After cycling over 110 kilometers the previous day from Berlin, I found myself camped outside a small village near Wentowsee. Having spent the previous evening eating biscuits and reading Salman Rushdie, it was time to move on and make my way to Copenhagen.
Up early and out to get some good time in the morning, I find that I really need breakfast. Alongside the road is a grotty, café. I grab a wurst and a black coffee, which somehow taste amazing. The road pushes through a set of small quaint villages. Locals leave jars of jam and for sale alongside the road. The Havel winds its way back onto the route and it feels good for it to have found there again. The EuroVelo goes back into woods. I’m on my own and it's still morning. The trees are quiet, and a sullen silence is awash across the outcrop of green mass. On the way to Ravensbrück I go over a bump in the path. A set of disused train lines. The small, single tracks seemingly disappearing into the woods. A few more feet down the road, a tower overlooks the landscape. A concentration camp lies hidden among the trees.
The Ravensbrück concentration camp was unqiue, in that in kept only women. In total over 50,000 were killed here. Many polish, Jewish and suspected communists were processed. Women who were spotted drinking, or out on their own, or acting ‘funny’ were suspected of being communist and sent here. Out in the woods, with no signs and nothing brining it to attention, it’s as if this part of history is trying to be forgotten.
I follow through into Fürstenberg, a small town with cobbled roads and monuments to the Russians. The roads play havoc with my panniers, and one of them snaps off due to duress. I spend half an hour tying the pannier to the other for support. The bike is uneven know and the one pannier is contantly kicking my leg, but there is nothing I can do. Fürstenberg seems to have been forgotten, just like Ravensbrück. The buildings are old, bleak and brown, crumbling like the roads that need repaving.
The Land of 1,000 Lakes
Leaving Fürstenberg and the EuroVelo begins to enter the region known as the Mecklenburg Lake Plateau – or Land der Tausend Seen. It is the largest area of connected lakes and canals in Germany. It’s a beautiful retreat, one I’ve been to before. It brings up memories of staying here once with someone very special. We’d stayed in a woodland retreat, spending the days rowing in the lakes, drinking wine and playing games. The surroundings had become tinged with sadness and regret. As I crossed the bridge where we had once had lunch, I wonder if I would ever come back to this place. Wondering if I should have come back at all.
Cycling into Wesenberg and the route brings you in alongside the lakeside beach, where people are drinking beers, playing frisbee and the such. 7,000 people yearly traverse the EuroVelo between Berlin and Copenhagen, right by this very point. I was coming through, tired, sweaty and my panniers hanging off the back of my bike, there were some uncomfortable looks from the locals. Just outside the town I saw a stork wandering through the grass. It’s that time of year when the birds come back to rear their young. With it’s big legs, pondering on the floor, the large, ungangly bird had a air of nonchelance about it. Littered across rooftops along the road, stork nests sat precariously, as the giant birds make their home for the summer.
Through woodlands and parks I found time for lunch at Neustrelitz, to only annoyingly find that I have to turn back on myself. The diversion to this isolation, hillside town serves no purpose, only to waste 10 kilometres worth of time for me. It’s not recommended making this part of the journey. I make my way back with pace, in order to make up time. Stopping off in Uservin I pause to treat myself to a bar of chocalate and a bottle of schnapps. As much as I would have liked to eaten well on this trip, the options in Mecklenberg are limited. And when you have trouble carrying on, the schnapps helps you push through that mental barrier.
The route through Mecklenburg is extremely beautiful. Surrounded by fields of long tall grass, and birch trees. The bike lane journeys into the countryside away from traffic and towns. The birds here become your journey-friends. The brown-fronted woodpecker is one of the most commonly spotted, alongside the falcon and the thrush (or the typewriter-bird as I like to call him – those who’ve heard his irratic call will understand.) And then I saw the greatest bird of them all; a white tailed eagle. I would never have exptected to have seen such a giant bird, but there it was. Facing away from me, as I came closer this beast of bird took flight. Its wingspan, surely matching the length of my body.
Through villages and farms. Sunkissed and so unlike the world of Berlin. I finally push on through to Waren, which sits on lake Müritz, the second largest body of water in Germany. With the sun-setting I made my way to the campsite. For fifteen euros, I got to pitch up with electricity, wi-fi and water. This was a campsite for the modern generation. Filled with RVs, it seemed like some of the people here had been here the whole year. Who knows, maybe longer. I guess some of the campers rent spaces permanently and come and go when they please. It's next generation camping. The bathrooms came with hot showers, all providing the perfect respite I needed. It had been a 130km day, sitting on lake Müritz watchching the sun set is a wonderful thing.