Through romantic alleys in a lovely town and by bicycle along a stream -
How we explored Bad Mergentheim and its region as a young family and why I have now finally found a prime answer to a question I have been asked a lot.
This blogpost was created in cooperation with the city of Bad Mergentheim.
Since the last entry here, a lot has changed. Well, actually, much has remained the same, but there was a small increase - and that has actually changed a lot 😉
Where I used to be on the bike with and without boyfriend sometimes shorter and sometimes, this is now no longer so easy. At this point starts a new, now already insanely beautiful chapter. Traveling as a young family with baby. Since we are still big cycling and hiking fans, it was a great fit when the city of Bad Mergentheim invited us to spend a week there. The city in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg in Germany not only offers a variety of cultural and leisure activities, but is also the perfect starting point in a beautiful and well-developed cycling region.
With baby we didn't want to do a crossing of the Alps on the mountainbike. We are happy when we get to ride at all and the baby
eventually falls asleep comfortably. If he then wakes up later, we take an extended lunch break (as if we hadn't loved that before...) and have found out for ourselves that we can currently ride
a maximum of fifty kilometers per day with him. Fortunately, there are plenty of them in the Bad Mergentheim area.
First and foremost, the 5-star bike path "Liebliches Taubertal - the classic" should be mentioned here. This leads over a hundred kilometers along the small
river Tauber, through the middle of Bad Mergentheim. The town is therefore an excellent starting point for a day trip along the classic route.
The path is the only bike path in Germany rated with five stars by the ADFC. It is a dedicated cycle path that leads almost continuously through the countryside, far from roads, and is also completely paved. Along the route, many cultural and gastronomic temptations invite you to make stops. Since it always goes through the beautiful green Tauber Valley, there are also countless spots in nature that are suitable for picnics. You hardly need your own navigation, because the signposting is very comprehensive. And the infrastructure is also adapted to us cyclists: Many hotels follow the ADFC standard, so they are adjusted to the special needs for cyclists (bike room, packed lunches, etc.).
In my opinion, the tour is also suitable for beginners for this very reason. I often get mails from other women asking me if I can recommend a nice, not too difficult and safe beginner tour. And I have to say, with the "Lieblichen Taubertal" I have finally found my parade answer.
It's not a trail where you reach your athletic limits or see spectacular views and landscapes. But for everyone else who just wants to do a nice, lovely tour such as beginners, families and people looking for relaxation, it is perfect.
However, the Lovely Tauber Valley is far from being the only route in the region. From gentle short tours, sporty climbs, special wine bike tours to excellent road bike tours, Bad Mergentheim offers a variety of different bike routes. We still rode a circular tour through the Wachbach and Vorbach valleys, which made us sweat on a few small climbs.
But when our son at some point made it clear to us that he didn't want to sit alone in the trailer anymore, we went hiking the next day. He came in the carrier on Dad's back and off we went along the panoramic trail around the city.
If you want to make a slightly different excursion, you can reach the local wildlife park in the city in 30 minutes by bike, which is of course a great experience, especially with a child. I must admit that I personally
always have a hard time when it comes to animals in captivity. But this wildlife park can be visited with a "good conscience " in my opinion. Many of the enclosures are integrated into the
landscape and thus offer their inhabitants not only a relatively natural habitat, but at the same time they allow a natural impression for the visitors. The invisible-looking fences also
contribute to this. Likewise, most of the enclosures are largely and offer some retreats for the animals in case they want to hide from the next approaching school class. During one of the free
tours, we also saw that the feedings are as species-appropriate as possible to keep the animals fit. For example, the wild cats had to grab their food from a leash that moved back and forth,
which didn't work without jumping or climbing the trees.
Especially impressive was the wolf pack, which is actually the largest in Europe. We even had the great fortune to see wolf pups at play, which has touched my mother's heart especially 😉 Our son then enjoyed most the petting area of the zoo and the chickens and goats - that was perhaps also because they came particularly close because they were interested in the food we gave them 😉
What is definitely worth a great experience: You can book an overnight stay in the construction trailer of the game park. There you sleep then directly at the wolf enclosure - wolf howl included. Bad Mergentheim also offers other great overnight experiences. Since the city is located in a wine region, it is possible to spend the night in a wine barrel and participate in one of the numerous wine tastings or hikes the next day.
And if you just want to put your feet up after a long bike ride, you can do that perfectly in the Solymar Therme. Flo and I took turns here relaxing in the really beautiful sauna world or also bathed in the thermal baths, while the other played with Jannek in the baby pool.
Furthermore, the city offers an large program of events for its size. For example, in the late afternoon we watched a beachvolleyball match that took place in the middle of the old market square. That was really cool, as Flo and I are in beachvolleyball fever ourselves right now.
MFG - with kind regards" - as a little tip on the side: on August 6, there's an open air of the Fantastischen Vier in the castle of the city. That must rock pretty much especially in the ambience of the castle!!!
Enough of the interesting lists. So what makes Bad Mergentheim special?
Perhaps one or the other reader of this blog still remembers that I like to ask people and inhabitants of a country, a region, a city, what makes them so special. After all, that's what travel is all about: sensing, experiencing and inquiring about the character and peculiarities of foreign countries.
Many people from Mergentheim gave a rather classic answer to this question: "We are very friendly". But despite the awareness that this answer comes from almost all the locals of this world, I have to agree with it. Granted: If you come from Berlin, every non-Berliner seems to be a symbol of friendliness. But still, I have to say that the people of Bad Mergentheim go one better here. Whether it was a saleswoman in a bakery, whom I asked whether I could visit their quiet little place for payment, who then kindly refused the payment and even filled my water bottle, or the warm-heartedness and openness of the owners of the Hotel Alexas (at this point I would like to expressly praise their vegetarian cuisine!), which made our stay round - everywhere we met people with a smile and helpfulness. You can feel that the inhabitants do a lot to make the city and region attractive and support each other.
For me, Bad Mergentheim is the embodiment of a charming, historic German town. It brings with it many interesting stories, which we were privileged to listen to in a personal guided tour of the town. You walk through small romantic alleys and can enjoy the many old half-timbered buildings, as well as small details like the old drawings on the houses. Then again, you suddenly find yourself in front of the imposing Deutschordensschloss, which impresses with its size and in which, by the way, you can also study (how cool is that, please?). Further you walk through the associated castle park and almost wonder why so few people use the facilities here. I know it differently from Berlin, where every green space is immediately overpopulated at the first ray of sunshine. If you walk from the castle park further across the Tauber, you will find yourself in the beautifully landscaped spa park, which invites you to linger on the bench. A special feature here is definitely drinking the healing water in the fountain temple. For the spa guests of the city it is part of the daily task to drink from one of the three springs, for us it was a fun change. All three springs, which by the way also feed the Solymar Spa, taste very different.
And yes - somehow in the end I understood the answer of a Mergentheim resident to my question: these three areas of the city - the city center, the castle and the spa park, form a very harmonious interplay of different poles among themselves. Thanks to them, one can find hustle and bustle and city life, culture as well as rest and relaxation in one compact space. And this harmonious balance is what makes Bad Mergentheim special. It offers just the right balance between a lovely little town, where you don't sink into the anonymity of a big city, and you still find a varied offer of experiences. Bad Mergentheim is no Paris or Rome, but for people who are not looking for the hustle and bustle of a big city, the town has a surprising amount of potential and is perhaps even a small hidden champion for a relaxing vacation. And that with friendly people 😉
Some scenes from my bikepacking trip this summer. I was cycling and pushing my bike through Eastern Europe and parts of the Ukraine following a Mountainbike trail called the 'Transost'. Next week I'm gonna post some more words and pictures about it :)
So far - enjoy this video...
Thanks to Huy for this video
When it's getting too dark, cold and uncomfortable for camping.
This blogpost is a cooperation with bett+bike.
How nice it is to pitch the tent in peace, sit down, cook, read, let the thoughts flow and enjoy the beauty surrounding you. If there is a beautiful sunset, you will find yourself in paradise. Well, that sounds all too good, if only it was always summer time. However, the reality of the last three weeks of my bike trip looked a bit different unfortunately.
With a cold and rainy summer in Scandinavia I didn't get very lucky. So, all I could at least hope for was a golden autumn, but unfortunately, that did not happen either. Instead it was raining almost every day, the fog covered many of the fields I passed and the color grey became my daily view. Bravely I put up my tent here and there in the beginning. Until I realized in the middle of the night, that my sleeping bag was not what it used to be ten years ago. I didn't get warm completly. Drying the damp thing and other stuff also became an impossibility. Hats off to all the brave autumn and winter riders, adventurers, campers and all the other travelers out there. If only I had had any of them as company, then at least I could have had talks after 6 pm in the evening. But I was alone. Thus, I sat there in the dark. As much as I like to read, there are limits. Reading for three hours in the evening gets boring and unfortunately, there is not much more anyone can do while being in the tent alone at night.
So I started looking for more Warmshower hosts. Obviously, this does not work all the time since you can’t always find one everywhere. What’s more, I sometimes want to be alone. Therefore, I also started spending the nights in cheap hotels and accommodations. Many thanks to some readers among you who supported me here :-)
It would have been useful at this point to have already known of bett+bike. With the help of their website and app you can find bike-friendly accommodation in Germany and eight other European countries. The question of whether the bike fits in the room is completely nonrelevant here.
on bett+bike must meet their quality criteria. This includes for example a lockable
room for storing the bicycles, drying the equipment and providing a repair kit. You can also get breakfast. Also it is perfectly okay to book only for one night. Campsites and apartments are listed as well and have to meet corresponding
bett+bike belongs to the German bike club ADFC [Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club]. When I looked at the map of Germany I was very positively surprised at how many accomodation possibilities are already there. For the remaining countries Denmark, Austria and Luxembourg accomodation can be found covering a nationwide area, but also in the other countries (Switzerland, Croatia, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland) you will find interesting offers. Incidentally one can also download the possibilities as POIs in your GPS.
In my opinion the search itself could be improved. You can look for regions and places and you will get all possible accomodations, but unfortunately you can't filter these for types of accomodation or prices neither on the website nor on the app. For example I can't get possible campgrounds around a certain city.
But you can look for accommodation on all well-known bike trails, which greatly facilitates travel planning. For example I found 334 search results for the Elbe Cycle Route. If you zoom in on the map there are many different options along the route, which leads - just as a side note - through the very beautiful Dresden and Saxon Switzerland.
Thanks to that search function you will find a lot of inspiration on the website regarding tour suggestions.
You can also find special accommodations like old farm houses. Maybe interesting for families who prefer having a base and doing day trips with their
Also helpful are extra categories such as city, e-bike and sports. The last one is ideal for the next MTB holiday and offers all sorts of useful extra quality standards. This will certainly find a suitable place to stay, from which one can start on all kinds of trails.
The app from bett+bike is available for Android and iphone. Immediately nearby accommodation options are displayed if you allow location access. However in my opinion the app has room for improvement. One example is: you have to synchronize the data records with each start at first for example. That is a bit annoying, but when I contacted them about this issue, they assured me that they will keep working on the app to improve it.
So no more excuses for a nice autumn or winter tour. Tent and stove can stay at home. Although the spontaneity gets a bit lost; something that I really love about camping, the planning is less annoying thanks to such tools. And if you're traveling alone and want some company or you just are on a tighter budget, you can still make new friends while visiting Warmshower Hosts.
About reasons for traveling.
And something one can only find when you're gone.
Somewhere I once read or heard wise words:
There are two types of travelers. Firstly those who travel to escape: from home, from one or more experiences, misfortune in love, dissatisfaction in work and life in general. They hope to leave this behind them on a journey. They want to fill their head with other things. Getting to know or even reinvent themself.
The second kind travels out of pure curiosity. From lust to adventures and the unknown. They follow the urge to see the world.
Even though I believe that there is always something of the one reason to be found in the other, I always
counted myself to the second category. I didn't resign my job because I was unhappy. I didn't leave Dresden because I wanted to leave something behind
me. I was happy there. I was aware that I would miss my family, friends and my normal everyday life. Climbing in Säeschische
Schweiz, excursions here and there, sipping coffee and wines together, being together. Yet my dream of a bike trip was stronger. It always lived in the back of
my head and knocked, wanted to be heard. The desire for something big, new, unknown was once again there and instead of always pushing it backwards, as many people do, I
decided one day: stop dreaming. DO IT.
In the original German blogpost I'm quoting a longer text from Béla Balázs. I'll only translate a piece of it here:
"But one thing is there, it seems to me, what one can not experience without going away, and yet is the deepest and sweetest of all experiences: the homesickness. Where is at home? Not necessarily where you live. And no well-being shows us where home is. Only this homesickness. Whoever does not know it, has no home. Perhaps you only go away to experience a home in homesickness?"
[Béla Balázs: Reisen, aus: Genschow, Karen: Kleine Philosophie des Reisens. Fischer 2012. S. 9-11]
And I went on a journey. I'm still on it. Also wanted to go to Greece. But suddenly there was that feeling ... A longing. Not for the unknown, but for home. The reasons for this are varied. Last but not least the weather and the dwindling summer (which was never really there for me) contributed a lot to it. Camping a few nights in the cold and wet are okay, but in the long run I'm rather a summer loving person. Especially since my sleeping bag has already seen better times.
Therefore I'm riding in the direction of home: Dresden.
Du liest diesen Blog gerne und möchtest mich unterstützen? Hilf mir hier!
From warm childhood memories and doing nothing.
Oh - and a bunch of pictures.
Sweden has always had a special value to me. It is not just any country. It has a valuable status for me. The reason is my childhood. When I was still in my mother's stomach I swam with her in a lake in Värmland, Sweden. From then on, every year I was bathing in this water. Even beyond childhood I was always attracted to that place. It's probably my grandparents fault. 35 years ago they decided to build a small house on the edge of the forest there. They spent most of the year there and rarely came to Germany. That's why my family spent every summer and partly also the winter holidays there.
My family lived in different houses, but alwyas somewhere next to my grandparents. The first one was a large old house on a hill. It was wonderful. It had neither running water nor a proper toilet. We went out to the latrine, where we could even sit next to each other, thanks to two holes. From there we looked down over the fields and the edge of the forest, watching moose while we were doing our business. With an old wooden boat we crossed the lake over to my grandparents, where we spent more or less the whole day at the water. My younger brother and I were more in the water than outside of it. It's amazing that children never seem to fear cold water. My mother or grandma shouted and ordered us to show our lips to them. Even if these were already quite blue and we were shaking, we didn't want to get on dry land. We had just conquered new land and won the fight against the pirates.
We were explorers, sailors, divers and adventurers.
Swam on my fathers surfboard to the next rocks, went off to
explore the new land. Dived through the crystalclear water and watched the fish under
us. Grandpa took us fishing. Both summer and winter. However, we were always too loud and therefore, the so much
hoped-for fishes were not coming. But still: photos show my brother, with a strained face, proudly holding up fish half of his size to the camera.
We often sat in the boat because the many fishing lines of my grandpa
were completely tangled. Half of the time he spent sorting them
We gathered mushrooms and walked through the woods. Mom sent us out with a little bucket to find some berries. We were supposed to pick strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, but most of the time we came home with a pretty empty bucket, but completely red-smeared mouths. We wandered over wild meadows, along small dirt roads and jumped through puddles.
We collected tadpoles in puddles. We didn't want to leave them there, exposed to sunlight and
possible dehydration. So we took them to the lake and let them free. Huge grasshoppers were caught and watched for a while in the large glass until we released
them into freedom again.
The house of my grandparents was and is a place of pure comfort for me. As for many, grandma is the best cook and grandpa was the best since he always gave me foot massages. However, I regularly had to fight against the cat, because he claimed his place next to grandpa for himself. Mostly we ended up like this: I petted the cat and grandpa my feet.
We were left for ourselves. We could do whatever we wanted. We were lost in time. Just like long-term travelers, who forget what day of the week it is. We experienced a kind of Bullerby summer romance. These were the best
holidays of my childhood. Every summer. Even as an adult I drove to the house
of my grandparents. I spent my summer holidays partly alone in the house in
the forest and I did: ? Nothing. Nothing and yet so much. I read. I cooked. I went into the woods for mushrooms. I layed in the sun. I walked around the area. I smelled the freshness, which lays in the air
after a summer rain. I sat in the sun and did nothing. I enjoyed doing nothing.
I was lazy. I was alone. I got to know myself. I
Sweden seems to have become a kind of metaphor for me. When I see the woods here, the lakes, the flower meadows and red old wooden houses, I immediately notice this feeling inside of me. A feeling of peace spreading through my body.
What did we do during the summer holidays? Not much. No excursions, no visits to any entertainment park, no further education, no courses. We were just there. And I felt freer than ever. We live in a society that expects constant performance. A steady DOING SOMETHING. Everything should be done optimally. One should always evolve. Experience new things. Also during leisure time, the weekend, on vacation. There are expectations to show off a perfect life on Instagram, facebook and co. You should proof society that you have DONE something, that you have USED your time optimally, that you have EXPERIENCED something. We had the exact opposite. We drove every summer to the same place, did the same, and did not go to some distant countries. Back at school I was sometimes sad and envied the other children, who told about hotel facilities and different places. Today I am happier than ever, that we spent the summers as we spent them. With DOING NOTHING and only BEING there.
I still need that. Doing nothing. Let my soul fly around. Let my eyes and
thoughts wander. Daydream. Or enjoy company.
During my Swedish tour two friends from Dresden visited me for ten days. Cycling became second priority. Instead, we spent hours in the morning with chatter and laughter. Enjoying the get together. Towards 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon we managed to get on the bikes and cycled about 70 km until we got the next camp fire started and talked.
I am currently in Tallinn, Estonia. In Stockholm and here I have had a few days off from biking. Time spent with great people and doing this and that. I visited Peter (from the Lofoten Islands), saw Rebecka again (with whom I cycled in Norway) and got a visit from Germany again.
In the next days, however, I will be back on the bike again. The Baltic States and Eastern Europe are waiting for me!
You like this blog and would like to support me? Help me here!