Our Cycle Ride Along the River Rhine
Day Twenty Two: Wednesday 17 August 2016
Woke up feeling really tired at 0530 hrs. Went back to bed but couldn't sleep. Got up at 0700 hrs. feeling even more tired so tried to sleep again for another hour before rising properly to go to the bakers shop on the site for milk and food. JP also wanted to stay on the site for another day so that was it – decision made – we'd have a rest day. Had breakfast of rolls, cheese, milk and chocolate doughnuts. I booked another night's stay at the site office and bought more food and drink to last us through the day. It was quite a cool start to the day but the sun soon broke through the patchy clouds. At least the washing has a proper chance of drying now.
Next to our tent was a single young man who worked as a scientist in theoretical physics at Tuebingen University whilst completing his PhD in capillary forces. He was escaping for a week or so without mobile telephone or e-mails to worry about.
JP and I went back to bed again after our scientist friend had left. JP slept until 1230 hrs. then went off on his travels around the campsite whilst I snoozed for another hour by which time the clothes were dry and I could pack them in our pannier bags.
JP returned for something to eat at about 1400 hrs. then buzzed off again, returning quite quickly with a mango flavoured ice cream for me.
I went for a walk around the lake. I heard JP yelling “Dad!” and saw him swimming towards me – well on his way across the full width of the lake – about 1250 metres. I was so proud of him swimming this distance, albeit worried that something might happen to him. I was very relieved when he made it across safely and wouldn't let him swim back as was his wish. Too dangerous. He walked back round to the other side with me – safer that way.
Day Twenty Three: Wednesday 18 August 2016
Day Twenty Four: Friday 19 August 2016
Campsite Freizeitparadies, between Plittersdorf and Ottersdorf to Speyer – over 60 kilometres.
We set off with good intentions that didn't work out as planned. We found our way back to the ferry and crossed the River Rhine yet again.
We knew we were in for a long haul and our hopes of achieving that were dashed because of navigational difficulties around Karlsruhe. The reason for trying this distance was because of the lack of campsites. Even though we had a map we still came unstuck several times and the signposts were no help at all – when they were to be found. We stopped for lunch and ate a Pizza (Hawaiian yet again) and downed plenty of apple juice.
We received help from several people who got us as far as around the Knielinger See area before meeting Heike who we followed over the bridge over the River Rhine south of Maxau and who suggested that we didn't have a chance of making it to Speyer that day as it was already late in the afternoon. I agreed with her and she took us to the railways station at Wőrth am Rhein. The only way of obtaining a ticket at this unmanned station was from a ticket machine – in German! Heike sorted this out for us and we obtained tickets only as far as Germershiem as there was a bus service from there to Speyer and we had no way of knowing if the bus could carry our bicycles and luggage. Getting our bicycles onto the train was much easier than in Switzerland as we could wheel them straight on board instead of lifting them up three steps.
We had a speedy and comfortable ride to Germershiem, unlike we would have had on our bicycles. At Germershiem, we disembarked and rode off round the station looking for the bus to Speyer. I asked the bus driver if his vehicle could carry our bicycles and he helped me load therm into the vast underfloor lockers. What a relief it was to see them safely stowed away. I asked him how much we had to pay and he said he couldn't issue tickets as they had to be bought at the railway station. I was just saying that I didn't know how to use the ticket machine and when he indicated that he'd take us without a ticket. Brilliant! Not only were we on board with all our kit but we were also travelling for free.
We arrived at the bus station in Speyer and unloaded all our kit and got ready for the road. We had no idea where we were or where to go so my first port of call was a Pharmacy. Pharmacies are usually a good place to go for directions as there is usually a pharmacist who can speak English. They also have an internet connection and a printer which is great for printing maps. Sure enough, we got the directions and the map we needed. It was about 1930 hrs. when we arrived at the campsite which was rather basic but would serve our purpose.
Day Twenty Five: Saturday 20 August 2016
Rest Day – Visiting Speyer.
Cold and wet all day.
We left our camp just as the rain was beginning to fall. It would be wet and cold all day. We rode into Speyer and found our way to the Cathedral.
It was nearly as dismal inside the cathedral as it was outside but shortly after we arrived a lady started to play some sort of musical instrument like a recorder, alternating with a nun who spoke / read / prayed which was pleasant enough even though we couldn't understand what she was saying. JP went off to light candles for Annelise – more than one because her light was much more than that of a candle. We walked around the cathedral taking photographs.
After our visit, we headed up the road to an open air restaurant for some lunch. JP chose chicken noodle soup and bread whilst I has some sort of goulash soup with bread. These delights were followed by some rather super ice creams. We got talking to our waitress, Leonie, who thought we were very cool guys for doing this trip.
Our next destination was the Technik Museum in Speyer where there was a huge range of aeroplanes, cars, motorcycles, steam locomotives, space equipment – including a Russian (CCCP) space shuttle and even a couple of boats – including a small submarine.
Day Twenty Six: Sunday 21 August 2016
Rest Day in Speyer
In the early hours of this morning, JP became quite ill. He had a fever and was delirious - and having nightmares. He also had a headache. I gave him Panadol from our first aid kit and nursed him through the night. He had started feeling unwell whilst we were walking round the exhibits at the Technik Museum and the final straw seemed to be the ride in a space shuttle simulator just before we left. He was insistent that he should ride in it but I don't think it did him any favours as the motion was very unpleasant. He had a bit of a struggle riding back to camp and was very pleased to get into his sleeping bag, both to get warm and to rest. He felt much better in the morning.
I left the tent about 0900 hrs to try to buy some food for us. I left JP tucked up in his sleeping bag resting, having first made sure he was feeling better. Being a Sunday in Germany means that very few, if any, shops are open. I rode off to the main road where I spotted a lady with a bicycle about to leave a building. I waited for her so I could ask for directions. She was an elderly lady but spoke quite good English and was very chatty. She took me to the only shop open in the entire area; a bakers shop where there was quite a queue of people buying food. Inside the shop, I asked the assistant if she spoke English and she found me a lady to serve me who had lived in Florida, USA, for 25 years. I bought loads of food to get us through the day - and the next! I dangled two shopping bags from the handlebars of my bicycle and headed back to our camp. What a feast.
This photograph was taken the day after, on Monday 22 August 2016. JP in good form now with some of the food I'd purchased on the Sunday.
JP rested for the day. Although there was a swimming lake and beach nearby he wasn't interested in going for a swim - that must be a first - and indicative of how unwell he felt.
The rest did both of us good as we need all our strength for the morrow.
Day Twenty Seven: Monday 22 August 2016
Speyer to Worms - we rode about 55 to 60 kilometres that included diversions when looking for a campsite.
We left the camp reasonably early for us - probably by about 1000 hrs. I asked the way to the River Rhine from the site owner and off we pedalled - I still had two bags of food dangling from my handlebars.
We crossed the dyke and dropped down onto the path beside the river.
We made good progress on this rather cold day - which got colder as the day went on with a bitterly cold wind.
Somewhere along the way we were hailed by someone sitting outside a building that may have been a beer garden or restaurant. We stopped and a lady called out to me. It was the lady who had helped me find the bakers shop yesterday morning. She told me that she had visited the camp site to see us with some Asprins for JP but because we were in our tent she felt too shy to disturb our rest. How kind.
We got to a point on the path after about 20+ km where we weren't sure where to go. This would be close to Maudach, although we didn't know it at the time. We stopped for a breather at a junction in the path where there was no indication as to which of three paths we should take. JP suggested we should ask a young lady who was sitting by a post talking on her mobile telephone. I waited for her to finish her conversation and then got talking to her. I asked her for directions to the Altrip ferry which we intended using to cross the River Rhine. She said we had to turn round and go back about 7 km. That wasn't good news. I then asked her for the directions to Worms and that proved to be more positive as we could get there via an alternative route without having to turn back for the ferry. The direction I'd intended going in would have brought us back to where we were, so it was a good job I'd asked her for help. We got going again heading to Worms.
After a short time, our friendly young lady caught us up on her bicycle (we ride quite slowly). She said she'd ride with us and show us the route around Ludwigshafen. That was areal bonus as we get lost quite easily.
Our new friend's name was Christina and she was an 18 year old university student, riding her father's old bicycle. JP, as usual, voiced his complaints about his bicycle and about me as he chatted to Christina.
We rode past the massive BASF (in the distance) on the outskirts of Ludwigshafen.
Christina rode with us for several kilometres until we passed under a road bridge which I believe was close to Petersau where we said our farewells and she set off back to near Ludwigshafen where she lived.
Just as we were about to move on, three girls from the campsite at Speyer rode past calling to us. We rode with them for the rest of our journey. They set a cracking pace which we couldn't maintain so they slowed their pace somewhat or stopped at intervals to wait. I said that, according to my guidebook, there was a campsite at Worms. We spent a great deal of time looking for it and got sent on many false directions before giving up and heading back to the city. For the second time we crossed the huge bridge into Worms following the girls on their bicycles.
We arrived at the Youth Hostel in Worms on our last legs; at least JP and I were. Two of the girls, Fancesca and Dana, seemed quite fresh and they'd cycled more miles than any of us looking for a campsite. One of the girls, Emily, also admitted that she was tired. The receptionist at the Youth Hostel told us that all the campsites had closed, so our efforts to find one really had been in vain.
Day Twenty Eight: Tuesday 23 August 2016
Sightseeing in Worms
We decided to go sightseeing today, first visiting the cathedral.
Again, JP lit some candles for Annelise, this time in the shape of a cross.
We then walked to the Luther Memorial:
We continued our walk past a memorial to infantry soldiers:
And viewed the old city walls:
Later, as it was a very hot day, unlike yesterday, we made for an ice cream place that had been recommended to us:
I left JP watching the TV and had a walk to the Jewish Cemetery: