Day 76: Rheinfelden to Schliengen - Grampies Go By The Books - CycleBlaze

July 14, 2014

Day 76: Rheinfelden to Schliengen

Like the rest of Germany, we were a bit hung over this morning, and only began to stir around 8. I set myself up down in the kitchen room to try filling in the blog from the previous day. Dodie went and collected some of the breakfast foods from where Rosa had set them out in another room, and brought them back to our own "private" kitchen. With our bikes right there beside us, it was all super convenient and pleasant.

We said a nice goodbye to Rosa, who had been so nice and so helpful, and headed back across the bridge - to Germany.

In our kitcheninRheinfelden
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The bikes in their lounge
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The bridge from Swiss Rheinfelden to German Rheinfelden
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The news in Germany - we won!
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Hiding in an underpass from torrential rains
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One of the only beer bottles we have found by any road in Germany. It"s a colourful one from the local brewery Rothaus.
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Our idea in planning this bit of the trip had been to slice through the Black Forest - just deep enough to see it, and not so deep as to be lost forever trying to push up the hills. So now we headed to Lorrach, Kandern, and Schliesen, which amounts to cutting out Basel, and then we would go in from the Rhine again a bit to reach Freiburg, which is styled in some places as the capital of the Black Forest.

So far it seems really fortunate that we arranged the car outing with Didier, deeper into the Black Forest. We have now completed our first slice of it by bike : Rheinfelden to Schliesen, and frankly this was not deep enough to be really in it. Certainly the houses and towns have been just plain - still part of the orbit of Basel, which ranges from plain to ugly. As for the forest itself, there is a bit of debate. The debate goes something like, Steve: "This forest doesn't look very black". Dodie: "Give it a break, it probably is not quite as black as it used to be in the old days". Steve: "It's supposed to be coniferous, this here is not coniferous" Dodie: "Those are conifers over on that hill. Don't be so picky, this is as Black as you are going to get". ...And so on.

One thing that was approaching authentic Black Forest was the hilliness. This was not quite the land of switchback roads that we had seen yesterday, but it was hilly enough to have us pushing the bikes for lots of the time. This, together with the fact that it kept switching between warm sun and drenching downpour (causing us to repeatedly stop and change clothes) gave us one of the lowest km totals of the trip.

Of course, we also contributed to getting nowhere by continuing to stop at each church we cruised by. We have come to recognize what is a basic church - with just two side altars and one in the centre, the altars each featuring a large painting, and possibly also boasting one or more statues portraying saints.

When we came to the church in the little hamlet of Eichsel, we expected a basic one. The first indication that this one had something special was a plaque nearby, in German and French, telling the story of the three virgins: Kunigundis, Mechtundis, and Wibrandis. These three were accompanying Ursula (the one who ended with her arm in a gold reliquary - some churches back) around 700 a.d., when they fell ill (in some way) and died. They were buried near the church of Eichsel. Subsequent miracles near the graves (the plaque did not say what) resulted in the three becoming saints. So they were apparently dug up and placed in reliquaries inside the church.

We went in, and yes, the three skulls and other bones had been used to make up the alter on one side. Dodie had a close look at this. It was very spooky. We think their hearts were in there too. Dodie moved a pot of flowers to have a closer look, and I warned her not to mess with these ladies. I looked up, and the image in the stained glass looked like some sort of angry simian. This was one spooky place. Sure enough,as we prepared to leave, a huge black cloud appeared over the church and just pelted down heavy rain. This forced us back inside. I went to look again at that stained glass - maybe I just had not focussed properly on the image. Nope, still spooky.

Eventually we escaped the church, and I am not at all saying the virgins sent the cloud. It is foolish to think that way. My excuse for writing this at all is the weird effect that cycling for 76 straight days can have on your mind. On the other hand, the people that built and furnished the church are serious about this, and they were surely not cyclists!

One of the three scary virgins
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The complete altar
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The stained glass
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A statue intowndepicts the three virgins
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We cycled through the basically unremarkable countryside for quite a few hours, happy, but not making not too much progress. When we got to Kandern we thought it would be wise to put an end to it. So right at the beginning of town we spotted and stopped by a place advertising an available room. For some reason, a man who saw us stop decided we needed help, but we just pointed to the sign and said we were going to check it out. Not satisfied with this answer, the man called on a lady walking by, and asked her if she knew English. The lady said - a little - so the man dragged her over to us so she could solve our "problem". We explained that (if people would only leave us alone) we were going to knock on the door of the place with the sign. The lady approved this plan, and went on her way. OK, thanks!

So we knocked on the door, and the lady who answered explained (all German) that she had a room, but it was not ready. She could only rent it to us in two hours. Two hours? Is she going to scrub it with a toothbrush? Well ok, we said, maybe we can sit at the table in your garden and prepare supper while you work on the room. Nope. Apparently cooking in the garden while waiting for a room was not in the lady's play book. So we moved on. At the main entrance to town, on a post, was the listing of the sleeping and eating places on offer. Kandern had four hotels/guesthouses. We checked them all. All were closed. Some just always close on Monday and Tuesday. One just seemed to be exhausted after yesterday's partying, and a note on the door said they would stay closed today.

As we moved around the town, we twice ran in to highly chatty ladies. The one was from Florida and here on some sort of church liaison. Lots of UQs and chat, but no information we could use in finding a place to stay. The second lady was on a bicycle, and had just a wealth of information about restaurants and guest houses in nearby towns where we did not want to go. It took a long, long time to convince her that we just wanted to give up and go to the camping.

Eventually we got free and headed slightly out of town, where we found the camping. To reach it we first passed a municipal swimming pool and water park, then climbed a short hill, and entered the camping. The rather stern, unwelcoming lady there wanted 21 euros for the patch of grass. All along we have been thinking that the common 18 euro price is a ripoff. So 21? We told her no.

Back down the hill, by the swimming pool, we spotted a locked up and grafitti covered building, and beside it a little covered shelter. We went over there and decided it was a good place to prepare supper, and no doubt throw up our tent when it got darker. So we unpacked out food and stove, and were getting ready to cook something when the lady from up the hill appeared. We could not stay here, she said. No eating and drinking without paying! This remote site, she said, was part of the camping. We would have to leave, immediately!

With that she folded her arms and prepared to stand over us until we would disappear. Dodie said to her "You can stand there if you want, but this takes time and I refuse to rush". "5 minutes", the lady snapped, and strode off. Surprisingly, when we had been trying to arrange for a tent site the lady spoke no English, but now, it seemed awfully good.

We cycled back through the town, marvelling again at how everything was closed, and then heading out toward Schleisen and the Rhine. We were saying "Boy, now we really do not want to stay anywhere in this crazy town". But just at the town boundary we came to one last guest house. Try it? Well, when we got a little closer we saw that their motto was "Invest in your health for your future". No, we just want a room, not an investment. We cycled on.

In Schliesen we found a basic hotel, with a great balcony for cooking supper. So here we are resting up, and getting ready for trying to make it to Freiburg tomorrow.

The Black Forest? Not as black as before.
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Riding through theBlack Forest
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Storks are fairly common heree
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The strange town of Kandern
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The building and bushes near where we tried to eat supper
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The pink marker lines in the lower left show our meanderings today. The lines near the top are where we went with Didier. The overall green area loosely shows the forested mountains of the southern Black Forest.
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Today's ride: 48 km (30 miles)
Total: 3,787 km (2,352 miles)

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