The weather changed today: we had grey skies and a little rain this morning, and when it brightened up, it turned very windy. So windy that I was cold on the bike at times – a first for this trip.
Winding our way out of Cologne through city traffic took some time. We did pass through a very pretty nature reserve this afternoon, but I confess that the headwind was strong enough to make me rather grateful for the shelter we got from a large chemical plant as we skirted round it. Not the appropriate tourist attitude, I know, but needs must.
Plans to cross the river and explore a castle with interesting grounds failed as our ferry from Zons was not running due to low water. Given the weather this summer, low water is no surprise, but I don’t entirely understand why it was a problem at this point. The Rhine north of Cologne is narrower and I would therefore have assumed deeper, but we were happily using ferries further upstream without a problem. It may be something to do with the particular location and the pier. Ah well.
We had to stay on the western side of the river round another meander (no river straightening on this section) and then make our way to a large bridge to come into Düsseldorf from the south. More unsurfaced paths- I am getting better, though far from good, at cycling on gravel; my pothole-dodging skills were already honed in Edinburgh. Would have loved to stop and take photos on the bridge but there was no place to do it without partially blocking a two-way cycle path. I enjoyed seeing the boats passing underneath.
Also enjoyed seeing the boats passing a long way underneath the Rheinturm – last time we were in Düsseldorf and again today. We were on the viewing floor at 168 metres (lift up and down is interesting for the inner ears) which seems a long way, but very little compared to the 2000m or so elevation in Oberalppass where we started the Rhine route. This has truly been a downhill trip.
The endless descent probably explains my recurring bike brake issues. I did some more adjustments this evening outside our hotel. We are in a reasonably swanky Marriott on Düsseldorf harbour which was offering a good price for tonight, and I took great pleasure in doing bike repairs by the front door – staying politely out of the way of the American gentleman having a long business call on his mobile. I am currently pretending that work does not exist, which is pretty easy while my mind is taken up by exploring the Rhine, bike maintenance and how my legs are feeling.
Onwards tomorrow to Wesel, and then all going well, into the Netherlands on Sunday.