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    • Day 33

      The Donaueschingen Doddle

      September 19, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      Donaueschingen is a lovely township of some 20,000 inhabitants, sitting at an elevation of 700m above sea level. In the winter time, the city is blanketed with a thick carpet of snow, but at this time of the year, the climate is fine and mild - perfect for cycling and sightseeing.

      Donaueschingen is also famous for being situated at the confluence of the Breg and Bregach rivers. Although it is now recognised as the place where the Danube begins, the controversy has raged for a long time as to the true source of the famous river. Most references now regard the Danube river as starting from the Donauquelle Fountain in the centre of the city, although this unassuming small spring hardly looks capable of giving rise to anything more than a modest dribble.

      When we last visited this town during our 2016 Odyssey Ride, we quickly fell in love with the place. Now that we are back 7 years later, I can still feel an attraction for this pretty town and its clean, fresh air. At this time of the year there are almost no tourists, the bike paths are clear and inviting. Even the smoking seems to be far less of a problem here, than it was in every other place we have visited so far.

      Today was a rest day, and we all felt that it was thoroughly deserved after the chaos we experienced on the previous day's train ride from Saarburg. It was wonderful to quietly stroll the steets, enjoy the large park and enjoy a quiet lunch in one of the town's eateries.

      The Danube is not the only thing that starts in this city. The famous long distance bike path (The Donau Radweg) also begins right next to the Donauquelle Fountain. Tomorrow we will climb on our new bikes and head out of the city along that route.
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    • Day 4

      4. Etappe

      April 13, 2023 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 7 °C

      4. Etappe
      Löhningen - Schleitheim - Aachdorf - Donaueschingen
      42km, 750hm
      Die heutige Königsetappe führt uns nach Deutschland, durch verlassene Gegenden bis zum Ursprung der Donau. Das Wetter lässt uns etwas im Stich, es ist eisig kalt und regnerisch. Doch alles ist eine Sache der Einstellung… das haben uns Nino und Anik heute gelernt.Read more

    • Day 32

      Trains and Trains and Pains

      September 18, 2023 in Germany ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      After our brief time in Saarburg, it was time for us to all to move on. Ken Lister would be taking 15 of our riders and heading to Passau to begin a week long ride from Passau to Vienna, while I would be heading with a group of 8 riders to Donaueschingen to begin a series of extended rides in Germany, Switzerland and France. There would also be four others who would be returning to Australia.

      After spending so many happy moments together, such partings are always difficult. Last night there were many hugs and farewells as the reality of the moment hit home. The Ken Lister team (let's call them the A Team) had the earliest start. In fact it was so early that they had to miss breakfast. It was just as well they did not know in advance just how exhausting their day was going to be.

      My team (the B Team) had a slightly more leisurely start (ie we were able to have breakfast), but at 8.45 am we began the walk to Saarburg Station. In order to get from Saarburg to Donaueschingen, we had to successfully navigate between four train journeys, all of them with quite short changeover times. What could possibly go wrong ?

      The first step went according to the plan. We even managed to find space for our luggage. The train ran on schedule and we arrived at Saarbrucken with time to catch the next train to Kaiserslautern. Here the transit time was very short 7 minutes, constituting a mad panic run from one platform to another.

      When we boarded the next train to Karlsruhe, we thought the worst was behind us. It wasn't. Even though we had prebooked 1st class seats on that leg, we clambered onto the train, only to find that strangers had commandeered our seats and refused to move. This threw all of us into a state of confusion (it doesn't take much to do that), and we found that we were soon spread over two carriages, with our luggage jammed into any space we could find. David found a comfy place lying on the staircase, I think Maggie found a seat in the toilet, and the rest were sitting on their luggage or on each other's knees. It was not a pleasant journey.

      Surely the worst was now behind us ? Actually it wasn't. We had thought that the final 2 hour ride to Donaueschingen would be quiet and peaceful. We did not anticipate that we would be soundly abused as soon as we set foot in the carriage.

      In the entry to the carriage the only seats left were occupied by two bicycles, While I am an avid supporter of cycling, it did seem a little unfair that these bikes actually took up 8 seats and left us all standing. I proceeded to rearrange the bikes so that they would take up less room. It was an obvious solution to an overcrowded train. I did not realise that it would provoke an outburst from the elderly (and obviously unhinged) owner of one of the bikes.

      With an overwhelming sense of righteous indignation, I explained to the guy that we were not taking any notice of him, and that he would be wise to mind his own business. Even so, we still had our team uncomfortably crammed in with suitcases and sitting on tiny fold down seats.

      It was not until well into the trip that the carriage emptied enough for everyone to more or less find a proper seat. The irate bike owner never did come back for his bike (a fact that I was very happy with) and the final hour of the trip took us through magnificent mountain scenery with a long succession of tunnels.

      We arrived at our destination at around 3.15 pm and went in search of coffee and cake to settle our nerves. In the meantime we had been regularly checking on the progress of Team A. We learned that their trip had been even more horrendous than ours. It looked like the train company had sold twice as many tickets as the available number of seats, leaving them sitting on the floor of the train. The train toilets were blocked and overflowing. It was a truly ugly scene. No wonder they were all completely exhausted when they finally arrived at Passau late in the afternoon.

      At least we had a very pleasant surprise waiting for us when we arrived at our hotel - the bikes that would be our transportation for the next few days. They were bright red ebikes made by Velo du Ville, with Bosch motors and batteries. They looked brand new, and certainly rode extremely well. Carol immediately fell in love with hers, and decided that David will need to purchase one for her the moment they arrive back in Australia.

      Tomorrow is a free day to recover from the travel trauma, before we begin cycling the upper reaches of the Danube.
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    • Day 1

      An der Donau

      July 22, 2023 in Germany ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

      Heute nach langer Zugfahrt gut in Donaueschingen angekommen (wobei das Problem nicht die ICE waren sondern die vollen Regionalzüge)
      Schöner Stadtspaziergang zur offiziellen Donauquelle..Musikerbrunnen Schloß,Stadtkirche..gutes Abendessen und AbschlusseisRead more

    • Day 25


      August 14, 2015 in Germany ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

      Vendredi, 14 août 2015
      Nous avons de nouveau prévu 260km pour aujourd'hui. Depuis l'autoroute, nous voyons une pub pour le village de Besigheim, village du vin et des maisons à colombages. Nous voulions déjà acheter du vin de Franken à Würzburg, mais n'avons pas trouvé de vigneron ayant pignon sur rue. Ici nous trouvons effectivement un très beau village et un caveau qui propose un grand choix de nectares, non plus de Franken mais de Würthenberg. Nous atteignons notre lieu d'étape, Donaueschingen, vers 15.30h, juste à temps pour encore avoir une place sur la camper-platz de la ville. Nous allons visiter ce joli bourg, son château(de l'extérieur), la pseudo-source du Danube (en chantier), l'église et l'hôtel "Linde". Au dernier, on nous a servi un très bon souper, dans une ambiance très cosy. Le wifi du resto nous a permis de nous mettre à jour et de reprendre contact avec amis et enfants.Read more

    • Day 13

      First Class Lunch in ICE

      September 6, 2016 in Germany ⋅ 13 °C

      Tuesday September 6th
      In Which we Enjoy a First Class Lunch with ICE

      Our Bruges to Amsterdam Cycle Adventure was always intended to be the prologue (warm up) to our main event - following the Danube from Donaueschingen to Budapest. It turned out to serve this function perfectly. We could not have wished for better weather or a more memorable guide to usher us along our way.

      The first leg of our adventure finished in Amsterdam, the city of higgledy piggledy houses, bicycles, canals and legal drugs. While we were there it was also home to untold thousands of partying uni students, celebrating the start of the University year. Although I do love the unique character of this city, I was getting keen to leave the crowds behind and resume our ride through the quiet paths and back roads of Europe.

      In order to get from Amsterdam to Donaueschingen we needed to take three train journeys.

      But before we could do that we needed to all get to Amsterdam Central Station. I asked the staff at the Wiechmann Hotel to organise three large taxis for us. We then piled all our suitcases outside the front door to wait for our transport.
      Right on time the first Mercedes Benz taxi van arrived and five of our team and a veritable mountain of luggage was jammed in the back. A couple of minutes later a similar van pulled up and the driver smiled and asked us to climb inside. As the first were climbing in, the man from the hotel came out and warned us that this was NOT our taxi. It was just a driver who could smell a good fare. We thanked our hotel man for keeping his eye out for us.

      The second taxi arrived a few minutes later (the correct one this time) and we started to climb inside. The driver insisted that we would not need the third taxi because it was bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. Although I doubted how we could possibly all (about 7 of us)get in the one taxi, somehow we managed and we were on our way.

      One of the hazards of driving in Amsterdam is that the streets are not only always crammed with cyclists, but they are also only about 3 metres wide.

      Any delivery van that stops to drop or collect goods immediately blocks that street completely. We discovered that most deliveries must take place at 9 am as we were forced to make one diversion after another. Fortunately we still arrived at the station with a little time to spare. This was a pity as Maggie and Gael immediately saw an opportunity to go shopping. They disappeared out of sight and left Gerry and I stranded with their luggage.

      The last time we were at this station Maggie got lost looking for the toilet, and it soon began to look like this time she had got lost looking for a handbag to buy. All the rest of the team went to the platform to board our train. Gerry and I looked at the clock. No sign of the women. Panic started to rise as the minute hand of the large clock raced around towards departure time. Eventually Maggie appeared out of the crowd with a smile on her face and a large new handbag under her arm. I wondered where she was going to pack that for the rest of our adventure.

      Since the price between second class and first class on the ICE trains was not very much I had persuaded the group to let me buy first class tickets for the long journey. "It will be great, lots of room for our luggage and free food", I promised them. I remembered back to the great first class service we had had on previous Thalys trips and I assumed that the high speed ICE train would give just the same level of service.

      It doesn't.

      Although the seats were spacious, there was basically no storage space for luggage apart from the racks high over your head. I wondered how elderly people (a bit like us) would manage to lift heavy luggage without assistance. Somehow we all managed to cram our bags in aisles, racks, doorways, in fact everywhere but the driver's cockpit and settled down to a hot lunch on the train. We were wasting our time - there was no service. Well that is not quite true we did each get handed a tiny packet about 3 cm square containing 5 sour lollies. That was lunch ! I wondered what those in second class got.

      Although I thought we could enjoy the Internet on the train, apparently that wasn't working either. On top of our disappointment an announcement came over the speakers that the train was already running 10 minutes late after the first hour. Since we only had a 20 minutes gap between trains at Frankfurt, I was starting to worry that we could be in trouble.

      The driver finally found the throttle and managed to get the speed up to near 300 kph and we did make up a little of the lost time. We saw little of Frankfurt as we dashed from train to train, although we were by now so hungry that I would have enjoyed a frankfurt.

      The second ICE train was not much better than the first. The afternoon tea (or was it dinner) was the same sour lollies. No coffee, not even water. No storage space. But at least it did take us to Offenburg on time. By now we had been in transit for nearly all day and were all getting near the end of our stamina. We still had one train trip to go to take us the final leg to Donaueschingen. This turned out to be the real highlight of the day.

      We watched as the train climbed steadily into the Black Forest, passing through a number of long tunnels and crossing a ridge at near 1000 metres above sea level. It was a welcome contrast to the flatness of Holland and Belgium. The rolling high meadows were spotted with grazing cows and steep roofed homes. I thought it looked very Swiss in appearance and could almost imagine Julie Andrews dancing over the mountains singing "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music". It was that type of countryside.

      We finally rolled into the small station at Donaueschingen around 6 pm and formed a peloton of luggage pullers to find our way to the Hotel Zum Hirschen. We soon crossed the beautiful Brigach River, one of the two rivers that combine here to form the Danube ("The Donau"). It really felt like our true adventure was about to start.

      First impressions of the town were very positive. It was quiet, clean and neat Numerous signs reminded us that most things are "verboten", the rest are "absoluten verboten". This was another contrast to the easy going nature of the Netherlands, where just about everything is completely legal.

      We found our hotel, checked into our rooms and then looked for a place to eat. Due to some confusion over time zones we somehow ended up going to two different restaurants, but that was OK as everyone was very pleased with their meals.

      After a very long day we all headed to bed early. Tomorrow we can explore the town and get to meet the bikes that will carry us to Passau.
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    • Day 14

      We all get Castigated

      September 7, 2016 in Germany ⋅ 15 °C

      Wednesday September 7th
      In Which we all get Castigated

      There is no doubt that Donaueschingen is a beautiful little town in a beautiful part of the Black Forest, situated at a significant location at the start of the Danube River. Well actually that is not quite true. The actual start of the Danube has been argued over for centuries. The residents higher up the Brigach River maintain that the true start of the Danube is at the start of the Brigach. The residents of Donaueschingen have made an industry out of claiming that the source of the Danube is a little limestone spring in the centre of their town. The argument has never been entirely settled and that is why distances along the Danube are still always measured from the mouth of the river, not from its beginning.

      Today was a free day before the riding resumes and we head out from Donaueschingen towards Budapest. We all spent a lazy day wandering the town and exploring walks along the shady riverbanks. This really would be an easy place to fall in love with, however there is one drawback that would have to be addressed. The locals seem to be a rather prickly lot with definite ideas of the correct way of doing just about everything.

      This first sign of extreme Germanic discipline occurred at breakfast. Although breakfast was supposed to be from 7 am to 10 am, when Maggie arrived at 9 am, the tables were already stripped bare and the food was securely locked away out of sight. When she commented that she hadn't eaten yet, it was met with a stern look of disapproval and a reprimand that she "should have come when everyone else did". They do not tolerate individuals here.

      The same theme was repeated in various variations throughout the day and just about everyone in the group ended up incurring someone's wrath at some time. We really didn't mean to be such trouble makers, but we are just not used to being regimented like that.

      One aspect of the entire trip so far that I need to comment on is the weather. From the moment we landed in Europe we have had absolutely perfect weather every day. This applied for our entire Bruges to Amsterdam ride and has continued right to the start of our stage 2 in Germany. In fact the forecast for the next few days also appears to promise us the same sort of conditions. This has helped to reinforce my opinion that September is absolutely the best time to travel in Europe.

      This morning we also had a chance to try out the bikes that we will be taking as far as Passau. This is always a slightly stressful time as each person assesses whether or not they have been supplied a lemon. I am happy to report that the initial assessment of the bikes was excellent. Not only are they almost new, but they have high quality Schwalbe Marathon tyres, computers, good brakes, great range of gears, good seats and, most important of all, they are all bright red. I am confident that they are ideally suited to the sort of riding that lies ahead of us.

      Since we were all supplied with free entry tickets to some impressive sounding exhibition, and since I am never one to pass up a bargain, I found myself walking to an impressive looking 4 story building that apparently housed an "amazing collection". I handed my free pass to the fraulein at the door and soon discovered that I was the only visitor. After a few minutes I realised why the crowds had stayed away. The collection consisted of thousands of dusty looking and musty smelling rocks and fossils, hundreds of sad looking stuffed animals and some rather weird "art displays" that most people would have to be paid to go to see.
      The ancient floors creaked loudly with each footfall and the whole place gave me the urge to leave from the moment I entered. It was not a place that I would recommend as a "must see", rather I would put it in the "best avoided" category.

      Our dinner this evening was at our own hotel. This of course gave us further opportunity to upset the management. They were obviously not pleased to find out that some of our riders had the temerity to be vegetarians (even though they had been notified of this in advance). Apparently it is "absoluten verboten" not to eat meat in this town. There was much rolling of eyes, waving of hands and exclamations of Germanic disgust at this terrible inconvenience, but somehow they managed to reluctantly produce some vegetarian dishes after all.

      After dinner we tried to order coffee, but this seemed to also cause problems with the staff, along with just about everything else we did or said. We were starting to feel like a bunch of naughty schoolchildren who had been kept in after school. When some tried to pay their drinks bill they were told that "they could NOT pay until after coffee". We couldn't take a trick. I was almost on the verge of feeling guilty (almost but not quite).

      An early night coming up, followed by an early start in the morning.
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    • Day 2

      Start in Donaueschingen

      May 28, 2018 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 14 °C

      Erst mal aus dem Bahnhof rausgekämpft keinen Fahrstuhl....... Anschließend ein super Frühstück.
      Dann ging es direkt zur Donau Quelle.
      Nach Fotodokumentation ging es dann immer den blau gelb weißen Donau Deutschland Schildern folgend Richtung Tuttlingen.
      Zwischendurch bei einer Baubrücke Fahrrad Schultern........
      In Tuttlingen kurzer Stopp ...
      Von Tuttlingen ging es weiter nach Fridingen. Vorbei an den Donauversunkungen.....Manchmal führt die Donau im Sommer kein Wasser alles im Boden..
      Hinter Fridingen kleiner Stopp an einem richtig gemütlichen Radlertreff.
      Direkt nach dem Most ging es hoch. Der schwierigste Teil des Donauradweg folgte. Immer wieder kleine steile Anstiege. Es summiert sich auf 550 HM. Der letzte direkt vor Sigmaringen...
      Unser Hotel zur Traube direkt am Schloß. Leider erwischte uns 200m vor dem Hotel doch noch das erwartete Schauer.....
      Nach Medaillons und Prosecco im Zimmer geschlafen ........
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Donaueschingen, دوناوشينغن, Донауешинген, Донауэшинген, دوناشینگن, ドナウエッシンゲン, Doneschinga, 多瑙艾辛根

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