7 July – riding along the stop bank

It was raining in morning when we woke up, but we had a relaxed start and it had all but cleared up when we set off. The whole day was warm and humid. We enjoyed chatting with a lone German cyclist over breakfast – he is cycling the length of the old German east/west divide.

We rode out of town on the west, along a small road, until we hit the next town on the river.  Jenny stopped to take a photo of this old church and spoke (in German) with a good natured old man who stuck his head out of a nearby window – while Kris looked at the route map.

Soon after, Kris stopped to talk with an elderly lady who was tending her roses, while Jenny took a picture of more storks.

We found our way onto the stop bank alongside the river Elbe, which we followed for most of the rest of the journey. The road varied from gravel to tar to cement. The river was very wide, in the distance you could see the stop bank on the other side about a kilometer away. This was a beautiful ride, well frequented by cycle tourists. The blues and greens in the landscape were stunning.

Statue of the mythological ferryman who takes souls across the river Styx

We stopped for a break and to buy some cherry liquor chocolates, cheesecake and juice at a supermarket at Domitz. Here we realised we were not too far away from our final destination, so we slowed down.

We crossed this bridge, which was on the previous border between East and West Germany.

We were entertained by information boards alongside the cycleway about river ecosystems and frogs. We found this frog on the road and helped it back into the grass.

It was very hot in the afternoon.  Hitzaker was recommended by our friends Andreas and Silvia, who also arranged the accommodation. We can see why as it is a stunningly beautiful old town on an island surrounded by dikes. These dikes can be closed when the river floods. There are also huge pumps to pump the water away from the town.

Hitzacker house with pole for stork nest

Hitzacker dike that can be closed if the river floods

View of river from Hitzacker dike

Hitzacker

Hitzacker river view inside dike

The town is full of quaint timber framed houses – with sayings written on them in old Frisian German that is difficult to decipher

We were surprised to find the whole town decorated and tents and carousels set up for a “Schützenfest” – a traditional marksman’s festival. The festivities started with a parade and activities for the children at around 4pm.

children’s parade

We had plenty of time to look around the town and rest before Andreas and Silvia arrived by train from Hamburg. We had a good time together in the evening – drinking beer and eating from the stalls around the festival.

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