Farmlands, Ghost Towns and the Football World Cup
Erbach to Passau
13 – 18 June 2018
And just like that we have now started our fifth week of cycling. It has been such an adventure. This week kicked off with us cycling into the beautiful city of Ulm. It is definitely worth a visit. As we approach Ulm we notice how the Danube has grown. Water from tributaries are feeding into it at a rapid pace and she has grown from a small child into a teenager.
The track takes us inland and we cycle through farmlands, more farmlands, forests and many ‘ghost towns’. There seems to be so many small villages but no one around, and each village has a strange Christmas tree in the middle of it. We are not quite sure why (it is June). We found this week’s cycling to be a little less interesting than previous weeks as we missed seeing the river. We had glimpses every now and then and were then steered back inland. By the time we reach the beautiful city of Passau though we see she had definitely grown into a young adult.
The trail is also very gravelly and full of detours. A lot of construction of the trail is underway which is good for future cyclists.
In saying this, the week was scattered with many highlights from interesting towns we did manage to find, great people we met and a few laughs along the way. See highlights section below.
Here is a summary of our itinerary. Feel free to skip ahead to the highlights section.
Day 29, 13 June (Erbach to Dillingen, 75km)
Day 30, 14 June (Dillingen to Ingolstadt, 100km)
Day 31, 15 June (Ingolstadt to Regensberg, 90km)
Day 32, 16 June (Rest day, Regensberg)
Day 33, 17 June (Regensberg to Deggensdorf, 90km)
Day 34, 18 June (Deggensdorf to Passau, 60km)
A few highlights along the way.
Ulm is a very pretty city, we meandered through the old fishermans quarter and found the central marketplatz. We enjoyed a coffee just outside the cathedral*, which has the largest steeple in Europe; and popped into the market to buy a few snacks. The coffee we had was more a bowl of coffee, especially big coming off the cafe noisettes in France.
We stayed in Dilligen which had a great historical town centre. We enjoyed our campsite which was right on the Danube. It had a bar and as it was a cold evening, we went inside and enjoyed a few beers and awesome pork knuckle. We also met Peter from Switzerland who we saw over a few days on the trail. He taught us that there is a lot more in common between cultures and languages than the differences I was seeing. He is an interesting guy who was always amazed how we managed to be ahead of him on the trail on our little bikes.
We managed to find a really good stop for a coffee in Donauworth. We ran into Peter there and it was good to see him again. Paul was also interviewed there about the World Cup for a local radio station – random street interview that we will never know if it got any airtime. It was at this town that we started to run into a German couple who were cycling on their electric bikes. We kept seeing them and had a few chats along the trail. We wonder where they are now.
We made it to Regensberg which is a beautiful city, with an awesome approach as you cycle along the river with many bridges and old buildings. We had a rest day there and managed to watch the Aussie vs French World Cup game. It was a very touristy town and we couldn’t find a bar showing the game. We asked a few locals and eventually found a beer garden with a large screen so we were happy to settle into a beer and brutwurst just in time for kickoff*. I even recall the gorgeous toll of the bells (a very common sound in Europe) right on kickoff which was at 12pm; it was pretty cool (although we did miss the cheering as the game). We also found Peter again at our campsite and had dinner with him which was fun. It was his last night and he caught the train home to Zurich the next day. Another interesting fact about Regensberg is that we found out that it is the birthplace of Dean’s (my brother in-law) father.
I particularly enjoyed a section cycling through the hops plantations. I have never seen hops grown before, it’s quite beautiful. It’s a ‘vineyard’ for beer (hmmm nice)!
One day we came across a warning sign for very steep hills, so we took the easy option and jumped on a ferry to bypass it. I thought of it as cheating for 2 seconds then got over that (we saved only 5kms). It was great being on the water rather than next to it and see amazing views of the gorges. Our legs enjoyed the break too.
We had a quick lunch after the ferry in a small town, Kelheim which had the beautiful pastel coloured buildings we are starting to now see in some towns.
We then cycled to Deggensdorf, where we quickly set up camp and made it into town in time for the Germany vs Mexico game. We thought it would be fun watching Germany while we were in Germany*. We met some great people sitting at our table, Helmut, Diane, Kai and David. They taught us about life in Deggensdorf and Germany and we enjoyed a few beers together. A special thanks to David and Kai for taking us out on the town, managing to find a few places open even though it was a Sunday and Germany had lost the game (sorry about that).
When we got a little bored with cycling we started looking at street signs. We found a few we thought were quite funny and photo worthy.
The week finished with us reaching Passau. This must be my favourite German city. It was so cool. Lots of little narrow streets, gorgeous buildings and a great vibe. We stayed in a fabulous campsite (our best so far) which was a tent only campsite right on the river. It was so peaceful and we loved it*.
One of the things we have noticed all along but more so this week, is that we can cycle for ages and not see anyone. Then someone will cycle towards us and pass us at the exact time we need to pass someone walking on the trail, forcing us to stop or things get awkward. Very annoying! What is the probability of that happening? This one is for my maths buff brother Graeme. I would think it’s a low probability and you couldn’t organise it if you tried, but we have seen this happen more times than not, a few times each day actually. Strange fun fact!
* Finding Wilson
‘Today coming to work, I saw one of those only in New York** scenes. It was a rat who had passed out after choking on a pretzel’.
** Poetic licence for Germany