The one ride definitely at the top of my list to recommend would be my solo transfer ride from Amsterdam to Berlin, in fact my first experience with long distance riding ever. I enjoyed three and a half days of riding over the most beautiful German backroads and passed by historical pieces of art and culture, finishing under the Brandenburg Gate. The route was incredible, and ever since Germany surprisingly has become one of my favourite European cycling destinations.
As you’ll see from my photos along the route, I rode this in the autumn in late October. It might be a bit colder then, but I had mostly sunny days and got to enjoy the most amazing display of trees changing colour.
Over the 800 km (500 mile) route to Berlin, I discovered that the freedom of moving from one place to another, being alone on the bike, totally independent and no-one to rely on but myself, all gave me a real sense of living in the moment.
I left early in the morning at 6am. A little nervous and without much sleep (it would be my first solo bike ride), I left Amsterdam. I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle and that I had to increase my speed.The first part drove mainly through areas I know, but nevertheless incredibly beautiful. The heath around Hilversum, seeing deer grazing, crossing the historic center of Amersfoort and enjoying a cup of coffee and a croissant at one of the bakeries made for a very nice start.I passed Radio Kootwijk, a former art deco style radio station that always makes an impression. From there I crossed a number of large cities, including Apeldoorn and Deventer, ideal for topping up water.I told myself I couldn't have lunch until I crossed the German border and it wasn't until 200 km (124 miles) that I had my first lunch stop. In retrospect, I realized this was quite stupid! But Bad Bentheim, a beautiful city with a castle, was well worth the wait.In the last 70 km (43 miles), the landscape changed from flat areas to more rolling hills and already showed the beautiful variation of Germany. Arriving in Osnabruck was great; there you will find cozy streets with nice restaurants for dining.
The second day was again a very beautiful ride. I crossed a lot of small villages and empty landscapes in a day which was very zen-like. I enjoyed my first lunch stop in Hannover, a pretty nice city),where I had lunch along the river at Stadtmauer after 150 km (93 miles). After crossing a lot of beautiful forests, I was happy to arrive in Braunschweig to have a good night's sleep.
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This part of the route was absolutely beautiful. All the other days were quite sunny, but this day it was foggy and grey. I crossed a small village called Erkerrode which led the way to a lovely forest with some good climbing. The fog made everything truly mystical.The city of Magdenburg was a very good stopover. With a nice lunch and some beautiful buildings and cathedrals, I took some time to ride around as a tourist. The part after Magdenburg was amazing. A small path along the river brought me into some kind of nature reserve with stretches of tarmac that were more than enjoyable to ride. The rural scenery and the many sheep made it super scenic.After Lostau a small navigational mishap led me down a gravel track into a forest. After rerouting I could find my tracks back easily and I was incredibly happy when I arrived in Brandenburg.
On the last day I decided to get some sleep. My B&B had a sauna (which I gratefully used) and after a relaxed breakfast I continued on my way to Berlin. There was only 100 km (62 miles) left, but oh my; this part of the ride was fascinating.The route from Brandenburg to Potsdam was almost entirely through nature, full of singing birds, lush greenery and refreshing streams. Potsdam just blew me away in terms of architecture. It is a beautiful city and until 1918 a residence of the Prussian Kings and the German Emperor. The planning embodied the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment: a careful balance between architecture and landscape, Potsdam was intended to be "a picturesque pastoral dream" that would remind residents of their relationship to nature and reason. And it was picturesque. I spent two hours in this city, driving from one Palace to another as a tourist, finding English and Italian gardens with fountains and enjoying the view of the city. I had lunch at Rosenberg, a vegan restaurant with super tasty food (even for the non vegans, which I am).After Potsdam I crossed the beautiful Grunewald forest, with its rolling hills, before driving in a straight line from Charlottenburg to the center of Berlin. Getting closer to the city, I wish the ride wouldn't end - I was enjoying it so much! I planned my ride to end at the Brandenburg Gate, one of Germany's most famous sights, built on the site of a former city gate that marked the beginning of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel, the city where I my ride had started.When I got there I was beaming with happiness and I also think I was a little bit proud, because I had just finished my longest ride ever, 800 km from Amsterdam to Berlin.