I awoke at 7 AM to the sound of water flowing gently past my tent. The campground was still shrouded in early morning mist and the sun had yet to climb over the surrounding peaks. I had run out of tea bags so my early morning beverage was hot water with honey, I sat crossed legged on the river bank and enjoyed it thoroughly.
For breakfast I treated myself to a couple of freshly baked pastries from the on-site bakery and enjoyed a cool shower before setting off.
I had entered the Rhein Valley, and what a glorious day to do so. The landscape was peppered with vineyards, there was a castle on almost every hill top. Partner that with crisp blue skies and it was a gorgeous ride.
The direct route back to the Rhein river was less than 20 miles (30km) But the scenery was too good to give up. I made the trip it take all day and nearly doubled the direct distance. I even shared my lunch with a Goat named Billy, of course.
Finally and with some reluctance, I rejoined the Rhein. However my reluctance soon disappeared as the incredible views had joined the river with me. After 40 miles my legs felt time to call it a day. It was a Sunday, which meant that supermarkets and shops were closed, so dinner tonight would have to be purchased from the campsite restaurant.
A veggie omelette and a plate of fries filled a big hole, and it was washed down with a local beer. I waddled back to my tent with a full stomach and a guy by the name of Malcolm struck up conversation. He invited me to join him and his wife under the awning of their camper van and threw me a beer. I liked Malcolm.
They asked me about my trip, I asked about theirs and we talked about everything in between. The night sky brought clouds and I watched my tent get pelted with thick, heavy rain. Five or six beers later I wished them goodnight, staggered the 10 paces to my tent and as gracefully as I could, crawled inside.
Oh man, I woke up with quite the hangover. The rain must have lasted most of the night because everything outside of my coffin was still drenched. I had no desire to stay still and hoped getting the blood flowing would lessen the pounding inside my head. The tent was packed away wet (usually a big no-no) and I prepped to leave. I swung a leg over my bike, squeezing my eyes shut against the throb in my brain, and peddled away as the sun tried to break the clouds.
I managed to ‘enjoy’ roughly 27 miles (43km) of cycling along the Rhein, all the way to the next city, Koblenz. I needed to re-stock on some food and get some more sleep – I was not feeling very clever. I’d stopped outside a well known chain restaurant to borrow some WiFi and found a cheap hotel that was only €3 more than the campsite I had passed. I headed straight there.
It was an old building, which was cool. Thick walls and squeaky floorboards throughout. I laid out my tent in the room, hoping it would dry off by itself, and went to buy some supplies. The supermarket was just around the corner and I ate a sizable meal of fruit and pastries before heading back for a long shower and a lie down. I never managed to take a nap, but I chose a good evening to sleep indoors as a storm front was appearing over the river. I took an evening walk, enjoyed some fresh air and I watched the clouds draw slowly closer. Later I returned to the room for a good nights sleep to the rumble of thunder and the sound of rain.
Overnight the rain had stopped and my tent had air-dried. Also my head was clearer and belly was empty, so I went for a buffet breakfast before checking out and took a short wander around to loosen up my legs.
And so I began to spend my days cycling and camping along the rivers edge. Zig-zagging across bridges as I saw fit and taking my time to explore wherever I chose. I had found my rhythm and I felt great.
Want more? Read the next story – Frankfurt.