“real generosity to the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Ok we stayed in the hotel at Meersburg exacting every inch of luxury out of it, staying until just past checkouts time of 10:30. Actually quite delightful staying in the fancy hotel with little old ladies and their tiny dogs, brought to breakfast under the table. I called various folks to update them on our progress – Günter, Bridgete, and Britta in Köln. Then it was time and this time without a friend to guide us along, explain, translate, show us the way and generally provide some excellent companionship. It was Jeanne and me and my limited German language skills.
Wondered through the see side of Meersburg and found the ferry crossing to Kanstance and the southern side of the lake, which is where the main route goes. We had detoured to the north side to visit Alfred, Bridgete, see Freidrichschafen and the Zeppelin museum, and Germany is the north side, tugs avoiding the expense of Switzerland. We found the Euro15 and Swiss route 2 route signs marking the bicycle route, and we were back in business.
Navigating the route is simple but like any navigation can be misled easily. There are bike way signs frequently and nearly every corner. One just has to be aware and find them. Then I have the Garmin GPS with Europe cycling routes loaded in, and Alfred loaded the GPX tracks in. But the problem is even though it is supposed to reroute when off course it still wants me to visit every waypoint, even backtracking to it. I just restart from current location. Thus navigation is a combination of things – GPS, signs, the maps and guide books (all in German) and the tried and true method of we are going downriver.
The interesting part is Jeanne does not have a competitive bone in her body but often ends up in front and I have to chase her down for a missed turn or course correction. She focus’s on riding and sometimes forgets to look for the signs.
It was delightful riding mostly on bike path, just cruising along. We agreed before the ride to go approximately 60 kilometers a day and now we agreed to start looking about 4 pm for a place to stay. We want to just see how it feels. If one has reservations one must either be there and it is a long day or a short day.
We made it to Diessenhofen on the Swiss side and Gallingen on the German side with a Swiss town apparently built in midevil times 1500-1600) and the bridge in 1814-1815.
We agreed to stop but did not want to cross in Switzerland. But Gailingen was definitely at the top of hill, thus we roads down the trail along river for a bit but realized no guest houses were forthcoming so back and climbed the hill.
Ended up at first guesthouse we came to for 60€ and took it with shared bath and shower. Overlooked town square and delightful. Sat out on terrace where wifi was available and drank a delightful beer. Then on to a restaurant for dinner deciding to try somewhere else to eat. Lovely outdoor restaurant with incredible food. Am loving this restaurant which is leisurely. Dinner was nearly 3 hours long. Sit, talk, drink, enjoy and oh yes savor some delightful food. Not rushed in the least. I remember coming back from South America and going to a German restaurant in Plano, Texas and feeling rushed through, like the restaurant was a factory. Here it feels comfortable to just order a beer and sit and enjoy even if it takes hours.
But onward. Breakfast at the guesthouse (included) and down the hill back to the Rhein route, and toward Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls, a major attraction. People told us it is no Niagra falls but it is spectacular. I have not seen Niagra falls and it is not high on my list but waterfalls are each one wonderful and different. The Rhine here averages 22000 cubic feet per second so is a big river and the falls are impressive.
One incident nearly disastrous when we came up to an intersection on the road. We were behind a car and traffic ligh from the road we were to join, but I could not see one for our direction. I figured I just could not see it and waited behind the car in front. He took off and I thought I saw the oncoming cars light turn red but when I reached the middle of street a car was bearing down on me from the right with no apparent desire to stop. I was at speed now turning left and a car was coming from the right with also no apparent desire to stop. I made it, but what the $:&!?)&. Alas things are different here. There was a light on main road but none from the road we came from. The car in front had seen a clearance and took it. Unfortunately it was not a green light and I nearly changed our trip.
Then on stopping at grocery store for lunch supplies. More fun to just stop and picnic at trail side. The grocery store had well used bicycle parking right at the door. The carts were locked and you put a coin in and it unlocked the chain. When done you return the cart reconnect the chain and your coin is returned.
Then onward thinking we might get to Waldshut but probably not. Well soon we were riding along the Rhein route alongside the river riding watching people swim and enjoy the water. The river is incredibly clean and apparently great to swim and boat, although we have not tried as yet.
Then we were at Waldshut and it was hot, and the town center is uphill, from the trail along the river. Before we knew it we had passed it by, although now looking and the heat becoming oppressive in the 80s with humidity. And no hotels, all full. Waldshut was at about 50 kilometers for the day and after numerous stops and side trips and questions and heat and very tired, we made it to Luttingen a very tiny village before Laufenburg. Numerous hotels and guest houses and people had told us places ahead and given directions and distances. Almost all were wrong. No more than 200 meters was 2 kilometers, 2 kilometers was 4 and sometimes there was nothing there. Alas part of the adventure but we were hot tired and cranky, but I might add still getting along.
We went a total of 76 kilometers when the Hotel Kranz turned up, and it was delightful. Good beer, good shower, good wifi, and very pleasant staff. Seems every place we stay (except the one in Tamins, before Chur) the staff has been very excited and appreciative when we like it. It is as if they are personally involved, and not just a job.
They said part of the reason the hotels are full in this area is it is holiday time, but also the nuclear plant requires yearly maintenance and it is done in August. So hotels full of the workers.
Another incredible dinner and meal and talked with three ladies also riding the Rhein route but going up to the Bodensee where one has a sister living. They commented how the river is very clean now which was not true 20-30 years ago. Perhaps the world is realizing we cannot just dump our waste.
And she mentioned she had been to the United States and found it disconcerting all the lakes were private access. Here it is public all along the beach and accessible. (Think Lake Tahoe, California, Flathead Lake in Montana, Kenai river in Alaska, or even Kenai Fjords National Park. All private beach access) Folks have come to realize the importance of nature and access here, not just who has the money and the rest of you stay away. (I had the same complaint when riding the great divide 3 years ago). Alas!
Then today and not wanting to get burned again with no hotel picked one from booking.com hoping it to be about 60 K away. Some said it was 40 to Basel the maps said 55 so whatever. We opted for Weil am Rhein because it was in Germany and avoided Switzerland and we could shortcut bypassing the city. Could have stayed in St.Louis France but that meant going through Basel.
And a delightful day even though the temperature did hit 37 degrees on my Garmin. (High 90s Fahrenheit for those still using that old system) we could never tell where we would be riding sometimes along a great forest road along the river sometimes small villages and near Basel forests and below train overpasses. Criss crossed the river numerous times sometimes in Switzerland (did not have to buy anything) and Germany finally crossing into Germany for final time just before the hotel. We did 57 kilometers and arrived at the delightful time of 2:30. Sweating and tired but the room is huge and we have been downing Radlers (half lemon aid and half beer) and straight beer.
The beer here in Germany is great, but almost always local. Not a microbrew with numerous choices of tastes, but a Hefeweizen or sometimes and ale. It is made and sold only regionally. But always good. I remember living in Germany for a few months in 1967 and coming home. My dad offered me a beer when home either an Olympia or a Coors and I remember saying “What is this?”. Made me glad I was underage and did not have to drink that stuff. Have disliked “those beers” ever since. So many choices in the world why drink bad beer.
And we now have gone 483 kilometers of the supposed 1300 for the entire route. Our map says this past part was 435 kilometers although we we on the north side of Bodensee and did go to Alfred’s and Bridgete. One article said it was 250 kilometers. Whatever we had fun and a third of the way.