Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

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Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby elStado » Thu May 10, 2012 11:45 pm

I'm planning to do some touring when I go over to Europe to see family who live in west Germany (near Cologne) later this year in July. I'll be spending the first few weeks doing general stuff with the family, and then I'll spend around 4 weeks and go wherever I want in that time with no other deadline other than being back in Dusseldorf in mid-September for my return flight home. I've bought the bike, booked the flights, bought my panniers and racks and am almost all set to rock and roll, aside from a final few items/decision.

I've long been thinking of getting the train up to northern Germany (Hamburg) from Cologne, riding up through northern Germany to the Baltic coast, then taking the ferry over to Denmark, and then heading north into central Sweden via Copenhagen (and back along a slightly different route for new scenery). However, as I mentioned in another thread, I am still not sure about the weather this late in the season as it will be rapidly be getting cooler, plus it'll be pretty wet for most of the time (not the end of the world though). September temps seems to be around ~12-16 degrees C during the day and ~4-6 degrees C min temps which is cool, but not horrible. I had heard all these fantastic sounding stories about abundant wilderness, open natural space (something I found lacking in Germany) and excellent camping in Scandinavia. But apparently there aren't many places suitable unless you are really out in the boonies up north or in regional Norway. Anywhere around populated areas in southern/central Sweden isn't very suitable for wild camping (although I am sure it can be done if I am a bit more stealthy and don't have a wood fire or leave a mess behind).

So now I am thinking of some alternate plans just to have in mind depending on what the weather and conditions are like. One idea is to head west through regional Belgium and France until I hit the coast. That should take around 2 weeks of solid riding each direction. Another idea is to follow the Rhine south towards the 'golden triangle' of southern Germany and Switzerland (known for it's fine weather and high quality of life.. oh and for being cycle friendly too). However since I have family in Freiburg im Breisgau too (oldies) I might end up there anyway during my 'regular' part of my holiday with the rest of the family.

The question is: if you had a good touring bicycle, all the camping/outdoor gear to be self-sufficient on the road and a month free to roam around (aka vagabonding) starting and ending from central-west Germany... where would you be thinking of going and what would you be doing? Are there any particularly spectacular regional areas in Germany to check out?
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by BNA » Fri May 11, 2012 1:02 am

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Re: Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby Meditator » Fri May 11, 2012 1:02 am

I would not go to sweden. Stockholm is nice but the south is quite boring really. and if you think its going to be cool and rainy then i can't see the value.

If i was going cycling in scandinavia i would make my priorities norway and finland but in cold weather i'd probably be heading south if i were you. I don't like being cold. I was in scandinavia many years on a motorbike trip. We were there in June and july and the weather was nice but still cold enough to be rugged up. Of course when it rained it was a lot less miserable than it will be for you on a bicycle but it was still a bit miserable.

I would catch a plane, train or bus and go to either Greece and check out the pelopponese and other mainland places. Or i would explore some of the old areas of say romania/hungary and those ex eastern block countries. Or France, particularly southern france ie the pyraneese and head into maybe spain even. But that's what i'd do. I like yummy food, warm weather, quaint old farms and ancient architectures.

Oh and swedish food is pretty uninteresting. Its all open sandwiches and salad basically - as far as i could tell. I have hieard however that the jutland penninsula makes for nice cycling but i think its a very small area.
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Re: Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby elStado » Fri May 11, 2012 8:09 pm

Meditator wrote:I would not go to sweden. Stockholm is nice but the south is quite boring really. and if you think its going to be cool and rainy then i can't see the value.

If i was going cycling in scandinavia i would make my priorities norway and finland but in cold weather i'd probably be heading south if i were you. I don't like being cold. I was in scandinavia many years on a motorbike trip. We were there in June and july and the weather was nice but still cold enough to be rugged up. Of course when it rained it was a lot less miserable than it will be for you on a bicycle but it was still a bit miserable.


This is kinda what I am worried about, I don't have enough time to get up into regional Norway and it will be getting too cold by September too that far north.

I would catch a plane, train or bus and go to either Greece and check out the pelopponese and other mainland places. Or i would explore some of the old areas of say romania/hungary and those ex eastern block countries. Or France, particularly southern france ie the pyraneese and head into maybe spain even. But that's what i'd do. I like yummy food, warm weather, quaint old farms and ancient architectures.


Me too. I also like wild spaces with less people and good roads with cycle friendly drivers. I really want to leave by bike and return by bike, but adding trains to the mix might mean I can skip the boring bits and see more cool stuff. Really I am wanting to avoid having to pack up the bike more than twice as it will be a hassle with all my gear, plus finding a box or breaking it down to fit a tardis bag.. If I can find a train that will let me roll my bike on (as the train from Cologne to Hamburg does) that will be the best. What about the north coast of France? Or will that be too windy and cold by then? i am going to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions gear-wise, so I am really open to a variety of options.. I just want to go have a bit of an adventure on my own for a month by bike.

Just for context I am a young guy in my early 20s and have never bike toured before, but I have been cycling for many years and I've spent many years thinking about it and love reading through the journals on CGOAB, so I want a slice of the adventure!

Oh and swedish food is pretty uninteresting. Its all open sandwiches and salad basically - as far as i could tell. I have hieard however that the jutland penninsula makes for nice cycling but i think its a very small area.


Hrrm, people used to say the same thing about Danish food too.. but then: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... -2012-noma
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Re: Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby il padrone » Fri May 11, 2012 9:50 pm

elStado wrote: I also like wild spaces with less people and good roads with cycle friendly drivers.

Sounds like Canada ???

Not sure why you are going to Europe. Maybe head to the Carpathians..... there are still wolves and bears there :wink:
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Re: Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby Meditator » Fri May 11, 2012 11:46 pm

Get over your issues iwth boxing the bike. Its not a big deal really. YOu can get bike boxes from bike shops and its all part of the adventure. its just a bit stressful because you' haven't done it before but its really not that hard, especially in germany.

Also ask about putting bikes on trains and stuff on the lonelyplanetn forum. thorntree its called.

You may get lucky about being able to put your bike undismantled on a train but i haven't any experience of that in europe so can't say. I've done it for planes often enough and if you don't have to pay, its not a huge issue when all is said and done. YOu put your bike together at the airport when you arrive, taking your time. If in spain, just make sure never to take your eyes of your gear. In some places thieves hang out at airports. Also train stations so just be on high alert in these places against theft. Don't let any stranger help you. Sorry to be alarmist about that but you just need to be especially careful in these sorts of situations. Though airport security is probalby a lot better these days. Not sure about train station security. in 1986 it wasn't so good.

I didn't read the link about danish food but can you afford whatever it was talking about?

What i did like in sweden and around those parts was venison and smoked salmon. Very good. But it is all rather expensive and you will be eating from a supermarket most of the time anyway. I'd definitely head south. Greece is lovely.
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Re: Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby elStado » Mon May 14, 2012 10:31 pm

il padrone wrote:
elStado wrote: I also like wild spaces with less people and good roads with cycle friendly drivers.

Sounds like Canada ???

Not sure why you are going to Europe. Maybe head to the Carpathians..... there are still wolves and bears there :wink:


I am going to Europe, first and foremost, to see my family that I haven't seen for a number of years (I am talking my immediate family here, not some long lost relatives).

Just thought it would be nice to go on my first extended bicycle tour while I am over there, it's a pretty easy going place to cycle and learn the ropes before heading off on an expedition somewhere more remote and dangerous.

Extended north to south cycle tour of Alasksa, Canada and the NW American coast is on my to do list actually. Will go over in the next few years once I replenish my slush funds. I also have a trip planned to South America, maybe next year. But I won't be cycling in South America, it'll be a surf oriented road trip by car or bus. The continent is too long and inhospitable to be cycling with the extra load of surfing gear plus all the other essentials.
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Re: Vagabonding in Europe.. where would you go and why?

Postby elStado » Mon May 14, 2012 11:03 pm

Meditator wrote:Get over your issues iwth boxing the bike. Its not a big deal really. YOu can get bike boxes from bike shops and its all part of the adventure. its just a bit stressful because you' haven't done it before but its really not that hard, especially in germany.


That's very true. I'm not that worried about it. I'm gonna try the Tardis that a family friend has offered to lend to me for the trip, and it that's too finicky (which I think it will be) then I'll just stick with the tried and tested bike box option. I'll pre practising packing and unpacking too before I leave so I'll know what tools I'll need to have on hand.

Also ask about putting bikes on trains and stuff on the lonelyplanetn forum. thorntree its called.


I'll check that out. I've also got my brother onto it. Hopefully he'll be able to take the train and meet me at the Dusseldorf airport so he can give me a hand with me gear.. after flying all day I will no doubt need the extra assistance to get home.

You may get lucky about being able to put your bike undismantled on a train but i haven't any experience of that in europe so can't say


Most larger, more expensive trains have a section where you can put complete bikes in. However some trains the bike has to be packaged as luggage. You can see on the website when you book if they accept bicycles or not. You usually have to pay a small reservation fee (around 5-6 euro) for the bike on the expensive fast trains. On the cheaper regional trains you can sometimes take you bike for free if there's space.

If in spain, just make sure never to take your eyes of your gear. In some places thieves hang out at airports. Also train stations so just be on high alert in these places against theft. Don't let any stranger help you. Sorry to be alarmist about that but you just need to be especially careful in these sorts of situations. Though airport security is probalby a lot better these days. Not sure about train station security. in 1986 it wasn't so good.


Nope it's still really dodgy, especially in big cities in Italy, Spain and France. I've been over a couple of times to Paris, Rome and Barcelona so I am reasonably savvy and careful when it comes to people trying to rip you off or steal your gear. I think it was the worst in Paris actually, especially at the train stations there were so many dodgy characters around. Rome was also pretty bag but more so people trying to sell you crap you didn't want/need. Barcelona was fine, but we were on high alert after hearing all the horror stories about pickpockets etc.

I didn't read the link about danish food but can you afford whatever it was talking about?


Not really, but it's more of an experience than just a meal. They have a really nice degustation menu which is around $300 that I might try with a friend who will be there in July.

What i did like in sweden and around those parts was venison and smoked salmon. Very good. But it is all rather expensive and you will be eating from a supermarket most of the time anyway. I'd definitely head south. Greece is lovely.


I had a chat with the family last night and they are keen for a road trip down to Italy which should be interesting. Still not sure where I'll go on my month of vagabonding, but I'll just keep reading and asking around and then decide once I am over there.
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