Sprecken zie duetsche!? Me neither, but I wish I did. Leaving Colmar we entered Germany. Crossing the border was so different from our African ordeals. In fact there was no border crossing. The Rhine River divides France and Germany, but there were no customs, immigration, or even a sign saying welcome. Our first destination was Freiburg, a university town and the capital of the black forest region. We had some serious up hills but were rewarded long twisted descents on silky blacktop. As we continued on we reached Donaueshingen, the source of the Danube River and the trailhead of the Donauwanderadweg (Danube Cycleway).
For the next 1400 km we wonâ€™t have to ride in traffic. This bike path will take us all the way to Budapest. Our only navigational challenge is to follow the right bike path as we cruise through all the small villages. Most of the trail is paved but there were some sections of hard packed gravel that wind up valley walls through beautiful lush forests. The upper reaches of the valley were lined with huge limestone cliffs with old churches perched on every lookout. One day we rode past a fresh juice stand right on the side of the trail. We all had a Wadenpower, a freshly squeezed mix of carrot, lemon, orange, apple and pear. Perhaps the best energy drink Iâ€™ve ever had. Although we were in the middle of nowhere, our drinks were served in a chilled stein and the people just kept lining up. There was an amazing castle in Sigmaringen and most of us took a tour. It portrayed a strange contrast between the life of luxury and war. On the upper floors there contain fabulous artwork, tapestries and ornate decorations as we strolled through the lavish salons and chambers. In the lower levels there were endless collections of hunting trophies and medieval weaponry.
Right now Iâ€™m in Ulm. Yesterday when we arrived, Walter and I went down to the city centre for some post ride refreshments. The Ulmer Munster is one of the tallest cathedrals in Europe. Itâ€™s so tall that it was impossible to capture the entire thing on one photo. In the town square surrounding the Munster there were several outdoor cafes. Sitting in the sun Walter and I had a pint of Gold Oscher, some sandwiches and a dish of the most divine ice cream while we admired the articulate architecture of this massive church. Although this is a rest day Iâ€™ve got tones to do before we depart tomorrow.