After 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.
Eventually we did emerge on a road without mishap, although the bikes were seriously muddy. Shortly we encountered a bird watching tower that gave us a good view of the landscape. After that we continued on without problems for the rest of the day, all the way to the approach to Donauworth. At this point, Google again disagreed with the maps and signs. We followed the signs up a narrow dike trail to a dam river crossing, but then looking at the hotel address, we realized the hotel was on this side, and following the signs would entail 3 bridge crossings. So we had 3 choices – follow the signs and map, go back to the last point where Google said to turn, or take Google’s current directions (which did not show as any kind of path on the maps). I argued for going back, Jim for the current direction… everyone was worn out by this time, so we chose Google’s shortest route. This turned out to be a very long (at least 5 k) struggle across farmers’ fields with no path at all, sometimes just a seriously eroded gulch, other times just a field – too tired for fotos at this point. By the time we got to the hotel it was clear either of the other 2 choices would have been preferable… so Googie is not in the best graces.
The Hotel Donau Augsbergestr 6 in Donauworth seemed expensive for a smallish room with no amenities in a not-great location. It did however have an excellent bike garage, and at breakfast the next morning there were about a dozen cyclists who had shipped their bikes to the hotel, so it’s apparently a starting point for many tours, which might explain the high price. After sharing a quick beer from the vending machine, we pedaled across bridge #3, (which as it turned out was under construction, so no scary motor traffic), and up the cobbled main street of town shopping for the perfect dinner spot. It seems to be a rule that the Perfect Dinner Spot never appears on demand - we did the entire main street and plaza, then crossed a tiny ped-bridge onto an island, where after some exploring we did, amazingly, stumble on the Perfect Dinner Spot! Café Raffaello, a charming piazza right by the water and with a view of the town gate. In general, Italian food in Germany is not very good – over-sweet, over-salty, over-cooked, over-pasty. But this was Italian, by Italians… the entire staff was Italian and overtly proud of themselves and the restaurant. We had a veggie pizza and salad, and a bottle of the house red…. Every component was of the highest quality and perfectly prepared and presented. The entire bill came to $45 Euros - a best value for Europe. The waiter was thrilled that we asked for the bill in rough Italian and brought us a lagniappe of a small desert and a taste of Zambucca.