Meandering stream or bubbling brook? This is an unanswered question! The last few days of riding unfortunately have shed no light on this question. We have however, been near water for the whole time. Read on and all will be revealed.
After collecting the bike we rode to Harwich to catch the ferry to the Hook of Holland. We were pleasantly surprised when we were allocated a 5 berth family cabin instead of the 2 berth we had booked - got to be lucky sometimes. After boarding at 9pm then having a late dinner, it was 11.30 pm before our heads hit the pillow meaning we only got six hours of sleep before we arrived in the Netherlands. A chilly 8 degrees celsius welcomed us to the home of the windmill.
We rugged up and set the GPS to Cologne, our destination for the night. Our hotel was about 1.5km from the Cologne Cathedral or Dom as the locals call it. On our way to the Cathedral we reminisced about our first visit to Cologne back in 1982 when we were backpacking through Europe. Back then, Cologne was only a 30 minute stop over as we were travelling by train to our destination of Nuremburg. All we could remember from that visit was the size of the Cathedral (very large) and artists doing chalk drawings on the pavement out the front. Sure enough, when we got to the Cathedral and chalk drawings on the pavement were all the rage. Everything has changed but some things never do.
This time we had a bit more time and visited the inside of the Cathedral, which took over 600 years to complete with additions here and there. The Cathedral is built in Gothic style and is 444.5 metres long. Ths stained glass windows are spectacular as are the numerous altar pieces scattered around the interior of the building. Behind the Cathedral is the Hohenzollernbrucke railway bridge which spans the Rhine River. The railings of the bridge are covered with love-locks numbering in the tens of thousands.
After dinner and a beer we sat for awhile just soaking up the atmosphere, then it was back to our hotel to plan the next few days.
As readers of our past blogs would know, Greg is a bit of a History tragic - especially anything to do with the two World Wars. Further along the Rhine River is a town called Remagen. Does the 1969 movie "The Bridge at Remagen" starring George Segal ring a bell? Well Greg knew all about it and luckily we just 'happened' to be passing through Remagen (after a 20km detour but whose being picky now).
Anyway back to the story. The Ludendorff Bridge was critical to the Allies as it was one of the only remaining bridges across the Rhine during the closing stages of World War II and thus a gateway to the German heartland. The Allies captured it and got six divisions across it before it collapsed on March 17th, 1945. If you want to know more, watch the movie!
Whilst riding beside the Rhine River we noticed the signs to the Nurburgring, the world famous auto race track and home to many Formula One and Superbike races. Without a moment of hesitation, the route was recalculated and we soon found ourselves at the Nurburgring sitting in a spectator designated area with hundreds of other enthusiasts watching cars and bikes zoom by. Anyone can ride/drive this circuit (for a fee) in their own car or on their own bike. We rode the circuit in 2013 and Greg claims that he holds the record for the slowest lap on a motorbike - 21 minutes for the 21 km track! Although we did notice a bike travelling at snail pace speed who just might threaten Greg's record. Today we only watched as Greg has vowed never to ride it again as it scared the life out of him!
We then headed for Cochem, a small village on the banks of the Moselle River. We had nothing booked and pulled in to the car park of a nice looking hotel with a sign saying "Biker Friendly" and with undercover parking for the bike. A quick visit to the internet and we had our room booked and then walked in to reception five minutes later to check in - technology is great! Our room overlooks the Moselle. Terrific!
After a walk in to town for dinner we decided to stay in Cochem another night so we could ride beside the Moselle and explore without the extra weight of the panniers and luggage. There is beautiful castle (Schloss) on top of the hill adjacent to the village and it was hard not to take just one more photo of this spectacular structure.
Riding beside the river was wonderful. The river winds its way between beautiful villages that abound with quaint buildings, churches with tall spires and wineries. Vineyards grow beside the road right up to the top of steep hills. The river is criss-crossed with bridges and we stopped often to take photos of the never-ending scenery. After a great day of relaxed riding we headed back to Cochem for an afternoon ice-cream, wander around town and a bike clean. Dinner was curryworst for Greg and a steak for Kerrie. When asking for the bill for dinner Greg wondered what the German word for 'bill' was and decided it was 'Wilhelm' - get it? Bill/Wilhelm. What do you think?
Tomorrow we head south again. Don't forget to check out our photos, we have added more to the London blog as well, so have a look and leave us a message if you are so inclined.