April 9: Haffkrug to Lauenburg; Bike Ride to Bleckede
We were up and ready to begin our bicycle tour fairly early. I was apprehensive as my back had been hurting during the bike rides we had made during the week, but on the plus side the swelling had gone down in my crushed fingertip and it did not hurt anymore. In any event, the day was beautifully sunny and the temperature was predicted to be in the high 60s, which is just perfect bicycling weather.
We had to make sure we had packed everything, because the cleaning crew would probably throw out anything we inadvertently left, and that took some time. But finally we locked the door, rode over to the real estate firm handling the rental, dropped the keys off in their mailbox, and continued up Bahnhofstrasse to the train station. We were quite fortunate in that we caught the next train in less than 10 minutes and there were no bicycles on it, so loading our bikes on was quick and easy.
We had to change tracks in the Luebeck Hauptbahnhof, but their elevators were all working and were large enough to fit three bicycles across, which surprisingly was much larger than the ones we had to use in Hamburg Haupbahnhof. The leg down to Lauenburg took slightly more than an hour, so we set off crossing the Elbe about 11:30. Crossing the Elbe on a bridge we had really nice views downstream of the old town of Lauenburg on the right hand bank with its old half-timber houses down by the river with the steeple of the town church towering above the rooftops.
But we were headed upstream, so we turned left on the other side of the bridge and finally found the beautifully paved bicycle path that ran along just inside of a high, flood-control dike on our side of the river. Every mile or so the bicycle path would pop up on top of the dike to cross a road or something, and that would give us a nice view out over the Elbe and its adjacent flood plain.
I kept looking for someplace to eat lunch or to buy sandwiches we could eat on the trail, but no such luck so we finally just sat down on a bench on top of the dike and fixed our two remaining hard rolls with some leftover butter that we had brought along. But it was, as they say, a meal with a view (or is that a room?).
Along the way, we saw our first storks and some of their incredibly large nests of twigs that they construct on top of anything that is fairly high off the ground and will hold the weight. These stork nests are only slightly smaller than the huge twig nests of bald eagles in the USA, and I suspect that the older, bigger ones weigh quite a bit!
Our butts were getting sore after hour or so, so we stopped again to take pictures and work the kinks out before we finally got to Bleckede, a pretty little town on the left bank of the Elbe. Our Bed and Breakfast was in a small farmstead just outside of town, and the date on one building was from the 1650s! But our room was quite modern on the inside and they had a nice shed with planters that had enough space for our bicycles, so we were happy.
But we were awful hungry by this point as it was 2 pm and we had ridden over 30 kilometers, so we rode back into town to the local micro brewery, which had been highly recommended by one of the bicyclists we met on the trail. The Brauhaus was in another old local building, and apparently had been a brewery even back in the Good Old Days. Nowadays although the buildings were old, the stainless steel brewing tanks inside were completely modern, of course, and Monika said the draft beer was a very good darkish beer (Amber in color but not nearly as dark as a stout like Guinness).
Monika ordered a farmers breakfast and I ordered a stuffed baked potato, and our entrees turned out to be so huge that we decided that the meal counted for both a belated lunch and our dinner. That meant we didn't have to buy food as a breakfast was included with our room, and that was good because we simply could not find a food store on the main street of the town when we walked around. We enjoyed the beautiful old half-timber houses, and were amused that a long line had formed, of course, at the local ice cream store. After all it was a beautiful warm day (and the last one we would have on this trip!).
We were both quite tired when we returned to our room, and I took a quick nap before we walked up the nearby dike and saw the Biosphere Nature Preserve spread out before us. Apparently, some of those bottom lands along the river had once been used to grow hay, but currently the "Powers That Be" seem to be preserving the wetlands environment on the sides of the Elbe. According to the number of birds we saw, the wetland conservation was remarkably successful! We even saw a stork fly by about 50 feet above us, giving its curious ululating call as it flew, and also saw a farmhouse with a stork nest built up on its roof, and even a stork inside the nest probably preparing it for having storklets!
But although it had been an extremely pleasant and even exciting day, we were exhausted and after putting the bicycle batteries on to charge, we read for a while and then turned in for the night.
|Map of the Donau Cruise||Map of Hamburg to Haffkrug||Map of the Elbe Bike Ride|