A Bike Tour to Dresden


Braunschweig - Wörlitz

Five years ago (1990) there was a conference at Berlin and I had decided to go there by bicycle Report. At that time the DDR was still existing and the tour was somewhat an adventure. Meanwhile things have settled and the gastronomic conditions within the "New Federal States" have enormously improved. Now in the year 1995 they have choosen the town of Dresden for our yearly conference. And I decide to go there by bike once again.

The distance is somewhat about 380 km, too much for two days in spite of the probable tail wind. So I will start on the Whitmonday (Pfingstmontag). And I can introduce my new panniers. These are the panniers you can detect worldwide if German bike tourists come up. Usually they are fire red. And they are absolutely water proof. It is said, that some cyclists do their laundry in those panniers. May be the clothing gets pretty clean if you ride on a cobblestone pavement.

Ok, that's not the problem, we start at 6.45 am and the sun is shining. The roads are still silent, they all sleep yet. I pass Wolfenbüttel and roll along the hills of the Asse. Then I turn right and the Brocken is just in front of me (the Brocken is the highest mountain, 1141 m, in northern Germany). Past the first half of an hour I cycle along an unknown road already. Near the town of Hornburg, known by its half timbered houses, we reach the Grosse Bruch, a former swampland. There is a fine path leading straight ahead to the east. The colour of the ground is dark brown or black due to the swampy foretime. Meanwhile there are meadows and fields of rapeseed.

Now and then there are some deers or a sweeping bird of prey, of course crow birds as well. At Mattierzoll there is a signpost in reminiscence of the former DDR-frontier. I continue until the railwaystation of Jerxheim, but don't forget to get lost before in a meadow. I cross the border behind Jerxheim, at a bridge one can read the year-number 1990. The former death strip is a nature reservate today. Just a kind of change of usage. But on the road there is a small fox in his blood and some hundred meters ahead some flowered crosses announce a human catastrophe.

I come to Dedeleben and remember there was a scenic view of a pool and the church behind. I stroll around across the rough pavement but after some time I may be known to the inhabitants for I cannot find the pool. (Later I found out, that this was quite another village.) So I head on to Pabstdorf. There is a peculiarity on this section. When you are just between the two villages you will see the spire of Pabstdorf just ahead and the church of Dedeleben just behind as if the road was surveyed due to the churches. May be this had been so.

We now turn south towards the Huy hills. At the village Eilenstedt there is the next shock. There is a glass with flowers on the ground aside the road. Skid marks, shivered glass and chalk lines on the road and finally a bloody rubber glove in the grass, a still recognizable puddle of blood in the sand. I will never know more about this catastrophe but I really get goosebumps.

From Eilenstedt I choose a side road with a corresponding surface via Haus Nienburg, an old domain, to Schwanebeck. I now recognize a small problem with my equipment. If the pavement is too rough - and that is very often - the road map on the new bag at the handlebar cannot be fixed. I would need some clothespins or paperclips. I decide to have an eye on a strategically advantagous clothesline anywhere.

At Schwanebeck I must change the road map which is now called "Magdeburger Börde". I have to ride a short section on the B 81 until Gröningen. The traffic is nearly unbearable, there is never any gap between the vehicles. I don't know where they all want to go. From Gröningen the trail gets adventurous - and this is traffic free. There are various pavements, none of those a pleasure for cyclists. At first we have a nice cobblestone pavement of red porphyr stone. Sometimes in the middle of the road there is smoother stripe of artificial stone but the weaker cyclist has to give way when another vehicle comes up. Aside the road there is a sandy stripe with puddles.

The passages through the villages are nearly unpassable. It is convenient to evade to the footpaths. From the village Dalldorf the road or better trail is unpaved and learn to recognize and circumvent large puddles. Once the continuation can only be realized across a meadow. At the right we now have a forest hill named Hakel with a television tower or something like that. On the other side there is the "Alte Warte" whatever this may be. From afar it looks like a silage tower.

I come near to Stassfurth. It is sometimes difficult to interpret the bike map. The routes convenient for cyclists are marked in red or yellow, but they are nearly not to be found for there are no signs at the roads. So I have to ask someone behind the garden fence at Gross Börnecke. They ensure, that the direction that I am asking for is just that where I come from. "I have come from Gröningen" I say. "You have come from so far?" the son of the family answers. But I can enhance and continue "I have started at Brunschweig today" and the mouths keep open. "So everyone does his sport" the father of the family finally says.

Any Village
I say thankyou and roll back and argue how I could get my clothespins. At Stassfurth there is a brand new and expensive building. These projects are usually for administrational purposes and paid by public grants. Then there is ALDI and MINI-Markt but I am looking for the town center.

Stassfurth is a well known term, it has given its name to a layer of the Zechstein as I have heard on some geological excursions. So I await some more than I can find, for there seems to be no real center of the city at all. Finally I end at a road straight ahead leading to Nienburg where the rivers Bode and Saale join. The wind is now pretty from behind and it is advisable to spread the ears wide. I end at Aken at the Elbe stream. Now the route will steadily follow the Elbe upstream. I look for the ferry and at first have a sight of the Elbe. Some youngsters stand around their cars and listen to the stereo-sound. They look stupid as I take a photo. And I look stupid as I read: "Ferry not at work" due to the high waters.

Tower and Church at Aken
I continue towards Dessau, black clouds of a thunderstorm ahead. The clouds run with the wind so I better wait some time to let the thundersorm depart. This is done by a fried sausage (Thüringer) at a snack booth under a poplar tree. The sun still shines. Then I start into the black weather and get some drops of rain. Big puddles and blocked gullies demonstrate the heavy rain some time before. At the right I pass a weird forest area with signs warning of ammunition deposits and danger of life. There was a military area with an airport I think.

Dessau is somewhat famous by its Bauhaus(House of Building). There are names like Gropius or Mies van der Rohe involved in this architectural style. Today I am not so interested in this and think "We once should come back by car". And if we go by car somewhere we always say "We once should come back by bike". In the large town Dessau there is much trouble and traffic which is not so enjoyable if you come out of the nature. I am glad to find the continuation towards Wörlitz. I am on the road since 12 hours and want to end within some time.

Power Station Vockerode
I pass the power station Vockerode which looks nasty at first with its high chimneys. But the huge factory building of brick stone could be an architectural heritage as well. The entrance is still manned by a guard but it looks as if the station soon will be shut down. After I have taken a photo of the chimneys against the sun set I reach the parking place of Wörlitz. The big parking place is necessary because here is one of the most famous parks of Germany. So I think that I easily will find an accommodation here. And just at the entrance after a portal there is the sign "Zimmer Frei". But there are some youngsters, I could ask them first. "You are local, where can I find the best accommodation?" I say. "Just here, or at Hotel Wörlitz, this would be expensive" they say. "I should not have said that, for my mother has her work there" one of those continues.

Wörlitz Castle
So I know where to go and get my room at the pension "La Gondoliere". For dinner they suggest another restaurant named "Kartoffelkäfer". You will find me there, after I had a look on church, castle or town hall. I get two huge "Kammkoteletts" and do hard to consume everything. But I succeed due to one of the longest distances I ever was able to ride on a day and those are 193 km.

Wörlitz - Diesbar-Seusslitz

The name "La Gondoliere" of this restaurant relates to the south European style of the park, which was built by some former sovereigns of Sachsen Anhalt. So within the park there is a pool where the guests can change their bus with a Venetian gondola, green oaktrees in the background.

At breakfast I ask the waitress: "I think I ask a question that you never will have heard from a guest. May I have two clothespins?" She looks helpless for the laundry is made by an employer. But then we find some paper clips, I get six of it and these at last help to fix my road map on the handlebar bag.

I start for the day and must resign to use the Coswig ferry and to visit the Luther's town Wittenberg. The waters of the Elbe are still too high. At this time the Elbe-Radweg, which did exist once before the war is not still renewed and there are no orientation signs. So it is convenient to stay to usual roads. I reach the main road to Wittenberg with a bridge but there is so much traffic that I resign to go to the town. The following section is not so attractive, you never see the Elbe and the pavement is rough and the village passages awful. At last I end on the B 182 to have some progress.

At the town Pretzsch there is a castle used as a children's home. I have a look at the ferry, no one there except a tourist couple in a car studying their road maps. So I have to continue on the Bundesstrasse. Near Torgau finally there is a side road available.

Torgau is famous by the meeting of American and Russian troops in the war exactly 50 years ago (25.4.45). So I will cross the Elbe as well for it is the first bridge since Wittenberg. I reach the big sqare market place and while looking for the bridge I find myself in front of the Schloss Hartenfels. In the moat there live some bears which lazily lie around. They will not enjoy the sun because it gets more and more dark.

So I am in a hurry to cross the bridge. There is a nice viewpoint for the silhouette of the towers and steeples and you can see a photo in the touring guide. I think I would have got a dark atmosphere for the rain now pours down. I can flee into a larger bus cabin. Some local boys do the same. We do hard to talk to each other because they speak somewhat unarticulated. After some time the rain stops and some kms ahead the road is dry again.

I ride on the eastern side of the Elbe all over the afternoon. Suddenly I detect a technical defect: a stay of the front fender sticks straight into the air. It has broken due to all these rumbling sections. I have to demount the fender and add it to my baggage.

It is time to think about any accommodation. The town of Strehla at the other side of the river looks nice but it is impossible to get there. The next bridge is at Riesa, there are many industrial areas. Moreover I find myself on a 4-lane road with dense high-speed traffic. I stay to the side path and suddenly feel a tumbling of the bike. As usual there is a puncture and as usual at the back wheel which is more work. I walk some meters but then the tire comes off the rim and blocks the wheel. I have to cross the busy road, carrying the bike and with risk for my life. On the other side I find a proper place to repair the matter. I get black fingers but there are some puddles from the rain that can help.

In the next village I ask a man for the next section and an accommodation. He recommends the Gasthof Ross at Diesbar-Seusslitz at the Saxonian vine road 20 km ahead. I think I could do this distance yet. But the road towards Meissen is closed caused by construction activities. I ask another man and he says I could pass. So I can ride traffic free and after some time reach the castle of Diesbar-Seusslitz. Of course I want to inspect this, but today I will first find the Gasthof Ross. As I go on and go on no Gasthof comes by. Finally I ask a local behind his garden fence: "Is there a Gasthof Ross anywhere?" And the answer is in original but untranslatable Saxonian dialect: "Do hindn hindr dn Bobbeln" (Over there behind the poplars). Aside the street there are steep rock slopes and I ask what's about this matter and if this was a quarry. These rocks are the foothills of the Oberlausitzer Höhenzug. The stones have been provided for the harbour of Hamburg or the Reichstag in Berlin as well. The stone is named Elbsandstein and I hope everything is true what the friendly man has told.

So along some vineyards - this is one of the most northern vine areas in Europe - I reach the Gasthaus Ross behind the poplars. I get a room with the view to the Elbe and this blocked by chestnut trees this time. The Ross is a famous restaurant and the guest room is crowded. The restaurant is hold since 1945 by the host family during the DDR-aera. No one knows, how old the house may be. Moreover the daughter of the house is the current vinequeen Gabriele I. This is all to be read from the menu card.

I have three slices of roast pork with lumps (Klösse) and sauerkraut. And have to pay DM 10.-. So the lost energies are replaced again. A final walk must be omitted due to a beginning permanent rain. So I can sample the dates of today: distance of 143 km and an average of 17.6 km/h.

Diesbar-Seussnitz - Dresden

The rain has continued during the night and the early morning. So there is much time at the breakfast buffet. And the visit of the castle will be omitted at last. I start with a drizzle but then the rain stops and I can enjoy the beautiful landscape. I stay to the Elbe and the road is nearly traffic free. At a construction site they build a new municipal sewage plant (Kläranlage) for the town of Meissen. This is soon to be seen at the other side of the Elbe. There is a fine silhouette by the steeples of the castle and the Albrechtsburg. The bridge to the town is blocked by traffic jam. I change the film of my camera and resign to visit Meissen. I think at a future occasion I will do hard to pull my wife from all the porcelain over there.

I am somewhat lazy today and there are only 30 km to go yet. So I toddle along, via Radebeuel, the town of Karl Mai. I ride within alotment gardens (Schrebergärten) and have to ask some times for the right direction. I find the Bahnhof Neustadt and from there the Hotel Astron, six stars, where they have booked a room for me weeks ago. I lock the bike to a pylon, put on a long legged trouser and then enter the hotel which is brand new and looks like a palace. I can go to my room and there is the TV with a welcome message for me. There is nothing said that I have come by bike. I am glad that I not have to pay the bill here by my own for it is a business trip at last.

Soon I start again for a sightseeing at the famous Dresden - the Elbflorenz as they say. At first I only have a slight glance to the Elbterrassen, Weisse Flotte, Hofkirche, Schloss, Semperoper and Zwinger. In the western part of the town I climb up a hill near the Fichte Park. At the return I stop and get the photos which are necessary.

Dresden Zwinger

At last I end at the peculiar scenery around the Frauenkirche. This will be rebuilt and this will be expensive. In the moment they are busy to sort the stone fragments which is a giant puzzle with some hundred thousands(?) of parts. There are some racks where the fragments of different size are stored. At a signpost one can read how the cash resources will come in: there are wrist watches available with a portrait of the Frauenkirche - undestroyed this time. At the desk in the hotel I find another request flyer:

"The strongly limited German telefone card with the portrait of the Dresdener Frauenkirche with an attractive folder etui..."

Construction Site Frauenkirche

In the evening we meet at the Zum Goldenen Ring, Altmarkt. There are the collegues from Dresden, Darmstadt, Hannover, Aachen, Berlin, Bonn, Göttingen, Greifswald, Rostock etc.

Finally I will report that we will have another working dinner with c.a. 40 participants. This will happen in the south at Torna in the restaurant Zum Goldenen Stiefel. Of course I do not hesitate to go there by bike once again. This time we can go up the Elbe and cross the river at the famous bridge "Das Blaue Wunder", one of the oldest bridges constructed by steel framework.

This sounds well but the ride turns out to be an orientation rallye. The path at the Elbe is closed at the castle of Albrechtsberg. So one has to climb up and pass a small ravine with the gruesome name Mordschlucht. Then there is a rough cobblestone descent where it is better to use the brakes carefully. But then you hit the bridge Blaues Wunder.

Now it gets more and more difficult and I have often to look at the city map. "Can I help you?" a boy asks. "To Torna? I've never heard of this" he says. And finally I reach the Goldener Stiefel where the drinking tools are boots of glass. I have ridden 17 km, the way back will be 9 km.

At Friday afternoon I sit in the train back to Braunschweig, all the tickets, reservations and bike tickets have been booked weeks before. The return lasts 4 hours via Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. And about this matter there is nothing to be told.

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