Monday 19th September, 2022
Distance ridden 696 kilometres
I woke up feeling very refreshed and a quick glance out of the window revealed that it was no longer raining.
There was a large area of tarmac right outside the hotel so I dressed quietly and went out for a walk. Once out of the hotel, I realised why the hotel was billed as being at Liège Airport, it was practically on the runway. We had not noticed this the previous evening, in the torrential rain, but now aircraft, some of them quite big ones, were taking off and landing only a few hundred metres from the reception desk. It says something for the double-glazing of the Park Inn that this was totally inaudible in our room and perhaps also explains why our windows did not open.
In anticipation of a long day in the saddle, I gave my leg muscles a thorough work out. The area of tarmac, referred to above, was in fact the main carpark for the airport. There were not many cars and its length, over 525 of my steps, meant I had completed the bulk of the ten thousand steps a day that I always walk before I returned to give Lucie her wake up coffee from the thoughtfully provided supply in the room.
Because we wanted to be on our way as soon as possible, we went for an early(ish) breakfast. As befits a good hotel, the choices available were wide and we both filled up for what promised to be a gruelling day. It was around seven hundred kilometres to our next overnight stop in Chemnitz and, whilst striding up and down the car park, I had noticed that the skies to the east looked a bit threatening. According to Lucie, her dreaded weather apps indicated that rain, probably in some quantity, was more or less a certainty for most of the way.
It is of little consolation to have to say that the weather apps were spot on. Without seeking to labour the point, the journey home turned into an endurance competition to see which party, us or the rain, could last the longest. All we could do, most of the time, was to tuck in behind the screen as much as we could and wait for it to stop raining (usually in vain) or at least reduce to drizzle. Of course, there were those occasional moments when it was not raining, but it was almost as if these were provided by some vengeful deity in order that we could clearly see the approaching black clouds, already depositing their contents onto our route, all the more clearly. There was also, surprise, surprise, kilometre after kilometre of roadworks for much of the way. At one point, the rain turned to icy hail of such ferocity that I simply had to pull up, under a mercifully placed bridge because not only could I not see anything at all, but it was really hurting my arms.
In over half a century of two wheeled fun, I have, of course, ridden quite a distance in the rain. This unceasing deluge called to mind the plains of Illinois on my last day on Route 66, but at least Lucie had not had to endure that. She sat huddled behind me for over five hundred and seventy kilometres. This seemed to be uncomplainingly, but of course our intercom was not working. At our frequent stops for warming drinks, the tension of riding in such conditions where there was really low visibility and a lot of standing water on the carriageway meant I could scarcely stop shaking. What the scenery beside the road was like, I cannot say, I never saw any of it. Neither did Lucie as her visor kept fogging up and she certainly was not about to get out the camera for any snaps.
I have told people that, from leaving Liège to arriving near to Jena, the longest stretch of riding we had without a raindrop falling on us was 3,720 metres. When they are surprised by the startling accuracy of this observation, I point out that this figure happens to be the posted length of the Jagdberg tunnel, which runs right through a mountain, just to the west of Jena (the home of Karl Zeiss) and is stated on a handy sign.
But, all of a sudden, just east of Jena, the rain stopped as if someone had turned off a tap.
There was even traces of blue sky and a slightly watery sun. We did at least get to ride the final one hundred and thirty kilometres or so on drying and then on dry roads.
We finally came to Chemnitz, which turned out to be a bigger town than I had previously thought. Luckily the SatNav did its job and guided us straight to the Hotel B&B (Zwickauer Str. 13, 09112 Chemnitz).
We were able to park the Softail under cover for free !
The B&B was once again a “budget” establishment, but that was its corporate ethos, as opposed to psychotic cost cutting. It had everything we needed and, indeed it was very reminiscent of the “All You Need” hotel in Salzburg where we once stayed. The staff was friendly, the room was adequate without being huge and the heating was on !
The only slight weirdness was that the doors were opened by a PIN number and not a keycard – but it worked well once we tried it on the correct room …
There was also a hairdryer in our bathroom so we were able to perform a lot of the same drying tricks as we had in the Park Inn. In truth, because we had been wearing our waterproofs all day, we were, rather surprisingly, not as totally soaked as we had been the previous evening.
Nobody is paying me to say this, but, with its waterproof lining zipped in, my jacket, by Bering and Lucie’s luminous yellow two piece over-suit, by SiDi, both deserve the highest of praise.
We changed into dry clothes and walked to the nearby Old Town of Chemnitz for dinner. On the way we encountered a massive demonstration. Literally thousands of people protesting against, as far as we could make out, both the ongoing war in the Ukraine and the German governments reaction to it. Nothing rowdy, just thousands of ordinary people united in their displeasure at events beyond their control. Of course, no sooner were we away from our hotel than the heavens opened and we soon wished our waterproofs were not hanging on pegs in our room. We hastened into the old town, because the buildings offered a little bit of shelter and came upon the Rathaus (Town Hall), an ancient building with a tower (the Roter Turm).
In front of the tower, without explanation, were some golden candlestick looking things, presumably some kind of artistic installation.
Not much seemed to be open that was not just a bar. There was in a small square immediately adjacent to the Rathaus and, more to get out of the downpour than anything else, we plumped for the bar/restaurant Alex (Neumarkt 2, 09111 Chemnitz).
The picture above was taken the next morning, in the DRY ! It was very stylish and full of smartly dressed people, mostly young, We felt a bit out of place as we looked like a couple of drowned homeless people who had found a credit card, but it was a lucky choice. The service was good, the food, fish and chips for me
and chicken terriyaki for Lucie, was well presented and tasty
and my German beer was as good as German beer is expected to be.
The bill, for a very satisfying meal was a surprisingly reasonable forty Euros.
We tried to wait out the storm, but it won and, in the end we had to dodge the raindrops all the way back to our hotel.