Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wednesday 31 July. Belgern to Torgau.

We had a very good breakfast and left Familie Kuntzsch about 8:50 am via the back garden! Herr Kuntzsch showed us the most direct and pleasant way to the Elbe. Today we walked beside the Elbe, on the stop bank all the way to Kranichau. We finished up in the grounds of a large farm but were able to escape via some large metal gates which were fortunately open at the time of our arrival. I don't think enough use is made of the stop bank as a rural pathway for walkers. It doesn't need tar seal, heaven forfend, it just needs someone to cut the grass.

There was a good wind and the walking was very pleasant, thanks to Compeed!

We then went more inland, through cornfields to a village called Wessnig, having donned our wet weather gear due to a short sharp shower. We stopped at a cafe in Wessnig for coffee and cake (note diet change with lower temperatures) and then headed back to the Elbe near Kunzwerda. We then had a good walk all the way to Torgau. Rain threatened but never eventuated.

We could have gone more inland via  Pflukuff bit it sounded to me like they didn't want visitors, so we gave it a  miss. There is a photo below but sadly no town name plate.

We arrived in Torgau only slightly puffed and retied to our Pension (Altes Bootshaus) to wash our clothes and shower. Note it appears here the reception gives preference to locals.Later in the evening we walked around the town and had a meal at a very busy Italien restaurant. With hindsight we could have usefullybhad a second day in Torgau.

Todays walk, for the statisticians, was only 17.3 km.

We have now managed to get bookings as far as Elster. Tomorrow's walk  should no be too bad, at 29ºC but on Friday and Saturday it is predicted to reach 36ºC !!!!

Tuesday 30 July. Strehla to Belgern.

We stayed last night near a water tower in Strehla, Pension zur Nixe, a good pension with a pleasant host and two washing lines. When we first arrived we hung our washing on the outside line. When we went out for our evening meal, to the Lindenhof restaurant, we wisely moved our washing to an undercover line.

We shared a table with a young Finnish women and had a wide ranging and interesting conversation. It started to rain during the meal and most people went back inside. We stayed outside and it poured down. The waitress eventually tired of bringing our food out in the rain so when the Finnish girl left we went inside for coffee and dessert.

A pleasant evening, with a good meal, and the rain had eased by the time we left the restaurant.

Todays walk was nearly all on small roads and we only saw the Elbe once. At one time we were surrounded by acres and acres of sweet corn. Lots of cyclists on the track. It was cool to start with but after small shower it heated up and Shiel and I both got blisters. I had made the mistake of wearing one pair of thinnish socks.

We never passed an open beer house or restaurant all day! For the first time I used almost all my pack supply of water.

We arrived in Belgern, after an uphill climb through the town, tired after our 7:45 hour walk to be greeted with the news in our Pension that we had been 'bumped'. They'd taken in someone else in our place. A problem, I think, of having booked early from New Zealand. (My German is not very good and I didn't get the whole story.) However the landlady had at least booked us into another pension - Fam. Kuntzsch.

This was a blessing in disguise. It was a great place!  We had a very interesting evening with them, drinking sekt and beer, sitting in the garden with their black and white cat and their friendly dachshund Trixie.

A beautiful ending to what had been a very tiring day. We had walked about 27.6 km.

Earlier we had  had a good evening meal in a restaurant nearby, Zur Alten Braueri,recommended by Herr Kuntzsch.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Monday 29 July. Niederlommatzsch to Strehla.

There was thunder and lightning in the night followed by rain.By morning it was a little cooler but very humid.

In our pension I found about 3 wifi channels wih Man City in the title. Walking back down to the river in the morning I found the culprit.Look at the door shown in the photo below. The garden was full of home constructed figures, aeroplanes, trucks etc so we knew he was a bit eccentric even before we realised he was a Manchester City supporter.

It was too humid for a pleasant walk for the first hour or so but then a wind got up and with quite a bit of cloud we had ideal walking conditions up to Riesa where we had a drink and a snack. Quite a bit of the walk was on stop banks away from all traffic.

We got a bit confused leaving Riesa and then the sun came out and it was unpleasantly hot to boot.

We arrived somewhat knackered at our pension at 4:45pm having been on the road for nearly 8 hours. However with all our stops we only managed to cover 26.6 km.

Sunday 21 July. Prague D

Today we did a trial run on a tram in preparation for our departure tomorrow. We got off a stop too early! It was too crowded in the old town so we walked over a bridge to the left bank and went, via the Kafka museum to the Petrin Funicular railway. We passed the Crawling Babies and the Pissing Men along the way.

A normal public transport ticket can be used on the Funicular. There are great views from the top and some beautiful rose gardens. There is a beer garden at the base of the Petrin Tower, a mini Eiffel Tower. You can walk up and down the tower via a double helix stairway. However 300 steps in a temerature of 30C was not to our taste. We chose instead to visit the Mirror Maze and the Astronomical Observatory.

We were more successful in finding our way back down from this hill and returned by much the same route we'd arrived to the Old Town. We had a very good meal in the Tratoria by Giovani before returning along the banks of the Vlatava to our hotel. Even after 6pm it was a very very hot walk.

Shiel watched the German TV in the evening which she insisted was somehow stuck on the sports channel.

Sunday 28 July. Meissen to Niederlommatzsch.

We left our B&B by 9:00am and headed down to Meissen. We had a very pleasant stay at our B&B with an excellent breakfast every day. If anyone needs a B&B in Meissen we can recommend where we stayed.

If you have a car there is no problem but if you arrive on foot or by bike you need to remember it is near the top of a hill. It usually took us about 35 minutes to walk into town, apart from the day I decided to find a short cut when it took us about 55 minutes!

Fortunately the predicted 36C for today did not develop until after we had finished walking. Shortly after we left Meissen it clouded over but it still remained warm and very humid. There were lots of places where flood damage was clearly evident but many businesses have obviously worked very hard to get back in operation

We arrived at our pension at 2:00 pm to find we were not expected, at least by the landlady! It transpired her husband had failed to inform her of our arrival. However she was only fazed for a few minutes before she found us a good room.

We showered, rinsed all our clothes and then rested for a few hours to miss the hottest part of the day.

At 5pm we walked down a small hill to a restaurant which overlooked the Elbe ferry. A beautiful spot and an excellent restaurant. I had smoked salmon with a very good salad and sliced fried new potatoes. Shiel had a turkey salad and we slaked our thirst  with a dry muller thurgau.

We then found a quiet spot to sit by the river before returning to the pension for another shower.

Storms are predicted overnight with some rain tomorrow but temperatures only in the high 20's.

Today's walk was only about 16.2km.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Thur. 25 July to Sat. 27 July. Meissen.

The last 3 days we have been in Meissen have really been too hot, even for sightseeing, typically around 33C.

However we have battled on. On Thursday we spent 4 hours walking around the Albrechtsburg castle/palace. The thing that sticks in my memory is a beautifully carved spiral staircase. Shiel was impressed with the size of the rooms, all with carved stone ceiling supports. It was home to the Meissen porcelain factory in its early years.

An audio guide in English covered the first two floors but note that there are 3 floors! The German audio guide covers all three floors. There are however plenty of signs in both English and German on the third floor.

Friday we made a 3 hour walking tour of Meissen with an audio guide. The guide pointed out many things we might have missed but was a bit too childish in its presentation rather than just being factual. We then did a tour of the Cathedral. Sadly there were no guides in English and the only signs were in German.

On Saturday we made a tour of the Meissen factory. I have to say the old Meissen porcelain is not to my taste but some of the more modern pieces are. However with a coffee jug costing over £1000 and expresso cups at £50 each I fear I will never complete my coffee set.

There was a lot of flood damage in the lower areas of the town but some shops have bounced back pretty quickly. We had two evening meals in an Italian restaurant that had been underwater just over a month previously. Good meals they were too, with friendly service.

Meissen is a pleasant old town and not too busy but would have been much nicer in the mid 20's C. If you've been to Dresden it's worth visiting Meissen to see the contrast.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Wednesday 24 July. Dresden to Meissen

We left our hotel early but not quite early enough to catch the 8:09 train to Cotta so we finished up having almost a 45 minute wait on platform 3 of Dresden station before the next train turned up at 9:09.

One point to note regarding suburban  train travel around Dresden. We bought the ticket the day before but it was only valid as a ticket after we put it in a time stamp machine on the platform. After that it was valid for one hour.

It took less than ten minutes to reach Cotta, where we joined the Elberadweg going west whereas previously we had gone eastwards to Dresden.

The first picture below shows the height of the June floods which can be estimated from the debris hidden in the foliage of a river side tree.

Further along we passed a picturesque windmill on the left bank with a beer garden behind it. As it was a very hot day we stopped for refreshment. The owners had worked hard and it was difficult to imagine that all that area had been under water a few weeks earlier.

There was still a lot of  work being done along the riverbank  collecting  up debris from under trees with bulldozers.

One picture below shows a sign posted above the men's urinal in the beer garden behind the windmill. It's what might be called lavatory humour.

There were some very pleasant pastoral riverside  scenes but the day was a little too hot and sunny for pleasant walking. We tended to dash from one shade tree to the next and some were kilometers apart! We crossed by rail bridge over to the right bank of the Elbe near the halfway point for the day.

A few kilometers short of our B&B, which was itself about 30 minutes east of Meissen, we stopped in our final beer garden of the day. The northern bank had started to rise up from the river by this time and was covered in small vineyards. We reached our B&B around 3:30 after a 22 km walk.

We showered and rested and then walked down the road for a meal in the local pub. The menu said I was getting rabbit fillet but the bill said I was given hare, but who was I to split hairs.