Rhine Ride Replete

8/8/17. The northern part of Worms which we passed through the next morning was less attractive than the centre – not surprisingly really and the city presumably cannot live on the back of tourism alone. That’s not too to say it was heavily industrialised but there were commercial developments and small factories along the busy road that we rode beside (thankfully on a separate cycle path).

Once out of the city we reached pleasant pastoral land seemingly devoted to growing the whole world’s supply of onions. There were fields and fields of them! It was easy cycling even if Christine was still not really enjoying it. Ahead we could see a few hills but were not worried as we knew that the cycle path followed the river closely.

As we approached Nierstein the onion fields started to give way to vines and once we entered the town there was much evidence of the wine responsible for its main claim to fame. We passed through without stopping to try the local produce following a bizarrely zig zag route which led us to a small track through vineyards clinging to the slopes of the hills which started immediately after the town. These hills sloped right down to the river leaving little room for the cycle track, the main road, and the railway all tightly squeezed together.

As we entered Mainz the hills levelled out and we crossed the river to the campsite which was located on a small island behind locked gates. As we stood there trying to work out if it was open to the public or a private site for permanent caravans a car drove up and the driver said we should go in behind him. We needed to go to a “small, white house and see Mr Grossman”.

We followed him in and cycled up to the house but there was no reply when we knocked. Reading an adjacent noticeboard, there was a phone number to call so we tried that. Again no reply.

Somewhat puzzled we decided that, as it was about 6 o’clock, we would cook dinner on a piece of grass on which were stood two caravans (mobile ones) and wait for Mr Grossman to return. This done, we tried the phone – again without success – and had just decided to find a hotel when we saw two people emerge from the house and drive off. However, as they were not the ones who shut the door it was clear that there was someone else inside, so Christine tried ringing the doorbell again.

Success! Mr Grossman proved to be a very affable man whose phone was broken! He said we were welcome to stay where we had cooked dinner or there was an area which was more sheltered and the cost was €10 which went straight in his back pocket without any formal registration as at most other sites. We doubt that the German taxman will hear about that income!

Anyway, we were sorted for the night!

The next morning, being Sunday, Christine headed for Mainz cathedral to take in a service while Stephen watched the bikes and drank coffee at a cafe across the square.

Duties done, we set off and again encountered some difficulty leaving a city because of confusing signposting and construction work but eventually made our way into the right path and had a pleasant 30 km cycle to the next campsite in Bingen. We arrived there shortly after lunch and were pleasantly surprised that it cost only €12.50 despite being very busy and located right on the river. The Ladies’ toilets and showers were again a Portacabin (again with urinals!) because the permanent ones were being refurbished. The Gents’ upgrade had been completed and looked very impressive. Stephen was a little disconcerted in the morning to find several women wandering into the shower area to avail themselves of the superior facilities.

As we had almost the whole afternoon “free” we went our separate ways with Christine walking into town (not particularly inspiring but she found a decent ice cream parlour) while Stephen decided to take advantage of leaving the luggage in the tent and went for a ride in the hills around that were simply covered in vineyards.

Between Bingen and Koblenz the Rhine passes through a very famous and picturesque gorge about 70 km long which is busy with cruise ships going both ways. It is also the site of the Lorelei rock which is a fundamental part of German folklore.

We did not complete the ride through the gorge in a day stopping at a campsite just after the village of Boppard about 50 km. Although it was located with great views right on the river bank it was rather noisy because the main road passed within a few yards and the (extremely busy) railway was also very close.

The spell of very pleasant weather came to an end overnight with short sharp showers throughout the morning. As we were going to be catching the train from Koblenz anyway, we contemplated giving the last stretch of the gorge a miss but decided that the lack of staff in the small stations would make finding a reasonable deal to get us close to our into Holland difficult or expensive. So we pressed on sheltering whenever the rain got heavy and reached Koblenz main station about 12 o’clock completing our cycle trip along the Rhine.

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