Koblenz to Oppenheim. 125Km : Total to date 991km
Bernie: Today was a picture postcard day along a Rhine lined with green hills with pretty villages nestled into every curve of the river, and often with a castle or 2 perched above it. We packed up early and cycled around to Deutches Eck, the confluence of the Rhine and the Mosel overlooked by a enormous statue of Kaiser Wilhelm 1st. It could be said that the destruction in 1945 by US bombers was a favour but the peices were kept and eventually recast and reinstated in 1992 to commemorate German reunification. It was certainly dominant.
The early morning mist hung over the river for the first part of the morning but the sun graduallly came out. Our first stop was in the lovely town of Boppard where we had a lovely breakfast on the terrace of a little hotel. As we ate Tinika and Henry, the Dutch couple we had met a few days ago, cycled by. She was still in a cotton dress and he in his flapping coton shirt and sandals. I am sure they will make it to Crete eventually!
In the next section there werre so many castles we gave up taking photos. We passed St Goar and the Lorely rock – a cliff jutting into the Rhine that causes dangerous currents for passing boats and chose to stop again at the very pictureque Bacharach for a little walk around. At Bingen we crossed the Rhine, eating our sandwiches and surrounded by 100s of school children of many different origins who poured onto the boat at the last minute. Now on the eastern side of the Rhine we cycled passed numerous vineyards and stopped at Eltville, badged as the prettiest village in Germany. It was full of old timber framed houses and certainly was pretty but was devoid of ice cream shops so did not score full marks.
As we came towards Mainz, a main city, it started to become more industrial. David’s phone went. A call from Pippa mid afternoon couldn’t be just a social call. Unfortunately it was the bad news that David’s mum Jeanette had broken her ankle. She was still at the hospital so we had no details but it left us worried as we tackled the last bit into the city. We stocked up on some food as we still had 20km to the campsite.
Our ambling day and stops, which were well worth it, meant that by the time we had shopped it was nearly 6. We battled the last section feeling tired – but not nearly as tired as a family we passed just before Oppenheim where the Mum looked as if she would have happily thrown the bicycle into the nearest hedge and headed straight for a nearby bar. There was something of a contrast with her teenage sons who skipped ahead oblivious of their mother’s pain (if, of course it was their mother).
I knew just how she felt but pleased that, by this stage in the trip, I was fitter and so although tired at over 70 miles wasn’t at that comatosed stage. We fiddled about and eventually found the ‘campsite’. The tent camping was by a slightly delapidated restaurant where we could use an outside toilet and cold water shower (which was suprisingly enjoyble and refreshing as long as you didn’t put your whole body under it at the same time!). But it was right by the river, grassy and cost a ‘donation’. The midges also helped themselves to large donations of our blood as we discovered over the next few days!
We managed to speak to Jeanette, who was back home but clearly shocked. David’s brother Peter was there but we felt so bad this had happened while we were away and we will have to see how it affects our plans,
We then chatted a little to a French couple in a mixture of English and French. After our almost nil vocabulary of German it made our french feel reasonably competent in comparison! We sat eating a huge dinner of sausages and rice, read by the river in the fading light and fell into the tent.