21 June – 4 July – Break in Berlin

We had a change of pace and break from cycle touring to spend time in Berlin and environs with Elsbeth.
Here are photos of some of the highlights.

Old East-West border

Bridge of Spies – Glienicker Brücke

 Fähre Caputh-Geltow (Ferry)

Caputh (Ferry)

Köpenick

Brandenburg Gate

 

Reichstagsgebäude

Remaining piece of Berlin wall

Wannsee river cruise (tour of 7 lakes)

Wannsee river cruise

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

Neues Museum – Xantener Knabe

Bergmannstrassefest – Jazz festival

Our apartment in Lichterfelde

24-29 July (Tuesday to Sunday)- Family time at Craon

It has been great to spend time with the family at the Gite. The house is large, with three bedrooms, a porch where we can sit outside and braai, a large lawn, a pond with frogs and waterlilies and a small splash pool for Liam.

We had a heat wave on Wednesday and Thursday with temperatures in the high 30‘s.

Highlights of the week include:

  • seeing the gardens at Chateau-Gontier – they are on the banks of the canal and are in different geometric shapes. I saw white lavender for the first time. Some of the gardens are planted to look like tapestries or paintings.
  • walking along the Mayenne canal at Chateau-Gontier with Elsbeth while the rest of the family ride along with the bicycles.
  • canoeing on the Mayenne at Chateau-Gontier – we spent an hour and went up to the first barrage and lock.
  • Visiting the Robert Tatin Museum at Cosse-le-Vivien. This is a unique place that the artist took 21 years to create – starting at the age of 60. He wanted to create a place for all people to come and tried to express ideas about a common visual language. The outside has concrete sculptures and a fantastic structure around a pond. Inside the structure are displays of the artist’s paintings and ceramics. Kris and I had a last cycle around the area – circling back to Craon after the visit.
  • Visit to the fortified medieval town of Saint Suzanne – the only stronghold to resist William the Conqueror. We enjoyed walking around the keep, the ramparts and the old town. The old town is beautifully kept with lots of flowers in front of the houses.
  • Seeing the Erves dolmen, near Saint Suzanne – a tomb built between 4700-4000 BC. Only the large megalithic stones remain – they were originally covered by a mound of stones forming a chamber. It is difficult to imagine how Neolithic people moved these huge stones. (we will remember Elsbeth being chased by a herd of cows on the move beside the dolmen).
  • Seeing the castles at Pouancé and Chateaubriant. Pouancé on the French side and Chateaubriant on the Breton side of the border.

23 July – Liam’s Big Ride

Kris and I returned to Laval in the morning along a different route – this time along the Mayenne canal. The first part of the route was on country roads to find the canal. We did an unnecessary detour of around 10km when we took the wrong road out of Houssay – we had to backtrack to join the canal. However we did find some menhirs and a dolmer during our detour – off the road up a dirt track. The dolmer is a large rock resting on top of two others. The menhirs are just large stones – not as impressive as the previous one we have seen.

We met up with the family again at the Decathlon store in Laval – they had come through by car. Here we bought a third bike for use during our holiday. Kris, Fergus, Liam and I then set off on a ride back down the canal (with Fergus on the new bike). This was Liam’s first long bike ride. The canal is an ideal place to ride with children as there is no traffic to worry about.

We didn’t expect Liam to ride further than our exit point from the canal, at around 25km. The plan was for us to phone Gretel and Elsbeth to come and fetch him in the car when we got there. As we progressed we could see Liam become used to pedaling continuously and he was quickly getting to grips with changing his gears. At the end of the canal ride he was looking very strong and keen to continue – so we decided continue with him.

The rest of the ride was along quiet country roads and the green route (old railway line). Liam did very well to cycle the whole 50km – he kept going without complaining, even though he was very tired at the end.