Biking the Baltic: A Tale of Lost Luggage and Found Adventures

Closeup photo of a man and woman riding bicyclesContributor: Stefan Koehler

When life throws unexpected curves at you, the best way to tackle them is with resilience and a sense of adventure. Here, I, Stefan, alongside my fellow traveler, Connie, an unlikely duo of seasoned and newbie bike tourers, embarked on an extraordinary journey along Denmark’s picturesque Baltic Sea Coast. Little did we know that our trip would be a lesson in adaptability and the thrill of exploring the unknown.

Our story begins in Boston on a late August evening when we boarded our flight to Europe, eager to explore Denmark’s scenic Baltic Sea Coast. I, the experienced bike tourer, had cycled through numerous countries, from the Pamir Highway to Patagonia, while Connie, new to bike touring, had just purchased her trusty Bike Friday for this very adventure.

Our initial destination was Northern Germany, where I grew up. However, our adventure took an unexpected turn when our suitcases, containing our beloved Bike Friday folding bikes, were lost by the airline during our Zurich layover. Chaos ensued as the airline struggled to locate our precious cargo. With uncertainty hanging in the air, Connie and I made a pivotal decision – to rent touring bikes and continue our journey.

Copenhagen, with its bike-friendly reputation, became our next stop. We rented touring bikes from Bailikeli and embarked on a whirlwind exploration of the city. From the Meat District to Nyhavn, we immersed ourselves in the vibrant culture of the Danish capital.

Our evening at Reffen, a local street food market, transformed into a delightful encounter with our Warmshowers hosts, Gaya and Ashok, who welcomed us into their home with open arms. Over conversations flavored with local beer, we learned about their own tales of adventure and life in Copenhagen. They shared their insights into Danish culture and introduced us to the city’s fascination with cargo bikes.

Why Denmark? We had heard good things about it. My niece, Johanna, recommended it, and the country’s reputation for innovation and happiness intrigued us. Denmark felt like the perfect choice for our bike tour.

Image of a ferry boat taken from the deckA draw bridge opening over waterBut the lost luggage saga continued. Our beloved Bike Fridays remained elusive, lost somewhere in transit. Undeterred, Connie and I took trains to Sonderborg, where our bike journey truly began. We pedaled through charming towns like Troense, Rudkobing, and Svendborg, sampling local delicacies along the way, like the award-winning Brunsviger cake. We reached Maribo and explored the town’s rich history, including a cathedral and monastery ruins. A local market tempted us with delicious pastries. Our journey led us to Nykobing, where we savored iced coffee in the old part of town.

Our adventure continued as we rode along the Baltic Sea, passing the stunning Møns Klint chalk cliffs. We stayed with warm hosts who shared their own stories, like Henny and Erling, who prepared delicious tomato soup.

Image of bicycles stowed on public transportationOn Labor Day, we boarded a bus to Vordingborg and a train back to Copenhagen, where we explored the city, cycled to the iconic Little Mermaid statue, and enjoyed Danish cuisine at the Tivoli.

Our return to Boston was delayed due to flight complications, but we embraced the situation, making the most of our unexpected extra day in Copenhagen. We found solace in a charming hotel and engaged in memorable conversations with local residents, enriching our travel experience even further.

This bike tour, filled with uncertainties and challenges, taught Connie and me the value of resilience and adaptability through travel. It allowed us to strengthen our bond and discover the joy of exploring the world on two wheels, even when faced with unexpected detours. In the end, our lost luggage taught us that sometimes, renting a bike when your own goes missing can lead to unexpected and incredible adventures. Denmark’s Baltic Sea Coast had not only welcomed us with open arms but had also shown us the beauty of embracing the unknown.

A man riding a bicycle down a street along a canalOur journey was a testament to the idea that when life throws you a curveball, the best thing to do is to keep pedaling forward, one scenic mile at a time.

Epilogue: So, did the Bike Fridays ever turn up? Happy to report that after several wrong deliveries (yes, the airlines actually delivered someone else’s suitcases to my home in Boston), both of our bikes finally found their way home.

Follow Stefan and Connie on Instagram at @minivelo.bigworld