I woke up with a bit of a soar throat. That explained why I felt a little weak and breathless yesterday. I took my time for breakfast in front of my little tent on a very nice camping site.
Cycling alongside the Elbe is special. It is mostly flat and you can get to a good speed. Within an hour, I reached Dresden.
For the next 60 kilometers I cycled through “Saxonian Switzerland”, the marketing title of the “Elbsandstein” mountain region. There are a lot of very particular sandstone cliffs and rocks which create a unique look. The entire area is touristic and there is a good infrastructure. Villages and houses look well-maintained. Quite different from yesterday.
After about 90 kilometers, I took a ferry, crossed the Elbe and ventured into the Czech Republic on my way to Zittau.
I cycled up a canyon. For the next 30 kilometers there was some heavy climbing through a sandstone national park with absolutely stunning rock formations and a lot of pretty dead pine trees. You may look out for this in the video.
After an hour into the park, I was totally alone. It was a bit creepy because there were hardly any birds singing. It was totally silent.
Then it started to rain which was refreshing at first but soon became unpleasant. After an hour, I was soak and wet.
Then I reached Zittau, which marks the first turning point of my trip. From here on, I will go North towards the Baltic Sea. Zittau border crossings into Poland and the Czech Republic.
With a bit of a bad feeling, I decided to go for a cheap hotel this time. Setting up your tent in the poring rain is no fun, especially since I can’t store all my gear inside.
It felt good to be inside, wash and dry your clothes and have a yummy dinner.
Today was tough and really hot. After a relaxed breakfast and some catching up with Torge and Nina, I left around 10 am heading East. It became hot pretty quickly and for a long time the landscape was flat or rolling hills without a chance of shadow.
Eastern Saxonia is pretty rural for the most part. There is not much industry or big business to make much of a living. There are some coal mines and a lot of lakes as a result of that. Some villages really were not looking that inspiring to me. Even in summer.
After 60km I finally reached the Elbe valley in Riesa. There is some metal industry here which means work for people.
After being at the Elbe, things got a little easier. Around 18:30, I reached my camping site next to Meissen.
This time, it is a very peaceful place. Time to cook some dinner 😉
I left Klettbach after a good breakfast and after saying goodbye to Androsch, Dörte and Carolin Before, I had reduced the weight of my gear and left e.g. my drone with Carolin.
I followed the picturesque Ilm river. My first stop was in Jena where I visited Regina, the head of the zis jury, and her husband Volker.
After that I followed the beautiful Saale river alongside many ancient castles and monuments like the world famous Dome of Naumburg.
In Weißenfels I met Torge, the husband of Nina. He was my trail blazer for the last 30 km.
In Leipzig, Nina, my colleague in the zis alumni core team, had arranged for a nice dinner with some other zis-folks from around the block. Torge had prepared a delicious dinner with lamb and delicious vegetables.
Overall, a great day. I loved all the warm-hearted company. This will change from now on …
I slept like a baby. After a quick breakfast, I tried to fix my brakes which had been losing grip yesterday. A couple of kilometers into the route my saddlepost cracked and I almost fell off the bike.
Luckily, I found a bike shop not too far away. Thanks to a nice mechanic, Rosinante was up and running within an hour and for just 10€. He was also able to quickly fix my brakes. A good idea since I was heading towards hilly Thuringia.
My mood was bit low though. I felt exhausted and had lost trust in my gear. Tinas flat mate Flo who works in a café, had given me yummy sandwiches which were leftovers of the day. Delicious!
During the day the landscape turned from plains with big skies into rolling hills. I stopped for a pizza at the former German border and reached my camping site at a nice lake after 9pm. The entire place felt like a big party. Certainly, there was no social distancing going on – rather the opposite. I found a remote spot which was less noisy.
I went for a quick swim and then my new neighbors in a camper van invited me over for a beer. They were a little drunk which made the conversation more fun. That was a nice end of the day.
Although after the tough last three months I would have also enjoyed some lazy days in a spa. Anyways …
Terra incognita started when I crossed the Neckar after some 30 kilometers. I enjoy a light tailwind and it was sunny, yet not too hot. I was heading towards Würzburg, an old student town in Frankonia.
Tina, a zis alumna (her topic was “Bonbons in Denmark”) has invited me to stay at her place.
I was cycling on backcountry roads which results in less mileage but more peace.
After 10 hours in the saddle, I was tired and happy to be there. A flat mate of Tina prepares delicious vegan food. Really yummy.