Learning to Linger

Door detail. Speyer Cathedral, founded in 1030, one of the most important Romanesque monuments from the Holy Roman Empire.

Sure, it’s possible to cycle 150km in a day, but then I’d be on a bicycle trip, not a Rhine River exploration. Although I’m traveling alone, there is little chance to be lonely in some of Europe’s hotspots in the height of summer. While on a ferry across the Rhine from Karlsruhe, I was invited to join some cyclists on their way to a Biergarten in Speyer. A concept begun in Bavaria to keep beer cool in summer, they are now all across Germany, with attractive gardens, shady chestnut trees, gravel ground, and communal tables for families to drink, eat, and mingle. 

One morning I cycled with two couples through several villages until we found the perfect place to stop for kaffee und kuchen (“coffee and cake”). And there, next to the impressive townhall and downhill from the massive gothic cathedral, we sat for over an hour. Sipping. Watching. Talking. 

Katharinenkirche, Oppenheimer Germany. A town know for its wine, and home to the German Wine Making Museum.

Cycling shorter distances and learning to linger, brings more chance encounters. Enjoying lunch at a riverside table in Eltville, I took a closer look at the large barge quayside. It was not like the cargo vessels I’d seen transporting gravel, liquid fuels or shipping containers (the Rhine is one of the world’s busiest inland waterways, with as many as 300 ships passing this stretch per day). It was emblazoned with the word “SCIENCE” and my even I could understand the banner that read “Meer und Ozean”. 

MS Wissenschaft is a floating, touring science center funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research in partnership with 20 participating research institutes and universities. Exhibits change annually to align with a national theme, this year it is Seas and Oceans. There were plenty of fish tales to share with the crew. 


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