Thursday: Schermbeck - Xanten,
8.40 - 12.45, 50 km trp, 31.1 kmh max, 14.7 kmh avg
We leave the Schlösserroute, but in the area of the Niederrhein they have spared no efforts to gain the popularity of the Münsterland. So the "Niederrheinroute" was established which now with 1215 km and 820 km connection routes is said to be the longest cycle route in Germany. But there are the meanders again. Moreover we are entangled in the "Rheinradweg", a "Römerroute", a "Kulturroute" and a "Grenzlandroute" - not to speak of various local cycle paths. Now find your way in this forest of signs and symbols.
We start for the Römerroute, signed by a Roman helmet, on a grey and misty morning. We cross the bridge of the river Lippe and then the Wesel-Datteln-Kanal, zigzagging through the forests to and fro and then facing the castle Schloß Gartrop. But this is not open to the public and looks grey from its backside. We sit on a bench aside a mysterious well. As I trie to lift the heavy top plate my feet and sandals sink into the mud...
Like the Romans we continue zigzagging until the village Krudenburg. This spot is remarkable with nice fronts of houses remembering to Holland. Moreover there are the ruins of an old fortress. And in the guide you can read, that the road of the village is a heritage from the middle of the 19 th century.
At the town hall we get more informations than I can tell at this place. We content ourselves to surround the Willibrordi Dome, a grey and frugal absurdity not to our delight, but may be we are spoiled from the baroque at the Romantic Road last year...
The Rhine in the Mist
The most important information is, that the ferry boat at Bieslich is not at work today, so we have to choose just now the correct shore side of the Rhine to get to Xanten, and this is the left one. We cross the bridge of the Rhine and I shoot a fast photo because "just a ship is passing by". We will discuss this matter later. Far ahead in the misty meadows we see the relicts of the ramp of a former bridge. At the dike we have a rest and watch the ships, (if one is just passing by). The haze keeps steady today and we continue into the grey.
At the opposite side of Bieslich we look to the pier of the ferry boat. There is a cafe and many people look at us. May be they think we hope for the ferry boat and are disppointed now? But they would be wrong then. We roll on to Xanten and hit the "Archaeological Park" so at once decide to make a visit. We purchase the entrance fee and lock the bikes. Though the area is widespread it is not allowed to take the bikes inside, because the Romans did not know this vehicle, you know? At first the harbour temple, a reconstructed torso. Then the Capitol with some walls and column bases. Behind this all the roaring traffic of the Bundesstrasse is to be heard. And behind this shall be the remaining underground rests of the former Roman town.
Harbourtempel at the APX
Roman Tombstone Monument
View to the towers of Xanten
As soon as we leave the park the sun comes out and it gets warm. We go to the tourist information and then get a room at Hoevelmann's with balcony and minibar (the last to cool the beer from the supermarket). Now let us explore the town of Xanten.
We start at the Dom St. Viktor. A gentleman is pointing into various directions and a group of listeners nodding with their heads. We go to a book store and buy a booklet of Xanten to abandon our ignorance. The open booklet in front of us we try to find out the sensations and sightseeings of the Dom and then of Xanten at all. And we success with one exception: we cannot find the statue of the Hl. Victor which must be near the Dom. After the third attempt this is done too and the camera does it's click.
In the evening we sit outside again at a Yugoslavian restaurant near the market place. The final romantic evening time at the balcony is unfortunately finished by a sudden rain shower.
Towers of the Dom
Wednesday: Xanten - Emmerich,
9.00 - 14.45, 58 km trp, 27.4 kmh max, 14.5 kmh avg
After the rainy night the morning comes up with mist again. We pass the Archaeological park (APX) once again and unintentionally come to the village Luettringhausen and unintentionally as well surround the northern lake of Xanten according to that what was to be seen in the mist. But then a nice stretch on a dike follows and the mists eventually rise. As the sun comes out we must leave the dike and head into dead straight paths among maize fields.
We come to the town of Kalkar. But before we miss one of the nicest village churches at Hanselaer. We only read about this later. Kalkar is known by another fact. Some years ago they have started to build a nuclear power station at this place but due to technical and political difficulties they have stopped the project after the investment of some lost milliards. Today the institution is called "Kernwasser Wunderland Freizeitpark" and a swimming paradise.
May be this is the background that moreover they have established the Touristik Agentur Niederrhein in a brand new building just at Kalkar. Let us make a test. We need a time table information for our return to Espelkamp within the next days. "Left or right of the Rhine?" the lady asks and looks into her local time tables. No chance, my own PC at home would work better. But we get a city map and informations about the town.
Market Place at Kalkar
The market place of Kalkar is really beautiful and we rest under the huge roof of a lime tree. The church with a famous carved altar is closed until the year 2000 for restauration. At the market place a large group of one-day-riders comes up and swarms out into the adjacent food-, fruit- and baker-shops.
Schwanenburg at Kleve
It is a miracle that we cross the city of Kleve with its dense traffic and exactly hit the continuation of the Römerroute. Right ahead we observe an estate like a castle, but this is not to be found on the map and the sign "Private" shows, that the owners like to be left alone. So we reach Düffelward at the old Rhine. From here we have a nice path on the top of the dike with a fine view. At Griethausen we ride around and find out, that the tower of the church nearly broke down some time ago, if they had not thoroughly rebuilt the construction. This is documented at a photo exhibition. Some time later we see the relicts of a former railway bridge over the Rhine and ahead we can admire the longest rope bridge of Germany (500 m) at Emmerich. As usual for such situations it is not so easy to get my wife on the other side for she tends to loose the steady contact to the ground at airy sites. But it works pretty well, we even are able to give room to some other bikers coming from ahead.
Old Railway Bridge
Rope Bridge near Emmerich
As we go to the railway station the rain pours down, and so it is not so bad to buy the tickets for the return. The place for dinner this time is the restaurant Syrtaki and we have sardines and liver. But when it dawns we sit on our balcony and watch the road, the passers-by, the dogs and most of all: the Rhine. And if we once said: "There just comes a ship" we now learn: there comes one ship after another. Like on the Autobahn upstream and downstream multilaned they maneuver, overtake, bring the ship about, turn, and sometimes landing at the quay. This all is interesting though at the expense of the silence of such a nice evening. We await, that the traffic at the stream will end with darkness. But none of all, they find their way by radar, GPS or night vision devices, we don't know.
Though I continue to state: "This was the last ship" this is not true and we enjoy the rumbling of the diesel aggregates for the rest of the night.
Today we return to Espelkamp by train. This is quite usual und is not necessary to be part of the report. But if we go by train, we always have a story. This time the train from Emmerich is not willing to go off, we don't know why. And we only have 13 minutes to change the train at Duisburg. As the train finally starts, this time has melt to 3 minutes. The conductor states, that he will inform the other train but cannot guarantee anything. And as we arrive at Duisburg with the 3 minutes for the change things run like this: