Romantische Straße and the Mittelrhein : 2017-06-21 : Train to Köln (Cologne)
|To Fussen, then Koln Campingplatz
|Today: 13km; Total: 877km
|Campingplatz Stadt Köln
|Finally we’re enroute to Köln! We got away from the Campingplatz nice and early and enjoyed “first coffee” at the bakery next to the Banhof. I forgot that I’ve sworn off of caffeine and had a nice strong coffee, oops. I also had a “Nussplunder”, which is a glazed pastry filled with hazelnut filling. Mmmmmm… Nussplunder!
I hate traveling with the bikes by train. There are always challenges… like having to lift the bikes into a high train carriage, having to hang the bikes from hooks, being crammed in with a million other bikes… extremely short transfers between trains requiring you to haul the bikes up and down stair cases or in elevators that are too small… there’s just always something.
For this journey, we start in Fussen, and then transfer in Augsburg and Stuttgart. We have special tickets for the bikes that we had to affix to them (they're sort of like hospital bracelets), and for legs 2 and 3, we have assigned carriages.
Getting on in Fussen was delightfully easy. There was a 9” gap to step across into the train, but no step up. The bike carriage is nice and wide – no freakishly narrow corridors or turns to make. The only thing was that we’d originally gotten into the wrong carriage and were on a train that was stopping sooner than Augsburg, but the conductor helped us correct that issue easily enough. There are no hooks to hang the bikes – they can just sit on the floor, loaded. There are no cords to tie them up, though, so Brent and Laura have used Brent’s bungees, and Dewie is just in a deep “lean” in hopes of preventing her falling over. If every train journey was this easy, it would certain lend a whole new dimension of opportunities for cycle touring in Europe. I wouldn’t be so adverse to the train travel.
Augsburg is an ok, but not ideal station. We had to take the bikes down a set of stairs, then up a set of stairs, to make our transfer. The train we got on had three stairs up, and already had a bunch of bikes on it, so we rolled on full and then tried to get out of the way of some other cyclists embarking, and then stripped our luggage off and piled it in the corner. We’re transferring at Stuttgart, which is not the terminus for this train, so we’re going to have to do a fast disembark also. Stressful but not anxiety-inducing (yet). We had 25 minutes in Augsburg to make the transfer, which was comfortable. At Stuttgart we’ll have 31 minutes. We’ve had shorter transfers and I’ve deliberately avoided this – good thing!
Stuttgart is a great station for transfers because everything is on one level. You just have to push to the end of the track, cross to the platform you want, and badda-bing. Our last train for the day has two bike cars, and most of the other bikes got into the other car. We are in the very last car of the train, but there are very few other bikes in it, so alle ist gut. The train was again a three-step up, which I find very challenging when it’s just me and Brent, but with Laura helping (i.e., doing the hard work for me), it’s been a breeze!
We arrive in Köln at 3:05 today, and our one and only train journey for this cycle tour is completed (successfully and without too much stress). Only the leg from Augsburg to Stuttgart was kind of a mess of cyclists, and that’s because Ulm was one of the stops. Ulm sits on the Donau (Danube), and the Danube Cycle Trail is one of the most popular routes in Germany. Ulm is a beautiful spot along the way and I suspect a lot of the cyclists on that train were heading to Ulm to cycle part of the Donau. They pretty much all piled off in Ulm, anyway. There were a few of us who stayed on, and we all piled off in Stuttgart. Here’s hoping that Köln has a “civilized” Hbf and then we can call the whole journey done.
The Campingplatz that I anticipate piling into for tonight is about 5km down the line from the Hbf, so should make for an easy rest of the day. Tomorrow we’ll explore Köln before moving on the day after.
|We have been extremely fortunate with weather on this trip. The seasonal weather forecast told us to expect rain pretty much every day in June. People told us that normally it rained all the time this time of year. But for the most part, we’ve had glorious weather. Occasional thunderstorms at night, and occasional, brief showers in the afternoon, but mostly just sunshine and glory. I was seriously researching options for what we could do instead if we had to bail off of the Romantische Str due to weather, but it turned out to be a complete non-issue. It is a great trip… not for beginners, mind you, and we’re grateful to have seen it in such splendiferous conditions.
|Brent and Laura are giving me a hard time because this tour was uphill both ways. And it really is. We cycled “up” to Fussen. Now we’re taking the train to Köln and we’ll cycle from Köln “up” to Frankfurt. Technically it was Brent’s idea to do it this way, but yeah… I’m taking the hit. It’s ok… I don’t apologize for it at all. The scenery going to Fussen was amazing, and Brent was right… it would have sucked to cycle “away” from the Alps.
Laura pushes my bike up the stairs at Augsburg Hbf
Train Hell... waiting to get off at Stuttgart
Bicycle "hospital bracelet"