Thursday, May 5, 2016
My husband and I are huge fans of traveling by bike. We recently bought a Tandem (a Dutch Vittorio), in the company of which we have been exploring some well-known German bike tours. Since today is Ascension Day, a public holiday here in Germany, we decided to give the Altmühlradweg a try.
We first traveled by train to Ansbach, where we started our bike tour. We took a 16Km shortcut to Colmberg. Tired from the train journey, and since it was already late, we decided to spend the night there, in a medieval castle turned into hotel.
The accommodations were comfortable, but somewhat macabre (especially the bedroom, with its too small four-poster bed). Because the halls were decorated with stuffed animals – the ones who had been hunted down by the former owner of the castle back in the 19th century -, I could not help having the impression that I was staying in some kind of pet cemetery.
Friday, May 6, 2016
We left Colmberg at 10am and set off towards Großenried, where we were expecting to have lunch. After about 23Km, we stopped in the small town of Herrieden, where we bought fresh strawberries at a local market. The vendor proudly assured us that those were not common German strawberries, not even Bavarian ones… No, Sir, those were the much more special strawberries of Franconia! They tasted pretty much the same though.
As we continued the journey, the rear tire of our Tandem suddenly ripped itself after 3 km. That’s where we got to know our Pappenheimers: the camaraderie among the German cyclists surprised me. An old lady stopped to help us, and soon we were approached by a group of solicitous cyclists. A ripped tire is not something easy to fix in the middle of a relatively desolate road (no one had a spare tire), but the people there helped us to tie up the tire with an insulating tape, and we somehow managed to return by bike the 3km to Herrieden, where there was a bike repair shop. It took us 2 hours until we could resume our trip. It was about 16h30 when we arrived at Gunzenhausen, at about 26Km from Herrieden, where we finally stopped for lunch.
We had planned to travel to Treuchtlingen today, but, in addition to the torn tire, we made the basic mistake of not checking the wind direction and speed. The headwind was very strong, and we cycled less smoothly than we had expected. After lunch, we even tried to resume our journey, but we were very tired. We decided to stop in Windsfeld, a small village 7 Km from Gunzenhausen, where we luckily found a room in a small inn owned by a friendly elderly couple.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
We left Windsfeld at 9am and set off towards Treuchtlingen (about 20Km). There we visited the Fossa Carolina, a channel created during the early Middle Ages by Charlemagne (Charles The Great), intended to connect the Swabian Rezat river to the Altmühl river (the Rhine basin to the Danube basin). Then we took a shortcut to Weißenburg (10 km from Treuchtlingen), to visit the Kastell Biriciana, a former Roman fort, and the large Roman thermal baths.
Afterwards we traveled back to Treuchtlingen, and set off towards Pappenheim (about 8km from there), where we were expecting to have lunch. Here I should finally explain this post’s title: “I do know my Pappenheimers” is a German saying (“Ich kenne meine Pappenheimer”. We have the same saying in Dutch: “ik ken mijn Pappenheimers”), which originally meant something like “I know my peers”. Nowadays, it can also be used with a slightly derogatory or ironic meaning: something like “I know you made a mistake, but its ok, I know who you are”; when you call somebody a Pappenheimer, it means you know his weaknesses, as well as what you can expect of him. A Pappenheimer is someone whom, despite his mistakes, you cannot really be mad at.
The expression dates back to the Thirty Years’ War. The cavalry unit led by Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim was widely known for being brave and loyal, and the Graf used the expression “ich kenne meine Pappenheimer” to emphasize his trust in his troops. The expression was later borrowed by Friedrich Schiller in his drama “Wallensteins Tod” (Wallenstein’s death), the third part of his Wallenstein trilogy. At one point in the drama, Wallenstein, the chief commander of the imperial troops in the Thirty Years’ War, acknowledges the loyalty of the unit of Graf zu Pappenheim by saying “Daran erkenn’ ich meine Pappenheimer” (“Thereon I recognize my Pappenheimers”, “Thus I know my peers”).
Since it was already late (about 15h30) we didn’t find any place open in Pappenheim, and decided to eat a snack and continue to Dollnstein (20 Km from there). There we found a Biergarten and could finally have a proper lunch (which consisted of good old German greasy food). Afterwards, we resumed our journey to our last stop, Eichstätt (20km from Dollnstein), where we discovered that the station where we were to take our train back wasn’t located in Eichtätt itself, but 5Km from there. Very tired, but afraid to lose our train, we cycled this last stretch in a hurry. When we finally got to the Bahnhof, however, we found out that the train was delayed… Oh, well, I guess we know our Pappenheimers. 😉