Day 11: Ehingen to Gunzburg - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 29, 2019

Day 11: Ehingen to Gunzburg

The Blue Hole!

At home, we had noticed an interesting alternate route from Ehingen to Ulm in our Bikeline guide, and decided to give it a try just for fun. Yesterday, Jacquie Gaudet also suggested it in the comments,we were set to go. We did wonder about the route, since we had not brought a GPS track for it. But this after all is Germany, so right outside our hotel was the following sign:

Typical German bicycle signage
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Signage like this continued all the way to Ulm (and beyond) so there you go.

An indirect route to Ulm
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The cycle up to Blaubeuren was fairly uneventful. We began with a forest of cranes. That's not so remarkable, especially in front of a crane superstore, but still you don't quite see that everyday.

The crane forest
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Scott AndersonNope, close though. Those are herons, as I’m sure Bill can confirm.
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2 months ago
Here is another kind of unique sight. I once saw this technique in a farm magazine. They had a special German name for it.
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Scott AndersonHolzertorte. We saw this in our German 101 class.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonDon't know where you went to school, but a google search yielded variations in Holzhausen, or wood houses. Holzertorte has an appropriate, to this blog, ring to it though.
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2 months ago
Laurie MarczakSurely a holzer torte would have more...layers?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonOh, it’s a house? How silly of me. I thought it was just another food pic.
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2 months ago
Finally, the shot only captures some of the gnomes at this house.
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The path followed a fairly enclosed valley, whose walls were chalk cliffs and outcrops. Quite  few cement type factories were taking advantage of the resource.

Outcrops along the valley edge
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The walls and outcrops house a number of caves. One of them had some parking in front and a locked gate for the opening. But a poster nearby showed a strange Venus like figure, seeming to indicate that it was in a museum in town. Dodie said "Take a picture", but I said "It's just a cave entrance!".  Well that turned out to be Hohle Fels cave, where a 2008 archeological excavation turned up the 40,000 year old female figurine.  Made of mammoth ivory, this is possibly the oldest such thing in existence. Good one, Steve.  Anyway, here is the wiki image:

The Venus of Hohle Fels
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We came to Blaubeuren and kind of ran through things in the reverse of their natural order. In natural order you have first the Blue Hole (or Pot) - the Blautopf. This is a blue pond like spring that well from a cave system in the mountain and is the source of the Blau river, which flows in its valley to join the Donau at Ulm.

No doubt the Blautopf spawned the location of the Benedictine monastery, just below it. The building dates from 1466, and we found it among the most beautiful and peaceful we have seen.

Around the monastery and down to the town, there are a series of buildings which again, are uniquely beautiful. So coming down hill, we have blue pool, monastery, and town. Oh well, since we arrived going up hill, we'll run the photos in that direction:

Beautiful buildings of Blaubeuren

The old town seems to have an eis cafe - missed that!
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The Benedictine Monastery

The monastery building is elegant, with a beautiful steeple
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As usual we much appreciated the herb garden.
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Cloister halls seem ideal for meditation
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A unique ceiling in the chapel
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The choir has a lot of excellent carving. The Abbott from 1475-95 contracted with the best carvers in southern Germany, headquartered in Ulm, to do the work. The wood is oak.
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This is carved oak too.
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I shot this in a mirrored table...
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Just a beautiful place
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The Blautopf

The deep blue of the pool makes it seem inviting for swimming, but of course this is not allowed. However the pool is connected to 11 km of  passages and shafts, and there is apparently a film of divers exploring it.

Beside the pool is a statue of the "beautiful Lau".  She is the subject of a fairy tale about a water nymph from the Black Sea who lived at the bottom of the Blautopf. She was apparently depressed at the Sea and came here for some R&R. It worked, and they say you can occasionally hear her laughing here.

The Blautopf
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The water rushes out. Sometimes is gushes forth extra fast - 15x this rate!
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The Beautiful Lau
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The turquoise will deepen if there are some weeks without rain. The pool is 22 meters deep.
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The pool and and the monastery
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We followed the Blau as it made its way down to Ulm. It really is blue, and maybe helps the Donau be blue, for a while.

The Blau is well named.
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All along we continued to look at the chimneys of rock in the valley walls, plus constructs like this ruin, on the edge.
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As we approached Ulm, we could see that it really is a big city. We passed by a large Ikea, and thought that it would be interesting to see what they have in a European one. We also passed Decathlon and Media Markt. For once, we did not need anything from these handy box retailers.

Outskirts of Ulm
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Ulm has a rather large walking zone, downtown by the Munster. Munster itself is very large and impressive outside, but has little decoration inside. I was disappointed, because I would like to have material to rival shots taken by Scott Anderson of late. It's hopeless, I guess, since he is in Italy.

The Munster looks impressive, but can not compete with Italian churches
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Suzanne GibsonNot true! :D
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Suzanne GibsonIt really depends on how definitions. If you define impressive as gold, pink cherubs, and over the top embellishment perhaps many of the Italian churches take the prize. On the other hand, there is the Wiesekirche near Fussen???
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2 months ago
Not a pink cherub in sight!
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One big plus about the Munster was that on the Munster Square was sitting a pastry shop and cafe. Inside was a terrific selection of tortes! Since we we are on the Donau, and approaching Austria, tortes in a shop on a Munster square have a great claim to authenticity!

This is the real thing!
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In the interests of calorie counting, Dodie and I are supposed to be splitting only one torte per foray. But I got sent in on my own, and there was a risk that I would say "one of each". As it was,  I could not see a way around getting the Prinzregententorte, since I had made such a fuss about it earlier in the blog, and the Nusstorte, since I am clinging to the notion that this is the one true torte. You can appreciate my dilemma, when you look at the selection confronting me:

Ok, not all of these are tortes!
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I came out with these two. I tried to discuss with the waitress if the Prinzregenten had the right number of layers, but to Dodie's relief she spoke no English and was immune from being bugged.
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We made out way through to the Donau Radweg, and after a whole day away I felt a thrill to be back at something so famous. At Blaubeuron I had begged for and somehow received a big fat Leporello style map covering the route all the way to Passau. So now I was eagerly watching every detail go by on the map.

At Leipheim we made a right turn and crossed the river, responding to some kind of sign we saw, and/or some misconception I had about where we were on my new map. Our destination was actually Gunzburg, about 5 km distant. We found ourselves bushwacking on a walking path through a forest by the river, trying to get over there to Gunzburg. Eventually we go fed up, and switched to bushwacking through farm fields.  Finally we made our way onto Gunzburger Strasse, and booted on in.

We have 3 GPS's and two maps, so what are we doing here?
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The only thing, once on a real road we had cars to contend with. Ok, it's Germany. We never have to be on the actual road. But there are still intersections and such. And we found drivers encroaching on the bike lane.  One reason for the traffic and frantic drivers could be that here we were 5 km from Legoland!

The feeling of fighting with cars continued even as we entered the Gunzburg old town, even into the walking zone, and right up to our hotel. Sheesh.

Fighting through the walking zone to our quiet hotel?
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This day had been in theory far easier than yesterday. The wind was less, the temperatures better. And yet, when I set out to walk up to our third floor room in the Goldener Traube, my legs objected. We've had it, they said.  Dodie was pretty tired too, so we decided to head onto the street to find some restorative hot food. We found it in the form of an Indian restaurant. In this "foreign" land of Germany, we felt right at home with the Punjabi family who run the restaurant. For example, since we know the Indian names of all the dishes so well, we were for once not trying to decipher German titles.

The dishes were truly excellent, affording at least enough strength to make it back to our room. We are hoping to recover over night to 100% or better, because there are an awful lot of days still to cycle. In this tour, there is no concept of a "rest day", since every destination is booked.  There has never been a real rest day in any of our past tours, so why start now? Hey wait, there is a day with 92 year old Aunt Sophie in Prague. If she has slowed down a little since we last saw her, I might be able to rest up dawdling along behind? For now, though, better quit and find some sleep.

Today's ride: 72 km (45 miles)
Total: 426 km (265 miles)

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Laurie MarczakI'm extra looking forward to Aunt Sophie meet-up (and Ronnie and Joe too yes?) post extra lots of pictures when you get there please!
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2 months ago