Spectacular Danube Gorge

Submitted by mag on

Burg Wildenstein towers above the DonauToday was one of our most gorgeous days of cycling EVER! Perfect weather, crisp and clear and just right to showcase the beautiful white cliffs and crags. From Findingen we entered the impressive Danube gorge where somehow the small meandering stream has managed to cut a half-mile deep gash in the limestone, resulting in towering vertical crags.

The trail was a bit rough but amazingly scenic. We were forced to stop every km for photos. It seemed like hours before we finally came to the Jagerhaus (one of the gasthauses I had considered - only accessible by trail). If we ever come through here again it is a definite stopover.

The trail follows right along the stream nearly all the way, with fantastic views nearly straight up to the vertical cliffs and crags, many crowned with castles, towers, mansions or ruins. Near Beuron we could see the famous and fabulous Burg Wildenstein, now a hostel where we have a reservation for tomorrow.

The Disappearing Danube

Submitted by mag on

The Donau VersickerungAfter all the time spent on the massive immense waters of the Daunbe, the upper Danube was quite a switch!  Near the headwaters it's just a small creek and in fact at one point it dives underground and disappears!.  

We drove from Munich to Sigmaringen near the source of the Danube. On the way we stopped at Riedingen, hoping for a nice lunch but although there were a few restaurants open, no one was serving anything resembling food. A pretty town but not especially friendly. We stopped at the famous “hanging gardens” which had a nice view but the gardens had pretty much gone to seed. Our hotel in Sigmaringen was the Pfefferle, where we got a nice little ferienwonung (apartment).

From Sigmaringen we took a train to Geissingen to start our journey down the Upper Donau. We left most of our stuff in the car at the train station. After the standard “second breakfast” in Geissingen, we set off. We are really glad we didn’t miss this part of the Danube. Although the river itself isn’t much and actually completely dives underground at some points, the scenery, towns and castles are truly spectacular.

Leaving Geissingen the trail was well marked and maintained, but after only a few km we encountered our first Umleitung, which then took off straight up a mountain… we decided to take an obvious shortcut closer to the river valley, which soon deteriorated so we found ourselves in yet another cow pasture… we should count up the mileage we’re forged on through muddy cow pastures on this trip!

Just past Immendingen we encountered the Versickerung,

Back "Home" in Munich

Submitted by mag on

Ein Prosit at the Chinesischer TurmWe rented a lovely ground floor apartment in Munich in a nice area just across the EnglisherGarten and the Isar River from our old apartment in Schwabing where we lived from 1979 – 1981. The apartment wasn’t ready for us until 3, so we parked near Marienplatz and had a good lunch Augustiner Brau Pub – one of our old favorites. We picked up some groceries and spent a quiet evening enjoying the spacious apartment – complete with southern patio.

On Friday we spent a leisurely morning enjoying the quiet of the apartment. It is so pleasant and relaxing we decided to stay and extra day. Later we took a delightful long ride down the Isar River and around the beautiful Englisher Garten. It was cloudy in the morning and the garden was nearly deserted – but the sun came out just in time for lunch and like the touch of a magic wand the beer garden sprang to life! Within an hour the beer garden was packed with noisy crowds, just like old times. Good to know some things never change. We had a traditional beer garden lunch at the Chinesischer Turm – complete with masses of beer, brat hanchen, schweinehaxen and pretzels, and Oompah Band up in the tower. 

Linz to Ulm

Submitted by mag on

Leaving Inzell for LinzBob and Patty got a fancy hotel on the north side of the river. They have decided to take a train to Budapest to get on a Viking Cruise back to Nurenburg. (Here's hoping all went well with the immigrant situation at the train station in Budapest!)

Regensburg, Meeting Old Friends and on to Staubing

Submitted by mag on

Time to moveWe arrived in Regensburg around noon, had a quick lunch, checked into our apartment right near the main square. Our apartment was ultra-modern with every convenience crammed into a tiny space. The plan was to meet up with our friends Bob and Patty tomorrow.This is the third year we've met up with them for part of our journey.

Market Crashes and Wedding Crashers

Submitted by mag on

Maggie's retirement home after the market crashMarina at the "Sailing Lake"After Donauworth the trail suddenly leaves the river and begins climbing steep hills. These are the kind of hills that even with fulll power and lowest gear, fully loaded you're lucky to crawl up at 10 km - but you can fly down as fast as you can stand! We were also concerned about the market which is in freefall so I was happy to find a potential retirement home alongside the trail.  

As a result of all this, we were pretty tired by the time we reached Newburg - and there we encountered one more steep climb up to the walled well-preserved town. This area is quaint and interesting, but pretty tricky for the bikes with steep hills and really bumpy slick cobbles.

On to Donauworth - day of detours and dubious shortcuts with a perfect finish

Submitted by mag on

Happy diners at Cafe Raffeallo DonauworthEiscafe in HochstadtAfter our lavish frustuck we headed out, marveling at the wonderful trail and the elaborate signage system. We were happily following the signs, when a man in a car stopped and started gesturing and speaking rapid German. We explained for the hundredth time “Danke aber wer sprechen nur ein bisschen Deutsch” and continued on. A few minutes later he came back and with gestures told us we needed to go back and turn another way – sure enough when we went back we saw the Umleitung sign we had missed and started off on a dirt road through a cornfield. This worked out fine and soon enough we found ourselves in the pleasant town square of Hochstadt where we treated ourselves to a luscious Eiscafe.

After Hochstadt the signs and maps told us the way to Donauworth was along the left bank… but Google said the right bank was shorter… Jim enjoyed discussing the matter with the corn… big ears/no backtalk. After some debate Jim, Google and the corn won out The path looked OK at first but rapidly degraded until it climbed up a steep levy to a hunter blind where it petered out entirely. By this time we were committed as it was a long way back to the bridge, so continued on through the farmers’ fields for quite some time.

Ulm to Lauingen

Submitted by mag on

Orange Hotel UlmWell, it looks like we paid our dues to the weather gods - the weather has finally broken – no rain in the forecast and increasing temps a few degrees every day. We saddled up, bid farewell to Orange and set out down toward the river and across the bridge to the north side, where we picked up a beautiful section of the Donauradweg on a paved trail right along the river. This was about the last paved trail along the river we’ve seen – from there on it’s been mostly crushed limestone – some very smooth and some very rough.

Soon after we left Ulm it became obvious we were in Bayern - blue and white checks everywhere and people on the trail say Gruss Gott instead of Guten Tag.

Orange Hotel - Ulm

Submitted by mag on

Dinner in OrangeWe were worried about where to leave the car for the 3 weeks we will be cycling the Danube. We think we hit on the perfect solution – the Orange Hotel in Neu-Ulm. The Orange Hotel is one of those hotels we call “Human Filing Cabinets” that the French are so good at.

Van Gogh Country

Submitted by mag on

Starry Night TrailFrom Houten we hopped down to the Nuenen/Eindhoven area – Nuenen is famous as being where Van Gogh lived in his early years while developing his style – and for the new Van Gogh Starry night bike trail. Eindhoven is famous as the home of Philips and also as one of the top 5 most bikable cities in the world.

Good times in Holland

Submitted by mag on

windmill near Punt 53Alena and Kevin arrived at Amsterdam Schiphol no problem and caught the bus to Haarlem – I was lucky to find them just as they got off the bus, so no problem getting them to our wonderful apartment on Schagchelstraat. After a good lunch at the Grote Markt and a nap – everyone felt much better.

Final Countdown

Submitted by mag on

We are into the final launch sequence and so far everything is moving on schedule. We finished up a lot of yard work yesterday, and got our preliminary packing and checkout done, and even had time to enjoy dinner on our new deck and a fire. Tomorrow we finish packing and getting the house ready, and then in the afternoon drive to Kalamazoo to pick up our rental car. We haven’t had time to do a real “shakedown cruise” like we did last year, but we did a trial load of bicycles with our touring panniers to make sure we had all the pieces we will need in Europe. So we think we are good to go and ready for liftoff on Sunday. 

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