We passed the halfway point today shortly before arriving in Speyer. No particular celebration at the time as I was dying in the heat – over 30 degrees again this afternoon and no breeze – and fixated on finding the hotel. Mercifully we had planned a shorter day in the saddle to make a bit of tourist time.
Karlsruhe has some very attractive parts, but there is a lot of building or renovation going on in the city centre. Some of the monuments were covered in scaffolding. Bruce went off for a loop cycle round the Schloss, which has a ring of road right round it and other roads and paths radiating out (allegedly 32 – I didn’t count them). One of these heading north from the Schloss led us out of Karlsruhe towards another Rhine ferry crossing.
Commercial shipping uses the Rhine as far upstream as Basel, and we are seeing far more traffic on the river now. The ferry nips across between the cargo vessels but also has speedboats to watch out for. I was impressed by how deftly the moment for crossing was picked and the current used to swing us exactly into position on the other side. Much practice, I suppose. We had a bit of fun later trying to cycle fast enough to catch up with another boat carrying what appeared to be lorry cabs. We almost made it before our path turned away from the river again.
The heat is clearly affecting everything here. We were very glad of another impromptu shower from a sprinkler as we passed a field, but it’s all too obvious that trying to keep crops watered is a huge challenge. Field after field has been brown and dry, particularly a lot of cornfields. It’s always tough for farmers but I think this year must be particularly bad.
Germersheim has turned a historic barracks into the German Roads Museum, which we could not resist. I can honestly say it had information about just about everything to do with building roads and their associated infrastructure: materials, construction layers (including how these have changed over time), the machinery used, bridge and tunnel construction and lots more. I am sadly ill-Informed about road-building anywhere other than Germany so I don’t know what out of all this is special and different. So much care and attention has gone into collating all that information about roads and presenting it clearly. A geeky delight!
Since the Museum didn’t have a cafe, we wound up taking refuge in a Burger King for refreshments – air conditioning and cold drinks were bliss! A few detours got us eventually to Speyer, too tired to explore, but we will take a look around in the morning. Worms tomorrow, if all goes to plan.