Biking Germany The Italian Job Uncategorized

Crossing the line

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Borders aren’t what they used to be

Somewhere we crossed a line and something changed. It wasn’t the border; that passed without about as much fanfare as a coffee in a café. The road from Holland to Germany has no obvious border. No flag, policeman, passport control, bureau de change; not even a Wilkommen sign. Not even a line in the road. Just an EU blue sign marks the end of one nation and the beginning of another.

European borders are not what they used to be. Gone is the excitement of passport checks, a customs inquisition or foreign exchange transaction while struggling to mentally switch languages or find your new phrase book in you pannier. No, no such drama these days; the price of freedom of movement. Shame, for it made European travel so much more fun.

Somewhere we lost the sweet Rhine and found another river

Somewhere we crossed a line and something changed. Somewhere in Germany, riding up the Rhine, sweet innocent Rhineland left us following her dark industrial brother.  No more pasture, wheat field, canal, orchards and windmills. No more cobbled squares, village pumps, churches, bakerei, cafes and mediaeval charm.  No more bird song or whip of wooden boom gibing on the wind.

Freight barges dominate the river here, overruling currents to drop loads where and when they want to. In the dockyards juggernauts rattle on industrial cobble, past railyard and dock to smokestack horizons. Dockside is blockside, concrete buildings, modern lines, function dictating form; no place for art or architecture here.  The grey sky says it all. What need for colour beyond the charcoal, silver and grey of the great industrial revolution.  It’s easy to yearn for sweet Rhineland but we need to experience these contrasts to appreciate the many different characters of the Rhine.

The Rhine has a more industrial feel now 

Somewhere we crossed a line and something changed. I couldn’t tell you which day it was or when or where it happened but there’s been a quiet transformation in the family in the week we’ve been on the road. We’re not the family we were at home, now shorn of our usual routines, personal space, possessions and private time. Now we’re tied together on tandems, trying to work together, pushing and shoving, jigging and jostling, hugging and hitting, learning and loving, as we struggle to figure out a different way of being together on this journey.

Somewhere on the road we changed too… and became more of a team

It takes a while to work it out, to find our new places, roles and ways of relating, to appreciate the complex meshings of our different characters, but as we do we come to know that as a family we can also forge ourselves into a team.

New places, new rhythms, we adapt as we go

About the author


The Family Adventure Project. Ideas and inspiration for an active and adventurous family lifestyle. From everyday adventures to once in a lifetime experiences. Stories, images and media produced and published by Stuart Wickes and Kirstie Pelling.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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