It's not always easy to assign a catchy title to a whole region and the places you visit on a motorcycle tour. I usually tend to choose an ironic umbrella term but the location I visited today, would not have allowed that. Because today I went to see the Bergen-belsen Holocaust Memorial Site. The historical place is easy to find, the staff of the exhibition center is very helpful and the entrance is free. Bergen-Belsen was not only a concentration camp but also a camp for sovjet prisoners of war. Tenthousands of them died ther due to the inhumane living conditions. I went to the Bergen-Belsen memorial site because I knew Anne Frank died there. Her diary was among the set books in school. Her for a teenage girl mature but at the same time spirited and dreamful view on herself, the people around her and on the surrounding conditions she lived in, movied me then and does to the day. The memorila stone for her and her sister at the camp site is one of many for those people who lost their lives in this camp. Her factual grave is most certainly among the large mass graves, that a spread like burial mount on th historical camp site. Most of them contain the remains of a thousand human beings.
Thick clouds wrapped the tree tops this morning. This didn`t change the whole day. Fro Rheinhausenclose to Göttingen I rode towards the south to the town of Friedland. Today my Werra Valley/Eichsfeld circuit tour should not only finally meet the Werra River but als gain its impression of contemporary german history. In the border triangle of Thuringia, Hessen and Lower Saxony the History of post-war Germany is evident much more than in other parts of the country. I headed towards the transit camp of Friedland. Opened September 20th 1945 more than 4 millionen war refugees, POW, displaced persons and ethnic german immigrants have been processed there since the end of World War II. I spend more than one and a half hour in there filming, recording and learning about the fates of so many of my fellow countrymen. Thereafter I piloted my BMW to the Homecomers Memorial closeby. It was erected to remember the homecoming of the last german prisoners of war held in Soviet captivity in 1955- ten years after the war had ended. The rain had not paused but increased. Yet the scenic landscape with small, curvy roads over green hills in the mist of this rather tropical humidity compensated for a wheater that I don`t mind so much but repells many of my fellow motorcyclists.
During the last two days I rode more then half of my new Werra Valley/Eichsfeld Circuit tour sheduled for five days in total. Thismeans I can allow myself a day of rest and recovery. Wheater forecast a look out the window tell me that we will have some showers today. I wrapped my motorcycle in its hood and will be using the day to sort the already tremendous amount of video footage I created the last days.
First task today was picking up the route through the Werra Valley and Eichsfeld that I had interraupted yesterday. It got late so I had to leave my scheduled tour in Heiligenstadt already and went for my accommodation. I had assembled the tour data to get back on my orginal track quickly with the route planning program late yesterday night. I regretted it this morning when it led me over the highway, which I had not exactly asked for. As a sightseeing spot I had included Bodenstein Castle into this 5-day-circuit. But when I got there, this medieval fortification was hidden in the forest and it was unclear how to get there with my motorcycle. I tried to roll a little beyond the ramaced parking lot to see if there was a road leading up to the castle. Instead;I found a considerable and legal offroad track that allowed switching the GS'sassistance systems from "road" to "enduro". Something I hadn't expected at all on this trip. Gladly this was only the beginning of some more offroad fun a couple of kilometers later. Gravel road turned into loose gravel and even bigger pebbles. Just when I had adjusted my driving and was confidently picking up speed the dirt track turned into a green fieldpath with deep lane grooves, that had to be followed. Eventually it changed to two-lane grass paving blocks with a steep descent. A great experience that I had not expected in the heart of Germany and a cultivated landscape like the Eichsfeld.
Today, a tour started on which I had drwan on much longer than necessary. Eventually, you have to click the route planner shut and get on the bike. So today is the first of five tour days and it will mostly be consumed by reaching the destination area of the Werra river valley and the man-made landscape of Eichsfeld (Oak Field). The approach means about 200 kilometers of german highway plus another 100 kilometers along my planned tour to reach the first day's stage. On the way to the designated tour area, two things can go wrong:
- Bombing down the highway so fast, that you're to exhausted to enjoy riding your bikeinthe actual tour area. Or
- hanging behind, arriving with weary bones and being so behind schedule that you have to skip part of the first day's coordinates to reach your accommodation on time.
I tend to do both and have gathered more than enough experinces with those two options. Hence, I was relieved to find a enduro duo on the highway I could attach myself to. They were doing an efficient but safe pace so I stuck to their rear tires and went along. A rather parasitic behavior as saves you obligatorily checking your speed and deciding when to overtake slower vehicles in front of you. Like a pearl on a string I followed my two new friends a limited my thinking to a minimum. This way even a couple of hundred kilometers of dry highway can be as relaxing as yoga on two wheels.