Travel report: The Five Rivers Cycle Route
From our guests Angela and Volker
We had looked forward to the routes along the Main-Danube Canal, Altmühl, Naab, Vils and Pegnitz and the beautiful towns of Neumarkt, Berching, Riedenburg, Kelheim, Regensburg, Amberg, Hersbruck and Lauf. What we noticed on the way are, of course, snapshots that we do not want to generalize, because "all generalizations are false, including this one" (Alexander Chase, *1926, American journalist).Show more Show less
Day 1: Arrival in Nuremberg
The beautiful private hotel "Prinzregent" in a prime location directly at the Pegnitz River lacked a staffed reception desk, but by entering a code, the door opened. Our travel documents were on display. Unfortunately, we couldn´t park the car at the hotel parking lot for a week, so we had to park it about one km away in a parking lot at the Wöhrder Wiese on the banks of the Pegnitz. We were not entirely comfortable with this, because at night our car would perhaps be the only one there. For six whole nights.
There was still time for a sightseeing tour. The entrance from the parks of the Pegnitz through a gate of the city wall offered an unusually beautiful view of the old town, which we could of course admire only fragmentarily. On Mondays the Germanic National Museum is closed. And so there was no opportunity to visit it today, nor in a week. Back to the hotel we walked along the river Pegnitz to the subway station Wöhrder Wiese. We should have remembered that better, because we should start from there the next morning.
At the hotel, we looked at the very good maps, a foldable waterproof map, the ring binder with hotel directions, and a Leporello (a foldable booklet in the shape of a long strip folded accordion-style) with particularly detailed maps. Opera connoisseurs may think of the register of sins of Don Giovanni laid out in this way, performed by servant Leporello in the so-called Leporello aria.
Day 2: Nuremberg - Neumarkt, 50 km
The reception was now occupied and there was a good breakfast, if you approached the buffet with mask and foil gloves (like those at the gas stations). The reception wished us a good trip and showed us the way to the Wöhrder Wiesen, which we already knew and where we saw our car again undamaged. Along the Pegnitz and the Wöhrder See we drove for a long time through a very beautiful park and water landscape. A first sight was the historical factory Hammer. In the hammer mill brass products were produced since 1492 until the destruction in the 2nd World War. Towards the end of the 18th century there was a hammer with a forge, rolling mill, grist mill and several houses. The landlordship was held by the "Nürnberger Eigenherren" von Volckamer and von Forster. In 1814 the small village passed to the von Forster family, who moved the obelisk from the Volckamer garden here. An occasional glance at the Leporello and the blue signs of the 5 Rivers Cycle Path confirmed that we were on the right track. Soon we reached the pretty little town of Lauf.
During a short rest, the ever vigilant and clever Angi found out that we were not supposed to be in Lauf, but in Feucht. So we had gone in the wrong direction. The Leporello showed the tour in the opposite direction and first disappeared in the luggage bag so as not to confuse us again. Fortunately, the disaster alarm could be turned off. The problem could be solved. In the village of Henfenfeld we changed to the Pegnitz-Laaber-Weg, which leads almost directly to Neumarkt without significant extension of the daily kilometers and gave us a 6th river, the Laaber. Thus, out of program, we also saw Altdorf. And when fatigue was already threatening after a steep climb, we came across the 5 Rivers Trail at Gnadenberg, as if nothing had happened. We saw very well-kept houses and gardens even in the small villages on the way. Obviously, there is work around Nuremberg and people enjoy their own houses. All of Franconia looked for us to be well cared for, not poor by any means, but not ostentatiously rich either. The Hotel Lehmeier at the market of Neumarkt was good, should also have a good kitchen, but on Tuesday there is day off. Along the market street, which seemed to be deserted, we saw only two open restaurants with chairs and tables on the street, of which we found the Greek one a bit better. First, we desperately needed liquid replacement and were very happy about the beer. On the menu we discovered the indication: appetizer plate for one person, also for 2 people. We asked if the price would then double, which was somewhat grumpily denied and bravely ordered the double plate. While waiting, we continued to quench our thirst and had the opportunity to observe the audience, certainly regulars. The bearded and tattooed gentlemen seemed practiced in their daily thirst quenching. Perhaps they also drank as a preventive measure to avoid thirst in the first place. One of them passed around his young dog, which was exuberant about everyone and wanted to lick them. After some time the dog owner folded up the drinking bowl of his dog, hung it (the bowl) on his belt and said goodbye together with the dog in a friendly way. Occasionally walkers passed by. When we still hesitated to order a third pint, the appetizer plate finally arrived, a surprise, a huge tray with the most delicious things. We now ordered the recommended Greek red wine, which was indeed excellent, dark, full-bodied, velvety, dry. No Domestos, as the host assured us.Show more Show less
Day 3: Neumarkt - Riedenburg, approx. 60 km
Along the Ludwig-Danube-Main Canal, which is no longer used for navigation, we drove a long beautiful stretch as if in a green tunnel to Berching, the historic town with the preserved town wall, 4 gates and 13 towers. The opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck was born here. For once we associated the name with beer garden, but we still had water in the luggage bag. On the way, we passed the important factory facilities of the Max Bögl company. In Plankstetten, however, we did not pass the Benedictine abbey. We descended and admired the huge complex, which is being lavishly restored with many subsidies. Max Bögl was also present here with large machines and vehicles. The seemingly self-sufficient abbey has a very beautiful church, meeting places, its own agriculture, workshops, a restaurant and a large organic farm store. Since it was already after 12 o'clock, we decided to take a lunch break here.
In the organic store we had a fresh giant roll with a giant slice of the best Leberkäse for only 2 €. In addition, we drank Bioradler from the bottle with a view of the large abbey courtyard and were well satiated with feast for the eyes and stomach. The world seemed to be in order here, not only because of the large portions, but particularly because of the information-joyful, good-humored Franconians around and because of the neatness of nature and localities. We needed a while of driving back and forth after the monastery, because we had not immediately discovered the cycle path sign hidden behind a corner of the monastery wall.
At Beilgries we now followed the Altmühl, which we had been looking forward to. Unfortunately, the bike path was closed, and we had to take country roads and detours. Only from Mühlbach we could follow the Altmühl again on the riverside path. But then heavy rain set in, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Our rain gear protected us only at the beginning. Because we were riding on freshly graveled path, the wheels and we showed a kind of guinea fowl effect. The Gasthof zur Post was by far the most modest accommodation on the trip. The elaborate core renovation, as stated in the description, might have been noticed by a building expert. We could not notice it. As if it was so intended by the travel planners, this third inn also had a day of rest, but that did not bother us here. Of the two inns that were open, the "Swan" proved to be excellent. We were curious about the pizza with figs and Greek cheese, which turned out to be a good choice.
Day 4: Riedenburg - Regensburg, approx. 60 km
Our clothes were dry again and the sun was shining. We continued along the Altmühl to Kelheim. We had already visited the Liberation Hall years ago and enjoyed the view. Now we left it at the top, because such victory monuments always mean the senseless death of many soldiers. Unfortunately, this kind of theoretical silent pacifism helps no one. In the picturesque Essing with the castle we saw also the beer hotel Schneider with a terrace directly at the Altmühl again. A 190 m long wooden bridge over the Altmühl and Main-Danube Canal was the longest bridge of its kind when it opened in 1986. At Essing, the Altmühl flows into the Danube, which we now followed. Unfortunately, initially again along a busy road to Bad Abbach.
Via Sinzig we soon reached Regensburg. According to the map, the hotel behind the third bridge in the old town should be easy to find. We wandered back and forth for a while until we finally found the entrance to Tändlergasse at Krauterermarkt. A large sign above a drugstore showed with an arrow the way into the narrow alley where we fit in with our bikes. The listed Hotel Münchner Hof with centuries of tradition was the best hotel for us on this trip.
After showering and changing, we immediately went sightseeing. It rained a little, but with the hotel's green umbrellas, it hardly bothered us. The medieval skyscrapers and the modern stores on the first floor offered a lot of sightseeing and history. Regensburg must have once been very rich and important and it is still important, rich at least in historic buildings, many of which are being restored. We were, of course, impressed by St. Peter's Cathedral.
In terms of punning business names and slogans, we noticed:
"Have a N Ice day" in front of an ice cream parlor, "Ace & tate" like ace head or "Enchan Tee" like enchanté (French) "Pleased to meet you" for a tea bar.
For dinner, Spaghetteria AQVINO in sacred rooms with pointed arches seemed appropriate. We ordered the appetizer plate for two and a pasta dish for the main course, but were warned by the friendly waitress that the portions were not small. Since we had already learned that in Franconia they only know large plates and glasses, we settled for a portion of tagliatelle with frutti di mare, which was still too much, albeit very good.Show more Show less
Day 5: Regensburg - Amberg, approx. 70 km
The way from the city center and the Danube to Mariaort an der Naab seems quite easy to us afterwards. However, we got so confused by the signposting that we first cycled from Mariaort in the wrong direction. That was of course annoying, because the intended route was already long enough. But then it went well on very nice quiet paths. Near Duggendorf was the "Schlosswirtschaft" with its shady beer garden directly on the bike path. Just right for the lunch break. On the menu was "Hausgemachte Bratensulz" at 8.50 €, which we wanted to try. Pleasant surprise: The Sulz was the best we had ever eaten. The portion was of course huge again. Because of the midday heat, we drank Radler with it. We promised the Innkeeper to come again if an opportunity should arise.
We already knew Kallmünz from an earlier visit. At that time we had climbed the mountain with the castle ruins and enjoyed the wide view. On the descent we saw at that time in front of a house, how the inhabitants grilled eel. We had been kindly invited to taste. We also fondly remembered the tiny inn "Zum Bürstenbinder" on the meadow. Now we were glad that our way crossed again the whole old town, also at the studio of the wood artist and at the café with the guest garden directly at the rock wall. Amberg greeted us with a wide green belt where thousands of young people played all kinds of sports. Amberg seemed to us like a youth city, which could be explained by the location of the university. The exact name of the university is Ostbayrische Technische Hochschule Amberg-Weiden (OTH). Years ago, I had given a lecture there at the invitation of Prof. Versch, a pioneer of Internet research. Our current hotel, the "Vienna House Easy Amberg" did not exist at that time. It is modern and open, has nice large rooms and is located in the middle of a park next to the Kurfürstenbad and yet close to the old town on the Vils. We walked for a long time in the interesting and cozy old town. The numerous squares were seated and occupied like beer gardens.Show more Show less
Day 6: Amberg - Reichenschwand, approx. 50 km
Until Poppenricht we rode along a railroad line and after crossing the village we returned to the railroad line until we reached Sulzbach-Rosenberg, which could be reached after overcoming quite a climb. In this town we had to follow the main road. We lost our orientation and therefore followed the main road to Nuremberg, because we saw on the map that we should meet the 5 Rivers Trail again at the place Kauerhof. Like us it went also to other cyclists, who looked for the right way in Kauerhof. We found the place where we should have come here, but the further way seemed to lead us back to the highway. Fortunately, we were joined by a group of cyclists who showed us that we had to backtrack a few meters on the trunk road to get onto a good bike path at a construction site next to the inn behind the farm. From here on everything went well as far as the path was concerned. But there were many climbs and descents and in addition a strong headwind. In Etzelwang, at lunchtime, the Landgasthof Peterhof lay temptingly along the bike path. The menu did not reveal any culinary surprises, and so we ordered sauerbraten and liver Berliner Art with onion rösti, which we had not eaten in a long time, but did not seem particularly Franconian. It was, however, in terms of the size of the portions, which would have satiated two "Saupreußische" families.
Well fortified, we cycled on to Henfenfeld, where we came full circle. From here we had cycled to Neumarkt. Now we only needed to find our hotel in Reichenschwand. That should have been easy, but it wasn't for us because we had overlooked bike path signs or there were none. On the whole tour it became apparent that it is better to ride at least in pairs so that no signposts are overlooked. By the way, this day's stage was the least beautiful on the whole tour. The Dormero Schloßhotel is an imposing castle with a large park, perfect, stylishly modernized with the latest design, with large rooms, spacious bathroom and a huge TV. The restaurant was closed. There was a notice in the room that however the bar was open when the reception was busy. However, the receptionist did not want to serve drinks, although she was serving food and drink to the participants of a seminar in front of our eyes. So we went to the place, which seemed to be deserted, but did not find any restaurant. Now it turned out to be advantageous that we had eaten so sumptuously for lunch. On the TV we saw another Donna Leon movie and wanted to turn it off, but we did not succeed. We called the front desk, who sent a technician, who also didn't know any advice. Then the receptionist came, reached behind the big screen and pulled out a cable.Show more Show less
Day 7: Reichenschwand - Nuremberg, approx. 40 km
The last short stage led us back along the route we had taken by mistake on the first day. One of the most beautiful routes, we thought. Again we passed Lauf and Hammer. The traffic on the bike path became heavier and heavier the closer we got to Nuremberg. Explainable, because it was a warm Sunday. The meadows at the Pegnitz and Wöhrder See were full of mostly young people sunbathing, swimming or playing ball. Among the cyclists we could distinguish several groups: unpretentious people in everyday clothes on partly very old bikes, sporty youth on racing bikes in perfect sportswear, fashion-conscious youth on city bikes without gears, fenders, racks, lights and bells, older couples in sportswear on pedelecs, "combat cyclists", which means totally black-clad, stocky men on mountain bikes with wide off-road tires. Almost all of them were riding at high speed, and the latter group quite recklessly. Because of the silence of the cyclists, it was sometimes dangerous, even for the pedestrians. We passed the parking lot of our car and were relieved to see it back unharmed. Good Nurembergers!
First we drove on to our hotel, where the luggage transport had already delivered our suitcase. We showered and made our way to downtown Nuremberg. It was not too late for lunch, and we found it at Haus Krakau, a former watchtower of the city wall. This restaurant with a beer garden consists of the guest rooms on the second floor of the tower, a wooden bridge with more guest rooms, and a beer garden on the level of the upper street. To our surprise, the house was under Polish management and offered Polish dishes and Polish beer in addition to Franconian. We opted for two types of pierogi, which were very good. Since the beer garden was not suitable for a midday nap, we immediately moved on to sightseeing. Here is not the place to describe how many interesting and beautiful things we saw. We ended the evening in the courtyard of the Julius Hospital to have a glass of wine.
The next morning we loaded our car and drove home, very satisfied with what we had experienced and with our driving performance.Show more Show less