Easter weekend cycling from Havelberg to Waren (Müritz)

Easter came fairly late this year, and was warmer than usual, with sunshine and temperatures of about 20 degrees Celsius in our region of Germany. Over the 4-day Easter weekend, we spent two days doing a section of the Elbe Cycle path from Magdeburg to Havelberg, before aiming to join the Elbe-Müritz Cycle path (Elbe-Müritz Radweg) for the final two days. Where I last finished off, we’d just headed to bed in our tents at the campsite on the island in the Havel river at Havelberg, having enjoyed sitting around an Easter fire, a German Easter tradition.

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The Elberadweg: cycling from Magdeburg to Havelberg

There are some really long cycle paths in Germany, and some of them even cross borders. The Elbe Cycle path (Elbradweg) is a cycle route of about 1270km that follows the course of the river Elbe. It starts at the source of the Elbe in the Czech Krkonoše Mountains (the Giant Mountains/ Riesengebirge), and ends where the Elbe flows into the North sea.

The Elbe in Saxony

Over the 4-day Easter weekend, we spent two days doing the section of the Elbe Cycle path from Magdeburg to Havelberg, before aiming to join the Elbe-Müritz Cycle path (Elbe-Müritz Radweg) for the final two days (instead we ended up doing our own route from Havelberg to Waren, but that’s another story).

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Visiting the Easter market in Brno, Czech Republic

My highlight for last weekend was visiting the Easter market in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. My husband used to live in Brno, so ever so often we go there so he can do some admin and visit friends. This used to be quite a long trip from Berlin (7-8 hours), but now Ryanair has introduced a flight from Berlin to Brno, so there will probably be a lot more visitors between the two cities in the coming year.

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That was a close shave, Notre Dame!

Like all of Paris and almost anyone who has ever seen or heard of Notre Dame, I was horrified to hear that it was on fire. There was a horrible moment where we thought the whole building would burn down. I had flashbacks to the last time I visited Paris, and we walked around it from outside, taking our time to look at the beautiful walls of the building. I remember saying to my husband (then boyfriend), let’s just stand here and look at it, and take mental photographs, because it’s so beautiful and who knows when we will see it again. Yesterday I thought maybe that would be never! But it survived, and it will be restored. Thank goodness!

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Two late-winter walks in Brandenburg

Temperatures shot up in Berlin and its surroundings in February, bringing a sudden end to winter. It’s possible that this is just a “Fool’s spring” as people call it, and the temperatures could drop again in March or April, but so far the warm weather is holding. Last weekend and this weekend we made use of the warmer weather to go for some day walks in Brandenburg. There are endless possibilities for nice walks in the countryside of Brandenburg, and you could do a different walk every weekend of the year without running out of options. Continue reading

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The Disa hunters: exploring the top of Table Mountain

Everyone has seen the iconic postcard-perfect view of Table Mountain with its flat top. But did you know that up on top it is not as flat as it seems and there is a whole world up there to discover? When I lived in Cape Town, I used to go hiking often with friends, and I have already explained why Table Mountain is so special here. Recently I was back for a holiday so once again we went up Table Mountain. There are numerous ways you can hike up; often we would go up Skeleton Gorge starting at Kirstenbosch or Cecilia forest. Skeleton Gorge is a lovely shady route in summer and has fun wooden ladders to climb and a few boulders to scramble over.  From there you can take the Smuts track to the highest point of Table Mountain, MacClear’s beacon, and then walk along the edge of the mountain with beautiful views until you reach the cable station. Then we would walk back through Echo valley and past the dams to come down at Constantia Nek (we always left one car there and took one to the start of the hike). Continue reading

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Cross-country skiing in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains)

The Ore mountains on the German-Czech border are home to a large area of interconnected skiing trails and are hugely popular due to their proximity to Dresden (45 minutes) and Prague (1h15 minutes). From Berlin it takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach them, which is close enough for a great weekend getaway. There are also downhill ski slopes in the region, but at the end of January we headed off for another weekend of cross-country skiing, which allows you to take a nice tour of the surroundings. Continue reading

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Snow sports in the Czech Republic: Bedřichov

Boy are we good at picking weekends with lots of snow. Last year we ended up visiting Spitzensee in Bavaria on a long weekend where it snowed so much that the bus stop disappeared and the avalanche level across the border in Austria rose to a maximum of 5. A few weekends ago we spent a similarly snowy weekend in Bedřichov, a popular destination for winter sports in the Jizera mountains of the Czech Republic. It snowed so much on Saturday night that on Sunday morning there were many fallen branches and trees strewn across the track we’d been on just the day before. Continue reading

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Cross-country skiing in the Czech Republic: Smědava/Hejnice

When people hear the word skiing, they mostly think about downhill skiing, which features more prominently in outdoor film festivals and the media because it is faster and more dramatic. However, cross-country skiing (or Langlaufen in German) is also popular in many snowy countries, particularly with outdoorsy people who enjoy being in the forests and doing some exercise. Having tested out the cross-country ski trails in the Harz mountains in Germany over the last years, we started exploring the cross-country trails across the border in Czech Republic over 2018/2019 winter season. For some practical tips on visiting the Czech republic for cross-country skiing, see the bottom of this post.

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