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Elbe Bike Path - Day 5
A day off the bikes
The forecast is for heavy rain and we need a rest. We had planned a day off soon anyway. We washed all our dirty clothes before bedtime and hung them to dry. The town has no traffic (it is actually completely silent and the only English language TV is CNN .... aargh), hence we got a good nght's sleep.There is so little traffic that you can cross the main street without looking right or left.
The town has been the military cornerstone of a number of dukedoms over the last 1,500 years. As a result the old town still shows the outline of its defensive walls and in one corner is the remnants of what was a major fortification. First we visit the fortress Dömitz which is basically constructed in a starred pentagon shape as per the technology of the 1600s. It has surprisingly good content and historical information, albeit only in German, right up until the 1990s. This includes the Nazi period and the DDR - there is even a list of the Jews who were deported from the town. The governor's house is very old and seems to twist and turn into the sky (wooden framed) with fine views over the Elbe through the mist.
5 star fortress
Despite the weather we manage to fit in a quick play on the town's zip wire and swings etc - meant for children but fun for adults too. The facilities for townspeople in Germany are pretty good with public sports halls in abundance. It is noticeable that during the week the town is made up of schoolkids and grandparents so I guess the working-age adults are away in the west.
Dömitz was a centre of the electronics industry in the old Eastern Germany and part of the Elbe security area. It even had a harbour for fast military boats and a great deal of barbed wire. Following the collapse of the DDR the town has suffered from emigration and as a result the cobbled streets have a fair amount of grass growing in them, a good proportion (probably a quarter) of the houses are actually falling down or burnt out and another quarter are for sale with little hope of a buyer. Despite all this, a very posh hotel "the Hafen" has opened by the harbour (Hafen in German) with its own brewery. We found it in the new-town centre and came here after trying to access internet at Billy's, a pretty grotty-looking internet bar that didn't open till 5pm.
The Hafen has a ground floor restaurant (and a panorama one too), so we eat and try their brewery - good clean beer, sharp but not full-flavoured. The customer base for this place is very different from the few other restaurants in town and the prices are more like the usual in Germany. I think any visitor would be happy to stay here.
As an example of the old Germany, the main department store in town closed and has become a very nice series of market stalls offering the local beers, a cafe, fashion and old books. I guess they get a bit of business from visitors from Berlin but we found little we would want.
We end up going around the fortress twice, the old department store and visiting the rest of the town. This filled the day but we were thorough. We finished with another evening meal at Zur Tur Brukke.
About now on the holiday we notice we are discussing meals more and more. Cycling re-focuses the mind.
Note the waterway defences and the earth banks
Now I don't know what these things were up to but we found them congregating by the church.
If you want to know how to organise such a trip
Have a look at MyBikeGuide