Schliessen
Schliessen

Cycling by numbers

Excursions with the KD Line are always especially pleasurable when combined with other activities. This time, RheinZeit magazine got on its bike on its own front doorstep in Cologne and set off on the scenic route to Bonn. To then return by ship, of course.

16, 18, 59, 555. For most people in the Rhineland, the route from Cologne to Bonn – or vice versa – is defined by one of these numbers. Which number it is depends on the chosen mode of transport: Those using public transport have the choice between the KVB lines 16 and 18, while those travelling by car can reach their destination via the A59 or A555 motorways.

But we can suggest a few other numbers for the route: 54, 86, 79, 14, 79. These, and a few other numbers besides, will guide you conveniently from one city to the other too – namely by bike. They stand for the main intersections in the North Rhine-Westphalia cycle path network. Anyone planning a tour just needs to note the numbers of the intersections on their route and follow the corresponding signs. It couldn’t be easier.

Start in the south of Cologne

The route presented here begins in the Cologne Volksgarten, directly next to the popular beer garden. There’s a metal information board here with a map and background information on the park. Bike routes are indicated by yellow arrows in a blue square. Combined with the North Rhine-Westphalia bike path signage, you are guaranteed to reach your destination. And ours on this day is the Bonner Hofgarten. But first, we head in the direction of intersection 54. This is quickly found, and the next milestone on a surprisingly green path is 15.

Our tour continues in the direction of intersection 86. A wide path takes us into the heart of the countryside, across the A555 motorway. The next milestones on our tour are the villages of Immendorf and Rondorf on the outskirts of Cologne. The path now leads between undulating fields of wheat and lush green maize and Cologne shows its rural side. Immendorf and Rondorf sit like two islands between the fields, with old farm-yards and semi-timbered houses painting an idyllic rustic picture along the roadside.

Leaving Cologne

The route leads us into a small forest and an unexpected vantage point: A lake with two islands. The thick vegetation extends to the shore and the water glimmers turquoise in the sun. A sign tells us that the lake is an old gravel pit that has been returned to nature and is now home to a multitude of rare animals.

A worthwhile detour

After a short break we set off for Wesseling. We pass stables and paddocks until we eventually arrive at intersection 79. Now, for the first time today, we have to make a decision: right or left, nature reserve or world cultural heritage site, 72 or 74? We decide to turn right – 72 and the world cultural heritage site – and head towards Wesseling’s neighbour, Brühl. This is where the palaces of Augustusburg and Falkenlust and their vast baroque parklands are located and is Germany’s first world cultural heritage site.

Before heading into the park and to the palaces we take another short break at “Chez Max”, the café that belongs to the Max-Ernst-Museum. It’s dedicated to surrealist Max Ernst (1891-1976), probably the small town’s most famous son. The café is artistically puristic and the rhubarb spritzer wonderfully refreshing after nearly 20 kilometres in the saddle.

Suitably fortified, we continue to Augustusburg Palace, which is just behind the museum. We are mesmerised by the view of this imposing rococo edifice and push our bikes in the direction of the forest and into the former hunting grounds of the Cologne Elector and Arch Bishop, Clemens August (1700 to 1761), who constructed the Brühl palaces. On the other side of the park and a good quarter of an hour by foot lies Falkenlust Palace, an absolutely charming hunting lodge, and the little sister of Augustusburg Palace, as it were.

Setting course for Bonn

Falkenlust marks the end of the the baroque extravagance. From here, we continue past fields of vegetables, through the villages and intersection 74 before we have to make the next decision: South-east towards Bornheim or should we turn eastwards to arrive at the Rhine in Urfeld? We decide on the latter, so the next milestone on our route bears the number twelve. Eventually, the Rhine makes an appearance again. Our route continues in the direction of the former German capital, at times shaded by trees, at times with a clear view of the river. We soon reach the outskirts and ride unhurriedly along the wide riverside promenade toward the city centre and arrive almost inevitably in the Bonn Hofgarten. There’s an information board here too that tells us we’ve reached our final destination for the day!

Rest and relaxation on board

The KD jetty beneath the Bonn Opera House on the Brassertufer is just a stone’s throw away, so the relaxing part of our tour can now commence. The key numbers for the return leg to Cologne are 655 and 688. They are the river kilometres of the respective jetties. We board ship at 17:15 at kilometre 655. The attractive MS RheinFantasie is pretty full. On board: relaxed people who’ve obviously spent an enjoyable day. Dozens of bikes stand on the main deck. We place ours next to them and look for a space in the forward salon with a panoramic view.

Cycling makes you hungry, so our first thought goes to checking out the menu. From fresh salad with goat’s cheese to currywurst with fries, there’s everything you could wish for to round off an eventful day with a contented smile and full stomach. Accompanied by a wine from the well-stocked wine list or a freshly poured Kölsch beer if you prefer. This much we can say: In the roughly one-and-a-half hours it takes to return to Cologne Cathedral, we wined and dined excellently. We head back on deck as we arrive in Cologne. You get the feeling of being even closer to the action as the ship glides by the modern “Kranhäuser” and historical warehouses of the Rheinauhafen docks in the direction of the old town and the cathedral to finally manoeuvre into its berth between a line of river cruise ships at river kilometre 688.

The passengers flood onto the promenade, and for the last time this day, we get back on the saddle, exhausted, but thoroughly satisfied with our tour through the Rhineland.

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