Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Elbe - Havel-Kanal - Burg by Magdeburg to Brandenburg

Wednesday 28 June 2023 4:45 PM

We have now crossed the former border which until 1989 divided Germany into East and West. One of the former, heavily guarded border crossings was just behind Wolfsburg. I half expected to see a sign or memorial of some kind on the side of the canal, but there was nothing. Luckily the dreadful observation towers of the past DDR are long gone too!

We had our last sunset on the Mittellandkanal tied to a free mooring, and yes, I double- checked that there was a sign saying “für Sportboote”! 

It had been another long day of cruising in hot, humid conditions and so we followed the lead of the people moored behind us and went for a refreshing swim - except, we were actually wearing swimmers! Germans just love their nudity - no matter what age and what crease factor! 

Oh yes, and Austin did take it very slowly, testing the waters and his skin for any reaction, while I stood by with the EPIPEN. It seems that his cold-urticaria (allergic reaction to cold after last years covid infection) has totally disappeared since we arrived back in Europe.

Near Magdeburg, the Mittelland merges into the Elbe-Havel-Kanal.

Another great tip from our yacht club friends in Osnabrück was the green mooring of the Lidl supermarket in Genthin, and running quickly out off cool drinks, our mind was made up. We spent the next night tied up there and loaded a full shopping trolley of drinks and groceries into our bilge the next morning. We don’t often get it so convenient that we can wheel a trolley right up to our boat.

A tad east of Genthin the Elbe-Havel-Canal flows into the first of the beautiful Havel Lakes.

We felt a little lost to suddenly be in the wide open lake without canal walls to our sides! We had to find our way through the red and green channel markers to get our direction and avoid the shallows. But, with help of our GPS we found the narrow opening into the Brandenburg-Niederhavel- Kanal which leads right into the center of Brandenburg. As all available moorings with electricity were already taken or reserved, our only choice was to tie up on the town promenade. 

A lovely Dutch lady jumped to our aid and helped us fender up against two exposed pylons, which proved very necessary as passing passenger ships and hire boats created huge washes. The picture above is deceiving. It was taken after all the boats had left in the morning, but it soon filled up again. 

This being the third green mooring in a row, without electricity or water, Austin was worried about the condition of our batteries. We contacted Medow boat services close by in the Silo canal, and will stop off there to have the batteries tested before we move on to the lakes up north.

But first we took our usual walk-about through the former East-German town of Brandenburg. The town promenade along the Niederhavel and adjoining parkland were lovely and clean. Unfortunately, in the “Old Town” there are unkempt green areas, discarded rubbish and a lot of graffiti. The Slawen Dorf, an open-air museum supposedly showing life 1000 years ago of the slavic founders of Brandenburg, was closed and didn’t look like it had seen visitors for a while. I was a little disappointed that the only traces of humorist, cartoonist and poet Loriot, who was born in Brandenburg, were the so-called “Waldmöpse” strewn across the city.

Loriot, famous for his drawings and sketches of ordinary life, was very fond of Pug dogs (Möpse) and apparently said: “A life without pugs is possible - but pointless”.

Another quote from Loriot, which perfectly fits to Austin and me, is: “A perfect marriage is one, where she is a little blind and he is a little deaf!"

The local “Dome" (cathedral), small and relatively plain in comparison to others, lays on it’s own island separated from the rest of town by water. One of it’s treasures is the wonderful baroque organ built by renown organ builder Joachim Wagner. It replaced the former organ after it was struck by a thunderbolt in 1722. It probably was a (thunder-) stroke of luck, as the Wagner organ has an amazing sound. We were lucky to witness the end of an organ rehearsal while there.

We also liked the colourful trams, connecting Old and New Town. New Town has a modern shopping arcade with major retail outlets, however it was nice to see that there are still plenty of individual, small speciality shops.

It turned out that our boat batteries are on their way out, but should be good enough to get us to the lakes and back-fingers crossed!

So off we went through beautiful Havelland along the winding river and it’s lakes to the small former fishing village of Ketzin. We spoiled ourselves with a dinner at an Italian Tratoria that night - the truffle ice cream “tartuffo gelato” was our favourite dish!

More rain had arrived and we enjoyed the cooler temperatures. There wasn’t much to do than watch passing dragon boats and keen paddle borders. We were however self-elected mooring aides for a few arriving boats, and after helping a jolly trio of men on a hire boat outing connecting to electricity and providing them with a step to climb off their very high gunnels, we were gifted a nice bottle of red. So ashame that Austin doesn’t drink wine!!!

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