We're continuing our travels by cutting south-east across Germany, but we're going about it in an unconventional way by not passing through any major cities at all. We've traveled through and sight-seen a lot of large cities lately, and we're feeling burnt out on buildings, crowds and traffic. Neda is craving some nature and hiking, so she planned a non-urban route across Germany.
Along the way, I picked up some new German words from the signs on the road. "Ausfahrt" has now replaced "Smack-Lick" as my new favorite word to randomly say out loud. Ausfahrt! Am I just being juvenile or is that not the funniest word ever? Neda agrees with me and everytime we see the "Ausfahrt" sign, we snicker together over the intercom like little kids.
Ever since Neda emptied her tankbag of seashells, leaves, puppies and camels
she now has enough space to help me carry groceries.
Our first stop is to the Harz National Park where there's supposed to be some good hiking. Although it's half-way across Germany, this is Europe where the countries are small and the highways are fast. It only takes a couple of hours via the Autobahn to get there. The Autobahn between cities has no speed limit and the left lane is exclusively reserved for passing only. And passing happens at warp speeds! If you're only traveling in the impulse speed lane, you have to constantly check for Teutonic missiles being launched past your left shoulder or you'll get photon torpedoed by a Porsche, Mercedes or Audi.
Rammstein, Mr. Sulu!
We dropped out of the interstellar laneways of the Autobahn to a more sedate cruise around the densely forested Harz National Park. It's part of the Harz mountain range and the roads twist through its valleys passing through very quaint German towns. Most of the trees are still bare up here in the mountains where the temperatures dip to the single digits.
But Spring is in imminent bloom up in the Harz mountain range
The boarding house that we are staying in is in a small town called Sankte Andreasburg and the landlord who greets us is a kind and elderly German man who doesn't speak any English at all. Thankfully Neda took German in high school. Unfortunately high school was a long time ago. Her German is about as bad as my French - just enough to get us booked into the room, but not enough to answer his questions about our BMW motorcycles.
From listening to her speak to the landlord, I did pick up another German phrase that she repeated quite often: "Sehr Gut!" which means "I kinda understand what you're saying to me"...
Neda went out for a hike but returned very shortly after remarking that the trails weren't very good. And I was tinkering around with a new video camera, so no pictures of our ride. :( Well at least I got some blogging done and the roads in and out of the Harz National Park were great. *And* it wasn't raining for once so we were able to enjoy the riding.
A few Ausfahrts later, we are in south-western Germany
Our next stop is clear across the south-east of Germany, close to the Czech border. Believe it or not, I actually found a hiking trail for Neda. It's called the Malerweg and it's supposed to be one of the most scenic hiking trails in Germany. It's in a region called Saxon Switzerland, so we booked into an apartment in the area in a small town called Porschdorf.
Thankfully the owner here did speak English. Sehr Gut!
Eine kleine schwein mit Nachtmusik
We've been eating nothing but groceries for a while now, so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice German meal. We ordered a dish down at the local pub called wildschweinbraten. It's German for wild roasted boar and after saying it out loud, for a second I thought about replacing it as my funniest German word. But no, Ausfahrt is still #1 and is also what you get after eating wildschweinbraten. Smack-Lick!
We're told that the boar that we ordered was local to this area, in fact he was just running around the forest outside the other day. Things are done so traditionally here, I'm sure the boar was killed by bow and arrow!
I love that you can order beer in 1 Liter mugs!
Our love affair with dark European beer continues. Eibauer beer is brewed in the town of Eibau, just 50 kms east of here. We are having quite the authentic local cuisine!
Walking around town after a couple of liters of Eubauer
Very quaint buildings in Porschdorf
A very special number...
More colourful buildings in town
Outside our apartment, a kitten contemplates his fud
It's such a peaceful environment and a huge change of pace from the all the cities we've been visiting. We're starting to feel a bit more relaxed and we feel a lot more rejuvenated for travel.
Tree house amongst all the pretty flowers
Pretty countryside of the Saxon-Switzerland National Park
Saxon-Switzerland is atop some rocky and fissured canyon landscape.
Plus this hotel/restaurant needs more letters in its name... Much too short for German standards!
An example of the sandstone formations that dot the countryside
Village of Rathen in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains
The Malerweg hiking trail is 112 kms long, too ambitious even for Neda to complete in a day. It's broken up into 8 daily stages and we're staying at one of the more scenic stages, near the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The hike takes us through the nearby village of Rathen.
We don't stay too long in town, but head straight for the peculiar rock formations
The hike takes us up into the mountains to an overlook with a great view of the Elbe River below
The Malerweg is also called the Painters' Way because in the 18th century, it was a popular pilgrimage for artists to undertake so that they could paint the beautiful landscape.
The Bastei is the most well-known feature of the Malerweg
The Bastei is a rock formation that towers 194 meters above the Elbe River and is the picture that comes up most often if you Google "Malerweg". There was a wooden bridge built across the rocks in 1824, but that was later replaced by an ornate bridge made of the same sandstone that makes up the Bastei. The Bastei bridge is now as famous as the Bastei rock formations and is a popular draw for tourists, even if they are not hikers. That would be people like me...
Neda is super-happy for this nature break in our urban schedule
Sandstone mountains in the light of the setting sun
Beautiful Bastei Bridge
I spent a few minutes chatting up this bird
I got a chance over the last few days to play around with the action camera that Sena sent us. It's called the Prism and it came standard with just about every mount you could need to attach it to your motorcycle. I only affixed a couple of mounts as a test, but will probably add more when I figure out some good shooting angles.
One feature I really like about the Prism is that it's remotely controlled via the Sena S20 communicator, so you can turn on/off the camera, start/stop videos and cycle through shooting modes all through the communicator, and the voice confirmations inform you when the camera is on and whether the video has started or stopped so you don't have to try to look at any lights on the camera while riding to figure this out. I'll do a more thorough review of the Prism when I've gotten a chance to put it through its paces.
This entire video was shot using the Prism. Thanks Sena!