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On the walls of Zollamtsstrasse refugee camp

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Our journey along the storm-swollen Danube threads through castle-and-schnapps country into Austria. The further we cycle on this ride across the continent, the more we see how urgently Europe needs a plan, not only to cope with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, but to deal with widening social divisions that have little to do with migration.

#46: Arriving in Vienna!

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A ride of approximately 2,200km comes to a somewhat farcical end with a bottle of prosecco in a park, next to a naked man statue. Inside the temple behind us squats a frighteningly realistic sculpture of another naked man sitting in a rowing boat, floating across an invisible sea.

Australian hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck's Man in a Boat was created way back in 2002, while he was associate artist at the National Gallery in London. But in 2016 it has become a raw reminder of the vulnerability of those who attempt a crossing of the Mediterranean in hope of a life in Europe.

For now, this first part of our journey is over. Our deepest thanks to everyone who has helped us - and particularly to Ash, Ralph and Ezra who are looking after us while we're in Vienna. Thank you and see you next year when we will resume cycling to Syria.

From containers to computers: the challenges of refugee integration in Germany

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Since leaving London at the beginning of May, we've cycled about a thousand kilometres through England, France and Belgium, talking to residents and refugees about how their lives have been changed by migration. It felt like France and Belgium (the less said about the UK the better) are socially and politically unable or unwilling to accept refugees wholeheartedly, but are trapped by international conventions into providing shelter and survival. The result is an embarrassment for everyone: refugees packed away into buildings, containers or tents on the outskirts of towns and villages, with some eking out an uncertain existence in the asylum system for a decade or longer.

But now that we’re in Germany, there’s a different problem. Refugees have been welcomed, at least politically, and at least in theory. Comparing the refugee situation in Germany with the refugee situation in the UK is like comparing a dinosaur with a gecko: yes, they are both reptiles, but that’s missing the point…

#34: Grandhotel Cosmopolis

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Boutiques serve coffee and fine art, grafitti scratches the medieval walls and students sit cross-legged on the cobbled squares, drinking Radler and slurping ice creams. After another thunderstorm, we see a young man in a wet suit surfing the engorged canals.

Augsburg is exactly the sort of place you'd expect to find the Grandhotel Cosmopolis, where guests arrive with or without asylum.

#29: Traditional Turkish Ebru water and ink painting (Video)

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On our cycles through Ditsingen and Plochingen near Stuttgart, we found a couple of mosques holding open days. A tour, some delicious food, and Orhan Erdogan making traditional Turkish Ebru paintings from ink suspended in water.

#28: Refugee Hospitality

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Hospitality is a funny game. After stopping at a roadside fruit and veg stand, we set up our Campingaz kitchen in Weissach town square. As C boils some eggs, a young man approaches. In broken German he asks us, 'Why you cook here? I have kitchen. Come.'

And before we really know what we're getting into, our new friend Ahmad has led us away from the square, up steep back roads to a sports hall that overlooks the town. 'I live here,' he says, ushering us past two bored security guards, who scarcely look up from their mobile phones.

Heckengau Sporthalle is home to around a hundred refugees, mostly from Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan, packed into 'plastic' rooms that divide what used to be an indoor basketball court. The rooms are built for two or four, but Ahmad's second bunk is empty. He kicks some shoes under the bed and clears the table to prepare us some tea: our first taste of refugee hospitality.

There are no ceilings to this cell and we can see the …

#27: Refugees Like It's 1699

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Kleinvillars in the foresty backwaters of Baden-Wurtemberg is a town founded by refugees who fled persecution in their thousands, finding new homes across the world, in Britain, the Netherlands, America, and here in Germany.

The only difference with the other refugees who we've met on our journey so far is that these people came here from Piedmont in 1699 and are now indistinguishable from their German neighbours, bar their history.

As we stand around, looking up at the French inscriptions on the old timber-frame houses, an old man shuffles up on an electric bicycle. In a thick Schwaebish accent, he tells us that this is his house. We point out the French on his wall, 'Nothing I can do about it,' he says with a rakish smile.



Karl Blanc is an 87 year old former cattle farmer. His surname is pronounced with a hard Germanic K, but still spelled the French way of his forefathers. 379 refugees originally settled in Kleinvillars and nearby Grossvillars, both villages named after…