• 30 October 2013

I smile and continue my own way…

I smile and continue my own way…

I smile and continue my own way… 300 169 Gürkan Genç



There are no customs or any other controls at the German Danish border for the present. J I say for the present because the Danish Government may start to control border crosses in a close future. Denmark is not a member of European Union but is one of the countries of Schengen area. So, why they may reintroduce border controls upon transiting from Germany to Denmark? The Danish government and also Danes got annoyed with the increase in cross-border crime, especially influx of human trafficking. They say that this negatively affects country’s economics and hold Germany responsible for that. A Danish official had pronounced: “Germany is giving passport to anyone who applies for.” Anyway, while I was cycling through Germany I came to know that this situation has changed to some extent.

(You may read about the recent measures undertaken from the following link http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/corrosion-of-the-freedom-to-travel-denmark-to-reintroduce-border-controls-on-tuesday-a-771888.html)

Well, there are two main inland border crossings between Germany and Denmark. I decided to cross the western border in order to pedal against the famous North Sea winds and I did so (yes, I’m a bit outsider). You may find this route on my “Gurkan Genc Nerede – Where is Gurkan Genc” page.

If I would had known my exact route and had known where to stay months or even days afore people that I love would be able to come and visit me. But I don’t have a fixed route. I have a certain country course which even I change from time to time. By that time as we had talked with Hakan Abi (elderly brother in Turkish) 10 days afore it seemed that I would cross the border at Flensburg. Nevertheless, I changed my mind and crossed at Aventoft. This was one of the reasons why I put the “Where is Gurkan Genc” page which is continually updated showing where I am and which route I’m following. Unfortunately, Hakan Abi cycled from Hamburg to Flensburg to meet me which did not happen while I changed my mind. I also don’t know his mobile number. I guess he got angry with me. “Dude, I cycle all the way from Hamburg to Flensburg to meet Gurkan and he just chooses another border to cross!” I begged for pardon and repeat once more “Beg your pardon” Herewith, I would like to mention once again: When and where I’ll be, which route I’ll follow and the course of the countries are subject to change.

As it was in Denmark, also Northeastern Germany is extremely windy. The bicycle road I cycled on in Denmark continues also in Germany uninterrupted. Now, at the right hand side of the road there are windmills as far as eyes can reach. The last time I saw so many windmills was in China. Actually what I wonder are the solar parks. I hope that I can see some and take photos.

During the 50 km I cycled in Germany I didn’t encounter a single flag which would make me feel to be in Germany. I’m for sure not in Denmark since there aren’t any Danish flags. At the end I see a flag in front of a military base. Good. I place my bicycle, prepare my tripod. The soldiers look at me as if saying: “What the hell are you doing?”

–          Excuse me buddy, nothing to do. The first flag I saw is this one. I got the point, you had lost the habit to display your flag everywhere after II. World War.

By the way, the tractors used here are as big as 8 wheels as they were in Denmark. How come a machine is this? You must see the variety of the equipment carried at the rear of these tractors. Makes you feel to work in a farm.

It is difficult to find someone speaking English in small towns in Germany. You might ask the school children if you need to and only know English you would get a prompt answer from them. I entered a store and bought provisions indicating what I want with gestures. I tried to pay with credit card which was not accepted. Well, in small towns and villages in Germany you pay cash, if with credit card then at touristic destinations. Hereby, I learn that it is very difficult to own a credit card. I have American Express, Visa, Master, Maestro, Visa Electronic whatever you want, on the top of it, given from three different banks. Before my tours I didn’t possess such an amount of credit cards and did also not prefer to use them while I was in Turkey. If you have money you buy and vice versa, that’s it.

The cross country bicycle roads continue also throughout the towns and villages. The sport’s life in Germany is at another dimension. First of all, every village I passed through has one or two green and well kept soccer fields. Every town has at least a swimming pool, a basketball and a volleyball field. Look! Here is a mother taking out her child sitting in the stroller with rollerblades on and there is a father jogging while pushing the baby stroller. Germans have constructed really well designed sport’s infrastructure. I have never seen such sport’s areas with steel sport’s implements in parks which are common in Turkey. After encountering all these, it seems to me quite palatable that two German teams took part in the final games of 2013 Champions League.

Sure, since I had traveled in the northern part of Europe for months I’m not used to see crowded towns and cities. Also, the traffic is heavier here. But one subject has caught my eye: The shops close early and open late. I went to a store on my way in a town which was closed. I checked the working hours from the board hanging at the window. Dude, if I need something during day’s hour where to buy? This is generally through also for other parts in Germany. Apart, the situation is some kind of better in bigger cities.

Onur Baki a friend of mine from Ankara lives in Bad Bramstedt. We hadn’t seen or heard from each other for a long time. He had settled in Germany, had married and his wife waiting for their first child. He sent me a message while I was on the road. “I’m on your route. Stop by.”

A second message came from him after I crossed the border:

–          Tea is ready. We are waiting for you.

The day I intended to stop by him I cycled for 110 km. I must say that this northern part of Germany is level compared to Denmark. As I was just thinking that I hadn’t seen any “Doner Kebab” restaurant in Germany, I run into Cevdet Abi’s. Well, it was also getting dark… “What if I don’t go to Onur today? I eat doner kebab then camp just outside the town.”


Meanwhile, Onur called me. I’m afraid that he did hear me.


–                     Buddy, it is 18 km to my home. Why did you stop again?

–                     Really, only that much? Buster, I did 110 km today, I got tired.

–                     What the hell you got tired? Come on. We are waiting for you.

–                     Okay. I’m coming

I checked from GPS the route and started to cycle towards Onur’s home. If you see the prefix “Bad” in front of the name of a town you know that this is a therapy center or has thermal springs. I had crossed a couple of such towns. On the coming days I would see how many such towns there are in Germany recognizing the prefix “Bad” in the town’s names. Anyhow, I ate my doner and departed.


Dude! 20 km passed, 30 km passed, I’m still pedaling. The situation was cleared by the message of Onur: “Gurkan you are going towards Bad Bremstedt and not Bad Bramstedt!” It got dark.


–                     Onur buddy, it got dark. I’m going to camp somewhere here.

–                     Man! I’ll come and pick you up. You are not far from us.

–                     No, Onur. It started to rain already. I’ll camp here.

–                     Man! I won’t tell anybody that I have picked you up with my car. Don’t sleep in the tent just in the vicinity of us.

–                     Hahaha! There is only 10 km. We’ll see us at breakfast. It doesn’t matter.


It is really a dull situation to erect a tent under rain and even more at night. I don’t use nylon or what so ever cover under my tent. I don’t care whether it gets dirty with mud as long as it is waterproof. The Brand Marks would not invest in R&D for no reason. Of course, these tents are waterproof and do not tear out after 100 times of usage (I’m talking about good quality tents). That night it rained heavily. In the morning I saw that the bottom of my tent was covered with dung mud. I don’t care, let’s move.


Now, if I had tried to reach Onur’s house I wouldn’t see the beauty of this road. Every cloud has a silver lining. Furthermore, as I arrived in the town an old man came next to me:


–                     Where do you come from?

–                     Turkey.

–                     Gorgeous.

He asked me how long I was on the road, which countries I had crossed. His name was Pingel and 72 years old. He cycled through Baltic and Scandinavian countries 5 years ago. Boo! J He looked at my bicycle. He an old stager checked the brakes, oil etc. He liked what he saw. “Strong and good” While I was chatting with him, I forgot that Onur was waiting for me for breakfast. Onur having checked from my webpage where I’m, “Buster, he didn’t move for two hours form the spot two streets ahead”, came over. I was in a deep conversation with my new buddy. J

–                     Gurkan!

–                     Onur?

–                     Buster, what the hell are you doing here? Who is he, dude.

–                     Come here, come. This old stager is my new chum.

Hahaha. Onur started to talk in German with him. Wow… My buddy is speaking German like a native.  We continue to talk for a while then head towards Onur’s house.


The story of Onur is really very interesting. He came to Germany for his love. They are expecting their first child next month. (Now they have a son. He even sent a photo of his wienie. [Buddy, I couldn’t find the photo otherwise I would have shown to uncles and brothers hahaha]). Thank you Tuba, the breakfast was delicious. I had got really very tired since I cycled every single day from Denmark down here. At the evening I fell almost asleep on the couch (I’m yawning so much while I’m writing. It might be better to go to sleep and continue tomorrow). The next day we had again a very delicious breakfast all together and then they saw me off. The dialogue between Onur and me…


–                     Gurkan, I want to quit my job.

–                     Well, what do you want to do?

–                     My dream was to become a professional cook but didn’t happen to realize. Well, what you are undertaking encourages me.

–                     Look my friend. Your wife is going to have a baby. Think thoroughly. If you really believe in yourself that you would become a cook then go ahead!

Yes, I’m the one who is on his way to realize his dream. I’m responsible only to myself during this journey. Therefore, my area of freedom is huge. I don’t have a house. I have not to pay any bills. I’m not married. I don’t have a child (for the time being). Many people think that I don’t have any responsibilities, those underestimating my journey. Meanwhile, the ones who know me don’t show such reactions anymore. I guess, my friends and followers caught on that I would do what I say.

Onur is just at the very beginning of such a period. You won’t recognize your life (yourself) without taking any risks. Also Onur is ready to take the risks of his own life. “Hey mate, I believe in you!” After months, Onur sent a photo. Yes, we have dreams and we want to realize them. Don’t think that the ones who realize their dreams are free of responsibilities! Dream is the belief into invisible. The others won’t know what you have gone through with, won’t understand your responsibilities.

I kiss the whole family. Say hello to all. J

The next big city is Hamburg. This is a reality: The German local cuisine has become doner. In big towns you encounter doner restaurants or stalls in almost every corner. I guess in villages there is also at least one doner restaurant. But of course it is not served as in Turkey. Doner is served in tortilla shells where as you eat doner-ekmek (bread in Turkish) in Turkey.

–                     Do you want tzatziki?

–                     What?

–                     Sauce abi. Tzatziki

–                     No. Did you add some onions and salad?

–                     Yes, abi. Do you want anything else?

–                     No. Thank you.

Well, they eat doner with sauce here. J I tried this sauce once but didn’t like at all. Well, since I’m in Hamburg, I need a shave. I asked to the man selling doner who pointed the next store, a Turkish barber. J “Go there and have a haircut and get shaved”. Hummm… Many Turks in this city.

No need to give details about the city which is the biggest port albeit not at sea shore. The night life, sex and alcohol in this city push the limit. I went to the red light district during day time. Tourism agencies organize tours to this district.

–                     Well, this street was established in 1950 bearing that many dancers. The people who work here….

–                     Pardon me, is it allowed to have sex inside?

Such questions are asked by the visitors to the guide. Just pedaling in front of a house, a man calls me: “Come inside. We make a special discount for you”

–                     Abi, I’m intending to go to the museum. 

He keeps talking. Amca (uncle in Turkish) where is the museum?

There are nice dwellings, restaurants, cafes downtown. There is a miniature museum in Hamburg. Albeit it was worth to visit, I was feeling so tired that I didn’t go. For your attention, I was road exhausted. Don’t understand mistakenly! I took a rest as far as possible and then departed from the city. At the time I went out of the hotel I saw a mother and daughter preparing their bicycles for a North Sea shore trip. One of them was 40, the other 61 years old. I was lost for words. What a marvelous adventure. The inter family relationships seem to be closer in Germany compared to that in Scandinavian countries.

When you tour through Germany you encounter many other tourers several times during a day. German’s cycle here and there throughout their country. Although there are so many cyclists on the road, nobody stops and talk to you. You get really pleased when you see people touring like you.

I halted one of them. I say halted because I was cycling in the middle of the bicycle road. Anyway, we said hello to each other. Since he didn’t know any English we couldn’t talk to each other. I guess that is the reason why the other tourers don’t want to stop. They don’t speak English. From his gestures and the names of the cities he mentioned I understood that he had traveled around Germany. Well done!

I had entered Hamburg coming from the north but now changed my direction again towards north. After 50 km a whatsapp message from Onur:

–                     Did you get lost, buddy? You are heading towards north!

–                     No. I’m going to Luebeck.

It makes me feel good that my friends follow me so close.

In the northern part of Germany there are bicycle roads next to almost each main road, so you don’t bother about traffic. I arrived in Luebeck having a calm cycling day. This city with its architecture and street musicians is really magnificent. Of course, as it is in every city in Germany you encounter many Turks also in this city. I talked with the Turkish shopkeepers. There are too many problems they face with. The German treasury bears pressure down on them. It is almost impossible to evade taxes. Tax inspectors come to the shops and inspect every detail also the Z reports (end of day reports). The restaurant I was sitting in was fined for 60 000 Euro. 12 other Turkish restaurants were fined likewise. The shopkeepers say that this was done on purpose. Putting in other words, the state officials want to seize their domain. They also escalated this issue to the Turkish Consulate but did not get any support. Well, it is impossible for me to be a side of this issue, at least unless I have spoken to the mayor or consulate.

Then I went to another store and met a young man. He was saving money for his summer vacation in Turkey. Having an intense talk he said:

–                     Abi, I feel to belong neither to Germany nor to Turkey. I was born and grown up here but never felt myself as German. When we go to Turkey, they call us as “Almanci (the Turkish term used for the guest workers living in Germany). Since we are living in Germany people think that we are rich and the shopkeepers in my country try to overcharge us. Abi, look my bicycle is standing outside. I go to work with my bicycle. As I look to Turkey, gasoline is worlds’ most expensive gasoline but I know that my neighbor in Turkey goes shopping at the store on the next street with his car. The meat is the most expensive but everybody goes to picnic every weekend. The mobile phones are twice as expensive compared to that sold in Germany but everybody uses the newest model. On the other hand, when you talk to the shopkeepers everyone would say that that their fat is in the fire. How come, I really don’t understand?

I had similar conversations with other Turks in Germany, the problems and sorrows being always the same.

Also in some big cities credit cards are not accepted which does not suit my book. This is because, when I draw change from the bank, banking automat says to me “dude, you are abroad and draw cash from your Turkish account” Well, since the exchange rate of the bank is low and on top of it the banking expenses, I pay a lot for drawing cash. Just due to exchange rate differences and banking expenses I paid to the bank 1000 TL (about 526 $). I sent a message to almost every bank: “Be a sponsor to my project”. The replies were mostly the same: “Unfortunately, we are sponsoring other projects”  ok

During II. World War the cities were leveled to the ground in Germany, but generally the bigger ones. Most of the villages were not affected from the war. One of them is the village Schwerin. On the walls of the houses you can see when they were built, the newest in 1910. J I remember the name of this city but have forgotten its coordinates, just put its name on my note book. Hey! The bicycle brings me really to unrelated but interesting places, sometimes. There are moments at which I say: “Dude! What if I write about this place or not? How come I describe about what?”

There is another thing which caught my eye: The cemeteries! Maybe the cemeteries in Finland, Sweden and Norway had also similar properties but I couldn’t recognize due to winter time. They were all covered white at that time period. People feel uncomfortable when someone mentions about cemeteries and dislike such places. At least in my country, to stroll around, do sports, sleep and eat something in a cemetery is forbidden and called as disrespect. On my own account, I flout this ban in South Korea where I camped next to the graves. Well, there was not any other suitable level ground. Then, after I saw the graves in Germany I started to stroll around in the graveyards. A couple of times I just sat down and took a break. Another time I ate my meal in that serene silence. The ones who will travel aboard visit these graveyards. They resemble a flower garden rather than a graveyard. Neat, clean, colorful flowers. One finds peace. There are people jogging inside. Kids are cycling. During noon time people come out from their works and meet there to have a talk. According to me this is the truth. Why? Because you don’t forget that you’ll also reside there one day. And I think that because of this you never forget your humanistic identity and respect yours and others lives.

According to the size of the graveyards, the number of employees also increases. The graves are always neat and clean, there are flowers even on the 300 years old graves. Every graveyard in every village and town is so. Especially, the graveyards in the villages are much beautiful. They don’t let their dead fall into forgotten and also let me pray for them. The moment I slept next to the graves in South Korea comes always in my mind. As it is seen from this, I’m the one who visits graveyards quite often.

When I’m on the road sometimes thoughts owing to the future appear in my mind jointly with fear and probabilities. Then, I think about the graveyards I have visited. I smile and venture forth into my own way…

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