Cycle Tour Bike holiday to Berlin
Dag/day 2: Gedser-Schwaan
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Added on 11 Jul 2019
on 12 Sep 2019
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by Ottocolor on 11 Jul 2019
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Birkemose, Region Zealand, DK (2 m NHN)
Schwaan, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, DE (-10 m NHN)
02 Jul 2019
No big deal. Still windy, but somewhat less wind and turning north, so we had side-TAILwind today.
Slope Gradient Distribution
Ferry crossing Gedser-Rostock with Scandlines and a harbour ferry across the river Warnow from Gelsdorf to Rostock Kabutzenhof (city centre)
I don't know why, but the first night in a tent I always sleep poorly. The shelter was fine, but my body, especially the hips, need to get used to the harder sleeping comfort. And with the years passing... One advantage of waking up early is that you have more time before breakfast. In this case, I ventured for a short bike ride into Gedser in order to have a skinny dip in the Baltic Sea from a shingle beach. Back at the tent site, I arranged for breakfast, muesli with milk and buns, before the other tents came to life. Last night a girl had arrived and demanded payment, DKK 30 per person., which I had transferred per MobilePay. It's so nice, we have these nature camps in Denmark where comfort is low, but so is the price. And you feel that you are in nature. And I really feel good there. At just over ten we had packed our stuff and cycled to Gedser old railway station, where I bought ferry tickets for us at Scandline's office from a ticket machine. There was a steam locomotive on display in the railway station hall and an exhibition about the railway ferries to Germany. We learned that Gedser railway station had served as the renowned Korsbaek station from the TV series Matador. Funny, really! Here we met a funny looking Swedish long-distance cyclist who had cycled from Scania in two days. He was also on his way to Berlin, and reckoned to do the distance in four days. We had planned five days, but anyway we met him again at the campsite in Berlin. His wife had come there by car, so now he enjoyed a slow life after the pedalling effort. He had a huge beard, which I complimented. And a huge belly that I did not compliment. Instead, I looked down at my own and nodded contentedly. Gradually, many cyclists had appeared in the ferry harbour, and soon after we all cycled into the spacious belly of the large ship. Up front they had room for the bikes. For the next two hours we had a "free" but we kind of couldn't spend that free time together. The question was whether it was warm enough to sit outside on the deck. The sun was shining only sparsely, and it was blowing a chill breeze from the west, albeit less than yesterday. But I love to see the landscape and the sea from a ship deck, especially when it's a big ship regally sliding out of a harbor. Then I always have the feeling that I'm traveling far away to new, unknown and exciting places. Yes, even in really bad weather, I have to go out on the damn sun deck. That's just how it is. Only when it was time to shovel our homemade sandwiches inside and I had bought three bottles of beer from the cafeteria did we meet again. My sons are best enticed with hop juice. Soon the ferry slid into the mouth of the River Warnow, past the old seaside resort of Warnemuende to starboard, and the broads to backboard, aptly named Breitling. In the port of Rostock we were spit out on the quay, where my GPS route was perfectly correct, while all other cyclists got a bit led astray by the volley of cars and trucks that the ferry also delivered onto the quay. We were still ten kilometers from the old town, and I had planned the route in such a way that we were crossing the Warnow on another small ferry from Gehlsdorf. It was definitely the fastest route, especially since the boat was ready for departure when we arrived in Gehlsdorf. The old Hanseatic city of Rostock is located at some distance inside an estuary, similar to its counterpart to west Luebeck, which was the Hanseatic capital. No one could compete with her in the Middle Ages. When Germany was divided after World War II, the cities came to stand in each country. Rostock became the main town in the East German district of Rostock, which was left out after the reunification in favor of the new state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, in daily speech MeckPomm. But although Rostock is clearly its largest city, Schwerin became the main city, for it had been the Mecklenburg Duke seat, while Rostock was the city of merchants and bourgeoisie. Like any medieval city it was well fortified and the city walls around it are quite well maintained, especially the city gates are beautiful. We made a stop at the Kroepelin gate, named after the village that the road through it led to. Then we cycled a stretch along the wall and looked through a hole in it, a so-called postern. A staircase led down to the houses within the wall. On the other hand, there were huge tree-lined ramparts with a moat deep down. Here, this had not been filled up and paved with a car ring road, as is often the case around centers of medieval towns. Here the bastions still stood, and the ring road was built futher out. We enjoyed it and were looking forward to taking a closer look at Rostock.
By way of a small cobbled alley we arrived at the University Square. Here we parked the bikes up a tree and were ready to stroll on foot down the pedestrian street. First we took a look at the square, which is obviously bounded by the university's old main building. Nice that many of the big old trees had been allowed to stand. But what caught one's eye the most in the square was the big fountain in the middle. It originates from the GDR and was decorated with all kinds of figures that do indeterminate things between the fountains. The Rostockers must have thought it looked like they were having sex, because they called it the porn well, while its official name to this day is the Well of Joy of Life (Brunnen der Lebensfreude). Well, after all, sex is a joyful experience of life and especially a life-creating one. At least it was fun to play in for the kids, but today it was too cold for that kind of thing. We went east and the beautiful old town houses in Kroepeliner Road looked good. In many East German cities, the main street is marred by ugly blocks, but that had not happened here. They stood in the parallel street Lange Road, I knew. We withdrew money at an ATM and now had cash for a cup of coffee at a bakery sale in the pedestrian zone. We let it trickle down our throats in the nearby New Market, Neuer Markt. Here stood the stately town hall in pink with a so-called show facade facing the square with its small brick towers. All true medieval stuff, and such, one must always appreciate in a German city, remembering the terrible aerial bombardments almost all German cities were exposed to at the end of World War II. Despite the significant importance of its large port and shipyards, Rostock had not been hit that desastrously, perhaps because it, again like Luebeck, to place so relatively early in the war, because then the Allies, first and foremost the English, had not yet perfected their bombing strategy. Dropping an appropriate amount of fire and explosive bombs, Bomber Command later learned produced, in their view, a magnificent fire especially in the old medieval towns with a lot of timberworks. We didn't think about that down in the square. Now we wanted to enter the town hall, which is also an attraction for Danes because the mayor of Rostock is - a Dane. Newly elected for an independent list, he had beaten the Social Democracy and the Left Party in the municipal elections earlier in 2019 through i.a. promises of sustainability and more cycle paths in the city! So we were proud walking under the old arches inside and play with the idea of knocking at the mayor's door and telling him that we were three Danes on a cycling holiday. Well, he probably was on summer vacation on such a July 2nd. A nice model of the town hall building history in the hall was also interesting. The next attraction was the main church of Saint Mary's just north of New Market. This very broad and pure in style pillar basilica is built in typical Baltic gothic style, as seen all the way from Luebeck to Tallinn in Estonia, for the wealth of the bourgeoisie, by way of the tithe, also reached the clergy who could afford to build magnificent churches. This church had been hit by the Rostock aerial bombardment during the recent war, but the vicar had set up a 24-hour security guard located in the attic and whose members immediately extinguished the fires when bombs had perpetrated the roof. Very courageously done, and this vicar is a hero in town to this day. We also saw the astronomical clock in the choir, and fortunately a German guide told us about the clock's intricate mechanics. It was no slough at showing numerous things on its two large dials, plus a group of figures moving over them at certain times. It must have cost a fortune back then. We were impressed and Simon, the one who knows most about astronomy, nodded knowingly to the guide's words. But soon we were out in the sun again and heading for our bikes. Shortly before we reached them, we bought ice creams, which we enjoyed on the stairs of the tourist office. After all, being at University Square and having two university students among us, we also had to look inside the university. We also went there because we needed a toilet. I think the porch was a very beautiful room with its pillars and the sun gave it a nice glow. We had to pick up one more thing in Rostock, namely our train tickets for the journey home from Berlin at the main train station. It was quickly done, but not quickly enough to prevent Simon from squeezing in a döner kebab (large) on the railway square in the meantime. That boy is a true glutton, whereas his big brother has always been somewhat better at utilizing the calories he added to his metabolism. He was in need for this again now, because we were still short of the 23 km to the campsite in Schwaan. Fortunately, the wind had changed slightly to the northwest, so we now had cross tailwinds. Lovely!
The mayor may be proud of the city's bicycle routes even now, before he had done anything about it, at least the one leading out of the city to the south, at first close to the river Warnow, later farther away. As soon as we had left the dull industrial and commercial area that surrounds almost every city, we cycled along on minor roads and through the countryside again. Through small villages, across the Lübeck-Stettin motorway we headed for the small town of Schwaan, which is also on the Warnow River, and we went smoothly. Just before the town center of Schwaan we saw a sign for a supermarket on the right. Great, because now we had to shop in order to refill our fat and carbohydrate depots, plus restore our fluid balance on hop juice as is our habit. In the very shop we decided to make a barbecue grill on an extremely cheap disposable barbecue. After our shopping we were self-sufficient until tomorrow afternoon. You never know what is the service of a campsite, but in Schwaan it was excellent, so we were allowed to forget a few things. The shopping and the sight of the many food items had heightened our hunger and appetite, so Schwan's charming old town didn't get any attention. We were only interested in cycling the last 2-3 km to the campsite, get the tents pitched in a hurry and light the barbecue. Consequently, our disappointment was heavy, when we were told by the rather strict and bureaucratic lady at the reception that the fire danger prohibited the lighting of any barbecue. But I did something right, because we ended up being allowed to light the grill on the tile terrace, but only if we promised to dispose of it properly in the correct waste containers at the designated container space. I promised that solemny at my mother's grave, and very soon the tents stood and we all got a bath before we plopped our beer bottles, and sausages and, Simon's specialty tonight, chicken wings were put on the disposable barbecue. The other two of us were skeptical, whether he would serve dangerous chicken sushi for us like Team Easy-On had done, but he mastered the barbecue. The most tricky task was to turn things around without making the sausages roll down onto the tiles. One's motorical skills are quite primitive when one is very hungry. But we managed allright in the increasing darkness and sat for a long time chatting, though it certainly was not very warm. Eventually, the talkative Dutchman, whom we had already met in the queue for the ferry at Gedser, appeared. He and his much quieter wife were on a very big German cycling tour that eventually would take them back home in the Netherlands. We had happened to meet them several times today, and we did that the following day too, so we laughed at how little Germany seemed to be. It turned late before we went for a little walk down the campsite to a small beach down to the river. Here was a small camping kitchen, where we agreed to have breakfast. The tents stood in an open pine forest with lots of cones. There was some wind, but it did not make any of us stay awake for long. Tomorrow we were to cycle the first long stage, so now we rested our pins and the rest of our bodies for some seven hours.