Cherry Tree Trail

Posted by Krista
Neiderheimbach, on the Rhein river, Germany

Picking cherries with Madhubala, in Niederheimbach, on the Rhine river, Germany

Madhubala greets us with smiles, hugs and a bowl of wild strawberries, raspberries and walnuts from the tree from above the favourite place where she sits. Our glasses are filled with water from a 900 year old well in the garden, her family home being on the grounds of a monastery, built around the 1100’s. The walls of the ancient monastery still remain, as does the chapel – in which Madhubala’s delightful 95 and 91 year-old aunts pray with devotion every day.

Madhubala is a friend from Australia who is visiting her family who have lived at this historic site on the river Rheine for many years. We’ve been pedalling quickly to meet her before she leaves for another trip to Portugal.

What a lovely reunion it is! The next day she takes us on a lovely walk up the mountain that backs onto her property, to sample the fruits of all the cherry trees that are growing in abundance here. Some are wild, some cultivated, and all are delicious! The rain catches us, and we shelter under some pine trees until the storm passes.

The day is restful and Dan and I hadn’t realised just how exhausted we were from the last few weeks of cycling. Holland was flat and easy, tho I was suffering from quite a bad cold. Belgium was flat until we took a detour into the Ardennes, and the land suddenly became quite steep! From Luxembourg, we took the Eifel route into Germany, which climbed and dipped all the way to the small village of Bruch where we camped next to a river in the field belonging to the community. The locals were having a barbeque there, in honour of the European Cup football – and a small tv was plugged in to watch Russia vs. Holland. They invited us for food and drinks and were shocked and bemused at our tale of cycling to Tibet. “How can you afford such a trip?” has been the main question that people have been asking us since we arrived in Germany. After a fun evening and a restful sleep we made our way to the Mosel river, which flows through a deep valley. The climb up on the other side was tough and we were rewarded by the offer of a camp spot in a local family’s back garden. The family suggested a nice route for us to take the next day, which follows a well-marked cycle path (or ‘Radweg’ in German!) along the Nahe river and eventually meets the Rhein river. Since hearing that Madhubala will be in Germany at the same time as us, and staying at the Rhein, has inspired us and given us a focus to get here.

In the evening, Madhubala’s brother, Nikolaus, takes us into the historic town of Bacharach. As well as admiring the traditional buildings, castles, churches and old city walls that abound, we also venture into the cellar of the old PostHof, to watch the semi-final of the 2008 European Cup between Germany and Turkey. It’s a nail-biting game, yet Germany clinch it and celebrations shower the surrounds.

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