Picking up where I left off, later that day we went to climb the huge spire of the Cologne Cathedral, the Dom. What a very long way up! Sadly it was spoiled by the fact that there was schoolkid graffiti all the way up! Outrageous! You have to hope that there’s some explanation why it’s not been removed.
We ended the day with a protest steak at an Argentinean steak house. By this point we had overloaded on pork! There’s only so much dead pig a man can eat!

Next day was off to see my parents in the Netherlands, which was good. We did some cycling around and ended up getting somewhat burnt on a two hour cycle ride. Typical. Two weeks of wandering around in the summer heat and barely a tan, but two hours on the coast and WHAM! Sunburn.

After that it was back home via Belgium and it’s curious lack of petrol stations, but overall it was quite painless.
And there you have it.

Here are the stats:

Miles driven: 2000
Days travelled: 16
Borders crossed: 13
Countries seen: 6
ODP members encountered: 5
Speed cameras triggered: 2
Days of “I feel too rough to drink”: 1
Grand Dukes foiled: 1/2 (He hit us hard, but we survived and weren’t thrown in an oubliette. We’ll call it a draw)

Highest mountain ascended: Zugspitze
Biggest lake seen: Bodensee
Most responsible for nigh alcohol poisoning: in Munich and it’s evil 1 litre jugs of dark beer
Most dubious honour:
Prettiest village: Ribeauville
Prettiest town: Tough, but I liked Heidelberg
Ugliest town: Brussels. It might have been Mannheim, but it was redeemed by the Rhein banks
Most potent memory: “Ghost”, the garlic sausage-eating, foul-smelling monstrosity.

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Germany is out of the World Cup and we’re nearly at the end of our stay here. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On our way north we decided to visit the beautiful old universty town of , including a trip up to the castle. A very nice town indeed. And such a contrast tour next stop, the concrete jungle of . It was not out of some sense of completion that we ventured here, but rather that we visiting some of Andy’s friends from , Irene and Daniel, who at the end of the day very kindly fed us whiskey and put us up on their floor as we had not managed to find a for the night.

The next day we had a good early start, following the Rhein north, with a stop-off in for the cathedral and an open air pool in the forest for a cool off as it was a 33°C day and we were roasting! We ended up staying at the excellent Youth hostel in the tiny Bad Marienberg (a nightmare to find) where they treated us excellently and we watched the expulsion of the German team from the World Cup.

Next morning we were up bright and early to go to , renowned for it’s impressive cathedral. After some sightseeing we once again met up with one of Andy’s ODP friends, Chris, who started to to show us around her city, but we were rudely interrupted by the return performance of the infernal weather machine of the as the skies opened and immense amounts of water fell to the earth. So we interrupted the tour to go and have some Thai food in a restaurant.

Andy’s feeling a little tender today, due to the post-dinner cocktails which seemed to present themselves, but we should be okay to climb the spire of the cathedral today. And tomorrow… the Netherlands.

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I never did mention the Arch-Duke’s infernal weather machine in the last post… talk about false advertising! However, due to an unscheduled change in itinerary we ended up evading it and the hailstorm hit the black forest just as we left it. Phew!

So far Andy has managed to get flashed for speeding twice. Luckily they were stationary cameras and not traffic police otherwise he’d be racking up spot fines by now!

We made it to the top of the Zugspitze via the cable car (no hard slog for us, we had a schedule to keep!) but sadly there were virtually no views since the top of the mountain was encased in cloud. Rubbish!

Next stop, and current location, was Munich. Quite an amazing city really, very vibrant. It seems the entire city is dedicated to god and beer and it’s major cathedral is the Hofbrauhaus. We ended up spending quite a few hours there, drinking liters of dark German beer at a time, watching England knocked out of the World Cup and, unfortunately, not eating very much. Needless to say we feel like shit today! It’s a good thing that everything is closed today as we’re not really up to doing very much at all!

Tomorrow morning it’s off towards Mannheim. For the rest of today, just chilling.

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Forgot to add on the experiences in Ribaeuville that when we came back to the hotel after our night out there (the night before the wine tasting) we caught the hotel proprietor in flagrante, in the middle of the lobby, watching porn! Andy and I observed different aspects of this before the channel as swiftly switched. He heard the enthusiastic moaning and I saw the … well, I think you get the idea. Highly amusing

Baden Baden is famous as a spa town, it´s hot mineral springs renowned for their curing abilities. More recently, BB was the site of a battle of Collossi: Andy´s prudish English nature and the spa´s tradition of naked bathing! And quite a battle it was, when you add in that going in nude would have meant that we didn´t have to go back to the car for our stuff! In the end, prudishness (and frugalness) won out when we found a newer, cheaper spa pool with no nudist requirements.

Oh and I must add the world´s largest cuckoo clock. It was the size of a house, but failed to impress Andy. The nearby myth-infested Mummelsee was much more interesting.

Pforzheim was a brief sojourn into nostalgia for me. Not much to see there, so on to the next stop of Konstanz, a pretty little town on the Bodensee. (In the background I hear Andy cackle: “Aaah! You used to live in a flat like a tramp!” but I´ll give it no heed!)

We shared our hostel room with two contrasting characters. One superfit guy who was cycling from Germany to Barcelona who was quite chilled. The other? Well… He was of the much more rotund variety… a smelly, and ate too much garlic sausage, farted throughout the night, got up at 5am to do the world´s loudest smelliest shit taking him about twenty minutes and the sounds horrified even Andy! He then proceeded to take 2 hours to pack his shit up, rustling carrier bags the whole time! Combine that with the attacks of low-flying mosquitoes and you can imagine we didn´t get much sleep!

Right, we´re off to the Zugspitze now so we´d better get going. I´ll try and edit this post sometime in Munich.

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Visiting a vineyard in the heart of the Alsace region – Nice
It’s , the 9th best winemaker in the world according to Decanter magazine – Excellent
Being shown around the tour and the tasting by the eldest daughter of the vintner – Outstanding
Having her uncle and co-proprietor keep popping over saying “You think that’s good, you must try this one!” and offering us a number of unreleased Grand Cru Rieslings…. Priceless!
Next stop was the Black Forest! (Five border crossings so far to get there) and Germany’s highest waterfall in Triberg. Next up, Baden-Baden, ultimate spa town of Germany. This roughing it lark is really hard work…
The Arch-Duke still hasn’t caught up with us, so we’ve escaped the oubliette again. Better keep moving…

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Well, we’ve done Brussels and Luxembourg so far and have today arrived in Alsace. The Grand Duke did try to detain us and throw us in an oubliette, but we escaped with lethal cunning!
So far we have seen castles, cathedrals, trees, bars, cathedrals, old French women weeing, an immense amount of litter in Brussels, trees, oubliettes, more cathedrals and enough beer and wine to resink the Titanic.
So far Andy has suffered:
  • Tension headache
  • Gout
  • Foot blisters
  • Bird flu
  • My sense of humour
And it’s only day three….
In a bout of irony, Andy has declared all youth hostels for tramps. Good thing we only have five more nights in them…
Next update? Who knows. After all, I still haven’t finished writing about Egypt!

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