We didn’t see a great deal of Rathenow, as it was determinedly raining all yesterday afternoon, so we had poor visibility and little inclination to do anything other than find our hotel. The Hotel Fürstenhof is evidently familiar with cyclists. They were completely unfazed by people whose ability to speak German appeared to have dissolved in the downpour turning up and dripping in their nice lobby. Some other cyclists showed up at the same time but irritatingly they managed to look as though they had been cycling rather than swimming. The hotel showed us all to a garage where we could store our bikes and took away our wet clothes to dry them overnight. They gave us a map and directions to various restaurants in town. Fantastic service.

I won’t complain about the rain, or the rather present headwind, yesterday afternoon, as we have really been very lucky with the weather on this trip. We had the one wet day when we were cycling to Bremen, but there we had the option to duck out part way and take the train. We had a lack of stations yesterday so just had to get on with it, which is probably better for our moral fibre (hard yards, Andy Hunter). The morning was glorious and the cycle from Rühstädt to Havelberg lovely, leaving the Elbe and joining the Havel through the last part of the nature reserve and some very pretty countryside. We had coffee in part of the old town of Havelberg, and Bruce has blogged about the good coffee and cake offering here. The rain started just as we were leaving, and carried on until we arrived in Rathenow, giving up only when it was clear it had little chance of making us any wetter.

One of the better bits of forest path

Today only a lazy Sunday morning cycle from Rathenow to Brandenburg. We decided to take our own route out of town to join the cycle route along the main road to Brandenburg, and found ourselves on a unsurfaced forestry road – very pretty, but with deep puddles and muddy ruts which made forward momentum aspect of cycling more challenging. After a couple of miles of this, I suggested we give up on our shortcut and head off on a side path to the main cycle route. We bounced along that also and then arrived at the main path which was… an unsurfaced forestry road with deep puddles and muddy ruts. We both spontaneously cheered when we once again reached tarmac.

Part of the reason for the shorter cycle today was to have a lazy Sunday afternoon in Brandenburg and sitting on the terrace of our room looking out over a side channel of the Havel (the room is part of an old fire station complex – another interesting location). Part of it was to have a chance to see Brandenburg itself. But unfortunately another reason has been that the niggling pain in my back has been rather more troublesome in the last couple of days, so a bit of time off the bike seemed like a good idea. We plan to head to Berlin tomorrow – only 65km or so, and everything crossed that I can make it. I can then have a couple of days with minimal cycling as we have our Berlin stop and catch a train back to Amsterdam. With luck that will get me back in good form.

Alte Feuerwache – former fire station
Terrace of our room