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Opposites dominate a motorcycle tour through the Palatinate. Shady forests in the south, sun-drenched vineyards in the east and swaying wheat fields in the north promise a varied two-day trip in southern Germany.
Literally in the border area, we curve over the narrow forest roads. While we are still rolling on German soil, the trees on the left already belong to France, more precisely to Alsace. Some time ago it was still legally possible to get to the other side via tiny, mostly graveled forest paths – for example the one from Schonau in the Palatinate to Wengelsbach in Alsace. But freedom is no longer that limitless today. New prohibition signs limit entry to the neighboring country to the better-developed crossings at Wissembourg or Lembach. We have decided to try every route, no matter how small, on the 1: 200,000 general map of the Palatinate to find out which is the most beautiful. A project that can ideally be tackled on a weekend. But we’re out and about during the week. Because firstly, the streets are then emptier and secondly, the curve section through the Elmsteiner Valley, which is closed on weekends, is open to bikers. Notweiler – Schonau – Fischbach is not a bad place to start. Forest alternates with lush green meadows. Between Fischbach and Eppenbrunn the Saarbach accumulates to a small pond, in front of which some bathers have already gathered. We also stop and jump briefly into the water. What a pleasure. Well refreshed, it goes on. We are now switching streams, however. Amazingly, along the Buchbach stream, the map does not show the green line for scenic attractions. Although the southwest of the Palatinate exudes almost American impressions: bizarre, red sandstone rocks rise up in the Wasgau and the Dahner Felsland Arizona-like. Unlike overseas, however, there is a legend about each of these stone monuments. Names like Teufelstisch, Jungfernsprung and Galgenfelsen give an idea of what it is about. The vegetation around the Teufelstisch was recently shaved off a bit so that visitors can see the rock formation from the parking lot without a strenuous hike – especially in motorcycle boots. In Dahn there is a nifty little branch that leads around the Altdahn ruins and meets the main road behind it. Immediately afterwards we come across a cul-de-sac with the sign Barenbrunnerhof. In fact, at the end of the street there is a quaint, secluded farm with a garden restaurant. And the small, winding path from Schindhard there is so beautiful that it immediately shoots to number one in our Pfalzstrasse hit list. The many sandstone formations in the area were of course ideal bases for fortified castles that were built here in the Middle Ages. The Berwartstein Castle, which can be seen from afar, is even passed by such a beautiful road that it could make it into the final selection of the most beautiful Palatinate route. The castle is one of the most interesting fortifications of the Middle Ages. Stairs, corridors and chambers are carved directly into the red sandstone cliffs. In the past, you could only get inside the castle through a chimney, in which wooden and rope ladders were attached, which were simply pulled up if necessary. A single man could defend this ascent by doing things as ugly but common in the Middle Ages as pouring boiling pitch, hot oil, and liquid lead on the poor attackers. The two-meter-wide fountain was also carved in the stone: 104 meters deep to the bottom of the valley. The Berwartstein lords of the castle did not have to forego even advanced facilities: In the knight’s hall from the 13th century there is an elevator shaft to the kitchen, also broken into the rock, in order to quickly supply the knightly men with food and drink Nestelberg has a watchtower called Kleinfrankreich. He is the main reason why it was so dangerous to attack Berwartstein. Attackers were mercilessly pinched between the two defenses. The site has kept its name to this day: Leichenfeld. The mighty walls of the castle last proved their worth in the Second World War. Many of the people of the Palatinate survived the Allies’ low-flying attacks under their protection – enough of the warlike past. We bring the Triumph back on track and swing peacefully over the asphalt ribbon that winds through the dense forest from Vorderweidenthal to Hauenstein. We like an old stone signpost so much that it helps the already beautiful route into place. But not for long. A road begins in Albersweiler that, according to the map, is passable all the way to the B 48. It ends at the Forsthaus Taubensuhl, but what it offers in terms of solitude and idyll up to that point has pushed the Barenbrunnerhof route from first place. It is slowly becoming difficult to decide which paths are the most beautiful, there are simply too many in the Palatinate. Some forest roads can be used legally, but with the restriction: “Drive at your own risk.” Part of the tour between Johanniskreuz and Wilgartswiesen is part of this. The highlight of this route is the Luitpold Tower, which juts out of the forest right next to the road and whose viewing platform offers a great view over the entire Palatinate Forest. In Ramberg we pay a visit to the Landgasthof St. Laurentius. The young owner couple drives their own motorcycles and has a few good tips in store. For example, to first follow the Madenbachtal to the Schanzelturm, and then via the Tiefenbachtal and Edenkolben on the so-called Totenkopfstrabe to Helmbach in the Elmsteiner Tal. A route that already looks great on the map. But first we explore the road along the Helmbach, which flows into the so-called Silent Valley. In fact, it’s really quiet. In the garden of a forester’s house we drink coffee and watch three Haflinger horses frolicking in the meadow next door. Later, when we arrive in the Elmsteiner Valley, it becomes immediately clear why this route is dangerous and now closed to motorcyclists on weekends after numerous fatal accidents: the curves have exactly the right motorcycle frequency. One after the other, plus grippy asphalt. Every time you get braver, faster and more weird. Until at some point it is no longer enough. But the lock just seems to be repressing. Now the B 48 between Trippstadt and Annweiler is considered the new death route, as a local motorcyclist tells us. Meanwhile, in the Elmstein Valley, the drivers fly past us with screeching tires. Completely legal. Even on weekends, north of Kaiserslautern, the forest thins out and is replaced by meadows and fields. After a short detour to the completely unorthodox motorcycle museum of team world champion Heinz Luthringshauser in Otterbach, which is housed in a church, we curve for a while through surging wheat fields. The roads around the Donnersberg are quite nice, but only shortly before Bad Durkheim, between Carlsberg and Ungsheim in the Freisheimer Wald, we can again award the title Motorcycle Road. In Bad Durkheim, the last part of the tour begins with the Wine Road and with it the culinary part Final. The people of the Palatinate like to celebrate a lot. Every week between May and October there is a wine festival somewhere. We’re coming to the right place in Wachenheim. Fortunately, the usual brass music-chunky atmosphere is missing on such occasions. Soft rock music from several life bands ensures a pleasant soundscape and a relatively young audience. Numerous food stands offer all sorts of Palatine dishes, from saumag to grumberry soup, as potato soup is called in the likeable dialect of the Palatinate people. But people not only like to eat a lot, drinking is not neglected either. We order two glasses of wine and are each served a half-liter water glass. In other wine regions of Germany, the bottle corresponds to a quarter liter and is served in elegant stemmed glasses. But everything is a little different in the Palatinate. Thank goodness our hotel is not far and the Triumph is safely parked. For the benefit.
Info – Palatinate
The Palatinate Forest Nature Park, the largest contiguous forest area in the German low mountain range, has an abundance of small motorcycle roads. We tried (almost) all of them and combined them into a weekend round on the map shown.
Travel time: The Palatinate can be roughly divided into two parts, the wooded and the vineyard-based. Since the latter is influenced by the sun-drenched Rhine plain, where even tobacco grows and the almond trees bloom in spring, you can already ride a motorcycle early in the year. On the shady lanes of the Palatinate Forest, on the other hand, it is pleasantly cool even in midsummer.Overnight: The Palatinate Tourist Information offers a comprehensive, free accommodation guide with all overnight accommodations, from simple private rooms to luxurious suites. Many hotels are shown in the photo, all prices are listed exactly. So everyone can plan their trip according to their budget. We particularly liked the following hotels: Landgasthofes St. Laurentius in Ramberg (phone 0 63 45/70 53). The young owners drive motorbikes themselves and are happy to give their guests tour tips for the area. The restaurant, wine bar and cafe are located in the house. A double room with breakfast buffet costs between 106 and 120 marks. The beautiful Hotel Annaberg is located in the vineyards between Bad Durkheim and Leistadt (phone 0 63 22/94 00-0, fax -90). A stylishly restored old winery with an excellent restaurant. Unfortunately it is often fully booked and at 190 marks for a double room it is also quite expensive. If America fans visit America and want to take their Harley out in style, we recommend the MAXX Hotel in Deidesheim (Am Paradiesgarten 1, phone 0 63 26/97 00, fax 97 03 33, double room for 200 marks) in which guests believe they have been transported back to America in the 1940s. Great ambiance with ceiling fans and Casablanca posters on the walls. MAXX belongs to the Steigenberger Group and combines first-class service with a relaxed atmosphere, so that guests who wear leather trousers do not feel out of place. Worth seeing: The Berwartstein Castle near Erlenbach described in the text is definitely worth a visit. The Teufelstisch, a bizarre red sandstone formation near Hinterweidenthal, is a landmark of the region. The impressive ruins of the Limburg Monastery near Bad Durkheim are very motorcycle-friendly. The car park is right in front of their gates, and a wine tasting in one of the numerous wineries is a must on a tour of the Palatinate. The small town of Forst is particularly beautiful, where the wines are said to taste particularly good. Chancellor Bismarck is said to have had an “incredibly good” pint here. The site was then called “Forster monster.” What is certain is that Germany’s oldest vines grow on the Southern Wine Route. The vineyard in Rhodt unter Reitburg, which has now been declared a natural monument, was laid out around 360 years ago. Experts even believe that these are the oldest still bearing vineyards in the world. The Gewurztraminer pressed here, named Rosengarten, is of course traded as a special treasure. An event calendar with all the wine festival dates is available from the Pfalzwerbung (see »Information«). In the church of Otterbach near Kaiserslautern, the former team racing driver Heinz Luthringshauser runs a motorcycle museum. Unfortunately only open on Sundays, during the week by calling in advance: 06301/2367. Entry three marks. Literature: The newly published HB Bildatlas “The Palatinate”, volume 112, for 14.80 marks, is well suited for preparation. The tour described can be traced on pages “15” and “18” of the Mairs general map (1: 200,000, 8.80 Marks each) at the Pfalz-Tourist-Information, PO Box 100416, 67404 Neustadt an der Weinstrabe, phone 0 63 21/39 16-0, fax -19. Organized tours: At Pfalz Bike Travel you can get to know the little Palatinate streets under a local guide. One to two-day trips are offered there, which can also be extended to Alsace and the Vosges if desired. Information by phone 0172/62 29 40 7. Time required two days Distance covered around 600 kilometers
In addition to the route described, the MOTORRAD ACTION TEAM offers a prepared route proposal for the Palatinate Forest. This contains a road book for a two-day tour (starting point is Grunstadt), a description of the route, two hotel recommendations and the two Aral maps sheets 17 and 20 on a scale of 1: 200,000. The complete package “Tourentip 1” can be purchased for 20 marks by calling 0711/182 -1229 can be ordered.
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