Germany
Kastel

Here you’ll find travel reports about Kastel. Discover travel destinations in Germany of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

18 travelers at this place:

  • Day69

    In Which the Long Journey Begins

    August 23, 2017 in Germany

    There is no doubt that Australia is a LONG way from Europe. No matter which way you try to sugar coat the fact, there is no easy way to get from Melbourne to Mainz without undergoing a significant amount of physical and mental suffering along the way.

    The first step of the long journey began at 10 am on Monday morning when the shuttle bus pulled up outside our house. I was relieved that it was on time and was happier actually moving than just sitting around in the home waiting to get started.

    The driver grabbed our bags and stowed them into the rear compartment and then started on a circuitous route to Tullamarine. It soon became apparent that the bus had some sort of mechanical malfunction that caused it to veer alarmingly to the left every time he applied the brakes. The driver also spent much of his time with his eyes glued to his mobile phone, sending and receiving messages. I assume that the road rules that apply to other drivers do not apply to shuttle drivers.

    The combined effect of the faulty brakes and the divided attention meant that we spent much of our journey wandering dangerously from lane to lane on the freeway. It was not a relaxing way to start the trip, but fortunately the traffic was lighter than expected and we arrived at the airport earlier than anticipated. David and Carol Yates were already there and were waiting to greet us when we rolled our bags into the International Departures section. By now we were starting to feel that another amazing adventure was about to start.

    The lady at the Singapore Airlines check in desk must have had a bad night. Although we were only the second couple to check in, she was already in a bad mood. She looked up without so much as a semblance of a smile and grabbed our passports. In the process Maggie's frequent flyer card fell out and disappeared out of sight. When she asked for it back again she was told that it was "never there". The unhelpful lady was certainly not prepared to look for it and only grunted as she handed back our passports. It was not a great start. We had no alternative than to accept that it was gone and hoped that we would not need it later.

    Since we had such a long journey ahead I thought I should follow the classic piece of seniors' advice to "never walk past a toilet". I was somewhat alarmed to hear an alarmed female voice right behind me as I was standing at the urinal. Even more alarming was the fact that the voice was warning me of all the myriad of urinary, bladder and impotence issues that can beset men my age. I looked around, wandering if I was being watched by some overhead camera, but came to the conclusion that it was just a recorded message. It seemed a cruel way to taunt someone and a surefire way to initiate a case of bashful bladder. I emerged into the terminal thinking that 1984 really had arrived.

    After checking in the luggage we rejoined David and Carol for lunch before moving to the departure lounge for our flight to Singapore. The time went surprisingly quickly and soon we were taking off and on our way. Seven and a half hours and a couple of movies later we were landing at Changi Airport. The first leg was over, but the big challenge still lay ahead. From Singapore to Frankfurt lay over twelve hours in the metal sarcophagus, 38000 feet above the ground.

    It was while we were entering the departure lounge for this second flight that the second mishap took place. David looked at Carol and asked "where is your luggage ?" It was nowhere to be found. They had obviously left it sitting near the seats somewhere in the airport. David took off with a look of panic on his face and reappeared some time later with the missing luggage. It could have been a disaster, but fortunately all was OK.

    Things actually went comparatively smoothly for most of the next 11 hours. I even managed to grab a few hours of broken sleep before I finally awoke at around 4 am and looked for something to do. I was sick of watching movies and pulled out the in flight magazine to thumb through.

    "Hey Maggie, look at this - they have a crossword we can do". I reached into my bag for my pen and snapped off the lid. Nobody had warned me that this is a dangerous thing to do in a plane. As soon as the cap was removed the entire contents of the pen exploded all over my hands. It was also all over Maggie's hands and the seatbelt. Some had even splashed onto my new trousers. We immediately grabbed for a packet of tissues and struggled to contain the navy blue torrent. All thoughts of the crossword were forgotten and we went straight into damage control mode. I staggered to the toilet, looking like some sort of elderly fool who had disgraced himself (probably because I actually was an elderly fool who had disgraced himself). The only thing I could be grateful for was the fact that it was still dark and most of the passengers were still fast asleep.

    I spent the next ten minutes using about 40 litres of water and a whole container of soap trying to remove the muck from my hands. It was only later that I discovered the damage to the trousers. I just wanted the flight to end, which it did about an hour later.

    We emerged from the plane tired and stressed but still alive. The flight had thrown up its challenges but we had prevailed. I knew from previous experience that the memories of the flight are soon forgotten once the fun part starts. David and Carol emerged from the plane in less than perfect condition. "That was the worst flight I have ever had" Carol explained. "The seats were tiny, the food was rubbish and everyone around us was sick". Well I guess that explained it. David also explained that he had suffered a serious "seniors' moment" when trying to put sugar in his tea. He saw the little packet labelled sugar and tore off the end before emptying the entire contents into his cup. He did not realise that there were actually two sachets in the packet and he had just tipped an entire sachet of pepper into his tea along with the sugar. Of course he had no alternative but to go ahead and drink the entire fetid fluid, or else he would have looked like a blithering old fart. Some days are like that.

    We stumbled our way through the chaos of the airport and somehow emerged with our bags, looking for the train station to catch the train to Mainz. It was very confusing for very old people who had come from the other side of the planet, especially when the employees of the train company also had no idea how to buy the required tickets. They were even more confused than we were.

    After about 20 minutes of frantic button pushing we finally retrieved something that looked like four tickets and struggled to find the correct platform. The first train to pass by was crammed to the doors with a throng of people. Considering the amount of luggage we had I was not looking forward to trying to survive in such conditions, but to our relief our train was only sparsely full and we were able to travel in comfort.

    About twenty minutes later we were at the Mainz Central Station and looking for our hotel. We were still far too early for check in and so decided to sit by the river Rhine instead. We soon discovered a lovely shaded outdoor dining area behind the Hilton Hotel. It was a relief to just sit and chat and relive some of our experiences. At our ages we quickly forget everything and therefore it is wise to share experiences before they are lost forever.

    At 1 pm we walked to the Hotel Havana and checked into our comfortable rooms. The owner has a fascination with all things Cuban (hence the name) and the halls are decorated with large Cuban images.

    We finished the day with a wander through the large market and bought some food for a dinner back at the hotel. With four sets of bloodshot eyes and four sets of drooling teeth we must have looked like a zombie's birthday party as we blindly tried to put food into our mouths. Somehow we battled to stay awake to around 7.30 pm before finally collapsing into our beds in an incoherent heap. We slept soundly and the next morning we were two entirely different people (although the mirror said otherwise).
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  • Day70

    In Which we Take a Wander

    August 24, 2017 in Germany

    It is staggering how much difference a few hours sleep makes. Last night we could barely string 2 sensible words together and it took a huge amount of effort just to walk from one hotel room to the one next door. Now, after a good 8 hours rest, we both felt like new people. Unfortunately when we looked in the mirror we found the same old faces staring blankly back at us.

    We had previously arranged with David and Carol and Gordon and Sue to have a late breakfast at the Hilton Hotel on the banks of the Rhine at 9.30 am. When we emerged from our room we saw David happily sitting on the outside veranda. He explained that he had already walked to the supermarket to buy his breakfast. This was something of a surprise considering our previous arrangements, however both David and Carol had obviously completely forgotten what had transpired the previous evening. That is one of the many challenges in taking a group of old people on a European bike ride.

    We tried to refresh their memory about the arrangements that they had previously agreed to and a short time later, the 6 of us were gathered alongside the river and enjoying breakfast. Of course, for two of the group, it was the second breakfast of the morning. During the breakfast we enjoyed some light hearted banter with the Columbian waitress who explained that she had come to Germany to complete her degree.

    After breakfast I explained that I had planned a short walk to help rid us all of the cobwebs of the long flight. I pointed out the route that I had worked out and assured everyone that it "would only be a couple of kilometres". We all formed a walking peloton and trudged off toward the large bridge across the Rhine to Weisbaden. By the time we reached the far side of the river Carol had already pulled up lame. '

    "I have a bone in my leg and can't walk any further", she explained. We had no other alternative than to abandon her by the riverside and continue on without her. And continue we did. The short walk developed into quite a long walk as we meandered along a series of bike paths that wandered in and out of the beautiful large trees. At one stage we had to make a large detour inland to cross the River Main. After about 8 km the other 4 walkers were starting to look at me with mutinous eyes. "I'm hot", Maggie complained. "And I'm thirsty" Sue added. "Not far now", I lied.

    Somehow we finally staggered onto the railway track and found a way to cross back over the Rhine to our side again. All that remained was the final 4 or 5 km back to the hotel. It had developed into quite a expedition, but gave us all a chance to enjoy a long chat and to get our muscles moving again after the prolonged inactivity of the plane. It was probably the very best thing we could have done.

    After a couple of hours we rejoined Carol who was hard at work resting on a seat by the river. She did not seem in the slightest disappointed that she had missed out on our 10 km expedition. The remainder of the day was spent in a much less energetic fashion and in the evening we enjoyed a lovely pizza dinner in a restaurant near the Dom. Later we wandered back to the Rhine to have a coffee in the twilight at the Big Easy Restaurant. A lone saxophone player entertained us with a succession of haunting melodies. The evening was warm and still and we watched the large river cruisers make their way up and down the river. We were quickly starting to develop an affection for this lovely city by the water.

    I decided to do a little research and discovered that the population of Mainz is around 200,000. During the war around 80% of the central city was completely destroyed so I guess that explains why there is comparatively only a small number of genuinely ancient buildings still standing. It certainly is a very clean city and we felt very safe walking the streets after dark.

    With the arrival of David and Karen Brown our team has now swelled to 12 and more will be arriving tomorrow. Our ride officially starts on Saturday, in the meantime we are determined to enjoy a restful time enjoying the city.
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  • Day71

    In Which we Discover a Real Genius

    August 25, 2017 in Germany

    Our time in Mainz has been an absolute delight. It has proven to be the perfect way to recover from the long journey and to prepare for the more demanding schedule once the cycling starts this weekend. After a comparatively late start we walked back to the centre of the old town looking for a place to have breakfast. We settled for a lovely restaurant right near the Dom. Outside the crews were busy assembling a huge stage and overhead tent for some sort of upcoming activity. We later discovered it is some sort of liturgical function to ordain a new bishop (archbishop, cardinal, pope, etc) and that all the media would be there for the event. I couldn't see that happening in Australia. We also noticed that the city was also preparing for another exciting event. All over the town they had raised huge flags with giant bicycle symbols on them. It was obvious that somehow word had got out about the arrival of the famous Ghostriders cycling team and that the town had pulled out all the stops to make us welcome.

    On the way back to the hotel we stopped by at the Gutenburg Museum. Johannes Gutenburg was the most famous son of Mainz and his invention of the movable type printing press in 1459 is recognised as the most important invention of the second millennium. It was his device that began the information revolution, the renaissance, the reformation and the "Age of Enlightenment". I thought we should learn a little more about him. Two hours later we were both so glad that we had taken the time, especially when our great ages qualified both of us for the extra low admission price of only 3 Euros each !

    The story of Gutenburg really is amazing. When he came up with his idea for the printing press he needed a financial backer and borrowed a considerable sum from his brother-in-law. He then not only had to invent the process of printing, but even had to perfect the formula for the ink. Over a period of three years his business was able to produce around 180 copies of the bible. The typesetting and printing process allowed them to print about 200 copies of the same page a day. The pages were set aside to dry while work started on the next page.

    Previously it had taken an expert copier around 3 years to hand copy a complete bible, so Gutenburg's process was a huge improvement. The problem was that he was not such a great businessman. The funds were mismanaged and after the first 180 bibles were printed, old Gutenburg was in trouble. He was taken to court and made bankrupt. The press was closed down and the production of bibles ceased. Although he had worked out a working method to mass produce books, it took many years before the presses started printing again.

    Of the original 180 bibles, only 49 are now accounted for and two of them are now in the Gutenburg Museum. These are stored in a massive vault on the second floor, along with several other priceless example of early books. The value of these artefacts would be in the order of a 100,000,000 Euros or more, so the security is quite impressive. I learnt this when I lent over the glass case to examine them in more detail. A few seconds later a guard ordered me to "stop touching the glass". I felt suitably humiliated and apologised profusely. "I am just a stupid old Australian who did not know any better", I explained. We soon became friends and the guard then spent quite some time with us answering our questions. It was clearly evident that he felt it was a huge privilege for him to be able to be so close to these special books every day of his life.

    After our time at the museum we returned to our hotel for a short break. One thing that I find interesting about Europe is the ear splitting volume of their emergency vehicles. Unlike in Australia where you can hardly hear them, the vehicles here have sirens that could be clearly heard in the neighbouring countries.

    It was while we were in our room that I could hear a rising cacophony of sirens coming our way. I looked out the window to see a convoy of fire trucks, police vehicles and ambulances speeding past our hotel. They were certainly on a serious mission to get somewhere fast. The sirens faded into the distance, but a couple of minutes later I could hear more coming. The strange thing is that these were coming from the opposite direction. By the time the volume rose to true eardrum bursting levels I was surprised to see it was the same vehicles flying past in the opposite direction. They had obviously been going the wrong way. The faces on the drivers were as red as their fire engines. I just hoped that the fire was only a small one. I was even able to watch the spectacle of further emergency vehicles trying to U turn right outside our room. It brought back memories of those wonderful keystone cops.

    Later in the day we met Paul and Claire Cowen and went back to the town centre to have a drink with them. We noticed a rather dishevelled guy staggering around the square with his backback undone and a glazed look on his face. Hang on, the face looked familiar. It turned out to be Douglas. He had just arrived in Mainz after his harrowing journey from Australia.

    When we pointed out that his zipper was completely undone (his backpack, not his fly) he left his bag with and retraced his wandering steps to make sure that he had not dropped anything. Fortunately all was OK, although he really did look he needed a rest (maybe about 4 days would be sufficient). We welcomed him to Mainz and noted that we now had about 13 riders safely in the city.

    A couple of hours later I received an SMS from Bob Andrews (rider 14). Apparently he had just collapsed into the city also. His message read simply "I am in a lather and am heading to the shower". He had apparently forgotten the normal sequence of events and had soaped himself up before getting in the shower. The next 5 weeks will be interesting !

    Maggie and I had decided to have a simple picnic dinner in our room so went to the supermarket for supplies and then carried them back to the room. I could not wait to enjoy the fresh baguettes and fruit we had bought. The only problem was that David and Carol had stolen our butter. It was in their fridge and they were nowhere to be seen. I had to go out in search of another supermarket to buy some butter. I managed to find such a place, just a few short kilometres from our hotel and then staggered back into the room. By now I really was ready for our feast.

    We unpacked our goodies and pulled open the drawer to get the cutlery out. I discovered that the butter was not the only thing that David and Carol had taken - all of our knives, forks, spoons and plates were also in their room as well. I rang David and tried to explain that we were starving, but due to a hearing aid malfunction, he couldn't hear a word I was saying to him.

    After a very late dinner and a coffee by the river we finally collapsed into bed around 10.30 pm. It really had been a great day.
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  • Day72

    In Which Claire Becomes a Sexagenerian

    August 26, 2017 in Germany

    Our day began with a group breakfast at the ALEX cafe in the centre of town. The rat pack has now grown to 12 people so we are becoming quite a force in this city. During breakfast Greg announced that he and Andrea had discovered a beautiful ruin of a church and they would love to show it to the rest of us. I could have added that, if I really wanted to see any ruins, all I had to do was look around the table, but somehow Greg convinced the group that it really was worth seeing.

    After finishing the breakfast we formed a walking peloton with Bob Andrews and Douglas Lee staggering along in the rear. After a few hours sleep Bob insisted that he was no longer "in a lather", but I had to admit that young Douglas looked like he was still sleep walking.

    Greg took up the lead position, while the group followed behind. I could only hope that no one would see us, since everyone knows how much I deride such tourist groups. All Greg was lacking was a red umbrella - and a sense of direction. We wandered aimlessly back and forth through the streets. "It's this way", followed by "I think it's up there", finally "I don't know where it is". Talk about stating the bleeding obvious. I looked around and tried to pretend I had nothing to do with the rest of the group.

    Eventually Maggie saw a sign pointing to St Christophe's ruin (or something like this). With renewed vigour Greg set off again and, about 20 minutes later, we finally found the place. It was about 50 metres away from where we had breakfast.

    The women seemed excited and went off exploring the ruin. The men went off to explore the nearby bike shop. Douglas went to sleep standing up. About 30 minutes later we decided it was time to split up. People dispersed in different directions. Douglas staggered along, trying hard to remain vertical. I was starting to worry about the staying power of these young people.

    About 20 minutes later Douglas woke up enough to make a frightening discovery. No, it wasn't that he had had his fly undone the whole morning. It was far worse than that. He had lost his mobile phone. That finally woke him up. With his legs flying he set off back to the ruined church and, to his relief, found that it was still there. It would have been a terrible way to start the trip.

    Maggie and I then spent the rest of the day looking for the wine festival that David and Carol had told us was so amazing. Due to David's directions we never had any real chance of finding it, but did manage to see most of Mainz and much of the surrounding towns in the search. We finally just gave up and decided to sit by the river instead. It was a lovely place to watch the continuous parade of boats going up and down the river.

    The evening was going to be one of the early highlights of the trip, after all it is not every day that someone turns 60. In our group it is much more common for someone to be turning 70 or 80. Claire had previously announced that tonight would be her birthday party and that everyone was invited to come along and bring a present. She had even chosen the venue. It was called the Holy Ghost (Heiliggeist) Restaurant and it was in the middle of a huge converted church. The name certainly seemed appropriate for a group of Ghostriders and, when I found that it was right next door to our hotel, I readily agreed that it was a great idea.

    At 6.45 we were ready. I even put on my good pair of pants and was pleased that we had been able to remove some of the blue ink from the front of my groin. (see the infamous plane incident previously reported). The fine weather had broken and a heavy rain started pouring. We were glad that we only had about 20 metres to walk, while the others would have to walk across the town.

    I had tried to make the booking via the Internet from Australia, but my single word German vocabulary (Nein), did not make the process simple. Fortunately the maitre d was expecting us and escorted us to our table. With the arrival of Lionel Rex, our group had swollen to 15. It would have been even more if Mary Kinch's flight had not been delayed in Melbourne. The delay had caused her to miss the connecting flight and, the last I heard from her she was stuck in Dubai airport. I felt sorry for her and glad that we had allowed several days to allow for such contingencies.

    We all took our places at the large table they had prepared for us and soon we were all sweating profusely in the stifling humidity. We all made makeshift fans out of anything that was not nailed down (and a few things that had been nailed down as well). After much pleading we succeeded in getting the waiter to open the huge side door. That helped a lot, but I think that they might have been worried that we were about to do a runner.

    The food was very well prepared and the huge servings meant that much was left on the plates. We presented Claire with her presents and she seemed pleased with the Stirling silver bicycle necklace we presented her with. A couple of rounds of "Happy Birthday" and some cheers completed the occasion. "But where is my cake ?" she asked. I looked around having to admit that I had not seen that one coming. "It was too large to bring on the plane", was all I could think of. It could have been true.

    While this was happening Bob Andrews had obviously got his second wind (but that is not why we wanted the door opened). He started off on one of his animated political discussions. With arms waving and chest pumping he proceeded to explain to Douglas why our politicians are all rubbish. Douglas responded by closing his eyes completely and wishing he was sitting at the other end of the table.

    An hour later we had finished our dinners, Douglas was still fast asleep under the table and we decided that it was time to retreat to someplace quieter. Douglas staggered off to bed with Bob continuing his political lecture right behind him. The rest of us wandered into town to find a suitable place for coffee. The rain had stopped leaving the wet cobblestones glistening in the lamplight. This is the real essence of European cities.

    The evening concluded with coffees and another round of Happy Birthday for Claire. It had been a memorable night. Tomorrow we will bid farewell to the city that has been our home for four nights and board our boat for the first leg of our ride.
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  • Day10

    Someone has snuck in overnight and beaten me with a baseball bat ?😕 Yer... probably not. I’m debating if this is the result of too many pastries or if I am not as well as I hoped. Mark is googling Novo Virus; I’m sleeping through the most historic and beautiful length of the river Main. (I have, however, cropped the few pics I took as consciousness visited briefly through that day so the cabin chair and window aren’t predominant). Anyone vomiting are now confined to their cabins until 24 hours after symptoms stop.

    Nope. No vomit here. An afternoon tour sounds doable. The music box museum. Fascinating but I am more fascinated by the man bag mark has emptied for me to possibly use as a cold sweat runs through me. Ditch the tour back to the ship, to bed and wake up four meals later.

    Coco🌻
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  • Day8

    Besuch bei Pierre

    November 21, 2016 in Germany

    Zwischenstation auf dem Heimweg. Wir halten bei Pierre. Ollis besten Freund. Als wir am späten Nachmittag ankommen werden wir freudig in Empfang genommen und Pierre und Isa, Pierres Freundin, erwarten uns bereits. Wir haben riesigen Hunger und kochen gleich noch zum Abendessen. Die Fahrt hat ziemlich geschlaucht und Pierre und Isa sind auch ziemlich geschafft.

    Endlich mal wieder in einem normalen Bett schlafen, ohne gleich ein Dach über dem Kopf zu haben. Und ja auch die warme Dusche haben wir ausgiebig genossen.

    Am Morgen starten wir entspannt in den Tag. Nach dem Kaffee wagen wir uns vor die Tür, obwohl dicke graue Wolken den Tag trüben. Pierre zeigt uns die Altstadt und wir schlendern über den im Aufbau befindlichen Weihnachtsmarkt. Die Pyramide aus dem Erzgebirge ist aber schon errichtet :) der Weg führt uns in ein Vegi Café, in dem wir einen kleinen vegetarischen Snack essen. Wir bringen Isa noch ein Stück Kuchen auf Arbeit und kaufen fürs Abendessen ein. Im Unverpackt Laden, in dem es Lebensmittel, ohne Verpackung gibt, holen wir ein paar Zutaten und quasseln noch ein bisschen mit dem Inhaber. Wir finden das Konzept und die Idee des Ladens super. So wird eine erhebliche Menge von Müll vermieden und die Lebensmittel sind stets frisch und man kann sie in der Menge kaufen, wie man sie braucht. Ein guter und sinnvoller Beitrag zum Umweltschutz.

    Am Abend wird gekocht, gebacken und gespielt. Um null Uhr feiern wir ins Pierres Geburtstag und stossen auf sein Wohl an. Anschließend geht's ins Bett, da morgen die letzte lange Fahrt auf uns wartet. The way back home. :)
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  • Day41

    Ankunft in Mainz

    July 10, 2017 in Germany

    Das Rheintal liegt hinter mir. War eine der besten Strecken bisher. Zwischen den Bergen am Rhein entlang. Ab jetzt gibt es keine 2 Fahrtage hintereinander mehr. Jetzt habe ich in jeder Stadt ein Pausentag. Bin ganz froh darüber. Morgen wird Mainz erkundet. Mal sehen ob ich noch was entdecken kann was ich beim ersten Besuch hier nicht gesehen habe. Ist auch schon ein paar Jahre her.

  • Day16

    Mainz

    July 11, 2014 in Germany

    Eine schöne Fahrt meist entlang des Rheins. Bei trockenem Wetter waren wir Mittags in Worms.

    Danach gings weiter immer nach Norden mal links mal rechts vom Rhein. 20 Km vor Mainz begann ein heftiges Gewitter sich vor uns aufzubauen. Wir nutzten die Empfehlung eines Radlers und fuhren entlang des alten Rhein bis zu einem Landgasthaus wo wir das Gewitter abwarten konnten.

    Mit einer winzigen Fähre gings dann die letzten Meter Richtung Mainz. Jetzt sind wir an einem sehr schönen Campingplatz in Mainz. Trafen da zwei Holländer und zwei Kanadier mit denen wir uns den ganzen Abend unterhalten konnten.

    Morgen haben wir einen Ruhetag. Wir freuen uns schon.

    Route: Mannheim - Worms - Oppenheim - Hofgut Langenau - Mainz
    Unterbringung: Camping "Maaraue" in Mainz
    Km: 83 - Hm: 187
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