August 2015

Good times in Holland

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windmill near Punt 53Alena and Kevin arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol no problem and caught the bus to Haarlem – I was lucky to find them just as they got off the bus, so no problem getting them to our wonderful apartment on Schagchelstraat. After a good lunch at the Grote Markt and a nap – everyone felt much better.

Van Gogh Country

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Starry Night TrailFrom Houten we hopped down to the Nuenen/Eindhoven area – Nuenen is famous as being where Van Gogh lived in his early years while developing his style – and for the new Van Gogh Starry night bike trail. Eindhoven is famous as the home of Philips and also as one of the top 5 most bikable cities in the world.

Orange Hotel - Ulm

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Dinner in OrangeWe were worried about where to leave the car for the 3 weeks we will be cycling the Danube. We think we hit on the perfect solution – the Orange Hotel in Neu-Ulm. The Orange Hotel is one of those hotels we call “Human Filing Cabinets” that the French are so good at.

Ulm to Lauingen

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Orange Hotel UlmWell, it looks like we paid our dues to the weather gods - the weather has finally broken – no rain in the forecast and increasing temps a few degrees every day. We saddled up, bid farewell to Orange and set out down toward the river and across the bridge to the north side, where we picked up a beautiful section of the Donauradweg on a paved trail right along the river. This was about the last paved trail along the river we’ve seen – from there on it’s been mostly crushed limestone – some very smooth and some very rough.

Soon after we left Ulm it became obvious we were in Bayern - blue and white checks everywhere and people on the trail say Gruss Gott instead of Guten Tag.

On to Donauworth - day of detours and dubious shortcuts with a perfect finish

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Happy diners at Cafe Raffeallo DonauworthEiscafe in HochstadtAfter our lavish frustuck we headed out, marveling at the wonderful trail and the elaborate signage system. We were happily following the signs, when a man in a car stopped and started gesturing and speaking rapid German. We explained for the hundredth time “Danke aber wer sprechen nur ein bisschen Deutsch” and continued on. A few minutes later he came back and with gestures told us we needed to go back and turn another way – sure enough when we went back we saw the Umleitung sign we had missed and started off on a dirt road through a cornfield. This worked out fine and soon enough we found ourselves in the pleasant town square of Hochstadt where we treated ourselves to a luscious Eiscafe.

After Hochstadt the signs and maps told us the way to Donauworth was along the left bank… but Google said the right bank was shorter… Jim enjoyed discussing the matter with the corn… big ears/no backtalk. After some debate Jim, Google and the corn won out The path looked OK at first but rapidly degraded until it climbed up a steep levy to a hunter blind where it petered out entirely. By this time we were committed as it was a long way back to the bridge, so continued on through the farmers’ fields for quite some time.

Market Crashes and Wedding Crashers

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Maggie's retirement home after the market crashMarina at the "Sailing Lake"After Donauworth the trail suddenly leaves the river and begins climbing steep hills. These are the kind of hills that even with fulll power and lowest gear, fully loaded you're lucky to crawl up at 10 km - but you can fly down as fast as you can stand! We were also concerned about the market which is in freefall so I was happy to find a potential retirement home alongside the trail.  

As a result of all this, we were pretty tired by the time we reached Newburg - and there we encountered one more steep climb up to the walled well-preserved town. This area is quaint and interesting, but pretty tricky for the bikes with steep hills and really bumpy slick cobbles.