I woke up at 7am and headed downstairs for breakfast within half an hour. Breakfast included some little pancakes which was nice!
I finally got round to photographing this leaflet that several hotels have been offering – it’s a moan at a few countries (Britain, Denmark etc) for not reducing VAT on overnight stays. You can tell the UK – it’s in shocking red!
And here is a handy list of all the VAT rates.
I went back to my room and prepared a parcel I was going to take to the post office before setting off today. I decided it would be nice to sed ICE Trikes some biscuits and chocolates to say thank you for all the help and support they’ve given me in my five years of triking, so I had picked up a few bits and bobs yesterday and parcelled it all up (I had bought some posting bags with me to send my Bikeline books home, although I decided not to do that in the end, and a few name labels for me – and one for ICE). The post office was round the corner from the hotel so I carried the parcel there and sent it off. I’m hoping the chocolate won’t melt but I put the mini ritters in the empty teabag chinese tub so if they do melt it isn’t a complete disaster.
Then it was back to the hotel to check out. The woman on reception had the weirdest accent and we have a few miscommunications but I paid up my bill so they were happy!
I started today with the best of intentions – to follow the official cycle route beside the Rhein, but as you’ll see from my track here that didn’t last long!
Oh, and this is the full Konstanz to Koblenz route (Koblenz is lurking at the top)
Anyway, after fetching Alfie from the underground garage I headed off due north past Rheinhafen Kehl. This was a nice cycle route along various harbour bits.
I saw this transformer (I think that’s what it is) pretending to be an excellent radio broadcaster from Blighty!
I pootled along this nice bit of tarmac which took me under a couple of main roads and then, lo and behold, it turned into this.
Have you got the impression yet that I don’t like that kind of cycle path surface?
I carried on another two miles and then there was a slope down to the road that ran alongside this flood defence, but lower (on the other side of the bund to the river, of course). I decided to do a bit on this road – which ended up with me riding on the road for about eight miles. There was hardly any traffic, it ran exactly parallel to the cycle path so my Garmin was counting down the distance (i.e. it didn’t think I’d gone off route) and it was much faster. Bonus!
Of course the view wasn’t as good but I didn’t mind too much. I did notice these yacht masts poking over the top though – I wondered who would be brave enough to sail in the busy Rhein river with its fearsome current!
The official cycle path rejoined me near Freistett and I followed it through its squiggly route which then went through a rather attractive area of farmland.
Unfortunately it went from tarmac to dirt again.
It was briefly back to tarmac as I crossed over a bridge.
Spot the duck coming to see who I was. I’d earlier seen a heron flying away.
The view was great with the mountains of the Black Forest in the background for the whole day.
It was nearly 11am which I thought meant time for a tea and cake break. The cycle route passed very closed to Helmlingen so I thought I’d detour there to find a bakery. However there didn’t appear to be a bakery (weird – I think, in retrospect, I probably missed the middle of the village, I don’t remember seeing a church) so I thought it best to go to the next town which was larger, Lichtenau.
So I headed off on the road to Lichtenau which was a bit bumpy!
I couldn’t tell quite where the middle of Lichtenau is (don’t ask me why not as I see from my map that there are two churches close together so they should have been obvious!) so I just cycled along the main road which seemed to have houses rather than shops. I then saw a little square with a couple of vans – one was selling meat but one was a little bakery. Time to stop!
I had a chat with the bakery chappie and he recommended this pretzel-shaped pastry which was very nice!
From Lichtenau it didn’t make sense to go back to the Radweg (which was a wiggly and bumpy route at this point) so I decided to just plot a route through the villages near the cycle path and see how that went. It certainly works out much quicker if I can ride at 13mph on tarmac rather than 9mph on dirt.
The day had got pretty warm by this point and the temperature gauge on my bike computer (which had started working again) said 27 degrees. I passed several fields of strawberries and felt really tempted to grab some!
My alternative route through Rheinmünster and past Söllingen (on the cycle path beside the B36) took me past Flughafen Karlsruhe/Baden Baden which I think is a Ryanair-type airport, i.e. very small. I saw a couple of light planes take off and that was it.
I had a hotel booked in Rastatt but was seriously considering riding further today. The hotel had a free cancellation policy (as long as I cancelled before 6pm) so I thought it worth seeing how I felt when I got to Rastatt around 12:30. I was really enjoying the ride, although it was beginning to get a bit harder now that the day had warmed up so much.
I went through Iffezheim and then directly towards Rastatt, now a couple of kilometres from the Rhein cycle path (which was a dirt track at this point, according to my Bikeline book, so I wouldn’t have enjoyed it!)
Rastatt has a large Mercedes Benz factory to the west but I didn’t see that as I came in from the south west. I headed straight to the middle of Rastatt and stopped at a handy bakery for some lunch. Two pizza-bready things felt like the right choice for today!
Unfortunately the bakery didn’t have a loo so I’d have to cross my legs a bit longer!
I rang the hotel I had booked in Rastatt to say I wouldn’t be taking up the room. They said I had to cancel the room over the internet with Booking.com, they couldn’t do it. I had till 6pm so it shouldn’t be a problem but I thought I might grab some free wifi from a McDonald’s if I passed one!
The Rastatt Barockresidenz is very impressive!
Rather than doing the wiggly, cycle path route to Karlsruhe I decided to follow my Garmin which was routing me along the B3. Not that attractive but would get me there in 14 miles which was preferable. So I headed off, folllowing the little bleeps of my Garmin to tell me when I was reaching a junction.
I passed this field of people picking strawberries – all their colourful tops looked very good!
There was a point on my ride where I had to cross under a motorway and the cycle path at this point did a bit of a major detour – through some woodland.
It was nice to have the shade but I was a bit concerned that the cycle path would force me to go the wrong way. But it eventually joined back up with the B3 and I headed into Karlsruhe itself, riding in via Bulach which was rather attractive. From there I followed my Garmin until it got itself confused at which point I could see a short cut which was riding through the station – which I did. Slowly.
I arrived at the Tourist Information Centre to ask about hotels as I hadn’t checked any Karlsruhe hotels last night (not thinking I would ride this far). They warned me there was a Messe (trade fair) on which meant there weren’t many rooms but they found me one in the A & O Hotel and Hostel right next to the station.
My room is tiny but it has an en-suite and I don’t need a great amount of space.
The hotel had this magazine in the main area – somebody needed to proof-read the headline!
Alfie was safely installed in the underground parking area.
Here are the statistics for today:
Wifi is free in the public areas (not available in the rooms) and works well so I was able to cancel my booking in Rastatt without difficulty and have booked myself a hotel in Speyer for tomorrow. Direct route to Speyer would be just 30 miles but following the Radweg is about 40 so I shall do my utmost to stick to the official route which appears to be mostly tarmac, fortunately.
After my shower it was time to have a wander around Karlsruhe.
I liked this window cleaner’s vehicle!
I don’t know if Karlsruhe is a university town or something but it is full of bikes – and lots of beautiful young people!
I walked up a road opposite the main station and found myself straight away at the Stadtgarten.
People were taking boat trips on the lake – but there were also empty boats going up and down. I think they area attached to some kind of track somewhere and keep going round like a cablecar does!
It turns out you have to pay to go in as it’s an animal park and children’s play area etc. Here is something James would like – JCBs in a sandpit for children!
I walked up Ettlingerstraße past some of the exhibition halls and rather liked their gardens and fountains.
I then found a shopping mall and had a wander around there too. I saw a poodle walking past.
I also looked into a perfume shop and saw a chap in there with a huge dog. Not sure if the perfume was for the dog or for his lady. It’s interesting that in Germany you are allowed your dogs in more places, although I know some friends in the UK who would not like this!
The purpose of my long walk up Ettlingerstraße was to see the Schloss that was marked on my map with an impressive array of gardens and roads spiking in a radius from it to the north. Here is the schloss.
And here is the busy ring road. ‘Where?’, you ask. Underneath – they’ve dug it out as a tunnel so pedestrians and cyclists can walk over the top. It’s similar to what’s been done in the Düsseldorf Altstadt and works really well.
I walked along this street which had lots of philosophy and prose on fairness and laws and justice on litttle solid flags on poles. It made for interesting reading although gave me a bit of a crick in my neck.
I had walked a fair way and my feet were tired so I decided to hop on a tram, of which there were dozens. It’s easy to find your hotel when it’s next to the main station as most trams go there. The journey took about ten minutes and I bought a standard ticket for 2,30€. There might have been a cheaper short journey one but I couldn’t find it on the ticket machine and someone was waiting to use it after me!
After writing up some blog it was time for an evening meal. I headed to a café restaurant opposite the station (at the gate to the Stadtgarten) and sat outside in the balmy evening air, looking across at fountains and flamingoes.
And then my food came.
Schnitzel mit Spätzle
It was all very tasty and I felt very full as I headed back to the hotel.
Yesterday and today were very sunny and I caught the sun a bit. I also have some wind burn which tends to go down overnight. I had suntan cream on for these two days but have definitely changed colour a bit. This is where my watch is!
Tomorrow I leave Baden Württemberg for good, heading into Rheinland Pfalz. It’s a whole new Germany Land (county) on this trip!