Worms' Friendly Fireman!
I left my last post on a rather smelly cliff-hanger, apologies, but it appears to be the done thing - not the pooping into a plastic bag, but the click bate nature of the internet, “Man poo’s into plastic bag, you’ll never believe what happens next…….”
So to catch up from my last post I am currently (at the time of writing this) camped in a random “garden” as a result of randomly befriending fireman late last night.
When I say garden, its more of an allotment, kind of!!! In Germany they have a LOT of allotments, but, unlike the UK, loads of these are actually used as proper gardens, with summer houses, kids toys, paddling pools etc, etc!
Having cycled passed hundreds of these, I’m actually really pleased to have finally get the other side of the picket fence.
You may well wonder what has lead to the befriending of fireman and the resulting camping excursion in their garden, or you really may not give a monkeys!!! Either way I’m going to tell you, so you'd might as well show some form of interest.
I was cycling through the town of Worms relatively late last night, having left my previous “camp-site” - which was incredible, later than intended (which is a story for another time), I’d also spent 3 hours earlier in a McDonalds, sheltering from the torrential down pour, which miraculously I managed to time to perfection. Whilst also indulging on some of their “delicacies” and of course abusing them for their WIFI, something which has been a real challenge in Germany and as such, I’m not in a position with which I can be selective about the locations I stop.
Having unsuccessfully managed to find any accommodation in worms (which is reputed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest town in Germany), I found a location by the Rhein River which seemed, from google-maps at least, to be a good enough location for me to camp the evening.
I set my route and proceeded to head off in completely the opposite direction, in order to go via the city’s famous cathedral (or Dome in German).
Whilst on route a girl started chatting and cycling with me - amazed by the fact I’d cycled from the UK and was currently in her town “and you’ve cycled to Worms - thats fucked!!!! There are plenty of better places in Germany”.
I was rather amused by her blunt critic & we spoke for a while, chatting life, travel and Asia, from which she’d just returned, in particular Cambodia, which she’d completely fallen in love with.
It's really nice and refreshing to hear (not for the first time) that other travellers have had the “same” experience and connection with Cambodia and Cambodian’s and that her experiences of the country and the people had been very similar to mine, which goes to show I wasn’t a one off, or my experience wasn’t something “special” or remarkable, this is just Cambodia!!!! An incredible country, with the most incredible, caring and generous people, despite their incredibly depressing and troubled passed!!!
The girl, whose name escapes me (German names are not my strength), said she wished she could offer me a place to stay, but having just returned from travelling and living at her parents there was no space or way she could. She did offer for me to camp in her garden, but I felt this was more of a polite offer, than a serious one, so I gracefully declined, we said our goodbyes and I headed towards my guide, friend and companion for my trip, the River Rhein, which has treated me fantastically well thus far!
However, before reaching my companion I had to stop, it had just started to drizzle and I thought the heavens were going to open imminently, as they’d done earlier in the day, so was about to baton down the hatches.
Inadvertently the place I'd stopped happened to be a fire station and all the lads were round the back training, a couple said hello and asked if everything was OK? “Alles ist gut, Ima” (all is good, always - some of my extremely limited German), however, when I cycled off I realised I really needed a wee, I also realised that a fire station is a large place, plenty enough space for a bearded man and his bike.
I cycled back to see if I could use the toilet and maybe speak kindly to the right person and see if I couldn’t blag staying at the fire-station - Wakem Nicht (¿Por Qué No? or why not).
When I returned from the loo, there was a stocky fireman stood there, AJ, a really nice, friendly fella, who actually reminded me a lot of one of my mates back home, Spen, the little ginger tosser!!!
Its funny and not for the first time on the trip that I can see my friends in other people, it tends not to be an area that I’ve struggled with, but it really makes it easier to connect and relate to people.
Me and AJ got on really well and he was telling me some comedy stories from the station and in-particular one of the members of crew, Jerg, who was no longer at the station and from the sounds of it, for good reason.
AJ wanted to know where I intended on camping, so I roughly showed him on my map (my phone), some 7 miles away, by a busy/noisy bridge, in front of a massive chemical company - as it turned out! He thought at 9:15pm this was a pretty bad idea, to be fair he thought this was a pretty poor idea, regardless of time and offered for me to stay at the Fire-stations club down by the river, however, at €8 it was considerably more expensive than wild camping.
He said, "well if you were to camp just in front of our club, no one will say anything or move you on!" Happy days, he also said he finished his shift relatively early in the morning, so he’d bring me some brekkie - Absolutely winning!!!!
I was completely made up with his suggestion and the fact I’d only have to cycle a couple of hundred meters, instead of a further 7 miles.
As with everyone who has helped me on my trip (nearly), I requested a selfie, as I intend (and have intended since starting my trip) to put together a “Good Deed Feed” for my website and particular for my mother who thought prior to embarking on my trip that everybody wanted to rape and/or murder me. I want to show her and others for that matter, that there are far, far more good people in the world than there are bad, its just the media always wants to show and portray the negative, bad or divisive news, as this plays into their power and agenda - but again, thats a conversation for another time.
So I was going to grab a selfie with AJ, when asked if I wanted the rest of the crew involved - wakem nicht, yeah of course what a great photographic opportunity this was for the Regal Beagle and my nephews toys!
I had my photo’s, directions for where I intended on camping, I was just about to say my goodbyes when one of the volunteers and lads who was training, said that if I wanted some food and drink, that they were having a bit of a meal and get together at their local firestation, as one of the lads was going to retire after 41 years in the service.
After double and triple checking that the other guys at the station and in particular the lad who was retiring wouldn’t mind the appearance of a stinky, bearded, cycling Englishman I decided this was far to greater and random situation and opportunity to decline and as always ¿Por Qué No?.
I had a wicked evening with the guys and we sat drinking until the wee hours talking about everything and boy did we eat, I had two massive knuckles of meet, bread roles, crackling and two different types of beer - all of which were generously offered and great-fully ingested and appreciated!!!
It was fascinating to find out how this small local fire-station operated, unlike the UK and in particularly London, Germany aren’t closing these vital services and cutting funding, but quite the opposite, this small local station had around 40 full time staff and also utilised local volunteers, who have similar, if not the same training, some as young as 19 and others as old as 45 - I thought this was a fantastic idea and something the UK could certainly learn from, particularly after the horrendous situation at Grenfell Tower - my thoughts and prayers go out to all of those families and people affected by it!!!!
It was really nice to see the camaraderie and bond these guys had and it very much reminded me of my time playing rugby, whereby you literally live, die and fight for the man on your shoulder, it was a really close knit group with brothers, uncles and dads, all uniting for the same cause and it was a really nice and somewhat strange evening to have randomly been apart of.
Following the meal/drinks one of the young volunteers lead me back to his family “garden”, where I pitched my tent about 4am, this is probably the latest and most intoxicated state in which the tent has been put up and credit to Vango, even though I was a little wonky donkey, the tent went up with ease!!!!
This is not the end of the story, simply the end of this blog, I’ll let y’all catch your breath before I post an update “soon”, about how this beautiful situation panned out and resulted in me joining a wedding party for the evening, strange and funny times!!!!
Anyways, Peace Out!!!! X