Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reliving the past -- Lucy and I are retracing part of my 1975 bike trip

    I’ve been reliving the past for the past couple of days.
    Back in 1975 I went on a bike trip that included a ride up the Mosel and Rhine rivers. I blogged on this about 18 months ago.
    Jinny, Ash, Lucy and I recently visited Paris and London, thanks primarily to Hilton, Delta, and Club Carlson points. I’ve been wanting to do some biking on the Mosel and Saar rivers, so Lucy and I stayed over. Jinny doesn’t have much interest in outdoorsy things and Ash doesn’t travel well, so it’s just the two of us.
    Our trip started out with an all-day train trip from London to Trier, with train changes in Brussels, Cologne, and Koblenz. We arrived at about 8 p.m. in Trier and took a cab to our hotel, the Park Plaza, which cost us 48 Euros plus 10,000 Club Carlson points. We should have walked, but I didn't print out a map ahead of time.
    On July 11 we slept late and rented bikes at the Trier train station. The folks weren’t terribly friendly, but they have lots of bikes and sure are convenient. Our cost for four day’s bike rental was 39 Euros each.
    We left our big suitcases at the hotel for later pickup and just traveled with two small backpacks, which fit in a basket on the back of the bike.

    First stop, Saarlouis, about 50 miles from Trier. Our first attempt to board a train failed. It pulled up at the other end of the station and the doors slammed shut before we could board. The second time around worked. The German regional trains have a car in the front with places for bikes.
    We arrived in Saarlouis at about 4 p.m. and bicycled to our hotel, the Hotel Ratskeller. I confess that I had to push my bike up the hill to cross the River Saar. There was a large pedestrian area around our hotel, and we ended up pushing our bikes through it, too.
    Confession being good for the soul, I must also admit that I got a bit confused as to how to enter our hotel. The hotel is on the upper floors of a building, and where I thought the entrance should be was the sign for another hotel, the “Hotel Eingang.” Lucy finally pointed out that she thought “Eingang” meant “Entrance,” and what do you know, it did!
    A bit of history about the Saar and Saarlouis. The Saar was long squabbled over by Germany and France. Saarlouis is named after King Louis XVI of France, who built fortifications in the town to defend it. After World War II, France kept it as a protectorate, and hoped to keep it permanently. However, the citizens were eventually allowed to vote – with 90 percent voting tto rejoin Germany – and the region was returned by France only in 1957, 12 years after the war’s end.
    Saarlouis really doesn’t have that many important sites, but it is as fine a place to spend the night as I have encountered. There are literally dozens of restaurants in the pedestrian area to choose from. Lucy and I found a pizza place that wasn’t too expensive, so we both ordered a pizza. They forgot to cut it for us, but we just cut it with our forks and knives.
    Our plan for our first day of biking is to pedal our way to Dreisbach, a distance of about 15 miles. We're not trying to set any distance records.

    NOTE: I’m just kidding about the pizza. In much of Europe pizza is served as one piece, and you are expected to eat it like a steak or something. Next trip I’m including a pizza cutter.

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