Saturday 6.8.2011 0km
It felt like a patriotic duty to go and watch The Haunted.
It wasn't a bad gig but it's not something that'll make me run home and buy the whole discography either.
Blaas of glory actually got to play on Wackinger stage and it was definitely worth watching.
Another band that might be more signified by enthusiasm than skill is Hayseed Dixie who plays bluegrass-covers of metal classics.
You'd think that would almost be blasphemy in a place like this but then you'd be wrong, it actually turned in to quite the drunken metal-head sing-along.
Since we didn't have anything else on the agenda we went and watched Bullet again.
You can never get too much Bullet.
But after that the evening's main feature.
Avantasia on the True metal stage, one of the festivals two largest venues.
Jorn Lande as guest on Scarecrow outperformed everything else and is without a doubt the highlight of this year's festival as far as I'm concerned.
...and that's saying something considering that Danko Jones followed that gig.
I after all have a tattoo inspired by one of his songs all over my upper arm.
I've seen him a few times before so this gig wasn't very memorable but the man always delivers.
And speaking of rock heroes we really could skip a gig with Lemmy either.
Not that we really needed to go there as they definitely lived up to their "Everything louder than everything else" phrase so I guess pretty much everyone on the grounds can claim to have at least heard that gig.
He saved Ace of spades as an encore but it was worth bleeding eardrums to wait for it.
The festival closed with Subway to Sally, despite the name a German band that performs in German only.
It's kind of a folk/goth/symphonic rock band that pushes all the right buttons for both me and the Bear.
The crowd-pleasing was astronomical and 10-20000 Germans doing a sing-along was an amazing finish to the festival.
Sunday 7.8.2011 94km Total:2601km
So we left the last gig at 3AM and were back at the hotel about 3.30.
I feel more dead than alive eating breakfast at 8.30 and we're meant to be checked out of the rooms at no later than 10.
We leave Julianka behind us in a sleep-deprived haze and true to our/my form we haven't studied the route at all and both Bear and I get equally surprised when we after a short ride get to a cue that leads to a ferry.
I was fairly certain I'd routed us overland.
Obedient Swedes as we are we get in line whereby the German in the car in front of us gets out and asks what on earth we're doing?
Isn't it a given that motorbikes ride straight to the front of the line?
Well Danke schön sir, we're not going to argue about that.
We ride onto the ferry over the river Elbe and I'm feeling that every single meter gained without us having to focus on riding is for the better.
I don't think we rode more than 50kms before I have to stop as I'm not feeling in control of the riding at all.
I'm so tired I just want to lie down in the ditch and shut my eyes and Bear's face is white as a ghost and he hasn't uttered a single word even though this was an unplanned and sudden stop.
He doesn't argue when I claim that we can't go on like this as we're both just a couple of accidents waiting to happen.
I suggest we ride no further than the district seat Cuxhaven where we'd stand the best chance of finding a hotel.
Said and done, we ride into Cuxhaven and I stay somewhere in the middle of town and start looking for hotels in the GPS which really is the only means at our disposal as any tourist agency open at this time on a Sunday was to say the least very unlikely and mobile roaming was so expensive it was out of the question.
But the GPS only lists accommodation based on names and distance, there is no description.
I think the Hotel Strandperle sound nice and the Bear tags along.
I does start to seem a bit weird with some kind of stone set red carpet on the last stretch to the hotel which is located right by the water.
Let's say there are more than a few subtle indications that this might not be the cheapest hotel in Germany.
We park the bikes outside and walk into reception where I ask for a room and inquire the cost.
In the state I was in €150 (split two ways) didn't feel pricey, to be perfectly honest I would have been fully prepared to pay more just to put my head down.
The Bear starts up a mild protest but he still accepts my argument that this is potentially life-saving as he isn't in a better state than I and none of us are fit to do any more riding.
That's probably why we both managed to miss the guide Michelin signs and the five-star plaque right outside the entrance.
And if we'd managed to miss them on the way out as well the two poor Persian slave-girls they sent out to collect our not very porter-friendy luggage was a bit of a giveaway that this was really a bit over our intended budget.
But I have to say it was an experience.
Just the fact that the garage had tiles cleaner than my kitchen and had art hanging on the walls. In the garage.
The room was one of the finest I've ever seen, we hade our own lounge area with two armchairs and a flat-screen TV and our own little balcony.
Before we do anything else I call up a place called Bike Motel we've heard of through the Swedish Motorcyclist organisation.
It's located in Nieuwe Pekela, a small village right outside Groningen in Holland and is the next place we're going to stay (if they'll have us).
I always get just a bit nervous when I'm calling someone who I know speak a language I don't understand so when the person in the other end answers in Dutch I ask in English if they have any rooms for tomorrow night.
It's almost like a pleasurable shiver down my spine when the woman I'm talking to (Linsay) says in the most wonderful Scottish accent: Aye, woods ye loch a one person ur tois person room please?
With that settled we go out on a small excursion, unfortunately it has by now already gotten quite dark which was a pity because the hotel had a real nice location right by the water.
We've pretty much gone on overtime since square one today so we take an early night and get some much-needed rest.
Monday 8.8.2011 313km Total:2914km
For breakfast we're greeted by the most exuberant breakfast buffet I have ever seen and no sooner have I sat by a table when a cute waitress asks if sir would like coffee or tea with his breakfast.
I reply that sir prefers coffee and within minutes she returns with a tray with a silver pot of my coffee for my exclusive indulgence.
Ok, so this place wasn't cheap but if there where any doubts before it's well settled now: I regret nothing.
We've consciously decided to ride through Holland along the cost but because of the banks we most of the time only catch glimpses of the sea.
The short stretches were we do ride along the water still makes it worth the detour.
We make it until lunchtime in reasonably fair weather but then the heavens open up and it just gets worse the later it gets.
I hadn't managed to find the address of Bike Motel in the GPS so I'd input the coordinates.
Coordinates that put us straight into the canal it would seem as we flew past the flags of the motel.
The host and hostess obviously noticed our fly-by so when we returned they had open the doors to the garage wide open and waived us straight in.
It might not sound like much but after riding in a torrential downpour the entire afternoon the fact that we could just ride straight in and where more or less literally welcomed with open arms by people that genuinely shares your passion for bikes was absolutely wonderful, we really felt welcome and at home right away.
Lindsay asks if we're hungry which we obviously where so she starts to whip up a spaghetti bolognese while John shows us around the place.
Besides the rooms we were sleeping in there was a large common room with all the creature comforts of which was a generously stocked bar.
They had an honour system at the bar so you took a list from a pad and just added what you'd drunk to the list and settled the tab at check-out.
With a spaghetti and a nice brew in our bellies we started chatting with our hosts.
We had really just intended this as a one-nighter on our way to Amsterdam but the whole place was so charming and the hosts were so pleasant I really didn't want to leave after just one day.
I asked Bear if we couldn't stay here one more night and spend tomorrow exploring Groningen before moving on.
He'd obviously been thinking the same thing as no persuading was necessary, it was settled.
This place really knew how to cater to bikers, they had a large collection of bike related movies.
We spent the evening in front of The The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid and made good use of the honour system.