Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 10--A Review of the Saale Radweg

We've been following the Saale River bike route for the last two days. After both day's experiences, I'd have to say...I don't recommend it. It might be okay for a mountain bike, but not so much for a heavily loaded 20" wheel folding bike.

We started this morning with some singletrack that was so narrow and muddy that Betsy decided to dump me into the field along side it. Good thing was the wheat-looking plants were pretty high and did a good job of cushioning my landing. I just got a little muddy. When we finally came to a road, we decided we would not continue if that was the way it was going to be. Although we didn't encounter anymore tracks like that, we did deal with gravel, mud, and really rough cobblestone--much like yesterday. There was one spot where the gravel (rocks really) were so heavy that I didn't even see the sign to turn because I had to watch where I was going so intensely. Fortunately, Christian saw that one.
Here's a photo of the route by the field before it got so bad (yet it was still not great). The field to the right is what I fell into.
Really, where I fell was much narrower--about as wide as a X-country ski track.

We came to our first village. Betsy wanted her photo with this castle. The route continued on the other side of the river. It was more muddy path, but it was much wider.

In the place where there was the heavy gravel, I saw this bird come flying down and land in the tree. When we got closer, I wanted to get a better photo, but he took off.

We skipped snack time (Christian kept saying the next village, but that didn't happen until 11:00. I decided we should just eat an early lunch. It was in Halle, and these two churches were near the Marktplatz. Christian went to the "Doner" (a Turkish restaurant). I can't tolerate eating that salty of food, then continuing to ride, so I had my usual.

Along the Saale route we came upon this Medieval Faire. They were having a little parade led by a bagpiper and drummer.

 A lady (not part of the Faire came up to me and started talking to me. Of course it was German, and of course, I had no idea what she was saying. My new, most useful phrase in German is, "Ich bin einen Amerikaner." I said this to the lady, but apparently she thought, since I said it in German, I could speak German, because she just kept on talking to me. I think I will have to add, "Ich spreche klein Deutsch." Christian said she was talking about the bike. We've had several people ask us about the bikes. Later on in another village, some guys passed us. As they went by Christian, they said, "And why does it appear your wife carries more luggage than you?" We've gotten that one more than once too. I wish my German was good enough to answer. I could have some serious fun!

Here's a nice German Schloß

We were diligently following the route signs, when the signs took us to a ferry. There are these small ferries along the rivers that run back and forth across the river. The ride takes less than 10 minutes (more like 5) and this one cost .50€ for bikes and riders.

Notice the size of this field (pretty big). Christian says this is another difference between the former GDR and West Germany. The GDR had collective farms, so they were much larger. The fields in the former West Germany are smaller. Every once in awhile, Christian points out some difference--whether it is an unpainted building, or plastic chain, instead of metal, for the drain plugs in the sink. He says it is, "Old GDR style".

Here's a view of the Saale River. Christain was going to go for a potty break in the bushes, but some people came. He came up to me as I was waiting (admiring the view of the river) and said, "Toilet is closed." 

We stopped for groceries in the next town we came to that had a store. From there we couldn't seem to find the route again, so we just used the Garmin to get us to Bernberg. We came into the town, but couldn't find a camping place. We asked some people (meaning, Christian asked because...well, you know...) and they said there was a marine camping place across the river. There was no bridge, but there was this little ferry. So, our second ferry ride for the day (this one was .70€).

From the ferry.

We rode over to the boat place. The gal said we could set up our tents. She said there were showers for .50€ (which there were, but mine was freezing cold), and toilets. All the comforts of home! There is a pretty raucous crowd (one guy's laughter sounds like the Joker from Batman). Currently, we are being entertained by a pigeon that keeps sticking it's head into the grated walkway by the boats, and thus looks headless.

Total miles today: 61

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