Regensburg was constructed by the Romans and later became the first capital of Bavaria. For over 600 years it was lorded over by dukes, bishops and kings. The past 2,000 years have left their mark on the city’s architecture and it was declared a World Heritage-listed site in 2006. The city sits astride the Danube at a point where the river flows gently.
It was here that an ancient stone bridge was constructed, and for centuries it was the only solid crossing along the entire length of the Danube. A canal was constructed alongside the river to carry vessels too large to pass under the low arches of the Steinerne Brücke.
Oskar Schindler made Regensburg his home for many years and a plaque has been mounted on one of his houses, noting his contributions to rescuing hundreds of Jews during WWII.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We first heard of Regensburg while chatting with German tourists who stayed at the Sweet Orange Guesthouse in Cape Town while we were there. We tried for many days to make a day trip to the city, only an hour and a half away by train, but we kept having issues with poor weather and headaches. We finally figured out what was causing the headaches, and when we saw that the coming Friday was supposed to have fair weather, we bought our ‘Bavarian Ticket’.
I’ll take a moment to tell you how impressed we are with the public transport system here in Munich (MVG). You can get almost anywhere in Munich and surroundings using a tram, the underground (U-Bahn) or a suburban train (S-Bahn). Add to that, the regional trains (Deutche Bahn – DB) and it’s easy and affordable to travel around Bavaria quickly and inexpensively.
When a couple or a family is travelling on public transport, they get a significant break on the fare. It’s possible to purchase a ‘Partner Ticket’ that allows up to five people to travel together, and even more if some of them are between the ages of 6 – 12. Two children of this age can travel as one unit, so parents with large families get a real break.
I think this must have been done to encourage people not to drink and drive, as five friends can purchase a partner ticket and travel together for the same price as two. The transport runs late into the night, so it’s a convenient and safe way to travel around the city. There is something quite similar for the DB regional trains. It’s possible to purchase a ‘Bavarian Ticket’ and up to five people can travel anywhere in Bavaria between 9:00am and 3:00am the next day.
We used this type of ticket to travel to Regensburg and back and the fare was only €29. The trip was less than two hours each way and we could have used the same ticket for the two of us to travel much further within Bavaria. I had heard that people often meet up at the ticket dispensers and one person buys the Bavarian Ticket and the others all chip in. There is a significant savings over each buying a single ticket.
Now back to telling you about Regensburg. We arrived just as one of the massive clocks near the train station struck noon. After crossing the main street in front of the train station, we found that the street into the Old Town had been closed to traffic and it made for a pleasant walk. The skies had been clear almost all the way from Munich, but we found heavy clouds just at the edge of Regensburg. We had anticipated this, and brought our umbrellas along. We strolled through the relatively quiet streets heading down to the Danube. I stopped to take a few photos along the way, but the skies made everything look a little dull.
I had read about a famous eatery that sits near the stone bridge, alongside the river. The Wurstkuchl serves famous sausages, cooked over beech wood and served on a bed of sauerkraut. It took us a little while to find a seat on the benches, but when we did, we found we were sitting with some German-Canadians from Toronto. They had just finished a five-day cycling trip through Bavaria and were famished.
They headed off towards their hotel when the light rain started and we stayed under the umbrellas to finish our meal. We thought the afternoon might be a washout, but suddenly the clouds parted and the rest of the day was delightful. I was happy to walk across the bridge, observe the canal boats drifting through the locks and snap photos of the historic buildings reflected in the Danube.
We walked through the winding streets of the Old Town and I stopped into a shoe shop and picked up a pair of sandals. Then we set off in search of a chocolatier that carried my favourite Belgian chocolate, Neuhaus. I was thrilled to find my favourite, the one I had purchased last fall in Brussels. I limited myself to six chocolates, all the same kind. I would have purchased more but they will be available in Luxembourg and Amsterdam later in our trip.
Our time in Munich is coming to a close and as we walked past several outdoor cafés, I remembered there were a couple of menu items I wanted to try before leaving Bavaria. The sight of the popular weisswurst (white sausage) has never appealed to me, but it’s supposed to be a Bavarian staple, eaten especially for a late breakfast, so I felt I should at least taste one. I noted that many locals order a drink, they call a ‘Spritz’, made with Prosecco and a dash of Aperol.
The weisswurst was served in a very attractive tureen, accompanied by a sweet gourmet mustard and a fresh pretzel. The fact that the sausage is boiled made it very unappetizing, but I found if I removed the casing, I could tolerate the appearance and texture of the meat if I smothered it in plenty of mustard. I did manage to get Anil to have a few pieces, and while we are glad that we gave it a go, it’s what you would call an ‘acquired taste’.
After whiling away more time admiring the beautiful buildings and photographing the most unusual baby carriage ever, we headed back to the station to catch the 5:45pm train. We felt for the price we were paying we should probably ride in the second-class carriage, but there were seats in a compartment that appeared to be almost first class. There were only four seats instead of the usual six, so we sat down and took our chances with the ticket collector.
She didn’t bat an eyelash when she came round to check our tickets, but I was a little worried when she asked me to write my full name on the face of the ticket. I though she might copy my name into her book and issue us a fine, but she just returned the ticket to me, nothing else. In hindsight, I think that it is done to prevent us from giving the ticket to someone else to use between the time we return to Munich, and the expiration of the ticket at 3:00am the next day.
We were exhausted when we returned to our apartment, and we shouldn’t have been. We were gone for over ten hours, but three of those were sitting on the train. I guess we were on our feet for much of the remaining seven hours, but the time flew by. The setting of Regensburg is lovely on a spring day when there are a limited number of tourists and the ‘season’ is just getting underway.
The people in the cycling group we met inspired us. Most of the riders were our age and since Bavaria is relatively flat, the riding isn’t a serious challenge. We made a mental note to return, next time on two wheels.