103 km: Cumulative total from Bewdley: 866km
This will be a short blog because I am sitting by a river – guess which one – after Day 7 having got behind with the blog. Today was notable for 4 things.
First we stopped at the poshest coffee and cake shop in Germany (well not that I have checked all the others of course (to quote the Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant line). It was in Bonn which was 36km south of Koln, and used to be the capital of West Germany. It must be quite a come down for a city to be told “sorry but we don’t need you as the capital any more”. The parliament and all government offices moved to Berlin in 1999 following German reunification which left poor old Bonn with an International Convention Centre (that used to be a parliament). However the coffee shop was fantastic even if we were told off twice. First for putting our bikes too close to the window, which stopped people admiring the decor. Secondly we tried to order cakes and coffee from the same counter but – silly us – everyone knows that in posh coffee and cake shops you order cakes from the counter but coffee from the waitress, who works part time as window protector. Still once we had worked the system we got sumptuous cakes and great coffee.
We met an English couple who were visiting (I think) his father and a German lady who may have been mother or partner or just a friend. This produce the usual “where are you coming from/going to” conversation but then the German lady said “But you cannot have cycled from England (which was of course true because there was the North Sea in the way). However the tone sounded to us like a statement or possibly and instruction and not in any way a question. The clearly expected response was “no of course not, that would be silly”; but I ended up mouthing like a goldfish not knowing what to say that would not cause offence. Luckily the young English man had already established that we had indeed been monumentally silly and was able gently to chide the mother in law, step mother or mother. I am sure she meant a simple question but it shows that how we say things can be so culturally different.
After the second notable thing happened when Bernie tipped my bike over and smashed the mirror. So that is the end of being able to see what is coming for the next several thousand miles (jury still out on whether to replace it). (Bernie: only trying to help packing away while David having conversation above – yacking away while I was doing the work…………!)
We ambled along the river for the rest of the day. The scenery was fantastic as you can see on Bernie’s photos because, number 3 thing, Bernie managed to wipe all the photos from my camera. It takes knowledge to wipe a single frame but genius to wipe the lot! Hence no photos of posh coffee shop. (Bernie: oops, yes, required a lot of grovelling apologies!)
However notable no 4 was arriving in Koblenz, and wandering around this fantastic city. I was here last in 1969 when we had a family holiday to bring our au pair, Lizzie, home. Lizzie may be reading this (she is now in Australia) and introduced me to the world of books by reading the whole of the Hobbit to me. I recall Koblenz as a magical place and its magic is still there. This was post the wiping of the photos so I may be able to post some. However distinct lack of accessible internet for a few days so this blog is a little late in posting.
Back to the tent and chatted to a lovely French retired teacher called Martine who was cycling the Rhine on her own. Brave and adventurous lady, but maybe that is what comes of cycling in Paris.