May 16, 2015
First off, I must apologize to the town of Bingen for unfairly calling it a dump. While it’s not going to win the Rhine’s most charming town award, it’s a perfectly fine town. Our problem is that we missed most of it! Yup; we discovered it as we were heading out. Sometimes, you just don’t venture very far when you’re tired, cold, hungry and on a bike.
Today was spent riding through the Rhine gorge. Above the river are impossibly steep vineyards, and alongside the river, on both sides, are very active train tracks. And I mean active; we saw dozens of trains, both passenger and freight. The river, too, is transporting oodles of people and freight — barges, cruise ships, day cruises. It’s a busy place, yet picturesque; a working river that has maintained its charm.
Then there are the castles. Every time we rounded a bend, there was another one perched on the top of a hill. Some are crumbling, most are well preserved, and some are active tourist attractions with cafes and umbrellas. There was no amount of charm that could entice us to even consider climbing up to one of them. It’s the flat lands for us.
The tiredness is starting to set in. Jeff is still only a few days post chemo, and I, of course, am not trained. The repeated days on the bike, and hours spent outside, all day take a toll. We’ll be cruising in a few weeks, but for now, we ache all over.
We spent the night in Boppard, another lovely town on the Romantic Rhine. After the previous night’s hotel debacle, I opted for a very civilized river front hotel. I don’t know how Jeff goes bike camping. I crave comfort after a day of cycling. A shower, dinner, wine, clean sheets. Ahhhhhh.
Tomorrow should be an easy one. We’ll ride a short 20KM to Koblenz, then take a train to Saarbrücken, which is on the Saar River, right by the French border. The current plan, always subject to change, is to cycle along the Saar and Mosel rivers, back to Koblenz, then continue north on the Rhine until it becomes too industrialized for our tastes. I’ve got a hankering to make it to the Netherlands this trip; we’ll see.
May 17th, 2015
The cycling today was short, but delightful — sunny, quieter than yesterday, and equally as lovely. Before we knew it, we were in Koblenz, where things got more complicated.
I’m just going to say it now: Our tandem and trailer combination is a beast in cities. It’s fine riding around the countryside, but trying to navigate it in traffic, crowds or on public transportation is not for the faint of heart. It’s enormous, heavy, unwieldy, and wants to fall over, or jack-knife at the slightest provocation. Today we had to jump through hoops and resort to stairs when the tandem was too big to fit into bike specific elevators. And then there’s the crazy dash onto the train, with the tandem and trailer separated, dodging throngs of people as we search for the bike car. Jeff got a good laugh out of my blood curdling scream “NOOOOOOOOO!” when I thought the train doors were closing on us before we could make it in.
But all’s well that ends well. We made it to Saarbrücken and even had dinner in a Mexican restaurant. European Mexican restaurants are always a crap shoot, well actually, worse than a crap shoot. As usual, this one wasn’t very authentic, but it tasted good and had lots of vegetables. No complaints here. We’re ready to get on the road. Saarbrücken is way too big and crowded for us.