After another dramatic thunderstorm overnight, we cycled to Cologne in a slight mist which kept us from overheating. We followed the marked Rhine cycle route on paths and mostly quiet roads and it was a very easy journey, with a long coffee stop at a wonderful cafe in Dormagen.

It’s best not to think about exactly how grimy and sweaty clothes can get when cycle touring in the heat. Hand washing is essential but tedious and not completely effective. Picture our joy at discovering a laundrette across the road from our hotel!

The delight carried us through the challenges of check-in where the very polite but evidently frustrated reception staff were struggling with IT problems.  They could not retrieve online details or programme any of the swipe cards used as room keys. Relays of staff were taking people to their rooms with a pass card, and doing this again each time someone went out and had to be let back in. I felt rather sorry for the staff and they certainly seemed relieved when they got their system back again late in the evening.  Something to be said for traditional keys after all

Sticking with the modern technology, though, Trip Adviser had tipped me off about an Ethiopian restaurant that was getting rave reviews and which advertised vegan options. Neither of us had tried Ethiopian food, but on this experience I would certainly eat it again. There were subtle combinations of spices, lovely meat dishes but many veggie and vegan dishes as promised and all served with lots of soft, flat bread called Injera. The injera has a bubbly texture like pancakes, apparently caused by fermenting the dough. All delicious, and we ate far too much.

Today we will see more of the sights of Cologne, including the Cathedral of course. It is said to be spectacular and I’m looking forward to it – but it will need to be very good to give more pleasure than the Eco-Express Waschsalon and a pannier’s worth of clean bike kit!

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