The outing begins on your own doorstep. We ride by bike through Cologne's historic city centre to the KD jetty on the Rhine promenade. We're not the only ones to have the idea of combining bike tour and Rhine this morning. A large number of cyclists have amassed at the jetty. No problem. The impressive KD cruise ship has space enough for all the people together with their bikes. We cast off at 9:30 on the dot. The bikes are quickly stowed aboard. We won't be back in the saddle until Remagen.
Now it's time for breakfast. While the architectural jewels of the Chocolate Museum, the "Kranhäuser" and the former grain warehouses in the Rheinauhafen (that have been converted into apartments and offices) pass by outside, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, bread rolls and scrambled eggs fills our nostrils in the comfortably air-conditioned gallery salon. We order two large breakfasts and take our time to savour the experience. Well fed, we then head up to the sun deck. We're lucky and manage to nab a free beach chair and immediately switch to relax mode.
At the KD jetty in Bonn, our small cycling community is given a hefty shake-up. A group of cyclists leaves the ship, and nearly as many day-trippers board ship together with their bikes. No wonder. The well-developed Rheinradweg (Rhine cycle path) is ideal for a combination bike-and-ship tour of the Siebengebirge mountains. With a refreshing drink in our hands, we surrender to the beauty of the Rhine valley. Futuristic modern buildings and magnificent Gründerzeit period villas, lovingly maintained gardens and extensive forest come into view. One can guess why the stretch of Rhine between Bonn and Remagen was once referred to as the Riviera of the Rhineland.
The castles, mansions, stately homes and hotels were once the retreats of wealthy businessmen, bankers and industrialists. The scene this morning is dominated by walkers, with and without dogs, cyclists, paddlers and skaters, and last but not least, the people that work along the riverbank. The lives of people by and on the river cross paths for a few brief moments. The scenes are similar, but each time unique, nonetheless.
We pass through the Siebengebirge mountains, the towns of Königswinter, Bad Godesberg, Bad Honnef and Unkel, and give the Drachenfels and the Godesburg a friendly nod. Anticipation grows shortly before the Rolandsbogen. The Rolandseck station appears. That's where we want to head, first and foremost to visit theArp Museum. Shortly thereafter, we arrive at thepopular tourist destination of Remagen and disembark. It's a good thing that we have our bikeswith us. Rolandseck, a suburb of Remagen, may only be half an hour away by foot. But much of the route is along the road. Not everyone's cup of tea. By bike, however, the nearly seven kilometre stretch can be covered on a section of the Rhine cycle path.
It takes about 30 minutes to reach the museum. On the way, you're treated to some of the works of art that make up the "Skulpturenufer Remagen". They include the striking "Regenfänger" (Rain Catcher) by Eberhard Bosslet on the Oberwinter promontory and the "Seven Places", a towpath by Hamish Fulton. The cast-iron floor sculpture features seven steps as symbolic for the migration of the "land art artist" from the Spanish city of Bilbao to the Rhine Delta at the North Sea. This is all explained on the information board that stands tucked away slightly from the path.
Not that much more than seven steps away, the impressive "Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck" art and exhibition centre rises up. In front of the museum portal stands the monumental bronze sculpture "Bewegtes Tanzgeschmeide" by the artist Hans Arp. The building consists of the classicist section, with its original rooms, ballrooms and the old ticket hall of the Rolandseck station as well as a new building situated above it. In the centre of the museum stand the works of Sophie Taeuber Arp and Hans Arp. They're ranked among the most influential artists of the 20th century avant garde movement. The building, constructed according to the design of American architect Richard Meier, comprises four exhibition levels that house temporary exhibitions as well as the works of the Arp collection.
When you visit the museum, you should definitely find time for a break in the museum café or bistro. They're located in the restored former station ballroom. Not only have the stucco ceiling and imposing crystal chandeliers been preserved, but the outdoor terrace too. From there, you can enjoy stunning views of the Rhine and the Siebengebirge mountains. The tour can also be planned in reverse. First the bike tour, then the museum visit and finally the relaxing return journey on the KD ship. You can get to the museum by bike from Bonn, for instance, in a good hour.
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