Monday, May 27, 2013

Radrunde Allgäu (Around Allgäu)

A high percentage of Germans like to cycle on holiday. Many Germans like to go on holiday in their own country. This is good news for the rest of us as it means tourist authorities all over Germany are hard at work laying out new cycle routes and improving those they have already.  The Allgäu is a area between Baden Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Tyrol, which is much visited by people who want quiet rural holidays. In order to cater for normal cyclists six counties, three provinces: Baden Wuerttemberg, Bavaria and Tyrol, and two countries Austria and Germany have developed an amoeba-like circular route around the Allgäu and incorporated two earlier routes across the middle. The Allgäu is the cheese producing region of Germany, home to thousands of light brown cows with soulful eyes, green meadows, high roofed farmhouses and forests with the Alps in the background. We have cycled along the eastern edge to Füssen on the Romantic Road and written two guide books about the route: "Cycling the Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen" (eBook) available from Smashwords and Amazon.
“The Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen Culture-nature-romance A Cycle Guide from North to South and South to North” available from Bergstrasse Bike Books (
The route is 450km long, mainly tarmac with some hills. The Iller and Allgäu routes cross in Kempten and link the parts of the Allgäu route together. It is due to open on 2 June 2013. Our summer activities are already planned unfortunately, but given the chance I suspect we will go.

The sketch map is taken from the website (in German) which is published by Allgäu GmbH, Gesellschaft für Standort und Tourismus, Allgäuer Straße1, 87435 Kempten, Germany. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Heller's vegetarian restaurant in Mannheim

Vegetarian Restaurants are fairly rare in Germany: Most restaurants can prepare simple dishes though, like boiled veg with Hollandaise sauce. This probably gets a bit boring after a while. There are also a lot of Italian restaurants in the Fatherland who will dash off a cheesy pasta dish or even a vegetarian pizza. It is nice however to be offered a good choice of dishes and if you are following the Rhine either upstream or downstream you can pass through Mannheim. Our recommended routes suggest following the Neckar to Heidelberg (upstream) or from Heidelberg (downstream). In the centre of Mannheim between the Wasserturm and the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) you will find Heller's Restaurant in N7 on the ring. This is a very successful self service vegetarian restaurant. This excellent restaurant  has been going for 25 years offering vegetarian and vegan wholemeal food. They also have a coffee bar at the back offering delicious healthy cakes. The cooks succeed in cooking healthy food that does not taste like healthy food, but like good home cooking from an inspired cook.
Our Rhine upstream e-book guide is available from Smashwords in a range of formats or from Amazon. (Look for Judith Forsyth as author to see all our books.) Our downstream guide is in preparation at the moment.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Bike Hire in Vienna

We are hoping to spend some time in Vienna this summer and intend to hire bikes for a few days. There are 1200 km of bike route in Vienna. Here are the results of our searches. I will report on our experiences. So far we have found the following companies:

Pedal Power, Austellungsstraße 3, 1020 Wien T: 0043 1 7297234, F: 0043 1 7297234, eMail:,

There is a city bike system similar to London and Paris:
Rental charges: The duration of the rental starts with the removal of a Citybike from the bike box and ends when the Citybike is returned to a bike box. The first hour is free, after which a usage fee is charged:
2nd hour: 1 euro per started hour
3rd hour: 2 euros per started hour
4th - 120th hour: 4 euros for each started hour. Flat fee for exceeding the hours or loss of the bike: 600 euros
Obviously it pays to use the bike;  pop it into a dock; play the tourist on foot and then pick up a bike again.

More information under

If you do not wish to register, Pedal Power offers a special service for tourists: You can rent several bikes at the same time with your credit card, without having to register with Citybike.
How to do it: Leave your credit card details with Pedal Power as security in return for the desired number of Citybike tourist maps (one per bike) for the desired duration  - and off you pedal. Map rental fee: 2 euros per day

Citybike Tourist Card at Pedal Power

Bicycle Rental Pedal Power

Ausstellungsstraße 3 
1020   Wien
Radverleih Pedal Power - City Office
Elisabethstraße 13
1010   Wien

I suspect it is slightly cheaper to register.  The one-time registration fee costs 1 euro. It depends how much bike maps cost and how many you need.


Franz Josefs Kai 45; 1010 Wien
Tel/Fax: 00 43 (1) 89 09 682
Skype: viennaexplorer
Facebook: Vienna Explorer – city tours & day trips
Twitter: @ViennaExplorer
The company offers city bikes (€14 a full day) and slightly more expensive trekking bikes (€19 a day). Bikes cannot be hired online.


Herta Aschauer 1210 Wien, Donauinsel / Parkplatz Floridsdorfer Brücke 
The company offers a wide range of bikes, trikes and four wheeled pedalled vehicles. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Swabian Potato Cycle Route

There are a number of culinary bike tours in Europe and we hope to describe some of them over the next few months. We will kick off with the Swabian Potato Cycle Route. It is a 215 km long family-friendly loop south from the Danube in the four districts of Günzburg, Augsburg, Ulm and Neu Ulm through the Allgau Bavarian Swabia. It is hilly in parts.  Ten inns along the route have joined together and each one offers very innovative and interesting potato dishes.
It is a round trip, so you can simply enter where you want. (In German, but the sketch map of the route is understandable whether you speak German or not,)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Youth Hostels

The regular reader of this blog will have noticed that we are fans of Youth Hostels, even though our youth was some time ago. We noticed recently that some German Hostels are now offering one night membership for €2.50, rather than insisting that one takes out annual membership to stop for one night. This is unfortunately only for people 26 and under,  for some hostels and is only for a limited time, but I think it is a pointer to the future. The Swiss Youth Hostels have a similar system for everybody and Dutch Youth Hostels do not demand membership, but offer you a rebate if you are a member.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Basel Cycle plans

We have cycled through Basel fairly often and it is an interesting place to cycle, what with other cyclists, trams and motor cars, lots of motor cars. We are rewriting our Rhine II Basel to Hook of Holland guide as an e-book so I have been doing some research to update our notes. I was interested to read that Basel City has produced a new cycle plan which aims to separate the commuter cyclists and tourists, children etc. ( The link is in German. As well the planners want to ensure that the needs of cyclists are taken into account in new road schemes. When this wonder is going to happen is not clear, but don't hold your breath.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Strasbourg's city bike scheme

As we have recounted before on one of our early trips across Strasbourg there were no cycleways and in order to get away from the traffic we ended up carrying our bikes up steps and over a giant bridge in the harbour. Things are much better these days. There are any number of cycle paths and the city even has signposts pointing to the German town of of Kehl.
One item that could be improved is better rail links to Mannheim and Frankfurt. After a high speed TGV trip from the South of France, it's still necessary to wait for the local train to Offenburg to catch an ICE north. We had an hour between changing trains at the central station a few weeks ago. I checked out Vélhop, the Strasbourg cycle rental scheme which is similar to schemes in Paris, London and major German cities. The bikes seem to be sensible roadsters.

You can pick them up at a number of points in the city both from automatic stations (1 € for an hour or 5 € for 12 hours) using a credit card as ID or from manned stations (one day for 5 € and 15 € for a week  leaving a 150 € deposit and showing ID). The shops offer extras like helmets, baby seats and children's bicycles. There is more information under

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

New Books about Cycling in Europe and on the Romantic Road

We have produced two new e-books.

"Cycling the Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen" available from Smashwords: We have a printed book which is similar but covers the route in both directions. You can order it from us via

"Cycling in Europe" available from Smashwords:
 and from Amazon. Check your local Amazon shop for "Cycling in Europe" on the Kindle site. "Cycling in Europe" is a collection of advice and hints about cycle touring on the continent.

We are in process of writing "Rhine II" Basel to Rotterdam. Here are a few photographs taken on our last research expedition.
Judith hard at work in Zons, an historic village between Cologne and Düsseldorf.

 Neil photographing the harbour quarter in Düsseldorf.
To find out what is in the green baths, visit Düsseldorf or drop us a line via the comments facility.

Friday, May 03, 2013

SPEZI Special Bicycle Show Germersheim 2013

Our impressions and what struck us as being of interest. 
The Spezi 2013 website can be found at:

The exhibition has got larger. There is now a second area for test riding of e-bikes rather than mixing powered and unpowered bikes together on the bus station which is what happened until this year.

New trends: e-bikes, cargo bikes and trikes, pedelec cargo bikes, and trailers. Riese and Müller are aiming to produce more pedelecs than unpowered bikes in the future. Obviously the major trike manufacturers were also represented, but to my not very learned eye the improvements in this area were all detail changes. a transport bike prototype for up to 2 children. The geometry is similar to that of a Brompton, at least for the rider. The weight distribution is designed to avoid doing a wheelie with a child on the back of a bike. This it would appear is a danger with conventional child seating. (Website in English) very stylish cargo bikes, to be expected as they are designed and built in Milan. The basic model is to be seen on the right hand side of the photograph above. (Website in English) practical and stylish bikes including Pedersen bikes and a wide range of cargo bikes. The grey one above is the Filibus. The company does also sell bikes via eBay, but that bit of the website is in German. (in German but with good photos). Manufacturers of children-adult bike linkage and trailers. British distributor: (in German only) Long Harry cargo bike (in German only) interesting cargo bikes. (in Dutch, but take a look) A all weather electric trike similar to the BMW C1. the trike shown above is the basic bike without the bodywork.

A neat Hungarian solar assisted velo car -

Blog Archive