Odyssey Day 37 Arnhem to Amsterdam 63 miles flat

Arnhem has the only hill in the Netherlands. And a reminder that fast moving bikes and scooters don’t make for a good mix.

After that it’s dedicated cycle tracks through forests and canals almost all the way to Amsterdam. Feels wealthy manicured.

Approaching the capital the wild flowers are a mass of pink and blue. The cyclists are also a mass: anarchy that seems to work if you can suspend rational thinking and plough in. The scooters are terrifying. No helmets to be seen: we never used to wear them. This trip has changed that habit reinforced by the accidents where the helmets worked as designed.

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We arrive. Champagne and off to get stitches out. EHIC works its magic again.

Odyssey Day 31 and Heidelberg

Feeling blessed. The room has both a Gideon Bible and a Mormon Book of Prayer.

The University Botanical Gardens are a pretty sanctuary and open on Corpus Christy, the public holiday. Reunited with frogs and their mating noises.

Friday and all is back to normal. Heidelberg feels a young town despite its antiquity. The University days back to 1400s, and still dominates. The Church in the market Square is old too, with links to the Lutherans (first time in ages George Wishart’s name has appeared). Wonderful stained glass and a great tower. The rotating perspex cross casts different light. Perhaps more eloquent than the heat of the Catholic-Protestant claim to the church. Until 1936 it was divided down the aisle by a partition.

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Tomorrow flatter again.

Odyssey Day 30 Dillingen to Schwabisch-Hall

You really get a sense of Germany as a fertile bread basket in this area. Most fields are unfenced and with varied crops. We’re in Baden-Wurttemberg.

Spring flowers abound, we’re probably following then north. Today’s river is the Kucher which splits Schwabisch-Hall.

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This has a history of salt production. Today it’s more known for the pretty Alltstadt with St Michael’s Church in the square with the largest dry of steroids you’ll have seen to enter it. Also used as a stage: tonight they agree rehearsing “Everyman”, which looks a bundle of laughs.

It’s also twinned with Loughborough, which might explain the uk Telephone box.

Inside the church you read, as in Innsbruck, of the local Christians that opposed Hitler and were persecuted.

Odyssey Day 14 Niksic to Foca

Montenegro reminds us of Wales. Wet, green and hilly. Wales doesn’t have the tunnels they have here though. A spectacular ride along a lakeside with tunnels through the rock face. Pity they are dark, bumpy and narrow. Adrenaline levels climb a tad.

Into Bosnia. What’s been made clear is don’t stay from the the established road surface. Full stop. Landmines from the 1990s are not cleared throughout the country. Dogs return admist the Alpine landscape.

The common thread in all the countries? Frogs croacking and snails crossing the road. Dogs. People smiling.

Odyssey Day 12 Tirana to Shkoder 62miles 245m

Negotiating Tirana traffic kept the adrenaline flowing. No apparent rules for vehicles, bikes nor pedestrians. Just go: the code was eyes shut or open. Most of the morning was through fairly ‘industrial’ areas and then towns. After lunch opening up into more countryside. It seemed more populous than the south of Tirana though perhaps that’s just development along a road corridor.

Last full day in Albania. It’ll be interesting to return here in a few years: lovely varied country, including the people. Patisseries and coffee bars galore to explore!