Yesterday, I rode my bicycle from the Eglisau power station to Kadelburg, a stretch of the Rhine I had before covered in my folding kayak. I wasn't alone this time, and escorting the wonderful Ida Riegels between two concerts was a pleasure. She carries a huge red cello case on her back, which holds her recently completed self-built cello. It's still unvarnished, an unshiny ebony white.
With three handfuls of locals, I'd listened to her playing her new instrument in Glattfelden the evening before, a programme of Bach and her own Capriccios. We in the audience didn't know what was more impressive, her solo tour with the cello on her back or the intimate sharing of these musical pieces of the heart.
On the cycle path and on a park bench in Kadelburg, we compared notes and I showed her the map of my own project, involving cycling through 80 language areas in Europe. When she completes her bicycle tour of 35 concerts in Rotterdam, I will set out for the last leg of my adventure, Gagausia.
Along the way, we kept being stopped by hikers and cyclists who had read about Ida's journey in the local papers. I wasn't envious at all - in fact I prefer to go unrecognized. But then I don't carry a red cello case on my back.