Between Harz and the east there isn’t really very much, so we headed direct to Leipzig. The motorway network appears all new, and even the 2016 GPS maps on the van didn’t have them all – TomTom 2017 did though – but even then they are still being built causing us to get lost before realising internet was off and TomTom wasn’t getting real-time road closures. Oops.
The campsite in Leipzig is, by coincidence, where we stayed years before, but its conveniently placed next to the river cycles paths. A 46 mile round trip took us on an easy route to Halle where again there is an old city square which was busy and energetic, but the main reason was to visit the Halle chocolate factory and museum 🙂 And, we didn’t buy any chocolate! We decided it would be a bad idea… That said, the museum was interesting enough if not epic, but there were pretty much unlimited samples! So that’s lunch sorted! 🙂
Leipzig is 4-5 miles the other way, so the next day we headed there with sore bums – obviously out of practice cycling! The stazi museum and zoo are worth a visit, but we’d been before, but this time we went to the Zeitgeschichtlihces Forum which is a museum/exhibition on the DGR and how Germany split and became reunited. It was mostly in German, but fortunately we noticed an English guided tour and that made it more interesting indeed – and quite telling/sad on how it actually was. Well worth a visit. Dawdling around exploring the busy square, pub mile, and (apparently) the biggest terminal train station in Europe. Leipzig remains worth of a stop and a few days exploring.
On leaving Leipzig we headed to the “monument of nations” just planning a quick walk round. But it was big enough and impressive enough on the outside for us to pay to have a walk around the inside with an audio guide. And the inside was even more impressive even though our calves ached for a few days due to the number of steps. The inside is quite spectacular and absolutely worth a visit.
Dawdling further east, we noted some motorhome parking in Colditz and embarrassed to say, I thought “that shares the same place as that famous castle in the movies”. Well, yes it does, because it’s the genuine Colditz! So we stopped there and visited the castle and museum, and arrived just in time for a guided tour. The (true) stories from the guide were very funny albeit tasteful considering the WW2 nature, but was very interesting and we shown areas of the castle locked to normal visitors, and saw all the evidence of PoW escape attempts. The guide is a must really, very good indeed.
The parking is ok for overnight (or so we thought) so we visited the town and then to the nearby beer garden for beer and a tasty tea, then back to the van for bed. Part of Colditz is now a youth hostel, so we can only assume someone thought we were staying there, and hence the bikes on the van were potentially easy pray. So a complete **** tried to steal them, quite quietly, and when I stirred I obviously made a noise as by the time the door was open I saw no one around. I did see our bike rack cover removed, with the bungees cut, and the bike wheel straps removed or cut – and a “home made” Stanley knife left on the floor…. What a complete ****. Even if we’d not noticed, the bikes are connected to the tow-bar via a 10mm cable lock and a top-rated D-lock – so the bikes would not be removable from the van anyway! Grrrr.
So we opted to escape Coldiitz quicker than any other guest ASAP and spend the night elsewhere!
In over 1500 nights in the van, almost all with bikes on the back, 180 days backpacking in SE Asia, and 100 days tent touring with bikes this is the first such incident of a direct theft attempt. But still, **** annoying! The cover is repaired so no big deal really.
The location we were staying at passed all our normal rules: Not breaking any parking rules; not in anyones way; loads of space; clean area; quiet area; and a safe looking place. All we can put it down to is that there was a large youth hostel very nearby and someone may have assumed we were staying there and the bikes were just on the back of the car unattended, and judging by the knife left, it was an opportunistic attempt. There were some “low quality flats” around 500m away near another parking area we decided not to use, but perhaps some used where we were as a cut-though back from town. A location similar to many we’ve used and would use again.
Regardless, all OK, but ruined an otherwise lovely day!
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