Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bavarian pleasures

Today was our first day cycling with Wayne, who I'm pleased to report is in fine shape. This morning Serge drove the van ahead to Höchstädt and then took the train back and met us at Günzburg, and Wayne and I cycled from Ulm to Günzburg. Our morning ride included one memorable trail through a forest that turned into a daredevil mountain bike track, complete with some very steep slopes and stairs which, discretion being the better part of valor, we walked through. After a quick lunch, we met Serge in Günzburg and we cycled together to Höchstädt, in Bavaria, where we're staying for the night at a lovely little inn run by a young family, complete with a garden in which we enjoyed some excellent Bavarian beer and authentic pretzels after our ride. Dinner at the inn, cooked by the husband (who learned the trade in Munich) was fabulous, including fresh local white asparagus, and freshly killed deer (Serge ran it over on his bicycle - just kidding, it was from the local forest and apparently, and luckily for us, can only be killed in May).

The highlights of the day were the village of Dillingen, very picturesque, with a church dating back to 1510, which had an absolutely magnificent interior, including what looked like original woodwork, and later in the day, near Höchstädt, what looked like an enchanted forest , with tall arrow straight trees covered in vines, looking (and feeling) like something out of the Jurassic era.

Tomorrow is Christi Himmelfahrt, a major holiday here, which is Ascension day, and people have what look like Christmas trees mounted on top of 50-75 foot decorated wooden poles from which the bark has been peeled off, and the lower portion decorated with ornaments. They are like Christmas trees on steroids, can be seen from quite a distance and are quite impressive.

One of the things which is striking about Germany is the cleanliness apparent everywhere, and how well all of the homes are maintained. It's a pleasure pedaling through the various villages with lovely, well-maintained homes and gardens. The Danube here has become wider and it seems more active, but it's still a muddy brown color, and certainly doesn't look very inviting. However that doesn't seem to bother the multitude of ducks (and swans).

Tomorrow the odyssey continues.

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