June 18 – Linthe to Potsdam
I blame Wallander. Or maybe Vera. Or Eve and Villanelle. They have filled my head with fanciful ideas. Clearly I have watched far too many British crime series in my life, evidenced by the lesson I gave Steve on our ride today.
We pedalled off into another warm and sunny morning and it was absolutely magic. We didn’t have to go on a road, we had a path that took us back into the forest and that’s where we remained for most of the ride. The sun shone, the pine scent filled the air, the path was smooth and sealed and the bugs were having a sleep in…not a patch of gravel or a flying annoyance to be seen.
We passed a few people on bikes, some of them with panniers like us, others simply going about their daily routine, shopping and commuting on two wheels. I still love seeing that. People of all ages, shapes and sizes, pedalling along with their baskets on the front and back of their bike, picking up their groceries or running errands. Brilliant.
As we wheeled through the forest, we saw another of the wooden shelters we’d used yesterday, so decided to stop in the shade for a slightly early elevenses and make use of this handy little structure. We began reading the walls, on which various people had written their names and the places they had been. This was obviously a much used stopping place for cyclists along the path and many of them had left a record of their stop. There were people who had ridden from Amiens to Berlin, others from Amsterdam to Berlin. The wall inside was covered with names, dates and places, as cyclists had passed through. We considered for a nano second adding our names, because there was no one who had recorded the multiple locations we had been, but couldn’t bring ourselves to actually “graffiti” a place, so we didn’t, we just read everyone else’s journeys.
On we pedalled, up some slight hills and through those tall trees. Then my mind began to wander as I looked around me and this is where I blame The Tunnel, or Wire in the Blood, or Hinterland, or…well I attribute my wandering mind to my viewing habits from years gone by. I pedalled alongside Steve.
“This isn’t a serial killer forest,” I told him with the authority of someone who had acquired a PhD in Subclasses of Forests for Criminal Intent from the BBC School of Crime Scene Analysis, “it’s not dense enough.” I had made the observation that the spacing of the trees would not be conducive to hiding a victim, to be found later by someone in a tweed jacket walking a Border Terrier.
“No,” he agreed. So I had his attention there, I might as well continue the lesson.
“It’s more of an escapee forest. Y’know the sort where you see someone running through the trees and zig-zagging between trunks with someone running after them. Then you see and hear the peow, peow, peow of the bullets hitting the tree trunks and someone keeps running through the trees, escaping from someone or some place. It’s that sort of forest.”
He looked at me. He shook his head. He burst out laughing.
“What!?” I laughed. I thought I had made a splendid observational analysis of our surroundings.
“The things you think about,” he said, shaking his head at my overactive imagination.
“Well, I bet I’ve got you thinking about it now!”
We pedalled on and I continued to see Hobbits running from Wraiths and imagined what a location scout could do with such a versatile location. I was satisfied that Steve was now the recipient of such an important lesson in varieties of forests and their televisual uses. Exam pending.
We neared Potsdam and crossed over the Havel River, then into the city. All I knew of Potsdam was my memory of History and the 1945 Potsdam Conference at which the allied leaders began dividing up Europe, thus sowing the seeds for the Cold War to come. I didn’t know much else about the city at all. Riding in was a breeze, with bike paths and bike lanes and we found a park to stop for a bite of lunch before pedalling off to find our pitstop.
We navigated our way through the streets and into the Dutch Quarter where our apartment was waiting for us. We chose somewhere that included the feature of a washing machine and the first thing we did was put it to use and get the rest of our laundry done. Then, out for a roam. We wandered around the streets and this area of the city is really nice, with parks, some lovely buildings and significant sites, cobbled pedestrianised areas and a laid back feel.
We are just here for a night, before we make our final push to Berlin tomorrow. In Berlin we’ll be staying with my cousin, who I am yet to meet, so that will be a treat.
We had a lovely ride today. We had forest nearly all day, it was hot and sunny and it was a peaceful, relaxed ride amongst the trees. We have now left the peace of forests and farmland behind us, for some city riding to come, but in those places there are stories and discoveries and learning just waiting for us. Who knows what observations I might make…more lessons to come perhaps! I’m sure the tall team member is absolutely thrilled at that prospect!
Distance ridden: 49.5 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 9 minutes
Weather: sunny, hot, 29C…AY-MAY-ZING!