Tuesday, 29 June 2010

June 25th 2010 - June 29th 2010

Tomtom has her voice back, the volume had “accidentally” been turned down by “someone”.

Difficult to get lost in any case, it is simply a case of following the Rhine, which is pretty difficult to miss.

Reference yesterdays blog, we still have not encountered a bridge across the Rhine!

Geisenheim – Geisenheim am Rhein – ASCI2010-471

We have an excellent spot here.

We have a view over the Rhine.

I can sit and watch the barges ploughing up and down, when I have finished my chores that is.

Kathleen has her own little sunbathing area.

After yesterdays 18 mile ride, Kathleen cannot me motivated to do much today. We cycle only as far as the village (1 mile), to check out church times (it is Friday, so Sunday is fast approaching).

We find the church, and think we have it organised, we leave with a leaflet giving service times, and choose ourselves a bar to have a cooling glass of Rose.

The bar is run by a Sikh couple, who, it turns out, speak English (they were probably born in Leeds). Kathleen decides to ask them to translate the German leaflet into English for her. Only she could think of asking a Sikh for information on a Catholic church, and not see the irony of it.

We have English neighbours, Dennis and Trixie, from Snodland in Kent. They are the classic sort of pair you meet, 74 and 73 years old respectively, and still roaming across Europe in a campervan, they are leaving for Luxembourg tomorrow.

Saturday, we visit Rudesheim, a more touristy place, but nice once you get away from the “front” street.

We find another Catholic Church, this one has mass on a Saturday evening, so that is this evening planned.

Kathleen is in “topping up tan” mode, so I pedal off along the Rhine by myself, towards Wiesbaden, and get my exercise in for the day.

Just as well Kathleen did not join me, the cycle track on most of this stretch is gravel, rather than the smooth tarmac she prefers.

Late in the afternoon, a large number of campervans and cars arrive, all with kayak type canoes on their roofs. The cars and campervans are driven by people at least as old as us. They unload all of the kayaks and put them on the green beside reception.

I ask one of them what is going on. After we have got over my little joke about them coming to watch their team be beaten tomorrow, he tells me there is some canoeing event going on tomorrow, cannot quite understand what it is all about, but a sort of “Race for Life” in canoes as far as I can tell.

In the evening, Kathleen goes to mass in Rudesheim, then we find a place to eat.

Having eaten, we retire to a wine bar in the market square. It is just a wooden kiosk, with tables and umbrella’s set around it. The wine is remarkably good, and cheap. The clientele overflow the available tables and onto the park benches in the square.

We meet a young English couple, he is in the Army (at Munchen Gladbach), and she is a Teacher.

They are cycling along the Rhine, with their 11 month old baby daughter in a little trailer towed behind one of their bicycles, and are staying in small hotels along the way.

One of the things they tell us, is that tomorrow the road along he Rhine from Rudesheim to Koblenz will be closed to all motor traffic, and will be open only to Bicycles, Roller Blades and Pedestrians.

After the English couple have left to put the baby to bed, we are joined, or perhaps invaded is a better word by a whole group of Germans.

We think they are a family group, celebrating some occasion. They soon have three or four tables joined together, and all of the available seats, the proprietor even produces some folding chairs from somewhere.

It is just like a McCafffery family bus trip, taking over the whole place.

We eventually cycle back to the van, Kathleen dangerously drunk in charge of a bicycle.

Sunday, another beautiful sunny day. We decide to cycle into Rudesheim to see if the road is indeed closed, as we had been told it was going to be.

Sure enough, we find the roads, running along the river, on both sides of the Rhine, for a distance of 64km (40 miles) are closed to everything except bicycles, roller blades and walkers.

This we understand is an annual event, and judging from the huge number of people present, it is a very successful one.

Caught up in the excitement of it, we join the crowd and set off in the direction of Koblenz.

We do just over 7 miles (11km), before turning around and heading back for lunch, making 15 miles in total.

Kathleen is so convinced she could make it to Koblenz, if we had set off earlier in the day, the gauntlet has been thrown down, the plan is to return next year, on the same day and do the whole distance.

There are hundreds of people taking part, all shapes and sizes, and all ages from children to pensioners (like us I suppose!).

Every few kilometres along the way, they have set up seats and umbrella for shade, with stalls selling beer, bratwurst etc etc.

Everyone, young and old are having a wonderful time,

At one stage we pass the canoeists I mentioned earlier.

They have set off from the campsite where we are staying, just past Rudesheim, and are paddling their way down the Rhine to Koblenz.

Unfortunately for them, the river traffic has not stopped, and they have to compete with barges as you can see.

I did ponder just glossing over this part.

In the early evening I watched the England v Germany game in the World Cup. How humiliating to be beaten 4-1, while in a bar full of Germans who were enjoying their victory to the full.

Monday, we head west, towards the Moselle.

Bernkastel-Kues – Stelplatz

We find the Stelplatz easily, with the aid of the Tomtom.

It is associated with a Winery, and, is located at the end of a long tarmac track on the banks of the River Moselle, overlooking vineyards all around.

The chap who runs the Stelplatz is a card, he is very elderly (80 we are told), and he insisted on telling Kathleen, how exactly to open the box for the electric hook up.

He also emphasised, by telling her three times, that the box and the handle were plastic.

I can only assume they have met before and he is fully aware of her legendary patience when confronted with anything which does not work the way she wants it to first try.

There are spaces for about 45 vans, (all with electric hook up), but only seven occupied, including ourselves.

The nearest van is occupied by a very pleasant German couple, who even volunteer to bring shopping from the supermarket for us, on their motor scooter.

We get ourselves parked, it is a beautiful spot, overlooking the river, and just beyond the end of the stelplatz there is a cycle track into Bernkastle-Kues (about 2 miles along the river).

Naturally we cycle to Bernkastel-Kues and spend our time browsing around the quaint small town. It is so hot we are forced to have drinks and ice cream.

The place has several fountains and is full of half timbered buildings, still in amazing condition, and in everyday use as houses, shops and businesses

At one point we encounter a chap playing a violin in the street, the music is very good, so we decide to sit on the terrace bar of the hotel across the street and have a glass of wine, while we listen to the music.

Kathleen is feeling particularly generous and offers to pay for the drinks.

We must have chosen the most expensive hotel in town, two glasses of wine cost 9 Euro!, this plus the 1 Euro I had put in the violinists hat made it 10 Euro for two glasses of wine.

We decided the violinist must be a plant, put there by the hotel, to tempt people to sit at their very expensive terrace bar.

I continue my quest to try various items of German food, and Kathleen manages (in her best German) to buy various items from a small shop.

We emerge with Kartoffel Salad, Wurst Salad and a thing which looks like a cold beef burger, but is (we are told) called a Frikadel and is made of pork.

It turns out, the wurst salad is like poloney in mayonaise, the Frikadel is very nice, the Kartoffel salad is quite nice.

In the evening, as I wash the dishes, Kathleen begins playing her guitar, within a short time, she has attracted a German chap (Helmut), who also has a guitar, and says he is very much a beginner at playing it.

Things soon follow a familiar pattern, and Kathleen and Helmut are soon playing and singing together, Inger (Helmut’s wife) and myself, are allowed to join them (with wine of course) when we have finished our chores.

Despite our initial protests that we do not want to drink too much, nor stay out too late, we are there until midnight, with mosquito cream supplied by Inger, and three bottles of wine are consumed.

Tuesday, we say our goodbyes, exchange Email addresses etc, and head further South along the Moselle, toward Trier, which is likely to be our last stop before Luxembourg.

Schweich – Zum Fahrturm – ACSI2010-575

Goodness knows how you pronounce that!

The site is by the river, and we have a riverside pitch, so interesting views, but not the best site we have had in Germany.

The weather continues to be absolutely roasting hot. At home I would expect such weather to end in a thunderstorm, and I have the same expectation here, but when will it break?

I have another puncture!, this is my third puncture this trip, but I suppose, if you accept that I have cycled roughly 400 miles in the past three months, then three punctures is not really a bad average.

We venture out to check out the riverside cycle route, we plan to cycle to Trier tomorrow, but for today, we are content to cycle to Longuich and Roil, a total of about 10 miles.

In the course of our exploring we find a good stelplazt (Weinkultturgut Longen-Schloder p389 of Stelplatz book) which looks a better bet than the site we are on, and it is cheaper, so we may move there tomorrow or the next day.

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