Bodensee and Beyond -A Diary of a cycle trip from Frankfurt to Heidelberg via Alsace and Bodensee (Lake Constance)
Getting to Frankfurt
Well, this was our second cycle touring trip. In a world of SARS and terrorist alerts we had been in two minds about travelling this year (2003). However, we found a great airfare to Europe and decided to go for it.
So we found ourselves hurriedly packing up our hybrid bikes and within a week heading off on a flight to Frankfurt.
We had a few vague ideas about where we wanted to go but no firm plans and no maps!
Our flight was with Royal Brunei Airlines and we decided to take advantage of the offer of 1 night's accomodation which was thrown in with the airfare.
We spent a wonderful night at the Empire Country Club and Resort in Brunei which was THE MOST opulent resort we have ever stayed in.
Our room was fantastic and overlooked the pool which wrapped around the back of the entire hotel, the staff were friendly and helpful and food and service were great.
Empire Resort -we felt a bit out of place with
bike boxes and minimal clothing!
The pictures really don't do this place justice.Needless to say we would definitely stay there again if we had the chance!
After spending the day lazing in the pool we set off on the afternoon of Day 2 to Frankfurt.
After about 20 hours of travelling we managed to make our way with bike boxes and luggage to the main train station in Frankfurt.
Scenes in Frankfurt
After deciding it was just not feasible to carry our bike boxes any further we set about wearily putting our bikes together on a quiet section of the pavement outside the train station,loaded them up and set off on our way to the Frankfurt Youth Hostel in Sachsenhausen (which is one of the older sections of the city).
We had booked a couple of nights here over the internet before we left home.Unfortunately,they were undergoing some major renovations so we found a room in a hotel nearby which was situated in an historic half-timbered building in Sachsenhausen.
Day 1- 50km
(Frankfurt to Bodenheim)
We woke early the next morning - very early,due to the drunken revelry of German drinkers in a bar outside our window- they were still sitting with huge tankards of beer at 6am in the morning having partied all night!
Bleary-eyed we loaded our bikes and off we set in a westerly direction following the radweg along the River Main.
One would have thought it difficult to go wrong just following the river however we managed to get ourselves lost a number of times as the path was undergoing repairs in some places and we had to cross over the river and travel along the other side.
At Florsheim - getting there was a shoe-in
There seemed to be a lot of industry along this section of the river so it wasn't a particularly picturesque ride though the beautiful town of Florsheim was the exception.
Overhead we had watched gathering clouds. Just as we were nearing Mainz at the confluence of the Main and Rhine Rivers a huge electrical storm started.
Eventually we left our shelter from the storm (a tunnel) and crossed over the rail bridge to Mainz on the western shore of the Rhine.
After crossing the narrow rail bridge into Mainz
With a few hours of light still left we decided not to tackle another big city like Mainz but to push on to a smaller town along the Rhine.
So we cycled on to Bodenheim- nestled in a wine growing region- arriving about 7pm in the evening.
After trying about 4 or 5 hotels and finding everything booked out for a wedding we were beginning to get worried when we found a lovely pension, Pension Helga May, with its own restaurant.
There we rewarded our hard first day with a beautiful meal at the restaurant (Helga is a great cook) before wandering up the hill in the twilight to a small bar/hotel to sample some of the local wine.A lovely end to a somewhat grueling first day.
Day 2 - (42 km)
Bodenheim to Worms
The next morning was the only morning of the entire holiday that could be remotely classified as cool.
We set off with the Rhine to our left and vineyard areas to our right until we got to Oppenheim where we veered away from the river.
The day continued through small towns and vineyards all the way to Worms.The youth hostel there is situated directly across the road from the Cathedral (Kaiserdom St. Peter) and just on the edge of the old town.
The hostel has good double rooms with ensuite facilities and friendly service.
Youth hostel at Worms Kaiserdom St Peter Leaving Worms
Day 3 ( 65 km)
Worms to Speyer
We left Worms a little late the following morning having searched unsuccessfully around town for a bank which would change our Australian dollars!
We made it to Mannheim/Ludwigshafen in time for lunch-interestingly we thought we were lunching in Ludwigshafen on the western bank of the Rhine.
Don't ask me how but we had evidently unwittingly crossed the river- yes I know your all saying but wouldn't that be rather obvious-however, this is where the Neckar actually joins the Rhine.
Yes, you guessed it -after lunch we started riding along the edge of the river that we thought was the Rhine which after a while became obvious was actually the Neckar!
We became so hopelessly lost that we had to depend on the friendly locals to guide us back to the River Rhine! One very helpful fellow rode ahead of us and took us right to the cross river vehicular ferry about 7.5 km out of Mannheim.
I don't think there is any way we would have found this on our own as it was tucked away behind an industrial area!
Having crossed the river we pushed along beside the Rhine and its canal systems to eventually arrive in Speyer around 7pm.
Having ridden through town we rode straight to the Youth Hostel which unfortunately was full- luckily there was a campground just across the road (in the grounds of the Teknik Museum)- so we pitched our tent and collapsed for the night. This was to be the first and the last time we used our tent the entire trip.
Speyer ( rest day)
Mike wakes early - admittedly the mats we have taken to sleep on are just a little hard -so he sets off for an early morning walk to relieve the stiffness.On returning he's found a comfy B&B in town for tonight.
Scenes in Speyer
We spend the day in Speyer,which is a beautiful town with a stunning Cathedral built in red and white stone. It is not gloomy or ornate like many of the others but has a serene simple beauty to it. The crypt is filled with the remains of royalty from the 11th century onwards.
Most of the town is filled with cobbled streets and every man and his dog seem to ride bicycles.We spend the afternoon wandering the old fortifications.
Day 5. (68km)
Speyer to Karlsruhe
"Is that what I think it is!" -on the way to Karlsruhe
Today we head on to Karlsruhe. It is a very enjoyable ride today -the path is excellent and paved all the way through woods,fields and along waterways.We start to come across some French cyclists heading the other way.
We stay at the Youth Hostel in Karlsruhe spending the first night in a dorm room as they have no doubles available.The place seems overun with a large group of Eastern European teenagers.I marvel at all the "mod-cons" the girls in my room travel with -hairdryers/haircurling tongs/more make up than you can poke a stick at!
We see our first red squirrel here - believe it or not in the park at the back of the Youth Hostel!
Karlsruhe - rest day
We spend the day looking around Karlsruhe which is quite an interesting city.
There is a wonderful Schloss to see which is now a museum.They had exhibitions of ancient artifacts, a wonderful photography display which told the history of photography in the area.There was also a display of Schloss artifacts. Unfortunately the interior of the Schloss had been destroyed in WWII and needed major renovations.
Schloss - Karlsruhe Schlossgarten - Karlsruhe
The Schlossgarten is a huge parkland/ gardens built around the Schloss.This is a lovely area and well worth wandering through. No wonder the translation of Karlruhe is actually Karl's-Rest.
The Majollika Museum in Karlsruhe (a short walk from the Schloss) is also worth a visit.Majollika we learned here is a type of pottery/ceramics that originated in Northern Africa and is also made in Majorca but Karlsruhe is the only place in Germany it is made. Not only does the Museum house historic pieces but there is a large showroom of current pieces for sale.
Day 7 (109km)
Karlsruhe to Strasbourg
This is our longest ride of the trip.Not exactly the most scenic ride but great well-paved flat ride for most of the day. This is the day we cross over the German -French border. The difference between the 2 countries was quite remarkable.
Soon after crossing the border we stop at Munchhausen to ask directions - the gardens and flowerboxes everywhere just seemed to explode with colour after crossing the border.
People in this part of France seem to take great pride in making their houses and even their town buildings and bridges attractive by placing flower boxes everywhere.The people here also were very friendly despite my schoolgirl French.
Shortly after this the path converts to 4km of sand/gravel on the way to Gambsheim -Ugh!!!
After a well earned break for a beer at Gambsheim we push on to Strasbourg through a wonderful woodland area sharing the path for a while with 2 playful hares.
We try to find the Youth Hostel in Strasbourg but it seems to be way out of town and we give up. We ride back into the Centreville area and find a room in Hotel d'Ill -which is great value at 41 Euros per room and very friendly and helpful staff.
In fact it is such good value and Strasbourg is such a lovely city we spend 3 nights here.(Besides, it took that long to recover from our 109km ride!)
Strasbourg - rest day
We spend the day wandering around the "old town " section of Strasbourg including "Petite France" with its half timbered houses decorated with flowerboxes full of beautiful geraniums, covered bridges, and Vaubans dam which is part of the old fortifications.We go a little crazy with the camera as Strasbourg is so picturesque.
Despite being a large city and home of the EU parliament and also being a major tourist destination Strasbourg is a romantic and enticing.
Strasbourg - rest day
Another "rest day" - we take the train up to Molsheim a small village on the edge of the Alsatian wine region. Molsheim is an ancient university and episcopal town with medieval ramparts. We stop for a drink at the restaurant housed in the "Metzig"an old Renaissance building from the 1500s.
It is Sunday so the village is a little quiet but very picturesque and Mike convinces me over a glass or 2 of Alsatian wine that we should leave the flat Rhine River route and head up into the hills to explore the Alsace wine region.
This proved to be the best decision of the trip as Alsace was definitely the highlight of our entire trip. Very friendly, and the scenery superb. Even the hilly terrain was an enjoyable change after the flat of the Rhine.
Day 10 (42km)
Strasbourg to Obernai
Cycle path out of Strasbourg
Finding our way out of Strasbourg was suprisingly easy as it is a city well geared for cyclists. The path out of Strasbourg was along a meandering canal surrounded by rolling fields and farmland. The path is quite busy with families out cycling, rollerblading and jogging as it is a public holiday today.
On the Route de Vin
Today we make our way through Molsheim, Dorlisheim, Rorsheim, Bischoffsheim and onto Obernai with the help of maps Mike picked up from the Tourist Office in Molsheim. The scenery is beautiful - rolling hills and vineyards,and lovely villages. We finally feel that THIS is what we've come to Europe cycling for.
We stop at Rorsheim to do some running repairs on my rack which has come partially adrift when we run into a couple of fellow cyclists from England - Roz and Franco.
Franco has a flat tyre and no pump or tyre levers so we give him a hand to pump up his tyre and eventually patch his tube. Roz and Franco are riding hire bikes from Strasbourg which have no gears around the hills and mountains of Alsace!! They treat us to lunch in Rorsheim for our efforts.
It turns out to be an enjoyable and relaxing interlude and probably one of the few times we actually knew what we were ordering as Roz spoke German ( being half German and half South African) as did the waitress. Franco is an Irish freelance journalist.
They are both characters with colourful tales to tell of their trip and it is good to have a conversation in English
with people other than ourselves.
We ride into Obernai which is another quaint town and get a room right in the centre of town only a few steps from the Chapel Tower (Kapelturm) dated 13th to 16th Century and the Town Hall dating from the 16th Century. The Renaissance well is in the town square directly outside the hotel entrance.
Day 11 (42 km)
Obernai to Ribeauville
I've been bothered by a dental problem for days and decide that I really need to see a dentist.
Very worried that I won't be understood or might have to wait ages for an appointment or might be charged an arm and a leg, I knock on the dentist's door to be informed by the dentist himself (Dr Jean-Pierre Michel) that he will see me in 5 minutes!
He thankfully speaks more English than I speak French, examines me, takes X-Rays and gives me medications to use and when I ask him how much I owe him - he tells me "treatment is free for Australians". I thank him profusely and wonder how many Australian dentists would do that!!
We set off late about 11am from Obernai on our way to Ribeauville following the Route de Vin. We stop at the tourist office in Barr to find out a good route.We climb on secondary roads to Andlau then coast down through Itterswiller, Nothalten,Bleinschwiller, Dambach-la-Ville and Dieffental where we stop for a late lunch- most places seem closed already and we are forced to pay $34 for frankfurters and chips!
We push on in the heat through Chatenois, Kintzheim, Rorschwir and Bergheim where dry as proverbial chips we beg for water!
Being knocked back at the first place we ask (I think it was a solicitor's office),we asked some friendly locals out tending their garden who go out of their way to give us icy cold water to drink and then refill our bottles.
It is a very hot and hilly day (and it feels a heck of a lot longer than 42km) but incredibly scenic.
We arrive in Ribeauville and find accomodation at a "Gite" - a 400 year old farmhouse just up a side street from the main street through the old town. For 25 Euros a night it is great value and the owner very helpful. (Contact : Dillar-Gite Alsacien, 19, rue Klobb 68150 Ribeauville, 33(0)389733165 or email here)
We treat ourselves to a restaurant meal tonight- the food has a definite Germanic influence here- we are served up huge plates of saurkraut, boiled potatoes, and different meats. I feel a bit like I'm at one of those medieval banquets one sees in the movies.
I suspect this style of food has been being served up for centuries. It is a definite contrast to the light croissants and pastries one is served at breakfast time!
Ribeauville from the ruined castle
Ribeauville (rest day - supposedly?!)
Today we spend the day hiking in the mountains up behind Ribeauville in search of ruined castles.
We climb up to Saint-Ulrich ( alt 530m). This castle was built in the 12th C and was the largest of 4 castles built by the Ribeaupierre ( the noble family of the region).
It is believed that the knight Hungerstein's beautiful young widow was imprisoned in the dungeon here for strangling her old, ailing husband.
We then push on further uphill to Haut-Ribeaupierre (alt 642 m). This is the oldest of the castles and was first mentioned in 1084 and it is thought that it may be built on Roman foundations. It was the Ribeaupierre's 13th C residence and is unfortunately not open for visitors as it is unsafe.
However, one can wander around the outside and marvel at how a castle could have been built up here in the first place!
Finally we make our way back down the mountain and after a solid 6 hr hike in the heat we treat ourselves to apricot tarte with icecream and coffee when we get back into town. It definitely felt well - earned!
We self cater for dinner tonight after I go foraging in town - quiche and salad and wine enjoyed in the courtyard of the 400 yr old farmhouse - superb!
Day 13 (25km)
Ribeauville to Colmar
Scenes in Requewihr - note the Alsatian dog
We take secondary back roads today from Ribeauville to Colmar via beautiful Riquewihr . Riquewihr is a well-preserved Medieval and Renaissance town with fortifications and houses which date from 13th Century.
We only do about 25km - but it is a stifling 39 deg C. All the accomodation in the older section of town is fairly expensive so we settle for the IBIS hotel- a bit modern for our tastes but joy-of-joys has AIR-CON!
We don't find Colmar as pretty as the pictures we've seen - I think we've been spoilt by seeing the rest of Alsace first. Besides it is a city and we prefer the smaller towns and villages.
Day 14 ( 78 km )
Colmar to Kembs
It was actually quite tricky here trying to find the way out of town by bicycle - the Tourist office was particularly unhelpful.
However the hotel staff at Hotel Ibis were very helpful and pointed us in the right direction.
We strike some busy roads on our way out of Colmar to Neuf-Brisach (a small town surrounded by interesting fortifications).
We have a little difficulty but find our way to Vogelsheim and onto Algolsheim following the main cycle route on the French side of the Rhine (in fact a few km away from the Rhine).
We enjoy the ride through the forrest (the Foret Domaniale de la Harth Nord) which eventually meets up with the Canal du Rhone au Rhin which we follow all the way to Kembs where we decide to stop for the night both quite tired from the heat.
The town is quite small and it is after 6pm - Mike goes hunting and finds us a "pension" (not speaking French he fails to decipher the -"pour chevaux"[for horses] after the word pension). The owner was evidently quite amused when Mike asked for a room.
We're beginning to think we might need to push on to Basel when I ask at the one shop that is still open - the bike shop- if there is any accomodation in town.He points directly across the street to an attractive old building which is not marked but is evidently another "Gite".
We are stunned when we see the beautifully decorated and well appointed room with ensuite bathroom that they can offer us for 48 Euro - with no hesitation we snap it up.
We have a very nice dinner at the Ship Restaurant down by the river and then head back and chat well into the evening with the owners of the Gite, Gilbert and Esther Widmer and their son Giles whom we are told is off to Australia soon. We have a delightful stay here and can thoroughly recommend this Gite.
Day 15 (25 km)
Kembs to Basel
Today is an enjoyable though short ride to Basel which is a big expensive city and not exactly fun to negotiate on a bicycle.We stay in the Youth Hostel here in a mixed 6 bed room- as all other hotels would well and truly break the bank here. We are only staying here the night because we want to catch a train down to Lake Geneva to visit some friends from Australia who have been living there for the last few years.
On checking out the train station we find a velo-station. This is a mind-blowing concept for an Australian I might add. This secure parking station for bikes is absolutely huge and also has variable size lockers you can hire for a number of days for 1 FR each.To park a bike cost 1FR a day. We decide it will be much easier parking our bikes and leaving most of our gear here for the couple of days we are going to be spending in Geneva.
We spend the day wandering around Basel and are quite bemused by the people jumping in the Rhine (which is actually very fast-flowing here) and hurtling down with the aid of floatation rings towards the bridge.
Scenes in Basel
Basel to Geneva by train
After parking our bikes and gear at the Velo-station we jump on the train to Geneva which is a very scenic trip passing by a number of large lakes and arrive in Geneva by lunchtime.
We spend a very enjoyable evening catching up with our old friends Pip and Peter and their 2 children Oliver and Benedict and hearing all about their life in Geneva.
Lake Geneva & fountain
Day 17 (40km)
Basel to Karsau
We spend the morning with Pip and the children on the shores of Lake Geneva and even take a dip in the famed lake. Then it is back to Basel - unfortunately we only have time for a fleeting visit as we know we still have a lot of riding ahead of us to get back to Frankfurt in a couple of weeks.
We collect our bikes from the velostation and try to find our way out of Basel with great difficulty.We only find our way out of Basel proper by about 3:30pm. We ride along the Rhine criss-crossing the German-Swiss border.
We stop for coffee in Rhinefelden and cross over the river to the German side of town and try unsuccessfully to get a room for the night. It is getting very late and we are both very tired but we have no option but to push on to Bad Sackingen.
On the way there we see a sign saying hotel pointing up a hill to Karsau.We are hoping it is a small hill and the hotel is not far. Unfortunately it is the hill-from- hell and we have to push our bikes for ages up the very steep hill ( fortunately it makes for a great, though hair raising, descent the following morning).
Thankfully we do find a hotel at the top with great rooms,and a good restaurant.
We are befriended during dinner by " Dennis" who is about 2 or 3 yrs old .He makes a very thorough inspection of our bikes and tries to talk to us about them. He cannot understand why we are speaking almost total "gibberish " to him and speak even less German than he does.
Day 18 (70.5 km)
Karsau to Hohentengen
Scenes - Bad Sackingen
We leave Karsau after breakfast negotiating the great downhill run and head onto Bad Sackingen about 20 km away.
We stop for coffee and cake at a restaurant on the river which overlooks the ancient covered bridge and watch tower.
We go and explore the bridge which one can ride through. Some of the earliest materials in the bridge date from the 1300s but the main construction was done in the 17-1800s and was restored again in 1990. Today it is the longest covered bridge of its kind in Europe.
We then push on to Hohentengen where we find a room at a "PrivatZimmer". We try what is arguably the best red wine of the entire trip in Hohentingen. (Funnily enough a place called Kaiserstuhl is just across the river).
We enjoy it so much the effects are felt a little the following morning and Frau Burger can't understand why we eat so little of her meats and cheeses that we've ordered the night before.
Day 19 ( 47 km )
Hohentengen to Stein-am-Rhein
We meet 2 Austrian ladies at breakfast who are biking part of the famous pilgrimage trail to Santiago in Spain. Then we set off a little the worse for wear and criss-cross the German Swiss border a number of times today.You can always tell which side of the border you are on because every farm you come across seems to be flying their national flag. The scenery is stunning today- farms of sunflowers, various grains and vineyards on the hills behind.
We make a detour down to the Rhinefall which is quite stunning and well worth a stop.It is the biggest waterfall in Europe and is 150 m wide and 15-21 m high.
We then cross back over and push on to Stein-am Rhein. Today is a truly beautiful ride mostly near the river and mainly through little villages. Stein -am-Rhein itself is a stunningly beautiful old town full of historic painted buildings and a lovely waterfront.We stay in a small hotel right in the centre of the old part of town.
Day 20 (43 km)
Stein-am-Rhein to Ludwigshafen
We spend the morning wandering around town and visit the church and the Kloster Museum. This museum was a monastery and dates from 1000 AD. It is a quiet, serene place with a great atmosphere as it has been set up as it would have been centuries ago.This museum is quite beautiful and well worth a visit if you are in the area.
Late in the morning we set off on a hilly ride - we think we are going to Reichenau but somehow take a wrong turn and wind up taking the overland route to Ludwigshafen.
This turns out to be a very touristy spot and we have major problems finding accomodation. We are just about to resort to the tent when a full zimmer-frei owner makes a phone call and points us to a house round the corner where the elderly lady agrees to give us bed and breakfast for 38 Euros a night - quite a steal for this area I suspect.
Bodensee -idyllic apart from the tourists
Day 21 (24km)
Ludwigshafen to Unteruhldingen
After visiting the Tourist Information we are told that it is actually a long weekend and that we may well have trouble finding accomodation and may have to head up into the hills. Half of Germany seems to be out riding their bikes ( very slowly ) around Bodensee this weekend.
We ride a little way from the water's edge but stop at a popular spot for lunch just outside of Unteruhldingen. It seems to be a sort of Kiosk set up at a farm and they sell a wide range of fruit wines which are remarkably good - we try a strawberry-cherry combination and an apple pear combination. It goes very well with the very fresh tomato and mozzarella salad and fresh German bread - simple but wonderful!
At Unteruhldingen we again have major problems finding accomodation for the night and the search for a room is quite demoralising but eventually fruitful. Unteruhldingen is famous for its ancient stilted huts built on the water at the Pfahlbaumuseum.These type of dwellings evidently were here since the Bronze Ages.
Our original intention had been to try and circumnavigate the Bodensee however we decide that whilst it is quite a beautiful area, it is far too heavily touristed at this time of year for our liking. Battling crowds and having problems finding accommodation is not much fun and after much deliberation we decide to leave the Bodensee area and head toward the Neckar Valley.
Day 22 (60km)
Unteruhldingen to Tuttlingen
We retrace our steps back to Ludwigshafen and with only very scetchy maps set off on our way to Tuttlingen. We soon seem to lose the bicycle path and have to settle for back roads making our way through Eigeltingen to Liptingen and on to Tuttlingen.The area is very hilly and definitely a good workout on a loaded bike.
Backroad into Tuttlingen
However, despite the hills it is very scenic travelling through a lot of farmland areas and we thoroughly enjoy the day.
Luckily as we are coming in to Tuttlingen we run into a local cyclist out on his mountain bike and after asking directions he helpfully guides us down the thick gravel paths and into the back of town.
We check into the pleasant Hotel Ritter and in the evening take a stroll as the sunsets down along the river. The river turns out to be the Donau (Danube) and after striking up a conversation with another couple of local cyclists we learn that this is the river we need to follow for the first part of our ride tomorrow.
Day 23 (35km)
Tuttlingen to Rottweil
We leave Tuttlingen for a lovely ride through quiet farmland and reach the start of the Neckar Valley.
Just before we reach Rottweil we come across the Salzmuseum and there seems to be some kind of festival on in the grounds.
It appears to be the German equivalent of a BBQ.Everyone seems to know everyone else and I wonder if we are bumbling in to a private party - then to our relief we see the pricelist on a table.
We order our food and decide to try some of the local red wine when the waitress asks us if we want it watered down with sodawater the way the locals drink it or do we want it straight.
Deciding it would be sacrilege to water down good wine with sodawater we order it straight.
Rottweil Roman Baths - time to recover
Shortly afterwards it becomes apparent why they do this. After cycling up hill into Rottweil I make it to the Roman bath ruins on the outskirts of town and promptly collapse in the grounds for a snooze!
I decide I could not possibly ride much further so we set about finding ourselves a hotel in Rottweil and find the lovely Hotel Lamm right in the heart of town.
We wander around the AltStadt (Old Town) and check out the Schwarzturm (Black tower) and Hochturm (High Tower- builtbetween the 14th and 17th C) which was used for torture in times past.
Day 24 (73km)
Rottweil to Bieringen
After attending to some chores we have a late start from Rottweil. Today is quite a hilly ride again and very hot weather but beautiful scenery- farms, small meandering river, woodlands. Everything is very green and there are lots of wildflowers.
By 6 pm we make it to tiny Bieringen where we stop for a lifesaving iced-coffee. As we are sitting enjoying the lovely garden setting of the restaurant a big storm comes through. Luckily the restaurant is also a Gasthaus and has a room free so we decide to stay here the night.
Day 25 ( 50 km)
Bieringen to Neckartailfingen
We cover the 20 km to Tubingen fairly quickly and any thoughts we have of staying here overnight are laid to rest fairly quickly as most of the accomodation in town seems full, so we have a general look around town and visit the old Schloss up on the hill which is now part of the University of Tubingen.
We push on on a very pleasant ride and good path all the way and stop for the night in Neckartailfingen which is a lovely clean town, has a good Gasthof with great food .
Day 26 (78 km)
Neckartailfingen to Freiburg am Neckar
We are starting to feel a little time pressured now as we are running out of days to get back to Heidelburg.
We decide to bypass Stuttgart as big cities are almost always a bit difficult to negotiate and go through Bad Canstatt instead - but we still manage to lose the path here.
We are standing looking at our maps when an elderly man who lives across the road arrives home with his wife. He asks if we need help and he races across the road and grabs his mountain bike. He tells us he will guide us back down the hill to the Neckar and the main Neckar-radweg.
He then proceeds to ride like a madman downhill at breakneck speed then takes off cross-country. I'm chasing the old guy on the mountain bike and Mike's chasing me trying to keep us in sight. Passers-by think its hilarious.
But we manage to arrive unscathed at at a beautiful lake are right on the Neckar called the Max-Eyth-See where we stop to catch out breath and enjoy the scenery. It is a nice ride from here along good path. We stop to help a local whose chain is broken - our chain-breaker gets some use - lucky he knows how to use it expertly because neither of us was really sure how it worked!
We ride on to the next town to find accommodation and find we've somehow arrived in Freiburg am Neckar which has a very comfortable Hotel Rossle.
Day 27 (89km)
Freiburg to Neckargerach
Today we ride through hills and vineyards and it's actually quite hard work.We try beautiful fresh raspberries for morningtea in Besigheim which is a lovely old town.
We pass a number of ruined castles as this last bit of the Neckar becomes quite picturesque. Today is a very hot day which makes the hills hard work. The only good thing about the hills are the downhills.
Unfortunately Mike slides in the gravel at the bottom of one such downhill and suffers some abrasions and bruised pride. He tells me later that he really didn't fall off but his bike was so tired it just wanted to lie down!
I patch him up and we push on to Neckargarech where we find a pleasant pension with a Greek Restaurant.(Hotel Gruner Baum).We arrive in Neckargerach looking like 2 hobos - Mike is battered , bloodied, bruised and bandaged and looks like he's been rolling around in the dirt - which of course he has been.
Having fixed Mike's chain after his fall and becoming covered in grease- I have grease all over my hands and smears on my face, looking like I should be dressed in camouflage gear not cycling gear.
Amazingly the woman behind the counter gives us a room- no questions asked! After a soak in a warm shower- we feel and look human again and enjoy a lovely Greek meal on the balcony of the restaurant.
Day 28 - 55km
(Neckargerach to Heidelberg)
We leave Neckargerach and catch the cross river vehicular ferry - Robert Kruger the ferry driver tells us there are only 4 of these still operating on the Neckar.
This jolly fellow is a fountain of information about the region and obviously wants to practice his quite good English as we learn his life-story whilst we are waiting to cross the river!
We pass 3 ruined castles this morning and the first part of the day the road is rough and unpaved.However, the morning is saved when we happen upon the most divine cake shop in a tiny little farming village with only a few houses. The cakes are so wonderful we could have sat and sampled all morning!
We push on through cool wooded areas and manage to ride right past the bridge we are supposed to cross over to Neckarsteinach and have to double back to it. We actually have to push our bikes up a steep incline to get onto the bridge which we had ridden right under.
We continue on the right hand side of the river until Neckargemund where the main path supposedly continues down the right bank on the main road. However we elected to cross over the bridge to the left bank where the main road has a footpath which felt a lot safer than joining speeding traffic.This path basically continues all the way into Heidelberg.
We find our way to the Altstadt and find Pension Jeske right near the Rathaus where we get a room for 50 Euros a night.
Wow! We made it! After more than 1200km we are quite happy to jump of our bikes and enjoy the wonderful city of Heidelberg for a few days before heading home.
Over the next few days there appears to be a festival on we think celebrating the Alte Brucke. There are jazz bands and stalls selling beer, bratwurst and waffles. The whole town seems to be in a festive mode, and the weather is beatiful - what a fitting end to a wonderful trip.
We pick up some bike boxes from one of the bike shops in town called Heidelbike (having organised this a few weeks prior) and box the bikes.
The morning of our flight we catch a taxi-bus to the Crown Plaza Hotel.
Lufthansa runs buses a few times daily from that hotel directly to the airport at Frankfurt. If you are lucky the driver will agree to take bike boxes depending on the number of passengers.
So, keep on cycling.......
Andrea & Mike Venamore
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