The Romantische Strasse (Bavaria)
In Augsburg we visited the Fuggerei, one of the earliest, if not the first, public housing project in the world. It was started in the early 1500's by Jakob Fugger, a wealthy, Catholic textile merchant. Residents, then and now, pay "one Rhenish guilder"(1.72DM), the equivalent of less than a dollar for a year's rent for four rooms and a small garden. Fugger sought to provide aid to "people who had become needy through no fault of their own." One additional obligation requires the residents to say prayers at Mass for the souls of departed Fugger family members.
A woodland scene along the Romantische Strasse bike route between Augsburg and Landsberg, Germany. The Romantische Strasse begins in Würzburg and traverses 250 miles south to Füssen, Germany. We rode the stretch between Augsburg and Füssen and found the route wasn't as well marked as we had come to expect from last year's trip along the Danube. Directional signs for the route seemed to disappear when entering towns and we had to look carefully at intersections before proceeding. When in doubt, we reviewed the options and pooled our collective intuition together to decide which way to go. On the first day of riding, shortly after we left Augsburg, we went to the nearby town named Friedberg. We rode to a park area called the Kuhsee, near the Lech River, and made a wrong turn. In what seemed like 10 miles of riding, we rode through Friedberg again via a different route and ended up back at the Kuhsee. We treated this inauspicious beginning with a lunch of bratwurst, sauerkraut, and beer from a refreshment stand in the park. Fortunately, this kind of detour did not become a pattern during the trip.
Landsberg is a smaller city on the Romantische Strasse. On a Sunday morning we had the streets to ourselves. The youth hostels in Bavaria have an age limit of 26 years, but we had no trouble finding comfortable and affordable lodgings at smaller family owned hotels. Here in Landsberg we stayed at the Hotel Goggl, on the right, just off the town square.
A section of easy riding between Landsberg and Füssen, Germany. It wasn't all this easy. We relied on Kompass map # 130, Romantische Radroute traveling from Augsburg to Füssen. At times we found ourselves on unpaved farm roads and hiking trails, with a few minor hills sprinkled in for good measure.
The Neuschwanstein Castle appears against the Alpine foothills as we approach the towns of Schwangau and Füssen. This is a major tourist destination in Bavaria. We found the accommodations listed on the Füssen website were filled for the night we planned to stay. Fortunately, over the Internet, we were able to secure lodgings at the Hotel Schwangauer Hof in Schwangau. The hotel was easy to find and conveniently located near the access road leading to the castle. This evening we ate dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant and enjoyed a few bottles of good wine. While walking back to the hotel in the dark we watched a full moon mystically rise above the castle in the distance. Early the next morning we left our panniers at the hotel and biked up the steep hill leading to the base of the castle and enjoyed the English speaking tour.
The beautiful Schloss Neuschwanstein as seen from the Marienbrücke (Queen Mary's Bridge) spanning the 300 ft. deep Poellat Gorge behind the castle. Built by "Mad" King Ludwig of Bavaria between 1869-1886, it is arguably Europe's most famous castle. During the summer try to arrive at the 8:30 a.m. opening bell to beat the tour buses from Munich. Click on these two thumbnails for larger views of the beautiful castle and Alpine surroundings.
We relied on a cycle route published by Bikeline to travel between Füssen, Germany and Reutte, Austria. Apparently their route planners decided cyclists needed a little challenge and we found ourselves crossing the hilly German/Austrian border on what could only be termed a goat trail. This steep, rock strewn path required walking the bikes quite a distance. Our advice - take the road.
Now that we were in Austria, and soon to be in Switzerland, we could begin staying at the youth hostels we reserved months before through the Internet. We enjoyed our stay at the tidy, well-run youth hostel about 2 miles outside of Reutte. We arrived too late for dinner as the "short" ride from Füssen took longer than expected on the "scenic" route over border. But the house family agreed to serve a complete meal for us if we would return to the kitchen in 20 minutes. What great service after a tough day of biking! We found many of the youth hostels served hearty dinners for around $7.
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