Saturday, March 31, 2012

Middle-Northern Black Forest Cycle Route

Or to give the route its German title Naturpark Radweg Schwarzwald Mitte Nord is a 260 km (160 mile) cycle route with a total climb of 1800 metre (5850 feet) designed to be cycled by normal relatively unfit cyclists in four to six days. In addition those not equipped with muscles like Eddy Merckxx can hire pedelec e-bikes that give a boost on the hills. These can be hired along this circular cycle route and there are battery charging stations in cafés, restaurants and pubs giving you the chance to charge your own batteries while your bike's batteries are being topped up. There is more information on  (in German, but don't forget Google Translator) and you can contact the Black Forest tourist authority:

Schwarzwald Tourismus GmbH
Ludwigstraße 23
D- 79104 Freiburg
phone: +49 761 89646 0
fax: +49 761 89646 70

The website offers a GPS track for the route. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Useful Links for cyclists touring in Germany

I read a blog today about route finding for cyclists in Germany. Somehow the authors managed to miss out our favourite links and some useful websites. Just to make up for the missing pearls:

Two from us: We are not being immodest. They do offer a lot of information about cycling in Alsace, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

If you need to take a train with your bike then our contribution to the AtoB website ( could be of interest. Maxa and Tim Burley's website with the distilled wisdom of over a decade's cycling in the Fatherland. An excellent review of cycling facilities in Germany. The German National Tourist
Office's website has extensive descriptions of the major signposted cycling routes in Germany. lets you plan cycle routes in North Rhine Westphalia.  lets you plan cycle routes in Rhineland Palatinate, not only in its wine country.

We mentioned the joys of cycling in Saarland recently on this blog: lets you plan cycle routes in Hesse. offers information about cycling in Lower Saxony. offers info about cycling in the North of Germany and into Denmark. gives details of tours in NE Germany. offers info about cycling in Saxony.

Unfortunately the tourist authorities of the province of Saxony Anhalt are of the opinion that only Germany speakers are interested in cycling there: .

We just returned from a week in Thuringia and can heartily recommend it. There is some information under to be found offers information about cycling in the province of Saxony.

The Brandenburg Tourist Office's website ( offers a compact description of the major cycle tourist routes in the province.

Berlin offers a lot to the cyclist:  and

Bavaria is not only a very big province, it offers a wide range of cycle routes:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thüringer Bratwurst, the coda

The day after our trip to Gotha, we climbed to the summit of Inselberg. On the way we met a German couple who told us that the best bratwurst in the area were to be found at the kiosk by the Klein Inselberg Hotel just down from the summit. We wandered down there and each tried one with a beer. They were good bratwurst, but not traditional Thüringer. We will have to go back to Thüringen to walk the Rennsteig again and hunt for that elusive creature, the Thüringer Bratwurst. It's not such a bad idea either. Perhaps we could fire up the mountain bikes to do some serious climbing?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Food is often named after the place it was originally made. You only need think of foods like Cheddar, Stilton, Bordeaux, Wiener (from Wien - Vienna), Hamburger or Frankfurter. I don't really know whether a Hamburger comes from the city.
In Germany a Thüringer Bratwurst is often just called a Thüringer. I remember eating one about 30 years ago in Ostheim, formerly a Thuringian enclave in Bavaria, that was transferred to Bavaria in 1945, i.e. the only place in West Germany that sold genuine Thüringer. Heaven! In my view,  it should be a finger thick sausage filled with coarsely ground meat mixed with spices and taste great.
A few weeks ago we went to our local shopping centre on a Friday to visit the weekly Farmers' Market and wandered in the centre afterwards. To our surprise we found a travel exhibition showcasing various regions of Germany,  Holland and Luxembourg. Every one of the dozen or so stands  apart from one offered information about cycling holidays. Cycling is now a major holiday activity in Germany and for the Germans.  Thüringia was represented by the Hotel Frauenberg in Tabarz, SW of Gotha ( (in German)). The hotel in partnership with two other hotels farther east offers self-guided walking holidays along the Rennsteig, a 168 Km (100 mile ±) trail along a ridge through the Thüringer Wald (Thuringian Forest). We knew a bit about the Rennsteig. It had been divided into three by the Iron Curtain and for many years one could only walk the section in Franconia. Much of the rest of the route was in a 5km restricted zone near to the inner German border in the Communist German Democratic Republic. The route was reopened after the fall of the wall. We've thought for some years that it would be a good walk.  We booked a week in the Frauenburger.  We had four days of walking along the Rennsteig. We were taken to the Rennsteig each morning and picked up in the evening. Every night we ate a magnificent three course meal in the hotel's restaurant, but did not see a trace of the German contender for that king of the bratwurst race, the Thüringer.
After a few days walking we had finished our 40 km chunk of the Rennsteig and decided to take a day off to visit Gotha. We were looking forward to seeing the town and I was looking forward to eating a Thüringer at a stand in the town. We took the ancient tram in the morning from Tabarz to Gotha.
Gotha was spared destruction in WWII and by the GDR planners. The town centre is the kind of  architectural entity that causes modern town planners sleepless nights trying to recreate the effect. (Eat your heart out Poundbury!)  Speaking of the British Royal Family, Gotha town centre lies at the foot of a hill crowned by Friedenstein Castle, owned by the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family, who married their way into all the royal families of Europe including the British. Both Victoria and Albert were members of the clan.
After a wander round the town it was a bit early for a bratwurst, so we walked up to see the castle to look at the rooms, the furniture, the paintings, the theatre and the extensive collections of  artistic handicrafts (of no use, but wonderfully well made). After two or three hours of Dürer, Cranach and carved ivory we were not to put it finely cultured out and left to hit the Market Square and the long awaited Thüringer. I could smell it, almost taste it. We rounded the corner and I saw, to my horror, the  stand was in process of being closed up. What could we do? We were then lucky to find something savoury for lunch. Unusually for modern Germany the shops in Gotha close early on a Saturday starting at 12:00. This is something to watch out for when cycle touring.
The only consolation for the lack of Thüringer was that we were due to walk up the Inselberg (913m) the next day and I had noticed a sign offering genuine original Thüringer as we climbed over the hill on our way along the Rennsteig. There was still a good chance I could sink my teeth into a Thüringer, before we left the province.
There is a cycle tour along the route of the Rennsteig, running along it in part and then crisscrossing it later on, before dropping to the end. It is a serious route, 199km long with steep climbs and descents on unsealed roads, more for a mountain bike than a road bike. There are easier routes in Thuringia:
The long distance cycle route Thüringer Stadtkette (Thuringian Pearls). It's a fairly flat 225 km from Eisenach to Altenburg.
The Werra Valley Cycle route (300 km ±)
There is one for geologically minded souls around the Harz Mountains which offers 400 km of easy cycling.
There is more information on and route planning on

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Forest clean up

We picked up litter again today. Viernheim organised its annual clean up of the approach roads and woods. About 150 people from amongst others the German St John's, the volunteer fire brigade, the THW- the emergencies and civil defense organisation, but none of the walking clubs (odd!) turned up to help clean up.We are both amazed by the idleness of folk who drop litter by a litter bin. Presumably they're thinking when the team come to pick up litter from the bins they have only have to bend down to pick up a bit more. At this point they can go home with a clear conscience. No way, José. The oddest thing we found was a one metre piece of railway line. There were a lot of schnapps bottles to be found as well. Jägermeister is very popular with visitors to the woods.
We picked up a lot of snotty but dry paper handkerchiefs today, so the next time you blow your nose underway and throw the wet soggy piece of paper in to the bushes thinking "It's organic, it'll rot down", it will. However it takes a year or two to complete the cycle and in between times your action does not beautify the woods or bushes. It looks dreadful. Pop them in a poly bag and take them home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saarland Radweg (Cycle Route)

The Saarland Radweg is a circular route that runs for 356 km near to the borders of the province with France, Luxembourg and Rhineland Palatinate, another German province. It is billed as being a medium to sporty run. I've looked at the profile and can well believe this. There are at least 1300 m of climbs to be expected.
The Saarland lies within easy reach of Hahn and Luxembourg airports. In addition the TGVs that connect Paris and Luxemburg take bicycles, but you will need to reserve bicycle slots. There are only 8 per train. There are no bicycle slots on the TGVs that run to Frankfurt.
It is a suggestion if you need something to do over the long weekend when the Queen celebrates her 60th Jubilee.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Picking up litter!

We have written before about the annual forest clean up in Viernheim. Once annually the town asks the clubs, societies and private individuals to take part in this event and it surprising what is found. The litter ranges from engine blocks, truck batteries to innumerable bottles. There must be many a drinker driving round Viernheim who tosses his empty miniature bottle of digestive into the bushes on the bypass as they drive home.
We have helped for years to battle the litter louts and were asked this year help supervise a group of school kids from the Froebel Junior School here in Viernheim. There were 320 little litter pickers and we helped two teachers lead 75 kids through the bushes in search of hidden treasures. The most difficult problem was explaining why people dumped old clothes on the edge of town rather than using the used clothing bins belonging to the Red Cross or similar organisation, or why so many empty bottles?

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The Saarland is the super small German province in the west of Germany bordering France. It was under French administration until 1957 after a referendum in 1955 when it returned to Germany.  One third of the land area of the Saarland is covered by forest, one of the highest percentages in Germany. The state is hilly; the highest mountain is the Dollberg  (695.4 m), but the River Saar forms a major flat valley from the south to the northwest almost along the western edge of the province. Most inhabitants live in the area around the capital, Saarbrücken. This means it very interesting for cyclists and the province is making great efforts to attract cyclists with good routes and excellent pre-booked cycling holidays. See One of my favourite routes is to follow the Saar Coal Mine Canal into France, over the Vosges and then visit Strasbourg. The Saarland Tourist Office offers a tour from Trier along the Moselle, the Saar, the aforementioned Saar Coal Mine Canal and the Rhine-Rhone Canal to Strasbourg. Our Riesling Route book also follows the  Rhine-Rhone Canal to Strasbourg. Well worth doing!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Cycling Route through the Black Forest

We went to two walking and cycle touring exhibitions recently. The first in Stuttgart at the CMT a massive camping,  caravanning and tourism show. This is held annually in January and on the first weekend one giant hall is dedicated to walkers and cyclists. We picked up a fair amount of information on outdoor holidays in Germany and will pass this on to our readers over the next few weeks.
The  other exhibition was much smaller. It was held in our local shopping centre (mall), but interestingly enough almost all of the exhibitors featured cycling.
One of the stands that caught our eye was a description of the Black Forest Panoramic Cycling Route between Pforzheim and Waldshut-Tiengen on the Rhine and the Swiss border. It is 280km (142 miles) long and is hilly in parts. More information is to be found under (in German - but there is always Google-Translator). There are tours with prebooking and baggage transport to be had.

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