But ask any Hamburger citizen and they will tell you with pride that the food here is highly sophisticated and exquisite. From rich and savoury to spicy and sweet, luscious meats, delightful veggies, free range biofriendly everything under the sun and rain.
I began the day at Zeven. A nice little town 86 kilometres by bike from my destination in the city.
The farms are perfectly manicured and manured, judging by the scents. I rode along adjacent to the main roads until Buxtehude, where I was supposed to head north (via the pretty part), sometimes ignorance is not bliss. Instead I followed the googley girl’s shortest route which was along the edge of the highway to Harburg and then north into a melange of bridges and intersections, where my phone battery expired and left me stranded.
Fringe people don’t really speak English, but they understand enough, and I don’t really speak German, but I understand enough. Thereby communicating quite efficiently. However, the people I asked said it was possible to go into town from all directions. I just needed one. Thank Goodness for church steeples.
Buxtehude is lovely, the old centre is perfectly preserved and interesting. I sat down there and ate my breakfast bun.
Hamburg is a port city with an incredibly difficult history of fire, plague and war. But obviously the population is clever and resilient, so they have created a splendid city once again.
A whole bridge for my bike and I… crossing into the city in style!
Last night Regina and Michael, with their pretty niece Zoe, kindly hosted me. Regina hired ebikes so she and Zoe could ride with me tomorrow, but the clouds came up and the rain came down in buckets.
After an abundant breakfast we decided not ride out until the rain subsides a bit. I’m happy to have a day of rest in their lovely home.
Riding together with Birgitta and Hanns Georg was fantastic, they knew where to go, so I didn’t need to navigate, and could just pedal along in bliss, babbling on. We had a delicious lunch in a big garden.
They let me go after about 60 kms. I had to go on over the hills. I felt suddenly quite alone after waving goodbye. Not knowing where I was going to go, so I could get to where I would end up. But that’s the story…
Hanns Georg, thanks for some of these photographs.
There is a kind of faith involved, as long as there are roads and intersections and people, everything will be ok.
On a small country road near the industrial side of Osnabrück city, a group of about 20 young men, shirtless and shouting drunk, tried to block my way. They were playing, but the ancestral voices spoke to me. They screamed: “*&£$@”
I imagine that since the time of Eve, a lone foreign woman confronted by a group of young men in party mode, has never been a good thing. I powered my way between them and after a few seconds felt the old heart kick.
It is wonderful that we have come so far in this world, where a woman can travel more than 3000 kms across various countries and be safe. I suppose it’s very much safer to be an old crone like me who poses very little temptation to men.
My bed in the hotel opposite the station was clean. These days, I flop down without a second look. I walk around the room barefoot, so I may get a viruca, but that’s curable.
My slinky bike outfit gets a hand wash in the basin every evening. The water is always brown.
I’ve noticed my ostrich legs, the same sort of hardness, scaly skin, and redish colour near the ankles.
The sun goes down so late up north, it’s quite disturbing. I had the choice of closing the window against the noise and putting on the air-conditioning, or getting a steady supply of oxygen with noise. I chose the air-conditioning which was wrong. I woke up very early with a terrible thirst and a sore throat.
Nothing that a good ride couldn’t cure.
Riding out too early can be depressing. Cold air and no coffee.
After 15 kms of misery, I came across a path that was totally overgrown with nettles. It was the google cycle track. A kind man who was taking out his trash told me to go back up the hill and turn left. I did.
The perfume of baking bread came around the corner before I did. Real joy filled my stomach. I ordered the large coffee with milch, and a large piece of apple pie, then sat in a sunny window and gulped it down.
From there the road was all up, then straight. So straight, there was hardly an end. Pedalling and pedalling with not a peepee place in sight. Eventually I gave up on the idea of a nice biergarten, and took a small farm road. That was perfect, although one must be aware of stray stinging nettles when squatting.
I painted a little sketch, and ate my last power bar.
The afternoon was also pretty straight, but it gave me a chance to clock up 106 kms without too much bother. Incredible how much power music has on the soul, I put on my iPod and earPods, and suddenly the world changed from sepia to a blast of handlebar tapping and singing out of tune.
I’m not going to tell you about the pig sty stinks, and the super loud tires of German cars that zoom past at 140 kms per hour.
So to finish up, I rode into Bassum, looking for a place to stay. Something about the weedy pavements put me in moody trepidation. After ringing the bell of a house which had appeared on booking dot com, and standing forlornly looking at the dwindling bit of ebike battery power, a very large man came sweating by with his tiny shiny black dog. It had one blind eye, and found my bike very scary. The big kind man said: “ You should go on to the next town, there is a Post hotel, they will have rooms for you”. I asked him to repeat the name of the place….”Neubruchausen”.
On the way there the cycle track fizzled out, so I broke the law and rode as fast as I could on a fast road. I took my helmet off, so the drivers could see they were dealing with a dizzy blonde, and so gave me a lot of space.
One usually prefers to take the cycle track next to the road. A very common bit of infrastructure up here in the north. Riding a bike on a main road is very annoying to the general driving population.
This is yesterday’s post. Hotel’s and hostels offer very poor wifi, so the blog cannot be shared when it should be, it has to wait for the next stop, just like many things in life.
The sun is dragging his billowing sky down to the smoking chimney stacks. A giant storm growled through dinner, but not a drop of rain fell on the canvas Erdinger umbrella.
Flammkuchen is a thin pastry crust with high edges. It is smeared with a thin layer of sour cheese, and usually one would have the traditional onions and speck sprinkled on top, but I chose sliced tomatoes and rocket. Eat it while it’s hot.
Getting here from Monheim am Rhein, took me through Düsseldorf, where an enthusiastic young man at the bike shop sold me a gadget to attach the phone to the handlebars, so now I can see the map while I ride.
Düsseldorf surprised me with it’s simplicity, and I had no problem at all getting into town, and out of it again.
From there the cycle path took me into a daydream, it was so so beautiful. Large old trees line the road, many old people pedal along too, some in wheelchairs, some on roller skates. You can just go for miles and miles through the fields without interruption.
A lunch place popped up on the edge of the river, tables set out under a dark green canopy of trees. “Poeusgeu”, rather fancy, to be found on the Alte Rheinfäre.
The waiter, dressed in black and white, had a special look about him, he stooped down to get my order, and I nervously pointed around the middle of the menu. The plate came…matjes, with roast potatoes and a creamy dressing. Marinaded fish, really delicious.
Afternoons on the bike tend to get a bit hot and complicated, and after going around the same wheat field twice, I told Googlely-girl to take a break. I rode alone through many small towns, mostly very quiet, on the edge of a skyline of factory towers and billowing chimneys.
On one of my unplanned reconnaissance missions around Duisburg, I found myself braking in front of a police station. It looked approachable, so I went in and declared the theft of my glasses. An officer wrote up the report in German.
Typing ferociously on his old clickitty-clacketty keyboard at high speed, I was astonished that he only managed three sentences. Seriously, this report will be sent to the police in Linz am Rhein, where I said I suspect the thief stole the things. There they will investigate the matter further. I hope I’m right about the location. What a bother.
I’m losing sight of the Great River Rhine (english name). My route will take me eastward and away. It is a sad goodbye. Moving with the fast flow of a big river every day for so long has been incredible. We became friends, I got to know the scintilla, caught glimpses of the dark beneath, felt the heave and the power, and sang with the ancient.
Knowing that it goes on is a great comfort, from mountain to sea to sky to mountain.
Unfortunately we have heaved up dykes of stone and soil to contain it, plastered the banks with cement walls, hemmed it in, and blocked it up with locks. We dump vast amounts of chemical waste into it. We motor our cruise ships and barges up and down without rest, blasting it with fumes and a huge din of vibrations that resonate underwater.
A small bottle of water cost me Euro 5 this afternoon.
Spent the night in a hostel Jugendherberge, Duisberg, Landschaftspark…in a rusty old Industrial zone, which was very interesting. Good preparation for the day to come…a day of Industrial parks.
The girl at the desk gave me their special handicap room, most likely because I looked like I needed help. It was very clean and comfortable with a chair in the shower, and a red switch next to the bed, which I pressed thinking it was the light switch. It blinked for a while, then I blinked off to sleep.
Mostly very very good, a little bad and a tiny bit of Ugly.
Magnificent riding along the Rhein from Bad Honnef to Cologne. Thanks to those who have worked to make the cycle tracks there. Brilliant! There is also a ferry man that pulls you across a stream on a raft…wearing a sailor cap and a broad smile.
After admiring the great cathedral in Cologne, my “Googledy girl” on the maps app told me to go west. Now, if you are stuck in the middle of an old city with a mish-mash of roads, how is one to know where WEST actually is? It was midday, so the shadows didn’t show…. couldn’t she just say go straight ahead, or turn around…?
After a lot of bother, I used my pigeon instinct and got out there. Only to realise that my fancy new sunglasses and my hat were not on board anymore. They’ve taken another route. Quite an ugly realisation, as those are prescription glasses with a price tag that takes your breath away. As for my hat, it was brown, with a big flap around the back and a sun peak. Not beautiful but I liked it.
I cannot blame Cologne for that. Someone must have made a grab for those the day before when I stopped at the supermarket for a green drink. I had presumed they were packed in my panniers.
Shortly after that I merged with the biggest industrial park in the world. All that concrete and tar and puffing chimney heat, mixed with hard sunshine, made the next hours of cycling slightly tougher. However, I finally found the river again, and crossed over on the ferry. From there on all I could think about was finding a place to stay, which I found at 17:30, and plonked down for an ice cold beer. A bit lonely.
Würstsalat has been bugging me since Freiburg. People order the stuff everywhere. At the biergarten in Bingen, today for lunch, a woman next to me ordered it, and so did I.
It was served in a glass jar with a lid.
Rather fun to eat with a fork, a bit like spaghetti, but it didn’t taste remotely like pasta. Other than the vinegar, there are other ingredients involved, all of them unrecognisable to me. I presume the flavour is a mix of the standard salat cream (which may or may not contain diary), and the smokiness of the pink würst…which is in English just fancy polony.
It was rather satisfying to eat, although it must be doing terrible things to my cholesterol levels. I’ve got to stop having all these würsts, schnitzels, and bread with FAT….this evening I was served bread and a little ceramic dish of fat to put on the bread. It is perfectly white with bits of cured meat in it. I just took a tiny scraping….but the guilt was 100x bigger.
This morning in Mainz, which is a lovely city, I found an E-bike shop and asked the nice smartly dressed young salesman, to please check my pedals. He did, and declared them – tight.
I got the feeling that he thought I was just looking for some attention. He wished me well and I whizzed away.
Simon is arriving on Saturday to keep me company for the weekend. I’m very pleased, but rather concerned he will be a bit shocked at my vagabond appearance.
A month of sun and wind every day, has darkened my face to a motley brown (nose in particular) , but my glasses have protected my eye skin, so that’s all white, with pink piggy eyes (allergies). Arms are brown sticks with pronounced muscles, legs are tanned only on the back of the calves, and I still have tan stripes on the white feet. Back of the ankles are a mess from pedal bites. The hand bones seem very pronounced, with a vice grip!
As for my clothes, I wear the same stretch pants every evening, as it gets a bit cool at the terrace restaurants and there are mosquitoes around. The nice little frock I brought with me for the evenings is far too short for the leg tan.
My hair…oh dear! In Italian – “Un casino”
This morning after the church bells gonged and gonged until i woke up at 6 am, I painted a new sign for the handlebar bag. The other one was dull and nobody was talking to me. So I made a very cheerful watercolour, with the Italian flag in one corner and the Norwegian in the other, and wrote Roma – Oslo.
There was instant interest from passersby, and 3 lady cyclists form Amsterdam called after me: “Roma Roma…” so I stopped and we were like a gaggle of geese, getting all the info we could get about one another.
On the ferry crossing over the Rhein once more, a large group of loud men, doing their annual cycling tour, took it upon themselves to include me in their photographs. Then kindly offered ‘ladies first’ when we had to disembark on a steep bank. Haha, I shot up there so fast with my battery on turbo…and heard them all having a laugh.
Only 60 kms today, as I don’t want to go too far as Simon will be coming in at the FR airport…and he will drive to wherever I may end up today.
Here are some pictures of the day.
I am so sorry about the lack of maps, but the hotels have terrible wifi, so I can’t spend time checking how to make them and save them. Maybe next week when things get tough. I ‘ll be off the cycle tracks and navigating every wheel turn of the way.
Thanks to you all, for your encouragement and generous remarks. It gives me so much strength to carry on! Love!
Today the wind came up against me. The tall poplar trees along the river bank clapped their silver leaves, making a high sound like a standing ovation at an opera.
It was a blue sky day, with puffy clouds dotted about. Birds of prey skimmed over the golden bristles of the harvested wheat fields looking for mice.
Getting out of the city of Ludwigshafen was like playing snakes and ladders, but there seems to be something good happening to my bird brain these days, that sends me off in the right direction. On the outskirts of town in the industrial area, under a bridge, I had a hot beverage (coffee) with three old men. They wouldn’t believe I rode from Rome.
I’ve noticed a strange phenomena, a bit too regular to be sheer coincidence. Maybe I’m getting a bit googledy-gook, but if I need something it just comes, like riding through a pop-up story book. Each page swings up at me, whether it be a cool-drink place, or a sign post, or the river, or a place to stay.
I dare not let anxiety pop-up, in case it manifests. But it is very reassuring to know that with proper attention and consideration at every intersection, the journey goes on. This is a selfie in an empty sandpit.
Worms had no redeeming features. I asked a girl near the station: ” Juligung Juligung, where is the centrum, the altstadt…innerstadt??”. She replied “You are in it, this is Worms”.
At the bakery-cafe, three large flies rested on the cheesecake. The cakes looked huge and very delicious, but I went riding around looking for a lovely square somewhere I could sit and eat one. But no luck. The garden down at the river was lovely though.
Later, while sitting at a table under a big green umbrella having a salad on the banks of the Rhein, extraordinary long barges came sailing upstream loaded high with containers or piles of sand. They don’t make much of a wave. When I got up to leave, a large spider landed on my chest, and I did a little jig and beat my chest like Tarzan. I think I damaged it.
Pedalled and pedalled all day, usually along the dykes. There were a handful of other cyclists, and some of them were loaded with panniers for longer trips. I followed a man who looked like he knew where he was going. He had a one-wheeled trailer attached to the back of his bike, loaded with his camping gear. Once we were on a wider section of cycle track, I rode alongside him and said ‘guten Tag”. He told me he had just completed 2000kms, and I said ‘me too’, but he looked at me strangely. I should have said ‘BRAVO’ instead, then he would have chatted longer. Every bit of lone cyclist conversation out here on the dykes is precious.
A river of this magnitude must be harnessed. It’s a pity really. Another natural wild thing, domesticated by humans.
Something that begins with a twinkle on the mountain peak then joins with other twinkles until it becomes powerful flowing force, such magic.
My cousin Ramsey is curious to know what I think about all day on the bike. Well, I’m trying to understand the great mysteries! And think of all my children and family and friends of course, but most of all learning about my silly foibles.
I was fortunate to find a room in a pleasant hotel. The chef was sick, so I was sent to the Sports Bar for a large schnitzel and beer. I was the only happy person there, as I didn’t realise Germany had just been kicked out of the world cup soccer tournament.
Back in wine country this evening, there are hills here, and a microclimate ideal for grapes.
Bitte schön – danke schön…Tchuss (sounds like cheers).
Riding a bike along the banks of a river has a profound effect on the rider. The river softly massages away one’s knotty moods, while the bike carries you along at a pace neither fast nor slow…it goes at the exact speed you need to be propelled, so as to see most of the beauty, and avoid most of the ugliness.
You can slow down instantly to watch the black shine of a ravens back as it flaps off your path, or speed up past a sewage processing plant, or swerve and call out to a swan.
The bicycle is the most perfect machine ever invented.
Not only is it virtually harmless to our Earth, it also cures diseases of the body, mind and soul. Better than yoga, better than pills, better even than a glass of wine.
I was happy to roll back to the river, after my little sojourn in Freiburg. Cities are nice for a bit, then all that swarming ant-like behaviour and bad air gets too much.
I muddled along enjoying the various landscapes, thinking if there were no hills then it must be going down to the river. You would imagine that to work if you were lost in a jungle, wouldn’t you?
Yes, I did reach the river at the end of the day, but only after some rather quiet tracks. Surprisingly there was a little ferry motoring across between Germany and France. It was not my intention to cross at this point, but I thought ‘what the heck’, the road had brought me all the way here through fields of maize and wheat, and dark woods, why not!?
Good thing it did, because on the French side, there was an info office where a pleasant lady behind the desk said: ” Everything is full, there are no accommodations around here”, but she saw my expression and so flipped through a brochure, and called ahead and booked me a room for the night. Maybe, because she was putting crosses on the map, my side up, that her cross was put in another town altogether. So after a lot of pedalling to reach the town with the cross on it, and doing a twirl around an industrial zone, my eagerness was baffled.
It is asparagus season here.
I had to resort to google maps to find my hotel, just when I was enjoying the crinkle and flutter of a printed map.
The pretty town of Erstein.
WhallaaaH! The hotel of Erstein. Dinner was delicious, aromatic herbs and Dijon mustards……I was in France!
Except they had no wifi, so this blog was not published when it should have been.
No sign of the famous Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte so far. Maybe the world famous Black Forest Gateau will make an appearance at my next destination, which would be Freiburg, although I doubted I would make it that far in one day.
The journey was not without highs and lows, although the terrain was flat. Steel works, water works, chemical works…
After a good breakfast, I was back to pedalling along thinking abut all the wonderful people I love.
I went up to Basel to see a bit of Switzerland again before diving into the depths of Germany. It looks immaculate and rich. With particular attention to signage. The things one can and cannot do, especially on bikes, are clearly advertised.
Being a bit fuzzy myself, those bright red signs made me happy to traverse the city. The final sign, at the entrance to a roundabout pointed to Freiburg 77 kms. After circling a few times I stopped to ask a policeman which road to take, he said he didn’t know anything about Freiburg.
My chosen road took me to Huningue, which sounded good enough. However, I should have crossed over the river there because I ended up passing through many vacant chic French villages, and then Niffer and Blodelsheim and Fessenheim. None of which had people in them.
At a greenly painted hotel I came across the first rude woman of my trip. She rolled her eyes dramatically when I asked her if she could be so kind as to charge my battery a little bit. I said I would pay. She plugged it in with a dramatic gesture.
There were some very long and lonely stretches here, and I have to admit to performing my first bush-pee. It was not difficult to be seen squatting amongst the sugar beet dressed in luminescent pink.
Lunch consisted of stolen goods from B&B Jasmin. My bike served as a picnic table. Nutella, egg, apple, and a slice of horse food (sour bread). Washed down with a gulp of water.
The photography of the day is dismal due to my speedy urgency to reach Freiburg, which is way off my track. Also, the pictures are not edited because my lightroom has gone on the blink.
The final hours on the bike were divided between a boy on a push scooter colliding with my pannier and then apologising…golly that was a close call. Riding through a large hole which sent my phone flying. I noticed about 2 kms down the road so raced back and found it lying in the middle of the path. A wasp up my sleeve, which stung me repeatedly while I was on the phone trying to book my accommodation.
Do you know that kind of fatigue where pain is just a secondary sensation?
Negotiating the cycling traffic of a higgledy piggledy old university city at 18:00 was a new experience for me. No rules apply. There must surely be a million bikes here!
When choosing appropriate accommodation on the budget list, remember to enquire whether there is a lock up area for your beloved bicycle. Gasthaus Löwen does not, although it’s a very charming old place to eat.
I removed everything possible from the bike, including my whale bell, flower, carriers, lights etc, and pushed her in amongst all the other bikes parked on the street.
The person in charge of the rooms was not available to let me in, so I sat down at the restaurant table with flat hair and smelly clothes. A polite man who retired to Lago Maggiore sat near me. He knew all the Alpine bike tracks. He also said my bike will definitely be stolen, whether chained or not.
According to the restaurant staff, there was a secure bike parking at the train station. So I hastily dragged my bike off for another kilometre, and asked the eyelash girl at the info desk in the station. She said “no, there was no parking for bicycles”. I rode around the corner and there was a large round bike parking station. A young lady helped me figure out the in’s and out’s of the ticketing system, all written very accurately in German.
These photos were taken on my way to pick up my bike in the morning. I was overjoyed to see it, poor thing, all covered in dust. On the way there I had stopped in a shop and bought her a little present of some stickers to brighten her up. (A bicycle is female…biciclettA)
My room looks fine in the picture, but you cannot hear the large extractor fan outside the window which drew up all the cooking fumes from the kitchen. In the morning I looked for another place to stay, which was much more expensive, except the staff wouldn’t allow me in before 15:00. A slightly off-day sitting in the dining hall with my panniers at my feet. I might mention that university students are not into serving shabby old foreign cyclists.
All I managed to do this afternoon, other than sleep, was wash my clothes at a laundromat, with the help of a very-very thin man dressed entirely in black.
As Jane says, no matter how fast you ride, laundry always catches up with you!
Early morning ride along the southern shore of lake Constance (Bodensee in German) which forms the border between Switzerland and Germany, was so calm after the turbulent river that feeds it, unlike me who woke up in the night with vertigo!
I was horrified of course, and so worried that I would not be able to ride.
Got up on my bike and off I went, no problems so long as I didn’t look up!
Very quiet little villages along the way, only builders and road workers to be seen. After an hour of looking out for a coffee bar, eventually pedalled up to a little bakery where two ladies and three dogs sat at my table and we chatted for a while. Gulped down a delicious hot croissant with a cappuccino.
Fantastic choice for bike rides here…
The cycling is going well, I’m getting better at ‘handling’ the bike, and can almost always manage a u-turn in a small street without falling over.
Zipped passed the ancient city of Constance, pity to miss the medieval part across the river, but went on to Stein-am-Rhine instead to see the frescoes.
A Chinese tour group were being herded by their guide, he was yelling at them to look at this look at that, and they all had their phones up to their faces taking photos of this and that.
The colour of the Rhine is singularly beautiful here, with its shifting emerald greens and turquoise greys. It mesmerises as it swirls along with surging whirlpools while sighing against its banks.
Such a joy to be riding with this enormously famous waterway. Beats washing windows at home.
After lunch in Schaffhausen (a delicious mango-curry-coco soup), I saw the falls at Neuhausen am Rheinfall… Apparently only eels manage to wiggle their way up these falls.
About the body, two noticeable changes happening now that I’ve reached 1500 kms. My hearing has improved, and my bum has lifted!
Arrived very tired at Waldshut-Tiengen to find my pre-booked motel room in an industrial zone, 3 kms away from any restaurant..