Waking up in our French campground, we headed towards Baden-Baden, a fairly short journey. Baden-Baden is a spa town which we’ve spent some time in before. We journied along the tip of north-east France, and eventually took the first crossing back into Germany. After getting into the town, we found the information office, and found our way to the youth hostel, hoping to get a room, and waited for it to open. We spent some time there in the hope of a room and managed to get some photo-editing and journals written, but after 3 hours of waiting and despite a sign saying they had beds, at 3:30pm they told us they were full. Eventually, we did find a hotel and settled in. We then went to the spa, for a couple hours of relaxing of the muscles, €12 well spent.
You Are Viewing Germany
After a good night`s sleep in the hotel, we woke up feeling well rested at about 6:30am. A quick pack of our bags and an early breakfast and we were on our way not long after 8am. Amazing how differently you can feel from one day to the next. The day before we struggled with every kilometer. Today, it was like we were flying. We`d covered a good 40km by lunchtime and found a picnic table just outside the wine town of Neustadt, where we made a nice hot meal on a chilly, windy day. Just the thing to get us going again for a few more kilometers. By this time, there were rows of vines everywhere we looked. We passed through several small towns in the afternoon with quaint half-timbered houses, vines stretched between homes and across the street and lots of small wine bars. About 20km from Neustadt, where we cut diagonally towards the Rhine river, through towns like Altdorf and Bellheim, we came to a camping spot but were surprised at the price. After paying about 10 euros a night most other place, 18 euros for one night seemed a bit rich so we carried on. By this time, we had a good 75km on the clock but still felt full of energy. Good thing too as it was getting dark and the next campground was another 25km or 30km further on. We zipped along cycle paths and tree-line highways, and just as the sun was disappearing below the horizon we slipped into France. We weren`t even sure if the camping spot would be open – having been warned by countless people that all French campgrounds close in October – but this advice turned out to be wrong. The one we landed at was open for another week, and the lady at the reception gave us a brochure with camping spots across Alsace, several of which are open year round. Just 11.30 euros lighter – including a bottle of wine – we settled into our camping spot for the night. After quick supper and a couple games of cards we were done for the night, tucked up in our sleeping bags by 8pm.
Just when you think you`re getting into shape, another day comes along where you feel loaded down, like you`re constantly going uphill. We started out well, having spent the night at a very enjoyable camping spot right on the Rhine river. In the morning, before we left our camping place, our neighbours came over and wished us well and insisted on giving us some sausages for the road. We carried on along the Rhine for a few kilometers, before turning right at Bingen am Rhein, to follow the Nahe south. By lunchtime we were in the spa towns of Bad Kreuznach and Bad Munster. Cycling through a local park, we passed 5 or 6 huge wall-like structures, several hundred meters long, which appeared to be filled with sticks and had water trickling from their entire length. We had never seen anything like this before and had no idea what they were for, until a local lady – seeing our confused look – explained that salt water is pumped into them and then filtered back out, creating a kind of salty mist in the air, which is supposed to be good for your health. Not so far from the piers Britons created a hundred or so years ago so they could also take in the sea air! After lunch we carried down route 48, a twisty and slightly hilly road, towards Kaiserslautern. We had thought we might make Kaiserslautern by the evening, but by Winnwiler we were out of puff and out of sunlight. There were no camping spots to be seen – we had spotted a sign for one about 10km earlier but it was 5km up a hill and we were out of food at the time – so we opted for a small hotel in the town of Winnweiler. We had planned to cook supper but didn`t want to set off the hotel fire alarms so instead grabbed supper from the local kebab shop and then rested up for the next day.
We had a lazy start to the day, after a night high up in the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein. Our bikes needed a little love after so many kilometers so we took an hour or so and changed the brake pads, oiled the chains, cleaned up some of the gear cogs and pumped up the tires. We could afford a slightly later start as our route down the Rhine was a mostly flat one, meaning we made pretty good time while we were on the road. It was quite a scenic route as well, this area would be wonderful for someone just starting out bike touring. So many picturesque little towns, lots of vineyards to admire and paths all along the river for easy cycling. This time of year, however, it is getting a bit chilly so we ate lunch in the town of Boppard with our gloves on! We`re usually quite warm while cycling, but once we stop we cool down quickly. We passed quite a few camping spots along the Rhine, but they were mostly seasonal ones, and it was still quite early, so we carried on to Trechtingshausen, just outside Bingen am Rhein, where we found a site right on the river. It was a bit noisy, but Andrew especially enjoyed watching all the different boats and trains go by. We also had very friendly neighbours, who lent us some chairs while we made our supper and chatted with us for a while. They had been in the area for nearly a week, buying wine for their winter supply. The cold weather of a few days ago seemed to have passed, and we slept more than comfortably in our tent. No cold noses this time!
Woke up early to a freezing day, the first time it`s really been cold even inside our tent. We were thankful we decided to buy better sleeping bags before we left, as despite a night with temperatures below freezing, we didn`t feel the cold at all until we crawled out. A good layer of ice covered our tent, from rain early on the previous evening, and our hands froze as our good sense to buy better sleeping bags didn`t follow through to warm gloves! It was too cold to even contemplate making breakfast at the camp site, so we toddled off to a local cafe for breakfast and also to ask directions to the nearest bicycle shop where we could buy gloves. A couple hours later, having filled up on food, checked our emails and warmed our hands, we set off for Koblenz. All the climbing of the last day and a half paid off as we went sharply downhill for at least five of the 20 or so kilometers to Koblenz. Just outside Koblenz, we nearly drove onto an autobahn due to confusing cycle path signs, or rather non existant signs, and were amazed at our ability to make drivers screech to a halt, while screaming at us out of windows to get off the motorway. We quickly obliged, having no desire to be run over by crazy German drivers, and once again found the cycle path. A nice steep climb up to the youth hostel, which is in a fortress overlooking the city, and we were home for the night. We walked into town for one beer, then retired to our room, rather warmer than the night before!