The day started deceptively well. Our train ride from Koblenz to Nuremberg was a breeze — three trains and six hours of travel without a hitch. It was raining throughout much of the train ride. How lucky, we thought; we’d managed to use up a rain-day on train travel, rather than being forced to hole up in a hotel.
It was late afternoon, and raining lightly as we walked out of the train station in Nuremberg. The station was surrounded by hotels, which we foolishly decided to pass up. It was so busy and congested by the station. Let’s head out toward the bike path and find a hotel in a quieter area. We didn’t have a map of Nuremberg, and our iPhones were low on juice as we’d been using them to entertain ourselves on the train. You can probably see where this is going.
Immediately outside of the train station was a sign for the Danube/Main Canal. That sounded good. Our route ran along both the Regnitz River and the Danube/Main Canal. How fortuitous! So we followed the signs for 4 or 5 kilometers until they petered out. The rain started to pick up. We asked numerous people for directions, none of whom spoke English. We, of course, are hopeless in German. We repeatedly checked Google Maps, as we watched our phone batteries die a fast death. We finally made it to the canal, which had no bike path beside it, and was in a God forsaken industrial wasteland. We forged on, choosing roads that appeared to run more or less parallel to the canal, only to have them dead-end at gated industrial facilities, or take a circuitous route that lead to who knows where.
It was grim. We were bickering with each other … could of, would of, should of. It was raining, our feet were wet, we were hopelessly lost and it was getting late. We eventually stumbled upon a veterinarian’s office in the middle of nowhere, and got detailed directions from one of the clients who spoke English. Whew! Except that his directions routed us onto a limited access highway. Perhaps if it hadn’t been raining, or if we knew one iota of German, we would have realized it earlier, but we didn’t figure it out until it was too late and we were on the highway. We cycled along the shoulder, as fast as we could, looking for the first exit. Right before the exit, was a construction zone that took away the shoulder. Cars were whizzing by, so we ducked into the construction area, figuring we would get around it.
We were stopped by an enormous barricade of trash and construction materials. By this time, I had nothing left; I was a broken woman. Jeff sprang into action, unhitched the trailer and started looking for a way through it. It was a filthy, sloppy, slick, muddy mess, full of sharp objects. He instructed me; I complied. It wasn’t easy. We finally got the bike, trailer and the two of us past the blockade. Jeff was covered with sticky glue-like mud. Of course, our water bottles were empty, so he couldn’t even clean up.
We continued on, still hopelessly lost. The scenery started to look familiar, and we realized that we were passing buildings that we had passed an hour and a half earlier. Our hearts sank. Right then, in our darkest hour, Jeff saw a sign for an IBIS Budget Hotel 500 meters ahead. Hallelujah! We checked in; two filthy drowned rats on a tandem.
I will say it right now, the Nuremberg IBIS Budget Hotel is the most singularly strange hotel I have ever seen. It’s in the middle of a large corporate park, and is barely marked. There is no main entrance, only a small door in the back of the building, in a parking lot full of heavy equipment. Apparently it was once a shoe factory, and was re-purposed as a hotel 15 years ago. The rooms, all the same, are like futuristic pods – modern, stark, simplistic. The showerhead had blue and red LED lights that changed color while you showered. And it had a double bed that didn’t have a crack in the middle. It was perfect.
We cleaned up, did our laundry, and with the help of the hotel receptionist, had a pizza and bottle of wine delivered to the hotel. Life was good again.