GDPR Privacy Statement

By the new GDPR law, I am required to make you read the Silly Privacy Statement. That statement doesn't really contain anything unexpected or surprising to people used to the internet, but by accessing and reading this blog you agree that you've read these statements and agree to how this blog uses your data.

On a related topic: If you say something to somebody else, the brain of that person might store the information you told him/her not anonymized and without your explicit consent and use it against you at a later time, and if you leave your house people just might see where you go and what you do.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Book IV ~ Chapter 4 ~ Görlitz Gaiety ~ Eastern Escapades

8-Sep-2020 – 11-Sep-2020

Since the second leg of our journey was rather short, we're actually still within the same state, so it's time for another round of...


We're still rather close to Saxon Switzerland, though we're not quite in the next county over. Currently, we're within the Landkreis Görlitz ("Country Circle Görlitz = Görlitz County"), the crest of which features the Silesian eagle, the Bohemian twin-tailed lion, the Upper Lusatia battlements, as well as the Sorbian limetree leaf.


And within Görlitz county, we are now within the city of Görlitz proper, the crest of which is just the eagle and the lion. Founded sometime in the 12th century, it has grown into a sizeable city since then with about 55,000 inhabitants. Also, since it got lucky in the Second World War and spared any major bombings, it is today one of the best-preserved historic city of Germany, with over 4,000 cultural and historical buildings. Thus, Görlitz is also often referred to as Germany's biggest continuous historical site.


In fact, Görlitz would have been even bigger had it not been for aforementioned World War, for after the war Germany lost all territory to the east of river Neiße. That was particularly bad luck for Görlitz, which was effectively cut in two, with the eastern part becoming part of Poland and receiving the melodious name of Zgorzelec.


Finally, our stay place within Görlitz is located only a short walk from the station, and about a kilometre away from the Polish border, in a district known as Südstadt ("South Town").


So, now that I've told you where we are based, I might as well continue to tell you about...

The Place


This time around, we have our own little apartment, which mostly consists of one all-purpose room. About a quarter of the total space is already occupied by the bed.


One alcove of that room is also occupied by a kitchen... -ish thingy. It's basically a sink, a microwave, one portable stove plate, and a water cooker. Kinda reminds me of my stay in Numazu (see Book II ~ Chapter 22 ~ Nutty Numazu). Eh, it'll do.


Regrettably, among the things this place lacks is also a sharp knife, and in a fit of unfounded optimism I consciously left my trusty sharp Victorinox knife that has followed me all around the world back at home, assuming that Airbnb places in Germany would feature proper cutlery. Fortunately, I still have my leatherman, the knife of which is sharper than anything in this place.


Oh well, at least we have detergent, and since our host is apparently polish, so is the detergent. Now, while in Germany detergents have generally bright names like "Fairy", "Pril" or "Fit", in Poland it's apparently all about rinsing with Ludwik.


The bathroom, meanwhile, is okay-ish, I guess. The bathtub has a hole where the knob would ordinarily be, and shower curtains just don't seem to be very en vogue here in Saxony, but since we have a private little apartment this time around we can also leave our clothes and towels in the main room while showering.


Also, since this place is distinctly lacking even a table, I have to improvise in order to fashion my own Laptop-Firendly Workspace™.


All things put together, however, this place is still way better than the last one, especially considering that the closest supermarket is, like, literally next-door, and we don't have to walk along the car-car happy road each time coming and going.


Anyway, that's enough for this place, and since we actually arrived around midday today, there's still plenty of daylight left for some...

Instant City Scouting

8-Sep-2020
Distance: 10km
Ascents: 160m
Duration: 3.25h

With only half a day left today, and a big day planend tomorrow (plus me being The Fox Whose Knees Hurt after our hikes in Saxon Switzerland), we're not out for too long of a stray today. For my part, I want to scout out the bike rental place that our Airbnb host recommended to us, which is about 10 STEPs away, and Robert wants to drop over to the Polish side and see if he can find a tasty polish grilled cheese speciality by the name of Oscypek which he got to taste during a trip to Poland many years ago. Both of those can be combined into a neat little round-trip that also leads us right through the historic old town of Görlitz in one fell swoop.


Just a short walk away from our stay place, we learn that apparently the city of Görlitz venerates the castle-god Klotz Derprotz, for the very first church we come across reads "Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott" ("A solid castle is our god").


Soon, we reach the Postplatz ("Mail Square"), a green square in the heart of Görlitz that is decorated by a fountain sculpture known as the Muschelminna ("Shell Gal"), depicting the nature goddess Flora. Meanwhile, the castle-like houses all around stand testimony to the influence of the castle-god.


Other historic buildings demonstrating the influence of the castle-god in this city include the Frauenkirche ("Lady's Church")...


...the Reichenbacher Turm ("Riches' Stream's Tower"), which used to be a gatehouse tower...


...as well as the Jägerkaserne ("Hunter Barracks"), which nowadays technically serves as a town hall.


And along the way, I also manage to snag one of the few non-vegetarian (or at least pescetarian) meals of my in the form of a local speciality: a Görlitzer Bratwurst ("Görlitz Fried Sausage").


Moving on thereafter, we pass by the Heiliges Grab ("Holy Grave"), which is a replica of the actual grave of Jesus in Jerusalem. Though many such replicas exist, the one here in Görlitz is the single most accurate in all of Germany. However, since they charge admission and I've actually been at the real holy grave in Jerusalem during a family vacation in Israel back in 2006, we give it a pass.


Instead, we proceed to check out the bicycle rental place for tomorrow, and subsequently turn eastwards along a way taking us through the Kidronpark...


...as well as the Ölberggarten ("Oil Garden Mountain").


Afterwards, we pass through the old town of Görlitz...


...where we not only come across an originally-named copy shop...


...but also a bakery where you can apparently bake your own Jesus.


Next, we pass by the Nikolaiturm ("Nikolai Tower") - which together with the aforementioned Reichenbacher Turm is one of the four mighty towers dedicated to the castle-god that used to defend the city from dangers in the past.


Right beside it is the Nikolaizwinger ("Nikolai Kennel"), which is one of two remaining sections of the double city walls...


...as well as the Hotherbastei ("Hother Bastion"), the last remaining corner bastion of Görlitz, doubtlessly preserved in reverence of the castle-god Klotz Derprotz.


From there, we can ascend the bastion, and manage to gain a bit of a panorama view of the otherwise relatively flat city.


Moving on, we soon find ourselves in front of the Pfarrkirche St. Peter und Paul ("Parish Church St. Peter and Paul"), which is without a doubt the prime landmark of Görlitz with its shining white towers. A true patchwork church, it is based on a basilica from the 13th century, which was expanded and refurbished many times over the centuries until it got its current shape. The different building stages are still clearly visible.


We are now standing in front of the reconstructed Altstadtbrücke ("Old City Bridge") connecting Görlitz and Zgorzelec. Many bridges existed at this location since the 13th century, and most of them were fashioned from wood and only lasted so long before they were destroyed by either fire or water. In 1907 a steel bridge was finally built for permanence, only to be blow up in 1945 by the retreating Nazi forces - a pointless act with little strategic value which regrettably also shattered all but one of the historic glass windows in the nearby Pfarrkirche St. Peter und Paul. The current bridge was only built almost a hundred years thereafter, in 2004, and should serve as a symbol for an united Europe.


And just like that, we cross the Neiße…


…thus entering the Rzeczpospolita Polska, and with it Eastern Europe.


Well, okay, I know that was cliché, but really, I would be so much more inclined to attempt and paint a more positive picture of Poland if the first house we walk by on the Polish side did not looked like this…


…and literally all the speciality stores we come across did not sell cigarettes in reverence of the evil god of smoking Öchöt Kyött. I very much prefer Görlitz and its worship of the castle god over that, thank you very much!


The feeling I get from this place is actually quite close to my time in Brazil (see Book III ~ Chapter 2 ~ Brasilian Bolero), and so I instinctively assume a defensive and wary stance. Fortunately, the only threat we should encounter is a wire-frame wolf guarding a gift shop (selling cigarettes), and fortunately that one is quite passive.


Interestingly. even the zebra crossings are all wrong around here.


We make our way south more or less along the Neiße, all the while looking for a place that might sell Oscypek, but come up short. Eventually, we arrive at the Pabst Johannes Paul II Brücke ("Pope John Paul II Bridge") - which is the only car bridge across the river in the entire town - all the while not having seen so much as a sliver of grilled cheese…


…and subsequently cross it, returning to an at least halfway civilized country.


Thus, we are now back in Görlitz…


…where I finally notice that this city seems to have at least halfway original manhole covers. It's still nothing compared to the creative manhole cover designs found throughout Japan, but better than nothing.


On our way back home from there, we cross the Park des Friedens ("Park of Peace") with its statue of the first German philosopher Jakob Böhme…


…and eventually make our way through a stretch of forest on the slopes flanking the Neiße…


…all the way to the foot of the impressive Neißeviadukt, a 475m long and up to 35m high railroad bridge across the Neiße originally from the 19th century. Like the other bridges, this one was also partially destroyed by the Nazis in 1945, and eventually repaired by the Polish in 1957.


From there we walk for maybe another 15 minutes through the streets of Görlitz…


…and then we're back at the Airbnb place, ready to do some shopping at the nearby Netto so we'll have the ingredients to prepare…

The Food


Breakfast once again consists of various types of bread with mostly cheese on top. However, just to mix up thins a little bit (and since we also need it for dinner anyway) I also buy a tube of tomato paste and make myself a tomato paste bread that perfectly matches the color of my fruit tea.


Lunch once again is always eaten on our strays and rides, so next ups is dinner. One evening Robert cooks up a tasty tomato risotto, and just to continue the tradition of color-matching beverages I have a glass of orange multi-vitamin juice with it.


And on another night, it is up to me to cook up Rahmschwammerln mit Reis ("Cream-Mushrooms with Rice"). Juggling the pot and pan with only a single stove plate available is a bit tricky, but in the end I manage to cook up a delicious dinner.


So much for the food. Well-nourished as we are now, we feel prepared to embark on…

Day Trip ~ The Eastern Terminus Ride

9-Sep-2020
Distance: 64.0km (7km stray + 57km ride)
Ascents: 320m (80m stray + 240m ride)
Duration: 8.5h (1.5h stray + 7h ride)
8/8🎁︎

You may recall that one of our objectives of this journey is to visit the eastern-, northern- and westernmost points of Germany. Now, we are within extended strike distance of one of those points: The easternmost point of Germany is located precisely 15km away from our stay place as Dragon flies. However, the walking distance is a good bit longer, so hiking there and back again is out of the question. Instead, we could hike one way and take the bus back, or… since I just scouted out a bike rental place yesterday, we could go on an epic bike ride to the easternmost point of Germany!

This particular excursion would be a combination of a walk to the bike rental place, and a bike ride taking us up the Neiße to the easternmost point of Germany, then a bit north still and west into the woodlands, then southwest up to a little river by the name of Weißer Schöps ("White Wether"), and finally back east to Görlitz again. Knowing that Robert is not a biker like me, but evidentially has a good constitution as became apparent on our considerable strays through Saxon Switzerland, I settle for a circuit measuring about 2/3 of what I would call a comfortable ride… so something around 42km or so.


As I said, it starts with a little bit of a walk… and then a bit of a run back to the Airbnb place for me as about 1km into the trip I notice that I've forgotten something rather important.


My tails! Silly fox forgetting his own tails! These are not only of ornamental value, but also serve as containers for my geocaching supplies, and since we've got quite some caching planned for today, I couldn't possibly do without them.


With a bit of running, the 2km trip back to and from our stay place takes me about 22 minutes or so, and then we can continue, passing a very plastic mural of my favourite Roman goddess Diana along the way.


A little while later, we arrive at the bike rental place literally precisely at 9:00, which is an important time since it matches the opening time of that place. So technically, my little faux pas did not even cost us any time at all.


I quickly take care of the formalities, and then Robert and I find ourselves in temporary possession of two… well, let's call them "cute"… bikes that will take us all the way to our destination, and beyond.


I call them cute not only because of their somewhat suboptimal handle bar shape, but also because their gears only go up to 6 (and that despite having a Shimano 7 Speed gearbox). That's notably less than the 21 gears I'm used to from my trusty bike Jycily back home, but still five more than the single-gear bike with which I cycled up the flanks of Mt. Fuji in Numazu (again, see Book II ~ Chapter 22 ~ Nutty Numazu), and since today should not feature any considerable ascents, I figure that will be enough.


Anyway, it feels good to be on the road again, biking. My knees generally still hurt when I do certain movements, but the familiar motion of treading the pedals does not seem to fall into that hurtful category, so this is actually quite enjoyable and relaxing for me. Soon, we leave the city of Görlitz behind and cycle through the landscape and past extensive wind parks.


Geocaching wise, this trip should also be very motivating, as I should find all 8 geocaches that I would actually attempt on this trip, including this rather ingeniously disguised one.


Along the road, we should also come across what I guess is some sort of Green Shnolz installation (the sign reads "Waiting Room")…


…as well as a runaway lawnmower hat has broken its chains and is now on a quest for freedom.


We also pass by a group of trees populated by a particularly vocal flock of birds. In fact, the cacophony of their collective twittering can easily compete with the sound of the occasionally passing cars.



A little bit further down the road I realize that I've been wrong all along. I assumed that we left Görlitz about 7km ago, but apparently I was wrong and the official city borders of Görlitz stretch past several hundred hectares of farmland all the way out to Ober Neuendorf ("Upper Newcomer Village").


From here on out, things only get more and more curious. On one side of the road we encounter an abandoned minecart, complete with an abandoned piece of minecart track…


…and on the other side, there's a very creative Radler-Tanke ("Biker Refuelling", with the added pun that "Radler" is also the name of a German beer mix drink consisting of beer and lemonade, the general idea being that a Radler has little enough alcohol that you can drink one and still properly ride a bike).


After that, we pass the second big wind park of this trip…


…and then, we're already on the final stretch to the easternmost point, starting first with a well-paved bike road…


…continuing with a not-so-well-paved track road…


…and finally deteriorating into a spectacularly unpaved field road.


However, our efforts are not in vain, and by 11:30, we arrive at the easternmost point of Germany.


Well, actually, the exact easternmost point of Germany is not there, but right at the edge of the Neiße, so this is really the easternmost point of Germany.


In fact, we soon learn that we also could have rented a boat to get here… but then crossing the hills to the Weißer Schöps would probably have been a titbit tricky.


There's no geocache here, but instead there's a Zipfelbuch ("Tip Book") for me to write my name into as one of the visitors of this remote place.


Afterwards, we pass a number of interesting metal trees on our way back to the main road along the more official approach. Notably, one of the trees holds an nice little story about how the post-war children used to steal food from the Russian occupying soldiers: Some kid would always provoke the soldiers and get locked into the warehouse as punishment. There, it would pass food to the children outside through a tiny window, and eventually plead with the soldiers to be let out. The children would take turns to make sure it was always a different kid that got locked up so the soldiers would not grow suspicious of them, and since the soldiers always had plenty of food delivered to them by the Russian government and did not need to keep an exact tally, no one ever noticed the food the children stole to feed their starving families. Or maybe they did notice and chose to turn a blind eye. Who knows?


As we leave the Neiße behind and cycle further land-inwards, we unexpectedly find ourselves on the train of the forgotten culture of TuriSede from a thousand years in the past...


...which actually turns out to be a rather recent outdoor amusement/farm park establishment thingy nearby by the name of Kulturinsel Einsiedel ("Culture Island Hermitage"). Among other things, it features a magical castle, a petting zoo, an archaic spa, as well as a swimming café on the Neiße. Our route should take us close, but not quite there.


We also pass one of those "Du hast ja wohl nen Vogel"-Caches ("You've gotta be cuckoo-cache") which I don't even attempt on account of me still needing all my limbs today and on the journey yet to come.


Next, I want to go north across the railway line for good measure, and since the next crossing has been closed for quite some time now...


...we're taking the nearby bridge taking us straight across the Leipzig-Warsaw main line.


On the far side of that dividing cut through the landscape we soon encounter yet another barrier, this one being a deliberate barrier against wild boars. You see, it's not only the Green Shnolz this year, but also a the African Swine Fever making the rounds, and since currently infected boars are coming in from Poland in the east, it's not surprising to find a barrier here and there in the form of an electric fence.


Unfortunately, that barrier is right across my planned route. Fortunately, however, we come across a "gate" in the barrier, and fortunately I've had to deal with such electric fence "gates" in New Zealand, so I know how to safely open and close them.


Afterwards, we follow a nice and shady forest path...


...which eventually grows just a little bit more rugged. I for my part am used to that from my bike tours, but Robert does not exactly appreciate my choice of route here.


And just a bit further into the woods, I can't exactly blame him since I find out the hard way that the only viable way to cross back to the south across the tracks is not as I had assumed an underpass, but aforementioned closed level crossing, which from the map I had assumed would have been one road further to the east. And to make things even worse, the level crossing is not only closed, but barricaded off with heavy gates and 2m-high fences that say "absolutely no crossing". For us, that's very inconvenient overkill, especially considering how we haven't seen or heard a single train passing the entire time while cycling close to the track.


To make things worse, that was pretty much the only crossing option in the entire area, and since I already feel bad about making Robert cycle on such a forest path, I am experience considerable stress right there and then. Since I'm apparently unable to rely on my maps for accuracy, I instead rely on logic, plotting a course - albeit a roundabout one - that will eventually take us to a major road crossing the train line. Also, it takes us north out of the woods, at first onto a somewhat more navigable track road...


...and then onto a considerably more navigable paved road, the only problem being that it's taking us north for some distance, and thus extending the scope of our ride. For me that's not a problem, but I worry about Robert.


As we cycle along that road, we come across a curious sign. Ever heard of 3D Archery? I never tried it myself, but I hear it's like normal archery, but in 3D!!! I wonder if they use milk for that.


Our new extended route should take us north all the way to Rothenburg ("Reds' Castle"), the easternmost town of Germany (though technically, Görlitz reaches further to the east, but then again Görlitz is a city and not a town).


From there, we turn southwest onto a veritable cycling highway and make our way back to the Leipzig-Warsaw main line. More slowly than I would have liked, for we run right into a rather inconvenient headwind further impeding on our progress.


However, in the end, we manage to make it back across the railway line, which for some strange reason over here is approximately 2.5 times as wide as further to the east.


Moving on, we come across the one bathing lake that probably suffers the worst possible unjust stigma in the world, or would you fancy a bathing lake in the Mückenhain ("Mosquito Grove") near Kaltwasser ("Cold Water")?


Incidentally, have you ever wondered how the roadside lawns are kept short? That mystery is revealed to us as we cross through a stretch of forest and encounter the mother of all lawnmowers in action, driving on the road while cutting the grass on the side with a massive, crane-mounted mower.


By now we are finally back on our originally planned route again, and that means there are geocaches waiting for us once more. The next one is another of those ingenious ones. Fortunately, the red circle makes this one pretty easy.


Also, we have now circled around the wind park between Deschka and Groß-Krauscha ("Big Krauscha"), and are simultaneously also facing towards the one between Kunnersdorf ("Kunners' Village") and Ludwigsdorf ("Louie's Village"). Altogether, the two wind parks have over three dozen windmills, which is the largest number of windmills I've ever been within 4km of.


Within aforementioned Groß-Krauscha (which is not all that big), we come across a cleverly hidden pole-cache. I guess we're on a roll today, at least as far as caches are concerned.


From here, our route leads us across some uneventful fields for some time. Maybe the most noteworthy thing is a very creative way of designating a cycling road. They must have been out of the blue ones.


Eventually, we cross over the single-gauge railway line that should take us towards our next destination in two days' time...


...and then cross the A4 highway. Yay for unnecessary bridges. For me this is not all that bad, but Robert is by now visibly struggling, falling further and further behind, and I frequently have to stop and wait for him to catch up. Realizing that I have catastrophically mis-estimated my companion's biking stamina, I make a mental note to at least try and keep future cycling tours shorter than this.


By now it's already 15:15, meaning that we only have 2:45 left to return the bikes before the shop closes at 18:00, and while I could easily make it back three times over in that time, Robert is clearly at his limit, and our speed has slowed to a crawl. With that in mind, I make a decision at this point. Instead of continuing east into the Schöpstal ("Wether Valley") as originally planned I turn south at the next intersection and make a beeline straight for Görlitz, thus reducing the remaining distance to cover from 9km to 6km. Unfortunately, that should also take us right along a major country road with occasional bursts of cars zooming past.


Also, with the deadline on my mind, I did not have the peace of mind to call for a proper break, quite unlike Robert who consciously stops to eat or drink regularly. As such, I now start to take out my own provisions and eat a few bites whenever I wait for Robert to push his bike up a slope, the likes of which I now realize are considerably more challenging to people who don't cycle regularly. Up until now, my perspective was somehow skewed there as on my cycling tours I am often passed by faster cyclists and rarely pass slower cyclists, so thus far I had assumed to be on the lower end of the spectrum. However, now I understand that being on the lower end of the spectrum for regular cyclists still means I'm a good deal more accustomed to it than non-cyclists.


It doesn't help that we've got to cross a 50m-high hill-crest to get to Görlitz, but since that was in the way, we would have to get across it one way or another no matter which way we took. And while 50m might not sound like a lot for someone coming from Bavaria, over here that means we can actually see all the way to the mountains of Saxon Switzerland on the southwestern horizon, what with them being the closest notable elevation in these rather flat parts of Germany.


Fortunately, what goes up that must come down, and so the final 4km or so are all downhill. By 16:00, we have arrived back at the bike store, well ahead of our deadline, yet also way past the limits of what would have been enjoyable to Robert. After all that cycling, he is visibly reliefed that we'll only have to walk back home from here on out, and with no further pressure today we embark on a leisurely stroll back through Görlitz.


Along said stroll, we pass by a store which had had the idea for keeping the Green Shnolz outside: You simply have to prohibit viruses from entering!


And then there's this one store representing precisely what at the very least Robert is going to experience in the days to come ("Muskelkater" = "Muscle Tomcat" = "Sore Muscles").


Sadly, that's not the only consequence that Robert has coming up, for while I have learned several painful lessons about the power of Radian on bike tours of the past, Robert neglected to guard his skin with sufficient amounts of sun screen today. It comes as a bit of a surprise to me that despite me being the one with the light weakness, it should be Robert suffering the first sunburn of the ride. And Dragon, just what a sunburn that is! Even I have not yet suffered anything quite this extreme.


We return to our stay place around 17:00, about 9 hours after we departed, tired, exhausted, sunburned, but accomplished. Our ride today did not quite turn out as planned, and Robert swears he'll never again accompany me on another bike tour after this, but we made it in the end. We visited the easternmost point of Germany. That's one down, and two to go.


Anyway, for now we're done, so it's time to kick back and take care of...

The Retrospective


This place was a nice step upwards from the Rietzschgrund in almost all categories. We had a complete little apartment all to ourselves, the only downside of which was that it featured no proper workspace. Food supplies were not included this time around. The bed was comfy for me, but Robert did not like it as much. The host was nice (even if the check-in was a bit bogus) and the place was quiet. We had a bathroom as part of the room, and the location was a dream: Close to the station with shopping options literally next door. The WiFi worked fine most of the time, we had something like a kitchen, and the temperature was comfortable. And finally, at only 16€ per night and person, the price-value ratio was once again over 100%. Altogether, there's nothing that speaks against calling this one of the better places I've ever stayed in.


Now, we still have one day left here in Görlitz, and we should dedicate this to our...

Oscypek Quest

10-Sep-2020
Distance: 8km
Ascents: 100m
Duration: 2.25h
2/3🎁︎

[To be continued...]

The Road Ahead


No comments:

Post a comment