Category Archives: Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Bad Mergentheim to Würzburg

Saturday 14 September 2013

Another good nights sleep and then it was time to wander up the road to the main hotel for breakfast.

As usual there was a large selection of food. We selected our regular light selection of food:

1) Mixed muesli and cereals with milk
2) Bread rolls with ham, cheese, salami, smoked salmon etc (James also had jam/marmalade)
3) A hard boiled egg
4) Yoghurt
5) Fresh fruit
6) A mini pastry

You can see why, after all that lot, we don’t need any other food until at least midday!

20130914-092356.jpg

Today’s planned route was as follows:

20130914-092509.jpg

This was a shade under forty miles so one of the longer days on this leisurely tour.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, half of today would be continuing to follow the Tauber river but we would then strike out across the hillls to Würzburg.

The path out of Bad Mergentheim was easy and we soon left the town behind. Here it is visible in the distance.

20130914-181245.jpg

We rode along a nice, smooth cycle track for a fair way, making reasonable progress and fortunately dodging the rain, although there were some heavy-looking clouds at times.

I passed a very weird looking pear tree – the pears were large, lumpy, odd-looking. I wasn’t sure if it was a diseased tree or supposed to be like this. I’m not sure the photo worked very well though!

20130914-181301.jpg

In March 2014 I received a message from a reader which said the following:

Hallo,hab eben deinen Bericht über die Romantische Straße gelesen,die “Birnen”die du am 14.September fotografiert hast sind Quitten.

So these ‘pears’ are actually ‘quince’, which I probably ought to have recognised as they do appear from time to time in the UK but my botanical knowledge is a bit lacking!

We rode through Edelfingen and then Unterbalbach at which point we crossed the river to the west side again. We skirted past Königshofen and continued on to Lauda (the two towns have sort-of merged into one now).

Lauda was interesting for several reasons. Firstly, there was this rather nice piece of sculpture although we think someone may have nicked his front wheel!

20130914-181311.jpg

It’s made of metalwork from the Lauda company (looks like they make various steel bits and bobs). Here is a close-up of his face.

20130914-181321.jpg

And the explanation.

20130914-181330.jpg

The other interesting thing was that we had lots of kilometre markers along our path. White ones with orange numbers and orange ones with (lower) white numbers. They were for a 10km or 20km race which was presumably taking place later on today.

20130914-181342.jpg

There was a lovely long, straight section of this cycle pathh/running track to Distellhausen. I had got a bit ahead of James at this point and a chap in a car with trailer (who was putting out the running distance boards) accosted me with “God Save The Queen!” (I was wearing my Union Jack buff on my head so it made me pretty obviously British). He was clearly Mr Sporty as he told me he’d been at the London Olympics, Beijing, the Moscow World Championships recently and more. We had a short chat before we carried on.

Looking across from Lauda to Gerlachsheim we had a good view of a hill with some vines on it.

20130914-181354.jpg

We also passed a small field of hops.

20130914-181405.jpg

And then rode under the motorway, the A81.

20130914-181414.jpg

20130914-181425.jpg

We rode through Dittingheim and then made our way to Tauberbishofsheim, a larger town along this route.

It had this rather unhelpful bit of cycle path!

20130914-181435.jpg

However it did not defeat me!

20130914-181506.jpg

At the top was this posh tower, part of the Kurmainzisches Schloss, and a wedding party outside.

20130914-181518.jpg

We had seen loads and loads of political campaigning during our time in Germany and had earlier seen a motorhome festooned with placards and pictures of Alois Gerig, the CDU candidate. He was campaigning himself in Tauberbischofsheim – I recognised his face from one of the thousands of posters.

20130914-181532.jpg

We skirted around the CDU stall so we didn’t have to talk politics.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that we were still in Baden Württemburg as the comparable party in Bavaria is the CSU.

After we left the centre of Tauberbischofsheim the Romantische Straße route followed the main road but on a cycle path beside it. We saw lots of signs for a bike shop, Esser, and soon enough the shop appeared – the other side of the main road. However there was an obvious bit of cross-grass-verge cycling to bring you up to the shop so I walked it with Alfie.

The shop was huge!

20130914-181542.jpg

20130914-181553.jpg

And amongst the vast amount of stock they had what I was looking for – a water bottle with lid cover. Hurrah! So I bought it for 5,99€. James and I have both had new water bottles this holiday (although he didn’t have to pay for his, it was a free gift!)

20130914-181601.jpg

The pictures on the side of this water bottle suggest that if I drink from it I will get much better at scaling mountains. Which is handy.

We rode into Hochhausen, the point where we were to leave the Tauber valley. I noticed this interesting way of growing a squash plant – it was climbiing along the fence!

20130914-181610.jpg

And then we reached the significant point – a little bridge over the Tauber which then takes us to Werbach and the new river valley, following the course of the Weizbach.

20130914-181621.jpg

Here is James crossing over.

20130914-181632.jpg

We waved goodbye to the Tauber and headed north-east for the first time today. It was probably a coincidencce but it immediately started to spit with rain which was annoying.

We stopped after half a mile at a rather impressive bench area beside a children’s playgound. Not just any bench but an oversized, recumbent-shaped bench!

20130914-181642.jpg

Here is James enjoying the swinging chair version.

And here are the two of us sitting on that swing (sorry for the bad self-portrait photo, our arms aren’t long enough to take a decent pic like this!)

20130914-181734.jpg

We wended our way past lots of allotments in Werbach, a sight that would become very familiar today as we rode up this valley. People seemed to grow lots of their own vegetables and masses of flowers too – it was lovely. Anyway, there was this impressive pumpkin display outside one house.

20130914-181743.jpg

We passed the Liebfrauenbrunnkapelle as the rain came down a bit harder.

20130914-181752.jpg

In Werbachhausen I saw this sign for the Romantische Straße and once again got Alfie to pose.

20130914-181800.jpg

We were now on the penultimate page of our Bikeline guide map book – we had almost reached our destination! Well, we were twenty miles away, but that wasn’t much.

The terrain flattened out a bit briefly although most of the time we had been steadily climbing.

20130914-181808.jpg

Here is a strip of land beside a field that is growing flowers – loads of ’em.

20130914-181815.jpg

We rode through Wenkheim in the drizzle and then realised we were once again crossing into Bavaria – here is the sign for Würzburg.

20130914-181824.jpg

This photo hasn’t come out too well but the house had brown wood and green walls so looked like a mint choc chip house!

20130914-181832.jpg

More attractive gardens in Unteraltertheim.

20130914-181840.jpg

Our plan was to stop for lunch in Altertheim at a bakery. However, when we arrived the bakery was shut. A chap was sitting on a step near it (outside the Feuerwehr) and I asked him about food establishments. He said there was only one place in this village and it was up a massive hill but gave us directions and we set off. It was indeed hilly but we found ourselves eventually at a guest house right out on its own up a hill. It was unusual in that it had four Kegelbahn (skittles) lanes.

We were the only customers initially although the owner had his two young boys playing in the restaurant. They were a bit too noisy for my liking (I don’t like children) and we also had the common issue that children don’t understand my German; I think they haven’t heard enough foreigners speaking their language to get their ears into what they were saying. One little boy was really interested in James’s bike and kept saying “Fahrrad” but we weren’t able to communicate any further with him.

James ordered a beer.

20130914-181848.jpg

And some minestrone soup.

20130914-181900.jpg

With some herby pizza bread.

20130914-181921.jpg

I had onion soup.

20130914-181907.jpg

With garlic pizza bread.

20130914-181914.jpg

It was all very tasty and the warming soup was just what we needed, having ridden through drizzle for a good hour.

We knew this village was the end of us following the Weizbach river and we now had to climb our way over the hills to get to the next valley, the Main River valley. This involved a fairly reasonable climb which was fortunately on a very quiet road so we could take our time.

20130914-181949.jpg

At the top of this climb we went through a wood which had the same Romantische Straße map as we had seen right back down near Füssen. James is indicating where we have got to now.

20130914-181958.jpg

The route then did a steep downhill (great fun, I got up to 40mph even though I had the brakes partially on) and then we crossed over the A3 motorway (along which we will drive tomorrow) before climbing up the other side again. The climb was hard work!

20130914-182005.jpg

We rode through Waldbrunn and then Eisingen where we took a slight wrong turn and had to retrace about 300 metres. From there we cycled along the ridge with views both sides – lots of wind turbines visible on the horizon all around.

After Eisingen the route went briefly through some more woodland but this time as an unmade track. Fortunately it was a reasonable quality track but it did have an interesting hazard at the end!

We headed downhill into Hochberg and wended our way through there towards Würzburg. Another wrong turn, probably because of a missing road sign or two, meant that we went about a mile out of our way before we realised our mistake. This was a bit frustrating so near to our final destination but we eventually found the correct cycle path which we zoomed down towards Würzburg.

There were some interesting views on the way down the hill, such as Festung Marienberg (the Marienberg Fortress) which is mighty impressive.

20130914-182018.jpg

20130914-182028.jpg

The cycle path went through a tunnel briefly…

20130914-182035.jpg

…which turned out to be under a church (St Burkard)!

20130914-182041.jpg

Then we had to ride/walk over the Mainbrücke which took ages as it was heaving with people. There was a festival on today and so there were people everywhere, drinking beer, listening to music etc. There was also a giant polar bear on the bridge (something to do with Greenpeace). I think it was a robotic bear as it moved and looked at people but for a few moments I wondered if it was real and if it would dislike a recumbent trike passing right before it!

20130914-182055.jpg

James took this view from the bridge across at Festung Marienberg.

20130914-182104.jpg

Because of the crowds we did a bit of a detour to get round the centre of the city and soon ended up at the main station, where we had taken our train to Füssen a week or so ago. James photographed the fountain there as evidence.

20130914-182110.jpg

Our hotel is a mile or so north-east of the centre so we rode our way up to Lindleinsmühle, travelling some of the way on a road with tram tracks which is always a bit scary. And then we arrived, finally, at our destination – the Romantic Road was complete!!!

Here’s the Garmin statistics for today:

20130914-182118.jpg

Total tour distance is 287 miles.

We put our bikes into the car and checked into the hotel. We had a smaller room this time but it shared a feature that we have found in many hotels on this tour – the loo seems fixed rather high on the wall. You have to be on tiptoe to touch the floor whilst sitting on the seat. Odd, that.

After a short rest we headed off by car to a local supermarket to get some supplies and then went to a local pizzeria for our evening meal. It was quite late by this time (8pm when we arrived) but the place was full and it had lots of awards hanging on the walls – it was clearly popular.

James had two beers this evening.

20130914-224002.jpg

We had some doughsticks to start.

20130914-224022.jpg

I had a lasagne:

20130914-224031.jpg

With side salad.

20130914-224012.jpg

Jaames had a pizza.

20130914-224041.jpg

I realised, whilst eating, that I hadn’t actually had a cake today. Shock horror!!!!!!!!

So I thought we deserved dessert.

James had tiramisu.

20130914-224057.jpg

And I treated myself to profiteroles.

20130914-224109.jpg

All very yummy!

We headed back to the hotel, both feeling quite tired after the day’s hills. We talked a bit over our meal about which was the best day and what were the nicest sections of the route – we’ll have to think a bit more about it before giving a definitive answer, but I think Rothenburg ob der Tauber must definitely rank as a highlight.

Tomorrow we are driving back to the Hook of Holland via Kempen (where I will be living from next April). A chance to see Germany at 80mph on the Autobahn rather than 9mph on a cycle path…

2 Comments

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Bad Mergentheim

Friday 13 September 2013

We slept really well in our exceptionally quiet room. Breakfast was a very varied selection.

20130913-085419.jpg

20130913-085427.jpg

Including very startled-looking eggs.

20130913-085458.jpg

The official route for today looked fine, not too many pointless detours and generally very high quality road surfaces (according to the Bikeline book which is not always 100% correct). So we expected to pretty much follow this route which winds itself along the Tauber valley.

20130913-085722.jpg

We were underway by 9:15am under heavy skies but, initially, no rain.

We bumped our way over the cobbles through the centre of Rothenburg (well worth a visit, folks!) and then popped out the other side, following not only the Romantische Straße route today but also the Liebliches Taubertal route (which had more obvious signage).

This route took us to Detwang and then across the Tauber to the western bank where we stayed for most of today’s ride, following the course of the river as it wound its way along towards Wertheim where it flows into the Main.

Near Langemühle I rounded a corner and saw a large rabbit sitting on the verge. I stopped about two metres from it and we looked at each other – it didn’t look like the wild rabbits we see at home, more like a big fat pet rabbit. James cycled past and it didn’t move, then I got the camera out and it hopped off. So here is my bad photo of the back end of a large rabbit!

20130913-171453.jpg

Today was a day of rather beautiful scenery, much more reminiscent of our previous river cycle tours than the landscape we’ve been travelling through up till now. The route reminded us most of our ride last September from Nassau via Bad Ems to Koblenz which was another small river in a fairly steep valley. This is the sort of view we saw a lot of today.

20130913-171504.jpg

As we crossed a little river tributary at Schwarzenmühle we saw this memorial to those who have worked as millers and have died.

20130913-171512.jpg

You can probably see on that photo that things look a bit wet – yes, it had begun to drizzle fairly persistently. James was already wearing his waterproofs but I decided to put my waterproof jacket on at this point.

We continued along the valley through Seldeneck, past Bettwar, having occasional ups and downs as the route followed the edge of the valley but sometimes had to climb a bit higher.

The rain started to come down a bit harder so I decided it was time to put on the Rainlegs.

These are amazingly-uncool waterproofs which just cover the top of your legs, so you don’t sweat as much. They go just below the knee and have some very unattractive elastic straps to hold them in place. However, they work reasonably well on a recumbent. I had brought them along with me and not used them but decided today was the day for them to get their first outing in Germany!

20130913-171522.jpg

To be honest, they are pretty unromantic.

20130913-171620.jpg

It felt a bit warmer with the Rainlegs on and James and I continued making reasonable time along the valley, passing Tauberscheckenbach and Tauberzell (on the other side of the river)

20130913-171534.jpg

We had a few fairly long uphills during this stretch which were fine on quiet roads with no traffic, just took a while in the lower gears. Here is James heading up one such hill.

20130913-171543.jpg

We spent much of today avoiding slugs on the cycle path, as in previous days when it has rained, but today I saw this rather large grasshopped too. Sadly one of his legs had already been run over and I’m not sure he was still alive (didn’t move at all).

20130913-171553.jpg

The river headed a little more westwards after Tauberzell and the rain had eased off enough that James decided to take off his waterproof jacket (I kept mine on).

20130913-171603.jpg

There were still very attractive views to be had around each corner.

20130913-171629.jpg

In Archshofen we noticed that we had joined another cycle route whose signs were pretty obvious – this is a wine cycling route!

20130913-171638.jpg

When we had earlier stopped to put on our waterproofs we’d been passed by a group of eight German cyclists. We kept passing each other as we or they stopped for breaks/photos but on the long climb up towards Creglingen we caught them up.

20130913-171647.jpg

This was the descent into Creglingen. I was following this group although they turned off the official route when they reached the centre of town (probably in search of food!)

20130913-171655.jpg

At Creglingen we crossed the river and then joined a relatively new part of the route. The English guide book talks about this route being worked on but it was clearly marked in our newer Bikeline book and the track was also on my GPS. It is a former railway line that has been turned into a cycle route between Creglingen and Bieberehren.

20130913-171703.jpg

As we were about to join the route a local chap on his bike started to talk to us. He told us that this was a very good route, that it was about 6km of gravel path but of good quality. It sounded worth trying so we headed off, weaving our way through a small industrial area before joining the path.

20130913-171711.jpg

We could see what looked like evidence of a former railway platform now just a side walkway to a large industrial building.

We passed Klingen (which James initially read on the map as Klingon) and at this point realised we had crossed back from Baden Würrtemburg into Bayern (Bavaria). We hadn’t noticed the original crossing out of the county that we’d done all but a few steps (in Tyrol) of our entire cycle route so far.

20130913-171718.jpg

This was the only hint, a mention that we had entered the area of Würzburg.

20130913-171728.jpg

As you can see from this signpost there are a large number of different cycle routes that use this track.

20130913-173253.jpg

As we approached Bieberehren the cycle path on the old railway came very close to the river (or a narrower part of it as it split in two a little earlier). We had commented to each other that maybe this is why the railway was closed, because it must have been prone to flooding at this point, and lo and behold James noticed loads of vegetation draped on tree branches. Clearly this had flooded and various bits of vegetable debris had landedd in the trees, presumably over winter. James is showing here the height that this flotsam has reached.

20130913-173343.jpg

The route along the cycle path finished at Bieberehren but I noticed on my Garmin that there was a very decent ‘Bicycle Path’ marked that looked like the continuation of this railway, although the official Romantische Straße route used roads on the other side of the river. We decided to give the Garmin route a go, so in Bieberehren we left the official track and worked our way slightly northwards. We crossed one of the Tauber tributaries, the Gollach, on the way.

20130913-173408.jpg

They obviously haven’t quite prettified this section up yet as we had to cycle along past an old car lot with various damaged manky ancient cars. If it weren’t for the Garmin map we would have had no idea the railway had come along here.

I photographed this unfortunately-labelled trailer – “spewi”!!!

20130913-173421.jpg

We were back on the nice cycle path with a decent gravel surface which we could progress along comfortably at 11mph.

20130913-173430.jpg

We passed this field of very inquisitive sheep and very large lambs.

20130913-173444.jpg

The route described a fairly large curve with the main road below us. Here am I contemplating lunch at Röttingen, just three kilometres away at this point. It was dry enough now that I had removed my waterproof jacket.

20130913-173456.jpg

Then just after we had crossed a side road James called out that he had a puncture. This was about one minute after I had been saying to myself that once again I hadn’t had a single mechanical issue or puncture on a German cycle tour (I haven’t had any issues on my German tours for several years).

20130913-173505.jpg

He’s used to fixing punctures so made quick work of it.

20130913-173516.jpg

A very large piece of glass was embedded in the tyre and had cut a very impressive slash in the rubber. This tyre will be replaced when we get home.

20130913-173624.jpg

James borrowed my new Topeak Mountain Morph pump to pump up the new tube (the pump is excellent, by the way, easy to use by a one-handed lady and gets the tyre up to decent pressure without too much effort).

20130913-173647.jpg

The clouds were gathering during the ten minutes we stopped to fix James’s puncture and there were a few spots of rain as we rolled into Röttingen.

We passed this garage which had an interesting selection of cars outside.

20130913-173656.jpg

We quickly found a bakery (there’s a surprise!)

James ordered a cappuccino which came with a rather romantic decoration!

20130913-173703.jpg

I had a cheese roll with my cup of tea.

20130913-173711.jpg

They had a nice selection of cakes.

20130913-173724.jpg

But we decided to choose something local – it looked a bit like a pizza but was either a plum cake or a cheesecake.

20130913-173732.jpg

I went for plum, which we shared.

20130913-173739.jpg

I noticed that there were no Schneeballen in this bakery so obviously we had gone beyond the reach of Rothenburg’s speciality.

There were two American ladies in the bakery when we arrived (I walked in on one in the ladies’ loo as she hadn’t locked the door, and she seemed very put out that I opened it but I had no idea it was in use!) and another English-speaking couple bought some food whilst we were there. When we went outside this couple struck up a conversation with us about our ride – it turned out they were Aussies obviously over here for a reasonably long holiday and they were really enjoying their time in Germany. They were off to London next.

Röttingen had this weird sculpture thing.

20130913-173747.jpg

With this wording:

20130913-173756.jpg

Which continued the other side of another large chunk of stone.

20130913-173803.jpg

We headed out from Röttingen with only 13 miles to our destination, Bad Mergentheim. The rain had stopped again whilst we were in the bakery and the vista opened out to a flatter valley for this section, once again on the left hand side (south bank now) of the river.

20130913-173810.jpg

At Tauberrettersheim we stopped to photograph the bridge, unsurprisingly called the Tauberbrücke.

20130913-173818.jpg

We were now heading towards Weikersheim and as we approached the town we spotted a bike shop right alongside the route. I’d wanted to replace my water bottle with another one with a double cap (to keep muck off the mouthpiece) so stopped to have a look.

A very nice lady said hello to us and I asked to see the water bottles. Unfortunately they didn’t have the type that I need (they’re quite hard to get hold of), but we had a nice chat anyway. The lady, Rita, was amazingly friendly and talked to us loads about the people who have dropped in on her shop on the way from London to Istanbul, for example.

She kept also giving us free gifts – initially a bag of Haribo each. We talked a bit more and she gave us a pen with the bicycle shop name on which had a surprisingly bright torch light at one end. We talked some more (had a look at her selection of different Schwalbe tyres, most of which we don’t really see in the UK) and she asked if we’d had any punctures. I said that James had just had one so she gave us each a puncture repair kit. We were suitably grateful, she was being really generous (especially as we hadn’t bought anything), but we were having a great conversation and she was very interested in the fact we lived in Essex as she knew of other cyclists from there.

Anyway, to top it all she gave James a free water bottle!

20130913-174927.jpg

She was happy to have a photo taken of her with James and the pile of goodies between them.

20130913-174909.jpg

We can heartily recommend Zweiradcenter Seyfer at Schäftersheimer Straße 44, 97990 Weikersheim, if you need anything for your bike (it was a huge shop) or just want a chat with super-friendly Rita!

She requested that we send her a proper postcard from Essex so we’ll do that when we get home.

We’d spent probably twenty minutes talking with Rita but she was great fun and it gave us a real boost to meet someone so thrilled to talk to travelling cyclists.

After a few hundred metres further cycling we reached the central square of Weikersheim with Schloss Weikersheim which looked very posh.

20130913-174934.jpg

And the Stadtkirche too.

20130913-174916.jpg

From here we headed off out into the countryside again, following the Tauber. The landscape was getting more varied with not just sweetcorn and grass growing but the first big sections with vines.

20130913-174941.jpg

At Elpersheim we came across a very obvious diversion for bikes which kept us on the south side of the river rather than crossing and riding along the other side, the route that the book and the Garmin had.

20130913-174948.jpg

This turned out to be a very decent diversion with a good asphalt surface although it was quite hilly, including what was probably the steepest short climb we had to do.

We got more good views across fields to the valley edges from the top.

20130913-174958.jpg

But also a warning about the dangerous section we’d just ridden. It didn’t seem dangerous at the time!

20130913-175004.jpg

We have spent a lot of time today cycling past apple trees with loads of orchards on the route. Here’s a picture of an orchard we saw just after Markelsheim where we rejoined the official route.

20130913-175011.jpg

In Markelsheim we also passed the winery that made James’s last night’s drink. Fortunately/unfortunately it didn’t look open today.

We were on the final stretch now and rode through Igersheim before crossing over the river to the north bank and heading in to Bad Mergentheim.

It’s an interesting spa town as it has a large area where bikes aren’t allowed so we had to do a bit of a detour.

We passed an unusual area of path – it is a cycle school. Here is James the Bikeability Instructor posing next to it.

20130913-175017.jpg

It’s a series of roads with markings and even traffic lights but just bicycle path width, presumably to train young German cyclists on the rules of the road with no cars actually there.

20130913-175023.jpg

We then headed towards the bridge over the Tauber that we needed to take for our hotel, first passing under a railway bridge which had height markers for cyclists!

20130913-175030.jpg

We reached the Wolfgang Bridge with the Wolfgangskapelle at the northern end.

20130913-175036.jpg

There’s a mural of St Christopher on the side.

20130913-175046.jpg

Our hotel was just 100 metres along the road and we found it easily enough.

This is the Garmin reading for today:

20130913-175055.jpg

I went to check in and all went fine – the lady told us that we were actually staying in a different building, the annexe, and this turned out to be a different Guesthouse about 50 metres further along the road. Clearly Hotel Wanfried have taken this building over as it had a reception desk and all sorts of things to show it used to be a self-contained hotel but there were no staff there. My Booking Reservation had warned us we would be in a different building so this wasn’t a surprise, but the room itself was – it turned out to be a Ferienwohnung (holiday apartment) rather than hotel room so was huge and had a fully-functioning kitchen, including kettle!

We have a lounge area with large sofas, balcony and attached kitchen.

20130913-175101.jpg

And a large and comfy bedroom with separate balcony and en-suite.

20130913-175107.jpg

All this for a very reasonable price, and breakfast served in the main hotel tomorrow morning (so we’ll have a short walk for our food). The Internet connection was pretty decent too.

We went out for a short walk to the supermarket to get some milk for our cups of tea and a few nibbles as it was too early for dinner but we were hungry. After writing up most of this blog (as well as doing all the clothes washing etc) it was time to head out for our main meal in the Altstadt.

We crossed the railway line to get into the town. Note the lack of any barriers etc to prevent idiots playing on the railway – I suppose they assume you’ll be sensible about it.

20130913-213613.jpg

We walked into the town centre and saw the attractive buildings (the twins), connected by a gate/porch (on the right hand side).

20130913-213622.jpg

A view of the pedestrian precinct at dusk.

20130913-213629.jpg

We found a Greek Restaurant that looked rather nice. James ordered his usual beer and me some tapwater (cheapskate). James did well out of this as they provided us with two glasses of Ouzo and he had both!

20130913-213703.jpg

I ordered a starter of Sheep’s Cheese – it was enormous!

20130913-213715.jpg

James had bruschetta.

20130913-213723.jpg

This is the salad that came with my moussaka.

20130913-213729.jpg

20130913-213742.jpg

This is James’s chicken salad.

20130913-213736.jpg

We had a very enjoyable meal and a very decent price.

Whilst walking back I noticed this sign – could this be me by next year?

20130913-213823.jpg

When we got back James remembered he needed to mend his punctured tube so opened one of the new puncture repair kits we got from Rita and got to work.

20130913-213829.jpg

Thanks again Rita!

Tomorrow is our last day, a 40 mile ride to Würzburg where we reunite ourselves with my car. The route starts off along the Tauber river again via Lauda-Königshofen and Tauberbischofsheim before leaving the Tauber at Werbach and heading up the Weizbach river valley to Oberaltertheim where we have to head over some high hills to get to Würzburg.

3 Comments

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Dinkelsbühl to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Thursday 12 September 2013

After a reasonable night’s sleep, started somewhat amusingly when James’s side of the bed partially collapsed (he fixed it OK), we went down to breakfast.

The skies were grey but the earlier rain had turned to drizzle and we hoped for a dry-ish afternoon at least.

We’d read a lot in the guidebook about the special Pretzel window in the church but couldn’t see it last night in the dark. It wasn’t as obvious as we had thought anyway when we had a look on our way past this morning, but James spotted it – several pretzel shapes in the stonework at the top of the window.

20130912-173805.jpg

Here is a close-up.
20130912-173817.jpg

This was the original planned route for today’s ride to Rothenburg ob der Tauber:

20130912-174426.jpg

Today would be a day of change, leaving the Wörnitz river that we had followed for a few days and swapping (eventually) to the Tauber.

We started off, however, following the Wörnitz as it wound its extremely wiggly way northwards. We were mostly riding on quiet lanes, seeing few cars in the first half hour or so. Possibly a good thing as these lanes were narrower than a lot of German roads and it was a bit of a squeeze when a car with a trailer had to pass.

We saw a heron in a field. That reminds me, we saw an enormous white stork near a lake yesterday – it was huge! I also saw another massive bird standing up in a field later today but had no idea what it was except some kind of scary-looking bird of prey. It looked as though it could carry away a cat or two!

Anyway, this was the sort of view we had for the first half hour today, including a view of rain clouds.

20130912-173827.jpg

Because of the rainy forecast we had already decided to modify the route to shave off some extra miles. We still planned to visit the towns of Feuchtwangen and Schillingsfürst on the way to Rothenburg but the official route did a rather random diversion. Our English guidebook took yet another route. James and I checked the maps last night and decided on our own variation.

Which in fact we slightly altered when arriving at a junction near Schopfloch. We had planned to turn right here and join the cycle path on the B25 but this sign gave us an alternative route – the official Romantische Straße route which is 20km to Feuchtwangen or the ‘Direkt’ route which is 10. We went for Direkt!

20130912-173836.jpg

We cycled northwards into a fairly stiff wind, routing through Larrieden and then crossing the Wörnitz. We had to go over a bit of a hill, unfortunately, and it started raining quite heavily at this point so we put on our waterproofs and headed off up the hill.

I was regretting not stopping to shelter in a barn we had passed as a minute or two later the rain started really pouring down and we were out in the open with no shelter. We just rode through it. We were awarded with a good view at the end but I was soaked and James’s shoes had let in a lot of water again so he had wet and cold feet.

20130912-173849.jpg

Still, Feuchtwangen was getting ever closer and just as we reached the outskirts of the town the rain stopped and there were brief glimpses of sunshine.

Feuchtwangen has a famous cloister (according to my Romantic Road iPhone app) but we couldn’t find it marked on our map or my Garmin. I assumed therefore that it would be part of the main church, the Stiftkirche, so we headed there.

20130912-173859.jpg

No cloister but they did have this rather cool building beside the church.

20130912-173909.jpg

The open space in front of the church was teeming with young people on a school trip so it was clearly a popular place to visit but as we were wet and cold we decided to press on.

Our route now went alongside the river, which was no longer the Wörnitz which had headed off to our west but was now the Sulzach. There was a nice cycle path through the meadows beside the river and I was surprised to see a lot of flowering crocuses – surely it’s the wrong season for them?

20130912-173919.jpg

The route took us under a main road, along it for 200 metres or so and then struck off northwards beside the Sulzach again through very empty, rolling countryside. The road was mostly OK but there were a few less smooth sections, such as this one.

20130912-173935.jpg

Fortunately the paved bits were wide enough for Alfie’s track so I didn’t have to send a wheel through the grassy, bumpy middle section.

We saw this hill in the distance and our map suggested we might have to go over it. We seemed to have quite a hilly route today so that was no great surprise!

20130912-173945.jpg

At Bonlanden the Bikeline guidebook had a warning symbol that the signage for the route was a bit dodgy. This was clearly nonsense, the cycle route sign was fine, but it did take us along a narrow track beside a factory which had railway lines. James’s back wheel slid quite impressively as he went over these tracks!

20130912-173954.jpg

The road became a bit more off-road for two miles.

20130912-174002.jpg

Theoretically this was wide enough for Alfie – just – but the reality is that it’s very, very difficult to ride with both front wheels just on the paving stones so I went along with one wheel in the grass.

We went through Archshofen, then had a climb up a bit before we crossed over the A6 motorway. The subsequent downhill was through a wooded section which was actually a bit chilly. We then crossed the railway and headed into Dombühl, the last village before our lunch stop in Schillingsfürst.

However we had a really long and steep climb out of Dombühl that seemed to go on forever. I twiddled up in about third gear (out of 33); James was a bit quicker as usual. This photo is looking back at where we have come from. We needed a breather so the excuse of taking a photo was handy!

20130912-174017.jpg

Here is James consulting the map to see if we have any more evil hills like that today (fortunately not!)

20130912-174026.jpg

Once again we were riding through woodland, feeling occasional spots of rain but nothing as significant as earlier in the day.

It wasn’t long before we could see Schillingsfürst in the distance, the large building on the left of the mound, Schloss Schillingsfürst, very evident.

20130912-174044.jpg

Schillingsfürst is an interesting place because of a significant piece of geography. From my app:

The castle, the baroque palace of the princes of Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, stands on the spur of a hill in the Franconian Heights. Because the palace is located right on the European watershed, a local legend says that the rainwater from the western side of the palace roof runs into the Rhine and the North Sea via the river Main, whereas the rainwater from the eastern side finds its way into the Danube and Black Sea.

We wended our way into Schillingsfürst and stopped at the first bakery we could find. It was time for lunch, a hot drink and to warm up a bit.

Here is James contemplating his coffee and sandwich.

20130912-174058.jpg

He went for a healthy sandwich although eschewed the sandwich specially labelled “For Men” (which had extra herbs, apparently!)

20130912-174109.jpg

I had a filled baguette.

My attention was caught by a display of cakey-things called Schneeballen (snowballs)

20130912-174122.jpg

After my baguette I thought it only right to try one as I hadn’t seen them before.

20130912-174132.jpg

It was a kind of pastry, very light but hard/crispy, and was most tasty although difficult to eat without causing an explosion of icing sugar everywhere.

James watched me eating the Schneeball and got hungry again so he had a Nussecke.

20130912-174142.jpg

After we had finished our food and drink it was time to head off again in a lull in the rain. But first I had to pose on the watershed. My left foot and arm would, if washed away, drain (eventually) into the Tauber and Main and then Rhine and North Sea, my right foot and arm would end up in the Donau (Danube) and Black Sea. It’s a weird thought!

20130912-174150.jpg

Schillingsfürst, being a watershed town, was clearly up high. This meant a downhill next – here is James preparing and letting me go first.

20130912-174201.jpg

And it was a good thing he let me go first as the road from Schillingsfürst to Bellershausen is fantastically fast. I got up to 37.7mph and hadn’t pedalled at all since the start of the hill. In fact I stopped for James to take a photo of me with Schillingsfürst Castle behind, still not having pedalled, and then rolled back onto the road (without pedalling) and continued right to Bellershausen before I needed to pedal. That was probably a full mile of no pedalling for me; James had to pedal to overcome the headwind on his upright bike but this is the sort of road that recumbents love.

20130912-174219.jpg

After Bellershausen we crossed under the A7 motorway, built up on stilts to cross the valley.

20130912-174229.jpg

At Diebach James had pre-planned a short route variation to avoid some off-road shenanigans and this just involved us continuing on the main road rather than heading off across fields. At Bockenfeld we rejoined the officical route which was meant to be tarmac but was actually crushed stone but it was a reasonable enough quality that I just went for it. It was here that we first started cycling alongside the Tauber river which was also fed by the Wethbachgraben (which we crossed) and the Kimberger Mühlbach, along with several other tiny streams. These all end up in the Rhine which is a weird thought, especially as by the time we reach Würzburg I will have ridden the entire route to Düsseldorf that these little streams follow.

At Gebsattel we knew we were almost there and this sign showed how many different cycle routes had converged here.

20130912-174241.jpg

Earlier today we had, for a while, followed a route signed with a fish which is some kind of fishing/cycling route. It was raining though so I couldn’t get a photo without drowning the phone!

On the last stretch into Rothenburg ob der Tauber, just after we crossed over a main road on an impressive bike bridge, we passed this house. I loved all the different things on the roof – loads of extra effort but looked really cool!

20130912-174250.jpg

We rode through the suburbs a bit and then arrived at the town walls. This sign showed us that we were crossing another important cycling route.

20130912-174300.jpg

This was our route into the Altstadt (old part of town).

20130912-174311.jpg

This is the Spital Bastion, a 17th century bastion with two inner courtyards, seven gates and an upper walkway. We returned to this on foot later.

Here is one of the inner courtyards, taken whilst pedalling along!

20130912-174329.jpg

Here is James having reached the inner sanctum!

20130912-174339.jpg

We trundled our way slowly (cobbles!) down the main street before turning off right down a tiny lane to our hotel, Alter Keller.

20130912-210043.jpg

The lady gave me a key to what turned out to be an empty apartment building next door to the hotel and that was where we were to store the bikes, just in the hallway (the building wasn’t used).

Here are the Garmin statistics for today’s ride:

20130912-174347.jpg

After our showers and clothes washing we decided to make the most of the dry weather (and occasional sightings of blue sky) and head out for a walkies around Rothenburg which was clearly an interesting town.

My app explains:

High above the deeply carved Tauber valley, where the Romantic Road meets the Castle Road, the silhouette of historical Rothenburg ob der Tauber rises up against the sky. With its fully intact mediaeval centre, the town is an architectural gem that is an absolute must for sightseers. Its intricate winding passageways, small squares with towers, fountains, quaint wine taverns and its half-timbered buildings create a romantic and enchanting atmosphere that is without equal. You might like to see the completely intact mediaeval town wall, along which you can circle almost the entire town centre…”

That sounded like a plan!!

So we headed off to wander up and down the high street for a bit.

20130912-174436.jpg

This is the main town hall, wrapped up because it’s being renovated/restored but with a picture on the wrapping.

20130912-213505.jpg

And this is the tourist information office, also wrapped.

20130912-213514.jpg

Another quaint cobbled street.

20130912-213522.jpg

Oh look, a windowful of Schneeballen!

20130912-213530.jpg

It turns out that the Schneeball is a special pastry from Rotheburg. They were everywhere, in all the bakeries and with different coatings and in different sizes. They are very yummy!

I liked the change of heights with these two roads, both of which has a gate.

20130912-174444.jpg

James and I spied a set of stone steps up a side road which appeared to lead to the walls walkway. And indeed they did!

20130912-174452.jpg

These passageways were very long – you can see James halfway along.

20130912-174503.jpg

One section had lots of people’s and companies’ names marked at regular intervals. I assume they gave money for some restoration of the walls or something similar.

20130912-174511.jpg

The level of the walkways changed as we explored further.

20130912-174521.jpg

A view from inside the wall walkway of the Lutheran church.

20130912-174529.jpg

People’s houses and back gardens but up right against the wall.

20130912-174539.jpg

20130912-174548.jpg

A view from the gate that we arrived through, up along the high street towards the Town Hall.

20130912-174556.jpg

Inside the Spital Bastion.

20130912-174605.jpg

20130912-174622.jpg

20130912-174630.jpg

A handy waggon and cannon.

20130912-174637.jpg

20130912-174645.jpg

20130912-174653.jpg

This is a view of the courtyard within the bastion.

20130912-174701.jpg

20130912-174708.jpg

And outside, the moat.

20130912-174715.jpg

Looking up at the gate – the stones are strangely dressed, with convex stonework.

20130912-174736.jpg

The bastion, the moat and the footbridge.

20130912-174747.jpg

From the outside:

20130912-174757.jpg

Looking in:

20130912-174805.jpg

Another view of the moat.

20130912-174815.jpg

And of the tower at this gate.

20130912-174823.jpg

The interior of the church near this tower. Now I am sure that it said it was a Lutheran church on the outside but the guide book says “St John’s Church, the Catholic Church built between 1390 and 1410”. It looks kinda plain inside for a Catholic Church.

20130912-174831.jpg

Looking up a side street at the wall with one of its many towers – we walked along there earlier.

20130912-174838.jpg

An inner tower, Plönlein/Siebers Tower.

20130912-174845.jpg

More gorgeous buildings.

20130912-174852.jpg

This is St Jacob’s Church. Its construction was begun in 1311.

20130912-174901.jpg

The building next to it had this sundial which we couldn’t work out at all. We took the photo at about 5pm.

20130912-174907.jpg

The Galgen Gate.

20130912-174913.jpg

From the other side.

20130912-174921.jpg

20130912-174929.jpg

After all that walking about it was time to go back to the hotel and maybe have a cuppa and cake. How handy that they had some Erdbeerkuchen in stock. The lady cut me a huge slice to have with my cuppa!

20130912-174936.jpg

It rained really hard between 5:30 and 6:30pm which was fine as we were both in the hotel room, James having a sleep and me writing up this blog, but the weather had cleared nicely by 7pm when we started thinking about going out to dinner.

We stopped at a restaurant on the main street which had a good selection of things we liked.

James started by ordering his first wine of the trip, now we are in Franconia. His choice was Röttinger Feuerstein Halbtrocken.

20130912-210054.jpg

Then it was time for food. We both ordered schnitzel-type meals so had our salads first.

20130912-210105.jpg

I had a Zigeunerschnitzel (Gipsy) which is slightly hotter than the normal Schnitzel.

20130912-210123.jpg

James had Schweinelendchen “Allgauer Art” with Spätzle.

20130912-210139.jpg

And for dessert we had a Gemischtes Eis (mixed ice creams) with two spoons.

20130912-210151.jpg

We enjoyed our meal. It was good to see the night watchman of Rothenburg go past the restaurant’s windows at one point; he was carrying a lantern on a pole but looked more like the Grim Reaper!

Tommorrow we head out of Bavaria for the first time since we dipped our toes into Tirol in Austria last Friday. We’ll be overnighting in Bad Mergenthein in Baden-Württemburg which happens to be the town from which James’s wine today came, so he’s looking forward to a chance to have some of that again.

The weather forecast is also a bit more kindly with less rain, more sunshine and higher temperatures. Maybe I can ditch the legwarmers I’ve had to wear for the last three days!

1 Comment

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Harburg to Dinkelsbühl

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Last night we talked on Skype with the in-laws and they let us webcam with Poppy the dog who looks very relaxed in front of the woodburner.

20130911-204351.jpg

I slept really well last night – mind you, I went to bed at 10pm which was an hour and a half earlier than normal. Consequently when I woke up at 7am I felt very refreshed and we were both up and down at breakfast by 8am.

I wasn’t 100% sure if breakfast was included in the room rate (it wasn’t mentioned on my email reservation confirmation) but it was, which was a bonus. Once again I had a slightly lighter breakfast. This was our cheapest hotel at 59 Euros, a real bargain we thought!

We’ve mentioned the books we’re using to help us plan our journey but I realise I haven’t really described them.

The main book for routefinding is the Bikeline book.

20130911-204404.jpg

We are also using a book written in English, although it dates from 1997 so is a bit out of date (it talks about Deutschmarks, for example!)

20130911-084321.jpg

The author of this book has a slightly singular voice at times, and he is also very keen on visiting everything whereas we’re a bit quicker with our riding, but it’s useful to have an idea of what we are likely to see each day.

Here is the planned map of today’s route:

20130911-084211.jpg

However we had spent some time last night looking at the route and working out small diversions to avoid the off-road sections, plus gratuitous hills. We particularly noticed the very beginning of the route did a rather strange loop to a village called Hoppingen, whereas we could just ride up the hill behind our hotel and join the route after a couple of miles, avoiding a five mile route. So we did!

We managed to organise ourselves a bit better today and were able to head off just after 9am, a good hour earlier than we have been leaving previously. This was partly to try to avoid some of the rain that was forecast from 11am. I am not too keen on cycling in rain and thought that we should make the most of the dry early morning.

Here is James outside the hotel ready to leave (we’d oiled our chains and other bike bits following yesterday’s rain before heading out).

20130911-153714.jpg

We cycled extremely slowly up the very steep slope at the back of our hotel which leads up to the B25 road (a very fast A-road) but which has a cytcle path alongside it from Harburg onwards towards Nördlingen, the next major stop on our route.

The official route crosses over this after its detour to Hoppingen and then goes further south, passing through seven small villages and going up and down quite a few hills. The English guidebook said these villages aren’t very interesting and you might as well ride on the very good cycle path beside the B25 so that’s what we decided to do.

We were cycling past farmland which was mostly sweetcorn or grass or fodder but we did see this field of asparagus.

20130911-153805.jpg

We were very soon looking down over a huge flat area which is called the Ries.

20130911-153751.jpg

The English guidebook explains:

At this point, the geologically distinctive area known as the Ries is entered. It was formed 15 million years ago, when a meteorite crashed down on the mountain plateau previously located there, falling at aspeed of around 100,000km/h, and with an impact 250,000 times that of the Hiroshima bomb.

It produced a transient crater which, as a result of the evaporation of the meteorite itself and the rocks it hit, gradually spread to cover an almost circular area 25km in diameter. In the process, a new type of rock, known as Suevite, came into existence.

A shallow lake formed in the crater, but this silted up over the course of the next two million years.

Following the last glaciation period, the present landscape gradually emerged, flat and virtually treeless, with some highly-distinctive rocky outcrops amid extremely fertile soils. The Ries is among the world’s largest craters and has been studied more than any other. As it shares many characteristics with the craters of the moon, the astronauts of NASA’s Apollo 14 and 17 came there in 1971 to undertake preparatory research.

We were very much able to see the Ries as we whizzed along the cycle path, with a huge ring of hills around it. The hills that we had passed over were rocky and clearly not man-made and we could well imagine how they would have been thrown up as the meteorite hit.

Here’s a short video James took to show you the view of the crater and the surrounding hills.

We were now cycling through the fertile middle bit and we saw lots of rows of sweetcorn with markers for the different varieties – a test field perhaps?

20130911-153850.jpg

On our way to Möttingen we saw this monument, more evidence of the Romans.

20130911-154316.jpg

20130911-154351.jpg

20130911-154404.jpg

And this is looking back at where we came from, Harburg is in that row of hills behind Alfie.

20130911-154420.jpg

We were making really good progress despite the fairly strong headwind, helped significantly by the high-quality, smooth cycle track and the lack of lots of side roads to negotiate, although there were just a few which involved the cycle path doing a bit of a convoluted route.

Much quicker than we expected we were arriving at Nördlingen, a Roman-era town with impressive walls. Here is James approaching the gate, the Reimlinger Tor.

20130911-154433.jpg

And here it is close-up – it looked a bit like a Pagoda from a distance.

20130911-154444.jpg

This is a view to the side of the gate, the walkway which you can take on the city wall almost the entire way round.

20130911-154454.jpg

And here is an amusing name for a hairdressers (at least, I thought so).

20130911-154507.jpg

Nördlingen has a large church in the middle, the St Georgskirche, with a very tall tower known locally as “Daniel”. Unfortunately the church had scaffolding on but was still impressive.

20130911-155022.jpg

We found the town centre square which was bustling with a market and lots of visitors. I liked this little sculpture.

20130911-154546.jpg

And its explanation – it’s the logo for Cittaslow, an international group for towns that focus on a good lifestyle and their individual identity in a global environment.

20130911-155042.jpg

Nördlingen had all the traditional town goodies like beautiful half-timbered houses and fountains, etc.

20130911-155051.jpg

James had commented that he wished he had a marker pen with him to draw on our Bikeline map when we planned alternative routes. Lo and behold we saw a stationer’s shop so popped in to see if they had a pen, which they did – several. James chose an orange one and was very pleased with it. I was keen to get moving as I had parked Alfie outside this building and it was advertising that they sold Windbeutel, cakes that I REALLY like!

20130911-155058.jpg

The plan was not to stop for cake in Nördlingen as we wanted to make the most of the dry weather. The Windbeutel was tempting me to hang around but in the end we set off, James triumphantly with his new orange pen.

This was the gate on the way out, the Baldinger Tor.

20130911-155105.jpg

Again, you can see the steps up to the walkway around the town. It was a shame we didn’t have time to look round really but I wanted to avoid as much rain as possible, wimp that I am!

20130911-155112.jpg

Here is that gate from the other side.

20130911-155119.jpg

Our route went on a short stretch of cycle path which took us under a main road. Here I am looking back at the town with the Daniel tower very much in evidence.

20130911-155128.jpg

I saw a couple of these billboards today – somehow I wouldn’t expect an English attendee of a Rocktober Party to look like this!

20130911-155154.jpg

We headed up to Wallerstein and then Birkhausen and Maihingen.

Just before a fantastic swooping downhill into Maihingen we saw a bench with some stones around it. James said the stones showed evidence of the meteorite hit because they were all twisted, so he took a couple of pics.

20130911-155202.jpg

20130911-155211.jpg

We then enjoyed the fast downhill into Maihingen, avoiding the usual slugs but also at one point a huge hairy red caterpillar. I saw one later on today which I photographed.

At this point the Bikeline book gives two options for the route; the main route goes off-road through the hills to the west of Fremindgen, lots of forest tracks which are unmade and with significant ups and downs. The alternative route goes further east and passes through Fremdingen itself. It looked a little less hilly, and with definitely better road surfaces, so we decided to take that option.

From Maihingen we climbed up a pretty significant hill towards Utzwingen. Utzwingen was a small village but with what looked like a fairly new Lutheran church. It also had the swerving white paint all over the road which we’ve seen a lot on this tour – the paint goes for miles in a wavy pattern. Does anyone know what it means?

20130911-155219.jpg

I thought the church was the top of the hill but sadly not, we had a bit more climbing to do (I have used my granny ring more on this tour than probably the last year’s worth of riding put together!), but the view was most definitely worth it!

20130911-155227.jpg

And here is a panoramic video taken by me.

We saw this wonderful bird wheeling around over our heads quite close and I tried to get a couple of shots which ended up as silhouettes. The bird looked a bit like an enormous kestrel with that same reddish colouring. A red kite?

20130911-155436.jpg

20130911-155442.jpg

From Utzwingen we stayed on top of the ridge with great views a lot of the time. We rode past Herblingen, seeing it just down the hillside from our road, then through Hochaltingen where a brand new (unmarked on our map or Garmin) cycle path cut a corner off part of our route and saved us half a mile or so.

From there we had a brilliant downhill into Fremdingen. I took the opportunity to film James coming past.

I was pretty hungry by now and wanted to stop in Fremdingen for some food. The rain had still not arrived apart from a couple of spots here and there but it was time for food as we’d done eighteen or so miles. Although it wasn’t wet it was very cold and I’d had to stop behind a hedge to put on an underlayer and had also added my armwarmers. My feet were a bit cold too – tomorrow I shall wear two pairs of socks (with sandals, yikes!!!!)

I spotted a bakery immediately we reached Fremdingen (I am good at detecting cakes!) and we parked our bikes outside – next to this rather random pharmacy delivery vehicle!

20130911-155626.jpg

We ordered a sandwich each and tea and coffee. James also posed for some photos with his new orange pen, of which he is inordinately proud!

20130911-155634.jpg

20130911-155641.jpg

When we set off again we were doing a completely off-map option which my Garmin suggested was possible. It avoided some bad off-road paths on the official route (which had drawn very close again) and looked, on Google Satellite View, like it was well-tarmacked. Which it was. It’s surprising how useful Google Satellite View is for our tour planning!

This went past a lake and then along a new bit of cycle track which stayed near the B25. However this track ran out, as we reached the turning for Rüblingstetten, as we expected it to, so we took that turning and then joined the official route again for the first time in about eight miles.

As expected, this route was rather off-road.

20130911-155647.jpg

The surface was very soft in places and very hard work to push the bike through but it was a fairly short stretch so I knew I would survive, especially as it wasn’t yet raining. We could see some rainclouds but not that close and we were beginning to hope we might survive the day’s ride dry.

Here’s another one of those impressive caterpillars!

20130911-155656.jpg

The route went very near to Greiselbach at which point the route headed off-road in a westerly direction but the main road to Dinkelsbühl, our destination for the day, headed north-west. We had already checked to see if there was a cycle track (there was), so we took another quick detour.

This was obviously on the driving route as we took this photographs of our bikes being all romantic!

20130911-155736.jpg

The cycle path beside this road disappeared briefly in the village of Wilburgstetten where we rejoined the Wörnitz river (which we had first met at Donauwörth) and then we found the path again, it went through an underpass and we transferred onto a lovely quiet bike road which soon rejoined the official route, going through a farm on its way.

We were now on the final two mile run to Dinkelsbühl which included this lovely bridge just for cyclists!

20130911-155744.jpg

Then it was a short journey through the suburbs and we arrived at one of the many gates for Dinkelsbühl, the Nördlinger Tor.

20130911-172131.jpg

Our Hotel was fifty metres inside this gate.

20130911-172114.jpg

I went in and met a very friendly receptionist who took us to a locked garage to store our bikes and who seemed exceptionally keen to carry James’s panniers for him!

We were shown to a really nice room.

20130911-155800.jpg

With posh bed hangings!

20130911-155806.jpg

Of course within five minutes it looked as though a bomb had gone off (or meteorite crashed) as we emptied our panniers, washed our clothes etc.

Here is the display from my Garmin for today – our diversions knocked five miles off the total!

20130911-155752.jpg

After we’d had a short break it was time to head out and explore Dinkelsbühl.

20130911-172123.jpg

It has a city wall all the way around with lots of towers and gates.

20130911-172140.jpg

These steps were up to a walkway around the walls.

20130911-172152.jpg

Look how worn they are!

20130911-172201.jpg

A view over the town from the walkway.

20130911-172209.jpg

James liked the roof.

20130911-172218.jpg

20130911-172225.jpg

I am sure this shop says “Army Stuff”!

20130911-172235.jpg

One thing we noticed, when walking around, was that every shop had its exterior writing in gothic script and there were no advertising signs hanging out. Even the banks just had the bank name, in gothic script, painted on the outside. The only advertising you could see was inside the windows.

This meant the place looked wonderfully uncluttered but I am sure there are a lot of rules about living here which must be irritating for inhabitants. We assume there is a rule against velux windows, for example, as several houses had glass roof tiles in a square, presumably as skylights, where you would normally see a velux.

Some more views from our walkabout.

20130911-173029.jpg

20130911-173038.jpg

20130911-173046.jpg

20130911-173053.jpg

20130911-173112.jpg

20130911-173103.jpg

20130911-173134.jpg

20130911-173212.jpg

I liked this vet’s logos.

20130911-173221.jpg

This is the Rothenburger Tor which we will pass through on our way tomorrow morning.

20130911-173229.jpg

More street scenes.

20130911-173237.jpg

It was then that I spied a bakery/café and the urge for a cake overcame me.

20130911-173247.jpg

It was a strawberry and yoghurt cake so very healthy, of course!

Here is the little chocolate sign on it.

20130911-173253.jpg

However, when I put the Kaffee Sahne (creamer fake milk stuff) into the cup of tea, it went like this:

20130911-204414.jpg

This has happened to me once before at a motorway service station in the UK and I think it’s because the long-life creamer is off. Anyway, they made me a fresh cup and this time put normal milk in it at my request.

After the tea and cake (although James had neither, he just watched me) we wandered round some more. Sorry for the endless number of photos of Dinkelsbühl but it’s so lovely!

20130911-204428.jpg

20130911-204439.jpg

20130911-204449.jpg

20130911-204458.jpg

20130911-204508.jpg

We found a pizzeria for our evening meal and James had a local beer.

20130911-204520.jpg

Stefansbräu reminded us of our chum Stefan of course!

20130911-204530.jpg

The restaurant was in the old Pfarrerhaus (Viicar’s/Minister’s house) which was very posh as it had vaulted ceilings.

20130911-204538.jpg

James’s pizza was called Volleyballone, mine was a bit more normal!

20130911-204546.jpg

20130911-204555.jpg

We had intended to go to hear the Night Watchman but when we got to the Minster it had started to rain quite heavily and we would have had to pay 5 Euros each for a tour in German. OK in the summertime but a bit too much money in the rain, especially as James wouldn’t understand much of the tour commentary.

Tomorrow we are heading for Rothenburg ob dem Tauber which is like Dinkelsbühl only more so. The forecast is similar to today (rain most of the day) so hopefully it will end up being the same (i.e. no rain whilst we are cycling).

20130911-204404.jpg

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Meitingen to Harburg

Tuesday 10 September 2013

This morning we went down to breakfast and I had a lighter selection than normal – I felt it was time to cut back a bit! I did enjoy peering at this chandelier however!

20130910-160122.jpg

We got ready to head out and another look at the weather forecast showed us that rain was pretty likely. In preparation I refitted my mudguards which had been in my banana bags since we left Füssen.

20130910-160136.jpg

Whilst I was doing this the rain started.

This is the pre-planned route for the day. You’ll see the track heads quite a long way east – this is to the town of Rain where the Lech flows into the Danube (Donau). There was an obvious shortcut possibility, staying on the quiet roads to the west of the B2 road, and knowing that we had been tired yesterday we decided to do this short-cut which should cut 10 plus miles, many of them very hilly, from the day’s route.

20130910-160157.jpg

We set off and within half a minute had to shelter under a tree as it started really pouring. After ten minutes the rain has eased slightly but it was still very wet so James put on his waterproof jacket and trousers and I put on my cheap packamac top and we headed off.

We started off by riding westwards towards Langenreichen, joining the official cycle route and then heading north again at Kühlenthal. The cycle track was very wet but good, smooth asphalt.

20130910-160208.jpg

My chain was definitely playing up today – it felt sometimes as if it was sticking. It had done this about a year ago so I think is something the trike can be prone to (obviously I’ve had several new chains since a year ago). I expect it’s mud/muck from yesterday’s off-roading causing the chain to stick slightly when it goes round a jockey wheel; when I put on power I kind of feel it go ‘pop’ as it unsticks itself (presumably). I hoped that all the rain might have an unusual side benefit of helping to wash the grot out of the chain and it did appear to improve slightly as the day wore on.

From Kühlental we rode n orthwards to Blankenburg and then saw Kloster Holzen in the distance which was rather impressive.

20130910-160218.jpg

Although it appears to still be a monastery (for Jesuits) it also now has a restaurant and guest house etc.

20130910-160228.jpg

The rain was really coming down now so I tucked my camera away in the dry so there aren’t as many scenery pictures today!

We headed through Allmannshofen and then into Druisheim (up and down a hill) at which point we left the official cycle route which headed eastwards and we continued north to Mertingen. I had pre-planned some waypoints on my Garmin so we followed that through Mertingen, on to Asbach and then Nordheim. The rain occasionally eased a little but we were generally getting rained upon which meant the journey wasn’t quite as nice as the last few days.

At Nordheim we had to wrap up warm again as the rain came down much more heavily but Donauwörth was in sight andd we had planned to have lunch there.

Here we are crossing the bridge over the Danube (Donau) into Donauwörth.

20130910-160239.jpg

This is looking upstream at the Donau – we won’t see it again on this holiday.

20130910-160250.jpg

And here is James on the bridge, looking rained upon!

20130910-160307.jpg

We wended our way to the centre part of Donauwörth which seemed a very attractive town. We spied a likely looking bakery/café so locked up the bikes and headed in, dripping wet of course.

The people were friendly and didn’t seem to mind that we were soaked. We sat down in the café area and ordered a tea and a coffee and then went to choose what we wanted for lunch from the bakery area.

James chose a salami and cheese roll to go with his coffee.

20130910-160321.jpg

I had a Ciabatta with mozzarella and tomato to go with my tea.

20130910-160345.jpg

Except… I also spotted something else rather interesting when choosing my sandwich…

20130910-160642.jpg

“It’s mine, all mine!”

20130910-160719.jpg

Time to investigate the contents…

20130910-160727.jpg

Extremely yummy!

20130910-160738.jpg

It was layers of light biscuit and meringue with a coffee flavoured cream on top, nuts around the edge and sprinkles of chocolate on top.

20130910-160751.jpg

I exceptionally-generously let James have a few mouthfuls!

20130910-160802.jpg

In case it’s escaped your notice, I had a rather nice cake at lunch! And this is what it looked like half-consumed…

20130910-160824.jpg

Whilst looking at the Bikeline map book page for Donauwörth I spotted a typo – can anyone else see it?

20130910-160832.jpg

Unfortunately in propping up the book to try to take a photo I managed to knock my (empty) tea glass onto the floor and it broke. I was very apologetic but they didn’t seem to mind, just came and swept the floor of bits of glass. How embarrassing!

We’d had a good 45 minutes in the café and had mostly thawed out. It was time to put our damp outer clothes/waterproofs back on and head out.

We’d done sixteen miles but had less than ten to go as the short-cut had really reduced the day’s distance significantly, a rather good thing in this weather.

Donauwörth was the last place that we saw signs for the Via Claudia Augusta, a route that we have regularly intersected on our tour so far. It’s an ancient route (from 15BC) from Donauwörth to somewhere in Italy and went via Augsburg and Füssen so no surprise that we kept seeing the signs. But now we wouldn’t have those signs to follow as well.

We rode down the main street and I loved the edges of this roof.

20130910-160847.jpg

We were trying to rejoin the official route but it proved rather tricky to find. The book suggested it went in a tunnel, my Garmin wasn’t that specific, but in the end, after cycling down a couple of dead ends, we made contact with the route again. We wanted to see where we had missed it so cycled the other way along it for 20 metres. And saw this:

20130910-160906.jpg

The route goes through a narrow tunnel – you can just see James cycling through it on the right hand side.

It was quite a long tunnel too!

20130910-160925.jpg

We were now leaving Donauwörth on the north bank of the river Wörnitz, riding through a walking/hiking park with (unfortunately) crushed gravel as a surface, although it was not as bad as yesterday’s surfaces.

Here is James examining a map.

20130910-160935.jpg

From here we could look back at Donauwörth through the rain.

20130910-160943.jpg

Entering Wörnitzstein we saw this road named after our friend!

20130910-160952.jpg

Wörnitzstein had a lovely bridge.

20130910-161000.jpg

Here it is from the other side.

20130910-161016.jpg

A close-up of some straw figures.

20130910-161348.jpg

This is looking down on Ebermergen (I think).

20130910-161357.jpg

We crossed the road to head towards Marbach and saw the first mention of Würzburg on a local road sign!

20130910-161455.jpg

As we went through Brunsee and whizzed down the other side of the little hill I stopped to take a photo of some of the lovely blue flowers that have been on the verges for much of today.

20130910-161503.jpg

Our first sight of Harburg was of the rather unattractive and very extensive concrete works.

20130910-161518.jpg

But just around the corner we saw the very impressive castle.

20130910-161526.jpg

We cycled over a narrow bridge to get to the old part of Harburg and found our hotel very easily. Our room was nice, up in the eaves.

20130910-161534.jpg

20130910-161541.jpg

We even had a bath as well as a shower!

20130910-161548.jpg

It functioned very well as a hanging space for our wet cycle gear after we’d washed it!

20130910-161555.jpg

Here is the readout from the Garmin after today’s much shorter route, just 25 miles. Mind you, with the rain for most of the day we were glad to have a chance to take a hot shower and warm up a bit!

20130910-161606.jpg

Alfie and James’s bike were stored downstairs in the lobby area of the hotel, along with several other bikes.

20130910-180423.jpg

The sun had come out by the time we’d had a rest and I decided to have a walk around the town (James stayed in the room and had a sleep).

This is our hotel.

20130910-180436.jpg

Looking up the hill at the castle.

20130910-180454.jpg

A view from the bridge.

20130910-180512.jpg

And looking the other way.

20130910-180525.jpg

The bridge itself – no cars between 10am and 6pm.

20130910-180539.jpg

And looking the other way along the bridge.

20130910-180558.jpg

From the other side of the bridge (the newer part of Harburg) I looked back at the old part..

20130910-180612.jpg

Crossing the bridge again I noticed these high water marks – that’s a lot of extra water!

20130910-180633.jpg

The castle in silhouette.

20130910-180646.jpg

And rather over-exposed but visible.

20130910-180702.jpg

More castle.

20130910-180715.jpg

Nordlinger Tor, presumably the site of an old gate for the town.

20130910-180727.jpg

The Evangelical church up the hill.

20130910-180738.jpg

Looking across a garden (nice tomatoes) to the church behind our hotel. Everything is cleverly built into the hillside.

20130910-180757.jpg

Now I assume this is the “Westtor” (west gate) but it seems to say ‘Vest’!

20130910-180813.jpg

The Rathaus with the church behind it.

20130910-180826.jpg

I fancied an early dinner as I was hungry so James and I went to the Goldene Lamm, what appeared to be the only restaurant open today in this part of Harburg.

James enjoyed some local beer from Nördlingen.

20130910-203754.jpg

A free starter of salad for both of us.

20130910-203804.jpg

James chose the Tortellini.

20130910-203814.jpg

I had a chicken breast with cheese and tomato and chips.

20130910-203829.jpg

The only dessert was ice cream which I didn’t fancy but James enjoyed two scoops of raspberry.

20130910-203838.jpg

We were back to our room by 8pm and had a chance to check out the route for tomorrow. We’ve planned a couple of small diversions to avoid off-roading although we will probably have to do a small amount of the dodgy paths as there aren’t always cycle paths/roads where we need to divert.

One interesting thing about tomorrow is that we will be cycling through a giant asteroid crater. More on that tomorrow!

5 Comments

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Königsbrunn to Meitingen

Monday 9 September

We awoke at eight to blue skies with white fluffy clouds, not the rain we were originally forecasted. Hurrah!

Before we went down to breakfast I received an email from Booking.com, the website that I used to book most of our hotels. As usual they were asking me to review a hotel we had stayed at (Hotel Christine in Füssen). However, I wasn’t sure exactly what category I fitted into.

Clearly I’m not a solo traveller (this time), family with older children or group of friends. But which of the other two options are we, being 42 and all…

20130909-133624.jpg

We had a hearty breakfast as usual, although James was slightly foxed by the hot water dispenser for the tea dispensing stone cold water. You had to ask the lady for hot water but the urn was out as usual so it wasn’t exactly obvious!

After breakfast we had a short rest for our food to go down. James was feeling a bit tired so we hung around a bit longer for him to get his energy up.

James has been using Nuun tablets for an energy drink on this tour and we have noticed something rather unusual about them. Here’s what they look like when initially made up (the one on the right has the Nuun tablet, the one on the left is just plain water).

20130909-133640.jpg

Here’s what they look like on the bike when we set off.
20130909-133649.jpg

And here we are at lunchtime – the Nuun bottle has gone almost clear in colour. It’s done this every day, it’s a kind of magic trick!
20130909-133657.jpg

After a good hour back in the hotel room we felt ready to go so we packed up our stuff and checked out.

Here is our planned route for the day.

20130909-231737.jpg

The weird baby sculptures weren’t the only bits of artwork outside our hotel – there was also a fountain. I decided to make myself part of the sculpture!

20130909-133734.jpg

Here I am sitting beside a young girl, copying her position!
20130909-133742.jpg

Here we are outside the Besthotel Zeller, ready to head off. We liked this hotel!
20130909-133806.jpg

We had diverted from the official route to get to Königsbrunn and so would need to retrace our route about a mile to get back to the official path. However, several months ago I had spotted an amusingly-named town just off route and thought that we really ought to visit there. We could do an easy detour and then rejoin the route later, so that’s what we did.

We returned to the Mandichosee which we cycled past yesterday but didn’t see (it was behind an embankment). This time we climbed up the bund to have a look and saw a rather lovely lake with windsurfers and kite surfers.
20130909-133834.jpg

20130909-133842.jpg

There was also a very handy information board which told us about all the different hydroelectric schemes along this section of the river.
20130909-133850.jpg

Lots of interesting information here about peak usage times etc.
20130909-133856.jpg

We now ignored the signage for the Romantische Straße and headed off to Mering, passing this impressive roadside stall with lots of squashes/pumpkins.
20130909-133907.jpg

Here’s the choice. 7 Euros for a large pumpkin, for example.
20130909-133919.jpg

We had to do a bit of complicated navigation in Mering to cross under the railway line and road and it got a bit confusing but we soon found ourself on the cycle path beside the B2 at Sankt Afra heading northwards.
20130909-133930.jpg

We arrived at Kissing and I demonstrated…
20130909-133955.jpg

Then, most fortunately, we found ourselves passing a bike shop! I’d been looking for one for two days as my bicycle bell had broken on the train journey. This was a large bike shop and they had plenty of choice of bells.
20130909-134027.jpg

Here we are outside the amusingly-named bike shop.
20130909-134036.jpg

And here is my new bell. Rather than having a thumb hammer thingie that you ping (and that always breaks off for me as my bell has to be mounted upside down and is on the sticking-out bar end) this one has a round collar which you twist – this is easy for me to do whilst still keeping my hand on the handlebar. And it makes a loud enough noise to warn people I am approaching. Good value for 3 Euros.
20130909-180533.jpg

On the way out of Kissing we found a road sign and just had to try another self-portrait. We’re not too good at these though!
20130909-134045.jpg

And another!
20130909-134051.jpg

Well it is the Romantic Road!

After all that nonsense it was time to get pedalling and stop mucking around so much!

We had the option of going directly to Augsburg or doing the recommended detour to Friedberg. We were enjoying the ride so decided to do the Friedberg option which did involve a bit of a hill.

We passed a field where it looked as though the police were training the dogs with an obstacle course and then found ourselves about to head up a bit of a hill. This impressive series of signs on one post showed the various options around here.

20130909-134210.jpg

We had a short climb up a hill and then rode through some woodland. There were lots of children playing in the woods, presumably some kind of holiday club, and several of them peered at me with amazement as I trundled past. I suppose there aren’t that many recumbents around really (we saw one yesterday but that was it) so it was probably a new experience for them!

At a roundabout at the top of the hill in Friedberg we saw this sculpture.

20130909-134219.jpg

We entered the central part of Friedberg and came across this fantastic stripy church.

20130909-134225.jpg

The guide book explains:

The Stadtkirche St Jakob (Town Church of St James)… whose 56 metre high belfry is the most prominent feature of Friedberg’s skyline, for all that its Italianate form makes it an unusual, not to say incongruous, main landmark for a German mediaeval town. The Gothic church which formerly occupied the spot was gravely damaged in 1868 when the tower collapsed. Partly on grounds of cost, and partly in line with the artistic tastes then current in the Kingdom of Bavaria, it was decided to replace this with a new building based on the architectural principles of the early Christians. Thus the interior was modelled on the basilica of San Apollinare in Classe outside Ravenna, though it was the great Romanesque church of San Zeno in Verona which provided the inspiration for the exterior.

A downhill whizz from Friedberg led us to Hochzell and then a short section on a gravel track before we crossed the bridge over the Lech and headed for the centre of Augsburg, taking a route through the industrial estate. We saw various roads and buildings named after the Fugger family who were very important in Augsburg’s history, as were the Welser family who at one point owned the whole of Venezuela!

The official route does a bit of a scenic route through Augsburg centre but we cut the corner and headed straight to the main square for our lunch. Our outside seats were opposite the Augsburg Perlachturm:

20130909-134241.jpg

And the Rathaus:

20130909-134302.jpg

I had Gulaschsuppe and shared some of my roll with some very tame sparrows.

20130909-141220.jpg

James had Wurst and bread.

20130909-141230.jpg

We didn’t linger too long but headed out along Karolinenstraße, attempting to avoid the tram tracks laced along the cobbles we had to ride. This was difficult at times for me but we managed it unscathed in the end. We were slightly surprised that the official cycle route was put on a road with the risk of tram tracks.

We passed the Dom (Cathedral) on the way out.

20130909-180351.jpg

Here is part of city wall.

20130909-180401.jpg

We also went past the huge MAN factory. MAN stands for Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg.

We then crossed over to the east side of the Lech again.

20130909-180412.jpg

We were now unfortunately on a crushed stone track rather than asphalt so it slowed me down a fair bit. On this surface I was able to ride at about an average speed of 10mph, whereas on the asphalt yesterday we were averaging 15-16mph. James found it so bumpy that he put his gloves on to give his hands more padding.

We saw yet another hydroelectric plant.

20130909-180420.jpg

And then found ourselves approaching this enormous factory the other side of the river in Gersthofen.

20130909-180428.jpg

Here the track took a detour around a huge spoil heap and the official Romantische Straße signs disappeared. Fortunately our Bikeline book had the route, as did my Garmin, but I wonder if they have subsequently made a more direct route as we rejoined the Romantische Straße signage and saw that it seemed to be pointing a different direction from where we had come.

Unfortunately we had now joined a really awful track between Gersthofen and Langwied and there was no alternative available. The track got worse, ending up as two narrow lanes with grass in the middle. This is OK for bikes but terrible for trikes and I couldn’t average more than about 6mph for the three mile section of this surface. It was lots of hard work riding for little distance reward!

20130909-180435.jpg

Finally – finally! – we reached the end of this stretch at Langweid and turned westwards, crossing the Lech again. At this point we came across the Gedenkstein Via Claudia Augusta.

20130909-180519.jpg

Here’s the info board about it.

20130909-180525.jpg

We were feeling pretty pooped now, James especially, and he fancied a bit of a sit down. I spied some seats outside a bank so we stopped in what turned out to be a small open space with a fountain and a rather lovely wildflower border for the bees and other insects.

20130909-180542.jpg

We stopped here for fifteen minutes or so before continuing on, this time cutting a corner off the official route to save time (and avoid a hill). My chain was feeling a bit dodgy after all the riding on the grassy track – as if it had muck in it, although I couldn’t see anything. It’s a reasonably old chain but should have a bit of life left in it but it doesn’t feel quite right so I will have to have a good look at it sometime soon.

Our alternative route went straight from Langweid up the main road to Biberach, whose Wallfahrtskirche was clearly obvious on the skyline from a fair distance away.

20130909-180632.jpg

It was on a slight rise which caused my chain to make some unhappy noises!

20130909-180638.jpg

Around this time two Eurofighter planes in convoy went overhead. We’d seen a mystery fierce-looking helicopter earlier in the day, and a single Eurofighter, so there’s clearly a military airbase somewhere not too far away. We passed a runway yesterday on which James thought he could see some Hercules aircraft so perhaps they were from there, just north of Landsberg am Lech.

From here we could see another church and tower which we think were in the village of Markt.

20130909-180717.jpg

At this point we could see the quickest way to Meitingen on James’s map (which wasn’t the route I had plotted) so we sailed forth following Captain James, crossing under the B2 major road (more like a motorway) and then going over the railway in Meitingen. Our hotel looked very nice and although it was its Ruhetag (closed day) there was a chap there to give us the key and instruct us where to go.

20130909-230730.jpg

Here is the information from my Garmin today.

20130909-180723.jpg

We parked our bikes under the log store.
20130909-230737.jpg

James had a bit of a sleep whilst I wrote up some of the blog and then it was time to meet Melanie and Konrad, our friends from Munich who had driven up to see another friend in Meitingen and then us.

They took us to a wonderful restaurant/hotel in Thierhaupten which was a former monastery.

James had a local beer.

20130909-230746.jpg

Konrad had a Radler. Well, he is a cyclist!

20130909-230755.jpg

And just to make you jealous, here are pictures of our wonderful food!
20130909-230802.jpg20130909-230811.jpg20130909-230820.jpg20130909-230829.jpg

20130909-230853.jpg

20130909-230901.jpg

It was a lovely evening with our friends and it was just a shame that we were tired and couldn’t stay up later!

Tomorrow we have a forty mile ride to Harburg but there is a possible shortcut if James is still feeling a bit tired so we can decide on that during the day if necessary.

Again, not a single drop of rain landed on us on the bikes today. Tomorrow rain is forecast but we may – just may – be lucky again. Here’s hoping!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Schongau to Königsbrunn

Sunday 8 September 2013

After a good night’s sleep we woke up to blue skies and sunshine again, hurrah. The weather forecast was for rain late morning here in Schongau and rain from 5pm in Königsbrunn, our destination for today. If we were lucky we could dodge the rain as we travel.

Breakfast was once again very good, with scrambled egg and really nice bacon available. Here is a photograph of both of us at the breakfast table.

20130908-091654.jpg

Here is today’s route (starting at the bottom):

20130908-174703.jpg

We paid our bill and then fetched the bikes out of the wine cellar.

20130908-174820.jpg

The forecast today was for rain late morning in Schongau but we could see blue skies and the sun was pretty warm, even at 10am.

We headed off down the hill, realising almost immediately that the Garmin-plotted route involved us walking up a huge flight of steps. No thanks! We turned round and did a road route instead, although it was really hard work cycling up a very steep hill just after breakfast and with no warm up!

However, once we got up the hill we set off on our way northwards, passing through Altenstadt. The view before us was much flatter than of late.

20130908-174833.jpg

We arrived at Schwabniederhofen and I noticed something unusual as I zoomed past a log store. Firstly it had been made into the shape of a house, although it was just a series of logs. Secondly it was leaning rather towards the road. Thirdly there were two goats sitting on the windowsill of the house. I kid you not!

20130908-174906.jpg

We had a brief section of unmade road (compacted crushed stone) but it wasn’t too bad compared with yesterday’s very difficult road surface at times. This only lasted about 1km so it wasn’t too bad.

We then pootled through Hohenfurch which turned out to be a surprisingly interesting village. Firstly, they seemed to be having some kind of fleamarket and there were loads of people milling around a barn. Secondly, they had put this waterwheel into the little stream the Schönach:

And thirdly they had a huge pole with the Bavarian colours and lots of images on it, presumably of the trades in the village.

20130908-175038.jpg

Here is a close-up of the pole, we recognised a beehive, chicken, windmill, boot and shoemaker, delivery company, pretzel maker (bakery?) and more.

20130908-175049.jpg

There was a bit of a climb up out of Hohenfurch and then we were on a wide, flat plain with pretty good views back towards the Alps.

20130908-175123.jpg

It felt as if we had a tailwind (although it was supposed to be a northerly today) and we zoomed along the excellent cycle path, enjoying the speed. We saw some other cyclists, including lots with big panniers who were presumably also doing the Romantische Straße, but were mostly on our own.

20130908-175147.jpg

Here am I trundling along (slightly uphill, as it happens)

We rode through Kinsau and could see from our map that the Lech river, which we first met as a small stream in Füssen, was getting a lot wider here. It was also a long way below us, as wee realised when we got a glimpse of it past Kinsau.

20130908-175425.jpg

What became clear was that the river had cut quite a steep gorge at this point in its travels. We discovered this when it was time to cross the river at Epfach – we had a fantastic, swoopy descent which was great fun. But then crossed the bridge and had the most horrendous, long and steep climb on a road with no cycle path.

I twiddled up there in my very bottom gear at 2.5mph, finding myself shockingly sweaty by the end. James rode it in three sections, having a break periodically (as he was faster than me he was able to stop and wait). He was surprisingly unsweaty at the top so I clearly deserved more pastries today than him (and, indeed, did have one more than him!)

However, the view from the top made it almost worth the effort. Almost!

20130908-175438.jpg

This is an example of one of the many election posters we’ve been seeing so far. Most are people’s faces, names, their party and their number on the ballot paper. But this one is from a political party who want Bavaria to secede from Germany. I suspect they’ll be out of luck but they had a lot of support in the villages we went through today.

20130908-175448.jpg

Here is James waiting at the top. His bike appears to have collapsed!

20130908-175507.jpg

On we pootled, relieved to find we were now on a mostly flat section of the route with just a few gentle undulations. Our speed was picking up which was good as we had 42 miles to do today and the first fifteen had seemed to take rather a long time. This is partly because I kept stopping to take photos of things of course!

We arrived at Vilgertshofen which is a very small village notable mainly for its church, the Wallfahrtskirche Mariä Himmelfahrt (Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption).

From our guidebook:

It was built between 1687 and 1692 by Johann Schmuzer… adopting a centralised Greek cross plan but the exterior has a slightly lopsided effect as only one of the two planned towers was built, and that belatedly.

20130908-175552.jpg

20130908-175602.jpg

James and I had a good look at the church exterior but to be honest it didn’t look that weird to us!

20130908-180126.jpg

When cycle touring it’s often strange little things that catch my eye. I really liked the different woods on this barn door.

20130908-180247.jpg

After Stadl we continued on to Stoffen, once again enjoying the lovely smooth road surface. It was also notable that the view behind had some darker clouds amassing so the forecasted rain looked like it was indeed falling in Schongau.

At Stoffen we headed westwards a little towards the Lech river, enjoying a super-speedy downhill into Pitzling where we joined a riverside cycle path made of compacted crushed stone.

This was clearly a very popular route from Landsberg am Lech, about 4 kilometres along the riverside. There were lots of walkers and cyclists but everyone seemed to get along fine.

Although this was a river it looked rather more like a lake a lot of the time as it was very still.

20130908-180338.jpg

I dipped my toe in the water…

20130908-180354.jpg

Here is a helpful plaque showing the Romantic Road route – James’s finger marks the point we had reached (we started at the bottom of course).

20130908-180416.jpg

This was a really lovely part of today’s ride and we went fairly slowly, soaking up the scenery.

20130908-180443.jpg

The reason for the still water became clear fairly soon – a hydroelectric plant.

20130908-180456.jpg

Another surprise a little further on – a cable system stretched across the river. There was one thick cable and then two thinner ones below (a pulley system?) but we couldn’t work out what this was for. There was no sign of a ferry/landing stage.

20130908-180517.jpg

We arrived at Landsberg am Lech, one of the larger towns on this trip, and a wonderfully historic place with very impressive town walls, lots of tall towers and attractive old buildings.

First things first though – cake!

I had some Obstkuchen:
20130908-180530.jpg

James had a nut pastry thingie (I had one of these later on in the day when at the hotel too!)
20130908-180549.jpg

Unfortunately for James he had chosen a pastry that wasps seem to really like and he had three helping him eat it. In the end we sat inside the café (we had started off outside) and only one bothered to come in to help James with his pastry. We survived unstung.

We didn’t hang around too long as we still had twenty miles to ride and wanted to get going. A quick ride along the high street showed us some interesting buildings but it was a shame cars were still allowed through. They were also relaying the cobbles so it looked a bit like a building site in places.

20130908-180605.jpg

Unfortunately the roadworks obscured this building a little, the Rathaus.

20130908-180629.jpg

Our guidebook explains:

Unusually the Rathaus (Town Hall) is sandwiched among a row of mansions on the northern side of the square. It was built between 1699 and 1702 but the exuberant stuccowork facade, Dominikus Zimmermann’s only major secular commission, was not added until 1719.

Dominikus Zimmermann was the architect of the amazing rococco Wieskirche we saw yesterday, and lots of other local buildings too.

Here is James cycling towards the Schmalzturm (‘Lard Tower’), named this because lard used to be traded in its passageway, apparently!

20130908-180641.jpg

Our route out took us past the very tall indeed Jungfernsprungturm which was too obscured by trees to get a picture when we were able to stop. There were also lots of towers and walls, including this tower which had a Jewish memorial beside it, remembering the Jews from this region who were sent to Dachau.

20130908-180652.jpg

Our way out passed the Bayertor (Bavarian Gate), a very impressive structure. The guidebook states that it is:

the most imposing mediaeval gateway in southern Germany and nowadays the symbol of Landsberg. Completed in 1425 as the crowning glory of a complete revamping of the municipal fortifications, it stands at an elevation 40m above that of the lower town. An outer barbican guards a 36m high tower, whose outer face is adorned with a monumental carved scene of the Crucifixion.

20130908-180708.jpg

As we were heading out of Landsberg we received an SMS from friend Melanie who lives fairly near to our route – she and her partner Konrad would be able to meet us in Meitingen tomorrow evening for dinner. That was great news – it would be lovely to see them again!

As we left Landsberg we saw this series of signs welcoming you to the town. I have never heard of ‘Failsworth’ in the UK but it turns out it’s between Oldham and Manchester.

20130908-180720.jpg

Here’s another political sign, you can probably work out what it’s on about.

20130908-180809.jpg

From Landsberg we headed north on very quiet asphalt roads towards Kaufering. When we reached Kaufering the track was supposed to become crushed stone again but it continued as tarmac for a couple of miles, it turns out because E-on had a hydroelectric plant here and had obviously improved the access road. Once again it was alongside the river Lech.

20130908-180832.jpg

This is looking upstream from the hydroelectric plant – the water is beautifully still this side. There was a fair drop to the other side.

20130908-180851.jpg

Unfortunately after the hydroelectric plant the track reverted to crushed stone so we couldn’t go as fast but it was a reasonable quality of this kind of path so we were just slowed to about 10mph. We had been cruising at 14-15mph before this on the asphalt.

Fortunately after three or so miles we joined a different section of path which was now asphalt.

We reached the village of Scheuring where we thought we might stop for ice cream. Unfortunately we didn’t see any open Eiscafés or other eating establishments, but we did see a couple of amusingly-painted fire hydrants. Here’s one.

20130908-180910.jpg

We saw another one painted as a man wearing a blue-and-white horizontally striped top. I was going too fast to photograph him though!

We hoped that the next village, Pittriching, might provide us with some ice cream. We were going really fast now with heavy clouds behind us, hoping to outrun the rain.

We did stop for five minutes at this rather lovely little chapel.

20130908-181015.jpg

It’s the Pittriching Assisi-Kapelle which was built in 2005-6.

Inside it was fairly simple but very attractive with copper-painted walls etc.

20130908-181033.jpg

This is the roof skylight.

20130908-181045.jpg

Here are our bikes waiting outside! Note the field of sweetcorn behind Alfie – today we have seen mostly sweetcorn and cattle forage being grown, with grass as well of course.

20130908-181054.jpg

We rode into Pittriching and did a bit of cycling around in search of an ice cream or cake but failed again, which was a bit of a surprise (after all, this is Germany where Eiscafés are everywhere). Still, we only had about six and a half miles to go to our hotel so decided to press on and see if we could find something when we got there.

The cycle track was lovely and straight and fast. At one point it took us past a solar farm, of which we have seen dozens already in Germany. These are huge – my pictures don’t really do it justice!

20130908-181110.jpg

According to a plaque outside the farm, this was built in 2007 and provides 3,318 megawatts peak [EDIT: this was a typo, I failed to remember that Germans use full stop for thousands separator, comma for decimal, so this was actually just over 3 megawatts or 3318 kilowatts] which apparently provides electricity for 1,389 households per year.

20130908-181128.jpg

We saw yet another hydroelectric plant (we cycled past at least four today and there were several others where our route was away from the river). This little sign was at all of them – I think it’s great as the chap’s expression is so funny!

20130908-181136.jpg

We cycled right over the top of the dam, stopping at the top to take a look.

20130908-181143.jpg

We then had a long, swooping ride down the other side of the dam and then turned onto a crushed gravel path which ran beside a fast-flowing stream, that we think is a bypass stream for the Lech (perhaps to feed the canoeing area which is further downstream than we reached today). This stream had rapids periodically along it but also very low bridges so wouldn’t be navigable for canoes.

20130908-181152.jpg

We ran alongside this stream for about two miles and then the stream flowed into the Mandichosee. Unfortunately here the track surface became rather unsuitable for three wheelers but I persevered!

20130908-181158.jpg

The official cycle route carried on north here but our hotel in Königsbrunn was off to the west so we turned left and followed my Garmin GPS the two miles to the Besthotel Zeller.

We arrived and were met by the hotel manager (who seemed to just be standing outside as we got there). He had a little chat with us whilst we sorted out our luggage.

I meant to mention previously that I have been using my Radical Banana Bags again for this tour. My last tour with them wasn’t 100% successful but experience always helps and this time round I had bought some waterproof stuff sacks, one for each side, to keep the contents dry if it rains. It also means that I can actually leave the Banana Bags fixed to the bike, I just have to remove the blue dry bags. The fluorescent orange bag is a light rucksack that contains all my important stuff; I am happy to leave the other bags on the bike when we stop for cake during the day as there’s nothing of great value in them.

20130908-181214.jpg

Here are the statistics for today’s ride:

20130908-181207.jpg

After we put our luggage in our room we decided we needed the long-awaited ice cream. Conveniently there was an Eiscafé directly across the road so we headed there.

Outside the Eiscafé is this interesting marker post sign.

20130908-181222.jpg

James had three scoops of home-made ice cream (cookies, hazlenut and vanilla).

20130908-181229.jpg

And I had a Banana split. It was not particularly like the illustration/description in the book as it had blackberry ice cream and raspberry ripple ice cream (and hazlenut) rather than the expected Vanilla and Chocolate. Still, it filled a hole – and the fruit helped towards my 5-a-day!

20130908-181236.jpg

We went for a little walkaround afterwards and came across this most perturbing sculpture.

20130908-181424.jpg

It’s enormous – James barely reaches his chin!

20130908-181437.jpg

There’s also a pink-headed girl. I didn’t like these at all!

20130908-181447.jpg

After writing up some of this blog it was time for dinner. True to form the rain had started at exactly 5pm (James heard the pips on Radio 4) and so we thought we’d eat in the hotel’s restaurant to save getting wet. We had remained entirely dry on our cycle ride today which was a bonus.

The hotel’s restaurant turned out to be very nice indeed. James had a beer (of course)!

20130908-210254.jpg

I like the way it says “Original Münchner Hell” which isn’t exactly enticing!

20130908-210303.jpg

We had a starter of rather attractive salads.

20130908-210415.jpg

I had a special Schnitzel with cheese.

20130908-210436.jpg

James had a curry.

20130908-210458.jpg

We enjoyed our meal very much and the holiday is clearly successful as my trousers are already feeling tight!

Walking back to our room we passed this Table Football game on top of some beer crates.

20130908-210508.jpg

Tomorrow is a shorter day, just under 36 miles, to Meitingen. We’ll go through Friedberg and Augsburg on the way, both of which are fairly signficant towns on the Romantic Road. We also have the option of a short detour to the village of Kissing; with a name like that it might have to be visited on this tour!

The forecast is for drizzle tomorrow and much colder temperatures, probably only 16-18 degrees all day. I have fished out my windproof jacket which will hopefully be enough to keep the worst of the rain out. Tomorrow we also meet up with Melanie and Konrad which will be great.

The rain is drumming on the windows of the hotel room so we are clearly doing the right thing by hiding in our room rather than exploring Königsbrunn by night.

3 Comments

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – Füssen to Schongau

Saturday 7 September 2013

After a good night’s sleep we opened the shutters to discover a beautiful blue sky. The weather forecast of thunder and lightning seems to have avoided us, at least for the morning.

The Hotel Christine has an extremely high rating on the hotel website and up till breakfast we hadn’t thought it anything particularly special. It was a nice hotel but like many others I have stayed in in Germany which only warrant 8/10. Hotel Christine was 9.2/10.

However, when we went down to breakfast, the reason for the 9.2 rating became clear.

20130907-094301.jpg20130907-094319.jpg

They also bought over a basket of bread and rolls and a plate of scrambled egg each. Everything was absolutely delicious and we probably managed our five a day fruit and veg just this morning!

Our washing had not quite dried overnight as we had ended up wearing our cycling kit until eight in the evening, but hopefully it will finish drying tonight.

The forecast for after this weekend is cooler with a bit more rain so we will make the most of today’s great weather as we cycle 32 miles, taking in what is considered the most beautiful Rococco churches in the world, the Wieskirche at Steingaden.

Here is today’s route:

20130908-173956.jpg

We set off at 10 AM in beautiful sunshine, retracing yesterday’s route towards Neuschwanstein although cutting a corner and missing out the main route to the castle.

James posed beside this huge propeller near the hydroelectric plant.

20130907-173637.jpg

We were heading north easterly for the first few miles, running alongside the edge of the Alps with them always to our right.

20130907-173734.jpg20130907-173745.jpg

Here I am with Neuschwanstein Castle in the background.

20130907-173846.jpg20130907-173855.jpg

We cycled on what must be an old floodplain and saw to the right hand side the St Coloman pilgrimage church built in 1673. Neuschwanstein Castle is visible behind it.

20130907-174211.jpg20130907-174228.jpg

As the weather was good I decided to take off my mudguards and see if they would fit in my panniers – they did!

20130908-073416.jpg

The route took us past the Bannwaldsee (lake), the smaller of the two lakes near Füssen, with views across it to the Alps behind.

20130907-174405.jpg

We were slowly getting our eye in with regard to the signposts as the little signs for Romantische Strasse seem to be quite hard to see.

20130907-174531.jpg

Here you can see the sign just above James’s shoulder.

20130907-174545.jpg

We continued on, making a small detour to a village in which our guidebook said there was a bike shop. The bell on my bike had broken on our train journey and it’s really useful to have a bell when out cycling in Germany on busy paths. We found the shop but it was closed – undoubtedly they were out cycling instead, and I didn’t blame them on such a beautiful day!

The route continued on but unfortunately changed from asphalt to loose chippings, something that you often find in Germany and which is a pain in the neck for a three wheeled bike like mine.

20130907-174829.jpg

This carried on for a couple of miles which meant we were going a lot slower. There were also some fairly steep up and down hills which slowed me down/sped me up so we were moving at a fairly variable pace. The views were always lovely though so we were happy to trundle along slowly, even if it was getting a bit hot at times.

20130907-175322.jpg20130907-175331.jpg20130907-175340.jpg20130907-175351.jpg

These photos were taken near Trauchgauer-Ach, as is this panoramic video with cowbell accompaniment.

Here James went ahead up a hill to see the view whilst I trundled up in a very low gear.

20130907-180907.jpg

My Garmin said that we were at 2870 feet, having started at Füssen at 2500 feet.

We were heading for the Wieskirche in Steingaden which is one of the most famous rococo churches in the world.

20130907-181151.jpg

It was awarded world heritage status by UNESCO in 1983 and as soon as we stepped in we could see why.

The church is famous for Johann Baptist Zimmermann’s ceiling fresco in the trompe l’oeil style.

20130907-181206.jpg20130907-181216.jpg20130907-181229.jpg20130907-181240.jpg20130907-181250.jpg20130907-181259.jpg20130907-181314.jpg

I loved this candle with the Hebrew for Yahweh at the bottom, along with the rainbow (gay pride in a church?!)

20130907-181557.jpg

Even the pews had beautifully carved ends.

20130907-181608.jpg

We spent a little while in the church and once we stepped outside were pleased to find a café. It was 1pm so time for a drink. My attention was caught by some special things being cooked…

20130907-181754.jpg

They were freshly made giant ring doughnuts with sugar and cinnamon. I requested one without cinnamon as I’m not keen on it. Within minutes both had arrived – mega yummy!

20130907-181805.jpg

Light and fluffy inside too!

20130907-181813.jpg

And as it was the first proper day of cycling James had a Radler (half beer, half lemonade).

20130907-181822.jpg

It was 10 to 2 when we were ready to set off after a nice break and food and chance to chill out. We were halfway to our destination – it’s a short day of 32 miles but we had a fair few ups and downs to come.

This is looking back at the beautiful Wieskirche.

20130907-182131.jpg

From this point the official cycle route splits two ways. We decided to take the easternmost route which our English guide book suggested took in more of the beautiful towns on route.

This was possibly a more hilly route though as we discovered as we made our way up the very steep hill into Wildsteig. This photo is looking back down the hill – James had gone up quite fast and managed to twist the end on his handlebar as he was hanging on to it as he powered up the hill!

20130907-182439.jpg

A bit of forward planning and studying the Bikeline German guide book maps showed us the next section was off road with loads of ups and downs, including several very steep bits. However the main road took a less hilly route and was only slightly longer so we decided to use that instead.

This turned out to be an excellent plan as we had a fantastic swooping down hill and I got up to 38 mph!

We joined up with the official route just before Rottenburg.

20130907-182751.jpg

At Rottenberg we nearly went wrong and missed an underpass but a man standing in his front garden told us the correct route. Very helpful chap!

We continued on along the official route which was through a very quiet hamlet which rejoiced in the name Moos. Cue lots of photos of cows and the village sign!

20130907-182948.jpg20130907-182959.jpg

I liked this road name too.

20130907-183021.jpg

We then followed the cycle route beside the main road the B23 with a couple of short climbs but nothing too strenuous. There was one more significant climb which went over a small hill where the main road diverted round it. This included a rather exciting 20% descent – you can see the sign here. I waited for the tractor to pass before I headed down.

20130907-183236.jpg

Sadly I couldn’t get up much speed down here as I was following a car and he was being very careful.

We saw four tractors go past in close succession. They were all very interesting old ones and one of the drivers was wearing traditional dress so we wondered if there was some kind of Bavarian tractor rally going on.

Here is a look back to the Alps just before they went out of sight for good on this tour.

20130907-183321.jpg

20130907-183331.jpg

We had to cross over and under the main road on a few occasions and I was rather impressed by this set of paths as it gave wide vehicles like mine a good turning circle to make the corner!

20130907-183439.jpg

Here is some local wildlife.

20130907-183450.jpg

As we approached Peiting there was a disagreement between our satnav route and the cycle route signs. We ended up going with the satnav route into Peiting which passed the road sign for the Romantische Strasse.

20130907-183513.jpg

The road route and cycle route are actually quite different, I believe the cycle route is 30% longer, for example. As the bikes are kept away from the main roads we don’t see these signs all that often.

At Peiting I saw an Aldi supermarket so stopped to get some biscuits to keep us going when we got to the hotel.

Here we are entering Schongau, our town for this evening.

20130907-183811.jpg

Schongau turned out to be rather hilly and we did a detour to reach our hotel to avoid going over an enormous hill. The hotel itself was up a hill and we ended up walking the final 10 metres to the hotel reception area.

At the same time as we arrived a large group of cyclists rolled up. They had no luggage with them, it turned out to have been delivered for them. They had enormous suitcases – that is cycle touring with all the luxuries.

20130907-184050.jpg

The receptionist told us that the bicycle parking was back down the hill again under the hotel which is built into the hill so we got to cycle or walk down that steep ramp again.

The bike parking turned out to be the wine cellar – it was dark and cool and had a small stream running down the middle. A very unusual alternative to our shed at home for the bikes.

20130907-184100.jpg

I took a photo of my Garmin for today’s figures. We cycled just over 32 miles and at a very leisurely 8.8 mph. It was lovely to stop regularly and look around at the scenery so we were very happy with how we rode today.

20130907-184111.jpg

After the traditional shower, writing up of the blog, washing clothes, generally faffing about it was time to go out for our evening meal.

We are staying in hotel Holl which has a restaurant but it is closed at the weekend. The receptionist told us about the Brewery down the road which I had seen on our way here. They did food.

So we wandered down together, took a seat and enjoyed the surroundings of a brewery plus restaurant.

20130907-210331.jpg

20130907-210340.jpg

James ordered a Weissbier which was brewed at this brewery.

20130907-210517.jpg

(The glass is from a different brewery).

We ordered food, James had a chicken kebab from their barbecue, I had a German style burger.

20130907-210652.jpg

20130907-210703.jpg

Both were very tasty.

After our meal, although it was dark we thought it worth visiting the town walls which are very impressive.

This is the view of the outside of the brewery.

20130907-210815.jpg

From here we walked for five minutes to the town walls. They were nicely floodlit – I’m not sure how effective the photos are but hopefully it gives you an impression.

20130907-210925.jpg

20130907-210932.jpg

20130907-210938.jpg

20130907-210944.jpg

20130907-210951.jpg

20130907-210959.jpg

20130907-211008.jpg

We had a little walk through the town inside the walls and then came out of the Maxtor Gate and walked back to the hotel.

We had a message from a friend who lives near here to say she may be able to meet us on Monday with her partner whom we also know. That’d be great, hopefully we can sort it out. They are both keen cyclists so perhaps we’ll be able to have a bit of a ride together.

Tomorrow we are heading to just south of Augsburg to a place called Königsbrunn. The weather forecast is reasonable although we may get a small amount of rain. Monday onwards looks a bit cooler and wetter, but it won’t dampen our spirits at all!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße

Romantische Straße – home to Füssen by ferry, car and train

So I’m off on my latest cycle tour, this time with the indefatigable Uncle James along too for a holiday celebrating (a few weeks early) 20 years of marriage. What better trip to choose than Germany’s Romantic Road!

We decided to have a leisurely time this trip and give ourselves plenty of time to relax and enjoy our surroundings. This includes travelling to the start (Füssen in the very south of Bavaria on the border with Austria) so we decided to take three days to get from home in Great Bromley to Füssen.

Mind you, the first of those days was largely spent at home with the inlaws (who are house-and-dog-sitting). We didn’t leave for the Harwich ferry until 8:30pm, this time by car but with the bikes in the back. We went straight to our cabin – here is the obligatory shot with me in the mirror!

20130905-184124.jpg

I tend not to sleep too well on the ferry for some reason, and this crossing was no different, so I was awake by 6am. We got ourselves ready and went to the front of the ship to look at the outside world – here’s the view once we were tucked up at the mooring.

20130905-184134.jpg

We were chucked off the ferry at 8am (having a bit of a delay as the whole deck of cars had to wait for the driver of the first car who seemed to have forgotten to make his way to the car deck). We had a couple of Essex Boys in a Dodge Viper car behind us which we expected to zoom past us on the road out of Hoek van Holland but it didn’t.

We rolled off the ferry, showed our passports and then headed off on the N220 road which heads towards Rotterdam.

Today we were driving as far as Würzburg at the top end of Bavaria (a little way east of Frankfurt am Main). We would stay overnight in Würzburg and then leave the car there and get the train to Füssen, cycling back over a week before collecting the car and driving home again.

It was a 370 mile drive from Hoek van Holland to Würzburg which should take us about five and a half hours (according to Google) but it was clear fairly early on that we’d be a bit longer than that as there were lots of roadworks around Rotterdam that delayed us for about an hour over the ten miles that the queues stretched. Still, we had a talking book to listen to and the car is comfortable so it was OK.

We stopped afer two hours for a leg stretch and to change drivers, and then after another two hours stopped again. This time we also had a spot of lunch – we were now in Germany so it was time for the cheese and ham to make an appearance. I had a Fladenbrot with cheese.

20130905-184141.jpg

We continued on for another hour and a half before stopping for an ice cream between Wiesbaden and Frankfurt. This motorway service station was somewhat unusual as it had a church as part of the buildings.

20130905-184149.jpg

This was the glass roof.

20130905-184157.jpg

And a pleasant outside courtyard.

20130905-184204.jpg

20130905-184211.jpg

It was an unusual design and quite small but a nice place to spend five minutes before whizzing along at 80mph again.

20130905-184217.jpg

20130905-184233.jpg

We were following the motorway the A3 almost the entire way and it was generally a reasonable bit of road althoug with the traditional ridiculously-fast German drivers at times. My old Audi A6 trundled along comfortably and James and I enjoyed seeing signs to places we’d previously visited and following our progress on our shiny new Germany road map.

We had a slight navigational issue just as we were heading through Würzburg but were easily able to correct that and arrived safely at our hotel, Lindleinsmühle, where our comfortable room awaited us.

20130905-184241.jpg

After a bit of a rest it was time to sort out the car – luggage and bikes. We carried all our luggage up to our room to sort out and then extracted the bikes, put them back together and did a test ride round the cul-de-sac.

20130905-184253.jpg

All was fine so it was time to go and have some dinner at the Stübl next door.

First, a beer!

20130905-201725.jpg

James had ordered a Jägerschitzel so his salad course came first, which he shared with me.

20130905-201734.jpg

My Gulaschsuppe arrived – it was a full meal with meat, sausages and potato in it.

20130905-201741.jpg

Here is James’s Schnitzel – he shared some of the potatoes with me!

20130905-201747.jpg

On the way back we wandered past a local church with really interesting-looking stained glass but the light was wrong for it – we’ll maybe get a photo tomorrow. But we did see this shop that had my name all over it!

20130905-201753.jpg

When we got back to the hotel room I decided I needed a cup of tea so went downstairs, teabag in hand, and the receptionist was delighted to oblige.

20130905-211028.jpg

Then it was time for an early night. Tomorrow we’ll put anything we don’t need to take in the car (which is now locked away in a covered garage) and then pedal our way to Würzburg railway station to catch our 11:10 train to Füssen.

Friday 6 September 2013

After breakfast we had a fair amount of time before we needed to leave for the train but decided it would be good to have a look around Würzburg rather than wait in the hotel so we got our bikes ready, checked out and popped round the corner to the church with interesting stained glass to see if it was open so we could have a look; unfortunately it was shut but we took a photo from the outside anyway.

20130906-213152.jpg

We then headed off up rather a hill before descending the other side.

20130906-204618.jpg

We were aiming first for the railway station to check the train was running OK. The platform had changed but the train was running so that was a relief!

We saw lots of signs on near the railway for various routes including a city round tour but in the end decided to head towards the river Main for a closer look at the huge building which overlooks Würzburg, the 13th century Festung Marienberg (Marienberg fortress). This is always a chance for some photography!

20130906-204803.jpg

20130906-204820.jpg

We still had half an hour before we needed to get back to the station so decided to make our way to the Residenz, an amazing building that we had visited on our boat tour five years before. We cycled through a park to get there which was rather nice as the day was warming up significantly and the shade was welcome.

We arrived at the Residenz which was the home of the Prince Bishops from 1720-1744 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We took a couple of pics outside it and then saw a lady taking photos so asked her to take a few of us – she was very willing and clearly a bit of a photographer as she got us to jump up for a couple of shots. We took some of her and her guest as well to thank her.

20130906-204853.jpg

20130906-204907.jpg

Then it was time to head back to the station and find our place on the platform. We had to get two trains today and the first was an IC (InterCity) train which I know tend to have narrow doors which is a bit of a pain with my trike as it has to be lifted in on its side. Still, with James around this would be much easier.

The train rolled in on time and we found our carriage near the back. However there were three ladies taking their time at getting their luggage and bicycles out – they clearly hadn’t prepared their stuff for leaving the train. Anyway, they were finally out and I hopped on with my bags, dumped them just inside the compartment and then grabbed the back of Alfie to lift him onto the train with James’s help. At this point the conductor whistled and the doors started closing! Alfie was half on the train, James’s bike and his luggage and his person were still on the platform!

So I kept Alfie in the doorway so the door couldn’t fully close and tried to gain the attention of someone to open the doors again. There was a conductor on the platform not that far away but he didn’t seem to be noticing what was happening. Anyway, they got his attention and he opened the doors. We tipped Alfie up and got him in and I waited by the door as James collected his bike from the platform, at which point the doors started closing again before James was on the train so I put my pedal in the door to stop it. Fortunately the conductor opened it again, James got on and off went the train.

It took a couple more minutes to get the bikes settled in their spaces, with a small hiatus where the conductor arrived and wanted our tickets which were of course in the pile of bags I’d chucked on! It was a rather stressful few minutes; it would have been much easier if the ladies getting off with their bikes hadn’t taken so long and if the doors were wider (or, one could say, if my bike wasn’t a trike!)

20130906-204931.jpg

20130906-204951.jpg

The train was comfortable and the route reasonably scenic, starting with a short run along the Main river before it headed southwards through the countryside.

When we arrived at Augsburg there was a twenty minute break as the train divided – the front half was heading to Berchtesgaden via München and our section, the back, was heading south-west. We just sat tight and waited for the train to continue.

From Augsburg to Buchloe, where we changed, was a fairly short stretch and the landscape was slowly changing from farmland to more grassland.

We arrived at Buchloe and it was time to get Alfie out of the train again. James took his bike off first and then my luggage and then one of the passengers helped me move Alfie to the door where James helped lift him down. We were on Platform 4 and had a half hour wait until our next train arrived on the same platform.

20130906-205016.jpg

The train soon arrived and although it was an older style and had double doors there was a metal pole across the middle which meant we still had to tip Alfie on his side. There was a large bike area which we stowed the bikes in and then went to sit in the more comfortable chairs.

20130906-205026.jpg

20130906-205036.jpg

This was the world’s most rattly train and it was also hot and stuffy – rather an old example of Deutsche Bahn’s rolling stock, I think. This was not helped by my cycling sandals emitting an odour; I’d washed them a few days ago but they seem to have become extra-smelly ever since.

As the train wended its way southwards through rolling hills towards Füssen it actually went a fair bit slower. It was now on single track and we could see lots of rather Austrian-seeming views with green fields with cows, pine forests and pretty church spires.

In the distance we could see mountains and they got closer and closer until we approached Füssen. We got a glimpse of castle Neuschwanstein before the train arrived at the railway station and we disembarked.

20130906-205046.jpg

20130906-205059.jpg

It was just 4pm so we decided it would be good to go back to the hotel and check in and then maybe go out for a ride to see Neuschwanstein and maybe also to visit Austria, just two miles away.

We made our way to Hotel Christine and checked in. In our room there was a welcome plate of food including pringles, peanuts, strawberries, an apple, chocolate and biscuits. Yum!

20130906-205111.jpg

After a brief break we headed out on the bikes. We had planned to go to Austria first but found an interesting river crossing which put us more on the route to Hohenschwangau (below Neuschwanstein castle) so we decided to go to get a view of Neuschwanstein first.

It’s notable that the river/lake around Füssen is a beautiful light blue colour.

20130906-205122.jpg

The road to Hohenschwangau is well signposted – including this sign for the Romantische Straße.

20130906-205134.jpg

See behind him – a rather attractive castle on a hill!

20130906-205217.jpg

And here is a close-up of Neuschwanstein.

20130906-205155.jpg

And from this point we could also see Schloss Hohenschwangau

20130906-205206.jpg

We enjoyed seeing this famous building but the clouds were gathering so we thought it was time to head off to Austria.

A few miles down the road we found ourselves at the border with Austria (Tirol). Here is James standing in Austria

20130906-205235.jpg

And here am I

20130906-205252.jpg

After wandering around in Austria for a minute or so we decided to head back via a pizzeria we had passed.

The Pizzeria had a very strong theme of Ferrari cars (including signed photos of Michael Schumacher there). They did a good line in beer for James.

20130906-205446.jpg

We shared a large salad to start.

20130906-205453.jpg

Then I had a pizza (which was enormous!) and James had tortellini

20130906-205506.jpg

On the way back James had a closer look at the Lech falls.

20130906-205517.jpg

We passed a wonderful monastery called Kloster St Mang whose bells were ringing.

20130906-205625.jpg

We then crossed the Lechhalde bridge with a lovely view towards the mountains

20130906-205641.jpg

We then had a slow cycle through the pedestrian area which included a short stop to buy some pastries for dessert.

20130906-205655.jpg

We got back to our hotel and stowed the bikes in the garage.

20130906-205709.jpg

Today we have cycled a total of 15 miles/25 kilometres which is fairly good going for a day of travelling by train too!

We enjoyed our pastries before going to bed. Tomorrow we start the Romantische Straße cycle route proper, next stop Schongau.

20130906-205756.jpg

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Recumbent Trikes, Romantische Straße