4. Germany

So, we arrive in Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe and along with its Scandinavian neighbours to the north, another country through which, on a cycling level, the journey should be a delight. Once again the Rough Guide to Germany lists long-distance cycling as one of its things ‘not to miss‘: “almost every major German river – including the Mosel – has a long distance cycle path alongside” it explains. Is that going to be of much use to me? We could really do with a map showing the route of the Eurovelo 3 through Germany and look! There’s one below:FullSizeRender

The problem I have is that my route is one that heads in a north-easterly direction whereas most of Germany’s rivers are predominantly south to north. However, all is not lost as once I arrive in Bonn the Eurovelos 3 and 15 – what used to be called the Rhine Cycle Route (and probably still is by most people) – follow the same path along the Rhine until north of Dusseldorf. There, the routes separate once again leaving the 15 to head north to The Netherlands and the 3 to continue in the direction of Munster. Is there a route to follow? Well, according to the official Eurovelo 3 site, it looks as though there is! imageMap

There it is above in green – the ‘realised’ bit heading east away from the Rhine to very nearly Munster. The official site provides no commentary for the route although the back of the paper Eurovelo network map has the following to say about the German section (in the opposite direction of travel to my own):

“The Oscsenweg carried cattle to markets in Germany and you will find the same name on the signage in Germany until Hamburg. The landscape is generally flat and sometimes very historic, e.g. the gravel road crossing the moor of Lürschau. Further on other, well-signed cycle routes will lead your way. First the HH-HB to Bremen, where you find the headquarters of the ADFC, then “Brück” and “Friedensroute” to the cycle friendly town of Münster. You can follow rivers including the Rhine to Aachen – the centre for pilgrims organisation. Total in Germany 1,121km.

OK, so from Munster I can pick up the ‘Friedensroute’. Here is the website and here is a map of what is a more or less circular route:cache_2414428525

It’s not 100% clear but by comparing the three maps above it does look as though the Eurovelo 3 piggybacks upon the more southerly sections of the Friedensroute via Ostbevern and Glandorf. Does Brück refer to Osnabruck? Not sure but probably. The next bit is a bit of a mystery but from Bremen to Hamburg there is the Radfernweg Hamburg – Bremen which does get a mention on the Eurovelo site. Indeed there is a link to the route’s website. It contains an interactive map of which here is a screenshot:Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 12.52.38

The Germans do like their maps, or is it perhaps me? In Hamburg I have friends. Well, I say I have friends. I’m pretty sure they are still living there but I haven’t been in contact with Dominic (who is British and with whom I trained to be a teacher about 15 years ago) and his wife Annet, who is German, for quite a few years. I really need to contact them for a chat as it would be nice to see them again and, well, they may be able to offer me a bed for the night. I’ll come back to accommodation options in a few moments after I’ve completed the route information.

{4673a1c2-f551-4d28-36e4-3d18ddca15cc}The final section from Hamburg to the Danish border will be along the cattle route mentioned above. This website seems to give plenty of information albeit in German, translated online by Google. It is signposted however with the sign shown here so finding my way into Denmark shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I’ll just have to watch out for the herds of cattle…

So to accommodation. There is a link on the Oscsenweg website to another site called Bett+Bike or ‘Bed+Bike’. It describes itself as follows:

“Bett+Bike makes it easy for travelling cyclists to find appropriate accommodation. Here, you can choose from over 5,400 hotels, bed & breakfasts, youth hostels, Friends of Nature houses, and camping sites that have a particular focus on cycling guests. Only those accommodations that fulfil the ADFC criteria for quality are permitted to display the Bett+Bike emblem.”

Wonderful! The ADFC incidentally is the Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club, the German national cycling federation that, according to the Rough Guide grades long-distance cycling trails with one to five stars. It’s useful that they also consider accommodation needs of your average touring cyclist as the Bett+Bike site could be invaluable. A physical version of the listings is also available to buy from bookshops. It might be a wise investment when I arrive in Aachen.

UPDATE: 6th April – an email…

Dear Andrew,
being a very keen cyclo tourer myself, both of your Euro Velo books so far are on my Kindle. Great reads in those dull European winter months!
Regarding your upcoming trip from Tarifa to the North Cape I had a look on your website and wish to offer you my assistance; at least for that German section.
I would always promote the excellent German cycle network and was therefore very surprised to see that there is indeed not much information on that Eurovelo 3 project available. All the same the route will be easy to follow if you know the „names“ of the national routes. You already mentioned some in your blog but here is some advise on the online availability of information. I hope I don’t come across like a smart-arse but I want to make sure you will have easy access while travelling.
In this message I will focus on the initial section Aachen-Bonn-Münster as this will not only be your first 445 km in Germany but riding through the state I live in (Nordrhein-Westfalen) too.
-Go to the website www.radroutenplaner.nrw.de
-Click „Sprachen“ on the top left; then „Bicycle route planner“ for the English version
-Fill in Aachen as your starting point and wait a second until the scroll down menu shows up and choose „Aachen (NRW)“. Stick with that routine of waiting a little while for the scroll down menu to pop up as that will ensure you do get precise information!
-Fill in Bonn and choose „Bonn (NRW)“
-Then pick „Prefer themed routes“ under „Routing Preferences“
-Two options will pop up, choose „Specific themed routes“
-A new window with all available routes will pop up. Scroll down to „D-Netz Route 4 Mittelland Route“ and tick. When you click „Close“ at the bottom your choice is safed and the window will disappear.
-The last click is  „Route berechnen“ and you will get all details you need; GPS tracks included.
All information for free and reliably correct!
Follow the same procedure for Bonn to Münster but pick the  „D-Netz Route 7 Pilgerroute“.
My description looks more complicated than it is but I believe it is well worth the effort!
There will be a similar tool for the second half in Germany www.niedersachsen-radroutenplaner.de but that´s still a long way to go…..
Safe travels and let me know once you are approaching Germany!
Frank Roettgen

What do you think?