After several postponements of our planned European Adventure due to COVID-19, we were fortunately able to travel through Europe during a lull in the COVID outbreak this past fall. For 11 wonderful weeks, we enjoyed delightful cycle excursions through the countryside, visits to local cultural attractions and of course, the wonderful food and local markets.
During our tour, we visited a variety of towns and small cities in Eastern Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. We spent many days cycling through the German Countryside, along the Danube and Seine Rivers, around Lake Constance and through the Camargue and the vineyards of Bordeaux.
We also had a couple wonderful days cycling in Paris which has become an exceptionally bike friendly city. Not including the short jaunts around town, we rode for more than 1,000 miles during the course of our adventure.
Because of COVID, we avoided package cycle tours and hotels. Instead, we booked vacation apartments through Airbnb. It turned out to be an ideal way to see Europe. Rather than needing to change locations every day, we had the time to explore each of the towns on our itinerary in more depth, while still having the opportunity to take long rides into the countryside.
As we did not want to have to rent bikes in each town, we ended up buying a couple of Brompton six-speed cycles. To our surprise, they not only facilitated our ability to travel from town to town by train, but were an absolute joy to ride. While we were unable to match the speed of the seniors on electric bikes or the young adults on road bikes, we had no trouble cycling between 50-75 kilometers a day. And keeping up with the 6-year-olds was no problem at all.
And that was possibly one of the most pleasing discoveries of visiting Europe this fall. Cyclists of all ages are everywhere. In the towns, through the countryside, along the rivers and lakes. Families, seniors and young adults. It is exceptionally easy and safe to travel by bicycle through the parts of Europe that we visited.
We were also impressed at how easy it was to use our bikes in combination with public transit. On multiple occasions we took advantage of trains, trams and buses in order to visit more distant sites and/or avoid “out & back” rides. This allowed us to cover longer stretches of the Danube and Seine rivers.
And the other great discovery for us was that it is not just in the large cities that one finds incredible museums and cultural attractions. While we spent between five and seven days at each location, there was always more to see than we could possibly fit in.
The hardest part of returning home was finding that we had to drive again. It was such a total joy being able to go where ever we wanted via public transit or cycle.
About the presenters
Mark Cohen and Kate Titus met at a dance camp in Mexico. After losing her home in one of the large California fires, Kate moved to Bainbridge Island where Mark has lived for many years. Mark had lived in Berlin in the 1970s and Kate grew up in France, so it was a wonderful way to get to explore their adopted countries. Both have worked in a variety of fields.
Currently they are both semi-retired: Kate continues to teach Pilates while Mark teaches Kayaking and Chess on Bainbridge Island.
This is their second joint European adventure. The first one included a two-week boat-and-bike trip through Northern France and Southern Belgium which was both absolutely delightful and a bit frustrating. Delightful as it allowed one to cycle each day over a new stretch of countryside while returning each night to your floating hotel. Frustrating because each day/night you found yourself in a new town.
Mark and Kate spend many days each year cycling the Olympic Discovery Trail as well as trips to other regional cycle trails. They are also active kayakers and hikers.
About the presentations
Traveler’s Journal, a presentation of the Peninsula Trails Coalition, raises funds to buy project supplies and food for volunteers working on Olympic Discovery Trail projects. Shows start at 7 p.m. at the Dungeness River Nature Center, 2099 W. Hendrickson Road. Suggested donation is $5 for adults. To protect speakers and others, attendees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the presentations; have vaccination cards available at the door. For more information, email Arvo Johnson at email@example.com.
2022 Traveler’s Journal
When: 7 p.m., Thursday, April 7 (door open at 6:30 p.m.)
Presenters: Mark Cohen and Kate Titus
Presentation: “Traveling Through Europe by Cycle & Train”
Where: Dungeness River Nature Center, 2099 W. Hendrickson Road
Cost: Suggested $5 donation