B2B Day 2 – Spay to Bayreuth by train

Day 2 – Sunday 12 June

James and I both woke up fairly early as the curtains in the room couldn’t exactly be described as blackout. We were down at breakfast at 7:30am when they started serving and partook of the traditional German cyclists’ breakfast – cereal (corn flakes and muesli with chocolate balls), a boiled egg, a couple of rolls with cheese and ham/salami/black forest ham. Normally I’d then have a variety of fresh fruit but as we weren’t actually doing much cycling today I decided to forego that. We had both brought English teabags with us so were able to have a proper cuppa to start the day.

Our original plan was to get the 11:02 train but we were so ahead of schedule that we ended up getting the 09:02 one, and we were ready on the platform 20 minutes before that arrived.

We practised our waltzing along the platform (we went to a beginners’ waltzing class a few weeks ago) which involved a fair bit of trust by me that James wouldn’t waltz me off the platform and onto the rails.

The train arrived and it was one of the nice new ones that had plenty of bike spaces. The train was also almost empty so we had a choice of seats in our carriage. I did notice, however, that the display said the train was going to Bingen whereas the timetable (and the sign on the front of the train as it came towards us on the platform) said Mainz. Oh well, probably just an oversight – Bingen is on the way to Mainz anyway.

When we arrived at Bingen there was an announcement in German that the back half of the train (which we were on) stopped at Bingen, the front half carried on to Mainz. So we had to get off, walk 20 metres up the platform and get back on again. There was a German chappie with his bike on the part of the train we were getting on and he was most bothered that we would block  his bike in – I’m getting off the next stop, he said, and I said that was OK, there was room. It clearly played on his mind a lot as he kept shuffling his bike around, said to us a couple more times he was getting off at the next stop, and looked a bit unimpressed with us generally.

When we got to the next stop he was able to get his and his wife’s bikes out with no difficulty and then James and I were able to put our bikes a little more out of the way.

It was a nice train journey looking out at the Rhein river (along which we cycled last year) with blue sky and sunshine. It’s surprising how many landmarks we recognised from the train that we’d noticed when cycling, including a rather good ice cream café at St Goar where we sat and gazed at Lorelei.

When we got to Mainz station we had six minutes in hand before our S-Bahn to Frankfurt so we located the lift – which was too narrow for my trike. James got the lift up to the station concourse and then down again to the platform for the S-Bahn, I went up and down the stairs carrying my trike (James took my luggage in the lift) and we met on the platform two minutes before the S-Bahn train was due. But it didn’t arrive. No-one else looked surprised so presumably this was a not-running-on-Sunday train although it didn’t appear to indicate that on the timetable. I ran up the stairs to the main concourse to check times and the next S8 was at 11:02 so we had a half hour wait.

Further investigation showed that there was a RegionalExpress train to Frankfurt coming  into Mainz three minutes before the S-Bahn and that this was fifteen minutes quicker. It was on the other side of the platform we were already on so we decided to go with that one.

In the event, the S-Bahn train arrived a minute before the RE and as we stood and waited for the RE we noticed it had very narrow doors. “Narrow Doors!” we both shouted and sprinted over to the S-Bahn that we thought was about to depart. We went in the first set of (wide) doors and found ourselves in a rather small area without much bike room. We were also blocking the doors, although there were loads of other sets of doors. Hmmmm.

As the train trundled on its way we investigated the front of the carriage which had a large bike area. James wheeled his bike down there but my bike was too wide for the gangway so at the next station I got off the train, sprinted down to the front with my trike and got back on again, with James on standby to hold the doors in case the train wanted to leave me there! We then had a decent amount of room to store the bikes and sat down for our 45 minute journey. Today’s train journeys were meant to be low effort but so far they had been a bit faffy!

James’s understanding of German was tested by a man trying to point out that the handlebars were pressing against the glass window, fortunately he pointed in the end!

I chatted to a couple of airline staff in their smart clothes who were travelling to Frankfurt Airport. They were helpful in translating a message over the tannoy on the train from Franconian (a dialect) to normal German as I hadn’t understood a word of it – it was complaining that someone was standing too near the doors so they wouldn’t close, or something. I remember when doing my Main River tour with Pippa that I had occasional problems understanding what people said in their broad Bavarian/Franconian accents.

Once we arrived at Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof it was easy to get the lift up to the main level and we realised we had about 40 minutes until our train to Würzburg was due to leave. So it was time to buy some lunch for the journey – two 2-hour train journeys.

Here we were faced with an embarrassment of riches – so many choices it was rather hard to decide! Eventually we got some filled baguettes and James had a croissant as well. The train duly arrived (at a different platform to that originally advertised) and we put the bikes on in the enormous bicycle area – half of one whole carriage. When we left Frankfurt there were eight bikes and a pram in the carriage.

The journey to Würzburg was easy if a bit noisy in the cycle compartment, although I went off to use the loo and it refused to flush afterwards and there was a flashing light outside saying “WC Defekt” which hadn’t been flashing before I went in, so I clearly broke it!

When we arrived at Würzburg we got off, unsure of which platform our next train (to Bayreuth) would be on as we are two hours ahead of schedule (I had printed out the journey starting at 11:02 or 13:02, not expecting we would leave as early as 09:02. As we wandered down the platform to look at the signs we saw a train which said ‘Bayreuth’ on the side, which was rather handy! It was another Narrow Door train which meant it was quite awkward to squeeze my bike on. There were two other bikes in the bike spaces which meant that my trike was over the yellow hatchings painted on the floor which said no bikes or prams. In the end it seemed easiest to take the seat off my bike (for getting it out of the train when we disembarked) and lying my bike down on its side, at which point only the mirror and a bit of the rear rack were in the yellow hatchings, which I thought I could get away with. James’s bike was able to find a home opposite the loo door.

This train whizzed through the countryside very quickly; in fact, this journey of 1 hr 45 minutes is covering the ground that we will take five days to cycle (I think the train goes on a far more direct route, rather than following the twists and turns of the river).

At the stop before Bayreuth the chap whose bike was behind mine wanted to get off, which caused great complications as lots of people had to move their bikes and the Germans seem unable to take their panniers off (although they are supposed to). Anyway, eventually the chap managed to get off and I ended up only slightly more oily.

We arrived in Bayreuth and had the amusement of observing the tradition German inability to queue. There were about ten bikes to come off the train, and then it was going back to Würzburg. Of course, the Germans-who-can’t-queue wanted to get on the train (with their bikes) before all the bikes were off. My bike was clearly going to be a problem as the mirrors were twisted, the glass had popped out  of one of my mirrors (although was undamaged) and seat was off but the rack was still on, which meant the rack wasn’t very secure. Anyway, we managed in the end, both James and I ending up slightly more oily.

At Bayreuth there was a huge queue for the lift (all those Germans who had got off the train before us) so we carried our bikes down the stairs and got to the exit before them – hurrah! We then followed my Garmin’s route to the hotel, all of 0.96 miles, passing a little brook which feeds into the Roter Main, one of the two constituents of the Main river, on the way.

The Goldener Löwe was a nice, friendly hotel with a shed for the bikes. Unfortunately their WiFi wasn’t working (it went wrong on Friday, apparently, and as it’s Pfingsten (Whitsun) weekend nothing is being fixed) so it meant I had to talk to James instead! We ate at the hotel, I had just a salad as I’d been snacking on M&Ms before dinner.

It was good to get to Bayreuth two hours early which meant we had some relaxation time. We had a short walk into the town to see if we could spot Richard Wagner, but failed, although we did see a very large dinosaur!

We went into a café that made me a cup of tea (free of charge) and we had some Kaiserschmarrn which was totally wonderful, of course.

Bayreuth seems quite a lively place although the pedestrianised centre could be any German town as it has the same selection of shops.

Having only cycled 2.6 miles in total since we’ve been in Germany, I look forward to the 40 miler tomorrow when we go to Lichtenfels.

Oh, and when in town I tried to see if there was any free wifi lurking around. My iPad saw a list of about 15 WiFi spots, several of which had very naughty names including English four-letter words and comments about people’s sexual practices. Clearly I have found the German sense of humour!

Statistics for today:

Distance: 1.42 miles
Moving time: 11 minutes
Moving average: 7.3 mph
Maximum speed: 18.58 mph
Calories burned: 74

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