Day 19 : Tourist / rest day

Today (Wednesday) I took a break from cycling so I could be a tourist for the day in Munich.

The day started with me breaking my glasses so I found an optician and in German explained I had broken my glasses and could she help me. She understood what I had said and was able to help. German speaking landmark success! And glasses fixed.

I walked over to the BMW museum and spent some time there. I think the 50s and 60s were the most stylish decades and I’d be happy driving any one of these:

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After the exhibition I toyed with the idea of buying a German touring motorbike which I’ve had my eyes on for a while, and riding that back, but I don’t even have my driving license with me, so that quickly put an end to that!

I had lunch and then went for a walk in search of art nouveau / jugenstil type architecture in Munich, following a guide I had found online.

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Then on to see the Villa Stuck. An early 1900s house lived in by the artist Stuck. A highly decorative house that shows some of his art and also holds exhibitions.

I got talking to one of the gallery attendents who gave me a history of Stuck, a tour of his art, and some tips on where I should head on my cycling tour. Excellent stuff!

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After this I headed to an outdoor shop ‘Globetrotter’ to get a light long-sleeved top to protect against the sun / provide an extra layer for when it’s slightly chilly, and to get a sleeping bag liner and long-johns for those cold nights in the tent. It’s a huge store and even has a large pool in the basement where zou can try out your kayak.

In the evening I met up with Hilla and Greg and we ate at an Italian restaurant in Preysingstraße. For dessert I had kaiserschmarrn with apple sauce. Highly recommended!

Many thanks again to Hilla and Greg for their very welcoming hospitality and a couple of great evenings 😀

Day 18 : Made it to Munich

After breakfast I got ready to leave. I topped up my tyres (Martin had an air compressor and line conveniently in the garage!) and had a fabulous sending off by the whole family, which was wonderful.

This point marks the furthest East I’ll be on this bike tour.

It had rained all night and during breakfast, but luckily stopped just before I left. I took the backroute along the river as sugested by Kim and Martin into Landshut, and took in the sights by day.

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The town centre including town hall (tall brown building in the middle) and St Martin’s church on the right

I popped into C&A to see if I could find something warm to wear on the cold nights in the tent. Whilst in there I couldn’t help thinking the clothing range here must be different to the one in London.

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Dirndls

The day’s route followed the river Isar all the way into Munich, so was pretty flat, but it was a wet gravel path, so not good for the drivechain, and not the most comfortable of long rides.

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A lake on the river Isar

This fishery had placed lots of cans alongside the road.. I am not sure why. Perhaps they had been used as torches for a festival?

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Fish cannery

I found the perfect spot for lunch (packed lunch by Kim – thanks again!)

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Exclusive lunch spot

There were many short waterfalls on the way to Munich:

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Waterfall

Occasionally the path would be blocked and I had to find other ways around.

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Verboten!

It took a while, but I found Waldo…

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Where’s Waldo?

And finally, I made it to Munich at around 5pm, so I pedalled slowly around the town for an hour to take in some of the sights briefly.

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Central Munich

At 6pm I arrived at Hilla and Greg’s lovely place which is super-central in Munich.

They made me feel at home, and Greg cooked a wonderful thai-style chicken curry which hit the spot nicely, and we spent the evening chatting and catching up.

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Hilla

I’ll be spending one more day here in Munich so I can take in a few sights properly, before heading back. But how to get back home?

Oberahrain to Munich, 97 km. Total so far = 1,617 km.

Day 17 : Quickly to Landshut

I packed up the tent, damp with condensation and got on my way, wondering at what stage a caravan with awning attached becomes a house with caravan attached.

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Spot the caravan

Conscious of the fact I need to keep on top of my nutrition I spotted a quick way to get 4 of my 5-a-day.

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Fruity cake with fruit tea

The scenery is chaning again with rocky outcrops appearing from the hills. In many instances this has been seen as prime real estate.

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Hard work for the postman

My destination for the day was Kim’s house in Oberahrain, near Landshut. For some reason I thought this only about 40 km away, and had been taking the ride pretty leisurely, but looking at the map at lunchtime I discovered I still had another 70ish km to do – I had some pedalling to do!

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Essing

So the afternoon was spent at a brisk pace, and breaking away from the scenic route later on in the day so I could get some quick miles in on main roads. I had some energy gels in my bag left over from a sporting event so decided it was a good time to use them!

I arrived a little late to a very warm welcome at Kim’s house. The kids have grown in size and number since last time we met! Martin had made a stew with dumplings which was exactly what was needed, and we spent time catching up.

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Gifts for the journey ahead!

Later on Kim took me into Landshut for a guided tour, where we took in the sights of the elegant city by night, including St Martin’s church – the tallest brick built building without steel support in the world, the duke’s castle, and a festival. Even for a Monday night, there were hundreds out in the beer tents on the tables, most in traditional Bavarian dress.

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Beer tent, feets on seats

Landshut is also famous for hosting a very large medieval festival every four years, next one in 2017, which I am assured has to be seen.

Many thanks for the wonderful hospitality 😀

Irfersdorf to Oberahrain, 121 km. Total so far = 1,520 km.

Day 16 : Laundry day 2 – this time it’s persil-nal

Having spotted laundry facilities at the campsite the previous evening I decided I would take the morning off cycling to have some clean clothes to wear.

I soon joined back with the canal, which has some very large locks:

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Big lock

I stumbled upon a busy backerei and ordered the ‘New Yorker’ breakfast which could have fed a family of four for a week. I ate it all (never knowing when the next stop might be..).

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German village..

Today’s cycling was lots of hills, but none too taxing. Lots of gravel paths too.

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Into the woods again

One village I went through had a volksfest going on – a beer tent, lots of food and lots of activity.

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Festival time

Someone had got creative with this fire hydrant:

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Happy hydrant

Weather was on my side today.

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A German church

And some more creativity with these toddlers jeans:

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Bloomers

I reached my destination campsite at a decent hour (the sun was still out!) And pitched my tent by the river. Then headed to get dinner at the campsite – currywurst and fries. Here in the South, the dialect is very different to the North and I find it difficult to understand anything being spoken. Managed to get my order in though 🙂

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Currywurst

This campsite is popular for kayakers and hangliderers. You might be able to spot some in this pic:

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View from the dining table

Eckersmülen to Irfersdorf, 56 km. Total so far = 1,399 km.

Day 15 : Through Nürnberg

Leaving the guesthouse, I set out to rejoin the cycle network.

I came across this peculiar work of art of a cyclist being bitten on the bum by what looked like a carp, and hoped it wasn’t a sign of things to come:

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Carpe bottom

Many German villages and town have these totem-pole-like trees:

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Very difficult to decorate tree

My satnav guided me through some nice forests:

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A forest

Back to cycling along the canal.. No more hills for a while!

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Rhine-Main-Danube canal

I reached Nuremberg around lunchtime. The old town centre was strangely quiet. I cycled around a bit and came to another part of town which was a bit busier.

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Fürth

And found a place that served noodles and also provided shelter from the rain shower.

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Oodles

As I cycled out of town, I found other parts looked very interesting, and realised I’d only seen a fraction of what it has to offer, but need to come back another time when I can do it properly.

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Nürnberg bahnhof

It started raining again persistently. At one of the heavier points I discovered a snack in my front pannier that I’d bought earlier that day in case of such an emergency..

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Tasty salty chewy bread snack

I cycled on for a few hours towards a campsite. I stopped off along the way at a supermarket.

At one point I saw a deer in a forest I was cycling past. I stopped the bike and went back, but the deer had moved on.

I arrived at the camp site at 10 minutes to 8pm, checked in, put up the tent, and went to the camp site cafe for a drink.

Markt Taschendorf to Eckersmülen, 110 km. Total so far = 1,343 km.

Day 14 : Going cross country

Up early, to find the river by the campsite blanketed by mist.

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Fog on the Tyne..

Once the sun made its way into the valley it soon cleared away the mist. After my porridge and coffee, one of the caravaners at the campsite gave me a banana in respect of my journey ahead.

The morning’s cycling was on decent tarmaced paths alongside the river. Nice and flat and comfortable cycling.

I saw lots of vineyards today but I’ve not tried any of the German wine yet. I think I reached Würzburg around 11.30.

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Würzberg

I stopped for a ‘proper’ coffee in the town centre.

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Würzberg 2

Not long after leaving I decided to divert from the main cycling route which was heading North with the river, and make my way East across country towards Nürnberg. The roads soon got very hilly, as I cycled from village to village.

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Looking for a place to stay

With no campsites nearby (this was proper farming country) and a need to charge my devices, I found a guesthouse that was on the way and checked in.

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Sun setting when I got to my room

Dinner was a carp with salad on the side.

Karlstadt am Main to Market Taschendorf, 103 km. Total so far = 1,233 km.

Day 13 : Levelling out

Just over the road was a backerei, so I was able to have a couple of croissants for breakfast with my coffee.

The morning was filled with hills so was a bit of a workout.

As the day went on, the course flattened out and there was some very pleasant pedalling.

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Cycling through a forest

I wasn’t having any luck in finding anywhere to get lunch, until I found a village with a bar that was open. They didn’t have food on the menu but the lady very kindly made me a sandwich, which was very much appreciated!

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Sandwich and beer €4.50.

Weather was fine all day.

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A village en route

I reached Gemünden am Main in the afternoon, so stopped off for some yogurt and banana nourishment.

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I’m trying not to waste away here

There were a lot of train spotters on a bridge waiting for a certain train to arrive which turned up as I was cycling over the bridge, so I took a picture too. I was expecting a steam train, but this turned up. I am sure it is special somehow…

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The red engine, James

My destination for the evening was a campsite at Karlstadt am Main which was situated next to the river and a short walk from the town centre.

The campsite was only €7, which included free use of the open air pool. As soon as I had got the tent up I went for a swim and must have spent an hour in the pool as the sun was going down, with nice views of the tree lined hills.

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Swimming complex

After the swim I went into the town centre and had dinner – fish and rice, feeling healthy!

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Karlstadt – lively small town

At midnight, the church here sounded 4 bells to signify the hour, then 24 bells for the time. Five minutes later a church with incorrect clock then rang 12.

Mitten to Karlstadt am Main, 84 km. Total so far = 1,130 km.

Day 12 : Rolling hills

After breakfast I headed into Bad Hersfeld town centre, which is a fairly large but pedestrian friendly, modern town centre.

I found a shop that sold me some unpackaged USB cables that they had sitting in a draw, so that was a good result. I found a bike shop and borrowed a track pump to get my tyres back up to 100 psi (they were down to 60).

Then I got back to the business of pootling through the countryside.

Level crossings for cyclists don’t always have barriers so you have to stay alert.

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Level crossing

It didn’t rain today! For the past couple of days I’m cycling into a Southerly wind, but it’s not too bad at all.

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Lots of this kind of thing

Lunch was 5 minute spaghetti bolognase, followed by coffee and biscuits.

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Lunch spot

Lots of tree covered hills side the valleys as I follow the river upstream.

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#underexposed#

The river has certainly narrowed somewhat over the past two days.

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Water nice bike

At 5pm I look for a campsite and find one about 20 km away in the right direction. Just have to head over some hills first.

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Heading to the campsite

This camp site is the best yet. €10 for the night. Very good free facilities and a lake to swim in if it gets hot. It’s not hot, but that hasn’t stopped one guy from going in. Just one other tent here and about 25 caravans.

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There are three sheep in the enclosure behind the tent but they’re camera-shy

There’s an Irish pub next door to the campsite, which is handy.

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Desperately trying to replace lost calories

I thought it was hard work today because I’d done extra miles yesterday, but it looks like it really was uphill pedalling all day:

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Note to self: Padded shorts tomorrow.

Bad Hersfeld to Motten, 89 km. Total so far = 1,046 km.

Day 11 : Lumpy ending

Up early for coffee and porridge and the sun came out.

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Porridge, sunny side up

It’s a great campsite. Small and with everything that’s needed. Recommended! It even comes with a library in a phone box:

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Tiny library

Today’s roads were again mainly following rivers. Quite a few towpath-like surfaces today to keep things interesting.

Had lunch at a place called The Orangery just after passing through Kassel.

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Lunch with a view

The sky gives you an indication of the weather! More showers, but nothing that lasted long. And just lots of nice cycling by the riverside.

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View over the river

Many buildings around here are in this timber-framed style:

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Fancy timber work

An egg-vending machine. Just in case you fancy an egg in the middle of the night. In case you are wondering, the shelf rises up to the level of the eggs, rather than the eggs being dropped to the bottom..

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Eggstraordinary vending machine

This railway bridge was really big in real life:

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An excuse to try a panorama

By the time I reached where I thought I was going to stay the night, Rotenburg, I didn’t really like the look of the campingsite (I couldn’t see a safe place for my bike), so I decided to look elsewhere. The cheapest hotel I could find was £50 and it didn’t look great, so I looked further afield and found a much cheaper one Inc breakfast in a nearby town.

I let my satnav pick my route which was a mistake as it took me up a very long steep hill with many turns. It was a quiet road, but after I had been pedalling up for 30 years minutes I saw a man walking along the road. He had filled a large basket mushroom picking and offered me some. He explained this hill is used every year for a car hill climb event.

When I reached the top I put on my jacket and gilet and began the descent – which was fun!

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Lumpy ending

In another 20 km I had reached the town and my hotel at around 8.30pm. I went out for a walk around the town and found an Italian restaurant open where I replaced those lost calories.

Two of my USB cables aren’t working properly which is making charging my devices very difficult. Will have a look around the town tomorrow to see if I can find replacements.

Hemeln to Bad Hersfeld, 141 km. Total so far 957 km.

Day 10 : Changing tack

A great day’s cycling today. Had breakfast at the hotel then made my way back onto the cycle route.

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Nice skies

Cycling through countryside, national parks and nature reserves gives me great opportunity to see a lot of wildlife, such as the biggest snails I’ve ever seen, the swifts, swallows and martins that play over the farmers fields, chestnut brown squirrels, startled mice and rats, and rabbits.

On several occasions I’ve seen what I’m pretty sure are eagles, and I got my closest encounter today when I was cycling down a country road that was lined with trees on both sides. The bird flew just 10m ahead of me along the road for only 10 seconds or so, before it disappeared off through a gap in the trees. It’s size, and the size of its talons were really impressive.

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Nice cycle track through the trees

I reached Höxter at lunchtime. I came across a decent camping shop (which had a better selection of bike panniers than any bike or camping shop I’ve seen in London), and bought some gas as I’m not sure how much I have left. I found an outdoor hut on the river serving food and had lunch there.

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Höxter town centre

Höxter marks the place on my tour where I stop following the West to be East route and turn off to a cycle route heading South.

And the new route is great so far. It follows the course of the river Hesse, so is nice and flat, and I’ve encountered about 100 other cyclists today – on the previous route I only saw about 5-10 cyclists each day.

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River Hesse – great cycling

Weather has been good today. Only a few showers in the early evening and I found shelter for the worst of it. I found a campsite without needing any diversion, so I’ve checked in and set up camp here for the night. €10 + .5 for a shower – bargain.

The campsite serves hot food so I’ve opted for a currywurst thing (no healthy options on the menu, though I’m craving a salad!).

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Currywurst mit pommes (it’s a savaloy drowning in BBQ/curry sauce)

Bad Meinberg to Hemeln, 100 km. Total so far 816 km.