Us Brits are strange creatures. We are obsessed by the weather because it gives us something to moan about. We moan when it rains, which it does a lot. We go bonkers when it snows. The funniest British reaction however is to the heat.
The reason Brits are so funny in the heat is because we’re not used to it. We talk nostalgically about summers of past, when it was ‘really hot’ and we think of them fondly. When the temperature ticks over 30 degrees though, we just don’t know what to do.
Jess and I try not to stick to British stereotypes. The heat however really tested us in the last few days of our time in Germany. Neither of us moaned about the heat; but I could tell we wanted to. It simply made our plans more… difficult.
We wound our way out of the Rhine Valley in Germany, where castles seemed to be strewn all over the landscape in an almost haphazard way. Eventually we returned to the real world and back onto the German Autobahns. We were making our way to Bamburg. Bamberg, a UNESCO world heritage site, is another achingly pretty German town. The architecture coupled with it’s canal and river system make it very pleasing to the eye. This is not why we were here though. The town holds a wild card and that wild card is beer brewing.
Hundreds of breweries sit in and around the area of Bamburg and a lot of them brew in a very traditional way. What will attract beer lovers though, is the variation. If you’ve ever visited a beer hall in Munich you’ll know there is a large quantity of beer; but not variety. In Bamberg this isn’t the case. The town is also famous for brewing smoked beer. Drinking this beer is an experience similar to drinking liquified smokey cheese – try it!
We parked the van up at: Camping Insel, a relaxed campsite situated on the river bank. The heat was starting to cause some problems: the charger unit in our van had failed, meaning that the leisure battery (which runs all the habitual equipment such as fridges and lights) was not charging when we we’re plugged into electricity.
Undeterred we continued with our plan: to leave the van here for a few days and continue by bike. We’d read about a Bavarian bike tour in our book: Lonely Planet – Epic Bike Rides of the World. It promised to be an exploration of landscape and beer over a few days. Setting off in the heat of the day made us think: why are we doing this? We decided to start by visiting some of the breweries/bars in Bamburg, of which there are no shortage (see trip notes below).
We then headed over to Forchheim for our overnight stop along a canal path.
Forchhiem seems a pretty unremarkable town until you realise it has four breweries. The area of interest for us was Kellerburg, situated on the edge of the town in the hills of the forest. The natural rock cellars here were originally used for storing beer. Now it’s a bit of a’ bar crawl in the woods’ but definitely something we wanted to see. All was going well until we arrived at our campsite, which was not only really hard to find, but was closed and also seemed to be a holiday retreat for mosquitos. We ended up deciding to ride back to the van in Bamberg after visiting the caves, but the hassle with the campsite meant we arrived at the ‘beer caves’ too late to get food. Luckily we had some with us, and had a picnic at the caves.
Riding back to Bamburg wasn’t event free either. After trudging through some pretty horrible water as an unmarked cycle lane closure sent us into a building site. The same building work then prevented us from crossing the railway lines. It took us half an hour to get back in the right direction (bare in mind it was the early hours of the morning)!
The next few days were spent recuperating by the river and then at the local spa of Therme Obersees where you can camp in their car park with full facilities for only €10.
Our next stop was Czech Republic and the spa town of Karlovy Vary.
BAMBURG TRIP NOTES
The brewerys/bars we visited in Bamburg this time were:
- Brauerei Griefenklau – with an amazing biergarten overlooking the Cathedral
- Mahrs BrauIf – a good local feel with a shady biergarten
- Ambrausianum – a little more touristy but had a good wheat beer that tasted much like Bath Ales Gem
- Schlenkerla Rauchbierbrauerei – the smoked beer you may have seen over in the UK.
If visiting Bamberg I recommend getting a brewery map from the tourist information and choosing the bar/breweries you want to visit. There are a large number in the town and many more on the outskirts.
The area of Forchhiem called Kellerburg is situated on the edge of the town. If searching for it on google maps look for Annafest, which is a festival held there. Annafest does sound quite good fun and we may return some day to see!
VAN LIFE NOTES
Finding a replacement charger unit for a van proved a challenge. A very helpful Guy at Autohandel Jürgen Scholz GmbH, helped us diagnose what we suspected: the charger was kaput!
He recommended we bought a car battery charger as a temporary fix. This would charge the leisure battery when we’re on site. The fix has worked and we’re still using it now!