19th September 2016. Würzburg, Germany.

Oh dear, we had a fantastic evening with Mark and Lucy but this morning Darren was suffering slightly.  He wandered over to take Lucy’s milk back and was very impressed to see that they’d gone out already.

We hopped on our bikes and cycled into town.  On our search for the Residenz we saw an archway and walked through it into a large courtyard with beautiful gardens. There were sculptures dotted around in the planting, one of which was a flock of blue sheep,

through another archway was another pretty garden, a tranquil refuge in the middle of the city and we found a cloister in the centre of the grand building.

After we’d had a good look round we went in search of coffee before we headed for the Residenz.

We found a nice cafe in the town square and decided to have lunch while we were there.  The café made very nice filled rolls and we ate ours sitting outside admiring the ornate buildings surrounding the cobbled square and watching people milling around the market stalls.

While we were out there we noticed that our bikes were getting a lot of interest, everywhere we’ve been people have stared at them.  The couple sitting a couple of tables away from us kept looking and as they walked across the square they kept looking back.   We saw another couple turn up on Tern folding bikes which had much larger wheels than ours and no one even glanced at them so maybe it’s the size of the wheels that intrigues people.

As we left we took the opportunity to buy some vegetables from one of the market stalls.  We’ve been intending doing this since we went to the market in Venlo (in May!) but have only seen a few markets and always just after we’d been shopping.  Darren decided to take a leaf out of Mark’s book and insisted I went to the stall by myself to choose the veg (which is fair enough since he’s done most of the talking while we’ve been touring).

I was quite proud of my achievements although my pronunciation was more than likely a bit off when I read the labels and Sod’s Law came into play when I wanted to buy a cauliflower but they hadn’t been labelled AND they were towards the back of the stall that involved an awful lot of pointing and head shaking.  I even remembered my numbers in German (luckily I didn’t need more than 10 of anything and I was stumped when the assistant told me the total, 18 Euros!)  The girl serving me was very helpful and very patient throughout the whole proceedings.

With my basket filled to the brim with veg we cycled through cobbled back streets to the Residenz.  The palace was enormous and it must have been opulent inside.

We didn’t go inside, we explored the gardens instead, which were amazing.  I loved the topiary yew trees, they had statues hidden in each one at eye level.  There were also living tunnels made from trees with statues of cherubs placed at intervals on either side of the tunnels.  The gardens were on different levels which gave a wonderful view of the perfectly symmetrical planting and at the top of the hill we could see the hills in the distance, of course that meant carrying the bikes up an awful lot of steps, I kept telling myself the exercise was good for me!

I mentioned to Darren that I’d expected to see lots of waterfowl and squirrels in the gardens as we often see in public gardens at home but apart from hearing a couple of birds chirping we hadn’t seen any creatures.   We decided to head out of the gardens and as we were cycling along the path on the top level I suddenly caught sight of a red squirrel sitting on the floor by a hedge eating a nut.  By the time I’d stopped and got my camera out he’d scampered up a tree and was noisily eating the nut there.  However he proved to be the perfect model, he sat and posed for ages so I took loads of photos of him, in fact the only reason I stopped photographing him was because a group of people walked up to the tree and started pointing and talking excitedly and the squirrel ran off.

We saw lots of red squirrels as we cycled through the gardens, they must prefer that area.  I was interested to see that German red squirrels looked quite different from ours, they didn’t seem to have the tufty ears and their faces were a different shape.

We cycled around Würzburg for a long time until it started to spit with rain then we made our way back only stopping at a little supermarket to buy some wine and crisps for the evening, in case Lucy and Mark came over.

We cycled back to the van but as we got to the car park I caught sight of the next bridge along and it seemed to have statues on it so we carried on cycling alongside the river until we came to the bridge.  It looked so interesting that we decided to ride over to it, however that turned out to be harder than it looked.  We eventually found a pedestrian tunnel that took us under the road then realised we still weren’t on the correct level for the bridge and had to cycle away from it to find a route up to the next level.  When we finally found the entrance to the bridge we stood and watched an ENORMOUS barge passing through the lock.  We didn’t realise quite how big the barge was until we saw a man standing on the edge of the barge guiding it through, he looked so small I only noticed him through my camera.

Having looked around the bridge I suggested we cycled to the end then go back to the van before it pelted down with rain.  However just at that moment we saw Mark (who had also been suffering from the previous evenings get together) and Lucy and they’d very kindly noted down a vegetarian shop and the name and position of a shop where we could buy some headphones and a splitter so we can watch a film occasionally without the rest of the world hearing it.  I’m always so worried that the sound carries from the TV that we’ve only watched it if we were somewhere noisy e.g. the festivals and during storms, mind you as those occasions were few and far between it’s given us a lot of time to catch up on some reading!

We found the headphone shop without any problem and bought some of those and we followed Mark and Lucy’s directions which had been very clear but we could not find the vegetarian shop.  At least it gave us the opportunity to explore a lot more of the side streets surrounding the town square.  We were determined to find the shop after they’d given us such clear instructions, we were beginning to wonder whether this was like Harry Potter and the shop had disappeared.  Suddenly I remembered Lucy mentioning bread and we noticed that the words ‘vegetarian and vegan’ were printed on the front window of the bread shop.  We had cycled past that side window umpteenth times and not seen it!

They had lots of vegetarian ‘meat’ and spreads but the shop was heaving with people and the food was extremely expensive so we didn’t buy anything there after all.  It wasn’t all bad though because we spied bottles of the federweißer (apparently it is fermented freshly pressed grape juice) that Mark had mentioned and shown us earlier, so we bought a bottle for the evening.

We cycled back to the van (again) and got inside just as the heavens opened.

Later after dinner Lucy and Mark came over for drinks.  Mark had already warned us that he couldn’t cope with another evening of heavy drinking and we agreed and told him we’d had more alcohol last night than in the whole year put together, it was the excitement of speaking to Brits again.  Mark had also brought over a bottle of the federweißer he’d mentioned, I was glad we had two bottles because it was absolutely gorgeous.  We sat and chatted for ages and suddenly realised it was 1.30 in the morning again.  That time just flew past.  I’m so glad Mark came over to introduce himself the previous day, it was lovely to get to know them and I hope we meet up again on our travels.

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