23rd August – 29th August
After the stressful and disastrous day we had yesterday with all of the detours, we self-imposed a detour of around 40kms backtracking so we didn’t drive on too many B roads and took the autobahn all the way to Bayreuth. We arrived at lunchtime and after a bite to eat we decided we would walk the couple of kilometres to the Hofgarten for a bit of exercise. We were so close to the city centre we ended up going in there as well. Bayreuth was bombed during WWII but there were still a few original buildings standing which were lovely. We stopped at the opera house, one of Europe’s most stunningly baroque theatres hoping for a peek in the auditorium but sadly it is closed for renovating and not due to open until sometime in 2017. We had seen the inside while watching a series by Aled Jones but wanted to see it for ourselves, never mind. We had an enjoyable walk around in the sunshine for an hour or so past many statues of Richard Wagner as well as a museum dedicated to him before heading back to again sit outside on another glorious day.
An uneventful journey today as far as detours go, on the autobahn to start with then on the B road to Schwandorf. The Stellplatz here is free with free water and dumping facilities right next to the Naab river so we are thinking of relaxing here for a couple of days. We walked into town only 10 minutes away. It’s only small but very tidy. No history to speak of apart from 1000 year old water wheels which are reminiscent of the town’s former milling tradition. We visited the St James Parish church which was built around 1400 in late gothic style. The town is situated on one of the pilgrim trails of the route of St James to Santiago de Compostela. We had lunch at the Brauerei Gasthof in the square before another walk around and heading back for an afternoon by the water. We had a bit of excitement at the Stellplatz tonight. An Italian family were having a quiet sit by the river, the husband was fishing and the wife, son and dog were with him. All of a sudden a man turns up on a motorbike and tells the Italian man he needs a permit to fish. He took his passport details and photos of his Motorhome and then called the police. The police turn up, where the wife tries to explain in what little English she had that he didn’t know about the permit and next thing her passport details are taken. After a few minutes of the police being rude in the way they were speaking to him, they carted him off to the police station. The police bought him back about 30 minutes later and then took the wife to the station, who knows what for? The sad thing is they didn’t catch any fish! It all seemed a bit over the top.
We had a lovely relaxing day today. We started off with a walk along the river for a couple of kilometres before heading up to the lookout over town through a small forest area. From there we headed back into town and then home again, where we spent the day by the river reading. I went into town again on my own for an hour or so in the afternoon to window shop and then back to Dave and Tilly. We had dinner outside on what was another gorgeous day. We were waiting for the fisheries guy to turn up again and he didn’t disappoint us. The men fishing in front of us were German and the outcome was a lot different. No licenses were checked nor the size of the fish that had been caught.
I’m sure they all had the relevant licenses but even the way they were spoken too was vastly different from the poor Italian man and his wife last night.
It is so nice here we have decided to stay another night. After breakfast we went for a walk along the river in the opposite direction to yesterday for a couple of kilometres. Back along the road and into town for a coffee before we returned to Tilly and another relaxing day sitting by the river on what turned out to be a very warm day.
Back on the autobahn today with our destination being Regensberg, 40kms away. We arrived at the first Stellplatz only to find that the whole area was taken over by the Dult festival, an Oktoberfest type beer festival with beer tents, carnival rides and entertainment, so onto the next place which is near the Danube river, 1.5kms from the old town. Once settled we headed into town along the river past two river cruise boats crossing over Regensburg’s 900-year-old Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) which was at one time the only fortified crossing of the Danube. Walking in the first thing we noticed were the twin spires of the cathedral which soar above the rooftops. One of Bavaria’s grandest gothic cathedrals, it took over 600 years to build. Original stained glass windows surround the transept and the intricately guided alter. The Altes Rathaus was the seat of the Reichstag for almost 150 years and is now home to Regensburg’s mayors and the Reichstagsmuseum. We could only visit by guided tour and the English one wasn’t until 3pm so we just admired the building and continued walking through the narrow cobbled streets. We had lunch at the Hofbrauhaus while across the way a wedding was taking place. Lots of people were dressed in the national costume, which is something we love about Bavaria and see quite often. We popped our heads into a couple of churches on our way around before having a sit down by the river. It is extremely hot today and several people were cooling off with a swim. Back to a very warm Tilly and we sat outside in the shade for what was left of the afternoon.
Another short drive towards the town of Straubing. We have found a wildcamp spot right on the Danube River about 6kms from town and there was a German family already here for a picnic by the water. We were all set up and sitting by the river when just after lunch this huge river cruise boat, The River Voyager pulled up. Most of the passengers got off to board their respective buses to head off on a tour somewhere. As the Voyager was pulling out, the Viking Tor pulled in and more buses dropped off people to rejoin their cruise. The next boat in was the Viking Skadi which dropped passengers off for their bus tour. There was a signpost near where we parked that said something about this area being for use by watercraft, that was an understatement, it was quite a sight to see. The only other boats we saw for the remainder of the day were private boats and the odd grain/coal barge. We spent the afternoon outside under the awning with a slight breeze coming off the water, we went for a swim and then read on what was another very hot day.
29th August – 3rd September
We had a cracker of a thunderstorm at 4.30am this morning. Forked lightning illuminated the sky while the thunder rolled all around like waves crashing to the shore. We could feel the power of the thunder through the vibration in the ground coming up through Tilly’s tyres. We opened all of the blinds and lay in bed watching the sky show for about 30 minutes with lots of rain and hail before closing up again and trying for more sleep. Upon wakening, another thunderstorm rolled in, nowhere near as big but my girlfriend Sharon in Perth would have been in her element! Even with the thunder (no lightening that we could see) and a bit of rain, we decided to walk the 5kms into Straubing along the river. A pretty town lined with pastel coloured houses, the town square is lorded over by the Gothic Stadtturm dating from 1316. We visited the St Jakobskirche, a late-Gothic hall church with original stained-glass windows which has received a baroque makeover. We wandered around town for a little while stopping in the Karmelitenkirche, another baroque church before we headed back in the rain. After lunch we drove to Dingolfing where we were hoping to get some tyres for the front wheels however the Bosch centre was closed. It wasn’t a wasted trip as we needed to come here for services to fill and empty. We spent the rest of the afternoon researching places to visit in Austria, our next country.
Our mission for today (should we choose to accept it) was to get tyres for Tilly so we drove about 60kms to the small town of Neuötting just outside of Altötting not far from the Austrian border. The drive here was very pleasant through small picturesque towns and lots of agriculture in between, mainly corn. The tyre place didn’t have her size but have ordered them in for us with an expected delivery of 2-3 days, so we travelled a further 2 kms to the Stellplatz in Altötting. We had lunch before walking into this pilgrimage town, where the main attraction is a statue of the Black Madonna. The shrine which houses it dates back 660AD, and the shrine is the oldest Marien shrine in Germany and the statue dates to 1330. Pilgrims have been travelling here for over 600 years and is known for the many healings which are said to have taken place. There are many churches here considering the size of the town and we visited about half of them with the largest and grandest being St Anna. The main square like a lot of pilgrim towns is full of religious paraphernalia for sale.
After much needed haircuts, we headed out on our planned walk today which was one of the walks recommended by the tourist office. Through fields of corn, a small forest and two little villages, we walked about 12kms in total, some of the way on the Pilgrims walk where shrines were dotted along the path. We had our lunch by a small brook before returning to town. An afternoon in the sun was how we spent the rest of the day.
We had a nice walk along the river back into Neuötting, a couple of kilometres away visiting the St Nicholas church while we were there. We walked up the Main Street and got a phone call from the tyre place and arranged to have them fitted this afternoon. Back along the river to Altötting where we had lunch before driving back to Neuötting. We had to wait until the service centre reopened at 1pm but then it only took 10 minutes and we were ready to hit the road again with a short drive of 16kms to Burghausen. We have been here before at almost the same time last year, however it is really nice here and also it is close to the Austrian border so we figured it was a good exit point from Germany. We are staying in exactly the same spot and the pétanque games are still being played on the pitch next to us.
After breakfast we headed up to the castle which we had visited previously for another look. We virtually did the same thing today as we did this time last year, walking the length of the castle, over 1km in total. We walked down to the lake where the swimming pool is before heading into the old town, visiting the church of St Jacob on our travels. It was such a nice day, we decided to walk to Austria! It was just on the other side of the river, so we spent about 2 minutes in another country before returning to German soil. We found our lunch spot, the Augustiner Brauhaus where we had our last German meal, although I’m sure the food in Austria will be very similar. Another afternoon sitting outside on what turned out to be a warm day.