A bike trip through Germany - adventure in the unknown homeland
Maximilian Semsch describes himself as an adventurer, world traveler and filmmaker. His preferred means of travel is the bicycle. He was one of the first to switch to the e-bike for his bike trips and put the then new electromobility through its paces in long-term use. After countless experiences in exotic countries, he realized that he knew distant lands better than his own homeland. This was about to change and he planned his "adventure Germany". He was surprised by the beauty and variety of a country in which he grew up, but of which he knew surprisingly little. Here Max tells us about his adventure through his home country.
My profession? Adventurer.
Responsibility is what drives VAUDE CEO Antje von Dewitz and her entire team. We think entrepreneurship means keeping an eye on the impact on people and the environment when we do business. That's why we launched Green Shape, our own sustainability label, in 2010. Since then, a lot has happened - the percentage of Green Shape products in our collection has increased steeply year after year, and the criteria for Green Shape, which were strict from the beginning, are continuously being developed and tightened. This year we are aiming for external accreditation for Green Shape as an environmental standard. After more than 10 years now, we proudly look back on our Green Shape success story.
After that, I turned traveling into a career. I wanted to explore the world and make a living doing it. My first job as an "adventurer" took me from Munich to Singapore and once 16,000 km around Australia. All in all, I have cycled around 60,000 kilometers in more than 30 countries. For me, it was always true that the further away from home and the more exotic a country, the greater the adventure. From today's perspective, that's certainly not wrong, but I soon noticed that I now know my way around Thailand or Australia better than I do in my home country of Germany. That urgently needed to change.
My plan? To explore Germany by bike.
Responsibility is what drives VAUDE Managing Director Antje von Dewitz and her entire team. We think entrepreneurship means keeping an eye on the impact on people and the environment when we do business. That's why we launched Green Shape, our own sustainability label, in 2010. Since then, a lot has happened - the percentage of Green Shape products in our collection has increased steeply year after year, and the criteria for Green Shape, which were strict from the beginning, are continuously being developed and tightened. This year we are aiming for external accreditation for Green Shape as an environmental standard. After more than 10 years now, we proudly look back on our Green Shape success story.
Elbe Cycle Path through the unknown east
As a Wessi, I still had the East far too little on my radar! And that's a real shame, because especially for cyclists, the eastern states have a lot to offer. For example, a part of the most popular and best bike path in Germany: The Elberadweg. This is 1,220 km long, 840 km of which run on German territory. I followed the Elbe Cycle Path from the picturesque national park "Saxon Switzerland" to Havelberg in the north of Saxony-Anhalt. Besides the untouched nature of the Elbe meadows, there are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites to marvel at along the way.
My expectations were far exceeded, I was not aware how beautiful it can be in their own country and how much - until then completely unknown to me - there was to discover. Whether camping at the Baltic Sea, with Jens Weißflog through the Erzgebirge or on the house raft on the Havel on the way. There was something new for me to experience every day.
My expectations were exceeded by far, I was not aware how beautiful it can be in their own country and how much - until then completely unknown to me - there was to discover. There was for me every day unimagined new things to experience. Whether camping at the Baltic Sea, with Jens Weißflog through the Erzgebirge or on the house raft on the Havel on the way.
Every day something new - e.g. on the house raft on the Havel...
...or camping on the banks of the river Elbe
And, whether sporty and demanding through the Ore Mountains or leisurely along the 330 km long Berlin-Usedom cycle path: there is something for every type of cyclist. My personal highlights: the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxony, as well as the western beach of the Darß on the Fischland-Darß-Zingst peninsula in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
In the North on Germany's coastal bike paths
I was a long time in Thailand and Australia on the road and have seen the most beautiful beaches of the country. Honestly, the beach on Norderney can keep up with that. My North Sea stage started at the northernmost point of Germany, on Sylt. In addition to the 40 km of beach, it also has 200 km of bike paths. Through Schleswig-Holstein, I followed the North Sea Coast Cycle Route, which is the longest cycle route in the world, covering some 6,000 km through eight states.
On to East Frisia and the Wadden Sea
We took the ferry across the Elbe River to Lower Saxony and followed the Weser Cycle Path to Bremen. East Frisia is for me one of the most exciting regions of the North Sea. Because cycling here means: passing and cycling along dikes and lighthouses, dreamy Fehn canals and untouched moorland. Accompanying you are always the good sea air, the peace and quiet away from traffic and city noise and, of course, the constant wind. It is exactly this combination that makes a real bike tour in East Frisian. East Frisia with the Wadden Sea and the offshore islands, is for me one of the most beautiful places on the tour.
Home exploring Germany's south
I, the Bavarian, never realized how beautiful my own state is. As we all know, every journey begins with the first step. And mine led me out of my own front door. For the first few days, I drove through my home state of Bavaria, and yet I had never visited most of the places before - for example, the longest castle in the world (1,053 meters) in Burghausen or the beautiful Danube Cycle Path from Passau to Regensburg, the northernmost city in Italy.
There really was a lot to discover everywhere that will remain in my memory, such as the view at sunset of the breathtaking Hohenzollern Castle in Upper Swabia, watching beavers in Nuremberg, spending the night on the Main River in a teepee tent or visiting one of Germany's best wineries, Divino. I could have spent the whole summer just driving through southern Germany and probably still not seen everything. I was particularly taken with the foothills of the Alps. The density of castles and palaces, crystal-clear lakes and snow-covered peaks, all this is unique in Germany. The region can be explored particularly well on the 418-km-long Lake Constance-Königsee Cycle Path. Not directly accessible by bike, but still an absolute must from my point of view: the Zugspitze. Everyone should enjoy the view at around 2,960 meters and pay a visit to the highest point in Germany.
The Nature & Culture on the Trail - in the West
Whether on the Ruhr or Rhine cycle paths or in the Sauerland region, Germany's most populous state has many green corners and countryside to offer. Cities like Dortmund, Duisburg or Aachen also surprised me positively. Day or night, there is always something going on here, whether in the Ruhr area, on the Rhine or in Aachen. In no other federal state have I visited so many pubs and restaurants as here. In North Rhine-Westphalia, a lot of money is being spent on the renaturation of waterways, and former industrial sites are being transformed into leisure and recreation areas. The Zollverein coal mine in Essen, for example, is an industrial museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The more than 14,000 km of long-distance cycle routes in NRW offer every cyclist a great tour. The beauty of it is: you hardly have to weigh up between nature or culture. Here both merge permanently into each other. You have to be careful not to miss anything along the way. Here, as in my case, knowledgeable NRW people help as guides. Because the people here are like the region: a bit peculiar but warm.
Learn more about "What a trip" - Abenteuer Deutschland of Max Semsch in his book and film (in german).
In 2017, Maximilian wrote both a book about his tour of Germany (#what a trip - 7500 bike kilometers, 200 new friends, 16 federal states, published by Bruckmann-Verlag), and created a series of 8 x 30-minute episodes (available on DVD, Blu-ray and VoD). More info and ordering at what-a-trip.