Elbe Bike Path - Day 11
Magdeburg has three reasons to be famous:
- King Otto (of this parish) was the first Holy Roman Emperor after Charlemagne;
- the city was beaten into the ground during the Thirty Years War; and
- the vacuum was demonstrated to the public here for the first time (remember Magdeburg hemispheres from school physics lessons?)
Wednesday is our second day off and we are in a city of 300,000. The main roads are made up of pavement for pedestrians, pavement for bikes (in red), slow lanes (for pedestrians to cross after leaving trams), faster lanes for cars with added tram tracks. We ignore the chance of eating our hotel's €13 pr person breakfast and cross the road to a supermarket where we get an amazing breakfast of yoghurt, croissant, coffee and fruit juice in a very pretty and clean room for €5 each.
We then tried to use the tram and took the advice of the hotel on how to do this. Clearly they had not been on a tram as we were shouted at by little old ladies until we go off. At which point we bought a day ticket for €3.80 with change from a nearby bank (you have to use change or have an EC card to buy a ticket and you cannot buy a ticket on the tram). The tram system is clean and fast, and very useful if you can find a route map. Luckily we do. Key points of interest in Magdeburg were:
the old market (statues and the market itself)
the cathedral (which had a fascinating exhibition on the Bible and other Christian books, from the Dead Sea Scrolls to a King James Bible)
the vacuum museum (this is where the Otto von Guericke and his vacuum experiments (physics 101 guys, come on) are celebrated by some pretty effective if simple equipment, which bores the school kids we meet there but fascinates us
the Green Citadel, a weird, pink building from the mind of Friedensreich Hundertwasser
the German cycling organisation is based here
the pilgrim's way museum (the best)
the main railway station, to check if the rules on bikes were still the same (oh yes).
The plan is to go on to the next salt spa tomorrow then take a train to Hanover airport.
We go back to the hotel after a cake stop in a very traditional coffee shop in the Green Citadel. For supper we find an Indian (no meat, thank God, and plenty of chillies) on Halbrstadter Strasse. It was strange as the waitress probably spoke more English than she did German, but at least she understood that we are used to hot curries and asked the chef to hot things up a bit. The trams get less frequent after 8pm so we end up walking to the hotel through empty streets at 8:45pm.