August 2020 Northern Germany – A Hundertwasser Tour

In 2019 we had two significant holidays which we dubbed “The Biblical Tour“ and “The Australian Challenge”. For the former, unable to hire a Harley-Davidson (or any other two wheeler) we were forced to resort to hiring cars, so you will not hear about it here. The second is documented elsewhere upon this site. A key outcome of our Australian adventure was a joint decision to buy a new motorcycle and we decided we wanted a Heritage Softail. After enjoying one in Norway and thoroughly testing another one in the punishing setting of the endless Australian outback, we were both convinced it would be superior to our FatBoy for longer journeys.

At the end of February, a slightly used Heritage appeared in local Harley dealership in U Šalamounky (which we call Šalda) in Prague, so we went and saw it. They obligingly let us take it for a test drive. It was, despite the earliness of the year, a lovely sunny day and not really cold, so we rode one of our familiar routes to lunch in order to be able to make a direct comparison. I think it is fair to say that we were “sold” almost immediately and, upon our return, we did not hesitate to confirm we wanted it. The dealer agreed to fit a small backrest with a rack, the latter being the one thing we had really wanted in Australia. We began to look forward to the upcoming HOG ride to Podebrady, in early April, that traditionally opens the Czech riding season.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic and with it a full-area lockdown. We signed the purchase contract for the Heritage in a closed dealership. Because the whole world had stopped, the borders were closed and air traffic was severely restricted, we had to wait over a month for the rack to be brought from the USA. This did not really matter in the end because, in addition to the pandemic, which naturally caused a lot of events, including the ride to Podebrady, to be cancelled, the winter returned with a vengeance. For many weeks of cold, wet weather, our new baby sat, unused, in our garage. As the weather eased, we did begin to use it, but only in a small way and the summer did not really start until nearly the end of June.

In May, when Covid, in the Czech Republic at least, appeared to be receding, we thought we might be able to ride south, through the Balkans and maybe as far as Greece. We began to make outline plans for an “expedition” in early July or maybe August.

Sadly, in July, contrary to expectations, there was what the government called the “second wave” of the pandemic. Of course, the whole Covid situation was characterised by official confusion, which varied by location. Some said it was not a pandemic at all and others argued that the “second wave” was still the “first wave”. If the governments did not know, how were we to ? What this meant was that the various internal European borders opened and closed in various combinations that would have made travelling a lottery. It could easily have meant that we could have travelled without a test on one day only to find that on the next, a test was required – or that we could leave the state only to find that quarantine was required upon return. Confusion reigned supreme.

Among all the mainland European countries, the only one that appeared relatively manageable was Germany. We were keen to do something, however limited and this seemed to be a country we could go to and return from without too much stress.

We had long planned to return to the subject of the architect/artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. We are both admirers of his unusual work and try to see as much of it as we can. We had visited the sites of his works in Vienna some years ago and, if you have read our tale from the “Love Route“, you might smile at the memory (as we do too) of our attempt to visit a site of his work in the German town of Abensberg. Due to the misspelling of Abensberg as Abenberg which, sadly, also exists, this was a bit of a farce and we still have not seen it in daylight (or dry weather !). After that debacle and thanks to the excess of free time due to Covid, I decided to plan our next foray much more thoroughly. I discovered four more Hundertwasser sites in north-east Germany that made a nice elliptical route possible. I made a map, an itinerary and even did some background research !

We quite quickly found a suitable three days in our unusually empty diaries and a solid plan was formed.