A little earlier this year we were doing one of our summer training rides (to make sure we had some kilometres in our legs before we started this quest) and we rolled into Picker’s Union, a favourite cafe in Geelong. Whilst I was ordering Jan started up a conversation (as Jan often does 😉) with the people at the next table. Quite by coincidence they were from Germany and lived in Remargen, a town on the Rhine that Jan and I were due to ride through a couple of months later, i.e. now!
Elke and Dirk had kindly invited us to call in on our way past and contact information had been swapped and travel stories shared. This was all in the two minutes I had taken to order flat whites and a piece of cake to share.
Anyway… we made it to Elke and Dirk’s house!
And, what wonderful hosts they are! We were treated with coffee and amazing cake, given free reign in the laundry, taken on a tour of a wonderful local winery and its extraordinary terraced vineyards, treated to a delicious meal with great wine, a beer tasting, continuous laughter and conversation AND treated to a comfortable night’s stay in their beautiful home.
A thousand thanks Elke and Dirk, we had a wonderful time!
Three day’s riding…
From Klobenz to Düsseldorf: three days of riding taking us from the Rhine Gorge and it’s amazing vineyards (and Elke and Dirk, of course!) to the wide, flat lands of the Lower Rhine. It is an amazing transformation. The river traffic, both cargo and passenger increase significantly. Massive industries stretch along kilometres of the river banks, some of Germany’s biggest cities dot the journey and, as usual, beautiful and fascinating sights surrounded us.
Starting from Klobenz, on to Bonne, Cologne and finally Düsseldorf, here are 160 kilometres of the Rhine…
We read that Cologne Cathedral is Germany’s #1 Atteaction, and we can see why. It is an extraordinary building, so old, so massive and so intricate. There is constant renovation, as you would expect, even some scaffolding and covered sections didn’t take away from that, “Oh my…” moment when you walk into the square and take in the sheer boldness of it. To construct such a towering mass of a building, so long ago, is quite inspiring. The fact that it was the tallest building in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built just makes it more so.
Because Cologne was so heavily damaged during World War 2 much of the city is newer than many of the historic cities and towns we have visited. The atmosphere was a lively, modern one too, plus, it is the city that gave its name to all those scented waters, of course.
Here is a sampler… (See what I did there…)
Only 50 kilometres or so from Cologne, Düsseldorf is another city that seems modern compared to much we had travelled through, but surrounding industries give it a different personality. People we have talked to seem to prefer one over the other for various reasons but basically it seems to boil down to Cologne is sophisticated/snobby and Düsseldorf is lovely/common… everyone seems to believe one or the other description.
I actually thought Düsseldorf was pretty reasonable but definitely noisy. Our hotel was right over a street of bars that all seemed full of fans of the local Football club who were playing at home that night. The noise peaked a minute before the game and then dropped considerably when the visitors scored in the first 8 minutes. Even a last gasp equaliser didn’t seem to revive the earlier enthusiasm- perhaps everyone was too drunk to notice.