When you think Germany, what images come to mind? Lederhosen, pretzels, beer, sausages? If that sounds about right, you are actually thinking of Bavaria, a very special part of Germany.
But, what is it exactly that makes cycling and exploring Bavaria so special? As a Bavarian native, I am biased in thinking that Bavaria is one of the best places to visit. But I am willing to bet if you take a cycling trip through Bavaria you will agree with me. The word Heimat encompasses all things Bavaria. This word not only references the place a person is from, but it implies a cozy feeling of belonging, a strong sense of community and of maintaining a feeling of unique and unifying identity. This identification runs strong in Bavaria and it is palpable in the special atmosphere that is still alive in the quaint and original villages, the vibrant and sleek cities – both of which are full of history. You might think you are wandering through a fairy-tale as you walk or pedal through the beautifully-preserved streets that contain so many stories. And then, around the corner you’ll find yourself in front of a sleek and modern building that somehow manages to fit in! But, putting my own heritage and Heimat aside, there are many more reasons why Bavaria is so special. And many of these reasons are well illustrated in the fact that when people think of Germany, they are really imagining some key elements of Bavaria.
Here are a few!
- Bavaria is the largest of Germany’s 16 states and one of the oldest in Europe.
- Bicycle Bavaria and you will pedal by emerald lakes, lush rolling hills, majestic mountains under blue skies scattered with fuzzy white clouds.
- Bavarians identify strongly with their landscape, traditions and dialect. A certain portion of Bavaria’s population even wants a monarchy back!
- Pride in traditions is important here and its lively with celebrations of local culture. However Bavaria is not stuck in the past. It’s an economically strong state and home to several large corporations who operate world-wide, like Siemens, BMW and Allianz, to name a few.
- Munich, which is the beautiful capital of Bavaria and a very bike-friendly city, houses the German Patent Office and also a major branch of the European Patent Office. It’s an industrial and technological center but you wouldn’t know it, looking at the cobble-stoned alleys, the fairy-tale buildings and the scenic Isar-river.
- “Laptop and Lederhosen” a very popular slogan in Bavaria, and a nod to how tradition and progress can go together without sacrificing one or the other.
- And speaking of lederhosen and dirndls, which are beautiful dresses that are somehow flattering on every woman’s body! It is true – come and judge for yourself. This traditional type of clothing is alive and well and often worn for celebratory occasions, like weddings and traditional festivals, which are prolific throughout the regions and year.
- Beer Gardens! It’s hard to imagine a better reward for a day of cycling than a visit to one of Bavaria’s many beer gardens. They are a place to connect, eat, drink and have fun. Families, friends, and strangers all are warmly welcomed to join the long tables and share their stories. Like most Germans, most Bavarians have studied English at school for years and are quite eager to speak it whenever they get the chance. Bavarians at first glance may seem grumpy and smile less than Americans but they are friendly and welcoming, and eager to share.
- Bavaria is home to a number of internationally renowned sons and daughters, among them the inventor of blue jeans, Levi Strauss, the Dassler brothers, who are the founders of the sports apparel brands Adidas and Puma, the basketball player Dirk Nowitzki, and many more.
- Oh, and the dialect! The Bavarian dialects are an eclectic and musical-sounding modification of High German with their own colorful vocabulary, grammar, and even spelling. Even though the Bavarian dialects are not an official language, people take pride in speaking and understanding it and there have been attempts to create dictionaries.
And if that isn’t enough consider that Bavaria has more breweries than towns, it houses the most museums in Germany, it has the highest mountain, i.e. the Zugspitze in the Bavarian Alps, it has the largest lakes, e.g. Lake Chiemsee and Lake Starnberg! And of course, the clincher – scenes for the Harry Potter movies were shot in Rothenburg ob der Tauber where we stay two nights on our Bicycling Bavaria tours.
Bicycling Bavaria is a must do! So what are you waiting for? Get on your Radl (Bavarian dialect for bicycle), and join us as we cycle stunning landscapes and experience the best of Bavarian traditions!
Bicycling Secret Bavaria (8-day)
Jul 28-Aug 7