Tandem Tour 2015: Eichstätt to Tauberbishofsheim

Eichstätt_TauberbishofsheimBreakfast is usually in some Konditorei in one of the many towns. Coffee and freshly made bread with jam and cheese fits the bill nicely. In Eichstätt we found one on the cycle route out of the town.

The next section is has a lot to recommend it. The cycle route shares a railway line in the valley as it passess through Dollnstein and Solnhofen (a major part of the local economy is stone – stein – this influences many of the place names). Further on is Treuchtlingen. In the Kurpark, one finds the seemingly incongruously located steam locomotive rather forlornly dumped (right).DSCF1168 The town itself was having a siesta when we passed through it (to be fair, it was very hot). But ultimately it is an old market town famous for handcrafts and silk. The aforementioned railway link to Ingolstadt and Munich, built in 1869, was key to the town’s industrial development. But there is a further significance, the railway station was bombed on 23 February 1945 by the allies. 300 people died on one train in the station. Maybe the forlorn locomotive fittingly commemorates that terrible event?

DSCF1173A little further along the river is Gunzenhausen, a resort on the Altmühlsee, a large inland lake (left). We camped there, breakfasting at a cafe on the shoreline. We then continued our tour north west towards Rothenburg ob der Tauber through Leutershausen and Colmburg. There is a bit of cross country to be done here and if you suitably miss the path,DSCF1176 as we did, you can be diverted into villages that show some of the eccentricities of the Bavarians relating to their gardens (right). I cannot quite remember in which village this scene of life and fantasy was discovered. But it made the detour worthwhile.

DSCF1175A little further on, we found another village (left) that was not quite looking its best. I was expecting a sign saying something like “sorry we are not looking our best, come back in 6 months…please”.

We found ourselves in Gasthof zur Krone having coffee and Apfel Strudel in Leutershausen (the Gasthof kitchens in Bavaria are mostly closed between 1500 and 1800, there is little hot food to get). The landlord told us that rain was forecast for around 6pm and if we wanted to make it to Rothenburg before it came (we were keen to get the tent up before it set in) then we should take a short cut. The road that was recommended seemed rather substantial (st2249). But in the event, largely unused. A recommended detour. A bit more hilly, though.

And then Rothenburg itself. First we would say, if you want to visit the town, go direct. Do not follow the cycleDSCF1181 track as it steeply descends into the valley and the way back up is tortuous. The town is significant in its history and is home to an amazing Tilman Riemenscheider alterpiece carving – something we discovered only on getting back and watching again Andrew Graham Dixon’s BBC documentary, The Art of Germany (though if we had read our guide close enough, we would also have known). Indeed there are many Riemenschneider carvings in Bavaria. We stopped off at two further churches containing examples of his work at Detwang (where we camped and pictured, above right) and a shade futher on the Herrgottskirche to the south of Credlingen on the L1005 (and don’t forget the Thimble Museum, below left).

The campsite at DetDSCF1183wang is described elsewhere. With heavy rain we abandoned any idea of getting into Rothenburg and elected to eat in one of the Gastätte in the village. Monday and Tuesday are closing days for one of the restaurants. We had, therefore, no choice but to go to the Gasthaus Tauberstube (http://tinyurl.com/o2yhwsy) despite a note on the door saying reservations only for the evening. It was great, though traditional food. They were well prepared to offer us something vegetarian. And we drank some local wine. The next day we met the landlord in another cafe in Credlingen – he was clearly checking up on the local competition! He recognised us even though we were on a tandem and wearing our gear. We have to revisit Rothenburg. I think we now know where to stay.

Onward towards our next stop, Tauberbishofsheim through the attractive towns of Röttingen, Weikersheim (right) andDSCF1188 significantly, Bad Mergentheim. The secret to its fortune is in the name. The area is rich in mineral springs and was found to be particularly useful in dealing with digestive disorders. The town also boasts a medieval castle with baroque church. But significantly, it feels like a real working town. Indeed over this stretch of the cycle path one cross the border into Baden-Württemberg, a culturally different place to neighbouring Bavaria. As one pushes further along the Tauber towards the confluence with the Main at Wertheim, it becomes more industrial and less twee. It is no worse for that.

DSCF1185Hence, one enters Tauberbishofsheim through a light industrial area; and whilst it is not unattractive in the centre, it feels much more lived in. There is no nearby campsite, though it is well frequented by cyclists as we discovered in the hotel in which we opted to spend the night.

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