Cycling the Romantische Strasse
Tuesday, May 18, 1999 to Wednesday, May 19, 1999
Frankfurt Airport to Morfelden
I had decided that since Air Canada Flight 872 to Frankfurt was oversold by about 60 people, I had little chance of getting on the flight. I am an airline employee, and was travelling standby. So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to wait for a later flight out of London, Ontario, so I would not have to wait so long in Toronto before departing. Air Ontario Flight 218, however, was held up by Air Traffic Control. It was about fifty minutes late departing for Toronto, then another airborne hold further delayed the flight. When I arrived in Toronto, my bike was the first item to appear from the aircraft, however, the box with three of my panniers was held up in the luggage conveyance system. Its late arrival delayed me even further.
By the time I arrived at the departure gate for the Frankfurt flight, there were no people left in the lounge. An agent asked me my last name, and proceeded to give me a boarding pass for the business class section. This doesn't happen on a frequent basis for us airline employees, so naturally I was rather elated! Then he spied my bike and box containing my panniers. He indicated that these would not arrive with me. Since it was senseless to start a bike journey without my bike, I elected to wait and take the later flight to Zurich. Here, I would transfer on to a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, arriving well ahead of my cycling partner, Tom Jolliffe, who would be arriving from Toulouse, France.
I carted my bicycle and other belongings down to the Zurich departure gate. I took the bike to the great personnel at special services, where I was told I would have to pay $65 to have the bike shipped. A new Air Canada policy (apparently valid even on overseas flights) dictates bicycles can no longer be considered as one piece of luggage. Through a bit of clever negotiating, the agent agreed to turn a blind eye.
Unfortunately, the Zurich flight started out late - once again Air Traffic Control. After we pushed off the gate, nearly an hour behind schedule, it turned very dark and ominous outside the aircraft. Due to thunderstorms in the Toronto area, the flight was delayed a further hour before it got airborne. I knew now that my connection to Frankfurt would be missed.
The rest of the flight was pretty much uneventful, however, I do not necessarily recommend the exit row on a long flight. After many hours in the air at sub zero temperatures, the emergency exit doors become "cold soaked." And sitting next to one for several hours can get pretty darn cold, even with two blankets. We arrived in Zurich about ten minutes after my flight was to leave for Frankfurt. I waited for the next flight, which would still put me into Frankfurt at the same time as Tom. For the honour of taking my bike with me I was to be charged 50 Swiss Francs, but because I was an airline employee, they reduced the fee by 50%. Some comments about the Zurich airport: there seems to be smoking everywhere, even though they boast over the P.A. system the Zurich is non-smoking airport. The washrooms were excellent, even the stalls are like walking into your own private room, with a full door to close behind you - and yes, they even have ashtrays in the stalls of this "non-smoking" airport. You can probably guess by my sarcasm that I am a non-smoker.
This flight was, yes, you guessed it late again. I arrived in Frankfurt at about 3:45 p.m. Tom's flight was also delayed, and I had time to set up my bike prior to meeting him. Tom showed up at approximately 4:35 p.m.
We put Tom's bike together and proceeded to cycle out of the airport using some excellent instructions given by David Alexander from Edmonton, Alberta. The time was 6:00 p.m., and the temperature was about 17°C, in very light drizzle. After a "disorientation" tour of the town of Zeppelinheim, we finally made our way out of town via a "yellow" class road leading south - Highway B-44. We had actually gone by this road at least twice already, and thought it might lead to the "autobahn," as we were not yet familiar with the German road signs. We decided to investigate it on out third try because it was getting late, and the rain was also making us miserable at this point. After riding down the entrance ramp, I saw other cyclists using the road, so I knew it was O.K. for us. This night we stayed in the small town of Morfelden, about 20 km south of the Frankfurt Airport. The first two inns were booked, and we finally settled on what was the last room in town at Gasthaus Luleys. We had cycled 30.8 km in 1 hour and 53 minutes, for an average speed of 16.2 kph. Not bad when you consider the number of times we had to look at the map. I now highly recommend a map holder that attaches to the handlebars. That alone will save you several hours on a trip like this.
The 40 DM apiece for our accommodations included breakfast in the morning which included coffee, boiled eggs, and various breads and rolls with meat, cheese, and various jams. We also ate dinner here for 20 DM. I had wiener snitzel, french fries, vegetables, salad and a beer for only 20 DM (about $16 CAN).
Our first overnight in Germany - Gasthaus Luley's in Morfelden