2012 Germany

Munich to Amsterdam
August 21, 2012 – September 22, 2012

This trip was from Munich to Amsterdam. We took the train from Munich SW to Fussen in the foothills of the Alps. We followed the Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road) north from Fussen to Lauda. The train took us from Lauda to Rottweil on the Neckar River. After biking down the Neckar to Plochingen, we took the train to Heildelberg to avoid the industrial area around Stuttgart. We then had a lengthy train trip to Liege in Belgium, then biked through Belgium and Holland to Amsterdam. Biking was 1050km.
We finished the vacation by taking the train to Soest in Germany to visit friends.

Train is green line, biking is red


The following is a summary of our trip:

DATEDistanceSum KmCityHotel
21-Aug-12FlyToronto Airport
22-Aug-1250.050.0MunichMunchener Kindl
24-Aug-1251.0111.0SchongauAlte Post
26-Aug-1246.0196.0AugsburgJakober Hof
27-Aug-1254.0250.0DonauworthGold Greifen
30-Aug-1250.0381.0RothenburgGold Lamm
31-Aug-120.0381.0RothenbergGold Lamm
1-Sep-1243.0424.0WeikersheimGruner Hof
3-Sep-1251.0505.0HorbZum Schiff
9-Sep-1274.0709.0HasseltHoliday Inn
13-Sep-1236.0917.0GoudaBest Western
14-Sep-1236.0953.0DelftBest Western
15-Sep-120.0953.0DelftBest Western
16-Sep-1237.0990.0LeidenHuys leyden


August 21, 2012 – Toronto Airport

We are on our way! Our daughter Heather drove us to the airport. We got away on time.

Arrivals – Toronto airport – thanks to our daughter Heather

The Air Transat check in line was short.  We got plastic bags and tape no problem.

22 August – Munich Airport to City center – 50km

Flight was good. Panniers and bikes arrived ok. Judy’s bell was only problem – broken.
Weather was warm and sunny, so we decided to bike in. We followed Noel’s instructions and the way out of the airport by bike. Thanks Noel. I will provide details when we return. We went north thru Freising after meeting a Germany man who was heading home after biking from Finland. He took us to the Isar river.
We bought sandwiches at a train station in Freising then rode along the Isar river.

A stand up lunch in the woods

The path was crushed stone, a bit rough in places. As we came into Munich, the path went through a number of parks along the river. The last one was the Englischer Garten. It was busy on this hot day. We rode a total of 50km to get to our central hotel. The path was all signed, but the distances kept varying. It was hot (29c) and we were getting tired.
A shower revived us. 2 blocks from the hotel we had beer and Pepsi at Augustiner Brauerei. Dinner was near Marienplatz at Donisl. Schnitzel with salad – very good.

The first meal: Schnitzel , spaetzle & salad

Walked around then found eis. Crashed around 10. Biking in had been a good way to delay jet lag. Slept very well.


23 August 2012 – Munich to Fussen – 10 km

It had rained hard over night with thunder & lightening. Clear in am. Good bfast. A lot of construction near our hotel.

The cranes were closing in on us!

On the ride to the Hauptbahnhof we went through a market.

Cherries flown in from Canada: $CDN6.50 for half a pound!

Got the train to Fussen – 2 hrs no train change.

Lots of room for the bikes on this train

Fussen station: The mountains are south, we are biking north!

Warm as we arrive at 2 pm. We checked into hotel then rode bikes to Neuschwanstein – 4km. King Ludwig’s famous castle was being renovated. The famous view is covered by scaffolding. Have a half hour walk up to see castle. Decide not to take tour inside. Walked further up to Marienbridge. Beautiful views over deep gorge.

Neuschwanstein castle from behind

As we walked back down, it started to rain.  Judy had brought her rain jacket, I just had my shell. I got wet. We stopped for coffee and the heaviest rain went through. We rode back to hotel in light rain. Hung all our wet gear up in the room.
Late dinner for us -8pm. Really good – vege ravioli for Jude and roast pork for me. Took left over pork for lunch tomorrow. Could not find eis.

24 August 2012 – Fussen to Schongau – 51 km

It rained overnight, but was just cloudy in the am – about 19C. Brought buns from breakfast for lunch. We headed out of Fussen on the Romantische Strasse bike path. It was paved to start. Great views of the alps and Neuschwanstein castle.

We had to climb this small hill: bonus was getting this great view of the alps to the south.

The terrain got hilly – had to walk up a few hills. Some parts of the path became gravel and a little rough. We stopped at the Wieskirche – beautiful rococo church – built in mid 1700s.
In Steingaden we stopped for lunch – split pork from last night – good & cheap!
More hills in afternoon – getting tired.

The mountains are behind us.

Ding a ling!

Into Schongau we had to walk up steep hill. Our hotel – Alte Post was right in center of the Altstadt. They gave us choice of 3 rooms – we took the cheapest. After shower out for drinks – had Lowenbrau.

One of many reasons why we bike in Germany.

Later out for a great Greek meal – souvlaki for Jude & lamb for me. Free ouzo as well! Had some of each meat left over for sandwiches tomorrow. Found eis on way back. Weather forecast was not great for tomorrow. We discussed option of taking train to Augsburg and bypassing Landsberg.

 25 August 2012 – Schongau to Landsberg – 39 km

More rain overnight and light rain before bfast. Great bfast buffet. After bfast rain had stopped, so off we went. It was cooler about 15C so had jackets on. After about half hour a light rain started. So we got the rain gear on.

Is it going to rain?

After another half hour it stopped and we could see the sky to the north (where we were going) was clearing up. So off came the rain gear. The terrain was more friendly today. The bike path was paved and shared with farm vehicles. The trail is well marked, but you do have to pay attention to avoid missing a sign. The Bikeline map book we have really helps.
This part of the Romatische Strasse coincides with the Via Claudia Augusta. We biked the Italian part of the Via last year.

Via Claudia Augusta sign

Via Claudia Augusta map

Only had to walk up 2 hills. It was getting very pleasant as we rode along. It was now flat fertile farmland with lots of cows with bells on. Judy collects pictures of cowbells.
Lunch was again meat from last nights dinner on buns from this morning’s breakfast.
We arrived in Landsberg around 3 after a very pleasant ride.
Our hotel Goggl is in the middle of town. The main street is torn up. The hotel is old but our room is large and renovated. After a shower we went out for a walk. We head out to the town wall. It is up very high.

We walk around the wall, then trek back down. The knees took a beating. Rain started as we went out for dinner, borrowed umbrella from hotel.
Went to nearest restaurant. Real German. One young guy looking after whole restaurant. After getting a drink but no food order we had to leave – got free drink.
Found Greek – it was good – ouzo again! Raining hard as we head back to hotel.


26 August 2012 – Landsburg to Augsburg – 46km

More rain during night. Very good bfast buffet. Cool 15c cloudy very windy. Fortunately it was SW as we headed north.
Path gravel to start thru forest then paved thru farmland. We saw large solar panel farm – supplies 3000 homes. Have seen a lot of homes with solar panels on them.

Large solar farm

Rode west into city to find washroom – found a McDonalds! Wifi was not free! Bought biomilk and ate our bfast buns on their patio. Rode into Augsburg along main road with bike path as part of the sidewalk shared with pedestrians. Very easy and safe. Our hotel is close to the center. Go to the Ratskeller for a drink. It is in the basement of city hall. All old brick with high ceilings. We leave and get hit by a huge gust of wind and rain. Big storm lasted only a few minutes, but rain continued. We found Italian restaurant. Shared excellent pizza. It came very quickly.
We found out why as we saw them making and baking the pizzas. Couple of minutes to roll and top the thin crusts and a couple of minutes to bake!


27 August 2012: Augsburg to Donauworth – 54km

More rain overnight but clear this am. Changed Judy’s bell. Rode out of the busy city on sidewalks with line painted to separate bikers from walkers. Little wind. Crossed to the right (east) side of the Lech river. Came to road by Gersthofen with bridge. One radweg sign pointed along same side we were on, but path did not look good. Bikeline book also indicated same side. It was wrong side as path got worse.

The path gets worse

We kept on as path was basically following the river. We zig zag thru a few corn fields, finally coming to cross road which took us back to river and the proper path.
Kaffee in Langweid. Path went west for 4km then north thru pleasant farmland and small towns. Lunch in Kuhlenthal with a few mosquitoes. Came to top of Danube river Valley about 8 km from Donauworth – great view. Nice downhill ride into Donauworth. We had ridden thru here in 2004. We struggled to remember, but then it became familiar. Stopped for drinks at restaurant patio we had been to in 2002. Found our hotel near center. Nice room with balcony. Went back to restaurant where we had drinks. Wanted venison but they were out. Had excellent steak with peppercorn sauce – senior size for 10 euros! Eis on way back to hotel.

28 August 2012: Donauworth to Nordlingen – 39km

Don’t think it rained last night – been sleeping well. Warm this am. As we were leaving the hotel a large new transport truck from Holland pulled up at the flower shop next door. It was delivering flowers.

Brand new transport from Holland

Inside trailer was cool - cut flowers ready to sell

Looked around town then headed north along the Wornitz river. After 15 km we get to the castle town of Harburg where we buy buns, meat, cheese and tomato. Long walk up steep hill. Fortunately we did not have to go up to the castle!

Castle way up on hill

Met Italian couple heading south, they were part of tour with van support and hotels booked. They were traveling light!

Paved path along busy road for 23 km into Nördlingen. Lunch in Mottingen by train station. there was a control room off the station with manual switching gear from the fifties.

Manual switching gear from the fifties

In Nordlingen we find the Hotel JUFA. It is large and new. A chain started in Austria. Very good. Had to provide cell phone number so they could text the Wifi password.
Well preserved old town.

Nördlingen old town

Lot of very large old buildings some with leans.  Dinner was Italian.


29 August 2012: Nordlingen to Dinkelsbuhl – 42km

This was an interesting day as we met several different people. After just leaving Nördlingen, I was changing the map when a lady stopped and asked if we needed help. I said in German that were fine. We chatted a bit, then she asked if we were from Holland. Not the first time I had been asked that. She told us we had to visit the Krater-Reis museum. 15 million years ago a meteorite hit the Nördlingen area. The museum was well worth going back to see. They had a video which recreated the meteorite hitting the earth. Neil Armstrong came here before going to the moon as there are moon like conditions left by the meteorite. Thank you Hannalore for this suggestion.

Judy with Hannelore

Lunch in Ruhlingstetten by Bosch factory. Not the Bosch for car parts. They make furniture. Talked to worker who was on smoke break.
We had a variety of trails today. Part through woods, part along cornfields, some gravel, some paved.

Through the woods

Dinkelsbuhl town center

Dinner in biergarten out back of Weib’s Brauhaus. Man by himself joined us, as all tables were full. He was there just for beer. Said he was from Berlin and was retired and visited small breweries when he could. His wife was back at hotel! He proceeded to drink 2 half liters of beer in about 30 minutes. He told us beer had to be served at 7C. Maybe that is why he drank it so fast. I tried a small beer. It was a pils with a little more flavour.

After he left a couple from Toulouse France joined us. They were on their way to Hamburg. They spoke 3 languages with no problem.
We had turkey ragout with spaetzle. Really good. Had eis on way back to hotel.
Tried to book room in Rothenburg for next night over the net. No wifi in room. Came down to lobby which was pretty dark. Wifi intermittent. I was part way through a booking and thought booking had failed. Did not have phone number for the hotel I was trying to book, so back in room used Bikeline book to find another hotel. Used cell phone to make booking.


30 August 2012: Dinkelsbuhl to Rothenburg – 50km

Forecast for today not good – rain in am 70%, thunderstorms in afternoon! No train from Dinkelsbuhl so have to bike it. Cloudy and cool 16C.

Left Dinkelsbuhl heading north along the Wornitz river. The bikeline book shows 6 hills on today’s route. After 5km a bikepath sign pointed east away from river. The Bikeline map showed straight ahead. We followed sign and went over river then up hill. Had to walk up. Stopped and talked to a man. He told us to go back over the river and follow small roads along the river to Wornitz. He said “Ohne bergs”. No mountains along the river. The Bikeline maps for this stretch covered the river so it was easy to find our way. Many thanks to the man who told us where to go!

In Ungelsheim we found the Landcafe Franz. very friendly lady owner opened cafe for us. We had washroom stop, coffee and kuchle. The Backerei was next door. She showed us how they made kuchle.

Making local sweet – kuchle – it was great

Got video.

Lunch was in Schillingsfurst. Had bun we bought in Dinkelsbuhl. From here we were on busier road to Diebach. Stayed on busy road north to Rothenburg. At Bockenfeld got off road and found bike path to west. About 2 km from Rothenburg it started to rain. We put on rain gear just in time as it started to pour. We rode uphill into Rothenburg in the rain! Within 10 minutes, it eased off. Found our hotel in the center of Rothenburg.

Shelter from the rain

Rothenburg City Hall

Decided to stay here for 2 nights as forecast was 90% rain for tomorrow. Another beautiful old city.


31 August 2012 – In Rothenburg

We walked around town using a Dell ivisual device that we rented for €7.50 from the tourist office. It had 2 headphones attached to a little display device. At least we couldn’t get separated. It was very good. The narrator played the role of the mayor of Rothenburg from the 1400s – Herr Toppler. He was executed by his political rivals. Sounds much like today!

Rothenburg main square

Lunch was a Schneeballen. A local pastry hand made. They showed a video of how it is made. They take a round sheet of pastry, cut strips leaving a bit at each edge, then weave the strips back and forth with a rod into a ball. Deep fry and cover with whatever topping.

St George's Basilica

Inside Cathedral at Prague Castle

I crashed in the afternoon while Judy went walking. Dinner was an excellent chicken breast – not often you see chicken on the menu here. After dinner we had 2 scoops of Eis each. A real splurge! We joined the night walker tour. Very interesting young man took us around part of the city. He showed us an old pub named “Hell”. He said that one should not take offense if someone there told you to go to hell!


1 Sept 2012 – Rothenburg to Weikersheim – 43 km

Talked to American couple from South Carolina at breakfast. They are retired and spend only 4 months at home. On their way to Switzerland.
Cool to start this am. 90% chance of rain. Forecast wrong as it never did rain. We are now on the Tauber river. Narrow valley – tall hills on both sides. Mostly paved farm roads. Quite nice ride even though we walked up two hills.
Here is a video taken while riding on path.

Talked to a man with geese and ducks that he kept in river by his house for hobby. Visited Herggottskirche wooden altar carved early 1500’s.

Stopped at bike shop to look at panniers. Talked to lady owner. She said Ortlieb best. Will have to get new ones. She gave us seat covers and a tube repair kit. Took picture.


Judy & Rita – great bike shop

Worst meal of trip – pizza at Italian restaurant.

Crazy username and password at hotel.


2 Sept 2012 – Weikersheim thru Lauda to Rottweil – 30 km

Cool to start about 14C. This is our last day on the Tauber. The valley is wider here with more grapes being grown. Only 25 km to the train station in Lauda. As it is Sunday there is no one the station to get tickets from. The washrooms are closed in the station so we have kaffee at a cafe across the road. I find Wifi connection for Telecom and buy 10 hours for 20 euros. We figure out the schedule to Rottweil. We have to change in Stuttgart. We use a machine to buy a ticket. It has English option so we get our tickets with no problem. Only 25 euros for both of us! But can’t figure out how to buy tickets for our bikes. I ask a man who tells us that bikes are free for Sunday. Bonus! It has warmed up to mid 20s. We find bike car when the train arrives. Wide doors, only one step up. One and 3/4 hr to Stuttgart. Then 25 minutes stop where I bought a pretzel and 2 sweets. The train to Lauda was an hour and a half and on time at 4:47. Had not pre-booked but had Hotel Lamm in mind. They had 2 rooms available – after looking took larger one. Dinner was in small German restaurant – best meal of trip.
Best meal so far

Zigeuner Schnitzel frites salad.


3 Sept 2012 – Rottweil to Horb – 51 km

Yesterday the bolt holding the rope which clamps one of my old panniers to the rack came through the pannier backing plate. Bottom line I needed a washer to hold the bolt in place, or I needed new panniers. I opted for the washer. I rode down to the bike shop “Fahrrad Kaiser” and found a huge bike store. I told the young lady who greeted me that I needed an “Unterlegscheibe”. She took me into the parts and repair area.  A couple of minutes later the repair man got me a washer. Unfortunately the original bolt was not long enough so he got me a longer one. I was able to put the new bolt and washer on and solve the problem. Best of all it was free – “kostenlos”.

Horb is all uphill

Horb – all uphill

Today we start down the Neckar river. Narrow valley to start with trees along it. Another nice day – cool to start but warming to 23C.  Path mostly paved with a few hills. Towns not a scenic as in Bavaria. We hit the 500km mark today. We decided to stop in Horb. No prebooking. Horb is off the river way up above it.
First hotel was full. Further up the next hotel had room but not with ensuite. As we discussed this a man came in and said he had to cancel his room. So we lucked out and got a large room with ensuite.
We asked the lady manager why the man had left. She said he had been away with his girlfriend and had to back home to his wife for some reason!

Here is view of Horb looking way up from the Neckar river.

Horb – on a cliff

4 Sept 2012 – Horb to Tubingen – 39km

Cool to start, but soon warmed up. Paths mostly paved along narrow valley.

Typical path along the river.

Stopped in Rottingen for lunch. Valley widened and we got away from sheltering trees so the wind from the NE was in our face. Fortunately it was a shorter ride today. Tubingen is fairly large city but we found our hotel ok. Good Wifi connection so decided to check credit card statement. Found one charge we couldn’t remember. It turned out to be a no show fee for a hotel we booked thru Internet. I had attempted to do booking from a hotel where Wifi was intermittent. I thought booking had failed because I did not get real time confirmation because connection had dropped. We won’t trying bookings from hotels with poor wifi again.


 5 Sept 2012 – Tubingen to Plochingen – 46 km

Very good breakfast buffet. Warmer this am. No jacket to start. Avoid busy road as head to the Neckar. Pleasant ride in the sunshine along mostly paved path. Lots of people out biking. Passed by young woman on roller blades who must have been going 25 km/hr! Quite a few families.

Neckar valley wider here.

We heard that school does not start in this area until this Monday. Stopped for kaffee just outside Nurtingen, then into Nurtingen for lunch. It has warmed up to 24C. We have been so lucky with the weather so far. Ironically the northern part of Italy where we biked last year has been getting a lot of rain. The last 4 km before Plochingen was through a scenic nature park along the river. They had a lot of signs up explaining the flora and fauna. We find our hotel which we had booked last night online. Walked short distance into the city and found the pedestrian area. So quiet and friendly. Why can’t we do this in Canada? Over a beer and coke, we decide to skip the next part of the Neckar past Stuttgart as it is busy. So we plan to train to Heidelberg.

We find what is best hotel of trip so far. Princess. Good Wifi in room. We figure out train route to Heidelberg. Plochingen is small city with a pleasant pedestrian & square area. Have a light summer beer.

 6 Sept 2012 – Plochingen to Heidelberg – 21km

Off to train station – 300m. Get tickets to Heidelberg thru Mosbach. Arrive Heidelberg early afternoon and decide to go for a bike ride without panniers. We really flew!

We go back to train station first to book train to Liege for tomorrow. It took the very helpful clerk a long time to figure out the bicycle tickets. We have to pay a fee to take bikes into Belgium – 10€ each.

The Neckar is much wider and has tour boats. We ride along river opposite Heidelberg old town.

Heidelberg – old bridge and castle

Path is narrow sidewalk. Lots of people out in the sun – not warm at 18C. We go up river for a few km. Still narrow path so cross river on a dam. Back to Heidelberg and go to old town. Drinks in main square. Walked back to hotel along pedestrian only Haupt Strasse. It is really long – 1.5 km. Out for dinner late. Walked back along Haupt Strasse and ate at The Dubliner. Yes an Irish pub. Had small Guiness with Schnitzel salad, Jude had enchilada – hardly Irish but good. Cool out so no Eis.

7 Sept 2012 – Heidelberg to Liege – 9 km

Didn’t sleep too well as streetcars ran by outside. Earlier bfast. To train with time to spare. We first go to Cologne. You have to have reservations for bikes on this IC train – there are numbered bike racks. Our bikes are on car 6. There is a chart on the platform indicating where on platform the cars stop. There are letters along the platform to guide you. Fortunately a man saw us doing this and told us that the cars were switched around today. So he helped us figure out where car 6 would end up. That saved us some scurrying around. The train goes ultimately to Berlin and is quite full. We get bikes racked after taking panniers off. Our reserved seats are 2 cars away. Compartment style – we have windows.

Train is 8 min late. We just have 14 min in Cologne to change. It is busy in Cologne station. But we get down then up to our platform using lifts. Train to Aachen is late anyways. Big crowd waiting to get on. About 10 bikes get off. By the time we get on, the bike area is taken up by passengers sitting in the fold down seats.

My comment to the passengers seated that this was bike area got no one to move. We were only ones with bikes so we’re able to leave them in the aisle and sit. At the next stop another bike gets on and there is no room for it in the bike area. So the conductor comes in and tells everyone who does not have a bike to leave the bike area. They all start complaining that the train is full and there are no other seats. So the conductor tells them again to leave – no one does. It was quite funny.

Another train change in Aachen. This train is old. We put bikes in engine car. No border formalities as we cross into Belgium. The train station in Liege is brand new.

We get directions then use Playbook picture of a map to get go hotel. Not a bike friendly city. Our Mercure hotel is modern – very nice room. The back wheel on Judy’s bike has developed a wobble, so we ask desk clerk where we could get it fixed. While he figured this out we went for a drink. This part of Belgium is French. Buildings mostly brick – looks drab after the bright colours of Germany. Beer here is small at 0.25l, very good. Back at hotel clerk says we will have to wait til morning for bike shops to open. Out for dinner – we both have local specialty – boulet Liege. These are large meatballs with a sweet/sour raisin sauce. Very good.


 8 Sept 2012 – In Liege – 15km

We opted out of the hotel’s €16 each breakfast! For €5.80 we got 2 croissants, a sweet bun and oj. A different desk clerk – woman with family in Toronto gives us directions to bike shop. We decided to stay another night in Liege.

We find “Total Bike” with no problem about 1.5km from hotel. Friendly mechanic mounted bike on neat little stand and proceeded to find a broken spoke. Then tightened a few other spokes to get the wheel true. A bargain at €5. Thank you Jules Duchesne for a quick fix. We biked along the river Meuse. Large river with lots of boat/barge traffic. We find the bike path we will take north tomorrow along the Albert canal. We get half a baguette sandwich and split it for lunch. For dinner we discover a pedestrian area near the hotel. Narrow streets, variety of restaurants lots of people out on a Saturday. We chose French and have steak and chicken. Very good. We book Holiday Inn Express for tomorrow night.


9 Sept 2012 – Liege to Hasselt – 74km

A day of adventure, heat and frustration. You know you have had a bad day of biking when you have to ask more than 12 people for directions and you have to get the compass out more than 4 times! We chose to follow the Albert canal to Hasselt – about 53km according to one website we found. We had a bike route map for Liege province which covered about half the canal route. The tourist offices are organized by province, so we could not get a map for the canal in the next province of Limberg. We headed out along the canal from Liege – amazed by the 1km long market on the north Shore of the canal. We cross to the north side as we leave Liege. The bike path is paved along the canal. The map shows the path crossing the canal at a railway bridge. After passing the railway bridge we go back then head inland looking for a way up to the bridge. We stop and ask a lady for directions. She spoke only French. It was hard to speak the French words as mostly German came out. She got us on the right track. Today it is hot, (30C) so we do not appreciate having to ride 20km more than we expected.

Four lane highway with bike lane!

We ride into Limberg province and now find Dutch speaking people. They mostly speak good English. We find the Holiday Inn Express hotel – very nice hotel. Very helpful clerk. He gave me a tour of the bar beer fridge. I tried a bottle of Palm beer. Last year our curling club brought in Palm on draft. The bottled version seemed to be less sweet. Dinner was exellent: Serbian/Greek.


 10 Sept 2012 – Hasselt to Geel – 56km

We go to tourist office to get maps. Helpful lady prints off couple of maps from “www.fietsnet.be”. They show the Fiets marker numbers and distances with a map. (Fiets is Dutch for bicycle) We decide to go to Geel (pronounced Heel) as it is about 50km mostly west along the Albert canal.

Albert Canal: busy industrial waterway.

We end up following 20 Fiets markers on the trip today. The routes are short and well signed. Another warm and mostly sunny day. The path is mostly paved. The first part is along the canal. Very industrial with a lot of gravel, sand, oil and gas facilities. Lots of barges. We do not have a hotel reservation. The first place was too much so we found one not too far from center. We walk into center and have drinks. I try Grimbergen – a very good dark beer.

Grimbergen duppel: still looking for a bad beer!

Had Westmalle dubbel after dinner at hotel.


11 Sept 2012 – Geel to Baarle-Nassau – 48km

Today the weather changes. We decide to head north towards Holland. We go to tourist office and get another Fietsnet route printed. The breakfast buns were too small to make sandwiches from, so we bought 2 large broodjes in town. We go back to our hotel to connect to Internet when it starts raining. In the end I phone and get hotel in center of Baarle-Hertog. Today’s route has 15 trails and is 37.4km. The rain is light at first, but soon gets heavier. The rain started around 11. We stop for lunch at a nature park center which has a covered area with tables. Also a free washroom! It rained hard while we had lunch.

A sheltered lunch

There was a group of students out in the park, most of whom were not prepared for rain. The rain eased as we started biking again and stopped around 2pm. We have a well deserved coffee in Turnout. The route from here was a straight one on a paved bikes only path. We cross border into Holland which is marked by painted Xs on the path. Then we cross back into Belgium a couple of kms later. Then back into Holland. This area has a number of Belgian enclaves inside Holland. Some interesting history here. We find the hotel we had booked by phone, only to be told that they were overbooked. They had booked us into another hotel which at first he said was only a block away. Then he said it was 800m away. It was really about 1.5km away. Fortunately the Sporthotel turned out to be very good. Cheaper by €40 with a reasonably priced restaurant. Bonus was reliable wifi in the room. Had Leffe brun draft. We had good chicken salads for dinner. We spent some time figuring out the rest of our trip. We were able to use the hotel computer to print out Fietsnet route maps for the next 5 days. The staff were all very helpful and friendly. We book B & B for tomorrow over net.


 12 Sept 2012 – Baarle-Nassau to Dordrecht – 68km

Cool this am – 12C. We get an early start (9:15) as we have about 60km to go. It starts to rain as we load up. We put on rain gear. Rain soon stops, but it is cool so we leave it on. It had rained hard overnight, so one dirt path stretch was mucky. But, mostly we were on paved paths/roads. We missed one marker sign, then got caught in Etten-Leur where a sign was missing. It stays cool all day with a steady NW wind. This slowed us down as we were going north. A little confusion coming into Dordrecht but we found our central B & B with no problem. It is right in the old part of the city, backing onto a canal. Our room has a kitchenette with an eating area. We walk around the old area. So typically Dutch – narrow brick buildings all joined along narrow canals. Stopped for drinks which included a Palm draft. We eat at Italian restaurant – Piccola Italia. It is small, so we go upstairs where we have a view down to pizza oven. We watch as owner runs the show. We share a salad and tomatoes caprese and a pizza. Excellent. The owner (Ercole) chats with us. He was born in South Italy and has been in Holland over 30 years. He speaks English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and Romanian. He made the pizza did the serving and clean up. He took us up to third floor (in Europe it would be second floor) where there was a banquet area. He told us that Heineken owns the building – he just rents. Interesting person and meal.

Ercole and his wife

13 Sept 2012 – Dordrecht to Gouda – 36km

Cool partly cloudy. Our breakfast was already in fridge so we had it in room. We have another Fietsnet route map. Short ride thru old Dordrecht to the ferry which we have to take across river???

We ask a man waiting for ferry whether we can buy tickets on board. He says yes, then gives us one free ticket. Saved us €2. Short ferry ride. Strong breeze from north slows us down. We ride along a dike by the river then head away and into the Kinderdijk windmill area. There are 18 windmills here that are a UNESCO site. Built in the 1750s, they are well preserved. They were used to draw water from low land up to higher canals to prevent flooding. We toured one that was a showcase. Very interesting.

This windmill was lived in.

Next step was another ferry across a canal. Short trip €1.50 for the 2 of us. We travel thru grazing land criss crossed by canals. We find our way into Gouda along a narrow canal. Our Best Western hotel is only a month old. Very nice. We walk into the center and have drinks (Leffe Brun) then an excellent chicken breast. Back at hotel we booked next 2 nights in Delft.


14 Sept 2012 – Gouda to Delft – 36km

Very good breakfast. We take buns for the leftover chicken from last night. It is cool again.

Gouda – canal in the morning

We ride into center of Gouda when it starts to rain. We get rain gear on. We have another Fietsnet route map. We find start point and head north out of Gouda. We ride along streets with narrow canals and houses on either side. The wind has changed to WSW today, so the first 5 km the wind is helping a wee bit. Then we turn west and have to deal with the winds and rain. The rain is off and on. We stop for coffee to get out of rain for a while. The rain continues as we head into Zoetermeer, where we stop for lunch. The rain stops as well. We buy cold drinks in a cafe and eat our chicken sandwiches. We turn SW pretty much into the wind. A few km from Delft we hit a stretch with trees down the left which funnelled the wind right at us. It slowed us down to 7 or 8 km/hr – like going uphill! Delft is busy city. We find hotel and crash. Out for pictures. Big central square, ornate old city hall. Wedding party coming out. Another shows up in large limo to go in. We were told that a wedding in the old city hall is the thing to do. We go for drinks in square – have a Palm draft – getting to like it. We do Italian tonight – salads and pasta. Eat inside where it is warm. Only a few hardy folks outside. Back to hotel where I sit in bar and do some blogging, as the Wifi does not work in our room. A common complaint on this trip.


 15 Sept 2012 – In Delft

We take a boat tour along the canals. Boat was full. We were only English speakers.

Delft – canal boat tour

There were a large number of breweries along the canals in the 1700s until cloth makers moved in and polluted the water. William of Orange was executed and buried here. We were told that they buried people in the church floor vertically to get more in there. The boat tour ended at the Delft pottery factory where we got to do a tour. There were a number of potteries here, but only 2 are left. Interesting tour. We bought toasted sandwiches for lunch, then crashed for a while. Dinner was a change of pace: Mexican! We both had chicken taco salad.


16 Sept 2012 – Delft to Leiden – 37km

Partly cloudy and cool. Very quiet in Delft on a Sunday morning. Wind from WSW as we first head west to The Hague before going north to Leiden. West of Delft we follow a canal where a large number of rowers are taking advantage of a nice Sunday.

Near Delft – lots of water to row in

We ride into The Hague using a tall building as a guide. It has a very modern center. We ride around and notice a parade of horses. A couple told that this was a practice for a parade next Tuesday that will include the Dutch queen. It was quite impressive. We find a McDonalds and have a coffee. Have to pay 30cents to use the toilet!

The route to Leiden takes us through a series of built up suburban areas.

We find our B & B along a canal. An old building. We have ground floor apt which used to be servants quarters. Bathroom on ground floor, bedroom one steep narrow flight up. Interesting, but not practical.  We have drinks along a canal. I learn a new dutch word – kreik, which means cherry. I ordered a Mort Subite Kriek beer thinking it was a medium brown beer. It was a cherry beer! Not my kind of beer. Leiden does not have a main square so the restaurants are spread out. We finally find one and have a very good chicken Schnitzel, fries with mayo and salad.


 17 Sept – Leiden to Haarlem – 36km

Not so cool today – about 15C to start. Cloudy with the wind from the WSW. As we head north we get a little help. We ride through fields of flowers.

Fields of flowers

The flowers are picked manually and individually. We watched workers walking up and down to rows picking out the ones in bloom. We stop in Hillegom for a coffee, then have lunch in town center.

Hillegom for lunch. Is that the sun?

Split an excellent apple tart. Straight ride into Haarlem. I had Fietsnet route that took us to just south of Haarlem. But we kept losing the signs, so just followed bike signs to Haarlem beside highway.

Find our hotel/B & B. Have to take our bikes about 400 m to a city bicycle garage. Our room is on first floor. The ground floor is a store with 14ft ceiling, so we have long climb up. Owner gave us coffee and chatted with us. He told us the building was a federally designated historical one. He has to go through lengthy process to get changes approved. We have large room with 12ft ceilings – 3 huge windows. Out for walk. Large central square with flea market on. We have drinks – Leffe brun for me, Judy tried no alcohol beer.

We go out for dinner to an Indonesian restaurant we had seen earlier, only to find it is full. We walk around and find Het Pakhuis and have the newest best meal of the trip! Judy has a square vege burrito with a spicy cumin flavour. I have pork tenderloin with a mushroom cream sauce, fries and salad. The meal was cheap too.


18 Sept 2012 – Haarlem to Schiphol – 28km

Our last day of biking. It is raining as we have breakfast but stops by the time we are ready to leave. We walk to the bike garage and get the bikes. We put on rain gear as it is cool and cloudy. We get directions to the Ibis hotel near the airport. It is pretty straightforward getting there. There is a strong wind from behind. A couple of showers but nothing bad. We find that hotel has small building where we can lock our bikes. We are taking the train for a 2 day visit with friends in Soest Germany and will leave the bikes at the hotel. We will stay here again on Friday night. We bike to the airport to get practice for the early morning ride on Saturday – 5km away. Bike path all the way. We go through a long tunnel under a runway. We check out the terminal and get our bearings for Saturday morning. Back to hotel and put bikes away.

It is a little sad finishing the biking part of the trip. But we are ready to come home after 1050km of cycling.


19 Sept 2012 – Schiphol to Soest – train

This is a train day. We leave one pannier each in the hotel baggage room. The shuttle bus is full,  but it only takes 15 minutes to get to airport. We have breakfast and catch the train. The train station is part of airport. We leave at 8:50am and arrive in Soest at 1:30pm. Bernhard meets us and takes us to his home in the village of Deiringsen. His wife Gisela is at the clinic for dialysis. Dave had lived with Bernhard and Gisela in 1964-65 for 3 months while working during a year off from university. We have visited them a number of times since then. Bernhard retired from the police force as chief of Police in the city of Werl. They speak little English so Dave has to translate for Judy. During our visits we always learn a lot about Germany.

We had seen a lot of solar panels on houses in Germany. People get about 25% of cost from government. Ironically, most of the solar panels come from China, who has been accused of dumping them below cost. Result is that many once thriving German solar companies have gone bankrupt. This includes a local Kitchener company who set up a plant in Germany.

They told us that brotchen (bread rolls) were being made in India and shipped on planes to Berlin where they are stored then trucked around the country. One just has to bake them. Bottom line is that they are cheaper than locally made brotchen.

Very little garbage goes into dumps in Germany. Most is recycled. Consumers have to separate it into 4 groups: paper, plastic, glass and compost. Anything else will typically be burnt at a high efficiency facility.

Cars have to have an annual safety check. Included is emissions. There is a rating given from 1 to 4, with 4 being best. You get a sticker which you have to place on the windshield. Large cities have signs which prohibit cars with less than a 4 rating from entering.