Day 12 began pleasantly, cycling along the river bank through Cologne.

The weather was warm, even early in the day, but the riding was pretty easy so not much of an issue so far.

The river bank passes behind the famous cathedral which was hit 14 times by bombs during the second world war. It’s twin towers remained standing although the building did suffer damage, but nowhere near as much as the rest of Cologne which was the subject of the first 1000 bomber raid in 1942.

Having left cologne I followed the river for the rest of the day. The countryside was pretty flat and unremarkable, however with temperatures soaring into the late 30’s it was tough work. The camera remained tucked away for the most part as I needed to focus on putting the miles in to reach the next overnight stop at Xanten.

This was a long and hot ride so rather than camp I checked into a hotel in Xanten and having showered, headed out for a beer and a bite to eat. Xanten is a lovely town. Definitely somewhere I’d like to visit as a tourist.

I was pretty gutted actually not to have more time here. There is a huge archaeological Park on the site of the roman city of Colonia Ulpia Traiana with reconstructions and original parts of the city. To visit would have cost me half a day which unfortunately I didn’t have by this stage!

Tempting as it was to hang around, given the skies which greeted me on leaving Xanten ;

This was a indicative of things to come for the morning and I have to seek shelter from violent thunderstorms three times before lunch, knocking a further chunk of time from my riding.

Having lost so much time I had to take the sad decision not to head further north and visit Arnhem. It seems this would be a bridge too far for me this time round.

But I did make it into Nijmegem for lunch and the realisation that somewhere along the way I’d passed from Germany into The Netherlands.

Another time fuelled regret; Nijmegem was coming to the culmination of a week long festival and a street party and music planned or the afternoon and evening. I really wanted to drop the bike and stay for the  night,but I’d never have made Rotterdam on time to get home on Sunday. It looked like the while place was gearing itself up for a beer fuelled party.

The downside of the festival was that I wasn’t able to get close enough to get and decent snaps of the bridges which were found get over in WWII. This is as good as it got;

For the rest of the day it was up onto the dikes and some flat but windy riding;

Although there were some pretty scenes passing get by before I reached my campsite for the night;

I was camped on the shores of the river, just 53 miles from Rotterdam.

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