Germany - France
June 2o24

Marburg - Limburg / Diez 19 June 2024
115 km / 70 ml

Famous last words.  Rain and camping.  Yep, it rained and thundered during the night.  However, I am very impressed with my tent which didn’t let in a drop.  It’s a Big Agnes.  Not sure who or what she is, but they are based in Steamboat Springs Colorado.  They make neat camping gear.  The tent is small, just for one person, but the clincher is that it has poles which collapse to 12 inches, which are ideal for packing away in to a pannier.  Small, compact and neat.  The morning was damp, and packing up a wet tent isn’t much fun.  The sky was grey and threatening, and throughout the day it drizzled and occasionally poured.  But, I persevered.  My route took me mostly along the Lahn all the way to Limburg, where I am tonight just a bit further on in Diez, in an AirBandB, which is a welcome respite from the rain of last night.  And an opportunity to dry things out.

Last night there were a couple of other bikers / campers at the site.  The one next to me was a guy, Berhardt, my sort of age, on his bike doing what I’m doing and heading from his home in Stuttgart, going north and heading for Norway and the Arctic Circle !  And you think I’m mad !  He will be away for seven weeks.  His wife isn’t best happy, apparently.

My meal tonight is in a local bierkeller, but this one has a certain bicyclist vibe with people arriving on their sturdy German bikes, and also somewhat upmarket.  None of the beer bellied Yorkshire Brits from last night.  More Waitrosey type Germans who want their traditional beer and food but slightly more refined.  Which it is.  Excellent, in fact.  I’m having a rather large schnitzel with paprika and cream cheese, and something called handkase which is a rather tough and chewy curd cheese which is served with raw onions.  Very nice.  There should be a picture somewhere.  The music is Pet Shop Boys and Queen and likeminded stuff that I can’t place, suitable for trendy and cool 50 and 60 year olds, which the majority of the clientele are.  And all of this on a night when Germany is playing, I think, Hungary.  They are kind of interested, watching on their iPads and iPhones, but definitely are not the loud, beer swilling fans of yesterday.  Much more refined. I like it.  

Tomorrow I head south towards Mainz to meet up with Lucas, whom I met some years ago when cycling in Germany, and we have kept in touch, and he has visited.  If I’m in this part of the world I try and call by.  And then, my plan is to head from Mainz north up the Rhine (Mainz is where the Main joins the Rhine) to Koblenz, where the Moselle / Mosel meets the Rhine, and then follow the Moselle / Mosel west in to France.  I’ll break away from the Moselle, as it will be then in France, near Verdun and cycle the Path of Peace route which follows the WW1 front line.  I’ll go north towards the Belgian coast, and visit the grave of Alf (George) Carruthers at Longueval, my father’s uncle on his mother’s side. He was killed at the Somme in 1916, but was not found for more than 15 or 20 years, and his final resting place is at the London Road / High Wood Cemetery in Longueval.  I visited in 2016 on the precise 100th anniversary of the day he was killed, and was in all likelihood was the first person to visit since his sister, Betty, visited in the early 1930’s on behalf of his family once they had found his remains.  It will only be a short detour from the Path of Peace.  The front line didn’t move very much over the four years of WW1 for all the lives that were sacrificed during those years.  A bit like in Ukraine today.

A few days ago I came across a war cemetery and could tell immediately that it was British by the huge cross of memory that is emblematic of British war cemeteries, so I took a look.  It was big. I was confused because all the headstones were from 1918, give or take, and this place was far away from the Western Front.  I did a bit of digging and it transpires that these guys were prisoners of war, held in Germany, and were victims not of battle but of the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 / 19.  I was astounded as to how many there were, all young, late teens and early twenties.  We think that Covid was bad enough, but the 1918/19 pandemic was, I think, far worse and hit the young particularly.  A sobering visit.

Berlin-Lutherstadt  :   Lutherstadt - Bernberg. :   Bernberg - Blankenberg  :  Blankenberg - Einbeck  :  Einbeck - Kassel  : 

Kassel - Kirchheim  :  Kirchheim - Marburg  :  Kirchheim - Limberg/Diez  :  Limberg/Diez - Mainz  :  Mainz - Koblenz  :

Koblenz - Krov  :  Krov - Remich  :  Remich - Verdun  Verdun : Verdun - Reims  :  Reims - Amiens  :  Amiens - Arras

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