Fri 31st Aug.
– B E R L I N –
Throughout the night I heard wild boars in the woods around. I heard them quite often throughout the trip and I knew they were popular in Germany. It sounds like a distress scream of a wild animal which echoes around the woods it inhabits, making it sound more eerie and raw. I also heard deer and saw a few in the morning before leaving.
I put on my new jersey I got in Milan to celebrate the making it to what felt like the end of the trip, although there was more to do after, this was the main hurdle for me. I went back into the small town I came through the previous night for a pastry and a coffee. I got two again, one for later, but ended up eating both on the spot.
I went through Trebbin which was a nice peaceful place, before trying to turn it up and get into Berlin. It wasn’t that I was tired, it’s just that I didn’t have much energy. I found with long distance you can have sugars to give you energy as a quick boost, but for long days like this you need to give your body a good bed of carbs the night before. Which is why I always have rice. A lot of the days in Italy I had to shut the tent because of mosquitoes and I couldn’t cook inside, so I passed up on eating and changed my routine and tried to have a main meal out in the middle of the day. On the days were I didn’t eat the night before, I knew about it in the morning. After an hour of cycling you feel like you have nothing left and you become uncertain about what to do. Bread helps, but in those scenarios you need food. I wasn’t that low now, but I knew I couldn’t build up to the pace I had yesterday, which was fine as I had plenty of time.
Still running on pure adrenaline, I got to Potsdam south-west of the city. I had another coffee and sent a message to the friend I was staying with as well as a celebratory ‘THE FINISH LINE IS NEAR’ post on facebook.
I went out through Potsdam and then crossed some of the beautiful lakes in this part of the city. Berlin’s not famous for its lakes, but they’d make a nice day trip to break up life in a city. They were completely unspoilt by the huge city nearby and looked as though they were out in the countryside, surrounded by nothing but nature.
Getting into the city from here was easy, but still took a while. The roads in Berlin where long and straight. I took one road over about three crossings and turned left heading north. Four more crossing, then right and kept doing that slow gaining ground. I went through one of the towns of the city in this area and realised that Berlin always seems to have a fairly regulated amount of people in any given place at any time. It was busy, but not over flowing here. It was like that in the areas I’d been to before and I imagined it was like that all over the city. Regulated levels of people.
I started getting really close and went past some big corporate buildings and a statue I thought I recognised, but had confused with something else. I then realised where I was, I was heading east towards the Brandenburg gate and at the next big round about was the point I had cycled to this first time I came here two years ago when I hired a bike for the day. Which meant there was about two kilometres to go. I was all smiles the whole way there and a huge wave of relief, euphoria, exasperation and excitement came over me. I saw the gate in the distance and when I got to it, it was one of the greatest feelings of my life. I had set myself a challenge that I wasn’t sure would be possible when I first considered it, and here I was at the finish line. I’d done it. I wanted to through my head back and let out the last shouts of force and energy possible, but realised that might not be the best way to celebrate with so many people around. I kept wanting people to ask where I’d come from so I could casually drop in the trip from London and Barcelona. But as you might expect everyone kept to themselves.
I stayed there a while just taking it all in. The goal had been achieved and my reward would be a bed and a shower for ten days in my most loved city in the world. I would eat, sleep and recover. I also had a ticket to the festival there in a weeks time, where I’d get to see Blur (again on this trip) and Björk.
Although I’d made it to the Brandenburg, I there was still work to do after Berlin. But I would worry about that then, now was time to relax.