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Wind Power – Wednesday 3 July

Wind Power – Wednesday 3 July

Today’s ride felt long, at 84 km from Bucken to Haldem – it was also flat, so tiring on the arms and hands.

There was no fixed cycle route today. The Bicycle app and Google are unreliable in informing where dedicated bike paths actually exist, so our plan was fluid. We checked out at each turn off to see how things looked on the ground before proceeding. We started out following the L352 road. In one place the app indicated a bike path and we ended up riding with more traffic than was comfortable. In another it indicated no bike path and we found a very adequate tarred bike path separate to the road. After we passed south of Sulingen, we landed up in rural areas with lots of little narrow tarred roads – and quite a pleasant area for cycling.

We rode through many ripe wheat fields, some already harvested. There was quite a lot of rural activity around – tractors on the roads and cows in fields or munching hay in big barns. We saw wind turbines everywhere.

Freshly cut wheat field
We paused in Siedenburg

The surprise of the day was finding the Mühlenheider Museum of Wind Power, about 10 km from our final destination. We had some coffee and cake (for a donation – it is very low key and there is no real cafe) and had a good look at the historical wind turbine collection (from the 1980’s and 1990’s). Here is their web site:

Nineteen percent of German power is generated by wind with over 26,000 wind turbines.

Typical cycle path and scenery – last run to Haldem

We struck it lucky with our accommodation today. It is a room with shared bathroom and access to a kitchen and living area. Except there are no other guests, so essentially we have the apartment to ourselves with a kitchen, dining room, living room and balcony. There is nothing much to see in the town – only a small shop where we bought food for our evening meal.

Windy day – Tuesday 2 July

Windy day – Tuesday 2 July

Our ride was 74 km from Soltau to Bucken. We had variable routes and bicycle paths that went back and forth between little towns and stretches of forest or farmland.

It was nice and cool again today – generally below 20 degrees. However we had some strong head and cross winds, which are still preferable to a heat wave.

We bought some raw milk cheese from a stall outside a farmyard at Walsrode. It had a fridge and also sold honey, sausages and preserves.

Cheese stall – Walsrode

I love the look of the old farm houses in the little towns – all very well maintained. They are massive, with wood framed walls inter-laid with red bricks. I finally got a chance to stop and take some photos at a place called Böhme. There was also a display of old bee-hives – in woven baskets – in a cabinet on the street – I have only seen pictures of these in books before.

We crossed the Weser river at Hoya, and from here it was not far to our hotel in Bucken.

Crossing the Weser river at Hoya
Bucken church

Our hotel is great – we were upgraded from a double room to a huge two bedroom suite with a balcony and a massive bathroom (with two basins). I had to go and check with reception that there was no mistake and that we would still be charged the expected rate for a double room.

Riding again – Monday 1 July

Riding again – Monday 1 July

We resumed our tour again with an 83 km ride from Tespe to Soltau. We are on our way to meet Esther in Osnabruck on Thursday.

The weather was thankfully a bit cooler than Sunday, when we had a heatwave with temperatures up to 38 degrees. In contrast, the forecast high today was 25 degrees. There was also quite a bit of wind, so it feels like the weather is changing.

I spent most of the ride getting used to the new bicycle, especially the “butterfly” handlebars.

Our route took us almost immediately away from the Elbe. There was still a lot of water around though and we crossed over a number of smaller rivers.

Crossing Ilmenau river early in the ride

We paused to admire an old windmill at Bardowick – it was actually turning in the breeze. There were a number of modern wind turbines nearby, allowing one to contrast the old with the new.

Bardowick windmill

The rest of the ride consisted of wide open spaces we have become accustomed to after our break in this area, and villages with well maintained brick houses. We mostly had dedicated bike paths along roads, but occasionally also had to ride on the road. We stopped for coffee and cake (rhubarb with meringue, and strawberry yogurt) at an excellent bakery in Bispingen. I love the German cakes – they are never dry, always scrumptious.

We had a look around Soltau after checking into our Pension. It has a pedestrian street in the old town with some quirky touches.

Bicycle Calamity

Bicycle Calamity

We spent some time and effort during our break to prepare our bicycles for the next part of the tour. We had new chains and cassettes fitted at a bike shop in Geesthacht and bought new back tyres from Decathlon.
The calamity occurred after Kris fitted the new back tyre to his bike and re-adjusted the back brakes. These brakes have a non-standard fitting near the gears and had been giving Kris trouble over the last few weeks. The part that holds the break snapped clean off while Kris was making the adjustments.

We went back to the Geesthacht bike shop first thing the following day. The replacement part he had did not fit. It is not a standard part, so we decided to replace the bicycle instead of spending hours trying to find a replacement. We bought a second hand bike he had at the shop (175 Euro). It is not big enough for Kris so Jenny will ride it. Kris had to spend a number of hours moving bits and pieces between the bicycles (tyres, odometer, panier holders, rear rack, etc etc). Hopefully these two bikes will see us through the rest of our trip.

Jenny’s ‘new’ second hand bike – ready to leave on it’s first ride on 1 July

Andreas is helping us to donate the old bike to someone in the community – potentially refugees again, as with our bikes in 2017. He went to Decathlon and got a replacement part from them (for free!) so it looks as though the bike will be able to be repaired.

Holiday on the Elbe – 21 to 30 June

Holiday on the Elbe – 21 to 30 June

We took a break from our cycle tour to spend some time with Elsbeth at the holiday home in Tespe. We picked up a rental car in Hamburg on 21 June and Elsbeth arrived from London on Saturday 22 June. Here are some photo highlights from our time together

First Beer in Germany – Grüner Jäger, Geesthacht
 Scharnebeck twin ship lift 
Spargel at the Grüner Jäger, Geesthacht
Holiday home in Tespe
Welcome in Tespe – Thursday 20 June

Welcome in Tespe – Thursday 20 June

The ride measured 44 km again today. I’m not sure how we managed to achieve the same distance on our odometer three days in a row! We took our time again today. The first part of the ride was a continuation of the Elbe-Lubeck canal.

Barge on Elbe-Lubeck canal
Loading sand onto barge on Elbe-Lubeck canal

The canal reached the Elbe itself at Lauenburg. We looked around the town and had some coffee and croissants at a local bakery. It was an old fashioned place with lots of local people meeting up for coffee – we thought Elsbeth would enjoy the scene and resolved to bring her here during our stay.

After Lauenburg, we decided not to cross to the other side of the Elbe but to ride onto the next bridge at Geesthach. We then had to backtrack a bit on the south side of the Elbe to our holiday home in Tespe.

I was very relieved to find that the holiday home will suit us really well, as you can never be sure from online photos and comments. It is in an old family home right behind the stop bank. The elderly lady who runs it was born in the house. She still lives in part of it, and the rest is converted to the holiday home. There is plenty of space for all of us, with two bedrooms, kitchen, TV room and another sitting room. Tespe is a small town alongside the river – there is a small harbour for yachts near our home, but the rest of the town consists mostly of the residential red brick houses typical of the area. It feels fairly affluent. The nearest shops are in the next town a few kilometres away.

We had a reunion party with Silvia and Andreas at our holiday home in the evening. They arrived with crates full of food and drink for us – it was a feast.

This concludes the first half of our 2019 cycling tour – to be picked up again on 1 July after our break with Elsbeth in Tespe. Here are some travel stats:

  • 2,632 km travelled over 42 travelling days
  • average 63 km per day
  • a further 219 km clocked over 4 non-travelling days or in the evenings (without panniers)
  • our bikes have done a total of 2,851 km
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