The Warm Showers Chainsaw Killer

I’m a day outside of Leipzig, in the smallish town of Querfurt. It’s morning, and in a couple of hours I continue west, making my way, eventually, to my next Euro 2024 city, Dortmund. In between I have another 3-4 days of cycling before I get there. I’ll be criss-crossing back west, eventually hitting a string of big cities that are quite close to one another – Dortmund, Gelsinkirchen, Düsseldorf and Cologne before going south and then back east. In the meantime I’ll be cycling through a lot of countryside and small villages, with today, as luck would have it, an east wind at my back and a forecast for sun!

Leipzig was great! On my initial itinerary I’d planned to bike from Berlin to Leipzig in two days, but after some thought and rearranging, I decided to do it in three. That meant one fewer day in Leipzig but also a chance to spread out the miles and have a little more of a relaxing journey to get there. It ended up being an excellent choice, I think, because instead of arriving in Leipzig very late in the day on Monday, I was able to have a very leisurely ride into the city Tuesday and arrive right around lunchtime. I biked through a huge, absolutely gorgeous prairie landscape nature preserve on my way that morning and even stopped at Badesee for a refreshing dip in the lake. I felt super smart having changed my plans and being able to really enjoy my morning.

Once in the city, my relaxed vibe continued as I made my way into the center, to Augustusplatz and the Euro 2024 Fan Zone, and parked myself at an outdoor table at Hans Im Glück, a burger chain found all over Germany. I ordered a tall helles beer, gave a quick thanks for the joy and contentment I was feeling, then sat back and people watched, as Portuguese and Czechian football fans paraded by my table. I remained for a couple hours, ordering another beer and some garlic cheese fries, absolutely loving the vibe all around me, chatting a little with some guys from Portugal at the next table over, and basking in the sounds of an AC/DC cover band that was playing in the Fan Zone. They were awesome! It was kind of one of these perfect little moments when life just feels right.

That night I stayed with another Warm Showers host, this time Claudia, Daniel and their daughter Yuli. Because you don’t really see pictures of the homes you’re staying in before you arrive, it’s like this giant, mysterious reveal once you get there. It’s a little unsettling, but kind of fun at the same time. With Claudia and Daniel’s place, wow, I was blown away. It was one of these places where the elevator goes only to their apartment. You leave the elevator and you’re inside their home. The place was stunning. Large windows all around, two balconies – one of them gigantic – and views overlooking a beautiful little canal. I’d lucked out, for sure! And that included not just this amazing flat, but also the fact that Daniel and Claudia are amazing people. So sweet and kind and curious about my adventure. We had great conversations, over dinner and after, them telling me all about their 2-year bike trip around the world. (Again, the things people do!!!) They had gorgeous, large prints of pictures of them from far off places from their journey adorning all the walls. In addition to talking about cycling, they were terribly interested, and knowledgeable regarding, American politics. We talked for a long time about our upcoming election and the general state of things in the U.S. I’ve grown to become less surprised than in the past when encountering Europeans who seem to know almost more about American politics than I do. It’s just a thing. They’re far more educated about us than we are about them. Claudia and Daniel also discussed the shift toward the far right in Germany and how many people in their part of the country voted for AFD candidates in the latest European Union elections. A great, rich conversation with two really cool, kind and interesting people.

My evening was supposed to end back at the Fan Zone in Augustusplatz to watch Portugal versus Czechia, and while I made it there and had some fun prior to the match, the impending storm put an abrupt end to the party and we were all ushered out of the gates. Disappointing! I had cycled past a beer garden with TVs on my way into the center, so I pedaled back there, took a spot under one of their huge umbrellas and enjoyed a pilsner and the match under the rain.

Stepping back a couple of days from Leipzig, on Sunday night, my first night after Berlin, I had quite the unique accommodation. I stayed in an old camper parked on the property of Warm Showers host Heidi – I pooped in a “compost outhouse,” took a shower al fresco in their outdoor, solar shower and howled at the moon until all hours of the night. Ok, the first two of those things actually happened. It was cool. A bit strange, and I did wonder if I’d become the latest victim of the German chainsaw “warm showers” killer – the next hit, true crime podcast. But… it was actually a very cool memory on this trip of memories. I took a lovely, sunset walk along a nearby wheat field before bed and soaked up their beautiful property of wild flowers, vegetable gardens and expansive grassy meadows. Cool, cool.

I’ve gotta say I’ve been a little disappointed with the soccer scene in these smaller towns. The last two nights, including last night when Germany was playing for crying out loud, it was nearly impossible to find a bar or restaurant that was showing the matches. The bar scene in rural Germany actually sucks quite big. Germany just is not a bar or pub culture. Unless you’re in the big cities, finding a “bar” is really a challenge. They just don’t exist much. It’s all restaurants with table service, very few of them having any kind of “pub” vibe, let alone TVs to watch sports. There’s a lot I love about Germany, but damn I sometimes miss a good old American sports bar. Applebees, I’ll never say an unkind word about you ever again! I promise! Finding places open in mid-day is also a challenge. A lot of restaurants are closed during the day and don’t open until around 6:00. That means, typically, I’ve had to make my way to a doner kebab shop. Not a terrible thing, but I’ve had three doners in three days. I love ‘em, but I’m a little sick of them. It’s because of the lack of soccer excitement in these smaller villages that I’m planning on pushing a bit to get to Dortmund by Sunday, when Germany plays their last group stage match against Switzerland. I want to be part of the fun, part of the Fan Zone and hang with Germans as they revel in this tourney.

OK, that’s it. Time to get my gear together and get riding. Tonight I’m in a small village called Nohra Bleicherode, staying with Warm Showers host Philipp and his wife. I’m filling my belly with a huge hotel breakfast – yep, last night I splurged – and the day ahead looks great. Knock on wood for a super cycling day ahead!

6 thoughts on “The Warm Showers Chainsaw Killer

  1. Karen Mandt

    Amazing ! You’re doing so well on maintaining your schedule and actually relaxing! Good for you!
    Enjoying your stories !

    1. Charmaine

      Hi C it’s great to hear and see how well you are doing…keep up good work we stand behind you…

  2. Laura Guadalupe Carreon Jimenez

    Cada vez mas aventuras interesantes, me llama la atención que no todas las pequeñas villas tengan esa pasión por los partidos, sería interesante saber que mueve a esas pequeñas ciudades. Igual sucede por acá en México, los lugareños tienen diferentes aficiones, algunos al futbol otros al beis ball. Me pregunto si los bares de allá son como las cantinas de acá, donde no pueden entrar las mujeres, así que me da curiosidad, pues tampoco conozco cantinas.
    Sigue con ese entusiasmo, quédate y atesora toda esa cultura que has ido probando por el camino, estas memorias podrían bien ser un siguiente libro, ya veo que apasionados por viajar en bici hay muchos.
    Te vez ya mucho más en control de la situación y eso me da gusto

    1. Christopher Kreie Post author

      Thanks so much Laura! I am feeling more in control, but every day and every experience is a little different, so in some ways it’s difficult to get in a solid, easy rythym. But, I guess that’s also what makes it a fun adventure!


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