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.
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
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.
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 "hon'-see" 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
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.
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 to 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.
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).
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.
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
Back to the top
Day 1: Flensburg to Gelting
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The path is mostly paved today
with only a couple small hills. It is much easier than yesterday.
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.
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.
We ride into Kappeln searching
for a bike shop to fix Maxa’s front hub. It has been clicking in an 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.
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 backtracking.
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.
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.
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
The path today is paved over slightly
rolling hills. The views of the Baltic are wonderful.
Leaving Eckernförde, in light
rain, we ride through the woodlands alongside a Bundestrasse (federal highway with
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.
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.
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.
We take a not-so-free ferry
across the Kieler Förde or fjord to the of seaside resorts including Laboe, Möltenort,
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.
Back to the top
Day 4: Kiel / Laboe to Sehlendorf
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.
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.
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
There are a few minor hills but
nothing to worry about. That is until we get to Lütjenbrode where while shortcutting
to avoid Fehmarn Island we do find a steep hill. It is mostly paved today with only
a little sandy gravel.
This is Oldenburg. The
Wallmuseum here is about the dike system. We do not go in.
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 entirely different things; one we have tried – the
other not. Not Yet anyway.) We have had 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.
In Lütjenbrode, we shortcut the path avoiding Fehmarn Island. We find a hill of about 100 ft.
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.
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, the 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
Day 6: Dahme to Niendorf
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.
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.”
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
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
Day 7: Niendorf to Lübeck
We have nice weather today. There
is one long hill just past Travemünde but it is not steep.
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
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.
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.
Back to the top
Day 8: Lübeck to Boltenhagen
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.
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
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.
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.
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 6:00 PM. We would stay here but it is a bit too early stop today.
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
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
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 weatherman does not have a clue. But in this case, it is accurate.)
Leaving Boltenhagen we climb
a 30-foot hill just a short distance from our Pension.
After turning left off the highway, we mistakenly ride through
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.
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.
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.
This is Ostseebad Rerik.
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 somewhere we have stayed.
Day 10: Kühlungsborn to Ahrenshoop
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.
Leaving Kühlungsborn we ride along a sandy 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.
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 for 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.
We spend the night at Haus
Rosi, owned by Rosi und Deter Pade, Fulge 9, 18347 Ahrenshoop, Telephone 038220-80068.
Back to the top
Day 11: Ahrenshoop to Stralsund
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.
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.
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.)
The size of the fields here is 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.
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!
We climb a small slope to Schloss Hohendorf.
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.
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
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.
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 website 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
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
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.)
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 different than the supermarket-automobile centric life in Seattle.
For this, I envy the Germans.
Day 13: Lubmin to Ahlbeck (at the border)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 snapshot. 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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