A day of rain in Germany and Austria.
Friday 31 May – Meersburg to Höchst
Had a bit of a surprise last night when looking at Twitter – it appears I have been retweeted by a large body of water! Bodensee has its own Twitter feed and it had picked up my yesterday’s blog post and retweeted it a couple of times.
After a good night’s sleep I went down to a leisurely breakfast at 8am, knowing my boat to Bregenz didn’t leave until 10:20. The breakfast selection was excellent and included some hot food – bacon, Bratwurst, fried egg – of which I partook. There was lots of fresh fruit too which looked lovely but by the time I’d eaten the bacon, Bratwurst and rolls I’d run out of room!
I packed all my things into the panniers, being extra-careful that everything was inside a plastic bag as I knew it would be a rainy day, and then had another look at the weather forecast.
The 60mm of rain was now spread over three days – today (Friday), Saturday and Sunday. 20mm each day is still a fair bit, and the television news in the breakfast room had given a news report about a female cyclist who died yesterday when a landslip fell on her. Various bits of Germany are flooded and lots of homes are being evacuated. A great time to do a cycle tour!
On that basis I thought that riding 50 miles tomorrow, from Höchst to Stein am Rhein, was a bit of a challenge – and not one that I particularly fancied. Stein am Rhein was the last hotel that I had prebooked, after that I could go at my own pace with reference to the weather.
In the end I decided to phone up the B&B at Stein am Rhein and see if they would let me cancel. I spoke to the man there who was really friendly. He said of course they understood if I couldn’t get there on Saturday evening and they wouldn’t charge me for the room. I said it was best to cancel the room now but he said not to worry, they had several free (lots of people had cancelled because of the bad weather) and that if I was going to arrive really late I should call them and they would leave a key out for me. I said it was more likely that I’d arrive the next day or the day after and they said that was fine, they had space. They were so friendly and understanding that I will definitely stay there on my way past!
This means that I can either spend an extra day in Höchst (the hotel has several rooms free for Saturday night) or maybe ride 10 or so miles to Rorschach for a change of scenery (and country) the next day. I don’t think there’s a great deal in Höchst, it just happens to be the last town in Austria before Switzerland arrives.
If this rain really does persist for all three days then it’ll probably be another slow pootle on Sunday and I may not get to Stein am Rhein until Monday. I could always jump on a train but I want to enjoy the cycling around Bodensee – today’s boat trip will be fun but it’s not the purpose of a cycle tour!
I was checking my emails and discovered this message sent to me via my blog:
I just got the link to your Ko2Ko block by a friend, who knows, that I’m just up to buy me a trike in the next few weeks (have to decide between ICE and HP-Velotechnik now). I live in Friedrichshafen (which you will pass today) and I’m so sorry which weather our lake of constance provides you today: It’s friday 8:30 and rain seems not to stop.
Unfortunately my wife and me will start today to a 2-day-trip into the Pfalz, otherwise we would have invited you to tea and KUCHEN 🙂
But I will follow your blog from now on and wish you mainly a more sunny weather.
A (who can’t wait for getting his trike) and B (who is really excited about this project).”
Isn’t that nice, and what a shame that we won’t be able to meet up and have a long chat about trikes (which is always fun).
I replied saying that he’s lucky he’s away else I’d eat all their KUCHEN. At this rate I’ll still be on Bodensee when they return.
At half past nine I headed down with my luggage and paid the bill. It was a squeeze to get my trike out past the parked cars but soon I was heading off, aiming to take the main road (rather than pedestrian precinct!) to the ferry landing stage.
I ended up going the wrong way as I tried to follow my nose downhill but eventually had a fast whizz down the main road, the rain really cutting into my face at that speed.
I was half an hour early to the ferry ticket and waiting area and bought my single person-and-bike ticket to Bregenz. Alfie had to stay outside the waiting room but I brought my panniers in with me – they were already soaking just from the 1.4 mile cycle to the ferry quay.
Yesterday Bodensee had been still, as the photo showed. Today it was covered in white horses and very choppy, steely grey in colour and not particularly inviting. The ferry boat, called Karlsruhe, appeared out of the rain mist and tied up at the pontoon, whereupon I fetched Alfie and wheeled him round to it. It was a nice wide gangway onto the boat and it was easy to wheel Alfie there and park him in the wide, open standing area. There was an information board about the ships that plied this route and the Karlsruhe was built in 1937, which is rather a long time ago. It presumably used to see the Zeppelins being launched at Friedrichshafen!
I found myself a seat on the lower deck and settled in for the journey. We passed several sailing boats – people were rather brave to be out in this weather!
I watched this boat for a while – two chaps were standing by the mast trying to get the sail out whilst the boat went up and down with the swell. They managed it and it probably made the boat a bit steadier in the weather.
The ship stopped at Hagnau, Immenstaad, Friedrichshafen, Langenargen, Kressbronn, Nonnenhorn, Wasserburg, Lindau and Bregenz. It was a shame I didn’t get to see all these intermediate places by trike rather than boat but it was definitely not a good day for cycling.
I had a cup of tea on the boat and actually had to pay for it! Fair enough, I guess it’s how they make money on this kind of trip, but a warming cuppa was just the thing after a cold, wet cycle ride (my legs were a bit damp from the ride to the ferry port, although my jacket had kept my top half dry).
By the way, does anyone else find that EVERY time you open a little Kaffeesahne creamer pot it squirts creamer at you? I’ve learned to face them away from me whenever I open them but they always eject a drop or two of milk wherever they are pointing. Am I just particularly unskilled in this procedure or does it happen to the rest of you?
As we approached Friedrichshafen the skies appeared to be clearing a little although I couldn’t tell, from my seat on the boat, whether the rain had eased.
The journey was just under three hours and in due course we approached Bregenz.
We docked and I let everyone get off before I dragged Alfie back onto dry land. Here he is with Karlsruhe (the ship, not city) behind him.
We were now in Austria!
I kept my Garmin on whilst on the ship and it was interesting to see that its average speed was 11.7mph so not too dissimilar to my cycling speed. Unfortunately I didn’t take note of the trip computer when I got off the boat but I think we had sailed/steamed about 25 miles in total.
Talking of trip computers, my excellent value Aldi Bikemate bike computer which I have as backup, and which I really like, turns out to completely stop working at the firsst drop of rain. So my cumulative odometer thingie isn’t working which is irritating. I think I’ve done about 125 miles in total since Monday but I’ll have to work it out properly when I get home and can download the tracks from my Garmin.
It was half past one in the afternoon and time to get some food, I decided, while I was still relatively dry. I decided to ride the very short distance into central Bregenz and see what I could find.
The first thing I found, which was most decidedly unexpected, was a huge inflatable purple cow.
It was a marketing event for Milka. I lurked close to where everyone was handing out purple Milka-coloured flags and things but they obviously decided I wasn’t a child and didn’t need any chocolate. Shame!
There were several bakeries and cafés but not many that had shelter for the trike. I found one before too long, stowed Alfie under the awning to try to keep my luggage dry and then went in. I had a salami and cheese roll and a cup of tea which was most welcome. I finished the roll before I’d made any headway on the tea so decided to get an Erdbeerschnitte to help wash the tea down.
It was now time to head off properly on my cycle ride to the pre-booked hotel in Höchst.
The official cycle route doesn’t actually pass through Höchst but looking at hotel prices and facilities whilst I was booking up the overnights round Bodensee it looked like it was worth the slight detour. I could ride the cycle route and then double back to Höchst, which was the route I had pre-plotted on my Garmin, for 12 miles, or do the shortcut to reduce it by about three miles.
I followed the cycle route in Bregenz, having to get used to completely different signage. That’s usually the first thing I notice – that the road signs and cycle path signs are a totally different style – as the language and shops and everything look really similar. There were signs to Hard (the next village) and to Höchst so it was pretty easy to follow where I should go.
I stopped on the bridge over the Bregenzer Ach river as it had some impressive mini-rapids.
The bridge iteself was very impressive too – this was ‘just’ for cyclists and dog walkers.
Mind you, there weren’t very many cyclists about (not that I blame them). I did meet several dog walkers though, and a surprising number of pug dogs – perhaps that’s the cool dog for Bregenz.
It’s not difficult to follow the path in the right direction as they have painted helpful signs on the asphalt at times.
The little cycling man with the blue back wheel is the Bodensee Radweg logo.
After riding through Hard I found myself cycling south along a river. Ooh, was this the Rhein?
It’s not very big!
Turns out it wasn’t the Rhein but was instead the Lustenauer Kanal. I discovered my mistake after 100 metres when I crossed a larger river – this time it was the Rhein!
Very fast flowing, carrying lots of tree debris and muck, and looking like it was rather swollen too. Not surprising after all the rain I suppose!
Once I crossed the Rhein it was time to decide whether to take the direct route to Höchst or follow the scenic route. The rain made it an obvious choice – go straight to Höchst!
I followed the main road into the town which was pretty busy. There was a cycle path alongside it but there were HGVs whizzing past me and the spray from their tyres wasn’t the pleasantest of showers for a cyclist. The scenic route would have been a great deal more enjoyable, except for the wet trousers and socks for another three miles.
I arrived at the hotel Die Linde and could instantly see it was a great choice! It reminded me vvery much of Burghotel Pass in Oeding where I stayed on my last German day during my Berlin to London trip. It’s a large, nicely furnished place with excellent facilities, amazingly fast wifi (hurrah!) and a rather dishy barman.
Here’s the Garmin data for today, except I forgot to zero the trip computer when getting off the boat at Bregenz so didn’t do it until I’d ridden a mile or so, plus I did 1.4 miles earlier in the day to get to Meersburg ferry terminal, so I suppose I’ve actually cycled about 11 miles today.
Alfie is not quite so pristinely clean now but he’s not a complete mess, at least!
There was, rather surprisingly, a bunch of English people in the bar area who were talking about being on a cycle tour. You don’t see that very often! I said hello and was wearing my Union Jack jersey but they didn’t say anything to me. I may chat to them this evening.
My room was lovely – very spacious and with a little bag of two pralines made here!
It was time to unpack my bags and see how everything fared in all the rain.
Things inside the plastic bags were all dry but there was some water inside the Banana Bags, as you can see from this photo.
Still, for bags not marked as waterproof they’re keeping things mostly dry, and overall I do find them easier than traditional panniers.
After the usual shower and clothes wash (which took longer as I wore more layers today, plus long cycling trousers) I started feeling peckish and decided to wander downstairs and see if they had any cake.
Yes they did.
LKook at that for an Apfelstrudel with Sahne (interesting he called it Sahne, I thought it was Obers in Austrian). I had that with a cup of tea and it was fantastic!!!
I had my iPad downstairs with me and was writing up the blog but then I smelled smoke and realised the chap in the table opposite me was smoking. This has now been banned in buildings in Germany but clearly not in Austria so I beat a hasty retreat back to my room.
And how about tomorrow? More rain! Although not quite as much in volume.
My thinking is that I might see if I can find a couple of hotels between 10 and 20 miles from here (not booking anything up, just checking on availability and whether they have wifi which is a must) and I’ll head off tomorrow and ride until I’m fed up. As I get nearer Konstanz the forecast for Sunday is sun and rain, not just rain, so it might be worth trying to get a bit further west tomorrow. It would be good to spend Sunday night in the B&B at Stein am Rhein. It seems that magically a lot of hotels in this area have now got availability, when previously everything was booked up. Several days of torrential deluge seem to put off some holidaymakers, but not us brave cycle tourists! Although I have to admit I only saw about a dozen groups of cycle tourists on my ride from Bregenz to Höchst today; yesterday I would have seen 30-40 in that timespan!
At 7:30pm it was time for my evening meal. I went downstairs and saw a rooom with a no smoking sign – that would be preferable. They had a menu posted on the door – a six course meal for 58€. Ahem, I don’t think so! Fortunately they had another seating area which had a more normal menu although things were still quite pricey. It reminded me of the Alter Posthof hotel in Spay which I have visited many times – really nice food but little change from 15 Euros for a meal and a drink.
I ordered Wiener Schnitzel but before it arrived the lady appeared with a little taster sample – sweet potato soup (in a glass) and a little asparagus salad.
Then came the very tasty Wiener Schnitzel, a generous portion. I wouldn’t have minded a bit of salad with it or something – I find German meals can be a bit short on vegetables
Then it was back to my room, a quick chat with James on Skype (the connection was being flaky again) and then I started to do some research for hotel possibilities tomorrow. Here’s hoping the rain isn’t quite as bad as today though!