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Baltic Coast Tour by Bicycle
Baltic Coast Tour by Bicycle

The Baltic Coast is also called der Ostseeküsten in German. A scenic tour along the German portion of the Baltic Sea will expose you to the beauty and the history of the area.

Map of Baltic Coast Tour Tour Overview: This is a 13-day, 467 mile, 752 kilometer, tour of Northern Germany's Baltic Coast. The bikeline guidebook claims the length is 511 miles or 823 kilometers in length, however, we cut off the two islands, Fehmarn and Rügen, so our distance is less. We did ride the Island Rügen later.

We rode the portion from Flensburg to Lübeck of this tour in May 2004 and the portion from Lübeck to Ahlbec in June 2006.

We start at Flensburg near the border with Denmark and end on Usedom Island near the German/Polish border. The Germans call this body of water the Ost See or Ostsee but in English we know it as the Baltic Sea. Maxa and I split this tour into two parts, Flensburg to Lübeck and Lübeck to Ahlbeck on Usedom Island. During the second part of the tour, you will be in the former East Germany. The path conditions in the east can include what the Germans call Plattenweg. Plattenweg translates to "plate path" and is usually made of three-meter by one-meter concrete plates laid horizontal to the direction of travel. They can jar your fillings out. For all path conditions we encounter in Germany, see our page on the subject.

History: During the Middle Ages, many of the larger established communities along the Baltic (and the North Sea as well) belonged to the Hanseatic League. The Hanse (pronounced "han'-say" in English but "Hänze" (han-zah) in German) was an economic alliance of merchants who established a near monopoly on the trade of many important commodities in northern Europe. Have you never heard of it? OK, but you have heard of Lufthansa. That name comes from the German word for "air" or Luft and the word Hanse pronounced in the German way.

Early on, Lübeck became the seat of the Hanse. The Hanse lasted nearly 400 years, between about 1270 and 1650. They assessed and collected taxes on trade and had the power to enforce their tax laws and trade rules. They became so powerful in their heydays that they could embargo whole countries (actually, countries back then were more accurately called kingdoms or dukedoms).

The purpose of the league was solely economic although they did declare war on Denmark and later Holland. They were also instrumental in helping one English King fight another in England’s War of the Roses by loaning money to King Edward IV. Therefore, they carried a lot of sway on the Baltic and neighboring countries. Originally, the league comprised Wend towns and cities. The name Wend is used to identify a large conglomeration of Slavic tribes who, during the 5th Century populated the area between the Oder and Elbe rivers. Their area extended along the Baltic from Lübeck into Finland. Historically, they have also been referred to as the Vandal Tribe but today the Wend descendants are typically called Sorbs. To clarify, the population of Northern Germany today descends from other tribes as well partly due to the efforts of the Teutonic Knights and their effort to Christianize or kill non-believers.

The Hanse merchants became wealthy. They built large buildings in which to conduct their trade and store their goods. Many examples of these grand buildings from the 14th and 15th Centuries still exist in the former Hanse towns.

Path sign 1Path SignagePath SignageSignage: Signage is not the best on this tour. At the beginning of the tour, we find the many signs weathered to the point of being unreadable. One can recognize that these are the path signs because of the distinctive white on light blue “Ost See” logo. However, knowing which direction one should ride can be a wild [insert a body part here] guess. Unfortunately, there are long stretches without these signs but there are plenty of other bike path signs showing the direction toward named towns or cities. Just keep your next goal in your mind and you will have no trouble finding your way. For one example, east of Travemünde, the signs change to “Ostsee Radfernweg” (translation; Baltic Long Distance Bike Path) for a while. Path signage is normally the responsibility of a local authority and not all local authorities march to the same drum beat.

Accommodations: We had no trouble finding overnight accommodation along the way. As usual, we had reservations for our first night in Flensburg. Thereafter, we just waited until we got tired of cycling and then we called some of the suggestions from the list in the back of our bikeline guidebook. As a choice, we like Zimmer (advertised as Zimmer Frei) but there are also Gasthäuser (Guest Houses), Pensionen (pensions or bed and breakfasts), Jugendherbergen (Youth Hostels), and hotels. For a complete discussion of the different types of accommodations and tips on reservations, see my Overnight Accommodations page.

The average cost per night for the Zimmer will be about €50 for double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night) but they vary between €40 and €60 (price is no indication of quality - it only reflects local competition).

Stops: There are several fun places along this route. Our list will probably be different than yours so do not hesitate to explore. Definitely spend time in Flensburg, especially the harbor district. We also stopped at the Schloss (palace) at Glücksburg. In addition, Kiel and Lübeck are must see stops. We enjoyed Wismar, Warnemünde, Stralsund, Greifswald, and Wolgast. Beyond that, we just had fun seeing how different the Baltic Coast is from the other parts of Germany we have enjoyed over the years.

Baltic guidebook part 1Maps and Guidebooks: We used bikeline’s Ostseeküsten Radweg (Baltic Coast Bike path) Teil 1: Von Flensburg nach Lübeck, 1/75,000. For the second part we used Ostseeküsten Radweg Teil 2: Von Lübeck nach Ahlbeck / Usedom, 1/75,000. Check the publish date because Esterbauer, the bikeline publisher, frequently updates its guidebooks and since the path is always a work in progress, the most recently published guide will be the most accurate.

Day 1: Flensburg to Gelting

Day Overview: Today the terrain is up and down. You will experience several rolling hills, a few of them quite long. We did not have to push up any hills though and we are not too proud to do so. When you ride this, I hope you get better weather than we have for the start of this tour. It is raining off and on, occasionally heavily. For a while, we take shelter in a bus stop that is too small to get our bikes out of the weather. Well, this weather is why Germany is so green. If it did not rain, the grass would be brown like the American West.

Flensburg BahnhofMile 0 (0.0 km): I am starting our tour mileage at the Flensburg Bahnhof but we don’t ride far because for our first night, we have reservations at Pension Ziesemer, Wilhelmstrasse 2, 24937 Flensburg, telephone 0461-25164, fax 0461-21541. We chose this one because of its nearness to the city center. The cost is €42.00 double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night) including breakfast and it is a nice establishment. The only inconvenience is the bathrooms are in the hall. But that happens to us now and then.

Selling fresh fish off the boatFlensburg DowntownThe downtown area and harbor of Flensburg consists mostly of Baroque buildings surrounding a traffic-free pedestrian zone. The harbor is cute with its small fishing boats that sell fish to people in the morning. We ask a fisherman the cost of two good sized fish he was selling, a Barsch (saltwater bass or perch) and some type of sole, and he quoted us €13 for about 5 pounds of fish; not inexpensive – but fresh. Maybe the locals negotiate a little. But negotiation is not generally acceptable behavior in Germany. The price is the price and any attempt at negotiation might be considered rude. I hope this is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

Schloss GluecksburgMile 8.7 (14.0 km): This is Glücksburg. The Schloss (white castle on left) was a monastery from 1210 to 1682. After that, it was home to one of the ruling families from the house of Oldenburg. Check out their website for more information. The lake here is manmade and it covers a graveyard containing approximately 1,000 monks. It is a good thing they do not have to hold their breath anymore.

Rain shelter at bus stopMile 14.4 (23.1 km): We stop to escape a hailstorm in Wahrberg by huddling in a bus stop shelter. The barn behind us was built in 1200 as a lookout to guard against pirates who might attempt to raid either the monastery or the Schloss in either Rüde or Duborg. This barn has been in the same family for 500 years. There is a nice drop between Wahrberg into Bockholmwik but you will climb back up to about 40 feet then experience some rolling hills.

In Schleswig-Holstein I would expect to see – but have not – the classic Holstein dairy cattle (think of the Gateway Computer Company logo). So far, all I have seen is Jersey and Brown Swiss. I am something of a cow connoisseur you know. Not only do I enjoy eating them, but my agrarian childhood education left me with the ability to tell one breed from another.

Mile 26.9 (43.3 km): Between Steinbergholz and Steinberghaff, (that’s a mouthful) the guidebook shows the beginning of an alternate route into Gelting. We take the alternate because of the foul weather and because the primary bike path is mixed pavement, sand and gravel. With all the rain, the sand will just make us even more uncomfortable.

Mile 32.0 (51.5 km): We stayed in Gelting with Johanna Desler, Gästezimmer and Ferienwohnung, Süderholm 58, 24395 Gelting, Telephone 04613-2158. It is a great place with nice people and a good breakfast.

Day 2: Gelting to Eckernförde

Day Overview: The path is mostly paved today with only a couple small hills. It is much easier than yesterday.

Mile 3.5 (5.6 km): We pass a sign explaining this farm was a clandestine listening post disguised during the cold war to look like a farm Now it has been converted into a wildlife preserve.

Mile 7.1 (11.5 km): We arrive at the beach near Pottlach or Kronsgaard. The path for the next 1.5 kilometers is a rough set of almost parallel tracks through the sand (see picture). It is rideable if the sand is firm but there are sand puddles where the sand has dried and become soft. These puddles can turn your front wheel aside and cause a dangerous situation. Fortunately after this, the path is paved again.

Mile 15.1 (24.3 km): We ride into Kappeln searching for a bike shop to fix Maxa’s front hub. It has been clicking in a extremely annoying way. Actually, it did not annoy me until Maxa became annoyed and she decided that I should be annoyed too. I think it is because those who are annoyed love company. Anyway, we need new ball bearings and that is something I do not carry in my collection of tools and spare parts. We find a bike shop and they fixed the problem even if they were on their lunch break. Talk about bicycle friendly folks.

Mile 21.5 (34.6 km): Past Schönhagen, the mapped path takes a left so when we see a left turn, we take it. Wrong. We should have taken the second left. Well it is too late now because when we lose the path, we normally just keep on truckin' and try to reconnect later. We hate back tracking. So, our nice paved road suddenly turns into a dirt path along the coast for several miles. There are the sand puddles again but today for most of the way the sand is firm and looking out at the Baltic is great scenery.

Bad Damp HarborMile 26.3 (42.3 km): Here is the resort village of Damp, or Ostseebad Damp. We stop for coffee here right on the promenade. Damp is beautiful in the sunshine. The name Damp is just a name; not a description. It has nothing to do with humidity.

Mile 43.2 (69.5 km): Eckernförde. Approaching this town we note the map has “Hügelgräber” (dolmens or tumuli in English) indicated as an archeological site. We do not see any signs and cannot find the site so we miss them. There are over 900 of these ancient graves or dolmens in northern Schleswig-Holstein and they are (or were) graves of people from the early Stone Age. Archeologists presume that they were originally covered with earth that has since weathered away. Here is a reference site for Dolmens. We stop for the night in Eckernförde but I cannot recommend our accommodations. Our hostess acts like a trained prison guard. Obviously, she is in the hospitality for the money and not out of a desire to help people or an opportunity to meet travelers. She issues orders and expects husband and guests alike to promptly comply. Therefore, no recommendation.

Day 3: Eckernförde to Kiel - Laboe

Day Overview: The path today is paved over slightly rolling hills. The views of the Baltic are wonderful.

Mile 0 (0 km): Leaving Eckernförde, in light rain, we ride through the woodlands along side a Bundestrasse (federal highway with heavy traffic).

Poppy FeildsMile 16.3 (26.2 km): We are passing through Dänisch Nienhof. This is a part of the community of Schwedeneck and obviously named when this province was part of Denmark. From here, we ride past a poppy field with sailboats in the distance that are competing in the Kielerwoche (Kiel Week Fair). This fair is world famous for its sailboat races and festival.

Mile 26.4 (42.5 km): We come upon a free ferry crossing the canal at Holtenau. While waiting for the ferry, I snap a photograph of a pen swan with her cygnets.Momma Swan with baby on board (Pen and cygnet)

Kiel is a nice city that was a shipbuilding center prior to WW II. Unfortunately, it was heavily bombed during the war and was modernized during the rebuilding process. It is still a nice city but the Altstadt charm has been lost.Sailboat race in the distance

Mile 29.4 (47.3 km): We take a not-so-free ferry across the Kieler Förde or fjord to the of seaside resorts including Laboe, Möltenort, and Heikendorf.

Mile 30.0 (48.2 km): We spent the night in Laboe. A mile or two down the road is the monument to submariners. This monument was originally built in 1936 as a monument to those who perished in WW I German U-boats but after WW II, it was rededicated to mariners of all nations who serve in submarines. Almost at the foot of that monument is the U-995, a real German U-boat that saw service during WWII. We take rooms in Hotel Restaurant Haus Erholung, Friedrichstrasse 8, 24235 Laboe, Telephone 04343-8652 fax 04343-1333.

Day 4: Kiel / Laboe to Sehlendorf

Day Overview: Right at the beginning of the day's ride there is a 50 foot hill between Laboe and Stein. Other than that, today starts with a long ride along the coast. There are no other significant hills.

Wind whipping Maxa on blustery dayMile 16.8 (27.0 km): Coffee stop in Hohenfelde. It is cold and raining heavily today - windy too. It is a little hard to see, but I took a picture of the headwind whipping Maxa’s raingear as she struggles to make headway along the dike. We opt to avoid the dirt/sand path shown in the guidebook for a bike path along the more heavily trafficked Bundestrasse. We will catch the path again in Satjendorf.

Mile 29.0 (46.6 km): We haul our exhausted and abused bodies into our hotel here in Sehlendorf. The Hotel Bellevue Garni, Strandstressa 2321 Sehlendorf/Blekendorf, telephone 04382-543 Connected with Hotel Sea Stern. It is nice but the rooms are small and we do not have much space to hang our wet gear. Breakfast is good.

Day 5: Sehlendorf to Dahme

Day Overview: There are a few minor hills but nothing to worry about. That is until we get to Lütjenbrode where while short cutting to avoid Fehmarn Island we do find a steep hill. It is mostly paved today with only a little sandy gravel.

Mile 7.8 (12.6 km): This is Oldenburg. The Wallmuseum here is about the dike system. We do not go in.

Path east of Heiligenhafen; Fehmarn on leftMile 16.8 (27.0 km): Heiligenhafen. Our guidebook recommends staying here for a couple nights and taking the intervening day to visit Fehmarn Island. That is not a bad idea because you can ride without panniers. We call it riding naked bikes (not riding bikes naked, they are quite different things; one we have tried – the other not. Yet.) We have had quite a bit of weather on this tour so far. The path is frequently wet and the wind off the Baltic is brisk. We opt to forego riding around Fehmarn because our guidebook describes the path as sandy without much pavement. Besides, Guntram and Ulla have already seen the island and have no desire to slog through wet conditions to see it again.

Mile 21.1 (34.0 km): In Lütjenbrode, we short cut the path avoiding Fehmarn Island. We find a hill of about 100 ft.

Mile 25.7 (41.4 km): In Neukirchen (New Church), we stop to look at the new church. It is not so new really. Undoubtedly it was named when it was built in the 13th Century. It is an excellent example of the Middle Ages Brick churches in the North of Germany.

Neukirchen harborMile 37.0 (59.6 km): In Dahme we spend the night at Haus Seeburg, owned by Frau Von Rohr, Seestrasse 56 & 58, 23747 Dahme, Telephone 04364-389 Fax 04364-9249, e-mail is Info@haus-seeburg.de, website is http://www.haus-seeburg.de/. I can heartily recommend Haus Seeburg. The rooms were cute and comfortable. They have a community room in which we lounged in the afternoon and in which the next morning enjoyed our breakfast.

Day 6: Dahme to Niendorf

Day Overview: It is hard for us to comment on the mapped path as we parallel it much of the way today. Where we ride, the terrain is slightly rolling and all paved.

Lighthouse near DahmeMile 0 (0 km): We are almost swept backwards by the wind leaving Dahme. Normally, winds in this part of the world are from the northwest but this is a southeast wind. We decide to leave the mapped path along the coast and find a bike path along the B-501 Bundestrasse. It is not as pretty but there is much less wind. DanBob Bockelmann, a cycling friend of mine in Seattle, calls a headwind a “poor man’s hill.”

Mile 7.6 (12.3 km): If you do leave the mapped path and find yourself in Cismar, try to have lunch in the monastery here. It was established in 1248 and was the northernmost monastery for the monks of the Benedictine order.

Mile 36.0 (57.9 km): In Niendorf we stop for the night at Gästehaus Müller, Grünergrund 5, 23669 Niendorf, telephone 04503-4426, €50.00 double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night), e-mail them at muellergastehaus@t-online.de.

Day 7: Niendorf to Lübeck

Day Overview: We have nice weather today. There is one long hill just past Travemünde but it is not steep.

Mile 3.1 (5.0 km): Leaving Niendorf, we again choose inland streets avoiding the wind on the coast. At least we are no longer on a Bundestrasse. We took tertiary roads to Brodten and past the Golfplatz into Travemünde.

Grain Warehouse boat in harbor Smart Sport Car 2004 Beach wicker bench to protect from the wind Maxa, Ulla, and Guntram The tall ship Alex in Travemunde One of several town gates to Lubeck 3 Music box or organ grinders Downtown Lubeck Downtown Lubeck again Holsteintor or Holstein Gate English explanation to Holstein Gate Grain Warehouses Lubeck Same gate closer upTypical Street Lubeck Nicoli Church Lubeck Sunshine in Lubeck Model Ship in Maritime Museum Lubeck bikes loaded on the train home Passat Tall Ship Sailboat

Mile 16.2 (26.0 km): Altstadt Lübeck. The main city gate at the edge of Lübeck old town was built in 1244. Lübeck is well equipped for tourism and we are enjoying a short day on the bikes with a lot of time to sightsee. Lübeck was first mentioned in written history in 1000 and now is a bustling economic city with an excellent university. The city is also famous for marzipan, a sugar and almond paste that is made into all sorts of good things to eat (assuming, of course, you like marzipan). The Restaurant Niederegger in the center of town is the hot touristy spot to buy the “best” marzipan. The oldest part of the town, the Altstadt, was destroyed by bombing during WWII and all but one of the big churches were destroyed. Gratefully, they rebuilt the buildings and once again, the Altstadt contains seven church steeples.

Ed. note: We stopped here for this year and returned to our home base by train. Our plan was to complete the tour to Ahlbeck the next year, 2005, but we were not able to return until 2006. From here on, it is 2006.

Day 8: Lübeck to Boltenhagen

Day Overview: The paths today are a mixture of pavement and, well, let us just say other surfaces – some of which are challenging. East of Travemünde we took the highway and did have a little rolling elevation (10 -20 feet) gain and loss. If you stay on the coast, that can be avoided. Plattenweg, or cement plate path

Mile 0 (0.0 km): As mentioned above, we take a little break between Lübeck and Travemünde – two full years of a break. Nevertheless, we arrive today at the Bahnhof where we departed when we last visited this lovely city of Lübeck. The ride to Travemünde is through residential and industrial neighborhoods and is unremarkable, except for one Russian cemetery and war memorial on the outskirts of Lübeck.

Travemuende Train StationKaffee und Kuchen in TravemuendeMile 13.0 (21.0 km): Travemünde is a picturesque little city. We take a break on the main waterfront street and enjoy Kaffee und Kuchen, or a cup of coffee and a cake. It is warm today and the tourists are out enjoying the weather just as we are. Leaving the café, we make our way to the ferry that crosses the Trave River. It costs €1.00/person including a bike and it sails every 10 minutes or so. At mile 14.5 (23.3 km) we pass the Passat, a tall sailing ship. You can take a guided tour if you are interested.

Mile 15.5 (25 km): Just outside of the community of Priwall, we obtain a little local knowledge from another bike rider. She tells us that the path right along the beach is paved now and much nicer than riding down the road via Harkensee to Gross Schwansee. But because of a wrong turn, we end up on the low traffic road marked in our guidebook anyway.

Radlerherberge LindenhofMile 21.7 (34.9 km): In Elmenhorst, we pass an inviting café and Ferienwohnung called Radlerherberge Lindenhof Scheune (translates to “Biker hostel Lindenhof Hall”). The rates are €50.00 per night double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night). The address is Dorfstrasse 59, Elmenhorst, telephone 038825/37966 or 04503/5449 after 6:00PM. We would stay here but it is a bit too early stop today.

Mile 33.5 (53.9 km): We stop for the day in the beautiful seaside resort of Ostseebad Boltenhagen. As we arrive, we are glad we did not stop at Elmenhorst because this community is touristy and there are many more restaurants from which to choose. We stay at Hotel Wendenburg, not so much a hotel as a Pension, Tarnewitzer Dorfstrasse 7, 23946 Ostseebad Boltenhagen, Telephone 038825/3090; Fax 038825/30942, the cost is €76.00 double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night). Email is hotelwendenburg@t-online.de.

The menu in the restaurant is short but tasty and a good value. A plate of matjes herring is only €7.50. Matjes herring are young, supposedly female, herring that are seasonal in June along the Baltic and North Sea coasts. They are filleted and pickled in a brine of spices, sugar, and vinegar for several days before serving. Typically, matjes herring are served with a dill sauce and potatoes. One loves’em or hates’em – but to us, they are addictive.

Day 9: Boltenhagen to Kühlungsborn

Day Overview: At the start of today, the path turns quickly to gravel for a couple kilometers then you have to share a busy road for 4.5 kilometers. There are several small hills and while the path is mostly paved, it has several unpaved stretches. (Man, this sounds like a weather forecast when the weather man does not have a clue. But in this case, it is accurate.)

Mile 0 (0.0 km): Leaving Boltenhagen we climb a 30 foot hill just a short distance from our Pension.

Maxa wiggling through a narrow gateCharolais cattleMile 4.9 (7.9 km): After turning left off the highway, we mistakenly ride though a campground and exit along a footpath at the east end. The gate here is too narrow form Maxa’s bike and she has to remove her panniers (bicycle saddlebags) to wiggle her bike through the opening. We would have been on the correct road if we had bypassed the campground, and then turned left rather than riding through it. But then, we would not have the memory or the picture.

Marktplatz WismarMile 14.8 (23.8 km): This is the Marktplatz (market square or center of town) of Wismar. Wismar is another Hanseatic League town (see History above). Wismar’s town square or Marktplatz is a great example of the buildings built by wealthy merchants of the Hanseatic League. The city was actually part of Sweden between 1648 (the end of the Thirty-year War) and 1803 (near the end of Napoleon in Germany). In 1803, Sweden ceded Wismar to the Duke of Mecklenburg whose holdings were made a part of Germany in 1903.

WindmillBarn made of plattenMile 27.5 (44.2 km): We start seeing a few windmills as we ride.

To the right is a photograph of a barn made of concrete slabs. I have only seen this type of construction in the former East Germany. These same slabs are out to many different uses including making roads, paths, or field ways. When used for roads, they are called Plattenwege.

Ostseebad RerikMile 34.6 (55.7 km): This is Ostseebad Rerik.

Mile 42.0 (67.6 km): We spend the night in Kühlungsborn in a Privat Zimmer but I cannot recommend it because we must share the bathroom with the family and the room arrangement is not as comfortable as some where we have stayed.

Day 10: Kühlungsborn to Ahrenshoop

Day Overview: Today is fun, much of the day you will be right on the coast passing beach after beach. The path conditions are good but seldom paved. There are almost no hills.

On the Beach at KuehlungsbornMile 0 (0.0 km): Leaving Kühlungsborn we ride along a sand path on the lee side of a sand breakwater. There are markers for different beaches along the path. Perhaps, one can tell a friend that I will meet you at beach #102. I do not know. There are a couple beaches labeled FKK, which stands for Freie Körper Kultur or Free Body Culture. It is a nude beach. These are common in Germany. We pass a sign for “Textil Strand” that we have never before seen before. Textil means cloth and Strand means beach so I guess it means the opposite of an FKK Strand. I guess on one beach, you wear textiles, on the other you do not. The photo of Maxa is on the Textil beach.

WarnemündeMile 17.1 (27.5 km): Following the bike path signs and asking locals for direction to fill in the blanks, we arrive at the ferry in Warnemünde. It is a little hard to get to because you have cross a small bridge, then carry your bike first down, and then up a flight of stairs. Did I tell you that I do not like stairs? Anyway, from here, you can ride south an hour or so to Rostock. Alternatively, you could hop on a local train if you choose. However, we choose to keep going. First, Rostock does not attract me partially because of the past trouble with Neo-Nazi skinheads and partially because it is just another big city. Besides, we are having a ball on the coast.

Mile 38.8 (62.5 km): We spend the night at Haus Rosi, owned by Rosi und Deter Pade, Fulge 9, 18347 Ahrenshoop, Telephone 038220-80068.

Day 11: Ahrenshoop to Stralsund

Day Overview: We start the day on the alternate path marked in the guidebook. It is a long sandy path sprinkled with mud puddles because it rained last night. We ride along the Saaler Bodden, which is an inland saltwater bay. Once we reconnect with the main bike route, we alternate between pavement, sand, and Platten (concrete plates). They asphalted over the Platten outside of Prerow and again outside of Barth, that improves the ride immeasurably. The path is level again today except for one small hill outside of Glöwitz, east of Barth.

Beach sculptureMile 14.0 (22.5 km): Enter Prerow. Both Prerow and Zingst are destination resorts and the tourists seem to commute back and forth along the bike path atop the dike. Many resort hotels, etc. offer the use of bicycles either for exercise or as a means of transportation. Judging from the number of people on the path today, the bikes are heavily used. We are the only ones with panniers; everyone else is just out for the day.

Mile 17.9 (28.8 km): Zingst is touristy. One thing that towns in the former East Germany share with those in the west is how "economical" they are with street signs. It seems, whenever you want to know the name of the street, they have either removed the sign or never installed one. When I say “economical,” I mean they do not spend money installing very many. (Maxa thinks I am nuts but I will swear to this quirky behavior on the part of our host country.)

Barth The size of the fields here are impressive. Many places in Germany, especially in the west, have small fields. However, these east German fields are large – like Montana, USA, where I spent my childhood. The photo of the old town gate is in Barth.

Mile 32.0 (51.5 km): The guidebook indicates we should share a busy road but we find a new path here that continues through the fields avoiding the highway. Yea!

Schloss HohendorfMile 43.0 (69.2 km): We climb a small slope to Schloss Hohendorf.

Mile 45.2 (72.7 km): We tried to stay at an attractive Privat Zimmer in Klausdorf but there were two problems. The only restaurant for 6 kilometers was closed for the day because today is their Ruhe Tag (quiet day or day of rest), and there was no place to buy wine. Since Stralsund is only 17 kilometers away, and because it is a nice afternoon, we ride on.

Stralsund Marktplatz 1Stralsund Marktplatz 2Stralsund Marktplatz 3Stralsund Marktplatz 4Stralsund Marktplatz 5Stralsund Marktplatz 6A rehabed building between two delapitatedStralsund Monastery of St. JohnStralsund Monastery of St. JohnStralsund Town GateStralsund Nicoli Church

Mile 53.3 (85.8 km): As the photographs above indicate, Stralsund is not only impressive because of its location and history, it is also photogenic. We spend the night close to the Marktplatz in Stralsund at Pension Prochnow, Wasser Strasse 73, 18439 Stralsund. The telephone number is 0171/4780951 and the cost is €50.00 double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night). The owners recently renovated. It is clean and well managed. Breakfast too proves to be one of the better ones on this tour. (We even choose to stay here later this week on our trip home.)

Do not miss seeing Stralsund. It is another Hanse town, it has an interesting Baroque Marktplatz and several large well maintained churches. (We are surprised in July to learn that America’s President George W. Bush visited this same city as a guest of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. It is lucky we missed that. Apparently, Ms. Merkel – “Angie” to her countrymen – was raised around here.)

Historically, Stralsund was founded in the early 13th Century and it soon became the rival to Lübeck. That must have annoyed the city fathers of Lübeck because Lübeckian soldiers burned Stralsund in 1249. The inhabitants rebuilt and soon joined the Hanseatic League centered at the time in Lübeck. Much later, during the Thirty Years’ War (1613-1648), it was the scene of a battle between Swedish forces (in this case Protestant) who defended the city against a General Wallenstein, who fought for the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II (Catholic).

Similar to Wismar, Stralsund became a part of Sweden in 1648 after the Thirty Years’ War and remained so until it became part of Prussia in 1815. In 1944, Stralsund was bombed by the Allies during World War II. One of the casualties that is still in ruins is the Franciscan Monastery of St. John, of which only the choir loft remains. Nevertheless, the monastery still forms a part of the original town wall.

Day 12: Stralsund to Lubmin

Day Overview: We bypass the island of Rügen on this Tour because we have plans to ride about this island in 2007 (see Rügen Island). The path today is mostly level today but there is one nice drop into Brandshagen (12.1 km). Unfortunately, you climb back up 60 feet too. The surfaces are manageable albeit we do get a little tired of the long stretch of cobblestone between Stralsund and Greifswald.

Cobblestone RoadMile 5.0 (8.0 km): This is the start of the cobblestone road. As we ride along, wishing I had a mouth guard, I contemplate the workers who laid these stones for kilometer after kilometer. Maxa suggests that using that amount of labor is why the East was able to brag about near full employment under communism. There must be billions of stones in this road. There is no good way around this road because we do not want to ride on the busy road off to our left. So, if you want to avoid this part of the tour, take the local train. It is called the Usedomer Bäderbahn and the web site is www.ubb-online.com. It is a commuter train so they depart every hour between 6:00 and 8:00 but only a couple of trains in the middle of the day. The trip to Greifswald takes half an hour.

Mile 15.5 (25.0 km): Finally, just before Mesekenhagen, we are finally finished with the (your favorite expletive here) cobblestone. The landscape is gently undulating, not enough to tire one but enough to keep bike riding interesting.

Greifswald 1Greifswald 2Greifswald 3 St. Nikolai CathedralGreifswald 4Greifswald 5Greifswald 6Greifswald 7

Mile 20.1 (32.3 km): We stop for a break in Greifswald and look at the St. Nikolai Cathedral (third from left above). The city of Greifswald grew up around a Cistercian cloister built in 1199. It too joined the Hanseatic League. In 1456, Greifswald established a university, one of the oldest in Northern Europe. (In Germany, there are six older universities all of which were Catholic Universities. They are: Heidelberg 1386, Cologne 1388, Erfurt 1392, Würzburg 1402, Leipzig 1409, and Rostock 1419. By the way, the University of Marburg am Lahn was founded in 1527 and is the oldest Protestant university anywhere in Europe.)

Mile 40.1 (64.6 km): We stop for the evening in Lubmin. Getting here was a little adventure. The guidebook path would take us on the shoulder of a busy road and since it is rush hour, we opt for a more circuitous way through the village of Wusterhusen. We end up pushing our bikes across some sand along the way. We spot a Zimmer Frei sign as we enter Lubmin and learn that the family Voge will charge us €40.00 double occupancy (the cost for two people to spend one night) but they do not serve breakfast. The address is 8 Wusterhusener Strasse, 17509 Lubmin. Breakfast is no problem because there are two grocery stores in the area, Edeka and Plus. Both have bakeries that serve coffee with your purchases. It is a wonderful solution.

During our breakfast, I noted that about 2/3 of the shoppers arrive by bicycle. Two shoppers have young children with them who are pushing Laufräder, or bicycles on which the child sits and move along with their feet instead of pedaling. Life here is quite different than the supermarket-automobile centric life in Seattle. For this, I envy the Germans.

Day 13: Lubmin to Ahlbeck (at the border)

Day Overview: This is our last day on the Baltic Coast. At least until next year when we will ride about Rügen, the island we bypassed this year. Once on the island of Usedom, the path goes over several hills, which surprises us. It is mostly paved though and since it is only 61 kilometers to Ahlbeck, we can take our time and enjoy ourselves, which we do. There is a noticeable lack of bike path signs but we only lose our way once.

Mile 2.1 (3.4 km): We are riding past an abandoned and partially demolished former nuclear power plant. I do not know why I find industrial activity interesting, but I do.

Wolgast ChurchWolgast PlatzMile 12.6 (20.3 km): In Wolgast, we visit the church Gertrudenkapelle, which was built in the 15th Century and looks it. The Basilica St. Petri was built in 1280.

Mile 13.5 (21.7 km): Outside of Wolgast, we cross the bridge onto the island of Usedom. We will stay on this island for the next 40 kilometers to Ahlbeck.

Mile 20.2 (32.5 km): In Zinnowitz, we start riding along the beach. There are many tourists here so occasionally, the bike path is crowded. The path is hilly too.

Maxa at Ahlbeck Bahnhof -that is water she is drinkingMile 37.9 (61.0 km): We end the tour at the Ahlbeck Bahnhof. From here, we take the Usedomer Bäderbahn or a local whistle stop commuter train back to Stralsund. The picture is of Maxa rehydrating at the Ahlbeck Bahnhof. Even though looks can be deceiving, the beer can is not open, she is just posing for the snap shot. Ya. Right.

We will spend the night at the same Pension we did a couple days ago, and then in the morning, catch a regular train back to our home in Kassel. This is, unfortunately, our last bike tour for this year. That is always a sad occasion for me because I love bicycling in Germany so much. Oh well, there is always next year.

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