May 4th 2011, my birthday !! Waltenheim sur Zorn - Freistett, Germany, 66km, 4h25, 14.4kph
Beautiful weather, hot and windy (from the North/North-East...)
Via Canal de la Marne au Rhin, Souffelweyersheim... European Parliament, Strasbourg city center, Petite France, Pont de l'Europe, Kehl (Germany), The Rhine cycle path, Auenheim, a section of road 36 near Rheinau; Gasthaus in Freistett.
Excellent night. Wake-up at 5.00AM; out of "bed" at 6.00AM; on our way at 7.15AM.
After a super down-hill ride from our orchard-bivvy we were back along the canal.
Barges in the morning mist.. probably the first ones since Vitry le François..
One of them was called 'Hope' (Espérance). Was it a cheeky hint at all the obstacles we would have to overcome to reach our goal ? Was it an encouragement... or a subtle suggestion made to me to spend some time thinking about the future, on my 62nd birthday ?
It was too cold to think !
The towpath was flat and pleasant, switching from one side of the canal to the other.
Morning coffee at the 'Raisin d'Or' a nice little café run by Madame Huberschwiller and located on the outskirts of Souffelweyersheim (bless you...).
A few more kilometers and we ended up in front of the European Parliament, a huge steel and glass cylindrical building looking like a gasworks, cold, empty and uninteresting.. Quick visit to the central patio, a few pictures of the flags in front.. Disappointed that we could not get our Travel logs stamped in this highly symbolic place, stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Our first impression of this European capital was rapidly swept away when we arrived in the old town... Extraordinary rows of old half-timbered houses, streets full of life, trams, beautiful parks; incredible cathedral made from red sandstone with unique astronomical clock and organ... Will have to come back one day !
Had to go to FNAC to buy a new compact camera. The battery on my old one had given up and replacements were not available... an eight-year old digital camera is an antique nowadays...
Tour through the historic parts of the city, La Petite France, the canals, the narrow streets... and off to the 'Pont de l'Europe', mythical bridge staddling the Rhine river between France and Germany.
Kehl city center for our first German meal: A grilled Bratwurst with potato salad, washed down with excellent beer, sitting in the sun on one of the many pedestrian streets !
Travel logs stamped at the Tourist Büro and first taste of the Rhine cycle-path, heading North, against the wind...
Near Rheinau, the track veered away from the Rhine. Result: we got lost on road 36, before ending up at Gasthaus Zum Waldhorn in Freistett, after a long ride through woods and fields.
It was hot and dusty and we had had it. After hanging the tents to dry on laundry racks in the backyard, parking the bikes in a locked shed, doing some laundry and enjoying a well deserved shave and shower, we were ready for another beer !
The evening meal was delicious and the wine we had with it was the cherry on the cake of this 4th of May !
No fairy tales needed. Lights were out at 10.00PM. Serious snoring could begin !