Monday, August 9, 2010

We love this map! Grr. We hate this map!

We've been riding across Germany with these ADFC-approved maps, which are fantastic.  They have the bicycle routes clearly marked.  The maps cross reference to the signs.  They show camping places, road grade, road surface, traffic quality, forests, fields - in a nutshell everything a bicycle tourist could want.  The only failing is that the roads are not labelled, so sometimes you can get confused when travelling off the bicycle routes, but whatever - one only needs to do that in France.  Oh and only some of these maps have km markers.

The map we bought in Münster was a Bikeline map.  It had everything we needed - camping places, routes, road names, etc and the other maps were not available.  Plus it showed all kinds of secondary roads that are not "official" bike routes, but are still nice for cyclists to travel on - something we had missed a little when getting offtrack before.  We had a little trouble getting out of Münster, but that is to be expected in such a big city.  We used the map's many clearly marked roads to shave dozens of kilometers off our trip to the clearly marked camplingplatz.  We were passed by one fix gear bicycle - maybe the first sighting since Zurich.  Hey, this map is alright!

We made it to the campingplatz in short order and were looking forward to kicking back and relaxing.  Where is this campingplatz?  I asked a teenage boy at the bus station about it, he said there was no campingplatz and never had been.  We looked at the map and confirmed our location.  We rolled down the sidewalk a few hundred meters and stopped again.  Where the campingplatz was supposed to be was a big housing development.  We ate some Knuspers and drank some water.  A car rolled up, a man got out and walked over to us and asked if we were looking for camping.  Because there was no camping.  A couple of Polish guys had been there a few days before.  They had the same map as us.  Grrr.  We hate this map!  This gentleman suggested another camping spot about 12 km further on.  We thank him and take off for this alternative camp site - which is on our map.  It's cool.  It's still early.  We have legs.

Ok, so about an hour later after climbing, descending, climbing and descending against a wicked head wind through beautiful forests and fields, we finally find someone who can walk us directly to the unmarked path in the woods to the campingplatz.  Hurray!  Relaxation awaits!

Campingplatz fail!  The office is closed today (Monday) and this is not like the other camping places we've been to.  Its a 'holiday community' which is clearly a step up from 'campingplatz' and the residents don't really want us there.  One woman suggests a pension a little further back up the hill - there you can get a room and some breakfast.  Hmmm.  We head back up the hill and follow some signs to a guesthouse , descending through some lovely fields in a small village.  The guest house is, you guessed it, closed.  The family is sensibly on vacation.  On our way back out the village, we stop to ask for advice from a couple who are walking their dog.  Ramona and I are not on the same page during this conversation and cannot clearly communicate our desires to the couple who offer us a myriad of advice, including how to and where to travel in the Netherlands, in somewhat difficult English.  Finally, as the sun prepares to set, they recommend a hotel in Billersbeck, a mere 5 km away.

As we ride away into the setting sun, we have a little post mortem on the conversation.  I thought we could have wild camped, but all we needed was water.  I had been on the verge of asking for water, when Ramona interrupted me.  Ramona thought I wanted to go to a hotel.  And so on.  Soon we were on a sweet downhill right into town and that swept our worries away.  We rolled up to our hotel, which was a Bett & Bike.  Ramona did the deal and in thirty minutes, we were naked in our hotel room.  A three star hotel, whereas our previous night was a 2 star.  How this hotel got 3 stars is a mystery.  It was not nearly as nice as the other hotel.  I had to fix the shower.

R: When I went down to see if we could change rooms, due to the broken shower, the office was already closed. Luckily, Joshua loves knots and saving the day. The next morning, when I told the woman (girl) at the desk she kind of shrugged. She didn't want to go see the room, and she seemed to think that since the water still flowed out of the shower head, it wasn't really so broken as to not afford us a shower. She gave us a bike 5 Euro discount, and we will never stay there again.

The next day, we change Ramona's back tire, dry out our stuff and wash our bicycles in the back lot of the hotel, where our bikes had been stored for the night.  We find some baby powder for me (no change in the rash yet, but I am hopeful) and we are off!   We follow some signs and our dubious map out of town and end up here:

Can this possibly be correct? Has our map led us astray?  Tune in next time!

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