An 8am disembarkation at the Hook of Holland and straight into an early morning initiative test. There are four train changes between here and Schiedam and first we have to find the station. But what is this? A bus going to Schiedam – I wonder if they take Interrail tickets? No they don't, they don't take cash either but what a nice lady and such expressive eyes. A quick glance towards an empty seat conveys 'sit down, shut up, and look as though you've got a ticket.' We'll be in Koblenz in time for a late lunch.
And here we are on the banks of the Rhine complete with the world's only horse drawn cable-car. There's no-one at the hotel, just some sort of entry keybad and instructions in German which are beyond my limited ability to order a beer. Thanks to a helpful and bi-lingual neighbour we are now installed. A bit cheap and cheerful but it's only for one night and it's clean. It's also handily placed for a lively looking street cafe so bier and wurst all round I think.
A couple of hours R&R after the five hours travelling this morning and then we'll go and explore the river bank. Plant wise it's a little barren, mainly grasses struggling up between the stones, the odd sedum plus wild rose and ivy on the city walls. But we've got a magnificent pair of Egyptian Geese here (Alopochen aegyptiatica). These, as their name suggests, are African birds mainly from the Nile valley and the sub-Saharan but there are many escapees from bird collections dotted around mainland Europe and also in the U.S.
8 o'clock, time for dinner and the second problem of the day; it would appear that everything on the west bank closes at seven, apart from the ferry to the east bank which shuts down at six thirty. I did notice a rather grand looking hotel along the bank and that looks like our only option. The meal will probably cost more than the hotel.
OK, so the meal cost a lot more than the hotel but it was delicious though, wasn't it? A good night's rest and it's on to Strasbourg tomorrow. And here's problem number three; the hotel door is jammed. The keypad is glowing green when I enter the number but the doorknob has come loose and the door is determinedly remaining where it is. Don't suppose you've got a screwdriver on you? Oh well, the benches don't look too uncomfortable and there's quite a nice view of the river at night from here.
Post Script. Shortly after midnight another friendly neighbour came and brought me a couple of pillows. I explained my predicament and showed him that the keypad was working. He turned the knob and, you've guessed it, the door opened (somewhat smugly I thought). Off he went with his pillows , laughing and muttering 'crazy English' leaving me to stomp up the four flights of stairs muttering something along the lines of 'Vorsprung durch bl**dy Technik.' Needless to say I only offered them a token twenty euros for the night and that included a fairly decent breakfast.
Crete Nature Catch-up
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