EuroVelo 15: From the Upper Middle Rhine Valley to Rotterdam
Day 8: Wednesday 31st July- Neuwied to Widdig (ca. 65 km):
"The second leg of my ride starts off with one of my favourite train journeys in the world; along the upper mid-section of the Rhine, through the wonderful small towns of Rüdesheim, Loreley, Sankt Goar and Koblenz. I have taken this train ride a number of times and I’ve cycled this section of the Rhine several times too. Each time I'm in awe of how the river cuts through the vineyards on the hillsides that are dotted with medieval castles and quaint towns.
Most of the tourists leave the train at Rüdesheim, probably the biggest of the riverside towns but also the most commercial. My bicycle and I continue our train journey through the long river gorge towards Neuwied, where I will recommence my cycling journey. I chat to the conductor and he tells me he does this journey every day and still enjoys it each time. I have to agree with him as the train passes Loreley, the rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine that towers above the flowing waters. This marks the narrowest part of the river. The mole with the statue of the siren protrudes into the river here [...].
I pick up my cycling journey [...] in Neuwied, a little north of Koblenz. I start at a sedate pace to get back into the swing of long days in the saddle. The route stays close to the river, with only a short detour around a chemical plant in Andernach. The weather is English summer; overcast with a threat of rain.
My bicycle rides like it’s brand new. It’s clean, the tyre has been replaced, the gears are fixed and it almost rides itself today. My cycling gear is fully washed too and I feel good. After twenty five kilometres, I reach Remagen. Knowing the historical significance, I have to stop here. It’s a pleasant town. With café tables spread out on the promenade and a pleasant atmosphere, it’s absolutely impossible to think of this as a strategic river crossing or a major war location. There are signs for cyclists to dismount to avoid the promenade walkers and I duly oblige. I eat one of my sandwiches sitting on a bench on the riverfront. I’m tempted to stop and stay here for the night as the restaurants look (and smell) so enticing and there is such a nice vibe of quiet chatter, but it is way too early with not enough kilometres on my odometer yet.
My cycling continues right along the river, through Unkel, onwards to Bad Godesberg. I pass the rock and the ruin of Drachenfels, which is jokingly known as the highest hill in Holland due to the high volume of Dutch tourists. The restaurant has recently been re-opened and it looks quite busy from here. I will leave the dragon legend of Fafnir to continue to bath in his own blood and to prey on the Dutch rather than me. (There is a subsequent legend that has a Christian virgin holding up a cross to the dragon and, in fear, the beast jumped into the Rhine and has never been seen again).
My route leaves the river briefly to avoid some riverside construction on the way out of Bonn, the capital of West Germany before Berlin was reclaimed as the capital of the reunified country. I’m getting closer to the 666 kilometre marker on the river and I wish to avoid stopping too close to this demonic point. In the afternoon sunshine, from my river level route, I notice a sun terrace, with its colourful parasols, up ahead of me, high up on the river walls. It looks to belong to a restaurant and a hotel which has beautiful views out onto the river. Further along, there’s a small, steep lane, breaking up the high concrete walls, and it leads inwards and upwards to the village. After demounting and pushing my bicycle up, at the top I cycle back south for a hundred metres into the small village of Widdig. The small, quaint hotel sits high above the bend in the river. I reserve a room, take a shower and quickly find a seat in the sun on the terrace for my daily Radler. I have missed this. I follow a second Radler with a tuna salad and some white wine. As the evening descends, customers come and go enjoying the warmth of the evening and the great views of the historic waterway."
The extract is a part of Pete Martin's new book and if you follow this link you can read an extended extract. For anyone travelling along Eurovelo 15, the Rhine Cycle Route, it’s probably worth a read. If you like you an also order the book as a nice present for Christmas on Amazon.