Posts Tagged With: So pretty

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.

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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.

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Negotiating some single track

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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Edward and Brett: Heidelberg to Mainz

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hirschhorn

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Ruth and Peter E

We stayed at Hotel Goldener Adler

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Day 59: Le Balcares to Colera – 76k

4,701km down: 1,524km to go (3/4 of the way there!)

I never sleep well in a tent but last night I was awake for a few hours and could not go back to sleep. I feel very conflicted being over here with Lizzy just having had a baby. I rang Lizzy before leaving camp this morning; it was evening there so I got to speak to Lizzy, Theo, Shellbe and Kelly.  It was reassuring as it sounds like everything is going along very well.

I got some great photos of the aunties and uncles with their nephew, my grandson looks a lot like his Mum did as a baby ‚Äď long and thin, with a red tinge to his hair, and very beautiful.

Today we rode through more deserted holiday parks and shopping centres, and closed amusement arcades. Although they look quiet and deserted now that school has gone back, the places must have been humming in the midst of the season. We made our way through the south of France and went through a couple of towns too beautiful not to mention.

Collioure had an old castle, old walls, a nice harbour, interesting looking houses and old boats.

Collioure

The next town, Port Vendres, had a great big ship in the middle of the harbour unloading, and lots of other small and large boats.

Port Vendres

From about 40k we hit the foot hills of the Pyrenees Mountains so we had couple of significant climbs, including the one to the Spanish border.

Just before the climb up to the border we stopped in a really pretty little town, Cerbère, for a cold drink and tried not to look at the climb ahead.  At least today the wind was behind us and we had a bit of assistance up the hills, however we also nearly got blown over the sides a couple of times, especially up by the Spanish border.

There was a really pretty little bay with people swimming, unlike France with its long sandy beaches, this was pebbly with a rugged coast line (a bit like Makara).

John, me and Brett at the Spanish border

The Spanish border is at the top of a big hill, on the way coming down the hill we came across a small snake on the road, it was smaller than I expected snakes to be, it was more like a large worm! I will have to watch carefully for these in the grass at toilet stops!

Coming down the Pyrenees mountain foothills just past Spanish border

The place we are staying was just after the bottom of the hill, San Miguel Camp Site in a town called Colera. We rode past the campsite and had a look at the town, it was very much like Cerb√®re¬†‚Äď a pebbly beach with a rocky foreshore, the water is so blue.

Beach where we are staying in Colera

The campsite has toilet paper and a shower that stays on, but still no soap and still no toilet seats! ¬†This is the third country with toilets at camps without toilet seats, but on a positive side there were no squat toilets to be seen ūüôā The last couple of camp sites that we have stayed at have been set up for mobile homes rather than camping and the ground is like concrete. I have had to borrow some tent pegs as mine have turned into tired and bent squiggle shapes, and some of them can no longer be knocked back into shape with a mallet.

Tortured tent pegs, or art?

Tortured tent pegs, or art?

We must not have been able to cook here as we had dinner in the restaurant tonight. We had paella, it was really nice.

Paella (pic stolen from another riders blog)

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