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Germany River Cruise and Bike Ride
We biked along the Rhine and Neckar Rivers in June on a Bike and Boat Tour, and it was an unforgettable experience. The tour we decided to join was a beautiful cycling and cruise tour which explored the famous valleys of the German Rhine and Neckar Rivers. I have heard that on a cruise ship you gain about 10 pounds in a week. I get it; the food was great! If you are able to combine the cruising with bike riding in Germany, you may stay about the same weight, although it will be a close run thing.
We left the boat each morning on our seven-day cruise for a ride up the river bike paths. The boat then sailed upstream to meet us at the next planned stop. The boat was a floating hotel where we slept, had breakfast and dinner as well ask some fun. The boat did not travel on the river at night as we were at a dock. Being docked at night allowed us to explore the quaint towns and villages after dinner. The barge, or cruise ship, had 61 bike riders and was pretty full (seven open riding spots) as we went on our way. The boat was clean and comfortable; we enjoyed our time on board.
Castle Watching—don’t blink and miss one along the river…
We began our first riding day with a two-hour boat ride from Koblenz along the Rhine passing through the beginning of one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We then rode on the trail and saw more than 40 castles and fortresses and many wine villages along the way. There were too many castles for me to even attempt to photograph.
You have to see it in person to understand just how impressive each view is as you stop or ride by. We did walk up to a few castles and explore the ruins. Being on top of the castles, we realized why they looked so imposing from the river as we had a great views from the top and could easily make out people, cars and boats along the river.
Vineyards on the Rhine River—we passed several vineyards and took an evening tour.
This was much different than our trip to Napa Valley and biking. The vines are on a hill from the top to the river. We learned that the wine that comes from the plantings at the bottom is the cheapest in quality and the wine at the top is the best. Makes sense! We enjoyed magnificent views. The wine was excellent, along with the grape juice that they began our tour with.
Quaint Towns and Villages
Each town reminded us of why we wanted to come to Germany. We took advantage of walking tours and our stay at all of the towns along the way.
One of our fun stops was spending the night at Heidelberg. In Heidelberg we managed to climb to the top of the Heidelberg Castle and walk along the Old Bridge. We also walked the end-to-end mile long pedestrian shopping street. The university dominates the old town and was fascinating to view and experience.
The variety of flowers, shops and museums was fun to experience. Like the castles, it is too much to show here, you need to go see it for yourselves.
Each town along the way had several characteristics that made them unique as well as part of what we expected to see along the river. We saw a variety of architectural styles of churches; most were massive and ornate, and we wondered how the local people could afford such a building or buildings as well as build them so long ago.
We ate at several ice cream shops, and spent time looking at the souvenirs (crafts) along with sampling some of the local food and beer. We even went by the Dr. Carl Benz Museum.
Rivers and Locks
With its many castles lined up on the hill tops, our tour along the river was full of Rhine romanticism. Our guide told us the story of the river bend and how it inspired the famous poem “Lorelei.” Kim tested the waters at the point mentioned in the poem.
We enjoyed the peaceful river and views from the banks of the rivers and the towns. These made for great spots for a break or to eat a picnic lunch. Next time we will bring a blanket or rug with us.
The Neckar River had several locks; we rode over some and saw ships, including our barge, go through the locks. It was a fun experience. The locks have apparently prevented some of the flooding that was prevalent in the area along the Neckar River.
- Stop and enjoy the scenery.
- We were not in a race, and with a seven-speed bike we were not breaking any speed records.
- The initial part of our journey from Koblenz on the Rhine was loaded with castles; almost every bend or turn on the river had one and sometimes two. I do not know about you, but I do not see castles daily on my normal bike rides.
- At each stop we would walk and explore the town where we were parked for the night. Dinner ended on board about 8 PM and it was light until about 10 PM. We needed the walk after so many good dinners.
- Anyone can ride along the Rhine. Of the 61 riders, we were on the young end age wise. The route was mostly flat, with some inclines that were easily overtaken with the e-bikes. The e-bikes were a popular option with the travelers on the barge. We did not ride e-bikes.
- Trail riding is a good way to get outside and see the countryside. Some of the views were hidden from the road and others were a short bike ride into town for an Eis (ice cream) or a Bier (no translation needed).
- Make friends. We sat each evening with the same group — a couple from Argentina and a couple from Australia. We enjoyed the conversation with our table companions as well as those from the group that we met on board and along the way.
We ran across a new WWII monument noting the American army crossing the Rhine River—just put up in 2017.
- We rode for six days, about 150 miles total. The planned mileage for the bike tour was less, as we explored and enjoyed the area.
- In the towns at night we walked between 5-7 miles and enjoyed exploring the towns.
I have been asked if we would do the bike tour again. Of course, yes! We would likely pick another tour to explore a new area. We really enjoyed the support and the tour. Thank you to Lyn and John who shared their bike adventure in Europe with us prior to our booking the trip in December.
Celebration, Certification and Caves
It is true; I am now retired and have begun traveling.
My first travel begins with celebrations.
- Although not a far drive…Thursday night June 29th, after “work” saw many of us “pre-retirees” gathered at 300 Magellan. It was a great get together and I was unable to buy myself a drink.
- A fun time was had by all, what a great send off!
- Some, who retired earlier in the year, and others, who retired a few years before, came out to wish us well.
- On Friday, our official last day at work, I grabbed my last free cup of coffee and turned in my badge and work computer. It was official; I was retired.
- After going home briefly, I left town for St. Louis for additional celebrations with my in-laws.
- Yes, I spent my first night of retirement celebrating with my in-laws who took me out to a great dinner in St. Louis.
Webster Groves had the start of their local 4th of July celebration on Saturday near the in-laws and we saw a few good bands at the bandstand on Saturday. A good celebration.
- On Monday, after traveling to Arkansas on Sunday, I went
out to eat and celebrate retirement with my mom and sister at the Marketplace Grill. It was fun and tasty. Especially the desert we shared with my mom!
- Happy July 4th America!
- It rained too much on Tuesday to go for a bike ride or to enjoy the planned outdoor band concert with fireworks.
- I did get to celebrate with my mom, sister and brother-In Law.
- On July 8th I played my trumpet at the wedding for Abby and Andrew in Louisville.
- I did forget my shirt and purchased (less than $5) a white dress shirt from Goodwill. Of course, Kim had to sew on a button for my newly purchased shirt.
- Dancing at the reception was fun and we were home prior to midnight on Saturday. The Frazier museum across from the Louisville Slugger factory is a great spot to visit.
The point of my travels back to St. Louis was to complete the Spinning® Instructor Certification class that was cancelled the month before on the biking, shooting and drinking trip.
- This month the class ran as scheduled from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM Saturday with 30 minutes for lunch and 2 one hour Spins® included. A great day.
- After the class, I did manage a swim in their Olympic pool.
- Received my certificate after passing the on-line exam once I got back in town.
- I guess I have to apply for a job now…
Since I was in St. Louis, I thought I would continue the celebration tour and visit my mom who is in Arkansas. She turned double snowmen this year and is doing great. On the way I stopped at Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri.
- I enjoyed seeing the Jesse James hideout and walking and exploring the caverns.
- The entire area was flooded earlier this year and water shut down the entire cavern for a week. Wow! Water is crazy.
The caverns are a great sight to see if you are driving along highway 44 near St. Louis—year around it is 58 degrees in the caverns. I wore a sweatshirt to keep warm. The tour moved us along and we walked for about 90 minutes underground.
I returned on Thursday night (July 6) in time to close on our long time residence in Kentucky and move to a new (right size) home nearby. All went well on Friday and we moved into our new home on Tuesday of the following week.
While on the road, I listened to a fun book on my drive: The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax .
- The unexpected part for me is that it had a great retirement question at the beginning of the story. A doctor asks Mrs. Pollifax: Isn’t there something you have always longed to do? Something you have never had the time or the freedom for until now?
- The doctor adds that it is terribly important for everyone at any age to live to his full potential, otherwise a kind of dry rot sets in. I thought that was great retirement advice.
- Spoiler alert, Mrs. Pollifax does have something she has always wanted to do, instead of living the sensible life she has created. Her response: when growing up she planned to become a spy!
- I recommend reading the book and pondering the questions she answered. I am still working on my answers.
As a part of the visit, I asked “How do you do this retirement thing?”
- My mom said she stays active. My sister, who lives within 2 miles of my mom, says she can never find her at home, so I know she takes the advice. She does a lot of volunteering and recommended that course of action for me.
- My brother-in law, who has been retired for a few years, said to find something to do that you love. He also noted that it changes. He began a business and is now making plans to give up the part time vocation in favor of other ventures.
- My sister works for a bike trail organization; she said she needed to work once her husband retired to stay active. The key for her is finding the balance of time at home and at work.
I did go for a 42.5 mile bike ride with my sister on Monday (July 3) on the Razorback Greenway and went for a mile swim on Tuesday as it was raining all day on the fourth of July. I left Wednesday and I think she was pleased to take a day off of the activity.
Trip by the numbers:
Travel days: Friday, June 30, through Thursday, July 6, and Saturday, July 8, all by car (1700 miles all in).
First sinkhole, noticed by me, on the way to St. Louis in Indiana at the Nancy Hanks Rest Area on highway 64.
- Biking miles: 95.8 miles, 4 rides, longest 42.5 miles.
- Swimming: 1.5 miles
- Trumpet playing at Webster Gardens with their brass group at the 8 AM service and at Abby and Andrew’s wedding.
- Disc Golf in Kentucky while moving. Too much rain on the trip to make it work while on the road.
States visited: Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas.
Coming Soon–first travels
Fun adventures planned.
Retirement starting in July, 2017.