11 June – to Leipzig

Today was a fairly straight forward ride of 43km to Leipzig, but we had done 81km altogether once we explored the city and found our hotel.
Along the way we also traveled from the state of Thuringen into Saxony.

There was a evidence of recent heavy rain, with wash outs on parts of the bicycle path to avoid. At one point our route took us through a rough track that was completely flooded under a bridge. Kris determined that the only way through was to ride through the water, which was more than ankle deep and muddy.

Kris got through more or less intact, only a little damp, but Jenny stalled just before the end and got her feet soaking wet! She did the rest of her ride in sandals, with the wet shoes drying on the back of her bicycle. Luckily the weather was hot.

Soon after the wet feet incident, we stopped at a curious historical mining park, called the “Bergbau Technik Park” (http://www.bergbau-technik-park.de/en/the-park/).

Old mining equipment at historical mining park

Two other cyclists, older men, struck up a conversation with Kris. They were brothers, one a local resident and the other visiting from West Germany. They explained that this park is a museum covering the coal mining that used to dominate this area before re-unification. The whole area is now a green parkland, but it used to be a industrial wasteland, black and polluted, before the 1990s. A huge effort and a lot of money has been put into restoring the area. They left with the enigmatic comment (in German) that you need to bring the past into the present so that you don’t forget it.

We hadn’t had breakfast at the hotel, so we stopped at the food kiosk outside the mining park for some bratwurst and coffee. Soon afterwards, a group of young men on a quad bike tour stopped for beer and bratwurst. Our observation is that Germans don’t hesitate to drink beer at 10am in the morning on Sundays or holidays – more people began to arrive and the atmosphere was quite festive.

On leaving the park, we began to ride past the lakes to the south of Leipzig that were formed out of the surface mining residual holes – the area is now called the “Leipziger Neuseenland” (new lake land). It was lovely, with many people out walking or riding along bike paths alongside the lakes and canals.

Bike path alongside canal – people in kayaks on canal

We were impressed with this artificial rapids for kayaks, alongside one of the big lakes.

Complex with artificial rapids for kayaks

There were also many people sitting on the beach alongside this lake, or swimming – some in designated spots for nude bathing.

Beach scene

We rode around this lake for a while, and then into the outskirts of the city. We rode through many parks – and noticed quite a bit of rubbish from the previous (Saturday) evening. There were many people sitting enjoying the sun in the parks.

Statue in park on city outskirts

We were curious about these large pipes snaking alongside some paths in the city, going up into the air and back down in some places. Kris asked the tourist information about them later but they were fairly clueless. The best information we got was from a barman later during our stay. Evidently they are water pipes, used to drain water out of the city when needed.

Water pipes

We explored the inner city, it was lively with many buskers around. The beer was very expensive at the outdoor cafes in the tourist areas (over 4 Euros), so we just had some snacks from a bakery.

The first church we saw on entering the city – the imposing Universitatskirche

Buskers – music students

Bach statue

Listening to buskers in pedestrian mall while enjoying a snack

We rode through and past a number of different “Kleingartens” – small cultivated garden plots, on the way to our accommodation. We are always amazed that people have the time and energy to cultivate a garden like this away from their own home. Maybe they live in apartments? Many of them are very beautifully maintained.

Typical “kleingarten” in Leipzig

It was very hot in the afternoon and we felt quite dehydrated by the time we reached our hotel a few kilometers outside of the city.
We had a beer at the hotel and chatted with the manager. There was no Weissbier, and the manager noted that it is not common to stock it in this part of Germany. The people drink mostly Pils, and sometimes a dark (dunkel) Weissbier. Jenny had the Pils and Kris the dunkel Weissbier.

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