2013.07.08 Monday, Bad Godesberg
We are just south of Bonn in a commuter suburb. Leaving Koblenz was the usual city challenge but the detours on the bike route due to road and dyke construction were well-marked and there was a sign in both English and German explaining the temporary route.
The bike route along the river was busy. Besides the long-distance bike tourists with panniers, many were out for a day ride. Germans enjoy cycling. Like Holland, there are bike routes everywhere, all signed.
This commuter suburb is a change from tourist towns. On the side of town between the railroad tracks and the river lies an area of elegant older houses. Across the tracks is the commercial centre of town: busy, full of immigrants. Many head scarves and quite a few women in full hijab.
2013.07.09 Tuesday, Zons
We cycled past Bonn today and on to Cologne (Köln). I expected we would spend a few hours, perhaps more, in Cologne, but we moved on. It was busy with tourists, impossible to leave your bike anywhere without worrying about the contents of your panniers. The cathedral square was full of tourists and there was a crowd at the entrance of the church. We have both been in Cologne and we like it, a shame to move on, but we’ve seen it before.
Much industry around the cities we passed today: chemicals, refineries, Bayer, a Ford factory. Who would expect a street named Henry Ford Drive in Germany?
Tonight we are past the big cities staying in a small old town with a complete city wall, a tourist town, but the tourists are almost all German.
2013.07.10 Wednesday, Orsoy
We took a little ferry across to the right side of the Rhine this morning and cycled past Dusseldorf, a pleasant city and a pleasant ride. North of Dusseldorf we entered a long stretch of heavy industry and not so nice towns. Who wants to live next to a steel mill? No one except those who can’t afford to live anywhere else. Heavy truck traffic, poor bike paths and difficulty finding the route in places made it a tedious and tiring part of the day. You don’t have much alternative to the bike paths here as the roads are narrow, there is no paved shoulder and the trucks are big. We went farther and later than planned to find a town that felt a comfortable place to spend the night.
Although industry often isn’t pretty, I envy the manufacturing in Germany. In Canada we have lost much of our manufacturing (and we are losing the skills and knowledge to ever get it back). We say we can’t compete with China. But Germany seems to be doing well and it is probably a more expensive place than Canada to do business. Germany doesn’t have the natural resources Canada has so it was forced to figure out how to make its industry work in a global market. In Canada we have chosen to give up and simply sell our oil, trees, wheat and minerals. In the long term we may regret that choice.
Tomorrow we will enter the Netherlands.