The previous evening, I had to say a farewell to Michael as he started work at a very early our in the morning the next day.
I’d like to thank him once again for being a fantastic friend, who’s made my stay very comfortable, entertaining at times and being a ‘sponsor’ paying for dinner, and ofcourse the many beers (altbier, alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties) which got consumed over the weekend. He’s helped finding me a German SIM, and arranged to pick up a replacement solarpanel package from the United States. If I hadn’t mentioned, we met unexpectantly two years ago on my way to Istanbul and have remained friends via the power of the internet. I hope to visit sometime in the future – if he’s reading this.
I lugged all my luggage down the few flights of stairs and loaded everything. I was on my way or nearly after picking up a few supplies for the day from Aldi – a minimal expenditure of 2 euros – not too shabby. I was on my way towards Bochum (near Essen).
The day started of fantastic with blue skies and most importantly no wind at all. The rickshaw was cutting through the road like warm butter and it was dream like; at times I was travelling at 10mph (16km/h). The roads went through residential areas but was surrounded by forest making it a plesant ride.
I arrived in Rattingen, a small town. I went up a street to find a crowd of people huddled around a camera – getting closer I started to see it was a film set. I passed through the crowd, everyone staring, smiling or laughing. It felt nice being odd for once, and I replied with a smile. The town was plesant but had very little to see and wanted to make most the easy cycling.
I conintued through dense forest of pine trees, with the surrounding carpeted with fernsand other greenery that contrasted against the autumn colours of some trees.
The road was noticeably hillier in places, but wasn’t too difficult or tiring. I eventually came to steep slope (8%) downwards and marvelled at an easy ride for once. It had hair-pin turns and was a delight to steer a 100kg laden rickshaw around those tight corners, more satisfying than a bike is.
I eventually came to a nice river – the Ruhr and had a brief dinner of bread and Quark – a fatty dairy product with a consistency between cottage cheese and cream.
It was fairly nice in the sun. I kept moving to later find a fairly long ascent back up the valley towards Essen. Gladly it wasn’t too steep but with the temperature soon became sweaty work and I was drinking alot of water to compensate. I had to laugh at other cyclists who were struggling with that hill. The great merit of a rickshaw is that on hills like that I can say I never got off. I sat on the saddle and took advantage of three wheels.
I reached the top drenched, but satisfied. Towards Bochum was fairly straightfoward with a few gentle slopes. Along the way I cycled along the river over some industrial looking bridges.
I arrived in Bochum. I walked around for a bit, some people (mostly children) gleamed with interest at the unusual sight of a rickshaw.
I went for a quick coffee and later met up with another Warmshowers host Ehsan who lived near the University. Unfortunatly he was in a rush so he had to take the car and was going to escort me to his home. Following a car for 6km in a rickshaw was quite funny. There were many points where he had to wait for me to catchup, especially hilly bits nearer the University. Soon we got to his home. He had taken his landlady who remarked I was very brave, and wished me a gute reise. We took everything up stairs and I took the oppportunity for a shower.
Ehsan is an Iranian student, and has been living in Germany for 14 months. It was fantastic to learn abit more about his country as their is a slight shroud of mystery covering Iran.
After having our tea we went into town to try some Persian cuisine – something I have never tried. The cafe-owners Cafe Safran had specially prepared a meal for our arrival – Chicken in a slightly sweet spicy sauce made using pomegranite. The cafe-owners showed a warm welcome that is observed in Iran.
The meal was delicious and it was pleasant an made a very nice change. We talked abit more about our studies at University – he was working with lasers in Hannover as part of is Engineering masters an just asked abit about what I planned to do after my world rickshaw trip – this I couldn’t answer.
Finishing our meal, we departed with some kind words from the cafe owner – Mahmoud.
That evening we looked over a map of Iran and he helped instruct a route on Iran and pointed out things to be careful – in particular exchanging money, narrow roads and the many mountains in Iran that would make my journey even more difficult. It was useful knowledge to have as I admit my knowledge or Iran was patchy. In generalm that evening, we talked about the development of the country and the hope he has for progress with the new President Rouhani, who was elected around two months ago. Similarily he explained the behaviour and customs of people including their generosity and what to expect as a cyclist visiting small towns or villages and being invited as a guest into their homes.
The day finished relatively early as we took a good chance to recover some sleep!