At the Baltic Sea 1986
The European Hike Trail E6 comes up during our holidays at the farmsite of family Roth (about 100 cows) at Oevelgoenne near Neustadt. And this hike trail just passes the estate of family Roth so one gets curious about where the trail comes from and where it goes to. You can buy a booklet about it ("Europäischer Wanderweg E6", Kompass) and find out that the way starts in Denmark (Kobenhavn) and leads from north to south along the German frontier the most time, then through Austria and finally ends at the Adriatic Sea (Rijeka) (or vice versa).
In the German version of the report now follows a story of our dog which we had with us that time. I want to restrict this English translation to the touristic facts rather.
The hike trail is signed by a black cross on white background (we say "Andreaskreuz" = Andrew's cross). I start the very first expedition following this sign to the north. I pass the "Sieben Hügel Weg" (seven hills Trail), but at this area you will have difficulties to find out all of those 7 hills. You pass the coast of the Baltic Sea near Neustadt, via an inland sea reach a railway embankment and finally a large estate where the route leads just across the courtyard. There (or was it at another place?) you find an old oaktree several hundred years old. Finally I have absolved the first 20 km of "Europe".
I am enthusiastic about the tour far from motor traffic and leading to scenic places you would do hard to find. You always can be sure that the way will go on what is usually not the case if you use a map to ride on small tracks.
Some days later Verena accompanies me. We ride from Gömnitz to Schönewalde but may be this is not so interesting.
The next time I start for a longer distance from Schönewalde via Eutin around the Keller Lake to Malente. You cannot enumerate all the lakes around (name of the district: "Holsteinische Schweiz"). Finally you end at Plön or Preetz and then pass the beautiful river Schwentine through jungle like woods or some times across a cattle pasture.
The final point today is Kiel and the harbour, a flea market takes place. A roll with fish at a snackbar and then the 80 km retour is to be managed. At Eutin I suffer from one of these desasters you get with a low level of sugar in your blood. A graveyard is just aside! I have wobbly knees and sweat at my face. After some pieces of chocolate things run better again.
At the last day of our holiday we finally go south together with the children while her mother watches the dog, packs the belongings and cleans the apartment. But I get not much honor of my expedition for the trail is at most more appropiate for walkers than for bikers. The sign cross of the trail they call it to be a cruzifix. We reach Ratekau near Lübeck and from there we return using well paved roads now.
Rounds around at home
Unnecessary to say that the E6 passes our hometown Braunschweig nearby. So there is something to do for the next time. I take appropriate road maps and mark the E6 with colour. So far the theoretical approach. The first practical one starts at the front door and leads to the Oderwald, Wolfenbüttel and at the eastern borders of Braunschweig. Nice tracks but the most are known to us. Another day we visit the Tankumsee which was built with the "Elbe-Seitenkanal". They used the ground for a dam with the canal on it, which is located higher then the surrounding planes here. Once in a forest I follow the meanwhile mystic sign cross with success but cannot avoid to turn into a sideway and everyone follows, even other bikers from behind. And soon we all are stuck in the mud. So my glory and fame with this E6 grows more and more.
Of course at the next intervals of the E6 I am alone again. With the growing distance from home I mostly use the car to drive to a start point. From there I enjoy a section of the E6 and then return to the car using normal roads. So after some time I have managed do do the E6 from the river Elbe until Göttingen south of the Harz mountains.
The next sections I will use the train and stay some nights on the way.
Göttingen - Fulda, Ascension Day 87
A long winter has gone and I take a holiday from family, dog, house, and garden. During the winter there was plenty of time to sign roadmaps by colour again, so I nearly cannot await to continue. At the wednesday before Ascension Day I go by train to Göttingen. Soon I meet a historical building site: the ICE (InterCityExpress) railway track. Meanwhile the trains rush to and fro there: tunnel - bridge over a valley - tunnel - bridge over troubled water -.. and so on. I suppose to have a more intensive impression of the landscape. Meadows, forests and fields, muddy tracks - the mountainbike is not introduced yet. So at a scenic valley I get the first flat on a muddy way.
Now a hill is in front: Hoher Hagen, 476 m high. This hill was used by the famous mathematican C.F Gauss to generate a trigonometric net system long long times ago. This time I can go up on a paved road but have to walk the way down for the track is very steep, rocky and narrow. The panniers nearly block at the trunks of the trees. But after this it turns to become better again and we pass villages like Unter- and Oberscheden, which are not known to be the center of the world. More famous is the next town: Hannoversch Münden. At this point two rivers join to become a new one: the river Weser. Hard to translate the German rhyme about this matter:
Where Werra and Fulda have a kiss,
their name however they will miss.
Sorry about this translation. I can kiss no one but sit under a lime tree at the new born Weser to consume my bread and sausage. Hannoversch Münden is a very scenic town with many half-timbered houses, but soon this all stays back when I struggle to master a steep hill. Right beneath a wonderful road has the same direction and after I have braked downhill I reach this road again. Using the road would have been 5 minutes I guess, the traverse over the hill took 30 minutes. From now on I decide to keep the direction of the E6 further on but will try to use any passage better suited to a bike. If there are two villages, a road and a forest hill between, the hike trail prefers the hill and you see nothing amongst the trees than trees. At the road you see fields, flowers and the horizon. Excuse me when I choose the way which is more comfortable.
We now ride near the river Werra, cross it at Witzenhausen (translated Joketown). Then we stay down in the valley, a castle to the left - a castle to the right. The castle to the right is named Ludwigstein and I now climb up there to offer a concession to the E6 again. And this is wise for my daughter Stefanie will spend a time with her schoolclass just there some years later and then I will be able to share memories. But today I do not know about this for I am no prophet. The E6 now turns up to the next mountain so I prefer to run down to Bad Sooden-Allendorf known as a health resort. May be they have an accommodation for me. They have, at the first hotel available I get a room.
In the evening I walk to the district named Allendorf, very nice by homogeneous half-timbered houses painted with white colours. Four years later I will lead my wife to this nice place - but again: I am no prophet. This time I find a well frequented Pizzarestaurant and replace the lost energies of the day. At the way back I have a sight into the dancing room of the health resort. "Dance to Ascension Day" is celebrated. Elder people move like in slow motion at the dancefloor listening to a music as slow as themselves. I retire to the hotel and prepare things for the next day.
Blue sky and the sun is shining: up up and away and up a hill on the other side of the river Werra. The E6 of mine leads across a meadow wet of the rain of the night. I prefer to stay at the paved track which leads straight uphill. At some places they prepare the barbecue and draught beer stations for the approaching party of this day. But it's my way running up and off. The way gets muddy, deep tracks of wheels filled with water. Finally I end at a trail where I must carry the bike, then a wall, a ditch or both stops that all. I leave the bike behind and try to inspect the further way.
I find myself to be at the most hidden place of the rest of Germany. To the left the frontier of Eastern Germany (GDR), four years later to be junked - I am no prophet you know? To the right there is a meadow full of orchids but beneath an abyss and steep rock formations stop any continuation. So I have to retire, carry the bike back to the muddy trail, run down all the way passing the barbecues and beer stations, parking motorcars meanwhile. Finally - at noon time - I am back in Bad Sooden Allendorf where I have started in the morning.
So I give up and follow the main road B27 to Eschwege. From there I use country roads passing nice villages and farmland. The E6 trail meanwhile may wind its way through the woods and over the mountains. At last I enjoy a long downhill to Bad Hersfeld where I look for a nice hotel. It is some more expensive (about DM 100) than usual but for today it is adequate. Hersfeld is a nice town again, at a ruin they have theater festivals at the season.
I enjoy a nice night at the hotel and remember the splendid breakfast buffet the next morning. The last day is not the best for it starts to rain and will not end. Cold at the railway station of Hünfeld I think it over but decide to continue until Fulda. Finally the rain stops and the next train brings me home.
Fulda - Passau at Autumn 87
This time everything starts with the birthday of one of our friends: Manni, the electrician of our village. He becomes 40 years old and therefore many friends appear who like to drink and celebrate. I am one of those and do hard to leave for I have bought a ticket to Fulda for the next day already.
So I do not feel well the next morning but can reach the railway station in time. With headache and innner rebellions by stomache and other responsible organs I do not enjoy the train trip. At last from Fulda I hope to feel better soon. The sun is burning, the road leading uphill and sweat pours into the eyes and a busy traffic around. It's a struggle till I reach the slopes of the Rhön mountains. At Gersfeld I rest at a restaurant to have a coke. I find myself on the E6 again, leading up to the mountains now. Of course I have to walk all the time - two long hours. At the summit there is the "Rotes Moor", a nature reserve. One can walk over timbered trails to admire the sensations of this landscape.
But I am on the top now and can ride with pleasure. At the television station Heidelstein I cannot resign to use the "Hochrhönstraße" which allows to make a good pace. At the late afternoon I reach Mellrichstadt and find an inn for the night. They tell me that a marriage is celebrated this evening and possibly there will be some noise. I do not care, look for a pizzeria but do not enjoy the beer, what is unusual for me. And I neither get a guest of the marriage nor be bothered by any noise during the night.
At the next morning I feel like a regular human being again. But I still stay to proper roads for the wheather looks not as well. Via Bad Königshofen I reach the Bayernturm. This is a lookout tower and you have a wide sight to unknown areas which are part of the GDR and nowadays unreachable. The next town is Coburg, but a pouring rain is cause to visit a bus stop cabin before. Those institutes are very comfortable to all cyclists of the world. You have to wait some time and then you can go on at the damp roads. At Coburg there is a famous midieval fortification, lots of tourists strolling around.
This day ends at Kronach and I get my accomodation at a hotel named "Ochsen" (Bullock) though a big folk festival takes place. To say it once more: Kronach is very nice again and has another very old and impressive fortification. At the restaurant of this attraction I have a nice meal and change sweet eyes with the waitress - but without further success. The last walk leads to the big tent where the festival goes on. I speak to some somewhat drunken guests but soon they leave and I find my rest at the hotel.
From Kronach I go to the north up to the Frankenwald. The road is nice though lots of over rolled animals like frogs, toads lizards and other reptiles. At Tschirn the world ends - the frontier to the GDR (called Iron Curtain). I must turn to the right that means to the east. At the following downhill I must be careful there is some lack of training yet.
A romantic valley with many old mills and forgotten estates follows. At a rest on a bridge I must seperate some supplies from home, cheese and sausage and some boiled eggs do not make the proper appetite.
This section through the Frankenwald was just for fun - several kilometers
but not much distance. Now back to the south I approach the Fichtelgebirge
which is up to 900 m high. I think to have found a compromise and had not
to climb too much. In the evening I reach the town Marktredtwitz and am
the only guest in the pension. For lunch I choose a Chinese restaurant.
The E6 further serves to be the directional tendency but I rarely ride on itself. With panniers and heavy bike on rocky uphill tracks this is not so preferable.
The first known place today is Konnersreuth. Here once lived a woman named Therese von Konnersreuth. She owned the stigma wounds of J.C. and was able to bleed at her hands and feet. Believe in it or do not! We now reach the place of pilgrims named Waldsassen with a famous cathedral and a monastery. The pilgrims come by bus today without me who came by bike and now peers under the hood of his rain coat.
Now we ride straight along the frontier of the CSR towards the Oberpfälzer Wald. At one point the frontier is just across the ditch of the road and I do like a dog shifting a leg. So lateron I can tell: "I once have had put something into the CSR". Excuse me about that!
At a small village I buy new brake blocks and see: a new feeling running downhill with the security of better brakes. At Waldhaus there is the checkpoint to the CSR and much traffic. Many motor cyclists in leather suits come along, seems to be a rallye or something like that.
Soon I sink into the lonesome woods of the Oberpfälzer Wald again. At the evening I end at Schönsee. I remember the great dinner - a Holzfällerteller (woodsman plate)and enjoyed it among the family of the host people. Riding alone you are always glad to find some contact now and then.
The next morning I can ride a long downhill distance and then come to Furth im Wald. We soon will reach the Bayrischer Wald with it's high mountains Osser and Arber. At the moment a nice valley leads towards the mountains as a strong sidewind blows a bundle of hay into chain, sprockets and derailleur wheels. I make two or three too many pedal rotations and then have a smeary puzzle to solve.
So I arrive at the pilgrims place of Vorderbuchberg with black fingers. In spite of that and of my shorts I look inside the chapel. May be it was somewhat of baroque style.
Now the uphill section to the Großer Arber, 1456 m begins. The road leads up to 1000 m height. Some sections I walk, others are to be ridden after some time you gradually reach the point where the road tends to become more horizontal again. At the Sport Hotel Arber you cross the 1000 m heightline.
At the Arber there is a lake with pedalboats and a park for fairy tale's mysteries but I prefer to race down to Zwiesel. I have the feeling now to run down nearly without using the brakes.
Now I have had the idea to surprise myself, perhaps less for me than for the Wenig family, where our family spent a holiday 7 years ago at their farmsite. This farm is located some km from Zwiesel. So I find the way and jump off the bike in front of the house.
At the bench of the house there they sit, the old Mrs. Wenig and her son Josef, who was companion of many nonsense actions at those days. In astonishment they look at me and don't know to arrange the matter. But then they shout (it's Bavarian) "Jo mei, so ebbes abber au!" (Well, such a thing..). Some time ago the husband of Mrs. Wenig has died and the youngest son is the boss of the farm now. Josef works at an old people's home at Zwiesel.
They have no room for me but around the corner there is an inn. In the evening we sit together and look at the guestbook and find our entry of that time. I do not try to translate this now. We remember all the memories, the other guests, the parties and village festival with much beer there...
I sleep well this night.
In spite of the nice evening I must go on like a bird of passage. I have not figured out where to go exactly, I only know: this weekend I must go back at home.
At first back to Zwiesel and then towards the National Park Bayrischer Wald. You pass villages like Frauenau or Spiegelau which have museums for glas production and corresponding shops. The E6 trail leads over the Gr. Rachel, 1483 m. I did this tour those years ago and can say: that is absolutely impossible by bike (may be the MTB cracks from nowadays think different).
But I have my misfortune on the regular road. At a building site with rocky gravel one tire looses the air. I prepare the tools and remove the tube. There is a crack in it 1 mm larger than my largest patch for repair. So no problem however for there is a reserve tube of course and I do not think to be a fool. And now I find out, that the hole of the rim for the valve of the new tube is too small...(the old one was a French valve). There is no tool around to drill a larger hole in the rim, I can only bite on the nails of my fingers.
There are some houses however but no people to be seen. I stroll around a little bit and finally a housemaid appears. I ask her for a drill machine. She does not know a drill machine very well but she knows well that a friend of her named Schorsch (George) is an automobile mechanic. And - do you belive me? - Schorsch is just strolling along! "Drill a larger hole? Absolutely no problem!" We enter a garage and some time later I am as grateful as rarely in my life.
The world seems bright now and I fly up the next hill. From the roadmap I can see that the famous river Moldau springs up some km from here on the other side of the Czech frontier. I now feel so extremely enthiusiastic like any exhileration. Now 9 years later when I write this I still can remember the feeling from that day. In front of me is the Böhmerwald and I seem to fly along. At a downhill a man on a race bike with one leg only comes from the opposite direction.
Not to lengthen a story too much you should rarely spread names of places. This time I will make an exception for we pass Hinter- Mitter- and Vorder Firmiansreuth, and following Phillipsreut, Bischoffsreut and Ludwigsreut. And at this place my roadmap ends. So I fly on in blindness, pass the Dreisesselberg, 1330 m and suddenly find myself at the border to Austria. I enter the last phone box and call at home - then I cross the border. I own no Shilling (money) nor any roadmap.
At the first village Schwarzenberg there is a bankhouse where I get both, money and map. A friendly officer gives me a map where all bankhouses of the Raiffeisenbanken of upper Austria are signed. So I will be well informed.
The villages and houses have changed their character now. They look like Hungary (though I was never there, but wait for the next year...). I am now in the Mühlviertel, a very favorite part of Austria. Today I go until Rohrbach and take my accomodation there.
The rest of this tour is easy to be forseen. Down to the Danube and this is a wonderful downhill through the valley of the Kleine Mühl. This is the German word for mill so you always look for mills. Of course there are some at the river but the name Mühlviertel of this district will come from the river's name. People living here in this valley seem to be poor, they use every spot to make hay, on little trailers they bring it to their home. And all are kind and friendly say salute.
So it could go on and on but finally there it is: the Danube. This is the village Obermühl. The wide stream and the valley are in complete silence for there is no road here. I am completely impressed. And I figure out the result of the tour: there were about 6 mountains on the way and now I have done it and reached the Danube.
Of course now a joke must follow. The ferry boat has just gone and I cannot imagine that there would be no track at the shore of this big stream. And I find one as long there are houses of the village, then it ends in a quarry (rock factory). Instead to climb up a steep slope I prefer to believe now that there is no way. So I have to ride back to the ferry boat which has just gone again.
At last I have a wonderful half of an hour to listen to the silence. Then I reach the other side and ride towards Passau, the end. The way home by train is more expensive than all accommodations together. I have seen so much this time and in the train I meet other cyclists. We all agree to have choosen the finest way to explore the world.