Elbe Bike Path - Day 4
Ventschau to Dömitz
While getting the bikes from the hotel garage in the morning we smell, for the first time, that autumn is in the air. Mrs Bilbo's route takes us through muddy forest tracks until we reach the Elbe, at which point a gear-side spoke exploded on my rear wheel. Now the gear side is the tricky one as you need to remove the freewheel to replace a spoke. I had not packed a free wheel removal tool but I did have spare spokes.
We moved the majority of our luggage onto the good bike, swapped riders (I weigh more than Mrs Bilbo) and ride 12 km to Hizacker to buy a new wheel for €50 as the old one was by then pretty chewed up. While we waited for the wheel we took lunch at Paul's Imbiss and then we visit Tourist Info. We tried to book into Dömitz Hafen hotel but it was full. Full. Our first full hotel for many a trip. TI booked us into a pension instead.
The sky had been getting darker and darker so we only have a small amount of time to visit the town. It has a semi-walled harbour and probably deserves a half day visit. We leave town just as the rain starts, so - hoping that it is not going to last long - we take coffee and apple cake at the Elbe Panorama Terrasse restaurant. The rain stops and we leave the restaurant, riding along the top of the dyke dressed in full waterproofs. It starts to rain harder and harder. In the middle of an incredible downpour we meet, coming toward us, about 15 people. Now you have to understand that the top of the dyke is only about 1 metre or 1 yard wide. The dyke falls away at 45 degrees and drops about 5 metres (15 feet). The last thing we want in poor visibility is a stream of cyclists, one of whom then tries to ride through us. Still, luck is on our side.
We carry on damply with the rain stopping and starting until we reach the bridge west of Dömitz where we cross the river. On the far side a flock of swallows play with us, zooming amongst our wheels and cutting in front. Clearly they loved it and we were thrilled.
In town we found Pension Radler, at which point the heavens open again. In this pension we get two rooms separated by an open foyer. A check on waterproof clothes showed that Mrs Bilbo's legs were soaking, my chest and rear was damp. (Note to self, buy new trousers for Mrs Bilbo.) The heating in our rooms was difficult to get going as all the radiators had limiters on them. We are not impressed but generally the accommodation was not too bad and the place is clearly very bike friendly. We walk to supper through empty dry streets and see the poor state of the town. Zur Tor Bruken restaurant was very cheap but good (33€ for two, inc a bottle of wine).
The TV weather forecast suggests that it is really going to chuck it down tomorrow so we plan to stay another night.
How to take a holiday like this
Self guided touring holidays in Europe are east to organise and much cheaper than booking as a whole holiday. If you want to learn more have a look at MyBikeGuide.