It was that time again - for our little bike trip through the nature reserve Lüneburger Heide we set our alarm clock at 4:30 am. Our plan: take the first train to Buchholz and then off into the heath. The flat and wide landscape almost lends itself to small excursions from everyday life. In Lower Saxony, this is the largest car-free area and therefore the perfect place to downshift. Many hotels and vacation accommodations around the Heide are designed for cyclists, because the best way to explore this beautiful piece of earth is by bike or on foot. Since we live not too far away, a day trip by train or completely by bike almost offers itself.

So after the alarm clock rang, it meant for us, off to our stomachs with our morning drinks and a fortifying oatmeal breakfast, put on the laid out clothes and off we went.

We had already prepared the bikes the evening before with foresight. We were exhausted because, besides the fact that it was incredibly early and on that night, the time had been changed, and on top of it, our cat was very restless. We didn't have any coffee, as we wanted to brew some ourselves later on the way.

Outside our front door, it was pretty chilly and a bit foggy. The head unit showed 2 degrees, but it felt less. We, therefore, quickly rode our bikes through the sleepy city to the train station, only to learn on the spot that our train was delayed. So we opted for an alternative connection and finally arrived in Buchholz at sunrise.

Just a few meters from the station, we had then discovered one of our highlights of the day. The small town pond, in the middle of which stood a tree and dense fog that surrounded all this. An insanely beautiful sight and briefly the cold and the early time were forgotten.

Having taken a few photos and a little pee break, we continued towards the Lüneburg Heath. There was silence and fog even on the larger roads we rode along.

There were hardly any cars on the road, so we caught a glimpse of a deer standing not far from us between deforested trees, or ones knocked down by the storm. Just long enough to take a photograph of it and admire it for a moment.

Finally we reached the heath landscape and the Büsenbach valley. The heath landscape shows its full beauty and splendor only in late summer, when everything is in bloom, but there was nothing to see of it on this day anyway. The dense fog hung low over the hills of the heath. It was beautiful. And incredibly quiet.

Only when we stopped, and our tires made no noise on that gravel surface. In the distance, we could hear a few birds but nothing else. In addition to the fog, silence surrounded us like we had not experienced in a long time.

Continuing along our planned route, we reached the Pferdekopf (horse's head). Pferdekopf is not a horse's head but a small hill in the Büsenbach valley, which offers an excellent area overview.

We had only ridden just under 12 kilometers, but with a chilly 5 degrees and it still being early, it was a perfect time to stop for coffee on the hill.

Except for a runner and a few dogs barking (and people screaming for the dogs) in the distance, there was no one around.

With the warming jacket put on or over her legs, Jana gave our camping stove a try for the first time, shivering from the cold. We had already mixed the coffee and milk powder, and slowly the water was heating up. Due to the wind, unfortunately, it took a while. Nevertheless, finally, we had some coffee and cookies. The only thing missing was something to stir up the clumpy coffee powder. We'll keep that in mind for next time.

Because we didn't want to freeze, we then quickly moved on to the adjacent Brunsberg nature reserve. After all, we didn't just want to drink coffee, we also wanted to do a little cycling. To warm up our limbs again, that was also a good idea.

On our way through the heath, past Brunsberg and Höllenberg, and down to Höllenschlucht, we drove through small patches of forest and had to dodge several (or rather: a great many) trees knocked down by the last big storm. The larger trails were cleared, we were told by an elderly couple we met in the forest. Other, smaller paths, however, resembled a tree graveyard. A sad and awe-inspiring sight: the force of nature and the number of fallen trees.

The early bird and his worm: in the middle of the path sat a small redwing with worm in its beak. The little one sat stubbornly on the path and after Björn had passed it very closely, we stopped to look at (and of course photograph) the small, seemingly fearless bird. After the little one had initially hopped in our direction to pose like a model in front of the camera, it finally hopped to the side of the path.

The fog persisted. The visibility was much better in the woods, but on the more open stretches and heathland, there was still fog even at noon. The sky was covered with clouds, and there was not much to see of the forecasted sun.

Finally, the sun made an appearance on the way through the Seevetal, which we traversed on bike paths and a quiet road. Temperatures increased quickly, so we had to take a short break to take off our warm clothes. Despite some wind, we rolled on perfect bike paths to our day's destination. The train station Maschen.

The train station in Maschen was small and colorful. Painted in all colors and by the stairs hung many colorful pictures. Otherwise, there were two tracks and the trains that stopped here ran about every hour. In two directions. However, the long distance traffic went by loud, noisy and fast. We had to wait half an hour for our train, so we sat down on the track and enjoyed the sun, which had warmed up our frozen bodies by now. And then no train came, but the announcement that it was cancelled. We didn't feel like riding our bikes all the way home, although that would have been quite possible. That's why we waited another hour at the railroad track for our train. The warmth of the sun and the few other people waiting made the time quite pleasant. Only to eat we had unfortunately nothing more.

We reflected on our day. For far too long we had not made such a beautiful tour. Despite the cold in the morning, we were blissful. We had needed that again. It was almost like a vacation.