The ferry from Klaipeda arrived in Kiel, Germany at 10 pm were a friend of mine was already waiting for me. The plan was to stay the night at his house, have lunch together the next day and then take the train back to Berlin where I would change from cycling to paddling and leave three days later for Sweden. But things didn't go that way.
When I got up the next morning in my friend's house I took the wooden stairs from first to ground floor - and slipped with my wool socks on the slick stair. I descended the stairs - not on foot, but on my butt. The staircase was so slippery and steep that I could not stop my fall. I bumped down 20 stairs until I came to a halt on the last stair. It is irony of fate that I hike, cycle and paddle thousands of kilometers without any serious accidents but as soon as I am safely back I fall down a stair.....
Once the shock had subsided I checked my body. Everything was aching but I could still walk. I did not seem to be seriously injured. I was limping a bit, but I thought that this would go away soon. As planned my friend and I went for lunch and I headed to the train station afterwards. The trouble began when I was sitting still for several hours on the train. My knee started to swell and hurt once I got up. When I arrived in Berlin I realised that I could not cycle several kilometres from the train station to my friend's home where I was supposed to stay for three days. I decided to take the Metro although this involved one train change - but there are elevators in all Berlin metro stations, at least in theory. In practice the second elevator did not work and I had to take the escalator which was kind of a risky business with my fully loaded bike and my shaky knees. It took forever to reach my friend's house and I was close to tears from pain and exhaustion when I finally arrived.
But things got only worse the next day. I could hardly walk. I was bent like a fairy tale witch and my friend had to give me a walking stick. It started to dawn on me that it wasn't probably such a good idea to leave for a paddling trip in two days. There was no way I could haul around a foldable kayak and my camping gear in that state. Also I started to worry how serious the knee injury really was. I had to see a doctor.
I was quite an eye-catcher in the doctor's practice when my name was called up and I could hardly get up. The doctor who knows my different life style very well was shocked. But after a long examination the diagnosis was not too bad: Most probably nothing serious like a ligament rupture had occurred. I was just suffering from an irritation of the meniscus - and that would go away with time. I was told to rest some days and if my knee got better then I could embark on my trip then. Still, leaving on Friday as I had planned earlier was not such a good idea. Luckily I could cancel the train ticket for an affordable fee and I booked a new one for Tuesday. I was even luckier that my friends turned out to be really helpful: I was offered several couches to stay on during this unexpected interlude.
So now I am stuck in Berlin waiting for my knee to get better - which it luckily does. I could walk without a stick already the next morning and although the knee is still painful when stiff I can already walk properly once the muscles have warmed up. I think I'll be able to leave on Tuesday. I would not embark on a hiking or cycling trip with this knee problem, but luckily I am going to paddle.
So the plan is now to take to train to Southeast Sweden and start paddling in the archipelago there until I get to Mem and the entrance into the Götakanal. I then want to paddle the entire Götakanal to Lake Vänern, the third biggest lake in Europe. Depending on the weather I will either paddle around it or take to train to Köpmannebro the entrance into the Dalsland canal and lake system. This area is an extremely popular paddling destination where 93 campsites with shelters are provided for paddlers. These installations are ideal for my purposes as I will paddle there in October which might already be a bit chilly in Sweden.... Basically I am planning a paddling traverse of Southern Sweden.
So, please cross your fingers for me that my knee heals quickly!