We cycled from the regency spa town of Marianske Lazne for our final Czech overnight stop in the town of Cheb, close to the German Bavarian border. From Cheb we had a tough, hot day’s cycling to the university town of Bayreuth, which was in the midst of it’s 200th anniversary Wager festival. Accommodation was scarce and expensive but we fortunately had a Couchsurfing offer. Our rest day in Bayreuth coincided with temperatures in the high 30’s so we spent the day trying to staying cool whilst planning our onward route through Germany …… we were very thankful for the air-conditioned bookshop with a great map department and a cafe!
Cycle route sculpture, on route from Czech to Germany:
From Bayreuth, we started following the River Main, so the cycling was flat and hence the cycle-paths were quite busy; it was the first time we have seen cycle tourists in any numbers.
When we arrived in the town of Kulmbach it was was also in the midst of a festival – not classical music this time but beer! It seems that Germany has even more breweries than the Czech Republic. Barry is undertaking a regional beer tasting challenge and so far the dark (dunkun) beer is the clear favourite.
All the towns we have visited have each had a lovely ‘old town’ but our next stop, Bamberg, was one of the most impressive and it’s easy to see why it is a key tourist attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. As well as its authentic medieval cathedral, bishops residences, abbey and town hall, Bamberg is also famous for its smoked ‘Rauchbier’ (an acquired taste!) and is home to no less than 8 breweries.
During the day’s cycling from Bamberg the argiculture changed and suddenly we were cycling through vineyards instead of barley fields….. we had entered the wine region :)) We spent a night in the pretty little town of Volkach, in the region of Kitzingen. Unfortunately we were too early to enjoy Volkach’s main tourist attraction – its annual wine festival is the culminating festival for the entire Franken wine region, but this didn’t stop us sampling the local produce!
Entering the Franken wine region:
As the cycle route continued along the River Main to Wurzburg, the temperatures continued to rise and we spent a day exploring the city in a sweltering 38 degrees. We found sanctuary visiting the cool (and magnificent) Residenz Palace and then in the map department of another air-conditioned book shop! From Wurzburg we took a day trip with our Couchsurfing hosts to the picturesque medieval fortress town of Rothenberg. Our hosts kindly drove us there which was a very strange feeling after not being in a car for over 2 months!
We left Wurzburg for our final 2 days of cycling along the River Main, camping overnight in Zimmen before reaching Miltenberg. From there we headed south over the forested hills along the delightful ‘Wanderbahn’ cycle path. Whilst the river-side cycle paths have been great, after a week of flat cycling the change of scenery was welcome. Temperatures were high again and we enjoyed the shade of the forest for our morning climb. Shortly after we had descended and joined the River Neckar, the predicted storm came of our way. It was short but intense, with thunder, lightening, heavy rain and very strong winds. We managed to get into a cafe just as the chairs and sun shade umbrellas took off down the street, like a scene from a movie! Following the storm we had to slalom through the debris of fallen fruit and branches that littered the cycle path and had to unload and then lift the bikes over a couple of fallen trees. It was slow and mucky work, on what was our longest day so far at 123km. By the time we arrived at our hosts in Hiedelberg we looked (and felt) as if we’d spent the day doing extreme mountain biking!
After a day exploring Hiedelberg we caught the train to Strasbourg. We had originally planned to cycle down the Rhine Valley to Strasbourg but our cycle-touring hosts advised us that it’s a dull and industrial cycle route so we decided to jump on the bicycle-friendly train and thereby have an extra 2 days for more desirable cycling elsewhere. We enjoyed Strasbourg but both noted how a quick trip into France makes you realise how orderly and neat Germany is!
From Strasbourg we headed for the Black Forest, spending one night on route in Offenberg, where we spent the night in the Youth Hostel situated in a castle. The Black Forest is gorgeous and the cycling is fantastic [JJ – except for a couple of ‘killer’ hills. MrG- I think you mean ‘bumps’ darling] and because the cycling is more challenging we had the cycle paths pretty much to ourselves. We over-nighted in Triberg, which is home of Germany’s biggest waterfall and its biggest cookoo clock emporium; apparently cookoo clocks originate from Germany, not Switzerland. Shock, horror!
From the Black Forest we made our way via Donaueschingen to Konstanz where we are enjoying the town and lake before heading over the border into Switzerland.
We have stayed with several Couchsurfing and WarmShowers hosts over the last few weeks. A big ‘thank you’ to each and every one for their generous hospitality and great company; it really did make our trip through Germany all the more interesting and enjoyable 🙂