I was tired and slow after the poor night’s kip, and not sure which town to head for. Not had wifi for several days now, so no downloaded map again. Once more, out with the compass and head in a NE direction. I followed a ‘panoramic’ route from Lichtenbad to Rudolfstein, along a gravelly footpath that ran alongside a river through woods – with many walkers for company. The River eventually ran into the bigger River Saale with quite a few ups and downs.
In Hirschberg, after crossing over a main highway, I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English to ask directions of, so I pushed Rowenna up a 22% hill just because. The view at the top was worth it and I do believe it was a good decision as it definitely took a traffic free route through smaller villages in the direction I wanted to go in.
I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful, perfect but lonesome narcissi – and ended up getting the grass in perfect focus and the flower itself completely blurred (so you won’t be seeing that one). While I was kneeling there with the camera, a young bloke stopped his car to ask if I was OK – and spoke excellent English. He reassured me that there was a restaurant not half a km up the road (I hadn’t eaten anything since Werner’s rolls). Spontaneous offers of assistance always brighten the day!
I ordered Kangaroo stew with dumplings and rostakraut: weird but tasty and suiting the colder weather. That with johannisbeersaft (blackcurrant juice) and I was replete – set me up for another couple of hours cycling at any rate, though I wasn’t going to break any records again today. I even dozed off over my knitting after eating I think –and the waitress cleared away and didn’t disturb me!
It was all downhill just about, from Juchhöh. There was even (briefly) a tail wind – then I flew! I’m a little bit more trepidatious about going downhill as the balance between panniers isn’t perfect and there can be a distinct wobble at high speeds, so I’m probably wearing the brake pads out. I was on top of the world and could see down along valleys – great swathes of farmland with small islands of trees. The road itself was lined with ancient oak trees every 20-30yards (ah, back to imperial!). They were a different shape than usual, these oaks, encouraged to grow tall by the regular pruning of lower branches I guess.
I saw two Middle Spotted (got that courtesy of google) Woodpeckers close by – obviously two males having a brief territorial spat as one swooped in, made a lot of noise and kerfuffle with the other one, then swooped off back the way it had come. It was the red cap and pinkish colouring that helped me identify them.
I rode into Plauen past dilapidated, sad and once grand buildings. They made me feel a little nervous with their smashed windows and doors hanging off, as there were few people around on the edge of the city. But I soon got into city proper – modern buildings – wifi! While I was looking for accommodation, a young couple pointed me in the direction of the Youth Hostel – or Jugundeherberge.de (DJH) as it is in Deutschland – transformed from an old firestation. The couple had told me that it was a building where fireworks were, so I was expecting a gunpowder factory at the very least. It was a huge building and they’d used the building’s historic use as a theme for the décor – firebox red, old photographs of the firemen and engines, children’s drawings of fireengines.
It was the nicest Youth Hostel I’ve stayed in so far, in Europe.