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Oder Neisse Bicycle Path

The Oder-Neisse bicycle path (Radweg) is long but well worth the ride. There are few hills and much scenery.

Tour Overview: Map of Oder Neisse 640June, 2011. This is a 335-mile, 539-kilometer tour following first the Neiβe (Neisse) River and then the Oder River from Zittau to Seebad Albeck on Usedom Island in the Baltic Sea. In Germany, the cycle path follows the German-Polish border. We rode from the tri-point where Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic meet near Zittau to Anklam close to the Baltic Sea.Maxa, Matthias, and Tim at the start

OK, the bikeline guidebook starts in the Jablonec, Czech Republic but we believed that part of the path might be hilly so for now, we ignore that part, confining our tour to the German part. However, if they ever level out the path from the spring that is the start of the Neisse River to the border with Germany, then we will go back and ride that portion. It should only take a day or two since it is only 55 kilometers (32 miles). A more likely scenario would be that Matthias Mundra, who accompanied us on this ride and who lives only a few kilometers from Zittau, will ride it one day and let us know about the hills and towns. If you ride the entire tour described in the guidebook, it will be 391 miles (630 kilometers) in total distance. Additionally, we cut 68 kilometers off the north end of the tour due to illness. I was fighting a cold and Maxa was coming down with it too.

Signage: The entire path is excellently signed although the path signs in the Czech Republic are different from those in Germany. The Czech signs are numbered 3038 and 3036 but they nevertheless follow the river. I also understand that the signs in the Czech Republic are not as numerous as they are in Germany. The photographs of the signs below show typical signs found along the route in Germany. Note the last photograph on the right has several path sign symbols hanging down.

Path Sign 1Path Sign 2Path Sign 3Path Sign 4Path Sign

 Accommodations: There are a few Zimmer or Privat Zimmer along the way; they advertise themselves as Zimmer Frei or Zimmervermietung (sometimes in two words Zimmer Vermietung) in signs along the path or along the streets. Pensionen or Pensions are the most frequent and of course there are a few Gasthäuser too but hotels are the most numerous. We try to stay in the Zimmer when we can. For a thorough description of the different lodging possibilities, see our Overnight Accommodations page.

Stops: We did a little smelling of the roses at the following: Rosengarten (no pun intended), Forst (Lausitz), Görlitz, Guben/Gubin, Eisenhüttenstadt, Frankfurt-Oder, Küstrin, Criewen, Vierraden, and Ueckermünde. Of course, the tour ends on Usedom near the Albeck Bahnhof so you will get a taste of the Baltic vacation area there.bikeline guidebook

Maps and Guidebooks: On this trip we used the guidebook by bikeline Oder-Neisse-Radweg, von der Neisse-Quelle zur Ostsee, 1:75,000 published in 2010.

Day 1: Zittau to Görlitz

Day Overview: Getting to Zittau was a little more interesting than we like. We took a whistle stop train (Nahrverkehr), you know the type, and they stop at every little village. After we boarded with our bicycles and the train departed, they announced that the train would only travel as far as Hagenwerder, about 20 kilometers from Zittau. The reason had to do with a labor union issue about salary parity with other train personal. We had purchased tickets all the way to Zittau but we were told that the ticket would be honored by the bus company and there would be a bus waiting for us at the Hagenwerder Bahnhof. OK, fine. And the bus was there but after everyone else from the train got on the bus, standing in the isle cheek by jowl, the three of us were left standing with our bicycles and no room on the bus. The driver explained that another bus would be by in an hour but seeing our sad faces he broke company rules and allowed us to load our bikes in the entrance steps where no one is allowed to be when the bus is in motion. It worked though and our sad faces turned into happy ones.

Even before the bus deposited us at the Bahnhof in Zittau it started to rain. It rained steady, even hard at times, until about 3:00 PM. Much of the path was gravel through the forest alongside the Neisse River so everything got pretty dirty from the mud picked up by our tires; our bikes, our panniers, our water bottles, and our bodies. Fortunately, it was not hilly, just wet and sometimes a little sloppy.

Mile 0 (0 km): We start the tour at the Zittau Bahnhof. Our first task is to check out Zittau by riding through the Altstadt (old town center). Zittau is an old city and in the Middle Ages it was a powerful and rich city. A member of the 6-city Lusatian League along with Bautzen, Görlitz, Kamenz, Lauban, and Löbau, Zittau prospered economically for 500 years during the High Middle Ages until as late as the mid-19th Century. (The Lusatian League was founded 1346 and was extinguished in either 1868 or 1815 depending on your view of historical events.)

City of ZittauZittauMarstall or salt house in Zittau

The purpose of the Lusatian League was trade and mutual protection. It ran afoul of the Holy Roman Emperor during the Counter Reformation. In Zittau’s Altstadt, we pass a tourist information office and ask how to find the tri-point monument that marks the place where all three countries meet.

Then after a few photographs, we head southeast out of town in the direction of the marker. We do not find it within what we thought should be the correct distance so we give up and head back toward the river on an unmarked path. Suddenly, we see it in a park surrounded by picnic benches.The Tri-point marker of the borders of Germany, Poland, and Czech RepublicChurch in Hirshfelde

Mile 7.0 (11.2 km): raft trip in the rainThe photograph on the right is of the church in Hirshfelde. As we ride along the river in the rain we notice a couple in a rubber raft with a guide paddling the raft. I bet the young couple's earlier conversation went something like this, "Honey, if we don't take the rafting trip now, we'll never have a chance to do it again. I bet you will remember this for the rest of your life." And she said, "Yes, I undoubtedly will. It will remind me of how stupid the man I married is."

Mile 30.0 (48.2 km): The sun came out and we stop for the night in Görlitz. It is a short day because the morning was taken up with the train/bus ride and some sightseeing in Zittau. We made advance reservations here because today is Pfingsten (Whit Sunday), a four-day weekend and many lodgings are full. We are at Peco Bello Pension, Uferstrasse 32, 02826 Görlitz. 03581/420010, the website is http://www.picobello-pension.de/. We paid €56 for two people for one night including breakfast. This is a Bett und Bike establishment. (For more on Bett und Bike establishments, go to the bottom of our page on Overnight Accommodations.)

 Maxachurch in OstritzKlosterstift St MarienthalGoerlitzGoerlitzGoerlitzGoerlitzGoerlitzGoerlitzSt. Peter and Paul Church Goerlitz

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Day 2: Görlitz to Bad Moskau

Day Overview: Today is full of hills starting with the 170-foot hill just getting out of Görlitz. Most of the hills are less than 25 or 30 feet in height though and none of the hills except the first one required any dismounting and pushing.

Mile 0.9 (1.4 km):Sun dappled pathLeaving downtown Görlitz we climb a huge hill on cobblestone (for a description of cobblestone see our Path Conditions page). The hill finally levels out at a cemetery.Zodel, community church

Mile 10.5 (6.5 km): Passing through Zodel, I snap a photograph of the community church.

Mile 11.8 (19.0 km): We ride past an amusement park named Kulturinsel Einsiedel (roughly translated as “cultural island settlement”). Construction on the park started in 1989, just prior to the collapse of East Germany. It was designed by some very creative people. The whole thing is constructed from either natural material, primarily wood, or from readily available stuff like wrecked cars and old bicycles. They have tree houses that you can rent for the night if you call ahead. If you are traveling with kids, this is probably a great place to pause, if not spend a night.

Zodel, I snap a photograph of the community churchZodel, I snap a photograph of the community churchZodel, I snap a photograph of the community church

Mile 15.5 (25.0 km): German border marker along the pathThis picture of the black, red, gold German border post shows a red and white matching post on the Polish side of the river - the countries' national colors. The bridge here was destroyed near the end of WWII by the retreating German Army. Close on their heels was the advancing Russian Army and the Germans hoped to delay them a bit at the river.

Mile 16.2 (26.0 km): This is the center of Rothenburg on the Oder. There seems to be too many Rothenburgs, Rottenburgs, or Rotenburgs in Germany; the famous one on the Tauber, another on the Fulda, one near Bremen, and one here. I sometimes think that in the days of old, the task of naming things in Germany fell to one dim witted individual, perhaps a map making monk. If he could not think of a nice new name for a place, he just used one he had used before; perhaps changing the spelling slightly or adding the name of the river nearby.

Mile 25.7 (41.4 km): Klein Priebus.Typical path

Mile 37.3 (60.0 km): In Sagar, you can find a Museum. We didn’t stop because the path turned off just before entering the village.

Mile 42.4 (68.2 km): After a rolling landscape of mostly small hills, we arrive at Bad Moskau. We stay overnight in Pension Turmvilla; address Hermansbad 9; telephone 035771/50029. Pension Turmvilla has 16 large rooms, a nice view, and a great breakfast buffet. We paid €57.50 per night for two people.

New Palace in Bad MoskauNew Palace in Bad MoskauNew Palace in Bad Moskau

Bad Moskau is an interesting little city. The New Palace in Bad Moskau was built about 1815. However, it was destroyed by arson in on April 30, 1945. WWII ended in May, 1945. Perhaps the arson was in protest to the location of the German-Polish border, which some residents of the Polish border region had hoped to include a larger portion of Germany into present day Poland. In any event, planning for the reconstruction of the New Palace took from 1993 to1996. Actual reconstruction for it started in 1996 and is now nearly complete.

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Day 3: Bad Moskau to Guben

Day Overview: To start the day we ride on top of the Neisse River dike. It is flat, paved, and smooth. Totally we drop over 400 feet in altitude today if my barometer watch is any indication.

Mile 0 (0 km): Leaving Bad Moskau we head toward Gubin – we think. We stay off the mapped cycle path through Bad Moskau to avoid a steep hill that is depicted in our map and guidebook. We are not entirely successful though because we still have to climb a 22-foot hill before rejoining the cycle path before Köbeln.

Mile 7.2 (11.6 km): In Zelz, they have a bridge into Poland, which is a border crossing. Apparently there is a parallel bike path in Poland that cyclists we met told us about.

Mile 11.3 (18.2 km): This is Klein Bademeusel so somewhere there must be a Gross Bademeusel. Why? Because Klein means small and Gross means large. We pass it just a bit down the path.

Mile 18.8 (30.3 km): Forst ChurchThis is Forst where we take our morning coffee break. Two cups of coffee later and a photograph of the church here and we are back on the cycle path. There are three destroyed bridges in Forst probably taken out by retreating German Troops as they beat feet back to Germany followed closely by Russian forces.

Mile 34.0 (54.7 km): In Gross Gastrose, I took a picture of the maypole here with a dead tree on top of the pole. They put the tree up on Mayday, which was 45 days ago. Someone ought to take that tree down. There is another destroyed bridge over the Neisse here too.

Mile 39.9 (64.2 km): As we enter Guben, we meet two other cyclists in their mid-70’s who see us studying our map. They ask if they can help and we inquire about an information sign or service where we can find an overnight accommodation. They recommend a hotel on the Polish side just over the bridge and near the McDonald’s, ahh … “restaurant” they call it here. They tell us the hotel is quite nice, inexpensive and their restaurant serves high quality, inexpensively, food as well.

Mile 40.4 (65.0 km): This is the bridge into Gubin, Poland (separated from Guben, Germany by the Neisse River) and of course the border crossing into Poland. The sky looks dark and ominous. We had better hurry and find our hotel or we will be soaked by a thunderstorm.

Mile 40.8 (65.7 km): We find Pension Retro exactly where we were expecting it. Maxa and Matthias are inside registering when the sky breaks open and pours down buckets of rain. The high wind lifts every little bit of litter and fallen leaves whipping them horizontally around the streets and yards. I am outside watching over our bicycles but fortunately I find shelter under an awning.

Gubin Church RuinGubin park wallGubinGubinPension Retro proved to be very nice, just as the two cyclists we met earlier had promised. We pay €35 (140 zlotys where 1 Polish zloty = $0.36US or €0.25) for two people for one night including breakfast. The hotel has fewer than 15 rooms but the rooms we had were huge in comparison to what we have come to expect. The family that owns and run the hotel are very accommodating and allowed us to store our bicycles in their banquet room overnight. Their restaurant did have inexpensive and tasty food just as promised by the cyclists we met earlier.

Gubin City HallWe enjoyed walking in the small city. The city hall is beautiful (photograph on left) and next to it (top right) is a large former church that today is nothing but a roofless shell. In its time, though, it must have been as impressive as any small cathedral.This is a milage marker in Gubin

Matthias is a great source of knowledge about Poland, their culture, their language, and the border region in general. He has visited it many times since he lives near the border. He told us that Germans frequently cross the border to purchase cheaper gasoline, groceries, cigarettes, and liquor. Many things are about half price in Poland, especially cigarettes, liquor, and gasoline. Few Germans speak Polish, although Matthias speaks enough to make himself understood. Many Poles in the border region speak German though. For the Poles, it is an economic necessity. In schools, German is normally a second language in Poland where English is the second language in Germany. Why do not more Germans speak Polish? They would say, “Why should we, the Poles speak our language.”

The Polish language, like Russian, does not use articles (e.g., a, an, the, etc.). They do have genders and the endings of nouns and adjectives reflect the gender and case. There exists an uneasy peace between the two countries and their people. Some Poles refuse to speak German to those who do not speak Polish. When Matthias speaks in their language, they seem to warm to us immediately. We did not try it but I suspect we would be more warmly received if we spoke in English rather than German. While we purchase supplies for our picnic lunch, in the morning a German woman approached us to warn us not to leave our bicycles unattended because, she tells us, “These Poles steal everything they can.” She tells a story about a previously trusted Polish handyman who did some work for her and allegedly stole some of her property before he disappeared. That story may or may not have merit but we are always careful with security no matter what country we are in. She may be somewhat dismayed if we told her that we are also careful in Germany, her country. Matthias told us that Poles do not trust the Germans. Germany has overrun and occupied Poland several times during the last thousand years. Of course, they do not trust the Russians either, and for the same reason. Temporarily at least, Poland is friendly to Germany; again, this too is probably an economic necessity.

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Day 4: Guben to Frankfurt Oder

Day Overview: The path is flat again today but there are a couple minor hills near Brieskow-Finkenheerd. There is also a major hill (about 120-foot) just before Frankfurt but the slope is gradual enough that we did not have to push. The path is paved all day except for a couple places where repairs were underway from the flooding that occurred in August of 2010.

Mile 0 (0 km): After a nice experience last evening and this morning in Poland at Pension Retro, I reset my odometer at the cycle path on the German side near the bridge into Poland.

Mile 10.2 (16.4 km): Water height measuring buildingIn Ratzdorf (actually Neissemünde Ratzdorf), we say goodbye to the Neisse River as it flows into the Oder River. There is a high water observation building here that we climbed to snap a picture of the confluence. Climbing on this building is Verboten, according to the signs but I do so anyway. The picture shows another cycling couple doing the same thing. We chat with them for a couple minutes before continuing on our way. Interestingly for us, maybe not for you so much, is that we will meet this couple tomorrow when we stop for coffee and three more times along our route until they leave the trail in Ueckermünde.Eisenhüttenstadt Rathaus

Mile 17.2 (27.7 km): St. Nikolaikirche near the Spree-Oder-KanalIn Eisenhüttenstadt, an industrial city famous in the east as an iron ore mining area. The photographs are of the Eisenhüttenstadt Rathaus and the St. Nikolaikirche near the Spree-Oder-Kanal.

About Mile 27 (43 km): A stork hunting breakfastWe ride through Aurith but after some confusion. About 2.5 kilometers back there was a Y in the road with a non-descript bicycle sign pointing to the left. We thought it weird because our map shows us going straight ahead. We opt to ride toward the village we can see in the distance and sure enough, it is Aurith and we see the Oder/Neisse cycle path signs again confirming the correctness of our decision.

Mile 32.6 (52.5 km): We climb a small hill near Brieskow-Finkenheerd and then we climb another long 125-foot hill just after we leave this small city.Two dumbies in Lossow

Mile 41.1 (66.2 km): As we enter Lossow on the outskirts of Frankfurt we notice a couple manikins on top of a garage. Some people are quite creative.

We stop at the Tourist Information office in downtown Frankfurt Oder for lodging recommendations. We learn that the city has been inundated by many "industrial workers" (Monteuren) in town for some construction project or another and many of the inexpensive accommodations are taken. At Matthias’s suggestion, we ride across the Oder into Stubice for another evening in Poland.Inexpensive citarettes in Poland

Mile 42 (67.6 km): We end the day at Hotel Kaliski in Stubice, whose address is: ul. Jednosci Rovotniczej 13, 69-100 Stubice. The telephone number is 0957583735. It is a three star hotel (cheap and cheerful) and it is clean. Their breakfast buffet is fantastic.

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Day 5: Frankfurt (Oder) to Kienitz

Day Overview: We start the day touring the Altstadt of Frankfurt on the Oder. The path is paved today and mostly flat except for a couple hills before Lebus. (One problem with pressure operated altimeters is that as the weather changes, so does the altimeter. I measured a gradual uphill followed by a gradual downhill but we were along the river the whole distance and I know my altimeter was reacting to the weather, not the terrain.)

Mile 0 (0 km): Our breakfast this morning at Hotel Kaliski is perhaps the best we have ever had at a hotel. The options were many and the food was very tasty. We start the day looking at the many sights to see in Frankfurt. We meet a policeman, Herr Müller, who tells us that the population of Frankfurt is 18,000. The old Rathaus was burned after the end of the WWII presumably by the Poles because they wanted the boarder to be further west than agreed to by the Allied powers at the end of World War II. This would have given Poland a larger piece of prewar Germany. Of course, at the end of that war, the Russian military was the occupying force in this part of Germany. As it happens, they were enamored by the wonderful 14th Century stained glass windows in the Marienkirche, Frankfurt’s largest church. Most of the windows were destroyed by the fighting but three windows remained. And the Russians shipped them to Mother Russia. (For safe keeping? I doubt that.) These windows were finally returned to Frankfurt in 2008. Russia is a little more civilized now.

Marienkirche  Frankfurt/OderMarienkirche 14th Century WindowsMarienkirche 14th Century WindowsFrankfurt/OderFrankfurt/OderFrankfurt/OderFrankfurt from Stubice

Back at the bicycle path we reset our odometers at the bridge to Stubice. Leaving Frankfurt, we continue north along a flat cycle path.

Mile 7.6 (12.2 km): Another MarienkircheWe stop briefly in Lebus for a breather. There are a couple of hills on the way here but nothing that required pushing. Keep in mind, we are not finely tuned athletes, we are lifetime members of Over-Fifty-with-Bad-Knees club (OFWBK). Truth be told, we are now over sixty and starting to push the next decade mark. Hills that we push up most kids can power up in middle gear. Matthias is the youngest of the three of us and he is also the strongest. He has some weird ideas about when to shift down, though. He would rather waste his knees than risk damage to his bicycle.

Mile 33.9 (54.5 km): We end the day in Kienitz, a small village on the Oder. We find only two lodging possibilities that we could reach by phone. We choose Gaststätte Vier Jahreszeiten, owned by the Münzenberg family. The address is Strasse der Befreiung 44, 15324 Kienitz; telephone 033478-420. The cost was €50 each for the 2 bed bungalows. Their email is determuenzenberg@gmx.de and the website is www.Kienitz-ferienwohnung-pension.de. (The name of the Gaststätte means “four seasons” and the Münzenberg means mountain of coins” that is if you care about such things – some of my translations are a stretch of reality.)KienitzTim as war hero on Russian tank in KienitzKienitz

When we arrive at the restaurant/store listed in our guidebook, we find a sign in the window saying that they will return at 4:30PM so we have to wait for half an hour. When they do arrive, after we have said our hellos, the owner hops into his car and says to follow him around the corner to the rooms, which turn out to be simply another home nearby. KienitzWe are a few seconds slow and his car disappears from sight so we only know about the first turn. We get lost immediately and end up returning to the restaurant/store. They send us off again with somewhat better directions and we locate our lodgings. The rooms are comfortable, clean, and, well, ahh … a bit artistic perhaps. Some of them even have small kitchens. The Münzenberg family also runs a small store next to their small restaurant. The merchandise is limited but it meets our needs nicely and we would surely recommend this establishment.

After dinner, we cycle around the village and snap a few pictures. The monument of a Russian tank is a gift of the Russian government to the village in commemoration of their occupation after the war. In the morning, we enjoy breakfast in the same small restaurant and it is one of the better breakfasts we have had so I reiterate our recommendation.

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Day 6: Kienitz to Schwedt

Day Overview: Today is flat and paved all day long. That is, assuming you are on the correct path, which we were not. Since I hate to retrace our path when we find our selves off the mapped cycle path, I will describe the erroneous path we took instead of the better, flat and paved marked path in the guidebook. Our route is much more interesting but that said, I do not recommend it.

Mile 11.7 (18.8 km): We experience a strong headwind leaving Schwedt. It is so strong that we must gear down two or three gears and keep our head and shoulders down to minimize the wind resistance. To get some rest from the wind, we take our first break at the Zollbrücke, a restaurant along the bike path. We notice that same couple that we chatted with yesterday at the confluence. Again, we chat and learn that most of yesterday they rode along the Polish side of the river and they said it was good riding. We will meet this nice couple again down the path.

Mile 22.2 (35.7 km): The first chance we have to get lost is across from Hohensaaten. The path appears to go straight but with another path coming in from the left. There is no sign here so we ride straight for a few meters before one of the locals, noticing our panniers, suggest that we missed the left turn behind us. We go back because ahead is a dead end. We cross a bridge to what seems like an island and want to continue across the next bridge to the town of Hohensaaten but again, someone points out that we need to ride north on the “island,” which is really not an island but land between a canal and the river. In spite of the lack of signage, if one were to look more closely at the guidebook map, one could have detected the correct way even without the help of the locals. Looking at anything closely is not one of my strong points. I am a “decide now and wonder later” kind of person. In long distance bicycle touring, it is more like “decide now and wander later;” because I will be off the path and lost. When you get here, the local bike club and the local government will undoubtedly have corrected the lack of signage problem. There is a small handmade sign on the “island” in German but since it is not an official sign, I missed it. Even Maxa and Matthias, our two native German speakers, missed it too.

Mile 25.5 (41.1 km): Just past a small building we turn left. Here again there is no path sign but painted on the pavement is an arrow and the words, “Alternative Oder/Neisse.” One could take that I suppose but there is nothing to see except more of the wetlands. And, you will probably end up where we end up by misstate later on. The regular path to the left is our recommendation.

Mile 28.3 (45.5 km): We find a couple of kilometers of “Plattenweg,” see our Path Conditions page for photographs of this type of pavement. This particular section is not near as bad as some of the Plattenweg we have found in the former East Germany.

Mile 29.8 (48.0 km): In Stolpe, a village originally inhabited by Ukrainian people, has been a community since the 7th Century. The defensive tower, Stolpe Turm, was built in 1200 in the tradition of Danish Royal Castles with a ring wall, a tower hill with a tower, and a rampart. It was reconstructed in 2008 and is open to the public. Why, you may ask, is the tower Danish design? The answer is that until sometime in the 13th Century, this area was part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Trying to figure out where we are.PlattenwegHiking group near SchwendtPlattenweg

Mile 41.9 (64.6 km): Here is the bridge to Gehegeberg. If we understood more of the current path condition, we would have crossed here, and then continued along the north side of the canal into Schwedt. But, nooo! We continue straight oblivious that the main cycle path was washed out in 2010 by a flood. Not far beyond we stop at a map board along the path and study it carefully (the map was installed before the flood and has no reference to it). Then, for no reason under the sun, we turn right off the path into the wetlands alongside the river. Believing we are where we are supposed to be, we continue on a gravel path further and further into the farmland/floodplain of the Oder.Path washout

Whoa! What is this, the road is simply gone – replaced by a deep gouge that we have to walk pushing our bikes around. And, this is only the first of such washouts. We study the map again and decide that, yes, we are off the path and not where we think that we are.

 Schwedt Schwedt Schwedt Schwedt

However, the good news is we can see a distant bridge over the Oder River about 5 kilometers ahead. We know that we can follow that road into Schwedt and that would be shorter than backtracking. With some friendly advice from a couple of local picnickers, we proceed and calculate that we will travel only about 3 or 4 kilometers more than if we had crossed the bridge and taken the alternative route through Gehegeberg. In reality, this is just another one of those memorable escapades on bike tours that happen to us now and then.

Mile 41.9 (67.5 km): We stop for the night in Schwedt at the Privat Pension Stahr, Flinkenberg 13, 16303 Schwedt/Oder. The telephone is 03332/22790. The cost is €47 for two people for one night. Pension Stahr has 5 rooms and is a Bett und Bike establishment. That means it is bicycle friendly. We describe Bett und Bike lodgings at the bottom of the Overnight Accommodations page. We found this Pension by stopping at the tourist office in downtown Schwedt.

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Day 7: Schwedt to Löcknitz

Day Overview: Today has several hills. While only one is steep, the others gain and lose about 100 feet more than once. We find the first hill, a 30-foot one, north of Gartz. Fortunately, the path today is all paved. Leaving Schwedt, we pass a construction site where several men are obviously digging out an old septic tank. We notice one of them carrying away a table with coffee cups and a coffee pot. They have just finished with their morning coffee break. To the left is a picnic table with open beer bottles. A German working man’s tradition has it that without beer, no work will take place. This photograph is proof of that tradition.Coffee and beer for the workers

Mile 12.4 (20.0 km): After riding though a conifer forest we ride through Gartz. The landscape here is gently rolling agricultural land punctuated by small woodlands.Altes Zollhaus in Mescherin

Mile 18.9 (30.4 km): After stopping for a break at the Altes Zollhaus in Mescherin, we ride along the shoulder of a medium traffic road climbing some small hills totaling 100 feet or so until Staffelde, about 2 kilometers. I mention it because we rarely share a road with cars along anything but very low traffic roads. In fact, most of the ride on this tour has been on bicycle paths. The guidebook map does show some hills ahead before we get to Penkun.

Mile 23.7 (38.1 km): Tantow.

Mile 26.8 (43.1 km): In Schönfeld, at the bottom of a series of stair-step hills, again climbing over 100 feet, we stop in a cute little city park for our picnic lunch provided to us by Frau Stahr, our hostess last night. Photo 553 Brick Church Mile 29.3 (47.1 km): We slow down enough to take a couple pictures of the quaint village of Penkun.

Mile 31.7 (51 km): As we ride past Wollin, a dark cloud overhead starts to rain on us. We pull into the village and find a small festival honoring the volunteer fire departments of a couple local communities. They have Bratwurst stands and beer wagons, which are typical of fests in Germany. The beer tastes great as we wait out the rain shower under one of their fest tents. In the church yard (and in the rain), a minister is going on and on in both German and Platdeutsch about how grateful the communities are for their fire departments. I am guessing the audience would rather be in the tent with us than standing in the rain. Perhaps they have consumed more beer than we have.

Mile 34.2 (55 km): The shower is short lived and we press on into Krackow.1000 year old oak tree near Loecknitz

Mile 45.0 (72.4 km): A couple more hills and we turn off the low traffic road just before entering Löcknitz onto a dirt forest path. Along this path is a sign saying that the grizzled old oak tree here is over 1,000 years old. I wonder how they know and Matthias tells me that they use a core drilling and count the rings. It is called dendrochronology. I am impressed.

Mile 46.4 (74.7 km): Along the bike path we see a Zimmer sign and we stop to enquire. It turns out to be a good choice so we stay. Unfortunately, we have lost our notes so we cannot name them.Loecknitz churchLoecknitz tower

We dine this evening at Hotel am See, in Löcknitz. Am See 5A, 17321 Löcknitz telephone 039754/51930. At the next table is the couple we first met at the Oder/Neisse confluence. We join them after dinner for a nice conversation.

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Day 8: Löcknitz to Ueckermünde

Day Overview: Almost before we get started we are completely lost again today. The problem is following the directions given by a local who knows better than following the cycle path. All is well that ends well and our escapade turns out well again. The path today has very few hills and while the path is mostly paved there are some stretches of gravel, even a little sand close to Glashütte.

Mile 3.4 (5.5 km): In downtown Plöwen, we encounter an elderly gentleman who suggests we ride a better route than is shown on the guidebook map. By doing so, he tells us, we will avoid a hill and some traffic. That sounds good to us. We ride off following his directions but we must have missed the first turn because shortly we pass a dead end sign but continue into the forest. In about a kilometer, the pavement ends (as advertised by the dead end sign) and a single track gravel path begins. We continue though because we have ridden on much worse paths that this and it has been the correct marked cycle path. However, further on, the path peters out even more and we end up pushing through deep sand for 2 kilometers before coming to a paved road, less than a kilometer from Blankensee. We are back on the official cycle path. Yea!

Mile 7.3 (11.7 km): In Blankensee, we ride past a former East German collective farm. There are several of these along the way but this one, like most of the others, is apparently abandon and used only for equipment storage, etc.Path

Mile 18.8 (30.3 km): We stop for a short break in Glashütte. Matthias tells us that before the WWI, Glashütte was so named because of the presence of extremely fine sand in the area that can be made into beautiful glass. The factory closed during or shortly after WWI and today the community is barely a wide spot in the road with a stop where a cyclist or hiker can get a snack and a cup of coffee. It is helpful to travel with someone who knows the history of the areas you ride through.

Riding through the afore-mentioned sand, both Maxa and I fell but given our dead slow speed, neither was hurt at all. For about 400 meters, the cycle path is rough, eroded, uneven, and pocketed with deep sand puddles. I was glad to be wearing gloves though; otherwise my hands might have had some road rash (abraded skin).wooden monument that is pictured in the guidebook

Mile 21.7 (35 km): After riding along a gravel railroad grade for several kilometers, we come to a wooden monument that is pictured in the guidebook. The path is the remnants of a narrow gage railroad first constructed in 1897. It moved goods from Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland) to Ueckermünde.Near Rieth

Mile 24.7 (39.8 km): Just past Rieth, we stop at an Imbiss (an Imbiss is a place to eat a small bite – in this case a canvas covered picnic table next to a house) snack of Bratwurst, homemade potato salad, and homemade soup (and beer of course). As we leave here, the dark clouds overhead and the strengthening wind is our signal to put covers over our panniers for when the rain comes. The short video here can be played with Windows Media Player or Quick time. I took it with my point and shoot digital camera as I rode behind Matthias and Maxa.Video of windstrom

Mile 33.9 (54.6 km): We enter Ueckermünde through the suburbs and then along a beach, then though a city park.Ueckermünde

Mile 35.4 (57 km): In the center of Ueckermünde, we stop to arrange train connections for Matthias so he can travel back to his home tomorrow morning. Ueckermünde has a picturesque town center around the town’s market square. It is close to the harbor, and that is where the retail stores and restaurants can be found.UeckermündeUeckermündeUeckermündeUeckermünde central square

Then we ride another couple kilometers to our evening’s lodging, Pension am Rosengarten, Ravenstein Strasse 1, 17373 Ueckermünde. The telephone number is 039771/54111. Their email is Wegener@pension-am-rosengarten.de. The website is www.pension-am-rosengarten.de. The cost is €60 including breakfast. They have 8 rooms. They also have the Bett und Bike certification I mentioned above. We heartily recommend this Pension. Later in the evening we want to go back into the center of town for dinner but by the time we are ready to leave, it is raining cats and dogs. Bicycling the two plus kilometers back to the restaurant district seems a poor choice so we call a taxi. The taxi driver, Rosi, not only recommends a nice restaurant but also agrees to meet us 2 hours later for the ride back to the Pension. While we are eating, who should come into the restaurant but the same couple that we have talked to several times over the past week. We invite them to join us at the table and we talk all through dinner. They are a fun couple.

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Day 9: Ueckermünde to Anklam

Day Overview: I have been fighting a cold since the first day. I am over most of the bad symptoms but my voice is still a little gravely. Today, Maxa starts to demonstrate symptoms too. Shortly into our ride, we decide to cut this tour a little short and simply ride to the railroad station in Anklam rather than take the ferry across Stettiner Haff (Stettin Bay) in from the Baltic Sea to the north. On an earlier tour of the Baltic Coast we rode on the island of Usedom to Seebad Ahlbeck so we know that part of Germany. I make a promise to myself that someday, I will finish this tour as well as the earlier tour through the Mecklenburg Lake District. So the day is short but certainly interesting as we ride along a nature reserve consisting of wetlands bordering the Stettiner Haff. The cycle path to Anklam is paved and flat. If we were to continue on to Seebad Ahlbeck, we would take the Fähre (ferry) from Kamp across to Karin on Usedom Island rather than ride around through Anklam itself and cross the bridge onto the island. The ferry will cut 35 kilometers off the longer, cheaper path over the bridge. Once on Usedom Island, it is simple to make our way to Seebad Ahlbeck and the train back home.

Mile 10.7 (17.2 km): After riding through the forest for a way on a good quality gravel path, we enter Bugewitz. The guidebook shows gravel ahead but we find it to be recently asphalted and in perfect condition. There are thousands of water birds cavorting in the wetlands to our right. They are a pleasure to watch. We even get close to a swan nest with young cygnets.

Mile 15 (24.2 km): At this point we have a choice to turn right to the ferry or left to the Anklam Bahnhof. We choose to turn left but for your information, we snap a picture of the sign that describes the ferry and its operating times and periods. Note that it says that the ferry route will shorten the cycle path by 35 kilometers.

Sign directing traffic to ferryCobblestone roadAnklam Bahnhof Anklam Bahnhof

Mile 20.8 (33.5 km): This is the Anklam Bahnhof and the end of our tour until we get a chance to come back and finish theBerlin Bahnhof travelogue to Seebad Ahlbeck. On our way here, we had to ride along 3 kilometers of historic cobblestone road. I snapped a photograph that shows a tiny dirt track that bicycles use to avoid the teeth jarring ride on the cobbles.

One of the train stations where we must change trains in order to get back to our home base in Kassel is Berlin. The photograph shows Maxa and in the background is one of the Berlin U-Bahns. "U" either stands for underground, or ubiquitous, I always get the two confused.

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