Thursday, July 31, 2014

We rent bikes in Karlsruhe and head to Lindau to start our trip

    Lucy and I finally rented our bikes and got ready to start our adventure in earnest.
    Our original plan was for us to start two days earlier in Chur, Switzerland. My hope was to rent or even buy a bike in Heidelburg, Germany, and then travel to Chur to start our trip.
    We arrived in Heidelburg on a Saturday and nothing was open. I had decided that if I couldn’t buy or rent a bike in Heidelburg I would just rent from the Swiss rail station in Chur. But the cost was simply outrageous, so we waited until Monday and rented a bike in Karlsruhe from a guy operating as Mike’s Bikes. The cost for two bikes for almost two weeks was 230 euros, which was just a little more than half of what we would have had to pay if we had tried to rent in Switzerland.
"Mike's" real name is Martin
    Mike's real name is Martin; he explained the Mike thing to me but I didn't understand. He rents mostly Giant brand bikes, which are considered a cheaper model, which is just fine by me. Those wanting to pay more for a fancier bike can look elsewhere. He has a lot of bikes, and with advance notice could easily equip a group of 40 or more.
    This fee included use of two waterproof panniers, as my bags were too large for the Bushwacker grocery panniers that I brought with me. The Bushwackers worked great for Lucy, though. I’m going to devote a full blog post to this, and carrying one’s belongings while biking is a pretty darn important thing.
    Fortunately our stays in the Heidelburg area didn’t cost much. For our first night in Heidelburg we stayed at the Crowne Plaza on an 80-euro advance purchase rate. A bit high for me but the hotel was near the old town. There was a barber shop connected to the hotel and I got a much-needed haircut, as my hair was getting really sweaty from the heat.
    The next night I used Club Carlson points for a free night in Heppeheim; I was cheated, as I paid extra points for a superior room and didn’t get it. The next night I used a Marriott Rewards certificate for a free night in Karlsruhe. As far as we could tell there was nothing in Karlsruhe but cheap bike rentals, but feel free to make your own judgments.
    Yesterday we got a late start after renting our bikes and headed to Lindau, a little jut-out almost-island on the Bodensea, also known as Lake Constance. Our hotel cost 80 euros, and is one of the few that I’ve had to pony up the money for. The breakfast was nice, but there was no air conditioning. Our room had neither a bathroom nor shower. The location was nice, though
    We had to take fairly slow trains to Lindau as we were carrying bikes, which are not allowed on the faster ICE trains. As a result we didn’t arrive until fairly late. I wish we had made it early, because Lindau is a neat place. We spent some time the next day just wandering about to make up for what we missed the day before.
   Much to our surprise, Lindau closes early. At 10 p.m. everything was closing and we headed back to our hotel to go to bed. There was no air-conditioning, and the room was a sweltering-hot 75 degrees, if not more. Even worse, apparently everything didn’t close at 10 p.m., because at 2 a.m. a bunch of rowdy college kids walked under my window waking me up.
    Enough for this post. My next will detail our first full day of actual bike riding.

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