Since neither of us has visited this part of Germany before, we are taking the opportunity to be tourists and explore a little. We will have to press on with the cycle tour tomorrow as we still have quite a way to go, but it’s been lovely to explore Mainz and Koblenz a little.
Back in Mainz, following the highlight of laundry night, we had bike maintenance morning where patience and an amount of tinkering got my brakes cleaned and properly back into alignment, which is a great relief. Further tinkering has gone on to try to get my saddle into the correct position and keep it there – I think it got shaken loose when I came off and it’s trial and error trying to get it just right again. I am half surprised and half not that a few millimetres can make quite a difference if you are in the saddle for hours at a time. Bruce also had brake issues, now resolved. It was worth carrying tools!
We spent the rest of our Sunday in Mainz visiting the Gutenberg Museum, sitting lazily by the river and then swinging by the Roman Theatre – excavated only in the late 90s and still being developed as a tourist site. The station absolutely next door is now called Mainz Römisches Theater (formerly the less evocative Mainz Süd). I don’t know if I should be surprised that the theatre wasn’t found until so recently. I suppose there may yet be more to find.
The cycle from one budget hotel south of Mainz to another north of Koblenz was a bit longer than we would ideally have chosen but hotel rooms in the city centres were heavily booked up and the few remaining very expensive. The ride on the hills above the Rhine from our hotel down to Bingen to rejoin the river was through cultivated land again, but this time orchards rather than vineyards or cornfields. Although the corn crop appears to have suffered badly this year, the apple trees looked heavy with fruit. The path was very indirect and we went up and down a lot before dropping quite sharply at Ingelheim.
For the rest of the day, the cycle path followed the river very closely. Given the steep sides of the Rhine gorge, the railway and the main road were also close most of the time, and the towns we passed through were perched on hillsides or in any places where there was a little more breadth available. There are apparently 40 castles between Bingen and Koblenz – I don’t know if we saw all of them as I didn’t keep count, but we saw many. Every bend in the river or gap in the trees brought another view worthy of a photo. This is not ideal if you are trying to make progress on a bike, so we had to compromise on the Kodak moments. There were many very impressive, steeply-terraced vineyards also, but sampling the products would also have hindered our progress, alas.
I understand now why this stretch of the Rhine, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, is seen as very romantic. We decided to stop in Koblenz for dinner because we knew options anywhere near the hotel would be limited, but that meant a ride in the dark out to the suburbs of a city we don’t know at all, along some unlit paths and a series of underpasses, was for me rather unpleasant. Having a near accident didn’t help. I have become so used to punctiliously considerate German drivers that it came as a shock, but the other vehicle was some souped up thing with loud music blaring, which I suppose ought to have made me wary in any country. Much squealing of brakes and swearing on both sides but no actual contact. I *think* I had right of way and I definitely need to learn some better German insults.
Today got off to a slow start but we eventually cycled to the Deutsches Eck, where the Moselle flows into the Rhine. We took a cable car to get a better view, and then spent time in a Museum of this whole area called the Romanticum (sort of appropriate for a honeymoon): highly interactive displays and interesting information, if a little superficial.
Tomorrow we are off on the route again, heading for Bonn. Bis bald!