Sunday, September 29, 2013

Photos from the Boppard wine fest

The next perfect plan

Wake up and take the train from Boppard to Trier via Koblenz and spend three days or so riding down the Moselle river back towards Koblenz. The Moselle (or Mosel here in Germany) is smaller and quieter than the Rhine.

Our day off

We spent two nights in Osterpsai and took a day off from riding. We went across the river to Boppard and took a boat upstream to Oberwesel through the narrows at Loreley. Oberwesel has a lot of Roman ruins and it was a nice day to wander. Boppard was having a wine festival so we got way too drunk on German white wine while playing 'guess that tune' as the big band played your favorites from Abba to Earth Wind and Fire.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why are Germans as fat as Americans?

This is the eleven Euro mixed grill. It has four big hunks of meat, a salad with cheese and a big bowl of fries. This is about $15 in a nice little restaurant and is typical of the serving sizes in Germany. In Amsterdam, this would have been three meals, each 20 Euro.  
It is a challenge to order the right amount of food here. We are ordering one salad and one main meal and splitting them. Seems to work most of the time.

Two perfect plans ruined

We took the train back up to Koblenz to re-do the best part of the Rhein valley. We had time, so plan A was to ride up the Moselle river for two days and take a boat back to Koblenz. So, of course, the one and only boat had a private party booked on the day we wanted. So, plan B was to ride up to Bad Honningen, take in a long spa day and then head back up the Rhein. The spa part worked great, but there is a wine festival going on and all of the hotels heading back up the Rhein are completely booked, something we were unaware of until lunch today. So, lots of "do you speak English" phone calls later, we have a nice room in Osterspai where we are staying two full days. We have ridden for nine days straight and are ready for a break. The wine festival is only 4 miles and a short ferry ride away in Boppard so we may stop in tomorrow.
Until then, here is a photo of Sherry catching some radiation and a typical scene from the trail.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


For the previous post

Is it really Friday?

Last post had us getting off the train at Bonn. Since then, we spent nights in Linz am Rhein, Lahnstein, Bacharach and we are now in Mainz.
The photos are mostly of the view from the youth hostel in Bacharach. There is also a photo of one of the ferry boats that we take to cross the river. There are very few bridges. There are also a number of hiking trails through the hills. There is a photo of one of the sign posts.
In Mainz, we tried to decide if we wanted to go up the Main river or continue down the Rhine. Instead, we are going back to Bonn and doing that last section over again. The stretch from Koblenz to Mainz is a UNESCO heritage site and it has lots of beautiful little towns and we just blew through it. We are going to do it again, only more slowly. Let's see if we can manage getting on and off the train this time:-)
We went to the spa at Bad Breising a few days ago. Forget every advertisement you have ever seen about European spas and instead envision lots of old fat Germans soaking in lukewarm mineral water. We had paid for the bath and the sauna so we went to the sauna. Sherry came out of the women's locker and almost bumped into a few nude men. You could see the immediate confusion - 'did I go into the wrong locker room?'. The sauna is a clothing optional/unnecessary affair. There was a little garden area with it's own little hot house where we participated in a group sauna after laying out in the garden turning often to avoid sunburn on parts that don't normally see the sunshine. Sorry, no photos.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day four wrap-up. In the Rhine valley

We skipped the industrial part of the Rhine and took a train to Bonn and then rode down to Linz au Rhine for the night. Finally, the picture book promise of the Rhine valley. Navigation is now really easy. It is easy to follow a river when it is in a valley but really hard to navigate through a river delta.
Here are three pictures from the day.

Are we in the Sahara, or Down Under?

We saw a Grey Crowned Crane (hellooo ladies!), which comes from the Sahara, and a couple of wallabies in someone's yard.  There was a kangaroo as well, but he was camera shy.

She caught the KATY

Nothing like seeing your spouse, luggage and tickets pulling away from the station while you are still on the platform.
I was moving the tandem from the back of the train car to the front of the car when all of the doors closed and the train pulled out of the station. Thank heavens for cell phones.
We are skipping the industrialized north part of the Rhine and going straight to Bonn. We did not feel the need to see shipyards and factories.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


We rode into Germany yesterday and stayed in Emmerich.
Yesterday, we found signs with points of interest marked in little green circles with numbers. The bike path had small signs showing the way to each numbered point. So, I picked our route based on the points we were going through, wrote the numbers on my fingers left to right and did not have to look at our map for miles.

Typical roads on the Netherlands's side of the Rhine.

Here is the video, I hope. Blogger has a crappy interface for YouTube videos.

Shoes area big decision

We only wanted to take one pair of shoes for our month-long trip. Sherry has been using these Keen sandals for years and I'm now a believer. We decided against bike shoes and clip-in pedals and just went for the casual option. The Keens don't look quite as dorky when wearing socks as Teva sandals do.

More photos from day one

The tandem fully loaded, sherry and Mike in front of a windmill, sherry with the tandem getting ready to leave Amsterdam and a shot from our canal tour showing our boat on the far right.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day two treat - touring a working windmill

We were riding along and saw a windmill That was actually working so we rode over to it to take a look. Door was open, and it had postcard and info on the bottom floor so we went in and started climbing. The owner was on the third floor and he showed us the inner workings. He grinds flour in the mill and sells it locally. He showed us how he stops the rotation of the wings and engages the wooden gears. It was a lucky thing to find along the way.

Day two - Utrecht to Rhenen and a bike race

We had a normal length ride today, 40+ miles. We started in a suburb of Utrecht and rode south to Wijk bj Duurstede and the on to Rhenen. Along the way, we started seeing a bunch of police motorcycles coming the other way, then a Cavan of cars. We thought a politician was coming until we saw bike logos on the cars. In a flash, it was over.
Last night, we stayed in a suburb of Utrecht and took the bus into town for dinner. Never again. We need to either stay in town or out of town. The middle road doesn't work. We blew way too much time and money getting into town and back. Lesson learned.
The weather was fine, we only lost about 45 minutes on navigation failures, and, well, it was flat. Gonna be flat for the next two weeks. For now, the sun is out and we are on the balcony of our hotel having wine and beer. Here's hoping this is the typical day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bags packed and ready to go.

Two weeks worth of stuff, ready to load onto the bike.

Last day in Amsterdam

Got up early so we could be out of the shower by 8 so our host could grab the towels, make the bed, and prep for the next guest. He let us stay an extra night and the rain is supposed to stop later this morning. We should actually be underway after lunch. We are planning a shorter ride today because there are always logistical snags on a first day.
We still aren't completely sure that everything is going to fit on the bike. There will be some last-minute decisions that need to be made:-)
Our host was extremely helpful, pleasant and interesting. We would definitely rent the back half of his boat again.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Five days of overcast skies, wind and rain

Not much to do other than grow a beard. Oh, and also go to museums, bars, restaurants and other indoor attractions.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Getting aboard our Amsterdam house boat

This is the way we get to our boat - the one moored farthest from shore.

Arrived safely at Schiphol

Easy flight, arrived early. Sherry slept through dinner and I slept through breakfast. Both phones seem to be connecting and we just need some train tickets to downtown.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The tandem torn apart and ready for packing

The tandem, all torn apart and ready to pack. Racks removed, cranksets pulled, fork removed, tires off of the wheels, water bottle cages removed. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Amsterdam to Zurich by Bicycle

We are planning a long trip to Europe. The game plan is to fly into Amsterdam with our tandem bicycle, ride it towards Basel along the Rhine and, when we are sick of riding, take the train to Zurich, re-pack the bike,  and rent a car and drive to the Alps where our neighbor has a small house we can stay in for free. Then, drive back to Zurich and fly home.

Enumerated, the plan is:

1) Fly into Amsterdam with the tandem packed into two cases.
2) Hang out in Amsterdam for 5 days living on this houseboat. and ship the mostly empty bike boxes to Zurich.
3) Ride towards Zurich and get as far as we feel like riding (we may even make it the whole way).
4) Train/boat/car the rest of the way and end up somehow in Zurich
5) Drive to a little village in the Alps and stay for a week or so
6) Fly home out of Zurich

Here is a link to the map that we will be using as a big-picture planning tool.

View Amsterdam to Switzerland in a larger map