Last summer was my first cycling trip to Germany. I had been to Germany before but only to a couple of cities: I was in Frankfurt for work a couple of times, when I was about twenty I went to Munich for Oktoberfest and I had spent a couple of days in Berlin when I rendezvoused with a friend for a long weekend. However, I think that a lot of what makes Germany so charming is its countryside and its nature. Unlike other countries in Europe, like France for example, Germany wasn’t unified until the end of the 19th century and so for much of its history medium-sized rivalled one another in art, architecture and music.
To experience German culture, in other words, one can’t simply go to the capital, but rather one needs to travel round and see all the different cultures and what makes them different to all the others (though I suppose that could probably be said on any country in the world).
It’s no secret that the stereotypical German spends a lot of time outdoors, which means that there’s amazing infrastructure all over the country for hiking and cycling. It might be a little bit cliché but I chose a river cycling trip along Germany famous and almost mystical Rhine for my first trip to ‘proper’ Germany.
The river is home to many ancient German legends and was a long-long source of inspiration for Romantic composer Richard Wagner. I listened to some Wagner on the cycling trip and although I’ve never been much for opera I could appreciate the music in its spiritual homeland.
The Rhine itself flows through subtle hills and along vineyards with castles keeping watch every couple of hills. Although it varies like anywhere else, the weather along the river when I was there was perfect: sunny and not too hot. (If you’re going to go I recommend going in September or early October when there are fewer tourists and the weather is a bit cooler; the same is true of May but May is often a very rainy month throughout the region).
For an easy but fairytale like experience, I can’t think of anything more inspiring than the Rhine and I’m hoping to get back there sometime soon.