My last day in France can be described with tree words, rain, rain and rain. It’s cold and dark when I leave the hotel and start to bike along the Canal du Rhone au Rhin towards Mulhouse.
After passing through Mulhouse I near the German border and bike along the Canal du Huningue that runs in parallel with the river Rhein. The track EV6 is well signposted. I start to feel very tired and uninspired from the constant rain and heavy skies. I decide to stop at the first hotel in Germany.
I bike cross the river on the Dreiländerbrucke, I wonder why it’s called that since I cross between two countries.
When I cross the bridge there are lots of people carrying shopping bags, so it looks like Germany is lots cheaper.
At the end of the bridge there is a hotel in the same building as shopping center, as I get close to the door I see that the reception is on the 6′th floor. I cant leave my bike outside a shopping center so I decide to bring it with me, the lobby is big but the elevator is huge. So I bring the bike to the reception on the 6′th floor.
I ask for a room and there is an expensive room, but I have decided that I will take the first hotel so I go for the room. I get to park my bike in a storage room on the 5′th floor and then they lend me a shopping trolley to ship my bags to my room.
When I enter the room I can’t believe my eyes, it’s a 2 room suite with kitchen, it’s bigger than my apartment at home.
Even if the price was high (cheaper than in France) the value for money is exceptional, OK I didn’t need that much value but searching for accommodation in the rain without a good map and Google maps is not my favorite.
Once I get settled in I go downstairs and do some shopping, tomorrow is the 1′st of May and everything is supposedly closed. I even find a refill for my old German prepaid SIM card. I also find a useful map of the SW corner of Germany.
The prices for the things I buy are less than half compared to France, water and coca cola is even cheaper than in Spain. Then of course the Germans have an annoying deposit systems that makes it very expensive to not bring back empty bottles to the store. 1.5L of water costs 19 cents and the deposit is 25 cent.
When I try to add the refill to my SIM the phone refuses to connect to Telekom and keeps roaming with France and Switzerland. Hmmmm. I have a look on the map and as it turns out Switzerland is about 100 meters away and France 150 meters away, so maybe that’s why.
In the evening I take a walk through Switzerland, Germany and France, just a 10 minutes walk to reach all 3 countries, pretty cool.
I fell asleep early yesterday and slept like a log. The laundry I washed yesterday has dried over night so the indoor climate is very good, varm&dry inside and cold&humid outside. Very high tech. It rains today as well, I haven’t seen this much rain in the last 6 months, I hope that it will stop soon.
I walk around a bit and everything is very clean and well organized, shared and empty spaces/land is also maintained and clean. In Spain unoccupied land is normally used as garbage dump. The shopping center is so close to the border that it has different exit lanes for the different countries, choose the wrong lane and you end up in the wrong country.
I do very little all day, some more laundry, some Internet stuff.
First day of biking in Germany and as I will later find out Switzerland.
It’s cold and cloudy. I bike further in to Weil am Rhein trying to find a ADFC Bike+Bett book that has listings of all the bike friendly hotels in Germany and also some maps of the Donau. After visiting 2 bookshops, 1 tourist information, 1 bikeshop I give up and go back to following my GPS track.
The track leads me back to the hotel and crosses in to Basel, I ride through Basel along the canal. After this I think I am in and out of Switzerland once more but it’s hard to know as there are no real borders here.
Back in Germany I follow my track Eurovelo 6, it mostly weaves in and out of small clusters of houses, looks like very rich suburbs of some city, I have very little contact with any river.
At about 13 it starts to rain again, I manage to find a place for lunch. After biking some more I decide to give up on the rain when I reach Bad Säcklingen. The hotel I find on the outskirts of town is expensive but the least expensive in town, according to Google some hotels in town wants more than 100 Euro for a night, I blame the Swiss and the Rhein for these prices.
Once I am installed in my room that has a balcony with a glimpse of the river the rain starts to hammer down, the streets are flooded. Then the 59 Euro for the room feels like a better investment.
My phone has been going mad today, it can not get any connection with telekom.de and it keeps roaming with all kinds of Swiss and French networks. This results in that I get many, many SMS with offers describing how fantastic telekom.de is and how cheap their roaming costs are.
Today is the same as yesterday, cold (10 C) and rainy. Once I get going the cycling is slow, not very nice at all, there is also a headwind slowing me down even more.
Today is also not a real bike road, but a series of bike lanes and small roads. It seems like an endless crossing of wealthy suburbs, it requires constant looking at the GPS to make sure I didn’t miss a turn.
It is Saturday but there are very few cyclists out and about. Eventually I have to stop and dig out my winter clothes, it’s very cold with the wind and the rain.
When I reach the river Wutach which I plan to follow almost to the Donau I give up and check in to the gasthaus next to the river.
I take a walk to Lidl and do some shopping, later I have dinner in the Gasthaus, it’s fully packed with loud people but the food is great.
I woke up really early as the curtains couldn’t keep the sunlight out. It was semi-clear and very cold outside. Todays biking is the connector between Rhein and Donau, mostly along the river Wutach. It would be uphill with a bit more than 400 meters gained over 40 or so kilometers. Nothing drastic but just a very long uphill with headwind.
The day is very beautiful and the landscape is very nice to.
After a while a man catches up with me, we have a talk about my trip and where I am going. He tells me that there are some big hills ahead and that I should have gone over the Bodensee and then to München instead. I tell him that I want to have the Donauradweg experience and if it turns out to suck I will turn off Donau towards München in Ulm or Ingolstadt.
After a while I bump in to an old museum railroad and then I see the actual steampowered train, great fun. It seems like this is a very popular outing, lots of people ride the train.
Since I can’t really find any places open for lunch I stop at a park bench and boil some tea and have some sandwiches.
Then I reach the highlight of the day!
A 2 km long uphill with 15% incline, I had to push the bike all the way up, to make life more interesting there were no shoulders on the road.
After conquering the hill I was back in the nice countryside again, I bump in to a Swiss cyclist that is out on a short trip in preparation for his long trip. He is leaving for Tarifa in a weeks time, he is planning to ride along the coast in Spain. Was this his lucky day or what, I stopped and brought out all my Spanish maps and gave him some ideas on how to go instead of following the expensive coast along the N-340 in Spain.
When I reach the Donau I bike until I see the first Gasthaus and then I check in and busy myself with more important things than biking.
I have an early dinner and sleep for 12 hours, the past days cold and headwind has taken it’s toll. But from here to Ingolstadt it should be relatively easy sailing and a drop of almost 500 meters. As I am writing this I made a small summary of the trip so far, sometimes it’s easy to forget how long this trip has been and just focus on what is ahead.
So far 8236 km by bike and about 4100 km by train/bus/ferry bringing the grand total to more than 12 000 km. I have biked in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Germany, Luxemburg, France, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland. France and Finland being by far the most expensive, Germany the easiest (language and bike infrastructure), Spain by far the best.