Jun 26

Rhine River Trail: Bonn to Koblenz

Remagen, Germany Makes Good Bike Base Camp

covered bridge on Ahr bike path in Germany

covered bridge on Ahr bike path in Germany

If you’d like to explore the Rhine region of Germany by bike, the town of Remagen, Germany provides a good central location for basing your adventures. This bike tour is different than most European long-distance trail tours because it gives you the opportunity to stay at one location and then take bike rides our from that central base. And, since bike routes parallel both sides of the river, you are able to do loop rides rather than out-and-back rides. If you stay at the Hotel Leonard Pinger in Remagen, Leonard can provide you with rental bikes for your time in the area. You will want to allocate at least three full days for the following bike rides:

  • Remagen to Bonn, Germany with a must-stop in the town of Erpel, Germany
  • Remagen to (at least) Bad Honningen with a must-stop in Linz, Germany
  • The Ahr Vally Bike Trail Tour (Ahr-Radweg) with must stop in Ahrweiler, Germany

Differences Between the Rhine River Trail and Mosel River Trail

Apollinariskirche in Remagen

Apollinariskirche in Remagen

If you have ever ridden the (Moselle) Mosel River Cycle Route, you’ll notice a fairly significant difference between these two European bike paths and their surrounding area. Here are just a few of the differences you’ll experience:

  • Way more vineyards on the Mosel River
  • More quaint towns & villages along the Mosel trail
  • Slightly better bike paths on both sides of the Mosel River
  • Wine is king along the Mosel.
  • The award for best side path goes to the Ahr Valley bike path off the Rhine River Cycleway.
  • Way more bridges on the Mosel and way more ferry boats on the Rhine

Rhine-River-Remagen-1Rhine Bike Trail: Remagen to Bonn and Back

Beginning in Remagen, you will bike along the west bank of the Rhine River all the way to Bonn. This bike path is well-marked and mostly traffic-free with a little over half of it being dedicated cycle paths. As long as you stay on the bike route, it is completely free of heavy traffic. From this side of the river, you will only go through a few small towns, but will be surprised how quickly you arrive at the outskirts of Bonn, a very large city. Along this cycle path, you will see interesting, historic and scenic sites on both sides of the river. Among the beautiful structures you see will be the Carstanjen Mausoleum just before you get into Bonn proper. After this, you will have two bridge options for crossing. You can either cross the very first bridge you get to, if you’d like to shorten your ride a bit. Or you can proceed to the next bridge (Kennedy Bridge or Kennedy Brucke) so that you can see more of the city of Bonn. Both of these bridges have separated pedestrian/cyclist crossings and are easy to find and cross. Once you’re on the eastern side of the Rhine River, you’ll find the bike path to be quite a bit more elusive. From what I could see, it looked like they were taking steps to amend this. But for now, you’ll be on a very well-defined bike path for the first few miles, but then it becomes a bit more vague. Remember that at any time, you can cross back to the other side of the Rhine on one of the many ferries. Remember also that it’s pretty difficult to become too lost in these river valleys. Just don’t let yourself wander too far from the Rhine, and you’ll be okay. Remember also that some of your best discoveries will come when you are “lost.” Which brings us to the final tip for this segment of the Rhine River Trail. If I wouldn’t have gotten a little lost, I never would have found the town of Erpel and now it has become my favorite German town. If you get there in the morning and sit down in the Marketplatz, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back to Medieval times. Like so many other German towns, it is filled with gorgeous half-timbered houses. But unlike most towns & villages, they have allowed some of these buildings to remain in a more natural state rather than literally and figuratively white-washing them. It is truly an amazing little European village. Once you are finished exploring Erpel, you can take the pedestrian/bicycle ferry boat across the Rhine to Remagen. At the time of publication, the ferry ride cost €1,40 for a crossing and leaves Erpel twice per hour.

Rhine River Trail: Remagen to Bad Honningen and BackRhine-River-Remagen-3

This is a very short bike ride, excellent for your first day, last day or even a rainy day. It involves two ferry crossings and a visit to quaint little old-town area of Linz, Germany. Once again, you will be able to ride on both sides of the river, so this is another mini-loop route. Start (again) on the west side of the river and follow the little green bike signs to assure you stay on track. Follow this path for a little over six miles until you come to the town of Bad Breisig. Just past the town, you will come to a car ferry (that also caters to bicyclists) that crosses the Rhine to Bad Honningen. This ferry costs only €1 and is constantly crossing the river (during business hours) so you shouldn’t have to wait long for a ferry. Once you’ve made your intrepid river crossing, you head back toward Linz where you’ll definitely want to stop for a applekuchen or gelato in their old-town plaza. You’ll find the fortified entrance to the town quite photogenic. Once in old-town, the shopping and gastronomy make the town a worthwhile visit. After you’ve spent sufficient time in Linz and possibly had lunch there at one of the many restaurants, you will take the ferry back toward Remagen. This ferry costs €1,40 and also makes regular stops during most daylight hours. Once you’re back on the Remagen side, if you didn’t already stop at the famous Bridge of Remagen, an important World War II site, you should put this on your to-do list. In addition to the remnants of the war-ravaged bridge, you will also have the opportunity to visit the Peace Museum. (open March to November)

Ahr-Valley-Trail-12The Romantic Ahr River Valley Trail

This bike trail has it all: a train ride, castle ruins, a wine museum and a beautiful old fortified city. We’ll start from Remagen again, but this time we’ll hop on a train instead of getting right on the bike path. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you’re welcome to ride this entire out-and-back on your bike, but the train ride up the Ahr Valley just adds to the excitement of this trip. So board the train at the Remagen Train Station (right across the street from the Leonard Pinger Hotel) and head toward Ahrbruck. It’s not hard to miss since it’s the last stop on the train line. Check with the local station master for train times and boarding information. But bicycles are allowed on the train, so don’t forget to bring yours (or more likely your rental) with you. Once you get off the train at Ahrbruck, you’ll continue to head up the Ahr Valley on your bike. Of course you don’t have to keep going up, and many people just ride down from here. Rhine-River-Remagen-9But, if you do opt to ride the entire trail, a little over half of it will involve an out-and-back ride. Head toward the furthest town on the trail  which is Blankenheim, Germany. Or feel free to stop at any of the little towns that tickle your fancy including towns w/ such enjoyable names as Liers, Dupelfeld, Insul, Schuld, Fuchsofen, Antweiler and Dorsel. Okay, now you get to start biking downhill (mostly). On your way back down, stop at Altenahr to make a brief (hiking) climb up to the old castle. Next, stop in MayshoB (as in Mayshoss) for a visit to the Wine Museum. If you’re lucky, you may get to join one of their tours or you can try to arrange a wine tour with Leonard Pinger in Remagen. And finally, you’ll want to stop in Ahrweiler and visit the (another) fortified old-town area. And don’t let the spiked gate hit you in the Walporzheim on the way out.

Rhine Cycle Route: Rheinradweg, Eurovelo 15

Or, you could just bike the entire Rhine River Trail from Andermatt to Rotterdam. Maybe next time.

 

This blog-post auto scheduled for publication on 6/26/15

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/06/26/rhine-river-trail-bonn-koblenz/

Jun 20

A Guide to The Moselle River Trail

Family on Moselle Trail

Family on Moselle Trail

A Bike Trail With Many Names

First of all, so that you don’t get confused on your Moselle River Trail tour, this famous European bike path has many different names. As far as signage goes, the first one on the following list is by far the most common. But you will also see it referred to as many of the other names:

  • Chemin de la Moselle (Moselle Trail)
  • Moselle River Trail (France & parts of Germany)
  • Mosel River Trail (Germany)

    St. Etienne de Metz Cathedral in Metz, France

    St. Etienne de Metz

  • Veloroute Charles le Temeraire (from Metz to Thionville)
  • Chemin Robert Schuman (a short stretch in Germany)
  • Route des vins de Moselle (in Luxembourg)
  • Moselle Bike Path

Throughout this guide to the Moselle River Trail, I will use some of these different names so that you learn them and so that folks searching for Moselle Trail information are able to find it on Trailsnet.

Important Moselle Bike Trail Information

Moselle-Metz-Trier-2

Historical Scenery Along the Trail

The Moselle River Trail is 193 miles long assuming you don’t take any side trips (good luck with that) or detours. For much of the Moselle Bike Path, you are able to find some sort of bike trail on both sides of the river. Although most of the bike route is completely dedicated bike trail, some portions follow alongside a road with a clearly marked bike lane. In most cases these bike lanes are somehow physically separated from the road by such devises as: raised bike path, traffic barriers, fencing, or rumble strips. In most cases, the bike path runs near the river or through vineyards. It often goes right through towns of varying sizes. Where it doesn’t go through towns, it is very easy to get back onto the

path if you detour into the towns and villages. In fact, this is a good idea for many of the towns.

What You Will Love About the Moselle River Path

wine vineyards along the moselle trail

Moselle River Trail vineyards

How do we love the Moselle Trail; let me count the ways:

  1. history – You will be amazed by both the depth and breadth of the history on this bike path.
  2. scenery – One minute you’re riding beside the river with swans & arched bridges & boats of every imaginable kind. The next minute you’re pedaling through a grape vineyard that is tangled with old-world charm.
  3. food -You will enjoy the best trailside food in the world on the Moselle River Trail. Is the food in Europe better than elsewhere? I’ll leave that up to you. But no one is better at food presentation than European restauranteurs. Whether you eat at a five-star restaurant or a mom & pop food stand, they take pride in making your food look like a work of edible art.

    trailside food

    strawberry pastry trailside

  4. drink – There’s something special about drinking wine & beer in the very heart of wine and beer country. Make sure to try local specialties such as riesling wine and hefeweizen beer. So authentic. So charming. So delicious.
  5. mellow grade – You will be following the path of the river, and this isn’t some raging river of rapids and whitewater. It’s an old-world river. That means it has an extremely slight elevation gain or loss per mile. And, in most cases, you’ll probably be going downriver on your tour. So the riding will be pretty manageable.
  6. pealing church bells – In every community, you’ll hear the golden sound of church bells announcing the arrival of a new hour.
  7. Fun Cities on the Moselle Bike Path – From Metz, France to Koblenz, Germany, you’ll find quaint villages, historic towns and charming cities.

    view of the Mosel River Trail from the imperial palace of cochem

    view of Cochem from the Imperial Palace

Plan a bike tour on this historic bike path, and you will fall in love with the sights, sounds and tastes of the Moselle River Trail.

Finding the Moselle River Bike Path

If you are starting your Moselle River bike journey in Metz, this may be the only place you have difficulty finding the trail. It’s across the river from the Metz city center and, not very well marked. And, as with most major bike trails, the locals often don’t even know it exists. At this point, most locals know of the trail as the Veloroute Charles le Temeraire, if they know of it at all. So in order to find the trail, you just need to cross the major bridge (the one with a pedestrian/bike option) over the Moselle. As soon as you get to the other side, start looking for the signs that have a picture of a bicycle, the letter M and either Veloroute Charles le Temeraire or Chemin de la Moselle.  From this point on, it’s fairly easy to stay found. Keep the following pointers in mind:

  • cathedrals & castles along the moselle river trail

    Castles Near Mosel Trail

    as long as you stay near the Moselle/Mosel River, you can’t be far from the trail.

  • Once you get into Germany/Luxembourg, the trail is on either side of the river for most of the way.
  • The Moselle is in a well-defined valley. As long as you’re in this valley, just move toward the river and you’ll eventually find the path.
  • Look for any of the signs posted at the bottom of this blog-post. Sometimes the signs w/ the little bike symbol lead you toward bike routes that go into towns, so keep the above tips in mind. The signs w/ the big M are the most reliable since they always mean you’re on the actual Moselle River Trail.

Moselle River Trailside Accommodations

You will find that trailside lodging options are plentiful along the Mosel River Trail. However it’s best to book in advance

more castles on the trail

more castles on the trail

or to use the services of a bike touring company.You have four options for lodging along the trail:

  • large chain hotels (often not available in the small towns)
  • smaller hotels (usually locally owned)
  • bed & breakfasts (ditto)
  • camping (most on-trail camping areas don’t have facilities such as water, showers or even toilets. This is especially true of the informal camping areas that are located right beside the trail.)

Your best bet for finding hotels is to do an internet search by town or use a specialty

castles & flowers await you

castles & flowers await you

website such as booking.com. Keep in mind, if you find your own hotels or campgrounds, you will also have to haul your own gear from place to place. This gear load gets exponentially more burdensome if you are camping. Instead, you may want to use a tour company.

Moselle River Bike Trail Tour Companies

Your first choice when it comes to bicycle tour companies is whether you want to go with a tour consolidator or a local touring company. ActiveTravelTours.com has a good article (previous link) on the differences between these two choices. Most bike tour companies offer three options: self-guided bike tours, hosted tours and guided bike tours. As with most travel options, you get what you pay for. I’ve found that self-guided bike tours are a happy medium

trailside beauty

trailside beauty

as far as options go. With self-guided tours, you usually get a bike to use during your tour (or an option to rent one @ extra cost), lodging, a detailed tour pamphlet or booklet and (very important) luggage transfer from destination to destination. In some cases, you can get a self-guided tour for about the same price as planning it all yourself since the tour companies get discounts for volume sales.

What Type of Bike to Use on the Mosel River Trail

Since most of the Mosel Bicycle Path is paved, you can use just about any type of bicycle: road, mountain, touring, recumbent, tandem or even pedal-assisted electric bikes. However, the best bike for the trail is a comfortable, sturdy bike. With that in mind, my first recommendation would be a touring bike with panniers. Once again, this is an advantage of going with a tour

birds-eye view of the Moselle bike path on both sides of the river

birds-eye view of the Moselle bike path on both sides of the river

company. They know which kind of bikes work best and will supply you with an appropriate bicycle for the trip. If you use a tour company, check with them whether or not their bikes are outfitted with cages for water bottles. Surprisingly, these are often not available on your bike, so you may want to bring along your own water bottle and bottle holder.

Moselle Bike Trail Sections

The Moselle Bike Path is usually broken up into six sections for six days of bike touring. Of course you can divide it any way you’d like. But one of the common bicycle route plans uses the following six segments:

  1. Metz, France to Perl, Germany
  2. (all Germany from here on out) Perl to Trier
  3. biking through vineyards

    biking through vineyards

    Trier to Piesport

  4. Piesport to Traben-Trarbach
  5. Traben-Trarbach to Cochem
  6. Cochem to Koblenz (Coblenz)

Trailsnet has one of the most detailed and thorough guides to the Moselle River trail, so feel free to visit some of these other Trailsnet pages for more information about this incredible bike route:

Moselle-trail-signs-2 Moselle-trail-signs-3 Moselle-trail-signs-1 Moselle-trail-signs-4

 

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/06/20/a-guide-to-the-moselle-river-trail/

Jun 19

Fun Cities Along Moselle River Trail

Metz, France Starts the Moselle River Trail

St. Etienne de Metz Cathedral in Metz, France

St. Etienne de Metz

With so many incredible towns and cities located in Moselle River Valley, it’s hard to decide where to start. Metz is a great place to start your trail adventure on the Moselle River, so let’s take a closer look at it. I already covered some of Metz in the blog post entitled Bike Paths in Metz, France. But it deserves a quick update. At one time, Metz was even more important than Paris in both Celtic, Roman & early medieval times. This becomes obvious when you look at the incredible St. Etienne de Metz Cathedral and other buildings in and around Metz. Metz has continued to grow and evolve into a modern city that thrives along the banks of the Moselle. It is also fantastic place to spend a few days before beginning your journey on the Moselle River trail, also known as the Veloroute Charles le Temeraire in these parts.

Neumagen-Dhron on the Old Roman Road

historic building in Neumagen, Germany

Neumagen, Germany

You will visit many wonderful towns as you make your way down the Chemin de la Moselle (Moselle Trail or Moselle Path) but one of my very favorite towns in all of Germany is Neumagen. This ancient Roman town on the Moselle has more ancient history on every corner than most places have in their entire town. It was a prominent town because it is located at the intersection of two important Roman roads, the Via Ausonia and the Via Mosella. In addition, it really has a lot of character with trailside/roadside cafes, bakeries & shops. Some of the tour companies have you bypass Neumagen by suggesting you bike on the other side of the river. But remember, in most places, there’s a bike path on both sides of the Moselle, and you definitely want to head over to the right-hand side when in the Neumagen area.

view of the Mosel River Trail from the imperial palace of cochem

view of Cochem from the Imperial Palace

Cochem is a Trailside Treat

On the left-hand side of the river, you’ll easily spot Cochem, Germany. It’s bustling waterfront, beautiful architecture and, oh yeah, towering castle, make it hard to miss. If you go on only one side-trip off the Mosel River Trail, (Now that we’re in Germany, it’s spelled Mosel rather than Mosselle, but I’ll use them interchangeably.) make it to the Imperial Castle of Cochem. It’s a surprisingly short walk and very worthwhile. The castle was originally built in the 11th Century (my fave) then destroyed by the French, then rebuilt in the 19th century. On the way up to the castle, you can stop along the waterfront for some snacks and liquid refreshments. Then, keep walking upstream until you see a small tower with numbered markings going up the side of it. These markings represent how high the Mosel flood waters got in particular years. The very highest marking is from 1993, a pretty recent catastrophe. At this flood tower, you start your march up the stairs and pathway to the Imperial Castle. Stop along the way to take pictures, but save time for even more pictures once you arrive. Not only is the castle itself beautiful but the view from up there is absolutely spectacular.

view of the Imperial Palace of Cochem from the Mosel River Trail

view of the Imperial Palace of Cochem from the Mosel River Trail

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/06/19/fun-cities-along-moselle-river-trail/

Jun 16

European Trail Foods

German-schnitzelTrail Food in Europe

I love the bumper sticker that says, “I bike to eat!” I’m not sure if that’s why I bike, but I certainly enjoy both biking and eating. So one essential ingredient in the whole European biking experience is the opportunity to try lots of different foods. Both the types and presentations of food are different in Europe. Some common foods over here, that are much less readily available at home include:

  • fish & chips in England
  • fruit-standscrepes in France
  • Quiche Lorraine in France
  • Pizza Napolitaine in Italy & France
  • fruit stands in France
  • gelaterias once only in Italy but now ubiquitous in Europe
  • bakeries in France & Germany
  • schnitzel in Germany

Food Presentation in Europe

strawberry pastry

strawberry pastry

As you can see by the photos, the presentation of food is a big deal in Europe. I’m not just talking at the expensive restaurants. So far, it’s been at every restaurant I’ve visited from mom & pop restaurants, trailside restaurants, food stands & even museum restaurants. Each dish is an edible piece of art. And serving sizes/portions and cost is fairly similar to restaurants in the United States.

Trailside Munching

Obviously I haven’t taken pictures at every place I’ve eaten. But I’ve certainly been impressed by every place I’ve eaten. The food

pizza Napolitaine

pizza Napolitaine

has been delicious, the service quite good and prices reasonable. Here on the Moselle River Trail, there is no lack of trailside food options. My only disappointment has been the hours the restaurants and food stores are open. It’s a little tough to get used to. All the hotels where I’m staying provide a fairly hearty breakfast, and I don’t start getting hungry until about 3

:00 (15:00). Well it seems that first, restaurants are often closed on Sundays and Mondays and … well they’re closed a lot. And the ones that are open on any given day are often open from around 11:00 to 2:00 then close until 7:00, then open up again. Even local stores keep similar crazy hours. The bottom line is, they’re often closed when I’m hungry. Maybe that’s why when they’re finally open, I enjoy their European trail foods so much.

gelataria

Does this panoramic photo make my butt look fat? No, but you may want to cut back on the apple strudel.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/06/16/european-trail-foods/

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