Elbe Bike Path - Day 12+
Thursday is a sad day as it our last full day's ride. Just getting to the river proved a little tough and we worked our way through the ghosts of old industrial buildings only a few of which are being used to make wind turbines. Anyway, after cutting through a series of parks and small farms we end up riding across a big field to the river. The path then takes us through the rest of the desolate industrial remnants of southern Magdeburg.
At Schonebeck even the usually consistent Elbe Radweg sign missed a beat and Tourist Information tried to hide. Despite this we managed to grab an accommodation guide from them just as they closed for lunch, and we had a good look at it over a snack at a nearby cafe. After lunch the TI women were fantastic - they wouldn't book us into one hotel as it was 'too dirty' but put us into a B&B, the Tannenhof Bad Salzenhen. In the UK Tourist Information is not allowed to give that sort of advice so it was great to see such a sensible bit of thinking. The B&B turned out to be lovely. TI also told us about the three good restaurants in town (just the good ones!)
After checking in we walk over to the spa and have a good look at the restaurants on the way. The Bulgarian looks ok but the menu has even more meat than usual, the Italian is closed for their vacation. The spa grounds include:
- the cure house;
- the local municipal baths; and
- the Solequell baths, which are the ones we want.
The Solequell is very similar to our early spa experience but it only has sea-water concentration water, nothing saltier It costs €11 for 3 hours and the water is at most 36ºC, but the spinning pool hits the fastest speed I've ever been in.
We take supper in the park at Park Idyll, which lets us in at 8pm even though it closes at 8:30. We have a good meal of smoked salmon with wild mushrooms and rosti. It must be wonderful for the overfed visiting here for their health, but it is a tad pricey.
We take a couple of hours to ride a short way further up the Elbe and back. Then it's time to catch the train to Hanover. In fact we catch three trains and this allows us time to grab snacks at each change and find out how easy it is to take bikes on trains. Frankly, it is very easy (see photos). Hanover is a big city but even here there are lots of bikes and bike paths. Most railway stations have lifts between platforms but they are very slow and busy so we had do a bit of bike carrying.
Hanover airport is not massive and has two hotels next to the terminals, both of the usual international variety. We eat at the airport as the food looks much nicer than at the hotel. How often do you get to say that?
- Bikes are part of the culture in Germany
- Bike paths are everywhere and good quality
- Bikes can be easily taken on trains
- Generally speaking, people in the eastern German countryside do not speak much English
- Food and accommodation in Eastern Germany is good value
- Salt spas are great
- Bikes can be taken on planes
- Despite the exercise, the portions are so large that it is hard to eat more than one course in the evening