Today we did what we haven’t done since the trip began: we caught the train to save a couple days of cycling. We had a lot of debate about this but finally we decided it wasn’t cheating since we were using the train to go “backwards” on our trip – nearing places we last saw in November. Soon we will have to start making real progress east but for now we are taking a last chance to see friends in Frankfurt and Munich before we head south again through Italy and towards the Middle East. The train ride was an athletic event in itself. German trains are efficient but not so great for heavy bicycles. The trains stand a few feet above the platforms and we had to lift our bikes quite high and through narrow doors to get them into the carriage. And of course we bought the cheapest ticket, so we had to change trains and platforms about four times, up and down sets of stairs, before we finally got to the small city of Würzburg. We weren’t the only ones struggling. On one train we travelled with a man going around Germany on his bike for a year. He not only had his bike but also a large trailer to lug on and off the train! Between the three of us we managed to get all our things on the train in the eight minutes we had to switch trains and platforms. On our last connection of the day we started chatting to a man on his way home from work. As these things go, it wasn’t long before he kindly invited us to his home (only the third time this has happened to us in Europe!). A lovely evening followed, meeting his family with two great boys and listening to some of the local history and tasting wines from nearby vineyards with his wife Ute. It’s always very touching when we are brought into people’s homes. Not only do we get an insight into the local area, but we also come away with new friends. It’s a wonderful part of bike touring that other types of tourism really can’t match.
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