Our last day in Rothenburg was particularly special. We decided to ride out without a pre-planned route, but just an idea to go south toward the Lohrbach river and then the Schandtaubuer river. We wanted to use only bike paths. The maps I downloaded on Komoot showed paths, trails, and major roads all in different line thicknesses. The ride was again stunning. We stopped in Bockenfeld where we saw a World War I memorial and yet another charming village with a small waterfall and then followed the Schandtauber river back to our AirBnB. Much of our ride was on dirt and grass-covered tracks. Along the way, we saw a beekeeper tending his bees who spoke excellent English. While the bees were buzzing around him (and us) he told us he had once lived in the US.
After our ride, we packed up our bikes then drove to Würzburg where we did laundry. We spent time wandering around a cemetery near the laundromat. We were moved as we read the names of whole families killed in the bombing of Würzburg late in World War II that were buried there. Jim wrote a short reflection on it here.
The evening of our final day in Rothenburg was spent eating Greek food, meandering around and saying goodbye to the old city as the sun set. Every hour the clock in the city center has doors that open showing figures that recreate the story of the mayor of the city who saved the town from annihilation in 1631. He was challenged by a conquering military leader intent on destroying the city, to drink 3.25 liters of wine in one swill. He did, the town was spared, and he spent the next three days sleeping it off.
The next day we arose early to drive to Rotterdam in the Netherlands to board a small barge with about 50 others to travel down the Rhine river for 6 days. On this cruise, we ride our bikes each day while the barge moves down the river. We meet the barge in the evening for dinner and to sleep.
We found our barge, the Arkona, in the lovely city of Rotterdam and assembled our Q45s. The Netherlands is known for its bicycle-friendly culture and every road seems to have a bike path next to it of equal or greater quality than the road. We spent the evening meeting some of our boat mates, assembling our bikes, and walking around the Rotterdam riverfront. There are many works of art and interesting ways for a pedestrian or cyclist to interact with the river. We enjoyed watching the moon rise behind the Eramusbrug (bridge) and were shocked to look at our watches and discover that it was 10 pm. The summer days stretch forever.
Our first day of bike touring along the Rhine took us through the city of Rotterdam and then out to the famous Unesco World Heritage site that has the iconic windmills. It was crowded with tourists and hundreds of other cyclists. The excellent infrastructure for cycling here leads to a challenge we have never experienced: bicycle traffic jams. One always has to be aware of both pedestrians and other cyclists. I hope it’s a problem we can someday have in the US.
We then pedaled through the less populated Dutch countryside. Water and canals are everywhere. The dutch homes are beautiful, typically smaller than the ones we saw in Bavaria but just as well cared for. When we arrived in the town of Dordrecht, Holland’s oldest city, we spent time cycling along canals filled with boats of every color, some new, high tech yachts, other old and colorful fishing boats. We enjoyed crossing the canals on the drawbridges and took pictures of the urban Dutch architecture. We finished our evening by climbing the clock tower of the local cathedral for a bird’s eye view of this charming city.
We love the family atmosphere of the boat. There are about 20 English speaking guests, mostly Americans with a couple of Canadians. The remaining guests are German. We all enjoyed visiting with one another. On day 3 of our tour, we rode to Gorinchem with some new friends. The ride took us through the De Biesbosch National Park, a lovely area filled with a maze of rivers and meadows crisscrossed with cycling paths and bridges. We stopped to admire trumpeter swans and many other birds.
When we arrived back at the Arkona in Gorinchem, Jim gave Cruzbike lessons to some passengers who were fascinated with our bikes. This evening we will walk around the city and have dinner on the barge before sleeping in our tiny cabin.
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