Friday, September 22, 2006 - Schwabach, Danube Gorge, and Landshut, Germany

Another day, another salami sandwich. After breakfast, we drove just a few miles south to Schwabach, home town of some of Tom's ancestors.

Tom's great-great-great grandfather, Johann Goetz, was born September 20, 1815, in Mantel, Bavaria, and came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sometime in the early 1800s. His wife, Barbara Rometsch, was born here in Schwabach on January 9, 1829. Her father, Johann Jacob Rometsch, was a braumeister in Schwabach at a brewery called Hassold Brauhaus. On January 14, 1839, while tending to equipment at the brauhaus, Johann fell into a boiling vat of beer. He died from his burns on January 15, 1839.

Street scene, Schwabach, Germany

We stopped in a little brewery-pub in Schwabach, Leitner Bräu Stub'n. Tom hoped to ask around if anyone knew anything about his relatives or the Hassold Brauhaus, but we ran up against a language barrier, so Tom and Brian drank a Leitner Weisse Schwabacher beer, we looked around, and left. We considered then going into the Brauerei Weller across the street, but there's no telling how many little breweries there are in Schwabach, so we gave it up. Maybe we'll have more time on a future trip.

Leitner Bräu Stub'n

I'd parked in a narrow little parking garage, which was a pretty tight fit for the Phaeton. I managed to extricate the car from its spot, only to have a friendly Germany man point out that I was facing the wrong way. I turned the car around and managed the tight turns to the exit, only to be flummoxed by the gate. As the machine kept rejecting my ticket, a line of cars began to form behind me. Finally, the same friendly German man, who was unlucky enough to be waiting behind us, came up and tried to explain things, but of course none of us could understand. He then took our ticket, walked off somewhere, came back and inserted the ticket in the machine, and the gate opened. Turns out you have to find a machine elsewhere in the garage to validate the ticket before you proceed to the exit. Okay, now we know. Boy, did I feel stupid. Thank goodness for the nice man who paid for us to park, or we may still be there.

So what CAN we do?

I hopped on the Autobahn and we zipped over to Regensburg. It sounded like a nice place to stop for lunch, but we abandoned the idea when we ran into a massive traffic jam and couldn't find an alternate route into the city. We stopped for a few minutes on the banks of the Danube River.

Danube River, outside Regensburg

Achtung, baby!

Thirty kilometers from Regensburg, we arrived at Kelheim. From here we took a cruise 40 minutes upstream through the splendid Donaudurchbruch (Danube Gorge). Along the way we passed the Befreiungshalle (Liberation Hall). Completed in 1863, the Befreiungshalle was ordered built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria to commemorate victory over Napoleon in 1815 during the War of Liberation. It is situated above the Danube River on Mount Michelsberg and dominates Kelheim's skyline.

Ferry through the Danube Gorge, Befreiungshalle in background

Divine Donaudurchbruch

The cruise took us to Kloster Weltenburg, a still active Benedictine monastery and the oldest monastic brewery in the world, circa 1050. We ate a late lunch/early supper on site at the Klosterschenke Biergarten. The food was great!

Klosterbrauerei, Weltenburg

The cruise downstream back to Kelheim took only 20 minutes. Back in town, Mooney did some shopping for her daughter Josephine, and I discovered I'd gotten a parking ticket. I failed to display a little paper clock designating what time we'd parked. At €5, I didn't get too worked up about it.

Mooney conquers Kelheim

South of Kelheim, we passed through Hopfenland Hallertau, the world’s largest contiguous hop-growing region. There are approximately 2000 hops farmers on 40,000 acres in this part of Bavaria, making the average size of the farms just 20 acres. These are independent farms, not part of a big co-op. Support the family farmer: Drink more beer!

Hopfenland Hallertau, after the harvest

Tom navigated us perfectly to our hotel in Landshut, the Hotel-Restaurant Weihenstephaner Stuben (€70 for a double), 40 kilometers from the Munich airport. This is Mooney's last night of vacation. She's got to get back to her kiddo and her jobs.

There was nothing to do right around the hotel, so we walked a couple of kilometers to the very cool Altstadt. The buildings are all so well preserved, they almost look fake. The 130-meter steeple of the Gothic Basilika St. Martinskirche is the tallest brick tower in the world. It was a beautiful night, so were able to spend Mooney's last night in Europe sitting outside the Cafe-Bistro Woch'nblatt watching the locals enjoy their Friday evening.

Continue to Day 6

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