We started late on the 18th of November, a Wednesday. I had arrived back from the states the day before, and was still jet lagged to death. But after much caffeine, I managed to stay awake the whole day to help pack the bus and get our stuff in order. It took us the best part of the day to get everything sorted, and by the time we had taken care of all the little things and gone to the gym and showered and everything, it was already past 7pm.
We had originally planned to make it all the way to Leipzig, but that was now clearly not happening, since Philipp the Old Dude can’t generally stay awake past 9:30pm. So we decided to drive to Vockerode on the Elbe. There’s a little road that you can take through the village directly to the water, and we often stop there when we’re in the are. The weather was mostly shit, so it wasn’t as pretty as it usually is, but it definitely beat an autobahn rest stop.
(^^ Philipp the German,in the wild, eating majestic Brot Frühstuck)
In the morning Philipp had to physically drag me kicking and screaming out of bed. Jet lag+freezing ass rainy cold weather= no fucking way am I leaving my snuggle cave. Not even his usual trick of luring me out from under the covers with coffee saw even a hint of success. No thanks. I just let that shit stand. But eventually I guess it occurred to him to take advantage of the fact that he’s like twice my size and ten times as strong as I am (no one tell him I said that) and just removed me from the bed. Total nightmare. And so we made our way towards Leipzig, Philipp triumphant, me cranky. No but cranky.
Leipzig is kind of boring, but we made a stop there to go to Mcfit and use the wifi at McDonalds, and then got right back on the road. The weather was awful. Mega cold and mega wet,which kind of kills my interest in doing anything except sitting in the car under my blanket, sipping tea, and looking out the window. Then I like the rain. Philipp, doesn’t.
Our real goal for the day was to get to Töpin, where our favorite container is, and as usual we were not disappointed. (see more pictures in separate post).
We drove on a bit further afterwards and slept in a rainy parking lot about fifteen minutes south. After properly stuffing our faces, we both passed out.
The next morning Philipp didn’t even try to get me out of bed. He just started driving. The fact that this is possible is one of my favorite things about this new bus. In our old bus, we had to fold up the bed while we drove so that we could use the space to fit all our stuff, and so that the bicycles would fit inside. And that meant that every evening we had to go through the ritual of taking the bicycles out, moving all the boxes to the front, unfolding the bed and putting the blankets down, and then pack it all back up in the morning. Sound like a pain in the ass? But now, the bed stays as it is all the time, which means that on days like today, it’s possible for me to have a lie in even when Philipp is impatient to get going.
And so, Philipp drove bravely on, all alone in the front seat, through the Fränkische Schweiz on the autobahn while I got to catch an extra hour or so of sleep before I was rudely awakened by being literally flung into midair as he drove over a bump in the road. It’s amazing with how much force the back of the vehicle shoots up whenever we drive over any small protuberance; my entire body was actually off the mattress. It took me a minute to figure out who and where I was after the crash-landing/awakening. After I recovered I was about to be annoyed but then I realized that this was actually super fun.
After awhile we stopped to eat breakfast. We like to eat fruit first thing in the morning, and Philipp, luckily, is a master fruit-salad maker. As a German he is congenitally talented at cutting things into equally sized pieces. Observe his handiwork:
We kept driving until we got hungry again. We made a stop in Schweinfurt to eat lunch— I made the carrot soup and spätzle that we found yesterday (yeah eating for free whaaat). Since Turnau, the autobahn was on such a steep incline that we couldn’t manage to go any faster than 25 kmh, and it was getting dangerous. Looking at the map as we ate, we decided to take the country roads through Odenwald instead. We usually avoid the autobahn anyway, just because the country roads are always much more interesting and we can’t drive any faster than on average say 70kmh tops anyway. But we’re in a bit of a rush to get south where it’s warmer, so we’ve been making an exception. But no longer. The route was particularly gorgeous, or rather, it would have been gorgeous if the weather wasn’t so bad. We drove through Karlstadt and Gemünden and a bunch of little villages (one was called Müdesheim… Philipp almost left me there). I definitely want to come back and spend more time here one day. The roads are great for motorcycle tours, and there are hiking opportunities everywhere. Odenwald. Officially bookmarked.
We drove as far as Aschaffenburg. As usual, our plan to get there while there was still light outside failed, and it was dark when we arrived. The sun goes down at about 4:45pm here— better than in Berlin, where it goes down at 4:10ish, but still, it’s winter. We went to Mcfit and McDonalds. Note: I love the irony of how Mcfit and McDonalds always seem to be built directly next to one another. It happens so often, it has got to be on purpose. Maybe Germans do have a sense of humor after all…
Let it be known that until this point I had not actually left the car for over 24 hours. Not even to go to the bathroom, since we now finally have one of those in the bus too, thank GOD. Philipp finds this hilarious, especially because when we’re home in Berlin, I can’t stand to be in the house at all during the day. I leave in the morning and don’t come back until the late evening and I get stir crazy if I can’t.
When we were done working out I made rice with pureed pepper sauce, broccoli, and cheese (everything was found except the rice). Philipp additionally ate five bratwurst (also found) like a beast. When we went to drive away to find a place to park for the night, we found that they had closed the barrier to the entry/exit and we were locked in. I saw Philipp’s eyes light up as he realized that this meant that I was going to permit him to be a miscreant and drive over the grass to get to the street. He looked at me like a kid on Christmas morning. I rolled my eyes and nodded. And we were on our off-road way. I knew I shouldn’t have let him buy those tires…
In our search for a place to park, we came across the Old City Graveyard. It was still open, unusual at the late hour that we got there. The rain had finally stopped, so we went in and took a walk around in the darkness, our way guided by the candles flickering on the graves. I probably ought to have been a bit creeped out, but I wasn’t in the slightest. It was beautiful, and it felt peaceful and calm. The German word for graveyard is Friedhof (literally ‘peace-yard’). And German graveyards really are just that. Every one that I’ve ever been to has been lovely, full of flowers and trees, well kept, with wooden benches and watering cans. Now more than ever, Friedhof seems to like a much better word than ours in English.
After we left, we found a place to park in a giant lot right outside the old city, with a spectacular view of Schloss Johannisburg. It was technically forbidden to park there overnight, but judging from the amount of trucks and campers, that rule seemed to be universally ignored. Tomorrow we’ll check out the city.