We came to the start of the Romantische Straße ride as a continuation of Germany’s Danube ride. It took us away from the Danube and through some of the most interesting small towns in what is known as Romantische Straße. So we ended one ride in Donauworth and started another there.
Stage One: Donauworth to Nordlingen 32,7 km
Today will have a climbing challege as we climb up and over the rim of the Nordlinger Ries; created 15 million years ago when a meteor impacted and virtually wiped out all life within 100km, leaving a huge crater. We pass through Donauworth gate, through a park and then through a pedestrian/cycle tunnel on the outskirts of town. Then we follow the Wornitz River out of town. Ride on through Felsheim and then on to cross the bridge and through Wornitzstein. Continue through Ebermergen and then cross back over the Wornitz river again on another scenic stone bridge. Soon we are beside the highway for a shortcut to Harburg on the hill. We catch sight of the castle, high on the hill; but, decide not to stop for a visit. The climb starts gradually and gets steeper as we near the castle (schloss.)
Eventualy we wind through a section of the town of Harburg and it’s all uphill from here to the castle, where it becomes more gradual as we pause to catch our breath and look back at the Schloss. Then we get to coast downhill a while, paralle to the highway, befoe some rolling hills to reach Mottingen. After, we are on a section of trail between the highway and rail tracks. This will take us all the way into Nordlingen, through an ancient gate and into the heart of the old town.
We head directly for the Dom in the very center, as our hotel was nearby. What a nice discovery, we had a room with a small patio and a bakery downstairs. Bonus. Nordlingen is the only town in Germay, whose city wall are still completely intact and you can walk all the way around the town on these wall. The wall walk takes you along the 2.7km circumference, dotted with gates and towers. If your legs implore you to do one more climb, you can take in the view from the St George Kirke tower. The townhall, dating back 600 years, is very impresssive. The Ries Museum has meteor framents for that fateful meteor that created the crator and a history of the Ries.
Stage Two: Nordlingen to Dinkelsbuhl 38,6 km
We will have more climbing today as we climb up and out of the crater. The route varies from highway, dirt, paved paths and gravel. We exit town through the Baldinger Gate and ride to Baldingen. Here we enter a cycle track beside the B25 and we resolve ourselves that we will be riding in the rain. We watch for signs, which can be easily missed as our heads are bowed with the rain. We ride on through Ehringen and on to Wallerstein, where we pass below the Schloss. Then continue on through Birkhausen on a moderate climb. Then we’re on a nicely paved section through Mahingen, where we continue on, following signs, with a steep climb at Ultzningen to take us over the rim of the Reis. Good time to stop, catch our breath and take in the view.
We then ride the ridge toward Hoch Altingen and then leave the ridge for a downhill toward Framingen. It’s a gradual climb through town. Then we meet up with the B25, the official Romantic road. This is the auto route for cars and we are not on this for long. Watch for the cement factory. At the time of our ride, there were no clear signs; but, this is where we need to exit to ride this unpaved and unsigned section beside the highway. We hoped we were going the right way, as we continue on through woods and eventually we are rewarded with a Romantische Straße route sign. There is a climb on the roadway up into Ruhlingstetten; before we get another downhill section. We wind with the various qualities of path, watching for signs. There are some rolling hills before we reach Wittenbach. From here we have a gradual climb through Monchsroth and then a steady climb out of town. The next 4km are on the highway, without a cycle lane; but, the cycle path picks up at Dinklesbuhl city limits and takes us through the gate in into the town center.
This a a truly charming walled town, dominated by St George Minster in Marktplatz. Tourist Information offers a wonderful walking map and you can stroll all around the inside of the walls that encompas the town.
A highlight at dusk is to meet up with the costumed Nightwatchman in front of St Georges and follow him on his entertaining rounds of town.
Stage Three: Dinkelsbuhl to Rothenburg 46,9 km
Today we have 4 climbs; however, with each climb, we get a downhill as well. We start by leaving Dinkelsbuhl through the lovely old Rotenburger Tor gate and across the narrow old stone bridge. Soon we are riding beside the Wornitz river, through a lovely valley. One thing I must mention is the route signs. Some of large and yellow and somce are small and white and they can be anywhere. Mostly we are watching for the small white Romantische Straße route signs; but, on occasion we take the route of the yellow sign. Confused yet? I know we were. We ride through Larrieden and then leave the Wornitz as we climb out of the valley. It’s a nice view at the top, before the downhill. Continue on through Kaltenbrunn and follow the rail tracks. At Feuchtwangen, we cross the tracks and leave town and through a wooded section. We follow signs through Banzenweiler and up to Archshofen and then up to cute little Dombuhl. As we exit town, we begin a long climb on the roadway, cresting at 519 meters. Eventually we reach Schillingsfurst. Pass by the church in this ancient town and there is yet another climb. We chose to take in the view and have some lunch, when we reached the crest. Feeling refreshed after a break for lunch, we pedaled on past woods and fields through Neuweiler and then a climb toward Faulenberg. As the rain came, we took shelter for a bit in a handle bus shelter. Fortunately, it was a short shower. After Faulenberg, we have some gently downhill riding through Rodersdorf and Gebsattel. Some of this is on the roadway and some cyclepath. Rothenburg is not far now; but, there is another climb to reach Rothenburg. The cycle track picks up and runs to the side of the highway and then beside the rail tracks. As we reach the walled town, we enter the cobbled center by passing through a series of 3 medieval gates. What an entrance!
Rothenburg on the Tauber (river) is a historic town, whose history spans 3 millenia. It is the most completely restored medieval town in Europe; having been nearly destroyed in WWII. We checked in to our hotel and had a close up view of the town wall from our room window. We could hardly wait to hit Tourist Information for a town walking map and to visit the sites and walk the wall.
We spent the next day strolling through and around town and visiting the museums. The Torture Museum is a must see, as well as the Toy museum.
The town is a good place to shop for gifts or perhaps a Christmas ornament for your tree. They are also known for their delicious Rothenburg Schneeballen (snowball). a calorific and flavorful sweet treat.
Return by train: Rothenburg to Munich
This is our final stage; but, it is by rail and not cycle. All we did was ride to the station. We had studied the schedule and picked a train that had the fewest changes. These can be difficult with panniers and bikes, if the change is tightly scheduled, as often you need to get yourself and all gear up and down stairs to reach the right platform for the connecting train. Whew! Our trip required two changes. It was the weekend and the bicycle cars had many cycle travelers. From start to finish, the trip was about three hours, with very short layovers. Munich is bicycle friendly; but, after a nice ride through Munich’s English Garden, we parked the bikes and explored the city on foot.
Marianplatz is the hub of Munich. Tourist Information is most helpful Don’t miss the revolving figures of the glockenspiel, as this entertains the crowds, three times a day. The Gothic Frauenkirche offers and elevator up the tower to see a breathtaking panoramic view of Munich.
The baroque buildings are town are artwork, themselves. Of course, we made a pilgrimage to the famous Hofbrauhaus for the music, hearty food and of course the beer. One has to marvel at how the servers manage to lift and carry multiple briming beer steins. Then we had to bid farwell and head back to the airport for our flight home. The combined tours were memorable and we highly recommend either or both.