A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesCochem And The Blue People 2019

Calmly Into Cochem

Ride Date 11 September 2019

By Ren Withnell

Yesterday was horrible. Today according to Google maps there are 70 miles to cover. And we are going to cover those miles because I'm going to use Google maps' nav thingy to get me there, rather than blundering about willy-nilly. Stuff it, sod it all, I give up and I give in. 

We have time. Time, the most precious thing anyone has. We sell our time to employers in exchange for cash to buy things. You can tell someone likes you if they give you their precious time. Time is everything and all we have. When your time is up it matters not your wealth and property. 

We have time this morning to take a stroll around the campsite. As previously noted it has that permanent feeling although there seems to be little sign of life from the various caravans and extensions and sheds and gazebos and decking areas. It seems a lot of effort goes into these pitches and yet there's no-one enjoying the fruits of their labours. I suppose it is Wednesday.

A caravan with additional DIY roof, awning, sheds and outbuildings at CampingPlatz Kohl
Touring caravans that no longer tour.

Around the back and below the site is a field with a simple playground. There's a trampoline. It's been years and years and years since I was on a trampoline and that was only a little thing. This is big and round. 

Sharon takes the first turn. Boing boing boing! Oh dear. She seems to be enjoying herself and regular readers know that will just not do! After several more bounces she's already out of puff. My turn. Boing boing boing! This is fun! Boing boing - dare I go higher? Nope. I am an old man and I'm getting out of breath already. I take a dramatic side bounce to impress Sharon then dismount. I feel wobbly, almost like I remember how being drunk felt. 

Ren is captured mid air looking like he's hovering above the large round trampoline
Bet you didn't know levitation is my superpower.
Sharon laughing and smiling on a swing that is flying high at the campsite playground
Sharon looks far far too happy for my liking.

After Sharon has a little play on the swing we walk on. There's a large white building ahead, it looks industrial. While I can't understand every word it's not hard to work out this was once a hydro-electric power station, one of several if the information board is to be believed. 

A large white building set among trees and a calm small reservoir. The building is stylish and quite old
Modern power stations aren't nearly as stylish.

The steep hills are covered in trees. This pond, lake, river, this body of water is perfectly flat. This is not the "...est" scene I have ever envisioned yet it is comfortably pleasant. More importantly though is this, THIS is how I want our travels to be. I love motorcycling with all my being but I do not want to spend every waking hour on my bike. 

Flat waters mirror the trees and landscape of the small reservoir at Hasenfeld
A short walk set in good surroundings. A good start to the day.

We decamp and hit the road around 1130, which is nice. Sat-nav leads us out of the town. We are certainly in Germany, the houses look, erm, Germanic.

As we climb out the valley along a twisting road I spot a sign. It's a no motorcycling sign with times on it - 2200 to 0600 if I remember correctly. Obviously, clearly and from the noises we heard yesterday, this is a problem. We are idiots with our loud pipes. If we all used quiet pipes then there'd be nothing to moan about and we could get on with having our fun without being mithered. Roll on the electric bikes huh?

It is rather lovely here. The hills aren't big but they're big enough for wiggly roads. Considering just how close we are to the flatlands of The Netherlands this comes as a big contrast and surprise. I wonder if all those screaming engines from yesterday evening were Dutch bikers discovering "hills" and "corners". They don't have such things in The Netherlands.

We join a main road which is flowing well. This is a complete contrast to yesterday. I feel we are moving, getting somewhere and achieving something. The scenery is graceful. There is but one small fly in this delightful soup, a slight hunger.

I have my eyes peeled in search of a suitable purveyor of comestible produce. I spy a building to my right that may be appropriate. The Forstwalder Stube (Forestry Room according to Google translate) looks the ticket. 

A white building with steep roof, tables and chairs outside and even a motorcycle
"Do you think they'll sell us something to eat sweetie?"

Ahhh, right. Yes my German extends to paying for "Eine Nacht" in a campsite and pointing at things then saying "Bitte". It does not understand "Schitzen - Friztzen - Schnikel - GesFlokken - Frikkin... blah blah blah" that is listed on the menu boards. I am it seems way way out of my depth. Oh poop, the lady is staring at me politely, there's a queue forming and Sharon is about as much use as an inflatable dart board.  

I'd seen a couple outside with what looks like a burger on a hard bun. I point outside at their dinner quizzically. Apparently it's a FrikkenShnikkenGrumpleStool or something. Luckily it costs about €4.50 so we're having "zwei" of them " unt zwei te". I hand over the dosh, now I have to work out where the sugar, crockery, cutlery and toilets are.

Our FrikkenShnikkenGrumpleStools (or whatever) are lovely. Sitting here on a lightly overcast but warm dry day is lovely. Knowing sat-nav will get us there is lovely. Sharon concurs, it actually feels like we are now on holiday. This is how we like to travel.

Sharon smiles holding the Germanic burger that is half eaten
That is TWICE she has smiled today. What am I doing wrong?

Back on the road we don't get far before I pull in again. This time to really think, to try to get some clarification. This road is twisty once more and once more each corner has a posted speed limit. Are these advisory? I'm keeping to them best I can but by golly it is rather spoiling the road and boring me. 

The queen of Google (Sharon) comes up with several pages all informing us they are indeed compulsory. As we read this 2 motorcycles whizz by, far far faster than the posted 70kph. But they are compulsory, not advisory or suggestive, compulsory. We continue as per the permitted limits as best as I can but it is a struggle even for a law abiding citizen such as myself.

This feels familiar. Ah yes of course! We are passing the entrance to the famous Nurburgring. After the frustration of the roads we have just ridden it is oh-so-slightly tempting to go and have a play. Then I remember I am too tight to pay. Then I remember if I have a crash recovery can be in excess of £1,000. Then I remember those youtube videos showing all the crashes here. I carry on past the entrance as another tuned up hot-hatch turns in behind me.

Cochem is as I remember it. Busy, touristy, very Germanic looking and quite pretty. I park up to give Sharon and I a moment to take it all in. Motorcycles and riders, old folks dithering about, cars and coaches, shops and bars, cyclists and tour boats, it's all here and going on in Cochem. 

CB500X and Z250SL camping luggage on the main street of Cochem with all the tourists
We are in Cochem!

I reset the nav to take us to the campsite across the river. A junction, a bridge, a corner and a bend. While Germanic roads are not as comfortably familiar as the ones back home I find them to be a smidgen easier to work out, to understand. I'm quite relaxed on the bike today.

The campsite is chaos, a queue of carvans and capervans has formed outside and this is only a Wednesday, I dread to think what it'll be like at the weekend. Luckily our Germanic hosts Laura and Stephan have booked so Sharon gives Laura a call. 

Ah. Erm OK. We're at the wrong campsite. Some confusion over websites and available spaces apparently. Oh crap, don't tell me they're 45 kilometres away in some random hell hole. It's going to go all wrong isn't it.

Sharon manages to extract the word "Schausten" from the bemusing conversation. I enter this word into Google maps and find "Camping Schausten". That's a start. Even better it's only about 2k away, better. It's also on the same road as the campsite I used last time I was here. There is hope!

Sat-nav leads us back into then out of town. As the houses thin a little I spot the tall, strong, lean and long-haired outline of Stephan, waving us into the site. Oh my word. We are here. We have made it. There were a couple of times I doubted we would this week. 

Laura and Stephan don't camp. They say it's because they did so much in their younger years, they've had enough. I suspect they've just got more money to spend and can't be arsed with the hassle. As such they have a very smart wooden pod with double bed, table and chairs and a kettle. They chose this as there is a space next to the pod for our tent. 

It takes some doing to erect the tent. The space is gravelled not grassed and beneath the gravel must be bedrock as my pegs are bouncing. Eventually I find enough gaps and willpower to secure sufficient pegs to hold up the tent. I hope it doesn't get windy otherwise we're doomed.

And relax. 

To be frank we barely know Laura and Stephan. When we met them in Scotland 2 years back we didn't spend hours with them. I know Sharon's been emailing Laura on and off I suppose. There is a risk they could be psychopaths. Or even worse, boring dullards. After an hour chatting and sipping tea outside their pod I am very pleased to report they are perfectly normal and chatty. Phew!

Laura is originally American so her English is good (for an American). Stephan informs us Germans learn English at school, but his English is way better than that. It transpires he read ALL the Tolkien books in English so as not to lose anything in translation. Add to that Laura's American family, work and media I'd say his English is better than mine. Innit.

In fact I notice a few of my word-plays and contextual quips are picked up on by Stephan yet entirely missed by Laura. 

We saunter into Cochem in search of sustenance. After drawn out discussions regarding Teutonic dining, much wandering and stomach rumbling we decide to go native... with Italian. 

A hill, a broad river, tour boats on the river and German houses all at Cochem
It's not a bad little town is Cochem.

The rest of the evening is spent chatting. Sharon and Laura share tales of what it's like to be a lady motorcyclist and the associated hair issues. Stephan and I stick to subjects we understand better like "do you want another brew sweetie?" 


If you'd like to sponsor Bikes And Travels contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue And Excuses It's the whys and the wherefores and the excuses for making this trip. You don't need a reason to travel, but it makes it easier to justify the expense and effort.
The Trouble With France Is It's Chunnel Time and Sharon's made a new friend. Finally in France Ren is finding the going frustratingly slow.
Kicking The Saddlebags Ren is having one of THOSE days. He's a very naughty boy and he needs to take a chill pill. It's them bloody foreigners fault.
Calmly Into Cochem After the previous day's temper tantrum and failure it would be fair to say this day is a better day.
Riding With Friends Cities aren't really Ren's things but with a little local knowledge he can cope. It's the countryside that gets him thinking.
A Long Day And Night A long day on the road then a night out in the town? That'll be two tired travellers then.
Trouble, Tired And Transport There's trouble this morning so it's not the best start. Throw in a grumpy Sharon and a scowling local and you have another day on the road.
Familiarity And Food As the end of the trip draws near the surroundings become familiar. But will the Dynamic Muppets survive without sustenance?
UK And The Epilogue After an early start the Muppets return to good old Blighty where they catch up with BAT reader Ross. Poor Ross, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.

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