Finishing the river Main

With Nathan's paddle taped up and aiming for a two day trip to Bamberg we set off on Thursday morning for a long slog. We had lost some planned distance the day before due to a dodgy detour so had ground to make up. The morning was broken up nicely with a stop in Schweinfurt, a busy modern city where we topped up our food supplies and visited an incredible cafe. Portion sizes have increased in Germany and we're both big fans.

After this it was constant paddling and lunch on a river bank before paddling some more. The day remained fairly uneventful and by the end of it there was nothing major to report over the 39kms we covered. 39kms was, however, the longest upstream day we had done on the Main and we set up camp under some trees that night feeling pretty satisfied.

One thing noted from that day was the new heights of our conversation in the boat. Beyond the name game, we continued our book club in which we discussed the shared books we've read so far on the expedition and translate them into more colloquial terms. The name game also led us into a political discussion on government spending and foreign aid, which then went into a little philosophy and ethical debate on human rights and the difference between local and foreign citizens. Such high brow topics were evened out by swearing at fat men in speed boats and laughing at a woman who was crap at fishing.

The next morning we woke in what Nathan discovered on his run was a nature reserve. We had 33kms to cover before Bamberg which had become a shining finish line in our minds. We paddled hard into a slight head wind and covered three locks and 24kms by lunch time, again it was fairly uneventful. We ate in the baking sun on the grassy bank of a jet skiing club and half an hour later passed a large sign that marked the end of the river Main for us.

We had joined it at kilometer 0, where it merged with the Rhine, and it felt a great achievement passing the final sign that read 384kms of upstream distance. We took photos, patted ourselves on the backs, and then continued. The only problem, of course, being the Main-Donau Kanal sign on the otherside which, once again, read 0!

It wasn't long before we were in the outskirts of the city and, confused by the islands, we asked two kayakers where their club was. After a conversation on the water we followed their directions to Bamberger FC, a pretty swish canoe club where our tent and belongings now rest. Having showered, cleaned the food barrels and washed all our clothes, the kayakers returned and found us with a map. They showed us where we should be heading: the food shop for the morning, the beer garten for the evening and the old parts of the city for admiring the next day.

So that is precisely what we have done. We enjoyed beers last night and I sit and write in a nice brewery now! Our lunch was that one on the German menu that had the letters XL on the end of it and we've done the weeks shopping and to-do list already.

So the week has been another success, partly owing to continuing fortunes on the river and more days of blue skies and perfect weather. The river Main is now finished and, though we still have a long bit of canal, there is no more upstream river paddling for the entire expedition. Satisfied for now we'll be getting out the maps to plan the next week and this time we have the Danube in sight: our final river and a mere 2300kms and 7 countries long!