Rain stops play

It’s raining, no cycling for us today. Can you hear Kim cheering?

The year we came here for Christmas, we spent some time in the small town of Daun and bought a wooden Christmas decoration from a lovely little department store. It is one of only a few items at home that Kim has put her name in the event of divorce proceedings! The store is still there and full of things you didn’t know you needed, a great place to browse while it’s raining heavily outside.
From there we tried to find Hit Markt for John’s supermarket hit…… sorry about the pun. You would not have thought it could be so hard but the satnav packed up and the phones had limited internet access. Tempers were frayed and many circular miles were driven to find a supermarket which had been within 500m at one point. John spent a happy 30 minutes pottering around looking at German Dinkel biscuits before we decided to drive back to the Mosel for some wine tasting.

We headed towards Koblenz and stopped at Klotten to admire the neatly planted vineyards which appear to be mainly on the South slope. Obviously more research is required to understand why or if we’ve just made that up,

We’ve not had great weather today but the rain stopped long enough for us to have beer overlooking the Mosel before venturing into a small shop for a wine tasting. Our latest favourite is a dry Rivaner and the Beetle has a boot full.

We have an early start for Dunkirk tomorrow so no more from us other than to say, we understand the Tour de France started in Germany today. If you see a couple of Bromptons taking part, please be clear it isn’t us!

A day on the Mosel

The breakfast here is lovely and quite unlike any we’ve come across anywhere else, John is always captivated by the array of homemade preserves

Today, we drove into Cochem for more cycling. Our bottoms were sore but we’re heroes! The plan was to cycle down to Beilstein and catch the ferry back. As we set off, John asked ‘are you sure we’re on the right side of the river?’, Kim assured him we were.

We had a flat 7 mile cycle alongside the river and arrived to find Beilstein and the ferry on the other side. John had comments to make! We fortified ourselves with a cuppa at a campsite and all was not lost, there was a small passenger ferry to take us across the river.

We managed to catch the 12 o’clock Kolb Passenger Ferry back to Cochem.

The Bromptons caused a bit of confusion, should we be charged for them? There was some debate amongst staff before they were pronounced ‘really very small bikes’ and travelled free. They attract attention wherever they go and curious people are usually treated to a demonstration of how small they fold. Kim thinks John must be working on commission from Brompton.

The ferry ride was relaxing and the boat travelled slower than even Kim cycles which you wouldn’t have thought possible. We were treated to a commentary in German along the way, the only part that was translated into English was the historic and technical data of the Frankl lock we had to negotiate.

Finally, we rounded a bend and Cochem came into view

Back in Cochem, the bikes were stowed in the car (but not before a demonstration for a couple from Leicestershire) and we walked into town. Our target was the Sesselbahn, the cable car up to Klotten leisure park which has views across the town and river as well as looking down on the castle

We stopped at the top for a quick cuppa before descending back down.

Next stop, Nordschliefe. John has done really well to resist going before now. A visit to the Nordschliefe brought us here over 10 years ago. It may have 6 or 7 years since he drove a car round it but he is still drawn back. The car park was full of cars from around Europe, from family VWs with local plates to McLarens from the UK and Nissan GTRs from Spain – its an interesting place to sit and watch. At one point Kim was worried, John had disappeared and had the Beetle key with him…….

55 kilometres and counting….

Photos have been added to yesterday’s instalment.

Today started early, for us. If we were to cycle 55kms from Daun to Bernkastel-Kues, we had to be in Bernkastel by 10 to take the bus up to Daun – there was no way Kim could be persuaded to do the round trip, particularly as one way is all uphill.

We were parked in Bernkastel by 9:45, we’d paid for three days parking and found out where to get the bus from, how smug were we feeling? The bus journey takes 2 hours mainly because the driver has to get out and load more bikes onto the trailer he’s towing. Negotiating a bus and trailer round hairpin bends deserves a medal!

The cycle route, Maar Mosel Radweg, starts from a disused railway station in Daun and goes along the old track to Wittlich before following the Maar river down to the Mosel.

Helpfully, the cycle route has the distance written on it in 0.5km intervals. This is fantastic when you’re on a downhill section and kms fly by. However, the first 2-3 km from Daun are uphill and knowing you have another 40+km to go is not helpful. We arrived at Wittlich, for lunch, just before 3 and having cycled 35km. We then discovered it was another 20 to Bernkastel!! By the time we reached the Mosel bottoms were sore and we’d been caught in a couple of torrential downpours. Luckily after each one, the sun came out and we dried off nicely before getting soaked again. We couldn’t help but be impressed by Schloss Lieser as we cycled past. It was built for the Puricelli family in 1880s and has its own Wikipedia page…

Finally, 6.5 hours after we’d left, the castle at Bernkastel came into view. We’d last visited when we spent Christmas here with Ken and Diane. We couldn’t remember what had possessed us to walk all the way up but think it was probably Ken and Matthew egging each other on. Kim did remember that Diane gave up at the cafe halfway up and settled down for a coffee while the rest of us carried on!

Germany, here we come!

It was a long drive to Auderath, 200 miles and 3 hours, most of which was on motorways and rather boring. For the last 30 miles we resorted to our 15 year old map of Europe and recklessly ingnored the satnav. The drive through the Eifel region is glorious.

Our new route took us on familiar roads, past Altenahr and into Adenau where we stopped for a late lunch. We sat outside, under a parasol, in the rain watching the world go by before heading onwards via the Nurburgring. We stopped briefly on an access road to the Nordschliefe and watched a few cars go past. Interestingly, they were all very quiet, apart from the Aston Martins. There was a debate as to whether or the Beetle should have a quick run round the circuit..

Six hours after leaving Etten-Leur, we reached Hotel Wilhelmshoehe where we’ll stay for the next 4 nights. It’s been 6 or 7 years since we were last here. On that occasion John and Matthew took our Honda Civic for several laps of the Nordschliefe while Kim drank tea at the hotel and tried not to worry that they wouldn’t come back alive!

We were met by Jacqueline and Ulrich’s daughter who is the spitting image of her mother.

The rest of the afternoon was spent planning our cycling trips for the next few days. Suddenly a couple of 7 mile rides have turned into a 35 mile marathon. We’re assured that it’s all downhill!

John’s experience in Etten-Leur

During my five mile drive to site each morning it’s very noticable how cars give way to bikes, there are cycle paths everywhere, an absence of hills, all bikes have luggage racks and lots of secure covered cycle parking is available……… the UK has a very long way to go.

Cycle parking at the hotel.


Initial concerns about running a training course in a foreign country quickly evaporated, everyone speaks excellent English and seems to understand every word – occasionally the group reverts to speaking Dutch to discuss some detail points but then take the trouble to summarise that discussion in English, probably because I’m looking blankly at them.  Of course the only Dutch words I can remember are ‘Circuit Zandvoort’ and “Arnhem a Bridge to Far”.  Although everyone speaks English they pointed out that they do struggle with a Newcastle accent and for some reason phrases such as “Yer gannin’ proper radgie, man. Caln doon, al mek a cuppa.” seem to cause difficulty.

At lunchtime, everything stops as we briskly head to the site canteen, the idea is to get there early enough to make sure some Kroketten are still available. Dutch Kroketten are about ten times larger than croquettes found in the U.K. and seem to consist of potato together with some unidentified meat in a savoury béchamel sauce rolled in breadcrumbs. This sought after delicacy is then enthusiastically mashed onto a slice of rye bread before being eaten with a sliced boiled egg on top.


Having skilfully avoided Kroketten yesterday, my hosts encouraged me to try them today. As fast food goes it was fine but its unlikely they will feature on our menu at home.
Soup also seems very popular and my hosts were rather surprised when I declined soup to go with the Kroquettes they had acquired for me. Even the hotel has six different soups on the menu, one of which is courgette and we’re tempted to take some home for Matt!


A day in Etten-Leur

Today’s challenge was a two mile walk into Etten-Lear, there was no way I could sit on a bike again!

I do like such easy walking, the pavements are wide and it really is very flat. The main road has a series of watercourses running alongside it, I assume for drainage. They’re neatly planted with lilies, reed’s and bamboo and home to a wide range of waterfowl and amphibians. Obviously I had to stop and check out each one on my way!

The town itself felt very modern with a shiny, new shopping centre surrounded by shopping streets. Everywhere seems very clean and well cared for. I managed to find the main square where I sat opposite ‘Van Gogh’s Kerk’. Van Gogh’s father was the vicar at this church and Vincent grew up in Etten. There is a small museum, disappointingly, it only opens afternoons and not on Tuesdays so I feel I’ve missed the cultural heart of the town.

Intrepid explorer that I am, I decided to take a different route back to the hotel which took me past some interesting sights..

As far as I can work out, the stijloren is a jester and carnivals are held in his honour. If anyone can find a site that translates into English, please let me know, I’d like to know more about this weird looking man.
I walked through many different types of housing, most of which would have me searching Rightmove with a view to living here but I also saw some run down, poorly maintained housing which was a reality check. Until then, everything I’d indicated a country with high standards for everyone. The award for the most unexpected sight goes to what, in the U.K., would have been a poorly maintained grassed roundabout in the middle of a housing estate. Here it had been fenced and was an unusual wildlife haven with a small herd of fallow deer, a turkey, a peacock and a selection of geese. The picture isn’t great but at least I remembered to take one….

To help you remember that John is here with me, here’s his highlight of the trip so far…. Last night we ventured out of the hotel to find a big DIY shop next door, John loves foreign shops and this could only have been bettered by a supermarket! He’s always on the look out for the things you wouldn’t see at home, I’m not sure that we’ll get home without one….

Kim’s cycle trip to Breda

While John was working hard, I decided to cycle the  6-7 miles to Breda.

According to the receptionist, the cycle routes are great and clearly signposted, what could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, not much.  The cycle network is fantastic and, having priority over cars, takes some getting used to but makes for a easy, safe cycling. I would challenge that signage is clear but my new Cycleways app came to the rescue and a few u-turns all added to the excitement.

Breda was very pretty and I’m sorry there aren’t many photos, I was too busy looking at scenery and buildings to think about taking pictures to share. Anyway, here is one of the bike which is typical of those here. I found it very heavy and it took a while for me to realise it had gears.

Despite spending most of the day on my adventure, this is the only other photo of Breda. The cathedral was a stunning and I’m sitting with my back against it!.

I’m not sure what tomorrow’s adventure will be while John is working but I’ll try for better photos!

Our next trip starts here…..

We are heading for the Mosel, for some cycling, via Holland. John has truly become an international Health and Safety Consultant!  He’s training in Holland for a couple of days before we head back to our favourite hotel in Auderath for a few days of cycling, boat trips and walking. Kim, obviously, is hoping for more boat trips and less cycling and walking.

The Beetle was packed to bursting and, for a car that struggles to hold the weekly shop, it has been fantastic. Everything fitted! Admittedly, the only way we can get the Bromptons in is to put the roof down….

We had an effortless drive, via Eurotunnel, and the hotel is very shiny and grand unlike the train……