Main-taining a reputation

When it was hard-going on the Loire and once it got easy-going thereafter, we constantly tempered however good or bad we felt by warning ourselves that the Main would be worse. We foresaw a river with the speed of the Loire but without her scenery or weather. We mentally prepared for a fast current and constant industrial traffic. The last three days have shown just how wrong we were.

It was pretty subdued on the first morning of the week. Jimmy was pensive after saying goodbye to Cathy and I was tired after a panorama topping hill session. Luckily our weekend antics had pepped up our fellow campers. Having seen us arrive shattered in the canoe on Saturday, get very drunk with two Irish girls on Saturday night, be cooked for on the Sunday and then start paddling upstream on the Monday morning; it's fair to say that we'd earned the cheers of the five or six German's.

From there, the Main continued to surpass out expectations. We flew along against the slow upstream current with a helpful tailwind. The friendly campers cycled ahead to take more photos and gave us a final Mexican wave as we zipped past fifteen kilometers up stream. After lunching in a quiet park, the afternoon saw us leave the canoe at a welcoming club before squeezing in a tour of Würzburg and its two cathedrals and basillica. When a friendly tourist asked us what the paddles, rucksacks and whispy moustaches were for and then subsequently what the hardest section of the journey had been; we were unanimous: it was the Loire and certainly not the friendly river Main. A good day was perfected by a warm shower and a lovely meal provided by Würzburg local Marisa and her two cats - our fourth warmshowers host of the trip.

I write these blog posts from what Jimmy notes down while I cook at the end of each day. Day 64 is summed up perfectly: 'well-planned and well-executed'. Against a consistent current and with locks that cater for canoeists, it's easy to plan out the week. When you're surrounded by vineyards, it's approaching 30C and there's a pretty town complete with a calming church and adjacent cafe, it's easy to execute the day. So day 64 was a good 37km paddled, with a nice break in Kitzingen and a pleasant camping spot just out of town. With time to read our books by the river in the evening, it made canoeing the continent almost holidayish.

You can generally tell the mood in the canoe from the volume within it. With more sunny vineyards to paddle past, day 65 started with Jimmy blasting out all of Dizzee Rascal's 'Holiday' before combined efforts for some John Newman and Fat Boy Slim.

At mid morning we began to canoe on the 11km diversion that was marked for sport boats. The diversion rammed home what the Main could have been like and how lucky we are - well first there were more vineyards to cover the lucky side of the deal. Then the water quickened. There were groynes to navigate around. Twice we had to backtrack and tow after becoming deadlocked against a rapid flow. One final tree to lift the canoe around, and after three hours we had finally overcome the diversion and were back to normal Main waters.

After another cafe stop, we made good ground to ensure the time spent on the diversion won't dramatically alter the rest of the week. For the last couple of hours Dora was treated to some Simon & Garfunkel and a bit of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, as we once again felt at ease with the river Main and her vineyards.

And that would have been a perfect three days ...but I managed to jam my paddle when stopping the boat and the paddle (with whom you may know I have built quite a relationship) responded with a crack. Nothing's broken and hopefully it is just superficial, but if the Main stays like this I'd probably call it a fair deal.