too loud. At one point he demanded to know who was English.
We are, we said, almost raising our hands like schoolboys.
"What is England like?" he asked.
"Not as beautiful as Germany," I said.
"That is because you lost the war," Charles Manson put in. "...And you have the blacks. They make everywhere ugly."
I was beginning to see the night spiralling into a German version of Blue Velvet, an so we decided to leave. We said we had a long day ahead, and overstretched and overyawned, and got up.
"What you need to do is stop and spend some money," the red faced one said, smiling more broadly and looking off into the distance as if remembering a boyhood day out. "Have some fun. For one night. Not care. You stay up. You drink. You dance. You remember it for twenty years.
"In twenty years I will be dead," Charles Manson interjected. "You will remember me in twenty years?" he asked.
"Oh yes, " we said.
"No one will remember me."
"Du bist Westphalian." the red faced one said.
We walked slowly backwards as they discussed, we assumed, death and legacy in German. I hoped that's what they were talking about, anyway, as I heard "tot" bandied about quite a bit.
"Keep your upper lip stiff," they called after us when they noticed us slipping through out of the courtyard.
Then it started raining again.
Wow, I don't think I would have lasted that long...especially at the sword and sheath conversation, it would have been my buck survival knife out of its sheath and swinging wildly while I retreated as fast as possible!
Koblenz was nice to us! :-D
Gotte, sounds like you had a good time. And sounds like a couple Germans had a good time at your expense! Bet they're still telling the story at the bar about the two Englishmen they scared crapless.
That's why you never wear road cycling shoes while touring. Once slip on those pretty smooth bottoms and you're a goner. What works for me is the "Hey look, is that a picture of ______ on the wall?" (Hilter would work in this case) pointing, and then quickly slip away in the opposite direction.
Originally Posted by DukeArcher
It was good. As I told my friend later, it was worth the disquiet at the time just for the story rights. I'm sure we'll be laughing about it for years. And though it was unnerving, I'm sure we were never in any real danger. The stink of dope from the lot of them meant we could always have outrun them, even if they'd have got their swords out.