A year has gone until the Altmark tour can be continued. We have not forgotten about this. We just choose the last two days of the this-year Tour de France for our Tour de Altmark. At a lower speed, whithout mountains of course. The weather forcast is promising.
This time we go to Salzwedel by car. We could return from Stendal by train. At Salzwedel we choose the next village to deposit the car for two days. This village is called Ritze. The bike trail from Salzwedel to this place is not so attractive, so we will not miss anything. Soon we rise our heads to distant adventures and start.
Up on an asphalt path among blooming meadows and then down to the village Chüden. This time I have a digital camera (Olympus Camedia) with me. Now I observe the first motive and while I prepare the camera's menue, resolution etc. the nearby neighbourhood is presented by an omnipotent barking. So I can retreat under the attention of numerous eyepairs. Heidi has waited around a corner and reports of a horse trailer, where the horses were covered by thick ticks (Zecken). So we hurry to overtake this trailer and the barking mass is left behind.
At Riebau I take a photo of the field-stone church, but the door is closed and we cannot admire the Gotic frescoes. Then there is a typical stretch of the trail: the route is on gravel paths which soon is unpassable by the agricultural vehicles. So there is a narrow side path seperated by a row of poles. Sometimes it is difficult to ride there due to the plants hanging down on the path. We sometimes pick up the yellow dust of the golden buttons of the tansy (Rainfarn, Tanacetum vulgare). Sometimes they have mowed this stuff and this looks less beautiful.
On the road we reach the climatic spa town Arendsee. At the lake we have a rest. Far at the horizon we see a small white ship. We think to have heard about such attraction at this lake. After we have consumed our boiled eggs and cheese sandwiches the ship has had the time to approach and now does the favor to us to whoosh along. It is the paddlesteamer Queen Arendsee. It is possible to get married on this ship, but we have no requirements. As we continue we can see: a cyclist is faster than the ship. while we pass the ruins of the cloister.
Arendsee is a touristic place. Restaurants, a camping ground, an adventure-bath symbolized by an oversized rubber-giraffe with a neck up to the pine tops. We hurry to return into the woods. We stay to the road and miss a detour through the forests and ride 2 km instead of 5. And the decision is right. I have been here 8 years ago (Schnacks bei Schnackenburg) and made a photo of a rotten windmill. This is still there, the tiny pines of those days are more than man-sized now.
Sometime later we rest and see a stork in a garden. It is peculiar, that the stork never moves but then we find out: it is a dummy. We have better impressions at Bömenzien. An idyllic clothesline, a brickstone church and a real stork-family on a meadow. The youngsters still make their exercises to fly and we wonder, if they would be able to fly to Africa in autumn. From afar we hear the clatter of the parent storks.
Some time later we reach the NSG Elbauen (Nature Conservation Area). Of course the cyclist must pass this scenic region, we cross a ditch over a romantic wooden bridge and cycle on the dike or lonesome trails. At the village Aulosen there is a festivity, we see a fire-guard oldtimer - a Trabant. But as we just are at full speed I have no photo. Another nice church in one of the next villages. It must be explained, that the Altmark area has hundreds of spectacular old churches. There is an artist, who does nothing else than to paint churches from the Altmark.
Then there is a meadow with rank purple loosestrife (Blutweiderich, Lythrum salicaria). Just as voluptous is a hedge of blackberries at the edge of a private garden. We look around several times but then cannot resist to taste this and that of the fruits. We feel refreshed when we continue.
At the next town you must be careful not to thumb against a lantern or mast for you will tempt to look to the sky above. There are the storks as numerous as the swallows elsewhere. We end at the dike and talk to a woman, who just has entered a bench to relax at this charming place. The town is named Wahrenberg and there are 22 nests of the stork and about 40 squeakers. This has evolved during the last years and now it is the village with the largest stork population in Sachsen Anhalt. But we hear some critcizm about the nature conservation activities as well. The Elbe swampland and some nice paths were closed to the visitor. "It would be better to preserve the harmony between the nature and man" she states. We get the advice not to go to the nearby town Wittenberge for there is only a busy road and bridge.
We return to the botany. There are the characteristic willow trees which are cut at the top and eventually get a thick end like a head (in German: Kopfweide). Once there is a tree dead at its crown but alife at its bottom. At Beuster there is a spätromanische Pfeilerbasilika, may be a jewel of the Romanesque Road. We continue straight ahead along a ditch named Grosse Wasserung. At last we turn to the road in the burning sun and reach the town Seehausen through the scenic Beuster Tor. We will look for an accommodation here but first settle at a restaurant for a Spezi (Coke and lemonade). Nearby at the Bahnhofstrasse there is the Hotel zum Altmärker, and this is moreover signed as friendly to cyclists. So we are right here.
After the shower bath and dressing to an usual human being we start for our walk around. One eye acts on local sightseeing specialities, the other tries to find out the best menu at the restaurants. We fail to come inside the church St. Peter und Paul and so soon vanish into the Ratskeller. Due to some recent dental activities I am no cannibal just now so stay to rice and a chicken ragout. Heidi has a Hamburger Steak but fails to eat it all up. She apologizes to the waitress and this says: "Sometimes someone succeeds to end with it". The beers (Hasseröder) are not the problem...
On the way back I detect an old bicycle in front of a rotten wall, a nice motive. Some passengers look in astonishment and wonder what this odd photographer would be interested for.