2013-05-05: 113 km to Lübeck and Palingen
Carsten led us expertly out of Hamburg, He had told me the distance to Lübeck would be about 80 km, but I am not map illiterate and knew darned well it would be further! Actually, so did Carsten. Our pace showed the effects of my lack of cycling in the past 14 months, and the expression of the day was “Chain to the right!” –which means stop chatting, move into to a higher gear, and get pedalling.
I exaggerate just a little here. There was also some time to chat as we rode, we had a pleasant coffee stop, and we rode along the west side of Ratzburgsee on a forest path – challenging for Carsten on a light road bike. This lake was once part of the border between former East and West Germanies. The land mines on the east side have been cleared, and that is now forest park too.
We rode with Jackie and Carsten to the Lübeck train station from which they returned to Hamburg, then headed towards the tiny village of Palingen where we had a kind invitation from friends of Val and Luc, the Swiss couple who recently stayed with us. A woman who helped us find our way spoke Spanish, and told us to go por el bosque –through the woods. Just east of Lübeck was the former east-west border and its no-man’s-land, now a quiet area of villages from which many commute to larger centres.
We straggled out of the woods, both pretty tired from our first full cycling day in a long while. Jakob and Henriette greeted us warmly and fed us well.
2013-05-06: Lübeck and a rest
Despite their hectic schedules as doctors, Jakob made time to show us around Lübeck before he began his shift. Lübeck is a Hanseatic City, with much dating from when the Teutonic Knights controlled all trade in the Baltic.
One fascinating feature was the genge –or narrow alleys. Glimpses of courtyard gardens would beckon us from the street to enter through tiny archways. Jakob told us that they had to be built wide enough to allow a coffin to pass through.
We also visited St. Mary’s Cathedral –“the mother of Gothic brick churches”– reputedly the model for about seventy Gothic brick churches in the Baltic region. We had a view of the surroundings from the tower of another church — a patchwork of red brick and tile roofs as far as the eye can see. We finished with a compulsory stop at the Niedegger marzipan shop.
Back in Palingen we fell asleep for most of the afternoon. We woke as Henriette arrived home from her shift and began to prepare a meal that included spargel – asparagus. It’s local and in season. Here it is grown blanched and has a delicate flavour.
In the morning, Jakob saw us off with our panniers well stocked with slices of his birthday cake.
See Lübeck photos.