Joined May 2017 Message
  • Day34

    On to the Czech Republic

    July 1, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We headed out from Dresden, just out of the city centre there was a big second hand market along the river bank, we didn't stop, no room for extra stuff. At first the river still had wide grassy flood plains.

    We saw this flood marker not far from Dresden, the very top one is the 2002 flood.

    Gradually the river valley narrowed with dramatic cliffs. We crossed the river a couple of times during the day, and had an ice cream in Bad Schandau, to mark our last town in Germany. Shortly after crossing back from Bad Schandau we came to the border post, literally a post. We could see a much bigger border crossing on the road on the other side of the river. Suddenly we couldn't read any of the signs. But we know our bike route is route 2 so as long as we follow the '2' signs we'll get to Prague.

    Our day from Dresden to Decin was probably the one of the most beautiful of the trip. The area near the border is national park on both sides, Saxony Switzerland on the German side and Bohemia Switzerland on the Czech side. Some one thought the mountains looked like Switzerland. Luckily the bike path beside the river is mostly flat.
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  • Day33

    A story of rebuilding

    June 30, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We only had a short time in Dresden so we decided on a walking tour. Our guide had all the info on the history going back 800 years. The key historic sites are all packed into a very small area, an area that was reduced to rubble and rebuilt, so what looks like an old building is actually a reconstructed building and you can see where old stones have been used a patchwork with the new stone. The rebuilding of this church was only completed in about 2005. It was left as rubble throughout the GDR era.
    The mural depicts all the Saxon kings (Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony) going back 800 years, one of the longest continuous dynasties in Europe. This one is George the Strong, clearly the guides favourite. The mural is made of porcelain tiles. Most were saved during the war but you can pick out the replacements.

    There was quite a bit of rain around over the last few days, although we missed most of it the guide said the river had risen about half a metre overnight. We could see the mark on the bridge of the flood of 2002, were the river was up 9 metres.

    Trabi cars are a bit of a gimmick, the guide said they never rusted because they were made of a type of cardboard. They were made in Saxony.

    Not sure why there is a restaurant called Ayers Rock here, we didn't investigate.

    I didn't really get any good photos here, it was hard to get a good perspective.

    The washing machine was very welcome, the apartment in a great location. It makes a nice change to spread out a bit, and cook a couple of meals. The supermarket is about 100 metres away.
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  • Day32

    An apartment in Dresden

    June 29, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    We have 2 nights in Dresden so we booked an apartment. The building looks drab from the outside but the apartment is fantastic, spacious and well equipped. I'm looking forward to using the washing machine!

    Our ride today was just over 50K. A very grey day when we set out and rain was forecast.

    The character of the river has changed, no more meandering across the floodplain and the path stayed close to the river. We stopped for lunch in Meissen, in case you haven't heard of it, it's renowned for its porcelain. The town square was very quiet, tourists avoiding the threat of rain but we did see a couple of buses heading to the porcelain factory. We didn't think we could carry porcelain so we gave it a miss.

    The rain started just as we finished lunch so we road in gentle rain for about 26K.

    The local bird life is amazing, the photos aren't very good but if you look carefully you can see nests with chicks on top of the pole and the old chimney.
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  • Day31

    2 days on the Elbe

    June 28, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    After the end of our "cruise" we made our way through the town of Wittenberg. Martin Luther is big here and 2017 is an important anniversary year, so the town was buzzing with tourists, at least 10 tour buses were parked just outside the old town. The town recently changed its name to Lutherstadt-Wittenberg.

    It was a long day to Torbau, about 74K, but we got to know the character of the river. It meanders through the valley, lots of billabong and side streams. It is very prone to flooding and there are flood levees all over the valley. Towns don't have river fronts, they're behind the levees. Consequently our path meanders and we only see the river occasionally. Many of the towns favour cobble stones, very hard to ride on.
    Our host in a small Pension liked to chat so we heard a lot about how life had changed since the "change", reunification.
    Torbau is an important renaissance town, as well as another important Luther town, apparently he visited 40 times.
    Our afternoon tea stop on the way to Torbau was at a Schloss cafe, obviously the only cafe in this little town.

    After Torbau we headed off to Reisa. Nothing special about it, just the right distance before Dresden.
    Thunderstorms were forecast, but just as the downpour started Jan spotted a restaurant that had been advertising along the route. It proved to be a huge dark empty venue, however they were happy to get us a drink. We were the only ones there until another cyclist came in to shelter from the rain so we had a fine chat over tea and beer, then headed off after the rain cleared. Another storm came about 10k from our destination, this time we found a picnic shelter.

    We found the Irish Pub in Reisa for dinner tonight, very nice, rated the best restaurant in town.
    We are used to seeing cigarette vending machines but outside the bike shop here is vending machine for tubes. I'm not sure what that says about the paths around here. Lots of empty shops in the Hauptstrasse, the town has seen better days.
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  • Day29

    Obstacles on the way to the Elbe

    June 26, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We were late leaving our Pension in Berlin, then we had to go to the Hauptbahnhof to organise train tickets to Dessau on the Elbe river. The Hbf in Berlin is big, Mary would love it, 16 platforms on several different levels. Jan managed to work out how to buy tickets from the machine, easy getting ours but it wasn't clear how to get the bike tickets. Our train went from platform 13, the lifts to this platform weren't working, so it's up 2 flights of stairs, luggage on and off the bike, bikes are too heavy fully loaded to carry them up the stairs.

    Finally on the train. Dessau looks very drab, particularly the Bahnhof. We find a bike shop with a pump outside so we manage to pump up our tyres, finally on our way about 3pm. No problem only 40k to go. At last we get to the river, a gorgeous covered bridge, things are looking up. And then a Biergarten, even better, of course beer gardens also have tea and cake.

    There had been a big thunderstorm a few nights ago, lots of trees down. A couple of times we had to take the bags off to get over or around the fallen logs.

    Ferries across the Elbe work on an interesting cable system, they're slow and only take a few vehicles, but there are usually more bikes than cars. This one was nicely decorated with pot plants. Only 3 Euros for 2 plus bikes.

    We had to ring up to get directions to our accomodation in Wittenberg, a cruise boat doing a stint as a hotel before cruising again in September. We had passed it but didn't realise it was the one, we didn't have a name on the booking sheet, and we thought the one we passed looked too grand.

    Then at last, a beer on the top deck of course, while we pretend we're cruising. We even had dinner on the boat rather than go into town looking for the cheap eats. The current was so strong that if you didn't look to closely at the far bank you could imagine you're moving. A great ride once we got going and a lovely evening.
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  • Day27

    A ride in the country

    June 24, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    We rode another section of the wall trail today, getting the train out of town for a ride in the country. Most of the old wall area out here is a forested green belt now, mostly good path but occasionally a bit rough. For a bit we rode along beside the Havel Canal, built by the east to get around that part of the Havel River that went through the west. Of course, being a weekend it wasn't hard to find a beer garden/cafe in a shady spot beside the canal. At another spot we found a small fruit stall so we could supplement our lunch.

    Along the way we stopped to read stories about the communities along the border. There was one story about a school boy reporting that he'd been arrested by border guards on his way to school, so the British occupying force set up a patrol system to escort kids to school near the border. It came out decades later that the boy had been wagging school and needed an excuse.

    The path got a bit rough coming back into the city, cobble stones are a great traffic calming device.
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  • Day26

    Berlin zoo and riding the Wall

    June 23, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    I chose a trip to the zoo today, Jan opted for a ride along the Berlin Wall bike trail. I wanted to compare the zoo with ours. As you can see from the photos there are good close ups, but it's smaller. No safari park for the Rhino. I also had a short ride through the Tiergarten. And a bit of shopping to do, so I found the biggest mall, the Mall of Berlin, complete with giant slide if your in a hurry to get down to the ground floor.Read more

  • Day25


    June 22, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Yesterday we visited the Stasi remand prison and the Stasi museum. The prison, Hohenschonhausen, was in the middle of high security compound that wasn't marked on maps, just a blank. We were fortunate to have a researcher at the complex as our English language guide, she doesn't very often do tours. She was able to talk to us a bit about research they are doing with former inmates as well as researching documentation. Some of the former inmates are now guides.

    Then we went onto the Stasi museum, in the former headquarters building. The director's office was still as it was when the building was sealed after the wall came down. On other floors there were detailed exhibitions about how the surveillance system worked.

    I walked the long way home along Kurfürstendamm, met these 2 bears along the way. Apparently bears are not uncommon in Berlin.
    Kurfürstendamm is a very upmarket shopping strip, so just window shopping for me!
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  • Day24

    Across Germany by train

    June 21, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We left Cologne a bit after 9 this morning and after 2 changes of train we arrived safely in Berlin and navigated successfully to Pension Ingeborg, about 5K from the Hauptbahnhof. We have the purple room. It is a very small Pension on the 4th floor of an apartment building. The lift, we are told is 100 years old, but everything else is quite modern.
    We now plan to cram as much as we can into 3 days. Unfortunately our booking to visit the Bundestag has been cancelled, no reason just a cancellation email.
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  • Day23

    The Dom and the Chocolate Museum

    June 20, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    Very hot in Cologne today so we were on the look out for cool places to visit. The burial crypt of the bishops in the Cathedral was good, and the Chocolate Museum. Not everything was working at the museum and it was too hot to buy any chocolate but it was cool.Read more

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