We had to get out of Weiden. Our lifestyle here is both wonderfully and dangerously conducive to consecutive days spent in the house, migrating from study to kitchen to living room to study. Weiden’s Altstadt, while sweet and home to both an excellent Ratskeller and Greek restaurant (what more could you need?) is small and we’ve walked the length of it so many times I could tell you precisely where the ice creameries are and which ones sell mint.
So yesterday morning I researched some places nearby that we hadn’t been to (having already covered Regensburg, Rothenburg, Nürnberg, Flossenbürg, München and indeed the Czech Republic’s Pilsen) unaware SG had already decided on a (surprise) mini-road trip destination while doing the precise same research at work the night before …
Kloster Weltenburg, believed to be the oldest Kloster in the world and brewer of what has been repeatedly crowned the world’s finest dunkel Bier.
A south-west drive out of Weiden, of about an hour and twenty minutes, past the obligatory Bavarian scenery of rolling green hills, forest-covered mountains, the Donau, and more rolling green hills, will deliver you to Weltenburg, a rather small, historically significant dot on the map in a corner of the world that specialises in small, historically significant dots on the map. Tucked into a little mountain, directly overlooking the Donau and its stony shores (very uncomfortable for carefree strolls along the river) is a Benedictine monastery first founded by Hiberno-Scottish monks in about 617AD, making it the oldest monastery in Bavaria.
We parked in the designated parking area and were handed our ticket by the cashier, a small man with an enormous white moustache who appeared to run his enterprise out of a caravan. From the parking lot, it’s a short stroll along the Donau, upon which a makeshift floating stage was pumping live music and down which people were idly rowing canoes.
The cobbled courtyard around which the Kloster clusters is, but of course, a beer garden, where one can drink the famous dark beer pre or post perambulating around the green grounds and popping in to check out the extraordinary Baroque church built in the 1700s.
The church called for a contemplative sit-down on a pew. It was something else.