Ginger and Nutmeg’s group of friends were all interested in cycling the Romantic Road in Germany for different reasons. Still, it was clear that sausage, sauerkraut, and artisan beers were a common denominator. However, no one was too excited to begin the bike journey in cold-weather gear in the face of single-digit temperatures.
The group’s departure point was Würzburg, the official start of the Romantic Road, with the town of Füssen, a distance of some 440 km (via two wheels), as their final destination.
G&N managed to squeeze in a quick visit to Würzburg before the trip started. One of the highlights was the Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been fully restored after bomb-related damage in 1945. Enjoy the photos of the exterior (no photos allowed inside) and the palace gardens.
A brisk morning uphill walk to the site of the Marienberg Fortress for views of the city helped to wear off their dinner from the Weinstuben Juliusspital with its wine selection from the Juliusspital vineyards. Roughly one million bottles are produced annually from this 177-hectare winery, the second largest in Germany. Proceeds from the winery, restaurant and retail shop continue to support the hospital charity established in 1576 by Prince Bishop Julius Echter.
The Romantic Road commenced for tourism purposes in 1950. However, trading existed along the route long before that – Romans used sections of the Romantic Road and called it Via Claudia Augusta. Here is a guidebook for the whole route.
The route from Würzburg to Rothenburg roughly follows the Tauber River. The orderly grape vines near Würzburg quickly give way to gentle, rolling fields. Once the sun appeared, it was obvious that the colours of the German flag should have been kelly-green and sun-yellow. They biked past large fields and rolled through small hamlets with kitchen gardens that burst with fall produce and flamboyant flowers.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s brain-rattling (on a bike) cobbled streets are the German version of Tuscany’s San Gimignano. It is a fairytale village perched on what was, at one-time, a defensive hill. Rothenburg caters to some 2 million Romantic Road visitors each year, and it is easy to get bogged down with the views of touristy shops. Luckily, there are a few ways to experience Rothenburg away from the crowds.
1) Take a stroll on the 1.5kms of ramparts
2) Buy a hiking trail map from the tourist office and see the town “outside the walls”
3) Enjoy the view of the red (Rot) roofs of the burg (fortified town) with its dripping flower baskets from the quiet convent garden.
Their next stop was Dinkelsbühl a walled city with 16 watchtowers around its ramparts smaller than Rothenburg, but just as charming. This medieval town was not impacted during the war, and many of the half-timbered buildings are original.
It is probably not necessary to mention the fact that G&N have some athletic friends, but 130+km in the saddle is a long day for anyone, so the group celebrated once they reached Augsburg. After all, the next day was Sunday, a planned rest day. Highlights from Augsburg included:
And for the boys…A visit to the Ratskeller, the beer hall attached to the town council building…And a few other stops.
Füssen was now genuinely just one short ride away. The rolling hills set against the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps were eye-candy. Füssen is a cute tourist town that caters to Romantic Road tours and the 1.5 million visitors visiting Neuschwanstein. The extravagant castle was built under King Ludwig II’s direction and made famous by its likeness at the beginning of Walt Disney movies.