Saar & Cycling

Waldfrieden – 3-4 April 2017

Morning was again frosty and made us glad of the central heating. We paid up, checked our routes and set off shortly after 10am in dazzling sunshine.

The journey to Trier was 51 miles and took us just over an hour and a half. The Vulcaneifel scenery was really lovely, then we began to descend through mixed woodland, pastureland and neat villages with distinctive churches, beautifully spaced out houses and nice big gardens each with its own huge store of chopped logs. So little traffic it was great – can see why the bikers love it.

When we got to Trier we located the Bergen camping shop which, bafflingly did not have the LPG connector needed for Germany that Travelworld had somehow failed to provide us with for our german van. However otherwise it was a fascinating shop and we managed to find & buy some stuff we didn’t already have.

After that the hunt was on for the Thomas Bauzentrum store Danny had identified as likely to have the spanners needed to fix the drawers. A german version of B&Q but better – 3 spanners and a socket ratchet later our drawers were fixed!

Grabbed a snack from the store’s snack bar and headed off to a likely campsite, Waldfrieden, just outside the town of Saarburg. Leaving Trier we crossed the beautiful Moselle and headed south, generally following the river Saar. We entered wine country with steep south facing slopes covered in bare vines, the vineyards punctuated with neat orchards. We covered the 16 miles in a respectable 35 minutes entering Saarburg in glorious sunshine. Noted the Rewe & Aldi supermarkets then followed the satnav up a minor road outside of the town, along the sides of a wooded valley and down the turnoff to our campsite. A really nice spot with woods either side. The site only opened 2 days earlier and the family were working hard to complete a good looking new terrace and entrance to reception.

We walked the footpath the 1.6km into Saarburg – or at least to the Rewe supermarket! The path down through the valley and along a stream was lined with blossom-filled blackthorn and early prunus. Lots of birds singing but of course we had left the binoculars behind.  White wood anemones were among the many early woodland flowers and with the temperature at 22C it was easy to forget we had just left March behind.

A phone call from rentwirral about the house brought us down to earth a bit but we sorted it and Rewe:XL was a fascinating supermarket and that distracted us nicely. We browsed the products with awe, a bit like the first time we visited Waitrose. Reassured by the availability of things like chills, ginger, Chinese and Mexican ingredients although Indian ingredients were a bit more elusive!  A couple of bottles of dry Mosel Reisling were acquired.

Walked back and although it was around 5pm it was still warm in the sun so we took advantage to sit out on the evolving terrace with a cold beer, watching the workers whilst Danny tried to get internet working.

Back in the van, I rustled up the agreed bratwurst with chilli while Danny filled up the freshwater tank. Turned out great. Spoke to mum who was having heron problems with her pond again, and settled in with University Challenge. Chilled.

Next day we spoilt ourselves with a bit of a lie in and fresh croissants and coffee in bed watching CNN to keep an eye on Trump. Set off on a late bike ride about 11.30. Tourist information office first for cycle routes, we settled on the cycle path up the Saar and set off. A bit of a false start saw us push our bikes through a charming part of the old town up a steep hill to a church where the road ran out. Okay for Danny, not for me as I couldn’t get the ‘walk-assist’ cycle technology to work and was exhausted by the top! However it was worth it for the view which took in the steep slopes of the vineyards to the left, the old castle (burg) after which the town is named and the old church – both on separate hills. We could see the river Saar below us and the cycle paths either side, so we knew what we were aiming for. We found our way back down and then the good cycling began. 10 miles up the west bank of the Saar to where it joins the Moselle at Konz. A really good cycle path with beautiful scenery and far enough away from roads to not to be aware of them. We impressed ourselves by overtaking one of the huge barges that use the river –  called Gotcha – and stopped occasionally to appreciate the scenery. Early cherry blossom and blackthorn in bloom, and the willows all tipped with green. Perfect weather for cycling.  At one point we got a really strong smell of rotting fish and heard some loud, harsh calls We stopped and located a large pond surrounded by tall trees full of cormorant and grey heron nests. No wonder it smelt.

Closer to Konz we saw the back of houses giving us an insight into the outdoor life here. Fire pits & BBQ’s, tables & chairs already in use. Veg patches, blossom trees, spring bulbs, log piles, bicycles left unsecured. All gave a  really good feeling of a life lived outside in good weather.

Genuinely surprised by the amount of mistletoe we have seen – maybe that’s because we’re from the suburbs. Some of the big trees on the banks of the Saar had the most we have seen so far.

After 10 miles we reached the confluence with the Moselle, posed for photos watched by some Egyptian ducks and a lone ruddy shelduck, then headed back anticipating lunch.

Riding back into Saarburg along the river gives a completely different view to entering it by road, as the old castle, church and medieval town had been hidden from us the day before. It shows how much you can miss by road.

Back in the old town we chose an outside table alongside a tributary to the Saar and ordered a cold pilsner at Hotel am Markt, a parma ham, rocket & parmesan salad for me and a fish ‘salad’ for Danny –  4 different pieces  of freshly cooked fish plus some very nice freshly cooked prawns. Very reasonably priced too.

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After lunch we took a gentle stroll through the pretty old town, calling into a couple of specialist wine shops to examine the local moselle and saar wines although with Rewe nearby we resisted buying. The small museum was closed, but next to it was a footbridge back to our bikes, giving great views of the waterfall and waterwheel, and a sign explaining that the tributary and its waterfall were channelled to provide power for watermills to grind the flour for bread, and later to provide power for some of the first electric lights.

Back on our bikes we headed over the road bridge to one of the more modern parts of Saarburg and found a bike shop where a very nice man fixed Danny’s bike tool free of charge.

We had done 21 miles in total, with the sun only going in towards the end. A good day, made better by the fact that Danny finally won the battle to get us an internet connection.