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Beer and Princesses... Or Breweries and Castles ! CBC1601

Sunday, August 28, 2016 | Wim Doms | Europe

Breweries and Castles 2016... Epilogue

What happens when you bring together a group of Aussies (learning a Belgian how to actually spell that), Americans and a German and a Belgian tour guide? You end up with a wonderful combination to go on a bike ride through some of the less known but very impressive European countryside in Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. (Oh, and about 35 minutes of Switzerland).
And most of all, you end up with a lot of FUN! Whether it is just fooling around in front of a camera... Right Paul?
... trying to be more impressive than a huge big statue... Right John?
... getting ready for a bright sunny day on the bike, right Bruce?
... checking out a new little holiday cottage, right Hugo?
... tryng to overbluff brother in selfiesmiles, right Richard?
... or closing the lines on inconquerable Battleship Galactica. Steady as she goes, but she sure did go, right Rhonda and Bruce?
... or, well, just simply meeting a little puppy, right Marlene and Paul?
Fun it was! Cheers to you all and see you on a next Edelweiss tour!
Oh... But one last thing: fair enough, it probably really was the moon... But where is Uranus then? Oh well...

Day 11 - Cochem to Mainz... Bye bye Breweries and Castles

One very last riding day to go and we are back in Mainz, where it all started 12 days ago... Let's make it a nice and easy outro to a wonderful tour, and avoid riding into the city in late afternoon when temperatures now are really going bananas. Still time for a few nice stops though: Deutsche Eck (of the German Corner), where Rhine and Mosel meet, is renowned for its very discreet little statue of Kaiser Wilhelm.
Further down the Rhine in Sankt Goar, a ferry took us back across the river, just like it had all started on day 1.
One last view on the Rhine from high up at Loreley.
And upon arrival back in Mainz, the second vintage car rally of this tour was on!
Once we managed to get petrolhead Wim away from near the old cars, the whole group got together for a very nice farewell dinner, while temperatures in the air went even higher up than those of the nicely grilled steaks on the plates... Phew, Breweries, Saunas and Castles comes to a well deserved end!

Day 10 - Erpeldange to Cochem

Second to last riding day... Proper heat wave now! 35 degrees Celcius and rising. Tour guide's Wim turn to find a nice little spot for a second picnic! One criterium and one criterium only was important: shade please! Mission accomplished.
Well... Shade, and some nice food obviously. Judging by the speed at which Richard tucked in, that seemed to be the case.
Final destination of the day: the pretty little town of Cochem, on the banks of the river Mosel. Usually already quite busy, this time in a complete frenzy because of the Weinfest programmed for the weekend!
And how did you think our group reacted to that? When in Cochem, do as the Cochemers (?) do and go join the party!

Day 9 - Dinant to Erpeldange (ask a Luxemburger how to pronounce that)

Being in his back yard, tour guide Wim knew some places off the beaten track to take the riding group today. He made a little extension loop in the morning, when it was still nice and cool, to go and see Fourneau Saint Michel, and old iron foundry village hidden away in a small forgotten valley of the Ardennes.
The hundreds of years old hostel is still used as a café and restaurant today. And since the owner was already in this early, it made for a great first coffee stop. (And strong coffee was needed this morning to help take care of the extensive quality control of Belgian brews from yesterday night...)
Seems like even hundreds of years ago, people already used Schuberth helmets when guiding Edelweiss horseback tours...
The iron works haven't been running for ages, but the open air museum still gives a pretty nice idea of how it must have been back then.
On it went to the buzzing little town of La Roche en Ardenne. Tour guide Wim's regular stop on a sunday afternoon ride on his bike. Very nice to actually bring a group of Ozzies and Americans to one of his regular stopovers.
Credits to John for capturing the typical view of La Roche and its old fortress. He is a Belgian citizen of honour now.
Being in the heart of a region loaden with World War 2 history, and having a few Band of Brothers-fans on the tour, Wim stopped at this cute little chapel on the road from La Roche to Bastogne. Not a tourist-location by any means, but a great view "behind the scenes" on the area where the Batlle of the Bulge made for a legendary episode in recent history.
Just as he did back in Verdun, Paul once again stepped up high to overlook the battlefield in distinguished fashion.
Brother Richard also overlooks battlefields. In rather less distinguished fashion.
Time to get some lunch, and we found a very nice one in the picture perfect Luxembourg town of Clervaux. And look at those blue skies... Getting hot again!
This tour still has "castles" in the name, right? So Vianden was one of the perfect picture stops to live up to the theme.
Bruce figured the moment should be captured for history as well.
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Filesize: 37 MB
Last bit of riding to make it into the hotel in Erpeldange a little bit early, and get out of the "scorchio!" temperatures before they really got off the scale again. Great riding today guys!
Getting to the hotel a bit early gives you the chance to go and explore the region a little bit. And to be honest: Erpeldange may not be the place you think of first to go and spend some time, but it sure has some things going for it. The road less travelled is often a surprise. Sleep tight Luxembourg countryside, tomorrow we are heading back to our start country Germany.

Day 8 - Reims to Dinant. That homecoming feeling...

What a special day today for tour guide Wim. Very first time on an Edelweiss tour where he actually goes... Home! Towards Belgium! But first, the riders and tour guide Axel seemed to have taken a wrong turn to a couple of hundred years ago...
But sure enough... It didn't take long after that for this to happen... Maybe not the lightest lunch ever experienced, but it sure got the tummy working! Frites mayonaise! Not food in Belgium, but a religion!
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Filesize: 39 MB
Let's go video! Not a bad ride into one of the smaller countries in Europe, huh?
But then, when arriving in Dinant, what is all that? The van hidden away in the bottom of the parking lot. A bootbeer, but with half a semi-picnic going on? People we don't know yet? A cute golden retriever called Bo?
We had visitors on tour! Tour guide Wim's mom Viviane and her good friend Jeannot came over to prepare an apéritif bootbeer with a selection of Belgian homemade delicacies! (Oh, and the very best meatballs in the whole world! Made a Belgian tour guide feel right at home on tour!). Thanks so much mom, you're the best!
And while tour guide Axel and Bo get stuck into some very serious conversation, we say good night, and see you tomorrow for our ride into Luxembourg!

Day 7 - Hot restday riding in Champagne country. Oh, and dogs!

Captain Dan and first officer Rhonda of battleship galactica preferred to hang around in Reims and go visit the cathedral with tour guide Axel. But all other bikers came with tour guide Wim for a few little loops south and north of Reims. In the homeland of champagne, no surprise to see that were vineyards around. Lots of them!
Maisons de Champagne are simply everywhere. Seems every family here makes their very own bubbly!
And then, in the cute little town of Fismes, the group stumbled apon a rather impressing bar man serving drinks!
Marlene and Paul went for the proper selfie experience. What a beast! (in the middle, we mean)
Town itself wasn't exactly bad looking either. Please note that town hall doesn't have a leaning tower like Pisa in Italy. That was just our cameraman melting in the heat.
And on the ride back towards Reims, the theme of the day seemed to be dogs! By a very pretty lake, John met a beautiful blonde girl.
She was just hanging out, having a nice little dip in the lake and then going sunbathing. What a life! We just don't have the slightest clue who she belonged to.
And as temperatures started to go off the scales (summer has finally started in Europe!), we enjoyed a last view over the wonderful lake, and decided to make an early return to Reims to go and find a refreshing swimming pool on a hot afternoon. Nice little ride, and tomorrow we're off to Belgium, tour guide Wim's home country! We get a feeling there may be a little surprise on by the end of the day...

Riding day 6 - Nancy to Reims, la Douce France

Time to go and see some of the real French countryside today. A little group picture in Nancy, and on our way we went!
First stop? Well, somewhere with a nice view would do nice, don't you think? So what is that hill sticking out of the Lorraine region landscape?
It's this place... La butte de Montsec. And yes, it may take a bit of zooming in, but our group is actually in this picture... Somewhere far down below.
Once up there though, you can see what the view was all about...
An impressive monument remembering all the lost American lives during the first World War in this very area...
And when we say view, we really mean view... Right down from the monument on Lac de Madine.
Here's commander Paul overlooking the battlefield in a very distinguished fashion.
One stop further: time for a coffee in the historic town center of Verdun.
And then just a couple of minutes up the road, this place turns up: the impressive ossuaire (which translates into bone-house) of Verdun, where the remains and skeletons of many tens of thousands of soldiers are put to eternal rest... Makes you think and reflect about a truly insane period in history....
The ride in made for some pretty decent roads, have to say...
Dan and Rhonda closing the line as usual, and with Geman precision, we might add.
Impressive monument...
... but even more impressive is the immense graveyard out front...
... showing how Muslims and Catholics all came together here once to make the ultimate sacrifice. Makes you step back and think a little, doesn't it? A wonderful, beautiful place full of remembering, outside Verdun.
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande were here not long ago to contemplate on the exact same thing. N'oublions jamais, or "let us never forget".
And then, after riding through an American cemetary actually big enough to have the whole road running through it...
... the group ended up in someone's back yard!? Yup, tour guide Axel knows a Dutchman in the tiny little village of Romagne who has dedicated his life to a little but very storytelling museum about the true stories behind World War one. (And, well, to making some pretty delicious sandwiches for lunch too)
Furher down the road it went after that, and after some pretty delicious riding roads, the group made it to the busy city center of Reims. Home of champagne, and the ideal place for a rest day tomorrow allowing everyone to do their own thing. There might still be a bit of nice riding involved though... Watch this space!

Riding day 5 - Rothaus to Nancy... bienvenue en France!

Time for a major change in atmosphere and surroundings on our tour today. Leaving quiet tucked away Rothaus in the Black Forest and setting course to the buzzing French city of Nancy. From German to French, from big forests to a big city, and from rustic German dinners to fine French dining. Axel explains all about it during morning briefing.
First up: a morning of splendid riding through the Schwarzwald, starting off with the beautiful views over Sluchtsee.
Then some threatening skies were overhead, but we chased the rain away and kept it nice and dry all the way to France.
Speaking of France, tour guide Wim took big momma to a little pre-taster of what the bikes will ride through tomorrow: countryside full of history of the old world wars. Here at La Chipotte, sadly also known as the Pass of Death, or Col de la Mort, since it was one of the most bloody scenes in the first world war.
Peaceful memorials and a proud French flag are all that remains now.
After arriving in Nancy (and team USA even did that all by themselves, after an adventure involving motorway turnoffs, gas stations, kids on the back of Harleys and passengers guarding pushbikes... Long story , dinner was set in probably one of the most beautiful town squares in the whole of France: Place Stanislas sure made an impression!
We have a small and a big brother Curby on this tour, and it actually shows in their desserts too!
Just before leaving after dinner, Place Stanislas had a little surprise for us: light-spectacle coming up! Well... Might as well stay a little longer then, have a little cleansing ale and see what's up.
Simply... fantastique! Merci beaucoup Nancy, that was a perect nightcap. See you all tomorrow for our trip to Reims... Champagne-time!

Day 4 - Nice little restday ride around Rothaus

Leaving the hotel on restday time (meaning: after we all had a little sleep-in), it wasn't only bikes setting off for a ride. Also a vintage car rally was in town. Tour guide wim, with his love for everything old on wheels (a bit like himself, come to think of it), was in petrolhead heaven!
Tour guide Axel then found an actual stretch of gravel road in the north of Switzerland, where you get a wonderful view on the Alps in the distance.
Could sit there for hours and just enjoy the silence...
Time to move on to Schaffhausen. Home of many swiss watchmakers. And also to the Rhine waterfalls. No other waterfall in Europe sees more volume of water going down than this one. And hardly any see more tourists wandering around either...
Still found a nice spot to grab an expensive Swiss coffee though... After that, the water wasn't just in the Rhine anymore, but started falling out of the sky as well. So after a bit of a wet ride, and possibly the slowest German panini and sandwich maker ever, everybody made it back to Rothaus for a quiet rest day afternoon. Tomorrow: further west through beautiful Schwarzwald and into France!

Riding day 3 - Ehingen to Rothaus

All the brewing (and scientific quality control of the end product) from last night didn't keep us from an early start in the morning. First stop? The convent of Zwiefalten! The pastry from the bakery right at the entrance impressed even more!
The interior of the church was clearly done by an architect who liked minimalism...
Good thing the painter of the ceilings thought the same thing... Wow!
The camouflaged fountain of Zwiefalten. We parked the bikes just next to it before they turned it on. Could have been the blooper of the tour!
Next stop: Sigmaringen. One of the largest and most impressive castles along the Danube river. Hugo is thinking he wouldn't mind a little holiday house like this.
And in the same town, tour guide Wim found some other old things that were well worth a look... Zündapp! Legendary German motorcycles, and the owner of the brewery in Sigmaringen has let his love for them get a little out of hand...
... see what we mean?
Splendid collection... And this one of the very last. Built in the eighties and never ridden, still in brand new condition. Every biker kind of wants one...
All that dreaming got us pretty hungry. Chef Axel had seen to that, and on a perfect spot on the banks of the Danube we found the first Edelweiss picnic of the tour. Thanks Axel, was absolutely delicious!
Hugo and the Curby Brothers (sounds like a cool sixties rockband!) liked what they found for lunch.
Yesterday we got to see how a small family owned brewery works... today at Rothaus it was time to see how it all looks on a bigger, industrial scale. Rothaus Brewery made for an impressive view behind the scenes...
Hmm... something nice is brewing in there. Some new quality control may be in order at dinner...

Riding day 2 - Rothenburg to Ehingen

Hey... what's that for a start of a riding day? Gorgeous gardens?
Yup... and they belong to this place... a castle (still no princesses though)... Langenburg made for a picture perfect first stop of the day.
A bit further down the road, the group made it to Braunsbach. This cute little town was hit very seriously by floods during a terrible thunderstorm in spring. Still rebuilding, but it will be restored entirely to its former glory. People versus climate... an impressive sight...
Hardly 10 minutes down the road, another impressive sight: one of Germany's most awe-inspiring constructions: the highest up Autobahn viaduct in the country... what a sight!
Hugo was so impressed that he actually fell down in wonder...
But hey, he did get the best possible angle for a picture. Is there such a thing as reverse-vertigo?
Arriving in Ehingen in the afternoon, we got to try out our raingear for the very first time. Waterproof? Check!
Well, better get out of the rain then, we thought. And since there wasn't any castle at hand, we decided to find shelter in... A brewery!

Riding day 1 - Mainz to Rothenburg

Ready to go! Always exciting: morning briefing on the very first riding day. Tour guide Axel figured he might as well gather his troops in a nice park setting.
Everyone listening carefully... But you can feel that there's only one thing to do now...
... and that is getting the bikes out of the garage. Here's Paul on his GS looking all vintage and stylish in his leather jacket.
And Dan and Rhonda setting off on battleship Galactica. Have a good first riding day guys!
Hardly an hour into the tour, and Axel brought everyone here: the impressive ruins of Frankenstein castle. Not sure if it has anything to do with the Frankenstein monster, but a great place for a first little picture stop for sure!
Not actually a castle anymore today, but you can still see how impressive it once was.
And has to be said: those castle architects had an eye for a nice view here and there... That's the city of Frankfurt out there in the distance.
On it went. Here goes Axel, leading Paul and Marlene on their 1200RT out of Frankenstein and on to the wonderful roads of the German countryside.
Speaking of wonderful roads... in the meantime Wim, even being in "big momma" the luggage van today, got into one of those tour guide habits they just can't get out of. No busy motorway, he decided, but the quiet backroads straight through Odenwald.
Throw in a background of rolling green fields and some sunflowers here and there, and even a big van can start to look pretty picture perfect.
In the mean time, tour guide Axel took his group of riders to this amazing place: the age old convent of Schontal... beats the view of a van in the countryside, doesn't it?
And here's the group, arriving at the first day's final destination: the medieval town of Rothenburg. Cobblestones, narrow alleys, old city walls and gates... What a historic setting to accomodate seven rumbling and growling motorbikes.
And then just as the sun was setting on the old buildings and streets, tour guides Axel and Wim wanted to introduce our guests to someone rather special...
Meet Georg, the official Nachtwachter, or night watchman, of the city of Rothenburg. Still dressed as he was 400 years ago, rumoured to be immortal, but most importantly: explaining about the long and dramatic history of the town like nobody else can. Many people came to listen to his captivating stories...
The night watchmen even seem to have magical powers to bring out a glorious full moon just at the right time... Mysterious they are...
And then Rothenburg gave us a magical good-night-salute with this simply amazing view... Sleep well everyone, see you tomorrow for more Breweries and Castles!

Arrival Day - Mainz, Germany

In a city like Mainz, where even railway bridges have a sort of vintage look about them, a bunch of very nice people from the United States and Australia gathered to start a very interesting tour. Over the next eleven days, we will go out and visit more breweries, see more castles and sample more different beers than you could imagine in a lifetime. All ready and set to get out on the road tomorrow!
But first, time to get the formalities done and have a welcome briefing. Done by a German and a Belgian tour guide... We think there may be quite a bit of discussions about who makes the best beer coming up in this tour... (It's the Belgians, by the way
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Rhonda Schrandt
Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 15:35

Paul, Marlene, Paul, Richard, John, Bruce, Hugo, Wim, & Axel,
Dan & I really enjoyed our "holiday", meeting all of you, we hope to have life long friends. Keep in touch! Regards from the battleship, Cheers!!!
Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 20:39

All the ships, including the smaller "vessels" and the wrecked ones, are safely back in their harbour in Mieming, waiting for their next cruise. Every time I ride up to Frankenstein, I will remember this hot tour. Stay cool!
Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 23:37

And the "wrecked" riders made it home safely too. Still licking our wounds but none the worse for wear! Couldn't agree more with Rhonda - lots of good memories (or maybe I should say unforgettable times . . .). Hope everyone is recovered from their travels by now. I do not envy the Aussies and their long trek home. Thanks, everyone, for the memories!
Wim Doms
Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 22:37

Hey Rhonda!

Thank you for those very kind words! Had a great time on the road. Happy to be back home in Belgium once again in the mean time. Wish you the same safe trip home, and see you next time!

Saturday, August 20, 2016 at 21:03

Hi Bruce,
How wonderful to see you came over again for some more motocycle riding.
I wish you great rides on the Breweries and Castles Tour. Have fun
Greetings from the Grand Alps, which has just started today.
Claudia Wenhart
Friday, August 19, 2016 at 00:54

Hello Bruce,
nice to see you again on one of our tours. Have fun with Wim and Axel and drink some good beers.
See you
Monday, August 22, 2016 at 17:58

Hi Claudia

Thanks for the well wishes and yes we have tried a few of the beers, Wim tells me the best is yet to come, when we get to Belgium?


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