June 20,2012 (Day 8) Bike Day 2
Bike from Fürstenberg to Neustrelitz
33 mi, 53 km
weather: continuous rain, probably temps in the high 60s
9:00am – 2:30pm
We went to bed last night to a light rain and woke up to a light rain. This will be our first biking vacation day in the rain, on our third bike tour. That’s not so bad. And actually it really wasn’t all that bad today. There is no need to feel sorry for us because we had fun anyway. Plus we were prepared for rain.
Breakfast in Hotel Haus an der Havel was included and a good mix of breads, cheeses, meats, and yogurt. For once, I think we were the first ones down. Now that we are well on our way on the bike tour, it seems as if everyone in the hotel is a cyclist and getting ready to head out. We aren’t used to so many cyclists and this is really nice. This cycling community alone makes me want to move to Germany even though I’m completely lost on the German language! I can count on one hand the number of German words I know and I’m completely lost when someone starts talking to me in German. In a restaurant, we can normally guess what is being said by context. For instance, the first thing they must be asking is what we want to drink. And at the end they must be talking about money, so I just hand them a large bill and hope it covers it.
We were packed up pretty fast and had our luggage down to reception at 9a as requested by our tour company. There are several people here with the same company, though we are all self-guided, meaning we all ride on our own. But there is a nice stack of luggage for our tour company to come pick up and deliver to the next hotel. We also decided to wear our sandals today due to the rain and that was one of the best decisions we made. We had our biking wind jackets over our normal biking jersey and shorts and took off. It was certainly not too chilly with this combination of clothes. Oh, and plus our yellow lenses as sunglasses made things easy to see while still having the eye protection.
We took off biking and decided to choose one of the longer alternatives to the bike route to cycle through a park. We pretty much stayed solely on bike trails today with just a few roads, but mostly we were in parks and almost mountain biking on dirt and gravel paths. As much as I miss my road bike, I am glad to have a hybrid with large tires on this kind of a trail. With all the rain, the mud and dirt quickly covered our feet and legs, so once again we were happy we chose to wear sandals today.
Just outside of the town we found a little children’s playground with a zipline of sorts! Well, we just had to stop and play in the playground before we kept going. That was so much fun. =)
The rain was continuous, but it did lighten at some points along our journey. Once we got going, it really didn’t bother us. The route was beautiful, though. We biked through lots of paths in the middle of woods that looked like the woods you’d find in the mountains of Colorado and we waited for the bears to come out. (Europe is not that wild) We had some other cycle paths that took us along meadows. We keep seeing towers at the edges of clearings between the meadows and the trees, and we can’t quite figure out what they are for. They don’t seem to be 60 years old, they seem to be a bit newer, but we still can’t figure out why they are here. Note: later we learned they are actually hunting towers.
With the route on my GPS, it is quite easy to stay on track, but also the signs for the Berlin-Copenhagen route are easy to follow as well. We didn’t get lost at all today, mostly we just got wet. Since this is a well-used cycle path, there were lots of picnic tables and covered picnic tables along the route. Plus there were lots of signs and maps. We passed by this one park area that was full of amusing German signs indicating what the park was used for with pictures.
It was easy to stop in a small town for lunch. This is not Sicily in the off-season. We were concerned about being all wet and dirty inside, but they were happy to let us sit and eat our pizza and gyro-like lunch inside their restaurant. I tipped well for that. I’m guessing most people are coming through all wet, but we were still careful to clean up after ourselves.
Apparently storks are important in this area and considered lucky as well. We passed one area that seemed to have a lot of signs about storks, and this area full of rocks and little signs for each rock. That was strange. But, further down the way, we saw an actual storks nest perched on top of a A-frame roof, amazingly balanced. You have to see the photo and stare in amazement at the huge nest balanced up there. It was very close to the road, had some signs in German describing the stork stats, and even had a stork and several baby storks in the nest! That was cool. Too bad I didn’t have a better zoom, but I’m just glad I own a waterproof camera so I could take photos today.
Closer to the end of our ride, we took a turn down a path that ended with a broken boardwalk. The boardwalk had many broken pieces of wood, was incredibly slippery, and looked quite treacherous. It was also in a swampy area full of mosquitos. There was no stopping, ever! However, we were able to cross it walking over and pushing our bikes. I kept worrying that we’d turn a corner and see an impassable part, however, it was fine and soon we were on the other side of a sign, probably telling us not to cross.
We arrived at our hotel in Neustrelitz easily after that. We were hoping for a garden hose outside so we could wash off outdoors, but no such luck. Well, it wasn’t too bad to wash off in the shower. =) We are at the Hotel Haegert and so far I give it a good review. We have two rooms actually, and it is very clean with modern decor. We were amused to see a bed made up in each room, instead of one double bed. The bathroom (always a risky venture in Europe) had a great shower and good sized sink for doing laundry.
Once we got cleaned up, did laundry, and hung up everything to dry, we napped away the rest of the afternoon. I probably should have been more productive and tried to catch up with this travel journal, for instance, but it was easier to sleep. =) We did wake up in time for dinner and found out that everyone was eating downstairs at the hotel restaurant. So, instead of walking around in the rain, we just ate with everyone else. The food was great! Our second German meal consisted of a Schweitz steak and a pork steak-apples-with-potatoes-and-red-cabbage and was delicious. We even went for the dessert, apple studel and a warm cherry dish with ice cream. Yum, yum. We are looking forward to going back to bed for more sleep tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be drier, but if not, we are certainly plenty prepared for rainy biking.