We were fortunate to begin our travels with a soft landing in Germany where Heide's mom, Sieglinde, was there to meet us at the Dusseldorf airport.
When we arrived the first order of business was to reassemble our bikes.
Bikes, assembled, packed up, and ready for the train ride and short cycle to our first destination, Oma's house in Langenfeld. After a frantic few days of packing up our lives in Seattle and the long flight to Europe it was nice to have a place to relax and recoup from jet lag before we headed out biking and wwoofing.
The weather was unseasonably warm and we took advantage by getting out on the bikes and exploring the area. It was great to see the number of Germans who use bicycles for regular transport as well as weekend leisure.
A small ferry boat took us across the Rhine to the Medieval town of Zons.
We spent one afternoon at a Carnival parade in Cologne where we felt very under dressed for the occasion in comparison to the other festively costumed attendees.
Aside from taking it easy, Patrick had the great pleasure of meeting Heide's many relatives in Langenfeld, including Oma Hoemann (104 this year!), uncles, cousins and their children. The Hoemann family has a long history in the area as the owners and operators of a nursery and landscaping businesses. Above is the S-Bahn traveling past the fields surrounding the old nursery. We were hosted for lunch, coffee and cake, or dinner almost every day of our nine day stay. Everyone was very welcoming and curious to hear about our next nine months. It was an all around great start to the trip, but we were excited to begin in ernest.
So we loaded up the bikes again and set off to the train station for our long journey to France.
Off we go!