Elbe-Lubeck Canal – Wednesday 19 June

Elbe-Lubeck Canal – Wednesday 19 June

Today we did a short relaxing ride from Romnitz to Buchen – 44 km again. The first part of the ride was alongside the eastern side of the lake again, with similar views to the previous day’s ride.

Old water mill – on leaving the lake

Then we rode south to Mölln, with beautiful views coming into the old town.

We stopped for coffee and cake at an outdoor cafe. Kris couldn’t decide which cake to buy, so he bought both.

We ate a lot of cake!

After Mölln, we following the Elbe-Lubeck canal to Buchen.

Riding alongside the Elbe Lubeck canal – sightseers on the boat waving at us
Ducks crossing the road

It was extremely hot when we arrived at around 3 pm and we had to wait for someone to come an let us into the pension. We did our usual self catering in the room, including beer which we sneaked into their fridge to cool.

Lake and River ride – Tuesday 18 June

Lake and River ride – Tuesday 18 June

Today was another short but scenic ride. In fact it could have been done in around 25 km, but we stretched it out to 44 km by meandering along the way.

We followed the Wakenitz river as far as possible out of Lubeck, down to the west side of the Ratzeburger See.

Bridge view leaving Lubeck
Wakenitz river view on way out of Lubeck
Wakenitz river

Sometimes the bike paths moved us away from the river. We were impressed to see some free range chickens living in mobile chicken houses, alongside the bike path. You can see one in the photo of Kris resting on a granite boulder below.

Kris resting with his chicken

The path alongside the Ratzeburger See was very peaceful, and nice and cool under the trees.

Ratzeburger See
Bike path alongside Ratzeburger See

We crossed over to the other side of the lake at Ratzeburg. Part of the town is on an island in the middle of the lake – reached by bridges on either side. We stopped and drank a beer at a beer garden on the island. It was very hot.

Boat on Ratzeburg island

After shopping in the main Ratzeburg town (on east side of the lake), and eating an ice cream, we headed to Romnitz a few kilometres to the north. Our hotel is right on the lake, with some berths for yachts. There is nothing else nearby, apart from the next door camping ground. It was baking when we arrived. Our room was disappointing as it was very small and right at the top floor of the hotel – hot and hard to cool. We took a quick dip in the lake next to the yachts to try and cool off. The bottom was muddy and full of stones with a long shallow drop off, so not ideal for swimming.

Evening view – yachts outside hotel
Lubeck – Monday 17 June

Lubeck – Monday 17 June

The breakfast buffet at the Romantik Hotel Fuchsbau in Timmendorf was truly the best breakfast we have ever had. The buffet stretched across four sides of a room to the side of the dining area and included every breakfast food you can think of. You could sample honey directly off a honey comb, which I have never seen anywhere else. There was a lady standing to the side ready to make fresh waffles or omelettes to order. A vast array of breads, cheeses and meats (for example two types of smoked salmon, one with pepper). Lots of different types of cut fruits, fresh squeezed juice, varieties of yogurt, quark and fresh cream.

We are now making a slow approach to Hamburg – to arrive on the Thursday to prepare for our holiday their with Elsbeth. We decided to go and have a look at Lubeck, only around 20 km away. We managed to stretch our ride out to 43 km by exploring along the way. This is quite a different way of riding and a bit of a luxury in a way – as we can take any detour that we fancy.

We started out having another look around Timmendorfer Strand, which is much more peaceful on Monday morning than on Sunday afternoon. We tried finding an alternative route but ended up backtracking a bit on the same bike path to Travemunde – no hardship as it really is a lovely ride.

The rest of the ride to Lubeck was fairly uneventful, except for a tunnel we had to take to get across the river at Herreninsel. We rode around in a circle following bike route signs until we realised that we had to take a bus to get through. The bus is there just for bicycles and is free of charge – it arrives every 15 minutes or so. It has a trailer for bicycles and bikes can also be tied up inside. Our bikes travelled inside the bus.

Our bikes on the bicycle bus

We arrived fairly early in the afternoon in Lubeck. It was getting hot, so we were happy to stop. Our hotel was fairly good value, right in the middle of the old town. We explored the town on foot, which is quite a change of pace for us. The town is dominated by seven church steeples and lots of old medieval looking buildings.

Ostseeküstenradweg – Baltic Sea Cycle Way – Sunday 16 June

Ostseeküstenradweg – Baltic Sea Cycle Way – Sunday 16 June

Today’s ride was 73 km from Wismar to Gross Timmerdorf (a small town a few kilometres outside of the seaside resort Timmerdorfer Strand). We followed the Ostsee (Baltic sea) cycle way (part of Eurovelo 10). The route was mostly on good tarred or compacted earth paths – it was also good exercise with quite a few little hills along the coast.

It was a perfect day for cycling – not too hot – and we had a good early start. Being a Sunday morning, it was wonderfully quiet leaving Wismar, with almost no traffic.

The route followed the coast and although we could see the sea in the morning, it was often obscured by trees or just out of sight.

White sand beach on the Baltic Sea

We went from little village to little village, sometimes stopping to admire a sea view. There are quite a few houses with thatched roofs, very picturesque. At one point we paused to admire a large field full of poppies. Other cyclists and walkers were also stopping to take photos.

We were getting hungry, as we had not had a hotel breakfast – just some yogurt in our room. We ate bokwurst and currywurst and drank coffee at a outdoor cafe alongside the cycle path, around 20 km before Travemunde. We sat and ate in a “Strandkorb” – a cane beach chair that is ubiquitous along the Baltic coast. You see them mostly on the beaches but also in outdoor eating places. It really was cool and comfortable in the chair!

Beach just before Travemunde

We had to take a ferry across the river mouth to get to Travemunde. Travemunde is an upmarket port and seaside holiday town, ferries leave from here to Sweden and Finland. Ships also come through this river mouth from Lubeck.

We rode around the harbour a bit, then along a long beach promenade. There were lots of people eating at outdoor restaurants around the harbour in the town, and walking or cycling along the promenade. There were some very posh looking mansions and hotels on the landward side of the promenade. It was interesting to see the beach, packed full of strandkorb beach chairs that you can hire for a day (around 9 or 10 Euro) or a week. I was impressed with the playgrounds for children right on the beach and also some areas cordoned off with sand toys for the children.

Travemunde promenade/ beach and children’s play park (looks like a boat) – ship coming up river mouth in background

Once off the promenade, we followed a coastal bike path all the way to Timmerdorf Strand. There were lots of people out for a Sunday afternoon walk or bike ride. The path is through the woods with a steep drop off to sections of white beach and clear Baltic waters just below.

Timmendorfer Strand

Timmendorfer Strand feels even more up market than Travemunde. We stopped off to buy some food from the supermarket before going onto our hotel in Gross Timmendorf, a few kilometres inland. I struggled to find an affordable hotel in this area. In the end we got a good deal – a small room in a beautiful little four star hotel. It was quite hot when we arrived and the beer they served us on the terrace was truly one of the best of our trip so far – craft beer from a microbrewery in nearby Neustadt.

One of the best beers of the trip – from Klüvers Brauhaus
Wismar – Saturday 15 June

Wismar – Saturday 15 June

Today we reached the Baltic sea – riding 55 km from Raben Steinfeld to Wismar.

We started out with a scenic ride around the lake to Schwerin. A beach volleyball day was about to start at Zippendorfer Strand, a number of courts were set up and groups of teenagers were milling around. It is a beautiful little beach, with white sand and very well kept houses along the road.

Zippendorfer Strand

The weather was changing and it first started to rain as we were coming into Schwerin. Big lazy drops at first, but eventually we were forced to find shelter. Our shelter was under a cover near a cafe with a wonderful view of the Schwerin castle (see photo below). The cafe was closed so we didn’t linger long after the rain stopped. It was still warm, even with the rain.

The rain stopped long enough for us to ride around the other side of the castle. Small groups of people were gathering outside for some event. They looked a little incongruous in their period dress, overlaid with plastic rain jackets.

We were just about to leave Schwerin, onto the “Schwelfwerder” Island, a finger of land between two connected lakes (Schweriner See and Ziegelsee), when it began to rain again. We dashed across the road to a petrol station and sheltered in their store waiting for the storm to pass, drinking coffee. They had some comfortable chairs to sit on and the attendant was friendly. It was quite a storm with thunder and heavy rain.

Once we got going again the rest of the ride was easy. We started out with our rain jackets on, but soon abandoned them as we got too hot. Our route went over the island and then around the lake – through Wickendorf, Seehof, Hunford, Lubstorf. We turned off the wooded cycle way to have a quick look at Schloss Wiligrad, a small castle. Then through Bad Kleinen and Hohen Viechein, after which we took a long straight route away from the lake. This was an off road bike path again – to Moidentin, Mecklenburg, and finally Wismar and the Baltic Sea.

At first we were puzzled about what this was (see photo below) – a nearby sign informed us that it is a fish ladder, funded by the EU fund of regional development. There was a cafe advertising smoked fish next door, so I guess some of the fish don’t make it.

Fish ladder on Wallensteingraben

We arrived at our accommodation fairly early in the afternoon. Other groups of touring cyclists were arriving at the same time. This was the most expensive accommodation so far, but far from the nicest. It is very basic and feels a bit like a youth hostel for adults (and our rate doesn’t even include breakfast). We had to pay more for a “family room” as the “double rooms” were all booked up and it still felt cramped. It is getting harder to find budget accommodation, probably due to the season but I think also due to this being a popular tourist area.

We added another 13 kilometres to the odometer looking around Wismar. This is evidently a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the uniqueness of the architecture. The old town is fairly extensive with old gabled houses, pedestrian only streets, outdoor cafes and tourist shops. There were also Harbour festival on the go. We went down to have a look. There were fun fair rides, rowing races and lots of stalls selling all kinds of food and novelties. The beer was overpriced (especially for something in a plastic cup) so we didn’t eat or drink there. We bought some food at supermarket and ate it outdoors on the hotel terrace in the evening.

Easy riding – Friday 14 June

Easy riding – Friday 14 June

Today we were more wary about the bicycle paths marked on the App, so we picked a route mainly along small country roads. The traffic was mostly very light and there were few hills, making the ride pleasant. We did around 72 km from Meyenburg to Raben Steinfeld.

It was still relatively cool when we set off and the first 30 km to Parchim was easy. We hardly had to stop to navigate, as the roads seemed to take us directly through each little town on our list every few kilometres – we passed through Krempendorf, Stepenitz, Jamersdorf, Redlin, Gross Pankow, Siggelkow and Neuburg.

Parchim was the biggest town on our route and we stopped here to buy and fit a new odometer (after finding a bicycle shop fairly easily). It is quite a bit more expensive than the Decathlon odometer, coming from a specialist bike store. And it is not any better quality – in fact it was harder to install and has fewer features.

From Parchim we headed to Damm, and from there got onto our first real (dedicated) bike path of the day – this being along a canal (the Muritz-Elbe Wasserstrasse). We also rode past a few locks and a holiday boat complete with sunbathing woman on deck.

The bike path headed away from the canal again at Garwitz, to Klinken and Tramm. It was a pretty good tarred path, separate and alongside the road. We were back on the road with cars after Tramm, to Gohren.

We had plenty of time, as the ride was going so smoothly, so we stopped for coffee and rhubarb cake at a restaurant in Plate. We picked up a small bike path directly outside the restaurant, for the final ten kilometres or so to Raben Steinfeld. This was obviously a fairly well used route and in good condition, even though it is a dirt road and narrow in places. It wends its way through forests alongside another canal (Stor-Wasserstrasse) all the way to the lake (the Schweriner See). We had a quick look at the lake edge before turning back to find our hotel.

Arrival at Schweriner See

After checking in to our overpriced hotel we decided it was a self catering day. We rode around the lake edge a bit and on to the next town (Schwerin). We found a supermarket and cooled down wonderfully while shopping (supermarket air conditioning is a treat in these conditions). We also found a restaurant to sit quietly and enjoy a cold beer before returning to our hotel laden with delicious treats for our supper. (salads, meatballs, cheese, fresh bread, chocolate, beer to chill in the mini bar fridge)

Riding around the lake on the way to find a supermarket
Romantic Railway Hotel – Thursday 13 June

Romantic Railway Hotel – Thursday 13 June

Today we moved away from the Elbe (and the Elbe cycle trail) onto local bike paths, as indicated on the Phone Maps app. The first section of the route, until Glöwen was alongside the road and easy. Then we turned off onto a bike path to Klein Leppin, and suddenly it became very difficult – on sandy roads through the woods. We decided to try changing our route when we crossed a quiet tar sealed road, which had few cars.

Poor sandy road crossing attractive sealed road – we changed our route on the fly here

This road was really good for a while but unfortunately it didn’t last. The new road took us through Vehlin, Schönhagen, Döllen and Dannewalde. At Dannewalde the bike path turned really ugly again, with large cobbles and sand for a couple of kilometres to Schonebeck. When we emerged onto a main road (B103), we took it in exasperation for a smooth 12 km run into Pritzwalk. However, I was reminded that it is not really pleasant riding with cars overtaking at some speed every now and then, even if they give you enough space.

Pritzwalk was the largest town on our route, it was after midday so we stopped at a supermarket cafe /bakery for some coffee and cake. From here we were back on our planned route and the roads were generally good – we found cycle paths along roads or shared with cars on quiet roads.

The scenery was largely wheat fields, big sky, lazily turning wind turbines and small towns with neat brick houses. Every now and then we would met a big tractor or harvester on one of the more remote roads.

Wheat fields and wind turbines

We enjoyed seeing some gliders taking off and landing on a field at Kammermark. There was a very gentle wind and it appeared to be ideal conditions.

The one exception to the good roads on the second half of our journey was a few kilometres between Grabow and Frehne, which were very difficult again with cobbles and sand. This is particularly hard on the arms and hands and also not very good for the bikes.

From Frehne we had a easy run to Meyenburg. In all we rode 77 km from Havelberg to Meyenburg through gently undulating landscape.

Meyenburg

Apart from patchy and sometimes difficult cycle roads, another frustration was that the odometer would not reset. Kris tried to re-set it in the evening by removing the battery and now it doesn’t work at all. So we will have to find a bike shop again to buy another odometer.

The hotel in Meyenburg is called the Eisenbahnromantik hotel (romantic railway hotel) and is next to the railway line. There is a large historic steam locomotive out back (Dampflok BR 50 334, first in service on 25.05.1940) and the decor has a nostalgic railway theme. Our bikes are stored in a secure carriage on the train! There is a large cherry tree in the front of the hotel, which has really tasty ripe cherries at the moment.

Conductor in hotel entrance

The rooms are beautifully decorated and we were upgraded to a huge suite after Kris made a comment about the road traffic noise.

We had a good time in the afternoon drinking beer and chatting with the staff member on duty who has travelled in New Zealand a lot. We also had a good meal in the hotel restaurant in the evening.

We had another big storm with lots of thunder and lightening in the night – this seems to be a pattern for the weather, after hot muggy days.

Beautiful World – Wednesday 12 June

Beautiful World – Wednesday 12 June

There was loud thunder and a lot of lightning in the middle of the night again – the weather pattern seems to be oppressive heat building up during the day resulting in evening thunderstorms. This no doubt contributed to issues with a burst water pipe at our pension early in the morning. The only real effect on us was that we had to wait for our breakfast bread rolls to arrive around 10 minutes late. I felt quite sorry for our hosts as one of the other guests was a bit disgruntled by it all. None the less, we were managed to be the road by around quarter to 9.

Our ride today was 74 km from Kehnert to Havelberg (and another 5 km around Havelberg in evening). Our morning route took us through small villages all along the Elbe – Sandfurth, Ringfurth, Bittkou, Griebe, Jerchel and Buch. We saw more poppies, wheat fields and big round bales of cut silage in some of the fields.

We met an old man on a bike on the dike around 5km before Tangermunde. He lives nearby and was just having a ride around, enjoying the still cool morning – the wisdom he wanted to share was that the world is a beautiful place.

“the world is a beautiful place”

Tangermunde was a highlight, as it is very picturesque.
The cycle road directly out of Tangermunde is less scenic, as it passes by a semi industrial area.

We then crossed the Elbe to the east side along a long bridge, after which we rode along the dike for around 15 kilometres. The quality of the paths on the dike varied but were mainly good.

We rode past some sheep penned alongside the dike and were surprised to see two huge dogs guarding them. The dogs began to drag the sheep away from us when they thought we were riding too close and looked quite fierce.

Riding on dike alongside the Elbe

We decided to leave the dike and move onto cycle roads across farmland – the roads became very arbitrary with some quite poor (sandy and difficult to ride on). We saw lots of cycle tourists early on, but not on this section. Maybe most of them were on the other side of the river. There are many alterative Elbe cycle ways, as the road we were on was also signposted periodically as “The Elbe Cycle Way”.

It was very hot at this point, and we had finished all our water. So we paused at Schönfeld (a small village) to ask an elderly couple if they could refill our water bottles. They were sitting on the porch of a little house with their dog – they say it is cooler in the house but they sit out every day.
From here it was not far to Havelberg – on a cycle road alongside a road with cars – not very exciting but reasonably easy.

We passed through Havelberg shortly after joining the Elbe cycle route in 2017. My memory of that day is that it was also very hot and we did not stop for long because it was so unpleasant outside in the sun. I wonder if this town is always baking at this time of year?

Havelberg is a attractive town, situated on the Havel river, near its confluence with the Elbe. Part of the town is built on an island in the Havel. Our pension is just before the bridge to the island. We were very happy with our pension, as we have a little apartment, with a kitchen, bathroom and comfy sofa. We went into town to buy some groceries. We also bought some new cheap shoes for Kris, as his old shoes are so smelly. It was lovely and cool in the supermarket. Once we left and rode around town, we immediately became overheated again. We found a cool-ish place in a restaurant alongside the river to drink a beer. The service was so poor we restricted it to one and came back to the pension to cool off again.

Havelberg

The weather changed quite rapidly at around 17h00 with lots of thunder and lightening, heavy rain and eventually even hail. We were glad to be indoors, and to feel that maybe it would cool down a bit.

Cycling along the Elbe again – Tuesday 11 June

Cycling along the Elbe again – Tuesday 11 June

Today was our longest distance on the trip so far, 106 km from Zerbst to Kehnert. At the end we still felt pretty good, though with sore knees! We started really early (just after 7 am), getting in a couple of hours before the heat of the day really helped. The route was also almost totally flat – the only inclines being getting up and over various bridges over the Elbe.

Our first two hours were through mostly wide open farmland interspersed with small villages – Niederlepte, Nutha, Walternienburg, until we reached Godnitz and the Elbe.

Navigating – left or right?
The Elbe – already quite large and fast flowing

We haven’t done this part of the Elbe cycle way before, as we joined further north on our 2017 cycle route. There seem to be multiple versions of the cycle route that can be taken on this part of the Elbe (and on either side of the river).

We hadn’t had breakfast at the pension, so we stopped for coffee and a cheese roll at a local bakery and store at Pretzien. Many local people were also dropping by to buy baked goods, some also on bicycles.
We passed through Grunewalde and Schönebeck, which looked like a nice place but we didn’t leave the path to explore. Soon after Schönebeck, we saw our first stork nest of the trip. We remember lots of stork nests alongside the Elbe from our 2017 tour.

The first storks we have seen on this tour
Pit stop along the Elbe

Riding past the city of Magdeburg was a highlight of the day – there are great views of the river and grand old buildings from the Elbe promenade, as well as a number of beautifully placed statues and fountains.

After Magdeburg we crossed and stayed on the Eastern side of the Elbe, until Hohenwarthe where we passed back over the impressive Magdeburg Water Bridge. This is the largest canal bridge in Europe and spans the Elbe, allowing large commercial ships to pass between Rhineland and Berlin.

We stopped at Wolmirstedt to buy some food for the evening meal, and also had a snack – as we still had a way to go and had to keep our energy up.

After this we moved away from the Elbe, as there were no roads beside the river, through Colbitz. And then along a relatively busy road (with cars) to Angern and finally Kehnert (back on the Elbe).

Our accommodation was in a small town (Kehnert), alongside a small 19th century (1804) castle. We were delighted with our beautifully decorated room. There was also a comfortable shared kitchen where we had our supper, and a fridge with cold beer you could buy (on an honesty box system). The people that run it are also keeping horses, giving riding lessons, and have a huge long term project on their hand renovating the castle and surrounding buildings.

Lake ride – Monday 10 June

Lake ride – Monday 10 June

The typical German hotel breakfasts includes – a selection of fresh bread rolls, cheeses, cold meats, sweet and savoury jams and spreads, tomatoes, boiled eggs, yogurt, muesli, fruit, juice, coffee. When we have a hotel breakfast, it is one of our two main meals of the day – the second one in the evening once we have finished our ride. We find it is not a good idea to eat a big meal while still riding – the odd ice cream or slice of cake keeps my energy up. The breakfast at our hotel in Delitzsch was especially good – it had extra luxuries, such as slices of salmon and little dutch meat balls. However, it was the faces drawn on the boiled eggs that sent me back to my room for my camera this morning!

Today we rode 74 km from Delitsch to Zerbst. There are several large lakes to the north of Delitsch. We asked for directions from another bike rider (all in Lycra) early on in our ride – at the Paupitzscher see. He helped direct us around the lakes, and even rode with us for a bit. The route he suggested was slightly longer than the one Kris had planned, but probably more scenic. It took us between the two big lakes – Großer Goitzschesee and the Muldestausee.

For most of these rides you cannot see the lakes very clearly, much of the time you are just travelling on good flat paths through a marshy landscape with patchy trees and bushes. We did however get some good slightly elevated views of the Grosser Goitzschesee, which was a highlight.

Großer Goitzschesee
Großer Goitzschesee

We were intrigued to see this huge camping ground on the peninsular of the lake. Most people seemed to be packing up and leaving, with cars already queuing and quite a few others coming past us with their camping gear packed on bicycles. Later on we saw that there were also a number of other camping grounds around the lake, including on the other side. A sign informed us that this was the Sputnik Spring Break music festival which took place over the holiday weekend (evidently 10,000 visitors expected).
There was a huge traffic jam of cars further on – quite unexpected.

Aftermath of Sputnik Spring Break Music Festival

The rest of our route took us through a number of neat towns, with the road crossing the Mulde river every now and then. The river was dammed and very wide at Friedersdorf (I asked thought we had reached the Elbe).

Friedersdorf – Mulde river

The reflections in the water on either side of the bridge at Jessnitz were really striking.

View from bridge at Jessnitz
View from other side of bridge at Jessnitz

We rode alongside the Mulde river on a dike for some time, coming off it just a few kilometres before Desau.
We travelled through Desau (a small city) on dedicated bike paths. It has excellent transport infrastructure – with the central city street design separating trams, cars and bicycles. There are even separate traffic lights for the bikes. This made it really pleasant to ride through the city. We stopped for an iced coffee at a cafe in the centre, as it was getting pretty hot.
The rest of our ride from Desau to Zerbst was not very interesting. However the bike paths were good, being separate and alongside largely busy roads. We were away from the rivers now, moving through wooded areas alternating with wheat fields.

Zerbst is an attractive little town, and our accommodation (Pension Schlosswache Zerbst) is an old Castle guard house opposite the town hall (Rathaus). The nearby castle was destroyed at the end of WWII and only the eastern wing remains, now in ruins.

As today is a public holiday, all supermarkets are closed. So we had to go and eat in a restaurant. We went to a very nice Argentinian restaurant near out accommodation. It has a large cool terrace and garden at the back and all the patrons were seated outside. We arrived relatively early, and there were only two other couples and a large family group present. We parked our bikes in the bike parking area at the back. There was already another pair of bikes there and Kris immediately noticed a cloth with a symbol (an iron cross and the word “Reich”) on the back “male bike”. This lead to our speculation about who this bike belonged to. We both had our money on the young well built blond guy with a brush cut and pretty girlfriend. The other couple were elderly and fairly nondescript, sitting quietly and hardly speaking to each other (like some long married couples you see in restaurants). Once we had finished our meal we had some more beers and were waiting for the younger couple to leave to confirm our expectations – they seemed very relaxed and kept ordering soft drinks, deep in conversation We were wondering if we could wait them out – how many beers would we have to drink before the young lovers finally left. Eventually the older couple got up, and confidently went over to the bikes, got on and left. So it was the harmless looking old man – and we had been totally unfair to the young couple! They were still there when we left.

Beer in restaurant – the bike in question is over Kris’s shoulder