So many shades of wetness: cycling along the north see coast

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Wattensee...

I’m on the road (literally on the cycle path) again after two months in Berlin. This time for a “small” cycle tour, from Hamburg, where I arrived a few days ago to meet two friends who are cycling through Europe on a tandem (that, to me, is the ultimate relationship test, but they seem to manage rather well) to Amsterdam, where my sister lives. Now you could take the direct way, but why, when you can cycle along the north coast, using an outdated cycling guide to the “Nordseeroute” (that goes from Roterdam to Hamburg), struggling against the wind, stopping in forests where ever you can find one (not that many trees around, mostly swamps, windmills and sheeps) to camp for the night.

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Sheep. Grey. Wetland. That's what you get for spending your summers at the northsee

It’s lovely to wander from one place to another, knowing we’ll have to manage at least 900 kms by the end of it but not in any kind of a hurry, stopping to talk to other cyclists or people on their Sunday walks, mostly amazed to meet 4 rain-soaked scarecrows who have come from “such a long way from here” (the earth is still big for small villagers) to see their corner of the world.

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My friend the painted bicycle is holding on for now

But as a random place to cycle through, you could do far worse: the “wattenmeer” – the Northsee stretches for miles in a swamp-like, shallow intertidal greyness where seagulls come to hunt crabs, only slighty disturbed by the occasional gigantic countainership passing by on their way to Hamburg. It’s quiet, the light changes every five minutes (never sunny for more than 5 minutes, but that might be boring, for all we know), the wind turbines and dams by the see are the only things standing in the way of the everflat horizon.

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And so we cycle,  sometimes wishing it would stop raining, sometimes wishing we had a bit more of a taste for “normal holidays” at the beach, but most of the times not really thinking at all, just cycling through. I’m perfectly happy in this wet, grey-and-green land.

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Hamburg

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