This is a little late because we’ve been on the beer last two days 🍻
9:30 start from our ripoff hotel. Because its a Dutch Bank Holiday prices were sky high and there was limited availability. Its not as if we were ripped off but the room was nice – it wasn’t. Very tired and dirty, just like us.
It was relatively easy to navigate out of Rotterdam and we made good progress on what was the last section of our route.
Soon we were out of the suburbs & back by the Rhine.
We were both feeling mixed emotions – Happy to be completing our challenge but also sad it’s coming to an end.
Our route, 933 miles through 6 countries…
Now how to get home 🤔
…a plan was quickly formed. Metro to Haarlem, night there before short ride to the ferry.
The plan worked easily. The metro/train we got was easy to get fully laden bikes on to (unlike UK trains who have a big step). The service ran every 30 minutes, even on a Bank Holiday. It was cheap.
The hotel in Haarlem was a good choice as well. Great room at a fraction of the Rotterdam price.
We then went out for a celebration beer. The beer we liked turned out to be 6.5% and a good night was had in Haarlem 🤪
It was a cold clear night but I slept well cuddled up in Big Agnes. Sunshine again today. We had another brilliant breakfast of stale pitta with cheese and tomatos.
The campsite had some old military style buildings. When paying we found out it was an old Fort constructed pre ww1. It was one of a chain of waterline fortifications.
With a tail wind we made good progress on quiet roads. Most drivers were great, only one van gave us poth a close pass 🤬
Quick roads on the polders linked beautiful villages.
There was one area with 19 windmills.
At Kinderdijk we had to get a ferry to get round various bits of water. We took this ferry into the centre of Rotterdam.
I have to mention the ferry terminal. We all had to walk past this to get in the waiting shelter. If you’re pissed, stupid, not looking or a child you’ll end up in the river. In the UK H&S natzis wouldn’t have this. That’s why I love Europe.
Our hotel was shite for the price but very central so we had a walk around to see some of the wacky architecture.
We had a lovely sleep in the Holiday Inn & we’re reluctant to get going today. On the road by 10:40 – the latest yet.
The route took us out of Arnhem via parks and forest. Super route but slow going with twists and navigation stops.
Stopped at a restaurant by the river for a latish lunch. I ordered what I thought was a cheese and beef sandwich & Sarah got egg on toast with cheese, soup & a cheese croquette.
Her choice was way better than mine – the beef on my sandwich was raw ! I’m sure it was beautifully prepared but I like beef cooked. 😬
After the lunch stop the routevopened out onto cycleways on top of polders. Our speed increased & we even had the wind behind us at one point 😁
We used the lunch stop to look for camp sites for the night. Google maps was showing nothing in the area we wanted but Sarah had the Archies camping app. This showed one site at a reasonable distance. I was doubtful (if it’s not on Google…) but Sarah called and it did exist ! Result 👍and good learning that not everything’s in google.
Our route passed through this windmill. Apparently, it’s the only windmill that you can drive through – wonder why 🤔
We stopped at a Spar about 2 miles before the campsite to get some dinner. Outside the Spar was what looked like a mobile fish & chip van.
No fish but deep fried cheese, croquettes and chips for tea 😋 …with mayo of course !
We arrived at the campsite full so just sat in the sun & chilled. I watched the Giro highlights. G still in pink with two days to go – come on G 🏴
It was a cold night but we woke to bright sun. This dried condensation on the tent quickly while we had breakfast and packed.
Breakfast reached a new culinary low – cold veggie donner meat in day old naan bread washed down with instant cappuccino.
The campsite was lovely & we had the tent field to ourselves.
The only downer for the site was that the toilet block was miles from the tent. It was so far we rode our bikes there. It was on one such trip that I noticed a rattle from my front rack.
Investigations showed that one of the bolts holding the rack to the base of the fork was missing. No problem I thought – I’ve packed spares.
Problem was that the bolt wouldn’t tighten into the fork boss thread more than 3 to 4 turns. This left the rack loose – not tight to the fork boss. Don’t know the reason. It wasn’t mismatch threads – tried three different bolts. Maybe the thread was damaged as the old bolt worked lose. Who knows… Anyway to stop it moving on the bolt I used trusty cable ties. 🤞 it lasts the ride else Arnhem could be a bridge too far…
More pretty villages, now with windmills.
Even saw an old nuclear plant that had been turned into a theme park. Check out…
We were sad to leave the flat. It was warm, clean and full of chocolate!
So we had chocolate for breakfast and hit the road by 9:30am. It took about 20 minutes to get back on route which followed the river quite closely.
Once out the town we made swift progress on cycle paths on the flood defences.
We made good time covering over 20 miles before lunch. This brought us to Duisburg. I have no pictures of Duisburg for two reasons…
1. I thought if I got my camera out I’d get mugged.
2. There’s nothing worth photographing in Duisburg!
Duisburg is very industrial but unlike Mannheim (BASF) it looks and feels poor, rundown and dirty. As we passed through the city we saw some very shady characters hanging around on the streets.
This was a side of Germany we’d not seen so far. We got out as quickly as possible…
Out of Duisburg we came back to dedicated cycle tracks in beautiful countryside. Save as above really so no photos. We stopped for a snack at a country pub. Apart from that we just pushed on to Xanten and our campsite for the night. It was a 50+ mile day.
Good night’s sleep snuggled into Big Agnes. Woke to a grey day. Over breakfast chatted to a French guy who’s turned up late and camped next to us.
He’s a retired high voltage electrician who’s on a solo cycling trip. He’s playing a game where you have to find mosaic images hidden throughout Europe. Can’t remember what it was called but it had an app !
The route closely followed the Rhine. Firstly through countryside but this changed to heavy industry as we approached Dusseldorf.
Not much to photograph except the sign below. Not sure if it was a joke ?
It was a cold & grey day when we reached Dusseldorf. We sat by the river and decided we’d had enough cold for the day – hotel time. This proved difficult with many hotels stating not having bike storage. Also prices were high.
To cut a long Google and booking.com story short we ended up with a flat. Turned out to be a lovely flat & the best thing about it was the amount of chocolate in bowls around the place 😋
We showered and went to the nearest veggie restaurant. This was Sattuni, a middle Eastern restaurant. We were the only people eating in. Had lovely food and chat with the Palestinian owner.
We talked about travelling and learned he was off to Palestinian for a 2 day visit to his parents. He was very worried because they were trying to arrange a wife for him !
Back in the flat, we watched Giro highlights 😁 before bed.
Disasters: No cheap hotels in Cologne and shower trauma…
We had a good night’s sleep in our funky design hotel room. For £50 it was a bargin. We were feeling lazy today so paid for the hotel breakfast, which was good. Considered stopping another night but the rate was £150 now.
Before leaving I had a fiddle with Sarah’s front break. I think I’ve improved it so it should work till the end of the trip now. If it fails catastrophically & Sarah ends up in the Rhine I may be under investigation 😬
Todays route was mostly industrial with some nice parks thrown in.
No wonder the German economy is faring better than ours – they do stuff and make stuff.
We stopped in Cologne for lunch. The cathedral is stunning and big ! Would have stopped the night but couldn’t find a reasonably priced hotel with bike storage. The cheapest we found that would look after our bikes was €250 for the night ☹️ …so at that price we peddled on.
Ended up at a small campsite near Chorweiler. Lovely pitch but the showers are lacking for two reasons…
1. Control is a nightmare – the difference between freezing and striping your skin with steam could be measured on an atomic scale.
2. There were no shower doors or curtains. You’re just standing there freshening your bits while blokes are wandering by with their washing up ! Good job they’d eaten else I could have put them off their wurst !
Despite ear plugs, it was a noisy night with broken sleep. Trains and boats run all through the night. Their noise was added to by a large French cyclist in the next tent down who was snoring loudly. 🙉
To add insult to injury, some birds craped on the tent badly enough to require a cleaning operation before it could be packed away.
We were on the road by 10am and fighting our way through the many weekend cyclists.
Not long after starting we had to stop to adjust Sazz’s front break. The miles are starting to take their toll on both bikes now. While stopped we were passed by a Canadian couple we’d seen the day before.
We caught and passed then a short time later. This started a bit of a race which I’m glad to say we won but it took about 6 miles to drop them.
The cycle paths were quite rough on todays section. This, along with sunday cyclists, made for what felt like slow progress. We actually managed 20 miles before lunch !
We stopped for lunch at a village fete where I tried curry wurst mit frites.
Back on the road (at a slower pace), todays target was Bonn. The views on route wèe again wonderful.
We used booking.com to find the cheapest hotel which actually turned out to be good ! The colours and design are a little wacky.
Beautiful campsite with a chilled vibe. Sun shining. Hot coffee while watching giant barges float by. The only thing that spoiled it was that some bafoon cannot read German and got two pots of herby cheese spread instead of healthy bercher for breakfast !
First World problems & we had a laugh about it. It was funnier at the time than it sounds now.
It’s a German long bank holiday so we were a little concerned about campsite availability in koblenz. …so we hit the road at speed. After being held up by a group of ebikers who wouldn’t let us overtake, we covered the first 20 miles in under 2 hours ! 💪💪💪
The only campsite in koblenz is big and busy but they had room for tents 😁 we pitched quickly and headed off for a look round Koblenz. We got from the campsite to koblenz via a small ferry over the Moselle river.
“Moselle, don’t you mean Rhine ?” I hear you cry… The Moselle and Rhine join at Koblenz. The Moselle separates the campsite from koblenz.
A few wines before early bed. Ear plugs needed tonight. Trains, boats and kids noise 😬
Got sidetracked by some nice wine last night so this is gonna be a short one.
Lazy start on a lovely camp site.
Mannheim is home to BASF factories. They are massive & employ over 30,000 people. The picture below shows company bikes for employees to use around site. This is just one of many !
We had high hopes for Worms – it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe. Hopes were dashed – its a dump !
We did find a nice restaurant and ordered tarte flambé. We thought this would be like French tarts & there was a choice of savoury fillings. So we ordered one a piece and a bucket of chips cos we’re hungry.
Oh what a mistake that was. Tarte flambé in germany is a pizza and they were huge – see picture below…
We only ate half and asked for a doggy bag for the rest !
Despite a nice hotel room we both didn’t sleep brilliantly – don’t know why. Breakfast was some leftover bread thing with custard and icing + a yoghurt. I think the yoghurt was on the turn but it didn’t taste too bad.
The sluggish start meant we hit the road by 9:30am. It was a cold and windy day. The first problem was to navigate around a section of the cycle path that was supposedly flooded. We managed not to get lost and found a route around.
It was cold and windy. Jackets, hats snd gloves were needed. We brewed up on a bench to warm up.
The route up till now was cycle path along the flood defences. The route today wasn’t inspiring- don’t get me wrong it was lovely but just not up to the previous days.Also we were tired and cold so not feeling the love today.
We stopped at a cafe for Scooby snack – chips, cake, and a coffee. Whilst there we chatted with an interesting German and a Spaniard.
When we finally got to our camp site there was no-one in reception. We were reading the signs on the reception when a German turned up on his ebike. He told us he’d spoken with the site earlier today and they’d said you pitch up and pay tomorrow.
So we head into the tent field – which is empty. Thing is the German also follows us and attempts to pitch right by us.
We weighted till he’d pitched then moved ours 20 yards away – wierdo !
Then I had a look at Sarah’s gears while she cooked tea. Her chain gad fallen off several times. Tea was pasta, tomatos, tuna, kidney beans and olives. This was OK but not going to win any awards.
Edna. Just heard from Sarah you’ve been in the wars recently. Best wishes for a speedy recovery 💪💪💪
Mileage today: 44 miles.
Total mileage: 434 miles.
Disasters: Finding campsites that are open ☹️
It was hard to get up today. We were in a lovely hotel with a super king size bed.
So a later start than normal. The first 40 minutes riding was to get out of Strasbourg. The cycle lanes took us past beautiful bits of the city. We’ll definitely be coming back for a city break here.
Then back to situation normal – dedicated cycle track through stunning countryside.
I have to say the sinage on this leg was poorer than normal and we did lose the path a few times. Also there were a few route closed signs. Luckily both times locals said we could ignore them 👍
We stopped for lunch at a cafe by a marina. It was definitely a locals place & no English translation on the menu. With poor mobile signal we were struggling to work the menu and thought about going else where. We didn’t mainly because Sarah had chomped through all the free pretzels on the table already. Glad we didn’t because the food was great though a tad expensive.
Then the rain came – well rain with thunder and lightning. We sheltered under a willow tree in someone’s garden until it passed.
I wore a helmet cover which Sarah found hilarious. She called me Mr Condom head – don’t know why.
We’ve done well with just rocking up at campsites and getting in. Today our luck ran out. The three we tried were shut or not taking tents.
This left two options… 1. Continue another 12 to 15 miles to the next town with camping. 2. Get a hotel nearby.
Being hard core cycle tourists we were up for the extra mileage but then the rain started again. …so we’re tucked up in another hotel tonight 😁
Here’s a little map showing where in the world we are..
Woke to the patter of rain on the tent. It was very light but we decided to get the tent down before it got soaked.
As we packed the rain stopped but disaster struck when Sarah discovered she’d lost a pair of pants somewhere on our travels. Also an ant infestation meant that everything needed brushing down before packing.
Living like a king with coffee, Danish pastries and profiteroles for breakfast.
We said goodbye to the nice but wierd campers we chatted with last night and hit the road about 9am.
I woke early, about 6am. It wasn’t a woodpecker but my bladder to blame this time. It was a dry but overcast morning with little rain forecast 😁
Breakfast for me was Danish pastries & a pot of profiteroles washed down with instant Cappuccino.
On the map the route looked easy and straight alongside the canal de Rhone. The route ran along side the campsite but after a couple of miles there was a diversion for maintenance work. The diversion was poorly signed so we made our own route up using the many cycle tracks in the area.
Back on route there were intetesting WW2 memorials on route.
Lunch was the usual…
Fuelled with fine French cheese it was an easy ride to Neuf Brisach. This is a wallet town from 1700’s. The town is a UNESCO world heritage site because of the fortifications. Wikipedia’s got some good info…
You can ride your bike round the fortifications and see this…
We had a quick beer in town at a very French bar. Shopping & back to the campsite to make tea…
While our washing was drying we chatted with other campers on the site. There were Rome interesting characters. A Swedish couple in their 70s who had big shopper bikes and a road atlas. A German lad doing a PhD in AI and an Aussie girl who just seemed a bit weird.
OK it’s 9:55pm & I’m knackered so this will be a short one.
Woke early because a bloody woodpecker started hammering at 5am. Bastard… Don’t get me wrong I love nature but 5am puts me in a grump.
We got up at 7am and started packing – rain was forecast & we wanted to get the tent away dry. It doubles in weight if put away wet.
We breakfasted with our Dutch friends in a covered area near where the tents were. We seem to meet a lot of Dutch cycle tourists and they’re all going to Rome !
I smelt a strong smell of gas while we were both using our stoves which was worrying. So myself & the Dutch guy had a good sniff around. We concluded it wasn’t our gear leaking & it must have come from upwind on the campsite. Phew…
We started cycling about 9:30am. Again lovely cycling on cycle track or quiet roads.
For lunch, yep you guessed it bread, crisps, cheese and tomatos. Food of the God’s 😋
We were in Switzerland for most of the day. Everything is so perfect here – even the graffiti is nice…
The idea was to do about 40 miles today but weather & campsite availability conspired against us. We we ended up only doing 29 before finding nice site for the night.
The site had a covered ebike shelter with electric sockets we were allowed to use. We parked the bikes and made a brew. While relaxing with my brew I could smell gas again. That’s two much of a coincidence!
The stove was checked and checked again – no leaks. Then I remembered Sazz had a spare canister in her bag. I opened her pannier & got a huge blast of gas. The canister valve had broken and was leaking. This was in the pannier that was about 18″ from the stove I’d used to make a brew 💣💥
To celebrate being alive we ate at the site restaurant before a walk to the shops for bedtime chocolate. Night all x
…oh and I spotted one of Switzerlands four nuclear power stations.
The curtains in our apartment were see-through so we woke early when it became light. That’s OK because we wanted to get on the road & bag a few miles today.
Breakfast today was porrage with Nutella spread. After that we moved our bikes down the narrow starecase from our flat. This really was a struggle but luckly managed it without breaking anything.
While we were loading the bikes outside the owner turned up. She was late 40’s but looked quite rough. She was nice so we didn’t slag her apartment off. Given the amount of booze bottles laying around I think she was a functioning alcoholic. Anyway here’s a shit video of the apartment.
On the road the scenery is getting boring – beautiful countryside and picture postcard villages. We’ve travelled over 200 miles now and not seen a rough area ! Think we’re the nearest thing to chavs in this area of Europe! Anyway here’s some nice pictures…
You get the idea… Don’t think we’ll be affording a house out here anytime – ever !
For a change we had bread, cheese and tomatos for lunch. The cheese I’d chosen is gorgeous – if you ever see this get some.
The Rhine falls are the biggest falls in Europe by volume. We pulled up at the Falls visitor area which was at the top of a steep climb. It had stalls and an ice cream vendor. We stopped to catch our breath & have a look around. We weren’t there long before we were told no bikes in this area by a very rude employee/ owner. We moved on & I gave the guy a very disapproving glare…
So we head off for Flaach where we’ve booked another expensive Swiss campsite. We fet a few miles down the road and Sarah realises she’s left her bar bag at the Falls! That’s her bar bag with passport, wallet etc .
We race back to the falls hoping that everyone in Switzerland us too rich to nick our stuff…
I arrive first and go to where we’d been sitting. No bar bag ! Panic sets in…
Close by was the ice cream seller. I asked him had he seen a bar bag. Well as I can’t speak German there was a lot of pointing at my bar bag.
He nodded his head and called out to his friend – the grumpy bloke who’d told us to piss off. This time he was all smiles as he handed the bag over – probably thinking he was going to get a handsome tip. I thanked him in my best German and walked off …so the top was – don’t be such a rude grumpy bustard 😁
We set off again for Flaach, this time successfully. The campsite was large – mostly motorhomes and caravans. There were only three tents. So with Swiss efficiency they lined us up next to each other! Here’s our pitch…
Tea tonight was gnocchi with mixed veg and tuna in a passage sauce. I used some passage to make a type of Bloody Mary with Schnapps . And then it was time for sleep…
Great night’s sleep in a dry bed. We woke early and got going to Constance. The Cycle paths through Friedrichshafen are brilliant but it’s slow going because of the junctions, crossroads & number of people !
The entire area is beautiful though but I think there is a lot of money round here.
After the ferry we had lunch which reached a new culinary low – a fish sandwich 🤢 Luckily there were lush local strawberries for pudding.
We ate this feast by the lake and watched this pair of swans careing for eggs and building the nest up.
Full of fish & strawberries we continued to our apartment for the night. We’d booked a one bed apartment through booking.com. It was the cheapest one in the area by a long way but the description sounded OK.
In a word its shite – a top floor flat that’s badly in need of renovation & it’s dirty. It is in a handy location so it’ll do for tonight.
The strange thing is that here are booze bottles and cans all around the outside area. Most are empty but some are full ! The strangest thing is the length of the WiFi password
We dumped our gear and carried the bikes up some unlit stairs before heading into Constance for a look round.
Constance is a lovely city where the architecture hasn’t been spoiled with plastic shop fronts.
As old and characterful as it is the planners have included so much biking infrastructure. The result is loads of bikes and not many cars. Interestingly 75% of bikes are ebikes
After a good walk round we returned to our Palace for some food and a little tipple…
Disasters: One – red bungee failure lost us the race !
Woke to a dry morning but the forecast isn’t good so we were up by 7am. We met our Dutch friends at the communal table while we were having stale bread & cheese again for breakfast.
I don’t know how it happened but we seemed to end up in a race to see who could pack tents the quickest.
We took an early lead but then my toilet habits allowed the Dutch to draw level. (Sarah says I’m like a Hobbit – first breakfast, second breakfast… you get the idea)
We’d both got tents down and bikes nearly packed when Sarah “lost” a bungee ! With this the race was lost and the Dutch said their goodbyes. Close but no cigar…
On the road the cycling was perfect. Dedicated cycle track through stunning scenery. …and it was flat 😁
We made swift progress towards Lake Constance which was our goal for the day. We wanted to get there before the rains if possible.
We did get caught in showers strong enough for rain gear but not for long. It rained for our duration in Liechtenstein – country number 2.
By Sennwald we were in sunshine. We nipped over a bridge into Austria (country number 3) for a gourmet lunch of crisp and tomato sandwiches.
Fully fuelled we set off again for Lake Constance, stopping once for an ice cream at an open air craft fair 😋
We arrived at our chosen campsite to be politly told it was closed until the 12 May. This was a bit of a comedy moment because we looked at the site where there must have been over 100 caravans & motorhomes with families playing round them. They obviously didn’t want Brits after Brexit ☹️
Anyway we moved on to the next site who welcomed us. We got a lovely pitch with grass this time & set up our camp (after a cheeky beer in the site bar)
Having run out of crisps, cheese and tomatos we opted for food in the campsite bar. Now in Austria we wouldn’t have to sell a kidney to afford a meal.
The food was just snacks really & we ordered a cheese salad and a Margareta pizza. Nice food & beers arrived. Well they tasted nice to me but after 50 miles I’d have eaten a scabby dog !
After food the waitress brought us complementary spirits as a digestive. I can’t remember what it was called but the chef made it !
Now I know a little about distilling & this was a strong, clean spirit @ ~60% abv !
Then a second one appeared when we paid the bill 👍 Think I’ll sleep tonight…
We just got back to the tent before the forecasted heavy rain started. …and it’s heavy 💦💦💦 🤞 we’ll stay dry tonight…
..as a footnote some of the caravans in our site deserve a mention…
After a night of rain, we woke to thick mist. This quickly burned off to show the beauty of the area our campsite was in.
We had a fine breakfast of stale bread and cheese washed down by a banana and instant cappuccino. Although a great weight saving idea instant cappuccino is rank !
We hit the road by 10am and were straight into an ascent to a pass. The climb was hard but the views stunning and the roads relatively quiet.
The weight of gear on my bike is really obvious on the climbs and hairpin descents – it may be time to ditch the cappuccinos.
We both had to stop numerous times to let our brakes cool – Sarah burned her hand testing how hot her disks were !
The gradients eased, we came round a corner to see this descent – 4% for about 2 miles 😁
This bought us to Tamins which is the confluence of the Hinterrhein and the Vorderrhein. From here it’s simply known as the Rhine.
At Tamins we saw cows…
From here it was a short ride to Chur which is the oldest city in Switzerland. Sarah was expecting great things from Chur but we were quite underwhelmed by the architecture. It all seemed fairly new & no cobbled streets !
What we did find was that Chur had a mountain bike race weekend on. Part of the town was the race circuit. Today was the junior races, but the city was busy with competitors and spectators.
We had some more stale bread and cheese for lunch while watching the action.
Shortly after Chur there are two route options. One route is flat and follows the river. The other diverts into the hills to see the Heidi villages.
Now for those who don’t know Heidi is a classic children’s novel by Swiss writer Johanna Spyri, published in two volumes in 1880–81. The title character is a young orphan who is sent to the Swiss mountains to live with her grandfather.
It’s the six-part 1959 BBC TV series starring Sara O’Connor in the title role, with Mark Dignam as her grandfather and Lesley Judd as Klara that Sarah & I remember.
So the hunt for Heidi’s house was on ! It was a hilly search. We knew we were in the right area but we sadly failed. Sarah is now sad…
Feeling deflated we booked a nearby campsite in Bad Ragaz. This is the most expensive camp site I’ve ever been to – £46 for the night ! For 46 quid you’d thought you’d get some grass on your pitch – no !
We were pitched near a nice Dutch couple who gave us a weather update – no rain tonight – Yay !
We made veggie burgers with cheese & tomato for tea & just got cleared up before the rain and thunder started !
Today is the first real day of cycling. EV15 starts from the top of Oberalppass which is where the Rhine starts. We got our last train, a funicular from Andermatt to Oberalppass about 9:30am and started cycling about 10am.
The route starts with a monster downhill with hairpin bends. This would have been great without luggage but on a quite flexible Dawes with ~22kg of gear it was scary. The bike wobbled like a jelly and the brakes got too hot to work. (Note to self – new touring bike with disk brakes needed). Sarah also wants a note added about needing a new touring bike as well.
Once the gradient reduced, we could enjoy the scenery.
The route was mainly down hill on the A19. The traffic was light and mostly respectful of cyclists. We passed through many picture postcard beautiful villages. The musical backdrop was Swiss cow and sheep bells echoing off the steep valley walls.
There were some off-road sections which ran parallel to the A19 route. As its a narrow valley you could clearly see the off-road route – it looked hard going on heavy tourers. We kept to the A9 but some of the sections from Muttiens to Ilanz looked to have a good surface and may have been a better option than the main road.
At Ilanz we did some shopping at Spar and tried to call a campsite to book. The call went to answerphone. We left a message and pushed on to the campsite which was 4 miles up hill !
It was a slog to the campsite with gradients of 12% at one point. The steep unrelenting gradient even made me question the decision to buy beer !
We arrived at the campsite about 3:30pm. Reception was locked. We tried phoning again to no avail. With the help of Google translate and some friendly Germans we worked out the self registration forms, the fees and local taxes. These were placed in an envelope and posted through the reception door so they couldn’t accuse us of being bad.
It’s a lovely camp site. Firstly there are very few people here & none are British. The showers clean & hot and as the photo shows there’s a covered seating area.
So, instead of writing this sitting under the stars, I’m wrapped up in our tent, hoping for no leaks 🤞
Disasters: Not getting a couchette for the Amsterdam to Zurich leg. 🤦
Well that was a night of broken sleep so we’re both knackered. After being kept awake by the Italians (who we’re actually Spanish) I was woken early (6am) by a large gent shouting into his phone.
Zurich station was clean & functional, as you’d expect from the Swiss. Only problem is there’s no seats in the station except for the cafe. So we had a coffee & pastry for breakfast and waited for our 10am train to Andermatt.
We’ve decided that for long distance train travel to be fun you need a sleeping compartment. So far our travel time is…
Aspatria to Newcastle 2 hours
Ferry to Amsterdam 12 hours
Amsterdam to Zurich 12 hours
Zurich to Andermatt 2 hours
Total travelling time 2 1/2 days so far & we’ve 1 train to go. Just flying is now seeming a good option 🤨
The journey to Andermatt was beautiful and we got an early glimpse of the Rhine.
In Amdermatt we sat out in the sun & had some lunch of bread, cheese & tomatoes. The mountains are beautiful but there is a lot of new build going on.
In the hotel we crashed for a few hours before showering & going out for food.
We had burger & chips in a nearby pub. It was lovely but Switzerland is expensive – it was £80 for that & 2 beers each !
Disasters: 2 (minor) Both of us had low speed falls today – no injury or breakage.
We woke early after a good night’s sleep. The boat didn’t dock till 9:35 so we had a leisurely start for once.
Once off the ferry we followed a maze of beautiful cycle paths into the centre of Amsterdam.
The cycle paths are busy with many ebikes so you have to watch your back !
The big surprise was that these little cars were allowed on the cycle paths. They’re much quicker than the bike traffic and usually driven by old people – scary 😳
Being pensioners now & generally tight on cash we declined the €18 breakfast on the boat thinking there’d be a cafe on route. We didn’t find one till near Amsterdam by which time we were both getting hangry !
Pannini & chips later we felt fine again & continued to the centre of Amsterdam in sunshine.
After scoping out where the station was we went about killing a few hours. Now the city is busy and has a lovely vibe but it’s not easy to wheel heavily laden bikes through the crowds. It was while doing this we both had our falls !
Sarah found a huge underground bike park. It would have been perfect but the luggage wasn’t secure. The attendant seeing our disappointment then offered to look after our bikes and luggage for a couple of hours.
After picking our bikes up we sat in the sun outside Central Station & had tuna pasta salad for dinner while watching barges going up the river.
Boarding our train was stress free, especially after one of the locals showed us (with perfect english) the screen that detailed exactly where our carriage would stop. It’s at this point we met other cycle tourists 😀
Now being pensioners of limited means – have I mentioned we’re pensioners now ? Anyway we opted for the cheap seats rater than a sleeping compartment. Well about 11pm we really started to regret this as we were sitting near a group of very excitable Italians who loved to shout at each other.
The day started the way all cycle trips seem to start – early & in a rush. The plan was to get the train to Newcastle & then cycle to North Shields for the ferry. To get the train at Aspatria I used the van to get bikes, luggage and Sarah to the station. I then drove the van home & Hazel gave us a lift back to Aspatria (via Greggs 😋)
Travelling with bikes in the UK is always stressful and today was no exception. You can’t book bikes on Northern rail trains so you never really know if you’re going to get on !
Luck of the God’s was with us today and we were able to cram our bikes in the shitty little space allocated for two bikes. Don’t get me started on providing an integrated transport system – grrrrrrr….
Once on the Newcastle train we started to relax a little knowing we stood a good chance of making the ferry now.
From Newcastle it was only a short, flat cycle down the Tyne to the ferry terminal at North Shields on NC72. We stopped at The Cycle Hub, our favorite cycle cafe for a coffee & cake. https://www.thecyclehub.org/ Great cakes 😋
On the ferry we had a cheeky pint to celebrate. At £5.00 a pint for Heineken it was only one !
The food on the ferry was also rip-off prices. How can you charge over 7 quid for a bag Maltesers !
I’d love to have been in on the meeting where a bunch of greedy accountants decided putting a “duty free” sticker on the Maltesers made it look ok.
Luckly we’d made sandwiches else a full meal may have required a call to the Cumberland to remortgage the house. We ate these and some rather dry falafel on deck while sailing down the Tyne to the sea.
We retired to our cabin for the evening
Soon it became apparent we had a cabin next to a Dutch teenage girls choir who kept singing the same song over and over again – quite amusing really.