"RUNST" - The Hiking Trail "Rennsteig" by Bike

7.5. - 11.5.91 - 440 km
(including the way back)

What's about the "Rennsteig"?

"Ein deutscher Bergpfad ist's!" someone once has quoted. "Deutsch" because it is located in the center of Germany. "Bergpfad" because it leads on the top of the Thüringer Wald. And it is allowed to say that this is the most famous hiking trail in Germany (if I had said Europe I would have ignored the St.Jacobs Trail in Spain or some other Long Distance paths E1 to E11 etc.). The length of the Rennsteig is 167.9 km and some say these are 168 km. The start is at Hörschel at the river Werra and the end at Blankenstein at the river Saale. Or vice versa. Since the German frontier (the iron curtain) has vanished the Rennsteig is to be mastered on its full length again. During the DDR-aera some parts of the trail were within the prohibited zone.

The name of the Rennsteig does not stem from the German word "Rennen" (to run) but probably from the word "Rain" (border, frontier). Along the whole length of the trail you can find historical boundary stones which in most cases marked the border between Thüringen and Franken, during the centuries a borderline of culture and language as well.

The Rennsteig is very popular, many booklets exist and sometimes there is a TV-report about it. Then you can watch some singers in traditional costumes, deep green forests around and a browsing deer in the background as they intone the "Rennsteiglied", and I can present the  melody and the German refrain but not the English text:

"Diesen Weg auf den Höh'n bin ich oft gegangen,
Vöglein sangen Lieder,
bin ich weit auf der Welt, habe ich Verlangen,
Thüringer Wald nur nach dir (Jodler)"

As I cannot get rid of this melody in my head I know what to do. I take my last leave days during the week of Ascension Day and on Tuesday sit in a train to Eschwege/Werra. On my way to the railway station I have heard the cuckoo the first time this year. As I arrive at Eschwege the cyclometer and map board is installed, the panniers mounted and impatiently we can set off.

Of course into the wrong direction as usual. But soon I am aware of my mistake. I have a curious road map from the days of the "Wende". In their enthusiasm the mapmakers have signed all details of the former DDR-parts but neglected the BRD-region (Generalkarte Deutschland Ost, Blatt 6). May be this map will be a valuable historical time document at some time.

Today I must find my way up to Weissenborn and Grossburschla. The last village was surrounded by the former frontier at three sides. At Weissenborn I ask a man for the right direction towards Grossburschla. "Just straight ahead, you will be there in a jump". As I pass the rests of the frontier-fences etc. I can think about this "in a jump" - we all had to wait more than 40 years for it. Soon I am totally tangled within the former borderline and cannot tell if I am in the DDR or BRD. But we had the Wiedervereinigung meanwhile...Grossburschla is a nice village, an old half timbered house with flowers would be a nice photomotif but I have not prepared the film and camera yet.

But up above at the Hedrastein, 504 m the old frontier is so "picturesque" that a photo is a must. A man comes from a parking car with books and cans, may be a botanist who is interested in the flora and fauna of this remote part of the former nowhereland. After I have passed the summit there is a fast downhill to a village with is called "Schnellmannshausen" in consequence (schnell=fast). The next town is Creuzburg. Aside the road there are the oxlips (Himmelschlüsselchen) in bloom, at home this time has gone already.

At Creuzburg I am still too impatient to admire the old castle or the old Werra bridge thoroughly. But I buy 4 cans of Coke. Now I look for the fork towards Sprichra and Hörschel where the start of the Rennsteig is. A small path among the fields seems to be right. Of course it is advantageous that I am alone, so no one can call me to account if there is a blind alley or something like that. This path is muddy and than an uphill follows. But - hurrah - along a huge dung hill I roll down to Spichra at the end of the world. Up above there is the high bridge of the Autobahn. In northern Germany there is the well known Porta Westfalica, so this place is named "Porta Thuringia" where the Werra breaks through between the Thüringer Wald and its foreland.

Start of the Rennsteig
Then I arrive at Hörschel, the great moment has come. We have 2.30 pm and I have done 45 km already. There are two workers who shovel something like black coal powder from one side to the other. I ask them for the startpoint of the Rennsteig. "We don't know" they say. I should ask at the bureau at the next corner. So I do and this is the station of the Rennsteigverein. They have this and that for informations though they still improvise as they say."This means much more fun" I say and spend 5 DM for the Rennsteig cash box. And I get a route description and an accommodation list. Now I am sufficiently informed, can nodd to the shoveling workers and take a photo of the very beginning of the Rennsteig tour, which is named "Runst" by the insiders.

The begin of the Rennsteig means a steep climb and to push the bike up to the Eichelberg, 301 m high. I can quote a phrase from the new information papers about this section: "There is a fabulous outlook. The view glides about the wonderful valley of the Werra with its green floodplains surrounded by villages, forests and rocks, the picturesque valley of the Hörschel...etc.". So it is. Soon I meet some resting wanderers, who do this section of the Rennsteig for the first time too, because it was impossible before 1990.

As long as I am in sight of the wanderers I am forced to play the uphill hero to demonstrate, that there is no problem in cycling the hike trail. But after the next bend I push the bike again. Eventually the Wartburg comes in sight, this is the place for a photo for it is the first and last view. I didn't know. I am so enthusiatic that I have forgotten to eat and this may be desastrous under strain. But soon the Hohe Sonne will come  and there is  - as I know from the last year - an imbiss booth. But the path leads over "15 hills" as it is quoted in the brochure. This may be right and as I see the first strollers, grandmas and baby carriages I know I am nearly there.

At the Hohe Sonne I have a coffee and a fried sausage - it never tastes better than on a tour with hunger. A van comes up and spits out two full styled mountainbikers with panniers may be I meet them on the tour? But as I continue they still fumble with their environment and later on I have never seen them. Now we can slow down and enjoy. We pass the deserted restaurant Auerhahn and I detect the Globus which I have seen in the tourist guides. There is a nice inscription:

"Mach es wie die Sonnenuhr,
zähl die heit'ren Stunden nur"

(Roughly translated:
Remember the sundial clock,
pay only regard to the happy hours)

Globus at Auerhahn

This is a good theme for the following tour and I feel myself in a good temper. The next station is the parking place Schillerbuche. For there is an imbiss again I forget to look at the famous tree. The owner of the imbiss says: "If there is any success every work runs well". A youngster speeds in with his turbo, asks if some paints or something like that are available and then speeds off again with spouting gravel. "They will be killed one day" someone says. Look at the statistics and you can prove it. This was the snapshot from the Schillerbuche.

I continue and ride down on the road to Brotterode to get an accommodation. I arrive at about 6 pm. An older man comes along and I ask him for a tourist information or a tip for a pension. Around the next corner there is the Hotel Krone. But there will pass more than 30 minutes until I get there because we have a vivid chat. Various soccer parties and their coaches, the touristic situation in the Thüringer Wald, the retirement pensions are discussed... Finally I can get off to the hotel and ask for a room. The servant is overstrained but the chief of the kitchen is well informed and I get a huge key. The room is over-heated and the windows must be opened. The shower bath is at the end of the hall and somewhat adventurous. But soon I am refreshed again and set off for a stroll. There is a "Platz der Deutsch - Sowjetischen Freundschaft" as a relict from the DDR. A nice creek though not quite clean passes the village. Around the church there is a large graveyard and I cannot say why this is so big. I have my dinner at the hotel (rumpsteak) and feel fine.

Brotterode - Friedrichshöhe 90 km

There is no breakfast at the hotel so I can start very early at 7 am with the rising sun. I ride up to the Grenzwiese below the Inselsberg which I have skipped until now. There is a sign "Inselsberg 1 km" and I think, that this single km cannot be so bad and thereafter I would be able to tell that I have seen the Inselsberg. But this km along the Reitensteine is very steep. It is very strenuous to push the bike with the baggage up there. At last I am on the top and disappointed. No restaurant, a military observation station surrounded by fences. The outlook is mist. A man paints a fence at the northern ski-downhill slope. He says that there is a restaurant nearby but this would perhaps be closed. So I depend on my last cola light and on the rest of the sandwiches from at home. Then I rattle down again on a cobblestone road. Summary: the Inselsberg was no fun.

At the Grenzwiese there is a fine restaurant and the guests are to be seen at their breakfast table on the glass veranda. But I prefer to go on. Two young gentlemen with lightweight backsacks come out of a car and soon start to hike behind me. As I once stop to take a picture of the Inselsberg they come around the corner. So the next uphill section I must fight to ride again in the lowest gear. But the young gentlemen are just as fast as I. So I stop and take another photo. With "Grüss Gott" the young gentlemen overtake. Now unobserved I can push up the rocky path. Finally we reach the top and I can enter the bike to run down. Soon I pass the younger gentlemen shouting "Now it's my turn!". "Go on!" one of them shouts back. But on the steep downtrack one has to take care due to the rocks and transversal channels which must be passed carefully. But at last a tarmack surface follows and the speed is beautiful. Farewell you younger gentlemen with your leightweight backsacks!

At the parking place Stockwiese I hope for an imbiss booth but in vain. A driving school instead has an exercise to back into a parking space between red and white plastic bands. This cannot help me. I continue up the Spiessberg and can overtake an older man. In the midth of the forest I arrive at the Possenroeder Kreuz.

Das Possenröder Kreuz
At a sign one can read more about this monument, I need some time until I can find it. Meanwhile the older man has come up and passes by, he obviously doesn't need a rest. I just consume a cabanossi sausage and finally set off again. The path is challenging and often the bike must be pushed. But finally I hit on the older man again who just stands urinating in a wood plantation. Discretely I turn my head into another direction and pass by without comment.

A picturesque signpost
Then there is a picturesque signpost and a wide valley with meadows. But I just have a fine speed, I shoot straight ahead and then down a comfortable road. Eventually I miss the typical "R" which is the emblem of the Rennsteig route. I am still very fast when a man comes up at the side of the road who implants young trees. I use my brakes and stop. "Is this the Rennsteig?" I ask. "No, the Rennsteig must be anywhere up there" he says and points up to the mountains where I just have come from. I now have nearly reached the lowlands and the next village is named "Floh".

So I must climb back and up all the way which was down before. Finally I detect the rectangular fork at the picturesque signpost. I am happy to see the "R" again and toddle towards Oberhof. There is the older man again, he now snoozes in the sun. "Hello" and I am along. And - alas - the younger gentlemen ahead. "Halloh!" "Hallöhchen!" they shout with surprise. "I did not make more progress" I say. So we can make up the balance that a cyclist within 3 hours is not faster than the walkers.

At the "Neue Ausspanne" I cross the road from Schmalkalden to Trambach - Dietharz. Then the Sperrhügel a steep hill is waiting. There is a nice view and I take a photo. This is time enough for the two younger gentlemen to appear from a bend once again. I have just the time to jump on my bike and ride away. But now the path is well paved and without serious hills. So say farewell to the younger gentlemen, we will never see them again.

Forests and...



A short part of the track looks like a training course for tanks. Aside of the mud one can balance across the roots of the trees. So the bike sometimes must be carried. As I approach Oberhof there are curious tarmack paths even lighted by lanterns. These are the training loipes for the cross-country-skiing freaks. If there is no snow they stay on rolls. I am eager again to find a kiosk for I have nothing to drink. As I see the first stroller again the paradise is near. At the imbiss at the main street I consume a "Thüringer Bratwurst". Slowly chewing I can observe a bus-party: "Everyone come in" "Come in please" "We do not want to stay overnight here" "We want to see something else of the world"... As the bus with its steaming exhaust pipe has set off my drink and Bratwurst have gone and I start for the 2.5 km to the Rondell and the Rennsteiggarten. I am happy for I know from the last year: there is the next imbiss. Soon I arrive and have a coffee and another Würstchen. Another bus-party is starting for a stroll to the Beerberg, but many of them are nearly not to seperate from the imbiss with icecream and other sweeties.

The Rennsteiggarten is better to be visited later in the year. The hike path ahead runs just parallel to the road towards the Schmücke. I stay to the road. Once two girls with racing bikes overtake. Some time later a party of gasping racers comes up. And there is a coach aside the street crying angrily at his delinquents: "More rhythm, not so lazy" etc. "Ok, Ok" I say when I pass by. I am now near the Grosser Beerberg, 982 m which is the highest mountain of the Thüringer Wald. Today there is no view, it is still too misty. I return to the road and soon pass the Schmücke, a couple of small houses. Then we come to the Mordfleck and the Alte Tränke, a rest place at a creek in a meadow.

Furtheron the Rennsteig is aside the road, so I continue to prefer the road. My average speed gradually increases from 9.5 km/h to 11 km/h. Near Neustadt I return to the original Rennsteig path which leads through a nice landscape of meadows at this section. I see a man collecting nettles with his bare hands. He is used to it he says. "Tomorrow we will have spinach".

Neustadt am Rennsteig
Now I ride down to Masserberg and from there over the Eselsberg. The path is difficult here, muddy provisional gravel. Once again I must carry the bike sometimes. Finally we have a nice lane to Friedrichshöhe. There is the Gasthof Rennsteig and I read from my accommodation list that one can have a room there. The hosts send me to another address where a woman is responsible for a special house named Naturschutzzentrum. They say heartily welcome and the children explain where to go. As I arrive the woman has come with her Trabbi and I come to know where I am.

Friedrichshöhe was the smallest village of the former DDR. Some time ago there were 29, now there are 30 inhabitants. In the nature house there are comfortable rooms with color TV. During the summer they will build additional sanitary equipment. And she tells another story of Stasi and SED-Seilschaften which still have influence on political decisions or places of employment. I have heard about this at other places before, may be there is something true.

After refreshment I go to the Gasthaus for dinner. Unfortunately the Gasthaus-family just has their own dinner. But the landlady is very friendly and prepares a Soljanka and some fried eggs before she turns to her own meal. At another table there are some locals and have a discussion about heating. "The first oil tank is always empty after a short time" someone states.

In the evening I enjoy a soccer game in the TV. Tomorrow will be Ascension Day, Vatertag in Germany and Herrentag or Männertag at Eastern Germany. Then there will be many folks around at the Rennsteig.

Friedrichshöhe - Blankenstein - Lobenstein 60 km

It was rather cold during the night, the roofs are white from the frost. But the sky is blue, a fine outlook for the day. At 8.30 I escape after breakfast. I pass villages like Limbach (in the valley) and Steinheid (up the hill). I choose a wrong route once again but this is parallel to the right direction. Down to the left there is the water reservoir of the river Schwarza, which just has left its spring to be used for profane work. The valley of the Schwarza is famous for its beauty. Up to Neuhaus I turn to the road instead of the bumby Rennsteig. A coach with Ascansion-drinkers comes along. At the top of the coach someone waves with a bottle of Jägermeister and takes a proper gulp (we have just 9 am yet). At Neuhaus there is a overloaded signpost with signs from Rome to Budapest.

A big signpost
Neuhaus is not so nice, there are ugly buildings from the socialism which do not fit to the landscape up here. Soon we return to the botany again at the edge of a forest where the Rennsteig is covered with grass. The next villages are Ernstthal and Spechtsbrunn which are located in the former prohibited zone. Meanwhile lots of wanderers are on the way. I am one of the few cyclists and it is very advisable to be considerate of the pedestrians to ensure a harmonic atmosphere. The pedestrian has the right of way and not the demands of the ringing bell.

At Spechtsbrunn there is a Wirtshaus crowded of noisy guests. I have a look at a big schist quarry (Schiefer). The Thüringer Wald has turned to be called Schiefergebirge (Schist Mountains) at this region. Some time later we will be at the Frankenwald. We pass a hill and a wide field with nice views, then arrive at the Kalte Küche, a historic pass. Then we arrive at the remaining installations of the iron curtain, the German frontier. There is a deep ditch and a nearly vertical wall 2 m high, impossible to cross over. At the other side there are some youngsters and grin at me. I walk along the ditch and are hopeful not to step into a lost landmine. Soon there is a gap in the wall and one can step over. Another ditch follows and it is difficult to say if we are on west or east terrain.

At the frontier
Of course we end at the west side because the Rennsteig crosses a part of Bayern resp. Franken at this section. But this part is not so attractive, a path aside a fast road. The cyclist takes his profit from this fact and we soon are at Steinbach im Walde. At least here is a telephone booth which is working for a phone call at home.

Old borderstone
Then I have a race with some children up to the Ziegelhütte. Of course the children must win. Now a famous part of the Rennsteig follows: the Wappenweg. Here are the most beautiful boundary stones decorated by old and historic armorial bearings. It is curious that this path leads just along the borderline of the German frontier. So we sometimes have nice views: an ancient boundary stone from the 17 th century in the foreground, a border mark in the German national colors nearby, some rotten relicts of a fence perhaps with the "R" sign painted on it. And the Rennsteig is zigzagging within this border to and fro. Sometimes one has to creep among the wire nettings to get through.

At a steep path I hit on a woman and her daughter who just shoot a photo and I do hard not to be part of the photo. We make some jokes about the Stasi - the secret observation service of the DDR. I then learn that they are the family W. and have come from Dresden by car and with a trailer for two bikes and a moped. The ladies prefer to cycle while the husband/father will come from the opposite direction by his moped. I shall say hallo when I meet him. I continue to Brennersgrün. This is a schist town, every house is covered by this material and this looks very unique. Then there is a long rising path towards Grumbach. And there is a lonesome moped driver with his helmet on his head. "You are Mr. W." I say. He is delighted to hear of his ladies and we have a chat for a while. But the ladies do not appear at the horizon and finally I go on.

During the rest of the Rennsteig-tour nothing spectacular will happen. Once I have a chat with a grandpa toddling on the street in slippers, he had problems with the roofers all over his life, as he states. At last the tour leads down to the Saale and with 52 km/h I leave another Ascension coach behind. Now I am at Blankenstein and thoroughly look for the last (or first) "R" sign. This may be down some stairs behind a rotten house at the wall of the Saale. (It is usual to get a stone from the start point, bring it to the end point and throw it into the river - but I didn't know this rite at that time).

I have learnt from earlier tours that there can happen a change of mood if one has reached the final destination. May be the strain goes off and nothing adventurous is in sight yet. So somewhat depressed I look down from a bridge into the dull waters of the Saale. I observe a trout and from time to time I can detect any slight motion of the fish. There is a big paper mill nearby and therefore the river not as clean as desirable.

Pper mill
I am indetermined what to do now. Go east furtheron? Go north and look for a train back home? Go south to Bavaria? I then decide to ride to the nearby (10 km) town of Bad Lobenstein. At the ascent to the upland I meet two exhausted guys who cycled from Erlangen more than a hundred km into the wind this day. With my lack of motivation it is hard to ride against the headwind now. Once a car with a trailer and a moped overtakes me, but there are no bikes on the trailer. So I have to argue a while about this matter. At Lobenstein I look for a hotel and find the HO Hotel Oberland. There is a  bathroom with a bath tub fixed on wooden blocks.

After refreshment I look for the railway station. A train will go to Saalfeld next morning, the 40 km will last 2 hours.
Then I stroll around, but this is not so enjoyable today due to the crying victims of Ascension-alcoholics. Finally I have my dinner at the "Berghotel Alter Turm" and consume a meal named "Turmspiess". I am the only visitor in spite of the fact that we have a holiday. The host is pessimistic about the future for his restaurant due to the lack of guests. Some time later a couple of merry Ascansioneers come up so that I am not the only one there. As I have finished my Lobensteiner Bier I feel good and I am content with the tour until now.

Lobenstein - Friedrichsroda - Tabarz 137 km

In the morning I am undecided again what to do. I had to wait one hour for the train. And this will need two hours for 40 km. So I can do this by bike as well. There is a nice valley along the railway, all the way down and tailwind. I would have been a fool if I had choosen the train. There is few traffic and I enjoy the landscape very much. I come to Leutenberg - the town of the 7 valleys. The center of this town is picturesque and a nice place for a rest. The sun breaks through the clouds and this gives a twilight atmosphere. From here the route is less attractive and the traffic more dense. I then reach the Saale with brown water. But this color will not come from the Choclate Factory at Saalfeld. The rocks at the shore are red.

Saalfeld is a historical traffic center as the cross-way of the medieval Kupferstrasse and Boehmische Strasse (to be read in the tourist guide). So I head for the railway station again. The trains available are not so attractive, moreover the sun shines and we have eastern winds. So I can choose: hang around in the trains and stations or cycle north of the Thüringer Wald with tail wind. I decide that the latter would not be a punishment. First I must cross the bridge of the Saale and pass the center of Saalfeld. I end in the pedestrian area with a Thüringer Würstchen.

I leave the center via Blankenburger Tor. On small roads I aproach the town of Blankenburg. There are large barrack quarters of the Russians and at the slope of a hill there is a military training area, may be the tanks learn how to turn a somersault there. Photos not allowed. A soldier with a machine gun looking like a kid keeps a jealous watch over everything. A sign at the roadside declares, that we have a 5 Schlösserblick (view on 5 castles). In the haze I can only detect two of them. I then pass Blankenburg and continue towards Stadtilm.

Secret doors
Once I see the entrance of a cave aside the road. The entrance door is broken and an intense air draft is coming out. But I have neither light nor cave explorer ambitions today. Some time later there are curious entrance doors at a rockwall. May be there are cool stockrooms in there.

Klosterruine Paulinzella
Then I reach a real sightseeing location: Klosterruine Paulinzella. This is very impressive and I soon sit down on the terrace of the restaurant with a nice view to the monastery. While I consume a Bratwurst I listen to the sweet music out of the stereo-cassette-recorder: "Ich lebe für die Küsse der Nacht" (I live for the kisses of the night...)(Andrea Jürgens). Two locals meet outside and the dialogue is: "You are looking bad" "I was afraid of the mirror myself". Remember that we had Ascension day yesterday. In consequence the two fellows meet at the bar for a cognac. "...und alles kann geschehn, bis der Morgen erwacht.." (and everything may happen until dawn...)- the recorder trolls. And as I have finished my dinner the farewell-song sounds: ""Ich hab dir nie den Himmel versprochen, weil es den auf Erden gar nicht gibt..." (I never promised the heaven to you, for this doesn't exist on earth...). These sweet melodies are in my ears for a while.


The next town is Stadtilm and thereafter Arnstadt. I find a nice kiosk there with a neat service maid, after a coffee I do hard to part. I ask for the direction towards the "Drei Gleichen": "Up there and across the market place". At the market place there is a group of student league members with colored bands and caps. They stand in front of a curious monument of a young man hanging around. It is to be read that this is the younger Johann Sebastian Bach. I ask for the route another time: "This street is right but it is a one-way and you are not allowed that direction". "I am allowed" I say and some time later I head for Mühlberg.

The "Drei Gleichen" are three fortifications each on its own hill. Eventually one after the other comes up, two are ruins and the third, the Wachsenburg is a stylish hotel. Beneath the Mühlburg is the scenic village Mühlberg with a fresh restaurated half-timbered house. When I take a photograph of the Drei Gleichen it happens that there is a big heap of dung in the middle of the scene.

Drei Gleichen

I want to go to Friedrichroda today. I look for the tourist bureau but this is already closed at about 6 pm. I decide that Friedrichroda is not such as nice and continue. In a shop they tell me to go to Finsterbergen on the top of a hill. There would be a dance festival tonight. I better go on, ask sometimes for a pension or so and come along the Marienglashöhle. Some time later near Tabarz I meet an older woman who sweeps in front of her house. We have a longer chat and soon she tells the story of her life. Moreover she has a garden house for guests but this is just under construction. "Otherwise I would have taken you" she says. So I must go to the Hotel Felsenthal at Tabarz.

"We have one free room" the host says, though the keys of all other rooms stick from the keyhole to the outer side. This last room of the tour  is as overheated as the first one at Brotterode. After refreshment and a stroll I have a Thuringian meal: Sauerbraten mit Klössen. Some other guys sit at my table and soon we talk together. They tell of their life too, after the Wiedervereinigung it is not always easy to reorganize private and occupational matters. One always dares to get unemployed.

Tabarz - Eisenach - Bebra 77 km

The last stage of this little journey will follow. I will connect to the railway Fulda - Hannover via Eisenach. I do not know any timetable and must trust in a fair connection. This morning I am at 7.30 am at the dining room but nobody is around. But the key of the entranc is there so I can pack the bike already. Still no one around. As usual one can execute the morning toilet date, paper is to be got from the lady's division and the flushing offers some problems. Thereafter still nobody appears to serve the breakfast or get the money. So I write my address on a piece of paper and put a bank note to the counter. But now a sleepy girl with a bathrobe appears. She would be sick she says but offers to bring the breakfast. I am glad to get something to eat and to pay my bill. The girl soon disappears again.

Circus vor Wartburg

Porta Thüringiensis
We have a slight drizzle and it is quite silent everywhere. Once as I fly down a bad path with deep gutters a Trabbi (funny little DDR-car) comes around a corner and we do hard to avoid a crash. Soon I have absolved the 20 km to Eisenach. All I see there is a circus and the Wartburg in the background haze. As I arrive at Hörschel and the Porta Thuringia the circle is closed.

The rest are the standard activities, enter a train and go back. From Hannover to Braunschweig I use a train which runs to Leipzig. So I learn that I could have used a train from Leipzig to Braunschweig instead of cycling all along the Thüringer Wald two days long. But as I have stated before: this was no punishment.