Monday 31/8/15 – Today we began our journey from Wurzburg to Fussen, some 400 plus km riding along the Romantic Road. It is Germany’s most well known and popular tourist route. We will be going from north to south, and anticipate this will take about three days, that is if we don’t have too many diversions.
Stopped in Wurzburg to look for some accommodation either here or further on, and noticed some white marquis set up in the square; they were having a wine festival in the town. Decision made….. we are staying in Wurzburg.
We spent an awesome and memorable evening in the town. The architecture and style of the buildings a delight to the eye.
As in Amsterdam, the tradition of lovers putting padlocks on the bridge to declare their love, is also a tradition here. There were many places on the bridge where clumps of padlocks hung.
We walked over the old bridge and watched the cruise boats negotiate the locks as they made their way up the river; all the while sipping wine that was served from a small bar at the start of the bridge.
Met some real characters and a lovely couple from the Czech Republic who now live in Munich. They bought us another glass of wine to enjoy as we chatted and watched the sun going down….thanks Marie and Wenzel.
There was a group of lads doing some pretty nifty moves too, and in general people just strolling across the bridge, leaning on the walls or sitting enjoying the evening!
It has been another hot day of 36 degrees and the evening was still quite warm. Our hotel, like so many here do not have air-conditioning, but they did have a fan in the room. Wet towels and a fan = good night sleep!
Tuesday 1/9/15 – Wurzburg to Dinkelsbhul.
Can’t believe it is September already, having now been on the road for just over five months and travelled around 24,500kms. It only seems like yesterday that we started out on this extraordinary adventure and trip of a lifetime…… and still talking to each other…. ha.. ha. Actually it is amazing how often we both say the same thing at almost the same time.. scary!
Whilst there have been some great eating pics in the blog, we actually live quite simply. So here is a quick overview of how we travel.
We don’t book ahead for accommodation, liking the flexibility to do the unexpected if it crops up. It is not uncommon to be looking for a MacDonalds (if there is one) late in the day for the free wifi to look on line for somewhere to stay. Very often getting to the place, before the booking has got through to them, and that in itself often provides a good laugh and talking point.
We are usually up by 7am each day for an early breakfast. BnBs are great, because the breaky sets us up for the day. Lunch – is often missed, because of a busy day riding, or the breaky was enough, so we settle for a coffee (and a cake that we share), or some fruit and water. Likewise tea is usually a simple fare, with the occasional extravagance. It is not uncommon to buy some noodles and add the hot water, or buy fruit, especially when in an area where the accommodation is expensive. That way the budget evens out, and sometimes we just want for something simple. Yes we do have a set budget and are on target, despite the dip in the Aussie dollar, which at times makes it a challenge.
We don’t always travel vast distances each day, but can if needed. This trip is more leisurely that the four months spent in Europe (again on a 650 Vstrom) in 2011. I guess in 2011, we were just so keen to see as much as possible, that we chalked up 22,000km on that trip.
The evenings are usually filled with diary notes, blog, sorting the 300 ++ picts taken each day, washing (as needed), planning what we may do the next day or days ahead. John spends a good deal of time reading maps and looking at the weather forecast, and does a great job planning where too next. If the weather is looking average, we may alter our plans to suit. Rarely are we asleep before midnight.
The bike is now starting to show signs of normal wear and tear and it won’t be long before chain and sprockets, brake pads and another set of tyres are due.
Now back to today….Temperature got to 36 degrees again, and have to say the breathability and comfort of the Macna gear over the past three days has been simply awesome. The jacket and pants have very effective vents that we can unzip for the hot weather. Heat is not a biker’s friend at all, with all the safety gear we wear, but the Macna gear has served us very well indeed.
One of the medieval towns we stopped at along the way was Rothenburg. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is so named because it sits on a plateau overlooking the Tauber river. It is one of the best preserved walled medieval towns in Germany and certainly has a fairytale feel to it. Rothenburg was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Pinnochio film, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was also filmed here, plus many others.
During WWII, the Americans spared Rothenburg from annihilation, because the American commander knew of it’s beauty. He sent an envoy, under white flag, to the German commander to say that if they surrendered, then the town would not be bombed further. The surrender happened and most of Rothenburg was saved. The parts that had already been bombed (about 40%), were later restored with donations from around the world, such was Rothenburg’s fame as a beautiful medieval city.
Many homes had beautiful wreaths on the doors. In the early days in Europe, people would put wreaths on their doors to identify their home, just as we house numbers.
There is so much to see and do here, and from all accounts, they have many festivals throughout the year. Mmmmm… would love to be here for the Christmas market and festival.. now that would be magical, if not cold, with the snow to add to the picture!
You can walk the walled ramparts and cobbled streets to get a real feel of the old city. You can also climb up the very tall town hall tower (circa 1250 – 1400) for the best views of the city. John did this, while I waited below.
Rothenburg is known for being one of THE best shopping towns in Germany and is very tourist orientated, as such it can be a little expensive!
We visited the Crime and Punishment Museum, which shows the most diabolical instruments used for punishment and torture in medieval times. Some of the punishment masks and the descriptions however were a little amusing.
These masks were designed to fit the crime and had to be worn publicly, for the punishment period set. e.g. the PIG mask was for a person who had behaved like a pig. The SHAME mask for the so called ‘blabbermouth’ women. The long ears meant they heard everything, the glasses meant they saw everything and the long tongue meant they told everything as soon as it happened. All jokes aside, they looked very heavy and uncomfortable.
By contrast we also visited the Christmas museum and shop… Joey in heaven here. So many beautiful Christmas things, that John was glad we are on the bike, although as I keep reminding him.. there is always the post!
The museum tells the history of Christmas through the ages and how traditions started, it was just lovely, and some of the old decorations just exquisite. We were even able to put a message on the Christmas tree.
Stopped in the town of Dinkelsbhul for the night, in a hotel that is rated in the 10 oldest hotels Germany. Need to pinch ourselves sometimes, in that we get to experience such history first hand. This grand and gracious old half timber house was built in the late 1400s. It became a hotel around 1520, and has been so ever since. There was even a picture on the wall of Queen Victoria who stayed there in the September of 1881. So here we are a mere 134 years later… same place same month.
Not to be outdone, Span parked the bike out the front for a picture as well.
Many of the furnishings are antique, and the stair case has a particularly interesting tilt to the right as you go up, that makes negotiating the stairs quite weird. The concierge quipped that… ‘the stairs are not as old as the hotel, they were replaced not so long ago ….. a mere 350 years ago…. and they are even better after a few schnapps!!!’ We find it simply awesome that we are looking at, able to go into, or stay in buildings that have been built as early as the 11th century; long, long before Australia was even discovered!
Wednesday 2/9/2015 – Dinkelsbhul to Ausburg.
The Romantic road is spectacular in so many aspects. It provides a separate walking and bicycle path, as well as a very well surfaced road for motorised vehicles.
From a motorcycle riding perspective, it is ideal. Long flat, pristine roads snake their way between delightful little villages, and make for glorious curly riding, just wonderful.
There is so much maize growing in the fields, that it reminds us of sugarcane at home. Alternatively, it is all very green grassland, that looks just like a golf course. It is cut regularly for silage to feed the cattle. In some areas, it was common to see the farmers raking the cut silage by hand and throwing it onto carts.
Some of the medieval towns are walled, some are not, but all are spectacular and unique in their own way.
Many of the buildings (homes and businesses) in the villages have murals painted on them. Some look like they may indicate an address, whilst others are religious.
Weather much cooler today, in the low 20s, perfect riding weather, on near perfect roads.
Stayed the night in Ausburg, and the worst accommodation yet! Just about half way on our journey along the Romantic road,
Thursday 3/9/15 – Ausburg to Bad Kohlgrub (near Fussen)
The romantic road again provided us with ever changing landscapes, not to mention more medieval towns and small farming villages that were simply charming. Small white chapels are dotted along the roads, some quite exquisite inside.
In the villages, some of only a few houses, the one thing that catches our eye are the barns that are used to house the cattle.
They are often attached to the homes. So unique, and in many cases, very quaint and beautiful.
As we ride into the villages, the sweet smell of cow poo is always present, and there are often big piles of it outside the barns.
This is recycled in big poo tankers that they then spray back onto the land as fertiliser, so that ‘sweat smell’ is most always present.
The cows look very warm and contented inside, and out of the weather, in the little village of Hohenfurch. During the day, they graze the lush green grass and are contained with portable electric fences.
The other stand out are the huge wood piles close to each house. They are masters at stacking the wood, and clearly stockpiling for the coming winter.
We went into one very special church today the Welfenmunster (Steingaden Abbey) in Steingaden. It was completed around 1176, and over the centuries has been burned, looted and almost completely destroyed during the 30 year war. It was reconstructed on the 1600s. It had a cloister and what seemed to be a community tomb, complete with altar …. just fascinating.
There was also a side chapel, to remember those who had passed away, that was so very sombre in comparison to the main church. remembrance cards for the recently departed were on a board on the side wall.
It was probably one of the most beautiful churches to date, because of it’s simple beauty and the spectacularly beautiful paintings that adorned the walls and ceilings. Who ever designed this church was so very clever in the positioning of the high windows and angled mirrors to allow the light to accentuate the colour and beauty if the paintings.
There were many altars, as in so many of these old churches, two in particular stood out. The one that had St Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi, and the baptismal altar, that had pictures of the little ones and their families on the altar. Such a beautiful idea. Of course we lit candles for our two boys here, as we do in most of the churches we visit.
As the day progressed, it became cooler and the rain came. Two days ago we were riding in 36 degrees, today it is down to 12 degrees and heavy, heavy rain from mid afternoon.
The Macna pants and jacket were once again fantastic, we kept dry, despite the very heavy rain, and were warm enough, with just the waterproof membranes in. Awesome!
Booked some fabulous accom at Guestehaus Vogt in Bad Kohlgrub, in the Bavarian part of Germany. This is chalk and cheese compared to last night! It is a 3 bedroom apartment, with cooking facilities for €55 per night, compared to the unsafe, and grubby shitter we paid €60 for last night!
It is a lovely little village, and the local ‘supermarket’ and restaurants are a 2 minute walk.. Brilliant.
Unpacked the gear, and hung jackets and pants to dry (the outsides that is), then across the road to do some shopping. Back to cook chicken schnitzel, instant spuds , frozen veg and gravy.. A meal fit for a king! Not bad, given all the instructions were in German! Thank God for pictures!
Thursday 4/9/15 – Bad Kohlgrub (2nd night)
Up at around 7am again, and had a good breaky in the self catering accommodation.
Just heading off on the bike, and met a fellow biker (sorry can’t spell his name) who had decided to stay at Hotel Vogt, because he saw our bike. Got to chatting; he is a fascinating and lovely guy who loves biking as we do. He told us he only takes jobs in countries if he can buy a bike manufactured there… and yes he was riding a BMW. He very generously offered accommodation, he lives in a town near Stuttgart close to the Black Forest. It was raining as we chatted, however the rain thankfully stopped by the time we left.
Off we went to complete the Romantic road to Fussen, once again riding through such pretty country. The sun came out as the day progressed, and we travelled through many more small farming villages and medieval towns.
The grass on either side so very green. It almost seems that the grass knows it has to stop at the road edge, so it looks neat and tidy!
It is not possible to stop and go into all the lovely churches etc, and in all probability we may have missed some spectacular sights, however we content ourselves with one or maybe two a day. As for the rest, it is a look at the outside only, and let our imagination do the rest.
Hohenschwangau was the next stop where the famous Neuschwanstein Castle of ‘mad’ King Ludwick II, sits resplendent high atop a rocky pinnacle. You may remember this castle from Walt Disney. It does indeed look magical.
Fortunately we met a couple from Brazil yesterday, who advised us to book, otherwise it would be a case of queueing like in Amsterdam. John booked the tickets, but they have strict rules re pick up on the day or you miss out. Decided to do a quick check so there would have no mishaps tomorrow. The queue at the ticket office today was very, very, very long!
Also in the town is Ludwig’s second castle, aptly named Hohenschwangau Castle. It is very regal looking and sits high on a hill, although not nearly as high as Neuschwanstein Castle. Satisfied ourselves with a look from the outside for this one.
Now that we know where to go, park etc tomorrow, we headed back ‘home’, via Austria. It is a surreal feeling to have started off this morning from Germany, then wound our way through a little of Austria, then back into Germany again, all within a few hours!
The ride back through Austria was stunning, the road once again was brilliant as it curled its way up, around and down the valleys. The magnificent … River, which is usually a vivid clear Aqua, was a soft opaque brown due to the heavy rain of the past few days. Lots of bikers on the road, and it is easy to see why
Saturday 5/9/15 – Bad Kohlgrub (3rd night)
What a delightful day lay ahead today! Woke to rain and gloomy skies, but that had all but stopped by the time we hit the road to Neuschwanstein Castle. It was a cool 10 degrees, and 36 degrees is now but a dim memory! We are told the weather is unseasonal of this time of year.
Another great ride into Hohenschwangau. Got the pre ordered tickets without a hitch, and even better, being so early, got a freebie park in the main Street, where parking is a premium. We had a ‘bit of discussion’ about this, Span somewhat concerned that it may be ‘towed’ by the time we got back from the castle…… it wasn’t!
The castle is perched high on the pinnacle of swan rock overlooking the stunningly beautiful Alpsee Lake, yet it is dwarfed by the mighty mountains behind it.
So, how to get there? We had 3 choices … 1) take the 40 minute very, very steep walk up! 2) take the horse drawn cart at €6 ea, with a 15 minute steep walk up to the castle, or 3) catch the bus for €2.30 (one way) and do the 15 minute downhill walk to the castle. Number 3 was the hands down winner!
First glimpse of Neuschwanstein Castle, even on this overcast day, was a winner. It is easy to see why Walt Disney was so inspired! We had booked an English speaking tour for 1155am. The tours were every 5 minutes, and ran with military precision. No loitering on this tour of 35 minutes precisely!
What a delight it was, the castle so very beautiful inside with the walls and ceilings all painted with magnificent artworks, not to mention the furniture, wall paintings and other furnishings, mostly in a sky blue, that all bore Ludwig’s emblems. It was quite dark inside due to the shade cloth on the windows to protect the art works, and one little lad of about 3 was quite scared. One can only imagine how dark it must have been with only candles to light the way back in the day, not to mention the cold.
The castle as it stands took 17 years to build, and has never been finished. It truly is very beautiful and somewhat magical. As for Ludwig II, well to quote Richard Wagner after his first audience with Ludwig II ” he is unfortunately so noble and brilliant and soulful, that I fear his life must vanish like a fleeting stream in this course world…. My is luck is so great (Ludwig agreed to be his benefactor) that I am crushed by it; if he can only live; he is such an unheard of wonder”. Sadly for Ludwig, he was not supported by his ‘ministers’ indeed, history shows that they conspired against him to portray him as ‘the mad king’; his story is a very interesting read, and his early death by drowning remains a mystery today. Of further interest is that having built this beautiful castle, Ludwig only ever lived there for about six weeks. he spent most of his time in Neuschwanstein Castle where he grew up.
Unfortunately we were unable to take the walk up to Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge – named after King Ludwig’s mother), because it was under repair. Quite understandable, given it is older than the castle! This suspension foot bridge is behind the castle, and spans the gap over the waterfall about 100 metres below. IT is where the most spectacular pictures of the castle can be taken. Alas, it was not to be for us today, and were happy with what we did see.
Our tour completed, we decided to take the 20 minute walk down the hill, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but not before we tried the local version of a donut!
Back at the bike, Span got chatting to an American guy, who wanted to know all about the bike, while I spent some time with a pair of the horses that pull the carts. They loved the sugar cubes that we had saved for them from our coffee earlier in the day. Being so undernourished, we grabbed a bratwurst sausage before hitting the road.
It was a very cool ride back to our digs, but once again some stunning scenery.
Supermarket was closed as we were back late, so went out for tea, and.met a wonderful guy (Gerd). He and his three mates were on a 1500km pushbike ride. WOW, that’s impressive, given they are all over 70, and the weather has not been kind the last few days. Gerd came over to say hello after they had finished their meal, and we shared a lovely bottle of red and some great talking before we all headed home to bed, to ready for the next day’s riding…. theirs a tad more strenuous than ours!!!!!
Sunday 6/9/15 – Bad Kohlgrub (4th night)
We were to head off towards Andermatt in Switzerland today, however it was raining heavily, and when Span checked the weather forecast for Andermatt it was a top of 3 degrees and a low of -2 degrees, so we woosed out and decided to stay here another day. The forecast for Monday is much better. We had a nice quiet catch up day, which is nice once in a while.
Our hosts, who are just lovely, brought us some of their daughter’s birthday cake to share, which was so nice of them.
It took six days, and not the planned three to do the Romantic Road, and in fairness, it could have taken a lot longer, there is so much to see and do.
Here is a more detailed picture of the Romantic Road map, to give you a better idea of where we have travelled. Also added is a pic of the summary from tourist information…
And a bonus pic of Span with his new hat purchased at an antique market.
PS.. So much for the weekly summary… well it was good in theory!!!