As you can see from this blog post title, I made it to Koblenz today! Here’s the map of my entire route.
This is the map of my ride today.
Today was going to be a long ride (55-60 miles) so I made sure I had an early start. I hadn’t paid for breakfast with my room, the plan was to stop for something to eat at a bakery after 7 or 8 miles to help break up the riding a bit.
The lady at the reception desk where I paid my bill was very friendly and we had quite a long chat. She had worked as an au pair in Weybridge for a year so felt happy with English, although we spoke in German. She commented that I was one of the few English people she’s heard speaking German who can say the sound for ‘r’ properly – I remember ten or so years ago my German chum Stefan coaching me on how to say this letter so I have him to thank!
The receptionist and another lady from the hotel helped me put the banana bags on the bike (I had repaired the holes with a bit of insulating tape this morning). Of course it had started to rain which was a bit disappointing but the forecast was for overcast all day so it was never going to be really sunny.
I headed off westwards, arriving at Eltville after just ten minutes or so. James and I had stayed here a couple of years ago on our Bayreuth to Bingen tour and it is also familiar as I’ve been to a concert at Kloster Eberbach (up the hill from Eltville) as that’s where the famous countertenor Andreas Scholl sang as a boy (and he lives up the road from Eltville in Kiedrich). No chance of bumping into him as he was singing in Vienna last night.
James and I got lost quite a lot when riding through Eltville last time and we remembered cycling along past a very busy road so I made sure I stuck to the quiet road above the busy one, taking the main road through Erbach and ignoring the Rhein Radweg signs.
Yesterday JenM had told me that there were lots of roadworks in the villages along that route and she wasn’t wrong! When I got to Hattenheim there was a diversion for cars which took them onto the B42 (on which bicycles aren’t allowed) so I had to do some creative routefinding. Which worked, although at one point I had to go down this set of steps and, as you can see, not under the underpass!
This route north of the Rhein was liberally peppered with these underpasses to get you under the B42 and to the riverside but all of them were flooded. I stayed on dry land!
I liked this ruin peeking out behind some housing.
When I got to Oestrich-Winkel I decided it was time for breakfast and stopped at a bakery. They did a very good breakfast deal which cost me 2,90€ (the hotel breakfast would have been 8€).
It was nice to have a break and I enjoyed my breakfast at a leisurely pace before heading off again, riding past this impressive castle (I think it’s Schloss Vollrads).
There were more roadworks in Geisenheim which involved me cycling the wrong way down a no-entry and along a bit of unsurfaced road for nearly a mile. The were diversion signs given but they were all for the B42 which is not bicycle-friendly. I got away with my cycling as there were few cars about.
It was then a nice swoopy downhill into Rüdesheim am Rhein which I have visited several times and is a very attractive town. I was on a mission this time, though, to get to Koblenz so rode straight onto the ferry to cross the Rhein to Bingen.
Here’s looking across at Bingen.
Looking back at Rüdesheim and the Niederwalddenkmal. James and I got a cablecar up there many years ago.
More of a close-up of the memorial – it doesn’t have scaffolding on anymore!
Looking back at Rüdesheim with the other ferry as well.
I alighted at Bingen and was straight onto the wonderful, smooth, new cycle path that seems to finally be finished. It’s well signposted and generally better than the first time I attempted it, on my tour with Pippa. Here is the view across the river. The rain had eased off now but it was still very overcast.
Sadly this excellent cycle path only lasted for the first two miles before the dreaded, and familiar, “Hochwasser” sign appeared. Still, James and I had discussed this route last night on Facetime and he remembered that you could ride along the main road if necessary and that that was higher up. Now was my chance to try it out!
For some of the time there was a cycle path beside the road (the B9, which is the same road I took from Worms towards Mainz) but I did have to ride on the road a little bit as well, but again traffic seemed light so it wasn’t an issue.
Here is Burg Rheinstein.
The thing about this stretch of the Radweg (between Bingen and Koblenz) is that you’ve pretty much always got at least one castle in sight. A sunny day would have made the views a bit more beautiful but it was still lovely to cycle along past all the scenery!
I saw signs of flooded cycle path below and then I saw it had risen up a bit and so decided to try to cross back onto the Radweg rather than riding beside the road. I found this railway crossing andd waited patiently at the gates.
I had waited about five minutes before I noticed the little yellow box thingie. Closer inspection showed a button, which I pressed (as one does) and lo and behold the gates opened! Clearly they are normally closed and you have to request them to open.
This was the other side:
St Goar was my planned lunch stop so I was making reasonable progress and ought to be there about 12:30.
Within 200 metres the cycle path I had joined had returned to the main road so the wait for the level crossing was a bit pointless! Still, it was a lovely wide and smooth cycle path now as it was the official Rhein Radweg rather than a random alternative route.
The official route dropped away from the main road after a few miles and I had a look at it – no, not taking that option!
I was glad I’d stayed up on the main road beside the railway as this train came puffing past at high speed! I just managed to grab my camera…
And here it is disappearing off into the distance.
Here is Burg Stahleck, just above Bacharach.
Here I am looking across the river at Kaub with its Burg Gutenfels on the hill and the Pfalzgrafenstein in the river. In the middle ages this building was used to collect tolls from river traffic.
And a very common sight on this river – a huge river cruise ship!!
I approached Oberwesel, enjoying the wide and fast cycle path beside the road (the official Rhein Radweg again).
However I had to turn back once I reached these chaps who seemed to be playing about with water hoses and spraying them over the Radweg and the main carriageway. They told me to go round onto the road which I did but still got a bit wet from the hoses.
This is looking up at Schönburg at Oberwesel.
And a pair of little towers at the other end of the village.
And now I was on a long strettch of path, hugging the hill, heading to Sankt Goar and Loreley. This is looking up the river towards Loreley.
And here she is! Not that I have ever successfully identified her in the hillside!
It was time to stop for some lunch. I’d half thought about having some soup or something to warm me up (it was only 14 degrees so a bit chilly on the legs in shorts) but my attention was taken by this chocolate and rum gateau and I just had to have it!
It was incredibly light and just wonderful. Yum!!!!!!
Then it was time to get back on the road again with just over 20 miles to Koblenz.
I spent a while racing this barge but he eventually overhauled me – he must have been doing about 13mph, hugely helped by the strong current. The castle is Burg Katz.
I thought I’d take a pic of this signalling system. This is for the boats and barges and it tells them what’s round the corner so they can set themselves up for the slalom through Loreley knowing whether they’re likely to meet anything.
Lovely, smooth Radweg. Oh, and another castle! (Burg Maus)
The view was still very misty but at least the rain was holding off now.
A view of Burg Sterrenberg at Kamp-Bornhofen, opposite Boppard.
I’ve wanted to get a decent (or as decent as possible) picture of me and Alfie somewhere scenic as I’m sending a postcard to a friend who helped me out with a few things for the tour. I decided to stop a chap I could see walking along at Boppard.
“Entschuldigen Sie bitte, können Sie mir ein Gefallen tun?”
“I don’t speak German.”
Yes, I had stopped an Englishman out on a walk.
Anyway, he agreed to take some photos for me and here are the best two of me.
And here’s one without me in it!
As I headed round the meander towards Spay it all looked a bit damp up ahead.
I was on the cycle path which was the other side of the railway from the road. There was no chance of going under the railway to get to the road though, if I had wanted to!
Spay is very familiar as I have stayed there on several occasions, although this is the first time that the campsite Sonneneck, that you pass just before arriving at Spay, has been completely underwater!
This time I just rode along the riverfront at Spay, through the boat engine factory, and stopped to take a piccie of Alfie with Marksburg Castle in the background.
The cycle path was getting lower and lower and I was relieved to see a few people coming the other way. The Rhein was lapping over the asphalt.
Mind you, it’s been way higher in the past – the little marks on this arch are high water marks and several are level with the bracket for the lamp.
You really know you’re approaching Koblenz when you start on the cobbles! This was at Rhens with the big water bottling plant.
And then a sign that I’ve almost made it!
Looking down at the river (the cycle path goes there) and across at Schloss Martinsburg and Burg Lahneck, where James and I cycled last September (the Lahn river).
Rather frustratingly, the cycle path surface now turned to packed dirt with quite deep puddles! It was slippery too.
And then it was the mile through the Koblenzer Stadtwald. They seem to have improved the signposting this time as I went through it without getting lost.
I was in oh-so-familiar territory now, cycling accross the little island of Oberwerth and then joining the river front cycle/pedestrian route which has been beautifully updated over the last few years. It was finally finished and there weren’t that many people about so I could keep up a decent speed.
I’d originally thought I’d want to go straight to my hotel which is near the main station – in other words, about a mile and a half from Deutsches Eck, the key tourist point of Koblenz. But in the end I decided I wanted the proper photo of me at the end of my tour (at least the official end) so I headed on to Deutsches Eck. My legs were still reasonably strong and it was only 3:15pm.
I stopped a random chap and asked him to wield my camera, which he did. Here I am at the statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I.
Then I turned round and headed back the way I had come to the hotel.
Here are my imperial statistics for today:
I’ve lost count of cumulative distance but I think it’s pretty definitely over 600 miles/1000km.
I awarded myself some healthy food before my shower and clothes wash marathon.
After writing up this blog (mostly) I went out for an evening meal. It took a surprising amount of time to find somewhere – clearly this bit of Koblenz isn’t as touristy as momst areas – but I was able to locate a pizza and pasta house. I got some free dough balls which was handy as I’ve saved two for breakfast tomorrow (no breakfast included in this room rate).
I had a lasagne and salad.
I popped into Lidl on the way back to the hotel to get a yoghurt for tomorrow’s breakfast and then it was time to sort out my plans for tomorrow.
I had contacted the landlady of the apartment I will be living in next year in Kempen to see if it was free on Wednesday night for me to make an overnight stop. They don’t usually allow that but she said as it was me that was fine so I said I’d stay there on Wednesday night and then ride to Venlo on Thursday morning and catch the train to Hoek van Holland (or Den Haag and ride the last bit, depending on how I feel).
What proved extremely difficult was to find accommodation for tomorrow night, halfway between here and Kempen. I didn’t succeed in that Bonn is halfway and is ridiculously expensive, plus I think there might be some event on which has booked out all the hotels. So I’ve booked a scarily cheap hotel in Cologne/Köln which is a good 100km (62 mile) ride from here. If I get really tired I suppose I can cheat and jump on a train but the plan is to do the whole route from Konstanz/Bregenz to Kempen by pedal power. 60 miles in a day isn’t too bad, I did almost that today and was in the hotel by 3:30.
Anyway, I’m feeling really pleased to have reached Koblenz and sorry that the holiday is nearing an end but I am missing my dog (and my husband) and it will be nice to go home to a washing machine and to sleep in the same bed for more than one night running!