It’s countdown to my big trip. I’ve saved, I’ve planned, I’ve trained, but mostly, I’ve imagined, this 2019 Baltic Bike Tour and North Sea Meander for a long time.
Last time I went overseas for family research was in 2004. That’s when I found my grandfather . . . well, he was dead, but I found out where he was shot, the ditch where his body was dumped, and when. No one in my family knew that story.
|original SVG file created by |
Matthead (based on East_Prussia_1939.kpg
from English Wikipedia)
This time around, I’m not looking for windmills or perusing former KGB files. This time, I’m looking for amber and traces of love amongst the Nazi ruins of old East Prussia. Who knows what I’ll find? That’s part of the thrill of the hunt—and yes, I truly do feel like an explorer out to discover ghosts of the past.
Of course, there will be some voyeuristic tourism along the way. Riga, Klaipeda, Kaliningrad, Gdansk—these are cities that will be complete unknowns to me. But I’m more interested in the little places in between. And, I’m a fool for trees, stones and wrinkled old faces. That’s why a bike trip is the perfect way for me to explore this part of Europe.
The second half of my five week trip will take me to Schleswig-Holstein, with a three-day stopover in Berlin. Another unknown city that I feel will shock me because I’ve mostly seen only the war images of it.
Then it’s on to Hamburg and the North Sea where I’ll be staying in a beach town, population 5k. That’ll be my headquarters for checking out my dad’s side of the family. I have a bit of trepidation. What family skeletons are still hiding here?
After some back and forth, I’ve decided to go without my laptop. I’ll travel with pen, paper and my smartphone camera. When I come back in October, I just might be bursting with photos and thoughts about my adventure.