After 6 days of cycling, we've arrived in Magdeburg! It has been a good start to our trip so far, cycling next to the Elbe river enjoying the flat landscapes and autumn colours, staying with and meeting new friends through Warmshowers and Couchsurfing, and learning a little bit more about this part of the country.
Heiko's friends Jörg and Gaby joined us on our first day almost all the way to Geesthacht, and the ride was made even more enjoyable with quite a bit of tailwind, a lucky start to our trip! Just before Geesthacht, we managed to see the fish ladder next to the sluice gates, the largest fish ladder in Europe, allowing fish to move through the sluice gates up the Elbe. Upstream of these sluice gates, the river level is no longer affected by tides.
On our second day, to take a break from the cold and warm up a little, we decided to make a stop at the Biosphaerium Elbtalaue when we were passing through Bleckede. It turned out to be much more interested than expected, with interactive exhibits displaying the bird and aquatic life of the Elbtalaue region, and even had a beaver lodge with two beavers living inside! The beavers were sleeping when we visited, as they are nocturnal, but it was nevertheless interesting to learn more about them and see their lodge built into the side of the exhibition building from the top of the viewing tower.
Cycling along the Elbe river, the best views can be found on the top of dykes, and we tried taking these paths as much as possible. These dykes are essential in preventing flooding of the surrounding flatland areas when the river level rises. To find the best routes, we have crossed the river many times, either by ferry, which are more common, or by bridges crossing the river.
Just before Magdeburg, we managed to take a look at the Mittelland Canal where it crosses the Elbe with an aquaduct, or water bridge. The Mittelland Canal is the longest artificial waterway in Germany and an important link in the waterway network connecting Germany with its neighbouring countries. The Magdeburg aquaduct and area around it is quite an impressive feat of engineering. Ships turning from the Elbe into the Mittelland Canal first need to be raised to the height of the canal by two sluices. The aquaduct then allows the ships to cross over the Elbe river. At nearly 1km long, the Magdeburg aquaduct is the longest navigable aquaduct in the world.
Greetings from the Elbe!