Castles and crossing the Ardennes

Trip Start Apr 11, 2012
Trip End Oct 10, 2012

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Flag of Belgium  , The Ardennes,
Sunday, September 9, 2012

I almost forgot there were castles in Germany, but luckily I am in the right place to see them. I got to the Rhine after a day of riding, then spent a day and a half riding along the Rhine, then Mosel River enjoying myself immensely. I took a guided tour of two castles, Marksburg and Eltz. The first was a simple fortress style fortress along the Rhine, so it lacked some comforts. There was only one fireplace, one toilet (your stuff dropped over the side, coating the outside castle wall on the way down…advanced tech), and only one room with a wooden floor. The rest was cold stone rooms.

Eltz Castle was much different. It was quite impressive. The castle has 80 rooms, 40 fireplaces, and 20 toilets. The rooms were covered in 500-year-old oak, as well. They don't allow pictures inside the castle, unfortunately. They had three rooms of gold, silver, and jewel encrusted items just to complete the package. I gather that the owners of this castle have always been rather rich.

I had my second spoke-breaking incident of my trip the first day out of Frankfurt. That is one of the problems with riding a delicate road bike on a tour. I got it replaced the next day at a bike shop in Koblenz (named for the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Mosel). Sadly, though they did replace the spoke, the guy who was truing the wheel was an incompetent moron. He insisted that he couldn’t get a quarter-inch bump out of the wheel and gave me back the wheel. Say what?! This is a bike shop, no? I am supposed to pay you so I can ride on a wheel that has a ridiculous bump in the rim? I honestly couldn’t believe that the guy was actually refusing to complete the job. Luckily, I had a spoke wrench with me, so after an hour of messing around with the wheel on the sidewalk in front of the bike shop, I fixed it. Some bike shop.

After riding along the Mosel River (the tourists on the river boats swarm over the towns her) I climbed up into the Eifel/Ardennes on my way to Bitburg. I knew these weren’t mountains, but I didn’t know they would be this rough. The Germans aren’t all that kind with the grading on the roads, either. One hill I descended was a 25% grade! Ok, with my wonderfully weak road bike brakes and a trailer in tow, it was actually impossible to stop. Luckily, there was no sharp switchback to necessitate a dramatic decrease in my speed, but it was still unnerving. The sharpest climb was 18%, but I managed that without ever getting off the bike. The day ended up being long, with me getting in after dark at 8 o’clock. But, hey, 7000 feet of climbing when never getting above 1400 feet is quite a workout.

After a rest day, I passed through Luxembourg to Belgium, stopping near Bastogne. The memorial there is a large star-like structure, with the US states named on the face of the building. There is a history of the Battle of the Bulge engraved on the walls of the inside, and you can even climb up stairs to the roof. I didn’t have any time for museums or anything, but on the way to my campground I did pass through the towns the 101st fought through. Sweet.
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LeAnn on

Germany is beautiful, no doubt. My brother visits Heidelberg often since he was in his teens when we lived there a year ( I was 6), and he always has great pics.
I'll be interested to hear what your favorite place was in your travels. (Italy? My fav...)

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