Travel report: Bike Tour along the German Danube
From our guest Katja
Actually, everything had been planned quite differently...
Actually, I wanted to use my "sabbatical" to explore distant lands and travel in a relaxed way. But in 2021 everything came differently: Plans were made, discarded and re-thought. My trip to Oceania turned into a bike tour in southern Germany and a 14-day tour along the German Danube finally turned into a 6-day tour from Donaueschingen along the Danube via Wangen im Allgäu to Lake Constance. But I experienced wonderful, fulfilling and unforgettable-beautiful moments on this trip, which I would like to tell you about.
I traveled alone. Both my parents and friends were totally surprised: "Alone?! - That wouldn't be for me!" But that's exactly what I wanted to try out; on the one hand, because at the time - when traveling became possible again in the early summer of 2021 - I was the only one in my family who had "time off" in mid to late June; on the other hand, I was curious to see how I would fare being on the road alone by bike for a week. To say it in advance: I have not regretted it and can definitely imagine both to make further trips with Radweg travels as well as to travel alone.
It was always a pleasure for me to have time for myself, to follow my thoughts while cycling, to create the stages at my own pace, to be in motion and to experience a wonderful, diverse nature. But at the same time I was very happy that I had a very competent and dedicated organizer and contact person in Radweg-Reisen. It gave me the feeling of security to know in the morning at which destination I would arrive during the day, that a room was already reserved for me there and also that - in case of an emergency - I had addresses and phone numbers and could have contacted people in case of a breakdown or a problem.
THE DAY OF ARRIVAL - Arrival in Donaueschingen, first test drive
I started on a Thursday, mid-June 2021, arriving in Donaueschingen by train in the afternoon. At the hotel "zum Hirschen" I was already expected. My rental bike was in the garage and my travel documents (with tours and hotel descriptions, addresses and bike path maps) were ready for me at the reception. As soon as I had checked in I wanted to test my bike. At first it was actually a bit strange to me, the bike: handlebars, saddle and a very unfamiliar hub gear. But after a few hundred meters along the Brigach, I got used to the bike and got along well with the gears and the somewhat different "seat and ride" feeling.
In Donaueschingen I headed for two stations to start my journey:
1. the source of the Danube: it looks more like an imposing enclosed fountain in the immediate vicinity of the castle and castle park.
2. the Bräustüble of the Fürstenberg brewery: here I experienced for the first time what happened to me again and again on my trip after months of restrictions: finally being able to stop in "spontaneously" again. I am very grateful that, after briefly presenting proof of vaccination, I was able to spontaneously enjoy a drink or a meal outdoors in glorious early summer weather! That already felt like a vacation.
DAY 1 OF THE TRIP: from Donaueschingen to Fridingen
After breakfast I started my first stage full of anticipation and curiosity:
From Donaueschingen to Fridingen. My luggage was already picked up at 9:00 a.m. and I was given a second saddlebag so that I could always have enough to drink and a small snack as well as rain gear and spare clothes with me on the way.
Along meadows, through forests and nice villages we went along the young Danube to the Danube sinkhole - a place where the Danube disappears in midsummer for over 200m in the crevices and holes of the limestone. After the heavy rain of the past weeks, however, the Danube was very low in some places in June, but not completely disappeared. I must confess, in another travelogue I had read little good about the Hotel-Gasthof Sonne and cycled somewhat prejudiced and with few expectations to Fridingen. I was all the more surprised when I arrived there. I arrived on a day of rest, but everything had been prepared perfectly: in the entrance area I found a nice little letter with information, the chip card for side and room door. The bike garage was labeled and the garage door was ajar to store the bike well and safely. My luggage was already ready in the hallway and I found a beautiful, newly renovated room.
2nd DAY OF THE TRIP: from Fridingen to Sigmaringen
I enjoyed a delicious, hearty breakfast and set off, very well fortified, on one of the most beautiful stretches of my tour. From Fridingen, the bike path leads along the Danube through a beautiful valley: along meadows, through forests and huge limestone rocks, the narrow Danube meanders through. On one part of the bike route you ride through very quiet areas, where only the ripple of the river can be heard - enchanting, calming and soothing is this stage. On the further course of the route, in contrast, I experienced more bustle: the section between the monastery of Beuron and Gutenstein is very popular with canoeists and in part also very busy.
In Inzighofen I stopped at the Winkel-Hof, a beautiful organic farm store with a cozy farm café. Delicious Dinnele are prepared in the wood-fired oven and offered with homemade juice or must.
In the early afternoon I arrived in Sigmaringen and drove first to the Hotel Garni Jägerhof. Mr. Zeller greeted me in a friendly manner, showed me the house, my very nice room, the coffee corner and the garden, which invites you to sit and linger, and explained to me which walking route he would recommend through Sigmaringen. After the refreshing shower, I walked to the inner city of Sigmaringen. The stately castle doesn't admit visitors after 4 p.m., so my voucher for admission and a guided tour went unused. The city center is quickly explored and offers here and there nice places to linger or stop for a bite to eat. In the evening, I enjoyed sitting in the hotel garden, reading and familiarizing myself with the route that would await me the next day.Show more Show less
3rd DAY OF THE TRIP: from Sigmaringen to Bad Waldsee.
In the Jägerhof - although there were still very few guests in the house in June 2021 - a wonderful, rich breakfast was offered. Everything had been lovingly arranged and prepared and Mr. Zeller noticeably enjoys pampering his guests and making their stay in his house as pleasant as possible. From Sigmaringen I drove a section on the Danube cycle path. In Mengen, I then said goodbye to the Danube and now drove southwest to Bad Saulgau and from there along fields and up some hills to Oberatzenberg, from where you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view. Here the landscape already looks like in the Allgäu: meadows and pastures, narrow roads with hardly any traffic, many hills and here and there a farm with unmistakable country air scent.
Shortly before Aulendorf, I took a break at the Jägerhof inn in Ebisweiler and enjoyed a good lunch in an idyllic setting with a magnificent view.
On this 3rd day in the bike saddle I was really happy when I arrived after a good 65km in the hotel in Bad Waldsee. The Hotel Grüner Baum is located in the middle of town - very central directly on the town hall square. From my hotel room I looked at the town hall square, beautiful half-timbered houses and the center of the very tranquil little town. On Sundays, the town center is very busy and the barrel organ players entertained the hotel guests for hours with barrel organ music. Matter of taste. The hotel is lovingly and very originally furnished and has a charm all of its own. The fact that the baked goods from the neighboring bakery branch were already being loudly unloaded and stacked at 4:30 a.m. cannot be blamed on the hotel, nor can the fact that the streets and roads in the city center were completely renovated in June 2021. The construction site was located directly in front of the hotel.
DAY 4 OF THE TRIP: from Bad Waldsee to Wangen im Allgäu
Very early on this day I started my next stage to Wangen im Allgäu. Already on the first hill a loud "Oooh!" escaped me when I first saw the snow-covered alpine chain in the distance. On this stage along lush green meadows I drove again and again directly towards this imposing mountain range.
However, I came on this day for the first and only time to the point that I lost for a short time the desire and joy of cycling: in a piece of forest before Wolfegg, the forest path became a gravel road that led steadily uphill. Again and again my bike broke out on the track with the fist-sized pebbles, slipped and tipped to the side. Finally, I had no choice but to push my heavy bike up the hill. After a good half hour I arrived sweaty and completely out of breath on the hilltop, but was immediately rewarded with a beautiful view into the distance. The further route to Wangen was then again very pleasant to drive, led through small towns, past meadows and farms.
Show more Show less
Already in the early afternoon I arrived in Wangen im Allgäu. The hotel "zur Alten Post" is very centrally located in the city center. In this venerable house with its creaking wooden floors and high rooms, one feels transported back centuries. My grandparents would certainly have been thrilled with my hotel room with its rustic furniture and flowery, tiled bathroom with a bathtub instead of a shower.
Wangen is a very nice little town with a nice downtown. Here, one café follows the other and small stores invite you to stroll around. The old city gates and remains of the city wall remind us that the city was well fortified in the Middle Ages.
5th DAY OF THE TRIP: from Wangen im Allgäu to Constance
Today was a big and very diverse stage on the program. First I cycled through the beautiful Allgäu, through small villages and past many farms. Fascinated again and again by the beautiful landscape and the view of the mountains, the varied route cycled very easily. And suddenly this panorama is perfected by the view of Lake Constance. Picturesquely the lake lies in front of you and in its background the snow-covered Alps stretch out.Show more Show less
I first rode to Lindau, circled the Lindau Island and rode along the lakeshore along the cycle path westward through Wasserburg, Kressbronn to Friedrichshafen.
After a short visit to the Zeppelin Museum, I took the catamaran across the lake to Konstanz. Enormous, how fast this boat flew over the lake, enjoying a magnificent view of the lakeshore and the mountains in the background.
The Ibis Hotel is very centrally located. The train station, the old town, the lakeside and also the banks of the Rhine are within walking distance. I was received very friendly and moved into a very nice, quiet room. That day was the first and only time I arrived at the hotel before my luggage. So far, I had always followed the good advice of Radweg-Reisen and carried a complete set of fresh, summer clothes and light sandals in my saddle bag. Today I took the opportunity for the first time to put on these spare clothes after a refreshing shower.
In the evening I strolled through the beautiful city center, found a very nice place for the "Public Viewing" of the international match Germany against France at the European Championship 2021.
6th TRAVEL DAY: at Lake Constance - a tour around the Untersee
After a very extensive breakfast, at the rich and varied buffet, I was strengthened for my longest bike tour. I first cycled through the old town to get to Kreuzlingen and thus to the Swiss side of the Untersee. It took me a bit to get used to the somewhat different and sometimes sparse signage of the bike routes. In Germany, the bike route is marked with a bike path sign at almost every intersection or bend. In contrast, the signage in Switzerland seemed a bit more sparse to me. And so it happened from time to time on my Swiss leg that I went back a bit to make sure that I was still on the bike route and also to correct my course now and then.
Finally I found the cycle track, which leads around the entire Untersee. This route leads varied also small hills up and down, through picturesque villages and partly directly along the lakeshore.
The village of Stein am Rhein is particularly beautiful, although it is visited by many tourists. The bike path is quite well traveled, but once you come briefly off the route, or looking for a nice place for a break, it can be very quiet just a few meters from the bike path.
I made this tour on a day in June, which was very hot and humid and so I made many breaks, treated myself here and there a cool apple spritzer and took the opportunity in the guest towns to fill my water bottles.
DEPARTURE DAY: from Constance back home / My conclusion
At the Hotel Ibis in Constance, you can approach the departure day in a very relaxed way, because you don't have to check out before 12:00. So I could pack my luggage after a good night's sleep, enjoy the delicious breakfast and check out. My train route first led along the Untersee, which I had driven around the day before. And I also rediscovered the first section between Donaueschingen and Immendingen from the train and was surprised that this first bike tour stage seemed so long ago. Then I realized very clearly how much I had seen and experienced in these few days and how refreshed I was on my return journey.
I would very much like to do another tour with Radweg-Reisen again, take much less luggage and plan stages again where I am challenged athletically on the one hand, but on the other hand also arrive relaxed at my destinations and stopovers, so that I can explore the places, cities and also the surroundings. For me, the length of the stages was just right: on average, I cycled 60 km a day - in the beginning, the distances were rather shorter and this increased in the course of the week.
I was thrilled with Radweg-Reisen how smoothly everything went, how reliably my luggage was transported from hotel to hotel, the very good condition of my rental bike, and the travel documents that were put together especially for me: bike maps, route descriptions, tips, contact addresses, and so on. All the information I needed had been put together very clearly for me. Nothing was missing, there were no unpleasant incidents, there were no breakdowns, I was in beautiful places and met very nice people.
My conclusion: you do not have to travel far or very long to have a good rest and a nice vacation.