Posts Tagged With: Bike Paths

Day 27: Wesel, Germany to Arnhem, Netherlands

89 km and basically flat.

Had to put on riding shoes that were still damp, but everything else is dry and hopefully will stay that way. The forecast has 4% chance of rain ūüĎć.

Today riding was mostly on levees on bike paths. We went through a town called Rees where there were concrete statues of town people so had to stop and take a photo.

IMG_3156.JPG

Rees township

IMG_3155.JPG

Riverside path in Rees

Then back on the bike paths. Some bike paths are shared with walkers and some are just for bikes. This changes frequently and occasionally you are not sure which is the correct path for bikes. So a couple of times we accidentally went on the wrong path, and within a minute or two a German striding along – often with walking sticks – would politely or extremely rudely wave sticks around to direct us to the correct path.

IMG_3158.JPG

Countryside after Rees

There were lots of people walking dogs, and they were frequently off the the lead but when there were riders approaching they were all called to heel and sit, waiting for them to go past. Well almost all of them, a couple were joyfully ignoring any commands from their owners.

There are lots of dogs here, they are allowed on trains, buses, in restaurants and hotels.

IMG_3154.JPG

Bike paths, good riding, with climbing today of only 48 metres!

IMG_3162

Loaded coal ship passing Emmerich am Rhein

We crossed the border into the Netherlands at 49 km. The rest of the day was pretty much the same, riding on levees lots of other cyclists, walkers and dogs. Lots of canals appearing, and the pasture was very green.

IMG_3166

Border crossing

IMG_3165 (1)

Crossing the border from Germany into the Netherlands

There were quite a lot of sheep grazing along the river banks. Different from our sheep in NZ, there was one that had black spots, and quite a few black sheep.

IMG_3176

Black and white sheep

We got to the Hotel at¬†2pm,¬†and quickly got changed and went by taxi with John W and John H to Kroller Muller museum and Sculptor park, 40 km away. When the taxi arrived I thought “this cant be for us” as it was a gleaming new Mercedes S something series, with sunroofs and leather seats. The driver (also called John) was immaculately dressed – this is nothing like the Wellington cabs. John agreed to also pick us back up at 430pm so we would be back at the hotel in time for the riders meeting.

IMG_3177

Driver John

The Kroller Muller museum has the second largest collection of Van Gogh in the world – 90 paintings and 180 drawings. Plus works by Monet and Picasso and many other artists. There are 25 hectares of sculpture gardens, plus a surrounding 5,500 hectares of forests, grasslands, and sand drifts. These are home to deer, mouflon (wild sheep) and wild boar. There are over a 1,000 white bikes at various places around the park that you can use for free to ride around the park. We could have spent all day here but we only had 2 hours.

IMG_3180

Vincent Van Gogh – Terrace of a cafe at night

IMG_3183

Vincent Van Gogh – Self portrait

The Kroller Muller museum represents the life work of Helen Kroller Muller. Between 1907 and 1922 she and her husband Anton bought 11,500 works of art. One of the largest private collections of the 20th century.¬† Helen’s dream was to have her own museum where she could share her passion with other art lovers. This dream was fulfilled in 1938 when the Kroller Muller museum opened.

IMG_3184

Claude Monet – Monet’s Studio Boat

I had a great time looking around but I felt like I only skimmed the surface.

John the taxi driver picked us up on the dot of 430pm, and drove us through the park grounds on the way back.

We got back to the hotel just in time for the riders meeting and dinner. I had¬†dinner with Brett, John W, Graham, and Henry Gold.¬†I had bell pepper soup which was rich and tasty, steak and salad with fries, cream br√Ľl√©e, and¬†red wine.

Tomorrow is the last day of riding!

IMG_3170

Tolkamer, The Netherlands

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 24: Koblenz to Cologne

108km, flat – the biggest climb today is a bridge

We had a problem with the flagging as we left the hotel and ended up going the wrong way, left and right along the river. Eventually we worked out that the flagging was wrong, ignored them, and headed straight, and then turned towards the river and picked it up further down on. We found out later that at least 10 of the other riders had the same problem.

IMG_3057.JPG

Crossing the Mosel River at Koblenz

Mostly today the riding was on bike paths, without a lot to see apart from fields, canals and the occasional village.

IMG_3065

Andenach

We went through one town with a lovely waterfront, so we stopped and took a couple of photos.

IMG_3073.JPG

Bad Breisig

IMG_3072

Bad Breisig

IMG_3071

Bad Breisig

Coming out of the town we went up and then under a railway pass, there were three young boys sitting on a bench. As we were looking for which way to go next, one of them pointed left. Given the amount of touring riders, he must have had to do that a few times in a short timeframe.

We went past an old house that was built in 3 sections, the earliest in the 1300.

As we went along the Rhine we had one cruise ship “Ms Emily Bronte” keeping up with us. I googled the ship name later and found she has only been sailing since¬†Feb 17.¬†

Today we only saw a couple of castles, unlike the past two days.

IMG_3061.JPG

Boy on his bike on the river bike path.

When we got into Cologne, we found we had to go to another hotel to store our bikes, in Hotel Martin across the road. It was a huge hotel that had shops in the foyer.

The WIFI is hopeless, I can not log on and will probably have to find somewhere to send emails. Probably the number one frustration on a trip is if you can’t get WIFI. First world problem really.

IMG_3083

Arriving in Cologne

Brett and I went to have dinner at El Chango, the number one steak place on trip advisor in Cologne. It was pretty delicious. The steaks came in 200 gram to 500 gram with sauce, baked potatoes and vegetables.

To start we had a beer, which came in the smallest beer glasses I have ever seen. Apparently this is to keep the beer fresh. Then we had a nice Argentinian Malbec red.

IMG_3088

At the Argentinian Steakhouse

We are staying at Hotel Malzmuhle, which is apparently also a brewery but it is shut today. There are photos of Bill Clinton on the wall, apparently he stayed here.

When I got back from dinner thankfully I managed to log onto the internet, which was lucky as the next day there were still people who had not managed to log on.

IMG_3064.JPG

Riverside at Benthurm

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 22: Heidelberg to Mainz

101 km, 150 meters ūüĎć up

Yvonne is better and back riding. Poor Graham is not looking forward to be confined to the truck.

Thankfully there was no convoy out of the city. Not long into the ride we went past the city zoom and they have glass fences into a couple of enclosures. In one of them was a nest with storks – adults and babies . It was really great to see storks again.

IMG_2954

Stork chicks on the nest at Heidelberg Zoo

We followed a range of bike paths for the day, through fields and villages, and then the most of the rest of the day was along the river Rhine.

IMG_2975

Negotiating some single track

IMG_2962

Rheine village

The path was often very uneven with cobblestones, which are hard to ride on. We saw a number of river cruise ships, and other river ships carrying coal and oil and scrap metal. The ships were going approx 20 km/hr, so we often kept up with them for quite awhile.

IMG_2976

Rhine River traffic in Neirstein

There were lots of sandy areas on the river shore, and lots of people having picnics along the shore. There were a number of other cyclists, quite a few doing self supported touring.

IMG_2964

Riverside village called “Worms”

Just after the lunch stop, we had to ride across some fields and then change to another bike path. Just at the intersection there was a house with lots of ornaments, a seat covered with knitting, and a bike with a knitted jersey.

IMG_2967.JPG

Cosy bike

Riding along the river the path weaved in and out, at times right by the river and at other times running parallel through fields. Brett was riding in front and he followed the path round a hedge, I followed him and was nearly hit by a car. The car had swerved to avoid Brett and crossed over to my side of the road. I wrenched my bike to the left, and gave my sore arm a huge jolt which was quite painful. Thankfully no other damage.

We left the river and rode through a town, and then came out into a vineyard that we rode through for the next 10 km, it was beautiful.  Apart from the bit we were riding on, it was very hilly and the grapes were planted in terraces stretching up the hills. They had a number of tractors with covered carts on the back that seated about 10 -12 people, full of people wine tasting. You could hear the people laughing and could see a number of these winding their way up the hill. It looked like fun.

IMG_2977

Coming through the vineyards approaching Mainz.

The last 15 km was back on the river, and then through the town to another IBIS hotel. Thankfully a slightly bigger room than yesterday.

There was a building over the road that had a large grass roof. On the list of chores for the owner: mow the roof!

IMG_2986

Mainz township – building with grass on top

We had dinner at a place around the corner from the hotel, as IBIS doesn’t serve dinner.¬†I had dinner with Brett, Judy and Tim, Ed, John J, and Cathy. Dinner was Liverwurst soup – it looked horrid and tasted nasty and didn’t eat it; a¬†lovely fresh salad; and¬†totally unexpected: a really nice piece of salmon with sauce, spinach and rice. Dessert was ice cream and strudel. I didn’t eat the strudel as the one in Croatia has spoiled me for ones that are not as nice.¬†Sparkling water.

IMG_2984

Mainz

Introducing

John H is from Victoria, Canada. He is a retired ED doctor who worked in Seattle. He is married and this is his second TDA ride.

Ed is from New York, he owned Liquor store, is retired now. He has no children and has done one TDA ride before.

John Hemm

Dr John H and Dr Peter H were both at Med school together

IMG_2939

Edward and Brett: Heidelberg to Mainz

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 20: Schwabisch-Hall to Heidelberg

The original schedule for day 111 km, but now thanks to Gergo’s new cycle path book it is 139 km. It actually ended up being 150km but will get onto that later.

We climbed 864 meters up, it felt way more, and went down 995 meters.¬†To make it worse, Gergo had said after 14 km it’s all downhill and it wasn’t, and we were riding in a heat wave.

Yvonne is still unwell and is going to take the train to Heidelberg, Maureen is going to go with her. It was tempting to join them, and later in the day I regretted that I hadn’t.

IMG_2880

Departing Hotel Goldener Adler

The first 3 km out of town was very steep, then we followed a bike path through field and forest trails for another 11 km, at times a gentle gradient and others steep, but also some downhill.

IMG_2882

Hard climb at the start of the day to Waldenburg

We then had a steep path down to a main road, which we were on for about 5 k then it was back on the bike paths.  At times we would come out onto the road, ride a few metres, go up another bike path and climb up a couple of kilometres, then come back to the same road, not much further than where we had left it!

The paths go all over the place and a lot of time was wasted working out which way to go. The other issue is often they have quite sharp built up edges, and you have to be careful which way you hit them when going from one path to another. I unbalanced a couple of times, but managed to un-click my shoes and put my foot down so I didn’t topple over.

IMG_2897

Feeling puffed!

Once again on the paths we went through a mixture of fields, forests, alongside roads, through forests on all types of surfaces, and through towns. At one stage we were winding through one village and we came along a windy narrow path and went straight through an archway in an old castle.

The villages are so picturesque it’s like being in a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, and so many castles.

IMG_2900

Hirschhorn

IMG_2885

Neuenstein

At about 70 km, we had to go through a rocky forest track, the surface was unpleasant and I kept jarring my arm. We came out to a clearing where a man dressed in red stopped us and said we couldn’t go past, as they were clearing a dangerous tree. He told us to go back to the town about 6 km away and detour around! We asked how long before we could get past him, and he said an hour and a half!

We sat down to think about it. So frustrating as we were less than 5 minutes behind Cathy and Janice, who had got through ok. The distance we still had to ride, the heat, and the thought of either one and a half hour wait or going back down the horrid rocky road was too much, I cried. Thirty minutes later we decided we were going to do the detour, as there was no guarantee the wait would only be another hour. Just then another couple of other riders, not part of our group, showed up and they decided to wait.

Back down that horrid road, through town, and along the other side of the river. 12 km after we had left we passed the spot we had been stopped on the other side of the river, and we could see the two other riders still sitting there.

IMG_2895.JPG

Over the Neckar River at Neckargetach, before the road block!

We stayed on the main road, with a nice 1.5 metre wide shoulder, for about 10 km then managed to recross the river and pick up the planned route again. Looking back I don’t know why we didn’t stay on the main road. Most of the next 25 km was uneven surfaces, and a few spaces were really unpleasant, as I kept jarring my arm. Lots of other bike tourers were coming the other way. We went past a seat on the trail made out of a huge tree.

IMG_2901.JPG

At 14 km before Heidelberg, we crossed onto the main road and had 8 km of downhill, then through a village and then on a bike path along the river.

There were some stunning views coming into the city: huge castles, churches, bridges and old buildings. In the city there are bike paths through town, sometimes half of the footpath, and sometimes running along the side of the road. The walkers keep off the bike paths, and traffic gives way! Such a novelty.

We finally got to the hotel at 630pm, tired, hot, and grumpy. We are staying at an IBIS, which would win the prize for the smallest room ever. The shower was so small you could barely fit in it, and the door banged against the toilet. It was a mixture between a small cabin on a ship and a prison cell.

It was also on the outskirts of town, with homeless people living under the bridge next to it. Our view out the window was rail yards.

By the time we had had a shower we just wanted to eat and sleep. But, the hotel had no restaurant! By this time we were full of joys of the day.

Only option was to go out. In the lobby we caught up with Janice and Gregg, who told us that Graham had had a pretty nasty fall at 39 km, had knocked himself out and was in hospital. It was nothing life threatening, but they were going to keep him overnight for observation.

Janice and Gregg were going to an Italian restaurant back in town, but we decided to look for something closer. We walked the other way past a group of drunks on the sidewalk, and there really wasn’t anything. The IBIS is located right by the main train station, so we went in there, but it was all food hall type of food.

There was one restaurant called the Metropolitan near the hotel, which we had discounted when we first saw it, but by now it was 730pm so we decided to go in. The barman bought us a beer, but when we asked about ordering food he said he would send his colleague.

After 15 min Brett went to the bar¬†and was told “Yes the colleague is coming”. Another 15 minutes later I went up to the bar, and he said he would get his colleague to come!

I was getting close to tears for the second time in a day, when the colleague finally came. I was going to order pizza, as I couldn’t face more tough meat, crumbed and covered in sauced. But it turned out the pizza oven was broken! Not wanting to give the colleague the chance to get away and possibly not come back again for another 30 plus minutes, I chose a burger and chips. The barman came over and apologised that his colleague had taken so long to arrive.

Janice and Gregg arrived at the restaurant, the one they were going to go to was full and so were the others they had looked at, so they came back looking for something closer to the hotel. Thankfully the barman, seeing they were with us, decided he could take their order without the assistance of the colleague, and their meal arrived only a couple of minutes after ours. The burger was pretty basic but at least it was food. By this time it was 930pm – time to sleep.
Nekar

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 19: Dillingen an der Donau to Schwabisch-Hall

The original schedule for today was 111 km, but Gergo has got a new book of bike trails in Germany and so now we are still going from the same start and going to the same destination, but the distance has increased to 129 km.

Today we climbed 546 meters up 688  meters down.

One of the riders Yvonne is not well so she is taking the bus, hopefully this won’t be the start of another bout of gastro throughout the group.

Not long after we left, I saw a huge weeping willow tree, and was thinking about how they were my mother’s favourite tree, so couldn’t resist stopping and taking a photo.

IMG_2861.JPG

Today felt more like a navigation course than a bike ride, with some bike paths only going about 200 meters before having to change to another path! We spent a lot of time figuring out which way we should be going, the flagging was not good and often conflicted with the notes. It was a hot and frustrating day.

The bike paths went through fields, through towns (at one stage through an archway in a barn!), through forests, saw a couple of castles and monasteries, and we went along in the baking heat along side roads.

We went over some bridges that had roofs, which is to stop the bridge getting covered with snow in the winter.

IMG_2868.JPG

Bridge with a roof

Going along one forest path, a black squirrel ran across the track in front of me.

We stopped at about 80 km and had a cold drink with Peter and Catarina who were there already. Catarina decided today to ride from lunch with Peter when he got there.

Unfortunately after what had been a long and hot day already, all the climbing was at the end of the day. We had some quite steep bike paths, and then 10 km from the end we could not work out which direction to go.

I went into a supermarket to get a cold drink. So no cold drinks so bought one anyway, then paid and the checkout clerk barked something at me, when I didn’t immediately answer, he barked it again 3 times in a row. I said “English?” so he said it again about 5 times each time louder!

I am not sure why people think if you don’t understand the first time you will get it if they keep saying the same thing over and over, but louder each time! Finally he angrily points to the receipt!¬† And I shake my head, I don’t want it! By this time Brett has worked out which way to go.

More bike path, then a steep climb up to Schwabisch -Hall. What a pretty town. Sadly we only have time to shower and change before the riders meeting and dinner, as I would have liked to look around.

The town is having some type of performance tonight (turns out it’s a play) and there are rows of chairs set up outside the hotel, and the stage is the steps of a church with a small platform facing the square. We are told that if we have a room facing the square we are not to look out the window, or have the window open! Plus the door to the hotel will be locked from 7pm to¬†11pm,¬†so no after-dinner stroll around the town.

The hotel is a beautiful old building, with no lifts. When you walk towards the stairs the old doors open automatically which you don’t expect. The stairway has lots of old pictures, plus rows of books for guests to read.

The room is really big and looks right out onto the square. You have to be a bit careful walking, as there is a definite slope from the window to the other end of the room, where the bathroom is.

We had dinner with John W, Ruth and Peter E. The restaurant had made up a special menu just for us – mixed salad, nice and fresh with a light dressing; chicken with croquettes, and a token piece of round carrot as the vegetable; and Ice cream and apple.
Washed down with a cold beer and then a merlot (or 2).

IMG_0023.JPG

Special menu for us

After dinner it was so hot in the room, of course I opened the window! Then I poked my nose out to have a quick look. Would you believe there was a man in a red outfit, whose role was to stand in front of the hotel looking up, and as soon as I looked out he saw me and started making angry gestures! So I didn’t look out the window again, but I didn’t shut it either. I was pretty tired, so the noise of the play didn’t keep me awake.

IMG_2871.JPG

View from our room

Introducing

 

Ruth and Peter E, both retired and live in Toronto. Ruth was an Air Canadian flight attendant, and Peter an investment broker. This is their 3rd TDA ride, they did the TransEuropa for their honey moon in 2014.

IMG_2935_edited.jpg

Ruth and Peter E

We stayed at Hotel Goldener Adler

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 18: Munich to Dillingen an der Donau

We had 120 km to ride, with 577 meters up and 690 meters down

We have one new rider who joined us in Munich – Catrina – who has come to ride the last section with her husband Peter M, who has done the whole ride. Peter has done one other and Catrina did a section. They are from Seattle and have two children. Peter is an ED doc (he examined my wrist) and Catrina is a pathologist. Catrina is riding a bike she bought here and has not ridden it before.

IMG_2865.JPG

Peter and Catrina

To start off today was the dreaded convoy, for 14 km. We did not leave the hotel until 8:20am and it was after 9:30am before we were free to ride off by ourselves.

IMG_2836.JPG

Convoy out of Munich

Lots of bikers commuting to work, lots of them parents with babies and toddlers in carriages, front and back seats.

IMG_2911 (1).PNG

Frustrating I had a message from the the blog editor just as I was leaving, to say she had never received the blog for 12 June, but she did get my short version of the notes I jot down in the iPad at the end of each day.  No record in my sent box, very annoying as I remember doing it, it had quite a lot of detail. Never mind I will have to do again. Nowhere near as frustrating as in Bolivia where I lost 10 days worth, that were sent and disappeared into the ether, also with no trace in my sent mail.

About 30 km out of Munich, we came to Dachau concentration camp memorial garden. This was the first of the concentration camps and the model for later camps. Overall 200,000 people (Jews, political prisoners, and other so called ‘undesirables’)¬† were detained here from as early as 1933, and 40,000 died.

Today we are mainly on bike paths. I was looking forward to getting onto bike paths and away from the traffic, however they were frustrating as within the space of 10 k you can change paths 5 times, and it was starting to feel like a navigating challenge rather than a bike challenge.

IMG_2846

Bike path Altomunster

During the day we rode through many fields of crops, through farmland, and through shady forest areas. We also crossed the Danube River (which I did not notice at the time as it was only a stream).

25 km from the end of the ride we had a thunderstorm, huge drops of rain pelleted down, but it was so hot it was a relief.

The traffic here is such that they are happy to stop and give you the right of way, even when it isn’t yours, they even stop on the highway when they can see you are struggling to cross. No tooting or monstering you from behind (sitting right on your back tyre almost).

IMG_2840

BMW headquarters

When we got to the hotel we were a bit underwhelmed by the exterior, not helped by the scaffolding as it was being painted. It was a tired old place, but the staff were friendly and it was clean.

Dinner was delayed as one of the riders was not in. It turned out it had taken Peter and his wife until 4pm to get to lunch (65 k) and then Catrina got the lunch truck, and Peter continued from there. It was just after 7pm when he got in Рa long day!

Dinner was potato and ham soup, crumbed Pork with croquettes and sauce, and dessert was Ice cream Sundaes. We had dinner with John, and mine was washed down with copious glasses of cold sparkling  water.

IMG_2847

Aichach

IMG_2850

Aichach

We had a balcony, but it looked out to a yard and was too hot to go out into. No aircon again, and once again very hot trying to get to sleep. Plus there was quite a lot of noise – it sounded like people jumping on the floor or banging on the walls. Once I fell asleep, I slept quite well.

IMG_2853.JPG

Hotel Dillinger Hof balcony

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment