Tag Archives: 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…

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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).

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Here’s what they look like on the bike when we set off.
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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!
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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.

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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!

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Here I am sitting beside a young girl, copying her position!
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Here we are outside the Besthotel Zeller, ready to head off. We liked this hotel!
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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.
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There was also a very handy information board which told us about all the different hydroelectric schemes along this section of the river.
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Lots of interesting information here about peak usage times etc.
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We now ignored the signage for the Romantische Straße and headed off to Mering, passing this impressive roadside stall with lots of squashes/pumpkins.
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Here’s the choice. 7 Euros for a large pumpkin, for example.
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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.
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We arrived at Kissing and I demonstrated…
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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.
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Here we are outside the amusingly-named bike shop.
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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.
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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!
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And another!
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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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And the Rathaus:

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

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James had Wurst and bread.

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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.

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Here is part of city wall.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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Here’s the info board about it.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Here is the information from my Garmin today.

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We parked our bikes under the log store.
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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.

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

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And just to make you jealous, here are pictures of our wonderful food!
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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!

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Filed under Cycle Tours, Cycling in Germany, Romantische Straße, Trikes & Velomobiles

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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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I dipped my toe in the water…

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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).

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This is the roof skylight.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Here are the statistics for today’s ride:

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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.

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

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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!

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

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It’s enormous – James barely reaches his chin!

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

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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)!

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

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We had a starter of rather attractive salads.

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I had a special Schnitzel with cheese.

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James had a curry.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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Here I am with Neuschwanstein Castle in the background.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Even the pews had beautifully carved ends.

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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…

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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!

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Light and fluffy inside too!

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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I liked this road name too.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Here is some local wildlife.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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James ordered a Weissbier which was brewed at this brewery.

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(The glass is from a different brewery).

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This was the glass roof.

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And a pleasant outside courtyard.

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

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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.

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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.

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

First, a beer!

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

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

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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

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And here is a close-up of Neuschwanstein.

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And from this point we could also see Schloss Hohenschwangau

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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

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And here am I

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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.

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We shared a large salad to start.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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