Sorry for the delay, we’ve been too busy living the good life here in Deutschland to write any journal entries!
First of all, thank you to everyone who has hosted us here! Melanie, Ingo, and Ronja in Frankfurt, Thomas and Sabina in Aschaffenburg, the Stobbies Family in Wertheim, and the Kuttenkeuler family in Würzburg. We have been overwhelmed by the friendliness and generosity of everyone. We are really getting spoiled here.
Germany has been a bicycle touring dream so far; I think it would be the perfect place for a luxury bicycle touring vacation or honeymoon. The entire country is covered with beautiful bicycle paths that pass through small, romantic villages and there is a Biergarten every kilometer or so. What more could you ask for!
Bicycle touring also seems to be the national pastime here. Every bicycle shop is stocked with a full array of touring gear and bicycles. Whenever we walk into one of these, everyone looks at Sarah’s lugged steel bike and says “Das ist old skool!” No one can believe her bike is new and expensive. The bicycle paths also have extremely detailed maps complete with contour lines and descriptions of the local sights and history. It is a good thing they are written in German, otherwise we would we would probably go broke buying them all! There are even two magazines dedicated to bicycle touring here. It’s like we’ve discovered a whole new world.
In fact, it has almost been a little too easy here. I didn’t think we would have any culture shock coming here, but we did. It was a strange feeling to leave the dirty, crowded streets of Bangkok in the morning and walk out of the airport in Frankfurt in the evening to see pristine sidewalks and to feel a cool breeze on your face. It really makes you think about how different things are and how amazing it is that you can travel so far in one day. The cycling has also been very different: traveling on a quiet path meandering along a river valley and through small fields of wheat and sunflowers. After being constantly surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of Asia it feels a little lonely. I told Sarah that I didn’t feel like we were really traveling anymore because I need to feel like I am going to die “at least once a day” and she almost died laughing, saying those are the last words she ever expected to hear coming out of my mouth. Rest in peace Mr. Safety!
Before we flew to Frankfurt, we signed up for an account on CouchSurfing and arranged to stay with Melanie and Ingo. We ended up spending three nights with them and their adorable daughter Ronja. Melanie and Ingo completed a year-long world trip on bicycles in 2006 and we had a blast discussing our experiences with them. They toured South America and are now planning on moving to Argentina to start a guesthouse and mountain bike tour company. They are going to be in Argentina this winter so we may be able to see them again if we go there! Ingo is also an expert mechanic and he helped us a lot with some small repairs we needed on our bicycles. After three days, we were sufficiently recovered from our jetlag and we hit the road. Here is Ingo leading us out of the city.
Since then we have followed the Main and Tauber rivers to Würzburg where we are now. We have been cycling through the river valleys enjoying the scenery and stopping at small villages that look like they are straight out of a fairytale.
We have also both been loving the bread here. Every village has a bakery in the town center where they bake all kinds of bread fresh daily.
The bread is so dense it is unbelievable. We’ve added a chainsaw to our list of most-wanted gear. This loaf literally weighed 5 kilograms and Sarah almost broke her arm again ripping a piece off.
Along the way in Wertheim, we spent a night with Johann Stobbies and his family in the former schoolhouse that they live in. The schoolhouse was built in 1870 and Johann did a beautiful job restoring it. He was also absolutely hilarious and we had a lot of fun laughing and talking with him. Here is the Stobbies family minus their youngest son outside their home.
We arrived in Würzburg yesterday and spent today exploring the palaces, castles, and churches of the city. We found our first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Europe at the Residenz here.
We are staying with the Kutttenkeuler family here and have had a wonderful time eating, drinking, and talking with them. Tomorrow we will head south towards Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which suffered no damage during WWII. A rare thing around here.