Two weeks cycling in Germany and I’m still in awe of and have a great appreciation for the abundance and ease of cycling here. It’s easy to find routes, use public transportation with a bicycle, find parking places, find food and lodging, find interesting sites…it’s just easy…I can’t recommend it enough.
A recent day of cycling in Koblenz is an example of the ease of cycling which made sightseeing a breeze.*
3. We joined hundreds of other cyclists sitting in one of many plazas to sip beer or wine and people watch. Our bikes had plenty of companions that were also parked on the many bike racks, to the lamp posts, or next to the empty walls of the square.
And, if our ONE day of cycling near Koblenz has not been convincing enough to try a cycle trip in Germany, here are a few more reasons: Germany, along the rivers, is mostly flat and very easy to navigate…just follow the rivers on either side.
There are many styles of bikes to rent including electric making it possible for all abilities.
The drivers are very respectful of the cyclists probably because they are cyclists, too.
The food – wine, beer, bread, cheese, ice cream, berries – is great!
The distances between sites is short.
Many people speak English, but it’s also fun to speak German.
The summer flowers are look and smell beautiful.
The weather is lovely.
The days are long. *10 months, 13,000 km, and 8 countries later – the bicycling culture of Germany is the best we’ve ridden on so far!
I almost hate to admit it, but we spent most of the past week at the Element Hotel near the Frankfort International Airport.
Normally, I prefer staying right in the heart of the city, and that was our original plan for Frankfurt, but having slept so well and discovered the easy, eight kilometer cycle path into the Frankfurt city center, it just made sense to take advantage of the “luxury to us” Element Hotel: super comfortable beds, handy business services, friendly staff with good English speaking skills, and beautiful wooded forest that made me think of Hansel and Gretel* every time we cycled into town.
I know I sound like a Trip Advisor review but what I’m really giving is 5 star review to the flexibility of cycle touring. In other words, without the bike, the hassle of a 15-minute walk to the airport to catch a 30 minute train into town or the expense (almost 50 Euros) of a taxi ride into the city center make staying near the Frankfurt airport inconvenient.
But, for us cycle tourists, we were able to utilize the facilities of a new, modern less-expensive hotel and enjoy the scent of newly cut pine in the shady forest on our daily cycle to errands/apppointments/sightseeing trips to and from the city center.
After almost 10 months of the road, our list of “to dos” has gotten quite long: American Consulate, doctors appointments, re-filling prescriptions, browsing bookstores for maps, faxing or express mailing paperwork, sorting and purging cycling bags, etc.
The commute to “work” has been pleasant and the return “home” at night to a good bed and a quiet room has really helped with the jet lag.
Now our “to do” list is empty and our internal clocks are adjusted to German time
Rhine River , fairy tale castles, good food and drink…here we come!
*We did get lost in the woods a couple of times and I thought of leaving a path of bread crumbs just like Hansel and Gretel. We did use a cell phone and a good map and GPS – and still got disoriented and wondering if we would find the witches candy house.. But after a week of commuting, I can confidently say, “Don’t stress if you get lost”. You know the saying “All roads lead to Rome”? Well, in this case, all paths lead back to the airport or Frankfurt or somewhere.
If cycling in SE Asia, New Zealand and Australia became our “way of life in retirement”, then cycling in Germany has become our “vacation.” What a dream to cycle in a country where cycling is the norm…where the bicycle lanes outnumber the highways (at least it feels like it)….where the cars yield to the cyclists….where the number of safe and scenic cycling routes into town is more than I can count…where the bicycle parking places are plentiful and convenient…where men in suits and women in high heels use their Ortleib touring bags for their briefcases.
We’ve gone from being the minority and standing out like a sore thumb as middle-aged foreigners on bicycles, to being part of the majority and not even close to the age of many of the cyclists we’ve seen.
For the past two days we’ve commuted into town via bicycle from our airport hotel. Merging on to Cycle Route 4 felt like entering a freeway for bicycles. We’ve cycled to appointments, done some shopping, grabbed a sandwich, sat at a fountain, listened to accordion music and soaked up the summer vibe along with thousands of other cyclists.
I might even go so far as to say we actually blend in. As a matter of fact, a handful of people have struck up conversations with us in German. It could be Eric’s grey hair or my sturdy build or cute Byron Bay skirt but I prefer to think it’s the bikes.
Making the cycling experience even better is the long, sunny 15 hour days, cold pilsners, crisp white wines, grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut, brown bread, tasty cheese, and apfelkuchen with coffee.
I know we’re going to have a lot of fun enjoying this cycling “holiday.”
I’ve always hated goodbyes and it’s especially hard when I love a place. Sitting here at the Brisbane airport packed and ready to fly to our next destination would be easier if I hadn’t loved Australia so much. As it is, I’m actually a little sad about leaving. We’ve had a great cycling experience.
To make leaving even harder, we’ve spent just over one glorious week in Brisbane, the longest we’ve stayed in one place in months. It’s been awesome to relax and not be on the move every day.
Thanks to the really nice people we’ve met, and the recent great bike rides (we loved Mt. Glorious, Mt. Nebo, and Mt. Clootha in Brisbane), and the perfect weather – sunny but not too hot -, and the excitement of being here when Queensland won the State of Origin decider in rugby (no offense to our New South Wales friends). We will leave Brisbane with smiles and good memories.
Our week in Brisbane has been a fabulous end to our glorious two months and 2600 kilometers in Australia!
What a change crossing a state line can make! After what seemed like weeks of cycling, we got to put away the ragged New South Wales map and open the crisp new Southern Queensland map.
Kingscliff to Gold Coast (46 km)
After a leisurely morning wake-up cycle watching the graceful paddle boarders near Tweed Head, NSW, we were immediately thrust into the frenetic energy of Queensland cycling up to a large Sunday morning surfing tournament just across the border. Loudspeakers blaring beach music and commentary about surfer stunts and wipeouts woke us from our reverie.
The cycle path was packed with sun worshipers and coffee drinkers. Looking out to sea were waves…lots of big waves…We couldn’t believe the change in less than one kilometer.
I couldn’t help but think that if Hollywood movies and television shows define American culture for Aussies, then the videos of surfers surfing huge waves, and surf life saving club competitions on long sandy beaches was my picture of Australia.
Seeing the Gold Coast vibe in person on a Sunday and during the Aussie winter school holiday where hundreds of families were enjoying their vacations made the bike ride even more entertaining.
Plenty of sunshine, pristine beaches, cycle paths, ice cream and coffee shops, tropical flowers and palm trees made the kilometers of this ride pass with little effort.
Even the rainy extra day we spent in Gold Coast did not dampen our spirits. We used the break from cycling to walk to the Australia Fair Mall where we watched the great movie “Inside Out” to pass the rainy afternoon.
Gold Coast to Garden City (77 km)
The goal of today’s ride was to stay on the V-1, the cycle route next to the M-1 motorway. There were lots of signs and most were helpful, leading us across traffic circles, under bridges, through parks, and along motorways.
We did very well navigating for the first 60 or so kilometers until near IKEA south of Brisbane. There we lost the V-1 and never found it again this day.
Luckily, just as my “witching hour” when I get grumpy and cold arrived (3:30 pm), we were found a nice, clean affordable motel located near the huge Westfield Shopping Center. After a burrito and a Pacifico beer, we called it a day.
Garden City to Brisbane 22 km
The final ride into the city was easy on cycle paths most of the way.
N.B. This ride from the Gold Coast to Brisbane could easily be done in one day. As a matter of fact, we crossed paths with another cycle tourist who rode the entire way from Byron Bay to Brisbane (around 200 km) in one day. But, I’ll bet he didn’t have time to stop for lots of coffees. 🙂