Potsdam and Critical Mass

Distance: about 80km, map

It was Sunday the 1st of June and the weather was fabulous. It was the perfect day for a bike ride. We wanted to ride about 80km, with some hills, a lake and some quiet wooded roads thrown in. So after some discussion we selected some favourite sections from previous rides, pieced them together on the map and hoped for the best. The result was a wee gem of a ride.

There's a new bike in town! There’s a new bike in town!

We left Berlin following our usual route out west via Victoria Park and then though Schöneberg, we’ve tweaked this route umpteen times and apart from one dodgy junction I think we have finally perfected it. The new improved route now takes in some interesting embassy buildings on the outskirts of Grünewald which are well worth a gawp, including the embassy of Qatar which looks like it is made entirely out of polished granite.

Wannsee Wannsee

We continued south west past Wannsee towards Potsdam, ordinarily this is a pretty busy road especially at the weekend when the traffic is mostly made up of tour buses, but by some wonderful stroke of luck today there was not a car in sight. This made for an almost pleasant uphill climb and a positively fabulous downhill run into Potsdam. Hills are always difficult with group rides as some people are climbers, others are bombers and some people are annoyingly both. So we reconvened at the Glienicke Bridge for water and to check the map.

Re-grouping Re-grouping

Glienicke Bridge Glienicke Bridge into Potsdam, it’s really rather an attractive bridge but my photos never do it justice

Directly after the bridge we turned right, this lead us along a short gravel path, through a gate and into Neuer Garten, a beautiful park which dates back to the late 18th Century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nestled within the gardens are a number of aristocratic buildings including the impressive Schloss Cecilienhof, which watches over the shores of Jungfernsee. To the british eye the schloss looks like a giant Tudor manor and is really rather spectacular.

Cecilienhof 1957 Cecilienhof in 1957, the image is from the Bundesarchiv and can be found here, along with many other fantastic images.

Out the other side of Neuer Garten we turned right again onto Bertinistraße. This road soon turns into more of a track, winding past more grand houses, but modern ones this time, before turning inland away from the shores of Jungfernsee to meet Nedlitzer Straße (2). This is the main road that connects Potsdam to Spandau, we turned north and continued over a couple of bridges until we reached the northern tip of Krampnitzsee, here the cycle path joins a section of the Berlin Mauerweg that runs past the notorious Krampnitz Kaserne or barracks.

Krampnitz Kaserne is an enormous complex made up of over 50 buildings, it was constructed in 1937 and was a key Nazi base before being taken over by the Russians in 1945. The Russians finally abandoned the site in 1992 and since then it has been left to decay, taking its bizarre mix of Nazi and then Soviet military decadence and rigid austerity with it. Unfortunately the base is surrounded by a high wall which reveals little of what lies within, even a peak through the wrought iron gates leaves everything to the imagination, if this sparks your curiosity have a read of this account from the other side.

Google map The abandoned complex slowly being swallowed by nature. Thank Google for the map.

Just past Krampnitz we turned right down Rotkehlchenweg a gravel track that soon meets Straße nach Sacrow, a glorious, undulating, wooded road that loops round through the tiny village of Sacrow before heading back north towards Spandau. Although the road changes name several times and gets increasingly busy it continues right up to Heerstarße, at which point we turned east and started the long haul back into the city centre.

Delightful! Delightful

Straße nach Sacrow Straße nach Sacrow

Apart from it wasn’t such a long haul, in fact it was a dream. It began as usual, busy streets, narrow cycle path and countless red traffic lights, then suddenly the cars dropped off for the second time that day. But this time the entire road seemed to be closed off to traffic. After some tentative exploration away from the designated cycle path we soon threw caution to the wind and were flying down the middle of Kaiserdamm.

It wasn’t until we reached Sophie-Charlotte-Platz that we realised we were being joined by an increasing number of other cyclists. By the time we reached Ernst-Reuter-Platz there were literally hundreds of bikes filling the road as far as the eye could see, it was fantastic.

More cyclists Taking over the round-about!

We followed the mayhem through Tiergarten almost as far as the Brandenburg Gate, looping around the Victory Column a couple of times just to soak up the bicycle love. Reluctantly we finally broke away from the crowd and headed home sun kissed and happy.

Victory Column Critical mass