After a stretch through the Elbe Sandstone Mountains with fantastic views, the Elbe cycle path enters the plains west of Dresden and Meißen, where the Elbe meanders lazily between old Slavonic settlements that it occasionally floods several meters deep. Sometimes the path leads us far away from the river and we cycle for hours, once even for a whole day, without seeing the Elbe.
Strong head winds
All the villages have names ending in –ig or –itz, like Aussig and Seydewitz, and “windmill” appears in street names with suspicious frequency. A pleasant southeasterly wind brings cold sunshine and tailwind. But when it turns to the more typical western direction and we have a hard time cycling against the wind, we figure why all the tour groups on this stretch of the river are riding upstream and eastwards.
Luther town Wittenberg
In Wittenberg, the birthplace of Martin Luther, an American tour group with earphones waddles through the historic Luther building. A sign in a corner pleads: “Help us sing A mighty fortress, today at 4 pm.” Down the street, Luther posted his famous 95 theses on the doors of the Castle church in 1517. The door has been destroyed in a fire long ago, and today the theses are inscribed on a Bronze door. Several groups queue to have their photos taken, and then they queue at the slightly less famous public toilet of Wittenberg, which has its own facebook following and an international guest book.
From here, we ride through the fantastic park sites of Wörlitz and onto Dessau, home of the Bauhaus design school. After one week of cycling we arrive in Magdeburg and finish the first stretch of the Elbe Cycle Route. Apart from the unpredictable wind directions it was a pleasant enough tour, with many sightseeing opportunities and a variety of landscapes and cycle path styles.
For the follow-up from Magdeburg to Cuxhaven, see our 2013 blog entry: The Elbe Cycle Path (part 3) – from Magdeburg to the North Sea
For the part from Prague to the German border: The Elbe Cycle Path (part 1) – A rough ride along the rivers Moldau and Elbe