Dear L and P,

The goal was to make it past Halle, if possible to Weissenfels on Saale river. Again, not a very exciting Komoot route. The one striking thing is how deserted those German small towns actually are. In the majority of them you won’t find a bakery, a grocery, a restaurant or a coffee shop. The latter is not a good thing for a biker at all. The difference between places like this one in Germany and in the US, is that in the US, you often have a Hardee’s or some other specimen from the lowest echelon of fast-food-restauration on the edge of town. In Germany, not. The romantic idea of the village pub where town folks chew the fat is out.


The most interesting part of the route was past some fairly large ponds, or small lakes, made by flooding the pits of the former East-German brown coal industry. Most – not all – of it was killed after unification for environmental reasons. Brown coal is the most damaging way of burning carbon and the area around Bitterfeld was a stinking, cancer-friendly zone of bad predicament for the people who lived there. On the other hand, they had jobs. East Germany was world champion in opencast mining, the largest excavating machines ever built were built here. Now, some of the machines can be seen in Dessau (too much of a detour for an old bicyclist), and the pits are turned into a recreational area. It lacks watering holes along the way, perhaps a park bench here and there, but they get an A for effort. Occasionally, very occasionally, by the way, you get a whiff of coal-burning in some of the villages. It is cold and heating the houses still of the essence. A drizzling rain did not make things better.


Merseburg, my destination, is another very old town, you could visit a gothic dome, see facsimiles of the Merseburg hexes, two even older texts of Germanic gibberish, and read visit the Merseburg raven, an unfortunate avian kept in a cage in memory of an irate Bishop who falsely condemned a man for theft of a golden ring which was actually stolen by some raven. As a reminder against rash judgments, the bishop ordered a raven to be held for public viewing at all times. I did not view.


The other noteworthy event is my dining experience. On the theory that a place full of diners is a good place to eat I went to the Indian restaurant “Taj Mahal”. I totally agreed with the “chef’s special”, but it did not agree with me. Lesson: When in off-the-beaten towns in Germany, do not go to exotic eateries. “Ethnic” here is not ethnic in New York. Exceptions are Greek (“Beim Griechen”) and the ubiquitous pizza parlors.