Saturday, 8 June 2013

Cycling Scandinavia: Ochsenweg

My tour really started after Hamburg. My GPS was fixed and I slowly settled into a routine. I am still doing less than 100 km every day and I enjoy the leisurely pace a lot. Of course the long daylight hours help a lot, too. I have plenty of time to cook in the evening and I can sleep in in the morning.

Schleswig Cathedral
My first stop was Rendsburg where I visited an old friend. It felt heavenly to shower after almost a week on the road. The weather was great and I decided to have my first real sightseeing stop in Schleswig. Deciding what sightseeing to do will be a major challenge on this trip. I am generally interested a lot in history and art and I have an almost insatiable hunger for all sorts of museums and historical buildings. But there is so much to see on this trip that I will have to choose. There are two limiting factors: The first one is my budget. Museums generally charge entrance and Scandinavia is not cheap either. I will therefore prefer free sights and will only pay for extraordinary sights or things that interest me specifically. The other factor is my input capacity. Even I can only endure so many museums before they all start looking the same and become boring.

Schleswig was not only a nice little town but also offered some free sights like the cathedral. The Tourist Information even has free bicycle garages which solved the problem of what to do with my luggage when visiting a sight. With my bike and stuff securely locked away I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through town.

I was coming closer to the Danish border and it was time to stock up on cheap Aldi chocolate before I entered expensive Denmark. Luckily an Aldi market was right next to my route. But even on a bike my storage capacity is limited and alas I will soon run out of chocolate....

Shelter along the Ochsenweg
On this part of my trip I have been following the Ochsenweg, an old trade route that continues into Denmark as Heerweg. Back in the Middle Ages every year thousands of oxen had been driven down from Denmark on this route. Nowadays this route has been restored as a hiking, biking and even a pilgrimage trail. The positive effect of this is that the trail has a great infrastructure. There are great shelters which I did not need because of the warm weather. There are information boards and maps. And there are a lot of trail markers - and this is where things are getting confusing. Often I did not know which marker to follow and bike trail markers where the least frequent and most confusing. The bike trail was marked on the maps which I had brought as photocopies. It was also marked on the velomaps I had downloaded onto my GPS. And all this did not coincide with each other nor with the marking in the field. So in the end I just chose the best route for my purposes and eventually got to where I wanted to go.

Froeslev Concentration Camp
Things improved dramatically after crossing the Danish border where bike trails are marked more consistently and the German Ochsenweg continues as Hjaervejen or National Bike route 3. This brought me to Fröslev and a former German concentration camp that now houses a memorial and museum. For me it qualified as a must see sight in both factors: it is free and I am specifically interested in the history. I spent several hours exploring the restored camp barracks and the historical explanations. Unfortunately only the part dealing with the history during the German Nazi occupation was in Danish, German and English. After 1945 the camp was used to inter German war criminals - and this part was explained in Danish only leaving me in the dark.

I left the Hjaervejen to cycle West along the German-Danish border and visit my friend Nano's mother who lives on the German side. I am now staying in a fabulously restored huge old farm house enjoying the first full rest day of this trip. My first sunburn is healing, biker hunger has already set in and I am really looking forward to the next 3  months in my bike.


John Harwood said...

I'm sorry Christine, I have to disagree with "Even I can only endure so many museums before they all start looking the same and become boring." I have travelled with you a reasonable amount of time and I never witnessed it!

Glad to hear you are settling into the bike trip.


Gerald Klamer said...

Schön, dass alles bei dir gut läuft!

Weiterhin viel Spass wünscht