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.
The Deutschland Tour cycle race finished its first stage in Bonn today. We had reconsidered our plans yesterday and decided only to cycle as far as Cologne. We spent the morning at Haus der Geschichte, a museum of German life since 1945. This was fascinating and it would have been easy to spend the whole day. It was also tempting to stay and see the finish of the cycling, but that was not going to be till late afternoon – and we still have some way to go.
Well over 30 degrees again today, so although not a long cycle, the last hour was quite demanding. There were still cliffs and castles today but fewer, and the valley is broadening out. We didn’t see the geyser at Andernach in operation, but we did see the remains of be famous bridge at Remagen. We also saw Drachenburg castle (19th Century) looking admirably gothic up on the hills across the river, with the ruin of Drachenfels Castle (12th century) sitting higher above it. They do good castle round here.
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.
You know it’s too hot when a headwind is welcome. You know the route-finding has gone wrong when you are on a bridge crossing the Rhine and that was not part of the plan. And you know that the indecision at a multi-crossroads of bike paths on a slight slope was a bad idea when you lose your balance and topple off your bike sideways in front of two concerned Germans.
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.
Two blog entries in one as I couldn’t stay awake to write yesterday.
The run to Strasbourg should have been fine, but I was struggling once again with the cold-that-will-not-give-in and general tiredness. It’s a very flat route and we should have done almost all of it along the Canal du Rhône au Rhin. This is very straight and for the early part wooded on both sides making an attractive forest path with a reasonable gravel surface. After a few kilometres, though, it was starting to feel a bit monotonous, with nothing to see but trees as there were not even any boats on the canal. We ducked out and followed the nearby road instead, which at least meant we saw all the villages along the way. There was cycle path by the road for part of the way but where we ran out, the traffic was fine with one or two exceptions.
Easy cycle across flat farmland in France today. We started off in the rain and took a detour through the docks in Basel to see the Dreiländereck monument which marks the spot where the thee borders of Switzerland, France and Germany meet (well, almost – they actually meet in the middle of the Rhine and the monument is nearby on the bank on the Swiss side).
Somebody turned the heat back up. It’s hardly been cool these last few days, but this afternoon in Basel it has been well over 30 degrees once again and I am cooked. I am deeply grateful not to be on the bike today and just to be doing some gentle sight-seeing instead.
The Rhine Falls were just as spectacular as I remembered, and definitely the highlight of today’s trip for me. The cycling was varied – hardly anything flat till the last stretch before we arrived at the hotel tonight, as there are rolling hills surrounding the lake and the Rhine, and the route twisted and turned along a mixture of roads, paved paths and gravel paths. I lost count of the times we crossed and recrossed the same railway line.