Friday, December 12, 2014

Bike Sport Hotels in Germany

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed we are fans of the hotels and B&Bs on the  ADFC’s Bett und Bike list. The club has recently added a new category to its lists: Bett und Bike Sport hotels. These are more upmarket hotels offering features in addition to those normally offered by Bett und Bike accommodation:
  • Tour suggestions and/or guided tours for mountain bikers, road racing types and even common or garden tourists like us two.
  • A very secure bike storage room so you don’t have to sleep with your 10 000 Euros worth of carbon fibre and Campag gears.
  • Mountain and road bike hire.
  • Good drying and washing facilities for you, your clothing and your bike, but not all the same room.
  • A workshop and information about nearby dealers who can help you when need help.
  • Maps, printed guides, energy bars etc.
  • If you want to cycle on your last day, you can arrange to take a shower in the afternoon before you depart for home, which saves you having to climb mud-encrusted into the BA or Lufthansa machine home.
These hotels are to be found in the southern Black Forest, in the Sauerland a mountain biking and winter sport area SE of Dortmund and in the Hunsrück W of the Rhine around Hahn airport. There is more information including a list of hotels to be found on a flyer obtainable via a link on http://www.bettundbike.de/. Don’t go for the English version, because although there is more information available about the concept, there is no link to the flyer. The flyer, of course, is in German but there are links to the hotel websites and these are more often than not in a sensible language, i.e. English.  A quick survey of the flyer suggests that the hotels are reasonably priced and some offer package deals for a week's or long weekend's holiday.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Christmas Markets in Germany

We are not going to write about cycling this week, but about something that is a major part of German life, a major export item: Christmas markets. After a recent study trip lasting two days the three of us,  Judith, I and a friend came to the conclusion that there are three types of Christmas market in Germany:
Big and Commercial
These are to be found in the big cities. Of course, they feature professional caterers' stands selling Glühwein (mulled wine) and variations on Bratwurst (grilled sausage). However the majority of stands sell Christmas trifles like Father Christmas hats, tree decorations and shiny glass globes. Most of the stalls are run by market tradespeople. This is normally the type of Christmas market found abroad, outside of Germany. I have not been to a German Christmas market in Britain for ten or so years, so I cannot comment on them, but in Germany between the stands selling bling and Bratwursts there are a few craftsman selling items they made themselves. Cologne, Düsseldorf and Rothenburg ob der Tauber are typical of these. The latter town has the advantage shops are open on Sundays in Advent. Some of these shops sell interesting hand crafted items of clothing. 
Medium sized and full of craftsmen and -women.
If you are interested in picking up interesting items made by artists and craftsmen then look at smaller places like Dinkelsbühl on the Romantic Road where craftspeople predominate though there is no shortage of stands selling hot wine and sausages. The food stands are more often that not run by local clubs.
Village Christmas markets
These are the most fun and the most ethnic. We went to Feuchtwangen on the Romantic Road on Saturday night. It had gone dark when we arrived. We walked through the dark cobbled medieval streets of the small town, down narrow alleys, across the market square and then turned in to the space between the town's two churches. It was an oasis of light in the darkness from the brightly trees strewn with lights on both sides. We stood at a table chatting to locals in a mixture of German and English drinking Glühwein (the rest) or hot cordial (me). The food was locally sourced and home made. The items on sale are simple handicrafts or foods. The profits went to charities, churches and local clubs from the Boy Scouts to the Model Railway Club. We had a very successful evening and in addition managed to visit a choral concert in the protestant church on the square. (On this evening I was the Designated Driver (DD).  I was not drinking, so Glühwein did not cause me to see the world through blurred rose coloured lenses.)
If you wanted to experience the spectrum of Christmas markets in Germany contact the Tourist Office in Feuchtwangen (www.feuchtwangen.de, touristinformation@feuchtwangen.de) or the Romantic Road Tourist Authority: www.romantischestrasse.de for more information. Both organisations will be pleased to help you up with hotel bookings and trips to  Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. You would probably need a taxi or a hire car, though the latter brings with it the DD problem. The German police don't have warm Christmas feelings about driving over the limit. Glühwein gets you there quite quickly, before you notice.  Unfortunately public transport in this part of Bavaria is very sparse.
Disclaimer: We were not supported by any tourist organisation. We paid all our own expenses.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cyclist- and bicyclist-friendly accommodation in Europe


We wrote about the German Cycling Club's BettundBike.de/en website earlier, in 2013. It is an excellent website offering lists of cyclist-friendly accommodation (Hotels, pensions, guest houses, youth hostels camping sites) in Europe. The idea has spread into neighbouring countries.





In addition there are other sources of information in websites listing cyclist-friendly accommodation:
  • Austria Vienna Wien.info has 130 cyclist friendly hotels/pensions/guest houses on its books.
  • Belgium 
  • Croatia There seems to be no specific information available on cyclist friendly hotels but on the other hand we suspect that all the hotels in Croatia are cyclist-friendly.
  • Denmark The http://cyclistic.dk/en/ website has lists of cyclist-friendly accommodation in Denmark.
  • France In our experience all French hotels are cyclist-friendly and with one exception over about 35 years of cycling in France, we've always had somewhere to lock our bikes away, in the countryside in sheds and in the cities conference rooms or unused offices. 
  • Netherlands The http://www.allefietserswelkom.nl/kaart shows a map of the Netherlands with accommodation marked. By clicking on the map one links to the hotel and hostel websites. The website is in Dutch, but the accommodation websites often offer an English version. 
  • Poland There seems to be no specific information available on cyclist friendly hotels but on the other hand we suspect that all the hotels in Poland are cyclist-friendly. There are links to accommodation on http://www.poland.travel/en/cycling/cyclist--environmentalist/
  • Switzerland Check out http://www.veloland.ch/en/accommodation.html

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bicycle Hire in Travemünde



Travemünde is the port of Lübeck and lies on the German Baltic coast. There are many cycling routes and a lot of cyclists so it is a safe place to cycle. The area is relatively flat. Across the River Trave on the other side of the hamlet of Priwall is the border with Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, one of the new German provinces. Until 25 years ago the Iron Curtain ran here. To the east there are miles of little developed beaches to swim from and sunbathe on. They are not developed because the former GDR government discouraged access to the Baltic to prevent people escaping the country. However being Germany there are a number of kiosks along the cycle route set back from the beach selling snacks, beer and coffee. The cyclepath, a former DDR border police track, runs along the coast to the northwest of Travemünde linking a number of small seaside resorts. We were in Travemünde recently and found two cycle hire shops one in the town and one across the river in Priwall.

Fahrradverleih Bruders, Mecklenburger Landstraße 14 23570 Travemünde/Priwall Tel: 04502/5340

Hire bike per day  6.00€
1 week                  25€
2 weeks                 45€
Children's bikes     Half price
Bollerwagen         3€ per day

Das Fahrrad  -  Moorredder 15  -  23570 Lübeck- Travemünde  -  @Mail: Fahrrad-Spuida@web.de  Telefon/ Fax: 04502-3550

Hire bike per day     6.00 €
1 week     35.00 €
2 weeks  60.00 €
Child's bike 18" - 24"      4.00 €
Child's seat         2.00 €
Tandem            12.00 €
Bollerwagen*     2.00 €
Pedelec 18.00 €


*Bollerwagen are small, rubber tyred, four wheeled wagons to take all the family needs to the beach:



Friday, November 14, 2014

Why should I ride a bike regularly and leave the car at home?

There are all sorts of reasons:

  • Financial Reasons: Bike riding is cheaper. An expensive bike costs five thousand Euros. You can purchase a new reasonable bike for between five hundred and a thousand Euros. A decent two or three year old second hand car will cost you a lot more. 
  • Cycling is as quick: Bike riding is as quick as a car over shorter distances, if not quicker, if you take the time to find a parking space for your four wheeled vehicle in to consideration.
  • Health Reasons: Bike riding is healthier. 
  • Environmental Reasons: Bike riding is better for air quality because you are cleaning the air rather than filling it full of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric and nitrous oxides, lung clogging unburnt tar particles, etc. etc. However you should then try to get out of town now and again to give your respiratory passages a chance to recover.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

German cycle route signposting, an apology!

Over the years I have complained about the German habit of putting small square shields with an arrow and a bike logo at right angles to the direction of travel as intermediate signposts on cycle routes. It is not always possible to decide which route these signs refer to or which direction you are following. However we recently cycled across a local forest in the dark and it was pitch black. It was very spooky with odd souls (walkers) and dogs with glowing eyes appearing suddenly out of the gloom.  We have decent lighting and could follow the path, but was it the right one? We were both very pleased to see the bike logo and arrow signs shining brightly in our headlamps at junctions.

Ground Effect yet again!

The regular reader of this column will have noted that we are fans of Ground Effect, a Kiwi bike clothing company. I was amused by their image film on their first twenty years. Click on http://www.groundeffect.co.nz/video/259/products-that-bombed to check it out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Safer tram lines part II

VBZ, the Zurich transport authority has carried a long term test on its tramline modification to make tramlines safer for cyclists in operation for about a year now and has found that the rubber inserts work well, but they are not stable enough for long term use. (See our blog from 9 November 2013.) Further work will be carried out to develop a more stable filling.

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