After two rides in Germany, I've realised it's definitely not London.
The big learnings so far:
1. Show me the money.
A very small amount of places take card. Always have euros on you. Very odd when you're used to London and being able to pay using your phone, even to buy a pint of milk.
2. Where's the peloton?
Normality in London is being party to a lycra festival at every set of traffic lights. Not in Germany. During a 65km ride I didn't see a single road cyclist. It's quite empowering until that quickly turns to paranoia. See next learning.
3. A constant state of panic
Am I meant to be on this road? Where should I position myself in the lane? Is that huge sign warning me to stop or buy a pretzel? You have a continuous stream of fear filled thoughts about whether you're doing something wrong. Thankfully, the drivers aren't shy to notify you when you are.
4. Lose yourself
You will get lost. Then you will dig deep to try and use your GCSE German to find your way. Even harder when I realised I didn't do GSCE German.
5. In the City
When the cycling traffic light is on green, cars can still turn right. Even though we have priority, this felt unnerving at first in the busy city centre. Keep an eye out for those not expecting to see lycra. Which I imagine, based on learning 2, isn't many.
After getting completely lost today, realising that the route was full of road closures, finding gravel dead ends, riding too close to a motorway and discovering quickly that it is definitely deep winter in Germany, I made it back to the flat safe. There's nothing like an adventure into the unknown, to make a flat that was completely new 3 days ago, feel like home and the most familiar and welcoming finish line.
Onto the next ride. This time, I'll have a friends piece of advice in my back pocket: 'Umleitung means diversion if that helps, KPP?'