Since we’ve been having beautiful weather lately, a good friend and I decided to do the Berliner Mauerweg, an official bike route that follows the former Berlin Wall. We knew we’d never get the whole thing done in one day, as it’s 160 km long, but we decided to see how far we’d get and take the closest S-bahn home.
We ate breakfast at her place and left at 10 am with lots of water and a packed lunch. It was chilly at first, because even though it’s been unseasonably warm, it’s still quite cold in the morning. It was also overcast (something that worried both of us when we woke up and looked outside), but luckily the sun came out and it warmed up fairly quickly. We started at Mauerpark and headed SOUTH. This part of the route goes through most of Berlin’s tourist attractions. We had to pass by Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz and the East Side Gallery and dodge tourists along the way. Depending on whether you’re local or visiting, this can be annoying or amazingly convenient. It’s fairly difficult to navigate the route through the city centre…we had an easy time because we live here, so even if we lost track of the signage (the route is marked the entire way) we both had a general idea of where the Wall was so we were able to easily find our way back.
After Kreuzberg, the Mauerweg heads along Treptow and Neukolln, and gets more residential. After a while, the city turns into an almost suburban landscape, and at the edge of the city you hit farmland. It’s quite charming…it’s full of horse ranches (many of which offer horse back riding if that’s something you’re interested in) and farms. As the Mauerweg runs along the edge of the city for the most part, this pretty much summed up the rest of the day. It was lovely…lovely weather, lovely landscape, and lots of exercise.
We were pretty tired by the end of the day, and we took the S-bahn back from Griebnitzsee (technically in zone C, unfortunately). It wasn’t quite half the route, but close enough, and after this point the transport opportunities are few and far between, so it was the best point from which to leave. I estimate that we did about 70 km of the 160. We’ll do the other 90 km a bit later, which will work out well because there will be a few more daylight hours and hopefully we’ll be fitter by then…not that we’re in poor shape now, because being able to do ca. 70 km of cycling is nothing to sneer at!
Some tips for anyone wanting to attempt the Mauerweg:
-If you’re ridiculously fit and don’t want to stop and see anything, you can probably do it in one day. If you want to actually stop and look at things, and you can’t cycle rapidly on a continuous basis, it will take you 2 days. If you’re not particularly athletic, it may even take you 3. If you live in Berlin, plan accordingly (there isn’t access to transport along the entire route, though there are S-bahns and buses periodically, even along the edge), so that you know your limits and you are able to get home when you need to. Plan it in 2-3 day trips. If you’re visiting Berlin, you might want to try to find a hotel along the route (we saw quite a few) to get the full experience.
-If you think you might have to use a washroom in the near future, but it’s not urgent, look out for one as soon as you can. There aren’t that many! Take any opportunity you find when you find it. Plan ahead.
-Some parts of the route are poorly paved, and a couple of parts go through the most uneven cobblestone I’ve ever seen. A few parts aren’t paved at all (this is almost easier). This was still doable on our bikes (I have a Dutch bike and my friend has a German city bike), but if you have a bike with very thin tires, you might want to reconsider this route.
-The Mauerweg is fairly well-marked, but there are a few places where we got a bit lost. Mostly these were in the central part of the route, but there were also a few places along the edge parts where we got a bit lost. The ADAC Tourenplaner app was really helpful for keeping on track. I got this from the iTunes store last year, though I’m not sure if they have an Android version.
-I always forget this on the first day-trip of the year, but snacks are a MUST when you’re biking a lot. They also have to be healthy snacks that will give you energy. Think nuts, fruit, whole grains, etc. We got super hungry and something filling with protein would have been great. Also, I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but just in case…bring lots of water!
Now…for lots of pics!