To show how to travel through Germany during the Coronavirus pandemic, two journalists from Deutsche Welle went on a road trip across the country. On the way, they talked with local companies that offer diverse activities for tourists, mostly nature-related. People who were interviewed reckoned that there are no international tourists this year, but they are still able to keep the business thanks to a big demand from the German people. Camping parks are also fully booked as people are preferring the nature for the possibility of a more effective social distancing.
One way of seizing the magical nature that Germany has to offer in these unusual times, but also with safety, is through a bike adventure. The country has countless bike paths, as cycling is a cherished activity among the Germans. The most popular and one of the longest is the Elbe Cycle Route (Elberadweg in German), which is turning 25 years old in 2020. It goes along the river Elbe since Špindlerův Mlýn, in the Czech Republic, till Cuxhaven, on an extension of around 1300 kilometers. Doing the whole extension of this bike path at once would be for sure very demanding and last at least two weeks, but it’s always possible to do just a segment of it, as it is divided into four parts and 21 sections (Abschnitte).
To celebrate the anniversary of the Elberadweg and also to find out how is COVID-19 impacting it, I decided to take my bike and discover what this cycle route has to offer in the region that has become my home during my ESC project, right in the heart of Sachsen-Anhalt. I am now presenting the most significant places of the Abschnitt K, a segment of 34 kilometers from Dessau-Roßlau to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, full of UNESCO World Heritage sites and lovely nature to admire.
Starting in Dessau, the first highlight of the tour is the Bauhaus. This was an important artistic movement that completely shook traditional ideas and concepts not only in many forms of art but also in architecture, design, modern lived-in world, and education. Although it was founded in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius, it was transferred in 1925 to Dessau because of political reasons. The city has still nowadays more original Bauhaus buildings than any other place in the world. Even though there are some restrictions due to Corona, it is possible to visit the school building, the museum, and the master’s houses. It is also highly recommended to book the tickets in advance on the website.
The next stop of the trip is the Wörlitzer Park, in Wörlitz. Besides the delightful landscape, the park holds more than two centuries of history. Fascinated by it, Goethe wrote in 1778 that “it is now endlessly beautiful here” and it is like a “fairy tale”. The park is filled with palaces, like the Schloss Wörlitz, in which the restoration works that lasted 20 years recently finished, or the Schloss Oranienbaum. Both are currently open to visitors. The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz also celebrates this year its 20th anniversary of UNESCO recognition.
Keeping cycling through the banks of the Elbe on the way to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, it is worth it to make a detour when reaching Apollensdorf to go to the Apollensberg. It’s not easy to bike there for inexperienced bikers, but a walk of 15 minutes going up the hill will get visitors into a viewpoint that presents a stunning view of the river, the landscape around, and a glance of the Wittenberg’s churches.
It is now time to arrive on the last site of the bike tour, Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The city was the cradle of the Reformation: in the year 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church’s door. Besides this important landmark, visitors can also go up to the church’s tower, recently open after a long period closed due to the pandemic restrictions, to have a view over the city; walk through the streets of the picturesque Altstadt; admire the imponent towers of the St. Mary’s Church from the market square; visit the old university called Leucorea, Luther’s house, the works of the artist Lucas Cranach or find out more about Philip Melanchthon.
For beach enthusiasts, this section of the Elberadweg may not be appropriated for a swim, as the current is relatively strong. My advice would be to go to Bergwitzsee, a lake 40 minutes away by bike from Wittenberg, where people can spend a relaxed day at the beach or do some more energetic water activities.
On the general, the Abschnitt K of the Elberadweg is an easy cycling route as most of its length is paved and plain. To experience this section of the cycle route is also to learn a lot about the history of Germany in plenty of different fields.