The rain finally caught up with me and after yesterdays miserable looking folks it was good to see so many smiling Germans, they obviously enjoy been out in the wet.
I was in low energy mode after 7 days in the saddle, Strava reckons I’ve biked 367.8miles in 31h 34m and pedalled up 8,892feet in the past week (Just about what TdF riders in 1903 did in one day 🙂
I didn’t make a start till after 11am without any breakfast so after an hour it was a brunch stop at the first open cafe. The path is good although it has a rather annoying habit of slipping into slippery cobble stones at random points. Also a couple of sections just stopped necessitating U turns. Most of the cafes were firmly closed too 🙁
I made it to Riesa at 4pm. With internet enabled I could at last usebooking.com. I found the reasonably priced Saxonia Hotel for €38 including breakfast. It’s run by a family of Italians who apologised in advance for the birthday party tonight 🙂
After my Pizza I went to explore, on foot, but some clown has built a dual carriageway cutting the hotel & station from the town. The bit I saw rather exudes a sense of hopelessness and according to Wikipedia 20.000 other folks agree having left since 1989.
They have their own Angel of the North here, It’s a 25 metre high 400 tonne sculpture of a tree with a shovel, fallen cross & ingots of steel (Angel of the North is 20m high and ‘only’ weighs 200 tonnes). These sculptures are obviously to remind folks of their industrial past. Although I think a better sculpture would be a pile of 400 cars 🙂
Todays ride was 35.4 miles and 1,451 feet of climbing (Not so flat as I thought) the pictures are here
The much vaunted rainy day turned out to be bright & sunny as I went down to a hearty omelette breakfast in the Pivobar Hotel restaurant. Several cups of coffee later and a Facetime call to Sally (since once again 3 kept me locked out of the cellular network) and off I went past the beautiful modern bridge in Usti (How do they make such beautiful curved supports?)
The bikeway was very smooth and now extended against the river in several places, especially now missing out Techlovice. I made a coffee stop in Decin outside the highly decorated wartime bunker, then started through the sandstone gorge to the German border. I spent my last 50 kroner (£1.42) on a large beer & HUGE bag of crisps which even defeated the labrador that helped me out.
The border post is literally just that, a stick in the ground! Thank goodness for the Schengen agreement, I still wonder if a lot of our so called immigration problems are down to the UK’s refusal to sign up to it in 1985.
In Germany the track is as smooth as anticipated and really busy. The track is entwined with the railway & river through the narrow Elbe gorge. In fact with the train frequency it occurred to me that you could probably rent a bike in Prague and just spend a long weekend biking the Czech part of the Elbe and then getting the train back from any of the numerous stations.
My first German beer in a beer garden cost €2.50 (£2.15) a tripling in price over a few miles. (A waiter who I spoke to said they do all their beer & fag shopping in Czech). Since I was so lucky with the weather,I kept hearing thunder storms and when I glanced behind it was very dark & gloomy, I decided to pedal onto Dresden, also no shops were open in the small towns (well it was Saturday afternoon 🙂 )
Since I had no internet because of 3, lack of phone shops to purchase a SIM and the dreaded locked down WiFi. Interesting all of which are first world problems! The so called second/ third world has plenty of open WiFi & the ability to buy internet SIM’s from just about everywhere, any time, and low cost. This meant I was clueless as where to stay 🙁 when I entered Dresden.
Bomber Harris had cleared the city of any cheap Gasthaus’s plus 20,000 inhabitants :-(. I spotted a hotel but it was way too expensive for such a crummy place. In the centre I spotted a Gasthaus but incredibly it was just a restaurant! The waiter pointed on my Gaia map (Thank goodness I had downloaded all the OSM for my route at home) to the Motel One which he said was reasonable.
I arrived at the uber modern Motel One with its fine view (Room 281) over the reconstructed & gilded Zwinger. Where the receptionist promptly chose to misconstrue as to what was included & whether I wanted to pay in Euro or Pounds needless to say all errors were in the hotels favour 🙁 so it ended up costing £74.95!
However, she did point out where the Vodafone shop was and that it was open, Vodafone wanted €45 for 250mb and made it plain they didn’t really do PAYG any more (obviously to down market for them) but told me to go to Saturn Electronics. Amazingly I was told that it was now illegal to sell SIM’s to anyone without a valid German address (Surely anti EU competition laws?) One advantage, for me, of having an address book stuffed with names around the globe is I was able to get a SIM for €24.99 with 1GB of data on O2 for 28 days so I can use booking.com and make Facetime calls again 🙂
Whilst in Saturn I treated myself to a Ultimate Ears Boom battery bluetooth speaker grossly overpackaged but a good sound 🙂 Amazingly they don’t take credit cards from Germans but the tourist plastic is OK. What a strange country this is. Hopefully it will stand the vibration in my saddle bag 🙂
I pedalled 63 miles with 2322 feet of ascent. The morning Strava is here and afternoon here with the pictures here