I had a eastern Germany adventure back in the 90s, and also traveled through the country. That was not long after the fall of the wall.
20 odd years ago
indeed a different experience of the country (now region). Buildings, apart from governmental or public ones, looked run down. As if the proprietors were completely indifferent about their, if at all their, property. People came across as suspicious, not very polite, and the scent of the totalitarian “communistical” regime could be felt everywhere.
Riding through the countryside and a few smaller cities I even recall spotting garbage cans with padlocks on them. The systemic infestation had, after decades of oppression by the communist regime, turned people against people. I’ve been in several of the iron curtain countries, before and right after the fall of communism. DDR was, historically, one of the worst.
A region in transformation
This time around East Germany presented itself differently. The first thing I noticed was the atmosphere, the second upkeep of buildings, roads, services. Not quite at the level of the western part of the country though, yet people appeared as friendly and forthcoming as I’ve always found them in the western part.
Signs from a darker, different era were still visible.
But not all is scruffy looking
Indeed no. A lot of buildings, villages and small towns did not stand (too) far apart from what one can find in the western part of the country. However, I think there’s a difference in pride with regards to constructions and history heritage. Happy to see many examples that the catching up in both spirits and preservation had gained significant traction in some 20 odd years.
If you look for Adventure roads
you might succeed in finding them. Though in the western part of Germany even back roads usually have a high standard. That surprised me more than once. In eastern Germany however riding with an adventure style bike proved to be sensible, more than once! With GPS in smallways mode there was no shortage of the badness, as I went through woods and countryside, from one village to another.
Border crossing – Into Poland
At this point I’d spent so much time on smallways in Germany I hurried towards the border. Crossed through the city Frankfurt an der Oder and over into Slubice. A lot of Germans probably went there to shop because it was mainly made up of shops.
More bizarrely, while heading south-east along the road DK29, was the number of prostitutes lined up along the road. They’d spread out over miles, on every parking space. Didn’t take any pictures since that would mean stopping, for all I knew something that could lead to mugging or worse. It would indeed be a kind of adventure I had no desire to experience.
After a few miles this roadside service offering died down. One big difference from Germany to Poland was the change in road infrastructure, and the lessening of route diversity or choices.
I tried to find some small roads, more often than not they were dead ends my GPS knew nothing about. Carving through the Polish landscape were several freeway projects. Based on the traffic situation I dare say it was needed. But sadly, these happened at the expense of small roads alternatives.
South towards Wroclaw
I’d made the decision, earlier in the day, to target the city of Wroclaw as my next stop. This made up a decent day’s worth of riding, or around 530 kilometers. Along the route, while trying to stay off as many bigger roads as I could, I passed through many nice looking small towns.
Said before, the whole point about this adventure was to not plan anything, play it by ear, improvise. However Wroclaw was a city I wanted to see at least a little bit of. The road infrastructure in Poland forces you to go through towns there were a lot more city traffic riding than I fancy. Wroclaw was not one of them!
Later in the evening I reached my destination for the day.
More about Wroclaw in the next post!