“Campingplatz?” I asked a couple of German touring cyclists on the outskirts of Mainz. They weren’t sure but said “if you perhaps go through the zentrum past the Theodor Husse Bridge for 15 Kilometers ”
We spotted the Internationaler Campingplatz Maaraue on the opposite side of the Rhine to central Mainz. Just as we were entering the red zone. It had been a tough day on the bike. At times the path went from tarmac, to gravel, to goat track and back again. Hot, windy, open country added to the challenge as we moved away from the Rhine into farmland and orchards.
After setting up camp amidst a mixed group of other cycling tourists, we decided on a rest day. We needed time to sort some things out: Therese was having difficulty with her German mobile provider and I had run out of cooking gas. We have been living on fresh fruit and sandwiches, as most of the campgrounds don’t have cooking facilities. We sat in the park making a shopping and to do list for our rest day and watched acres of white German flesh laid out on deck chairs turn pink in the afternoon sun. Summer has arrived!
It was around 4am when I woke to thunder and lightning. A fierce storm swept through Mainz and seemed to be centered right above us. The air was electric! I love a good storm. I got up and took our dry washing off the bikes and put the bikes under the shelter behind our tent and when the accompanying heavy rain pelted down we remained dry in our tent.
Mainz Cathedral, or St. Martin’s Cathedral, is located near the historical centre and market square of the city of Mainz. This 1000 year-old Roman Catholic cathedral is set in the marketplatz. As we walked the warm cobblestoned streets full of market stalls and early morning shoppers, the atmosphere was relaxed and communal. We sampled the cantaloupe, cheeses, olives and breads. We stocked up on fresh, local food for tonight and Sunday, as the shops are closed here on a Sunday.
I picked up 2 canisters of gas for my pocket rocket stove from a camping store (Wow that means a hot meal tonight!), Therese sorted out the mobile phone issues, we loaded up with groceries and visited the museum (Gothenburg printing Museum) and cathedral. A great day in beautiful Mainz.
Back at camp, I had a lazy afternoon servicing the bikes and chatting with other cyclists. Angus, a 22 year old guy from Tassie was on a break from uni with his German girlfriend and heading to Oslo to do some bush walking. He didn’t need his cooking gas and gave it to me. So now I’m literally cooking with gas! I have enough now to make it all the way to Switzerland to see our son Gus.
Therese and I got chatting with Anka and Jakob aged 73 and 76 respectively, who have arrived in camp after cycling through Italy and across the Alps on their way back to Holland! They shared some maps with us and said they started cycle touring 25 years ago and have travelled extensively across Europe together. It’s so refreshing and inspiring, in Europe, most of the cycle tourists we meet are older folk.
I believe that life is full of small pleasures; simple things. Watching Anka boil rice on her portable stove for a spartan evening meal at the end of a long day on the road, fills me full of happiness.