Out and about in Germany

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Out and about in Germany
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Out and about in Germany

Out and about in Germany
From Frankfurt to Frankfurt

Two cities with the same name. Which largely exhausts the similarities: Gleaming facades on the Main and rents as high as the Deutsche Bank towers, on the Oder a dreary gray and a hint of hopelessness. And in between? Lots of German provinces.

Michael Schroder

08/02/2007

Two cities with the same name. Which largely exhausts the similarities: Gleaming facades on the Main and rents as high as the Deutsche Bank towers, on the Oder a dreary gray and a hint of hopelessness. And in between? Lots of German provinces.

The nocturnal turn through the center of Frankfurt is something of a computer game. Like two lonely hunters, Harley and Ducati roll through dark, empty streets where the imposing towers of the financial world are highest. The up to 260 meters high, stylish facades made of glass, steel and concrete stand out only faintly from the night sky, reinforcing the pilots’ impression in the moonlight of moving in a virtual canyon labyrinth. A driving experience that is almost unique in Europe – at best the Moscow city center has a comparable high-rise backdrop.

Short orientation stop below the exhibition tower. “Ah, Ducati! Beautiful! «Mr. Wang comes from China, comes out as the head of a loudspeaker chassis company with over 1000 employees and would like to take a photo of the red Multistrada. May he. I want to know if he’s having a good vacation. “Oh no, only business!” He is busy opening up the German market. In the past 20 years, he has not had a day of free time, which he says sounds like free time is a mortal sin.

Shortly before midnight, photographer Klaus and I move into our sober sleeping cabins on the third floor of the Frankfurt youth hostel (attention: no towels!). Well beyond 40 we are raising the average age considerably, but somehow that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. The countless teens and twenties are far too preoccupied with themselves. There is a babylonian babble of voices in the hallways and in the lounge and that enviable exuberance that one only remembers from school trips or the first trips without parents. Life will probably never be as exciting as it was at that time. Nasty side effect: Klaus and I suddenly feel older than we actually are.

Monday, 8.30 a.m. Course briefing during breakfast. This time the route was chosen by the PC. Or better: the MOTORCYCLE tour planner (See also download at the end of the article). The parameters for this trip: from Frankfurt am Main as directly as possible on scenic routes to Frankfurt / Oder. The route, which is recommended after a short calculation on the screen, is 608.4 kilometers long, should be manageable in 12.20 hours of pure driving time at medium speed and is truly impressive – according to the map, a surprisingly balanced compromise between kilometers and optimal fun in curves. At least as far as Leipzig. Behind it, it looks rather poor in terms of driving pleasure: where the topography resembles that of a pool table, the tires are inevitably angular – even the tour planner cannot change anything.

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Out of Frankfurt, heading northeast. Stubbornly following the directional arrow on the display of a GPS receiver that has previously been fed with the route data. Allegedly, the digital revolution made the good old map obsolete a long time ago. Three sheets on a scale of 1: 200000 are still included. Quasi as a lifeline so that you don’t starve to death somewhere in the Hessian or Thuringian outback in the event of a power failure, system crash or – more likely – incorrect operation.
If we had already relied on the satellite-supported directional information in the center of Frankfurt, we would probably still be wandering around the city today. A diversion confuses the little computer on the handlebars so much that it persistently wants to lead us back to the starting point of the trip with a request to turn around. So back to classic values: signposts. A good ten kilometers later, the satellite technology is also familiar again. Frankfurt’s imposing skyline has long since disappeared in the mirrors, and from Bruchkobel onwards it becomes noticeably more rural, more provincial. Dignified half-timbering instead of modern office towers, banks at best in the corner shop format.

Nidderau, Limeshain, Budingen. The route gradually throws itself into it, finally serving a first highlight: the route from Bleichenbach via Bergheim to Ortenberg. Only a hard-to-see white line on the map, which you would definitely have overlooked when planning the route – and which you don’t think you can trust at all. On the other hand, things look completely different on the handlebars of a Ducati. Very fine asphalt without a median or guardrail, only flanked by a bottle-green stream, lush meadows or dense forest and a few perfectly formed hills. A short ascent is mastered with a handful of hearty curves until the old fortification of Ortenberg comes into view. Seven kilometers that are tough. I have no idea how the tour planner knows this route. Instead, the GPS surrenders in the steep, historic streets of Ortenberg. Does not matter. This is how you end up in front of Cafe Strackgasse. Hessian cosiness between ancient masonry and cobblestones. Frankfurt appears light years away. This also applies to the prices: You can get a cappuccino for one fifty euros, schnitzel with fried potatoes for five euros.

Further in low flight. Hirzenrain, then left towards Schotten. The panoramas increase. Mountain ranges staggered one behind the other, deep valleys, seemingly endless fields of rapeseed. Luminous yellow surrounded by lush green rows of trees under a deep blue sky – certainly one of the sharpest color combinations from nature’s paint box. The routing also gains in drama. Curves in all variations lead through this moving topography, form a total work of art and demand a clear commitment: drive or look. You can’t do both at the same time. Many of those who meet have clearly made their decision – the amount of lowered vehicles has skyrocketed. Welcome to the Hoher Vogelsberg Nature Park.

Behind Schotten, historically significant asphalt: the Ducati arrows uphill over the former Schottenring. In fact, this part of the course turns out to be less spectacular than expected until the junction to Ulrichstein. The curves and hairpin bends were a touch more daring before. Nevertheless, I also find myself driving a much more committed style. In 1953, the German Grand Prix was held here in front of 170,000 spectators – you just can’t roll around like a snail on a stage like this. The many black stripes on the now badly worn asphalt allow only one conclusion anyway: In this area, people continue to drive with petrol in their blood, although the time of the big races was already over in 1955. From then on, natural stretches like this were considered too dangerous. But Schotten’s residents don’t seem to want to live without official racing: since 1989, the Oldtimer Grand Prix has been held once a year in front of a full house on a new street circuit. The region is clearly committed to motorsport.

Lautertal, Lauterbach, Schlitz, Bad Hersfeld. The undisputed highlights of this stage: a frog-green NSU Prinz from 1971, who lived in the tiny Rhina on the roadside in front of the museum-like agricultural machinery workshop of the »Gebr. Lotz «is offered for sale (which leads to a well over an hour break because the owner proves to be extremely talkative) and the crisp route over the Mengshaeuser hilltop. Otherwise, the prospects and prospects in the Hessian pampas are almost unchanged: rapeseed until you drop. Little changes in this, even beyond the Thuringian border. “Germany’s green center” – people are proud of their forest wealth. We let it go, enjoy that exhilaration that comes naturally at some point after miles of relaxed country road driving. Suddenly your head is as free as after three weeks of vacation.

Arrival in Eisenach. Above the Wartburg, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament, on the left an imposing branch of the Orion publishing house, which sells articles on »marriage hygiene« – the city attracts at first sight with a wide variety of attractions. A badly battered street leads past rows of mouse-gray houses into the center, leaving the impression as if the turning point only took place yesterday. The city center is all the more friendly. Colorful half-timbered buildings around the market square and St. George’s Church. Two coffee and cake, two loads of gasoline, and then we’re out of Eisenach again, feeling the first big change: the view extends further than before. From here the land stretches out flat like a pancake.

A detour due to a blocked town passage near Reichenbach takes you deeper into the Thuringian province: away from the B 84, modernity seems to have fallen by the wayside. Colorless villages that abandoned former agricultural production cooperatives and fall into disrepair. Posters advertise an erotic fair, for the NPD, for the tent disco on Saturday in the neighboring village. The displeasure is evident in their faces. Those who can have long since left. Many of those who stayed have probably given up. The only recognizable concessions to the here and now: Satellite systems on almost every roof and Winfried Monch’s biker shop in Warza. The angular design of an Aprilia Futura in the shop window looks as unusual in this environment as a Trabi in front of the Deutsche Bank portal. The boss himself turns out to be a two-wheeler fanatic, “otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this here”, enthusiastically talks about the upcoming motorcycle blessing next weekend. There is also enough coffee and, “because we are sitting together so comfortably”, an estimated 200 holiday pictures on the PC from the last trip through the Baltic States. Any customers? Nothing. “You barely stay afloat.”

Continue in an easterly direction. The route is stretching, causing the first signs of fatigue. Bad Langensalza, Sommerda. Somewhere in between, a rolling snack bar on the edge of the road provides travelers with local specialties: Thuringian bratwurst and “Jim Him” ​​- a bright pink raspberry shower that tastes not the slightest bit like raspberries, just like sugar and artificial ingredients.

Behind Bad Bibra, all of a sudden, a hill that appears almost as imposing as the Alps after the last few kilometers without any contour. A handful of serpentines quickly get the sluggish reflexes going again, and for a brief moment you think you are in Tuscany: the view falls on terraced vineyards – the northernmost in Europe. Shortly afterwards we follow the “Saale-Unstrut Wine Route” for a few kilometers, which leads down to Freyburg, the epicenter of the local winemakers and home of the Rotkappchen sparkling wine cellar. There are purely practical reasons for turning off in the direction of Leipzig beforehand. Before dark we want to have passed the Saxon metropolis, because a city stroll is not on the program today. In fact, it’s enough to Torgau, just under 50 kilometers to the east. Duc and Harley bump through 1000-year-old alleys to the market square, where the last guests are just rising from the terrace of the Hotel Goldener Anker. Two dinners are just in there. Lucky. Because the setting is unbeatable. Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque. Everything perfectly arranged and restored. An urban pearl – we didn’t expect something like that. The full contrast program is running on the nearby banks of the Elbe: “DJ Bunnychecker” whips the city’s youth with hard-hitting beats to the point of collective ecstasy.

Final spurt. The B 87 runs practically straight to Frankfurt / Oder. Curvy alternative routes? Not in this part of the world – the route is probably only straighter in the American Midwest. Only the Spreewald, which has now made it onto the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, promises a little drama. The great capital of the water-rich region around the very tranquil Lubben: boat trips and pickles. The latter are among the few GDR products that are still in demand after the fall of the Wall.

A look at the map helps to avoid the monotony along the B 87. At Grob Leine turn right, then a good bit along the Schwielochsee and continue through the prairie to shortly before Frankfurt. A direct hit, even if the combination of route planner and GPS system insists on a return to the originally planned course. Only one thing helps: ignore the technology, because Klaus and I are cruising along what is probably one of the most beautiful avenues in the republic. Behind Goyatz, your gaze now and then falls on the shimmering lake, on beautiful dachas right on the shore. Enviable.

Back on the B 87, finally the last few kilometers. Dreary prefabricated buildings, some of which have been given a bit of color, mark the city limits of Frankfurt. Immediately afterwards in the field of vision the 89 meter high Oderturm, an unsightly block of concrete in the middle of the center, behind it the river, the border with Poland. For a while we cross through the desolate inner city area, which was completely destroyed in the Second World War and practically only has a handful of historical buildings. Graffiti on many walls, broken window panes, facades in need of renovation – the city is obviously fighting for survival in many places, and you catch yourself thinking about how to divert part of the splendor of the Main metropolis here. Greatest glimmer of hope: Since the EU’s external border was moved further east, one suddenly finds oneself in the middle of a new Europe.

Info – duration of the trip: two days. Distance covered: 675 kilometers

Great routes, picturesque locations, friendly encounters ?? it is really worth it to drive through Germany on country roads for a few days.

The distance
A look at the map can sometimes make you despair: there are so many exciting routes in Germany. This is especially true for the low mountain ranges. In the east of the republic the paths are often straight, but there is no shortage of interesting impressions. The two-day route described in the text was spat out by the MOTORRAD tour planner (see box), and the result is quite impressive in terms of driving pleasure. To the right and left of this tour, however, there are countless other winding paths that can of course be integrated with more time.
accommodation
A room for the night? Definitely not a problem in Germany. Hotels and pensions can be found in practically every place. However, the best selection is in the cities, most of which are worth seeing anyway.
If you are looking for a reasonably inexpensive bed in the center of Frankfurt, we recommend the »Haus der Jugend« at Deutschherrenufer 12 (directly on the Main with a view of the imposing city skyline). The single or double rooms are simple, but only cost between 35 and 40 euros per night and person (including breakfast). However, the youth hostel card is compulsory and costs between 12 and 20 euros, depending on age (can be requested on site). Information by phone 069/6100150 or at www.jugendherberge-frankfurt.de. In Eisenach, the centrally located, cozy »Schlosshotel«, Markt 10, is a real tip, with a night in a single room costing 74 euros. Telephone 03691/702000, www.schlosshotel-eisenach.de. The “Hotel Goldender Anker”, Markt 6, in the quaint Torgau, is also located in the center. For a single room, 41 euros are required. Telephone 03421/73213, www.goldener-anker-torgau.de. The tip for Frankfurt / Oder: »Hotel Gallus«, Furstenwalderstrasse 74. A great old building with large rooms. Single rooms there cost from 49 euros. Telephone 0335/56150, www.hotel-gallus.com. With the exception of the youth hostel, all accommodations have a secure parking space.
information
For an appropriate trip, we recommend the tear-proof and weatherproof MOTORRAD general maps from Mairs on a scale of 1: 200,000, which cost 5.90 euros per sheet. In this case, sheets 7, 10 and 13 were used. The cards are available at petrol stations or at www.motorradonline.de. The respective regional tourism offices are a good information exchange (also for hotel tips): www.frankfurt-tourismus.de (phone 069/21238800); www.schotten.de (phone 06044/6651); www.eisenach.de (phone 03691/79230); www.naturpark-saale-unstrut-triasland.de (phone 034461/22086); www.torgau.de (phone 03421/70140); www.spreewald-info.de (phone 035603/759560); www.fremdenverkehrsverein-schwielochsee.de (phone 035478/393); www.frankfurt-oder-tourist.de (phone 0335/325216).

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