Yesterday’s storms brought today’s obstacles:
A longer ride today in better weather conditions – mostly on unsurfaced paths, which explains why my average for the day was 12kph rather than my usual impressive 14.5. Since I didn’t fall off on any of the sandy or cobbled stretches, I can now say that it was a perfect day’s ride amongst woods, fields, wild flowers and skylarks. A pair of deer sprang over the path ahead of me. The route skirts the Drömling, a fen-like area that straddles the old east-west border. Here the fields ended and birdsong changed tune. There was a stork on a path, who took a while to notice me, and in the trees a pair of unknown harsh-sounding pale birds with yellow touches and Zorro masks.
The route is definitely circuitous: almost 60km for the day, when the signpost in Diesdorf told me that Klötze was only 27km away by road. Ah, well: νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
This is one of the very few days in Germany when there has been no coffee opportunity until the destination. Bananas and Studentenfutter saved the day; dinner was two pieces of cake.
Although this part of the world is sparsely populated by English standards, it doesn’t feel as depopulated as Saxony. There are certainly vacant shops in towns like Klötze and empty buildings, but no dereliction on the scale of former industrial towns like Zeitz or Glauchau. As an agricultural rather than an industrial area, it seems to have no large factories standing empty or razed to the ground and no grand civic buildings (like the Stadtbibliothek in Zeitz) that have lost their purpose. The architecture is more vernacular: plenty of half-timbered or brick buildings, with less Jugendstil influence. I guess the prosperity of an agricultural region is steadier than that of towns that suddenly expanded during the period of Germany’s rapid industrialisation.
Out of the woods and off to the former Hansa town of Salzwedel tomorrow – which may disprove my theory.