This year was different. All travel plans were impacted, and so were ours. So what is more flexible then not planning anything, except for packing your bags and putting them on your bicycle?
With the Eurovelo network of long distance cycling routes in mind we could go any possible direction depending on the weather and the number of covid cases. We started on the Eurovelo 3 from Eupen until we reached the Rhine river after a big day of cycling. From there we followed Eurovelo 15 for multiple days, all the way to Karlsruhe.
Figure that for many of our Belgian grandparents, a trip to the Rhine was their first holiday destination. Tourism around the Rhine started as early as 1830.
We followed Eurovelo 3 until Mehlem, and from there we followed Eurovelo 15 for 6 days:
- Eupen (start)
We mixed sleeping in campgrounds, camping in the wild and staying in hotels to have a little comfort. The first night we took a camping in the neigborhood of Heimbach, next to a lake. From there we just took on the following rhythm: cycle until we see something interesting or we want to chill. No clear daily goals in mind. Whenever we get tired we either pitch our tent in the bushes or search the internet for a hotel or a campground.
With so many historic villages, nature reserves and wineries there’s always something to visit or to do wherever you are.
It was incredibly hot almost every day. Whenever we felt like it, we parked the bikes and swam in the Rhine to cool down. We were quite surprised to find proper sand beaches in many places, including naked sunbathers.
In an other occasion, we pitched our tent on the side of a lake. We went swimming in the evening before going to bed, and swam again the next morning to wake up.
We packed our cycling bags with camping gear, some clothes and a good bag of food: nuts, granola, fruits, canned fish, crackers, boiled eggs,… Whenever we passed a restaurant at lunch or dinner time, we would opt for a terrace and a good meal, but whenever there was nothing around we would always have our backup food with us.
Since there’s lots of vineyards along the Rhine, all restaurants have good local wines on the menu.
Most of the route was in nature or passing along smaller villages next to the Rhine, but once in a while we had to cross a big city worth visiting. Koblenz was one of them. Worms, Speyer and Karlsruhe were also totally worth spending a full day, doing some culture and enjoying a decent restaurant. On those days we would only cycle about 2 hours and hit the road in the late afternoon.
Whenever we were sick of cycling we would lock our bike, leave our bags in a hotel (or tent on a camping) and start walking. In Koblenz the hike up to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress is worth the detour. If you’re lucky you can enjoy one of the concerts with impressive views in the background. If you want to keep it cheap you can also stay in the hostel inside this fortress.
Since the Eurovelo 15 passes both nature and some interesting historic cities along the Rhine, it allows for a very diverse holiday. If you want to cycle more, you just skip more cities and cruise straight to Switzerland. If you need more relaxing, you go slower and can easily have an interesting place to visit every hour or two.
After a full week of cycling around the Rhine, we chose to change the rhythm and dive into the Black Forest for some cycling in hilly nature. You can read all about it in part 2, the next blogpost.