Day 22-23: Hallo Deutschland! Arnhem to Xanten

It was great to spend another day in Arnhem with the Diedrik and Bo – my Warmshowers hosts. It was pretty chilled out and I only walked around the town and along the Rhine, just to excercise my legs so I retained the ability to walk. The day concluded with a pleasant evening looking through their photos of their pretty stunning nine month trip around New Zealand, which made me slightly envious that I wouldn’t be visiting there.

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The next day we had to say farewells. They were great company and when you travel for a week all day by yourself you soon appreciate having company. I’d like to thank them once again for making my stay very comfortable and making me feel like it was a second home in Holland.

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After they left, I packed the contents of my life into the rickshaw and moved on towards Germany.

To be honest, there is little to talk about; the scenery was fair, but is nothing worthwhile to talk about. There was still a strong easterly headwind that made life difficult when road become fully exposed. I decided to keep to the shorter more direct route that would take me through villages and was fortunatly lined with tress half of the way. It was splendid so seem fields filled with flowers and even some wind mills.

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Reaching Germany was another milestone turned. Despite the relatively small size of Holland, another country is a powerful feeling of accomplishment. The past three weeks have been tough going and I’d never before appreciate how making small steps in the grande scheme of things had become important.

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Already, people seemed more interested and I got a few smiles and even a couple of ‘Hallos’ and some German that I couldn’t exactly make out – but it spurred me on with an increasing enthusiasm.

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The wind was still evident and having stopped it became noticeably chilly, even with the sun out. I reached Emmerich, where there is a bridge crossing over the rhine – there are ferrys but with the season ended; very few still continue to regularly run. I decided to cross onto the west side of the Rhine to later avoid the very Industrial Duisburg near Dusseldorf – after venturing through three years ago.

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I continued on – my speedometer, kept resetting itself, so I was unsure what mileage I currently stood out. Since there was little much to do, I decided to continue pedalling on.

Much of the evening, was travelling through endless fields of maize. Accordingly by this time, my legs were beginning to feel weak, and my head felt numb with tiredness. Each pedal stroke felt attenuated and pronounced as I struggled with the remainder of my travel today – the spires of the Cathedral in the distance becoming prominent the closer I got. The small section of route followed the pilgrims route – “via Romana” indicated by the signs with a shell, which usually finds its end at Santiago de Compostella.

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I reached a small historic town called Xanten. Here they have a gothic catherdal and a few old buildings that give it a characterstic charm. The town is 2000 years old and is the former important Roman settlement that served the Rhine region with a few reminants of its past set as a reminder.

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Having arrived late, nothing much was open. I had a quick glance inside the Catherdral, but otherwise it has been an evening gorging on food trying to get a decent recovery in for tomorrow. The meal consisted of tomato soup, with bacon and smoked sausage. It began plesant but became a chore to finish as it got cold – no grease was spared.

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I was disappointed to find no cafe or restaurant had WIFI. Nevertheless, it was plesant to get asked a few times what I was doing and certainly got some looks from the Cafe with the Al Fresco dining. I was asked later for a Stadtrunfahrt – or a Tour around town by two guys. I was midway through dinner and was shattered so I decided to not bother, and they didn’t seem as if they were going to be inquisative.

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In short, a fairly average day of pedalling the rickshaw. I can definitely say tonights sleep will be well earnt.