On a grey and damp day, the 27th August 2011 – we rode into Dorfstrasse despite the efforts of our son who tried to arrange to collect us at many spots on the journey. But we were determined that we would ride all the way on this day. And it felt so good riding our bicycles along the street to his home, where we have visited so many times over the last 3 years and sadly we may not manage to visit again.
We were so much fitter than on the day we left Haarlem, The Netherlands on August 5th 2011 and I felt just a wee bit like a celebrity receiving flowers from Angelica. We have travelled to Untersiggenthal by train from Haarlem, bus from Baden, car from Basel and Zurich and now by bicycle.
posted on April 4th 2012 – because we have only very recently had functional internet access.
we were on the way to Husseren – which is the highest village in the wine trail of Alsace and we thought we could ride there!!!
And we did try. We walked 10 metres, stopped and had a drink, walked 9 metres, stopped and had a drink.
Maybe you need a different picture – this is a beautiful long slow hill climb leading up to our B & B acccommodation in Husseren. There are vineyards as far as the eye can see on both sides of the long winding road and there is no shade and the air temperature was at least 39 degrees.
And those who know me, possibly also know that I do not handle heat at all well.
So we walked 8 metres, had a drink.
we are pushing heavy city bikes, with 2 full bike bags each.
So we walked 7 metres had a drink – all the while I am sweating rivers, and beginning to get a headache
we walked 6 metres, had a drink, poured water over my head.
we walked 4 metres – had a drink, poured water over my head.
we walked a couple of feet – had a drink.
I stopped, can’t do this, sat down, then lay down and waited to go to sleep – apparently 300 metres from the village – but who gives a damn.
Best Beloved is deciding on whether or not to call an ambulance.
And then along came a wonderful frenchman and loaded me and my bike, and our bags into his car and drove to the B & B in the village with me soaking his car seat with all the remaining water in my body or so it seemed; I think; as I can’t really remember.
Somewhere on the journey the full functioning cold fan in the car seemed to do the trick and I was able to wipe the sweat from my brow with my hat and say thank you, I think I did anyway, I certainly thought it.
At the B & B he deposited me on the drive and went back to get my Best Beloved who was still climbing the hill.
Things continued to get much better after a long long cool shower and lots of water and sleep.
Why did we do this?
Well, when we chose it we must have been asleep because we did not realise that the change from the Rhine plains to Vosges would include such a long hill climb and directly into the hot hot sun. We didn’t actually start the climb till after 6pm so didn’t imagine how bad it could be.
We had 3 nights in Husseren and it is as beautiful as you could expect.
If you ever take the Alsace wine trail road and by bicycle only climb to Husseren in the morning or after the sun has set or else you too could suffer heat stroke.
The cycle trip yesterday from the pretty and sleepy village of Neuburg was only 23.11 k’s. But it was stinking stinking hot. We crossed the border at Lauterburg, but paused on the German side hoping for a last cool drink in Germany – but alas at the border the 2 German establishments were not open yet!!!
We rode over and into the little French village possibly also Lauterburg, although that was not clear to us. We had a coffee sitting in a little cafe on the main street surrounded by many many public flower arrangements. Europe does public flower arrangements that surprise us every day by their extravagant colour combinations and drama. In France that is even more so. Such vibrant use of colour.
And of course our pet wasps are following us still.
Unprecedented for us is that after our arrival here in searing heat, and having been soaked by a sudden thunder storm we then went out for a ride into the village and had a couple of wines in a lovely old pub/bar which made our total ride for the day a nearly respectable 29.87.
Now you might ask – how did we find the pub/cafe? Well, we arrived in the village at what might have been the main street and looked at what was available (what was open on this stinking hot Sunday), and an elderly Frenchman virtually herded us into the place. He stood and pointed and spoke in French to us, while we looked at the building he kept gesticulating and talking his approval, and finally he nodded as we got to the entrance and looked like we were getting off our bikes and then he simply disappeared.
Turns out this building built in the 1700’s was one of the few that remained unscathed in WWII. So thank you to the Frenchman who insisted we go there. Modern History of Seltz
We did then ride to the Rhine, via a little street and stopped to admire a tree, unlike any we have seen before. A couple in garden spoke with us in “ENGLISH”. She was English and he was French, they live in England and were visiting family in this village. They didn’t know the type of tree – but what we found interesting is that the long (very long branches) are longer out than the height of the tree – and you would expect the tree to topple due to the weight out to one side. I have pictures and we will discover what the tree is some time. These two also sent us towards the Rhine and to a pleasant shady bike path as well. I think the shade was well worth it. Also as a result of speaking with them we are now leaving the Rhine and taking the train to Colmar and cycling to a village between Colmar and the Vosges Mountains where will stay 3 nights and explore in and around before heading towards Switzerland.
Temperature prediction today is up to 37 depending on whether you check the weather on accuweather or on the TV. Which is why we are taking the train via Strasbourg to Colmar and cycling only the last bit.
We arrived in Otterstadt after a challenging 53k ride assisted by some helpful locals and some helpful but not useful locals. We have discovered that people give instructions based on their driving knowledge, which means that you travel in circles only to discover that you were already on the right road.
And it was too darn hot.
about 28 Celsius today and it appears that it will be hotter still on Sunday and Monday.
Otterstadt has a fantasy otter fountain of course – and the otters are quite delightfully playful. I will add photos. Right now I am so tired I am going to bed.
Oh, and that Best Beloved, who would never step into a building with golden arches – had an espresso and chocolate cake at McCafe. Believe it or not.
He didn’t actually step into the building – he sent moi in to gather food and drink.
On our bike journey towards Bad Breisig from Konigswinter we got lost. We drove enthusiastically down a long long windy fast RheinStrasse expecting it to bring us back down the hill to the Rhine, only this Rheinstrasse led to a big highway which we could not cross.
So what do intrepid travellers do?
We followed an unpaved bike track and at the next T junction turned right towards the Rhine. Oh no! we were back at the big wide road, which was by now an enormous road (in the mind you see)
So we rode back up the bike track and did not turn left to follow back our original path, we continued on and turned right and the next road which lead us to Unkel (maybe it was upper Unkel) – an absolutely drop dead gorgeous little village and then the rain came. We hid under the verandah of a “Closed” Bar” and watched the rain, and watched the rain, and watched the rain.
Eventually we decided the rain was calmer and we should press on – so we rode down the hill and met that damned road again – but this time at a bridge. and that bridge was under construction, well, the surfaces will still being completed and there was a huge machine on the centre section and a couple guys deciding whether or not to start working again. Best Beloved went to reconnoiter – and made the discovery with the use of much voice and waving of arms that yes the Rhine was over this bridge, which was so new and still covered with very large hunks of loose metal. And also yes we could take our bikes over.
So there we were walking our bikes through a construction site, past the barriers, across the very loose metal and onto a road which would lead us down into Unkel proper for lunch and then to the Rhine.
The two men – one about our age and the other a bit younger watched us in disbelief. The older man shook his head at me as I went by, and I think he only just resisted wiggling his finger round and round to suggest that we were nuts for only as long as it took us to get our city bikes, our heavily laden city bikes by him. I didn’t look back to see as I was trying to keep the bike upright in the loose metal and stop myself from sliding down the hill.
We did have Goulash soup for lunch in the village and then rode a little further down the hill and there was the Rhine, the beautiful Rhine.
Oh have you picked up yet that in this part of the world we are struggling with the language. Many do not speak any English at all it seems, and our rudimentary Dutch and Danish helps, but English is not so useful.
Day 1 – Ambassador Hotel back entrance ready to go to the station to catch the train for the first leg to Utrecht.
Still things to do like organise a train journey to the plane for last ride from Europe etc.
So yes we took train to Amsterdam.
Oh yes – and we were very tired.
Which is really why we didn’t ride any of that day apart from 1 k to Haarlem Train station and then around 5.5 k’s to the hotel in Utrecht. Malie Hotel The hotel was charming, the staff such fun, the walled garden with mirrors which extended the space beautifully. We also packed up some clothes and sent on to NZ – the bags are stuffed full and heavy.
We left Haarlem, in the Netherlands on Friday 5th August, by train – a cheat we know but we had underestimated just how tired we would be and still had a few things to sort out on that day. We had a great breakfast with friends at the Ambassador Hotel in the centre of Haarlem and said our good byes and rode to the Haarlem station to begin our next journey. We both had very mixed feelings, excited to be heading on this bike journey, happy to be heading for New Zealand at the end of it and sad to be leaving this wonderful country and all the great people we have come to know and love and so so sad to leave the music.
We cycled from Utrecht train station to our hotel – in the museum district, around a 6.5 k ride. We meandered in the general area of the hotel later and took many pictures of the sculptures. The Netherlands always have amazing and interesting sculptures in parks and in and around the towns. The hotel itself was charming and an elegant start to this journey from a solid working life to retirement on a small piece of land in Miranda, New Zealand.
From Utrecht we cycled to Zeist Drieburg, a station outside Utrecht, and there took the train to Zevenaar – and it rained and it blew and was very nasty – which is why we had opted for the train journey. We didn’t want to start this holiday with pneumonia. So our bike riding on day two was about 18k’s in total. We did have to change trains in Arnhem and that was an event in itself. We were told there is no lift to leave the platform and believe it or not we took our bikes (our very heavily laden bikes) down a very long escalator. It was scary. I could not believe there wasn’t a lift and sure enough at the bottom we discovered a lift that took us to the platform to connect with the train to Zevenaar and there had been one on the platform we arrived on.
From Zevenaar in the Netherlands we cycled to Xanten in Germany – it was 51k journey and the wind blew very hard in our faces as often as it was possible of course. We were quite wrecked when we reached Xanten but delighted to be there and delighted by the hotel setting in the Markt. The weather was not good so we stayed two nights and thoroughly explored Xanten and the archaeological park.
Silly us – We expected interest when we crossed border into Germany, and I have to report there was no interest whatsoever in these two on their heavily laden city bikes cycling across the border. We do have photos to prove that we did so.
So of the 194 k’s suggested as a route by Google Maps we did manage to cycle 76k’s of them and we are now in Germany with many k’s to cycle yet.
PLEASE NOTE that my k’s may not be correct – but that Best Beloved is asleep, and I need his memory to compute the distance we travelled. So if you should read this post twice – don’t be alarmed if what you recall is not what you see a second time around.