Trip Start Mar 21, 2013
69Trip End Jul 31, 2013
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Tutlingen to Mengen 68km (42 miles), 107 km total
Pension Dorfstuben €110 ($143) for 4prs, incl brfst
Donauradweg Flooded in Places
After an amazing breakfast buffet spread, we were on the trail at 9:15 AM. It was a sunny and crisp 7c (45). A few kilometers beyond Tuttlingen, we skirted a flood area by riding onto the grass but just a bit further, the bike route disappeared completely under the water again. There was no obvious alternative. The man who owns the house right there, ran out to us and advised us to ride north and turn right at Cappelle on to a path just over the railroad tracks. That was a nice dirt trail and we reconnected with the official bike route in Steten. We rode toward the black clouds building in the distance. Just past Mühlheim, we donned our rain gear, the drizzle was too persistent and clouds socked in above the mountains surrounding us.
First flat tire
That's when Hiro got the first flat of the trip. Hiro had asked us to have the bike shop put new tires and tube on his bike in Holland. But then Junko and Hiro traded bikes and Hiro was riding the bike with older tires. The rubber was a bit stiff in the cold weather. Hiro could not find the leak at first and we couldn't find the cause of the puncture. The tube already had a bunch of patches on it and we could imagine Hiro was thinking he should have had new tires and tubes on BOTH bikes. It took a long time to be back on the trail again but the daylight lasts long and we have time.
The sun broke out and it was nice riding weather again. We got to a stretch where the bike path was on the highway and we rounded a corner. Junko and Hiro didn’t follow. And after few minutes we doubled back around the corner to find them standing by their bicycles. Junko had gone down! She insisted she was alright with only a hole torn in her shoe to show for it. She said she turned to ride from the road through the gutter to the sidewalk and didn't make it. She forgot about it quickly and, a hundred meters later, we were out of traffic and back on to quiet bike trail again with fitness runners and a few dog walkers.
Limestone out-croppings & Castles Clinging High on Top
Next we had long stretch on dirt path winding up and down small hills through thick forests, past gorges with fantastic limestone pillars and out-croppings clinging high on the steep cliff sides. Several imposing castles were perched high above us.
Our heart-rates got challenged on a few particularly long or steep ones. I had to push my bike the last part. Hiro and Dave pushed through and made it to every top. Our bodies hadn't had such a workout in a long time.
We stopped for late picnic across from several trees downed by beavers on the rushing Donau shore. We were treated to spectacular views of the charming town of Sigmaringen with its fairy-tale castle dominating its center.
Sigmaringen seemed charming and we toyed with the idea to cancel our hotel, 18 km ahead in Mengen. But we had made a reservation and decided to stay on schedule and continue. We looked around the main square with the Rathaus and Castle for 15 minutes before continuing.
We were tired puppies by the time we reached yet another flooded part of the trail under railway overpass. The main trail was a foot or two under water but there was a ledge with just a little water. Dave rode each bike through the water on the 10 inch wide submerged ledge we could see. He had to bend his head to clear the top and pull himself along on side. The rest of us walked over the tracks, while watching for trains and jumping a short fence.
Just before Ennetach, signs for Pension Dorfstuben led us the rest of the way to our hotel where Ennetach and Mengen merge. Pension Dorfstuben turned out lovely. We booked the "Apartment" which had a bedroom downstairs and an upstairs open loft with two more beds and the bathroom.
At around 11pm, Hiro received a call from his daughter that his 102 year old mother had just passed away. While Hiro was talking to different family members in Japan, Junko and Dave used their computers to check out the options to return to Japan as quickly as possible; taxi to train to airplane. In the connected world, and with the help of the restaurant staff, we were able to get them home within 24 hours. The woman from the restaurant ordered a 4:40am taxi for them. Then she called to DB Rail Hotline to ask if it would be ok to show a ticket on the iPad instead of having a paper ticket since they did not have access to a printer. The answer was 'no’ but conductor could sell them tickets at 5 or 10 % penalty.
At 4:30 am, we stepped out of the hotel into the dark Sunday morning. The taxi headlights flashed on. He had been waiting to take Junko and Hiro to the train station in Sigmaringen. We told Junko and Hiro we’d wait for them here in Mengen and wished them a safe journey.
It was supposed to take 20 minutes to get to the train station. Junko and Hiro made it in 10! The driver had driven like a maniac. They stood waiting in the dark until the station opened at 5am. They emailed us that the conductor had insisted they use the machine to get the ticket. A nice gentleman had helped them and told the conductor that the machine didn't work. In the end, the train was held up for 10 minutes while the conductor struggled with the machine. Eventually he got the machine to issue the ticket. Their transfer in Ulm went smooth and they got to Frankfurt International Airport in time to catch their 12 hour direct flight back to Japan. Frankfort is not the closest international airport to Mengen but it was the one that had the flight that would get them home soonest!
Our Unexpected Week in Mengen April 14 to April 22
April 14☀ (sunny) 19C (nice)
We transferred to lovely double room 10, with kitchenette (€65). We'll wait here till Junko and Hiro return in week or so. We got a few catnaps in and Dave started collecting and organizing the data he’d need to do our US income taxes (due tomorrow). With everything on-line, all we need is a solid internet connection. I have time to research our next cycling days and catch up on our blog.
The weather is so nice it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. The air is clear, spring is here. We explored around town and discovered a charming old part of town. No crumbling stucco, no pollution tainted walls and windows. Everything is built solidly and maintained as it should be... regularly.
April 15 ☀21C
Junko and Hiro emailed us that they arrived safely back home in Japan. Less than 24 hours after they learned that Hiro's mother had passed away. Truly amazing isn't it?
Dave & Turbotax filed our taxes! Again it is tee-shirt weather. We got going too late to catch the train to Sigmaringen so we'll do that tomorrow. We went for great walk around town and picked up a few things from the grocery large LiDL store.
April 16 Train to Sigmaringen then Cycled Back - 18 km each way ☁
We took the train with bikes back to Sigmaringen. For some unexplained reason they couldn't sell us a one-way bike ticket (€5, instead of €2,50 per bike). In Sigmaringen we checked out some historical buildings and picked up few groceries at the huge "Kaufland", then hiked to small chapel on hillside for picnic. It afforded us a spectacular view of the red tiled roofs, Sigmaringen Castle and St. Johann Parish Church.
Threatening black clouds closed in, and after brief downpour at 2 pm, we cycled the 18 km back to Mengen. The Donau water level was a lot lower than it was the first time we came through here. We even could ride with ease under the rail bridge that had been badly flooded before.
April 17 Mengen - 19C
We took advantage of the spring weather and rode our bikes. We dropped Junko's bike at "Radsport Walser" to have the fender stay replaced. It broke when she fell. We picked up few water bottles and holders for on the bikes. The husband and wife there are extremely helpful.
Later, we played cards, worked on the blog, read and relaxed.
April 18 - 14C, April 19 - 9C, April 20 - ❄❄ (snow)
We've spent our time well in the week that Junko and Hiro have been in Japan. We finished our Egypt blogs and are now almost up to date.
April 21 - ☁☁ Return of the Nauri’s
We were happy to see our friends again at 7:15 pm as they got off the train at the small Bahnhof in Mengen, a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The four of us stopped for dinner at the Italian place before heading back to the hotel.
April 22 - ☁☁ Ready to Restart
Junko and Hiro had great night sleep, which gave them a good head start to recovering from jet lag. We biked around town and spent hours chatting and planning in our room. We made a wonderful salad for lunch and enjoyed "breakfast" sandwiches. Junko said it felt like she was visiting our home. With our little kitchenette we had everything we needed to make it homey. We poured a steady flow of coffee and tea. We were excited about continuing our cycling again the next day. We left the distance completely up to Junko and Hiro and suggested breaking points at 22 km in Rieflingen or at 45 km in Munderkingen. They assured us they were fit and ready to do 45 kilometer so we reserved Hotel Garni in Munderkingen.
....1) The Danube Cycle Way; Donaueschingen to Budapest by John Higginson
... 2) Bikeline Maps & Guides; Donau-Radweg 1, (5 books in the series)
Our plan in a nutshell; 2900 total kilometers at 50 km per day - 2 days riding for 1 day off for a total of 58 riding days & 90 total days - April to July, 2013 :)