Day 2, 6 Sep, Geisenheim and Rudesheim – doing the tourist thing.

Geisenheim is a delightful little town on the Rhine. With a population of about 15,000, it’s the kind of suburbia that many city folk apparently liked to lived in. Property prices weren’t exactly soft in this town and rental is at a premium for some of the older and more charming houses.

It was a new experience for me; staying literally a stone’s throw away from a cathedral. The bell tolled at every quarter, half and on the hour faithfully. The quarter and half hour chimes were soft 1-bell tolls while the hourly tolls would start with soft chimes followed by louder ones that corresponded to the number of the hour. I absolutely loved it.

The view from my (Mavin’s) room…the town church. You don’t need an alarm clock or even a clock when you stay next to a church like these. The bells toll on the hour, every hour of the day.

The sun rises at about 6.30 in this part of the world and, just as I do at every new place I visit, I was up and raring to go by then. But, it was a Sunday, and nothing stirred in the cobbled streets below … neither were there any signs of life in the platz in front of the church. At about 8 o’clock, while the boys and Eva were still blissfully asleep, I decided to do a little exploring of my own.

While admiring the façade of the church, I saw a little procession trooping out of the main entrance of the church and the congregation … all of 50 or so people including the priest and altar boys and girls carrying flags. (Apparently, attendance is a little lacking these days; so much so it now takes 1 priest to mind the flock for 3 churches instead of the normal 1-priest-1-church arrangement. It was also an economically influenced decision, for obvious reasons.)

The majestic facade of the church. The congregation can be seen coming out of the main entrance.


Intrigued, I decided to follow the silent procession from a discreet distance, not wanting to come across as a gawking tourist (which, in fact, I was :). The wind was a little chilly but it was clear the sun would warm things up soon. The road began to wind up a gentle slope and I could see Geisenheim’s vineyards just behind. Still they continued. Soon, the procession stopped by the side of the road fringed by vineyards.

Their destination was a cross, with a fresco of Jesus in the arms of Mary below. They started singing and praying and one of them would read some kind of liturgy to the group. It was a solemn affair, and when they finished, they continued their way again but I decided I was done with my ‘Sunday church attendance’ and slowly walked back to the house.

It seemed like a great start to a great journey for me.

Back at the Pohs, Eva was the perfect host, preparing a German-style breakfast for me..


Freshly baked bread from bakery

‘The tourist doesn’t know where he’s been, and the traveller doesn’t know where he’s going’

As much as the romantic notion of unencumbered travelling was espoused in that phrase, I was happily going to be a tourist for a day – compliments of Eva. She was taking me to the town of Rudesheim, just a few kilometers down the road, to walk along the world-famous, Unesco World Heritage Drosselgasse.

We would also be riding a cable car to the top of a hill that featured an impressive monument called Niedwewald-denkmal – a tribute to one of Germany’s most famous kings, Wilhem Kaiser , and to the German people who fought the French army that was literally at their doorstep across the Rhine during the 1800s.

Riding the cable car that took us to the top of Niedwewald-denkmal


At the top is the monument Niedwewald-denkmal – a tribute to one of Germany’s most famous kings, Wilhem Kaiser , and to the German people who fought the French army that was literally at their doorstep across the Rhine during the 1800s.

The view of the Mainz from the hill…vineyards and the town of Bingen, across the river.


At the top of the hill, a modern-day organ grinder and his not-so-real monkey entertaining the crowds.


Back in Rudesheim, enjoying an al-fresco lunch at a restaurant along Drosselgasse.


Lunch was a lovely German dish of marinated beef with sauerkraut and dough balls.


Tomorrow, the bike shops would be open and I could finally get the front rack and panniers that I had planned to add to my on-bike ensemble of Tubus/Ortlieb collection. Eva would see to that 🙂





Day 1, 5 Sep – Frankfurt to Geisenheim, meeting up with old friends.

I was seriously overweight when I checked in to KLIA for my midnight flight to Frankfurt. My checked-in baggage, that is — my Surly and a box containing my tent, Thermarest, sleeping bag, a duvet, my cycling shoes, tools, stove, cookset etc etc.

MAS only allowed 20kg of free baggage per person, but the nice boy who was checking me in turned to me with a smile and said (in Malay), ‘It’s like this, Sir, you’re 9kg overweight.

But I tell you what, I’ll give you a 5kg discount ok?…and you just pay the balance of 4kgs’. ‘Ok, I replied. ‘So how much per kg? The nice boy looked at me with a nice smile and said ‘RM160’


The nice boy who wanted to charge me RM640 for being overweight

Ok, that explains the nice smile… because RM160 X 4 equals a ridiculous RM640! My reflex action was typical — bargain like crazy. I put on a nicer smile than the nice boy and spun him some baloney about my being so skinny and why don’t he consider the fact that there were other passengers who carried excess baggage around their waists (and which the airline couldn’t charge for) and on and on….

I was very surprised when he said ‘Ok, ok … I’ll give you another 2kgs discount but…that’s all I can do, ok?’ I paused for a bit and wondered if I could push my luck. ‘Ok la’  I said. What was I to do? Overweight is overweight. So, while Lilian went to pay the bill, I checked in my bike at the oversize baggage check-in and that was it.

After 12 hours of squirming about in a not-too-comfortable seat, and with some shut-eye in between, I arrived at Frankfurt at 6.30 in the morning. The moment I stepped out of the airport, the cold autumn air bit into me so sharply I was totally unprepared for it. I guessed it must have been about 10 degrees. Undaunted, I quickly put on a sweater, pushed my RM160-overweight baggage to a quiet corner and began to slowly reassemble my bike.


Re-assembling the bike outside the airport


One and a half hours later, I pushed off onto the main road and headed for a bike shop near the airport where I planned to buy a front rack, and a pair of panniers to match. Germany was, after all, the home of 3 very popular brands of touring equipment — Ortlieb panniers, Schwalbe tires and Tubus racks.


The road leading out of the airport wasn’t that busy. It was a cold grey morning though…


5 minutes from the airport and a nice tree-lined bike path is mine to enjoy. It was my first taste of a typical European cycling path. It was serene and it wound its way through a light forest … I was suitably impressed.

Finally, I found the bike shop, but it wasn’t open. The owner was off to some Eurobike fair or something. So I asked and was directed to another bike shop nearby but no luck, they didn’t have a front rack that could fit. The owner was nice enough to give it a try though

I decided to then head for Geisenhem instead to look for my old friends from Penang — the Pohs — Eva and her 2 sons, Aljoscha and Mavin. The boys and my kids grew up together as neighbours but after they moved back to Germany, we lost touch with them.

It was really a wonderful coincidence when I found out after I had decided to start my Tour of Europe from Frankfurt that the Pohs were located in my intended path along the Rhine heading north.

Crossing the Mainz…then I got lost


Apples seem to be in season… I was tempted to help myself


Back on the Rhine cycle path, I was came upon some kind of dance performance

The bike paths here are very well-marked.


With sights like these along the river, there’s no hurry to get where i’m going


Geisenhem was only about 50kms or so from Frankfurt but since I didn’t have a proper map yet, I got lost somewhere between Wiesbaden and the Mainz river. After repeatedly asking some locals for directions, I made it back to the banks of the Rhine and followed it as advised.

After clocking 80km, I reached Geisenheim On The Rhine, but not before I had to deal with a vicious (and cold) headwind that blew incessantly…so much so I was down to a miserable 10kph at certain stretches.

Exhausted, I rolled into the quaint and charming little town of Geisenheim and as soon as I entered the town platz, or square, the bells of the town’s beautiful cathedral tolled a stunning chime to mark 6 o’clock.

The beautiful cathedral in the town square. and just across the front door of the Pohs’ home. A good sign of His grace shining  upon me … or so I’d like to think 🙂


The Pohs’ home, where Eva and her kids live on the second and third floors. It’s a century-old charming little building that oozed old-world charm. It was in the town square itself but even more amazing, the bedroom windows looked out to the church itself.


Anyhow, the reunion of sorts with the Pohs was simply a blast. Aljoscha and Mavin had both grown up to be strapping young lads, and Eva looked pretty much the same as when I last saw them in Penang. Over dinner in their cosy townhouse kitchen, we reminisced about old times and it was just wonderful to be able to see familiar faces 10,000km away from home.

Next: Exploring Geisenheim and the neighbouring tourist town of Rudesheim.

Distance today:: 83km
Distance to date:: 83km