Wintrich to Zell (Sunday 24th)

Slept pretty good, although it was very wet. The people running the campsite were kind. We set off mid morning with the sounds of rally cars echoing round the valley. Dumb fucks.

Initially it was cold. We stopped at a guest house and persuaded them to make us breakfast. We were treated to a grand feast. No photos as we wolfed down the nosh.

Today it was my turn to get the shakes. We stopped for wine, coffee and cake (Paul just had a beer). I had a wild sweet red Riesling and a cherry cheesecake. The road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom indeed.

The day then turned into perfect cycling weather. Sunny but not oppressively warm.

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We crossed the bridge at Traben and continued to Zell, a sleepy little town. We set up right next to the river, had a slowly served dinner in town. Tomorrow, a rest day. So far we’ve covered 260 miles.

Trier to Winterich (Saturday 23rd)

You know how I said that the campsite was quiet? Well, I was wrong. Dickhead students playing inept techno until some mensch went and shouted at them.

We went into town for breakfast and found a fantastic place near the Porta Negra.

Mein frühstuck:

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Also saw the Porta Negra. Need to look up on Wikipedia what it is. The world rally championship is in town – something I now don’t give a flying fuck about. An impotent celebration of phallic technology.

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Porta Negra

We rode out of Trier and stopped pretty soon after for lunch. I had a pint of some wheat beer and felt pretty full. We continued down the Mosel, meandering like the banks.

Paul then claimed he had the shakes from a sugar low so we stopped for Apple Strudel and coffee. I think at that point we had done 13 miles. Very poor. It was around 4pm and we decided to man up and push on past Neumagen. Just before we got into Winterich the skies opened. A biblical quantity of water fell. I attempted to shelter under a footbridge and nearly slid down a bank. I was already to spring for a room in a guest house but Paul persuaded me to keep the faith.

We eventually found a campsite which was full but we have been allowed to camp in the front garden. We had a nice meal of Flammkuchen, a sort of pizza and I switched to wine – a wonderfully sweet Riesling. It’s rained on and off – I’m cold and sleeping in two layers of clothes under a one season sleeping bag.

Malling to Trier (Friday 22nd)

Not going to write a vast amount but we did about 35 miles today. We have been averaging about 40 to 50. The weather was not great – overcast but it never rained. We struggled with tipping culture. Again the Moselle/Mosel was a mixture of gorgeous and grotty.

We are on a campsite full of rally fans. This being Germany it’s 10pm as I write this and it’s so quiet you could hear a flea fart.

No photos as phone was in bag today.

Metz to Malling (Thursday 21st)

Spent the morning in McDonald’s using the Wi-Fi. No nice pâtisserie in this one. We then tried leaving Metz, which was quite difficult as the signage was poor.

We finally found a good cycle path by the Moselle and followed it through both charming woodland and bleak industrial wasteland (that sentence is overcooking the latter, but writers have a way with the truth).

We found a municipal campsite in Malling. It appeared cheap and quiet. We rounded a bend to find awful techno being blasted out. There was a down at heel bar with assorted crying children and beer swigging adults (a bit like Hogarth’s Gin Lane.

Undeterred we ordered a beer and proceeded to be blasted. After retreating and putting up our tents we discussed our food options. Eat at techno bar, go to restaurant or find supermarket. The second option won and off we went following Paul’s GPS. Of course, being France all the restaurants were closed for holidays. How the country works is beyond me.

We headed back to Techno bar, with Paul abandoning political correctness by describing it as ‘pikey’. We ordered salads and the music turned down. Some kids were playing football and Paul joined in.

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“These are my people,” he said. They were Dutch and had there own businesses there.

Metz: smalls washing and culture (Wednesday 20th)

A cool start to the morning which quickly changed into pleasant sunnyness. Took advantage to wash my cycle short inserts (any opportunity is the rule of the road). Paul and I drifted into the centre late morning and were quickly won over by the charming old town. We found a small restaurant that didn’t look like a tourist trap and had a delicious piece of beef.

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The potatoes had been roasted with tomato, turmeric and cumin.

Round the corner was the Musée des Beaux Arts which was combined with the museum of Metz history. Apparently Attila the Hun passed this way and trashed the place. I was in seventh heaven.

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Statuette of Mercury

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Henri Le Sidaner – Les Îles Borromée

I had a nap as there was a lot to see. Paul had cake and raspberry flavour jaffa cakes. We’re back at the campsite awaiting roast chicken and chips.

Nancy to Metz (Tuesday 19th)

A good night’s sleep at the hostel although I could have done with a few hours more. We had a communal breakfast consisting of baguette, jam and coffee. There were some friendly, helpful people there who suggested trying the hostels at Metz also. One of them said that I had a good accent. Shame about the grammar.

We went to McDonald’s, where they had a patisserie, ostensibly to use the Wi-Fi. Yesterday’s post is courtesy of them. One major corporation you can rely on. Unless you’re a pair of bull’s knackers.

We left Nancy with the canal on one side of us and the Moselle on the other. Directions and cycled paths soon petered out and we ended up joining a minor road. We stopped off for a good lunch at €12 a head then continued until about 20km outside of Metz where we picked up a wonderful cycle path. I think I must have bored Paul with saying, “this is wonderful” and “spectacular” as he then said, “this bit reminds me of Wimbledon Common.” I told him he had shattered the dream for me. We carried on.

About 10km out we came upon Jouy-aux-Arches:

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“It must be a folly,” I barked, knowledgeably.
“It says here that the Romans built it in the 2nd century,” said Paul, reading from a signpost.
“Well, it’s been kept in good shape.”
We rolled into Metz about 4:30, having covered a little shy of 50 miles. I managed to get my tent up just before it started raining but it soon eased of. Rotisserie chicken, beer and a sunset followed.

Tomorrow: Culture day in Metz.

Épinal to Nancy (Monday 18th)

My first night camping since a bushcraft weekend where I pulled apart a pigeon and a rabbit with my bare hands. Nice campsite with a good little restaurant attached. We struck out amidst gloomy weather, the German children on the neighbouring pitch complaining about having to ride.

We followed the Canal de l’Est towpath. Well tarmaced. Paul explained his philosophy of life: executive drifting. He works solidly as a sparks in Seattle for 7 months and then takes 5 months off. Perhaps too extreme for me but I like the idea of downsizing and having less, especially after being let down by shithead electronic companies who insist you upgrade your shit every two years.

We stayed at a youth hostel in Nancy in an old Chateau for €17 a night. Dinner in Nancy was in the spectacular main square.

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The view from our table:

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Dinner was a spectacular looking but mediocre risotto:

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Seriously, I can make better.