Bicycle Tour Mecklenburg


At first we wanted to travel to Southern England. But then some work at home came up, I had to interact with the flagstones at the terrace of our house etc. Then I found a coffee-table-book at the fleamarket presenting nice views of Mecklenburg (Mecklenburg is the name of a region between Elbe and Berlin and famous for its lakes). So shorthand we decided to undertake a more moderate tour near of our home.

We will start on Monday so Sunday evening erverything is fixed and the bikes even loaded. And then I have the idea to look at a special brochure named "Dachgeber". This is a list of addresses of friendly cyclists who offer an accommodation at their home. And I find a promising family B. near the town of Rathenow. The name of the village is Wassersuppe - a funny name, translated: Watersoup. It is located at the Hohenauer See. A phonecall is successful, we are invited to spend the night of Monday to Tuesday at Wassersuppe. The only thing we do not know is the distance from Magdeburg to the day's destination.

Monday, 28.6.

Now we sit in the fast train to Magdeburg with the fine number IR 4711. This is usually the name of the famous perfume from Cologne. And the train is brand new with a large bicycle compartment. The panniers can remain on the bikes for there is room enough. At 9.15 am we leave the train at Magdeburg and the tour can start.

We roll on the former Wilhelm Pieck Allee which meanwhile was renamed to Fritz Reuter Allee. Then one should know how many bridges across the Elbe and its branches exist. I have memorised four. But after we have passed the third bridge number four will not appear. So there are really three bridges and we have to turn back for the first (but not the last) time today. Then we stand a long time at the busy B1 for a crossover. There exists even a book named "Reichsstrasse 1" about this famous road which is 1000 km long and leads from Aachen to Königsberg. The traffic is well adjusted: once the trucks, vans and cars flow in one direction, and when the one flow stops, in turn the other direction becomes busy.

The driver of a van finally takes pity on us and slows down for a moment so that we can hop to the other side with thankful waving. Past this busy section we suddenly find ourselves within a silent swampland forest, the water surface of the Elbe twinkling from the left. Soon they will regenerate the traditional Elbe-Radweg, but nowadays one must look for one's own yet. We come to the park area Herrenkrug, a house like a castle and a race course for noble horses nearby. Today the place is deserted.

At Biederitz, a suburb of Magdeburg it starts to drizzle. We find an adventurous sandy path between swamp meadows and dead branches of the Elbe. The red flowers of the Heidenelke (maiden pink), ponds and a small bridge back to civilized regions. But then we get lost in an industrial site and must ride back for 2 km. Some time later in the swamp meadows we have the situation: the structures of the river boats to the left, a farmer mowing his meadow to the right and a stork ahead. This all is very nice but we cannot make a proper pace this way. At a path grown by Brennesseln (nettle, urtica) gives the rest, we resign and turn to the road.

So the next section until Burg is not so picturesque. The rain has stopped but we have a north-west headwind. At Burg there is a pedestrian area and we have a coffee at a bakery. We suffer from the wind further on as long as we go north and those are 30 km to Jerichow. We arrive there in the early afternoon and have a well deserved rest under flowering lime-trees. At Jericho we can prove who is "bibelfest" (knows his bible). Heidi is not. She says: "Jericho, this seems wellknown anyhow?" I say "Sure, remember the trumpets of Jericho". "But that did not happen here!" she says.

We turn to the east and leave the Elbe behind. There are more forests which prevent us from the headwind. Once we hear the whistle of a Pirol (Golden Oriole). This was once the whistle of our family: Ui-u-iu...

We reach Rathenow past 5 pm. At this town our host runs a shop for sports outfits. And we have run some 110 km already. I have to promise that we won't do such distances every day. Sure, but today we must achieve for Wassersuppe yet. Rathenow is not a nice town. Ugly new built blocks and much traffic. We try to phone to our host but fail. And I have forgotten to say: there are additional 15 km to Wassersuppe yet. We have a coffee and then manage the last long section of the day. Wassersuppe is a very small village at a discreet lake. The silence jumps on you after you have left the hectic world.

After we have found our address we jump off the bike and a woman is waving already - this is Mrs. B. Behind a field of corn there is a house with a thatched roof, and thereafter green meadows run down to the reed belt of the lake. We are welcome heartily and get a refreshing apple juice first. The house is selfmade and built by brickstones from the former brickyard. On some brickstone the signs Wasrsup or something like that are still to be read. In former times this region was often accessible by boat only due to high waters. May be the funny name stems from these circumstances.

Mrs. B. is teacher but we have summer holidays now. Her husband was a sport teacher but one year ago has turned to be self employed with his sport shop. Since then time is rare. Some time later he arrives with his VW bus. For training he sometimes jogs the 15 km to his shop and if this is too short  round the lake in addition.


Mrs. B. is honorary mayor and soon goes off to a community conference. We go to the Seeterrassen where we have a fine dinner. The community conference is just aside and they discuss the construction of a sidewalk and the competence who has to keep the streets clear from snow. As the conference is over they all assemble at the bar.

After dining we walk around. There is a remarkable little church, on a tiled roof there is a little tower of framework. A former domain with a castle is decayed. An emblem above the gate remembers on better times.

Church at Wassersuppe
Our hosts present a nice evening. The chimney is fired, a bottle of vine from 1986 is uncorked. The vine has survived some time under water some weeks ago when the cellar was flooded. But it is OK. We learn this and that of the region. Past the Wende the intensive agriculture was restricted due to the regeneration of the nature. Since they do not dung and fertilize the meadows at the edge of the lake the quality of the water has improved drastically. Rare birds have their nests in the reed belts. People are highly sensitive to ecological matters - not the last due to the efforts of our hosts. It is very difficult for strangers to buy land and build a house for they want to preserve much of the originality.

It is late until we disappear in our sleeping bags.

Tuesday, 29.6.

The morning is cloudless as the weather forecast has announced. Mr. B. has gone already to a date at Stendal and Mrs. B. serves a fine breakfast. Then we start with an unknown destination. We ask for Wittstock 80 km from here, if this would be a nice town, but she does not know.

We soon leave the B102 to the right on a silent forest route. Two lanes of concrete lead through the sandy area. The name of it is Ländchen Rhinow, bounded by the Rhinower Berge, one hill beeing a 96 giant as Mr. B. had said. Means 96 m height. We will learn, that the height difference in this region even can be mortal. Near the village Stölln there is the oldest airport of the world. If you won't believe that, remember that the flight pioneer Otto Lilienthal came to this area to take advantage of the ascending air currents. He started from the 110 m high Gollenberg and reached distances over 250 m. But in the year 1896 there was a tragic end when he crashed down and died two days later.

Meanwhile there is another attraction. In the year 1988 with a good amount of risk they have landed a veteran Iljuschin 62 at the small airport of Stölln. And now this aeroplane is used for marriages and other festivities. Looks a bit like Disneyland...

Memorial for Otto Lilienthal


Otto Lilienthal's Mountain
Now we pass the Rhingraben, a streamway from the ice-age and have a view back to Lilienthal's mountain of doom. There are deep green pastures around, drained by a net of ditches. We cross a bridge over the canal Rhin and via Dreetz reach Neustadt. We have a sausage there and while we consume our meal we sometimes jerk when an electric swing apparatus starts to play a Mexican melody. Some time later we are at Wusterhausen at the Klempow See. A clumsy church and business at the market place. We turn to a path along the shore of the lake.

But soon we return to the road again due to the lots of roots crossing the lake-path. Then a sandy passage lets us push the bikes. A girl tries to bring her horse to take orders, but in vain. "She is anxious of the botany" the girl says as we pass by. Soon the track surface is solid again and we ride straight ahead through the forests. At Lellichow we have a coffee. Another sandy passage follows. At a picturesque little lake and restaurant a senior's party just leaves their bus and flows towards the restaurant while we push up a sandy hill.

For the last section of today we choose the road, cross the Autobahn Berlin - Hamburg and after 80 km reach Wittstock at about 4 pm. At the outskirts of the town we look at a city map and this looks fine: city wall and gate, a historic center. We find the tourist information at the Amtsturm and museum. "Return at 16.00" is written on a piece of paper which is sticked to the door.

Two women come up and we have a chat. "May be this is a nice town" we say. "Yes it is, and no one will take us out here" they answer. We sit on a bench and wait for the information lady. "Are you looking for me" someone shouts from the entrance - the lady has arrived and our loaden bikes have betrayed us. We get some information material of the "Rothenburg of the North" as they say (there are about 10 other towns reflecting on this name). We get a fine accommodation at the Hotel Deutsches Haus. We get a magnetic card and I say: "But there is no key" - OK, the card is the key. We are too old fashioned yet.

Marketplace of Wittstock
We have a nice stroll at the market and the city wall. Dinner at the restaurant Zum Stern. A beer (Lubzer) at the Cafe Beroun at the market place. We have a warm evening and we sit outside until they close. A clerk comes up and locks the garden chairs by a chain. A table aside some dynamic younger people hatch above some architect's plans. Another dynamic group with briefcases comes out of the restaurant. Important deals perhaps? Wittstock is located near the Autobahn-triangle Hamburg - Rostock - Berlin. West of the town large industrial sites are waiting for investors. So there is much to deal. But for this region this is an exception. At Mecklenburg-Vorpommern there are the most unemployed in Germany. But we are in Brandenburg yet.

At the hotel we get a last beer, a Czech one (but not Budweiser or Urquell).

Wednesday 30.6.

Today we will reach Mecklenburg. We will look for a nice place where we can stay some days.

At first we will choose a detour to see the Kloster Heiligengrabe and BurgFreyenstein. The monastery Heiligengrabe is ruled by the Diakonissen (deaconesses) (in German we are always remembered to the Hornissen (hornets). We observe one of those ladies recognizable by a white bonnet. The location is rather lonesome today and we enjoy this.

Kloster Heiligengrabe

Burg Freyenstein

Lonely Village         Church at Dammwolde

We continue to the north with headwind and some hills, some of them more than 100 m high. May be these are moraines from the ice age. And usually the uphill is solid and the downhill is cobblestone (in our direction). So we carefully roll into Freyenstein. We have a rest in the park with the rests of the castle. At the remaining tower building there are elaborate brick ornaments.

Past Freyenstein at last we pass the border to Mecklenburg. A cornfield with opulent poppy flowers is the entree. We then pass a village without any vehicle. So we sit down at a grocer's shop, in German "Tante Emma Laden". We must ring a bell to let the owner come on from his outer chambers. We have two Colas and watch the workers on the main place. They mow some green areas but soon they have a rest too.

At Dammwolde we enjoy a nice little church with a framework building and a wooden tower. Finally we enter the woods near the Plauer See, the first of the famous lakes in Mecklenburg. But we cannot see anything of it. No tourism yet, villages like Suckow and Zislow are no metropolitan areas. At a restaurant we consume a sausage and have a chat with a couple from Hannover. They stay at a camping site and wander around today. They are enthusiatic about the loneliness of the region.

We turn to an uncertain forest path. On the sandy parts we have to push the bikes. But eventually we arrive at the "Lenz", a well known beach at the Plauer See. We head on for Malchow and then we will have made 80 km, not bad in account of the headwind. The outskirts of Malchow are ugly as usual due to the "Plattenbauten" and messy estates. But behind the church down the busy road to the swing-bridge at the Malchower See it gets more picturesque. On an island there is the original center of Malchow. The island is connected to the opposite shore by a dam since 1928.

At the following weekend the Malchow Festival will take place. So we don't believe to get any accommodation. The tourist bureau is just at the bridge. Another group of bikers comes up, so we hurry to be the first. One of the ladies in the office just phones and says "July/August are booked already" and we have no hope any more. But the computer is friendly, he offers a private address for three overnight stays. And it is just around the next corner the family Müller, Mühlenstr. 56.

Mrs. Müller welcomes us as if we were old friends. "If you want to stay until Sunday - we will see" she says. The lodging: a living room with TV, a kitchen, a sleeping room and a bathroom. But - sorry - on Saturday we had to change into the garden apartment. So let us have a look to the garden lodge as well. And that's it, a terrace above a wide garden and a heavenly silence. We nearly crie cheers and at once decide to settle here. Mrs. Müller looks stupid. And the nice Lodging in the house? But then she remembers: there once was a family from Hamburg. And they preferred the apartment too. So her pretty lodging is deserted for two more days, but then guests from Rostock will arrive.

Meanwhile Mr. Müller is at work at his workshop. There is a framework shed in the courtyard. As I stop and watch the old walls he says: "This will be rebuilt for an additional lodge". Then we get our luggage and put the knitted stuff out of our panniers into an ordinary wardrobe.

Then a walk around. We will stay here for days so an inspection is very exciting. Then we must buy some books for we want to read and relax. We find something at the book shop. Heidi takes a novel by  H. Courths Mahler: "Durch Liebe erlöst". (You must know, that Courths Mahler is an early predecessor of Rosamunde Pilcher and her novels are Kitsch from the 19th century. But always a happy end will occur.) And I find a super interesting novel from the region: "Damals in Mecklenburg" written by a certain Peter Jokostra. Never heard of it but the action is located just around our present domicile (You will find me inhaling this book during the next days).

Island Old Malchow
The next impressions are miscellaneous. Positive: the mass of tourists still have not detected the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte. Negative: the economic situation. In former times this was the so called Manchester of Mecklenburg due to to the textile industry. This has collapsed and now 80% of the locals are unemployed. And this is to be seen at many houses. Especially the pedestals of the houses are decorated by ceramic tiles here. And - remember I have just worked at my terrace - I must inspect the seamwork thoroughly.

The view of the old Malchow from the lakeside is romantic. Boat houses and jetties, twisted sheds and gardens down to the shore. We enter the Cafe am See for dinner. We prefer to sit inside for it is cool. A hard boilt group comes in, orders vegetarian meals and then heads outside. "Corn eaters" Heidi says. Then we return to our home, sit at the terrace and have a chat with the Müllers.

Chapter 2