Cycling the Romantische Strasse

Day 4

Saturday, May 22, 1999

Bad Mergentheim to Dinkelsbuhl

Today it started out sunny, but by the time we started out on our bikes, it had clouded over. This route had constant hills. But for every uphill, there was at least an equal downhill. Today I reached 57 kph going downhill. Due to lots of rain, and melt water from the Alps, some of the bike paths were flooded along the Tauber River. At one spot we had to turn back and ride the road due to the cycle path being submerged. At another point we had to ride through 12" of water to reach a bridge to cross the Tauber. People on the other side of the bridge seemed eager to take our picture as we did this.  Tom was the first to cycle through.  He went slowly, and faltered, having to put his foot into the cool water to prevent himself from falling.  I would try a different technique.  I moved back from the stream to gain a bit of speed.  After hitting the water at about 15 kph, I came to an abrupt halt, but was able to stay upright - real good thing, as my feet were clipped into my pedals, and it would have been very embarrassing - not to mention very wet!  The water was actually 1/2 way up my front panniers on the lowriders.  I didn't have to put my feet down to get my feet wet, as they were already submerged while pedaling.  I told Tom that this would make a great picture that we would always remember. Tom suggested I ride through the stream again while he took my picture, but I gratefully declined his "generous" offer.

We ate lunch in the medieval town of Rothenburg. Rothenburg is probably one of the most famous towns in Germany. Once again, in keeping with Germany tradition (as perceived by us cyclists), this town was found perched high above (well, several hundred feet, anyway) the River Tauber. Rothenburg initially had very prosperous times back in the medieval period. It was declared a Free Imperial City, but as it found itself cut off from major trading routes, it vegetated into a very provincial market town. In 1945 the town suffered some damage from American bombing, but due to the efforts of an American civilian, working with the US army, the town was spared further bombing. Rothenburg is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world. Even today, its conservation policies are the strictest in Germany. Even McDonalds is obliged to carry on this tradition by displaying only a small steel sign and flag outside its entrance by the marktplatz. After a quick tour of the town, we once again departed for Dinkelsbuhl at 2:45 p.m. We arrived in Dinkelsbuhl at 5:45 p.m. As a festival was on - the beginning of the Whit Sunday and Whit Monday holiday, there were no rooms to be found. After calling about 12 different hotels, pensions, and zimmer freis, without success, we turned to plan "B." As Tom's knee was starting to bother him due to the constant hill climbing of the day, and because a cycle ride to the next "major town" would put us in the dark, we would take a bus to Nordlingen, about 30 km away and stay there for the night.

The bus ride took about 30 minutes, and cost 7.90 DM apiece, including our bikes. There were very few rooms to be had here as well. We were lucky enough to have the one hotel owner call about five different hotels before securing as a room close to the local McDonalds, and right next door to the Judenherberge (youth hostel). This was the Hotel Schutzenhof, just outside the city walls, and a relative bargain at 59 DM apiece, including breakfast. We were not about to argue. Today were very happy, as we did not get any rain, just twenty minutes of very light drizzle. Total mileage for the day: 103.5 km, in hours, minutes, for an average speed of 17 kph.

Nordlingen is a also a medieval city with a surviving wall surrounding it. During medieval times this wall provided protection for those living within. Nordlingen is built in the crater of a meteorite that crashed to earth many years ago. The Apollo astronauts trained here in Nordlingen. As a mark of their gratitude, they presented the city with a chunk of moonrock which is on display in one of the local museums. The fact that they are extremely proud of this chunk of rock was illustrated at dinner, when one of the local elders sat with us during our meal. His English was very limited, but was much more extensive than our German, but I think he mentioned that moon rock no less than 12 times over the course of two weisenbier.

I think in some ways that Nordlingen proves to be a better example of a medieval city than Rothenberg. For one thing, it has fewer tourists, so there are fewer people to interfere with you being a tourist. Because there are fewer people milling about, many of the ancient buildings are also easier to preserve.

Some Role playing actors in Rothenberg

Rothenberg Markplatz Scene

Gate into Dinkelsbuhl

Building Facade in Dinkelsbuhl



View of Nordlingen from city wall

Another Nordlingen Scene from the city wall

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