So, our ‘Romantic Road’ road trip is still ongoing and, in truth, we haven’t actually got that far along it. We are in no rush. We have been basing ourselves for two or three nights at towns along the route exploring the ‘Romantic Road’ cycleway to see some of the ‘must see’ sights. Germany is so well set up for cyclists with miles and miles of cycleways along either traffic free paths or quiet country lanes.
We’ve really enjoyed tootling along in the countryside from village to village with only other cyclists or the odd tractor for company. It has all been so well signposted which really does take the tedium out of constantly stopping to get a map out checking whether we are still on the right route. It’s a big thumbs up from us for Germany on their cycleways.
The countryside here reminds me a little of the Wiltshire countryside with gently rolling hills, forest and farmland interspersed with hamlets, villages and market towns. Cycling from Tauberzell, where we had based ourselves for a couple of nights, we followed the river to the hilltop town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The cycleway took us in to Rothenburg from river level giving us great views of the medieval town perched on the hillside above.
Most of the town’s growth took place in the 15th Century but the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which swept across Central Europe, put paid to further growth. Development came to a standstill in this once thriving and prosperous town as wealth and population were lost. Therefore, little has changed since that time leaving pretty much perfectly preserved city walls, medieval buildings and a gothic cathedral although some had to be restored after 1945.
Our guide book had warned us of the sometimes oppressive number of tourists visiting the town but other than outside the Rathaus (townhall) we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too heaving. We were amazed that the walls were free to wander around and not too busy (which was just as well as you do have to breathe in to pass other people) and we spent a relaxing couple of hours exploring a complete circuit of the them.
Most of the walkway is under cover making it an ideal outing on a wet day.
Our next stop was an excellent free stellplatz at Feuchtwangen which turned out to be perfect as the stellplatz was a ten minute walk from the town, two minutes to Lidl or Aldi and had a fantastic outdoor swimming complex right next door.
After 5pm, for just one euro, I could make full use of the beautifully landscaped outdoor pools sharing them with only half a dozen other people. Incredible! I’d be paying a euro just for a shower on a campsite. Needless to say I made the most of it.
Cycling from Feuchtwangen to Dinkelsbühl we were reminded again of how much wildlife we have seen since being in Germany or maybe we are just paying more attention to it without having to worry about the traffic. Either way we have seen plenty of hares, deer, storks, heron and birds of prey.
Dinkelsbühl, having escaped being damaged in World War II, truly is a perfectly preserved medieval town. Not that we would have noticed! Unless you look really closely it’s not always easy to tell which bits have been rebuilt or restored.
I still find it amazing that even in such a compact area that many of the houses have plenty of garden space and how well kept and beautifully landscaped they are. In fact, everywhere we have been to in Germany so far we have been greeted with very well kept gardens and green spaces much as we saw in France last year.
When we resume normal life again, whatever form that might take, I am going to try to make more of an effort on the garden front. That’s if we have a garden that is as we still don’t know what our future life is going to look like! Anyway, I digress.
We arrived in Nördlingen yesterday and bagged the last grassy edged spot at the stellplatz just outside the walls of the old town. At €3 per night, it was a bargain.
Nördlingen’s claim to fame is that it was built on the site of a huge meteorite crater. Fifteen million years ago, give or take a year or so, a meteorite fell from the sky with a heavy bump creating a 25km wide crater, today known as the Ries, and supposedly the best preserved impact crater on the planet. Go Nördlingen! It is also another perfectly preserved medieval walled town.
The town walls are pretty much completely intact giving an impressive 2.7km circuitous walk around the old town including five gates and twelve towers (dating from the 14th to 15th centuries).
Surprisingly again, there weren’t that many people circling the town on the walls so we had a very quiet and enjoyable hour or so taking in all the sights from a perfect vantage point. We climbed the 90m Daniel tower of St George church to see the views of the town from above and to try to work out where the edge of the crater was. Mmm, 15 million years is a long time and the edges must be a tad blurred by now so we had to leave that one to our imaginations.
Taking a circular walk around the outside of the town walls proved to be equally as picturesque seeing the walls and towers from a different perspective.
There are some lovely houses built into the walls with beautiful gardens as well as open parkland.
So that concludes this weeks excitements and the over use of the word ‘wall’ (I counted fourteen times!). Tomorrow we’ll move on again and see where the ‘Romantic Road, takes us.