The River Elbe
Introduction to the Elbe bike route
The Elbe is more than 1,000km long and is the fourth biggest river in Europe. It is mainly (860km) based in Germany but also passes through the Czech Republic. Because the river acted as a border between East and West Germany large lengths of the eastern bank were security no man's lands. These are now cleared of mines and have been converted to UNESCO World Heritage Eco-systems. This means that wildlife, for instance beavers, otters and cranes, are in abundance.
While Hamburg, close to the mouth of the river, is the epitome of German capitalism, as one passes further eastwards some of the towns are still struggling with re-unification (20 years ago) with grass growing in the street, a fair number of burnt-out houses and many houses for sale with few buyers. Given the usually immaculate state of German towns this can be shocking to see.
Like much of Germany, there are many bicycle paths. In this case the Elbe Bike Path (Elberadweg) follows one or both sides of the river along its whole length with frequent crossing points by bridge and ferry. This is one of the most popular long distance bike paths in Germany.
And now: >>> Day 1.