passage report 61 On ye Bike Germany
25 June 2011 | Frankfurt
Passage Report: No. 61
On ye Bike – Frankfurt to Wurzburg
The mind was in synch, was the body? Lack of berths had prevented Sahula visiting the riverside, medieval towns. It was time to reclaim. Skipper, hired Bruno (bike –not quite Brutus) (80 Euro per week) and headed off, over 215 km, to Wurzburg.
The trail, a bitumen track, signposted, exclusively for cyclists (no helmet required), followed the Main River. Germany is laced with similar facilities.
Tent and sleeping bag on the rear carrier and a backpack overloaded for all eventualities, Day One effortlessly spruiked some 50 km.
Can you tent in the fields? At 1700, muscles complaining, tent up – no one objected (or dared!).
Barges passed, ducks - ducklings, swans - signets, glided by - a Sahulian view reversed. Evening rain – good book (Ken Follett) Skipper was snug and oblivious. Dinner was cold sausage and “brot.” River wash and shave.
Historic village centres yield mid morning “Backerei” (bread, patisserie), midday meal and “eis” (icecream).
Schloss Johannisburg (12th century, Archbishop hilltop, palace, destroyed shell 1945, rebuilt – madness of war), Schloss Schonbusch (17th century, Archbishops garden palace), aristocratly, rose above the cobbled lanes, leaning, cross timbered houses, spired churches, of ancient Aschaffenburg. Superb, slow, touristic, progress.
Sulzbach, Wallstadt, Obernburg, Klingenberg (stone Teddy Bear -7493 Teddies – Guinness Book record) – orderly, spotless, human less, seeming surreal, villages. Chinese restaurant connotes change.
It rained, it poured – Skipper swept along, wet, cold and fast. Then sun dries all.
Bruno slows – river views tent, book – rest.
Miltenberg “backerie” breakfast, empty, morning quiet of a town time unchanged. Window flower “pots” create colour splashes. Flowers seem especially bright or luminous. Castle ruins remain the river guardian.
Suburban industry, neat, clean, prosperous, ensures a decentralised village economy serviced by road, rail and river.
Curiously common, village cigarette machines facilitate smoking.
Cross river, the trail charts through Freudenberg, under Wertheim’s red towering monastery and river bridges, reflecting the red rock, river cliffs and ancient quarries.
Speed trains rocket by, cars hurtle on parallel “paths.” Then diverge to peace of red, purple, blue and yellow, poppy, wildflower, silver, blue, patchwork, wheat fields.
Cyclists – adorned to test – spiral by; Bruno ambles on, soaking in the agrarian idyll.
Markt Heidenfeld, Rothenfels, Lohr – Skipper’s raw seat, tested muscles demand rest – tent up, river birds gather. Curious dog exercising locals have been to Townsville, Australia.
Bells toll to herald dawn. Gemunden, Karlstadt and destination Wurzburg.
City of Prince Bishops, palaces, cathedrals. 1945 records massive bombing leaving building shells. Since rebuilt to again a magnificent river town (120,000 – 25,000 students)
Skipper opts for central Hostel Fish (17 Euro a night) – two nights of bunk bed, hot shower! Raw seat, unknown muscles – recuperation.
Enough, “body” books on a train to Offenbach, Sahula. A packless bike ride to 17 - 19th century, aristocrats Schloss Philippsruhe (Hanau). Hanau is home to the Brothers Grimm – fairy tales.
Germany is laced with bike trails. They are popular. These are exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians. They are bitumened, well maintained and signposted. Along the rivers they relatively flat. Hostels exist in most towns (17 -25 Euro per night). Some hotels offer special deals to cyclists.
A superb trip would be the Romantic Road trail from Wurzburg to Fussen (Neuschwanstein Castle and Zugspitze alps). An English couple advised it took eight days or longer.
Skipper tented out each night at random, natural sites on the river bank. It was free, with a river wash. There were no security issues. The bike was locked to the tent.
Evening meal was cold food bought in villages. Backerie’s or small restaurants provided breakfast and lunch.
Cost of the trip was minimal – some 20 euros a day. Train was 26 Euros. Bike hire – 80 Euros a week, 100 Euros deposit from Hex bikes in Frankfurt. A suitable seat is critical or suffer!