2009 Prague – Berlin

25 August 2009 – 24 Sept 2009:

Prague to Berlin/Hamburg

All of our biking in Europe so far had been in the “west”. This trip we ventured into the “east” with a month of biking mostly through the former East Germany but also the Czech Republic.
We flew into Munich, then took a train to Muhldorf on the Inn river. We biked up the Inn to Passau.
A train took us from Passau to Pilzen then to Prague, where we enjoyed two days.

We biked along the Vlatava river out of Prague through the Czech Republic to the Elbe River.
Then up the Elbe River through Dresden, Meissen and Magdeburg.
Then east through Potsdam to Berlin. In Berlin we spent several days biking along the route of the former Berlin Wall.
We took the train to Hamburg where we dropped our bikes at the airport.
Then another train trip to visit our friends in Soest. Then back to Hamburg and the flight home.

We bicycled about 900 km on this trip.


The following is a summary of the trip:

25-Aug-09FlyToronto Airport
27-Aug-0954BraunauAm Theaterpark
4-Sep-0950.5DecinCseka Koruna
9-Sep-0971.6ElsterZur Fahre
10-Sep-0940.2WorlitzPension am Park
11-Sep-0954.2BarbyZum Rautenkranz
12-Sep-0945.4MagdeburgSleep & Go
13-Sep-0936.6BrandenburgSt Gothard
14-Sep-0961.6PotsdamAuf dem Krewit
19-Sep-099.1WittenbergeAm Tivoli


Tuesday 25 August 2009 – Toronto to Munich

Our daughter and granddaughter took us to the airport.

Toronto Airport: Faye, Dave Judy & Linda


Wednesday 26 August 2009: Munich to Muhldorf by train

The flight arrived a little early at 8:40am. The damage to the bikes was one crushed bell. We got train tickets at airport to Muhldorf. The S-Bahn takes you from the airport to Munich Ostbahnhof. The S-Bahn cars are rollon. At Ostbahnhof we get sandwiches to eat on the train. A switch here to a regional train which takes us to Muhldorf.
The Muhldorf station is new and has elevators which can takes bicycles; albeit only 1 at a time. Going from one platform to another can be a problem if there is no elevator. At some the only choice is to hump the bikes up stairs then back down again.

Munich - S-bahn

Muhldorf Bahnhof - elevator

The day was warm but cloudy. After riding through the long and typically Bavarian main square we found our hotel (Inntal) just a few blocks away. We were able to check in early at 1pm. We decided to have a look at the Inn river radweg. It was only 200m from the hotel. We rode a few km up the river then returned. By then it was time for a drink so we walked into town. It is great to be in a country where the beer is cheaper than pop! We went for a walk and found an Inetrnet cafe where we found our daughter and granddaughter online – so did some messaging.
We went back to the restaurant where we had drinks and had an excellent German meal.


Muhldorf - Restaurant Geigerhaus - excellent meal.

Thursday 27 August 2009: Muhldorf to Braunau – 54 km

The breakfast buffet was very good. It was a warm and sunny day.
We rode into the main square where a market was set up. We bought apples and bananas.

Muhldorf: Main square - market day

Near Muhldorf: First day a flat tire!

The bike path along the Inn was a little narrow and rough to start, but then was fine. There were stretches of paved path then crushed stone. Up to Marktl the path was mostly in the shade. This was good as it had gotten hot – 27C. Judy picked a nice shady spot to have a flat tire. There was a small piece of metal that had worked through the tire. You have to check the inside of your tire for this kind of thing before you put the new tube in!
We had currywurst for lunch in Marktl – the birthplace of Pope Benedict.

Marktl: currywurst for lunch

Marktl: Birthplace of Pope Benedict

From Marktl the path was mostly in the sun. In Simbach we found a bike shop and bought a tube. We crossed the river to Braunau, Austria and found a hotel.
We went out for a drink in the main square (Stadtplatz), then stayed there for dinner. When in Austria, you have to have a schnitzel. An excellent meal. For an end of day treat, we found ice cream on the way back.


 Friday 28 August 2009: Braunau to Schärding – 55 km

Very good breakfast. Another warm morning.

Braunau: Hotel Alte Weinhaus

Braunau: Stadtplatz - main square

Judy’s tire was out of round after the tube change, so we went back across river to bike store and got a new tire.
The bike path to-day was a mix of crushed stone and paved – overall it was quite good. The path from Braunau is on the Austrian side.

Inn River path near Braunau

Inn River - typical Austrian country home

We had lunch in Kirchdorf. The bike path was very good from here to Schärding.
We stopped in Obernberg to take some pictures as it was so typically Austrian.


Stairs designed for bicyclists

There were 2 places where the path went away from the river and we had to walk up hills. The main square in Schärding stretches a couple of blocks and has very colourful buildings. We find a hotel near the square. After a stroll around we settle on a cafe with a patio and draft beer. Later we had an excellent meal at an Italian restaurant which had a small garden/patio out back. Just as we finished it started to rain. We all rushed inside. A thunderstorm then followed along with some cooler air. No ice cream tonight.


Saturday 29 August 2009: In Schärding

It was still raining in the morning, so we decide to stay another night. A very good breakfast buffet.
The rain let up for awhile so we walked to the train station to get information on trains from Passau to Prague. It was a small station and was closed on a Saturday. It started to rain again as we got back into town. (It was a 25 minute walk) After tea & coffee in the square we went back to our hotel. Lunch was gorp in the room.
In the afternoon the sun came out and we went for a walk around the town. Another beautiful Austrian town. 

Scharding main square

Scharding: entrance to the main square

Dinner was excellent at a gasthof: turkey cutlets with spatzle & salad. Very good Blau Zweigelt wine.

Sunday 30 August 2009: Schärding to Passau – 20km – Train to Pilsen (Plzen) Cz

We are up early and are the first in for breakfast. Very good again.
We left at 8am. It was very cool at 12C, with some fog. Only 17km to Passau. We have to wait for the 11:12 train as the earlier one does not take bikes. This meant getting into Prague a little late, so we decide to break the journey in Pilsen. Used internet at station to book hotel in Pilsen.
The train from Passau was an older one where you had to climb 3 steps to get into car. This makes it a struggle with bikes.
We had to switch trains in Plattling. There was no elevator to get up and down to our platform. So had to haul the bikes up and then down stairs. The next train was modern, you could roll the bikes on. This train took us to Bayerische Eisenstein at the Germany Czech border.

Passau train station - waiting

Czech border - at train station

As we got off the train we could see the white line further down the platform that was the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. A “D” on one side of it and a “CZ” on the other! I went across the line unimpeded as there was no official there to check my passport. After searching the platform for a train schedule, I finally found one in a small office next to the platform. The schedule had been hand done using letters and numbers from a variety of sources.
Our 2 car train showed up. It was old. There were three steps up through a narrow door.

Czech border - this is our train - 2 cars

Czech train: old

There were very few passengers. The conductor came and wanted us to buy a ticket. I thought we had paid through to Pilsen. After some discussion, we paid €10 to get to Pilsen. The track was pretty bumpy.
We switched trains in Klatovy. A more modern train and cleaner. Conductor said we had to buy a ticket. We showed him the ticket we had. I insisted (in German) that we had already paid to get to Pilsen. He backed down.
The trains station in Pilsen was large with an early 1900s ornate facade. We found an ATM got some Czech korunas. After riding around a couple of blocks we found our hotel (Angelo). A very large and modern one. They had free computers in lobby with internet so tried to see if there was a way to bike to Prague. We could not find a bike path. So we decided to take the train to Prague.
It was time for a drink, so we asked where we could get a pils. The lady behind the desk pointed across the street. There was the Pilsner Urquell brewery! There was a covered elevated walkway from the hotel over the street to the brewery. What a huge facility. We were too late for a factory tour, but the patio pub was still open so I had a pils.

Pilsen: Pilsner Urquell brewery

A pils at the Pilsener Urquell brewery

We walked into town. It was quiet on a Sunday evening. The main square was a little drab. Most restaurants were closed, but found one just off the main square.

Pilsen train station

Pilsen Main square

We talked to a couple at the next table. An American soldier stationed in Germany and his wife who was originally from Czech. Their 5 year old son got English from his dad and Czech from his mom. They were thinking of putting him into a German school where he was stationed.

Pilsen - an excellent meal

The meal was excellent. I had turkey pieces fried with peppers, onion and mushroom; then stuffed in a potato pancake. Judy had peppers done in a dumpling mix. We shared some grilled veges which had rosemary and cheese on them. I had a Modry Portugal wine.
Back at the hotel, we booked Hotel Central in Prague. It had been recommended by the American couple.


Monday 31 August 2009: Pilsen to Prague – Train

Very good breakfast buffet. We are only 600m to the Pilsen main train station. The station is busy. We get tickets for ourselves to Prague (Praha) from a woman who did not speak English or German. I pointed at bikes, she pointed upstairs. We could not find a place to buy tickets for the bikes.  At the info center they spoke German and told us which platform to go to. Had to get bikes up stairs, then found a lift that we could have used! Train had baggage car for bikes. Off came the panniers, bikes handed up to man in car. He asked for tickets (in German) We ended up paying about $4 for the bikes. He had a portable Casio computer with built-in printer. Train seating was in compartments. We go through: Horovice, Zdice and Beroun. Prague train station has a lift big enough for both bikes. Map from info shows the way to our nearby (1km) hotel. (Hotel Central) They have a computer with internet in lobby. We walk into the large Old Town square. There is Bar-B-Q doing wurst and chicken kabobs. We share a kabob. The weather is sunny and hot.

Prague Main square - lunch food vendors BBQ

Prague - lunch in the main square

The city has beautiful 7-8 story buildings all around the square.

Prague - Main square buildings

Prague - National Gallery

We walk to the river and cross over the Klatovy Most Bridge. It is being renovated. It is for pedestrians only and is very crowded. Several small groups play music.

Across the river there are many shops for tourists. We are getting hot so we find a bar in the shade. Back to hotel for a snooze.
Dinner out was Italian. Back in the Old Town square the BBQ was still going at 9:30pm. They were doing whole pork shoulders as well as the kabobs.
There was one stand that wrapped dough around a wooden stick. Baked it over coals then dusted it with sugar & spice – very good.

Prague - Evening sweet - Slozeni

Rolling the dough on the wooden skewers to make Slozeni

We walked up Václavské náměstí to the National Museum. Very pleasant walk on a warm evening.

Tuesday 1 Sept 2009: In Prague

Breakfast buffet was a little different – had wurst soup. We cross the river and climb up to the Prague Castle. It is huge. We buy senior’s tickets for 175 crowns each. St Vitus Cathedral is impressive. Inside the castle there are a number of displays (In English) showing the history of the castle. Very well done.

St George's Basilica

Inside Cathedral at Prague Castle

The Powder Tower guards the entrance to the Castle and has a history of the Castle Guards. They are elite soldiers who were disbanded during Communist rule, but are back again.
The golden shops are where artisans used to ply their trade. They are now tourist shops. There is a great view of the city from the castle wall. Our self guided tour took 4 hours and was well worth it.

Golden shops street

Prague city view from Castle

We walked back to Old Town square and found a bar a few blocks away – cheaper! It was hot again. Waiter spoke good english. He was a dance instructor and was going to Australia to study and work.
Back to room. We were tired and had a rest.
Dinner was at a Czech restaurant. Judy had goulash, veges and dumplings. Mine was roast pork, boiled cabbage and dumplings. It was all very good.

Excellent meal

A walk through the old town square completes our 2 days here. Great city to visit.


Wednesday 2 Sept 2009: Prague to Melnik – 63 km

We get away early at 8:45. It is warm.

Our hotel in Prague - recommended

We cross the Vlatava river and start the bikeline route. First stretch was up a steep hill, then through a park. We got lost but found where we had to cross a canal and the river. The first 5 km were paved. Then we hit the worst trail ever. They were cobblestones which were not flat and were wide apart. They were called “pflinsters”. Really bumpy ride. Fortunately only lasted 1.5km. Then a dirt path, then paved farm roads. In Lobecek we found a supermarket and bought sandwich makings. Lunch was very good as everything was fresh.

Excellent lunch

Side road into Bukol

Just past Bukol, we stayed on main path south of river. We should have read the Bikeline book and taken the ferry across the river and used minor roads. Instead we came upon a bridge that went over a canal. The bridge also carried 2 very large water pipelines. There were 45 steps up, then 50 steps down on the other side. No ramp – had to carry bikes up and down!

45 steps up - 50 down!

Bridge shared with water pipelines

To top it off we had another km of pflinsters! Then we got lost. We ended up at a point looking across the Elbe river to Melnik and a canal on the left. We had to back track about a km along the canal to cross at a dam.

#?$#% Pflintsters

Melnik on the hill

Melnik has about 20,000 people and is perched atop a hill. We walked some of the way up it. We find a hotel (Jaro). After long hot day a shower is in order, then refreshment. This is a 2 beer day!
We walk around Melnik. It has a very pleasant city center.
Dinner at another hotel’s restaurant was excellent. Tomatoes caprese, then chicken nuggets in a cream sauce with frites for me. Judy had a large chicken salad.


Thursday 3 Sept 2009: Melnik to Litomerice – 49 km

Breakfast just OK – only bread, meat & cheese. A little cooler today with a sprinkle of rain while we had breakfast.
The first 15 km were on paved minor roads on the left side of river. A little rain then it got warmer. We rode past a power plant which we thought was nuclear. We found out later that it was just coal fired.

This is not nuclear

Hops to make great beer.

Stopped in Roudnice and split a pastry then had coffee in main square. Found a supermarket and bought some fruit and cookies.


Pleasant coffee break in Roudnice

The main route continued on the other side of the river.  North of Lounky we had another 1 km of pflinsters, then 2 km  of rough dirt track, then on paved road. Stopped in Kresice and had bananas and drink.
There was a dirt bike path by the river, but it was too rough, so we got on the paved road and rode comfortably into Litomerice. (About 25,000) Got list of hotels from tourist info. Couldn’t find first one, second one was full. It had started to rain when we got lucky on the third one. It was small but clean. There was a bath with hand held shower and no shower curtain. The floor got a little wet! Went out for a beer then a walk. Have to get priorities straight! Another city with pleasant main square.

Litomerice: renovated portion of palace

Litomerice: part of palace awaiting renovation

It was little cooler but with jackets on, we had dinner outside. I had pork hock served on a wooden platter with a metal skewer straight up. Great red cabbage with it. Judy had grilled chicken breast with grilled corn and tomato.

A real meal

Friday 4 Sept 2009: Litomerice to Decin – 51 km

Cooler today and cloudy. Good breakfast. We continue along the right side of the river. First 3 k m were paved then 1.5 km of rough path. A few showers. We avoid a hill on the bike path at Cirkvice by staying on the secondary road. There is a great path coming into Usti Nad Labem.
There are a number of WW2 concrete bunkers along the river.

Regular gas is "Natural 95" = $1.72 a liter

Bunkers along the river

Stopped at Velke Brezno for coffee. We sat outside. Inside was a large dark pub.

Coffee outside pub

Nice road for biking

From here there was a long stretch on  road. Although somewhat busy it was fine. In the main  square of Decin we see a hotel that was on our list. (Ceska Korona) The price was right and the room was large and modern. They even had CNN in English.
We went for a walk up to Decin Castle. There is an impressive road with walls leading up to the castle.

Entrance road to Decin Castle

Decin Castle gate

It was partly restored. The parts not restored are a Communist mess.

Restored part of castle

Unrestored part of Castle

We go back to our hotel and have a drink in their outdoor cafe.

Decin central square

Our hotel in Decin

Cool in the evening with a few showers, so we eat inside at our hotel. Very good meal. Had a local red wine again – quite good. Rained overnight


Saturday 5 Sept 2009: Decin to Pirna (Germany) – 48 km

Great breakfast buffet. Meusli, scrambled egg, bacon and fruit salad. Rain had stopped by the time we left, but clouds looked bad, so we put rain gear on. Our last day in the Czech Republic. We took bike path along river. It was paved. Rained off and on. At the border with Germany there was just markings on path. We are on the left side of the river.

Border: Czech & Germany

Cliffs along the Elbe

There are steep cliffs along the right side. Great paved bike path.
Had lunch in Konigstein. 2 wieners & potato salad for me. Judy had soup & ragout fin. The rain stayed away, but it was cool. We went up steep hill and into a forest along the river.
We arrive in Pirna about 3:30. We find Hotel Sachershof which has nice modern rooms.
We walk the 500m to the city center. We sit inside for drinks as it is cool & wet out.

The end of the day

Non-alcohol for Judy

We got out for a walk. We are in the former East Germany and find most buildings have been restored.

Pirna Central square

Pirna Central square

But there are some that are still in their sad communist state.
We run into a German couple from Hamburg whom we had met that morning in our hotel. They were biking as well. Today they had taken a boat part way down the Elbe.
We go back to the restaurant where we had drinks to eat. I splurge on rumpsteak and salad. Judy had salad and chicken with noodles. Very good but pricey at €47. We find eis at an Internet cafe so we do some emailing. I wondered why the keyboard was sticky!

Sunday 6 Sept 2009: Pirna to Dresden – 26 km

Good breakfast buffet. Cool again. We went downtown and took pictures.

We continue along the left side of the Elbe on an excellent paved radweg. It was Sunday, so there were a lot of folks out. We stopped for coffee around noon. Into Dresden, booked hotel at tourist info. This one charged for the service. (€6)
We have lunch in a fall fair in town center.

Dresden Fall Market

Dresden Fall market dolls

The bratwurst was great. Judy had a pretzel with ham & cheese.

Dresden - bratwurst for lunch

Dresden fall fair

The fair was very busy. Rain started to sprinkle so we head for hotel. Dresden is a fairly large and busy city. But, we had a very good bike lane on a main street to the hotel about 2km from center. Hotel Achat is quite large with undergound parking. They have a room in the garage for bikes.
The rain has stopped so we walk into the city center. A lot of construction and renovations in progress.
The Luthern Frauenkirche is an amazing restoration. It was destroyed during WWII. The restoration began in 1993 and was completed in 2005. 3D computer imaging was used to recreate the church, with many of the original stones being used. The original stones stand out as they are darker than the new stones.

Dresden Frauenkirche

Square by the Frauenkirche

We find a restaurant called Ontario and stop for a drink. It is run by a German couple with Canadian leanings. It is very modern and expensive. They have Moosehead beer and several Ontario wines. I have a German beer and we don’t stay for dinner.

Dresden - Ontario restaurant

Dresden - modern street cars

We find a German restaurant nearby and have a very good and reasonably priced meal.

Monday 7 Sept 2009: Dresden to Meissen – 32 km

Cool morning, partly cloudy. Rode into the center. We visit another church that was ruined during the war – the Catholic Hofkirche. Its reconstruction was completed in 1987.

Well marked bike lanes

Catholic Hofkirche

Across a square is the Semper Opera house and the vast Zwinger Palace.

Zwinger Palace

Entrance to Zwinger Palace

We start on the left side of the river on a very good paved radweg, then cross over the Elbe at Niederwartha. Meissen is not far away.

Murals painted on dam by the Elbe

Meissen Cathedral

Hotels expensive, so we try a pension about 10 min walk to center.  We register in a clothes shop next to the pension. We have a modern room at the back of the building – good thing as there was road construction in front.
Walked into town. Can’t find reasonable lunch menu so a wurst for me and a meat/cheese patty for Judy.
We visit the Meissen porcelain factory. The headsets provide an excellent tour through the workshop area and into the museum. Amazingly detailed paint work. The Kaolin clay is mined nearby in Europe’s smallest mine. Some of the pottery dates from the start of the factory in the early 1700s.  There is a store but we don’t buy anything! A very interesting place well worth visiting.

Meissen pottery museum piece

This one is for sale at 9100 Euros

Dinner is Greek tonight. Complimentary Ouzo to begin the meal. Very good.


Tuesday 8 Sept 2009: Meissen to Belgern – 65 km

We take pension manager’s suggestion at breakfast and make our lunch from the buns, meat & cheese. It is sunny but cool enough to require jackets.
In Meissen we see a plaque showing the high water mark of the Elbe in 2002.

Elbe flood level 2002

Another great paved bike path

There is a radweg on both sides of the river. We take the left side.  It was quite good except for a 2.5km stretch of cobblestones by Strehla, where we have lunch.

Vineyards along the Elbe

One of many ferries along the Elbe

Up to Strehla the path was close to the river. After, it zigged and zagged through farmer’s fields. Up a hill into Belgern. It is a small city of 5000. Info center sent us to a very nice pension – Sigwarth. Very modern bright room.

Bicycle parking our pension

Belgern Pension Sigwarth

Walked into town and had drink. Very pleasant central square.

Belgern city hall

Belgern central square

For dinner, Pension owner recommended a restaurant by the ferry crossing. We sat outside and watched some dredging and some ferry crossings. I had a meat platter which was good but too large. Judy had a lighter vege/cheese meal. Reasonable price.
It was about 1 km back to pension. We were tired.


Wednesday 9 Sept 2009: Belgern to Elster – 72 km 

Good breakfast. Radweg is on the left side of the river, very good and very flat. Today it is mostly away from the river through farmland. A beautiful day getting up to 25C.

Great bike path

New friends from Hamburg

The wind is from S-SE which helps as the path heads north. We stop for lunch at a lake – Lausiger Teiche. We were joined by a couple from Hamburg whom we had run into twice before. Interesting chat.
The plan was to stop at Pretzsch (about 50km). But it was only 1pm, so we kept on. Took a ferry at Pretzsch across the river. This ferry was connected by cable to other side of river and used river current to go back & forth. They angle the ferry into the current to get across.

Ferry at Pretzsch

We have made good time – 50km by 1pm, so we decide to carry on to Elster. At a gasthof, we were offered a small room for €45. We asked for larger. He showed us one with sitting room for €60. We hesitated so he said €55, so we took it. After shower, went down to the gasthof’s bar and one real beer and one without alcohol.
We go down the street to the hotel by the ferry and have a very good Greek meal.


Thursday 10 Sept 2009: Elster to Worlitz – 40 km

Cooler and cloudy today. No real altstadt so we leave right away. Bike path is good into Lutherstadt-Wittenberg. There is a very large city hall.

Lutherstadt Wittenburg

Lutherstadt Wittenburg

We visit Martin Luther’s house. Excellent history of Luther’s life and the ways he changed history. Well worth the €10 to get in.

Martin Luther's impressive home

Fireplace in Martin Luther's house

We stopped in Coswig, but were not impressed, so keep on to Worlitz. Another ferry with no engine to get across the river. We ride through a large park which we found out was designed back in the mid 1700s and was now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ferry with no engine

Worlitz park - UNESCO World Heritage site

The lady at the tourist office was very helpful and found us a pleasant pension. We go out and find the Gondoliere restaurant and have a very good German meal. We decided to have dessert, but could not get waitress to understand. Couple at next table helped out and we got a chocolate sundae. The man was Austrian, his wife Swedish. They live in Stockholm and had just driven 800km that day from Vienna. Very interesting chat.


Friday 11 Sept 2009: Worlitz to Barby – 54 km

Cool this am. Breakfast somewhat spartan. The bike path is mostly crushed stone through forest for 28km to Aken where we got a ferry. We have lunch in Steckby at Gasthof Biber. Biber is German for beaver. The European beaver is much larger than North American ones. They can grow to 1.4m long and 34kg!

European Biber

Gasthof Biber

Next stretch of path was again through forest, but had some rough stone sections for 8km. Another ferry and we head into Barby.
Tourist office lady very helpful, finding us a very nice Gasthof. It is huge. Although closed, the owner poured us beer & pop and we had them in their beer garden. He had just given his wife a bicycle for her birthday. It had a banner in English: “Happy Birthday”.

Ferry with no engine explanation

Birthday bicycle

The Gasthof had a large hall attached to it. It holds up to 260 people for banquets or theatre shows. The Gasthof is 300 years old, the hall 200. Both had been well restored.

Well restored Gasthof

Banquet hall connected to Gasthof

We walked around town. It was very quiet for a Friday. The tourist office had computer for internet so we did some emailing.

We had dinner at our Gasthof – chicken ragout with spatzle and salad for me and a fitness teller (a salad) with chicken for Judy. Very good.
Went for a walk and found an ice cream place. Splurged and had 2 scoops each.
Back to our Gasthof for cappucino & tea. I found room for a Jagermeister. No wonder we slept well that night.


Saturday 12 Sept 2009: Barby to Magdeburg- 45 km

Cool again. After good breakfast, we head back across the Elbe using a bike path connected to a train bridge. The path is a mixed bag of paved and stone today.

Barby - bike path on train bridge

Nice bike path

The wind is from the NW but not strong. Just past Domburg paved path was bumpy for 4km. At Pretzian there is choice of a path along the river which is winding here, or a short cut cross country. We take short cut. In Calenberge there is a fair marking its 1000th anniversary. I have a bratwurst on a bun and Judy a pork patty. We walk around a display of old farm equipment.

1000th anniversary fair in Calenberge

Old farm vehicles at fair

Near Pechau, the path was alongside a road. A parade of over 50 old american cars went by. We saw them later in Magdeburg. We cross a long pedestrian/bike bridge onto Island. We cross the island through a pleasant park into Magdeburg.

Bicycle/pedestrian bridge onto Island by Magdeburg

Magdeburg Cathedral

Magdeburg is a large city of 230,000 people. We find the tourist office. They book us into a modern hotel about 1.8 km from center.

We walked in towards the center and found an Italian restaurant near the University. My penne arrabbiatta was too spicy, so the waiter brought me a milder one with a hot pepper on the side. It was good. Free grappa to finish off.

A fine Italian dinner

Sleep n Go Hotel room


Sunday 13 Sept 2009: Magdeburg to Brandenburg – 54 km

Busy breakfast area. Showers stopped as we left city. Cool. We cross river on bridges to the east side. Good bike path through park. It was windy and into our faces. Rain began as we approached the canal bridge that crosses the river. We get rain gear on, the shortly the rain stopped!. We go up onto the canal bridge. This canal was completed in 2003 at a cost of €500 million! It was a massive undertaking.

Canal bridge over the Elbe

Canal on bridge over Elbe

The bike path follows the canal for 3km. At Niegripp we leave the Elbe and head for Burg. The plan is to get a train here to Brandenburg. In Burg we park our bikes and find there is a medieval fair called Rolandfest on.

Half metre bratwurst

Your basic bread

There were a number of performers. A band called Dudelzwerge played old instruments. Unfortunately I ran out of video tape just before they started.

Dudelzwerge medieval instruments

I did get some footage of 2 women dancing.

Medieval dance

Rolandfest performers

We go to Burg bahnhof and get tickets from a machine – always an adventure. Train is modern and we just roll bikes on. In Brandenburg station, there are lifts up and then down to get to main station hall. Found nice pension near center.
Dinner was worst of trip.



Monday 14 Sept 2009: Brandenburg to Potsdam – 62 km

Cool this am. Rain stopped. We went into city and bought Bikeline book for the Havel River. Wind in our faces as we head NE. Damp & cool – worst day of biking this trip. The Havel zigs and zags a lot. Radweg signs not the best so we went astray a couple of times.

Havel River boat

Potsdam Conference hotel on the Havel

In Potsdam, tourist info lady was helpful and got us room in a nice pension about 1.1km from center. Walked into city and strolled down the pedestrian only main street. We were able to drink outside. Very pleasant.

Potsdam pedestrian area

Potsdam - Brandenburg gate replica

Found Greek restaurant – gyros a little too salty. Could not find ice cream on way back to pension.


Tuesday 15 Sept 2009: Potsdam to Berlin – 36 km

We thought we might stay another night, but found that pension was booked for the night. So, after a good breakfast we rode into the city past a lot of construction and renovation projects. The bahnhof is new and large. We find an internet cafe and book a hotel in Berlin for 2 nights. The food shops in the bahnhof were tempting.

Potsdam Train station bakery

Modern Potsdam train station

We crossed the Havel river and rode through Babelsberg Park to get to where the former West Berlin border was near Potsdam. From the park we could see the Glienicke Bridge across the Havel River. This bridge used to separate the Soviets in East Berlin from the Americans in West Germany. It was used a number of times during the cold war to exchange prisoners. We look across another bridge to a town – Klein Glienicke. It was a small East German enclave that jutted into West Berlin. The wall was built all the way around it.

Glienicke Bridge

Section of former East Berlin

We are now using the Bikeline book “Berlin Wall Trail”. It is in English and has a bicycle route that follows the former Berlin Wall all the way around. We are going to spend a few days travelling along parts of it.
The map gives an overview of the part of Berlin we traveled through today.

The first part of our wall trip

The Bikeline book showed a bike trail along the Griebnitzsee east towards Berlin. After about 500m, the trail had a fence across it blocking the way. We returned and went up and got on Karl Marx Strasse. This was better as along the street we could see the large mansions. A number of these were used after WWII during the Potsdam conference by Truman, Churchill and Stalin. At the end of the street we saw our first remnant of the Berlin Wall.

Churchill used this mansion in 1945

Berlin wall segment

There was a plaque commemorating the people who had died in this area trying to cross the border to freedom.

People who died near this part of wall

Another Berlin wall segment

We then went through a forest and over the autobahn near the former Dreilinden border crossing. We got lost on the other side trying to find the path in the Bikeline book. We ended up taking some residential streets east to Ludwigsfelder Str. Then south along a path off Machower Str to the Tetlow Canal. The path turned east at the canal which was the former border. We turned right at Tetlower Damm and crossed to the south side of the canal. We could not fine the path here so took side streets east to the Licterfelde S-Bahn station. Here we took the S-Bahn in Berlin. Bike are rolled right on the trains.

The Hotel Delta was disappointing. We were put in an old annex building not the newer main building. Room was narrow, everything squeaked and the towels were thin.
We walked down Potsdam Str to Potsdamer Platz. Went to the Sony center where there was an square between several of the buildings. They were erecting a huge model of the new Fiat 500 car in the square. Had beer & tee & watched. For dinner we tried an Aussie restaurant – go figure.


Wednesday 16 Sept 2009: In Berlin – 22 km

The hotel did have a very good breakfast buffet. We had booked 2 nights here and decided to book another night. They said there was a fair on and the rate would go from €80 to €125! So we went an Internet cafe and found the Hotel Mark for €74 without breakfast.
We took off on bikes for ride along wall.
The following map shows the route we took from Potsdamer Platz.

Potsdamer Platz past Checkpoint Charlie

We went past the modern Sony Center.

Modern Berlin

In Berlin - wall segment

There were wall remnants in Potsdamer Platz with photos and some history. The location of the former wall is marked in different ways. Here is one in a sidewalk where they used a brass strip.

Berlin - Potsdamer Platz - Wall segments

Berlin Wall metal marker

From Potsdamer Platz you take Stressmann Str south then turn left at Niederkirchner Str. Along here there is a long stretch of the former wall. On the left is the east, on the right is the west.

Berlin wall - a long stretch left

Berlin Wall

A couple blocks along is Checkpoint Charlie.

I visited Berlin in Oct 1964 and went through Checkpoint Charlie on a dreary day into East Berlin. I can remember that I had an Time magazine in English with me when we crossed. They confiscated that! Here are a couple of pictures taken then.

Looking towards East Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie

The wall on the East Berlin side

Charlie is now a real tourist attraction with a museum and a recreated hut.

Checkpoint Charlie today looking towards former West Berlin

Double brick line marks wall location in the road.

The wall followed a zig zag route along streets to the Spree River. After crossing the river and turning right we see the longest remaining portion of the wall – the East Side gallery. Over the years, artists have painted murals on the east side of the wall which is away from the river. Unfortunately, graffiti had messed up a lot of the murals over the years. If you go on Google maps and use the street view, you can see what a mess it was.

2009 was the 20th anniversary of the wall coming down. The artists were invited to refresh their murals. Quite a few had been re-done and a number were in the process of renewal.

East Side Gallery - Trabant auto

East Side Gallery - People streaming through breeched wall

There are a variety of themes to the murals. Some are whimsical like the East German Trabant breaking through the wall. Others are very somber, reflecting the brutality of the wall’s 28 year history.


Former wall tower

At the end of the East Side Gallery is the beautiful Oberbaumbrucke. This bridge was one of the border crossings through the wall. We crossed the Spree on the bridge.
A little further down the Spree we found another guard tower in a park.
We rode into Treptow which was on the east side. We rode around a few blocks to see if we could see any difference from the homes in the west. We really couldn’t.
At this point we had had enough and rode back to the hotel.
We ate at the Dalmacia Restaurant and had an excellent slavic meal.


Thursday 17 Sept 2009: In Berlin  – 25 km

We had another good breakfast, checked out of the hotel. We find our next hotel – Berlin Mark, and are able to check in early.
Today we went north from Potsdamer Platz on Ebertstrasse and found an amazing memorial to the holocaust. 2711 large concrete blocks have been set up in rows. The terrain goes up and down. The blocks vary in height so as you walk in you get a closed in feeling. It was quite eerie.

Holocaust memorial - central Berlin

Holocaust memorial - central Berlin

We rode on to Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg gate was on the eastern side of the wall. In 1964, there was a wooden platform on the western side that you could climb to look over the wall and see the gate. It was a desolate sight. Here are pictures from 1964.

1964 Platform on West to look over wall

1964 View from platform - Brandenburg Gate

Today Brandenburg Gate has become one of the main gathering points in Berlin. It is open only to pedestrians. One block north we ride past the current Bundestag (Federal government building). This was the former Reichstag building.

Brandenburg Gate - pedestrians only

Bundestag - Former Reichstag building

We ride past modern government buildings and come across a wall section called “Parliament of Trees against War & Violence”. The names of the 258 victims of the wall are inscribed in slabs of granite.

Marble slabs with 268 names

Parliament of Trees

After crossing Invaliden Strasse we follow the Spree river and come to the Invaliden cemetery. Tucked in amongst apartment buildings is the Keiler Strasse guard tower.

The wall divided the Invaliden cemetery

Former guard tower

The wall heads east away from the river and splits another cemetery in half. We head south on Garten Strasse to Bernauer Strasse and turn left.  At the corner of Garten Strasse a new memorial building is being erected. Bernauer Strasse is famous for a number of wall incidents. We stop at the Chapel of Reconciliation. It is circular with an open and simple interior.

Inside the Chapel of Reconciliation

Along Bernauer Strasse is a statue of an East Berlin policemen, Conrad Schumann who hopped across the barbed wire 2 days after the wall was built. A plaque lists 10 people who died along this part of the wall.

Bernauer Strasse: statue of East German soldier escaping

Bernauer Strasse Wall victims

At the end of Bernauer Strasse we turn left in Mauerpark. There are some wall remnants up on a hill. Lots of graffitti.
It has been a heavy few days following the wall and we have had enough.
So we head back to the hotel. I broke my mirror of going between 2 posts on path.
We are near the Kufurstendamm Strasse. Very busy shopping street. We find nice Italian restaurant and have pasta.
We try to book hotel to stay an extra night, but it was full. So we spend time on hotel computer looking for a room. No luck as Berlin is pretty much booked for Saturday.


Friday 18 Sept 2009: In Berlin –  20 km

Breakfast not included at hotel, so we go out and find a cafe.
We spend more time on hotel computer and find room in Wittenberge for Saturday. The train connection from Berlin to Wittenberge was good. Then found a room in Hamburg for Sunday. This took time as there was a convention there.
I put Judy’s mirror on my bike and we head out to Charlottenburg Palace. It is a huge palace built in late 1600s and early 1700s.

Charlottenburg Palace from the front.

Charlottenburg gardens behind the palace

Back to bikes and found that my mirror was stolen. (actually it was Judy’s) This and a water bottle in France, are the only losses we have had biking in Europe.
Dinner was Italian again and very good.


Saturday 19 Sept 2009: Berlin to Wittenberge – 9 km

Out for breakfast early. Checked out of hotel. It had turned out well.
We rode up to the Kurfurstendamm then rode past the Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche. It was damaged during WWII. It had not been restored.

Hotel Berlin Mark near the Ku-damm

Kaiser Wilhelm Kirche - reminder of the war damage

The Hauptbahnhof is huge and very modern. It is busy, but we are able to the get the bikes around without problem. Judy could not resist the fruit pie at the station bakery. Bought sandwiches for lunch on the train.

Berlin's Main train station is modern and large

Train station bakery - Judy couldn't resist the kuchen

Our train is at 12:30. It is crowded but we find room for the bikes. One hour 20 minutes later we arrive in Wittenberge. We ride into town. It is quiet on a Saturday. We have drinks in square by the tourist info office. It is a bit early to check into the pension, so we ride around the city. It is pleasant by the Elbe. We find the large stone city hall. The we ride through a large area of empty old factory buildings. They are all brick and some are being fixed up.

Wittenberge City Hall

Wittenberge - deserted old factory


We found our pension. A modern house on a large lot. Our host was outside cleaning 3 fish he had just caught.
He brought beer & water to our spacious, so we just lounged around for a while.

Wittenberge - Pension Tivoli

Wittenberge - Pension Tivoli

Our host recommended restaurant along the Elbe. We ate outside and had an excellent meal as we watched the sunset. On the way back to the pension, we found an Italian restaurant and had beer & coffee. 

Sunday 20 Sept 2009: Wittenberge to Hamburg –  29 km

Breakfast at 8am in pension kitchen. There was a German woman staying there. She was from Munich and had taken the train to Hamburg and was biking up the Elbe. She had done 80km the day before! She said the deserted factories were former textile and machinery works. She discussed politics saying she supported the SPD (center left) but really would like to vote Green. Very interesting. After checking out, we rode down to Elbe and around town some more.

Wittenberge - beside the Elbe

Wittenberge - Home under renovation

Train left at 10:50 am. Changed at Schwerin. Train quite full. 
Hamburg train station is large but not as new as Berlin’s. 
We have a hotel tonight out near the airport. The plan is leave the bikes at the airport tomorrow and take the train to Soest to visit friends for 2 days. Then train back to Hamburg, stay overnight in hotel in city center as the airport hotels were full.
So, we ride around and find our hotel for Wednesday. It will be a 600m walk to the Ubahn station on Thursday morning.
We then ride down to dock area. With container shipping, the huge old dock buildings are not needed. So, they are being redeveloped as condominiums. There is construction everywhere. This will be a busy and attractive area. We ride into the city center. The city hall is massive and is surrounded by a large square with a canal alongside.

Hamburg dock building renovation

Hamburg City Hall

We ride out to the airport along a busy street which has a combined pedestrian/bicycle sidewalk. It was very easy riding past all the large old houses out to the airport. We ride into the airport – also no problem. Try that in Toronto!

Hamburg Canal by City hall square

Hamburg - on the way to the airport

We find out where the airport baggage room is and what the procedure is as we will there early the next morning. No problems.
We ride to the nearby Hotel Mercure. It was very nice and not expensive. We decide to eat in the hotel. That was expensive but very good.


Monday 21 Sept to Wednesday 23 Sept 2009: Hamburg to Soest & Return by train

We are up early and ride bikes to airport. We check them in then take S Bahn to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. Lots of time to catch our train.

Hamburg Train Station platform

Hamburg Train Station

We are on the fast ICE train with reserved seats. Unfortunately, it is late leaving and we end up 15 minutes late in Munster and miss our train to Soest. We phone Bernhard and get him to come later for us at the Soest station.
We spend two pleasant days with Bernhard & Gisela.

Soest - main square with well restored buildings

Soest - Bernhard, Gisela & Judy


Thursday 24 Sept 2009: Fly home from Hamburg

Hamburg - last night of trip

Hamburg Airport - bikes wrapped up and ready to go