2020-09-22 (Tue). Zell am Mosel and Traben-Trarbach by bike.

The day of the long bike ride…

The Stellplatz seems ok. It looks like it’s a recent extension from the Stellplatz on the other side of the road, which is where the payment machine is. Between the two Stellpllätze, there must be over 50 spaces. And there’s another Stellplatz/campsite on the other end of the town, along the Mosel. Where we are – in Zell-Kainmt – is close to the main road bridge that crosses over to Zell Zentrum, so there is some traffic noise from trucks going over there & down the opposite river bank road.

It looks like grape harvesting is in full swing: mini-tractors with trailers are going past the whole day long, from mid-morning.

We set off on our bikes around 11:30 to follow the radweg down as far as Traben-Trabach. We had no idea what’s at Traben-Trarbach, but it was the next decent sized town along the river, S of where we are. It’s another hot, dry day, though not as hot as it has been of late. Probably only around 25°C.

It’s pretty much tarmac all the way, with the last few km acutally on a road, for goodness sake! A quiet road, it has to be said. My GPS measured it at just under 20km.

T-T was very busy. Not as busy as it would be in a non-Covid year, but many of the places that would normally be open weren’t. There are no cruise ships going along the Mosel, and neither did I see a single commercial/industrial type barge the whole 2 days we were on the Mosel. There were queues of people waiting to get into every cafe/bar/Gaststätte along the waterfront. We went up into the town and Joy spotted a small hotel with Biergarten. Perfect.

Radler & pommes for Joy. Hefeweizen & Zwiebelkuchen for me. And very nice too.

The trouble with flat, level paths like these radwege is that one’s bum tends to get very sore with being in the saddle the whole time. We were both suffering somewhat in the undercarriage department by the time we got back to Zell. We had considered taking the “bus-train” that runs between Traben & Bulay, but the nearest stop to Zell is at Reil, and we’d just missed one train and would have had to wait almost an hour for the next one.

Link to Strava stats here.

2020-09-19 (Sat) Heilbronn & Bad Wimpfen

03:00. A group of youths are shouting and screaming on our doorstep. Well, possibly not on our doorstep, but maybe right next to us in the park. Probably a 100 metres away or so. But it SOUNDS like they’re on our doorstep. WTF are they doing at that time of night? This goes on until well after 04:00. I can’t sleep. THE BELLS start at 06:00 FFS.

We go in search of a Bäckerei. Google tells us there’s one about 11 minutes walk away according to Google maps on Joy’s phone. After 10 minutes of walking, all the way up Knorrstrasse and past the huge Knorr Fabrik, we’re now 14 minutes away, yet we’ve been following the route on Joy’s phone. We eventually find it after about 25 mins walk. Shopping done, we head back for breakfast. We decide to walk back a different way and find a flight of steps that leads almost directly back to the Stellplatz, by the Freibad. About 8 minutes away. Thanks, Google.

We’d heard that Bad Wimpfen was worth visiting. It’s about 16km away along the Neckar radweg. We got almost immediately lost and ended up in the centre of Heilbronn amongst heavy traffic. When we found our way out, we then accidentally ended up on a long island in the middle of a split in the river. It was very industrial! Eventually, we managed to get back onto the radweg proper and found our way to Bad Wimpfen.

It’s a lovely Altstadt and we even managed to get an ice-cream there. And, at a different café, a slice of Zwiebelkuchen. TBH, it wasn’t the greatest Zwiebelkuchen I’d ever had. Not by a long chalk. That award goes to the Zwiebelkuchen freshly baked at the Rohrauer hocketse, when we lived there 34 years ago.

It was another hot day, so we were pretty wrecked by the time we got back. Somehow, I managed to get very dehydrated, which bugged me with sore lips for the next few days.

Link to route in Strava here.

2020-09-18 (Fri). Bietigheim-Bissingen, Heilbronn & Lauffen

After a fairly sleep-disturbed night, from about 04:00 onwards (due to traffic), we decided the next stop should be Lauffen – a major wine centre on the Neckar. Lauffen had other plans: The Stellplatz am Friebad was full. Consulting our various apps, we decided to head to Rolf Willy’s Kellerei/winery in nearby Nordheim. This turned out to be two spaces in a small car park, large enough only for VW camper – sized vans. Ho hum.

We ended up at a Stellplatz in Heilbronn. Down Knorrstrasse, past the enormous Knorr factory with the overpowering aroma of Bruhe, down to the Wertwiesenpark or Neckarhalde. Actually, a very nice Stellplatz with lots of trees to give some shade, adjacent to a huge park, and only a 100 metres from the Neckar. And it’s free to stay.

The bad news was there were a couple of obviously gypsy caravans parked up, with their young offspring zooming around in an e-car. A small one, big enough for two kids, and scarily fast. The caravans had UK licence plates. The inhabitants had Irish accents. We found a place as far away as possible and set up under the trees.

Some time later, a police car arrived making it clear to the gypsies that they were to leave by the following morning.

Having missed out of Lauffen, we decided to cycle there along the Neckar radweg; about 11km each way. We thought we’d try to get an ice-cream whilst there. Possibly even a beer. Failed on both counts. In fact, we couldn’t find any shops at all, nor any evidence of a town centre, Marktplatz or similar. So we gave up & headed back to Heilbronn.

About 1km from being back at the MoHo, by a Sportplatz, is a very nice open-air Gaststätte. It would have been rude to pass it by, so we didn’t. Very pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine, which then started to turn rather chilly as the sun set.

In fact, although the days have been blisteringly hot, up to 29 degrees some days, the nights give away the fact that it’s definitely autumn. It’s decidedly chilly in the van getting up in the mornings.

Arriving back at the Stellplatz, we were surprise to see that the gypsies had actually left already.

Link to Strava here.

2020-09-13, Sunday. MTB ride with Mark & the girls in the Schönbuch & Clara’s 2nd Kindergeburtstag

It’s one of the hottest September days for a long time, and we decide to go for a fairly long ride in the Schönbuch – from Ehningen, up towards Hildrizhausen, then into the forest down towards Rohrau and some sweet singletrack (Strava link here), that seems to have been called “Canada”.

It was quite a long ride for the girls; Clara particularly struggled on some of the climbs but they both made it round despite the hot weather.

Back just in time for a quick shower before the guests arrived for Clara’s geburtstag celebration: Oma & Opa; Daniella, Elmar, Jonas & Mia; and eventually Caroline Hoffmann.

All a bit of a rush in the evening as the girls both go back to school tomorrow after the summer break.

2020-09-09, Wednesday. Bike ride with the girls to Dagersheim

Eventually managed to persuade Clara to join us in a short ride on their mountain bikes to the Waldspielplatz in Dagersheim. Kathryn & Mark are both working (from home), so appreciate us keeping the girls busy until they go back to school next week.

Only a couple of Clara-induced crashes, but it might teach her to be a little more attentive!

2020-09-05, Saturday. Still in Hornbach

We’ve decided to stay here another day. Well, why wouldn’t you?

Today, we decided to ride the Hornbachtäler trail – somewhat shorter than yesterday’s ride, and it’s a lot cooler than yesterday – probably only around 22°C. A couple of stiff climbs, but nothing like as much climbing as yesterday. Also, a lot of the descents were on hard-baked lumpy grass round the sides of fields, which weren’t a great deal of fun.

After a brief stop to feed apples to the horses in the field, then finding the “füttern verboten” sign (oops), the trail dropped down into Mauschbach, a couple of km to the E of Hornbach, where we were supposed to cross to the S side of the Hornbach river to complete a loop there. The closure of the bridge “wegen bauarbeiten” (i.e. a very large crane) over the river put paid to that.

Plan B: join the Buffalo trail back into Hornbach, running alongside the road. We soon found why it was called the Buffalo trail; there was a herd of some 20 or 30 buffalo in a field. Quite a few tiny buffalo there, too (I guess they’re called calves??). Can’t say I’ve ever seen a field of buffalo before, outside of the US.

2020-09-04, Friday. Hornbach & France (again)

Time to get the bikes out of the garage. Last year, we attempted to follow the waymarked Pirminiusweg trail that goes from Hornbach, into France and down to the auberge Moulin d’Eschviller where we hoped to get food & drink. The trail then does a largish loop over fields and via a couple couple of small towns before turning back North to Hornbach. It’s about 90% off-road. Nothing technical, but a few steep climbs.

Following the trail within Germany was pretty straightforward, but it was very poorly marked in France so we lost our way a number of times. Plus… the Moulin d’Eschviller wasn’t doing food when we got there and we’d brought none with us.

Running out of energy we figured we’d take a short cut, which actually turned out not to be short at all. Needless to say, we did get back ok, albeit tires & hungry.

So this year, we thought we’d repeat the trail to the auberge, but then double back using a marked short cut. We’d also leave earlier to get to the auberge at lunchtime. It was a very hot day ~ 29°.

All went well until missed the turn off the trail to the auberge and had to back track several kms. The auberge was shut for 5 days vacation. An ancient peanut butter protein bar that was in my Camelback had to suffice.

Needless to say, we got back ok. Maybe we’ll even try again another time.

In various places around the trail, there were loads of apple trees, damson (Zwetschgen) trees, walnut trees, so we filled our boots. Some really ripe damsons. Apples not quite ready yet, but very good nonetheless.

The Stellplatz is completely full this evening. It’s weekend, and it seems like many Germans are staycationing.

Dinner in the moho, followed by a scocially-distanced couple of beers sitting outside the Capito restaurant/Gasthaus. Nice.