I seemed to have biked straight through a rift in the time-space continuum, disrupting my pleasant Saturday bike ride, and found myself in Eastern Oregon. The stunted trees, strawgrass, and oldwood barns looked in some places just like country near Prineville.
I rode from Bamberg to Kulmbach, a legendary brewing town in Upper Franconia, through a town called Hollfeld. The bike computer said it was a 72 km ride, but with the cold cold wind, and the hills, it took me all day and kicked my butt.
I have been seeing these doors built into cliffsides, imagining hobbits lived there. Or maybe Germans lived there in the days of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Frequently seen along backroads, most of the doors are rotting or missing all together; this one has been rebuilt and cared for. A local solved the mystery for me: before refridgerators, Franconians carved these holes into the rock for cold food storage, as the caves stayed cool year-round.
I'm back in Bamberg for a week, after two weeks in Munich. I wasn't able to take my bike with to Munich, and am fortunate to find good weather whilest my bike and I are reunited.
I stopped for lunch in Hollfeld, and after a wonderful local standard (Boiled ox breast served with horseradish sause, dumplings and cranberries) the chef chatted for a while about bicycle touring. Being a roadbike rider himself, who every year makes a weeklong, 900 km tour in the alps, I thought he might know where I might buy some cheap gloves. My fingers had been freezing due to undercooperation of the chilly east wind. He just happened to have some workgloves he could give me, them produced a map I could have too, and pointed out a route to Kulmbach that would be extra good.
When strangers are so generous and friendly, the rest of the day seems filled with promise and goodwill. With my fingers and soul warm again, I headed northeast toward Kulmbach.
I followed his guidance best I could, losing it somewhere and not noticing until turning back to regain his path no longer made sense. The mistake actually proved a good one, as I rode through Felsengarten country. Felsengarten translates as "Rock Garden"; dolomitic rock outcroppings pop up everywhere in the Franconian Switzerland. In the middle ages, castles and fortresses were built atop these outcroppings, realizing a strategic vantage point.
Right about when I reached the Felsengarten Sanspereil, I took another gander at the map, finding that my current route would take me through Thurnau, a town I had seen last fall while slightly lost, looking for a place to eat lunch.
The castle in Thurnau is connected to the church via a bridge, making a rather striking visage. It had suprised me last fall, find this impressive castle by accident. I have learned since then, that there are so many fortresses, castles, palaces and old churches in Bavaria, you practically trip over them.