Alle Beiträge von Eva Fischer

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19.06.2020 Wine lovers' paradise. The region between Jena and Halle is a designated natural park dominated by two rivers, Saale and Unstrut, and famous for its wines. On our way through, we have passed vineyards and little wineries, inevitably had a couple of glasses, and even got to know a young wine expert. In Jena, we were hosted by Anna, a geography student and passionate traveller who knows a thing or two about edible herbs and plants, sustainable living and healthy mindfulness. She lives in a shared flat with three other people and we were treated to an awesome evening with the entire lot. Sharing a meal, many stories and some bottles of wine with these warm-hearted people really inspired and energised us. One of Anna's flatmates, Leonie, is well on the way to becoming a trained grower and maker of wines. She patiently answered all our questions about her job, and in the end even gifted us with a bottle of her first very own wine, which we vowed to keep for a very special occasion. Moving on the next day was a little challenging for two reasons – not only because we would not have minded staying a little longer with our new friends, but also because the rain came down in sheets pretty much all day. However, we bravely cycled on to Freyburg, home of what is probably the country's most famous sparkling wine, and in the evening reached a great campsite with wooden cabins shaped like wine barrels, hot showers and lots of sheltered space for our gear. The campsite is located on the shores of Germany's largest manmade lake. Geiseltalsee was created after a huge surface mine finally ran out of coal in 1993 and was abandoned. As the site was renaturalised, they created a really attractive recreational area with marinas, comfortable tracks for cyclists and walkers, and even a small vineyard. We stopped there for a second breakfast this morning, before carrying on towards our next destination, the city of Halle in Saxony-Anhalt. #scoutbound #jena #geiseltalsee #wine #wein #studentenleben #cycling #rotkäppchensekt #geiseltal #lake #see

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17.06.2020 City hopping. The second evening we camped near Hainich National Park, weather conditions changed drastically and we experienced serious thunderstorms. In the pouring rain, even our very reliable tent gave in a little, and we repeatedly had to mop up water that was coming in through the seams. We decided we needed to find ourselves some drier accommodation for the following nights. In the morning we set off to Erfurt, via partly washed-away gravel tracks and through temporary fords. Luckily, the owners of the campsite there let us dry our dripping tent in their garage, and we slept in a super cosy Hobbit-size wooden cabin that kept us well dry for two nights. The city also totally made up for the experienced hardships with its beauty and rich history, and during our sightseeing stroll we even bumped into a group of local scouts – as well as some stars of Erfurt-based children's TV channel KiKA. It is only a stone's throw from Erfurt to Weimar, and another one from there to Jena. They belong to what translates to 'Thuringia's (bead) chain of cities', the state's six largest cities, which happen to line up nicely within a stretch of 130 kilometres. They are linked by very flat cycle paths that often follow rivers, so it is very pleasant and easy to go from one place to another. However, we took a little detour on our way to Weimar yesterday in order to visit the memorial site of Buchenwald concentration camp. It was near there that we got to know Helmut, a recreational cyclist, Weimar local and former citizen of East Germany. He was full of stories, and so happy to share them with us that he joyfully honked when he spotted us again this morning, turning his car around and stopping for another chat. Having paid a short visit to the city of Goethe and Schiller where we especially loved climbing up the bell tower of St Jacob's church, we are now cycling on to Jena. #scoutbound #erfurt #weimar #buchenwald #kinderkanal #bernddasbrot #krämerbrücke #schillergoethe #thueringen #cycling #worldbycycling

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13.06.2020 Above Thuringia's forests. After more than one week of rather cloudy and rainy weather, the sun is out again and temperatures have gone up quite a bit. We have been making the most of this presumably brief period of fine weather by walking a little in Thuringia's rich green forests, which the region is well known for. However, it took quite a while for people to decide that, after various periods of intense deforestation, the remaining primeval broadleaf woodlands of Cental Germany are something worth protecting. 1997 saw the creation of Hainich National Park – apparently Germany's biggest deciduous forest, consisting mostly of beech trees, and now listed by UNESCO. There are countless hiking trails there, and a pretty cool canopy walkway, several metres above the ground, which we visited this morning. It was fascinating to be on eye level with the very tops of trees and see them sway in the wind. Yesterday, on our way to Hainich, we also took time to look down on treetops – this time from Wartburg castle, just outside the city of Eisenach. The castle is a very impressive, well-preserved structure that in parts dates back to the 12th century, and is mostly known as the place where reformer Martin Luther worked on his Bible translation from Latin to the language of the common people, some 500 years ago. We accessed the fortress via a gorge called Drachenschlucht, a magical place full of high, mossy rocks that create a nice path with some very narrow passages to squeeze through. It was shadowy and cool under the trees and down in the gorge, a welcome change from the blazing hot sunshine. #scoutbound #drachenschlucht #thueringerwald #wartburg #eisenach #nationalparkhainich #hainich #baumkronenpfad #wanderlust #dpsg #cycling

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12.04.2020 Leaving on a jetplane. Even without the Covid-19 pandemic, we would have had to say goodbye to New Zealand at the end of April. However, leaving from Christchurch today, on a Lufthansa repatriation flight, feels totally odd. There are places we would have loved to visit towards the end of our stay, and invitations we could not take people up on. We are leaving all of this prematurely. A week ago, right after signing up for the German repatriation programme, we got our gear ready for the trip home. Through social media we found a local tour guide, Brian, who provided us with two cardboard bike boxes. We dismantled and packed up our bicycles, and then waited. We still had not heard back from our government when five days later the embassy announced online that the final flights would leave within the next three days. We waited for one more long day before we were eventually informed that we were on a waiting list, and about 24h later, this morning, we learned that we were stand-by passengers for a flight in the evening. Paul used his neighbour's two-seater ute to get Eva and the boxes and bags to the airport, while Addy went on his final NZ bike ride on one of Paul's three bikes to reach the airport. 17 days in lockdown, many shared meals and evening film sessions, heaps of walnuts as well as a short but clearly noticeable 4.3 earthquake later, our amazing host bid us farewell. After queueing for a couple of hours, we finally got admission to board the plane – being literally two of the final 20 stand-by passengers to be given a ticket. And the long wait is really paying off, as we are now comfortably seated in business class, ready for a 26h trip to Frankfurt via Bangkok. The presence of Lufthansa aircraft in New Zealand is a very rare thing, so both airport staff and flight crew radiate excitement, and we are to leave Christchurch with a lap of honour. Before takeoff, the German ambassador came aboard and via loudspeaker wished us Happy Easter and told us that we are part of a truly historic event. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #christchurch #repatriation #lufthansa #auswaertigesamt #CHC #BKK #FRA #covid_19 #corona #boeing747 #airbridge #boeing

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01.04.2020 Home bubble diary. We have been at Paul's house in Christchurch for a week now, and it seems like we manage to successfully ward off cabin fever. Something that really helps make confinement bearable is the garden, where we can enjoy the autumn sun on the wooden deck or in our hammock, stretch and do yoga, clean and service our bicycles, or air our brains and lungs while gathering nuts and fallen leaves. We all try to leave the property as rarely as possible, and only for short walks in the neighbourhood or unavoidable trips to the supermarket. The two of us cook and bake on a daily basis, as it is fun and we have plenty of walnuts to use up and also because we want to give back to Paul, our host. Paul is in his sixties and every inch a scout. We suspect he did not even think twice about offering us to stay at his place, also because he lived through the severe Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, when half his house came tumbling down and Christchurch residents closed ranks and overcame the crisis together. Paul has definitely seen worse than this nationwide curfew, and to him solidarity and finding makeshift solutions are a matter of course. During the day, he is busy with his work as an architect, private paperwork and some correspondence for the National Scout Museum. For evening entertainment, he always has us choose between watching a film or going through a section of his vast and super interesting collection of national and international scout stamps and bagdes together.  There have been some rainy days and overcast mornings, but we always find something to do: We keep in touch with friends and family at home and abroad, check the news, read and write, listen to audio books and podcasts, take online classes and, in Addy's case, practise the guitar. Just hours before the onset of national lockdown, he managed to find and buy a used one via social media. So even if our journey has taken an unexpected turn, we make the most of it and still enjoy our free time. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #christchurch #stayhome #uniteagainstcovid19 #covid_19 #lockdown #corona #garden #guitar

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24.03.2020 National lockdown. After the outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe, we quickly developed an evening habit of lying in our tent, checking the news and trying to make sense of all that new information before falling asleep. It was crazy to see more and more overseas nations affected and forced to take action, while at the same time we were still freely cycling New Zealand. Our plan was to ride from Invercargill down to Bluff an then continue up to Queensland. It all felt like a ticking timebomb, however – sooner or later matters would become serious here, too. When we arrived in Invercargill, we had spoken to a couple of other worried travellers. Local case numbers were on a slow but constant rise, from eight to 11 to 20 to 28 within one day respectively. Supermarket shelves had never been that empty. We read online that experts were urging the government for a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. We could only check in at the hostel because we had booked some days before, with the owner not accepting any new bookings. The hostel was about to close, and word got about that most campsites and all DOC facilities were, too. In some way we were still hoping to be able to reach Queenstown, and went grocery shopping to fill our panniers with supplies for another five days. But we also realised we needed a plan B. We decided to contact all the people we know in the country and ask if they knew a place to stay for us somewhere down here in case travel and transport would soon be severely restricted. So we were sitting in the cozy hostel living room together with other cyclists and hikers and crafting a text, when someone entered the room and announced that New Zealand was indeed going to move into national lockdown, and that we had 48 hours. That was when our plan B, which we were still trying to develop at that point, became plan A. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #invercargill #corona #covid_19 #bluff #queenstown #letterbox #minions #southerncomfort #cycling

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22.03.2020 Rainbow country. Shortly after our arrival in New Zealand, several local cyclists recommended cycling the Catlins, a coastal region on the southeastern tip of New Zealand's South Island. And four months later, we eventually got the chance to do so, and went off on what would be a ride of about 300 kilometres in five days, from Dunedin to Invercargill. Towards the beginning, we stopped in Balclutha for a lovely quick coffee break with Marie, another traveller from our German hometown. In the Catlins, it is not possible to actually cycle along the coast all the time, but the road to take is nice and calm enough and connects green farmland with ancient woods and some sections that are indeed close to the shore, so we did get a glimpse of the ocean once in a while. If we had to describe the area in a few words, we would probably boil it down to something like "green, rolling hills that the road uncompromisingly follows up- and downhill, with a high chance of rainbows." The weather is really capricious down here: On more than one occasion, we were cycling in the sunshine, under a mostly blue sky, and still got drenched by rain blown about by the gusty wind. We found some great campsites on the coast, where we repeatedly marvelled at the beauty of nature, for example when visiting Nugget Point or strolling through the living native forests of Papatowai and Curio Bay. The latter contrasts nicely with a unique and stunning petrified forest only a short walk away, right on the shore, and seeing and hearing massive waves crash on the black cliffs there was also really good fun. Besides, Curio Bay was where we met our fellow cyclists Clarisse and Adrien again, a French couple we had briefly talked to in Baldwin Street, Dunedin. Together, we fought our way through a very windy final leg to Invercargill today, and then shared some pizzas and stories in celebration of our Catlins experience. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #catlins #thecatlins #southland #otago #curiobay #nuggetpoint #papatowai #rainbow #waves #forest #pacificocean #scouts #dpsg #lighthouse #niagarafalls #cycling #worldbycycling #touring

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18.03.2020 Otago coast. Our cycling guide does not suggest a route between the end of the Alps2Ocean track and the closest bigger city, Dunedin. To connect these two places we had to cycle for a bit along State Highway 1, which was busy but provided a wide shoulder in most parts. When we could get away from the highway, the Otago coastal region showed us its beautiful wildlife and natural curiosities like the Moeraki Boulders, perfectly spherical rock formations at a beach. Seals, Yellow Eyed Penguins and a lot of birds were the animals we could spot. We could observe the most majestical one of them, the albatross, with a wingspan of three metres, during a spontaneous evening excursion to the Otago Peninsula with our Dunedin hosts. Kel and Sharon received us last minute and shared a lot of cycling stories with us, having cycled the US from west to east in 2017. They also provided us with plenty of useful information for our next chapter, cycling the Catlins, and coincidentally both of them used to be scouts when they were younger. Kel showed us his badge box and scarves and told us the stories connected to them. Dunedin is very much influenced by Scottish culture and architecture, as the first settlers came over from Scotland. One tourist attraction of the city is Baldwin Street, which was the world's steepest street until 2019. Addy managed to cycle up the 350 metres but felt very bad for half an hour afterwards. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #dunedin #baldwinstreet #otago #kiaora #otagopeninsula #oamaru #steampunk #seals #boulders #moerakiboulders #moeraki #scouts #dpsg #worldbycycling

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14.03.2020 Alps to Ocean. Mount Cook Village is the starting point of one of New Zealand's 'Great Rides', the Alps to Ocean cycle trail. As we are generally heading down towards the southern coast of the island, this was the perfect route to take. However, on the first day we took an alternative way to Twizel, going down the road along Lake Pukaki. The reason was that doing the very first part of the official A2O requires a short helicopter flight across a river, and that does just not comply with our idea of simple travelling. In Twizel we replaced both of Addy's awfully worn-out tyres, which, thank God (and duct tape), had stuck with us until that point. We also got a second, gas-powered stove, and could barely stop each other from buying even more of the useful and quirky things the local hardware shop has to offer. We will also keep carrying our petulant little petrol stove with us and try to clean and fix it. With our new equipment, we were ready to take on the remaining 224 kilometres to Oamaru. And our verdict is that the A2O can indeed be called a great ride, as it keeps cyclists off the roads almost totally and its comfortable gravel tracks, most of them inaccessible to cars, wind though many different types of scenery. It was fascinating to see the big catchment lakes, dams and plants that help generate New Zealand's large quantities of hydropower. We also loved camping outside the historic Woolshed, which gave us an idea of how extensive sheep farming and shearing must have worked here in the past, and are still done in other places. With its peaceful remoteness, great view and natural water supply from a stream, the Woolshed might actually be our favorite NZ camping spot. Other highlights on the way were some Maori art on the shores of Lake Ohau and near Duntroon as well as the Elephant Rocks, which we had seen on TV only a couple of days before, as they make an appearance in the 'Chronicles of Narnia'. Yesterday, on our third day, we covered over 100 kilometres and reached Oamaru in the late evening, stopping in the harbour area for a quick 'finisher' photoshoot this morning. #scoutbound #nz #newzealand #alps2ocean #oamaru #worldbycycling #dpsg

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10.03.2020 Alpine adventure. After many beautiful beaches and bays, green hills and forests, lakes and rivers, we finally arrived in the right place to see some of the mountains and glaciers which are also part of the picturesque landscape of New Zealand. Mount Cook measures 3724 metres and is the country's highest and most iconic summit. To get a close view it is a good idea to go to Mount Cook Village, a very remote place at the end of a valley, and hike up the Hooker Track. We made sure to pack enough food because in the Village there is no place that sells groceries, and set out on a three-day adventure. However, the night before we entered the valley, we arrived at a remote campsite and noticed that one of Addy's tyres was worn out. We discovered the problem on a Saturday evening, so even if we had cycled 10 kilometres in the opposite direction to reach Twizel, the next town, we would have had to wait until Monday for the shops to open. So we decided to glue in a double layer of rubber from old tubes plus some duct tape and go to Mount Cook anyway, hoping the tyre would last another 150 k. When we reached the campsite at Mount Cook we were soaking wet and Eva doubted our things would ever dry again. To make matters worse our stove stopped working, but luckily people in the shelter helped us out with their equipment so we could cook food and make tea. But after a stormy night we had an awesome sunny day and actually managed to dry our stuff. And what is more, we got a perfect view of Mount Cook and the remains of the Hooker Glacier. Today we are heading back along the famous Alps2Ocean Trail, which will lead us back to the coast in the next few days. The generator of the stove is still blocked and we continue to pray for the tyre to make it back to Twizel. #scoutbound #newzealand #nz #mountcook #mtcook #hookertrack #cycling #bike #touring #worldbycycling #laketekapo #lakepoaka #swingbridge #tyre

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