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Bad Durheim

August 31st, 2000 · No Comments

August 31, 2000 Rheinmunster to Bad Durkheim

Day 244

Back in the pack I rode with a group we named “Team Bahnhof”.  In German Bahnhof is the name for “train station.”  It seemed fitting.  We are now designing team jerseys that will have the name for “train station” in every language.

Our strategy today was to ride along the Rhine River route until it was time to get back to camp, then hop on a train to get us there.  We did not want to ride on the road or the TK&A route.  That is exactly what we did.

Our map no longer covered the area we were riding in, so we had to rely on signs and locals for directions.  At one point we were in France and a nice French cyclists stopped his BMW to get out and tell us we were going the wrong way.  We were certain he was wrong, what would he, a local know anyway.  So when he was done talking, we thanked him and continued going the same way.

He was right!  A few kilometers down the road we discovered we were at a dead end. We were not following the Rhine, but a tributary, so we turned around and made our way out and back to where the nice French man told us to go.  Oops!

After awhile it was time for a bakery break, we found a cute village and parked our bikes in front of a bakery, only to discover another bakery across the street.  The bakery across the street had indoor seating so we left our bikes and went.  I felt bad parking in front of one store and eating at another.  I had this vision that the bakery we were shunning was owned by the nice French man who gave us directions that we ignored!

Back on the road, we managed to get really lost.  But while doing so we found a really neat park with some very significant sculptures in it.  I don’t know much about the art work, other than it was new and the theme was Man’s past, present and future.  We couldn’t exactly figure out the meaning of all the sculptures, but were very much intrigued by them.

When we finished  viewing the park sculptures, it was time to get serious about finding the trail again.  The group started going off in a totally wrong direction.  Me with my handy compass kept saying we need to be going north, this is not right.  Finally, after exhausting all possibilities, we found a nice couple on bikes who offered to help us.

After trying to tell us in German how to find the trail and not succeeding, they led us there.  It took them at least 4 kilometers out of their way, but they were glad to do it and we were so happy they did.  That one section of trail was not well marked and so complicated only a local might know how to do it.  We were delighted to have found our way.

Riding on the trails is so peaceful.  The view is always changing, sometimes it follows the river, other times is meanders through farmland or forest.  The trail is well used by hikers, bikers and bladers.  I can see if I lived in Germany, I would want to live by the trail, if not on it, I would use it all the time.

We kept riding long after we should have found a train station.  At 3 o’clock, we decided to sprint to the Speyer the next town and catch the train at 4 o’clock.  Well, it sounded good, but the reality was we were to far away even at 23 kilometers to make it.  If the Bahnhof had been on the trail and the trail been consistent we could have made it, but of course it was not.

We sprinted as fast as we could, but the turns and towns slowed us down.  Arriving at the turnoff first, I asked a nice gentleman in my best German how to get to the Bahnhof.  He immediately corrected my pronunciation with indignation.  I gave him my best “forgive me for murdering your language” look and tried to understand his.  Pointing works best, keep it simple, do kilometers is my strategy.  So far, most people can understand what I want if I don’t use too many words.  The more words we use the less we understand each other.  We communicated and off I lead.  We still had 7 kilometers to go.  We weren’t going to make it.

Arriving in Speyer we were all impressed.  It was a magnificent town with many spiral steeples, cobblestone streets and new buildings made to look old.  I know nothing more of the town other than it did impress me and obviously the hundreds of other tourists on the street.  None of who know where the Bahnhof was.

We kept going in the general direction until we spotted a bus turning onto Bahnhof Strasse.  Success!  We followed the street and found the station.  We had missed the 4 o’clock train but were just in time for the 5 o’clock train.  There wasn’t enough time to stand in line to buy tickets, so we boarded the train.

In Germany as in most countries in Europe they have the honor system of purchasing tickets.  Here is it interesting because even though you can buy tickets on the train from the conductor, sometimes the conductor never comes to sell or check for tickets.

On this train, that is exactly what had happened.  All 6 of us were waiting for him to come so we could buy a ticket.  He never came.  We exited that train and got on the next connection.  There a conductor came and sold us tickets.  We purchased them for the correct stop, even though he never would have known.  I was rather nervous about this whole process since I had never got on a train without purchasing a ticket first.  It worked out alright, he even took plastic.

We rode on three different trains to get to the camp arriving in time for dinner, but too late for the wine tasting.  Darn!

Tags: Germany · Northern Europe