Thursday, 24 June 2010

June 23rd 2010 - June 24th 2010

Today we, head for Koblenz and the Rhine.

It is motorway almost all of the way.

It is so German, the traffic is so disciplined, with only the occasional sonic boom from a Mercedes, BMW or Porsche, breaking the sound barrier in the outside lane. The speeds are impressive, the odd stretchs of road works we encounter have speed limits, 120kph (75mph), and the contra flows are really slowed down at 110kph (70mph), the rest is unrestricted.

The Tomtom has lost its voice.

This means I have to keep looking at the screen to watch for instructions. Not too bad on the motorway, when instructions happen only every twenty or thirty miles, but a bit difficult in town, when instructions sometimes come thick and fast, plus you have to watch traffic, lights, pedestrians and cyclists.

Kathleen resorts to reading out the instructions in the style of a Tomtom "voice".

I suspect her of deliberately turning off the voice, so there is only one female giving orders in the cab. She denies this of course.

Lahnstein - Wolfsmuhle - ASCI2010-512

The site is full, but the helpful owner squeezes ourselves, a dutch campervan and five dutch caravans onto a bit of hardstanding beside reception!

He cobles together electric hookup for us all, and we even have free wifi at the van.

The site is by the River Lahn, (which I hoped this shot would show, but it is hidden by the trees on the left!) it is very pleasant.

Weather is sunny and very hot!

We cycle the 2 miles or so into town to check out the cycle route to Koblenz for tomorrow.

I note a small track running toward the river, which I assume is a short cut, or at least a traffic free route.

Kathleen will not take the risk on it being a dead end.

To be fair, she has been caught out by my "short cuts" before.

We find a way into town, and determine that it is 9km (just over 5 miles) along the river to Koblenz, so that is our outing for tomorrow.

On our return from town, undeterred by Kathleen's lack of faith in my navigation skills, I set off by myself to determine if my "short cut" is valid.

Sure enough, it is fine, there is about 20 metres of gravel track, then a footbridge over the river.

There is a marina on the other side, a pleasant bar and pleasure cruisers and house boats moored by the river bank.

A smooth, level tarmac cycle track runs all of the way to Lahnstein, and then on to Koblenz in one direction, and in the other direction to Bad Ems.

I know Kathleen will not take my word for it, so, I collect photographic evidence for her, as I go, that it is in fact a traffic free route, and that it is a "proper" cycle track.

There is world cup fever here.

They have flags everywhere. Germany are playing this evening and dozens of them are in the bar watching the game. Like England (who I learn have qualified for the next round), they have not covered themselves in glory so far. Everyone is hoping for better things.

Who says Germans do not have a sense of humour?

About half way through the second half, when they are ahead 1-0, and the crowd in the bar are willing them to seal it with another goal or two, one of the watchers (an elderly lady, dressed in Germany colours) decides she cannot wait any longer and must go to the toilet.

Everyone of course knows where she is going as she walks from the bar.

They wait until she is in the toilet, and then, even although there is no exciting action on the pitch, they raise an enormous shout, as if they have scored, she of course comes rushing out from the toilet.

Another cheer goes up.

Thursday, we set off along the route I checked out yesterday. It takes us along the River Lahn, which soon flows into the Rhine, so we end up cycling along the right bank of the Rhine, as we head for Koblenz. This bit of information is relevant later!

We reach Koblenz no problem, it is dedicated cycle route just about all of the way.

Koblenz is a major city, with an extensive  pedestrianised centre, with lots of shops, but I am able to steer us away from that pretty quickly, thank goodness. 

There are some beautiful park like areas by the river at Koblenz, but they are busy renovating them, so it is a bit like a building site, so I should really say, it will be beautiful when it is finished.

We cycle further along the left bank of the Rhine (ie the opposite bank to which we cycled along to get here, this is relevant), in the direction of Lahnstein, and stop for refreshments, then cycle a little further and stop for our picnic lunch.

We are able to sit in the sun, eat our lunch, and watch the barges and pleasure craft sailing past on the Rhine.

I have always been fascinated by the barges which ply rivers such as the Rhine.

I am told that some of them are owned and operated by a family, who live on board, and in fact a couple of barges do pass us loaded with cargo, and play pens set up on the rear deck for the children.

Lunch finished, I suggest to Kathleen, "why don't we just continue on this side of the river back to Lahnstein, rather than turn around, go back to Koblenz and retrace our route".

This is agreed.

The cycle track passes through smart residential areas, then into open countryside alongside the river.

The dot in the distance is Kathleen pedalling for England.

We scoot along, and in what seems like no time we can see landmarks on the other side of the river, which we recognise as being near Lahnstein.

The penny drops.

We cycled first along the River Lahn, which joined the Rhine. We are more or less back where we started, but on the other side of the River Rhine, which at this point is about a quarter of a mile wide, or so it looks!

Possibly the most sensible suggestion at this point was to cycle back to Koblenz, cross the river and cycle down the other side.

But I never like turning around and going back.

So I suggest cycling on along the river. My logic being "there must be a bridge soon".

When we eventually get back to the campsite, and we are able to consult a map (no of course we did not have a map with us, how can you get lost just following a river?), I find that the next bridge is at Weisbaden, about 60 miles further on!

We have noticed some, what appear to be, ferry landings.

Kathleen reasons there may be a ferry, and that she is definately NOT just cycling on blindly hoping for a bridge to appear.

We choose a ferry landing which looks the most significant, from among the three of four possibles, and sit oursleves on a park bench.

The ferry landing has a sign suggesting there is a ferry due in ten minutes.

Another cyclist stops, reads the notices (in German of course), and cycles on.

We begin to have an uneasy feeling about this.

Then Kathleen spots what she thinks is a small ferry leaving the opposite bank and heading across to our side of the river. It looks like success.

We watch as it slowly makes its way across the river, but then realise it is not heading for "our" ferry landing, but to another one further up the River, where we can see the lone cyclist who paused at "our" ferry landing is waiting.

We quickly jump on our bikes and peddle like fury to the next landing stage, arriving just as the other two passengers are boarding the ferry, we quickly get ourselves and our bikes onboard.

The ferry appears to be operated by just one man.

He begins by asking all four of us where we want to go.

It appears we have a choice.

All four of us reply "Lahnstein".

Quite what would have happened if it had not been a unanimous verdict I am not sure.

He does not seem overjoyed to be going straight back to Lahnstein, perhaps he had been hoping for a more exciting destination from us.

He casts off, once we are underway, he leaves what appears to be the wheel house and begins talking on his mobile phone, this causes Kathleen great consternation, she wants to know who is steering the boat!

But she soon settles down to be as happy as Kathleen can be, in a small boat, on a big river, happy in the knowledge she does not have to peddle to the mythical "next bridge".

Fortunately, the ferry landing at the Lahnstein side, is at a bar, so we disembark, and settle at a table for a beer.


No comments:

Post a Comment