Nein, sprechen da Lingo. (Oxford Branch Germany Tour)

A warm sunny Thursday at Beaconsfield Services marked the start of Oxfords 1700 mile road trip down to Füssen on the German-Austrian border and back. Eleven of us on six bikes embarked upon this trip to tour Germany’s famed Romantic Route, taking in four different countries in the process. The first two days were purely logistical, cutting through the endless traffic to the Eurotunnel onto Calais and then Brussells.The first two evenings made it clear that the groups linguistical abilities did not match our riding abilities which set the tone for the rest of our evening adventures!

The third day of our trip, after one of Jim’s famed ‘circular tours’ and our inner children gleefully splashing through puddles on Belgian farm tracks, saw us enter the beautiful Ardennes Forest. Wow. What a route to take! South of Verviers the mix of beautiful straight wide open roads interspersed with sweeping bends were a joyous ride as we skirted the Belgian-German border. As soon as we crossed the border, helped by an unplanned route change, we found ourselves taking beautiful country roads, up and down hills with a hectic mix of razor sharp switchbacks and long cruising bends all the way down to our hotel just north of Bitburg. We were all unanimous in our desire to simply stay put and spend the week riding the roads surrounding us, a sentiment seemingly shared by the vast numbers of local and European bikers we kept encountering.

Day four we darted straight east to the city of Würzburg the northern tip of the target of our whole trip, the Romantic Route. Our trip across Germany on a Sunday meant we could enjoy the motorways without any HGVs and minimal traffic, if I had to summarise the day in a word it would be ‘Bridges’. We crossed over and under so many bridges we were well versed in German engineering by the end, the highlight being the Hochmoselbrücke, the second highest in Germany.  Würzburg itself was beautiful and really set the tone for what was to come. The towns along the route, such as Rothenburg, Dinkelsbühl and Nördlingen were beautiful and picturesque with varied histories that made them well worth a visit. The route wasn’t as well signposted as one would hope and, with the help of the author losing track of Jim who had the sat nav, we sometimes found ourselves inventing our own route between the towns and thoroughly enjoying the bends, lakes, and mountain views we stumbled upon.  Füssen, the end of the route, was well worth the visit, as was nearby Neuschwanstein Castle. There’s no need to ride from the town up to the castle as it is well served by buses with free bus tickets given by the hotels, so save yourself some saddle time and enjoy the views.

The return journey involved many miles of motorways but on one occasion when we could dive off and explore the more scenic options we found ourselves following the ‘Aquatic Maginot Line’. Following the defensive flooding system along some lovely roads that would be worth a visit in their own right and gave me an idea of a future tour. The biggest plus of finding this route was it allowed me to bore my pillion with an impromptu history lesson and a few Dads Army quotes along the way! Once in a while during the trip some of us would peel off to take a different route that took our fancy, this worked spectacularly well for Mark and I as we aimed to ride through Thionville. Mid-way we encountered a road closure, the car ahead of us dived off down a side road with such confidence we assumed they were a local and followed without caution. Circumstances soon evolved that we ended up leading the way down farm tracks and woodland trails passing hikers bemused at the sight of two English bikes leading a French Fiat 500 along a route most unsuitable before we found ourselves, thirty minutes later, back at the diversion which had just been removed!

As is often the case some of the best roads we found were when we got lost and much fun was had by all both on the road and wandering the towns each evening. We’ve been left with many happy memories and plenty of jokes and tall tales to be told at future gatherings. Many thanks to Jim and Sue for organising, and for the members of Oxford who made it such fun!