micke-midlife on June 27th, 2009

In the morning, I was close to call it quits and look for the next train station. It just was no fun to ride. Water from above, a drizzling rain set in. Water from below, the streets were wet and my bike wheels started to act like sprinklers with a lot of water ending on my back. About 35km it stayed like this. Only in Seesen things got better, way better. One of the best things in Germany are the bakeries, pretty much unrivaled in Europe. The stuff is great, the variety is massive and the prices are unbeatable. In Seesen (south-east of Hanover, west of the Harz lower mountain range) I stopped at one great bakery. After a superb sandwich and some sweeter things, the world looked like a better place and riding the bike was ok again.

The scenery changed with the Harz, from the flat land of the north to a hilly terrain in central Germany. With the legs already having 1100km in them, they let me feel every uphill strech. The route was planned to stay in valleys and go along rivers as much as possible. It’s just not always possible. North and south of Eisenach were the worst parts.Further I figured that the rainy weather has troubles to get over those hill stretches as well, hence it was always wet when climbing up and got quickly dry when coming down the other side. The worst was the Rennsteig, a famous and historic hiking trail south of Eisenach. The elevation of the street about 200m on a 3kg stretch and the clouds just leaned against this mountain formation and did not move a bit. It was foggy up there. But I was cleverer than tha weather and got me a “Thuringia Bratwurst” at the foot of the mountain and thus had enough fuel to get easily to the top (with a bit of railing and bitching of course). Back down required than some downhill skills with wet breaks through the serpentines. Never on the tour I was in less control of my bike than there.

Since today covered both areas, the old West Germany in the Lower Saxony region and the old East Germany in Thuringia, it was interesting to see if there are any remains and what those are. Overall it seems that nowadays its more reginoal differences among the German states overall than the differences of former east and west Germany. Infrastructure (streets, house fronts, shopping centers) seemed equally good, ok I didn’t use trains or anything else. What are still visible are bits and pieces of the old border installments and those are still scary. E.g. the car crasher (in one picture) would shoot out from both sides in a fraction of a second from both sides of the border passage, if someone tried to drive through at high speed. There wouldn’t be much left of the car, let alone the passengers.

Meiningen, a little place close to the border to Bavaria was the stop for the night. After having sorted out a room for the night - I didn’t book anything in advance, you find rooms for the night pretty much everywhere - it was dinner time. Within all those greek, turkish, tunesian, etc.  restaurants around it wasn’t easy to find one that specialized on German food. But it worked out in the end after some asking around with the locals. The roast venison (game meat with dumplings) was a perfect complement to the days bike ride as was the shandy drinks (= beer and sprite mixed half and half. Try it, it’s delicious, especially in the summer)

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