Category Archives: Mushrooms

Cycling along the Danube – the Weltenburg Narrows

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

Every time we move onto a different section of the Danube, we tell ourselves that it can’t be better than the last one, yet we are never disappointed. After leaving the Austrian S-bend yesterday, we moved to a little village near Kelheim in Bavaria with the unpronounceable name of Niederleierndorf where we are renting an appartment for 5 days.

The little village of Niederleierendorf
The little village of Niederleierndorf

It’s not as conveniently located as our other accommodation has been, but it is quiet and comfortable (if you exclude the impossible down pillows and creaky floor) and at least I’ve been able to do my washing again!

One of the gate towers in Kelheim
One of the gate towers in Kelheim

We’ve been to Bavaria and Kelheim before – we can’t remember exactly when but we think it was in 1998 or 1999. In any case it was before we started our travel journal or  had a digital camera which means that we don’t remember a lot of the places we have already been.

A wayside crucifix on the bike path
A wayside crucifix on the bike path

After unpacking the car and doing some shopping, we drove a half an hour to the Danube and cycled 15 kilometers upstream Kelheim, having a few problems finding our way as we got closer to the town. We’ve discovered that the Eurovelo 6 bike route isn’t nearly as well indicated here as it is in Austria and at the source of the Danube. We made a wrong turn and I misinterpreted what Jean Michel said and we both went off in opposite directions. Good thing we had our mobile phones.

50 cl coke in Kelheim
50 cl coke in Kelheim

I had absolutely no recognition of Kelheim and its four town gates. Otherwise there isn’t much to see. We had a giant diet coke at a riverside gasthof (all drinks are served in large quantities here: 50 cl for beer and coke, 20 cl for wine) and cycled back to the car.

Kloster Weltenburg
Kloster Weltenburg

Today, we drove to another town on the Danube, Neustadt an der Donau, to begin our cycling itinerary, this time downstream to the famous Weltenburg Abbey, founded by Irish or Scottish monks in about 620, and held to be the oldest monastery in Bavaria but nowadays more famous for its beer. We took the cycle path along the Danube which was mostly gravel and not very comfortable.

Beer garden at Weltenburg
Beer garden at Weltenburg

We did remember the Abbey from last time even though we’re not beer drinkers. It’s a very festive place with a big biergarten and much activity on the river. Last time we saw a sort of floating party boat with everyone singing and drinking beer.

The organ at Weltenburg Abbey Church
The organ at Weltenburg Abbey Church

We visited the abbey church with its many angels and cherubs and its ever-present gold, marble and stucco.

Pfifferlings und kalb
Pfifferlings, knodels und kalb

We had lunch in the beer garden, sharing a long table with a group of Bavarians, and selected two dishes from the menu, all in German, hoping for the best. Mine, which I had identified as having chanterelle mushrooms (Pfifferling), veal (kalb) and potato noodles (knodels), was excellent, but Jean Michel’s suckling pig  turned out to be vol-au-vent and not nearly as good (I have a German dictionary app on my iPhone but it doesn’t run to such complicated vocabulary). We shared, which was a good thing because we had pratically finished my dish before his even arrived!

Weltenburg Narrows also called the Danube Gorge
Weltenburg Narrows also called the Danube Gorge

We then took a 20-minute boat ride down the river to Kelheim, through the narrowest and deepest part of the Danube. River traffic is regulated and the engine makes very little noise. You feel as though you are gliding along the river.

Gasthof Berzl in Kelheim
Gasthof Berzl in Kelheim

After coffee at our riverside gasthhof in Kelheim we tried to find a wooden boat to take us back to the Abbey as the cycle path is not able to follow the river so you have to ride up a lot of steep, uninteresting hills on a busy road.

Boat with its silent engine on the Danube
Boat with its silent engine on the Danube

No wooden boats were in sight however so we gave up and took the same boat back (well, a larger, more luxurious one). This time it took 40 minutes – we were going against the current – and we had more time to appreciate our surroundings. Jean Michel spied some cyclists on a path along the river bank and was starting to get upset that we might have missed out on something, but the path which in fact was an old tow path, petered out when it got to a large rock at the beginning of the gorge.

A smaller monastery on the banks of the Danube with a troglodyte church
A smaller monastery on the banks of the Danube with a troglodyte church

Before engines were invented, horses on the tow paths used to pull the boats upstream. A rope bundled up in hay so it would float was attached to horses waiting on the other side of the rock, thrown into the river and floated downstream to the boats so they could be pulled around the rock. Now isn’t that clever?

A field of hops
A field of hops

To avoid the gravel road again, we chose another bike route back to the car but due to the deficient signposting and despite two different cycling maps we took a few wrong turnings through the never-ending hop fields. We got back to the car just in time to buy some more speisequark at the supermarket. Now I bet you don’t know what that is!


Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Gondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany – Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday

An Autumn Walk in Les Grouets

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

The sun’s shining outside and we’ve just had lunch. Instead of getting back to work on a very boring translation and the Big Fireplace Operation respectively, I suggest to Relationnel that we go for a walk. What’s the point of living in the country if we can’t make the most of autumn? Relationnel immediately agrees so I put on my big thick walking shoes and off we go.

Closerie Falaiseau in autumn

We turn right out of the gate and walk down the road until we get to the railway underpass. We turn right again, up the hill, to the forest. I see there is a sort of path on the right, so we walk along that. Then I see a cyclist bearing off to the right once more and suggest we follow him. We keep going until we come to a sort of clearing.

Forest clearing

In front of us is a fairly steep slope and I realise this must be what Alain meant when he talked about being in the forest and seeing the tree tops. The light is amazing and it really is very beautiful and peaceful. We come out of the forest and past a field of stubble, then through a bower of trees that have already lost their leaves.

Natural archway of trees

At the end of the path, instead of continuing straight ahead, we turn right to explore the houses which Relationnel tells me overlook ours. I’m amazed that he knows where we are as I have lost all notion of geography by this time. We then start walking through brambles and Relationnel lets slip that “according to the satellite photo, this should take us back to the other path”. Ah, now the secret’s out ! He’s been checking out Google maps.

Ring of agaric mushrooms

We finally have to turn back because the brambles are getting too thick and I am wearing my only decent anorak. We connect up to the field of stubble again and Relationnel finds a Marasme des Oréades (Marasmius oreades) but there’s only one so we don’t keep it. Then we see a whole ring of agarics but they’re on private property which means we obviously can’t pick them even if there’s no fence. A little further on, we see a little group of parasol mushrooms somewhat past their prime huddling together in the sun.

Parasol mushrooms huddling together

We go past a few more houses and I see a delightful little number plaque with blue shutters and a blue bike. Now, I wonder what sort of plaque I could find for a house that’s 400 years old and has mullioned windows and a half-timbered tower? And I wonder whether Mei Lun’s beautiful drawing of Closerie Falaiseau could be made into a plaque.

N° 13

Suddenly I recognise where we are – we’re walking down a road called Rue de la Grande Filaire that I’ve never wanted to take because we usually approach it from the bottom on our bikes and it looks like a long haul up ! So we turn right and walk down Rue de l’Hôtel du Grand Pasquier that eventually meets up at the church on the corner of our road. Another 15 minutes and we’re home, delighted with our lovely autumn walk and ready to get back to work.

Mei Lun’s sketch of Closerie Falaiseau

Tips for visiting Venice during Acqua Alta (“high waters”) – Fungi Foray in the Foret de Loches – Toll Booth vs Vignette

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

This Wednesday’s blogger round-up starts with Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, giving us tips for visiting Venice during the high waters that regularly flood the city (I’ll let you discover her other posts on the same subject); Susan from Days on the Claise shares a more scientific approach to mushroom collecting while Andrea from Rear View Mirror gives an excellent rundown on motorway tolls in the different countries of Europe.

Tips for visiting Venice during Acqua Alta (“high waters”)

by Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, an American by birth, Swiss by marriage, resident of Paris with a Navigo Pass for the metro that she feels compelled to use

Now that my feet are dry and I have access to a reliable internet connection, I’ve thought of a couple of tips in case you’re ever on holiday in Venice during acqua alta (“high waters”).

Fashion: Whether you’re a hairstylist working in a flooded salon or a couple of hipsters, Wellies are a must-have item when water from the Adriatic Sea flows into the streets of Venice. This new trend has reportedly spread to France because alert fashionistas spotted a large number of people wearing rubber boots as they disembarked from an EasyJet flight arriving at Paris Orly Airport late last night. Read more

Fungi Foray in the Forêt de Loches

by Days on the Claise, an Australian living in the south of the Loire Valley, writing about restoring an old house and the area and its history

This is Part II of an account of an outing to the Foret de Loches by the Association de botanique et mycologie de Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine. Part I is here.

According to Jean-Pierre, we may be in for a very good fungi season. In the autumn following a hard winter or a prolonged period of dry, the mushrooms are often abundant. Since we have had both this year, perhaps we should expect to be overwhelmed by fungal fecundity! Read more


Toll Booth vs Vignette

by Andrea from Rear View Mirror (formerly Destination Europe), a fellow Australian who, after 6 years of living in France, has given up herParis apartment to live a nomadic life slowing travelling around Europe, experiencing each destination like a local.

If you plan on driving on major highways around Europe be prepared for the added cost that often comes with it. Many countries charge a toll for their use and this is either paid at a toll booth or with a vignette/sticker which you stick on your windscreen.

Toll Booths

Toll booths are surprisingly quick to pass through, provided you aren’t driving during peak time like when the August summer holidays are on. There are a few options when it comes to which lane to choose:

  • Manual – Paying the booth attendant directly is usually the slowest alternative but if you want to pay by cash or if you’re worried about using your foreign credit card this is the way to go. These lanes are usually marked with the image of a man leaning out of the toll booth Read more


The First Mushrooms in our Wood

Print pagePDF pageEmail page

When Relationnel arrived in Blois on Thursday evening, he immediately went up into the little wood behind the house which is part of our property and reported that there were some white mushrooms that he wanted to check out next day when it was light. So next morning, I put on my thick walking shoes and we went up to explore. We were delighted to find a whole basketful of what looked like wood mushrooms (agaricus silvicola).


However,  since there is a risk of confusion with other agarics, he naturally wanted to make sure they were edible, particularly as they had turned a slight yellowish colour when picked. We had already been careful to pull them out completely to check there was no volva on the end.  The volva is a ruptured, sack-like covering at the base of the mushroom’s stem which is mainly present in poisonous mushrooms.

Checking for the aniseed smell

Relationnel got out his reference books to check. The most distinctive thing about agaricus silvicola is its aniseed smell, which our mushrooms were lacking. Although he was not able to identify the species, he sensibly said we would throw them away. That is one of the first rules of wild mushroom picking as some are deadly.

Parasol mushroom

However, it made me want to go mushroom picking so after lunch, we set out with Mei Lun to search the forest where we found quite a lot of summer ceps this year. We put on our “mushroom eyes” and the first ones we came across were parasol mushrooms (coulmelle in French) from the Lepiota family.

Cep hidden under the autumn leaves

Relationnel spied the first cep and called Mei Lun over to look. Even knowing it was there, she found it hard to see it among the autumn leaves. Once the leaves were removed, she could see it clearly.

Cep after leaves have been removed

We kept searching and Relationnel and I found quite a very reasonable number of large ceps, including a double one!

Double cep

Mei Lun got increasingly frustrated, regretting that she hadn’t brought her other glasses! She saw lots of other mushrooms, but each time, they were inedible. I reassured her that she was already well on the way to finding a cep herself. Whenever I found one, I called her over so that she could see them in-situ and memorise the vegetation. Imagine her delight when at last she found one herself!

Mei Lun finds a cep!

That night, Alain cooked up a lovely fresh line-caught bass which went perfectly with the parasol mushrooms and ceps.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...