The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 4, 19 July 2018: Flensburg to Rendsburg (80 km; 204 km in total)

2018 07 19 Flensburg to Rendsburg

Today was our opportunity to get food patterns sorted, especially since we had German country food upon which to draw. For some reason, German bicycle routes seem to go extraordinarily well with German food and beer. I at least burn up a lot of energy and need to be replenished regularly: a big German breakfast, with its eggs, oats, yoghurt, bread rolls and cheese. If we had a buffet, we would select more than enough; if a set table, I would eat everything on the table, even the sliced meats. Why? Normally, I am a vegetarian, but without the regular sources of protein (beans, wholemeal rice, tofu and so on) I had to do as the Germans do – when in the village, follow the local customs. Charged up and a little overfull after breakfast, I had enough reserves to last until lunch.

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Lunch was at a Gastäte in Schleswig. Buying lunch like this was an exception, since normally we bought food for the day and would stop where needed: breads, satchels of jam and honey from breakfast, grapefruit, cucumber and bananas – endless bananas. Later, I found the blissful ‘Ice Coffee’ muesli bars in Aldi and we hit upon the wonderfully refreshing combination of sour cherry drink and mineral water – a litre of each was mixed and gone in one sitting.

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From Flensburg to Schleswig, we rode alone the Ochsenweg. Through ancient forest, along farm tracks and through villages it went. I pondered older ideas of what counted as roads. One clearly needed regular stops for the night, every 20 kilometres or so, and food had to be plentiful. Guard posts too were a constant feature – back then, at least (they are gone now). A hill and a twist are no problems, for one is going at horse or walking pace. Like us, really. So no need for straight roads along which one can speed along.

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Except if it is hot and dry, like today. After Schleswig, we decided to pick up the paved bicycle path along the ‘77’ route. Straight from Schleswig to Rendsburg it went. Settle into a rhythm, tired though you might be, and the kilometres tick by.

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At Rendsburg, we were gone. All that was left was to dig out Hotel Tüxen, along the twists and turns of the town and under a glorious railway overpass. At 80 Euro it was a little over our budget but relatively modest for the coastal regions in high holiday mode. The massive German meal, with its glorious salad (with some content, as Germans like) and Bauernfrüstuck, are my favourites. The latter’s basis is an omelette-like slab loaded with potatoes and onions. It may have some extras, but it hits the spot as no other food – when on a German bicycle route.

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We slept almost 10 hours.

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The Anti-Fascist Trail: Day 3, 18 July 2018: Aabenraa to Flensburg (53 km; 124 km in total)

The first few kilometres out of Aaberaa turned out to be one those roads that simply happen from time to time. A pure delight: a single lane through farmland and hills, completely to ourselves. You never know when such roads appear: it depends as much on how you feel and the time of day as the road itself. But they stay in your bodily memory, so much so that I can recall them years later.

We continued through parts of the peninsula that leads to Sønderborg, where we had ridden many years ago. Already we had to find our own way, using our phones, occasional maps printed on boards and other means to find a route suitable for bicycles. It would be good practice for the rest of the ride, since much of it was not sign-posted.

Later in the day, we arrived in Gråsten on the Flensburg fjord. Now we followed the coast route to the German border, looking out over the fjord that led to the ancient Hanseatic cities and its Baltic trade. Much mythology surrounds Flensburg, with romantic images of small white houses clustering the old port area.

But we were somewhat thrown by the town. Why? It is full of Danes! After crossing the small cycling bridge into Germany, with its many small pillars from different eras marking the border, we expected to enjoy the passage into Germany. But everywhere we turned, people spoke Danish. There was even the stunning Flegaard: just across the border, it sells Danish products, has Danish signs and uses Danish staff. But the items are subject to German rather than Danish taxes. So Danes flock to them. The catch is that the prices are perhaps a little cheaper than Denmark, but still higher than German prices. I simply could not figure it out.

Our accommodation for the night was a puzzle. We had booked ahead due to the holiday season, but the mysterious ‘Werkzimmer’ gave its address only after booking. We soon found out why: it was a spare room backstage at a grungy concert hall in the industrial district. Nylon sheets and some dope-smoking and heavy-drinking fellow guests – who also made use of the share toilet – saw us pack up an hour or two later and find the Altstadt Hotel, which still had a room to spare. Soft? Perhaps. But we slept well after a simple dinner in our room.