Danube by bike
Laura and Ivan
from Parma (Italy)
The starting idea arose during summer of '97, I think: we were looking for
a "bike ride" different from summer holidays in The Netherlands (by bike,
too). Reading tourist handbooks we discovered a path along the river Danube
in Germany from source in Schwarzwald till to the Austrian frontier, well
signed, not too difficult for legs not trained to up-and-down roads and
above all suitable for families with children. A fast navigation on the
WEB allowed us to find some interesting sites, in particular about German
DONAURADWANDERWEG, holiday report of Comai Fam. from Trento
during 1992: very useful advice and an itinerary with stages of approx.
50/60 km. Another interesting report on the QuiTouring italian magazine
(july 1997, Coppola Fam. from Padova, dad, mum and three years child!);
useful equipment a road map of Germany and Italian Touring Club green handbook,
but the most important thing was the infinite cycling love!
AUGUST 10, 1998
Bikes on the top of the car and go! Arriving to Donaueschingen where the
cyclistic adventure starts. Time estimated of cycling: about two weeks.
Some hours of training around home in flat country (max. 30/40 km per day,
during the evening or weekends before leaving) and simple equipment. Essential
are bike short trousers to protect the "saddle" and something against flat
tires. We arrive to Donaueschingen railways station at 16 (650 meters on
the sea level): this is the starting point of the holiday thinking to come
back with train to the car. After the last check to the "horses", we begin
to look for the Donauquelle, the official source of Danube in the garden
of Von Furstenberg castle and the first sign of Donauradweg. The Danube
is no more than a channel, narrow and quiet; is it actually one of the most
important rivers of Europe? From here the bike path runs along the country,
some light hills look at the valley. The road is flat and easy to travel.
Stretches of asphalt alternate to gravel: first broken out pneumatic after
half an hour from start (bad luck!). A fast stop for repairing and after
two hours of bike beside the river, we decide to look for an hotel for the
night, in the liiiiittle village of Kirchen: the first travel is enough
(25 km, and the car?). We don't know if and when we will arrive to Passau,
the last city of Germany on the Danube, because we didn't test our training
to the long distances. The important is ... let's try!
TUE, AUGUST 11
Today it will be an intense day: Laura and I have to recover time after
the few kilometers of yesterday. At the end, arrived to Sigmaringen, we
collected 85 km in 6 hours and half. Good, for the second stage (please
get information from the saddles...). In the morning, supplies at the
supermarket (fruits and pneumatics, of course...), stops next to the Danube
"underground" (Donauversickerung), a visit in the hill country to the
medieval nice village of Muhlheim. Then the path enters the woods along
the river, with ancient castles and abbeys. Roads become up-and-down and
the rise before Inzigkofen is hard for our legs. Sometimes the bike, full
of luggage and bags, force us to carry on walking. Then the arrival to
Sigmaringen, where we want to sleep. Before darkness, visit to the castle
and to the nice town.
AUGUST 12 Today it is my birthday! We start early: a small diversion
from the official path to watch an old abbey with "kloster" at Heiligkreuztal.
Unfortunately the hills are full of up-and-downs. Another abbey is visible
on the path, in the village of Obermarchtal, where the rain fell sudden
but light on our heads. The village is built around narrow and twisted streets
on which old houses appear. In the country woods and meadows paint the landscape.
We arrive to Munderkingen after 72 km, sweet village under light rain.
THU, AUGUST 13
We cycle towards Ulm, birth place of Albert Einstein, the weather is cloudy.
The city has old appearance: the bike path goes along the big river next
to the impressive gothic cathedral. People look more "citizens", some
tourists watch monuments and walk among the houses of the fishers district.
The last part of the stage toward Gunzburg is inside the forest: here
we meet two frendly not more young men who with their bikes lead
us to find a hotel for the night. And so we cycled for 75 km more!
Along the Danube, which now can be navigable, we see nice villages like
Gundelfingen. In the afternoon we reach Donauworth, beautiful little town
from which starts the Romantischestrasse.
SAT, AUGUST 15
Another transfer stage toward Ingolstadt without trouble, except the very
hot weather of midday. The town sleeps in this hot sunny summer afternoon.
A day of hot sunshine and in the afternoon one of the most impressive
panoramas of the holiday, Donaudurchbruch: the Danube dug rocks along
the centuries and created wonderful sights. The path stops at the Weltenburg
abbey, now transformed in restaurant full of German enjoying people. Here
it is compulsory to take the ferry and go across the river. When it is
allowed by the river water, big boats sail to Kelheim, otherwise small
boats carry people (and bikes!) on the other bank, where the bike path
goes on. The rocks we see along the river have names depending on their
shape. We meet happy rowers and swimmers looking for refresh. Stop to
Bad Abbach, spa village. We are tired, our legs have 500 km of bike inside,
the hot weather is heavy.
MON, AUGUST 17
After few kilometers we reach Regensburg. Here I have to come back to
Donaueschingen by train to the car park (500 km by train + 500 km by car).
Laura visits the city and its art treasures.
I visit Regensburg in hurry and then we go on, with cloudy and rainy weather.
On the hills near Regensburg we go up to the Walhalla, German heroes white
marble temple similar to the Greek Parthenon which watches all the Danube
valley with nice landscape (maybe with the sunshine, I suppose!). The
river runs slowly, boats sail loaded with goods. We arrive to Straubing
after 65 km.
WED, AUGUST 19
The morning starts with the visit to the Saint Peter's Church just out
of the town walls. Around the church there is a graveyard with old tombs
and chapels painted with impressive original skeleton dances (Totentanz).
The river offers many chances to go across with ferries. Friendly and
cheap the sailors. A stop at the Metten abbey, with its famous painted
and rich library. We sleep at Osterhofen after 72 km of cycling.
THU, AUGUST 20
From Osterhofen to Passau, last stage of the holiday. the last path is
not beautiful because we lost the signs and went along the State road
full of vehicles. Passau is at the confluence of three rivers, a little
bit different from the other town we met on the path. We try to go towards
the Austrian boundary, but traffic is too heavy and tiresome. We prefer
to come back to Regensburg, where the car is waiting for us. We just did
it! At the end the bike computer says 750 km! A beautiful trip, no doubt.
Without heavy training, along a well signed path by the Donauradwanderweg
If you like nature and open air life, if the bike is your favourite for
relaxing holidays, we say to you "ENJOY DANUBE".