May 27 – Regensburg to Bad Gogging
Well, today’s ride was the best we’ve had in Germany so far. It had great paths, great experiences, great weather and it scored top marks for Germany.
We rode back through the centre of Regensburg again this morning to collect some supplies for the road and then we were off on a river path. This path was magic, just what we’ve been waiting for. We pedalled with the river right beside us, totally traffic free, under trees and through open parkland, with the river a millpond. The sun was in a fabulous, extroverted mood and wasn’t shy and hiding at all and I was in short sleeves by 9:30. Fabbo!
It was a path we could just tootle along, enjoying the scenery, the river, the towns we could see across the water and all we could hear was the twittering of birds in the trees.
Before long we rode through the town of Bad Abbach, a spa town that was once occupied by the Romans and we saw statue ruins as we rode through the main street. Then, as we left the town, there were two big lion statues on the side of the highway, as if they once stood as gatekeepers to the town. We had to cross the river over a bridge and on top of the bridge was the remains of another statue, a mermaid, so the Roman history was still evident. People still go to Bad Abbach, seeking the therapeutic properties of the water. It was a nice little town to ride through.
The path continued to be great, except for one thing. The Danube had obviously overflowed onto sections of the path and what does a river leave behind when it does that? Mud. We had to ride through muddy sections and try to keep on a narrow strip that would give us some firm ground to wheel along. At one stage though, the mud was unavoidable and while it wasn’t thick, it was slippery and I tip toed my way through, one foot on a pedal and one foot on the ground, just waiting to end up in that goo with a great splonk! I slipped and slithered a bit, but thankfully made it through unscathed and unmuddied.
Our path ended for a while and we were on a road, but not too much traffic so that was OK. We spied a soccer club that had a verandah with tables and chairs, so we rode in and borrowed a spot for elevenses.
The sun was still shining and the path was still terrific, by the river or on a levee and then we began to collect fellow cyclists. There were quite a few on the path today and some rode towards us and others were going our way, so at times there was a line of us, one behind the other, wheeling down a little hill off a levee or pushing up a small hill back up on to the bank. We continued to have river or trees or greenery around us and the sun continued to shine. It was just lovely and peaceful and scenic and all round tops.
We rode into the small town of Kelheim, where we were to catch a ferry. Our handy little guide book to cycling the Danube told us this was the thing to do. At this point, there is an impassable gorge and the cycle route stops, so the done thing is to take the ferry down river to Weltenburg and continue on from there. I’m sure there’s a route along a main road somewhere, but it goes over a mountain apparently, so we were happy to do the done thing, join all the other cyclists boarding and take to the water for a trip down the Danube. The distance down river was only about 5 km but the ferry trip took 40 minutes. To care for this part of the river and the ecology, they have very strict restrictions about the number of ferries that can be on the river at one time, the speed they are allowed to go and so on. So it was a very slow and leisurely cruise down river, with commentary every now and again to tell passengers what we were passing and what to look out for. We passed through the gorge, which is the narrowest and deepest part of the Danube and the scenery was beautiful, with high granite rock faces and tree lined hills. So, we had a Danube River cruise today too, just as an added bonus!
We disembarked and a great line of cyclists pushed their steeds off the ramp and onto the landing and we wheeled them into Weltenburg. Weltenburg has a monastery that was founded in 617 and since 1050, beer has been brewed in the Benedictine tradition. Weltenburg’s brewery is the oldest monastery brewery in the world and they are especially known for their specialty dark beers. We walked our bikes inside the monastery walls to try this famous dark beer, brewed in a Benedictine abbey, but… it’s sold in litre or half litre tankard glasses! Now, I’m not a great drinker, but when I do, I like beer and I like dark beers, so “when in Rome”, or “when in Weltenburg” as the case may be, so I had to give this famous brew a try…but half a litre! I’d be totally shickered and there was still riding to be done afterwards! Steve said he’d take one for the team and help me out to drink mine, so with teamwork in place, we took a table, ordered our brew and supped just outside the doors of the famous abbey. Another great memory moment and delightful Danube experience!
Even though Steve had downed the best part of a litre of beer, he pedalled off without a wobble or swerve to show for his belly full of brew and no random breath tests to pull him over and book him for pedalling under the influence, so we continued on our way. The scenery continued and we rode through the hop fields that must supply the brewery and then past acres and acres of strawberry fields, before riding into Bad Gogging, another spa down. You could definitely tell this one had “the waters” because the egg smell was really strong as we rode in, the sulphur was in the air and I guess that’s what people come for. After gathering some supplies, we headed down the road to our final pitstop.
Then we had another great moment and that was meeting Uwe, who is our tent neighbour. He was kind enough to lend Steve a hammer to help with the tent pegs and then came over for a chat. It turns out he is also in education, working as a consultant, helping teachers to change their practise with a focus on brain-based learning. He kindly gave us his details so we can look him up if we get to Hamburg and we sat at a camp table and talked about cycling and travel and Hamburg and differences with Australia and all manner of things. He told jokes and stories and was all round great company. Unfortunately our conversation was cut short by an unwelcome visitor. Can you guess what stopped by, uninvited? Rain. The drops started to fall, so we headed to our respective tents and now Steve and I are sitting in the under cover terrace of the Nylon Palace, while the plinking and plonking drums on the roof above us.
Today was the best day we’ve had in Germany so far. We had great weather (until now), a lovely ride on a great path, beautiful scenery, a river cruise, an experience to remember at a monastery brewery and then met another great person to chat to. It was a top day. The Danube has delivered once again. The bikes are taking us to amazing places and giving us more magic moments…roll on…bring it on…we’re ready for what’s next.
Distance ridden: 59.9 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 52 minutes
Weather: sunny, warm, 21C (until rain at 8pm)