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34km Wallgau to Seefeld

Posted August 8th, 2007

Stuck in a tentThe pitter patter of rain falling on our tent woke us up this morning, just as it carried us off to sleep the night before. Usually the weather clears before long though, so we packed up all our bags, had our breakfast and started getting the bikes ready. Just as we were about to start taking down the tent, the skies opened and we crept back inside our shelter. We sat there for well over an hour and still the rain poured down. There was really nothing to do but to make a break for it so we dressed up in all our waterproof clothes and made a dash outside, pulling the tent down as quickly as possible and then pushing on down the road with water dripping down our noses. We saw a few other crazy cyclists out in the wet, but mostly we had the trails and roads to ourselves. On these cold, soggy days we try to make lots of stops so we first went for coffee, then groceries and to the tourist bureau. Every few minutes in the warm and dry is a boost to the morale. Our spirits got a real dash, however, when we checked the weather: four straight days of rain are in the forecast. It could be a wet week ahead! We did get the occasional break in the rain but mostly it kept true to the prediction. Wet, wet, wet. By the time we reached the mountain resort town of Seefeld we were fed up, tired and grumpy. With our tent soaked, we thought a campsite with a hot shower might be just the ticket. There’s only one in Seefeld and it’s a ritzy spot with prices to match but when the campsite comes with a sauna and heated TV room we can relax and eat meals in, it’s worth it.

66km Gartenberg to Wallgau

Posted August 7th, 2007

Wild boar!The foothills of the Alps gave our legs got a workout today and a good thing too since the truly lofty peaks aren’t far ahead. We’ve got at least one mountain pass in our path tomorrow and within the next few days we’ll have the chance to climb to nearly 2,800m to Italy’s famous Passo di Stelvio. The weather and our mood will determine whether we make the hike but at the moment it’s a tempting thought. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good challenge and mountain climbs are always a thriller; for the view and sense of achievement at the top as well as for the eye-watering descents. For the moment, however, we are content to roll along the ups and downs of the tail end of Bavaria. We’ve continued to follow the Isar river and have stopped more than once to read on its banks and swim in the clear blue and very cold water. There were also plenty of local beer gardens in our path so we propped our bikes up against a fence and treated ourselves to a cool drink. When in Germany…. Despite the beer, we were making quite good time and hoped to cross into Austria today but rain set in late in the afternoon and instead we stopped for a final night in Germany, camping once again close to the Isar river.

61km Munich to Gartenberg

Posted August 6th, 2007

Cycling south from MunichGetting out of cities is almost always a challenge and leaving Munich was no exception, even though it’s a city we love and know well. We missed turns for the bike path we tried to follow, fought traffic and dodged numerous crowds of photo-snapping tourists before we finally reached the Isar river and the trail leading out of the city. When we finally got underway we found a side of Munich we’d never seen before: hundreds of people out swimming and sunbathing on the banks of the fast-flowing Isar. Smooth white rocks made up the beach and nearby there were plenty of green tree-filled fields. It looked like an idyllic spot to spend a sunny afternoon. We stopped for a few minutes to dip our toes in the water but soon carried on, down a woodland trail that will take us all the way to Austria. We were glad to have thick tyres on the bike because the path was often covered in gravel and bumpy. Hills also reappeared – something we haven’t really had in some time – so overall things were a little more challenging than the smooth, flat roads we’ve become used to but nothing we couldn’t handle. All through the afternoon we saw people jumping in the river and sailing down its waters in plastic inflatable boats. The current was quite fast and we wonder how some of them got back upstream at the end of the day! Near sunset we found a clearing in the woods to pitch our tent and gladly flopped into bed. Normally we’d feel rested after a few days in one place but with so much running around to see family and friends we now are trying to get back into our normal pattern.

A visit with Tante Gertrud

Posted August 6th, 2007

Paul, Friedel, Ursula, Gertrud, DietmarPaul and a German mealAfter a wonderful weekend in Munich, we are now hitting the road again, direction Austria and Italy. But just before we do, we thought we`d share some pictures of our weekend, spent with Friedel`s uncle Paul in and her great-aunt Gertrud, who has just turned 90 years old. Never have we met someone so amazing as Gertrud, who is as lively and sharp as someone at least 20 years younger. Even her doctor thought there was a mistake with her birth date in the files when she recently went for an appointment. If we all looked so good at 90…. Happy Birthday Tante Gertrud and many more to come.

Posted in Germany, Munich

Taking the train to Munich

Posted August 2nd, 2007

Andrew in Munich campgroundOur plan for getting around the world never included trains, but in our last few weeks in Europe we have planned to meet many people in certain cities of fixed dates and sometimes it’s been impossible to make the distance any other way. With close to 15,000km under our belt by bicycle so far, we don’t feel too bad about the occasional train trip. This time we reluctantly left the pleasant cycle path by the Tauber river, dodged crowds of Japanese tourists in the cobblestoned, walled city of Rothenburg, and caught a train to Munich. We’ll meet Friedel’s uncle from Canada and her great aunt Gertrud – 90 years old! – in the city tomorrow. We gazed enviously at the cyclists from the train window: it was a sunny day with just a few fluffy clouds hanging in the blue sky, perfect for biking. The landscape of golden fields and towns on hilltops looked beautiful. Travelling by train with loaded touring bikes isn’t easy either. We found this trip and our train journey last week towards Frankfurt more tiring than cycling the whole day. Lugging our bikes up and down long flights of stairs is heavy work and more often than not we end up with old trains that require lifting our bikes several feet up and into the door. Today we were also pushed for time. We had to change twice and each time we had just 5 minutes to get off one train, switch platforms and onto the next train. If our fellow passengers weren’t so helpful and the train staff so willing to hold trains, we’d never have made it! In this way, the German train system is definitely superior to Japan’s network. We’re sure the always-punctual Japanese trains wouldn’t wait for two bulky bicycles to make their way to the right platform. We arrived in Munich in the early afternoon, managed one last exercise-session getting our bikes onto the local transport, and made our way to the campground in the west of the city, conveniently located near to where Friedel’s great-aunt lives. Now it’s time for a mini family-reunion over the next few days, probably a few beers in this city famous for the Oktoberfest and a bit of rest before we tackle the Alps one last time on our way south to Italy.