Cycle Tour Around West Berlin
Dag/day 5: Potsdam-Spandau
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Added on 18 Jul 2023
on 15 Aug 2023
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cc0: Public Domain no Rights reserved
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by Ottocolor on 18 Jul 2023
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Potsdam, BB, DE (36 m NHN)
Berlin, BE, DE (44 m NHN)
10 Jul 2023
Warm and sunny. Although not as hot as the two previous days. Some light clouds. Almost no wind.
Slope Gradient Distribution
The Potsdam water taxi was out of service due to lack of staff. Therefore a detour round two lakes was necessary.
In the morning my lazy days life in Potsdam were over, and I mounted my bike in order to cycle to Spandau. The longest leg of the trip, but as the crow flies a very short one. I had easily been able to see the large power plant in Spandau from Belvedere the day before. But partly the Berlin Wall makes some winding turns here, partly I had to cycle around a whole series of lakes in the Havel, as the Potsdam water taxi was out of service due to lack of staff. Otherwise, I could easily have sailed across the Jungfernsee from the Meierei brewery to the Church of the Redeemer in Sacrow with a boat from them. But the trip around the lakes was nice, and the sign "Mauerweg" was still there. "Mauer weg" in two words means "wall gone". And that fits too!
At the Church of the Redeemer in Sacrow I first had a dip from a tiny beach which was dominated by dog owners and their (I think) ridiculous yelling to make their dogs retrieve things they throw into the water. But the cooling was good. I was still in the ex-GDR, and from here escape attempts had also been made to the nearby West Berlin bank in the district of Wannsee. Now I was hungry and, hurray, a nearby Italian restaurant was open and served me a pizza. Since it was Monday, I wouldn't have dared to hope for such a thing. After all, I was still moving on the absolute outskirts of Berlin, where there were probably some residential areas, but also large forests and meadows in between. This fuel to my engine was really good.
It was obviously more hilly here west of West Berlin than on the southern leg . And there were many stelae that one "had to" read in order to understand the impact of the Wall. Even if you followed all the rules, it was still, apart from its separating function of course, an enormously time-consuming and difficult matter when you wanted to cross it. For both East and West Germans, while the Allies could pass unchecked. I suppose, their uniforms must have been obvious contraband into the GDR. On the other hand, I have never heard of an East German who, disguised as an Allied soldier, crossed the border unmolested. Maybe a bit too audacious. For example, the border crossing in Staaken on the transit route on the old highway 5, which led to Hamburg and was the only one that was not a motorway, took a very long time to pass.
After Staaken, huge forests followed, so that you could hardly believe that you were close to a city of millions. But then multi-storey houses peeked out between the trees, and you could still sense it. Up here there had been another West Berlin exclave, Eiskeller, which demanded a lot of attention from both sides. To me, it sometimes seems very German with this zeal, thoroughness and sense of order. On the other hand, the Germans did not decide things in their own country. The four allied powers did. Anyway, I was now approaching the campsite Buergerablage ("citizen deposit") north of Spandau, I could see on my GPS device. There was no sign of it, but I had cycled around the city of Spandau with a small population of 250,000 in a large arc.
First I bought a couple of beers in a nearby supermarket and checked that I could buy coffee and rolls the following morning. Afterwards I was received very kindly by the camping owner Bodo, who only accepted cash, but I could just pay tomorrow. He spoke a perfect Berlin dialect, and I love it. A totally relaxed and uncomplicated approach to things belongs to it, it seems. And here Bodo was no exception.
The site was a club site, Berliner Camping Club, but guests were accepted, and thank you for that. To have dinner got a little more difficult, because a restaurant by a beach down to Havel already closed the kitchen at 6.30. Isn't that just ridiculously early? I was about to to tell them that, but what do you get out of it? They were also packing up in the bistro. I rest my case. Don't the Germans want to work anymore? Half past six! Why don't they close at half past five? Then they can call it a day an hour earlier. Well. honestly. In stead I cycled towards the center of Spandau and had a huge burger at ... a Turk. He only shut up his shop at ten. I talked to him. He was fairly new and couldn't afford to close earlier. And so he and his delivery men worked seven days a week with no prospect of a summer holiday. Really a difference to the German restaurants.
I also got cash withdrawn so that the next morning I could pay Bodo a very reasonable price for the two nights I had planned at his campsite.
In the end I had an evening swim in the lake and sat for a long time looking out at the river and the many boats anchored out there. A perfectly genial, even warm evening. There weren't even many mosquitoes.