Wow. Time has flown. I honestly cannot belive that we are saying “Auf Wiedersehn” to Germany as we cycle from Passau into Austria today. This will be our second border crossing, by bike, but the fifth country we will visit. As Phil has said we haven't really had a chance to record our impressions of the Germany we've experienced, as we've pedalled along the Danube, on the blog to date but here's a whistle stop tour of the  highlights. I'm a bit pressed for time so will only have a chance to touch on city/towns we've particularly enjoyed here but there's so much more to say especially re. the countryside but it'll have to be in another post. Watch this space....

Donaueschingen and the Danube source:
As we cycled through the streets of the very pretty town of Donaueschingen toward the source of the Danube, struck by the distinctive baroque architecture and the dominance of the Furstenberg brewery, there was a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation amongst our little clan. Even, dare I say it, a litte bit of pride at having made it there. You see, as well as marking the beginning of a new adventure (within an adventure) that would navigate us through 10 countries, the beginning of this great river represented the culmination of months of initial pondering and chatting about and then planning and preparation for this trip. A trickle of an idea had grown, taken shape, ( mainly, I have to say, due to Phil's meticulous and thorough research) , and formed this cycling family we'd all, by then, become. As we cycled I recalled leafing through the pages of the cycling guide we had purchased in London on the plane coming home from the RGS Seminar in London in November 2009, reading about the Danube source and now we were actually going to see it for ourselves.

It didn't disappoint. As Phil's photo's show it was a really stunning spot marked by a water pool and plaques representing each of the countries the Danube traverses. There was a definite “place chemistry” for us not only because of the beauty of the place but for the reasons above. We've special memories of dropping coins into the water pool with Luca and making a wish. Now I made a wish for a safe journey allright, as Phil has mentioned, but also a little private wish. I can't share it though unless and until it comes through. Will keep you posted! :)

This is a really lovely town and very cycle friendly...well apart from when you cycle into the middle of the market on market day. We found ourselves, literally, trapped in the midst of the throng of intent market goers until some kind lady ushered us away and re-directed us back to the cycle track where, it seems, we belonged with our bikes and gear. There's an amazing public park there which hosts those German stalwarts of crazy golf and a Beer Garden aswell as one of the most impressive spielplatz/ playgrounds I've ever seen and Luca and, em, well, his Dad has ever experienced. There was an actual digger which you could, and Luca did, operate to mix sand and water, dig out a moat etc.... with a little help from a not unwilling Dad that is!

We also visited the Tuwass here which is a water extravaganza with indoor pools, slides and an outdoor heated thermal bath. It was like experiencng a much bigger and better child friendly version of Brook Lodge spa for 7 Euro! Sometimes one can feel a little hard done by stuck in the toddlers pool but I actually enjoyed the impressive “free play” toddlers pool there as much as Luca while someone (who shall remain nameless!) sampled the “terrifying” slide. When we all (reluctantly) left the Tuwass Luca actually thanked us for bringing him there and told us it was great fun so impressed was he. From the mouth of babes....

Castle Wildenstein:
We stayed the night in the castle itself or rather in the youth hostel which this famous old castle now houses. I'd phoned earlier that day to book and explained we were cyclists etc. and the lady on the phone was at pains to tell me that the castle was atop a very steep hill. We knew what we were letting ourselves in for as our guide book had a similar health warning but we thought that we'd have an adventure..a decision we regretted several times on the heartbreaking 6 kilometre ascent up hairpin bends but were thoroughly glad afterwards that we'd made. As a funny final word when we were checking in Phil, who minds our passports, was very reluctant to cede mine to my bewilderment. He later confessed that he thought that they'd tell me I was too old for a youth hostel!

A River runs through it ....Ulm:
This is a truly beautiful, old, walled German university town through which the Danube flows and the ducks enjoy trying to swim contra flow so strong is the current. This was one of our favourite German cities. We had very cold and wet weather en route there and while there so, to warm our bones, we eschewed the campsite in favour of a bike friendly pension which, as it turned out, was beautifully situated on the banks of the Danube nestled twixt the Main (cathedral) square and the old fishermans quarter. We braved the cold for some al fresco quaffing at the outdoor terrace of the Inn next door to our Pension on candlelit stone steps while below us, literally, as in at our feet, the Danube rushed and gushed by.

Now being a librarian's wife and having a librarian brother in law, with whom we've holidayed with lots of times, trust me when I say that I've seen my fair share of libraries both at home and abroad. But I have never, and nor has Phil, seen a library as impressive as the one in Ulm. As I said the weather was cold and wet so we initially went seeking shelter but ended up passing a very pleasant 3 hours or so there. We were allowed use the internet for up to 90 mins per day there and both took turns doing so while the other played in the AMAZING junior section with Luca. They had a selection of beautiful Haba wooden toys for kids as well as teddy bears and a fantastic selection of books in both German and English. Their original and english Paddington Bear, which it seems hadn't been taken out since 1999, got an airing while we were there by someone, who shall again remain nameless (while Luca loves Paddington he can't read yet if you get my drift). Luca and I were having so much fun playing with the Haba games that other children came over to watch and a woman approached me asking me if I gave English lessons....At least I know I've the prospect of a job in Ulm!

Another stunning old university walled town but very different from Ulm in character and appearance. We both thought that it was very similar to Lucca in Italy with it's narrow cobbled stone streets and, as with Lucca, it's a mecca for cyclists. Luca's chariot was in very good company here! The shops were fantastic and included some beautiful old fashioned hat boutiques. Viewed only by the outside by me though. Budget and gear carrying are serious considerations. There was a real buzz in the evenings in particular at the cafe's, bars and restaurants.  I vowed to return there some Christmas time for their famed Christmas markets as it's the kind of place that lends itself to Christmas and it's magic.


At September 28, 2010 at 1:02 PM Sarah said...

Wow - really enjoyed ready that post Linda. Sounds amazing - oh dear more to add my long list of 'must see's!!
Bet I know what the wish was!!

At October 2, 2010 at 4:19 PM Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about the journey but I am so delighted its all turning out according to plan . Its looks breathtaking.
Luca looks happy and is coming on .
Prehaps you'll all be on the late late show on your return!!!!!!
x x x x x Mrs P -Grandma

At October 5, 2010 at 12:51 PM Anonymous said...

Germany never really did it for me as a destination even though I did Honours German for the Leaving. Now you have me wondering how long before I can get there... Sounds & looks wonderful AINE XXX

At September 25, 2012 at 7:22 PM Amy Savage said...

I love this article, what a great resource for first time parents on the road with their kids!


Post a Comment