2013.07.02 Tuesday, Marbach, Germany
We started the day in Ulm on the Danube with a good breakfast in our hotel in the centre of town. We met a couple at the hotel from Perth traveling on a Cannondale tandem with a Bob trailer for luggage. They are headed for Vienna, on to Prague, then Switzerland and finally a bit of time in France to catch the end of the Tour de France. Fun to talk to like-minded travellers. Too bad we didn’t meet them the evening before.
The 9:10 train out of Ulm took us to Esslingen, about 11 km south of Stuttgart. We chose Esslingen as it is a smaller town with the railway station beside the Neckar, making it easy to get on the bike path. It worked well; we breezed through Stuttgart on the cycle path with no city traffic or difficult route finding.
This part of Germany is Mercedes Benz land. Countless factories, a big port on the river. Interesting to see and we’ll see more as we go through the heartland of German industry.
Early afternoon we pulled over to contemplate a simple donnair lunch place when a local cyclist pulled over and recommended a nicer place 2 km further with a good beer garden. (German restaurants don’t have terraces or patios, they have beer gardens.) Nice of him and a good lunch.
The river is narrow, with high, terraced vineyards on either side. The river is deep enough for serious river barge traffic and many locks. Very winding giving good views.
Marbach has old half-timbered houses and is set on a hill. A pretty place.
2013.07.03 Wednesday, Neckargerach, Germany
About 90 km today, mostly in rain, but not a bad day. It was warm but not hot and the rain was moderate, not bucketing down. We cruised along the mostly flat trail making good time. It is a green valley with agriculture when it widens and vineyards on the hills.
The rain brings out snails who want to cross the path. Some have shells almost the size of a golf ball. It is a challenge to weave between them without squashing any.
Inge fell today on a sharp bend with wet metal grating that comes into view only at the last moment. We were riding in the midst of a group of four German riders. Inge was following the leader of the group. He fell in front of her, sliding on the wet metal and she fell moving on to the grating to avoid him. I was just enough behind to stop without crashing into them and able to signal the riders behind to stop. No damage to Inge other than some bruises and a sore hand. A wet grating on a curve is like black ice, your bicycle goes down suddenly, without warning: it is like a hand pushed you down and when you make sense of things, there you are, on the road, surprised. It wasn’t serious and we carried on.
The small hotels in the this area don’t generally have WiFi and they are expensive. We have been off the internet for two days now.
2013.07.04 Thursday, Mannheim, Germany
We have reached the Mannheim, where the Neckar flows into the Rhine. Three days and about 215 km to do that part of the Neckar was quicker and easier than I expected. We have enough time to cycle the Rhine valley to Holland without rushing or taking the train through parts of it.
It was a warm day with only a tiny bit of rain and some warm sunshine. We had the fun of dining with a friend we met hiking in the Dolomites last summer. Good dinner sitting outside on a warm evening by the Rhine.