Elbe cycle route/Elberadweg 2010

We had originally planned to cycle round the Zuider Zee (Iijselmeer) from Amsterdam, but then decided that was too easy. We looked at the Danube cycle route, but it seemed heavily used, and the difficulties of getting our touring bikes to the start and end points seemed too great. After contact with a pen friend in Dessau (former DDR) we looked at the Elbe route, which runs for 860 km from Cuxhaven on the North Sea to Prague. Considering the time available and the necessary train connections we decided to opt for the section of the route from Hamburg in the North West to Dresden in the South East, a distance of approximately 645 kilometers.

Brompton Folding Bikes

We had discovered, while planning a previous trip down the Moselle, that you cannot reserve bike places on continental trains on the Net, thus losing out on early booking and special offers. Further, the costs of taking a conventional bike by train can be quite steep - the booking clerk at Amsterdam quipped "You could have bought a bike for that!". Folding bikes get around the problem as they travel free as hand luggage on both the trains and the North Sea ferry.

Having successfully completed a tour of Belgium on our Brompton folders the year before, we were confident that the small wheeled machines would be appropriate for a route that followed a river valley. As it transpired the limited range of gears of our (6 speed) Bromptons proved to be adequate for virtually all of the terrain that we encountered, the only times we had to get off and walk were the few occasions where the path had been dug up for civil engineering works and the temporary alternative was too rough or sandy for use.  In practice, with a heavy load on the bike, I hardly ever got into top gear and occasionally longed for a lower gear, but Carol has a lower pedalling cadence and did make more use of the full range of gears. The latest Bromptons have a wider range three speed hub gear (BWR Sturmey Archer), coupled with the 2 speed derailleur, and that would be a great improvement; I can foresee future damage to my bank balance.

The Bromptons are good stable load carriers. I had the standard Brompon front and rear luggage, but additionally carried my camera bag with a heavy digital single lens reflex camera and lenses. I started by carrying the camera bag on my back but rapidly transferred it to loop over the handlebars and rest on top of the front bag. Held in place with a bungee cord, this was a good solution.

The final arrangements were

The DFDS ferry from North Shields to Ijmuiden. Bromptons carried as hand luggage at no extra charge, a very helpful member of staff carried Carol's bike onto the ship at North Shields. Bikes were carried into Amsterdam as luggage on the transfer bus. Cost £271 for two returns, including bus transfer into Amsterdam only and breakfast going out only. The evening meal on board now costs 31 Euros, we decided to give it a miss and brought our own food.

Train from Amsterdam to Hamburg  (changing at Hilversum and Osnabruck). Circa 65 Euros for two.

Bike from Hamburg to Dresden

Train from Dresden to Amsterdam (changing at Berlin and Hilversum) Cost 188 Euros for two, including a 10 Euros seat reservation.

The train transfers weren't too bad, there were plenty of lifts (but Berlin station was a warren, on several levels, with queues for lifts)

Maps/Info

The "bible" for this trip is a two-part guide from Bikeline publishers - Elberadweg Teil 1 von Prag nach Magdeburg (ISBN9783850000307),  Elberadweg Teil 2 von Magdeburg nach Cuxhaven (ISBN 9783850000796). Almost every long-distance cyclist we encountered had these guides to hand. They are very detailed, but they are in German. It's possible just to follow the maps and disregard the text, but we found it useful to have extra maps which go beyond the "corridor". These are numbers  8, 9 and 14 from the ADFC series of Radtourenkarten. All can be obtained on the net, or by post from Stanford maps.

We had a major problem with the Elberadweg guides - they go from source to mouth, whereas we had been advised to travel in the opposite direction, following the prevailing wind. So all our directions were back-to-front.

Local knowledge was very useful, advising you which side of the river had the best quality paths. There are numerous ferries to allow zigzags, most cost E1 per person and bike, but we did pay up to 2.5 Euros on one private, as opposed to state subsidised, ferry.

We quickly learned to look out for the little arrow signs on the cycle map, as they indicate steep gradients. It is generally possible to take an alternative route to avoid severe climbing.

We did some research into possible accommodation. We booked ahead for the first night in Hamburg, the last night in Dresden, and the night  before the ferry in Haarlem. Everything else was "on the hoof". For the first few days we either went to the local tourist office or just kept our eyes open for adverts along the route, but it meant stopping earlier than we might have done, to give time to search. It wasn't until we reached Magdeburg that the tourist office there gave us the free booklet which gives a full list of all types of accommodation (Offizielles Elberadweg Handbuch), which meant that we could phone ahead. This guide also gives straightforward distances between stages, whereas the two "Teils" jump from one side of the river to the other, so information is repeated.

The web site for the entire route is

www.elberadweg.de

All photographs (c) B. Attewell. Many of these images and more are available for sale via Alamy.  

Stock photography by Bryan+Attewell at Alamy

The River

We had previously cycled the Rhine (very industrial in parts) and the Moselle (totally geared to viticulure and tourism) and thought the Elbe would be similar to one or other. In fact there is hardly any industry to be seen beyond Hamburg, though there are signs of previous activity. The riverside is almost entirely agricultural, and indeed vast areas are designated as nature reserves. We saw many buzzards, storks and the occasional heron and hare and many types of wild flowers. On some stretches the only sound we heard was the rippling of the river itself. Some sections do not appear to be navigable, so you don't see the constant barge traffic of the Rhine, and you can't hop on a riverbus when the going gets tough.



There are many cyclists making the trip,  most appeared to be travelling from south-east to north- west, but, such is the scale of the thing, you do have the path to yourself for long periods of time. Almost without exception passing cyclists would shout a greeting, Hallo being the most common, but Morgen or Guten Tag also appeared to be appropriate.

While camping in Schleswig-Holstein in 2002 we had heard of terrible floods in eastern Germany. What we didn't realise is just how prone the whole area is to flooding. The flood plain extends sometimes to several kilometres, and the river is constrained along its whole length by massive dykes or levees, and there are sluices etc. as part of an overall water management system. Many times we saw photos of the terrible floods of 2002 and 2006. Much of the route consists of paths alongside the levees, or on top of them, but there are also stretches where you are taken far from the river itself, only for it to reappear happily in a different setting.



There are many, what appear to be bird perches, along the way, and we did see large birds of prey making use of these facilities. Unfortunately I did not manage to photograph this.

The villages and smaller towns are generally very attractive with beautifully decorated churches and civic buildings, but the few larger towns were a bit of a disappointment. The region appears to have lost a lot of its industry, perhaps to more efficient companies in the west, and some places felt rather rather down at heel. There is a marked contrast between the opulent suburbs of  Hamburg  and the communist era blocks of flats in Dessau, for example.

The Route

Generally speaking the signing was very good, you could almost have completed the journey without the aid of written guides. Most signposts carried the blue E sign, and were well placed.



The track surfaces were also generally very good, we were able to cycle all of the way on our small wheeled bikes bar a couple of short stretches where construction work meant a temporary surface that they could not cope with. The path surfaces comprised smooth tarmac, concrete slabs, block paving and a limited mileage of unmetalled but smooth tracks. The route does include short stretches on minor roads, on which we felt perfectly safe. Bizarrely the worst surfaces we encountered were within within the many small villages where the roads were made from very rough cobbles, causing us to use the pavement (rather better laid cobbles) or the gutter. We came to the conclusion that they might have decided to stay with the cobbles as a traffic calming measure as all of the normal roads are smooth tarmac.



Given that you are following a mature river, the gradients are generally hardly noticeable, but there is a bit of climbing when the valley begins to deepen, starting from just outside Meissen.

The Elberadweg intersects with many other local and long-distance paths, e.g. Route 1 (St Petersburg to Boulogne) and the Havel valley route which leads to Berlin.

Our bikes are not fitted with milometers, the distances we are quoting below are taken from the official handbook mentioned above.

The Accommodation

It seemed that the entire economy of the region was based upon cycle tourism. The stops we made varied from a large modern  hotel (Dresden) to small hotel (Hitzacker) to a  farm (Balow) to baker's shop (Pretzsch). The most expensive was E64 for two in Dresden and the least was E36 in Randau. All were spotlessly clean. The breakfasts were all adequate, but some were exceptional. The standard provision included a hard boiled egg, cheese, ham, bread and jam, all washed down with coffee.  Everyone was friendly  and helpful and happy to chat - it helps if you speak German, but I'm sure a few stock phrases would get you through.  Most were surprised and pleased to discover that we were English, as they get relatively few visitors from the UK. After leaving Hamburg we did not hear English spoken until we overheard a group of Americans in Meissen during the penultimate day of our journey east.

Day 1 Amsterdam to Hamburg

The ferry from Newcastle docked at Ijmuiden at 9:30 am, and we took the transfer bus into Amsterdam (with the bikes in the luggage compartment). Changing at Hilversum and Osnabruck we arrived in Hamburg at 6:20 pm. We knew we had to get onto the riverside to join the route, and luckily we chanced upon a German family who were going in that direction, otherwise it would have been complicated (the German guide gives detailed instructions for getting through Hamburg, but assumes you are already on the cycle way). Eventually we followed signs for Ochsenwerder, our stop for the night. Our host, Axel Motullo is a German American, so language was no problem, and we were made very welcome in his lovely home. The village is only a few miles from the busy city, but was very secluded and peaceful, and bed and breakfast for two cost 58 Euros.  On Herr Motullo's recommendation we ate at the local pub, Landhaus Voigt, where a good meal for 2 with beers cost E19.70.

Day 2 Hamburg to Hitzacker 107 km

Herr Motullo gave us detailed advice for the first 50 miles of our journey and advised us not to follow the marked route, but rather to take the minor road out of the village which hugs the river, and which had a cycle path at the side. This was our first instance of a superb tarmac'd  surface, alongside a 5m high levee, which was to be repeated many times. The wind was behind us and we flew along at a good pace.

We crossed onto the south side of the river as advised, via the bridge at Ronne, and continued on through pretty villages until we approached Neu Bleckede in the early afternoon. The castle houses a museum and information centre for the surrounding nature reserve.



Bleckede had been our planned second stop, but we were so far ahead of schedule that we continued on.  Just before Darchau we made a "kaffe und kuchen" (coffee and cake - strawberries were in season, so the cakes were generally strawberry and cream) stop at the Katemina Ladchen cafe. A helpful poster on the door warned cyclists not to continue on this side of the river because of the poor pathway, so we took the ferry across to the right (i.e. east) bank.



Lauenberg



An interesting sculpture!

We had to cross by ferry again to reach our next nightly stop, Hitzacker. This is a lovely little town, famous for its craft workers' houses from the seventeenth century. Several houses have information panels outside, showing the history of that particular building, including previous owners and old photos. Elsewhere there were lines showing the extent of the 2006 flood, which cut off the town completely. The tourist office pointed us in the direction of the Hotel Luneberger Hof (E64 for a double room in the annexe, dinner courtesy of the local LIDL supermarket @ E6).  Our trip coincided with the World Cup - we watched Spain beat Germany.







White storks nest in Hitzacker

Day 3 Hitzacker to Balow 104km

Another ferry crossing took us to Domitz, a rather sorry town, but with a handy ALDI to buy lunch. After Domitz we decided to cut off a corner by heading along the B road to Lenzen. Here we found the first of many beautiful little Lutheran churches, with characteristic towers and internal galleries. We were fortunate to hear the organist practising for a music festival, on the instrument that was reconstructed by Gottlieb Scholtze in 1759.



We kept on the quiet road to Lanz, Cumlosen and Wittenberge, which was quite disappointing for a large town.

However, we regained the riverside, but after following the route markers a little way out of town, we  were unsure of the way forward until some locals told us that there was now a temporary route  via a right turn into the industrial estate. At one point we crossed a pontoon bridge, with a roughly-surfaced track, but shortly we were back on track and heading to our next  night-stop, the village of Balow.  An attractive sign for accommodation pointed us right at the crossroads- we were housed in a farm complex right on the river, which included self-catering apartments (Familie Zander E46 per room with breakfast) .

Here we met 2 cyclists who had grown up in the DDR. They were very negative about Re-unification; more unemployment, less community spirit, people leading a more sedentary lifestyle etc., although they conceded that there had been "some disadvantages" - e.g. the Stasi

The local pub provided our evening meal, matjes (marinated raw herring with sauté potatoes, very tasty @ E5 each). Again there were many photos of the 2006 flood, which came up to the farm's outer wall. The nearest town, Ruhstadt, boasts a stork-protection club of 80 members, and the birds were to be seen frequently.


Day 4 Balow to Tangermunde 82 km

The forecast said 34 degrees, and it wasn't long before this was reached. At first we had easy riding along the top of the dyke. Civil engineering work meant a slight detour as we approached Havelberg, and here we met the 2 East German cyclists again. Havelberg is a pleasant town, with a striking church and pretty riverside. It is the starting point for the route up to Berlin.





Heading south towards Sandau, we decided to stay on this side of the river rather than cross the ferry to rejoin the official route, which seemed very tortuous. This meant travelling alongside the road on a separate path. At Scharlibben we sat behind the church to have lunch, and cooled our feet in a water butt. After Klietz we followed the marked route to Arneburg on the other side of the river. From the ferry we had to walk the bikes, due to major roadworks, and after passing through the village the surface was rough but manageable, climbing slightly and passing a wind farm.

Continuing along the official route, we came to Tangermunde, a lovely town with many old buildings, of which the Rathaus (town hall) was the most interesting. We found a room in the Alte Stadt Pension, in the main square. Opposite was the church, again with an imposing tower, where a wedding was taking place. Alongside was an old tavern, where the menu was also an amusing and well produced history of the town. Here we had an excellent meal of salad with the inevitable bratkartoffeln, followed by ice cream and strawberries. Other highlights of the town were an old church  turned into an arts centre, the quayside (public thermometer 40 degrees) and the town  gate. The Pension was very comfortable, with literally a birds-eye view of a stork's nest, the birds making their trademark clacking sound with their beaks.



The digital thermometer was on 40 degC, but as I struggled to get my camera out, it clicked down to 39!



The town hall or rathaus in Tangermunde, note how the digital thermometer display above mimics the shape of this facade.



One of the many attractive doorways within Tangermunde.


Day 5 Tangermunde to Randau  82 km

Another very hot day. We set off through the town gate, heading south on the same side of the river until we reached Rogatz. where we took the ferry.

At Schartau we stocked up on a basic lunch at the village shop. It was here that we first encountered the dreaded cobbles. We took a wrong turn before regaining the road to Niegripp. At Hohenwarthe the route deviates to take in the impressive Wasserstrassenkreuz (the Elbe canal crosses over the river at right angles on a newly built aqueduct).  This is engineering on a massive scale.




Shortly afterwards we reached Magdeburg, which was very disappointing, although it did contain this very interesting modern building by Hundertwasser.



We had expected to see a beautiful medieval city, but it had obviously been heavily bombed and rebuilt with 60s boxes. However it was in the tourist office here that we were given the official handbook. As we were almost at the mid-point of the journey we had to find a launderette, which we eventually found on the Leipziger Strasse to the south of the city centre. It's on the left-hand side, just after a row of shops with a cafe, where we had a refreshing iced coffee while the clothes were washed. We got back on track by returning to the centre, then crossing the river by a bridge which had been given over to a funfair. As we now had comprehensive information about B&Bs, we were able to phone ahead to Randau, about 10km further on. 

The accommodation was in the Predigerwitwenhaus, formerly a home for the widows of the local priest. The comfortable room cost E50 and included the very best breakfast. On arriving we were offered a very welcome cold beer! It was here where we watched Spain beat Holland in the final of the world cup, I like the Dutch, but the best team won.




Day 6 Randau to Vockerode 87 km


Pretzien is obviously a holiday destination, with many holiday homes grouped around small lakes. We were now used to temperatures in the high 30s. This meant getting on the road by 8.30 at the latest, in order to get as many km under the belt as possible before burning began at about midday. Thereafter the going became quite challenging, the feet mechanically pushing the pedals and fighting the heat, so we were glad to come upon the old restored castle at Walternienburg, where a friendly volunteer sold us iced water and gave us a guided tour.

Watching the TV news we learned that the area was experiencing a freak heat wave, the air conditioning systems on some of the crack ICE trains had failed and that passengers had been taken to hospital suffering from heat stroke. In those circumstances it was definitely preferable to travelling by bike, where movement through the air provided some cooling effect!

Then followed a long stretch through the woods to Steckby - good for shade but poor surfaces. We crossed on the ferry at Aken (thermometer 42 in the shade!), then followed a long and boring path next to the road into Dessau.



Again we were somewhat disappointed with Dessau, with the exception of the famous Bauhaus building, where we had a rather nice kaffe and kuchen. We had pre-booked a hotel, but on sight this proved to be very expensive (E120 for the room) and in a run-down area, so despite being very tired and hot we elected to push on. Coming out of Dessau we skirted the grounds of the Schloss Luisium, which did look to be very interesting, but time was pressing and we reached Vockerode by tea-time. Our motel style room at the Kleine Landhaus was cheap and comfortable at E46 for B&B. The evening meal was a tad prefabricated, but acceptable, and the breakfast was the most basic of the trip.

Day 7 Vockerode to Pretzsch  55km

As we were now one whole day ahead of schedule, so we felt we deserved a leisurely ride on this leg. We passed the Worlitz Park, which again looked worthy of exploration, but bikes were not allowed.

At Coswig we crossed on the ferry, which used the strength of the current to provide propulsion; a reaction ferry. As I understand the principle, the boat's hull is angled to the flow, which provides a force vector at right angles to the flow. The vessel is restrained by cables that are moored upstream, and it rotates about an axis some considerable distance upstream.



The mechanism of the reaction ferry at Coswig, windlasses are used to adjust the angle of the vessel to the flow.

We then followed the straight road into Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The road was lined with industrial workings, both current and disused, but impressive features included a huge church with gables in the roof, and a row of workers' cottages at Apollensdorf.

Wittenberg was very pretty. The main church has a striking tower, with the words of Luther's famous hymn around the top - "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott".



As we headed towards Elster it was again very hot, and Carol was very tired.



The church at  Schutzberg

We crossed the river to Pretzsch, which had once been a very important town. It had a huge castle and an impressive church. We found lodgings next to the town bakery, run by Herr Schutze (E40 for B&B) who thankfully had beer immediately to hand!. He gave us directions for an evening meal, and at the Park Hotel we had the most exotic meal of the trip, but only costing E35 for 2 including a drink. It transpired that the main dining hall was occupied by a Trabant themed evening, with carburettor soup etc, intended for older East Germans to reminisce, but we were happy to sit on the terrace . There was also pizzeria right next to the bakery, which looked a reasonable alternative. During the night there was a terrific storm, with continuous flashes of lightning.



Day 8 Pretzsch to Gohlis bei Riesa 70km

The storm had cleared the air, and we set off  with overcast skies, at one point  needing the capes in a short rain shower.  We timed ourselves on a stretch with a good surface - 34km in 2 hours to Torgau, where the  American and Russian armies met at the end of the Second World War. 



The town itself was quite attractive, with a market in the square. ALDI provided our basic lunch again, then we headed off, finding a "cyclists' church" at Wessnig.  The church had been  radically restored, with the usual galleries in the nave, this time totally enclosed with glass windows. Cyclists were invited to mark their home towns on a large map of Europe - the UK was not included so we had to mark Washington in the North Sea!



Cyclists' church at Wessnig

We saw buzzards every day, circling lazily over the fields. Dragonflies seemed much bigger and more colourful than in England. The occasional heron stood by the river, while storks were sometimes seen floating on the thermals.



In the heat of the day we stopped for a very expensive, but welcome, glass of lemonade in Strehla, which is a holiday town. We had intended to press on to Riesa for the night, but we found a lovely B&B (Familie Wagner) right on the route at Gohlis. Again this was a self-contained suite normally used for long stay guests, costing E50 for 2. The owners directed us to the local leisure centre for a meal, and Carol was able to indulge her craving for bratwurst. As evening fell we were able to watch barges go past on the peaceful river, and Bryan set off to take sunset photos of Strehla across the water.





Day 9 Gohlis to Radebeul  48km

At Riesa we encountered some interesting art work, but not much else. However this was the start of the most picturesque stretch of the river - the wine route  (Muller-Thorgau etc.). The river passes by steep cliffs on the eastern side, and the banks are dotted with small villages with castles like Schloss Neuhirschstein and Schloss Seusslitz.



A pusher barge with the church at Zadel in the background

For the first time we saw pleasure boats coming from Dresden and Meissen, including steam paddle boats.




 Zehren was particularly pretty, although the track surface was especially bad, and  we  had to make the only real climb of the trip.

As we approached Meissen the huge castle came into view, with its cathedral rising above. We walked through the town, which has wonderfully restored buildings, and climbed the hill to the church of St Afra. Another interesting interior, especially the decorated fan vaulting. We crossed the river to take a panoramic view, and also to cool our feet in the river we had followed for so long. After a short way we stopped for a refreshing glass of the aforesaid wine - very strong!





As we neared another town called Coswig, we found an unusual drinking fountain, then we continued into Radebeul.




We phoned ahead for accommodation, and after some wrong turns found the Pension Haden, with a large garden full of small animals. Cost E36. The  landlady pointed us to a nearby pub, Die Scarfe Ecke, where we ate a fine meal of salad and potatoes for a reasonable sum. The lady was determined that we should see as many local sights as possible, and gave us several brochures and maps. We  talked to a friendly German family from Hamburg who were visiting their partner city Dresden (presumably linked by bombing).




Day 10  Radebeul to Dresden - the direct cycle path is about 10 km, but we detoured to Moritzburg!


One of the recommended sights was the light steam railway which ran from Radebeul into the hills at Moritzburg, where there is a fine baroque castle. This involved a substantial detour from the Elbe route, but the track follows the railway line for some way, at one point very steeply, then heads off across the fields to the town. Moritzburg is obviously a "getaway" for the people of Dresden, it's also an equestrian centre. Unfortunately the castle/Schloss was covered in scaffolding, but it did look impressive on the banks of a lake. We met the steam train on its way up the valley, then headed off to Dresden itself. By this time a fine drizzle was falling, which made for comfortable riding.



Many of the important buildings in Dresden, notably the Frauenkirche cathedral, have been restored after the heavy bombing of February 1945, so there are pleasant walks around the two main squares and along the riverside. We thought the interior of the cathedral was far better than the exterior - tier upon tier of galleries with tastefully decorated balustrades, but photography within is prohibited. There were still extensive building works in the main square; it looked like an underground car park.  We ate at a vegetarian restaurant - Aha - a fine meal consisting of  Sulze (vegetables in aspic) @ E35 for 2.







We stayed in the City Herberge, a nice enough modern hotel, very close to the city centre, costing E64.

Day 11 Dresden to Haarlem

The railway station was a short ride away. We caught the train to Berlin, where the 1.5  hour wait was taken up with finding our way through the multi-level warren. The station is provided with many lifts, each taking 3/4 bikes, but the queues for them  were  constant. As the train left the station we managed to glimpse the Reichstag and the ruined church on the Ku'dam. The air conditioning failed  in several coaches due to the extreme heat, but we found a  comfortable seat. Changing again at Hilversum and Amsterdam, we arrived in Haarlem, and found our hotel, the Malts. It was convenient for the city centre, which is very interesting, with many old buildings, but it was the most expensive accommodation of the trip @ E88 for B&B. Restaurant prices here were also steep compared to eastern Germany. We finally found a reasonable pizzeria over the road from a "Coffee House", where it was interesting to watch the antics of the locals.

Day 12 Haarlem to Ijmuiden

It was overcast as we headed out to one of our favourite villages, Spaarndam, just north of Haarlem. There was an Art and Crafts market in progress on the Saturday morning, with some very interesting work on display, it's as well that we were unable to carry anything on the bikes! As we left the market it began to rain in earnest, so we pressed on to the ferry port. We stocked up on  food for the ferry trip at the  local supermarket, ate chips and mayonnaise for lunch, then, the rain having ceased, rode out towards the sand dunes, where we watched sand yachting and kite flying.

We boarded the ferry for Newcastle at the end of a very enjoyable trip

Conclusion

What did we like most? Well the lovely peaceful countryside, pretty villages and small towns, many dating back to the 17th century and beyond, were superb. Our favourite towns were Hitzacker and Tangermunde, real gems, while Meissen was also very nice, but there are loads of interesting old towns and villages scattered along the route.



The cycle tracks were generally excellent with smooth sealed surfaces, the Germans must have spent a fortune on this route. Judging by the number of cyclists we saw using the paths, cycle tourism must be a major earner in these parts. "Build it and they will come"; UK please take note!  Then there was the cheap, clean and comfortable accommodation, with welcoming hosts. The reliable Brompton folding bikes gave us total flexibility and cheap train fares, while we cannot fail to mention the glass of cool beer at the end of each day's cycling in the sweltering heat.

We did like the tastefully decorated interiors of the various Lutheran churches that we visited, they strike a happy balance between the spartan white interiors of UK religious buildings and the OTT guilded decoration found in the Catholic cathedrals in Spain and Italy.



If we were to look for negatives, the east German cities were generally disappointing, sadly flattened during the war and rebuilt under austere circumstances.  If you are making this trip, enjoy the countryside to the full and don't sprint on to get to the larger towns! The paths were  good to excellent, but when the surfaces were bad, as you passed through the cobbled streets in the villages,  they were very bad (particularly for small wheeled  Bromptons).  Then there were the mosquitos, don't forget to pack your insect repellent and sting treatment!

But they are all small gripes, overall it was a very enjoyable trip, definitely worth the cost and effort of getting there and back, and highly recommended.

If you have a free choice of bike for this trip, then a standard European style large wheeled tourer would be good, providing some insulation from the vibration from the cobbles within the villages, but the advantages of the folding Bromptons are hard to ignore.

All photographs (c) B. Attewell. Many of these images and more are available for sale via Alamy, please click on the symbol below.

Stock photography by Bryan+Attewell at Alamy

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