Our journey down the romantic road came to an abrupt end a week ago. Not for any other reason than we became sidetracked by a glossy brochure I’d picked up in the tourist information office. In it was a photo of a pretty picturesque stretch of river flanked by cliffs. The Danube (or Donau in Germany), Europe’s second longest river. That was it. Our route changed.
We swung out of Nördlingen heading east instead of south in pursuit of that picture. That’s the beauty of this type of travel – no plans are set in stone (or more like ‘No plans. Period’). We can take a different road if the fancy takes us. So, the fancy took us. And take it, we did.
A free stellplatz at Neuberg an der Donau hooked us in and waylaid us on the way. We can still hardly believe that you can pitch up next to the river just a few minutes walk from a beautiful old town for zero euros per night. Yup, zero euros. Fantastic.
The stellplatz was so well situated too with a little beach to launch from for a swim in the river. The temperatures were into the thirties again so being able to cool off in the river was great.
I was swooshed down the river by the gentle current whilst being treated to a view of the impressive 16th Century Schloss which looks out over the Danube. Perfect. It was a popular spot for swimmers with some drifting off on a one way trip down river armed with just a dry bag with, I presume, some clothes in. Such a lovely way to spend a hot afternoon.
We ended up staying three nights in Neuberg not doing very much of anything except for a short bike ride as it was so hot and Tim wasn’t well and had to take to his bed on the Tuesday. Fortunately, what ever had struck him down passed within twenty four hours and he rallied enough to resume normal service the next day.
So then it was onwards east again to seek out that picture. Kelheim, or more specifically, Kloster Weltenburg was where we were heading in the hope that we weren’t going to be disappointed. You know what it’s like, you see a picture in a magazine, poster or book and think ‘oh yes, that looks amazing, we have to go there’ and then you get there and think ‘Meh, it doesn’t look anything like in the picture’. Well, fortunately we weren’t disappointed.
We stopped at the stellplatz at Kelheim. There are, in fact, two stellplatz’ in Kelheim a few hundred metres apart. One is closer to the river but is just a gravel open car park whilst the other is landscaped and well cared for with individual pitches, has a bit of shade and overlooks some tennis courts. We opted for the latter. Same price (€8.50). No brainer.
From Kelheim you can either take a boat up the Danube to Kloster Weltenburg (monastery) or there are footpath/cycleways running both sides of the Danube climbing up through the woods above the river.
This stretch of the Danube is described in our guide book as ‘one of the region’s most beloved excursions’ and we can see why. It really is a beautiful stretch of the river, wedged between steep cliffs and forest on both sides.
It’s a six kilometre scenic walk on either side of the river to reach the monastery which just so happens to be famous for its brewery, which claims to be the oldest abbey brewery in the world. Obviously with that kind of accolade we needed to sample their wares after our walk.
Tim tried the award winning Barock Dunkel beer whilst I tried a lighter one. Sorry to the brothers of Weltenberg but we thought the dark (dunkel) beer wasn’t up to much and Tim described it as ‘bland, fizzy, lacking in taste, flavour and body’. Oh dear, not a particularly good review. It’s won awards though. World awards. Wikipedia informs me that it won the World Beer Cup Award in 2004, 2008 and 2012 as the best Dunkel beer in the world. Seriously? Tim gave it a two out of ten. I was more generous with a four. As the Americans would say ‘go figure’. We’ll just have to beg to differ then.
Suitably refreshed we ducked in to have a look at the Baroque abbey church built between 1716 and 1739. The word ‘bling’ struck me as soon as we were inside. Am I allowed to say the word ‘bling’ to describe a church? Well, I thought it was a tad ‘blingy’. Gold everywhere. Strictly no photos were allowed so the photo below is courtesy of Google.
Kelheim, then, was worth a detour and we enjoyed our few days there.
We’ve branched off the Danube river now but we’ll come back to it later in the week. We headed west out of Kelheim to follow the Main-Danube canal which will offer us some nice easy scenic cycling. We arrived yesterday in the little town of Reidenburg whilst it was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the completion of the canal. Leiderhosen were much in evidence along with town bands and traditional Bavarian fodder.
We tried the smoked mackerel and Bavarian bretzel washed down with a local Bavarian beer brewed in the town.
Dosed up on our Omega 3 and a complete weeks salt intake we sat back and listened to the town band reminding us very much of scenes from the film ‘Brassed Off’. If you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean.
Anyway, rain stopped play today but hopefully we’ll get out on those bikes tomorrow.