16 May, 2007

Germany & Netherlands Tour

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/euro2007

410 miles over 25 days along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, with side-trips to Southern Netherlands and Bavaria.

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Germany & Holland embrace bicycles. No one makes you feel weird for accommodating your bike. It is a fact of life.

Our bike trip will follow well traveled routes, the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, except for gaunts into southern Holland and Bavaria.


The following pages are short descriptions of what we did each day and what the bicycle riding was like along that route. Without Heather's journaling I would be at a loss for specific details, the quotes are from her writing.

-enjoy-

Germany and Holland have ideal bike riding. If your perfect vacation includes miles of dedicated bike path, scenic surroundings both natural and man-made, no exposure to heavy or fast vehicular traffic, concise maps and signs, and easy access to camping then you will not be disappointed.

I spent more time researching routes and sites than one would need. It was nice to have all the background info, but our plans changed almost daily and maps were always readily available.

Originally, I wanted to go up the Rhine and loop back on the Mosel. Instead we abandoned the plans. Why rush? We wanted to leave time for a leisurely trip to Holland and my old stomping grounds at Greis.

We visited 3 very unique and noteworthy castles. Burg Eltz (historically preserved), Rinefels (ruins), and Schloss Neuschwanstein (most famous).
Hiking is very popular and leaving the bike is the only way to "wander" many of these trails. Try currywurst, avoid "hamburgers"*(see day 10), and when you cross paths with a festival stay a while!

I feel comfortable speaking broken German, but I was at a loss with Dutch. I was delighted when my German elicited a response, even if I did not understand a single word. Thankfully every person we spoke with knew some English. In fact so many people spoke so well, that I began to feel silly asking if they spoke English.

_Favorites of the Germany/Holland tour_
-Best cities: Koblenz, Koln, Boppard, Gulpen, Fussen-
-not worrying about getting run-over again & uber-respectful drivers!
-beautiful pastoral scenery mixed with tranquil forests, both green in spring-
-endless paths, lanes, routes, trails for bikes-
-those paths and routes have great signs and maps-
-friendly people and great quality of life-
-Wunderbar Eis, gummi's, chocolade-
-bike cars on trains-
-camping downtown, and its safe!-
-bustling people-oriented city centers (cafes in the streets instead of cars)-
-seeing so many regular bike riders-
-experiencing another way of life-
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GEAR
I spent less than $300 for two rear and one front rack with panniers.
I used cheap nylon panniers and inexpensive dry bags that fit inside of them. This was a slight inconvenience since it took a number of bungees and compression straps to make them stable.
All our stuff
basic tent (REI halfdome)
sleeping bags and therma-rests
maps & guides
bike tools, tubes
extra day's food, snacks
clothes
tarps
rain-gear
toiletries
hiking sandals
personal items (camera, journal, good luck charms)
== == ==

Financing:
We went in May-June and it was the end of off-season. Although tourists are always found mid-day at the most popular destinations, we avoided the summer peak and reaped the benefits of saving money and time competing with crowds.

The most expensive part was the plane tickets. We found camping for $12-17 per night, groceries similar to US retail, eating out was more expensive w/19% tax and 5% tip, medium length train rides about $30/person with bike, and we got student discounts on castle admissions for about $12.
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Bike maps can be obtained along the way, or often found posted at local paths. Digging into some Deutsch web-pages revealed detailed maps all over Germany.

http://www.germany-tourism.de/cycling/cycling.htm
for an overview map and route information
http://bicyclegermany.com/
for advice, route descriptions, and help with language/laws
http://holland.cyclingaroundtheworld.nl/
to convince yourself you should also go to Holland