Photo Friday: Bill Sowle

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June 4, 2015

Bill, our adventurer stands overlooking the Moselle in Beilstein, Germany high on the parapets of Burg Metternich.

William (Bill) is retired and currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He enjoys skiing, bicycling, kayaking, and traveling in his motor home. He loves history and photography. He
recently spent a month in Germany and France bicycling along the Mosel from Saarburg to Koblenz with a large group from the Phoenix Ski Club, continuing on to visit the World War I battlefields and forts of Verdun. After a brief visit in Paris, the Garden of Monet beckoned and he spent two rainy days in Giverny. The rain enhanced the experience and made for excellent impressionistic style photos.

Here are a couple of our favorites...

After a late night of singing German drinking songs at the weinstube (wine bar) in Mehring, Germany the Moselle River was a tranquil, reflecting vision greeting us for another splendid day of cycling.

Cheverny, France is home to the Chateau of the same name. The grounds with simple elegance made the splendidly furnished interior all the more surprising.

A botanical paradise - April and May provided a delight to the eyes and nose. The blossoms of fruit trees were at the peak everywhere. Pink ones here were along the bike path near Zell on the Moselle River. The raindrops cling to the blue iris in Giverny inspiring Monet in his day - Bill was inspired to spend two days. Most visitors rush back to Paris after an hour or two.

The hot air balloon ride had been postponed four days because of a chance of wind and rain. We had amazing views lifting off from the banks of the Loire River across from Chateau de Chaumont. The good natured pilot of Aero Com, who said they usually wait to have champagne at the end of the one-hour flight, was persuaded to open the bottles at 2000 feet.

Every day swans, as if on cue, would glide across the water somewhere on the journey - this one on the Saar River just before joining the Moselle River in Konz, Germany.

Read on as Bill shares some highlights from his bike and barge trip in Germany and two bike tours in the Heart of Cheverny and Alsace!

The Heart of Cheverny and the Heart of Alsace allowed me the opportunity to stay in excellent accommodations with day trips into the countryside. Having a home base to return to after each day’s bicycling worked perfectly. One morning’s rain meant he could start a little later and still have a great day on the trails, which by the way were generally paved, smooth and well signed. In the few cases where they were not, the gravel path was well maintained. There were only a few kilometers that were on main roads, but the few drivers that did come along all safely move over.

Bicycle trail along the Moselle

The Cheverny region, in the Valley of the Loire River, is filled with enough Chateaus to fill a month of bicycling. Hotel Chateau du Breuil, my home for the week, was splendid. Breakfasts and dinners were included and fit for a king.

Hotel Chateau du Breuil where I felt like a king

The town of Cheverny was four kilometers away and Chateau de Cheverny, was not the largest but was the most beautifully furnished of all the five Chateaus I visited.

Sumptuous bedroom in Chateau de Cheverny

Each leg of my journey was by train, which always ran on time. Buying the ticket for the next departure when arriving at the train station worked out great. A new bike and maps waited at each of my hotels.

Strasbourg, France was another beautiful large city that I had time to explore with an extra day before going one train stop south to the small village of Osthouse, France in the Heart of Alsace. This region is in the Rhine River Valley, which has gone from French to German hands many times over the centuries. I loved to say “bonjour” to everyone I passed walking or biking. By the way, at one point I began to notice that when one says “bonjour” it is like they are sending you a kiss. I do speak some German but it was unnecessary because most of the time everyone knew enough English for me to order the important things: Wine, beer, coffee and cake.

When you visit Chateau de Cheverny - a gold serving tray of course

Hotel a la Ferme in Osthouse was a converted farmhouse. Well the conversion was fantastic - a great ending to a fabulous month, food and accommodations superior in every way. My longest bicycle day of 68 kilometers was in this region. Farms, picturesque villages, waterways, lakes and streams were as plentiful here as in the Cheverny.

The heart of a farm village - splendid Hotel a la Ferme - wonderful staff and sumptuous meals.

The advantages of traveling alone, as I did for the last three weeks of my traveling, let me decide what to do and where to go. The several times I did get lost I invariably discovered or saw something amazing. Once a fox was as startled as I and jumped at least five feet in the air – I mean the fox jumped.

Trails and water - a great combination - Rhone-Rhine Canal just east of Osthouse, France

My next trip with Tripsite may be with a traveling companion - the places were that romantic. But to insure a happy trip I will let her decide where we go.
-Bill Sowle

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