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.
The next morning was Easter Sunday. We could hear the church bells ringing across the river in Havelberg. Another sunny day dawned and the first thing I saw upon exiting the tent was the beautiful blossom tree ahead of us. The second thing I saw was that once again all the others were up early, having been cold again that night. Although the days were warm, the nights were still chilly. If you do go camping as early as April or even May, be sure to bring your warmest sleeping bag, or at least an extra blanket!
Finally it was Easter and time to try the Easter lamb cake (Osterlamm Kuchen) I’d carried in one of my bike panniers for two days. Then nose and one ear had fallen off, but otherwise it had survived surprisingly well. The cake was buttery, sweet and delicious.
After breakfast in the sun, enjoying the luxury of having a table and chairs at this campsite, it was time to set off. Today would be the longest leg of our ride – we had about 75km to go. So unfortunately there would be no time to visit Havelberg, but luckily some of us had been there before. It’s a very pretty town, well worth a visit. Take the effort to climb the many steps to the top of the hill, because on top is a huge church, the size of which is unexpected for a small town. You also get a nice view of the town from up here.
We headed back across the bridge leading from the island to Havelberg. Our friend’s plan had been to connect to the Elbe-Müritz cycle path (Elbe-
Müritz Radweg), a bit further north up the Havel river from Havelberg. However as she (and everyone else) hadn’t had any signal the past days, she hadn’t been able to upload the map of the trail. If you do trails in this area, you might want to upload maps before leaving the city, because the mobile internet in the countryside is often non-existent. She did have a map of the area itself, and with this she thought we’d be able to find the correct path. To cut a long story short, sadly we never did find our way onto the 410km Elbe-Müritz cycle path, nor did we even manage to cross it at any point on our way to Waren. Instead, we used a combination of trails that included cycle paths, roads, forest paths and not a small number of hills. But it was sunny, it was countryside, and along the way we saw some lovely things. The first of which was the most beautiful Easter tree of the trip, a decorated pink magnolia tree in Kyritz.
Unfortunately, shortly after leaving Havelberg we ended up on a super-sandy forest trail. Forest trails are often ok for cycling, but from last year until now, this region of Germany has been very dry, so at the moment the trails are sandier than ever. Some in our group had mountain bikes or mountain bike type tyres, so they were fine with it. My trekking/city bike and my husband’s racing bike didn’t tolerate it at all, so it was mostly a long trek with the bike through sand. It was a joy to finally be off this path.
Biking after that was mostly on better trails through pretty countryside. There were some nice ups and downs which made it interesting. Cycling up is hard work but freewheeling on the downhills made it worth it.
We were in the state of Brandenburg by now, having left the state of Saxony-Anhalt. Now, I love Brandenburg and all of its big wide empty spaces, forest, lakes and countryside, and in many parts of it there is quite a lot going on and good food to be had, but there are a lot of jokes about it being quite sparsely populated in places. In the famous comedic song about Brandenburg by Rainald Grebe there is one line “Nimm dir Essen mit, wir fahr’n nach Brandenburg” (“Take some food with, we’re going to Brandenburg”). In the area of Brandenburg we found ourselves cycling through, this was totally relevant, as we didn’t see a place to stop for almost the entire day (nor many other human beings, apart from some in car which drove past, who called out “Frohe Ostern! (Happy Easter!)” while we were having our picnic lunch. Luckily our bike panniers were packed full of food, so we had an awesome picnic in a field full of flowers. Who could ask for anything more?
Cycling that day had been quite hard work so far what with sand, headwind and hills, so I think we all would have been happy to lie around in the meadow for longer, but it was time to go. More countryside, and then we ended up on another sandy path. Right at the end of it, just before getting to a village, was a path with some small stones. Cue the second flat tyre of our trip, this time on my husband’s bike. (For more about the first flat tyre see the previous post). I think we were in the village about half an hour repairing it. By this time I was pretty thirsty as I hadn’t had anywhere to fill my water bottle up during the day.
Eventually we were on our way. After what felt like an eternity of cycling, we came across a campground (Campingplatz Königsberger See), and all hurried towards it with great excitement. Bathrooms! Something to drink! A place to fill the water bottle! Although it was a bit late for teatime, luckily there was still some cake left, and we got to eat coffee and cake in a lovely setting with a view of a lake (Königsberger See). Afterwards we all felt ready to take on the last part of the ride. We still had about 25km to go.
In about 18km we arrived in one of the biggest towns we’d seen for a while: Wittstock (Dosse). This town was hosting a garden show, but as it was 6pm already, we wouldn’t be able to visit the show. However, while cycling through Wittstock we caught a glimpse of an amazing garden full of daffodils and tulips. It was breathtaking, and I had to stop and take a few hurried photos through the fence.
Shortly afterwards, we skidded to a halt again, as we came to a public park full of tulips. The sight of all the beautiful flowers made all the cycling worthwhile. We took time off from cycling to wander around the park for a bit. It was really a pity that we missed the main show, as it looked wonderful through the fence.
Now the last challenge of the day: another 11km or so to our campsite for the night, Naturcampingplatz Blanschen am Dranser See. The last 6km or so of it was uphill, against the wind and along the side of a road with no cycle lane. But…finally we made it! What a feeling of relief. The last part was a sandy downhill so we just walked with the bikes. The ladies at the campsite were very welcoming and sold us some drinks and some extra things for the grill, even though the shop was closed. They even lent our friends with the thin sleeping bags some blankets for the night. The campsite was at the edge of a lake. The showers were less private than in the other two campsites (no changing area, with people walking in and out of the bathroom, so I just hid in the shower), and I had some bad luck that the hot water had run out for the first 3 minutes of my 4 minute shower (you had to put a euro in a box that was supposed to give hot water). But otherwise it was a nice place to stay.
The campsite had canoes there, so probably you can rent them there, and no doubt when doing canoeing tours you can stay over and camp there. Because the campsite was near the water and it had been warm, there were lots of mosquitoes, but the interesting thing was that they didn’t seem to be biting yet. If staying near lakes in the summer though, you definitely need mosquito repellent. We were plagued by mosquitoes once at another campsite.
We set up the tents as usual and settled down to another evening grill. It was hard to believe that we’d been cycling three days already, and only one day remained.
Our final morning dawned: still sunny, but a bit of a chilly wind. This time our friends had slept much better, with the help of the borrowed blankets. The views on the lake in the morning were great.
We set off for our day’s ride. Our aim was to make it to Waren (Müritz) in time to catch the 17:30 train back to Berlin, but in case we were late the next train was at 19:30. Soon after our cycling day had begun, we left the state of Brandenburg and entered the state of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern. After some time, we arrived at Rechlin on the south shore of Müritz, the second largest lake in Germany (number one is Lake Constance (Konstanz). Müritz is however the largest lake that is entirely within Germany, since Lake Constance borders Switzerland.
We decided to stop for lunch in Rechlin, since after that we would cycle on the Müritz Rundweg around the lake and through the Müritz national park to Waren. Although this looked very short on the map, it was a stretch of about 31km, since the lake is so big. It was still a relatively short day though, so we could take our time over lunch. Celebrating the Easter theme, the restaurant had Spiegeleikuchen (Fried Egg cake) for dessert. This is a cake with a sliced peach on top of it, that resembles a fried egg, sunny side up.
Rechlin seemed like a nice town, with quite a few places to stop and eat, and some guesthouses. Lake Müritz is apparently very popular in summer with holidaymakers, since it’s so big.
When we entered the national park, it was another environment again, different to the countryside landscapes we’d cycled through before. This area, the Mecklenburg lake district, is a watery world of lakes, canals and forests. We’d been canoeing in the area before and had seen it from the water, looking green and lush, almost like a swamp. This year it was surprisingly dry – we knew there had been a drought since 2018, but it was still strange to see it looking so different. Nevertheless, the forests are beautiful to cycle through. And as I write this, we have had some rainy days, so hopefully May will improve the situation.
At some point in the national park, we joined the wide Berlin-Copenhagen cycling path. This 700km route is one we’ve always wanted to do, since all stretches of it we’ve encountered on various biking trips have been beautiful, with nice wide cycling paths. Here we rode a section through a forest, the bright green spring leaves lit up by the sun, until we reached the outskirts of Waren. This part of the trail was fun as it was quite a winding route.
Once in Waren, all that was left to do was cycle to the train station. However, when we came to the beautiful shores of the lake, we couldn’t resist stopping for a while to enjoy the view. One girl in our group even jumped into the lake to cool off, as she couldn’t resist. Afterwards we also passed by the marina, where many people strolled around, enjoying the sunny weather. But we could not stay too long as we had a train to catch. Let’s add that to the list of places to come back to one day…
Finally it was time to head to the train station and back to Berlin.
Our trip from Havelberg to Waren was not on the planned route, and sometimes it was tough as it felt like we crossed every hill and fought wind a lot along the way. But it was a scenic route, and we didn’t regret it. Our whole journey from Magdeburg to Waren was 252km and 750m of incline. We’ll be back for more!