We continue our Freunde Deutschland-Tour by heading north towards Bonn. Our friends Julia and Hans have been reminding us of the open invitation to visit them ever since we set foot in Europe last summer and finally we're able to see them, unencumbered by any pressing dates or schedules! Yay!
Some twisty German roads on the way there
Waiting for the ferry at Neuwied
Crossing the Rhine by ferry
At Hans and Julia's place, our bikes have a warm and dry place to sleep
Our hosts are also motorcycle travelers, so they know exactly what we need. Food, shelter, garage, laundry and wifi are all provided within minutes of us walking through the front door! Danke schoen!
And we are greeted with a warm homemade dinner
Like so many other fellow moto-travelers, we also met Hans and Julia on the Stahlratte. We ran into them on our second round out of Central America. You can catch a glimpse of them on our Stahlratte video. They also spent considerable time on the road. They were out for nine months riding from North to South America on the Pan American Highway. It felt very warm and homey catching up with them, and I sense that they really got a kick out of re-living their trip when we all chatted about our shared experiences.
Again, I got a close-up of what "real life" was like after a long trip. They both managed to negotiate long-term sabbaticals away from their employers, returning back to the same jobs and their own house after their trip. But they also echoed that familiar sentiment - always dreaming of life back on the road, constantly planning their next big trip.
Perhaps for those of our ilk, "real life" *IS* the nomadic existence. And the long periods in between travel are spent sleepwalking through the routines of whatever needs to be done - anything to taste again the freedom of our waking and most-alive moments wandering the world on the back of a motorcycle.
Is this something we want to give up?
Do I look Tired? Must be from Treading all over Germany.
We're continuing to be diligent about our maintenance by putting on new rubber on Neda's rear wheel. Hans and Julia were kind enough to order us a Michelin Anakee 3 shipped to their place. Hans just recently built a very cool workshop outfitted with all the tools and toys to maintain their two-wheeled hobby. So we took Neda's wheel off her bike and drove to the neighbourhood bike shop to mount the new tire.
Hans and Julia both ride Africa Twins. These are the ones they took to the Americas and back. Very cool bikes!
Anakee in the U.K. (or in this case, Germany)
I put on the older Anakee 2 on my bike, since that was the only tire they had on the shelves back in Sweden (they ran out of Stockholm). Wonder what the difference will be between the 2 and the 3. At one point at the start of the trip, Neda and I were on the same tire replacement schedule. But the power and weight differences between the two bikes means that I wear out my tires sooner than hers, which doubles the time we need to spend shopping and mounting tires. Just a note to prospective long-term travelers considering taking two different kinds of bikes on their trip.
Hans the Woodcutter gets some logs ready for the fireplace
And homemade apple pie is ready for us when we come inside. Delicious!
Apples are the most cultivated fruit in Germany and they are currently in season. Which explains why I've been having a lot of apple pie while we've been in the country. I think this recipe is called "Wiener Apfelkuchen" and is more of a cake than a pie. While the Austrians have their strudel, this is more particular to Germany.
Julia tells us that the Apfelkuchen slices must be served standing up on not on the side, otherwise you will be cursed with a bad relationship with your mother-in-law. Not sure if that's a German thing or not?
Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral)
The next day, our hosts take us out to do some sightseeing in nearby Cologne. We learned that Hans *LOVES* churches! So he takes us to the most well-known one in Cologne.
I like churches too, but specifically the votive candles!
Preparing for a concert in the cathedral
Hans said that we could get a great view of the city from the top of the cathedral. The only catch was that it was 532 steps to the top, about 150m climb. *Ugh* I hate hiking (and climbing stairs) but I succumbed to peer pressure. We were all huffing and puffing and had to stop several times along the way to get here:
Well worth it! View of Cologne and the Rhine
Ducati 998 in Cologne. I miss my sportbike so much!!!
Taking a walk along the banks of the Rhine
Walking around the Old Town of Cologne, cobblestone streets and pastel painted buildings
Just like the Gringo Trail towns of Latin America! :)
The only thing I like taking pictures of more than candles are indigenous people
Hans and Julia are such great tour guides and hosts! They even treated us to a German dinner:
Schweinshaxe - deep fried pork knuckle (or ham hock).
Not particular to Cologne specifically, but delicious nevertheless!