Bicycle-Tour Dresden - Sächsische Schweiz- Spreeradweg

Castle at Spremberg

Lake near Spremberg
Wednesday, 19.8. Spremberg - Burg, 70 km

We have got an advice from the senior: "If you like hectic and trouble go to Lübbenau with the waiting queues at the boat stations and landing places. If you want more silence go to Burg where you can meditate at the harbour for hours". So let us go to Burg. We had rain during the night and start into a dull morning without colours. Just at the bathing lake of Spremberg, a recreation center, the sun comes up. We cross the Bülower Heide, we have August and the heather flowers bloom as is to be seen.

Village near Cottbus
We come near to the town of Cottbus. We stop at a bridge and I read in the map. A man with a bike comes up. "Are you lost?". In a plastic bag at his handle bar dangle some bottles of beer, some others may have been drunk already. He wants that we go the same way with him, but we think we are right if we prefer our own.

At the market place of Cottbus we look for another aim. I have no books to read with me. Heidi just reads "Dotterblumen und blaue Libellen" by Editha von Münchhausen. I have read this before and it is nice to hear about a childhood in the Spreewald. If we are in an outer region we always try to find a "local hero" - a writer of the region who describes something of his landscape, folks and culture. This time we make a big discovery. At the book store there is a large rack filled by the books of one single writer, his name: Erwin Strittmatter. Never heard about this person. But he is born at Spremberg and a real "local hero" therefore. We buy two books: Ole Bienkopp and Tinko. (Meanwhile Erwin Strittmatter is one of our favourite writers. And there was a widely regarded TV-film "Der Laden" by E.S.).

Spreewaldmühle Cottbus
A rest at the church St. Nicolai and then we go on. I know, one should spend more time in these towns, visit the museums and take attend to a city guide. But then you would need weeks for this distance. We enjoy to ride in the botany very much, one can return to an interesting place on the other hand (but this rarely happens). But now it is wonderful in the sunshine or in the shadow of the swamp forrest we come to the Spreewaldmühle, a technical heritage. Inside in the dark among the roaring arrangment of rods someone is waiting for paying guests. A photo of the turning paddle wheel is costfree.

We now have to come to a decision if we choose the direct route along the Spree or perform a 10 km long detour via the Peitzer Teiche. To avoid any discussion I cedide for myself and pilot my wife to the branch of the detour. May be she will not realize anything. We go towards Lakoma which nearly sounds like La Paloma. But there is another matter concerning sounds. Abus comes up with the sign "Cottbusser Postkutscher" (post coachman). We remember a German tongue twister:

Der Cottbusser Postkutscher putzt den Cottbusser Postkutschkasten.

Power Station Jänschwalde
This is not translatable. Meanwhile Heidi has realized the detour and turns to be angry. Why this detour? Well, I try to explain: Once when we return at home the total journey will be a detour, otherwise we should have stayed at home. So we pass this most picturesque part of the Spree tour grumbling. Behind green meadows there is the steaming power station Jänschwalde. The white clouds of the steaming cooling towers look nice and the optimist may believe that this is pure water vapor. Then we ride along the deep blue ponds, the carps jump in the waters, prides of swans, ducks and coots (fulica atra). But as well the black pig of the fish-ponds: the cormorants (read the novel Die Auflehnung by Siegfried Lenz). Animal lovers tell that the cormorant mainly feed the cheap fish like Weissfisch. But this is not really certain. Therefore the cormorants are highly unpopular for the fishermen.

Peitzer Teiche
We have a nice rest at a bench while Heidi calculates the 25 remaining kilometers to Burg. We will have a proper headwind, but I keep secret again. But let us point out once again: the Peitzer Teiche are a highlight and worth for a detour. The village of Peitz may be nice too but we go straight through. The route turns to lead straight ahead into the wind. We ride along a Fliess, these are the small drain canals of the region. This is named Malxe. Then we must ride on the dam of the Spree and so enjoy the pure headwind. I try to break the wind in front and hope that Heidi with her upright position knows anything of the Belgischer Kreisel or the  Wallonischer Pfeil (special formations during bicycle races to increase the pace). The landscape is wide and green and sometime the steeple of a church greets from the horizon. We continue dead straight on the dam until we reach the busy parking place at the Bismarckturm near Burg.

Harbour at Burg
We join to the touristic scene again and plan to spend a rest day at Burg. So let us look for a convenient accommodation. At the Info they recommend a pension nearby. We meet a somewhat enervated woman there who will not stop to explain where to park our non existing automobile. The room is very small and costs DM 70.-. After a short discussion we return to the Info for a probably more comfortable lodging. And there is one at the Hotel "Alter Bahnhof" which costs just DM 20.- more. And there we would be seperate and are not forced to listen to the declarations concerning non existant automobiles... The former railway station was at work until the 70 ties and has turned to become a museum meanwhile. There are old waggons and various former railway instruments. Lots of tourist come up and enjoy to take photographies.

"Old Railway Station and Hotel
We start for aour walk around and head to the harbour. We cannot reproduce the meditative atmosphere, may be it is caused by ourselves or the fast food stands. We enter the Info once again and get a brochure describing the boat trips available in the region. The start and landing places are signed by a marker. The rest of the town is not so remarkable. It is said thad Burg is the most wide spread settlement of Germany.

We have our dinner at the Gasthof Bleske opposite of the church and enjoy a fish-dish containing ale, carp and luce (Hecht) with a special local sauce. Heidi then writes a bunch of postcards. Always the same text I suppose. We ask the sevice girl for some stamps, but she offers to get the postcards, prepay and send off the next day. So she gets an extra tip. And the postcards have all arrived in time.

Waldschlößchen near Burg Kauper
Thursday, 20.8. Burg - Lübben, 30 km

We have changed our plans to stay two days at Burg. At first Heidi had a bad sleepcaused by a refrigarator outside. At secont the weather forecast announces one fine day yet. So we check out at the hotel and start into the morning sun along the green meadows. We have choosen a boat site named Waldschlößchen Burg Kauper. The boat trip start at 19 am and we have enough time to get informations. One can participate in a 4 hours long trip including dinner or in a 2 hours long Schnuppertour (sniffle tour). We have to wait until enough passengers arrive. One boat with chattering elder women just goes off. The elder women give shrill yells at each shivering of the boat. May be this would not be the right companionship for our party. But soon we have 10 passengers and the ferryman invites for the Schnuppertour.

As we start a great moment has come. We have waited for years until we succeed now to take share in such a famous Spreewaldtour. Loudless the boat glides on the water surface. The ferryman punts (punt=staken) the flat boat along. We have to pass the first sluice of the old fashioned kind. Some kids handle the equipment and tell some poems. They get some coins for it. With a crank they pull up a bulkhead so that the water from the sluice pours out and the level lowers to the next canal. This must be done carefully to keep the boat steady. The ferryman says "We did the same as kids to earn a little pocket-money".

At the left side we see a typical wooden Spreewaldhaus. The famous poet Theodor Fontane is said to have spent one night in this house. But now let us concentrate on the gliding meditative silence. It's a heavenly peace. The boat glides along, the sunbeams twinkle among the crowns of the black alder trees, on the water surface scamper the water striders, dragonflies everywhere. The people on board are very sensitive to this atmosphere, there is no noisy chat. The ferryman murmurs his comments as if he speaks to everyone in person. May be that someone on the rear bench has fallen asleep.

Old Sluice
I can only present some of the impressions: a swallow's nest under a bridge with some squeakers in it, a canoe for two zigzagging along, a second sluice where we come up to the original level again. The ferryman tells many tales of the region of present and past times meanwhile. The technical background of the canal structure is a ring system. Flooding of the land does not occur yet caused by the brown-coal desaster. Another problem is the conflict between nature conversation, tourism and agricultural production in meadows and forrests. Each flat boat must be certificated by the national technical control and charges are to be paid for this. A ferryman must be authorized - charges are to be paid. They trie to gain a recreation ceertificate - charges... "The minister of finance always is at hand" he says.

Some words to the second and modern sluice. It was built by the donation of hundreds thousand DM in sterile concrete. Nevertheless the handling is much more complicated than at the old fashioned bulkhead sluices. And there are no kids at the modern sluice. Finally we see a grass snake (natrix natrix) in the water. Near the end of the tour we pass some weekend properties. They have turned mansized cucumber barrels to lodging houses with a roof on top. "Convenient for lovers" they say. The other properties are cultivated but not in the original style. We say "Rosen, Rasen, Rhododendron" in such a case. But stop to blaspheme, we have enjoyed two hours of reflectiveness on the canals of the Oberspreewald and these have surpassed all of our Sprewald-imaginations.

Picturesque Spot
We are still impressed as we enter our bikes again. And the following landscape is a dream. We reach the village Leipe where other boats are on tour. Then the path leads across a dense forrest, the trail is an alley of birch trees. So near Lübbenau I find the idyllic motif: a boat on a Fliess with a bridge, a Spreewaldhaus and birch and alder trees. But then we will learn the other imagination of the Spreewald.

The center of Lübbenau is a funfair. Busses, Imbissbuden (fast food stands), souvernir shops and crowds of people everywhere. Especially the queues of people at the boat places kill every romantic impression. From a megaphone speaker we hear the calling: "Group three to place two immediately". We take advantage of the matter and retire with a hotpot of lenses. We think of our own boat trip again and are sure to have choosen the right place.

But the next story: besides us sits an elder couple pensioners from Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg. The gentleman was a leader of youth groups in former times and is familar to the Spreewald region since 30 years. "Much has changed since the Wende" the man says. "In former times there were mosquitoes only. Today they use chemical repellents and in consequence the bird's population suffers". Nowhere is paradise...

Path on wooden Planks
We don't believe in everything and cannot imagine, that the chemical repellents are really the solution to the mosquitoe plague. We have had luck until now not to suffer from these beasts but may be this is due to the dry weather. We say farewell to ouch bench neighbours who will return to their Prenzlauer Berg after a fine day. The rest of Lübbenau and the market place is a big construction site. We head to the botany again, though the highlight is behind. But it is adventorous as well on some planked paths over swamp ground.

Near Lübben we pass a brand new Rehabilitation Hospital (Orthopaedics and Oncologie) - a dream of steel and glass. We  then look for the tourist information as usual and get a brochure for accommodations. We sit down in front of a statue of the famous poet of chorals Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676). The well known text "Befiel Du meine Wege" (Commit thou all that grieves thee) is signed on the memorial. Paul Gerhard is buried in the crypts of this church in Lübben. A group of visitors just vanishes into the crypts. We think the old Paul will be glad to be visited.

We get the last room available nearby at the Pension am Markt. We will have our breakfast in a foldable cupboard with a small kitchen in it. We then walk to the castle. There is a sign at the door: "Wappensaal closed today due to an event". So we enter the building. And immediately an bespectacled woman shoots around a corner and at once dispatches us out. Aside there is a garden restaurant with guests summerly clothed. But at one table the dining gentlemen have suits and waistcoats. As we fly out of the castle's entrance they all turn their heads at us. At some distance there are some bored policemen. Though I have a rucksack with me with a potential bomb in it we approach the policemen and ask what's the matter. They say it's a presentation for election of the CDU party. A prominent Mr. Seite is invited. We wish a good success and a good time and stroll along once around the castle. (Later we found out, that Mr. Seite is the prime minister of Mecklenburg Vorpommern).

We end under the roof of a beergarden at the market place. St first a boy with toothbrace serves for our best. Then a group of guys in workman's costume comes up, their luggage bag hanging from a knotted stick. They have signs on their bag announcing "Rolandschacht Leipzig", this is the name of their workman's guild. More and more come along and finally the restaurant is filled by all these workmen. As one of them goes to the toilet I take advantage of it for I just have to offer one beer myself. I ask the guy and he tells, that they due to a traditional code wander around three years in the world. Now it has happened that one of them has finished this period. So the other 20 worksmen escort him on his way home. This day they have come from Königs-Wusterhausen and tomorrow they wil go by boat lo Lübbenau. The owner of the restaurant conciliates a ferryman worth the mony and donates a barrel of beer himself. So we get off late and the boy with the tooth brace gets a proper tip.

Friday, 21.8. Lübben - Beeskow, 65 km

The weather has really changed and after our breakfast in this foldable cupboard we start into a dull morning. We pass large fish ponds again but they do not look more grey than blue today. The next village is Schlepzig with a nice framework church. At Leibsch there is a remarkable sluice and weir installation. As the sky gets grey and greyer we rest at the Neuendorfer See. And the last highlight of our tour: some hundred meter from us there flies a big bird with mighty wings, nor heron and no stork. It is the first fish eagle we have ever seen in the botany.

Frameworkchurch at Schlepzig
So let's come to an end. On the way towards Alt Schadow the rain begins to fall - steadily. Moreover the bikeline brochure announces bad surface conditions ahead. So we turn to the road towards Beeskow and absolve 30 km in the rain. There is nothing sensational to tell about this section. In the tourist bureau there is to be read a excerpt of the poet Theodor Fontane: "Beeskow ist nicht so schlimm, als es klingt" (Beeskow is not as bad as it sounds). But it is very noisy here at the market place because all the traffic floods through the center of the town. At last we get an accommodation at a private pension in the next village. Along a stormy road we struggle our way and are glad to warm up in the Pension zur Birke at Neuendorf.

In the afternoon we observe the final arrangements: get some money from the bank and study the timetable at the railway station. So the result is, that we return to our home the next day by slow trains due to the cheap Wochenendticket. We have to change four times.

Let us consider the imaginary continuation of the tour. We had to suffer of some sandy paths past Alt Schadow. Then pass the Schwielochsee and at last zigzagging to the final town Fürstenwalde. If we had fine weather we would have seen the Müggelsee, Schmöckwitz and Köpenick. Or we would have entered a ship of the Weisse Flotte to cross Berlin. But there was no chance, every day of the following week was rainy and stormy.

But we have learnt again: only one week cycling and so many impressions.

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