Monday, July 4, 2011

Day Trip "mit Fahrrad" to Ramsdorf and Velen

Dylan is crazy over bike rides and multiple times a day he grabs his bike helmet and says "Mommy, Fahrrad? Fahrrad?  Yeah? Go? Mommy? Fahrrad? FAHRRAD????" Dylan prefers to call bikes by their German name, Fahrrad, and when I give in and take him for a ride he cheerfully claps his hands and shouts "Yaaaaaaay, Fahrrad!"

So this past Friday I decided to take Dylan on a long bike ride to see some nearby towns.  I particularly wanted to go to Velen, a town about 20 kilometers away (12 miles) because there is a famous Schloss (castle) there that we haven't seen yet.  So around 10:30 a.m. Dylan and I packed a bag with snacks, drinks and diapers and headed out.

Our area of Germany has fantastic bike routes from town to town that take you on lightly traveled country roads through farms and forests.  The paths are mainly 1-lane paved roads (farmers use them for their tractors and cars), but sometimes they are dirt paths and all are extremely well maintained. The route that we chose started in Borken (our town) and took us through Gemen and around the castle there, then Ramsdorf and Velen.  We've been to the castle in Gemen many time (it's about a 10 minute bike ride from our home), but I had never been on this particular trail before and saw the castle from a completely new angle that makes it look larger and more like it's from a fairy tale.

Schloss Gemen

Onward we went through the country roads about 8 km/5 mile to Ramsdorf, a tiny little village between Borken and Velen.  Another great thing about these bike trails is that although the majority of the riding is through the countryside, when you get to a town, the trail takes you directly through the center so you get to see the city instead of riding around the perimeter.

Ramsdorf, Germany

Church in the center of Ramsdorf, Germany
After our short tour through Ramsdorf, we headed out for the remaining 12km /7.5 miles to Velen.  I can't say enough about how great the bike trails are.  Another amazing thing is that whenever you begin to doubt or wonder if your going the right way, there are intelligently placed "Bike" signs on trees and fence posts the entire way.  At every crossroads there is always a sign with an arrow, and whoever put them up placed them in easy to see spots so I was never searching for a sign.

I did wonder a few times if pranksters ever flipped the signs around or tampered with them to mess people up and I had a few flashbacks of the "Jamborree" scene in the movie Troop Beverly Hills when the nasty Culver City "Red Feathers" turned the signs around so Troop Beverly Hills had to walk through snake infested swamps and cross dangerous log bridges to win the competition. Thankfully, no tampering has been done between Borken and Velen.

Rest assured, you're on the right track!
Taking this bike trail was very excited for Dylan because we got to see a wide range of farm and wild animals along the way. There were tons of cows and horses, and we also saw chickens, roosters, bulls, goats, sheep, bunnies and even a deer.  He's getting really good at his animal sounds.

The trail dropped us off in Velen right at the Schloss, and there really isn't a whole lot else going on in Velen. Officially called the Sport Schloss, this castle is actually a pretty swanky hotel and has a driving range, tennis courts, places for archery and a whole bunch of other sports and activities that you can partake in.  Dylan was super excited to get off the bike and run around, but unfortunately sitting in the bike seat for a solid hour make his legs immobile and he took two steps and promptly tripped and scuffed up his chin and his hands, so our first 15 minutes we spent sitting on a bench 'hugging it out' while he cried.

When he finally calmed down we walked around the perimeter of the castle, took in the beautiful grounds and fed the ducks.

Making around around the moat...

Dylan doesn't notice the ducks slowly creeping up behind him, but he soon will.

Lovely moat.  Even has a swan and lilly pads.

"Umm, Mommy? Why are all these ducks here?"

Dylan was happy to share his crackers with the ducks until one of the brazenly snatched one out of his hand.  Then is was time to go. One bad duck had to ruin it for the rest of them.

Velen's Church

The front of the Sport Schloss Velen
We got some lunch at a local bakery and sat on a bench outside the church and ate.  We walked around the town center for a few minutes, but it was getting late and I wanted to get Dylan home for his nap.  So we headed back to our bike.  We began our journey home and I quickly realized that the weather was not going to be cooperative.

No more than 10 minutes into our bike ride, it began to downpour on us.  Dylan really doesn't like to be wet in his clothes and I could hear him getting upset behind me saying "Mommy! Wet!  Oh, nooooooooo!  WET! MOOMMMYYYYYY!" So I turned into the nearest driveway and saw an open garage door.  We sped into the garage and nearly crashed into the farmer who was in there working on his own bike.  No explanation was necessary for why we crash landed in his garage, and he was friendly enough to let us hang out the 15-20 minutes it took for the rain passed by.

Onward we went and 25 minutes later we were back in Ramsdorf where it began to rain again and we took shelter in someone else's garage for another 15 minutes.  We finally made it home around 2:30 in the afternoon, 1.5 hours past Dylan's usual nap time, so he happily ran into his bedroom and jumped into his "sleep sack" to fall asleep.

So, for someone who normally rides her bike 3-5 kilometers (2-3 miles) per day around town, a 40km (24 miles) bike ride through the country was an excellent way to get some exercise.  Although, I must admit, I was in great pain just about every time I turned over in my sleep that night and my legs have been sore for many days.

Uh Oh.  We're going to get wet.

Taking refuge in Farmer Stefan's garage. 

And again in someone else's empty garage in Ramsdorf.  Dylan, who is not known for his patience, was excellent.


Lisa Rogers said...

I love reading your posts, Dana! And awesome call out on Troop Beverly Hills - also a fav from my childhood :) You are seeing so many amazing things! Well done!

Dana said...

Thanks Lisa! Glad you like our stories. Hope everything is going great for you in MI!

AnnaLauraRamsdorf said...

Olá,meu nome é Anna Laura Ramsdorf,não sei se consegue enternder minha lingua,pois moro no Brasil e já me acostumei em falar brasileiro... Me encantei com a cidade e adorei as fotos,encante-me mais ainda por saber que tenho uma cidade com meu sobrenome (risos)
Visite meu blog se tiver um tempo