Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fünf Fahrad Der Rheinradweg (with apologies to Enid Blyton)

Rheinradveg outside Oberwesel
A journalist, an architect, and an opera singer walked into a Weinkeller...

It seemed like a good opening line, and the roles  matched respectively our daughter, son and daughter in law. But I can't think of a good punchline so we'll just have to go with what (more or less) actually happened.

Martin had done a train trip through the UNESCO heritage section of the Rhein, so when we were discussing things to do on our family catch up visit to Europe, the Rheinradveg, part of Eurovelo 15, was the obvious choice. We met up in Koblenz, where Martin had organised to rent bikes from Fahradhaus Zangmeister. At first we were a bit apprehensive. The Zangmeister seemed to be a German version of Bernard from Black Books, peremptorily ordering a group without bookings to simply go away. However "Bernard" soon had us set up on four good solid utility bikes, and a Pedelec for me, and we were on our way.
"Bernard" does a last minute road check on Imogen's bike
The plan was to take a train to Mainz, then bike back (slightly downhill!) to Koblenz over 3 days. Deutsche Bahn is generous about carrying bikes - generally about 10 bikes per unit.
Start of the adventure - waiting to board the train at Koblenz
Our issue the first day, though, was that Germany was enduring a "Sahara Summer"with temperatures in the mid 30s Celsius.

Normally we'd make an early start, to avoid the heat. But that first day we weren't biking until 1pm and we biked from one shade spot to another. However the Rhein is "swimmable", if not by NZ standards, so we took every chance to paddle beneath centuries old castles.
Martin and Selina cool off
Many of the castles, like this one, had an interesting feature to enable medieval indoor-outdoor flow.
Recalcitrant constituents were dealt with indoors, then their remains transferred outdoors to a hanging basket as a warning to others.

Soon we'd made it to the ferry across the river to Rüdesheim, where Martin had booked us in the Hotel Post with lots of room for our bikes where the post horses had been stabled in centuries past. In the evening we took a delightful two seater cable car up over the vineyards to a view over the valley and back to Mainz.
Marg and Alastair on the cableway above Rüdesheim
Next morning we were away at a cooler time, along with much of the German cycling community. 
The Rheinradveg is truly an example of "build it and they will come"
The Radveg took delightful detours through riverside allotments, with picturesque castle backgrounds.

On the river, cargo barges competed for space with impossibly long cruise boats (some with putting greens and swimming pools on the upper decks) and kayaks.
Kayaks and Cargo on the Rhein

We reached the Weinhaus Weiler Hotel at Oberwesel before the heat became unbearable. The 1552 building was comfortable, and close to the walking route along the city walls
The team plot an assault on Oberwesel Castle
The last day from Oberwesel to Koblenz was the longest, but easier with an early start to beat the heat, and the valley opened out once we'd passed the legendary Lorelei.
Marg and Selina rehydrate on the way to Koblenz
On schedule, we made it back to Koblenz and Deutsches Eck, the symbolic end of this section of the Rheinradveg. 
Kaiser Wilhelm I, on the bronze horse, greets Selina, Marg, Alastair and Martin on iron velocipedes
We were greeted by the first Kaiser Wilhelm, noted for unifying Germany in the 1800s (and who, if he and his son Wilhelm II, had had their way, would have created the EU half a century ahead of schedule, saving everyone a lot of bother). It was time for that Weinkeller.

Next day we took the train one last time through the "Romantic Rhine" gorge to Mainz, and dispersed: in my case, home via Hong Kong and an encounter with a nasty dose of Influenza A. But that's another story...