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German Danube

This page describes the bicycle route along the German portion of the Danube.

German Danube MapTour Overview: July 2001. The words Danube and the German word “Donau” can be readily interchanged. Maps in this part of the world call it the Donau. I try to stay loyal to the English, except for place names and signage. The tour of the Danube in Germany starts at the source of the Danube in the Black forest and flows 2,840 kilometers east toward the Black Sea. It is the longest river system in Europe and the third longest in the world. Once down from the Black forest on day 1, you will ride though farmland alternatively punctuated with typical picturesque Bavarian cities and villages.

The source of the river is a spring that is 678 meters or 2,224 feet above sea level. This German Danube tour is a 8-day, 370-mile (596 km) ride that will take you through the center of beautiful Bavaria. The first couple of days have a few hills but even those of you who, like us, are members of the Over-Fifty-with-Bad-Knees Club (OFBK Club) will be able to negotiate all but the steepest of them. The path is in excellent shape with some hard packed gravel but it is mostly asphalt. There are only short stretches with challenging trail conditions.

Danube Path SignssignsSignage: The route from Donaueschingen to Neustadt is signed with square yellow signs with a distinctive green wave design. From Neustadt to Kelheim the signs are white with green letters (not shown). From Kelheim to Regensburg you will be following Tour de Baroque signs (not shown). From time to time, other routes share the same path but they will eventually lead off in another direction from the path marked in the guidebook. In June, 2007 a reader wrote to tell me that the areas I mentioned which were poorly signed were now much better. Obviously, there has been some good work on the route signage along the way.

Accommodations: Fortunately this part of Germany has large numbers of affordably priced hotels, Pensionen and Zimmer so overnight accommodations are numerous and well distributed along the entire route. As a choice, we like Zimmer (advertised as Zimmer Frei) but there are also GasIthäuser (Guest Houses), Pensionen (pensions or bed and breakfasts), Jugendherbergen (Youth Hostels), and hotels. For a complete discussion of the different types of accommodations and tips on reservations, see my Overnight Accommodations page.

Stops: There are a great many interesting cities and villages along the Danube. Our choices include the Kloster at Inzigkofen, Ulm, Donauwörth, Neuburg, Ingolstadt, Kelheim and Regensburg. However, we encourage you to investigate the communities as your time allows and hopefully, you’ll have a different set of favorite picturesque places that will make your memories unique.

Deutsche Donau Von Donaueschingen nach PassauMaps and Guidebooks: For a detailed map and guidebook we used the bikeline's Donau-Radweg, Tile 1 Deutsche Donau: Von Donaueschingen nach Passau, Radtourenbuch und Karte, 1:50,000, published by Verlag Roland Esterbauer* GmbH. Nowadays one can purchase an English version as well. There are others that work as well, just inquire at any large bookstore in the area.

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Day 1: Donaueschingen to Inzigkofen

Day Overview: The river valley is beautiful with breathtaking views of steep valley walls and pastoral farms. About 30% of the path is gravel but the surface is firm and will hold up well even if it rains. Several hills exceed 60-feet or more but are easily negotiated by members of the Over-Fifty-with-Bad-Knees Club. Only the last hill is steep and 170 feet gain. The starting point is the spring or Quelle. It is on the grounds of Schloß Fürstenberg, the home of one of the famous beers in Germany.

Danube SpringMile 0 (0 km): We followed the signs to the “Donauquelle” (Spring of the Danube) and reset our cyclometer at the spring. From the there, we ride 2/10th of a mile back toward the Bahnhof on Prinz-Fritzi-Allee and follow the signs for the Donau Radweg out of town and across the Ried Wiesen or a marsh where reeds grow.

Mile 11.1 (17.9 km): Enter Geisingen. The trail from the Bahnhof is flat with almost no elevation gain all the way into this tiny village. We arrive in Donaueschingen in late afternoon after our train ride. We assume that we will find cheaper accommodations in the villages than in the larger town of Donaueschingen. We stay overnight at Gasthaus Kindler, Schloss Strasse 29. It is nice, clean, and quite with bathrooms across the hall. Nowadays, Frau Kindler only takes one or two guests at a time these days as she is partially retired.

Standing in them middle of a dry riverbedMile 18 (29.0 km): Since the first day was so short a ride (just long enough to get out of town), we will continue the mileage as if it were all done in one day. This photo shows us standing in the middle of the Danube but the river has sunk into the earth and it will re-emerge in a couple miles. The river disappears in several places during the summer.Covered bridge at Immengingen

Möhringen fountainMile 19.6 (31.5 km): The photograph to the right is the fountain in the center of Möhringen. The bikers in the background, whom we met on the trail, recommend the Gasthaus Zum Hecht, also in the background (phone 07462-6287).

Ziegelhöhle rest stopMile 32.6 (52.5 km): The village of Fridingen. A bit more down the trail you pass by Ziegelhöhle, a rest stop where we take shelter from the heat and sunshine. We break our own rule about drinking beer during the day but it sure tastes good on this hot afternoon. What good are rules that cannot be broken? Besides, this is a great place to stop and watch the other riders go by. We know that we have a 60-foot hill to climb as soon as we get underway again.Table and Chair Sculpture in River

Burg WerenwagMile 39.6 (63.7 km): We enter Beuron after climbing a second 60-foot hill. Since our rest stop at Ziegelhöhle, it has be rolling hills of varying altitude. I am struck by the beauty of this part of the ride. We pass two castles, Burg Wildenstein that you can ride to if you take the right turn at mile 42.7 and Schloss Werenwag on the other side of the river.

ThiergartenMile 49.2 (79.2 km): The scenery is beautiful in the valley around Thiergarten. High white cliffs surround the valley and the river meanders slowly along its floor. Farmhouses dot the surroundings as our bike path weaves through the lush countryside. Today the sun is shining again and we are feeling healthy. We don’t have a care in the world.

Kloster Inzigkofen Chapel at Kloster InzigkofenMile 55.2 (88.8 km): This is Inzigkofen. It lies at the top of a steep 170-foot hill that will defeat all but the strongest riders. (I made it, just for the record.) We stay the night in the affordable Gasthaus Kreutz (phone 07571-51812) but there are several overnight accommodations in Inzigkofen. After a nice meal, we tour the former Kloster. Built for Franciscan nuns 1354 and later occupied by Augustinian Nuns, it was returned to local ownership in 1802 and for a while was a school for children. Volunteers from the village maintain a great herb garden on kloster grounds. This would be a great place for an artist to paint scenes of dilapidated structures with modern (if not overgrown) gardens. I am taken with its simple beauty.

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Day 2: Inzigkofen to Ersingen

Day Overview: Today is another long day but the ride is a pretty one. You will see castles, villages, farms, and great hilltop views. But to get the hilltop views, you have to climb three large hills. The highest hill is the 200-foot hill in Ehingen at mile 44; there are three other shorter and not so steep hills. As an option to riding on to Ersingen (mile 53) as we did, one could stop in Ehingen and ride the Blautal side trip the next day. We did not take this side trip but reportedly it too is beautiful.

Mile 0 (0 km): Leave Inzigkofen. All and all a wonderful experience even if it does sit on top of a huge hill. The fun part about leaving it is the steep drop into the lower part of the village. Two miles further and we will enter Sigmaringen, a major city along the Danube. Sigmaringen is the location of the 11th Century Schloss Sigmaringen, a residence of the Hohenzollern Principality that ruled this part of Germany until 1849.Maxa on the DanubeFarmland on Danube

Mile 27.3 (43.9 km): From Bechingen, we follow signs toward Zell and cross the river again and ride up a small hill to the railroad tracks. Here the signs direct us to the left but the map directs us to continue straight up the hill. We follow the signs left because it looks more interesting. Besides, who wants to miss Zweifaltendorf?

Mile 28.7 (46.2 km): Enter Zweifaltendorf, which translated means “Two Wrinkles Village.” (Or two valleys, or two geologic faults, who knows?) Just thought you’d like a running translation of the place names. By the way, I think the translation for Hundersingen back at mile 15 is Dog Howling. But I am sure I must be wrong about that.

Mile 29.9 (48.0 km): After crossing the valley, we climb a steep pitch to the small village of Datthausen. We cross the main road and ride alongside it following signs to Mittenhausen. On the map, there are two paths; one goes downhill into Rechtenstein where there is a castle (Burg Hohwart) and the other stays along the Bundesstrasse (main road). We make a decision to stay up the hill rather than go down just to ride back up again. Well, you can’t do everything; and why ride up hills when you can get to the same place with relatively little stress on your knees?

Mile 32.3 (52.6 km): This is Obermarchtal. Translated, the name of the town means Upper March Valley. Now, you’d think that we’d ride down hill to the town of Untermarchtal or Lower March Valley wouldn’t you? Just wait, there is a hill coming between here and there. We cross the main road and take to the fields on a paved path drop just enough altitude to have to ride back up a 100-foot hill before dropping steeply into Untermarchtal. The map people forgot to mark these hills on their map. Yesterday, they were marking 30-foot hills, today they don’t mark 60 or 100-foot hills. Maybe a motorcycle instead of a bicycle was used to map this stretch. From the top of the valley, I can see six separate red-tile-roofed small villages sparkling in the sun while the Danube gently meanders through them. What a great day! What a great thing to be doing - biking along the Danube.

Mile 35.4 (57.0 km): After climbing a gradual 100-foot hill leaving Untermarchtal, we make a 90-degree right turn and take a nice steep drop into the village of Algershofen. From there, we cross the Danube again and enter Munderkingen, a 1,200-year-old settlement. Path signs are scarce here and we take a while finding the path through the center of this town. The path crosses the river again and then a set of train tracks. Don’t follow the signs here, instead turn right after the train tracks, not before them. If you do cross the tracks, you’ll miss some heavy traffic and end up at the same place the signs take you.

Mile 39.4 (63.4 km): We ride into Rottenacker on the main street but in the center of town, following signs, we turn left of the main street just before it crosses the river and ride a short block to the bike path bridge crossing the river. There is a sharp left just after the bridge and we ride along the river for a short way. I can’t help but share with you that my translation of “Rottenacker” is an acre of ground that is rotting. Again, I must be wrong about that.

Mile 43.9 (70.6 km): From Ehingen, one can take a side trip up the Blautal (Blue River Valley). In the next few days, we will meet other riders who have taken that ride and highly recommend it for its beauty. However, that is knowledge we don’t have now so we bypass the side trip and keep on chugging down the Danube. There is a 200-foot hill to climb in Ehingen. We tried to take the alternate path through the marsh but there was a fence across the path. Perhaps it is under repair. Anyway, we have little choice except to climb the hill as we ride through town. The good part is the views of the valley from the park atop the hill are spectacular.

Mile 53.4 (85.9 km): After a long drop from the top of the hill in Ehingen and a pleasant ride through the farmland along the Danube to Ersingen where we find a Zimmer Frei sign where we plan to stay for the night. This is a nice home where Frau Kurtz (Seestrasse 3 – close to the church) proves quite helpful in explaining the virtues of Ersingen. The church, for example, was first established in the early 12th Century. It was Catholic until 1536 when - during the Thirty Year War - it became Protestant. Inside, there is a gorgeous triptych and a meticulously well carved statue of the Shepard carrying a lamb. Interestingly, this church today has Protestant services at 10:00 and Catholic services at 11:00. We have noted several churches in Germany are home to both denominations.

Day 3: Ersingen to Dillingen

Day Overview: Today’s ride will be 46.7 miles (75.2 km). Fortunately, there are few hills today, but unfortunately, much of the path is gravel. We have 38 millimeter wide tires so gravel does not dishearten us, if we had tires any narrower than 28 millimeters, it might. I have ridden on 1 1/4 inch tires on this route and did well but the wider tires are better.

Continue to follow the yellow and green sign for the Donau Radweg rather than be lulled into following the blue sign for the Donau – Bodensee Radweg as that sign may take you south to Lake Constance and Switzerland. Not that those are bad destinations, it’s just that they are not on this tour. We’ll do that tour in June 2002.

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Fischerstechen Street Fest in UlmMile 0 (0 km): After a good breakfast prepared by Frau Kurtz, we ride east toward Oberdischingen, in the direction of Ulm. We will be staying right next to the river for the 12 miles into Ulm.

Ulm RathausMile 12.1 (19.5 km): Enter the city of Ulm where every four years (2009, 2013, 2017, etc.), the city holds a festival called Fischerstechen. Translated, it means to spear fish. Nowadays however, it is less about fishing and more about contests between young men to see who can dump the other into the water. Undoubtedly, though we didn’t actually witness the festival, there are copious amounts of beer consumed accompanied by loud Um-Pah music and raucous laughter. When we get to the Metzgerturm (Butcher’s Gate) at mile 12.6, we duck through the old city wall for a tour of the Altstadt of Ulm. The Gothic Cathedral in Ulm, which was started in 1328 and finally completed in 1844, claims to have the world’s highest steeple at 530 feet. For about €2.50, you can climb all 768 steps and take a picture of the rooftops and the surrounding countryside. Personally, I recommend consuming some Kuchen first; you’ll need the energy. Close to the Cathedral is the Deutsches Brotmuseum (German Bread Museum) with displays about the history of bread making, grain agriculture, and world hunger.

Of course, there are several other worthy sights to see in this well kept and well-presented city on the Danube. For example, the story of the Metzgerturm is about a time during the Middle Ages when housewives made assertions that the Metzgers (butchers) were purposely shrinking size of their Wurst. The Metzgers vehemently refuted the housewives’ claim and when they did, the Metzgerturm began to lean, proving, of course that the sleazy Metzgers were, in fact, lying after all. It still leans today. (My theory is the bricklayers probably started the whole story about the Metzgers to hide their own shoddy workmanship.

Mile 19.1 (30.7 km): Enter Oberelchingen. This community is situated close to a major battlefield of the Napoleonic War. In October 1805, the forces of the German Nations (mostly Austrian troops in this battle) fought the forces of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The French won the day then but eventually lost the war.

Mile 22.5 (36.2 km): In the middle of the collection of buildings called Weißingen, turn right then left down a well-worn gravel path through the forest. The path will stay gravel for the next 4 miles – but it is hard packed and easy to ride on. The sign is hard to see but if you know your going into the forest, you’ll find it.

Mile 25.6 (41.2 km): This is a city park across form Leipheim. The large sign in the park shows a bike route not shown on our map. It winds through the Altstadt of Leipheim, through Günzburg, Reisenburg and into Offingen before crossing the river and rejoining the bike path depicted on our map. We stay with the map but when we get to the bridge (actually just before the bridge) to Offingen, we realize that traffic or no, it would have been a lot more interesting on the other bank. There are several castles or palaces on the right bank and only gravel, forested, path on the left bank. I would especially recommend the alternate path if it were raining or wet. Gravel path in wet weather is not nice even if it is firm gravel.

Mile 34.0 (54.7 km): We are a stone’s throw from the bridge from Offingen and if we had taken the alternate path shown on the sign near Leipheim, this is where we would join the path shown on our bikeline guidebook.

Gundelfingen Roman RuinsMile 37.8 (60.8 km): We enter Gundelfingen, which was established as a Roman encampment before 300 BCE. Further down the path in Faimingen, is a ruin of a Roman temple.

DillingenMile 46.7 (75.2 km): We climb into Dillingen and then drop back down to the river where we end the day at Hotel am Fluss in Dillingen. It is a nice place, at about €45.00 per couple per night. It is a little less expensive perhaps than the two other hotels next door. The owners speak English and they well understand the needs of a couple of bikers with bad knees. (We seek the medicinal qualities of Bier.) Their address is Donaustrasse 23½, the phone number is 09071-4795.

Day 4: Dillingen to Bittenbrunn

Day Overview: Today’s ride will be 46.7 miles (75.2 km). The ride starts with a hill to get to the top of the plateau above the river valley but the next hill of any size isn’t until the 5-mile long hilly portion that begins at mile 26. There are only short distances of well packed gravel today.

Mile 0 (0 km): We wake up this morning to steady rain. But, like the US Postal Service, “Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will stay our appointed rides,” or something like that. We climb a small hill out of Dillingen as we ride toward Höchstädt (High Town) but its not that much higher than anything else around here.

Mile 2.4 (3.9 km): Enter Steinheim. I’m going to translate a few more place names. Steinheim means the Rock Home. But wait, it gets better. Next comes Sonderheim (mile 5.9), which is Special Home. At mile 7.1, is Blindheim or Blind Home, and finally Gremheim or Grem’s home at mile 8.6. I know; who cares? But I can’t help wondering about the history behind some of the names like these. Care to guess how many Neustadts (New Town) there are in Germany? We have ridden through 5 or 6 but there are more than 25. And who knows how many Neukirchen there are. All in a country the size of Montana. (Germany is 357,000 sq km and Montana is 376,991 sq km). I am not complaining, I offer this GASK (Give a S**t Knowledge) for your edification only.

Mile 9.6 (15.4 km): After riding through Gremheim instead of bypassing it as we would if only there had been a bike route sign showing the proper route, we cross the Danube and ride on a brand new bike path not shown on our old map. The new path parallels the high-traffic road shown as the route on the map. This is just another improvement of the network of paths along the Danube. Every year there are changes and improvements. Perhaps that is why one should purchase and use the most recently published guidebook.

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DonauwörthDonauwörthMile 20.5 (33.0 km): The city of Donauwörth. The bike path enters the city from the west along the left bank of the river. However, cars coming from the south would enter the town over a bridge across the river. That bridge has been destroyed over 30 times in its history. It is an important bridge because Donauwörth for centuries has been a commercial crossroads and the bridge has been an important key to that commerce.

Mile 26.8 (43.1 km): We have been gaining altitude slowly since leaving Schäfstall (I think it means “sheep stall”). The top of the hill is in Leitheim; after that, we’ll ride over some steeply rolling terrain until we get to Bertoldsheim at mile 33.

Mile 37.8 (60.8 km): This is the top of another 120-foot hill and the drop is fun. However, there is a sharp right turn about two-thirds of the way down that you will miss if you are having too much fun with the drop.

Mile 42.0 (67.6 km): We stop for the night at Jagdschöessl Giethausener. We are in the community of Laisacker, a part of Bittenbrunn. The local beer here is called Neuberger and it tastes great on a sunny afternoon after 42 miles up and down hills.

Day 5: Bittenbrunn to Weltenburg

Day Overview: Today there is one long but gentle hill. Except for a few short stretches, the path is paved today. The little bit of gravel is solid and easy riding.

NeuburgNeuburgMile 0.7 (1.1 km): Neuburg. An absolutely stunning Baroque city. You see the classic Baroque step gables and onion dome church steeples. We went into a church just off the main gate in the town wall. It is full of wonderful art and quite well decorated in Baroque style.

Mile 5.0 (km): Built in 1555, Schloss Grünau is apparently closed to the public. Perhaps it is being renovated but it doesn’t look nearly as impressive as one would assume reading the guidebooks.

Mile 8.9 (14.3 km): At the railroad crossing just before Weichering, you will find a sign that says “Schranke wirt auf Anruf geöffnet. Bitte Hebel drücken.” That means pull down the yellow lever and the barricade will open if not, someone will probably speak German at you through the speaker. When we got there, there was no danger of trains and the barricade opened without conversation.

IngolstadtMile 15.8 (25.4 km): After crossing the Danube at mile 14.8, we enter Ingolstadt through the Kreuztor (“Cross Gate”). Just beyond the gate is the Ingolstadt Münster or Cathedral of Ingolstadt. (In England, the language differentiates between a minster and a cathedral. The former being built as part of a monastery, the latter was the seat or home church of a bishop.)

We visited the cathedral as well as the 750-year old Gnadenthalkirche. Both churches are full of medieval art. The triptych at the altar in the cathedral is particularly interesting with detailed paintings on both sides as well as within.

The story is told that the duke who paid for the cathedral’s construction wanted to be buried beneath it. However, because of a later feud with his son, who had come into power, he was not only thrown in prison but also denied burial in the church. It just goes to show you, families have been having internal strife for centuries (forever?).

We have some difficulty following the bike path signs through the Altstadt but we eventually make it. We know that the path is on the left bank so all we have to do is keep going east until we either get to the bike path, or China, which ever comes first.

Mile 22.9 (36.9 km): We meet a man crossing the bridge from the right bank. He informs us that while the path on the right bank is paved and a little more interesting, it is also on a low-traffic road. We could, if we wanted to, continue on the left bank along the dike to Oberdünzing. That is where the path in the guidebook crosses back over from the right bank to the left bank. We decide to stick with the path as shown in the guidebook and cross over. Maybe, if I weren’t writing this travelogue for you, I’d have taken the man’s advice. A couple years in the future, I will learn to do what I want without regard to writing travelogues for you; sorry.

Mile 27.4 (44.1 km): We bypass Vohburg and cross the river again. It is just too hot today to be doing much more sightseeing. We yearn for the end of the ride and a cold beer.

Weltenburg Chapel Mile 37.1 (59.7 km): Pedaling slowly, because we are almost out of energy we ride into Bad Gögging. Between here and Pföring, the path is shown to cross the Danube on a bridge but the signage is terrible. We met with two separate groups of bikers who were also confused about how to get onto the bridge from the dike. We ended up scrambling up an embankment and lifting our bikes over the guardrail in order to get onto the bridge. Then, we miss the left turn just after the bridge and end up entering Bad Gögging on a high-traffic road. Oh well, perhaps the hot sun fried our navigational abilities.

The most important thing for us now is to take a break from the sun and re-hydrate ourselves. We find a nice Gasthaus and pay too much for cold bottled water. As we sit drinking and cooling down, one of the groups we met at the poorly signed bridge ride up and settle in as well. We chat with them and they tell us about the wonderful Biergarten in Weltenburg. We agree to try to find one another when we get there and Maxa and I say our auf Wiedersehen and ride off. The path between Bad Gögging and Weltenburg is rolling hills. None of the hills are steep but we do gain and lose quite a bit of altitude.

Mile 42.9 (69.0 km): After riding through a large concentration of hops fields, and climbing over a watershed divide, we drop down into Staubing. It is a short ride to Weltenburg, where we have decided to be the end of our ride today.

Mile 44.2 (71.1 km): We end the day at a Zimmer in Weltenburg. A quick shower, fresh clothes and we are off again to the monastery and its Biergarten. We join the group that we met on the trail and enjoy exchanging bicycle touring stories and imbibing the local brew. We learn that this brewery at Weltenburg is the oldest, continuously operating brewery in the world. We are duly impressed. A small chapel opens on to the enclosed Biergarten where a choir is practicing for a performance later in the evening. We step inside and listen to them for a few minutes enjoying the beautiful gilded rococo decorations and paintings that adorn this small but wonderful chapel.

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Day 6: Weltenburg via Regensburg to Frengkofen

Day Overview: Today we ride through Keilheim, Bad Abbach, and Regensburg to the town of Frengkofen. We want to stop long before we get as far as Frengkofen but due to a medical conference in the area, all the rooms east of Regensburg are full so we keep on slogging down the path. As an option, I ride up to the Befreiungshalle or Freedom Monument. We are not counting the 4-mile round trip to the Befreiungshalle in our mileage. There is one long hill today but it is a gentle one. Except for a few short stretches, the path is paved today. The little bit of gravel is solid and easy riding.

Donau Duschbruch CanyonMile .9 (1.4 km): The ferry departs from the beach in front of the monastery where we enjoyed the Biergarten last night. The ferry fee is €5.00 per person with or without bikes. The boat is small, capable of only 8 or 10 people without bikes and even fewer with bicycles.

As we wait for our ferry, we are besieged by a group of American tourist all of whom are downhill of retirement age. They pepper us with questions. “What is it like to do a bicycle tour? Do we sleep in tents? How can you carry everything you will need for a week or two on your bikes? Do you have to be physically fit?” I think we could have sold tickets to a lecture. In all, there were 140 tourists, who go by bus and barge for a two-week trip through Germany – together. They are all roughly the same age, come from the same culture, and speak the same language. It must be like sitting at home and watching Germany pass in front of the living room window. They had successfully insulated themselves from the culture and the people.

On reaching Kelheim, we chance upon this same group again and one asks us if we don’t agree that it is a shame that all the quaint little shops are closed on this Sunday morning. They would like an opportunity to spend some money. I feel sorry for them because by comparison, we are almost brailleing the culture and countryside while they glance at it from afar. And we know that Sundays in Germany are for church and family. Even the grocery stores are closed – their employees at home enjoying life.Befreiungshalle

BefreiungshalleMile 2.9 (4.7 km): At the tour boat dock, I choose to take a side trip to ride up to the Befreiungshalle, or “Liberation Hall.” The Befreiungshalle was built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1863; it commemorates the “Great Battle of Nations” near Leipzig when the 34 German states defeated Emperor Napoleon in 1813. The round building is divided into 18 sections, each with a statue of a feminine member of one of the 18 [or so] Germanic tribes. Read more about this monument in English at the following website: http://www.altmuehltal.de/. Maxa, who has an aversion to hills, waits for me to rid myself of this madness. It is a two-mile steep climb but the round trip is worth it and only takes an hour or so. The entrance fee is €2.50.

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Mile 3.6 (5.8 km): After riding though Kelheim and enjoying this Baroque city, we cross the cantilevered bridge over the Altmühl River and pick up the trail on the left bank heading toward Regensburg. From this point on, the river is navigable; barge traffic from the Black Sea can find its way through the canals of Central Europe to the Atlantic or North Sea.

Also, from this point the Tour de Baroque bicycle path merges with the Donau-Radweg. However, we detour from the path to avoid automobile traffic at mile 4.2 and cross the high bridge following signs toward Saal and Bad Abbach. We will link up with the Danube bike path after Bad Abbach. Last year as we rode along the Altmühl to Kelheim and on to Passau, we determined that this detour provides a more enjoyable ride.

Mile 14.0 (22.5 km): A great place for a break is Bad Abbach. Not only are there picnic benches all along the riverfront park through this town, but also it is a Kurort, or one of the many towns in Germany where people come for their health. Consequently, there are many hotels and restaurants available.

Regensburg CathedralMile 25.1 (40.4 km): We are following signs that say “Donau Radweg nach Passau.” It will be two more full days of riding before we get to Passau.

Mile 26.3 (42.3 km): Here we leave the path to ride though the Altstadt of Regensburg. The people of Regensburg are church builders. The first cathedral was started in the 8th Century but in 1255, they stopped work on that and began building the current gothic cathedral. It was finally finished in the 19th Century. It is currently being restored. From the inside, the structure and the stained glass windows are truly amazing. We notice a directional sign for a Jugendherberge between the two river channels. By the way, in the state of Bavaria, you must be under 27 years of age to stay in a Jugendherberge. That is not the case in the other German states.

Mile 27.0 (43.5 km) approximately: There are many tourists services available at the Hauptbahnhof in Regensburg. It is at the intersection of Maximillian Strasse and (what else) Bahnhof Strasse, just south of the Altstadt. The Bahnhof is always a good place to find out about overnight accommodations and other tourist information. You can catch a train there too. And usually someone is available to pick your pocket, if your pocket needs picking.

Mile 28.5 (45.9 km): Leaving Regensburg, we cross over to the left bank again. The bike path crosses the river on the Nibelungenbrücke, the bridge just east of the Steinerenbrücke (Stone Bridge). The Steinerenbrücke is the oldest bridge in all of Europe. By the way, the word Nibelungen is, or was, the name of a tribe of early Germanic folks were made famous by the composer Richard Wagner in his five opra Ring Series or Ring der Nibelungen in German.

WalhallaMile 36.2 (58.3 km): The photograph on the right is of the Walhalla that we ride past. Finally completed in 1842 by Bavarian King Ludwig I after decades of planning and construction, Walhalla was to honor exemplary German personages like Friedrich the Great, Queen Maria Theresa, the poets Goethe and Schiller, etc. It is built of marble in Doric style with 52 columns and 358 steps after the Acropolis in Athens. When Ludwig originally conceived of the temple, it was to be a remembrance of the country’s tie to German people and things in part to offset the influences of Napoleonic rule before 1813 (Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig). Ludwig had first planned to show of busts of 60 famous people but by the time it opened, the number had grown to 162 busts. There must have been a sudden proliferation of famous people, I guess. (Unabated over-appreciation of cultural edifices is not one of my weaknesses.)

Mile 41.0 (66.0 km): We end the day at the Gasthaus in Frengkofen. Not a place I would recommend, but a welcome bed and dinner on this day. We have been looking for overnight accommodations in every village since leaving Regensburg. Due to a medical convention in a nearby community, all of the usually available accommodations were completely booked. Oh well, what difference do a few more miles on a nice sunny day make anyway? Normally, there are many Zimmer and Gasthäuser in the area so our experience is an unusual one.

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Day 7: Frengkofen to Metten

Day Overview: Most of the path is paved today except for several gravel stretches in the morning. There will not be much elevation change again today – typical of the Danube bike path this far downriver. We ride on the path depicted in the map book (bikeline's, Donau-Radweg, Teil 1, Esterbauer). However, both sides of the river frequently have bike paths or acceptable bike routes. Of interest today will be the city of Straubing, a Baroque city with many buildings using the stufengiebel (step gabled) style of architecture typical of Baroque architecture.

Mile 0 (0 km): We choose to eat our bountiful and tasty breakfast outside in the cool morning sunshine rather than inside where stale cigarette smoke permeates everything (typical of European restaurants before they started to be smoke-free about 2004). Then we leave Frengkofen and ride east toward Passau. The water of the blue Danube sparkles like diamonds in the morning sun; I hum the famous waltz as we ride. Why is the river brown and not blue?

Mile 7.2 (11.6 km): On the hillside to the left is the Baroque castle, Schloss Wörth. You can take a 1.5 km detour and check it out but we ride past it.

Mile 13.0 (20.9 km): Here is Pondorf and we stop for a coffee break at a cute outdoor place called Fahrradwandereroase or “bicycle rider oasis.” We figure with a name like that, they must be friendly to bike riders like ourselves – and they are.

StraubingMile 21.9 (28.8 km): This is the center of Straubing, a classical Baroque city. As a settlement, Straubing has been around since the time of Christ. Actually there have been people living in this area for the last 52,000 years. (Now that goes back a bit for soup, do you think?) There were several Roman forts or “Kastelle” built in this area. This city is currently the site of the second largest Oktoberfest-type festival in Germany and it is held in mid-August. The local people call it a “Gäubodenvolksfest” that I think means something like "county fair." We are too early to celebrate, darn it! To get here we turned right in Sassau and crossed the bridge. The path here shows as an alternate or variant of the main bike path but it is well marked and quite safe. We climbed a 50-foot hill to get into the city but it is well worth the effort. Straubing is definitely one of the cities that are a must see” on the Donau. After we lunch and walk the town a little, we depart from the northeast corner of the Town Square and cross over the small island in the Danube on the Schloßbrücke.

Mile 27.0 (43.5 km): After riding around looking for the right bridge out of Straubing (and throwing a monkey wrench into otherwise accurate mileage record) we enter Reibersdorf. The map says it is only 6 kilometers from Straubing but we rode over 10 kilometers to get here – we must have been really lost. But we did find the fairgrounds, where they hold the large Gäubodenvolksfest.

Mile 30.4 (48.9 km): Here is the Bogan Bahnhof. Bogan is the destination of many faithful pilgrims, some of whom are probably experiencing problem pregnancies. The story goes that after a shipwreck in 1104 a statue of the Madonna washed up to the base of the Boganberg. The Graf salvaged it and placed it in a niche of the castle’s chapel. Years later, when the castle had become a Benedictine Monastery, the Pater allegedly “scientifically” undressed the statue and found that the Madonna appeared to be pregnant. [What little boy has not looked to see how anatomically correct a doll was? Is looking up a doll's dress scientific exploration? Maybe so.]

The guidebook suggests that the statue was thrown over the cliff and into the Danube by the Swedish raiders during the 30-years war (17th Century) but was in fact recovered from the brambles of the cliff and restored to its current place of honor just left of the choir loft in the Marienkirche, Church of Mary.

Mile 45.3 (72.9 km): We end the day here in Metten and enjoy a gemütlich (comfortable?) evening at Haus Christa (in the center of town). We had a tasty evening meal; the owner also runs a family style restaurant for her guests as well as the locals. The conversation can be lively and interesting. We spoke of the statue of the pregnant Madonna at Bogen and the owner told us that a group of people from Metten make an annual walking pilgrimage carrying a 15-meter tall candle. Once they reach the base of the hill at Bogen, they hold the candle upright and walk up the hill.

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Day 8: Metten to Passau

Day Overview: The path is flat all the way to Passau. There is not much gravel or traffic today. Of interest today is a tiny Rococo style church in the small village of Thundorf.

Mile 0 (0 km): After saying our goodbyes, we leave Haus Christa and ride back to the Danube bike path. I ride down a steep path and catch my front tire in a rut. I fly over the handlebars and come to rest on my stomach just ahead of the bike. The injuries look minor and we cover my knee with one extra-large Band-Aid. I don’t realize it now but my rotator cuff is damaged and I will remember this experience for about two years. Oh well, I can still ride so we press on. I am reminded of the downside to taking unnecessary risks; next time I will get off and walk down these steep pitches. At least I am wearing my helmet and gloves so the “road rash” damage was minimized. That is a hint for those of you who think helmets and gloves are for sissies. Walking your bicycle down short steep rutted pitches is also a sissy thing to do.

Niederalteich FerryMile 8.5 (13.7 km): We take the ferry across the Danube at Niederalteich. It costs €1.30 per person. I enjoy these small ferries. There are paths on both sides of the river here but the one on the right bank has less traffic and less gravel. Besides, we want to cross the river to stay on the main bike path and to check out the rococo church we have read about in the guidebook.

Mile 8.9 (14.3 km): We stop in Thundorf and check out the Rococo church. It is small but amazingly beautiful. We had to admire it through the security gate but we are still glad for the opportunity. We envy the local congregation that they have such an ornate little church.

Mile 18.9 (30.4 km): There is a ruin of an old Roman Kastell and bath here in Lanakünzing but we chose not to visit it.

Mile 23.0 (37.0 km): Loop over the railroad, despite what the map shows, and ride through Pleinting with the railroad to your right. Whenever you are unsure where the bike path directional signs are pointing, look at the signs as if coming from the other direction. Hopefully your confusion will be reduced or eliminated.

Mile 27.0 (43.5 km): We discover that the town of Vilshofen is cute and interesting. We cross to the left bank of the Danube. The guidebook tells us that the view on the left bank is better than that on the other side.

Mile 29.3 (47.2 km): From Windorf, we ride down the shoulder of a major road for about 4.5 miles (7 km). This is 4.5 miles more than we like of sharing the road but there is just no alternative.

Passau ConfluencePassauPassauPassauPassau CathedralPassauMile 42.0 (67.6 km): Here is the Passau Bahnhof and the end of this tour. From the list of accommodations in the Bahnhof, we choose one that is a mile away and near the top of a steep hill – if I had it to do over again, I would have stayed in one of the hotels next to the Bahnhof. Passau is at the confluence of three rivers, the Danube, the Inn (the largest of the three), and the Ilz. From the Veste Oberhaus, which is open to tours and sightseeing, one can look down upon the Danube at the point where both the Ilz and the Inn join it. The three distinct colors of the river waters do not immediately blend with each other.

Passau is historic. People have lived in these river valleys since the Stone Age about 120,000 years ago. In the beginning they were hunters and gatherers but due to the fertile river valleys, they began to till the soil and as early as 5,000 year BCE they raised cattle. The Celtic tribes settled in this area at one time. In 15 BCE, Roman troops established military strongholds in the area, where they remained for over 300 years, fostering growth of civilization and protecting the local agrarian settlers from the wandering tribes, which came mostly from the east up the Danube.

In the 3rd Century, Germanic tribes defeated the Romans and the Romans fell back into present day Italy. To continue this ride along the Danube, simply click the link and you will open up the Austrian Danube from Passau to Vienna. Someday, perhaps we will have the ride extended even farther into Hungary or beyond. You know, "To go boldly where millions of people have gone before." Otherwise, there would not be overnight accommodations; don'tchaknow.

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