Donau Radweg Cycling Tour

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Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle…~JFK

Yup it’s officially Autumn here in Germany but let me ask you, what’s the most unforgettable experience you did last summer?

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The unexpected resurgence of the bicycle

This is a late post but last summer, we did our first Donau Radweg Cycling adventure as a family! It was pretty special, because for me, that was the farthest I’ve cycled non-stop in my life! And yes, we cycled with my daughter along and she behaved so well. I haven’t written much about what have I done for the past months mainly because lack of time and I am sorry for lack of posts and updates.This Blog is still alive and I wanna say a quick Thank you for all of you who paid a visit in my page and left some sweet comments.I’ll do my best to respond shortly soon!

So anyway, last summer felt so different from last year here in Bavaria. First, the temperature was warmer than I expected and as I have seen, so many fields and plants were ‘affected’ by the heat, even our garden was not spared. It’s kind of scorching and for quite sometime uncomfortable, reminding me of 40 degree-ish we had in Kuwait.This leaves us with only few options to enjoy leisure times outside. Best option we’ve had is anything with water. Swimming here and over there, and yes, even the pool in the garden had been a constant companion for my daughter.But aside from water activities, last summer was unforgettable because we’ve made it through our first Donau Radweg tour!

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Our destination : Donau radweg tour 

So how about doing a long-distance cycling? Oh yes, to start, approximately 23 kilometers, with a normal bicycle, with a 4-year old child in an Anhänger tagged along with us!

As I’ve written before, the moment I’ve moved to Germany, I think I have cycled more than I have ever cycled in my entire life! I ride my bike in every season, even when its winter and minus temps. I have heard about the classic Donau Radweg but I am always b intimidated of doing it, first, because I thought that it could be exhilarating plus I don’t know how would my daughter deal with it. Second, am I fit enough to do it? or would I cycle back home after 10 kilometers back home?

What if I had a tire burst?

But then long distance cycling for me is something different, it’s an adventure. I wanted to do something that is new and also fun. There’s something about reaching a goal. I guess I managed to integrate in the cycling culture here. When you live in Germany, you’ll be amazed to see that cycling is a very normal lifestyle. Everyone here I think owns a bicycle and cycle at least every day. It’s healthy, easy, practical and the best of all, environment-friendly. Add to the fact that Germany , or at least here in Bavaria, they have a superb cycling paths. I have read one time in the newspaper that in our city alone, its kind of look like Amsterdam now because of  the number of bicycles that they are planning to build more bike stands.

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I think one of the most important thing in my life is when I learn how to ride a bicycle…
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Backside facade of the castle Grünau

Another thing, cycling tours in midsummer is no joke, but since we finished our first Biotope Cycling Tour last year, with almost 30 kms within 2 hours, I knew it can be done.  I was  inspired when one morning, my teacher came to our class and shared that she had cycled from Neuburg to Ingolstadt, a sweet 23 kms within an hour to go to work and back!Okay she had an E-Bike, but still, I had great respect for the adventure part. It’s what I wanted to. Cycling through the Danube is a dream come true for me.

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A beautiful fountain in front of the Rathaus (City hall) of Neuburg an der Donau

Before the Radweg tour

We planned to start early morning and prepare our way to Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is famous as the “Renaissance City”along the banks of the Danube.When I saw photos of this city, I knew I wanted to see it by my own eyes. So my goal is why can’t I combine a small city tour and a cycling Tour?

We searched about our cycling path and we were confident  doing one of the old-time favorite tour along the Donau river, the Ingolstadt to Neuburg, with 23 kilometers over Weichering road. The only thing that is not sure is the weather. We checked the  weather numerous times, it’s a little bit cloudy, but enjoyable enough to cycle. We brought along the  daughter but this time she sits in an Änhanger, German’s version of the Bakfiets! It goes easy for her because she can read, eat, or sleep while we cycle. We packed very  light, with only few snacks and water  in our side packets. My Dutch husband cycled with an additional 40kgs ( total weight of the Änhanger +Natalie).Of course we had an emergency kit with us, and a huge packet of determination and crazy energy!

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The bicycle is a curious vehicle, its passenger is its engine…
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Exploring the Renaissance City of Neuburg

The Radweg tour

We started off cycling very light. The path is almost flat and through green forests. This bike path runs south of the Danube through the Danube floodplains, partly on paved roads with little traffic, partly (in the woods) over well-paved dirt roads, partly asphalted separate bike paths. Lots of nature, riparian forests, avenues, meadows and even resting benches along the way.

 

The first of the three sections leads from Ingolstadt to Weichering. The second section runs on rather long-curved-curvy Weldwegen to the castle Grünau. From there it goes with a paved separate cycle path next to the road without detours directly into the center of Neuburg. I knew we are almost in our destination when we were in front of the old castle of “Grünau”.  Our journey begins at the Baggerweg and runs close to the Danube along the direction of the Baggersee, where the Danube is crossed.I find the path very enjoyable, with plenty of fields and greeneries to watch while cycling. We came across with so many cyclists, everyone is loaded up with adventure packs. Along the way I was smiling to myself because I can’t believe that I’m doing this!

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Inscription on a giant Tree in Grünau Castle
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Grünau Castle 

Reaching our destination

Of course I need to make some stops when I see something worth photographing.After the Caste Grünau I thought we were almost in the city but I was mistaken. I need to cycle for at least 8 kilometers more! My daughter keeps on shouting “why is it so far?”where is the playground? ” But then once we see the beautiful architecture and the Donau river, I was completely excited.It’s even prettier than in the photos I have seen.We parked our bikes just beside the river and off we go to explore the city.

Fascinating finds

What is fascinating about cycling tours is that you can explore a new city by foot and that gives you more windows to explore– especially the hidden gems of the city.Neuburg an der Donau is a historical city which has a lot to offer, both to locals and visitors. The city hall itself is situated above the town proper, on a hilly top so it also requires stamina add challenge of cycling on a cobble stone pavement. The Hofkirche is situated beside the Residenz Schloss ( Residence Castle)  which is quite an impressive architecture.It is quite a norm in this region to be wedded in a Castle, like a fairy tale dream. In Ingolstadt, I often watched a wedding where almost all the entourage are dressed up in a traditional Bayerische Tracht ( traditional clothing) ,with Lederhosen and Dirndls, but the atmosphere of a wedding in a castle is something different.

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Door detail at the Residenz Schloss
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Intricate ceiling detail of the castle
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Sharing adventures together in two wheels !

Enjoying summer holidays with a family doesn’t need to be expensive. I realized that when you’ve never even tried something that intimidates you then you can’t even say if you are capable of doing it or not. I am so grateful that I have the chance to explore Bavaria through a cycling activity like this. Every place we go is really unique and worth telling.You don’t need expensive equipment either. Just make sure your bikes are in great condition and you are physically fit as well. Start slowly and take your time. I always remind myself that it’s not a race and to have lots of fun along the way! If you are looking for things to do next summer then you might try  long-distance cycling as well!

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Little Explorer

 

How about you, did you spent an active Summer?

When was the last time you’ve challenged yourself to do something for the first time?

 

 

 

 

Cruising along the Danube

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Sittin’ on the dock of the bay…

I guess everyone dreamed of  cruising along a river…I’m one of them.

The chance came and I just did! and it was a wonderful ! I remembered how I was enchanted by the beautiful Moselle river and by far, the Danube river has its own charm.This post is really special to me because this is something that I really enjoyed from our last trip. It was also the most exhausting one, but then, as the saying goes “when the going gets tough, the tough get going…”

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I wrote many things about the mighty river “Danube” (or Donau) in this Blog. How can’t I?, the river is just 10 minutes away from where I live, I see it everyday, it has become my daily backdrop and a favorite subject for photos. Seeing its different faces through all seasons becomes so normal for me. But  then we discovered something else about its charm. We’ve seen another phase of this mighty river in Regensburg. Cruising through its magical waters is different, especially if you are traveling with a hyperactive toddler. Yes, she loved the boat idea, but to keep her calm through the whole boat ride is another innuendo!

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The boat is turning around…
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And off we go…! Germans adore the sun , lots and lots of sunshine, so they prefer to sit in the open deck for better views and winds, but my daughter wants to jump off the water!

So anyway, last Tuesday, while we are in Regensburg, we decided to take a cruising along the Danube trip to visit one of the most notable off -the-beaten path destination——- the German Parthenon, a replica of the one in Athens, Greece, the Walhalla Temple. Another hidden gem in Bavaria and I think it deserves more recognition because this place is both educational and not for the faint-hearted. It takes guts to be up there, but the views are totally worth it.  Bavarian King Ludwig I (reigned 1825-1848) ordered his great Architect Leo von Klenze to build this place to dedicate to all great German speakers and notable persons. Quite extraordinary tribute, right? Aren’t you curious whose on the list?

Walhalla is a temple built high above the mountains, I thought, how are we going to make it there with a 3-year old plus a bulky stroller? Can we climb the hilly terrain plus  the 358 steps ?

From the cruising to hiking? Possible? YES!

But first, we relaxed and enjoyed the comfortable cruise ride to go to our main destination.

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We have some company in the river, so many ships and barges crossing over.

The Charm of the Danube

The river Danube seen from the Old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke) in Regensburg looks so calm, graceful and deep. I spent quite sometime just admiring the view in front of me, with all the boats,  ships, museum, and cruise ships passing by me, and of course, a mass of people. Everyone just love to lounge in the banks of the river.

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Took this photo from above the Walhalla, the route where the ships go crossing the Danube.

Napoleon once referred to the Danube River as the “Queen of Europe’s Rivers,” a fitting title for Europe’s second-longest river. It measures 1,775 miles long and up to nearly 1 mile wide and touches 10 countries — Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, GermanyHungary, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine — and four capitals. That alone has made the Danube a vital transportation route for more than 2,000 years. The Danube cycling path is also well-known for cycling enthusiasts and wanderers. It is my dream also to cycle on one of its paths, maybe someday when  my toddler can also join this type of adventure.

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Today, ships can navigate 87 percent of the waterway’s length, meaning Danube River cruises can sail from the North Sea to the Black Sea. The Main-Danube Canal, which got its major start in the 18th century, was completed in 2002 when the final piece was put in place for the 106 mile, 16-lock waterway.

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The cruise experience from Regensburg to Walhalla

We got our ticket from the Regensburger Schifffahrt ( Klinger) and by 10:30 a.m, the boat docked in front of us and off we go.There was quite a crowd already but I am impressed that even strollers, pets, and persons with wheelchair can join this trip. The staffs are both helpful and mindful.

We found a place near the window but we often go to the open deck to have better views and took photos. There is an audio tour both in German and English so that was very handy for me. At the beginning, my daughter was so excited but then after 10 minutes or so, she started to get whiny and cranky. It was time for her midday nap.She crashed into her nap and woke up when we are already in the foot of the temple.

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Beautiful nature sights during the trip.

Cruising along the Danube is wonderful , especially for families. If you want to explore from what is beyond the norm then it’s a great break from the claustrophobic and touristy streets in Regensburg . The views along the river is very scenic, enough to put you in a trance. We passed by  some notable arches, bridges, and castle ruins in the hills surrounding the Danube. The atmosphere inside the boat is very cozy, the bathrooms are clean and you can order food & drinks as you like.

The trip lasts for more than 45 mins, from which my daughter just sleep through out the whole time. The drop off was easy and the guests are allowed to wander &  explore Walhalla for 75 minutes, after this, the boat comes back for the trip going back to Regensburg.

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The striking Walhalla Temple

Finally, we’ve reached our destination.We stood on this spot for quite sometime trying to figure out how to navigate this place, pushing the stroller, I thought, how are we going to be on top?

I’ll tell you more about the rest of our adventure in my post about this mighty Walhalla temple.Until then, thank you for reading my friends.

If you are visiting Regensburg, make sure not to miss this. The information about this trip is available in the Tourist Information in the Old Town of Regensburg and the ticket booth is just beside the Old Stone Bridge and the Wurstkuchl. It’s a hotspot location and you won’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

 

Throwing stones and your worries

Why is it so fun throwing stones into the water?

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The water glistened like diamonds against the sun.

Throwing stones into the river – a toddler’s perfect, guilt free way of destruction. A harmless way of destroying something without any permanence…

Yesterday was another lovely, peaceful day, of course its ruhetag (rest day) here in Germany so naturally, everything comes in a slow pace. So unlikely from the routine that I got used to in Kuwait that Sunday is the start of the week. I love Sundays here because If I am lucky, my daughter lets me sleep in a bit, at least until 7 am. After breakfast and doing some much-needed chores, we decided to take the toddler a spin and have a walk. In Germany, all shops are closed on Sundays so the only place to go is nature. The weather was nice, and the sky is clear  so we walked into the woods. The snow have melted and the paths are all muddy-ice and it was really difficult to push the stroller, good thing I wore my hiking boots. We came to the river banks and have a pit-stop. The view was so beautiful and refreshing. The calm waters, glistening like diamonds, the silhouette of winter flowers and moss-filled branches of bare trees against the sun, almost kissing the waters. I gather some stones and started throwing it into the river. My husband followed along and brought my daughter. For the first time, she was able to start throwing stones into the water. It’s like magic, her laughter filled the air. The splash of waters, her fidgety moves while gripping the stones from her bulky mittens, she was having so much fun!

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Choose the block, a heavy burden or stone in your life that you want to throw away.

‘Seems like we  never outgrown the habit of throwing stones into any bodies of water…’

I am an adult and I still love throwing stones into the river, ponds, beaches, creeks, and even to any body of water that is near to me. The urge is there, as always. It’s automatic once I see any water. I find it very entertaining.

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The art of throwing stones into the water , the art of letting go.

Throwing stones is perfect, soul saving interaction with nature. Pattern making is built into the human psyche. If we see something beautiful, we want to participate in it without tearing it down. Ripples from rocks skipped across the water are reaffirmation of our existence in the world, without doing the world any harm. This urge would stay with us for life if we do not turn away from it in our cynical self-absorption. Nature is out there, and out there includes us.

But why water?

I guess throwing rocks into water is relaxing because there’s no pressure trying to hit the target, and the splash and ripples satisfy our need for sensing predictable causal effects.This is so true with kids, my daughter is a perfect example who enjoy this. From splashing in the tub during bath times, up to making messes in the sand pit, even playing with water during painting time.

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A toddler’s fun of throwing stones into the water

People don’t often think about it, but we are not so far removed from our primal instincts as we like to think. “Modern Man” is but a thin veneer, and a fragile one at that. Have you ever watched a toddler destroy a tower of duplos and Legos after you’ve just built something? My daughter always do this, she just love to tear down anything that I am trying to build. At a young age, we have been inclined to disrupt something, knowing that no harm is done, permanently.

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Stones in the water

You might not realize it but throwing stones can be therapeutic. When you pick up a stone, you release your  worries and throw them as well into the water.I felt all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting as I launched more and more rocks into the river. There were a few moments of sadness, of anxiety in the mix but they didn’t last. Most of the time, I felt really joyful.

If you have the chance, try doing it and watch how your mood changes. I was not even aware how time flies, as I keep on picking up stones, and at the same time taking some photos, time was on my side. My husband said that it’s also one of his favorite thing to do when He was a kid.We never never outgrown these things. It’s in us all along.

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Throw your stress into the waters

I am happy to find wisdom such as this in ordinary circumstances.When I look at the vase full of the stones that I gathered from the river, I remember not much of the walk through the river, but the fun that my daughter had, and mine as well.

I guess we’ll be frequenting to do this again especially in summer.

How about you,do you like throwing stones into the water?

How was your experience?

 

If you enjoyed reading this post and got time to kill, you might want to waste more time checking out what I recently discovered as fun thing to do when the weather drops here in Bavaria. Check out these posts  in my Sunday Wandertags;

Walking on a Frozen Lake

Enjoying Solace in Neues Schloss

Chasing the Fog

 

 

 

 

 

Baggersee reflections |Mirror

Last weekend we went on a hike and we find one perfect place that practically take our breath away, the Baggersee.

Just look at these these photos and you will know why.

 

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Feeling romantic? Get a boat and dream away while watching the sunset in the Auswaldsee   { Baggersee, Ingolstadt} 

These photos don’t lie.

If you would ask me, I still feel so summer. Summertime means staying outdoors and having exciting Wandertags. Baggersee is a beautiful oasis that practically exist and can be reached within 20 minutes away from where I live. A nature recreation area  approximately 150 hectares and with a lake  in the middle where you can have a panoramic view of the wild forest but not really feeling isolated. It is situated 1.5 km  southwest from the old town of Ingolstadt. I have written how much I adore ‘Wandertags‘ and this place did not disappoint me.

You can leisurely stroll with your kids, trek with your friends, hike, have a morning run, jog after work or just do some Nordic walking or cycle for the whole length of 5.4 km. If you love these activities, then this is the place you should be hanging out.

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Weekend view from the Auswaldsee, I love how the reflections in the water create a magical world. Nature indeed never fails to amaze me.

The whole place is so green and won’t disappoint any nature lovers. Perfect for weekend family picnics and meet-ups.The lake is surrounded with wooden dock areas and padded slabs where you can  do yoga, sunbathe, or  take a quick dip and if you’re an experienced swimmer, you can swim across the lake as long as you want.I noticed that most Germans walk with their dogs in Baggersee. It’s no surprise that there is even a designated bay for your dog if you want to swim with them, amazing right?

This place is packed with visitors especially during Summer season. It almost have everything that is ideal for a nature recreation activities. I noticed that the whole stretch of the shadowed areas are ideal for campers and they have areas for BBQ activities.If you are feeling sporty, there are volleyball courts nearby as well as Mini golf course for the little ones.

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Reflections in the water are almost picture perfect ,Imagine them in Autumn colors. {Baggersee, Ingolstadt}

The reason why we went to this place is because we wanted to see the ‘Wildpark’ inside this area where you can see wild animals such as deers, wild boars, and the mighty Bison.The Wildpark has a whole area of 10 hectares on the further rear end which is publicly accessible, with adequate signage so it’s easy to find. Take an hour or so to explore this place with your kids and you won’t regret it.

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Namaste! Yoga after cycling? Everything is possible.With the Water reflections as a backdrop, Zen is just in front of you.

There is a Lake house ( Seehaus ) and other Biergartens where anyone can enjoy lounging in rack chairs enjoying these beautiful views. The ambiance in this place is so nice and quiet, quite resembling a beach terrace lounge where anyone can enjoy  great music while enjoying the view, or after work meet-ups having a coffee & cake or a glass of wine. Seehaus is a perfect venue for any given occasion such as weddings or family banquets. They have Grillschule for anyone who is interested in taking Grill courses ( BBQ courses, winter barbeques and the like ) that is available almost everyday.

In the middle of the lake there are  2 environmentally protected islands that serve as habitat for ducks, swans, coots, herons and grebes.If you feel more adventurous, you can hire a boat and just sail romantically in the waters or do some fishing.

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German efficiency – Wasserspielplatz
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For the Little Ones with little hands and feet

While parents enjoys a cool drink in the wooden benches, kids can have a grand time playing in this beautiful  Wasserspielplatz, overlooking the lake. It has a sandy area where little ones can enjoy playing in the shallow waters while making sand castles. One fascinating about this playground  is that they have water pumps  where adults   can do some exercise to pump out water to flow into the waterways. It is very efficient. No need for motor or electricity. My daughter adores this place and I am sure that we will come back for more. I am so thankful that nature lives so close to us and it never fails to amaze me, every single day. If I have a friend or a guest, I would definitely bring them up here.

If you’re visiting Ingolstadt, make sure to visit this place because it’s really worth it. The walk from the Dam from the Danube River is quite fascinating too.

What is your ideal weekend getaway?

In response to this week’s Photo challenge |Mirror

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