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We arrived in Germany from the Netherlands on the 6th May 2005. The route took us South West wards from the Dutch border town of Venlo towards Koln. Following a brief rest we then follow the Rhine Southwards through it's most picturesque stretch to Mainz. We then head Eastwards following the river Main in parts and through the old medieval towns such as Bamberg before reaching the Czech border in late May.





entry & visas


As we are both EU citizens there is free movement within the EU, therefore there are no special visa requirements for us. The border crossing was absolutely impossible to recognise. There were no border guards, booths, people behind glass windows or lines across the road - just a couple of concrete barriers to prevent cars from driving through.


in Germany, well, people speak german and only german in some of the less touristic areas we crossed. Our extremely basic German improved by 300% and was helped by two useful little books: the rough guide basic german (£5 found in an airport) with gives all the grammatical rules of German and has a small dictionary section, and WHS dictionary English-German (£3.50).
In the campsite, language has never been a problem: a little bit of English is always spoken.




We were camping every night in Germany. This is a mixture of rough camping and campsites. We were told by a German cyclotourist at Harwich that wild camping was strictly forbidden in Germany - so we have chosen our spots with a little more care than usually. Isabelle doesn't fancy a run in with the German police as they do not appear to be as friendly as the Dutch police - it's probably due to all the leather that the German police still wear.

We have been in a few campsites now and the standards are impeccable. The prices range from €11 to 13, which is much less than in the Netherlands. The campsites all have an area set aside for tents - normally without car access - and this helps to keep the tents away from the evil caravanners.


cycle shops

The Netherlands was absolutely full of cycle shops, as our route has moved away from the Netherlands the incidence of cycling has reduced as has the number of cycle shops. There are however always a few cycling shops in the main towns. We have used a fantastic cycle shop in Mainz (Radhaus - we think), good service and all in English!) .

Germany saw our first requirement for cycling spares. The rim tape fitted to Terry's wheels by SJS cycles turned out to be insufficient for the job - 4 punctures were caused in one day from the rim tape pushing through the spoke holes. The nice man at Radhaus recommended the Schwalbe high pressure rim tape. This is sized exactly for the rim width and so far seems to be more than up to the job.

  cycle routes and maps  


Upto the middle of Germany (Miltenberg), we have managed to follow mainly cycle routes, far from cars. However, we found it difficult to get information on these cycle routes, apart from the obvious ones, i.e, the ones that follow the Rhine for instance. Most maps don't show the cycle routes and most tourist information are only interested in what is going on in their town or city, not in the surrounding area, which is a bit frustrating. For the cycle routes, we rely on local knowledge (quiz the people with our bad german), intuition and 1/200 000 local maps when we come off the main tourist - cycling tracks. For the campsites, they seem to be shown accurately on our Michelin regional map 543, although the Michelin maps do not cover all campsites.

So far we have not been able to source any maps at 1:100,000 or greater that have contour lines - therefore there has been a lot of guesswork with the route planning ie how wiggly is the road (hilly) and are we running perpendicular to rivers (again probably hilly)


food & drink


A note of warning: all shops are closed on Sundays, which means we carry a lot on our bikes on Saturdays. It may not be the case in the big cities (and there will always be the salvation of a Kebab shop), but it is true for the countryside. On bank holidays it seems to quite usual for the shops to be shut Saturday, Sunday and Monday so careful preparation is needed in the more rural areas.

Food in Germany is generally a fairly hearty affair. We have cooked for ourselves most of the time to help reduce costs as eating out is rather expensive in German restaurants. We have made copious use of the local bakers (bakerei) which do excellent cakes and breads. Some of the breads are a little heavy but this excellent for keeping whilst travelling (french bread is still the preference but you need to eat this within 1 hour of purchase and preferably within the boundaries of the village in which it was purchased). There are a large number of "Turkish Restaurants" all over Germany, these are commonly known as Kebab Houses in England. These establishments have been used on more than one occasion for emergency sustenance. A special mention to the Nussecken cake, which are made of hazelnuts, are gorgeous and are good food support for the mind and the legs.

The drink in Northern Germany is wheat beer or plain old lagery type beer. So far it has been difficult to find anything darker than the normal english lager. The measures are served in small (0.2l) and large (0.3l) - not much difference there - and only just half a pint at best - still it calls for frequent refills, which in turn makes you psychologically speaking think that you have had far too many, but a bloke comes round and refills your glass at the table so it becomes very easy to have a few too many. (PS Isa doesn't like lagery type beer).

On the East side of Rhine after Mainz, there is a area which is famous for Apfelwein (orchards absolutely everywhere). Seems a bit like cider to us (yum, yum!). However it is drank with fizzy water or lemonade in summer. It is very good, but a bit odd to dilute the thing. We have also found an odd bottle of Erdbeerwein. Okay, you may need a bit of help here: it is strawberry wine. 8.5%, rather surprisingly yummy. We suspect the Germans may dilute it too...

In the Bayern Area (ie Bavaria) we have now come across the beer centre of Germany. We stopped in Bamberg for 2 nights - and Bamberg has seven Breweries. They all seem to deal with 3 main varieties of beer Hell (lager/pils), Weiss (cloudy, wheat beer) and Dunkel (dark beer). All are extremely good with each brewery having it's own distinct flavours. Each type of beer is served in it's own type of glass. The quantities are 0.3l, 0.5l (halb) or a big old 1l (maas) for those with a healthy appetite. A very different view from the Northern German and Dutch approach to beer.

A special mention goes to the Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg. They only do one beer, which is Rauchbier, i.e., smoked beer. Very good and no compromise here: one type of beer, only in one size of glass (0.5 l). As we have touched upon before in these pages Isa is not all that keen on beer (weiss beer being the exception to the rule). We ordered our beer from a small hatch, there was no discussion or debate - the only decision to make was how many beers - a great example of ruthless German efficiency.

Isa drinking Rauchbier - Yes Isa drinking a whole Pint

Just to the West of Bamberg is the end of the wine growing region. The wines are all white with a slightly sweeter taste than the general British palate excepts (it definitely not a big robust Australian Chardonay). All the same it is refreshing and little too drinkable (for Terry at least).

Another peculiarity when it comes to drink: if you ask for Wasser, you will always get Spritz Wasser, i.e., fizzy water. It seems that Germans do not like to drink tap water at all.

Cheese report: nothing to report. We found some old Amsterdam, which was absolutely yummy, but this takes us back to the Netherlands cheese report. This really was an area of great disappointment - we shall be writing a letter of complaint in the strongest possible terms to the powers that be.




Northern Germany has been particularly drab weather. Temperatures have been about 13 C under the clouds and rising to about 18 C in the brief bouts of sunshine. The weather has been very showery with generally westerly winds (a good direction for us). it has meant that we have been packing up a wet tent virtually every morning. Today the 8th May has rained for 8 hours non stop - I think it's time to go in search of darker coloured beer.

And today on the 14th of May, it has been pouring down for 10 hours non stop! More beer and strawberry wine please!

Our last 4 days in Germany turned out to be warm and pleasant - no wet tents hooray! Temperatures were up to about 22 c - and Terry's sun hat even came out on a couple of occasions (he has to look after his delicate English skin).




So far we have not had to test out the German medical facilities or the effectiveness of our E111 forms. A small problem to report though: Isa (being a bit tight) has tried to wear her daily contact lenses for a bit longer than a day and this ended up in one big puffy eye. She begged (in broken German) an Optik shop to check her eye out and they diagnosed conjunctivitis. Then a trip to the Apotheke (chemist) and all was sorted in a few days thanks to a few eye drops. I think Isa has learnt her lesson...


flora & fauna


Following the ornithological oasis of the Dutch lower Rhine there has been very little to comment upon as far as Koln. The route passed through well populated farmland and across the Northern edge of the Ruhr coalfield.

As we followed the Rhine and then the Main the industrial influence has reduced and wide tracks of forest have become evident. Woodpeckers, Red Kites and a profusion of all sorts of duck type birds abound. The woodlands are mainly beech with fir plantations in between. Many of the woodland floors are carpeted with flowering wild garlic - a wonderful sight and smell when cycling past.


graphs & stats


We were cycling for a total of 12 days in Germany (with a number of additional pit stops and a bit of refueling).

Distance Cycled in Germany : 873 km

Average Distance per day : 76 km

Highest Point : Fichtelsee 754m

Furthest Cycling in A day: 112 km Zellingen to Bamberg

Most Altitude Climbed in a Day: 1087m from Pottenstein in the Frankische Sweiss to Fichtelsee

Number of punctures: 5 for Terry on the same day!


Radfahren Reports

5th May 2005 - Velden (NL) to a field next to Grevenbroich (D) - 72 km

The day started by the visit of Venlo, which is a rather pleasant city right on the border with Germany. We finally found some herrings (one of the few culinary specialities of the Netherlands - so we were told). They were gorgeous and we had them for lunch. We then rode on South West and before we knew it, we had crossed the border which was just marked by some concrete blocks in the middle of the cycle path.

The german side of the border was ... pretty flat again. We first went to Bruggen, a little town with a nice castle and an excellent information centre (the only good one we came across so far). We got good information on the camping facilities in the area: there are none!

We then kept on riding in an absolutely flat landscape. Flat fields, flat fields, flat fields and...

Castle in Bruggen



... big massive holes in the ground. Though we have avoided the main industrialised areas of the Rhur, we were crossing a coal mining area. There were two massive open air mines and it was frankly impressive. Where has all the earth been taken away to?

That night we camped in a field next to the big town of Grevenbroich and some smoking chimneys...


6th May 2005 - Grevenbroich to Koln (Cologne) - 52 km

The next day, after more flat fields and smoking chimneys as a backdrop and general greyness with a bit of rain, we reached Koln in good time and planned to have a day and a half of rest in the big city. It took us sometimes to go through the suburbs, but the cycle lanes are well done and we were rather fast moving through the crowd. Soon we were standing in front of the cathedral, which is a masterpiece of stone carving. You may think it looks like any other cathedral from the picture, but the bugger is rather high (157 m) and totally dominates the city. there are an awful lot of carvings all around it, it looks like towers on top of towers. Truly amazing. So amazing that Terry forced me to climb on top of the highest tower. The view was fantastic, but it killed my legs! On the way up, we met fat Peter.

World's Biggest No 1 - Fat Peter is the largest free swinging bell in the world! (twice the height of Terry).

We weren't taken aback by the rest of the city though. Basically Koln has suffered from the war and there is a collection of monstrous concrete buildings all around the city centre. We headed to our campsite on the other side of the Rhine and decided to give it another go the day after.

7th May 2005 - Chilling out in Koln (in the blooming rain and cold!)

Right, Koln is not that bad after all. There are some smashing old parts with Weinstub's and german pubs which we truly enjoyed. The music was piped, in a pure German style, and got everybody singing! The city was starting to grow on us, there is a lot of buzz about it, a good art museum, beautiful riverside walks along the Rhine but with the rain pouring down, we took refuge in an internet cafe (the first one on our way).



Wet and Windy Rhine near Bonn

Rain and industry along the Rhine


Cold wet and where are the campsites

A long day and that campsite just didn't appear


8th may 2005 - Koln to Linz - 87 km

Here started our cycling way along the Rhine valley. Shall I mention the rain again? Rain and cold - sun - rain and cold - sun. You get the gist of it I am sure. Hills slowly started to reappear as we entered the wine growing area south of Bonn. We quickly visited Bonn, quite pleasant, but not a lot going on (but to be fair it was a Sunday). It seems funny this city was once the capital of west Germany. It was a typical German city - fabulous old buildings with a lot of concrete nonsense around.

We crossed a few lovely villages. Unfortunately, we did not give them all the attention they deserved. We were struggling to find a campsite and we did not have any more water. Being a Sunday, all the shops were closed and I was finally reduced to knock on doors and ask for water. A nice man took pity on us, but gave us sparkling water instead of tap water for our night and morning cooking. It seems like sparkling water is a big German favourite.



Anyway, with water, even sparkling, we were saved and we decided to camp on the opposite side of the river, which was quieter. This involved taking a ferry as there are no bridges on the Rhine between Bonn and Koblenz.

Castle near Linz


Nusseken break before the eyes of God



Cyclist stop here for the ferry


9th May 2005 - Linz to Koblenz - 47 km

The day starting with a ferry crossing to visit Linz on the other bank. They call it the colourful town and it is really well worth a visit. It is a real jewels of little streets and old timber framed houses. The information centre was quite helpful and told us that the best way to cycle the Rhine was on the other bank (left bank). So we take yet another ferry. We started to see clearly the hills around the Rhine, gorgeous!


Cycle routes are not supposed to look like this


You can't cycle here


On our way to Koblenz, we met Kris, a German cyclotourer with a perfect English, on his way to Austria. We talked so much with him that we managed to loose the excellent cycle track and ended up stuck between the Rhine and a big road. We had to push our bikes through some kind of sewers under the road to re-surface by the cycle lane. I thought the adventure would only commence in Russia. How wrong... and I was just getting dry too!
German Corner Koblenz

German Corner to the campsite, crossing the mosel


We reached Koblenz early enough to visit the town and have a beer and a glass of Rhine wine. Nobody seemed very enthusiastic about Koblenz, so we were expected a not so nice town, but it really is. The setting is beautiful too: at the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine. The campsite was right in front of the massive statue of emperor Wielfried (I must confess I really don't know who he is), a fabulous location known as German Corner.


Rhine Chateau


Rhine chateau

10th May 2005 - Koblenz to Trechtingshausen - 65 km

Castle-tastic! We were cruising along the romantic Rhine and we reckoned we have seen a dozen castles, most of them in perfect condition, along the way. To complete the picture, there were hundreds of vineyards on the hills both side of the Rhine and hundreds of big ferries cruising the Rhine up and down, with tourists or big containers. And all the villages we stopped on the way were superb. And, maybe best of all: our first day without rain!!! The small campsite at Trechtingshausen was by the river and we had a view on two castles. Truly amazing!


Camgshausenping Tretchi

Camping next to the Rhine


Terry waits in a cafe for Isa, while she goes to the optician.


11th May 2005 - Trechtingshausen to Mainz (Mayence) - 54 km

The previous day must have been too good. We planned to go South of Mainz before heading East, but Terry had four punctures on the way, which considerably slowed us down (Kev, start saving money now!). We decided to call it a day in Mainz and to find a cycle shop. The punctures were caused by a poorly laid rim tape. We found a smashing shop in Mainz (Radhaus), which sorted it us out with a robust new rim tape. We also bought some ponchos for the rain and waterproof overshoes for Isa in order to get properly ready for some more wet weather.

To complete the day, Isa had to go to an optician. She thought a part of her contact lenses may be stuck in one of her eyes (the big puffy one), but no: she had only been wearing her daily contact lenses for a bit too long... Having been reassured and after a bit of shopping therapy (rain ponchos and cakes), we headed for the campsite.


12th May 2005 - Mainz to Lichtenberg - 73 km

In the morning, we visited the Dom St Martin in Mainz, an enormous pink sandstone church. More impressive outside than inside, but worth a look anyway. We also bough a more detailed map as we were planning to go "cross-country" to Miltenberg to test our legs on proper hill before carrying on following another river (the Main). This also meant that we were avoided to go through Frankfurt (never mind the famous sausage).

Mainz is also famous for a Mister Gutenberg - for all those familiar with the computer game civilisation then I apologise about teaching your grandmother to suck eggs - but he invented the printing press - without which we probably wouldn't have the internet and would all still be living in caves.

On that day we passed through Darmstadt. We only saw one truly intriguing thing: an orthodox church in the middle of the city. It has been build by Nicholas II for his fiancee Alix (of Darmstadt). It was like being suddenly arrived in Russia. But the church was totally covered by scaffolding, so no pictures.




Rainy Miltenberg

Climbing out of Wertheim


Another castle (Wertheim)



We followed the cycle path out of Darmstadt through a fabulous forest of deciduous trees (we saw two woodpeckers at 5 meters of us). It was a long climb, but suddenly on top of the hill, the forest ended and here we were standing in front of another landscape, rolly with lots of meadows, forests and orchards. We were in.... the middle of nowhere as far as I am concerned, but I think we reached the border of Bayern (Bavaria). Beautiful...

That night, we slept in a tiny village with a tower on top of the hill. It was so quiet in small Lichtenberg... until a camper rushed out of the night talking at 100 mph to us in excited German. It was 22.30 by then and we were slightly confused (if not scared). But Dustin explained to us the international space station was passing over our heads (and it was). As we found out Dustin was also a fellow cyclotourer and he was off that week-end to do 100km of mountain biking with 3000m of climbing in a competition. Pfff! I think I prefer cycling round the world!


13th May 2005 - Lichtenberg to Miltenberg - 52 km

We thought we will be having a shortish day followed by a day rest in Miltenberg. After five kilometres of cycling, we met yet another fellow cyclotourer, Bjorn. He has been all around the world and was truly interested in our trip. Before we knew it, we were treated to German cakes and coffee and Apfelwein in his house (a massive thanks to you Bjorn - if you ever come across this site). It was fabulous to hear all his travelling stories. All has been so easy for us so far, I wonder what we will come across later on.

The cakes did us some good, we tackled two good hills and two beautiful downhill and we reached Miltenberg easily. To Terry's joy, they make in this town a gorgeous local beer (brewed by Faust). And it is where I found some strawberry wine (the stuff kind of grows on you when you are sat in a tent under the rain).



Camping Zellingen

14th may 2005 - getting wet in Miltenberg

And updating the website. I am getting itchy feet now, better go and visit the town, which looks nice. The plan was to wash the laundry today, but to hell with it, it would not dry anyway!


Sweinfurt! again

From Swineford to Swineford


15th May 2005 - Miltenberg to Zellingen 78 km

The route from Miltenberg was delayed by a few hours due to heavy rain - again! All the wet gear was packed up and we headed off in increasing sunshine following the Main cycle route. This followed the river along to the town of Wertheim. Still being part of the extended bank holiday arrangement which the Germans benefit from - everything was shut (apart from the kebab shops). We did find a solitary baker and sat down on the steps in the town to enjoy our bread, cheese and ham.

Our route followed the Main to Markt Helfeld where we planned to take an early bath, dry out and update the website at the campsite by the river - what campsite? We had to continue for another 20 km over hills to reach the town of Zellingen at about 8pm where we had time to stop, put the tent up , shower and eat and then it's time for bed.

The best feature (according to Terry) of the German campsites is their reliable availability of beer. Every campsite has a fully stocked beer fridge to assist the weary traveller in relaxing at their new found home.



16th May 2005 - Zellingen to Bamberg 112 km

We planned an early start from Zellingen and the mist was still curling around the campsite from the river Main - and it was only 5 degrees C at 8am.

The first part of the day saw us climbing through woodland and vineyards before coming out a a high plateau used for cereal and rape seed growing - a chalky, limestone environment not dissimilar to the wiltshire countryside. The countryside was gentle and being the bank holiday monday there was very little traffic on the road. We then got back on the river Main at Schweinfurt. Schweinfurt deserves a special mention because it is the German version of Swineford - where Terry was born and bred and undertook all his formative cycling (Weston Hill from Bath to Landsdown lot to answer for).

We set a target for the day of reaching Bamberg - even though it was off the end of our maps - but Isa came to the rescue with her pocket world atlas. We measured the distance on a map of Western Europe it was 4mm from Schweinfurt to Bamberg - about 50 km. When we reached Hassfurt Isa was willing to continue if the distance was less than 40km, the sign post showed 35 km so on we journeyed.



Another bad hair day

Few people realise that "Helmet Hair" is a medical condition and should not be laughed at




Bamberg canals



Hassfurt was a great old town next to the river Main nestled beneath steep wooded hills and vineyards. The route from Hassfurt followed the main road on cycle tracks, diverting at times into the old villages that have now been bypassed. Some of these had village parties going on, everyone dressed in their best clothes, drinking beer from the local brewery and eating bratwurst like they were to become illegal at midnight. The small villages were each dominated by the large brewery buildings in their heart - one of which we needed to stop at to refuel before the last 14 km to Bamberg.



A group of motor cycle tourers from the area helped us out with directions to a campsite, and after a couple of wrong turns and a 22% off road hill we made it to the campsite in Bug, just East of Bamburg.

Notable Statistics for the day:

Distance 112 km (furthest day of the trip so far and the most Isa has ever cycled in a day!)

Exactly one month since we set out from Worcester

Altitude Climbed 659 m - the most in a day on the trip so far.

After all that the weiss beers and 2 days rest and laundry in Bamberg were definitely called for.



Locally brewery in Bamberg

Seven breweries in Bamberg, still can't believe it!


May 17th and 18th - Bamberg (Rain, Laundry and Old Town)

We stopped in Bamberg (Bug campsite) for two days. We were expecting so much from the city (everybody on the way told us it was soooooo nice) that we were slighly disapointed. I suppose it was a matter of managing our expectations... Having said that the old town is really pretty. Basically there is a canal and a river crossing Bamberg, so a part of it is called little Venice. A bit much after having seen Amsterdam we thought... A lot of nice buildings and streets and a very imposing cathedral on the Domberg, a hill that dominates the town. There is also an enormous cloister on top of another hill, Michaelsberg. What we enjoyed the most about Bamberg was the good hearty food (our first and only evening out in Germany) and its seven local breweries!


19th May - Bamberg to Tuchersfeld, near Pottenstein in the Frankische - 74 km

In Bamberg bookshops, we noticed a lot of books on the Frankische Schweiss and we were wondering why people of the area were so keen on Switzerland. It is only after having bought a map to carry on towards Czech Republic that we noticed that it was a small area South-West of Bamberg. A bit of a detour for us, but the map showed lots of green twisty roads and we decided to check it out. So we set off from Bamberg and started climbing out a first hill to take the "hoch weg" or high cycling way.

Once on top of the plateau, the area was quiet and the road extremely pleasant to ride: beautiful landscape and only a few tractors. We decided to give up on the cycle way (which is not always consistent) and to follow the normal road through very quiet villages.


The Dom, Bamberg

Bamberg cathedral or Domberg


Campsite in Bug, Near Bamberg



Towards Jungfernhohle



Lunch at jungfernhohle

Lunch at the top of the Hochweg


At Hollfeld, we turned South and started following a winding river valley. It was the start of the Frankische Schweiss. The valley was very narrow. In places, steep rocks were coming out of the forest and as we got deeper into the area, villages and castles started appearing on top of the rocks. it was a very peaceful area, but we both guessed that it must be similar to the madness of the lake district during the summer holidays.


20th May 2005 - Turchesfeld to Fichtelsee (lake next to Fichtelberg) - 67 km

That day, we felt we had to pay for the lovely cycling ride we had the day before. There has been a continuous gentle downhill through the Frankische Sweiss, which means...a lot of climbing to get out of it! The day started with a gentle continuous uphill (with some wooden chalets and barns - it did really look like Switzerland at some point) and then a massive uphill, rewarded by a fabulous view on top of Hohenmirsberg. We could see where we came from (what a climb it was!) but also where we were going to go. We knew it was going to be a hilly story up to the Czech border!


River and gorge in Frankische Schweiz


Isa at Fichtelsee



We then crossed Bayreuth, where we stopped for a sunny picnic (the Sun Gods seems to be finally on our side) and then carried on toward Fichtelberg for three reasons: it put us back in the direction of Czech Republic, there was a campsite and a nice looking lake. But maps don't tell you everything... We were in for an uphill to test anybodies legs at the end of a long day. Up and down, up and down. The thigh muscles were starting to cry, but we made it to the campsite - which turned oout to be just 100 metres from the lake but the view was blocked by dark fir plantations. Never mind, we were so tired anyway that we could not have done much more than our usual cook-eat-fall asleep like a log. This was our hardest day so far. I am sure Terry will be delighted to share the stats with you: 1087 m of climb, our highest point so far with at 780m



Coffee, Beer in Pullenstein

Rocks, pubs and chicks in the Frankische Sweiss



In the forest around Brand

Woodlands near Fichtelberg

Climbing up from Pottenstein

21st May 2005 - Fichtelsee to Cheb (Czech Republic) - 61 km

We though we will have an easy day (this still means cycling is involved though, but only 40 km!) and stopped just before the border. We did not want to enter the Czech Republic on a Sunday, with no money. However, it turned out that the campsite on our map has been turned into some kind of bungalow park and the landlord would not accept tired cyclists. He reckoned the only other campsite between Germany and the Czech Republic was in the Czech Republic. Thanks a lot! Back on our bikes, no easy day today! We passed Arzberg and followed a small road, which suddenly turned into a motorway with the border crossing 200 m in front of us. Czech Republic here we go!!!




For more information or questions please contact us at isaetterry@mac.com