EV15 Rhine Cycle Route (Leg 2)
At the time of writing this we are in Speyer. We are just over 50% of the way to Rotterdam, but bearing in mind we are continuing onto Calais (another 270kms) we are under 50% of the road trip which will be a total of 1700kms.
After waiting out a storm for one day on the island of Lindau and then two nights in Meersburg, on the northern side of Lake Constance (Known as Bodensee in German) we set off once the rain started to clear. A four - six day cycle trip around the lake is extremely popular, with hundreds of Europeans cycling by. The trip takes in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and can include a ferry trip.
We left Meersburg by Ferry for Konstanz. Cycled off from the ferry trying to make sense of where we were on the map. Finally had to ask other cyclists. Turns out two different ferry companies leave Meersburg for Konstanz. One goes to Staad about 7 km north of Konstanz and the other company to Kreuzlingen about 5 km west of Konstanz. We were in Kreuzlingen not Staad! Causing much confusion initially and later on we met another cyclist who did exactly the same thing and was equally lost. Such challenges makes life interesting, but gosh it's nice to know where you are!
Switzerland is absolutely stunning and was picture post card perfect in all ways. The only minor downside was how expensive it is. All Swiss people we spoke to lived near the Germany border, and thus did the majority of their shopping in Germany, simply because of the high costs in Switzerland.
On the north side of the Bodensee (in Germany) we passed the Zeppelin Museum. Hundreds were lined up to get in. As all info was in German we goggled what we needed to know and see. On fine days modern Zeppelins can be seen in the sky in this area.
The trail passed right past Rheinfall, where the Rhine River drops 23 metres. It is continental Europe's largest waterfall by volume. The place was packed with tourists who all paid €5 to view the spectacular sight, or plenty more to take a boat ride to the base of the falls. A good example of commercialism. We are used to such things being free in New Zealand.
An overnight stop in Bad Zurzach included a swim in an outdoor pool (one of four in what is a spa town). Cleanest clearest water we have ever seen, just like Pupu Springs in NZ.
Cycling through large cities is always a challenge. Cyclists heading the opposite way to us said Basel was well signposted. It might have been for them, but not for us and other cyclists we later spoke to. We got badly lost. Basel's urban area extends from Switzerland into France and Germany! A three country city!
As we were leaving the city we cycled into the suburb of Saint Louis. The old border post (unoccupied) was still there. What was stunning was the transformation from a German speaking suburb into a totally French one. Signs, language food etc changed instantly.
Neuf-Brisach is an 18th Century well preserved fortified town. We stayed there in a delightful campground. Another night was spent in a 1 star municipal French campground. Cheap but basic facilities with one other cyclist there. Total contrast to a big commercial campground in Stollhofen Germany that had two large swimming lakes and was fully booked - but always room for a cyclist - amongst 2,000 plus numbered plots and we were in an unnumbered overflow area. Crowded and noisy! However nice to have a beer and hot chips in the shade in their restaurant.
Our adventures are going better than an Australian couple we spoke to. On their first day of cycling on their big trip she fell off her bike and broke her arm. They were reduced to using trains and pushing their cycles to the nearest campground. They carefully studied their maps/internet to select campsites close to train stations.
We tried to buy a Germany SIM card for our phone but recently introduced laws meant they can't be sold to tourists - an anti terrorist move.
Today we are treating ourselves and staying two nights in a hotel in Speyer to have some R&R (rest) and because rain was forecast. Only a few spits so far. It has the Western Europe's largest Romanesque Church when it was consecrated in 1061 and is a gorgeous town!