My father was a primary scool teacher and switched career in february 1968, to become holliday resort director, in Bulgaria. He worked for a company like "Club Mediterranee". That company was by te way later acquired by "Club Med".
I Believe, I passed my most beautiful hollidays in Russalka, at the Black Sea shore, for 3 consecutives years.
At that time Bulgaria was one of the east-block mysterious countries, and despite my young age, I could feel the politic pressure of the government on bulgarian people.
I ever deamed to go back to Russalka. I chatted with my friend Bernard, who knows Bulagari very well, and bulgarian language too, because it is very similar to russian language, that Bernard learned at the scool. Bernard has also a very good knowledge of the country, because he went many times for work or touring in Balkan Mountains.
Both, we planed to do this travel with recumbent bikes, and to share that adventure with my old french canadian friend Bertrand,with whom I crossed the whole Canada in 2013 and Scottland in 2014.
Chatting with Bertrand on the net to organize the travel, purchasing in France two Nazca Pionner recumbent bikes for the 2-B (Bert and Bernard). At the beginning of jul we met us in Besançon to start the journey.
Preparations made long discussion, mainly between me and Bernard: he never travelled a long way before, and we resolved before starting some problems about weight of luggage.
Bertrand, as a very experienced ld timer came in france with just two "banana"bicycle bags, and a very light loaded backseat bag.
Oh yes, I know, it's not a very long travel today, but 47 miles, with front wind, and with my two friends, who doesn't fully tame their loaded mounts...
Just a quick stop at Besançon's exit at the portuguese baker, to buy bread and eat delicious "Pastei de Nata", then ride on the bike way "Eurovelo 6".
We were 4, because Miriam rode with us any miles until Bame-les-Dames. Bert liked very much the landscape. I must admit, that Doubs valley is very beautiful, under full blue sky (because it's not every day, we have to take the opportunity).
We hesitated to stop at "L'Isle-sur-le-Doubs" or at Mandeure, a couple of miles farer. But it's not smart to ride a lot of miles, at the beginning, to ride more and more. We rather take our own rythm,slowly. Big steps will come when bodies will be used to news conditions of food; of sleep and physical effort.
A beer at the campgroung terrasse, very cool, with Olivier (an other one), belgian cyclist who came a couple of minuts after us and rode in the other way.
First meeting, with a guy who travelled many times, especially in Bulgaria last year !
An amazing day, that start with unsual things: I wake up at first, and Bertrand is asleep like a dog (in french we say "like a tree root"), a long time after the sun ride !
Starting is difficult. Bernard is a little bit to slow to pack his staff.
We follow the Doubs river until Audincourt. Doubs valley gives us sweet landscapes. Less sweet is the uphill at Colombier-Fontaine.
And that cold front wind, called "bise" in french (kiss in english!). It makes us tired despite bike relays. Bert begin to admit the necessary of staying behind the other cyclists by front wind).
Crossing Montbeliard is shorter by using non asphalted tracks.
Trouée de Belfort : (kind of pass between Vosges Mountains and Pre-alps): we follow a canal with rising locks, one each kilometer, and suddenly, after the water divede line, a dozain of locks in the other way, like to show us that the canal lieds down to the Alsace and Rhein river.
At Dannemarie, we stopped in a little pub called "100 pâtes", near the canal bank, and where we can eat only pastas. Good atmosphere, very friendly, between cyclists, good, not very expensive, according to the volume of food.
First half-timbered houses, typical of Alsace region, a stork flies near us. We cross Mulhouse by a bike-way in the middle of the taown, and we ride downhill to the south. We stop to take a picture with 4 perched storks on a roof.
Last miles are hard. 78 today, it's too much, especially for Bert, who has absolutly no training. Bernard rides well, but is tired at the end of the day.
Campground on the Rhein river bank. Great wellcome, but great price too! 31 euros for 3 poor tents and 3 poor guys, no wifi, just 2 showers for men and 2 other one for women. A field for cyclists that seems like Woodstoke Festival, (for over crowding, not for music).
So, not very well, but nothing else.
After being unpack my bags, I rode to the supermarket to buy food, because the 2-B were "out of order" (in english in the text). I filled the camping cooker tank at the gas station, because it works with benzine, so that I can use it absolutly anyware, and after that we could eat rosted saussages with potatoes puree to enjoy our entering in Germany.
Before sleeping, we decided to get up tomorrow, when we will be awake. Everybody is right with that.
Quiet awakening…. Bernard is not yet very efficient for loading his staff, but he will be…
We must take care to exit Hunningue/Bale, because there are no road signs. We followed the Rhein river all the time. Only bicycle pathes, sometime a wide asphalted road, sometime a small rural low traffic road , sometime a gravel track.
We crossed many time a railway, that was following the river, roughly 50 meters over the water level. So that we had to ride up and down many time, and last uphills were very hard.
Very beautiful vantage point over Rhein, and a very cute old wooden bridge, at Bad Säckingen
To finish the journey, a very beautiful campsite near the Rhein. More and more expensive are the campsites. Here we have to spend monnay for showers !!!
It’s too much for me, I went to the river to take a bath, and Bernard too…
After that, we rode to Waldshut to visit the handsome city and for shoping.
07/11 Waldshut – Engen
Amazing welcome at the Engen campground. A pub that seems like the campsite office. Because he saw that I was a stranger, the guy in the pub begin to talk in german-gibberish, like « What you want ? Here no office ». Furthermore, he had a very strong accent (we are very very near the swiss border) and I ask him, in german, if it’s possible for him to speak german. Vexed was the guy ! « Ich bin Deutsch und ich spreche deutsch ! ».
After that, he leads me 20 meters farer where is, well hidden, the true office. Nobody here. By pressing a button, the office employee come immediatly, from nowhere, riding a fairly new scooter Vespa. Not like the driver : 70, 75 old. He gives us a paper, and we have to write fist name, name, birthdate and birthplace. We saw less complicated… Then he copies all information in a book. His phone is riging, a kind of german folk music like « Dis Tyroler sind lustig ». Atmosphere…
Writing in the book spend a lot of time, he his copying character after character, one at a time, I suppose he learned writing very late.
Then, he ride his scooter and leads us 20 meters farer to show us our camping pitch. Not very chatty, not very smily, but efficient.
Great surprise : bathrooms are new, very clean, great quality ; showers are true shower rooms with thermostatic mixers, hairdryers are free…
It had nothing to do with the camping factory of yesterday, where all was paid service : Wi-Fi, showers, electric burner.
Today, great progress for my friends : starting was half an hour earlier than everyday. And my buddy Bertrand begin to push well on the pedals, sometimes he can ride faster than Bernard.
Beautiful travel along the Rhein bank this morning, until Schaffhausen and the amazing Rhein fall, and after in the green countryside and flowery villages.
Any small rought uphill finish to complete the troops morale, near Hegau and his perched castel, near Singen, on the top of a rocky peak.
Last uphill to join the campground destoyed them at all. They came tired, and by foot...
Jeudi 12 juillet : Engen – Sigmaringen
German people are little crooks : when you are at a town entry, there are no more road signs to lead you on the Eurovelo6, so that you are lost in the middle of the city, when obviously, you can find every thing to buy…
We lost Bernard. We made a pause in a great prairie, and he doesn’t take care when me and Bert started again. We rode very slowly, and we thought Bernard should join us, we stopped for a lunch, but he took an other way, the right one.
After unpacking the food, we called him by phone. He was farer than Mulheim, a town that we didn’t yet crossed !
Finaly, we joined him and took the food out of the bags one more time. Bert discovered the delicious blend raw ham/melon.
Nice day, that began with 2 or 3 little uphills to join the Danube valley ; By scrupulousy following road signs on the bike path, we were able to make a full loop, with a very strong uphill in a gravel path into it. When we began the second lap, Bert found the right road sign, we rode straight on the track, and we found the Danube river, a kind of small estream that snakes on the bottom of the valley.
We were very lucky when we crossed a little wood bridge, because we could see a fishing busy stork in the river.
Then many uncredible landscapes, with perched houses on the top of rocky peaks, very great cliffs.
Little hard uphills to cut Danube’s meanders. One time, two times, five times.. We didn’t count but the mast one become more and more difficult.
Bertrand might have to push his bicycle one or two times, but less at the end of the day. (Then a sentence in fench canadian dialect, absolutlty untranslatable, to say : « When you cannot pass the little bearing, you are very bad geared »
Finish at the overcrowded Sigmaringen campground. Shower, beer-Wifi downtown, eat and sleep...
07/13 Sigmaringen - Rottenacker
Today a less interesting step. Beautiful landscapes, but less surprises : flat cultivated extends (wheat, barley, corn), storks landing in each field, Danube river that lazily snakes in the countryside, and crossed towns with for my taste heavy loaded style architecture.
Often is the EV6 a unsealed road, with an amazing 20 % short uphill.
I arrived very fast, but made a mistake with gearing, so that I was immediatly stopped. When I wanted to start again, my front wheel took of because of the very high slope. Fall, scratch on my elbow and my knee, on the right side.
Bernard’s derailleur was between the rear spokes, when he arrived on the top of the uphill.
We spent about 20 minuts to unbent derailleur chain guides and adjust again the derailleur. All is right, except indexation that works wrong.
We were lost in Ehingen, there was no road signs, and we decided to go back to a campsite – Rottenacker’s one – and not go farer to Ulm, because it was too far, at least 2 hours ridind...
We put our tents in a room that could be heavenly if there were not here a goup of young people who was ready to party with many bottle of beer and big sound system.
Friendly, but vigorously, I told them I hope, they don’t be noisy late in the evening.
Little consolation : we did a true holiday meal, with tomatoes, cod with mushroom and cream, pasta, cheese, and fruit yogurts...
Samedi 14 juillet: Rottenacker - Dillingen
I presume, my good quebec cousins, who – I know hat – are reading this blog, and especially Lise, are wondering about coffee problem…
Unfortunatly yes !
Bertrand, whom I consciously initiated to the good black and dense french coffee, made many progress on the matter, since we met for the first time. Evering morning, I make a coffee for him, et each day I increase a few the dose. So that at the end of the journey, He is able to drink a true good coffee…
But Bernard ! A true french guy from France, who’s drinking coffee, but put into it powder milk that I bought for Bert, and sugar too !
I know, I can do something for Bertrand, but for bernard, I’m desperate !
I rather talk about something else...
Yesterday evening, as previous, our young neighbours were very noisy. I took my tent away and put it again 100 meters farer, so thatI could sleep well. (like a dormouse, we say in french).
This morning, start of the ride like everyday. However Bert forgot to wake up : finally, he stayed sleeping half an hour more , instead of waiting that me and Bernard are ready to go. Please Bert, think about that to do right next mornings...
Then a big hundred kilometers step but without any elevation and many gravel ways and front wind. My friends and me are thinking, that the gravel ways share is around 20 % for the whole route, and 30 % in Germany…
At Ulm was the EV6 occupied by food stands, from all the Danube countries, because it was a big fest. Romania, Austria, Germany, etc.
We stopped, me and Bernard eat a flammkuche, and Bertrand a rosted saussage, because he wanted to taste « true saussages that were eaten by true Germans ».
Then we took a walk in the city and its « little Venizia ». Beautiful.
Near Dillingen, we saw Staline in a garden, by a stone mason.
Like often were the last miles a little bit too long, we were looking for a campground, that finally we founded near the river. Big beer, shoping in the town, shower and meal...
07-15 Dillingen – Ingolstadt
Last night campsite was very friendly. The owners were two nice smily ladies, who were busyto fill as often as possible our beer glasses
It’s not the same today : we were welcomed by a high aged femeale bulldog, who took money : 54 euros for 3 tents and 3 bike riders, it’s definitively too much !
Shower was large, hot, with a great flow rate, and I have taken the liberty of staying a very long time into the shower. No scruple (see higher).
It must be said that we came in the campground muddy, wet, rinsed after 20 km in the forest, by a very strong rain. At the storm peak, we founded a house near the road, that shelter us half a hour from the heavy rain.
However we started very early (9h) and took the chance to ride in fresh air and without wind. At half past twelve, we rode 65 km, and we stopped to lunch. I expected to find open foof shops, but we can’t resupply.
Because of warmth and hunger, Bernard made a slowdown, and we choose to heavy option : rice with Chili dehydrated sauce that I have bought by any chance the day before. Rice filled us, chili was very spicy, and both made us valiant to ride again.
First part of this step was on a large plain with corn and wheat fields. In the villages, the smaller farm tractor was giant. Sure we were in the Germany’s granary.
After that, we joined Danube river with gravels tracks, and rode through the very beautiful forest, west from Ingolstadt. There the storm caught us. When we started after the rain, kind of fog was rising from hot ground, it was very nice, very « romantik », we would not be surprised, to see blond riding Walkyries cross the Eurovelo 6...
Finaly Ingolstadt, that we didn’t see at all, because we stayed on the Danube bank with the eyes riveted on the campsite signs.
This evening, free time for the cooker (Yes ! So decided my friends, and it’s a good thing, because food shops are closed at the sunday).
On the restaurant menu, Tafelspitz, bavarian culinary speciality, beef tongue served with potatoes and litthe vegetables, all with a lot of cream and parsley. Simple, effective, delicious.
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