2013/09/18-19: In Koblenz and a boat trip up the Rhine
The first day was a catch up on various basics and a walk in older parts of Koblenz, a city that dates from Roman times. The second day was spent aboard an original paddle wheeler that was only converted from steam to diesel in 2004. The MS Wappen von Köln took five hours upstream to Rüdesheim and three hours back to Koblenz.
This section of the Rhine was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002; It is deemed to meet a host of UWH criteria. It was up to our expectations, an iconic landscape of castles, steep terraces and vineyards, and Chris had a field day behind the lens.
We fell into pleasant conversation with fellow travellers. A Canadian man of 80+ from Kitchener was travelling with his daughter; he accurately pointed out each new sight before it was announced. It must have been poignant for him; he’d done the journey many times with his wife who had died recently. Both times we passed the Lorelei rock, he predicted “now they will play the music” and he hummed along to the tune to which a romantic poem about a woman with long blond hair was set. He would look up at the rock, wondering aloud if he might see her.
We also chatted to group of four women from California, a little younger than us, German beers well in hand. They said they’d been puzzled to see a bearded fellow sound asleep with head on the table of the ship’s lounge. Why would anyone sleep through such a special journey, they wondered? At one point they even saw a grey-haired woman asleep beside him.
When I explained we’d ridden 7,000 km in 4.5 months, they understood our need for a power nap.
2013/09/20: Back to Bonn by train and 80 km to Heimbach near Belgian border.
We briefly contemplated a route south-west up the Moselle from Koblenz, but were concerned it would add too much mileage in our final days to a planned meeting in Namur with a friend, and to the end of our journey in Paris. Koblenz and the Rhine Gorge had been a bit of an unplanned “extra”; our original intention had been to follow Eurovelo 3 westward from Bonn, so we took a local train back to there and set out again.
We got off the train and set out just before noon. The first part of the ride was through an area of agriculture and light industry, but soon we were in forest areas and we climbed steadily as we left the Rhine valley.
On deserted dirt tracks through spruce woods at dusk, we came to a confusing junction. We pride ourselves on our navigation skills: input comes from paper maps (remarkably good in Germany), GPS function of a smart phone (mainly Chris’s department), signage (usually excellent in Germany but signs had fallen over), place names when applicable (my area) and the very basic compass on Chris’s handlebars. We can both attest that this $12 compass-cum-bell, which most bike shops probably view as a gimmick, is actually invaluable. It saved the day here; we took the correct road. We swooped downhill into the pretty village of Heimbach as it was getting quite dark, and found a B&B.
Wandering out later in search of a light supper, we found ourselves in a tavern where my minimal German skills meant we faced platters of pig’s trotters and enormous potato dumplings. We did our best to do justice to the final supper of this German portion of our ride, and waddled back to our B&B to sleep off the uncomfortable excess.
P.S. We’ve edited our latest Flickr set for Germany.
(Patricia: please observe the lovely rustic mason bee condos.)