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.

Lost: One Cycling Mojo

5/8/17. The last few days have been trying for us. Christine has completely lost all enthusiasm for cycling at the moment and, as a result, is finding any time on the bike a chore. This, of course, is meaning that Stephen is not enjoying things either (although he has not lost his enthusiasm!)

It started on our first day back in Germany. When we left the municipal campsite near Seltz the weather was quite cloudy but it looked as though it was going to get better. By the time we crossed the border after about 20 km the sun was blazing down and the temperature was climbing into the low 30”s. Christine does not function well in these sort of temperatures, particularly if she is exerting herself physically, and she started to wilt. To make matters worse there was a dearth of campsites on this stretch of the river and it was after 92k and nearly 7 o’clock when we rolled into the campsite in Speyer at the second attempt. The first place we had tried turned out to be a private place for permanent mobile homes.

En route Christine felt her rear tyre go flat for the second time in recent days (the first one was when we were border hopping between Germany and Switzerland). Again it was not because something sharp penetrated the tyre – this time it was an old repair patch whereas the previous time was a split along the seam/join of the inner tube. Remarkably these were the first flats either of us had experienced since we were riding through Holland along the North Sea coast last August in which time we have ridden between 13 and 14,000 km combined. That is one heck of a testament to the puncture resistance of Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tyres!

The campsite had a certain charm but was expensive for what it was – €22, the toilets and showers were in two containers (with the Ladies even having urinals!) and the only place to wash up was using a stand pipe. It was a real disappointment after the three sites we had stayed at in France which were much more reasonable at €12 or 13 and with better facilities (although it must be said their Ladies did not have the urinals!)

The campsite did not improve Christine’s demeanour and nor did the heavy rain and thunder during the night. By the time morning came the last thing she wanted to do was get back on the bike. On the other hand staying at the expensive campsite was not an attractive proposition either so, being a real trooper, she just “got on with it”.

By 12 o’clock we had covered 25 km and were on the edge of Ludwigshafen, a largish city across the river from Mannheim. With Christine’s funk continuing or worsening, we decided to find a hotel, there being no campsites in the vicinity. The nearest one looked rather nice but a bit pricey. Stephen decided to give it a go but was put off by the price which started at €100 but which came down by 20% when he pulled a face. However, the lady caught sight of a baleful looking Christine outside and made a final offer of €60 which we gratefully accepted!

While Christine applied her stock remedy for all ailments, namely bed and a couple of hours sleep, Stephen took himself off to Mannheim by bike – just to see what there was too see. Not much was the answer but that view was coloured by him getting hopelessly confused by the one way system and the aggravating cycle route signs which only showed Mannheim Centre on about one sign in two. He will not be rushing back!

After a good breakfast (included in the price) Christine felt a little better so we set off for Worms with the idea that she could have a look round the city which, as you may well know, is very significant in the development of the Protestant faith (Martin Luther, the Diet of Worms and all that). Just as we approached the city, we found the canoe club campsite and got ourselves set up there.

Christine walked into town where she looked round the (surprisingly) Catholic cathedral and saw the monument to Luther before indulging in an ice cream from a cafe offering 80 different flavours. Stephen followed later by bike meeting with her briefly before turning to camp as his knee still gives him some “gyp” if he walks any distance.

Border Hopping

29/7/17. Our departure from Lake Constance was delayed by our reluctance to head off into the rain that was falling on Thursday morning. Having checked out of the campsite, we “hid” in the local cafe hoping for the promised better weather.

Eventually the sky started to look a little brighter and we set off towards the ferry in Meersburg to take us to the city of Constance itself. (A mighty pretty place it is too.) After stocking up on provisions at the last supermarket in Germany we crossed into the land of the banking “gnomes” and the famously high prices through a deserted border post.

The route along the southern shore of the Untersee (the smaller part of Lake Constance) took us through villages that had a different feel to their German counterparts, more rural and less touristy, and even the clang of cowbell, and led us to the picture postcard pretty town of Stein am Rhein. Ignoring the cycle route signs we went along the main street thronged with tourists and passed out through the western town gate to find ourselves back on the bike path which obviously took the long and not so pretty route round the less busy ring road.

On the northern bank of the river we soon crossed back into Germany, and then back into Switzerland. It was a taste of things to come!

We were aiming for a campsite that appeared on Stephen’s Garmin but when we arrived it appeared to have only permanent caravans despite several road signs with a tent. We pressed on crossing the river and back into Germany for another campsite. This one accepted tents but there were big signs everywhere saying “Private Campground for the Canoe Club only”.

We moved on. The road signs changed again although there was no other indication of a border crossing. It was now heading towards 7 o’clock so when we saw a sign for a B&B and temptation got the better of us. As we entered the village it still looked like Switzerland but turning up the side road to the farm where the B&B was Christine noticed that all the cars had German number plates.

Once we were booked in we asked “Are we in Germany or Switzerland?” The lady laughed and said it was an enclave of Germany completely surrounded by Switzerland. “We are politically German but economically Swiss”. We noticed this in the prices – €70 for the room and another €20 for breakfast which we declined figuring we could buy some bread rolls at a shop in the village in the morning.

Well! We chose 4 nice looking but smallish rolls and we’re staggered to be told that, once converted from Swiss francs, that they cost €5.40 – say £4.50! Definitely Swiss prices!

Friday was spent battling against a westerly wind on the northern bank, mainly in Germany but with a couple of forays into Switzerland. The route veered away from the river taking a shorter but hillier path through the minor foothills of the Black Forest. We had been hoping to get reasonably close to Basel by the evening but the wind, the heat (the rain clouds having gradually disappeared over the last two days) and the hills meant that we reached the town of Waldshut (Germany, in case you’re wondering) where we had stayed just over two years ago when we were aiming for the Black Sea. So we made for the same campsite. The area for tents was “free form” in that there were were no marked out spaces so, because we were there quite early, we could choose almost anywhere. As more and more people arrived it became more and more crowded.

Looking back at what we wrote last time we stayed here Stephen was annoyed at the cost €17 plus €1 for 4 minutes in the shower. This was after a couple of weeks in France. This time round it didn’t feel as extortionate after time in Finland where we occasionally paid close to €30 albeit with “free” showers, sauna and kitchen. It all depends on your perspective!

We had good chats to two separate British couples – Derek and Linda who were 4 weeks into a similar trip to us heading for the Black Sea, India and points east so we were able to share some of our experiences – and Carrie and (Sorry! We’ve forgotten your name!! How embarrassing!!!) who were driving down to Lake Constance to meet their son and who told us about a really interesting museum in Neanderthal.

On Saturday morning the tent was very wet from free and condensation so we were even slower than usual in getting going. The first part of the day was through pretty German towns on the north bank looking over at equally picturesque towns on the Swiss side and we found a lovely shaded spot for lunch on the old walls high above the river.

The last 20 km into Basel were as uninspiring as leaving the city had been two years ago but eventually we made our way through the suburbs, crossing briefly into Switzerland for the last time before hitting the French border for the last 2 km to another previously visited campsite in Huningue. This was at the more basic end of campsites but it’s price more than reflected this at €12 for the two of us for one night – and, amazingly for a campsite in France, there were toilet seats!

It has been interesting revisiting these two campsites after 2 years as, for both of us, it feels a bit like “completing the circle” of our trip.

Becalmed Beside the Bodensee

25/7/17. The absence of updates is an indication that not much has been happening in our lives in the last week or so. We have been waiting for Stephen’s back to recover and we’re pleased to report that it is much improved. One morning it took him the best part of 10 minutes to get out of the tent amid much grimacing and swearing under his breath but the last couple of evenings have seen it almost as good as new (it seems to regress during the night and then improve as the day goes on). He didn’t leave the campsite for the first two days – which was not too much of a problem as it is in such a lovely location – and he has hardly been on his bike the whole time which shows how much he has been suffering! However, with it just about recovered we should be making a move in the next day or two – assuming the weather improves. He will, of course, take things very carefully at first.

Friday and Saturday were glorious although there were spectacular electric storms both nights (with a group of young lads “next door” having to vacate their tents for the sanitation block at 1 in the morning because everything was soaked). Since then, though, the weather has been much less friendly with frequent heavy showers and strong gusts of wind.

We have enjoyed watching a family of mallards that periodically leave the lake to wander around the campsite. The mother is doing a phenomenal job of shepherding her 17 (yes! Seventeen!!) ducklings around and they are growing fast. There is a family of swans with 4 cygnets and one of the adults takes exception to the ducklings whenever they stay too close to his/her family chasing them away with much hissing and flapping.

On Monday evening we had a blow out at a favourite restaurant of ours, spending two days’ budget on the meal. But it was worth it! Especially Christine’s most favourite dessert – the Grosse Dessertteller or “Big Pudding Plate” which is a selection of 8 different dishes all served on the one plate. She has been told on previous occasions that people normally share it but she offers Stephen only a mouthful or two! [Photo to follow]

She found cycling the 3 km back to the campsite a bit of a struggle.

Boats and Trains (but no Planes)

20/7/17. The last few days have been spent travelling down to our favourite place in Germany – the Bodensee or Lake Constance where Germany, Austria and Switzerland meet at a widening of the Rhine. We have been here numerous times before (at least 10) and it is our favourite place – it is so beautiful and easy and German and good for cycling and lovely! In fact we often say if we ever had a holiday home it would be here!

We took the ferry from Helsinki to Travemünde, near Lúbeck, in northern Germany, but not before Stephen had a last bike ride in Finland while Christine had her pill “sitting down” session! The ferry sailed at 5 in the afternoon but check in was only between 1.30 and 3 and, because we declined the offer of a cabin at €290, we wanted to be one of the first on board to grab some of the best reclining seats for the 30 hour trip so aimed to get there early.

Of course the inevitable happened! We and the other 8 cyclists were put into one of the last lanes to be loaded. However, it was not really a problem as it seemed that most of the motorists were in cabins and mainly the cyclists who were slumming it. It was an unexciting trip across the Baltic which was at its most placid – thankfully as Christine had not got any sea sickness pills.

We arrived in Travemünde as it was getting dark (a real novelty!) and quickly made our way to the campsite nearby to get some shut-eye as, while better than it might have been because we had used our camping mattresses rather than the reclining seats, our sleep onboard had not been the best.

After a lie-in we slowly made our way to Lübeck, some 20 km away, enjoying loading the bikes on the bus to go through the Herrentunnel as we had almost a year ago en route from Berlin to Dieppe (see The Baltic Bummel 3). We were more than happy to use the same campsite and Christine went for a walk around the city while Stephen loafed around at the tent to rest his right knee which has been giving him “gip” for the last couple  of weeks when walking (but thankfully not cycling!)

On Tuesday we embarked on the first leg of our rail trip from one end of Germany to the other. We used a cheapo ticket which meant the second person (and also up to 3 others) to go anywhere for €8. The only problem was that the ticket was only valid on the slower regional trains rather than the fast Inter City ones. Thus we had to make five! changes of train and after 10 hours of travelling we had only reached the northern edge of Baden-Wurttemberg. However, Christine in particular enjoyed watching the changing landscape go past and it was a good opportunity to catch up on podcasts and reading.

The changes of train involved changing platforms and while there were generally lifts, at one station there were none so Stephen ended up carrying the bikes (minus a couple of panniers) up and down steps. At the last stop of the day, there were lifts but the one from the platform down to the tunnel to the exit was out of commission necessitating more carrying. In addition, most of the trains were such that we could wheel the bikes on and off but one, at a station where the train only stopped for a couple of minutes, required the bikes to be lifted up and down 3 steps. Somewhere on the journey Stephen didn’t do a “proper” lift and by the evening his back had seized up in protest. This combined with his dodgy knee left him feeling about 30 years older than he had at the start of the day!

We stopped in the small town of Lauda which appeared to be on a popular cycling route judging by the number of other cyclists in the hotel. The advantage of having reached here the previous evening was that on Wednesday we could buy a cheaper ticket for travel within B-W which would get us to our destination of Friedrichshafen on the shore of the Bodensee.

We arrived at the station in plenty of time in case we needed to use the broken lift so Christine could carry the bags and bikes in about10 trips up and down steps because Stephen’s back was completely out of commission. However, this was thankfully unnecessary.

While we sat waiting for the train a man walked along the platform carrying a cricket bat – something we had never seen in many trips to Germany. We got speaking to Khan, originally from Pakistan, and he explained that he played for Karlsrühe, a team in the cricket Bundesliga. He noticed Stephen wincing when moving and had a quick look at his back. He got out his ice-spray (very welcome) and gave Christine some physio-tape to apply that evening. Clearly he has some role in keeping the team healthy as well as being a player.

Just before the train was due sure there was an announcement that it was running 15 minutes late. We eventually caught the next train which was due an hour later and was itself half an hour late. To further discredit the reputation of German railway efficiency it stopped two stations short of its destination, Stuttgart, so we had to catch a suburban service before we could get on our final train to Friedrichshafen – so our journey across Germany involved 9 trains and one damaged back!

By the time we reached the Bodensee the clouds that had been around since a thunderstorm just after we arrived at the hotel in Lauda the previous evening had blown away and we were greeted by lovely sunshine and a cool breeze for a short ride to the campsite near the small town of Immenstaad, where we have stayed on all our previous visits to the lake except one. Here Christine took responsibility for pitching the tent on her own for the first time ever – but Stephen kept a close eye on her and issued detailed instructions!

The campsite is idyllicly situated right by the lake, with a small area exclusively for cycle tourists in the best spot. From our tent we have wonderful views across to Switzerland and the Alps. Just perfect!

Dreech on the Dyke

19-22/8/16. We found a map covering the last stretch of the coast to The Netherlands in Wilhelmshaven which comforted Christine enormously. She does not feel happy not being able to see where she is or where she is heading. Stephen has the Garmin which, while not good for planning a long route, is great for the immediate locality and short distances.

The last few days have been fairly unremarkable with more extremely flat landscape but the wind often making cycling more difficult than it needs to be. One of the campsites was absolutely enormous – it felt as though there were thousands of caravans, both permanent and visitors, and hundreds of mobile homes – and yet we could not see what attracted so many people. The facilities were OK but not great. It was not expensive, but not cheap either. The location was nice enough but not spectacular. There were no major tourist attractions nearby (at least as far as we could ascertain). There were other sites within easy driving distance.

On Saturday afternoon we enjoyed cycling with a very pleasant young lady from Oxfordshire, Maike, who has been riding around Europe on her own for the last 4½ months and seems to have covered huge distances (from UK to Serbia, then up to the north of Finland). She is doing this on a budget of €5 per day and has spent only one night in a proper campsite. She majes us looks like glamping softies!

The weather has taken a turn for the worse with Christine getting absolutely soaked walking back from church yesterday and then it has rained pretty much all day today. We had been intending to take the ferry from Emden to The Netherlands in the afternoon, only to discover it only runs on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and, with no campsite nearby that we can see on maps or apps, we have “bailed” to a hotel to dry out!

“Where Have All The Ferries Gone?”

17-18/8/16. The improvement in the weather and the wide open countryside made for a spectacular sunset over the sea to the west and the next morning dawn was lovely too, although drying the dew on the tent again took a while. With nothing around us apart from the now closed restaurant we had to get under way to find a bakery for the rolls for breakfast.

Once fed, we followed the coast southwards to the Weser, the river that flows through Bremen. The city itself is a fair way inland but its modern day port, Bremerhaven, is on the estuary and is a busy container port. The route took us through this and we were mighty impressed with the scale of the operation.

We pottered about in Bremerhaven, having lunch (always important) and trying to buy the map of the last section of the German coast (unsuccessfully) before heading to the ferry across the river. Or so we thought!

Arriving at the dock there were big signs saying that, because of damage to the dock on the other side of the river, ferry operations were cancelled for the next few months. We did read that there was a “ferry replacement” bus service which caused our hearts to sink, given that the UK equivalents for trains do not take bikes, but then we noticed that there was capacity for a limited number of bikes. As we were the only cyclists around at the time we guessed we were “first in the queue” so were hopeful that we would get a ride.

So it was to prove, and, in fact, 5 other bikes turned up after us and all were allowed onboard. The journey took more than half an hour since we had to go quite a long way inland to the first crossing point – not surprising really since if it was close the ferry would soon go out of business.

A leisurely afternoon’s ride took us to Burhave where there was a busy campsite which offered a free bottle of beer or packet of Haribo sweets on check-in. I am sure you can guess which of us went for the beer and which for the sweets!

The next morning (Thursday) saw us riding to the next ferry, to cross the bay to Wilhelmshaven rather than cycle all the way round, only to find there were only two crossings a day and we had missed the first one by an hour and faced a 7 hour wait for the next one!

That will teach us to try cheating on cycling the whole coast! We set off by bike and it was all rather lovely – not least because we had a gentle tailwind from the north pushing us along. The big excitement was finding somewhere to buy lunch. We had anticipated getting it in Wilhelmshaven but there was nothing in the way of shops on the ride around the bay.

Stopping to inspect a map at a road junction near the bottom of the bay, Stephen noticed a trolley sign in a village a little way inland so we headed for it only to find the small supermarket was closed from 12 until 2. Grrr! Christine then noticed a small bakery just around the corner which was open. At least someone wanted our custom.

And it was a real find because in addition to the usual bread rolls and coffee they had a rhubarb and meringue cake which came in enormous portions for €3. We shared one between us and it was superb.

As we changed direction to head towards Wilhelmshaven the wind, of course, became more of a hindrance. We stopped in the little town of Varel to look for a map – becoming more urgent as the one we had only went as far as Wilhelmshaven – unsuccessfully, before riding the 10 km to Dangast where we had decided to spend the night.

To The Elbe

15-16/8/16. It’s more than a month since we left Japan! Unbelievable!!

It was inevitable. St Peter-Ording is on a promontory jutting out into the North Sea so when we left we had a 15-20 km ride to the east/south east. And what happens to the westerly winds we have been facing for the last few days? They drop to nothing of course!

Well, at least we should be grateful they didn’t turn through 180°! Providing there is no headwind cycling in these parts is blissfully easy so we made excellent time, crossing a dam at Eidesperrwerk which was clearly a flood defence construction protecting the floodplain of the river which the dam spanned.

It was also the gateway to “Wind Farm City”. All the way from Ribe in Denmark we had been passing turbines, but this was obviously where they breed! The numbers were just staggering! It is no wonder that Germany has days when it only uses renewable energy when you see this amount of generating capacity. Are we unusual in finding them attractive and failing to understand the objections of the NIMBYs and climate-change naysayers back home?

The wind picked up a little in the afternoon but was never strong and generally from the side so we continued to make excellent progress, covering more than 80 km in a day when laden for only the second time since New Zealand (the other occasion being when we misjudged distances and finished at about 8 o’clock) and it was not a strain to do.

We found a lovely little campsite in Brunsbüttel (at the mouth of the River Elbe which flows through Hamburg) that was a very reasonable €13 including kitchen/common room where we caught some of the Olympics for the first time (albeit with a German slant to the coverage, naturally).

On Tuesday morning it was a ride of less than a km to the port to catch the ferry to Cuxhaven, but first Stephen had the job of fitting a new rear tyre to replace one that was starting to show the effects of 10,000 km without a puncture. He wept a silent tear as he consigned an old friend to the bin!

The fare for the ferry was €6 for an adult and €4 for a bike – very reasonable for an 80 minute journey (about the same as the cross-Channel trip). Cuxhaven was a happening place with a long sandy beach which provided a pleasant outlook for us while we munched our rolls and hard boiled eggs.

Catching the 9 o’clock ferry was always going to be a big ask given the task of drying the dew from the tent (this has increased significantly in the last week or so) and the tyre fitting, so we had decided that the next one, at 10.45, was the one for us. Therefore, with the absolute necessity of feeding the inner man/woman, it was well into the afternoon before we started cycling “proper”. And with an improvement in the weather, Christine took the opportunity to enjoy the extensive views of the sun, sea and sand (no surf, in the calm conditions now prevailing) at a leisurely pace (which did not frustrate Stephen in the slightest. No. Absolutely not. Honest.)

As a result we had done less than 30 km when it was time to find a place to stop for the night. We found a campsite set a km on the sea side if the dyke in the middle of a wide expanse of salt marsh and grassland. The only signs of humanity visible are a small harbour with one or two sheds, a restaurant made from 2 containers to serve bathers at the nearby beach and a dozen wind turbines.

It is an idyllic setting but very exposed to westerly winds so it must have been “draughty”, to say the least, a few days ago. We mentioned the beach above. This is rather overplaying it! There is a small patch of sand but it is dwarfed by the mud flats which are on a similar scale to those at Weston-Super-Mare (of Weston-Super-Mud as Christine calls it, based on her childhood memories of living close by). The sea is a very distant line when the tide is out leaving acres and acres of thick, brown goo! The seabirds love it.

Christine Visits an Old Haunt 2 – And Doesn’t Remember it at All!

13-14/8/16. Christine spent a second summer working in a German restaurant.-  on the North Sea coast, in St Peter-Ording, this time – so it would have been remiss of us to bypass it. But when we got there it had all changed so she recognised nothing other than a faint memory of the ceiling of the church in which she worshipped while there. Almost every building looked less the thirty years old so it was perhaps not surprising. The path to the beach through the dunes also rang bells but she did only go to the sand once the whole summer (because her memory is that the weather, all the time she was there, was similar to that which we have been experiencing for the last few days – a strong, cool/cold wind off the sea with intermittent heavy showers).

It was also a strange place – five “villages” (St Peter-Böhl, -Dorf, -Bad, -Ording & -????) strung together and all given over completely to tourism. Every building seemed to be a hotel or a guest house or a shop or a restaurant or a cafe. We can only think that it must be Tumble Weed Stadt in winter! But in summer, even with the weather in Northern European mode, it was a busy and thriving place! Perhaps people were attracted by the kite festival taking place on the beach itself, which we declined to visit because access was down a road which required the possession of a visitor’s pass costing €3 each. (Do I hear you shout “Cheapskates”? Guilty as charged, m’lud!!)

The route from Husum to this strange place was similar to the previous days – a flat, flat, flat landscape which is a mixture of rich farmland and wild marshes and dunes, all under big skies. The wind had turned again and was from either the west or the south west, depending on how it felt from one minute to the next. Neither option (not that we had any choice in the matter!) was ideal as the route seemed to switch between the same two directions even more frequently than the wind. It made for slow going. Wind can be even tougher for cycling than hills because it can go on for EVER!

We spent two nights in St Peter-Ording because (a) it gave Christine a chance to reminisce (or not), (b) it was Sunday, so church/pill/solo bike ride day, depending on one’s inclination and (c) it was a reasonably priced campsite (€19 including showers).

Lübeck to Hamburg

1/8/16. We woke to unsettled weather on Monday morning. Because we had a Warmshowers bed for the night and were returning to the UK on Tuesday we wanted to pack the tent away in a dry state which proved somewhat problematic as, a couple of times, a short shower returned just before the wind had completely dried the tent after previous one.

It was well past 10 when we were ready to go and we were faced with a longish day into the wind. And, of course, after we had done about 10 km the rain returned, heavier than before. We carried on for a while with Christine increasingly cheesed off until we reached Bad Oldesloe where she “bailed’ at the station to take the drier option.

Of course, this was the signal for the rain to stop and what turned out to be a pleasant afternoon’s ride for Stephen. He arrived at the house about quarter of an hour after Christine who had a very leisurely walk/ride from the main station in Hamburg alongside the Alstersee.

Heike and Volker were wonderful Warmshowers hosts (are there any bad ones? We have yet to find one – thankfully!) making us most welcome and giving us a lovely dinner and another opportunity to talk bikes.