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Sunday, August 29, 2010

On the way home...

We have left Bamberg and are on the train to Frankfurt, where we'll fly home in the morning.

All I all it was a great trip. I'll post some more pictures after I'm back home.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back Home in Bamberg

We rode the 20km in Aschaffenburg (for a total of 354 km) and then caught the train back to Bamberg, where they have real beer.

I have to go drink beer, but I'll explain the first picture: This was a wild hop vine growing up a tree in the forest. There was a whole row of them -- I was wondering about the green berries until I realized they were hop cones.

Some huge palace like building as we rolled into Aschaffenburg -- have to google to figure out what it is. I'm pretty sure it's not a brewery.

The bikes outside Aschaffenburg Main Station. They are building a huge new station -- looks like there will be a shopping mall included (but no brewery as far as we could tell)

Bikes on the train back to Bamberg.

First good beer in a while -- on the way from the Bamberg train station to our apartments we passed right by Brauerei Fässla -- couldn't pass that up.

Back outside the apartment in Judenstrasse.


Schlenkerla!  It missed us while we were away.

We went next door to Ambräusianum for their Helles. It was very cloudy and yeasty yet quite good.

Finally! Beer Heaven at Special Keller. Great View, Great Food, Great People and most of all, Great Beer.

I love this tradition of showing when your mug is empty and requesting a refill.

Tomorrow (Friday) will be a bit of a rest day, but I am sure there will be some beer consumed. Stay tuned for details.... (no film at 11, though)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day Five of the tour: Kreuzwertheim to Obernburg

Well, with the headwinds yesterday and today we didn't quite make it all the way to Aschaffenburg, but stopped 20 km short in Obernburg. We still made 60km thru mostly wooded areas along the Main. We did stop for lunch in Miltenberg at the most excellent Brauhaus Faust -- which along with Martinsbräu in Marktheidenfeld were the gems of the trip, beer wise. More words in the morning...

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day Four of the tour: Gemünden to Kreuzwertheim (Updated)

Shortly after leaving Gemünden, we saw a line across the bike path with a stone marker. Turns out it was the 50th Parallel. So we stopped to take some pictures. We were headed south at the time so we actually crossed it going north yesterday but didn't see any indication.

Tuesday is actually a bad day to be riding in this area -- there are three breweries we passed that are closed on Tuesdays. So we didn't stop much for beer. But I did take some "postcard" photos so you have something to look at. This is a church that was across the river. For some reason a canal freighter was docked out in front.

And a little further down the river a castle on the hill overlooking a village.

As we road into Marktheidenfeld we could see the Martins Bräu brewery in the distance. In the foreground is a small circus that was in town.

When riding thru Marktheidenfeld we saw a place named "Bräustubla" so it seemed a good place to stop for lunch. They had a bike rack but it didn't work too well with small wheels.

The had Martins Pils and Dunkles on draft. I had the Pils, the others the Dunkles. The Pils was pretty much what I've come to expect in this region. The Dunkles was very good with a nice roasty finish,

They also had a bottled Märzen so we tried one for desert. It tasted very much like the Pils despite the color.

Once we left Marktheidenfeld we passed some vineyards. I didn't take any pictures of them in the previous area, so I stopped for some here. A lot of serious work had been done in the terracing and it looked quite old.

We decided to stay in Kreuzwertheim, a little shorter (60km) than usual. First, there were really strong headwinds the last 30km or so and we were tired. A the next town with with hotels seemed be 20 km farther which seemed a bit too far.

Kreuzwertheim has one of those "closed on Tuesday" breweries, only it turns out they are on holiday until Sept 7. I don't know if that makes me happy or sad, I guess I'm glad I didn't try to reschedule things so we were here on a Wednesday.

Our hotel had Kauzen beer from Ochsenfurt which we had just tasted two nights ago. But they had the Pils which we haven't had. We did and it was blah.

They did have the Weissbier as well, only not the cool glasses. No matter, the beer was still good.

We went for a walk thru the village and noticed this nightclub looking place. The had a sign for the local beer (Spessart) and the door was open so we went in. The place was empty -- literally -- because the bartender was out the back on a smoke break. I don't think he expected customers then, certainly not folks like us.

He only has bottled beer in the summer so we had a Spessart Pils and a Dunkleweizen from Lohrer Bräu (sold under the Keiler name). We had passed Lohr on the other side of the river today, but it is a large brewery with no tap room so we didn't make a detour.

The Pils was very good -- the best of the trip so far. I was doubly disappointed we didn't have a chance to taste it on draft. The wheat beer as OK but not as good as the Kauzen.

Walking back to the hotel we passed the most interesting store I've seen in a long time. They sell carnivorous plants (the sign translates as "meat eating plants." They are only open Friday from 2-6pm or "by appointment." My guess is most of the business is mail order/internet, but I'm not putting any sensitive body party near any strange plants until we are well out of town!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Day Three of the tour: Ochsenfurt to Gemünden

Since the bridge over the Main is being rebuild, the town of Ochsenfurt has sponsored a ferry just a bit downstream from where the bridge was. It is for pedestrians and bicyclists only. Cost for a bike is 50 cents. We road up just as the ferry was leaving with a large load of cyclists.

We were the only cyclists on our voyage.

Once on the other side we made good time -- it was cool but still humid. Then came the first few drops then more and finally it was a full fledged rainstorm. We were in a park and managed to find shelter under a some trees (with a few other cyclists). Whenever there was a lull we'd ride a bit. We came to bridge were there appeared to be the annual meeting of the local cyclists club -- at least that is the way it looked with all the bikes parked underneath the bridge.

Finally the rain let up enough that we decided it was time to push on. As we pass thru Würzburg we looked for a place to stop for beer and/or coffee. I'm sure there were plenty of places open in town but everyplace along the bike path was not yet open. This continued for quite a while. Monday must be a popular rest day ("Ruhetag") in these parts.

Finally about 1:30pm in the village of Himmelheim we pasted a place just off the bike path that was open -- Biergarten "Down Town." It was sort of a permanent tent, done up in a Western (US) theme - wagon wheels and old wooden junk scattered about. The beer was Würzbuger Hofbräu Pils, And at Schnitzel with fries was just €4.50, so we were watered and fed.

We continued on and when we reached Gemünden we decided to stop for the day. It was 68km or so (my GPS lost satellite track a few times while we waited under a bridge) in about 4:30 hours of riding. A little slower pace, but the rain made for slower going.

Our hotel sold beer from Schlappesepple in Aschaffenburg -- it used to be a brewery but now the beers are contract brewed someplace else. Didn't matter, we were thirsty. I had the Pils, the others the Dunkles. The Dunkles was better. If you had called the Pils a "Helles" or even "Lager" I would probably have liked it better -- something with "Pils" in the name should have some hops.

We wandered about the town looking for a place to eat and settled on the Ratsschenke -- fresh Steinpilze (Stone mushrooms) was the clincher. The beers were Würzburger Hofbräu Pils and Werner Landbier. Tom had the Pils and my dad and I the Landbier. The Landbier followed what seems to the pattern around here -- well made (nothing significantly wrong) just sort of bland. Beer number two for me was the Pils.

Tomorrow is an if-y day. It should be nice riding weather if the rain stays away. But we are feeing worn and my bike is making some noises that I hope are just mud in the wrong places but I may have the bike shop across the way take a look.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day Two of the tour: Wipfeld to Ochsenfurt (updated)

To cross the Main at Wipfeld you take a ferry. It is run by the community and a bike costs 50 cents (including the rider). A car is €2. I don't see how they make any money but it was quaint. We passed 3 or 4 more ferries as the day went by.

Somebody complained that there weren't enough pictures of the countryside, so here is one I took of some swans cruising by at a quiet spot on the river.

The route was much hillier than yesterday. No great big ones, just lots of steady rises. By 11am we reached the village of Sommerach and there was a gasthaus with tables outside and a beer I hadn't tasted, so we stopped for a "freshener."

The brewery was Distelhäuser and they only had a Pils on draft there. It was better than the Roth Pils and not as good as the Krautheimer Pils we'd had the day before. It was well made but lacking.

By 12:30 or so we were feeling kind of peckish so we started looking for a place for lunch. We came to the village of Mainsondheim and found a very nice gasthaus but all the outside tables were reserved or taken and there were people waiting, so we rode on. It may have been a mistake. We soon found another place and grabbed a table. Our Kesselring PIls came quite quickly (again, well made but not that interesting) but the food took forever.

Back on the trail we soon passed Marktsteft (home of Kesselring) and were supposed to cross the river at Marktbreit according to my bike map. There was a new bridge under construction but an old foot bridge beside it and you could see people crossing. But when we road up towards the bridge the road was seriously blocked -- huge chain link fences. The alternate route on the map was to stay on this side but it was along a highway marked "heavy traffic." While we were pondering what to do, a large group (20+) of cyclists headed towards the bridge and we decided to tag along in case they knew something we didn't. They didn't. They sent a few people out to investigate while the others just stood around. We started talking and when they asked us where we were headed, they said to reach Ochsenfurt there was a bike path on this side of the river. So we bade them farewell and headed for Ochsenfurt.

It turned it is was probably a good thing -- when we reached Ochsenfurt their bridge was closed as well. There were alternate routes marked but it would made for lots of backtracking.

Our optimistic goal was Würzburg -- another 80 km but the combination of hills, heat, humidity and the delay at lunch had slowed us down, so we decided to stop at Ochsenfurt -- 20 km short.

As we were riding down the main drag in the old town, I saw a hotel with a "Zimmer Frei" (rooms available) sign and this out front:

It seemed a good omen so we stopped and booked a room. Shortly we were back outside tasting the kellerbier

It is from one of the two local breweries Kauzen and again it was well made but not up to the standards of the kellerbiere around Bamberg.

We decided to walk around the town before eating and it turns out there is a bit of the old city walls that have be preserved. The area between the inner and outer walls has been converted to a playground.

When wandering we came across some outside tables for a gasthaus advertising the other local brewery, Anker Bräu but sold under the name Oechsener. We ordered the Pils and it was the same: well made but lacking in bitterness. The restaurant turned out to be Italian and we ordered a light meal to end the day. This restaurant must have been related to the one in Mainsondheim because it again took and hour to get our food,

We wandered back to the hotel and decided to have a nighcap of the Kauzen Weissbier. I don't usually drink wheat beers but this once was very, very nice: the right combination of clovey spiciness and sweatness without tasting like a banana smoother. A good way to end the day.

The tally for the day was 60km in about 4 hours. The forecast for Monday calls for a bit cooler but maybe some rain,

Location:Obere Redersgasse,Ochsenfurt,Germany