is an 18-day, 592-mile, 953-kilometer in Germany but adding the portion
in Holland it becomes an 21-day, 693-mile; 1,116-kilometer bicycle tour
along one of the most important rivers in Europe. That said, we choose to
accomplish it in four stages, the first in 2002 and last two German stages
in 2003. Finally, the Dutch stage was in 2010. It is possible to get too
much of a good thing all at once.
2002. In my opinion, the “Hochrhein”
or upper Rhine from Constance to Basil is beautiful and interesting. Although
there are some small hills to climb there are also some nice drops. The
landscape is of rolling hills, small forests, rivers, streams, fields and
June 2003. The route from
Basil to Mainz is sometimes called the Middle Rhine. Except for the cities
of Strasbourg, Speyer and Worms, it is just another German river route.
Those cities make the trip worthwhile. We did not take the side trip to
Freiburg but we considered it seriously. I would like to go back someday
and see that town, which nestled into the Black Forrest. I bet it is as
picturesque as Stein am Rhein.
2003. In Mainz, the trip
gets interesting again. The 102 kilometers through the Rhine Gorge, between
Mainz and Koblenz, is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of Europe.
Perhaps it is because of all the castles (18 visible but 23 close by) or
perhaps the landscape but in any event, the views are to die for. The south-facing
slopes are covered with vineyards and wine tasting is almost mandatory.
This area is pregnant with history. You will see many castles on both sides
of the river, even a couple built right in the river. Several short riding
days makes for a lot of sightseeing. Obviously, one could bike either faster
or slower depending on your preference and ability. Yes there are some minor
hills past Mainz but this is one of the flattest rides we have taken in
Germany. The “Neiderrhein” or Lower Rhine has the densest population,
especially between Bonn and Dortmund. But once you pass those cities, the
landscape becomes pastoral again as you approach the Dutch border. Most
of the hills are before Basil and most of the gravel path is between Basil
and Mannheim. Sure the rest of the tour has a few small hills and a few
short chunks of gravel but not enough to fret about.
In 2010, we finally completed
the river by riding the portion in the Dutch Netherlands. The landscape
is flat and the small villages are quite different in character than their
German counterparts. At the border, the Rhine splits into three estuaries.
We followed the Waal, the largest and coincidently the shortest of the three.
The signage changes several
times. I will try to present a photograph of the signs as we ride along
but there are so many different types of signs, I know that I do not capture
all of them. As with other long rides that cross political borders, every
government wants to promote their own unique bike path sign. The blue square
with Rhein/Rhin atop it seems the most prevalent.
We had no trouble finding
good accommodations. It seems they are plentiful along this well ridden
bike path. As a choice, we like Zimmer (advertised as Zimmer
Frei) but there are also Gasthäuser (Guest Houses), Pensionen
(pensions or bed and breakfasts), Jugendherbergen (Youth Hostels),
and hotels. For a complete discussion of the different types of accommodations
and tips on reservations, see my
Overnight Accommodations page.
short list would include Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen, Basil, perhaps Freiburg,
Strasbourg, Speyer, Worms, Mainz, Rüdesheim, Bacharach, Koblenz, Bonn, Köln,
and Emmerich. In Holland, the stops include The Hague, Rotterdam, and Dordreck.
There are, of course, many other small cities, each with its own history
and charm that can be richly enjoyed.
We used three different
on this tour. Rhein-Radweg, Teil 1; Rhein-Radweg, Teil 2; and Rhein-Radweg
Teil 3. All were in the scale of 1:75,000. These guidebooks not only
have maps but if they are recently published, the guide to accommodations
in the back is quite helpful.
Back to the
Our tour starts at the
end of our Lake Constance tour in Stein
am Rhein. We leave here mid afternoon so our first day is pretty short.
Nevertheless, the mileage is as accurate as our poor cyclometers can make
it. Today’s ride is paved but just a little hilly. The first hill is the
steepest and it is just outside of Stein am Rhein. We share a low traffic
road with a few cars for most of the day.
Leaving Stein am Rhine,
we quickly climb on gravel path some 160 feet into the forest. We cross
the German/Swiss border at mile 3.4 (5.4 km). There is no one to stamp my
passport here. it is a shame if you collect passport stamps like I do. We
had planned to overnight in Gailingen but upon arriving it is such a nice
day and since we are not at all tired, we push on. It is threatening rain
though and we know we are stretching our luck.
We are in Büsingen,
an enclave of Germany and completely surrounded by Switzerland. We spoke
briefly with a local woman who expressed (somewhat strongly) that most of
the people do not like their village being an enclave. They want, for several
practical reasons such as fire protection, taxes, etc., to be part of Switzerland.
However, Germany, according to her, is not likely to allow them to change
their allegiances. We could overnight here in Büsingen in Der Adler, right
in the center of town but we decide to push on. We later realize that is
a mistake. There aren’t any accommodations in Germany for several miles.
And the thunderclouds seem to be getting darker and closer as we ride along.
But for now at least, we are still riding in the sunshine.
We decide to give
up on our insistence not to spend Swiss Franks by taking a hotel in Switzerland.
We are a little tired now and it is getting late in the afternoon. Our experience
warns us that we should find a room before 5:00 PM or risk not finding one
until quite late. So, just after crossing the Rhine at Schaffhausen, we
pull up in Neuhausen, Switzerland for the evening. And just as we are settled
in the hotel, it rains cats and dogs for half an hour. Our timing is perfect.
In German, there is a saying that goes like this, “When you travel with
angels, good things happen to you.” I do not know which one of my three
riding partners is an angel but it seems to be working. We choose Gasthaus
Frohsinn in Neuhausen. The cost is 131 Swiss Franks per room per night.
It is quite pleasant.
Leaving Schaffhausen, we
climb a steep hill to the top of the plateau above the Rheinfalls. Thereafter,
there are some rolling hills, even some nice drops but not much in the way
of hills to climb. This makes us all happy. Actually, towards the end of
today, we do get into some steeper rolling hills but nothing we have to
push up. We do not take many pictures today because of the overcast – they
just do not turn out well.
We cross the Rhine after
leaving the hotel and start our cyclometers at the river. We are picking
our way along the river trying to get a good view of the Rheinfalls. The
falls are at mile 1.3. Supposedly, this is the largest falls on the Rhine.
At high water, and today the water is fairly high, these falls are quite
a sight. We try to find a good vantage point from the right bank. There
is a good view from the left bank but the Swiss Tourism industry has done
an outstanding job of blocking all view of the falls unless you pay several
franks to see it from one of the castles they have commandeered for that
purpose. I am too stubborn to pay to look at a waterfall so we try to catch
it from the other riverbank. As you can see, we do not do too badly either.
Leaving the Rhine,
we climb 250 feet to the top of a hill and opt for the alternate route toward
Jestetten. This is to avoid a drop and another uphill but at the same time,
we are avoiding another good view of the Rhine too. Well, one has to make
choices in life. You cannot have everything, and I would rather have happy
women than another view of the river.
After crossing back
into Switzerland between Lottstetten and Rafz, we drop gently into this
agricultural community and notice several large Hofhäuser or buildings
that are part house and part barn. This type building is common throughout
many of the German farming villages. Finding our way through Rafz is interesting.
The problem is that there are too many bicycle path signs. It is easy to
become confused. There is a good bike shop here and these people will understand
if you get lost and they will point you in the right direction if you do
lose it (I am talking about your way, not your breakfast). Switzerland has
a reputation for being clean and true to its reputation, it is. We have
seen several street sweepers, even small machines used to clean the sidewalk.
Also, pet owners seem to have good habits of cleaning up after their dogs.
We have noticed many stands along the path that hold plastic bags for picking
up after dogs. And, unlike New York, people actually use them as intended.
We ride into Waldshut.
This is an unremarkable town except for the huge factory that we ride past.
We learn that it is closed and mostly abandoned. It is contaminated with
pollutants and the powers that be have decided just to fence it in instead
of spending millions to clean it up. Also here in Waldshut, the river takes
on a muddy appearance for the first time. Perhaps it is from the rain we
have had in the region and the Aare River that joins the Rhine here is full
of silt where the Rhine has thus far been clean.
We stop for the
night at Hotel Engle in Luttingen just east of Laufenburg. Actually, we
ride past it all the way to the Rathaus where we check for accommodations.
We are advised to backtrack 2.4 miles to this suburb of Laufenburg where
we are quite satisfied with our lodgings. The address is Luttinger Str.
34, telephone 07763-7104, For € 50 per room, double occupancy (the cost
for two people to spend one night), and the bathrooms are in the rooms,
it is nice.
In the evening, as we enjoy wine and snacks on the veranda, we meet Manfred.
He is a slightly crazy employee of the Austrian Railroad who - to celebrate
his 40th birthday - took a solo bike trip to Portugal. He took the train
to Portugal but he is riding back pulling an extremely heavily loaded bike
trailer. Much of the load is Spanish rice, 9 pounds, and 4 kilos of Portuguese
wine, over 8 pounds. He covers 100 plus kilometers per day, coasts downhill
at breakneck speeds (60 km/hr), and pulls that heavy trailer over the Pyrenees
Mountains. That is crazy! But he is fun to talk with; I just would not want
to ride with him.
Back to the
Bike path signs are spotty
but by keeping an eye on the river and your map you will get by nicely.
A few short steep hills today, especially if you overnight in Bamlach as
we did. That one could be circumvented by stopping in Bad Bellingen but
you’ll miss the Hotel Storchen, a nice place in Bamlach. And you will miss
a nice steep drop the next morning into Bad Bellingen.
We start out from our
hotel in Luttingen, a suburb of Laufenburg. Laufenburg has a nice little
Altstadt (Old Town) with narrow, windy, cobblestone streets and
Bad Säckingen. The
bridge here is the oldest bridge of its kind in Europe. It was built in
the late 18th Century and it connects Stein, Switzerland with Germany. There
has been a bridge over the Rhine since the year 700. Also, the large regional
church, called a Münster, is in the late Rococo style, it is impressive
inside. We shopped the market here in Bad Säckingen hunting and gathering
our lunch materials. We sampled smoked trout, herring in cream sauce, huge
pretzels or as they call them here Bretzeln. As we get ready to
leave, Maxa points to my crotch and says, “you’re coming out!” Vivi-Anne
quickly averts her eyes. Glancing down, I see that part of me is trying
to escape my Lycra bike pants through a split seam. A quick change is certainly
required. How long have I been wandering around a crowded marketplace with
split pants? I do not know; I do not notice anyone staring but it is not
like they would come up to me and mention it either. God, another embarrassing
moment; my life seems full of them. In case you wonder, no, I do not have
a photograph of the split.
The photograph here
is of the gatehouse of Schloβ Beuggen. Up a steep pitch at kilometer 33
and we stop for lunch with a view of the Swiss version of Rheinfelden. When
the locals here wish you a good appetite, they say, “Ein Gute,” short for
ein guten Appitit. If they want to wish you a good afternoon, they
will say, “Tag,” which is short for Guten Tag. Just so
you know what is being wished to you as you happily munch on the purchases
you acquired at the market in Bad Säckingen. I am happy I had changed my
bike shorts or I might have mistaken the comment for meaning something else.
After a kilometer
of clay path alongside the railroad track, we turn right at the soccer field
in Wyhlen. A local tells us that kids have vandalized the signs though town
so we have to navigate carefully with our map.
We enter Basel riding
along the non-existent shoulder of a busy street. Crossing the river, we
visit the Old Town area and have three cups of coffee and a tea in an outside
café on the Rathaus Platz. Our server tells us the cost is €19 but she gives
us our change in Swiss Franks. We are about to leave Switzerland and have
no need or use for Franks but what can you do, it is the currency of the
realm. All in all, we wish we had our money back and they had kept their
coffee. We felt like they gouge the tourists here a bit too much.
Crossing the Rhine
on the Mittlere Brücke, we make our way back toward the German
border, which we cross at kilometer 59.
We stop for the
night at Gasthaus/Hotel Storchen in Bamlach. Rooms cost €52 for two people
for one night. It is quiet, clean, and provides a great view of the surrounding
valley. They are closed Thursdays. The specialty of Gasthaus Storchen is
liver with Rösti, a type of deep fried mashed potatoes like tater
For the last 20 kilometers, we have been riding atop the dike on a hard
packed gravel path. We could see the river occasionally but there is not
much boat traffic anyway. The trail reminded me of a green tunnel with the
trees occasionally touching overhead. It is hot today so the shade was welcome.
Perhaps it was the heat that addled our brains a bit a when we met a group
of senior citizens walking on the trail. We asked them about accommodations
in the area. They recommended Bamlach because it was right here (they pointed
to the right). We turned off the trial and climbed a steep pitch where we
found a tunnel under the railroad tracks. After pushing our bikes about
100 meters through the narrow, damp (running water on the cement floor),
dark tunnel, we emerged into sunlight to stare almost straight up a 300
foot hill. It is so steep we almost cannot push our bikes. In fact, Eckhard
and I had to help Maxa and Vivi-Anne because it was just too steep for them.
Never in my life had I tried to climb such a steep hill pushing a bike.
We must have climbed 220 feet in an eighth of a mile. We make it off the
footpath and finally to a street. Then we continued a climb (but at least
we could pedal) up hill to the local Gasthaus. I will admit, the
effort was worth it. The accommodations were reasonable, the food was quite
good and we were glad to be done for the day. I’ll bet those senior citizens
had taken a bus down to the dike. They sure did not walk or they would have
warned us about the hill.
Flat, flat, flat all day
long. Get used to it. There probably will not be any hills until you get
back home. There is a fair amount of gravel today. In fact, we avoid the
monotony of riding on the gravel path atop the dike by taking the alternative
path shown in the guidebook at mile 37. Plan on stopping and looking around
a little in Burkheim.
Starting at the Storchen,
we pedal once and then coast 3.2 kilometers into Bad Bellingen. Here, on
the Rhine bike path, I zero my cyclometer.
We found a small
wire pen with several small spotted deer inside. Cute! We have been riding
gravel path up on the dike all morning. Not too many ships to see because
they are all a few kilometers west of here in France on the Rhein/Rhin Canal.
Breisach is a good
lunch stop. Ahead, we take the alternative route to Burkheim. Burkheim is
a typical small German village. Built during the Renaissance, the Rathaus
sports a Hapsburg coat of arms because for 500 years, it was under the protection
of the Austrian Hapsburgers.
The photograph to the right shows an unusual path condition that we encountered
along the way. We had to pedal through a spillway of a small dam.
We stop for the
night in Niederhausen, a part of the Rheinhausen community. We check out
several establishments but settle on Gästehaus Schröeder for €37 a room.
We have to share a bathroom but the rooms are just as clean and big as the
Hotel Hirsch across the street that charges €50. So we save enough for a
couple extra Biere at Hotel Hirsch where we dine this evening.
Gästehaus Schröeder is at Hauptstrasse 30, 79365 Rheinhausen 2-Neiderhausen,
Again today, the terrain
is flat but there is not as much gravel path today because we opt to ride
into France and most of the way is on pavement. The highlight today is the
city of Strasbourg, headquarters city for the EU, European Union. The government
buildings can be boring but inner city and the cathedral are well worth
We stay on the alternate
route to Rust (2.8 km) where we find the “Europapark,” a private amusement
park similar to Six Flags in the USA. Rust is a good size town with lots
of lodgings but undoubtedly more expensive than Rheinhausen. We are surprised
that there are no listings in the bikeline guidebook for Rust.
We use the free ferry
at Rhinau to cross into France. Again, avoiding the somewhat boring gravel
path atop the dike and through the “green tunnel” if we had stayed in Germany.
Our goal is to connect up with the left bank path and ride into Strasbourg.
The Canal du Rhöne au Rhin appears to be a bit boring too. Paved but straight
as an arrow. We choose to live a little on the wild side (chuckle) and ride
down road D-20 to Gerstheim at mile 12. The path signs change in France
to that shown here.
After joining bike
path along the Canal du Rhöne au Rhin we stop for coffee in Plobsheim and
have one of those memorable travel experiences. What fun!
Asking for directions to a café we promptly bump into the language barrier.
A very patient woman at a bakery helps direct us with hands and feet and
a few words of English to balance our precious few words of French through
town to a café. It turns out to be one of those neighborhood places where
the elderly retired 'boys,' complete with berets and walking sticks,
gather for their morning beer, wine, or schnapps. They enjoy some lively,
hand waving, conversation with their friends. As we enter, we are immediately
marked as English speakers and one of the gentlemen rises from the table
of regulars to announce - in English - that if we need help, he can certainly
provide it. Maxa thinks he is showing off his language skills to his friends
but we are glad for the local contact, nonetheless. As we converse, we notice
that this establishment only serves things to drink until noon, when lunch
is served. We order our beverages but remark that we are disappointed that
we cannot enjoy croissants along with the Café au Lait (coffee
and milk) and tea. The kind gentleman bows deeply and informs us of a
Boulangerie just around the corner. “But we cannot bring food from
another store into this café, can we?” We ask. “But of course.” He assures
us, smiling widely with his one remaining tooth. We think he might be stating
something that the owner of the café would rather not have adopted into
Anyway, it turns out the Boulangerie is closed this day so we
are spared the potential embarrassment of trying to please our new friend
but annoying the proprietor. What a cute establishment though. The worn,
gingham tablecloths had been darned and worn through again. They were faded
but spotlessly clean. The floor had been scrubbed so hard for so many years
that the planks were dished and rough. And the restrooms; so tiny that you
had to make up your mind what you were going to do before you go inside,
because there simply is no room to turn around once you pass the door. Door?
Did I say door? There was no door on the men’s room. Also, no sinks in the
room with the toilets. The single sink located between the men’s and women’s
toilet rooms and has a full view of both. Women could carry on a conversation
with the men who were standing there, facing the wall. Privacy is not likely
to happen here. So if you go, be quick about it and quite. Wash your hands
upon exiting because the whole café has a view of the sink too. Not that
anyone keeps track, you understand. One obvious benefit, you know the staff
washes their hands; they have no choice given the audience. The normal condition
in Western Europe can be characterized as, “sometimes not modern but almost
As we get close to the center of town, we find a place to lock our bikes.
A friendly local tells us about bicycle theft being rampant here and this
city has more than its share of pickpockets. So, forewarned, we adjust our
clothing and take our bikes with us as we walk the inner-city center. The
is a special type of cathedral in the center of the city and is well worth
seeing. We take turns going through it and guarding the bikes outside. There
is a particularly interesting astrological clock inside. Our guidebook mentions
there is a Spiel or a little show at 12:30 PM.
After leaving Strasbourg
by following bike path signs to La Wantzenau, we ride past a zoo with more
of those cute spotted deer. They also have rabbits, peacocks, and other
We ride across a
long bridge back to the German side of the Rhine.
We stop for the
night in the village of Freistett, just northwest of Rheinau. We stay at
zum Waldhorn (€58 for two people for one night). It is about a kilometer
from the bike path.
Today’s path is flat and
lots of gravel path along the dike. Eckhard and Vivi-Anne drop off in Karlsruhe
and fly home. But they will join us again on the Rhine next year in Koblenz
which even though it looks as if we rode this river in one continuous ride,
we took a some breaks, one for a whole year (not counting the Dutch portion).
We commence our mileage
readings when we get back to the bike path.
This is the point
on the bikeline guidebook map where the alternate gravel path starts.
The alternate follows the dike just outside of Hügelsheim. We opt for the
yellow, paved road but the traffic is heavy enough that if I had it to do
over again, I would have remained on the gravel path.
Elchesheim, a 900-year
We are crossing
the Rhine at Karlsruhe. This after getting lost in the Rheinhafengebiet,
which translated means the Rhine Harbor District. In Karlsruhe, we say
tschüβ (bye) to Eckhard and Vivi-Anne. They are taking the train
from here to Mainz and from there a short 30 kilometer ride into Frankfurt
where they will trade their bikes for an airplane back to the states.
We have been checking
for overnight lodgings since we left Karlsruhe. No luck – everything is
occupied. We are told that there is a large manufacturing facility in the
area being rebuilt by workers from all over Germany. These workers have
booked all the accommodations in all the villages for miles. We decide to
take a chance and leave the trail here where the road to Jockgrim intersects
the bike path and see if there are any rooms there. If we are wrong, we
have ridden 12 kilometers out of our way for nothing. Fortunately, we find
the last room available. The establishment is called the Elephant. It is
clean, tiny and at €36, quite affordable. We share the bathroom with three
other rooms, each of which houses a factory worker. They get up at 5:00
AM, we were to learn. Also, there is no breakfast served. Nevertheless,
Jockgrim is a pretty little town that wraps itself around a steep valley.
It has lots of half-timbered homes and buildings but no bakeries. Bummer.
That means we will have to bike a while before breakfast tomorrow morning.
Again today the path is
flat and paved. The biggest hill (50 feet) is climbing onto the bridge after
you leave Speyer. As we get further into Central Germany, the activity and
the density of population increases.
After riding 6 kilometers
back to the cycle path, I zero my cyclometer at the intersection of the
road to Jockgrim and the cycle path where we left it last evening.
Just as we enter
Lingenfeld, we encounter a steep 30 foot hill, probably the only one today.
At the bottom, we met a fellow in a wheelchair pulling a trailer loaded
down with a tent and camping gear. It is the kind you pedal it your arms.
At least he was pedaling with his arms but I am sure I could not pedal it
very far with my arms. He too has ridden the same path we have been on all
the way from Lake Constance. He is pedaling his wheelchair to Holland. And
I thought we were adventuresome – Ha! We are wimps by comparison.
In Speyer, we check
out the Speyerdom or the Speyer Cathredal. We find it a modest
Romantic structure seemingly lacking in aggrandizements. Nevertheless, Speyer
has a colorful history and was for years during the Middle Ages an important
seat of power and the headquarters of the areas Bishop.
This is Schloss was a hunting palace for the princes of the Phalz
(Palatinate). Its gardens are one of the largest Baroque gardens in all
of Europe. Mozart has played here.
At the Bahnhof in
Mannheim, we meet Judith Forsyth who with her husband Neil have written
several bicycle guidebooks. See my Links page for
a link to their web page. They entertain us for the evening at their home
with generous helpings of Spargel (white asparagus that is in season
in early June) and a walking tour through the suburb of Viernheim. The picture
is of Judith on her folding Bromley bicycle that she and Neil ride all over
Europe, even over the Alps.
Today is pretty flat but
there are a few small hills (20 feet or so) just out of Nierstein, south
of Mainz. Most of the ride is on bike paths or lightly traveled roads. There
are short sections of gravel but nothing dangerous. The country is beautiful
and the villages picturesque but we do not stop for sightseeing. I guess
when we are by ourselves, we just keep on truckin’ down the road. Perhaps
that says that we need companions to help us to stop and smell the roses.
We start the day in Viernheim.
Unfortunately, this is not anywhere near where you might start it. We are
about 10 kilometers northeast of Mannheim and to get back to the bike path,
we must ride through a military Installation. We do so without problem even
though 9-11-01 is just a few months ago. However, for the ease of those
who follow, by studying our map, I note that we will join the bike path
in Lampertheim at a point just 14 kilometers north of the Mannheim Bahnhof.
So, if you start at the Bahnhof or thereabouts, we will meet up there.
Bike path in Lampertheim,
just north of the gravel stretch. North of here we ride through several
onion fields and they are being worked by a farmer on his tractor. My eyes
tear from the onion fumes wafting from the fields. It is as if I were
slicing onions in the kitchen.
Worms. After crossing
the bridge, we are at Niebelungen Strasse. From here we visit the Dom
(Cathedral) and find it so ensconced into the center of the city that it
is not possible to take a picture that shows off its grandeur well. The
Kaiserdom Saint Peter was built during the 11th and 12th Centuries. (Yes,
Virginia, it did take a while to build churches back then.) The Dom
is well decorated with Gargoyles and Grotesques and it made me wonder what
purpose they performed. So, I found a website that explains the history
and use of Gargoyles well. At
you will learn that no one really knows but there are suppositions that
they were to ward off evil sprits and/or tell stories to the illiterate
church goers. Probably more than any other purpose, they were just art that
the stonemasons used to express their individuality and creativity. A sort
of stone signature that other stonemasons could see and appreciate.
The pretty little
town of Mettenheim. I love the steep pitched, red-tile roofs and the quaint
old brick buildings. And I will bet that in the fall, the colors of the
vineyards and the trees make this a poster perfect village. For the next
several kilometers, we will be riding through wine country. The photograph
is looking down a road near Oppenheim shortly before entering Nierstein.
is a picturesque village tucked perilously between mountain and river. It
seems like the mountains are lifting up the back part preparatory to sliding
the whole thing into the Rhine. They make a brandy in Nierstein (in German
a brandy or cognac is Weinbrand) called
This VSOP brandy is hard to find even in Germany because it is made in such
small quantities. But it is the elixir of the gods if you like smooth, well
balanced brandies. Better than many of the expensive VSOP brandies out of
Cognac, France. This is just my opinion but many in my family agree. The
photograph credits are to Wein- und Sektkellerei, Jakob Gerhardt, Nierstein.
At some mileage point we enter Mainz. It is a little hard to tell exactly
where but it does not matter really. Mainz was where Herr Gutenberg invented
his printing press in about 1450. Mainz has also been a center of political
and religious power for centuries. One convenient and succinct link about
We quit for the
day at the Mainz Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station). Truth be known,
we stopped this tour for the year 2002 here and took the train to our home
base in Kassel. What follows below is when we picked up this river the following
year in 2003. Since most people will be riding some section of the Rhine
anyway, we will just continue as if it were one very long river tour.
It is a short ride today
– less than 16 miles. Actually it is short because we are continuing our
Rhine tour a year later than when we ended it on Day 8. We stopped last
year (2002) in Mainz and we are in Mainz again (2003) as we complete the
Main River tour from its source in Bayreuth to the
confluence with the Rhine. Nevertheless, if you are using train travel to
get to Mainz or Frankfurt to start the tour, you may well find Eltville
a convenient place to stop for overnight lodgings. The main recommendation
for Eltville, is Frau Jensen’s B & B. The riding conditions on this
side are poor. We share the road with traffic, sometimes heavy traffic,
much of the way. The bikeline guidebook recommends the left bank
– I would concur – if it were not for Frau Jensen’s B & B.
Still following the blue
Rhein – Rhin international European Union style bike path signs, we set
our cyclometer to zero at the Theodore-Heuss-Brücke (the main bridge over
the Rhine into Mainz). From Mainz we opt to follow the right bank of the
river so we can see Rüdesheim which is across form Bingen. Interestingly,
since the confluence of the Main River with the Rhine, we have been following
signs of the Rheingauer-Riesling Route. The vineyards on this south facing
slope of the Rhine Valley belong to the Rheingau wine growing region. Many
famous vintners are located here with perhaps the most commonly know being
Schloss Johannisberg and perhaps Johannisberg Klaus.
In Eltville, we stop
for the night at the B & B of Frau Jensen, Lönsweg 3, Eltville, Phone
06123-2485. She charges 60 for double occupancy (the cost for two people
to spend one night) but for only 65 you get a three room apartment. The
breakfast is the most fantastic we have ever seen - huge quantities and
the highest of quality. Wow! The only drawback, if there is one, is that
Frau Jensen’s home is a little hard to find because the street she lives
on is quite small and uphill (60 feet) from the main street of Eltville.
Hey, I would sure come back if ever I find myself in Eltville again. On
the first weekend of July every year, Eltville hosts a Champaign festival.
We ride through beautiful
countryside looking up at the high mountains of the Taunus whose lower south
facing slopes are clothed with the vineyards of the Rheingau. The path is
mostly flat with a few low hills (20 feet) and mostly paved. Crossing to
the left bank in Bingen, we watch lots of barges and watercraft on the river
as we ride through scattered showers. Germany is a green country; it is
green because it rains a lot. The path is mostly gravel between Eltville
and Rüdesheim. Again, the recommendation by bikeline is for the
left bank of the Rhine. From Bingen, the path is both paved and flat. Most
of it is on a designated bike path but the path is always close to or on
the shoulder of the busy highway that follows the river through the steep
walled Rhine Gorge. Here is a list of the castles, etc. that one sees in
order of appearance: Starting in Bingen, Burg Klopp, Mäuseturm, Burg Rheinstein,
Burg Sooneck, Burg Stahleck, Werner kapelle, Burg Pfalz, Burg Gutenfels,
Castle Schönburg, Lorelei Rock, Burg Katz, Burg Rheinfels, and
Burg Maus. There are others as well but they are just out of sight from
We start today at the
same place in the center of Eltville where we stopped our cyclometer last
is a cute touristy town. One can see castles, monuments and museums of winemaking
in the Rheingau. It just has too many t-shirt shops and tour busses for
my liking. The Drosselgasse is the main shopping street. It is frequently
crowded during mid-day. Try taking the cable car up to the Niederwald Monument
that celebrates German Unity after the Napoleonic Wars. Since 1990, it has
new meaning for Germans – unity of the east and west Germanys. From here,
we cross to Bingen on the ferry. The cost is €1.80 per person with bikes.
The photograph on the left is Phalzgrafenstein Phalz im Rhein with Burg
Gutenfels in the background. On the right is Schloss Burg Rheinstein.
experience a flat tire between Bingen and Bacharach. We have been riding
hard since Bingen trying to outrun a nearly black cloud that popped up over
the Taunus Mountains but because of the flat tire, we are caught in a rain
shower. We take shelter in a tunnel under the railroad track and wait for
it to blow over. We are amazed at the number of castles we can see. Several
places give us view of two or three at once. One of the most famous castles
is the Mouse Tower that is built right in the river. Its owner, a bishop,
mercilessly burned a group of beggars and was then attacked by swarms of
mice as God’s punishment for his evil deed. At least that is the fable.
This is Bacharach
and it is guarded by Burg Stahleck. The Burg, or castle, also serves as
a youth hostel or Jugendherberge. (On my Links
page, you can find a link to the German youth hostels.) In Bacharach we
take shelter from another shower. But this time, we sit under an umbrella
in a Biergarten and do what one is suppose to do in a Biergarten.
(Grow beer from a seed? Nope! Try again.)
The photograph on the left is of St. Goar.
In Bad Salzig, we
dodge another shower by stopping for dinner in a restaurant. When it blows
over we will make our way to Gästehaus Neier where we pay €43 for another
3 room apartment. It is quite nice and breakfast is nice as well. The address
is Romer Str. 18, 56154 06742-6324, fax is 06742-940540. This establishment
is in a quite part of town a few kilometers up the valley – but the climb
is gradual. Coincidentally, we are staying at the same place with the people
with whom we shared the tunnel during this morning’s rain shower.
As before, today the path
is mostly paved and quite flat. More castles than you will want to visit
but they are fun to see from afar as well. This is the end of the 102 kilometer
tour through the Rhine Gorge, as I said in the tour overview, one of the
most romantic sections not only of Germany but of Europe. There are no hills
and only a few short patches of gravel. Here is a short list of castles,
etc. to be bypassed today: Burg Liebenstein, Burg Sterrenberg, Kurfürstliche
Burg, Phillips Burg, Marks Burg, Schloss Stolzenfels, Burg Lahneck, Kurfürstliche
Schloss , Deutsche Eck, and Festung Ehrenbreitstein.
I reset my odometer once
we get back to the bike path in Bad Salzig.
Rhens is quite historic.
There is a round tower here that was used as a collection point for duties
and taxes from vessels on the river (as were most of the rest of the castles
on or close to the river). In 1645, ten witches were tortured and beheaded
in this tower. Karl IV, King of Germany, asked the citizens of Rhens to
make a throne from stone and when they did, he rewarded them by lowering
their taxes. Since then, every reigning German monarch visited Rhens sat
on the stone throne and ceremoniously swore allegiance to whomever it was
owed. The photograph on the left is of Marksburg on Rhein, across the river
Eck. This is a monument celebrating the creation of Germany in 1897. (In
importance to Germany, this date is similar to 1776 in the USA.) The statue
is of Kaiser Wilhelm I on a horse. He was the first Kaiser of the united
German. Destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt in 1953 as a reminder of the
post war divided Germany and today, after 1989, it represents a reunified
Germany sporting all 16 of the German states. After visiting this monument,
take time and check out Koblenz. Like the monument, Koblenz also sustained
heavy damage during the war. But it was in Koblenz that the BRD (Federal
Republic of Germany) was conceived and established after WWII. Across the
river is Festung Ehrenbreitstein, one of the largest castles on the Rhine.
There is a youth hostel inside.
Bike path is paved all
the way from Koblenz to Bad Breisig but there are a couple of hills (30
and 40 feet) – one in Neu Andernach and one just outside of Bad Breisig.
The Rhine is wide and full of watercraft. However the landscape is less
interesting than that through the gorge.
Starting at the Balduinbrüke
which is either the last bridge over the Mosel or the first bridge you come
to as you ride up the Mosel from the Deutsche Eck monument. We navigate
somehow the twisty turny bike path as it winds through Lützel, just north
of Koblenz. It is city riding but the route keeps one off the busy streets
for the most part.
We stop in Bad Breisig
for the night. Our choice is House Erika which it turns out is 3 kilometers
uphill from the bike path. It is only €21 per person for one and the rooms
are nice, large, and include a shower. The address is 74 Frankenbach Str.
Phone 02633-8999. They only have three rooms but there is Haus Cordula (phone
02633-95832) right next door if your party is larger.
path today will be flat again. And it is mostly paved too. Maybe I am getting
bored but outside of Linz, there doesn’t seem to me much of interest today
until we get to the Beethoven Haus in Bonn.
We take the ferry
from Kripp to Linz at a cost of €5.10 for all four of us. Our bikeline
guidebook tells us that Linz is cute and since it is so hot today, we opt
to do a lot of sightseeing. Linz is worth it and we enjoy our visit.
The Bridge at Remagen
collapsed on March 17, 1945, after a pitched battle between advance forces
of the Allied troops with the German Army who was trying to deny access
across the Rhine. There is a 1953 movie entitled Bridge at Remagen.
We end the day after
spending a couple hours in the museum called the Beethoven Haus, or Beethoven’s
birthplace. From there we ride a couple kilometers into the center of Bonn
and stay overnight at the Hotel Ebis (€49). Rooms are clean and hotel-like
but they do not offer a free breakfast.
Again today the path is
flat and paved. The river is busy and it feels like we are riding on a bike
path through a city most of the time. There are a few fields and open places
but the humanity is pretty densely packed in around this part of Germany.
Leaving Bonn, I reset
my cyclometer at the Kennedy Brücke. With no breakfast to nourish us, we
subsist on free apples provided by the Hotel Ebis until we can stop for
coffee. The path passes close to the Kölnerdom or the Cathedral
in Cologne. If you have not seen it, stop and look around. The cathedral
survived the war in amazingly good shape (perhaps because allied bomber
pilots considered it a landmark worth preserving) and is a great example
of architecture of the 16th Century. The site itself has been a place of
worship since before Roman occupation 2,000 years ago. It was once considered
the largest church in all of Christendom.
We stop for the
night in a suburb of Dormagen.
Another day of flat, mostly
paved path. This area is more industrial than agricultural. There are a
few highlights though, as there always are when on a bike in a foreign country
– with my beautiful bride (he hastened to add).
At Zons, we ferry
across to Bernath. We visit the Schloss Benrath and then follow signs toward
Himmelgeist. It is in-city riding.
Bike traffic through
Düsseldorf is as heavy as I have ever seen it. Fortunately everyone is well
In Nierst, we stop
for the night. We are at Hotel Landgasthof Sum Hasen. Address is: Stratumer
Str. 34, 40668 Meerbusch-Nierst, Telephone 02150-1441, fax 02150-206015,
they have 10 rooms. The cost is about €80 per room. It is a newer building
and the owners are pleasant.
managed to lose our way not once but three times today. No harm done, eventually
we found the path again without backtracking. This is a bicycle friendly
part of the world and if you ask enough people where the correct path is,
you will eventually get the right answer. Sifting it out of all the wrong
answers is a bit tricky though but you live and learn. First of all, do
not show the people your map. It just confuses them. Just ask them for the
Rhine bike path or Rhein Fahrradweg. Since we get lost so often
today, you can pretty much disregard our mileage reading today. I provide
a few only for reference. The signs for the bike path seem to change frequently
and that is confusing. We are in an area where we see Neiderrhein
Route signs. You could buy a map for this area but they have signed routes
all over the whole area. It is like a spider web. My advice is to keep your
objective in mind and enjoy the scenery as you ride through this part of
the Rhine River Valley. It is less industrial and much more picturesque
The west end of
the bridge over the Rhine into Wesel.
We stop for the
night in Wesel at Hotel zur Aue, Reeser Landstr. 14, 46483 Wesel. Telephone
0281-21000, fax 0281-24806. Owned by the family S. Nitsch we have dinner
here tonight and are pleasantly pleased with the offerings. They serve a
nice breakfast too. Their price is €65 for a double room per night. Wesel
is a 750 year old community that is has a history of being a power center
during Roman times as well as a part of the Hanseatic League during the
For our last day we enjoy
more flat, paved cycle path today. The route is picturesque and pleasant.
Like yesterday, there are tons of bike routes around this area. The path
takes us a short distance from the river and believe it or not, we actually
climb a couple small hills (70 feet) just before Kleve. Do keep the name
of the next few towns in your mind as you navigate through here, it will
save you aggravation. Ask me how I came upon this gem of knowledge.
Xanten, a 775 year
old community is worth stopping in to check out the churches, especially
the St. Victor’s Cathedral (St. Victor Dom). This was also a former Roman
settlement and undoubtedly Celtic before the Italians moved in. They have
an archeological park but we did not go in.
Kleve is our stop
for the night. We find Hotel zur Post, Hagsche Str. 44, 47533 Kleve, Telephone
is 02821-24579 or 02821-12761, Fax 02821-25790. They have about 15 rooms
most with showers. They charge €55 for two people for one night. Kleves,
situated on the left bank of the Rhine, was particularly hard hit during
the war. It is close to the Ardennes, where the Battle of the Bulge was
waged during WWII. A bit before that (say about 1,900 years), it was one
of the largest northern forts of the Roman occupation.
Today is a short day (7.8
miles and 12.5 km) and still mostly paved and flat. Signage is still a problem
because there are so many bike path signs but none of the right kind. It
matters little, the land is flat and the river is always to our right. How
can we go wrong?
Just outside of Rindern,
we pass St. Willibrord Church. As they were excavating to build this church,
they discovered a Roman bath complete with a monument to Mars, a Roman god.
Today, that stone monument is incorporated into the alter of the church.
We reach the end
of our tour at the Dutch border. Beyond is the town of Millingen an der
Rijn (Millingen on the Rhine) From here we are off the clock. We ride a
few more miles toward Nijmegen but with sore legs and butts, we decide our
fun meters have been pegged and we flip a U-turn and head back for the Bahnhof
in Emmerich. By the way, Emmerich was another one of the most destroyed
cities during WWII – over 98% destroyed.
you continue the ride down the Rhine into Holland, do see our
Rhine in Holland Tour for detailed notes
and comments. Some of which I have copied into this travelogue. Since we
rode up river in 2010 and this travelogue contemplates riding down river,
I have taken a little artistic license with the comments. We happened to
be in Holland because we had just completed the
Bike and Ship North of Amsterdam
and we tacked on this final section of the Rhine just for a sense of completeness.
used two maps by Falk Number 15 Zuid-Holland-Zuid met Goeree Overflakkee
and Number 11 Rivierenland Met Rijk van Nijmegen. Both were of
the sort Fietskaart met Knooppuntennetwerk (Bicycle Map with Waypoint
Network). These maps show the waypoint numbers along cycle paths and low-traffic
roads. We also had along the bikeline’s Rhein-Radweg 3, Von Mainz nach
Rotterdam. That guidebook was useful in locating lodgings as well as
recommending a route. On the left is an example of the way point signs.
Photo by Rolf Haase.
The border and the edge
of Millingen an der Rijn.
In Rossum, we stop
at De Gouden Molen; Waaldijk 5, Rossum 5328 EZ; +00 31 (0)418 661306;
email@example.com; their website
Today the path is paved and flat. But then one could say that
about almost any day bicycling in Holland. We ride along the Waal most of
the way and enjoy watching the commercial traffic on the river.
Starting at De Gouden
Molen hotel, which is on the cycle path and overlooking the Waal, we head
west toward the end of the Rhine and its estuaries.
Across from Woudrichem.
We could not find the ferry shown in the bikeline guidebook. Perhaps it
does not run anymore or perhaps we are just poor navigators. Instead, we
ride to waypoint 21 and cross the bridge into Rijswijk. Now a few kilometers
back into Woudrichem.
Ferry from Dordrecht
across Nieuwe Merwede.
Ferry from Papendrecht
Today is short because we like to stay outside the bigger
cities in the theory that we will save money. Besides, we think that Rotterdam
is just a big modern city with little to say for tourism. When we get into
Rotterdam, we will either take a train or continue on to Delft and The Hague,
both of which are more interesting to us as tourists.
Since Hotel Kinderdijk is on the bike
path, we reset our odometers as we leave.
Ferry from Kinderdijk
to Krimpen aan den IJssel.
We cross a bridge
over the the IJssel River from Krimpen aan den IJssel into Rotterdam.
End of the Rhine in
downtown Rotterdam at the VVV. VVV stands for "Vereniging voor Vreemdelingenverkeer "
– a Dutch mouthful that means "Association for the Traffic of Foreigners."
or Tourist Information.