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Wednesday, April 23
The day didn't get off to a very auspicious start. I bathed and got dressed in my
travel clothes. I loaded the panniers on the bike and each time I did, I checked
to make sure everything was in its place. There is no substitute for careful planning
and even less margin for error when on a bike.
I took transit to the airport, only one patron was glad to see me and he had just
been released from jail. He just wanted someone to talk to, but, how do we say "Too
I arrived at the airport more than 4 hours before the flight. I arrive early for
a number of reasons. I don't like line-ups, and I have unusual baggage, so I need
to have time to prepare the bike for the trip.
I've pretty much got this stuff down pat, but it's stressful none the less. I propped
the bike up against a pole and started my prep. I lowered the air pressure of the
tires, took off the pedals and turned the handle bars. I then rolled the bike up
to the Air Transat booth and right away got a representative. 4 hours no waiting.
After the check in, I rolled the bike to oversized luggage for inspection before
bagging. Usually someone comes out with a wand, wipes down a few surfaces and returns
with the okay. The first time I went through this process, I'd already bagged the
bike, and I had to de-bag it. This time I thought I'd be smart.
I arrived at the oversized luggage area and announced my presence. The woman stared
at me blankly when I talked about the wand and told me to put it in the bag for scanning.
I did that and then she told me it was too big and would require separate security
measures. I imagined someone would be coming with the wand, but she said I should
have an airline rep present.
I went back and found an airline rep. She rolled her eyes and asked me to bring the
bike back to Air Transat where they would have it cleared.
I'm now free to go through security before I board the plane.
It's been a very long day. Of course I didn't sleep on the plane, even though there
was an empty seat in the middle. The flight was uneventful, providing have a plane
full of blondes is uneventful.(strike that comment).
We arrived on time and the bike came out in perfect shape. I'm having a few issues
with the panniers and the pannier rack, but I hope to resolve that tomorrow.
From plane to train and 3 transfers later and I'm in Aachen, just inside the German
border and looking for my hotel.
All the way along in the train I saw fields of mounds of earth, all covered with
black plastic. It turns out it is white asparagus season in Germany.
I didn't rush away from the hotel, but managed it just before 9:00. I then headed
in a general SE direction as it was my goal to head into the vells towards Koblenz.
After a period of time, I came across a rail trail. I was bopping down the trail
for a few klicks when I came upon a German female cyclists. She advised me the best
route to Koblenz was through Belgium. I would avoid the industrial towns that way.
I followed her route for a while and came in to a town, so I decided to get a few
things for the trip
After that I just followed my nose south and east and ended up in a nature reserve
just north of Rott. I stealth camped well off the trail and set up a shield with
my Coyote Brown fly. I had an eventful night. First it was COLD and I mean cold so
I had to use all my resources to stay warm. And I did stay warm. Animals are often
an issue, and in this case I was camping in a nature preserve. I'd already seen a
Great Blue Heron and an eagle, so I figured there were lots of birds. Also lots of
other things too.
See how I choose a stealth camping spot
Around 2:30 I heard something behind me. That makes me crazy, because I set up is
a certain position, with the idea that I can defend from the front. The back was
a bog so I thought it was safe. The noise was not a bird, and although close was
not that close. I also chose the spot because of the dry leaves and deadwood, so
that wasn't the noise. More of a grunty whine.
Unsure of what to do I decided to bark like a dog. This of course caused the noise
to stop, but start up again several minutes later. I have another series of long
barks, and that seems like that was the end of that.
Later one of the locals I met said that there are wild boars (small pigs) in the
Rurberg to Eifel
I've never seen such steep hills. In fact, the hill down to Rurberg took an hour
to go down. God knows how many hours it would take to go up!
The day started with breakfast near my stealth camping site. I had dry cereal I'd
prepared ahead, coffee and bacon on a bun. The bacon I bought in Canada doesn't require
refrigeration and comes in a plastic sleeve.
I headed for Roetgen, and decided to go to Simmerath. Somehow I ended up in Belgium
all morning travelling on little used logging trails. They were NOT well marked.
As a matter of fact, I didn't even know when I had left Belgium and was back in Germany.
In Simmerath I met a German chap who was very helpful. He gave me a map book and
told me how to get to Rurberg. I ended up in Einruhr. I decided to take a B&B (€24)
to clean up.
The day started well with a full German breakfast. It's rather like lunch with a
hard-boiled egg. First you start with orange juice and coffee. Then you move on to
the sandwich making part. Huge buns with plates of sliced butter cheese and various
types of cold cuts. The cubes of foil wrapped butter are about four times the North
American size. I'm sorry to report that no gherkins were offered. This breaky was
so big I could finish it and I also couldn't look at lunch until around 3:00
I started off heading off in the wrong direction three times. These were my only
choices from Einruhr. The third choice was better than the first two, but not my
I ended up far too west, almost in Belgium again and I had to bike on the side of
a highway, which is not so great. That said German car drivers show you a lot of
respect and won't pass unless they can stay 1 metre from you. Some won't pass unless
invited, but that's okay, you get more respect here than North America.
The hills were very steep today. I often got off the bike and pushed my way up the
Ever so often there are shrines. Sometimes it is very obvious because they form small
buildings. Sometimes they are just on the side of the road, and often they appear
to be grave sights.
After many kilometres I got to Dahlem and got on the Kyle Trail. That's the name
of the river. I'm stealing just about 2 kms from the town in a beautiful forest.
The overnight campsite was lovely. I got a great nights sleep, none of the problems
like the first time. A couple of drops of rain fell overnight, but I didn't bother
putting up the big rain fly because I'd set it up as a screen to the trail. The trees
haven't filled in yet and there was a spot where I could see the hammock from the
trail. Just hanging a Coyote Brown fly from between two trees and you see nothing,
since there is no shape.
I got up around 5:30 and broke camp. I made my way along the trail to a picnic table
to make breakfast. There was a marvelous sunrise, and looking back, I think I should
be warned about red sunrises.
I got on the trail again and typically got lost, but that's okay because I found
myself again and headed down the Kyll (kill) trail. For a while I thought people
were making death threats.
Around 19:00, while I was still lost. it started to rain. I found a couple of trees
and put up my rain fly and hung out for about 20 minutes until it stopped. I found
the trail again, and just after 11:00 I was getting seriously hungry, so I stopped
at a picnic table to make lunch. I'd just got the stove lit when it started to rain
again. Luckily I had chosen the picnic table with chair backs, so I was able to cover
the bike, the picnic table and myself with the fly. My using the pole, I gave myself
enough height that I could continue to cook my meal. I ended up waiting under the
fly for almost two hours until the rain broke and I could get out of there.
The closest big town was Gerolstein, so I headed there real quick like and found
a pension for €35. Nice place.
Today was the day I cursed everything. I spent the entire day retracing my steps
or walking the bike up impossible hills. Then it rained. Then it got really cold.
There was no cell phone coverage and I was running out of water.
The day started well with a full German breakfast in the guest house. I got started
a bit late, say around 9:45. I did take the trail the wrong way, but maybe not, and
I'm still unsure on this but I did end up seriously off the trail and way up some
major hills. Good pictures though!
When I got to the top of the last big hill I decide to phone Marlene. There was no
service. That's really out in the middle of no where.
It started to rain, but that was okay because I have now got setting up the rain
fly down to a science.
This time I set the long side up against two large trees. This means there are two
parts of equal length handing down. Using tent pegs I fastened down the side nearest
to the wind. I then strung the other part up against another tree and used my pole
to prop the other end. I had a comfortable lean-to in about 2 minutes. I set up the
Trangia stove and boiled some water. I wasn't planning on making more that a cup
of coffee, but the heat from the alcohol stove and the steam from the water soon
heated things up.
Things were looking up so I decided to call Marlene again. This time there was just
one bar but I got through.
After the rain stopped the sun came out and I decided to carry on to Kylleburg. I
got very near in the small village of Sankt Thomas (you know doubting Thomas) and
found a Gasthaus for €24 that included breakfast.
I'm now down to €105 so that means that I have spent just over €100 in 5 days on
the ground. I did come in with a small amount. I have €100 in a money belt that I
As the sun goes down, I'm looking at a cold but beautiful sky. I'm going outside
to see if I can make a cell connection. It didn't work.
In this part of Germany no one seems to speak English. I got a good start coming
from Netherlands, where almost everyone speaks English. Now I am using my dictionary
that Edan bought for me. Even then my pronunciation seems to set people off.
Oh, never mind breakfast is 8:00 tomorrow.
It was another one of those wet windy days.
According to the map, the worst hill was between Kylleburg and Phillippshiem, so
because I had completely had it with huge hills from the last 3 days of huge hills,
I decided to take the train. It was a good move. When I got to Phillippshiem, it
started to rain, when it got harder I had to put up the lean-to again.
The rest of the way down was good, and I started to look for stealth sites, but I
wasn't having much luck. The wind and the rain returned, so now I'm stuck in a hotel
that used to be a cloister.
What's on TV? How about Quiz Taxi. A taxi driver drives around Berlin and asks his
customers questions for cash prizes.
If they can't answer the questions, they can stop people on the street to see if
they can help.
Another day and more rain. Now I know how the grapes grow.
I started out just outside of Triere. I biked in into a big headwind. As I got to
Triere, I saw another tourer indicating to me from across an intersection. He has
been touring since March. He agreed that the weather was bad, but he said that one
time he woke up to over 10cm of snow. He recommended I go down the Mosel trail and
suggested a few campsites. He said Triere was full of tourists and I wouldn't want
to stay long.
It turns out he was very right. The only thing open were restaurants, prices were
high and the tourists circled around the cathedral like jackals waiting for their
food to die.
I took the tour around twice, once on foot the second time on the bike. I decided
I'd seen enough and took off back to the bike route and down the Mosel.
Check out my YouTube video of the stealth camping site
The trip is good. Ideal so far for those who eschew hills and prefer the route beside
a river. Rivers don't do hills.
I've managed to make my way to Loungburg (check spelling). Just off the trail. I've
taken a gashaus for €30 a night with breakfast as it is still pouring down every
so often. This weather is like being in Cornwall in March!
My touring friend told me that I wouldn't be able to stealth camp along the Mosel.
He said it's viniculture and hills. no space for camping. So far this seems to be
true. Along the Kyle it was all forest. Now we are down south, the grape has taken
On the way I saw signs of the May Day holiday. Coming out of the Pension, I saw shaving
cream and toilet paper everywhere. When I got into this town, toilet paper had been
used to decorate trees, mostly in the Mai Square. Also in the square was a 30 metre
high tree, with just the top decorated with ribbons and having branches. The rest
was just bare trunk.
I asked a couple who were touring if the weather was always like this sunny, cold,
raining. They said it is typical of April. Something to keep in mind when travelling
in this region.
It is raining again but I'mat my pension in a vinyard along the Mosel. I just asked
for a glass of qualitatswein. What arrived is nothing short of marvelous. It has
a very spicy nose, a light fruity and sweet finish. It's almost enough to turn you
off anything else.
If you go to Germany in early May, or late April you most certainly will need to
keep dry. I was very lucky that I had easy access to my rain fly. Today I have had
it up 3 times, for those rain showers that come through. It's been much warmer today
and the trail remains flat but very windy as it follows the Mosel down to Koblenz.
There is no question that stealthing in this region is difficult. It is a narrow
valley that has vineyards on both sides. In the relatively flat space there are roads,
rails and housing, along with a few vineyards that wouldn't fit on the side of the
The trees down by the river tend to be scruff. You can see the high water line, and
the flotsam on the branches. Getting more than a few hundred metres from anything
Check out the video of the local wine festival choir
Around Brauneburg I noticed that the road and the river separated a bit more than
normal, and following a trail from the bike trail, I went down to the Mosel and walked
along yet another grassy trail leading to the river. Following that along, I came
to a nice little stealth spot just off the trail but with full coverage.
I left the spot as no one had seen me. and carried on for about a kilometre where
is found a picnic table. I stopped for cocktails and later made supper. I had desert
and coffee and by then it was about 7:00 buts till too early to go to the site because
there are too many people using the Mosel trail, and too many people about in general,
so I'm going to wait until it gets later, colder and maybe wetter before I head back.
Stealthing by the Mosel
Where the Hell am I?
One of the better stealth nights. It wasn't hot, but I slept well right beside the
Mosel. The occasional river freighter roused me occasionally, but I slept quite well.
Around 5:30 I thought I dreamed a car went by just near me. Turns out it wasn't a
dream. It was a fisherman getting an early Saturday start. He wasn't too happy to
see me pull out of the bush.
I'm in Bullay, ready to head for Kobliz in the morning. Last night I spilled beer
on the keyboard (there is a logical explanation for this), but now the return and
correct key don't work. Other than technical problems, it has been a very good day.
The ride to Bullay was mostly un-eventful. I checked out the train station for my
trip to Koblenz. A train leaves around 8:15 tomorrow morning and gets into Koblenz
I'll head for the tourist office and book a room. I'll go to Koeln on Tuesday.
Once I've decide to head to my stealth site I will choose the spot when I'm out of
sight of the path. I have a place in mind but you never know until you get there.
Today in they had a wine festival. I dropped by just after lunch and stayed until
There was lots of cheap food. The wurst was €2, the pomme mit mayonnaise was €1.20
and the beer was €1.50. I met a couple from Belgium. They had been here for the long
weekend. He is a music teacher and they had a lot to say about life in Europe compared
to North America
I've been sitting typing my journal here for about an hour. I'm about 2 kms from
my site. No one has got up except for a couple just now. I of course have no control
over who comes down, but I prefer that no one sees my turn onto the trail that I
want to camp from. Having an access point is important; making that access point
obvious is fatal for stealthing.
The sun is setting on my little perch near Bullay. The Germans are very good at providing
benches every few hundred metres and picnic tables every few kilometres. This one
doesn't have a back for the seat like most, but it is still most useful for having
a picnic and writing my journal.
Finally I am in Koblenz. I overnighted behind a vineyard near Bullay. It was just
up a hill from the bike trail in a heavily wooded thicket. Most people wouldn't consider
it as a camping site because it had lots of thorn bushes. Thorns keep out unwelcome
guests, so I love them. That was probably my last stealth night unless you count
I got a pension in Koblenz for €24 with the washroom across the hall and the shower
down two floors. Thanks to the Allied bombing there are only a few churches left
in the city. The rest is pretty much modern.
The one thing I don't really understand is how the Germans treat beer. You can go
into a food store and find aisles of wine and liquor and just one six pack of beer.
And just try to find tinned beer! When you are on a bike every ounce counts, so glass
is a none starter. Only thing is all beer is in bottles, unless your buy it at a
That said, some of the REALLY large supermarkets actually have a beer warehouse where
you can buy anything from a case of 24 to a keg, and return all those glass bottles.
I'm finally in Koeln or Koln or Cologne depending who you are talking to. When I
arrived at the train station I was surprised to see the cathedral right there. It
is truly an impressive work of art. The twin towers are left open to the air, which
at the time must have been quite an engineering feat. Sadly much of the city was
levelled by allied bombs during the Second World War. They did miss the cathedral
and my hotel which is in a 13 century warehouse right against the Rhine. I splurged
on this at €30 but the ambiance makes it worth the price. I've been walking around
the city. It is a great place to shop for just about everything.
Things started out well in Koln. I had breakfast at the hotel and a quick shower.
I arranged for the hotel to keep the bike until noon. I first went to the cathedral.
When I'd been there the day before it was very crowded, so I thought I would arrive
early. Good plan, it was just me and several others who arrived before 10.
I tripped around and biked down the Rhine after. At 2:00, I arrived at the train
station well before the 2:30 departure time. As it turns out, the train was delayed
by 10 minutes (oh, horrors) and I didn't make my connection in Monchengladbach (I
don't make these things up). The next train to Venlo for my connection to Eindhoven
and Schiphol didn't allow bikes. This would not be a problem if Monchengladbach was
not overwhelmed with football fans, who drank cases of beer, and then brought on
mini-kegs for re-enforcements. I'd never seen that many people consume that much
beer, in so little time. Then they began to sing. I suppose they were songs we would
sing if at a Blue Jays game, but they seemed more, how would you say this, more violent.
Well I finally got to Venlo without insulting a football fan and made by connection
to Eindhoven and Schiphol. I took the elevator to the arrive concourse, and decided
I'd head outside to see if I could go into town. It was only 8:00 pm and I only had
to be ready to go at 5:00 the next morning. When I headed out I saw the covered bike
parking area and realized that that the posts were spaced about 4 metres apart. Just,
the right space for setting up my hammock. The last time I'd kipped in the airport.
This might just be better and probably not patrolled by security. This time Schiphol
is just a bit more unfriendly, so trying the outside site seems logical. I will of
course have to change into my fleece. I'm just not sure when I'll head out there.
Well, it turned out to be a bad idea because after about 90 minutes the police arrived
to kick me back inside the terminal.
April is a bit early for camping
An unsupported cycle tour of Germany Aachen to Koln