Le Grand Tour: Day 61 – Hürth/Cologne To Arnhem (16km + Train + 70km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Iveau Burgers & Wynbar, Arnhem

Today has been a real joy. Everything came together in a celestial meeting of cycle touring, travelling, people, places, weather… I loved it. Even the trains joined the party after an initial reluctance to play ball at Cologne station this morning. With only 48 hours of this continental odyssey remaining, I couldn’t wish to have spent a more enjoyable day in the saddle. Even that pesky wind which, for much of the past week, has been annoying me in a manner that usually only a tiresome Year 9 student can achieve came to the party and blew me along the banks of the Rhine willing me to get to Rotterdam on time. Fabulous. I only wish you could have been here. 

Well, actually, I don’t, as I quite like doing this by myself. Not that I was short of fellow cyclists on the cycle paths, especially after crossing the border into The Netherlands. But before we get there… My friends Janina, Henning and their two small children were a delight. Excellent hosts near Cologne providing me with an evening meal, conversation, advice, a bed and then breakfast to beat most others. I was even politely admonished by Leona (Janina’s four-year-old daughter) this morning for not putting my cycling helmet on when I left their house. She clearly has a future in German health and safety. 

The 45-minute cycle to Cologne station was a pleasurable ‘commute’ into the sun and I arrived in good time for the (British-run) National Express train to Duisburg to be, err… curtailed. It’s great to know that British exports – in this case terrible train services – are going so well. An hour later I was able to leave Cologne on the next train and connect with a second train to Xanten, famed for its Roman ruins. In my time on this planet, I don’t feel that I need to learn any more about the Romans (school, Rome, Pompeii, Hadrian’s Wall, York, Horroble Histories… I’ve done the lot) so I opted for cracking on with the cycling and what cracking cycling it was. 

At this point I kindly directly you in the direction of the video as, after three (small) bottles of 8.5% Dikke Prins Sterk Blonde in my bar of choice in Arnhem (the Iveau Burgers & Wynbar). the images, I think, speak for themselves (which is more than I am capable of now doing…).

I tried to reserve a place at the campsite beside the river here in Arnhem but they were full when I called. I opted instead for a night in the central Holiday Inn. Alas my arrival coincided with that of around 30 British pensioners who appeared to be on an Operation Market Garden tribute tour. It did make me smile when one of the old boys asked the hard-pressed receptionist if he could provide an extra key card for the shared room “…as they might be out late on the beers…” 

No such luck for me. I’ll be back in my room soon catching up on The Archers, watching Question Time and sipping my coco in anticipation of the final push for Rotterdam.


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