Monday 29.07.2013 678km Total: 678km
We leave home at 9 o'clock and ride the 140kms to BrålandaRasta.
We usually stop at the Mellerud reststop but I was in dire need of a caffeine refill.
Another refill later, this time petrol we ride into Goteborg where we stop at Bäckebol mall and jump inside Mediamarkt because the bear needed a pair of in-ear headphones for his phone so he could listen to some music during the highway stretches.
Since it was that time a day we also got some lunch, my appetite wasn't all that great because the nausea I should have gotten after the late night drinking Saturday seems to have been delayed.
I must have gotten an new world record in traveller's tummy because we haven't even left the country and my stomach is in a state of chaos. Not a great beginning.
After lunch we got back on the bikes and rode on, the bear was still taking the lead and was galloping on like he had rabies and with a wild Tiger in tow the miles flew past.
The two previous first stops Tomasdal and Svalöv felt silly since we had plenty of energy to push on.
I brought the laptop with me on a refuel/coffee-stop and we started discussing what we thought we'd manage milege-wise.
We decided on somewhere around Roskilde and found a nice little hotel in Sorö where we booked a room from the café-corner of the gasstation.
Since I had forgotten to set the GPS from shortest to quickest route we got ourselves a bit of a sightseeing tour through the Malmö ghettos and unfortunately it wasn't just the average skin tone that got darker, the sky was as well and the first drops of rain started to fall.
I've always felt that the vacation doesn't really start until I see the sign above the road just before the Oresund bridge that says "last exit in Sweden" and had decided I'd try to snap a picture of it this time.
I prepared myself by tucking the camera in a side pocket of my jacket.
What I'd managed to forget was that the sign comes before the speed reduction of the toll.
I'm not really kamikaze enough to try and snap a picture riding 130 km/h¹ in the rain on a motorcycle so I think I'll just settle for the picture in my mind for now.
It turns out that it was just Sweden the sun had turned its back on, when we ride up from the tunnel after the bride on the Danish side it was like we'd ridden to another continent with the sun as bright as a floodlight in our faces.
It was a good feeling when we finally arrived at the hotel, by the end I was killing insects with my helmet and body in such a biblical scale it almost felt like my whole body was itching and crawling.
After checking in, parking the bikes right outside our rooms window and making ourselves a bit more presentable (sometimes the staff at the nicer hotels are so stuck up and posh it's very hard to resist not screwing with them a bit) we made our way to the hotel restaurant.
The evening supper was fillet of beef and even though I made sure the waitress understood that I'm allergic to milk I got the beef with a mountain of herb butter, potatoes that seemed to have been boiled in butter and a side of mashed potatoes which I'm sure contained milk.
I was tired, irritated and hungry. I used the linen napkin to squeeze the butter out of the filet.
Not my proudest moment but an ice cold Royal beer soothed what guilty conscience I might have had.
On the bright side, if meat makes you constipated a meat-only supper might solve my stomach problems.
Back at the room we booked the next nights stay at the Gresham Carat Hotel in Hamburg.
¹ You'll never take me alive!
Tuesday 30.07.2013 315km Total: 993km
Reveille at 08.00 followed by the breakfast buffe, then onto the motorway and the Rödby Puttgarden ferry over to Deutchland.
I had to force the GPS to go overland yesterday because it desperately wanted to go on the Helsingborg-Helsingör ferry so by some twisted logic I guess it stands to reason that I have to reroute on the ferry because the GPS wants to go overland.
A splash and dash refuel later we're at the ferry port ready to go on the 11.45 ferry so that was good timing.
None of us where hungry yet so we skipped lunch on the ferry and I instead got a cup of coffee for the extortionate amount of almost €4!
But in all honesty it was more of a bucket than a cup really.
We get lunch about half way on the german side, Schnitzel was the obvious choice since that is the roadside German equivalent of a burger and it wasn't bad grub and the portion was large enough to satisfy a German lorry driver.
We check in at the hotel around half past three and as usual we where met by a few drops of rain on the way, this is the third year in a row we're met by rain going into Hamburg.
Last year it was so bad we hung clothes to dry all over the room so this was ok.
We realized when we wanted to head in to the city centre that the distance given by hotels.com was somewhat optimistic, it might have been 3kms to the outskirts of the city centre as the crow flies but as I had left my rocketpack at home walking at least 5kms wasn't in the plans.
We got directions on how to take the Schnellbahn by a helpful receptionist so I just had to get past my public transport allergy and start walking towards the station.
It was surprisingly easy to go on the S-bahn, you just get a ticket in a machine and hop on so that was a nice surprise.
We decided to start at the outskirts and make our way to the centre.
Last year we missed the Beatlesplatz which was supposed to be somewhere near Reeperbahn so that was our first destination.
The illustrious Beatlesplatz wasn't on the tourist map so we had to try our luck asking the locals for directions.
The first guy we spoke to was great at English but sucked at geography and the next guy couldn't speak either English or geography or at least he hadn't heard of any Beatlesplatz at all.
So we walked on just to find ourselves on the very Beatlesplatz just 50 meters later.
It was certainly a bit of an anti climax because it was basically just a bunch of gingerbread cutters in a big stone circle but I find it a bit funny that a born and bred Hamburger could point out a "landmark" when it was close enough to throw a stone at where we where standing.
We continued along the Reeperbahn towards the city centre and along the way I bought an umbrella because I'd forgotten to pack one and a t-shirt even though I'd packed plenty.
After a Weissbier at the bar on the Reeperbahn which met all expectations we went down to the Alster lake and the Alex restaurant where as per tradition had supper.
On the way we stumbled upon a carnival and I steered the bear in because of one of my least known vices, baconsnacks.
Pretty common back home but apparently unheard of in these parts.
It was still a nice stroll but the only attraction we tried was archery where by some strange logic the bear managed to gradually increase his skill by a wide margin based on my instructions but I was so wide of target I was a danger to society.
We broke the Alex tradition this year because it was apparently completely impossible to have the dressing removed from a salad.
I couple of guests on the other hand is very easily removed if you decide to be an asshat of a waiter.
So instead we ate at a Block Steakhouse where there weren't any problems removing both the sour cream off the baked potato and the coleslaw of the turkey filet.
The waitress seemed a bit surprised when she as response to her question are you happy with the food got the response, yes please, I'll have another one just like that.
I was as full as you'd expect a very small man to be after eating two mains but damn it was delicious!
It was almost doubtful if I would be able to walk back to the schnellbahnstation.
The ride on the S-Bahn was as painless as the way in and walking back to the hotel it started to rain so my €3.95 investment in an umbrella paid off within hours.
Wednesday 30.07.2013 68km Total: 1061km
It's pretty much impossible to get an overview on the GPS when riding out of a major city and this time was no exception so three misnavigations and one run redlight later¹ we're on the A7 on our way towards the Mecca of Metal, Wacken.
The two last times we've been there's always been pileups on the Autobahn when we where getting close to Wacken but not this time.
Probably because we'd pimped the bikes with flags this year to smooth the irritation caused by lane splitting between traffic¹.
Instead we ride passed a very impressive road work where they were casting new road (the majority of the Autobahn is concrete, not asphalt) with a machine that looked teleported straight from the pits of hell.
It was so big and wide they cast all three lanes at the same time. Fascinating stuff really.
The signs posted at German road works is also a bit of a curiosity, where they narrow down the lanes at the beginning of the road works there's a red angry smiley with the distance until the road works end, in the middle there's a yellow neutral smiley and at the end there's a green happy smiley and a big sign that says thanks for your cooperation and understanding.
Pretty classy I think.
The 130-140km/h ride on the Autobahn completely massacred my Wackenflag but I guess the battlescars just lends it authenticity?
Just as last year Thorsten welcomed us with a big smile and a firm handshake and Doris hugged us before they opened up the garage for us to park the bikes.
Another heart-warming detail was that the boots we bought last year stood in our rooms when we carried in the luggage.
They truly are wonderful people and it almost feels as a kind of betrayal when we'll have to let them know we won't be coming back next year.
A shower later we're headed for the madness known as Wacken.
The shower is worth a mention because it's the most aggressive shower I've ever come across.
There's no big water heater anywhere, there's an instant electric heater in each room which only seem to have two modes, either ice cold or boiling.
If you have the nerve to call upon hot water the response is hot water, I'll f**king show you hot water and then you'd better stand back and try to adjust the temperature without getting scalded.
At Wacken we stroll around familiarizing ourselves with the grounds, most of it is like it was last couple of years to by know it's pretty easy finding our way around.
We're in luck with the weather and get through the whole day without any rain and head home to Julianka with Thorsten at 9PM.
At home we're greeted by the infamous wackööööööööön screams from a picnic table set up at the hotel parking lot so since we heard the call we thought we'd better heed it.
Turns out it originated from four nice middle aged metal heads from somewhere around Dortmund who generously shared not only stories (in very impressive English) an also Warsteiner Pils.
I'm not sure if the Pils might have made stories any better, but they sure as hell didn't make them any worse.
Our little miniature festival continues until about twelve and then we hit the sack.
¹ I admit nothing and you can't proove it in court.