Day 29 : Running out of water

A good night’s sleep, but a clear night, so a tent wet with condensation. Made a coffee, packed up and hit the road.

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Bad choice for a place to sleep, snail

I stopped at a boulangerie and picked up a couple of pain au chocolats, here labelled ‘croissants chocolat’, and stuck them in my bag. The woman being served ahead of me ordered 30 baguettes!

Shortly after finding the boulangerie I found a cafe and had un petit café crème, then rejoined the canal path.

There’s a strange ticking noise coming from the bike and I can’t figure out what’s causing it. Approx one tick per wheel revolution but only when I’m riding so difficult to troubleshoot. The bike needs a good clean, but I think the issue might be from inside the rear hub as I can’t see anything causing any fouling.

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Two rivers become one

I ate my croissants at 12pm only to then 10 minutes later pass through a village with lots of open restaurants which I skipped as I was no longer hungry.

It wasn’t long until I realised I’d left the campsite having filled just one water bottle, having used the other for dinner the previous evening.

On a non-sunny day this wouldn’t have been a problem, but today the sun was out in full effect, and with no shops open I ran out of water an hour before reaching my ‘lunch’ town.

When I arrived at Chalon-sur-Saône, all I could find were diy superstores. It hadn’t yet got to the stage of knocking on someone’s door, but I did have that as an option. I headed for the town centre in search of somewhere that sold water. As I headed into town, so did a convoy of about 25 cars celebrating a wedding, beeping their horns. I had a splitting headache!

I came across a vending machine and got a large cold coke which went down very nicely. I then found a place to get lunch, but the kitchens were closed. I got a beer instead. I found somewhere that sold sandwiches and stuck it in my bag for later use and headed off. Feeling better I also picked up another coke and a large bottle of water.

I’m not interested in coming back to this town! I couldn’t see any campsites nearby and my attempt at a warm showers night drew no response, so I booked a discounted hotel at Montceau-les-Mines and set off for that.

It took a while to find a suitable route to get out of the town as my original route suggested by google and garmin tried to take me down a busy road which I don’t think was suitable for a bike.

All morning the landscape had been flat, but in the afternoon this changed to hills. This is the Bourgogne region and the land I cycled through was filled with 3 feet high vineyards.

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Vines to the horizon

The hills were hard work!

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The long and winding road

No time to check out the town, I headed straight for the hotel.

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Had to stop to take a picture of these yellows at sunset! Moon is in the pic too..

Once I’d checked in and had a shower I went back down to the restaurant. It was a tough day so I had starter, main and cheese courses 🙂

Too tired to explore the town on foot I headed back to my room to discover a Stones documentary I hadn’t seen was being shown in English with French subtitles, so that was a good end to the day.

Saint-Usage to Montceau-les-Mines, 141 km. Total so far = 2,618 km.

Day 28 : Heading Ouest

A comfy night’s rest and up earlyish. Sent on my way with a couple of organic cereal bars and a fruit juice. And borrowed their track pump to get my tyres up to ‘hard boiled’.

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Ai, 50% of my fab hosting team

Besançon is a really interesting town, so I spent a bit of time wandering around. I started by finding a cafe to have a small coffee at the counter, local style!

They’ve only very recently introduced trams. Here’s one going past the cafe I was at.

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One of the new trams. The previous day someone had got hit by one of them.

It has a citadel at the top of the town.

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The citadel is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site

Film buffs may recognise the town as being the birthplace of the Lumière brothers. In fact they were born in this house:

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Birthplace of the Lumière brothers

And just half a century earlier, 20 meters away on the other side of the square, Victor Hugo was born in this house:

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Birthplace of the excellent Victor Hugo

It’s a large and interesting town. I reckon I could spend some holiday time here very happily. I’d never heard of it before and it’s a great discovery for me.

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A tiny part of Besançon

Then back onto the river path. I had lunch at a small village restaurant. Pâté starter, fish in white sauce with ratatouille and rice, then a cheese course. Served with a small carafe of wine and a bottle of chilled water for €13.

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Another river picture. Nice though, ain’t it..

I cycled on in very nice weather until I felt I’d done enough miles and spotted a campsite.

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No doubting which swan is in charge here

The campsite was pretty basic again – a place to pitch my tent, and use of the shower block and outdoor sinks. Although this one had toilet seats and toilet paper in the cubicle, which was a nice touch..

I got attacked by mosquitoes whilst bending all my tent pegs trying to get more than an inch of peg in the ground before hitting rock. Some mossies paid attention to the Jungle Formula repellant, the others were sadly terminated upon detection.

For dinner I cooked the mozzarella ravioli that had been sitting in my bag for a day. Early night, but due to a covers band playing an outdoor gig 500m away along the river I didn’t get to sleep until late. The bit at the end of Roxanne which repeats ‘put on the red light’ was very amusing as the timing was completely off. There wasn’t any clapping or cheering at the end of any of the songs. More practice perhaps.

Saw a big snake today. Ran away before I could take a pic, soz!

And I’m heading west to the Atlantic coast, because, why not?

Besançon to Saint-Usage, 97 km. Total so far = 2,477 km.

Day 27 : Taking a warm shower

There was no condensation on the tent in the morning, so I had the satisfaction of packing away a dry tent today.

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Getting ready to leave

The campsite was right next to the canal path so it didn’t take long to re-join the Eurovelo 6 route heading west.

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Painted lines on the cycle path – very organised

The path is straight and well-maintained which made for quick progress. There weren’t many boats on the he canal – possibly because there are so many locks – which also meant I was going uphill.

Lunchtime approached as I approached Montbéliard. I saw it as no coincidence, so headed into the town centre to find something substantial to eat.

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Big lunch – lots of kms to go

The path switched over to following the river ‘Le Doubs’ – a slow, meandering river which cut its way through the hills that were now appearing.

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I saw lots of fish in the clear river

Another fine day. The scenery reminded me of Scotland in terms of how clear everything looks.

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Big hills! Luckily I was following the river.

For my evening’s accommodation, I used the warm showers website to find board for the night, as kindly recommended by a reader of this blog. Yesterday I searched the area Besançon to find a host, got in touch and arranged my arrival time.

I had a very pleasant evening with my really nice hosts, Adrien and Ai, who are passionate about cycling, and are experienced tourers. They even have a Brompton in their bicycle arsenal. They also very kindly made me dinner. A huge thanks to them and a big thumbs up for the warm showers concept!

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Poppies I cycled past today

Mulhouse to Besançon, 155 km. Total so far = 2,380 km.

Day 26 : Je suis arrivé en France

Leaving the campsite earlyish I followed the Rhein cycle path which closely followed the river.

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Some grebes on the Rhein

The Rhein has a nice green colour and has small eddies and whirlpools all the way along.

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Swirlpools

This old covered wooden bridge was one of the many bridges (over to Switzerland) along the way. It had a nice old wooden smell to it!

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Wooden bridge – would probably float if it broke

And I spotted another building with chevron shutters. It must mean something.

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Chevrons

A large section of the path was sponsored by an energy company who had placed  ‘learning spots’ along the river. The building below for example housed a turbine from an old hydro electric dam over the river.

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Turbine house

At one stage my bike developed a problem. All of a sudden I was unable to turn the pedals round. I coasted to a halt and propped the bike against a lamp-post to take a look.

The chain had come across too far on the derailleur and was jammed against the pannier rack support:

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Yes, it needs a clean

I got out my tools and levered the chain back out. All was well and no damage done.

Pedalling on I soon came across some Roman sights in Switzerland:

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Under floor heating system
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Mosaics

Later on I arrived in Basel. I saw a poster that claimed ‘One Basel’, but I saw several. As I rode in it seemed quite nice and arty, which then soon turned into upmarket high street shopping. After I crossed a bridge it was markedly less well off. The spike in the river marks the spot that Germany, Switzerland and France meet:

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Undramatic meeting of countries

When I crossed the river into France, things at once seemed elegant and relaxed so I took the opportunity to get acquainted with the cuisine.

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A taste of France

I then joined Eurovelo 6 cycle route which happened to be going my way along the Rhone canal.

One long (30 min cycle) section of the path had the solar system bodies placed proportionally apart which was nice I thought.

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Neptune (at the top)

The canal path was easy cycling.

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Rhone canal path

I headed for a campsite in Mulhouse. Mulhouse itself seemed OK. I’m pretty sure I was the only tourist in the town centre though.

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Mulhouse town hall

No restaurant at the campsite, so a 5 min pot noodke and cheese sandwich for dinner.

Waldshut-Tiengen to Mulhouse, 119 km. Total so far = 2,225 km.

Day 25 : Do I smell yet?

I’ve got a bit of a routine going with the camping thing now. Had my shower, porridge and coffee, chatted to the caravaners in Germglish and packed up my wet tent and set out at 9am.

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The packing up process

Weather started off grey but had long sunny periods later.

I’m now heading west, bound for France.

I am wearing regular sandals for this trip. They may be less efficient than clipless shoes, but I’m not trying to set any records here and when I get off the bike it’s nice to be in normal footwear. Also when it rains, my feet get a wash, and the sandals dry out pretty quickly.

I mention this as they have started to smell a bit. All the constant wet and dry action I bet. So I took a quick look online and people recommend wearing socks with sandals. I know! So today, whilst still in Germany, I gave it a go. To be honest I don’t see what the fuss is about, and missed the sight of my toes which have never known such freedom as on this tour.

Anyhow heading west meant I crossed over into Switzerland a few times. The cycle routes weren’t as well signposted, and there were less German cars, but other than that things were pretty much the same.

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Heading into Switzerland! Most border crossings were not this dramatic

I also encountered and followed the Rhein on and off. It’s a big, beautiful river.

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The Rhein – a very nice colour which doesn’t show in this pic. Soz.

I took a detour to visit the Rheinfalls, an impressive waterfall.

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Rheinfalls. You can get to one of the islands in the middle if you don’t have a bike.

And one more painted fire hydrant for my collection:

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Bizarre open jacket and brown crop top

My route was a bit snakey, no longer having a proper cycle path to follow. Anyhow it took me to a small town, Klettgau. I headed for the church because I fancied a sit down (churches always provide benches as well as, in Germany, telling the time), and the church was a modern design, built in 1964, but done really nicely in my humble opinion.

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Nice.

Here’s the detail of the door handles.

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Not garish and tacky in real life

Also spotted on route, this novel use for 6 bales of hay:

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Enough to scare the crows

Headed to a campsite in Germany for the night (so I can pay in Euros). It’s right on the Rhein. I also managed to find a supermarket so I had a meal on my stove, and now am free to finish my Zeppelin mag!

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View of the Rhein from the campsite

Wahlwies to Waldshut-Tiengen, 109km. Total so far = 2,106 km.

Day 24 : Along the Bodensee coast road

I saw this picture in the hotel yesterday from times when one could land one’s plane in Lindau harbour. Looks like he’s just landed as he’s still in the cockpit. Also note the car heading out to sea.

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Snow day

I’m pleased to report that the rain stopped sometime during the night and I awoke to a bright day. I made the most of the continental breakfast at the hotel then pootled around the island, before taking the coast road out.

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View across Bodensee – that will be Switzerland in the distance

I found a bike shop and picked up a cheap pair of gloves. Not as much padding as the ones I had, but they will do. Even from just one day with no gloves my hands are sore. So gloves, for me at least, are an essential piece of kit.

Bodensee is famous for its apples. I cycled past lots of apple, pear and plum orchards today. I bought a kilo of local apples from a roadside kiosk, which will come in handy I’m sure.

It’s quite compelling to grab small opportunities like this when they arise. I have to travel light and enjoy taking the odd serviette, complimentary hotel toiletries etc for the journey ahead.

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Apple orchard

I stopped off at a backerei in Friedrichshafen at lunchtime for a sandwich and coffee. Friedrichshafen houses a Zeppelin museum, since the original Zeppelin airships were developed here. Count Zeppelin is from Constance – a big town on the other side of Bodensee, which also gives it its English name Lake Constance.

Despite being very interested in visiting, I didn’t fancy leaving the bike and my tour belongings outside whilst I disappeared for three hours, so instead I popped into the museum shop and bought the comprehensive guide in English, which is tonight’s reading.

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Zeppelin museum and child’s playground

The Zeppelin is referenced everywhere here from sculptures:

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Zeppelin water feature

Through blimps..

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The blimp is on the right. My thumb is on the left.

To guesthouses.. Graf Zeppelin aka LZ 127 circumnavigated the world (can you tell I’ve been reading the guidebook?)..

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Sadly no references to the band anywhere

Navigation was easy today. I just followed the signs and kept the lake to my left. I happened across this mermaid painted hydrant which is a good match for the one last week.

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Mermaid fire hydrant

Also grown here are grapes for wine, a glass of which I had last night with my dinner 🙂

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A cool photo of a vineyard huh

At an appropriate point in the afternoon I set my satnav to find a campsite and left the coastal path. Navigation immediately took me up a long and steep hill, then onto what I think were logging roads through forest for about 3km. Tracks were rough going in places. Thanks Garmin!

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This bit of track was OK. The last bit was downhill over very rough track and I was barely able to stop the bike. In equal measures enjoyable and terrifying.

Campsite just had enough room for a small tent fortunately. They didn’t have a shop, but they did offer pizza, which, after 80km of pushing my heavy bike around was once again very welcome.

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House pizza

Lindau to Wahlwies, 82 km. Total so far = 1,997 km.

Day 23 : To Bodensee (in the rain)

Having had porridge and coffee I left the camp site at a reasonable hour, with the tent once again wet and muddy. No sun this morning – but that’s good cycling weather anyhow.

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Utilising front and rear drying spaces on the über-bike

I made good progress in the morning and stopped off for an early lunch just after 12. Generally things on menus are quite descriptive and most of the time I don’t know what it is exactly that I’m ordering – but that’s OK because I like the surprise.. What I received was in effect a very nice fried breakfast.

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Apologies for posting more food pics, but if you’re doing a bacon and eggs fry-up this is a good way to go

After lunch the weather deteriorated into a drizzle.  In good news although there were a lot of hills today, the majority were downhills with a few nice hairpin treats.

For the past few days the housing has been chalet style, often ornamented with large displays of flowers. Today I cycled out of the ski resorts towards Bodensee, and the houses are looking less ‘alpine’.

Virtually all houses have brightly coloured window shutters (always open). This one had black and yellow chevron shutters which looked odd.

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In fact this house is very strange all over..

Shortly after that picture was taken, it started to bucket down. I took partial shelter under two chestnut trees for half an hour (one tree for me, another for the bike). It lightened a bit but didn’t look like it was going to stop any time soon, so I got on the bike and cycled on. It got very bad again very quickly and after unsuccessfully trying to get some shelter in a pine forest I found a bus stop at which to shelter. With the next bus due on Monday I made myself comfortable and brewed a coffee.

The weather didn’t get much better, but I did have a bit of phone signal at the bus stop and found a hotel on the island if Lindau about an hour’s cycle away, booked myself in and set off.

A pretty miserable cycle, but my gore jacket kept my top half completely dry and stopped the wind, so I wasn’t feeling too bad. Could have done with some gloves though.

I squelched into the hotel and made good use of the hot air heater in the bathroom to dry everything out.

I went to a Thai restaurant for dinner and ordered the ‘very hot’ fish curry to head off any potential cold, and am now in the harbour-side bar as recommended by the restaurant staff to write this blog.

Here’s a pic I took earlier of the Lindau harbour entrance. Note the wind and rain.. Fingers crossed for a brighter tomorrow.

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Lindau harbour entrance – I was battling to keep the cheap umbrella I had just bought open at this point

Großer Alpsee to Lindau island, 68 km. Total so far 1,915 km.

Day 22 : Has anyone seen my glove?

So last night it rained very heavily pretty much the whole night. I made a recording on my phone (a decent digital recorder didn’t make the cut of things to take unfortunately):

The tent stood up well to the rain. The inner tent was completely dry in the morning, but the outer tent was soaked inside and out.

It had stopped raining by 8am or so (well just a light drizzle) so I got up and packed up the wet tent. Too damp to hang around for breakfast so I just got on my way as soon as I could.

The hills were covered with mist and cloud.

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Dreary start

Things started brightening up within an hour or two. I thought best to keep on pedalling.

At some point today I lost one glove, so I’ll be stopping in at a bike shop for gloves and air at the next big town, which will probably be Lindau.

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Romantic style castle

A very hilly route today – probably the hilliest – but all on good road surfaces, so progress wasn’t too bad. I reached over 1,000 m altitude too at this point:

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High point

Around 3pm (I think) and well aware my tent was soaked and the sun was out, I decided to check in at a camp site that was en route.

With my tent drying really quickly in the afternoon sun, I took a break 🙂

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Enjoying the sun

With no clean cycling clothes, I also took the opportunity to get up to date with my laundry.

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Elastic washing line – good investment

A very nice campsite and the woman at reception kindly charged up my battery. A pizza and salad from the campsite for dinner brings today to a close.

Bannwaldsee to Großer Alpsee, 72 km. Total so far = 1,847 km.

Day 21 : Mountains beyond mountains

Good start to the day. The other camper at the camp site (also on a bike heading to Bodensee) had a problem where he couldn’t get his derailleur to shift to the largest cog, which I was able to fix for him. I’m sure he found this beneficial as the day went on and the hills got steeper!

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Austria is the other side of those hills

After rolls with banana in my tent for breakfast, I stopped off at 11 for breakfast at what looked like a monasterial cloister. Everyone was drinking large beers, but 11 is too early for me, so I went for a pretzel and latte. The two don’t go. Lesson learnt. Should have had a cake or a beer.

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Tasty pretzels and bad coffee don’t go

Another day with great scenery. Keeping the mountains to my left there were a lot of hills still.

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A bridge, somewhere in Germany

I’d been recommended to try ‘haxe’ – a crisped pork knuckle – when in Bavaria and found my opportunity.

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Bavarian lunch

Mixed-bag of terrain today. A lot of chunky gravel that I wouldn’t attempt on a road bike and a couple of river crossings. Brompton coping admirably.

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Magic bike – stands up by itself

At one point my route took me to a closed gate and a crowd of cows looking like they wanted to escape. I had to lift my bike over the fence – no mean feat, it weighs about as much as one of the cows!

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Cow possee

Nice weather when I was out today, but that was to change later.

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Ahh – Brompton with mountain backdrop

There was a camp site on the route itself so I headed there.  Very large camp site with two restaurants. Other camper there was doing the Southern Germany route heading East and warned me of some big hills to come tomorrow.

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Before the rain

As I was putting my tent up it started to rain. I went for a shower and when I came out of the shower block it was pouring with rain. I ran to my tent (a 2 minute run past all the caravans) and dived in.

It didn’t sound like it was going to stop any time soon, so I got out my stove and made 5 minute bolognase inside the tent.

A while later it did stop raining so I went over to the bar (the one that didn’t have a Bavarian oompa band) for a glass of red wine.

When I left it was torrential again. Another run to the tent, into less wet clothes and to bed!

Bad Tölz to Bannwaldsee, 88 km. Total so far = 1,775 km.

Day 20 : Mountains

Leaving Munich at lunchtime I worked my way to the Isar and then followed it South. There are many parts of the Isar that are used as a beach within Munich:

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There’s also a stretch of the river with surfers

I stopped for lunch at a biergarten at a fish farm. The river next to the garden had plenty of fish:

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Fishes

As I went further south, mountains appeared on the horizon, and worked they way closer.

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Mountains!

I reached Bad Tölz around 5pm. It’s a pretty town, and judging by the cars and the poseurs in the high street cafes, it’s a wealthy town. I stopped off at an organic food store to pick up some groceries and beer.

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Bad Tölz

Even the camp site is expensive – 14 euros – most expensive yet. For that I get a muddy bit of ground, but at least the tent pegs went in easy. Dinner was  ravioli with olive pesto all fresco.

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14 euro pitch

Munich to Bad Tölz, 70 km. Total so far = 1,687 km.

Sat nav had plenty of issues today and also managed to delete half the route after crashing. Thanks Garmin.