Breakfast with Katja – she wakes early every morning, no matter what time she goes to bed. I have porridge oats – and vanilla rooibos tea – Katja ALSO likes vanilla rooibos – meeting someone else who likes it is a first for me! Interestingly, she also has little, unsealed tea bags in which to insert loose tea – then a little metal clip (like a hair clip) is used to ensure the bag doesn’t leak: ingenious.
Katja has decided to escort me out of the city on HER bicycle which is fabulous news and lovely to have company – she even warns me that she’ll be slow – not slower than me, I reassure her. I’ve already discovered the suburbs can go on, and on.
Again I’ve written a list of towns to help me on my way to Bensheim and I’ve given my telephone no. to Lisa.
Following Katja, it was quite gratifying to note that even SHE had a problem navigating with the sat nav on her phone. She didn’t believe it, and had to stop and ask directions a couple times from passers by. She blamed it on the new housing estates – there does seem to be a lot of building and work being done on the infrastructure in Germany. Even the locals can get lost (I thought – smugly).
We got into the back lanes, winding between vineyards again when I cycled gaily into a large puddle – slalomed several times in the slick mud and came off. Rowenna, the bags, me – we were all plastered in slippery clay. I suppose it’s good for the skin. The fall must have been quite amusing to see, but Katja, bless her, was merely concerned that I was OK. She got off and walked her bicycle through the puddle – sensibly.
(As an aside – I saw on Face-ache this morning that Kevin Presland is back from HIS bicycle trip across Europe. They managed to average 80miles a day, including some rather hilly places – like the Pyrenees mountains. AMAZING! think I’m way under half that… in fact I’m not even going to work it out and I feel very tired just thinking about it).
Katja has to leave me to get back in time to prepare for and see a new client at 2pm. It’s lovely to make new friends – especially knitterly ones, and sad to move on. But I might meet Katja and Patrick again, as they’re going to Croatia on a camping holiday at the end of June, beginning of July.
After Katja’s departure I head for Hossdasse station and get lost almost immediately. I had lunch in a place that wasn’t on my list of places to pass through, but I am headed vaguely towards a place that is.
I think I’ve found Ludwigshafen - and stop for a celebratory milkshake made with mango sorbet – mmm. To get here, I have pushed Rowenna through a field, I was that determined not to turn around again and find the right path.
It’s really hot in the midday sun, but I’m hoping that the heap of sugar in the shake will get me past that mid afternoon slump.
What makes navigation so confusing is that all the signs give the name of the area (like Parish, I guess) as well as the name of the actual village. So I don’t get to the actual Ludwigshafen proper until later – but all the surrounding villages/suburbs say Ludwigshafen on their ‘Wilkommen’ signs!
When I get into the city of Ludwigshafen I go around in circles trying to get onto a flyover which leads to a bridge to take me over the Rhine for the fifth and probably the last time this trip. I am then in Mannheim – where I phone Lisa who is expecting me later, to confirm my whereabouts. She tries to help me with directions, but we agree that I should just head North – and if I come to some woods, then I’m headed the right way. Later she texts me with the names of some towns I should pass through – and I was pleased to report that I have not only reached them but passed on and through.
I ride through beautiful beech woods to reach Lorch, and thence to Bennsheim where Lisa told me to head for two church spires. I can only see high rise blocks of flats so turn towards the city from a ringroad, and then Lisa is there – come to meet me on her electric bicycle. Together, we push the bicycles up the hill to her apartment – the top flat of three in a very modern, Architect’s house.
There is a sloping floor to the eaves, opposite the open plan living area. Then off this space there is a bathroom and kitchen. At one end of the flat (the back of the flat, there is a spacious bedroom/work-area with a balcony which overlooks the sunrise and a rural scene which could be in any countryside (no houses, but a slope with a meadow and wooded areas). At the opposite end of the flat is another spacious dining room/library/spinning area with a balcony which overlooks the city and the sunset. The ceilings are the green-oak work of the house, with nooks and crannies. So much light! So much wool/fibre/stash!
Lisa has FOUR wheels (that I could see, anyway). I did a little spinning on a german wheel (called Katarina?), which was so smooth and easy to use, I was filled with envy. Pointless as the maker is an elderly man with a 2 year waiting list and who has no intention of selling any wheels outside Deutschland.
Lisa also had two wee little wheels which looked a little like wee Peggys, but weren’t – they were also German. And a fascinating wheel in a box – it folded out a bit like a charkha – only wheel size with a treadle.
I even managed to phone Steve using Skype tonight. Cheap innit?