In canoeing the continent parlance the adjective 'bitch' is placed before a noun to convey difficulty. So you might have a 'bitch lock', a 'bitch bit of water' or, even, a 'bitch day'. I would sum up the last three days as a bitch three days.
Monday morning smirked at us with grey clouds and drizzle. However, staying with Jimmy's 'Canada friend' Ingo and his flat-mate Martin in the ultimate bachelor pad in Frankfurt, we were thus able to breakfast high and dry. Having re-stocked in the supermarket and then re-packed in the apartment it was time for us, the two bags and the three barrels to embark on a real expedition.
Using public transport is no joke ladies and gentlemen. Two tubes, one tram, some head-scratching and a 30 minute trial by walking later we arrived back at Dora's rowing club with bodies feeling like they'd canoed our current 1370km all that morning.
However, since Jimmy had managed to replace his iPhone the previous evening, we were still ahead of schedule. So we ploughed on. We slogged it out upstream at our steady pace. We lunched in a deserted campsite. Late afternoon we stopped in the town of Hannau at what looked to be a pretty riverside museum. With the museum closed because summer has allegedly ended, we had a pretty riverside coffee instead.
Our experience finding a camping ground fitted in with the pattern of the day. We unloaded at a marina before being rejected and redirected to an adjacent and empty camp site. Luckily, the campsite owners were walking their dogs around the empty site and happy to charge us seventeen euro before driving away and locking up.
It was great having the evening in an empty campsite: plenty of space for me to read and Jimmy to phone his girlfriend. It was less great being in an empty campsite when I tried going for a run in the morning and couldn't find a way around the locked gate.
So, slightly earlier than planned, day 57's canoeing began. Beneath grey skies, we were quickly into our consistent rhythm. Late afternoon, we even managed to find a closed castle and a substitute cafe. The evening got full marks for consistency as well, as a rowing club told us that there was no room in their spacious garden for our tent. Nonetheless, we happily wild-camped right on the river bank and had time to read and look back on another long but uneventful day.
For the sake of this blog post, it would have been perfect if today was also grey and the scenery dull. Unfortunately today was bright and we had to suffer sandstone cliffs and forest merging into manicured vineyards. I think I might have just lost the sympathy vote right there.
Anyway, today was still a slog. We managed to be in the water by 8:05 which is officially a record. Somehow we then managed to canoe 38.5km upstream and get around 4 industrial locks. We took breaks with military precision and only stopped for lunch. Despite all of this, I am chilling here on the river surrounded by alpine forest and content to be canoeing the continent.
So nothing really bad has happened, it's just been a bit of a bitch - for want of a better word.