Today I would head south from Halle along the D11, which entailed riding through the old town and then swinging right to pick up the river. Sooner than yesterday I was out of town and in the fields … until the ‘radweg gesperrt [bicycle route closed]’ sign stopped my gentle progress.
After pondering which way to go, I followed an old man calmly pedalling along a busy and treacherous road, until we reached the village of Korbetha. Once again I could ride along quieter paths, passing through Schkopau and then back along the D11 to the outskirts of Merseberg.
Once again I had to turn back before I was ready to do so, although I took my time to notice the many industrial ruins around Schkopau. I have encountered this type of scenery before, but each time it is still a shock. One after another, the industries of the former DDR were shut down after 1989. Since they offered too much competition, with good quality products at relatively low prices, they were rapidly bought up and closed. Hence the ruins today, hence the unemployment in these parts. It was a process of comprehensive de-industrialisation, enacted right across eastern Europe. Here in particular, the process was obvious and devastating.
After Schkopau, I followed the ‘Umleitung [detour]’ sign back to Halle. Once back in the outskirts, I opted to follow a quiet route along the Weiss Elster River, a tributary of the Saale. Here my heart lifted, for I came across an extraordinary apartment complex, winding its way long the river for about half a kilometre. Another DRR dwelling complex, gloriously maintained, painted and lived-in. I sucked it all in and it went on and on.
I arrived back in Neustadt at sunset and took in yet again the vistas and street scapes of the DDR architecture and town planning.