Our Journey

We did it!

Yes,

We made it through all 7 countries and after 5 weeks on the bikes we actually welcome this 12 hour flight we are on as it will be the first time we actually rest and just sit still and do absolutely nothing!  Its been an absolutely fantastic ride and we have crammed so much in to the short time we have been away. 5 weeks has seemed more like 5 months and we can’t believe have long ago it feels since we boarded our flight to Venice and cycled away from the airport.

We hit all the places we said we would and managed to do it all in great time. I cannot believe the distance we have covered. I never dreamed it would be possible to have such a once in  a life time trip and doing it all by bike. It really has been a great experience. We set out with a goal and we achieved it, the JustGiving page we set up has raised over £1000 for Diabetes UK and we would just like to thank everyone again who donated. It means the world and is a beautiful tribute to Kerri. Thank you all so much.

Our last week in Germany has been awesome.  We love the place. We’ve got right into the Bavarian culture and enjoyed many a pretzel and beer here and just had a great time.

After camping in the garden of our host last week, we set off early to get to our next destination, we had been accepted by another Warmshowers host in a little village called Assling. We struggled on this morning with directions as we didn’t have any electricity through the night so all our devices where powerless and we use google maps to get about. So we headed to a McDonald’s first thing. However this Mcdonalds appeared to have stopped electricity to all the sockets customers could access so we remained mapless and cycled to the next one. Once we charged up and ate some junk food, we set off now knowing where it was we needed to be. We ended up in a forest in the afternoon that appeared to be the right direction but after cycling around in circles we soon realised we were lost. We eventually found our way back to the road and headed to our Warmshowers stay.

We arrived at a beautiful house in a lovely area and we were greeted by our host Marko’s younger sister, she showed us around, introduced us to the dogs Nelly and Evian…we think that was her name and we loved them and then she cooked us a lovely dinner. It was another fantastic experience using Warmshowers and soon we were sat drinking  beer and chatting with Marko and his siblings, there are 5 of them. Marko and his family had a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables in the kitchen so I was quizzing them on what they were and when I asked about a particular one he said it was a ‘loofah’ then he said he didn’t know how to say it in English but its like a sponge. So he literally meant a loofah and then told us how you  peel them and dry them out then use them as one. I was amazed and they opened one for us and gave it to us. Unfortunately we got rid of it for customs but I was still amazed! The next morning we had breakfast together and they had prepared a lovely spread, they took us into their wonderful garden and picked us fresh vegetables to take with us along with sausages and pretzels. They were so kind. Marko them mentioned he was a physiotherapist so I took the opportunity to tell him about my neck, then he took me to another part of the house that was their practice and I ended up getting a full massage on a proper table, the works. It really helped. We thanked the family and set off towards Munich.

It was a nice cycle as Germany is just gorgeous everywhere and we arrived at our new campsite in good time. We showered and headed straight out. We wanted to go to the famous Hofbrauhaus for dinner and drinks. I was stunned coming out of the station to see how beautiful the city was, the town hall being the first thing we saw and it’s absolutely beautiful. We went to the Hofbrauhaus along with some other beer gardens and sampled a fair few beers. It was a great night. We stumbled across a street band called Konnexion balk, who were fantastic and had us laughing our heads off. Their mixture of classical music, pop, rock and comedy was gold. Incredibly talented musicians, the front man played the violin to a classical standard and it was brilliant.

But approaching 30, after out 3rd beer, we were ready for bed.

The next day we had planned to have a lazy day by the river, our campsite was sat right on it near a man-made wave were people surf and there is always a great atmosphere. Every 15 minutes a raft would go by full of people dancing and singing with a band on it and Mel and I liked to watch them pass. Mel however got a message from his friend Eniko telling him she was also in Munich and she was going to a festival that evening and we should join. So glad we did. It was amazing. It was at the Olympic Park. So we went to meet them, we called into BMW World first to check that out. Very cool place to visit. Then went onto the festivities. There was a fair, music, food, drinks and a wonderful atmosphere. There is a sense of community and calmness you just don’t find in the UK in Europe we have found. You are never worried that there could be an outbreak of violence even though there was 1000’s of people there drinking. It’s just different and we have found talking to our hosts and others that we do have a bad rep in the UK for being rowdy drunks, so I have been mindful not to get too rowdy 😛

We met Eniko and her friends and shared a lovely evening chatting away and then there was an amazing firework display to end the evening. We laughed a lot throughout the night to the point my face hurt and had a great time. It was great to meet her and her friends. I also sampled my first currywurst and loved it.

The next day we were off to visit Neuchwanstein, one I had been particularly looking forward to and it did not disappoint. It was a long train ride to get there but it was so worth it. We walked to the top to view the castle and it was a beautiful day and the views were spectacular. We queued to get that picture view from the bridge and I got some great photographs of the place. Mel made an interesting observation on the irony of Disneyland being based on this castle and it now being a Disneyland of sorts itself, with huge queues just to catch a glimpse. 

After the castle we headed down towards the lake for a swim. Alpsee was its name and it was stunning.  I am blown constantly each time we see a new lake by the colours, even though we have seen many now it still takes my breath away each time. This one was particularly gorgeous and we went for a lovely swim. After getting back to the campsite we had an early night as we had another Warmshowers host for the last 2 days of our trip to get to the next day.

We cycled to our new hosts the next morning and we knew this was going to be the last time we would be going to a new destination on our little bikes as our European trip was coming to an end. We arrived at the apartment, located not far from the city and met Isabel our host. She was great, we had a great chat and bonded over mutual bike theft in america! We got settled and then headed out for the day.

We decided to visit Dachau Concentration Camp. A harrowing experience. It was a very interesting trip and we learnt a lot. Mel and I always like to visit museums and try to learn as much as we can whist travelling and he is very into history and I am always learning from him so its something we both wanted to do to pay respects and to learn and remember. After our visit to the  Imperial War Museum back in April when we went to the exhibition on Nazi Germany and the war it has been something that has stuck with us and we took the opportunity to go and see the place for itself.

It was a very sombre afternoon but the place is filled with information and tributes and really makes you remember what those poor people lived through and just how lucky we are. A very emotional and touching afternoon to be standing in the exact spot such horrific atrocities happened, not even that long ago. It is something we feel everyone should do though, given the chance to remember and pay tribute.

So after that we needed to do something cheery, so we headed to the English gardens. A stunning park, with a river running through it where people swim and bob, 100’s of people gather to sunbathe and BBQ and socialize. Again, you can’t beat the atmosphere, its lovely. We headed to the beer garden in the middle of the park, it was very busy and had a band playing and many people wearing their lederhosen, a fashion I really like and Mel is more keen on now after seeing men in the lederhosen and a polo t-shirt and trainers. We had some more big beers and a huge pretzel and where delighted to be around when a group of men, out of nowhere pulled all these huge instruments, trumpets, tuba’s, snare drums and in the break of the actual bands performance started their own session in the middle of the crowd. It was great fun and another lovely afternoon.

The next morning we had breakfast with Isabel and her sister Soraya, they where lovely girls. So down to earth and relaxed and we had a lovely morning. They told us how everything is closed on Sundays but the museums are open and only 1 euro. So we decided to check it out. The museum was brilliant, much to Mels’ disappointment nothing was translated into English so he couldn’t learn anything but it was an art history museum so walking around in there was enough for me. It was filled with incredible art.

After the museum, we had planned to meet up with Gemma and Campbell again for dinner AND because they where going to be taking our bikes from us as they are now going to continue their journey by bike and we have inspired them to do so which is a very nice feeling! We have loved getting to know these guys and we are very excited to see how they get on and proud of them for dropping current plans and taking on the bikes. We also love the fact we get to see where the bikes end up because you do form a bond with them! HA. They have been great and literally got us across the country so we will miss those little blue and green bikes! We met the guys and handed over the bikes and went for dinner. All being budget travellers we went looking for the cheapest place and ended up in a funky little burger joint. The food was pretty good but the service not so great and we all laughed a lot when the waitress put Mel on the spot to tip her and he didn’t! Campbell followed suit and we all awkwardly left! We said goodbye and wished them all the luck in world and we really hope to see them again. We actual all chatted a bit about Australia, so we will see.

Follow them on their own journey at www.highlands2hammocks.co.uk

We crept out of Isabel and Soraya’s at 6am this morning, we instantly missed the bikes as we both have heavy awkward holdalls now but we made it to the airport and are now happily sat on our flight to Vegas. It really has been a whirlwind and  I can’t believe what we have fit into five weeks. We are SO excited to sleep in a big Vegas hotel bed for a week and have a bath and relax.

We are also so excited to see friends and family this week and so thankful for all the support we have had along the way. It hasn’t always been easy but we’ve always had people there to support us and of course each other. Today is going to be a long day for us as its going to be 1pm when we arrive and after checking into our hotel we are going to get our marriage licence. I can’t believe it. We get married in 5 days!

So again we just want to say a big thank you for all the donations and continued support and love from our friends and family. We do miss you all but not enough to come home haha.

I guess my next update will be next week sometime when i will officially be Mrs Swannick!

Exciting hey 🙂

8 thoughts on “We did it!”

  1. Yehhh we will get to see you both in2 days we can’t wait although I’m dreading the long flight I hope they have the new mamma Mia 2 film on I never got my bum into gear to see it. I think I’m loosing the plot as I bought Jen something for Saturday morning ages ago and have searched high and low but no sign of it it’s driving me crazy. So looking forward to spending time with you both see you Thursday xxxx

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  2. This was a lovely read Jen. I have followed your travels and, I were younger, then I would do this. You have visited some amazing places and you have had THE BEST time! Have an amazing wedding in Vegas and I look forward to seeing more pictures 🙂 Lots of love to you both xx

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  3. We wish yoh both all the very best. Enjoy Vegas / the atmosphere / family and friends. Take care of each other and we’ll catch up soon xx

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