Sunday, October 24, 2010

May 11 - Into the heart of the Schwartzwald

We woke up and had frustuck as soon as we could and hit the road. Heavy rain was predicted for the afternoon, so we wanted to get some mileage under our belts. We headed straight south out of Fruedenstadt on a small road. We had a 2-3km climb through the forest, then rolled along for about 10km, then a fierce descent into an open meadow and small town.

After exiting the town, we had a gradual, flying downhill through a river valley. The sun came out, and it was glorious! We hit the town of Schramberg at market time - around noon - and decided to push on toward St. Georgen.

The sign said 18km to go. We thought it would be mostly downhill. But, alas, it was mostly uphill the whole way. In face, we ended up at a higher elevation than Freudenstadt at the end of the day. We found a Hotel Adler in St. Geogen and checked in. It was serviceable for 76 Euros, but not great. Unfortunately, it was 2:30 by the time we got out for lunch, so we had a bakery/gelateria lunch. We had a couple pastry items and Hawaiian toast and coffee - followed by a small serving of "malaga" - my favorite flavor of gelato.

We had a brief walk around town followed by a nap and laundry changing rotation. Dinner was at the hotel. We both wanted the ox tongue in Madeira sauce, but they were out. So, we had pork dishes. Rick had medallions, and I had schnitzel. Yum! We skipped dessert, as we'd had a double-dessert lunch.

I'd managed to turn a vacation into a hill-climbing vacation yet again. But, we were both enjoying the Schwartzwald ramble much more than the Rhine valley. The goal from this day on was to milk as much mileage out of the black forest as possible.

May 10 - Tour de Murg

We rolled out of Baden-Baden at 9:30 in the morning in light rain. We opted for the climby route instead of continuing on the Tour de Murg - the section we hadn't yet done. The Tour de Murg had been our general route as directed by a bike shop, since we'd wandered off our Rhine maps. We climbed up and then ended up hike-a-biking through the forest and back on to the road just above our hotel - the route we'd just opted against - doh!

We continued out of town for the second time and were soon climbing like madmen - straight up a 15% grade for 3km! We finally crested - only to find the road we wanted to take back down to the Murg river closed. So, we descended the main road and started our tour south through the valley. The wander was slower than expected due to some climbing on wet, sandy dirt in the forest.

We descended to lunch in Forsbach, as the rain started getting harder. After 1.5 hours of sitting around and no let-up, we decided to camp out in Freudenstadt by using the train to get there. We just missed the first train and caught another 40 minutes later. Just after stepping off the train, we found the Hotel Adler, which was listed as bike-friendly. We took a doppelzimmer and locked our bikes in the garage. We walked around after getting cleaned up and bought 2 maps of the area for cycling.

The day was capped off with dinner at the Hotel Adler. It was pork with cherries and spetzel with salad. We had a schwartzreisling (who knew reisling was a red grape?). It was a really good wine. The meal ended with a nice apfel struedel and coffee. Mmmm. I like German cuisine! Who knew?

May 9 - Ich mochte eine thermalbad!

We left Ettingen via the rolling route. The next town led us to a wrong turn, and we ended up in the Black Forest headed straight up a paved mountain bike route. It was a solid 10% with pitches of 12%, but was lovely and quiet and smelled nice.

We had a wicked descent and then needed to backtrack slightly to get to Baden-Baden. There was a tractor show near Oos, that got us all caught up, but we finally made it to Baden-Baden around 2:00. We had to pull under an awning for about 15 minutes despite our growling stomachs to stay out of a thunder squall that was dumping rain.

Finally, we got a respite from the downpour and headed down the road to a pizzeria/doner place and tanked up. The search for a place to sleep started as soon as we got into the town center. We wanted to settle before hitting the baths. We did not expect to get a deal in Baden-Baden, but found a 3 star near the baths called Hotel Romerhof. It was 102 Euros for the night. Steep, but not too steep.

After checking in and changing, we headed to Friedrichbad - the bath featured in Rick Steve's video that we had rented before heading on vacation. We paid our 21 Euros each to go through the 15 stations. We skipped the full-body brushing and the "kaltwasserbad", but did everything else.  Eventually, our hunger caught up with us, and we headed to the Lowenbrau Brewery restaurant for dinner. I had salad and short ribs with pommes frites - the "smaller" portion (heaven help me if I'd taken the standard portion). Ice cream rounded out our meal, and we headed back to talk to the parental unit and wish my mom a happy Mothers' Day. All in all, it was a great day in Baden-Baden.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

May 8 - We are radfarhren!

We had a very "petit" dejeune at the hotel as we didn't want the upsell breakfast. It was only pan au chocolate, baguette with butter and jam, orange juice and coffee.

Rolling north through some small valleys, we finally arrived at the top of our map - Worth am Rhein. We found many restaurants closed, but finally found a Muslim-owned pizzeria open and had some tasty fake-pork products made from 100% Kabelfleisch (veal) and a couple of Coca Colas, since the beer was verbotten.

14 Euros later, we were headed north again to the next river crossing. The sun finally came out while we were riding along the river....ahhhhhhh - jacket off for the first time on the trip!

We took a ferry crossing and headed south through Karlsrhue. We had a paved bike path all the way to town. The roll through the city went pretty well. It was a lovely city with many people out walking and cycling...a few too many at times. We headed south about 8 km to Ettlingen - a cute, small resort town. We got a too-expensive hotel in the city center. But, we had a nice stroll, dinner at a pasta place, and a few minutes at an Internet cafe.

The end of the evening was spent watching trashy MTV, because it was in English!

May 7 - Strausbourg - Cycling friendly city

Our departure from Kehl took us over a fantastic double-suspension bike/pedestrian bridge to Strausbourg. We made our way through the bicycle-friendly city to the cathedral. Cycling in a European city is completely safe and fluid, however, it takes some getting used to. Also, you will not break any speed records, but you will get around efficiently.

We took some photos outside the cathedral. Then, I headed in to look around while Rick stayed with the bikes. Unfortunately, they announced the lunch closing while I was inside, so Rick was not able to see it.

We found a reasonably easy perimeter route out of the city and stopped in a small borough for lunch. We found a modest-looking restaurant near the Rhine, which turned out to be super-pricey. Rick had beer and veal. I had wine, salad with goat cheese and smoked salmon. It was 38 Euros for lunch, which made Rick a bit cranky. Viva la France! We headed back out along the Rhine and managed to see a peacock on the trail, which was pretty cool. Then, we ended up on a dirt track, which I knew was wrong, but Rick insisted was right. About the time we dead-ended into a creek, I decided to head back and look for another route. We finally found a parallel path, which was the right one and continued north. We ended up stopping in Bleinheim - short of our goal of Worth. But, we found a serviceable hotel at a good price, which made up for our extravagant lunch.

We walked to a local restaurant for dinner. We had a bottle of Alsacian Riesling, chicken with puff pastry and white asparagus. Dessert was local strawberries with cream and a side of coffee. It was a nice meal all-around.