2007 Biking Europe part 2

Part two of our Europe trip is finally finished. For those of you who missed part one, I will soon post that also.

For more of our past adventures check out: www.bicycleyucatan.com

For information about biking in the area of Yucatan, Mexico, check out: http://bicycleyucatan.blogspot.com

2007 EUROPE TRIP part two
A brief recap of part one:
On the 19th of April Jane and I flew to Miami, spent two busy days purchasing two folding bicycles and boarding a cruise ship for a 12 day trans-Atlantic crossing to Barcelona, Spain.
We spent a glorious fun-filled week in Spain sightseeing and stuffing ourselves on their superlative cuisine.
Next we flew to Münster/Osnabrük, Germany via Palmas de Mallorca, Spain and then crossed the snow-capped Alps on the way. Bicycling north to our final destination of Nordhorn, Germany we took a four day layover in the city of Rheine, ironically situated on the Ems River not the Rhine.
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A brief look at Nordhorn, Germany where Jane and I would spend the next two months cycling the best bicycle trails this planet has to offer.

Nordhorn facts:
First established as a trading center in the twelfth century when local sandstone was mined and shipped by river-boat as far away as Amsterdam.
This was a busy enterprise with more than a thousand shipments per year.
Industrialization began in the 1830s when the knitting and weaving industry was established.
For the next one hundred and fifty years Nordhorn’s Dutch owned textile industry thrived. The three largest manufactures set a world standard for quality until they were priced out of the market by Oriental imports.
During Nordhorn’s textile years the thriving city became established with canal commerce and an impressive network of canals that put the border town at the intersection of a trans-European commercial canal network.
Heading north from Nordhorn was the Süd-nord Kanal. (South-North Canal)
Heading east was the Ems-Vechte Kanal. (This canal tied into the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal that tied the industrial heartland of Germany’s Ruhrgebiet with the North Sea port city of Emden.)
Heading south into the Netherlands was the Almelo-Nordhorn Kanaal.
(This canal tied into the vast Dutch canal system that literally connected all of the original Hanseatic Trading leagues cities together.)
In short; Nordhorn was at the canal cross-roads of this part of Europe and thus became known as the “Canal City”.
Twenty three meters above sea-level and situated at 52º 25’55″ north Latitude and 7º04’04″ east Longitude, Nordhorn is as far north as Canada’s James Bay but enjoys a much milder winter climate and rarely sees snow thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream.
Thriving but steady, Nordhorn with a population of 53,000 is amazingly well isolated from the rest of Europe today.
The smoky smokestacks of the textile industry are all gone now and the border boundary areas that carved wide swaths around the countries of Europe have become heavily forested recreational areas crisscrossed by beautiful well-marked bicycle and hiking paths.
Thanks to the open borders of today the Euro-zones old boundary areas are now made up of people friendly zones with not a trace of governmental restrictions.
Situated on the Netherlands’s border, Nordhorn has no bus service with that country and amazingly there is no passenger rail service to anywhere…this is bicycle country.
Jane and I looked long and hard to find such a jewel of tranquility with good air, quiet streets and nearly unlimited pleasant bicycle trails that are the finest we have ever encountered in all of our forty plus years of bicycle adventures.
Nordhorn is not for everybody and if you are not an avid cycler you would more than likely find the place uninteresting.
Having said that, this is exactly what we appreciate the most about the location.
Jane and I are the only tourists in a German city of over 50,000 and receive astonished expressions when we respond to the question; “where are you from” with the answer; “Mexico”. Mostly people guess that we are from the Netherlands, next from England…but never from Mexico!

Here is our Part Two story with captioned photos:
Biking with Tilman and Helga

This year Jane and I along with Helga and Tilman Stürmer made a number of bicycle outings with the added boost of their car to carry us to some out-of-the-way points of interest. Jane and I had our little folding bicycles (klapprads) in the trunk.
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Our friend Tilman’s specialty is his “grillin” barbeques. (Last November Helga and Tilman Stürmer made a visit to Yucatan and we enjoyed good time adventures together.)
Helga and Claudia
Helga and her daughter Claudia happily discuss upcoming wedding plans over a typical German eating extravaganza.
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German quality and attention to detail show at these lovely bicycle shelters.
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Jane and I try to make our out of town bike trips on week days to diminish the competition for these positively perfect bicycle picnic areas.
Jane eating in garden
Lunch at home in our apartment’s flower filled garden is a cool pleasure getting away from the intense heat of Yucatán in this early spring season. French wine, Danish cheese, German bread and mustard along with Dutch hot chili sauce are things we can only dream about back in Mexico.
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Mexican Corona and American Bud beers hit the shelves in Netherlands, but don’t sell.
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German bread is unequaled anywhere in price and quality. Above the 1250 gram rye bread costs only 65 euro cents…oh, would we love to have this in Mexico!
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Germany is a world leader in generating non-carbon consuming electricity and this is one of numerous area wind farms that each produces enough current to supply 14,000 four person homes.
Also prevalent in Germany are numerous buildings covered with solar panels.
In spite of the extensive use of bicycles and state of the art well engineered eco-friendly homes Germany is a very heavy consumer of petroleum products where the 50 mile/80 kilometer commute is becoming the rule with automobiles streaking down the autobahn doing in excess of 185 kilometers per hour…yes they do have some colossal pile-ups.
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Jane with our German friends Karin, son Christian, daughter Katharina and her husband Wilfred.
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We are invited to this typical German breakfast in a typical German home and we take nearly half a day enjoying congenial confabulations with the friendly, genial and hospitable  family.
wooded area Ems Veche
This beautifully wooded area along the Ems-Vechte Kanal passes by one of many large military bases formerly occupied by American and British forces. It is very quiet and tranquil except when the jet fighter planes are screaming overhead booming through the sound barrier.
East on Ems Veche Kanal
Heading east is the Ems-Vechte Kanal; (This canal ties Nordhorn into the Dortmund-Ems-Kanal system that then connects the industrial heartland of Germany’s Ruhrgebiet with the North Sea port city of Emden.)
Dinkel
This is the Netherlands border area and part of the Dinkel canal system that makes this well wooded neatly marked border region prefect for bicycling with its countless well kept immaculately clean picnic places.
Netherlands grocery store
Here in this typical Netherlands grocery store the world class Dutch cheese is offered up along with generous samples. The Dutch have a well deserved reputation for being the most tight-fisted business people in all of Europe but their grocery stores seem to be going out of their way to counter that stereotypical status.
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Here again is an example of the Dutch grocery stores that go far out of their way to give the impression of benevolence with these free-for-the-taking elegant flavored coffee dispensers. Even with the high priced Euro this year that was over $1.35, food items in Europe were still a bargain compared with Mexico.
garden center Netherlands
This is but a small corner of a Netherlands garden center that covers several acres of land.
Jane has taken a special interest in these exotic orchids because of her recent involvement with the International Woman’s Club where she headed up the garden group.
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The Netherlands will not be outdone when it comes to gardens and the sky is the limit. Check out all the varieties of tropical cactus for sale.image021.jpg

These Netherlands bicycle route signs loaded with useful information prevalent in this border area are new this year.
world class bicycling
Make no mistake about it, this is world class bicycling and this border part of the Netherlands and Germany ironically have all of the right ingredients to make it the best.
our little folding bicycles
Our little folding bicycles are geared to handle the city and open country easily maintaining a sustained speed in excess of 22 kilometers an hour.
Everywhere we look is photo op country
Everywhere we look it is photo-op country along this northern border area.
get a horse
Get a horse? How about get a bicycle?
tranquility and clean country
Tranquility and clean country air are part of the mix that makes this place near perfection.
mark down table
Jane and I hit the jackpot here in Germany at the mark-down table where ripe bananas are scorned and mushrooms at the height of their mature perfection go unsold.
Carretas
Mexican food in Nordhorn, Germany? Interestingly Jane and I frequent a restaurant, (cantina) in Mexico named La Carreta Cubana.
A weekend bicycle outing
A weekend bicycle outing with Tilman and Helga calls for frequent coffee and lunch stops.Rolling along

Rolling along the back country bike routes, Tilman uses his satellite controlled navigational computer from his car that amazingly has a program for all of the bicycle routes. Helga on the other hand uses her map and ultimately we follow Helga’s route.
Tilman drops Jane and I
Tilman drops Jane and I off with our folding bikes on his way to work out of town.
Shuttorf
Shüttorf is the start of our day long return trip back to Nordhorn with our folding bikesShuttorf to Nordhorn trip
Our Shüttorf to Nordhorn trip takes us through this picture perfect pristine countryside.
view of Nordhorn
A view of Nordhorn upon entering the “canal city” looking across the Vechte See at the ancient church dating from the 1300s and constructed of local sandstone.

border marker
If you happen to look at a map of the border area of Northern Germany and Netherlands you will notice a very distinct area where Germany seems to intrude into the Netherlands and next the Netherlands extends into Germany. Well, at that place you will notice a very pronounced point of land, and this is the official border marker for that spot and it has the inscription of 1824. Now with the new Euro-zone and its open borders, traffic freely flows past oblivious to the blood that has been spilt to establish and maintain this border.
border genze
This is the border or “grenze” heading up to the point of land depicted in the previous photo with the Netherlands on the left side of the bicycle trail and Germany on the right. This beautiful tranquil trail carries on for many miles through some of the most beautiful country Europe has to offer and Jane and I have enjoyed it many times over the years.gate
Our happy trailsOur happy trails abound with lovely priceless places to fill our cherished memories.
friendsUwe Helga
Fun is eating, drinking and story telling with special friends and these are the good folks we love to share those special moments with.
HelgaKlaus and Claudia
Benjamin and RoswithaTilman and Helga’s two daughters will soon be married and in the upper portion of the photo are Klaus and Claudia, below Benjamin and Roswitha. Love and happiness conclude the party. Tilman John Uwe
Tilman Stürmer (with two hands full), John Grimsrud and Uwe Rakers at quitting time and as usual a good time was had by all. (An interesting thing is that Uwe Rakers first name is pronounced in German as “Hoover”.
Fietsen Hein
They speak another language here in the border country and here it is; Platt-Deutsch.
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No locks or barred doors here in the border area of the old country along this bike trail.
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The honor system is still business as usual here in this special place so seldom visited.
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In the “Canal City” this lovely spot where two canals meet is in our neighborhood.
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Smoothly paved, this canal trail along the Süd-Nord-Kanal is conspicuously devoid of motorized traffic and that helps to make it one of our favorite bicycle routes with nothing but fresh air and the hushed sounds of nature.
fish 5354 fish
One of my all-time favorite diversions is to sample the savory fried codfish sold at the Nordhorn market and then enjoy it here on the banks of the canal.

image055.jpgWith hundreds of possibilities for cross-country bicycle tours Jane and I are hard pressed to get around to all of the places we love so much in our two month stay here in the “grenze” area of Germany and Netherlands.
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All the little towns have their quaint quietness likeWietmarschen with its iron-monger. image057.jpgimage058.jpg
Bike trail pleasures abound and this is what we love to share with friends.
Humbert 59
At the lovely home of Wilfred and Karin , German hospitality shines.
lunch dusseldorf
Tilman drove us to Düsseldorf to catch our plane to Cancun. Roswitha and Benjamin gave us a tour of the city. At Düsseldorf this lunch with good beer and later a cup of coffee set us back $100…the Euro is strong.
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Without fail every time Jane and I have visited Düsseldorf it has rained and so I always humorously refer to it as “Drizzle-dorf”.
This is part of the industrial heartland of Germany known as the Ruhrgebiet which is one of the most productive places on the planet earth. Situated on the busy Rhine River that is the link to world commerce with a never ending procession of barge traffic connected to the canal system of Europe and the port city of Rotterdam with its 5,000 plus ship slips.
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Jane and I on the banks of the old River Rhine with one of the many barges plying up-stream behind us.
We are no strangers to this ancient city but we have never had the pleasure of an extended stay to really get to know this very important municipality.
Five years earlier we bicycled every inch of this incredible river from Holland right up to the head waters in Switzerland at the Boden Zee, Lake Constance. That trip of a life-time took us three weeks one way and we actually rolled along the paved river road you see in the back ground. Rhine river trip: http://www.dursmirg.com/alongtherhine.htm
This is our 87th day of our 88 day European adventure trip.
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Packed up and ready to fly away home to Mexico with a treasure-trove of fabulous memories, this is our 88th day and before we finish this very long day we will be back in the tropical heat of Yucatan, Mexico.
We have the fondest of fond memories and consider Germany to be the most civilized country in the world.
This is how I rate the airlines we used on this trip;
LTU was the best but didn’t go overboard in providing service.
Air-Berlin was acceptable but gave the bare minimum with good German quality.
Aeromexico was excessively high priced with insultingly meager service.
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Up, up and away on our 88th day we are headed back home leaving Europe behind.
Below you can see the River Rhine that Jane and I got to know so very well on its way to its head-waters in Switzerland.
The contamination of industrialized Germany’s Ruhrgebiet is very evident as you scan the distant horizon.
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Across the Atlantic we bank and descend into the Cancun airport.
Below you will see the lovely multicolored incredibly unique waters of the Caribbean Sea.
An unfortunate circumstance has befallen this irreplaceably pristine one-of-a-kind sanctuary of purity most noticeably during these last two years.
The earth’s atmosphere has become hopelessly and irreversibly contaminated with oxygen robbing poisonous hydrocarbon contaminates.
Even this last bastion of the lovely and unspoiled Caribbean Sea has seen its day and has been condemned to sinking into stinking lamentable cesspool status.
Fifty years ago in the American city of Chicago they inaugurated a special terminology to describe this meteorological phenomenon and called it; smog or smink; (Smoke and fog or smoke and stink.) I believe we have the latter.
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On nearly the last leg of our 88 day European trip Jane and I board the better than first class bus from Cancun to Merida.
With extra wide fully reclining commodious seats we will enjoy our four hour non-stop snooze aboard the “Super Lujo UNO” bus..
Other than the fact that we had to bundle up and cover ourselves with the blankets provided because of the deep-freeze refrigeration system aboard the “Super Lujo UNO” bus we slept profoundly.
Our trip wasn’t over upon our arrival back in Merida.
We unfolded our little stowed folding bicycles and then loaded them with our travel bags and then pedaled the last three and a half kilometers to our home.
Wonderful trip? Yes! Not only wonderful but incredibly memorable!
Our modes of transportation included the following; by foot, bus, taxi, airplane, shuttle, train, bicycle, cruise ship and German automobile.
Our dreams continue, so stay tuned;
As Ever, John M.(Bing) and his ever loving wife and traveling partner Jane Grimsrud

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2 Responses to “2007 Biking Europe part 2”

  1. Riki Says:

    I leave from Keukenhof in this days with more good photos. Good story.R

  2. Eldar Says:

    Hi, the friends.
    It’s me! Yes! It’s me, Eldar from Paris. I see, this year you have had a nice trip. Congratulations! I impressed by the boat you had a trip – Titanic. Inside, I mean. I have seen yours photos of the bycicles and you know since this summer we also have the bycicle stations everywere in Paris.
    My dear friends I think you will appreciate that I have wrote on your site, it’s mean I’m the member of your brathership, gang, … :-))))

    A bientôt (I can’t to translate this sentence in English 😦 ), Eldar.

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