Day 2 - Rottenburg to Kelheim
Saturday April 28, 2018
It looks like it's going to be a hot weekend. We aren't complaining, just stating the facts. Actually, the strong sun is misleading. With a bit of wind and while riding it is still quite cool and very pleasant.
The highlights of the day are again stunning fields of canola, hilly countryside and the general burst of spring blossoms everywhere. However, I think what impresses me most are the small country roads we are on with next to no cars. The trick is to find them - the roads that is, not the cars. Either you are native to these parts and know your way around or you have been able to prepare a route using good maps. Which is one of the reasons I prize my Garmin so highly. It allows me to cycle a route that I have planned using detailed maps on the Internet. I wouldn't want to lug all those detailed maps with me and study them at each intersection. Often we are on roads, used mainly by farming vehicles, which are not signposted. Sometimes our route is a bit of a zigzag, but we are happy with that.
Our first sightseeing stop today is after about 11 km, the location of the famous abbey church of Rohr, part of the local Benedictine monastery. Our visits to so many churches are not for religious reasons and I don't know how many Bavarian churches I can subject my readers to, but the churches we visited make up an important chapter in the history of baroque architecture - and I have come to like it over the years. Perhaps it's an acquired taste. So please feel free to skip over this part if it's too much.
What is this bombastic decoration all about, anyway? In kind of a nutshell, the Baroque style used theatrical and ecstatic effects as a means of idealizing the sublime as opposed to the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of earthly goods. The theme momento mori (remember you must die) goes hand in hand with the exalted praise of heaven. From a psychological point of view, it was no wonder after the brutality of the Thirty Years War that life on earth wasn't so appealing. Seen from a political standpoint, the Catholic church was exhibiting its wealth and power.
Altar of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a masterpiece by Asam. This is an example of theatrum sacrum, (Latin for "sacred theater"), commonly used in Baroque representations of the story of salvation. It employed "theatrical" effects that should evoke emotional reactions such as overwhelming wonder and surprise.
Now for some earthly pleasures again - fresh air and sunshine. We get back on our bikes and as the land flattens, we head in the general direction of the Danube.
The Danube Bike Path is nearly empty except for a few people out for a Saturday ride and we enjoy having the path to ourselves. We don't have much further to go today, it's only one kilometer on the dirt track to Weltenburg and a few hundred meters more to the boat that will take us through the Weltenburg Narrows, a gap between the high cliffs on either side of the river.
Since it is a weekend with perfect weather, there are plenty of people in Weltenburg, either to visit the popular beer garden and abbey (yes, another church) or take the boat trip to Kelheim. We pass on the beer garden and its monastery beer and I take a fleeting look at the church and its splendid high altar and statue of St. George Slaying the Dragon. We've been here before and today there are way too many people.
When the ship docks, a crowd is already waiting to embark while another crowd disembarks. Bicycles are allowed on first - I think that is very nice since I don't want to be part of the push and shove that I expect to ensue when everyone tries to get the best seat on board. It's a short ride of about 8 km downstream. We get off the boat in Kelheim and cycle to the hotel where we have reserved a room for the night. We have also been here before. We know Cafe am Donautor rents rooms and serves one of the best breakfasts.
We clean up, rest and go out for dinner. There is still enough daylight to take a stroll through Kelheim and snap a few pictures in the warm evening sun before we turn in for the night.