In the end, it was easier to catch the train to Hanover, offload the panniers at the hotel and explore a little. The Julius Trip cycle route takes you on a 27km circular tour through the woods and gardens which encircle the city. (British bombers destroyed nearly all of old Hanover, so I don’t feel I can comment on today’s bland buildings.) It is wonderfully green and spacious, with the Eilenriede wood on one side, the formal Herrenhäuser and informal Georgengarten on the other, and the big Maschsee to the south. The route also goes past the Ihmezentrum, a giant and unsettling residential and business centre beside the river. It’s practically on the scale of the Barbican in London but looks poorer and poorly maintained. Again – after the bucolic backwoods of the Altmark, it was a bit of a jolt.
Another jolt was a statue beside the Maschsee which caught my eye. It’s a cross between Health & Efficiency and Leni Riefenstahl, so no surprise to discover that it’s from 1939. It’s not specifically “Nazi” – you could as easily see it as an updated kouros and kore . . . or not.