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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Earthly Pleasures 

Picking up the Danube Cycle Route once more at Ulm, our journey along the Danube (Donau) starts to get serious now as we head towards the Alps. In this leg we will go through Donauwörth, an old trading port, Ingolstadt with its beautiful white Neues Schloß (castle), Kelheim with the magical Kloster Weltenburg, nestling on the river bank, near the entrance to the scenic Danube gorge and finally, reach the great Bavarian city of Regensburg.

Around Donauwörth, fishermen enjoy the largest confluence of streams in Southern Germany. There are bargain offers available for special fishing tickets, refer to Städt. Tourist-Information Donauwörth. The Donauwörther Reichsstraßenfest takes place every 2 years and this year will be held 20 to 23 July 2005. It is four days of constantly changing activities and musical groups on several stages, plus a colorful floral and horticulture parade.

Ulm to Donauwörth is 96 km but German Rail allows plenty of room for bicycles on its regional trains, particularly the Danube route between Ulm and Regensburg, so cyclists can modify their tour by using the direct connections with Munich, Nuremberg, Donauwörth, Augsburg and Treuchtlingen. Don't forget that there is a good night train from London to Munich, though I haven't checked the situation regarding the transport of cycles.

Ingolstadt, which is 64 km from Donauwörth has special offers for cyclists, whether they are very fit enthusiasts or simply easy-going tourists. Some hotels in the city have special offers on cycling packages and recognising that cycles have to be parked as well as ridden, the City Council provides bicycle lock-up facilities. Typical of most Bavarian towns, there are plenty of festivals in Ingolstadt:
1 - 2 July, 2005 sees the 20th Ingolstadt Bürgerfest (City Festival) in the Old Town and this year, at the end of July, 28 - 30, there is the great Bürgerfest. The festival usually takes place around the beginning of July, and is the annual highlight of the events calendar, not only for Ingolstadt itself but also for the region as a whole. There is a varied programme throughout the squares and streets of the Old Town, involving some 2,000 organizers, performers and international artistes. The City Festival is not intended by the organizers as a traditional Bavarian beer festival but rather a festival of cultural diversity; however, I doubt that this has done much to reduce the quantity of beer consumed! If, after indulging at the Bürgerfest, you try to complete the Ingolstadt to Regensburg leg on a cycle, you could find that the journey is doubled as you tack along the track. The alternatives are to rest up for a couple of days or stick to Radler (beer mixed with lemonade - Radler by the way, also means cyclist).

Since 1984, world-famous stars have been coming every autumn to the Danube for the annual Jazztage Ingolstadt Jazz Festival, 27 October - 11 November, 2005; a stronghold of modern music, names such as Miles Davis, Fats Domino, Lionel Hampton, Jan Garbarek and Al Jarreau have all played at the festival.

From Ingolstadt, there is around 82km remaining on the trip to Regensburg. Leaving Ingolstadt, a must see is the medieval city of Kelheim, where the Altmuehl joins the Donau, forming the entrance gate to the beautiful Altmuehltal, which is Germany's largest nature park, with its many castles, lochs and caves and the Benedictine abbey of Weltenburg, situated on the northern slopes of the Arzberg mountain, near the site of the ancient Celtic settlement of Artobriga. Those German monks sure knew a thing or two about earthly pleasures, Weltenburg is the oldest monastery in Bavaria, founded around 600 AD, and interestingly the oldest monastic brewery in the world, they started brewing around 1050.

Leave the bike behind and take the short boat trip down the river to the monastery where you depart onto the pebble beach leading into the beer garden. There you can enjoy a litre or two of classic light Helles, or a strong dark beer (Dunkel). You sit, enjoy, enter another world and wonder if this is truly heaven as once more you watch pink elephants swim in the Danube.Feldherrenhalle Regensburg by Hermann Rohrmeier
Just a short hop (still thinking of that Weltenburg beer) to Regensburg; the picture is of the Feldherrenhalle Regensburg, taken by Hermann Rohrmeier.

We could participate in the Regensburg marathon at the end of May, or a Nordic Walking half marathon but this has been such a long post and Regensburg is such a big place, that we had better take a look around it in another post. Then we will be heading on into Austria, along with Strauss's Blue Danube.

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