Saturday 29 May 2010

mal wieder abschied

nach ein paar wunderbaren tagen am bodensee mit kerstin, peter und greta,
nehmen wir (ausnahmsweise) den zug nach tübingen und verbringen super abende und ganze tage mit freunden.
ach ist das schön. wenn man androht, man wird für eine lange zeit nicht da sein, trifft man sich plötzlich mit vielen leuten, die sich alle zeit nehmen für einen. das ist toll.
morgen geht es dann weiter richtung beuron. und dann die donau entlang richtung osten. unser erster großer berg. der albaufstieg. ;-)

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Still in Ermatingen on the Bodensee

Anja has gone out for a walk with her friend Kirsten and her daughter Greta. Husband Peter is out somewhere, probably playing with his new aeroplane.
We are recieving some fine hospitality here and there could not be a nicer place to take a break.
I have just finished tinkering with the bikes. Mine has an annoying click coming I think from the bottom bracket and Anjas gears are a bit rough, I will try a new cable sheath on Friday as I have to go a bit North to Tübingen and know a good cycle shop there. I will pick up a few more spare parts aswell.

We have so far had two punctures, well one really as the second was caused 10 minuits after the first because I failed to find the offending glass shard hidden in Anjas tire. I have also had a spoke break in the back wheel but that is about it.

I am slowly figuring out how this blog works but until Anja decides to fall in another river or something exciting I don't really know what to write though I have the time right now and internet access.

I could I suppose tell you about another chap we met on a path round back of the docks in Plymouth; Colin, a travelling man with a radio and a lively interest in politics and economics.
We were going in different directions but must have talked for half an hour or so on various topics but one I remember was the differences between life with few posessions and one with lots of stuff.
The thing I liked most about Colin was his ability to laugh at his own misfortunes and mistakes. He could pour humerous scorn on his former self as if on someone of only vague aquaintance. The time he was beaten up in Edinburgh was his own fault for being too drunk and falling asleep in the wrong place.

The footpaths of Britain are Colins highways. He has never owned a car and certainly wouldn't want one now,
'I see them all at the traffic lights, the drivers I mean, you can see them up close and well,' he chuckled, 'they don't look very happy'.

Sometimes it seems people with few posessions find it strange that alot of poeple rush aroung trying to obtain so many. On our journey this theme has cropped up often in conversation with all sorts of people. Comments on our baggage range from; 'Jeez ya godaloda kit' to ' how the hell do you live with so few comforts. I would hate that'.
I liked the attitude of many French folks to our stuff which was to give an appreciative nod when they had established our kitchen department was well enough equipped. The rest was unimportant.

Though not understanding why they were, Colin was glad that so many people are so busy 'because' he said, 'if they all didn't work and just wandered about like you and me the whole country would fall apart'. Fair point. Keep going everyone. Please.

We talked about alot of footpaths, I remember, and it seemed our man had walked all over Britain and Ireland and had been to Australia where the English winge about everything. I promised I would not.
'I know Plymouth' he said.
'I got stuck here for a couple of years in the pubs, going from one to another. Passing them all now would be a trip down memory lane if I hadn't forgotten so much . You couldn't really call that walking though, pub to pub, more stumbling really but I stopped all that drinking years ago.'

I had walked down this path in Plymouth before, twenty two years before with a plastic sack to sleep in. No ultralight tent or four season down sleeping bag safely stowed in a 100% waterproof bag. No Whisperlite cooker or MP3 player, Goretex raincoat, softshell Jacket or Thermarest mat. Jeez we godaloda kit.

I did have a plastic cup then though. The very same one I have with me now. I never did like it that much, it is a boring grey colour and my tea gets cold quick. Maybe I should get meeself one of them newfangled insulated double walled brushed stainless steel ones with a double skinned plastic lid with a slit to drink out of that keeps your tea hotter for longer.

Maybe not.

Monday 24 May 2010


Between Montbeliard and Mulhouse on the Rhone-Rhein canal we had a whole day of rain, not too heavy but wet all the same. at five oclock I chose to keep on going past a decent camping spot because I didn't fancy a long evening in the damp.
Twenty km later no other spot presented itself until we saw an open hut with a couple of tables in and a campervan behind. Great, we could cook in the dry and there was even a patch of grass for the tent.
While we were still discussing our good fortune a leather hatted fellow rode in, sat down, took from his only bag a gas cooker, a tin of ravioli, two chocolate mooses and a packet of biscuits and said not a word nor looked in our direction.
Ah so! thought I, a real gentleman of the road, who intends also to shelter the night here and who seemed familiar with the establishment.

Reluctant to move on at this point in the evening I sidled over ant tried to open conversation.
By short bisyllabic answers I managed to draw out that yes he was going to lay his head here and cook his evening meal though with the locals being so tight and all, they had only parted with a few Euro's this day and his fare was pretty meagre, and that he had come from Allemagne that morning.

When asked if he would rather speak German a smile appeared in the mans eyes and he said this would be grand as his French was not so good. We had found our second piece of common ground.
I said we were staying here too, which was obvious, and was reccomended the patch of grass if we had a tent. He was going to sleep on the floor.
We invited Bruno to eat with us. Though what we had was not special we had at least enough and the ravioli might be needed in the future, depending.
With the invitation cautiously accepted the man was like a rusty tap turned on for the first time in a while. First a spattering of murky consonants, then a few coughed words reluctantly strung together, a clearish sentence and then a fluent stream of conversation rich in minerals of simple wisdom.

Fourty eight years on the road was our new friend, and though the timeline is, through his talking style and our inability to understand everything, a little hazy, most of this was spent on a bicycle. From Spain to Holland, Italy to Poland had our man travelled and he knew the best spots to sleep all through Western Europe.

I thought the Eurovelo 6, the cycleroute we are trying to follow from the Atlantic to the Black sea would be full of well equiped money in the bank types like us on holiday. The route however follows often long established paths used for years by foot and bike tramps to travel the continent without being pushed into the ditch by the ever increasing car traffic.

We had also met Frank in Dole. Three years underway with his cheap bike and tent who had just come up the Rhone from the south of France to try and earn some money in Germany before continuing on to Asia. Rainer also, 30 years underway, sadly we didn't get to hear many of his tales as we had to push on that day.

Bruno had stomach ulsers and found it hard to digest my spaghetti dinner. He took it with him the next day as he said it was a pity for food to go to waste though I think he was only beeing polite. The chocolate spread sandwich I offered for breakfast went down better, 'Anything with chocolate in is good!' said he with a smile. The banana and greek yoghurt went away in his pack.

'Do you find the cuckoos get on your nerves sometimes' we were asked.
You know, sometimes they do when sleeping out.
' I sometimes think I am like a cuckoo's child, I don't really know where I came from, my parents or anything and never seemed to fit in.'

At some point there was a woman and a tracktor and trailor and begging diesel. There was eating the lemons straight off the trees in Spain, 'better than oranges'. There was a night with new met friends and a fire and chickens and beer. Good times.

We talked alot about the price of food in Germany and France. Germany we agreed was cheaper but the winters were damn cold. We shared our bottle of wine (1.56 Euro, a litle bottle from ED supermarche. Red) and when Bruno produced a mouthorgan we sang the first verse of a number of songs and a good evening was had. I professed a longing to learn the harmonica as it would be good to learn on our trip and not too heavy.
'If you really want to learn it you can have one of mine' said Bruno
'I have two, a C and a G. I prefer the C so you can have the G. I only have one mouth so I don't need them both'.
Laughing eyes.
I said maybe when we meet again we could play a tune together.
'we won't meet again in this life my friend'
Something knowing in the eyes I cannot read. Perhaps alot of past and acceptance of not much future.
'This is my last trip, I'm headin' for the Cote d'Azur and staying there in the warm, maybe the Camargue, alot of Gypsies there, good people, I speak there language'.

We talk about Bruno alot Anja and I and laugh as we think of him happy in the south somewhere sucking lemons and rubbing margerine into his hat.

Bodensee, Switzerland

We have left France finally and also the cold weather. The sun came out as we crossed into Switzerland in Basel.
We are staying with some friends on the Bodensee and it is paradise here. The contrast to France is stark. People are about everywhere, working, playing, boating, cycling, walking, the place feels loved looked after and vital.

Above is a photo of a wet Anja with Reiner. Shortly after meeting this 30 year traveller, recently returned from Spain we took an unadvised footpath to the Rhien waterfall in Shaffhausen. It was a bit narrow and the river deep and strong. Reiner and I were in front and admiring the falls when Anja turned up wet and with waterweed in her hair. She had got caught on a tree stump, thrown off balance on the foot wide path and took a dive. We saw nothing of it, and I cannot understand how the bike didn't fall in too. If it had we would have never seen it again. If Anja had hit her head or something we may never of seen her again either.

Just passed Shaffhausen we stopped for lunch at my favourite swimming spot where we stopped last year on the way to Slovenia. It is interesting to cross the same path for a few miles.

The Rhein is a fast clean mountain blue river and the cyclepath is particularly special and well used. On this bankholiday in May everyone is out on thier bikes. Cycling in Germany and Switzerland is so pleasant an experience I cannot understand why anyone would go anywhere else for a cycling holiday.

It is obvious I have never been a great Frankophile and was once called the 'worst kind of Englishman' when living there (by an Englishwoman I add), but I had hoped my opinion would change by this bike ride of nearly two thousand Km through the country. I guess some countries on this trip are not going to be all that much fun. There is definately something about France I just I don't get and I guess I never will now. Maybe I am so simple and ignorant I just like to be somewhere where I can afford to buy a beer now and then.

We met alot of real friendly and interesting people along the way though, and were always wished 'bon' this and 'bon' that, my long time favorite being 'bon continuation', a wonderful phrase sadly lacking a counterpart in many languages.

In Chalon sur Soane I chatted with an old boy who seemed to have all his wits about him and then adamantly insisted he was six years old, I suggested that though he may be young at heart this was clearly not the case. It turned out he was the proud owner of six donkeys. Simple error on my part! He kindly directed us onto the ever diminishing footpath on the wrong side of the river but we fought our way through and found a great spot to camp by the river. Things always seem to work out.

One night on the loire we were woken by the sound of large animals jumping into the water only meters away and couldn't see or figure out what they were until we found trees cut by beaver in the morning. I know they are big but they sounded huge in the dark.

das war dann frankreich

das wäre mal geschafft.
fast 2000 km bis zur schweizerischen grenze, die deutsche ist auch nicht weit. (wir sind da auch ein bißchen durcheinandergeraten. wo sind wir gleich? schweiz, deutschland? bis zum bodensee hält die verwirrung an.
frankreich: kalt, kälter, a.kalt. doch dieses problem hatte ja wohl fast ganz europa.
nicht immer die spannendste landschaft und wenn man jetzt nicht der große schlößchenfan ist und nicht viel geld für gute weine ausgeben möchte...naja,.....
hat man trotzdem schöne erfahrungen gemacht.
ausdauernde nachtigallen, die gerne direkt über unserem zelt losträllern, agressive schwäne, kellerasseln in der überzahl, totgeglaubte, halbe hirschkäfer erwachen zu neuem leben...(die halbe eidechse auf dem foto ist übrigends nicht mehr lebendig geworden)
die menschen: franzosen sind auch sehr freundlich und hilfsbereit.
selbst die zahlreichen angler (fast so zahlreich wie die kellerasseln, nur eben mehr verteilt) murmeln ein freundlich gemeintes bonjour unter ihren tarnhütchen hervor.
komisch, mit dem grenzübertritt wird alles grüner. und bunter. ein bißchen fröhlicher, die sonne scheint seit langem mal wieder. seufz, endlich ein sandalentag!!!

Monday 17 May 2010

immer noch frankreich

frankreich ist gross.
mittlerweile radeln wir ein bisschen schneller,
deutschland ist in sicht.
zwischenzeitlich hatte wir das gefuehl, nie durch frankreich durchzukommen.
der gegenwind und die kalten tage und naechte trugen dazu bei.
wir freuen uns darauf, bald unsere zweite grenze zu ueberqueren,
und einige freunde zu treffen.
bis dahin knabbern wir noch einige baguettes, von gleichbleibend ausgezeichneter qualitaet.

Thursday 6 May 2010

We have just left the Cafe Bergerac in Tours where we will take a day off. Battling against a strong headwind for the last 4 days has worn us out a little and we have not got so far along the Loire. Camping at night has been easy enough and some nice spots have been found but we have had to check out the health of the trees before we shelter behind them. Many have been blown over the wind is so strong.

The Loire so far has been wide and shallow looking with changeing sandbanks. The locals are proud to point out the high flood marks on some of the buildings and we please them by being suitably impressed.

The Path we have followed is pretty well surfaced though there have been a few rough sections and some roads which are nice and smooth though it is always a shock to be back in the land of the infernal combustion engine. Though we will be along time through France following the rivers and canals the pay off is the possibility to travel in the off road world.

We have met a few cyclists coming the other way. Notably some English Folks Who used to all work at Seal Hain agricultural research in the sixties. Before your time Pop, and they didn't know you and I have no Idea how to spell the place.

Have seen some Chateaux along the way and some remarkable churches, my favorite being at Cande st Martin where this interesting (as they all are I suppose) saint met his end. He was born in Hungary and was a soldier in the Roman army.

We have been woken each morning by a good amount of birdsong but what is noticably lacking is the profusion of waterbirds whose ideal environment we are daily travelling through. There are Herons and we have seen a couple of swans but I can only conclude that everything else that goes here under the title of 'Gibier de l'au' has been shot and gone for the pot. Perhaps some rule might be made in Brussels sometime bringing European hunting practices into line when they have finished making more important rules and regs but until then it seems 'La Chase' will continue to obliterate both native and migratory waterbirds.

We have had no mechanical problems so far, the bikes are doing well under all the weight of our bagage. I am compiling a list of things we can shed before we hit some hills. Cold weather clothing is not on it. It has been pretty cold for May In France.

Tuesday 4 May 2010


So radeln wir nun an der Loire entlang, die Tage sind kalt und wechselhaft,
die Naechte sind eiskalt. Osteseewetter.

Saturday 1 May 2010

03.04. bis 01.05....und endlich ging es los

Ein wildes Durcheinander!

03.04. bis 01.05.
..unser erster eintrag...
leider gibt es heute noch keine bilder,
denn wir sind gar nicht richtig vorbereitet,
wollen euch aber nicht so lange auf infos warten lassen.

in den warttetagen in england wurden wir von toms mama mit englischem fruehstueck, cream tee, pasties usw. koerperlich weiter aufgebaut, den grundstein hierfuer hatte meine mutter schon in deutschland gelegt.
wir haben aber auch eine schoene wanderung ueber dartmoore gemacht und immerhin ein paar kalorien verbrannt.
wunderschoene und karge landschaft, bilder folgen.
das wetter in england war die ganzen 3 wochen blendend, keiner konnte sich erinnern, wann es je eine so lange schoenwetterperiode gab.

am 22.april sind wir dann zum ersten in die pedale richtung welt getreten.
und das war richtung plymouth, um die faehre nach frankreich/ roscoff zu nehmen.
unterwegs haben wir uns noch bei toms papa verabschiedet.
nach einer angenehmen faehrfahert dann nach sued-ost um am kanal brest-nantes richtung nantes zu radeln.
wunderbar, meistens flach, gruen, sonnig.
fast nichts los, wild zelten kein problem.
und der fruehling hier ist schon so viel weiter.
seit unser ueberfahrt haben wir eine sprung von mehreren wochen gemacht, was das wetter angeht.
leider gibt es in frankreich nicht allzuviele tiere,
dort wo in deutschland wahrscheinlich ein vogelparadis waere, gibt es hier nur ein paar reiher, 2 stockenten, 2 eisvoegel einige tauben und mehrere schiessstaende.
aber der kukuck scheint unser begleiter zu sein, unermuedlich kukukt er.
heute haben wir unser erstes groesseres etappenziel nantes erreicht.
nach immerhin 540 km.
10 englische fruehstuecke sind nun ungefaehr abgefahren, doches gibt noch viele reserven...

For the non German readers amongst our multitude of followers here is a short version of our progress sofar. Pictures will follow soon when we find the camera cable.
We left Bradninch in Devon on the 22.04.10 and cycled via Pops house in Sampford to Plymouth following the Granite way which I reccomend to everyone; lots of steep Devon lanes,(the small cog at the front is renamed the Devon cog); and the old railway along the Plym where we watched Peregrine Falcons with the local twitchers.

At the ferry port our first border crossing went with a hitch as the not so high security team decided my pocket knife was a hazard to shipping and confiscated it. I was still cussing as we pulled up next to two other cyclists, 'New Zealand' I snapped to the now common Question. 'Oh' said one abashed 'better than us, we are only going to Australia'.
Gary and Sandy were the names of our new cycling friends who we have now lost somewhere on the Canal de Nantes a Brest but are hoping to see again in Nantes where we are now.
The canal was a beauriful corridor thtough Brittany, no cars and great camping spots by the water, though our progress is slow.
Next the Loire.