To the pages for Europe, Austria and Germany of the Trento
Trip to Germany and Austria
Davis Bike Club, Davis, California, USA
By Linda Bernheim (email@example.com)
This report details a van-supported, mostly camping, bicycle tour of
Germany and Austria taken by 29 members of the Davis Bike Club (Davis,
California) during 3 weeks in 1995. We were a varied group, aged from
9 to 70ish, and included families, couples, and singles, riding 7
tandems and 22 single bicycles. Part I gives
information about our route, and where we stayed each day. Part II gives a glimpse into how this group went about
the co-operative planning the trip.
The distances given are from my cycle computer. The total is about 980 km,
slightly less than we had originally planned due to some rainy day train
riding. Our large group split up each day to ride as we chose, so the
sights I mention are those my family visited. The route we followed is
primarily taken from:
EUROPE BY BICYCLE by Karen & Terry Whitehall
We owe a large debt of gratitude to them, and I highly recommend their book
to anyone thinking of a European bicycle trip. I refer to the book as
"Whitehall" in the text below. I have given the addresses and phone
numbers of the places we stayed, with rates for summer 1995. Because of
our group size, we often received a discount from these rates.
Published 1993 in the U.S.A. by The Mountaineers, 1011 SW Klickitat Way
Seattle, Washingto 98134
Published in Canada by Douglas & McIntyre, Ltd
1615 Venables St. Vancouver B.C. V5L 2H1
Published in Great Britain by Cordee 3a DeMontfort St.
Leicester, England LE1 7HD
Part I - Day by Day
Sat 7/29 Davis - San Francisco - Frankfurt
We left Davis about 2 am Saturday morning for the 1 1/2 hour drive to the
airport by chartered bus. We watched helplessly as our boxed bikes were
thrown around by careless baggage handlers during airport check-in, and
wondered if they would arrive safely.
Sun-Mon, 7/30-31 Frankfurt - Heidelberg (13 km local
After our arrival at the Frankfurt airport, we loaded our bicycles in the
rental van, then took the tram from the International Arrivals Terminal to
the airport train station, a "local" train from the airport to the
Frankfurt main train station, a train to Heidelberg, and a bus nearly to
the campground. We walked the last kilometer to the campground. This
procedure had lots of problems, mostly related to the fact that our van was
not ready on our arrival. Riding away from the airport sounds ideal
compared to our troubles that day!
We spent Sunday afternoon assembling our bicycles (all had survived the
trip), and had all day Monday for sightseeing, then departed on Tuesday.
There is at least one campground closer than this one to Heidelberg, but
they did not want to accept a reservation for a group of our size.
Camping Haide Heidelberg
FAX: 6223-7 19 59
7.50 per person
6 DM for Van
Tues, 8/1 Heidelberg - Gundelsheim (71 km)
The day's ride along the Neckar River from Heidelberg to Gundelsheim gave
us our introduction to the bone-jarring gravel bike paths, which some
quickly learned to avoid! At least six castles could be seen from the
paths. At first we found the bike path signs small and hard to find, but
soon got used to looking for them. Don't miss the side trip to the
medieval museum and eagle show at Berg Guttenberg. It's up a steep hill,
but well worth the effort. The town of Gundelsheim is an easy walk from
the campground, and we found several restaurant choices there for dinner.
Many of us enjoyed a long walk around the town after dinner.
This campground was quite nice; a good walk (though not as long as some
others) to the bathrooms & showers from the tent camping area.
Phone: 0 62 69/14 45
6 DM per person
10 DM per tent
Wed, 8/2 Gundelsheim - Bad Mergentheim (93 km)
One group of us headed UP (10% grade, as I recall) to Bad Wimpfen after
leaving Gundelsheim, enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the courtyard of a
bakery, and toured the church, and Red and Blue Towers, and had a
spectacular view out over the river. We never did find the "ruined palace"
mentioned in Whitehall.
Riding through the Jagst Valley was peaceful and beautiful. Lunched in the
town of Mochmuhl. Some toured Gotzenburg Castle near Jagsthausen, and raved
about it. My group toured the Kloster Schontal - the first of many
gorgeous restorations we enjoyed on this trip. We shared our first (and
last) Schneeball at the bakery here.
As usual, this campground is at the top of a hill, and is several
kilometers from Bad Mergentheim. We were disappointed by the lack of
promised washer-and-dryer facilities - by now we had exhausted our supplies
of clean clothing! The food in their restaurant was delicious, though our
numbers overwhelmed the kitchen.
Campingplatz Willinger Tal
97980 Bad Mergentheim
Phone: (0 74 31) 2177
6 DM per person
9 DM per tent/car
Thurs, 8/3 Bad Mergentheim - Rothenburg ob der Tauber (57
My family got up early and headed straight for our campground at Detwang,
in order to make the 13:30 tour of Rothenburg and be first in line for the
washing machines at camp. We never managed to obtain the bike map of this
route mentioned in Whitehall, and found ourselves stopping at nearly every
corner to find the Taubertal Radweg (the Bike Route) signs.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber was the favorite town of our trip for many of our
riders. (Hint: Don't bother to ride your bike up the path - it's a short,
extremely steep walk, and you will be better off walking around the town).
Most took either the night watchman's tour or the afternoon tour of the
town. Did lots of shopping, especially in the impressive Kathy Wolfart
Christmas Stores (go in to look, even if you aren't shopping!). I had
expected to be overwhelmed by the crowds in Rothenburg, but didn't find
that at all. The intermittent rain, and the fact that the town walls were
closed due to damage from earlier storms, may have had something to do with
that. My daughter and I enjoyed the doll museum, as well as the Criminal
Museum. This has much, much more than the instruments of torture that it
advertises - the collection of old manuscripts, some with a dozen large wax
seals attached particularly caught my eye.
There are two campgrounds at Detwang, at the bottom of the hill that
Rothenburg sits on. This one was willing to reserve for our large group.
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber-Detwang
Phone: (09861) 6191
FAX: (09861) 6160
7.5 DM per person
8 DM per tent
Fri, 8/4 Rothenburg - Dinkelsbuhl (57 km)
Leaving Rothenburg, we stopped to admire the Topplerschosschen (a summer
castle) and the Doppelbrucke (double decker bridge.). Mostly followed Road
25 today, headed for Wornitz. We ate our picnic lunch, including delicious
liverwurst in a shiny gold can, in a shady, little gazebo in Wornitz.
Whitehall doesn't mention the Bicycle Museum at Zumhaus, but the route took
us right past. We enjoyed the exhibits, and got to try out some of the
old bicycles (including a high-wheeler), and rested in the outdoor Beer
This campground is as nice as Whitehall describes, with great facilities,
including hair dryers in the bathrooms. We didn't try their restaurant,
preferring to head into town, a short ride away. We had another Italian
meal - delicious and filling.
DCC Campingpark Romantische Strasse
Phone & FAX: (09851) 7817
7.5 DM per person
11.50 DM per tent
Sat, 8/5 Dinkelsbuhl - Donauworth (83 km)
We stopped for breakfast at a bakery in Dinkelsbuhl, and learned that we
should always check the prices before we go in somewhere. This one was
extremely expensive. The directions and bike route were easy to follow
today, as we travelled through Wassertrudingen and Oettingen, where we
bought fruit at the market on the square. We followed the Wornitz River
into Harburg, parked our bikes and walked up to the castle. We'd have
liked to eat lunch in the town first, as it was 12:15, but for some reason
the cafes were closed. Instead we had a wonderful lunch on the castle
patio while waiting for the tour. This one is a smallish, privately owned
castle, that was absolutely charming. We skirted the city of Donauworth,
and headed on to our campground at Egglestetten, asking directions often.
Two riders had stopped at a fire station to ask directions, and the
firemen, sure that they would never find it, drove them to camp, after
giving them a beer!
After a relaxing swim in the small lake, we had an outdoor group dinner at
this campground, all arranged ahead of time. We were photographed for a
local newspaper, but the promised copy of the photo never arrived back in
86898 Oberndorf OT Eggelstetten
Phone: 0 90 02/40 44
FAX: 0 90 02/40 46
6.7 DM per person
8 DM per tent
Sun-Mon, 8/6-7 Egglestetten - Augsburg (55 km; 21 km in
Today's ride took us from Egglestetten to Augsburg where we hopped on a
train for Munich. The short morning in Augsburg gave us just time to see
the Fuggerri - a 16th Century public housing project. Fascinating! Our
two nights and one full day in Munich were spent on a variety of the usual
The travel agent arranged for this modern high-rise hotel, which was fairly
convenient to the train station, if a little noisy.
Best Western Atrium Hotel
Tues, 8/8 Munich - Prien (6 km to/from train station)
The ride from Munich to Salzburg is not given in the Whitehall book, and we
did some agonizing in advance about what the best way to go would be. In
the end, it was raining so hard each of the two days that all of us ended
up taking the train. Some bought tickets (and tickets for their bikes)
individually, others formed up into a group to take advantage of the group
fares, which are significantly cheaper.
We toured Ludwig's castle on Herrenchiemsee, which was fascinating, and a
few of us got to the quieter, Frauenchiemsee, with craft shops and summer
homes. These islands are visited by ferry, and bikes must be left behind
at the ferry dock on the mainland.
This campground was extremely overcrowded, and even though we had a
reservation, our allotted patch of ground was not nearly big enough for all
our tents. Definitely the worst camping situation we encountered! The
food in the restaurant was good, though.
Harrasser Str. 135
Phone: (0 80 51) 25 15
FAX: (0 80 51) 9046-16
7.3 DM per person
5.5 DM per tent
9 DM for Van
Wed-Thurs, 8/9-10 Prien - Salzburg
As I mentioned, we again took the train on this day due to the pouring
rain. Even without reservations, all 29 of us were loaded onto one train,
with our bikes in the baggage car. On arrival in Salzburg, we biked to our
hotel, and then were each free to enjoy whatever sights we chose. Even
though the Music Festival was on, the city did not seem overcrowded, and
was a joy to tour. One of our cyclists found that we could get tickets for
a musical performance at Mirabell gardens, and that was a highlight of our
visit. I can't wait to go back.
The Institut St. Sebastian was a pleasant place to stay. Newly remodeled,
it has lovely modern facilities. We had two dormitories, and several
smaller rooms. The adjoining chuchyard is fascinating, with the graves of
Mozart's wife and father, among others. This is just a short walk across
the bridge from the downtown section.
Institut St. Sebastian
Linzer Gasse 41
A-5010 Salzburg Austria
Phone: 0662/871386 or 883606
210 AS per person
Fri, 8/11 Salzburg - Braunau (83 km)
Quite an easy day of riding between Salzburg and Braunau. The highlight of
our day was Burghausen Castle - the longest castle in Germany, at 1 km
long. After buying picnic supplies in town, we walked up the path to the
castle, picnicked on the grass, the toured their museum. This was rather
like the "attic" of an entire town, and lots of fun.
The campground at Braunau was a pleasure after Prien - a big green lawn to
spread out on. The only drawback was a group of noisy singers in the
campground bar who kept us awake - but they did add atmosphere.
(also listed as Campingplatz Freizeitzentrum)
A-5280 Braunau am Inn Austria
55 AS per person
15 AS per tent
30 AS for Van
Sat, 8/12 Braunau - Passau (85 km)
Here we started working hard at finding roads instead of the gravel bike
paths - tired of that jarring! Mostly pleasant countryside riding with the
towns of Obernberg and Sharding.
Today's problem was realizing that when we got to Passau, the campground
was another 10 km away. And, of course, at the top of a hill! Fortunately
the young men driving our van were out along the road to meet us or we
would never have found this place. The campground in the center of Passau
is definitely a better choice, but, again, they hadn't wanted a group.
D-94113 Irring 23
Phone: 08546/ 6 33
7.5 DM per person
7.5 DM per tent
Sun, 8/13 Passau - Aschach (68 km)
Today, some took Danube ferries part of the way, others of us followed the
flat and easy cycle path to Aschach. Along here we started to see many
German and Austrian tourists, ladden with every sort of pannier, plastic
bag, homemade trailer, backpack...
Bathrooms at this campground about are 1 km from the group campsite - plan
ahead! Several got tick bites here - evidently they carry a fever peculiar
to this region, and they had to decide whether to get the shots
A-4082 Aschach Austria
35 per person
30-40 AS per tent
35 AS for Van
5 AS per bicycle
Mon, 8/14 Aschach - Grein (103 km)
This was our longest riding day - and it rained all day long. Some opted
for the train, but that meant skipping Mauthausen Concentration Camp. We
meant to make only a quick stop at the camp, but it was so gripping that we
ended up spending several hours in the buildings and exhibits, and seeing
the movie (in English). Be warned that it's a 14% grade up to Mauthausen,
but well worth the climb.
Many found rooms in the small town of Grein, since it was still raining,
and we were pretty sick of rain. The city campground was spacious, but
hard to find anyone to buy a shower token from!
20 AS per person
10 AS per tent
30 AS for Van
Tues, 8/15 Grein - Krems (90 km)
August 15 is a holiday in Austria, Assumption Day, but we had been
forewarned and knew the banks would be closed. Found the Melk Abbey
complex to be absolutely exquisite. The church itself was especially
beautiful. Outdoor cafes in town conveniently had awnings to protect us
from the rain. Next stop, Durnstein. A busy tourist filled walking town,
but worth going up the million (well, almost) steps to the castle ruin,
where Henry the Lionhearted is said to have been imprisoned. From the top
there is a gorgeous view of the Danube, and the towns in every direction..
Pleasant campground with a covered snack-bar (which quickly became our
headquarters during the continuing rain.)
A-3500 Krems/Donau Austria
Phone: 0 27 32/ 8 44 55
40 AS per person
30 AS per tent
70 AS for Van
10.50 AS local tax per person
Wed, 8/16 Krems - Tulln (50 km)
Pleasant cycling along riverside paths from Krems to Tulln. A short day,
but it gave us time to explore Tulln, which we found an easy place to shop,
and a lovely town. Time to start re-arranging our belongings for packing in
This is the only campground where we had a campfire - wood provided.
OCC Donaupark Camping
A-3430 Tulln Austria:
60 AS per person
30 AS per tent
70 AS for Van (estimated)
10.50 AS local tax per person
Thurs-Fri, 8/17-18 Tulln - Vienna (45 km)
Again a short day, to give us more time in Vienna. On arrival in Vienna,
we immediately retrieved our flattened bike boxes from the van, and packed
our bikes. All the bicycles would be driven back to Frankfurt in the van
by two group members, while the rest of us took the train. Once the boxing
was out of the way, we set out to see Vienna. The 24 hour transit passes
were ideal for us, and we learned to use the underground as well as the
wonderful red trams.
The Hotel Academia is one of several student hotels in Vienna. Individual
tourists and athletic teams, as well as students, were staying there. Our
rooms were very small doubles, with private baths. Simple, but clean and
very adequate, with a location quite near the old parts of the city.
A-1080 Vienna Austria
doubles: 320 per person
Sat., Sun. 8/19-20 Vienna-Frankfurt-San Francisco-Davis
Leaving Vienna by train on Saturday afternoon, we arrived about 7 hours
later in Frankfurt. We were met by our drivers, who had already found our
hotel, and figured out how we could get there by public transportation and
foot. By far the most luxurious place we stayed, this one was arranged by
the travel agent. Another stormy evening with torrential rain, thunder and
Sunday morning, the hotel van took us to the airport in several trips,
where some of our hard working crew had already unloaded our boxed bikes,
and returned our rental van. The flight home is a blank for some of us - I
even slept through the meal! Our charter bus met us at the San Francisco
airport, and in another hour and half we were home in Davis.
Part II Planning the Trip
This trip was a cooperative venture of the cyclists participating. We did
our own planning and arranging of most details, but a professional travel
agent arranged the airline tickets, hotels in Munich and Frankfurt, and
purchased some of our group train tickets. He also arranged for the van
rental. All members of the group were expected to help in various ways,
but about 6 of the members were most active in arranging the details of the
Beginning early in 1993, more than two years ahead of our departure,
members of the Davis Bike Club interested in a trip to Europe began to
meet. First we had to choose a destination, then figure out how to raise
money and complete plans for the trip. Our club has a history of very
affordable trips for its members and this was to be no exception. Sample
itineraries were planned for England/Scotland/Wales, for Scandinavia, and
for Germany/Austria. For reasons of rider interest, cost, and terrain, the
group voted for Germany/Austria. And the work began.
Because we started planning so early, it was hard to get firm commitments
from those interested. At one time our ranks swelled to over 40. As the
person trying to make reservations, I was quite concerned about having an
exact number of people. I also felt strongly about limiting the group to
no more than 24 people. Those who had done this before felt that to limit
it from the start would mean too few people to qualify for group airfare by
the time we left. In the end, we benefitted financially from the hard work
on fundraising done by those who ended up not going, and had a workable 29
people along. Throughout the two years we usually met monthly.
Money & Fund Raising
Our club provided some financial support for this tour, and we raised money
in a variety of ways. Because the Davis Bike Club was sponsoring a
two-year series of qualifying Brevets for the Paris-Brest-Paris Ride in
1995, we were asked to provide the rest-stops and SAG support for all of
these rides, in exchange for additional financial support. This was a
large commitment of time and effort over two-years. We also sold bags of
locally grown oranges at Christmas time, and "Entertainment Books" of
coupons which are popular here, and are often sold by groups raising money.
We also put on a Century Ride (a 100 mile bike ride) in May 1994 and May
In addition to participation in our own fundraising activities, tour
participants were required to help with club events. This is required of
participants in any of the many club trips throughout the year.
Each person was required to pay deposits of a hundred dollars at several
points during the planning. These were ultimately returned to those who
did not go on the trip. Our group opened its own bank account, and we had
one member as treasurer, who provided us statements every month or so.
The group member arranging for our tickets contacted a travel agent early
in the planning and the agent began negotiations with Lufthansa for group
tickets from San Francisco to Frankfurt, and Vienna to San Francisco. In
the end, this did not work out, and just a few months before our departure,
final arrangements were made for us to fly Continental Airlines, roundtrip
from San Francisco to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to San Francisco. This was
quite a bit cheaper than the "open jaws" plan, but necessitated a train
trip all the way back to the start, and. An additional small van
was required to carry some of the bikes that wouldn't fit. Fortunately we
knew this ahead of time, due to the careful calculations of our planners.
In determining the van and bus capacities, they computed box dimensions and
cargo area sizes.
Book, Maps and Information
In choosing campgrounds, my primary resource was an ADAC camping directory,
in German, that my sister had brought me from Germany. I wrote to the
Tourist Office in every town we planned to stay in (whether I knew they had
one or not!), and to the German and Austrian tour offices in the U.S. Each
provided a list of campgrounds in their country. As previously mentioned,
the primary resource for our route planning was the Whitehall's book,
Europe by Bike. I also had many other guidebooks, including "Let's Go!",
"The Berkeley Guides", "2 to 22 Days in Germany, Austria and Switzerland"
by Rick Steves (which I especially liked). I also got every book I could
find on cycling in Germany. I found something of value in every book I
purchased. In all, I spent around $100 on books; a small investment for a
trip for 29 people. I tore out the relevant sections of each book, and
left the unneeded parts at home to cut down on weight.
We were fortunate enough to have a set of German "ADFC Radtourenkarte"
(bike maps) for the areas we planned to visit sent to us by one of our
German friends. These maps are wonderful for cycling and well worth their
cost in the information they provide. I was never able to find them for
sale in the U.S. I also had a German road atlas in approximately the same
scale, which was interesting for comparison (again, I brought only the
relevant pages along on the trip). Maps of the bike path along the Danube
had been provided by the Austrian tourist office.
Once we determined the basic route we would follow (from Europe by
Bicycle), I began to try to locate camp grounds along the way, using the
books and maps mentioned above. I wrote (in German, with assistance) to
every place we were considering. I requested replies in English if
possible, and about half responded in English, half in German. By the time
I started receiving replies, I was enrolled in a night-school German class,
and could bring things I didn't understand to class - a great help!
Problems encountered were places which would not take reservations and
places not able or not wanting to accommodate a group of our size. We
ended up with one campground which did not take reservations (at Grein)
because there was no alternative. I spent some uneasy moments worrying,
but it worked out fine.
About 3 weeks before we left, I sent a postcard to each campground
reminding them of our arrival date, and the size of our group. I had good
intentions of calling ahead each day, but never did. I communicated by FAX
with a number of the campgrounds - a method much faster than the mails, and
seemingly preferred by some places. I put my FAX number on all
correspondence. As the departure date drew near, I still hadn't heard from
several campgrounds, so my daughter used her college German to telephone
them, and confirm our reservations.
In Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, we did not camp. In each of these cities,
we stayed 2 nights in some sort of indoor accommodations.
Our Munich hotel was a large, high-rise, with all the amenities, arranged
by the travel agent. I had written to a number of hotels listed in my
guide books, but none could accommodate a group our size. In Salzburg we
stayed in the memorable and beautiful Institut St. Sebastian. We had
several small rooms, and 2 10-person dormitories, all newly refurbished,
and lovely. In Vienna, we had "student" accommodations at the Hotel
Academia: tiny rooms, in a large, convenient high rise near the center of
town. A good bargain.
We connected two tours from Europe by Bike, by Karen & Terry Whitehall:
Tour 10 from Heidelberg to Munich and Tour 11 from Salzburg to Vienna.
Their book and directions were indispensable for our trip and I highly
recommend purchasing it if you are planning a European bike trip. We found
the route very pleasant and varied; I would choose the same way again.
Having been warned about the crowds in August, I was quite apprehensive,
but the Danube Cycle Track was the only place we really saw crowds of
cyclists. They, and their bicycles, were so interesting, that we didn't
mind at all. Rainy days kept the less hardy at home, too. The route was
not always easy for everyone to follow. EVERY WORD of the directions in
the Whitehall's book is important, but signs get moved, paths are
re-routed, and sometimes you blink at a critical turn. Despite their
meandering, all the members of our group always got where they were going!
And sometimes the "detours" are the best part. There were quite a few
gravel paths, especially early in the trip, which those with really skinny
tires learned to avoid. The phenomenon of the disappearing path was
something we never really understood: one minute you are on a well-marked
bike path, and the next, it stops dead in a farmer's field. The only time
cyclists encountered trouble with traffic was when they had strayed from
the planned route. In general, we found the roads we were on very lightly
travelled, the automobile traffic very friendly.
We rented a bright green Mercedes van, arranged ahead of time for pickup at
the Frankfurt airport. After long delays obtaining the van, it served us
well for the entire trip. The plan was for most members of the group to
take their turn driving on a rotating basis, as is usual on our club trips.
The two sons of one family became our "official" driver and navigator, by
their own choice, however. They drove nearly every day, but would often
cycle back out the route to direct us into camp. Those of us who would
MUCH rather be biking than driving really appreciated their preference for
A Few of the Things We Learned
You CANNOT plan too much for a group. Campgrounds which provided the least
information on their location were invariably located in the most obscure
locations. Get all the details you can about everything!
What wonderful people we were travelling with. Despite the ups & downs
(RAIN!), everyone always got to camp, and always made the best of
What helpful, kind people live in the regions we were travelling in.
Automatic bank-tellers are not too dependable in small towns. Those
relying on these machines for cash were sometimes seen borrowing money from
their friends. Bring some travellers checks or cash if you'll be staying
in small towns.
Learn at least a little of the language - you'll enjoy your trip and learn
a whole lot more!
Don't forget a bell for your bicycle. It's essential on German and
Bring the barest minimum of clothing. We found automatic washers (and
dryers especially) very small and hard to come by. And the sun
Expect to have a wonderful time, and plan to come back to see everything
you didn't get to the first time!