Canals to the Rhine

2013/09/12: Train to Osnabrück, 61 km to Ostbevern
(C hub overhauled – fingers crossed to Paris)
2013/09/13: 102 km to Haltern am See, camping
2013/09/14: 82 km to Orsoy, bus and taxi to retrieve smartphone.
2013/09/15: 71 km to Uedesheim
2013/09/16: 87 km to Bonn Youth Hostel
2013/09/17: 77 km to Koblenz

Having looked at maps with Carsten, we decided to kick start by train from Hamburg so as to have a more relaxed schedule for the remainder of the ride. We took a train to Bremen and another to Osnabrück, then pedalled west towards the Rhine.

We passed through forest and over farmland, with fields of ripening maize, feathery asparagus fronds, sugar beets, and even covered rows of late strawberries. There were also a lot of very fine horses in their paddocks, and much horse-related infrastructure such as cross-country jump courses, dressage rings, covered arenas and well-appointed stables.

Some of our cycling took us along canal paths. We followed the Dortmund-Ems Kanal and later the Wessel-Datteln Kanal, which are plied by working barges carrying coal, sand, and other bulk goods to and from the Rhine. We stopped to watch boats move through locks.

Reaching the Rhine, we crossed it in poor weather at Wesel and soon dove into a riverside hotel for apple cake and hot chocolate. It was here that Chris carefully placed the smartphone on the windowsill so the GPS could find a satellite or two. He realized he’s done this only as we checked into a tiny hotel in Orsoy that evening.

After discovering our loss, we ate a quick schnitzel in the pub where a group of about fifteen grey-haired men sang enthusiastically and put their arms around each other’s shoulders. One fellow explained to me that they’d all known each other for forty years, but that’s as far as common language would take us for a perspective on the nature of the group and the singing. There was lots of beer being consumed. It didn’t seem like a religious group, though one song was to the tune of Amazing Grace. When I joined in (in English) I was handed a word sheet in German. I have yet to translate this, and it could be something completely different that simply shares the melody. It is probably another beer drinking song.

We dashed off after the schnitzel to catch the first of what was to be two buses. We found the second bus didn’t run on weekends, so we got a taxi to help us retrieve the phone near Wesel and take us back to Orsoy. It was an adventure we’ll try not to repeat.

The next two days saw us doing quite a bit of urban riding through Dusseldorf, Köln (Cologne) and Bonn. The route is along the riverfront on a cycle path and provides views of the working river, and of city centres with cathedrals and old churches. We made use of the ample opportunities for coffee stops.

Looking back at Cologne

The cycling route is used by a wide range range of cycling types, but only a minority have four panniers and a relatively long-distance look. We’ve been asked if we are “aus Niederländen?” several times. Clearly many bike travellers here are Dutch. The cheerful German travellers’ greeting that gives me a bit of an immature giggle is “Gute fahrt!”

We’ve arrived at Koblenz, which is where the Unesco World Heritage portion of the Rhine starts. After six days of riding, the old bodies need rest. We may view the next portion of the river from a boat, before proceeding westward to Belgium.

The scallop shell reminds us we are on one of the many pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela.


P.S. By Chris

Mothballed nuclear power plant.
I wonder if this explains why we see so many boats hauling coal.

P.P.S. We’ve organized our sets on Flickr for Oslo and Denmark.

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