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Cycling the Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen

Judith and Neil Forsyth

Published by Judith and Neil Forsyth at Smashwords

Copyright © 2013 by Judith I. Forsyth and Neil Forsyth

All the photographs are by the authors.

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Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given

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additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not

purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of these authors.

Please Note: Although the authors have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the

information in this book, readers should note that cycle touring on public roads or cycle paths

requires care and attention.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: Getting there and public transport backup

Chapter 2: Route planning

Chapter 3: Recommended Maps

Chapter 4: The Route from North to South

Chapter 5: The cultural landscape and scenery

Chapter 6: History

Chapter 7: Settlements along the Romantic Road

Chapter 8: Food and drink

Chapter 9: Emergencies and how to cope

Chapter 10: Staying alive - The rules of the road

Appendix 1: English German Dictionary for Cyclists

Appendix 2: Tourist Offices, Accommodation: Hotels to B&Bs

Appendix 3: Youth Hostels

Appendix 4: Camp Sites

Appendix 5: Bicycle Shops

Appendix 6: Bicycle Hire

Appendix 7: Important Addresses, Websites

Appendix 8 From Frankfurt Airport to the River Main and Frankfurt City Centre

Acknowledgments

About the authors:

Back to top of Table of Contents

Introduction

Like many of our other cycle guides this one owes much to chance. Sometimes reading an account

of a desperate trip in the dentist’s surgery triggers a desire to investigate ourselves or a TV

programme highlights an unknown region. A chance enquiry at a cycling travel exhibition turned

our attention to the German Romantic Road. Of course we knew it was there, just a couple of hours

away by local train to the east of home. We knew that it connected some rather well-known places

like Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Hohenschwangau where Ludwig II’s Neuschwanstein Schloß is

located, but we had never really thought of either cycling the route or writing about it. Further

enquiries and a meeting with Jürgen Wünschenmeyer, head of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Touristik

Romantische Strasse, the overall organisation for the Romantic Road, whetted our appetite. In July

and August 2005 we cycled the route Würzburg to Füssen north to south and Füssen to Würzburg

south to north. We maintain close links with the Romantic Road and this guide has been updated

several times.

The origins of the Romantic Road Route

In 1947, as much of Europe and most of Germany lay in ruins, the Bürgermeister of Augsburg and

nominees from 27 other towns and villages had a brainstorming session: How could they bring life

back to their shattered communities and give their citizens some hope for the future? Being

Franconians, Swabians and Bavarians first (and then Germans) their thoughts turned to a common

history of long ago, when all their settlements were connected by trade, in wool, in salt, in

commodities from Scandinavia like amber or olive oil and wine from Italy and the south. Their

towns and even villages were rich once upon a time, with towers and battlements and had

entertained kings, emperors, reformers like Martin Luther and were able to pay famous craftsmen

and artists. Was that history not worth something? Could they roll back the barbarity and horrors of

the Nazi period and think of better times? We know that a common human response to disaster,

natural or man-made is to pick up any worthwhile pieces and start again. So the representatives of

these (now) 28 settlements, see Map 1, drew up a legal document declaring their link to the old

trade route, paid their dues, called the route the ‘Romantic Road’ and returned to their homes to

start motivating their citizens to clear roads, rebuild bridges and reopen hotels. The route in 1950

was designed for the motorist or coach traveller and few people bicycled in the early days. The

boom in cycle tourism in Germany took off in the 1980s and 90s. This boom lead to the creation of

a new Romantic Road cycle route. Now an excellent waymarked network of designated cycleways,

sections of quiet country road, and mostly good tracks through field and forest links Würzburg in

the north with Füssen in the south.

Why cycle?

In our youth we took walking or mountaineering holidays, camping out in the hillier bits of Europe.

We too resembled rucksacks from which booted feet stuck out at the bottom and sun hats at the top.

Later we returned to the joys of cycling, letting the ‘steel horse’ as the Germans say, relieve the

wear on our ancient joints. We enjoy the longer distances we can cover, especially on highways and

byways.

In many parts of mainland Europe cycling as a means of transport never really disappeared, the way

it almost did in the UK or North America. So the routes were already in place by the time touring

cycling or cycling as a leisure activity developed at the end of last century. The results are fantastic,

with literally thousands of kilometres of trails, where motorised traffic is rare, the air smells good,

and you can work up a healthy appetite to appease in a welcoming Biergarten or café. Stress adieu,

welcome to a slower pace of travel! There remains, among most cyclists, a camaraderie of the road,

so mishaps like punctures or the occasional tryst with gravity tend to attract help or expertise from

passing cyclists. Pleasant surprises also occur on the Romantic Road, like chance meetings with old

friends. Insurers rate cycling as dangerous and tragedies are often given excessive exposure in the

media. Once the cyclist no longer has to dice with ‘WMD’s’ in the shape of trucks or carelessly

driven cars, risks can be reduced.

We’ve had the occasional tumble, usually the result of daydreaming, perhaps about lunch or a

welcome shower, but apart from the odd spectacular bruise, nothing much to worry about. Our

suggestion is to try a few gentle practice rides if you are new to the game. Forget heroic distances

and amazing speeds, our idea is to take a rest from competition and just enjoy the freedom cycle

touring brings. Odd encounters, tales of adventure in the dark forest or in storm and tempest will

happen. Given time you can embroider the trip for the office or the mob down the pub!

However there is one trap for the unwary player due to an excess of cycle ways rather than too few.

The road planning department of the federal province of Bavaria has started to fit out provincial

highways with adjacent tarred cycleways with large yellow signs directing cyclists. These mainly

run parallel to main roads and are therefore rather noisy and smelly. The Romantic Road routes

described here are mainly well away from the highways, less direct and much pleasanter.

Why cycle the Romantic Road?

There can never have been a better time to travel the Romantic Road. For most of the period

described in our history section, the Romantic Road towns were anything but pleasant places. They

were either falling down, recovering from plague or war and certainly had neither central heating,

clean drinking water nor sewage systems. Now they are rebuilt, probably looking finer than ever

before, painted in pretty colours with their walls and towers standing proudly against blue skies.

The route is waymarked for the cyclist, the staff in the numerous tourist offices all speak some

English and will gladly help you to find somewhere to stay to suit your budget. The food and drink

is safe to eat, satisfying both body and soul. On the out of town sections, there are no large wild

animals and although some of the forests are rather spooky and mysterious on dark days, footpads

and highwaymen are unlikely to be encountered. There is even some transport for people and bikes,

which though not totally flexible is probably more than available where you live. The route has

much to recommend it, varied scenery and cycling, plenty of diversions along the way if needed

and enough but not too many other people on bikes. The best months are probably May to

September. You can always shed a layer or two or take a dip in an open air pool, when temperatures

climb.

How this guide works

Unlike our earlier books and our printed version this guide offers information on how to get to the

Romantic Road, detailed directions for travelling north to south, information about the towns is

arranged in order from Würzburg to Füssen, some background information on the history and

geography of the region, plus what to eat and drink, and practical information. Basic sketch maps

show the route. We try to cater for a wide range of readers including those who’ve been touring for

years, but do not know the area well. If you need more information about cycle touring then our

guide to European bicycling published on Smashwords is a good place to start (“Cycling in

Europe”). We hope newcomers will be persuaded to venture out on a cycle tour and we would like

to think a few families with youngsters will also give the Romantic Road Route a try. Our

descriptions of the towns tries not to repeat anything that is widely available in English, in other

guide books or in situ. We’ve sometimes included a snippet of ‘Horrid History’ at the end of our

town descriptions. These are usually things that happened a very long time ago. Some of them may

be legend rather than fact. Most of us like our blood curdled (safely) from time to time and the

occasional ghostie, spot of torture or gore have done wonders for the tourist industry the world over.

The various appendices list organisations to contact, places to stay, provide a glossary of biking

terms in German and other useful things. Distances are given in kilometres, heights in metres and

place names are often spelt in the German way. It is how they appear on signposts here so it seems

to us to be more logical, when in Rome… Every country has its idiosyncrasies, things that everyone

knows who lives there, but which the foreigner finds extraordinary and a great nuisance to their

plans, including things like times when the shops are open. Where these occur to us we have

included them. An Americans friend of ours liked to call this ‘Stuff you should know’!

Practical points

The general sketch maps are intended to illustrate the written information and help remind you

where places are.

If cycling is your main aim then just ignore the diversions and cultural information.

Go to Table of Contents

copyright: Judith & Neil Forsyth, Konrad-Adenauer-Allee 51A, D 68519 Viernheim