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Up at 8 this morning. Breakfast at the hotel. Pack our bags and catch the 11 o'clock van shuttles over to the hostel.
Checked in at 12, only to find there was "no room at the inn" -- our room was mistakenly given to someone else. We had to wait until they got back from their tour. See Pat at dinnertime.
FROM DAVID - Unfortunately, since I felt a cold coming on, I wanted to just rest, read and sleep today. So Lisa asked Pat if there was a room available where I could rest. There was, and I ended up sleeping, resting and reading all day.
Felt better at dinnertime, but opted not to go "caberating" tonight. Didn't want to loose what I had gained during the day.
FROM LISA - I didn't really do much today, because I figured David would be feeling better tomorrow and want to see Berlin, and I didn't want to explore the same things twice. So I basically just hung out, had lunch with a few people, and walked around the area where the hostel was located.
One kind of strange thing happened. I was in a pharmacy, and another customer asked where I was from. (I guess he heard me speaking English.) His next question: "Are you Jewish?" Then he said something I didn't catch and walked away. Now, this might have been perfectly innocent. He actually seemed decent -- not a skinhead or anything. But I have to admit it was a bit unnerving. In all our travels so far, that question has never come up, and here I am, my first hour in GERMANY, and someone asks me that. I walked the few blocks back to our hostel with a keen eye behind my back. Kind of creepy.
I'm writing this a few days later, and I do want to say that all of the German people we've met have been exceptionally kind. (Just don't want to leave anyone with the wrong impression.)
Love to all,
Today we went on a bicycle tour of the city. It was a great idea. Our tour guide, on his bicycle, took us to most of the sights in the eastern side of the city, close to the "wall."
Realize, however, most of the sights are either monuments or, in a few cases, older buildings. Not as old nor as spectacular as many older buildings, cathedrals and castles that we have seen in other parts of Europe. We did see many things that related to Germany's three Reich's. Including the playground and sand box that is located over the bunker where Hitler and Eva took their own lives.
One thing new we learned was that the Germans were fighting for Hitler the man, not for their country. As soon as Hitler's death was announced, the German soldiers gave up!
Berlin is a very big and mostly new city. Except for the German names, the downtown part that we visited on our own could have been part of many big cities in the states. All new and glass and shiny and angles.
We toured some-more of the downtown on our own. We visited a bombed-out church right in the middle of town that has been preserved. Parts of the bell tower and spires were blown off. After the war, the remaining walls were sealed from the weather and the sanctuary was turned into a museum.
We biked back to the hostel, showered, ate, sent e-mail, talked, and I went to our room to rest some more. (Don't want that cold to catch up with me.)
Love to all, David and Lisa
|08/10||Germany, Berlin to Seftenberg
Today was a long day, all on the old East Germany sector. We rode miles and miles of cobblestone roads (rough, Rough, ROUGH) and many miles of newly paved roads -- most with brand new, paved, parallel bike path (smooth, Smooth, SMOOTH).
The roads led through many small villages that looked like many other small European villages.
They led through many forests that looked strange -- they were filled with tall skinny trees and short grasses but no shrubs or bushes.
Often the roads were quite narrow (actually, often they were VERY narrow) with trees closely lining each side and forming a canopy overhead. The trees were SO close to the road that they had white reflective squares painted on their trunks. The roads also had pictorial signs showing a car crashing into a tree, all within a caution triangle.
As a matter of fact, every country we've been in outside of the United States uses pictographic traffic signs. All sorts of pictures are used -- but that's a subject for another day.
We stopped for lunch at Schlepzig, a delightful little town about 55 miles from Berlin. We ate alongside a river where small, pole-boats (12 passenger row boats powered by boatsmen with long poles) drifted by.
We met a German couple from "the western sector" as they put it. They were on holiday and had come here to relax and canoe the canals. They said this area is a famous vacation area that is full of canals.
We talked about our Odyssey and about their vacation. We talked about the changes that had occurred in Germany over the past 11 years. Big changes. We all observed that 11 years ago none of us could have been here in this spot.
We talked about our visit to Russia. They shared how they didn't like Russians at all. (Understandable, since, during WW II, the Russians committed many great atrocities upon the Germans. (But don't whitewash the Germans. Their war on the Eastern front, i.e. Russia, was a war of annihilation with atrocities equally as great.)
We bid them adieu and headed directly to the end-of-day camp. (We traded Joan for the car at Schlepzig. I, David, wanted to get to our lodging and rest some more.)
We pulled into camp around 4 and checked with a local for lodging close by. As I, backed out of the parking place, I backed into a very low fence. No harm to the car . . . but the front wheel on our bike was ruined. (The fence also suffered a little, but that was easy to fix. A hundred marks took care of that.)
Once he was paid for the fence, the owner was very helpful. He volunteered his English-speaking daughter and son to take us to a bike shop in town, hopefully to get the wheel fixed.
Unfortunately, neither of two bike shops could fix it, but one offered to build a new wheel in the morning. We said we would let him know.
Back to camp. I remembered that TK&A was now stocking the same kind of wheel that I needed, plus, the tandem group still had a few spare wheels. I checked with Art (Art & Lynn, tandemeers from Colorado). He thought we still had a Mavic T217, 40-spoke rim (exactly what we needed) and one other.
I got Dennis and Dave (TK&A) to dig out our spare parts and check. Bottom line, no Mavic, 40-spoke rim . . . but I did get the other one. Tomorrow we'll go back to the bike shop and see if they have the right spokes and can rebuild the wheel.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|08/11||Germany, Senftenberg to Dresden
Last night there was a short storm of high wind and heavy rain. A few had their tents blown over. We, of course, were in a delightful B&B, watching the wind and rain from our window.
This morning we loaded our bike and headed for Dresden to find a good bike shop to rebuild our front wheel. We got lost on some construction areas coming through town. A delivery truck driver recognized our plight (you know, double parked, glazed eyes, looking at a map, scratching our heads), came over and asked if he could help. He ended up having us follow him to the final turn. Then he jumped out of his truck, ran back to us to make sure we knew our way from there, then gave us a detailed city map. What a nice guy!
We checked into our hostel (It was a great location -- only a few blocks from the center of town.) and asked them for directions to a bike shop. We went over there and asked the owner about rebuilding the wheel. He didn't speak English and was very surly. We asked another customer to interpret for us. He gave us a price for the work and a price for the materials . . . but said he wouldn't do it for us. He wanted us to buy a cheap, ready-made, 36-spoke wheel, but he would not rebuild our wheel. After our heavy urging, he did, however give us the name and location of another shop.
On our way out, a tall German bike rider asked us if he could help. He appoligized for the rudeness of the shop owner, then told us of two other bike shops that might do the work. In fact, he said, he'd take us to one. It was just around the corner. So we all walked down the street together. The bike shop he referred to was on the 4th floor of a very large department store. There actually was a specialty bicycle store and repair shop there. They couldn't help us, however.
We went back to the car and drove over to one of the other shops. As luck would have it, it was right down the sqame street that the Youth Hostel was on. And, as further luck would have it, they could do the work.
At first, they said they could have it ready on Tuesday afternoon. We explained about our bike trip around the world and that we had to bicycle tomorrow. He suggested Monday, then Saturday. Finally we convinced him that, in fact, we needed to leave tomorrow morning on our bike. He acquiesced and agreed to have it by 18:30 today.
That was a load off our minds. We realized that we were tired -- probably more mentally than physically -- so we went back to our hostel and took a nap.
Then we went out to walk through downtown Dresden. We saw some beautiful old buildings -- some of which had been restored, some of which were in the process of being restored.
We learned some things about Dresden. During WW II, it was almost bombed out of existence -- including a lot of fire-bombing. The city is on the way to restoring many of the beautiful old buildings. Much of the work is reusing rubble from the original, much is new. The old and the new is very evident because all of the original buildings are still black from the fire-bombs while the newer construction looks newer. Dresden wants to complete the restoration work by 2006, it's 800th birthday.
We walked across an old bridge over the Elbe River onto a beautiful, wide, pedestrian street with a very wide park area down the center. We passed a gold (yes, real gold) statue of the Emperor Augustus on his horse. We continued down the pedestrian street about six blocks to the end at a beautiful flower garden.
We came back on a very quiet but equally delightful parallel cobblestone street. On the way we walked into one of the many courtyards to check it out. We discovered more sidewalk cafes and several delightful little shops -- including a genuine perfumerie that carried only perfumes and many, many of them. (We make this point because for the past several coiuntries, a "perfumerie" was more like a small drug store.) Lisa found a perfume that, she says, "I've been looking all over the world for this."
Did we buy it?
Lisa didn't want to. Said it cost too much. She went back to reconsider it three times, but came back without it. Too costly, she said.
Finally I said that tomorrow we'll be 80 miles up the road. It'll be too late for non-buyers remorse . . . And I bought it for her. (She loves it! And she didn't have to spend any money for it! Such a deal :-) )
Back to pick up our wheel. It was ready and beautifully done.
Then back to the hostel for dinner. We heard that four riders fell today in the same spot. One of them is in the hospital overnight for observation because she hit her head. One, Bill (from Seattle) really had a chewed up leg. It looked horrible! He had a hole about an inch diameter punched into the side of his upper calf, then all the skin gone for about 12-inches down and 6-inches across. Yuck!
After dinner we had a delightful dessert with Richard and Jane (from Portland), Lillian and Dorothy. We walked to the "Woeld Trade Center," a mall close to the hostel.
Love to all, David and Lisa
|08/12||Dresden, (East) Germany to Terezin, Czech Republic to Praha (Prague)
We started this morning with a flat. Probably happened when I pushed the bike into the bushes last night to lock it up.
Oh well . . . fixed the flat, then Lisa and I and Joan decided to ride with Larry (It was Larry's day to drive) a few Km's in the car to get out of the very confusing downtown, and to avoid some of the cobblestone streets.
We got to a reasonable spot to stop and unloaded the bikes. Lisa and I thought we had all agreed to stop early today to go into Praha. We thought 2:45 would be about right for pickup so we could all get into Prague about 4:30, find a place to stay by 5:30, then eat and get settled by about 7. (We had heard that lodging is VERY DIFFICULT to land because this month is Northern Europe's traditional holiday time.)
Joan did not agree. She insisted that she be picked up at 3:30. She said we could be picked up whenever we wanted but she wanted to go until 3:30.
We suggested 3:15.
Lisa and I finally said whatever you want, but 3:30 will be too late to leave for Prague. If that's the case, we'll just have to stay in Terezin tonight and drive to Prague tomorrow. We left, leaving it to Larry (driving today) and Joan to come up with a time. We said we'll just work with it.
The route started with a lot of cobblestone-surfaced streets. We passed through the occasional tiny town, through many open fields, and through a lot of "forest primeval." After about 35 km, we got back to the Elba River. We followed that for many, many km.
It was another beautiful riding day . . . except, it got pretty warm -- in the high 80's. But the ride along the river for miles and miles was delightful.
As we approached the border we came to a line of cars about a half mile long waiting to get by the German border patrol. We carefully passed them all on the left. We got to the German border crossing. A quick look at our passports and we were passed through.
We quickly encountered another long line of cars waiting to pass the Czech Republic border patrol. Again, we very carefully passed them. When we got to the Czech Republic border crossing, the guard gave us an even quicker glance and waved us through.
The whole thing was one of the easiest crossings of a guarded border that we've had this trip! (Most European countries don't have guarded borders. You just pass from one country to the next, like states in the US)
On into the Czech Republic we pedaled, still following the Elbe. Soon we passed a restaurant that was high in a hill overlooking the river -- a really nice setting -- and there sat Larry and Joan. We wondered what happened, since we thought Joan was riding.
We continued riding on down the river. In a while we came to a very charming restaurant where we decided to stop for lunch. We were joined by Mary and David Moulds (from Florida) and Steve and Al Tarkington (from So. Califorina) and had a delightful Czech lunch together.
We were having trouble reading the Czech menu and communicating with the Czech-only speaking waitress. A couple at a neighboribg table noticed this and volunteered to translate. It seems they were from a small island that is a part of Denmark. They were here on a week-long holiday.
When we came out, it was a few minutes after 2. We were surprised to see our Peugeot parked across the street with Larry and Joan inside. We asked them what's up. They said they were checking on us and asked if we wanted to ride some more. We said, as we had discussed, between 2:45 and 3:15 should be fine. They said okay and we left.
We continued on, riding along the river on the rolling, partially tree-shaded, river-side road. It was really delightful.
CONTINUED (This report was missing the second half - I'll add it once I receive it).
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