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Cobblestones! Overblown?

I have traveled to multiple countries. The only place that had a "cobblestone" issue was parts of the small city (town) of Antigua, Guatemala. You needed a backpack there, but only for a couple of sections. There were some chunky, rough streets and very narrow (sometimes crowded) sidewalks with steep (2 ft) drop-off curbs. Even then, we had no problem getting our luggage to the hotel. It was more of a "watch where you walk" safety issue in a limited area.
Can we bury the cobblestone matter?

Posted by
4574 posts

Overblown? I think so. Irrelevant? No.
I won't blame cobbles and brick for poorly designed luggage or cheap wheels malfunctions, but I personally find it adds to my physical issues with more tension my 2 wheeled luggage resulting in pain. I do think one needs to be aware in order to make personal decisions on luggage or packing. I agree it ismoften short distances that are the worst, but not everyone can carry 30 pounds for an (old) city block.

Posted by
16007 posts

Can we bury the cobblestone matter?

Nope. I certainly wouldn't for Bruges, anyway.

Posted by
206 posts

On our past 3 RS trips, we have a spent a considerable amount of time on cobblestones. We have had no problems pulling our carry-on sized suitcases on cobblestones, even for long distances.

What I find much more important is to get shoes with thick enough soles so that when you are walking you don't necessarily notice the unevenness. Cobblestones are very hard on the feet! For example, I no longer bring my normal cross-trainer type sneakers because the soles just aren't thick enough. My husband has become a convert to Rick's favorite shoes, the Ecco Track II low but they only come in men's sizes.

Posted by
2529 posts

30 pounds on my back? Ha. I consistently keep my backpack under 10kg and even 8kg. Pack light, travel fast, travel comfortably.

Posted by
5984 posts

I've encountered lots of cobblestones and stairs. In Girona, Spain, there were stairways that they actually called streets! I still bring a carry on size, rolling suitcase. I keep it light and just lift and carry when necessary. Not fun but part of the adventure. My husband is looking into getting a backpack for his suitcase, but he's quite a bit bigger and stronger than I.

Posted by
5052 posts

The old "I didn't have a problem so nobody should have a problem" argument. I suppose if we all only travelled to the same places, used the same luggage, and had the same physical abilities, then the argument might have some merit. Since that is clearly not the case, I think we can leave "the cobblestone matter" unburied.

Posted by
7512 posts

I would add to carol_frampton's note that while larger diameter wheels roll better on uneven gaps, larger shoes aren't that helpful. On poorly maintained Belgian Block, or on Pompeii's Roman Roads for that matter, humans can easily twist an ankle. My wife needed ice for days after bad luck walking back to the hotel in Porto. Even people who go to the gym several times a week are likely to neglect the muscles below the calf - unless they take Barre Amped, like I do! (smiley)

Posted by
8293 posts

Ah, yes ....... the old "my backpack weighs less than yours" contest.

Posted by
27369 posts

Funny you should ask. I spent today in Zgorzelec (Poland)/Goerlitz (Germany), mostly on the German side, which happens to be the one with all the cobblestones. I opted to sleep in Zgorzelec for a couple of reasons but wouldn't generally recommend that approach. However, moving any sort of rolling bag to a hotel in the historic district of Gorlitz--which is expansive to say the least--would have been a nightmare. I had no luggage to deal with on the German side of the border and my feet were still extremely tired after the workout.

It should be noted that all cobblestones are not created equal. I'd describe Goerlitz as having a lot of cobble-boulders.

Another factor is whether the city in question has partly-normal sidewalks (good for peopLe with rolling bags), and whether such beautiful pavement is usurped by sidewalk cafes so that the tourist has to walk in the cobbled pedestrianized street. (Looking at you, Gdansk.)

Posted by
1884 posts

This is interesting. From your responses, it appears that Europe has many streets that resemble test tracks for car tire research. I'll have to check out Bruges online, because it's on my travel bucket list.

Posted by
9106 posts

resemble test tracks for car tire research

Strut and shock absorber research would be a better comparison.

Posted by
2529 posts

Mentioning that I pack very light was not meant to be part of a contest nor seeking bragging rights of any sort. Rather, it's a simple statement that it is possible to pack light for international trips and that's my style developed over many work and pleasure trips. Carefully selecting items of clothing, etc., yet including all required items to match itineraries and being cognizant of potential weather issues is my process. A relative of mind surely thinks a slot at the state's psychiatric hospital is where I belong given my packing choices. So what? Follow travel schemes that are best for you.

Posted by
6788 posts

Cobblestones, overblown? Tell that to the people (including my wife) that I saw who took a spill on cobblestoned streets while dragging wheelie bags in Krakow and Warsaw a few days ago.

Posted by
5697 posts

I'll see your cobblestones and raise to -- gravel paths. Little wheels didn't turn on gravel, just dragged through (leaving slide marks.) Big-wheel two-wheelers work better for me, although I love how the spinners carry all the weight on slick airport and train station floors.

Posted by
476 posts

I took a tumble in Venice on cobblestone my new camera went flying. Somehow my DH was able to find the bits in the stones so we could put it back together and by some miracle of the cobblestone gods it still worked. We did not have luggage with us at the time but it would not have been a pretty picture as I was flat on the ground.

Posted by
1194 posts

it appears that Europe has many streets that resemble test tracks for car tire research

When I did part of my engineering internship at the General Motors Proving Ground I found out there was a section called... Belgian Blocks.

Posted by
1878 posts

A lot depends on how you pack, your fitness/any mobility issues, and what type of cobblestones. The ones that are like round rocks pose the greatest challenge. The regular flat stone type that might be a little uneven are easier. I have never had cobblestone pavement be a serous issue on any of 18 trips to Europe, plus five or six more on business. I am a middle aged male, reasonably fit without mobility issues, your mileage may vary. The worst thing for me is walking on stone for ten to twelve hours a day, for days at a time, makes my feet hurt.

Posted by
1194 posts

not everyone can carry 30 pounds for an (old) city block.

Thirty pounds is really heavy! That kind of weight bouncing up and down on cobblestones would do a number on wheeled luggage, especially smaller wheels.

The amount of force on the cobbles is directly proportional to the weight in the bag. It would make sense that the more weight you have, the greater the problem with cobbles. It would also create a drag issue with gravel.

There’s plenty of cobbles left in the world to trip people up. This is not a closed issue.

Posted by
3521 posts

Glad to hear you have no issues with cobble stones. Enjoy that while you can as you get older you will probably change your feelings.

Most of them don't bother me much except after rain when they can be very slippy. I never use wheeled luggage so have never had cobblestones break wheels, although I have seen many people on my tours where their luggage wheels were completely destroyed.

Posted by
5837 posts

I was happy to have rented bikes for two weeks of touring in Germany. We were supplied with hybred (semi-wide tire) bikes. The hybreads survived the cobble and plattenwag roads without flats.

Cobblestone or Kopfsteinpflaster: Cobblestone is another experience that I would rather have in an automobile rather than on a
bicycle. In the former East Germany, we came upon about 10 kilometers
(6.2 miles) of a cobble road. During the DDR times, they were proud of
the nearly full employment situation in their economy. Construction
workers were asked to build this road. Cobble roads are made of rocks,
or in this case granite blocks chiseled into uniform sizes and set in
a sand base by workers on hands and knees.

Regardless of how a cobblestone road or path is constructed, it is a
darn rough ride on a bicycle. For short distances, it is no problem
but for long distances, you think your teeth will be damaged from all
the vibration. The photo on the left is one such short stretch. It
leads up into a castle courtyard in the village of Creuzburg on the
Werra. I would say that the stone and flat rock cobblestone is rough
as a cob but in rural America, "cob" means the inner part of corn on
the cob.

Plattenweg: Plattenweg (a path made from Platten) is another instance of using less than ideal material for a bicycle path. OK, I
understand that these paths were originally built for farm equipment
or military vehicles and was not built for bicycles. However, they are
not uncommon in the former East Germany. A "Platten" is a concrete
plate with two or four indentations for handles. They vary in size but
typically are about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. To build a road, they
are laid side by side, 3-foot section after 3-foot section, until the
road is finished. Each joint is designed to loosen a filling in your
teeth and there are joints every 3 feet, don'tchaknow (this is a term
I picked up living in Montana). See the picture on the right show a
path of double Platten. The Plattenweg shown on the left is of a
different design and is becoming slowly buried. Good! The dirt path
alongside is smoother than the cement Platten.

Posted by
19 posts

I just call cobblestones, hobblestones because after a day of walking on them thats how I feel..... hobbled.

Posted by
8547 posts

Why would someone who wants to stop discussion on the cobblestone matter start a thread that would naturally instigate discussion on the matter? There is definitely some other agenda going on here.........