It’s 9.15pm and we’ve managed to find an open restaurant in Speyer. I flick through the menu and nothing is in English. I recognise Schnitzel, Tomatensuppe, baguette. It’s all I’ve been eating the past few days and I’d like a pasta. From what I’ve gleaned from Lance Armstrong’s autobiography, pasta equals good food for cyclists. It’s all about the pasta.
Suddenly, I spot the word lamm. That must mean lamb. I didn’t realise I could speak German. I order lamm and sit back to enjoy my new surroundings.
Speyer is one of the larger destinations along my five day short tour of the Rhine but it is just as welcoming as some of the smallest towns along the way. If my first three days here has taught me anything, it is that after having cycled 58 miles with heavy panniers there are only three things you crave. The first is a beautiful destination, the second is a shower and finally, a hearty meal.
From Koblenz to Speyer
Day one 20 miles, day two 40 miles, day three 58 miles. My progress, or our progress, I should more correctly say, as I am cycling with a friend and I do frequently rely on his slipstream to conserve energy, gives little clue to the beautiful sights we’ve seen along the way.
It is no wonder part of the route is marked as Unesco world heritage. Ancient castles, vineyards clinging to steep hillsides and quaint little towns.
The beauty of the scenery is perhaps only surpassed by the beauty of the organisation. Maps are unnecessary as small arrows point out the route and the occasional sign lets you know the distance to the next town. The majority of the route is off the main road and takes you through forests, fields and along the river.
Germany in general is well catered to bicycles. The drivers are courteous and the signage is consistent, as is the presence of cycle paths that run alongside the road. Small features such as bicycle workstations with tools dangling to be used by passing cyclists hint towards a grander scheme which is in play. Germany is open to cyclists and clearly wants to take the right steps to encourage them.
I for one have certainly been won over. There’s plenty more to talk about from my first few days cycling along the Rhine but the hour is getting late and I’ve got another 60 or so miles to cycle tomorrow so you’ll have to excuse me.
Oh, and if anyone wants to provide me with a few translations of popular restaurant food in Germany then that would be very handy for my next meal!
Also from my cycling trip along the Rhine in Germany:
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.