Benediktweg

Day 1: Altötting to Burghausen

The first day of the tour is always an exciting time. We drove from Ingolstadt to Altötting to find a parking place for the week since our tour would be a round-trip. There was a lot of talk about strategies and what to do the first night or on the longer days, typical tour planning stuff, but it was also a bit of nervous chatter. We hadn’t been on tour for a year, and the Coronavirus was starting up an uptick in Germany. There were some doubts we could manage the tour and the hotels.

Coming into the town, there were many signs for parking areas, so we just kept going closer to the city center. We found a public parking area that doubled for the town’s Volksfest storage lot, filled with trucks and Biergarten tables and festival apparatus. Perfect. We selected a space directly at the front of the street, near the entrance. We hoped the hoards of vandal thieves looking to boost our car would be dissuaded from doing so in clear view.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain Calories Burned
02:11:47
hours
01:56:28
hours
34.97
km
18.01
km/h
37.44
km/h
150.00
meters
840
kcal

Getting the bikes off the car and preparing the gear started the tour for real. Checking the bags and brakes, lights, pedals, and all the fittings took a few minutes then we were off. And…2 minutes later we were in the direct city center and sightseeing. Because of Covid, we were hesitant to queue up for sightseeing in tight places. These were the days before mandatory FFP2 masks. Everyone was sporting their colorful cloth masks and not keeping much distance. Entrance restrictions had just started in this area, and people were more focused on hand sanitizing than distance.

After a short while, we left the center and headed out of town quickly, finding some greenery and a smooth bike path to the next village, called Neuötting, of course. We surged over the Inn river in a burst of tour-starting excitement then found the river path towards Marktl, the next little town.

We planned this first day especially short at about 35km. It was the first segment and the shakedown for our equipment and bodies. The bikes were smooth, and we were steady. In Marktl, we headed south, away from the river and into the farmlands of the Öttinger Forst on Alte Poststrasse. The secluded road was well-graded and more or less a direct shot into the tiny Mehring.

We hadn’t set a blistering pace, but for us, on the first day of a leisure tour, 18km/hr seemed lightspeed. We skirted around the gently rising Hechenburg hill and into the suburban neighborhood of Burghausen. Almost immediately, we encountered a railway tunnel with a nice high set of stairs to traverse down and up the other side. If you’ve tried stairs in clipless bike shoes, you’ll already know it’s a horror to navigate. My bike weighed a spritely 35kg with all the gear.

Our hotel was well situated on the main road, directly on our planned bike route. It may have been the very first day of hotel reopenings due to Covid. It was a typical business travel hotel without any business travelers. We learned only two rooms had been booked for the night, there was no breakfast, and no other hotel services besides a room and a key. Great, not a problem. We rolled our bikes through the lobby and direct to the room. In the shower and then out the door for some sightseeing.

Burghausen is home to the longest castle in the world, at about 1km. It is perched high about the Salzach river valley and runs outward on a peninsula-like cliff. It is really a castle complex with many free-standing and joined buildings, moats, bridges, and gates. At the very far end is the museum and tower. Off to the south is an impressive fortified wall that runs steeply down the cliffs, at least 500m across the front of Wöhrsee, then back up the farm hills across the valley.

We visited the castle, museum and had a walk to the far side of the lake. The old town of Burghausen is a meandering descent on the east cliff side of the castle, where we then toured some churches, had a drink, and then started the ascent back to our hotel.

Dinner was a funny affair since almost no restaurants were open, and those that were were reservation only. We had no meal reservations of any kind planned for the entire tour, so whoops. The Italian restaurant next to the hotel was open and agreed to seat us, but said very sternly: You have 30 minutes to eat dinner. So we ordered antipasti and pizza, downed a few beers, and made our deadline.

We were both asleep within moments of fluffing those pillows. That easy day we had planned turned out to be a long day of walking up and down hills and inside a medieval museum, with a short 35km bike ride to warm us up.