Four days. For almost four days I spent most of my time stuck inside a tent. The nights were cold and the ground beneath me was so waterlogged it felt like I was floating. The first day was not so bad, I considered it an impromptu rest day and appreciated the sound of the rain. The second day started well, but it ended awfully.
I woke up to the monotonous drumming of rain as it slowed and stopped long enough for me to go and take a shower to warm up. Hanging my towel over a fence, I took advantage of a covered electrical point to charge my phone. Of course, without warning, a sudden downpour burst from the sky and I made a run for it. Leaving my towel to fend for itself against the torrent of rain. I should have just packed down and left during that dry spell, found somewhere else to wait out the rest of the storm…
The rain came without relent all afternoon but the early evening bought a dry spell. I fetched and wrung out my towel, draping it on my tent so not to forget it again, and began to cook dinner. I wasn’t feeling great and hoped a warm meal would fix me up. The weather, of course had other ideas. I began cooking, in fact I was nearly done and just had to warm it all through. But the heavens opened with vigor and I was forced back to my tent. I tried to be clever and bought the stove with me, attempting to prop my tent door up as a small shelter just so I could get my hot meal. The rain intensified further and I decided to cut my losses, a lukewarm meal would do.
The zip to my tent was stuck. In a hurry to stop the sideways rain getting in I kept pulling at the zip. On the last tug the zip broke off and the unexpected movement in my arm knocked my stove over. I had just simultaneously broken my tent and spilled my dinner (I was at least twice as upset about the food). My tent was no longer waterproof, and in the next hour, whilst trying to hold my outer tent door closed, the wind and the rain soaked my pillow, some of my clothes, and the top corner my sleeping bag. I also remembered that I’d left my towel outside again. Eventually I accepted the damage was done and laid back defeated. I went to sleep that night cold, wet and hungry.
Day three was rough. I felt cold to my bones, my body was stiff and my head felt awful. I checked my Oktoberfest ticket to see how many days I had left to get there. I had roughly 200 miles (320km) left to Munich, with some elevation to pass. I was sure I had time. Oktoberfest was in October, right?
Well, kind of. Oktoberfest did run into the first week of October. But my ticket was for the 21st – 23rd of September… Four days away.
I was completely deflated. I knew I wouldn’t make the 200 mile ride In time for my ticket and I was feeling worse by the hour. I couldn’t bring myself to move and I tried my best to sleep the worst of it off.
In a damp tent, that was a tall order.
On day four the rain stopped long enough for me to attempt an escape. I decided to head to Würzburg and consider my options. The 25 mile (40km) ride felt like it took forever. The rain came in short sharp bursts. My body was stiff, my head pounding and I was either too hot or too cold.
I should have got a hotel in Würzburg, stayed in the warm for two nights to recover and then taken a train to Munich (München) for Oktoberfest. But in a rush to get out of the weather, I headed straight for the station and boarded a train to Munich. Using the WiFi in the carriage I discovered most of the hotels were booked solid because of the festival, and prices were double that of Würzburg. My budgeting had however, been thrown out of the window long ago. I was more than content in the knowledge I’d be warm and dry in a few hours.
The two hour train covered close to five days ride on a bicycle. One part of me felt like I was cheating, the other part felt too awful to care. Arriving in Munich sweaty and shivering, I was not eager for a cycle. Half an hours ride got me to the closest hotel with vacancies and I hastily paid the €190 to get into the warmth. I am sure Munich was a lovely city to cycle through, though I rarely looked up from my handlebars.
I awoke after dark that evening feeling a lot better. The heat had returned to my bones and my feverish symptoms had subsided. I laid out all of the wet gear and took a long warm shower before cooking my last dehydrated ready meal at the window of my room.
I woke up in another world. Blue skies beyond the clouds, the air was still and I felt alive again. A long lay-in was enjoyed before a venture for sustenance. I also took the day to explore Olympiapark in Munich.
I had one more sleep before camping out in the colder late September evenings again. In a tent that I couldn’t close. I was nearing the end of my trip and also the end of my savings, but I was in Munich! What had started out as an idea plucked from nothing the previous winter, was now an experience that would change me in ways that only travel can. Even though I took a train for the last push, I sat upon a hill in Olympiapark proud of what I had accomplished.
Onward I go. To Oktoberfest!
Want more? Read the next story – Oktoberfest!