The Rhine Route by tandem – the experience (4)

Remagen in the direction of Koblenz travelling south is one of those notorious places – the bridge across the Rhine was destroyed in the war and never replaced. The pillars remain with the flags of theUSA, Germany and the European Union. It is a chilling place.

It is also an excellent part of the route – the surface is concrete and flat. It is shared with pedestrians and can be a shade busy at the weekend. But good progress can be made. And so it was that we made it to Koblenz for an overnight stay. The junction of the Mosel and the Rhine is busy with shipping and a shade restricting (no accessible bridges). The statue at the Deutsches Eck is that of Emperor Wilhelm I dating from 1897. It is imposing and celebrates the (re)unification of Germany after three wars. The picture (right, sourced from the US Library of Congress through Wikipedia) dates back to 1900. Though it was destroyed in 1945, it has always represented a desire and a will for unification. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the names of the Laender making up the federal republic were again inscribed.

Onward south we headed to Loreley (Sankt Goar), a picturesque section of the river. And uniquely dangerous for shipping due to its limited width and currents. There is an inscrutable traffic light system allowing only one way movement. According to myth, Loreley used to sing hauntingly from the rock bewitching sailors to their deaths.

The weather had changed since Koeln, the day before. No longer did we have to contend with heat and sun. Summer rain forces the compromise between waterproofs (getting too hot and by definition wet from the inside) and just getting wet and letting the cycling clothes do their ‘wicking’ duties. It is as it is – imperfect. It is partly why we do the outdoors.

We took another ferry across the river from Bingen to Rhuedesheim am Rhein largely to be on the correct side of the river for the campsite in Wiesbaden. But these are two places that seem to face off to one another. From a tourist’s perspective, they both do the same thing – provide food, drink, hotels and promenades. There is a lot of facing off on this river. Castles do the same along this stretch. Where there is one castle, you can be sure that there is another. Each with their dynastic and family histories.

The river is very tempting for a swim. There are many secluded spots with beaches – particularly in the section Mainz to Worms. Care is needed, however. This river claims many lives each year. The currents are serious. There is one further hazard. Whilst one may feel in a secluded spot viewed from the bank, that may not be the case from the river. Barges are one thing, but very large cruisers are quite another especially when one has travelled without a swimming costume.

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