Day 152-155: Travellers Meeting in Germany

30 Oct

Thursday seems so long ago now…

After a really comfortable few days visiting with Michael in Bensheim, it was time to say goodbye. We packed up all our belongings and got the bike ready to ride to the Horizons Unlimited traveller meeting. And just as we were about to pull out of the driveway, we noticed some oil dripping. We have a slow leak where a bolt for the oil filter cover has been stripped, and under pressure we sometimes get a drip. It’s been like this since Svobodny, way back in early June, and Igor just keeps adjusting and tightening it whenever it starts leaking. There’s next to no thread left, and we know we’re going to have to get it fixed, but we just had to make it last a few more hundred kilometres…

It’s only about 20km to the site for the Horizons Unlimited meeting, so we were there nice and early, with our pick of camping spots.

We spent the rest of Thursday chatting with other travellers, admiring each other’s bikes and set-ups, and telling stories from the road. There were people there on shiny new bikes, side-cars, bikes with interesting tuning, a few older BMWs like ours, and even a couple of bikes that had been converted to diesel. Everyone had interesting stories to tell about why they travel by motorcycle.

Only after introducing ourselves and relaying our route a few times did we realise that we’d actually come quite a long way, and that what has become relatively normal to us is still brave and adventurous to many others. While there were lots of people who’d ridden interesting trails across the world, few had chucked in their job, packed up their life, and headed off with a one-way ticket. Despite that, we still feel like novices in this motorcycle travelling thing.

On Friday, we woke to learn we were being billed as the closing act for the meeting. Eek! We were scheduled to present for an hour on Saturday night. Now that the pressure was on, we spent some time thinking over how we might tell our story in an engaging way. There were other people making presentations about their travels through Russia, Mongolia, the Silk Road and the Balkans, so we were painfully aware that we didn’t want to bore people by covering the same material and doing a ‘then we went here’ kind of presentation. We agreed that the thing that has really stuck with us is the incredible warmth of strangers and the generosity of spirit we’ve encountered absolutely everywhere. You’ve probably noticed that we’ve had people sign our panniers as we’ve travelled, and we decided to tell the stories of those people who’ve left messages on our luggage.

With some kind of plan in mind, we headed out on a ride with a bunch of other travellers, winding through beautiful autumn landscapes as a BMW gang.


Taking the long way

It turns out that even the Germans have traffic management problems sometimes….

We visited the NSU Museum in Neckarsulm. There were hundreds of bikes on display, from 1885 right through to some of the newest innovations.

Igor salivated over many, but the BMW Paris-Dakar rally bike stole his heart.

True Love.

The dream bike.

Human scale – this is a tiny motorcycle with a side-car. Maybe for monkeys?

These bikes were ridden by a father and son in the ’50s. Amazing to think they did it all without google!

Much of Saturday was spent trying to filter down our thousands of photos into a selection that made narrative sense, as well as adding to what people had already seen in previous presentations over the weekend. We figured we’d wing the story-telling part of it… and it went really really well. People seemed to thoroughly enjoy our tales, and we feel like we did a pretty good job as a presenting team. (I guess 15 years of making sales pitches comes in handy sometimes!).

Afterwards, we have lots of offers of places to stay, workshops where we can service the bike, and suggestions on where we may be able to find work. We are overwhelmed yet again by the incredible generosity extended to us by the motorcycling community. It’s very humbling.

It’s a long way when you look at it like this!

Saturday night was a late one involving yet more story-telling and wine-drinking, cut short only by an intense lightning storm and heavy rain. Come Sunday morning, we pack up, but we’re interrupted every few minutes by another traveller who’s offering a bed, a place to service the bike, and even a potential job opportunity. We’re so grateful to everyone for the way they’ve welcomed us. We’d love to take up every offer if we hang around in Europe for a while.

Over the weekend, we met Claudia and Werner, a German couple who’ve just returned home after being on the road for about 7 years. They’re heading in our direction so we decided to ride with them. We’d intended to ride straight to the Netherlands from there, but rain and sightseeing made our trip a little slower. Near Koln we said goodbye and Werner and Claudia headed on to their home. For now. They’ll be off again soon enough.

Following the Rhine – fairytale castles and Hansel and Gretel houses along the river’s edge.

PS: We’ve discovered that Comic Sans is popular in Germany, which I have to admit is tainting our otherwise very positive experience here…


3 Responses to “Day 152-155: Travellers Meeting in Germany”

  1. Tavis October 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    That map looks exactly like the one that was hanging in your living room, except instead of pins and thread showing where you hope to go, it’s the trail of where you’ve been. Amazing.

    • Libby Callander October 30, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

      Definitely! I think the post-its of plans would have to be replaced by post-its of who-we-met-where. Just saying.

  2. Nick October 31, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    I’ve got a photo of that castle too. We just missed each other, but Christmas will be sooo cool to see you before we head home

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