A Saturday Evening Post

Well, technically a Sunday Morning Post, but I really meant to write this last night! Big news now is that I’m back online, so between that and Alisha arriving tomorrow morning (after having not seen her in over a month, despite what the Watauga Democrat says), I will once again be complete. I decided to move my computer into the bedroom closer to the main street to see if I could pick up any open hot-spots, and sure enough, as soon as I turned it on the little Mac asked me if I wanted to join the open WLAN network. Sure I do – free, high speed internet! I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I have two guesses, and with either one I should be safe at least until our DSL connection is installed. The name of the network is “WLAN” and it is open and unencrypted, so that means it’s either 1) a cafe or coffee shop across the street giving away access, or 2) a personal network that has not been protected, as it should be. But I’m not worried because if someone has set up a wireless network and has neglected to rename it from the default “WLAN” and has not encrypted it, I doubt he can tell I’m leeching off of him, so I don’t think I’ll end up like this guy.

Anyway, I’ll try to catch everybody up on the last week of events, as well as update the photogalleries. I’ll go backwards, starting with my excellent bike ride yesterday afternoon. I took my bike down the Isar River, the main river running from South to North out of the Alps though the city, to the suburb of Gr√∫nwald. All in all I rode about 3 hours, and for at least 2 of those hours I was on dedicated bike or bike/walking paths, with no cars in sight. The bike path network is really amazing here – it is very developed and you can ride for miles and miles, from town to town without ever riding on a main road. It’s even better for mountain bikers because for every mile of paved bike paths, there’s probably 2 more of cinder/dirt paths suitable for mountain or cyclo-cross bikes. I had to take a couple short stints on the cinder paths, and my road bike handles them fine for the most part. But I was abrubtly reminded that I was, in fact, riding on 3/4 inch wide tires inflated to 120psi when the bike completely washed out from under me going around a slight turn on the cinder path. But hey, I can’t complain about some small dirt scratches when Alisha finished a 7 day stage race with 7 stiches in her knee last week, and was caught in 2 crashes in a high-speed criterium in Charlotte last night.

But the most exciting part of the ride (well….. exciting may be too strong a word – maybe just interesting, or at least amusing) came as I was on a paved bike path nearning Gr√∫nwald. As I was riding, I heard some typical Bavarian music – a brass band and accordian – coming from somewhere. That’s not too uncommon in itself, because I had already passed DSC02459.JPGseveral bike-stops and biergartens playing various sorts of music. But as I rounded a bend in the river I saw the source of the music: a raft floating down the Isar jammed full with a complete band, bar, and dozens of people. And when I say raft, I’m not talking about a yacht or boat, or even big rubber raft – this was a straight-up Huckleberry Finn style raft made of a couple dozen 20-meter long logs lashed together with big steering oars on either end. There was a band set up in the middle and was surrounded by dozens of sun-burnt and mostly drunk, singing Bavarians, complete with Lederhosen-laden men pissing off the back (even though there was what appeared to be a perfectly good tent perched on the back corner of the raft, which I assume was there for this purpose). Before it drifted by I was able to put my camera in video mode and grab the following short video:

I kept riding, a couple minutes later I heard yet another band coming from the river. Overall, I passed four rafts, each full of merrily singing and drinking Germans, floating down the Isar towards Munich. I snapped a couple pictures for this gallery, and got another video of the second raft. These guys noticed my presence on the bank (I wasn’t too hard to spot – I was the only person in sight wearing bright yellow and blue lycra short and jersey with a bright pearl white helmet, holding a camera above my head) and decided to clown around a bit for the camera. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but I think they were particularly proud of a certain Football club for which they had a big flag flying at the front, and towards the end of the following video you can make out one word: “Paparatzi!”, which I can only assume mean’s the same thing in English, German, French and Italian.

So the run-in with the rafts put a smile on my face (or maybe that was from the 0.5liter Radler I had at a bike stop 1.5 hours into the ride…..). Once I got to Gr√∫nwald I crossed the river, and headed back up the other side on a main road towards Munich. I got a bit of climbing in to loosen the legs up and made it back in a good clip in my big chainring. Saw a guy wearing a Fassa Bortolo uniform, but from his pace I somehow doubt it was Fabian Cancellara, or anyone of note…. The rest of the ride was plesant, but uneventful.

I decided to have a very “American-style” night out on Saturday evening and caught a movie (or two) at an English language cinema. I went to a double-feature event of two of the biggest summer blockbusters so far this year, The Island and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. They get all the big movies over here, but of course most of them are dubbed in German, and only the biggest ones are shown in their original language and some theaters. I took the U-bahn up a couple stations, and on the way happened to run into one of the co-workers I went to France with last weekend, so we got some pizza for dinner and I headed to the late movie. I wasn’t really interested in seeing The Island, but I did kind of want to see Smith. It was an excruciating 2 hours to sit through The Island – that movie both sucked and blew…. hard. But Mr. & Mrs. Smith was quite funny and entertaining – what’s not to like about beautiful people with big guns trying to kill each other, eh? But since it was a late double feature, we didn’t get out of the theater until about 3:15AM, and I had neglegted to take into account that the U and S-bahns stop running from about 2:30-4:30….. So I wandered around looking at the bus schedules, and there was a night-bus service, but it only ran every 30 minutes, of course, had just left when we got out. I found another American guy who was just as clueless as to how to get back to town, so we found a tram line that we knew ended up in the middle of the city, and just started walking down it. It turned out to be a pretty good choice, and it was just about a 40 minute walk to make it back to my apartment. It was a good walk, running into no beggers or late-night homeless rallies or anything, something my new-found friend and I observered we would never do in a city like New York or San Francisco.

I’m now reminded of the Mark Twain quote: “If I had more time, I would have written less.” How true – I seem to have written yet another rambling essay, and I am now out of time for any editing! I was planning on writing about my trip to Strasbourg last weekend, but instead, feel free to just peruse these annotated photogalleries. Looking through the pictures you will get an idea of what we did and what the city is like. But as for me, I’m off to the English Garden for a round of Ultimate Frisbee!


  1. Hey Joe – and now Alisha – Thanks for your very good reports from Germany. We pour over each one and enjoy so much. We are very happy that you two are reunited now – and our prayers and love will be with you and for you. Gram

  2. Hi Gram! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blogs, and I see you got the comment system worked out well too!

    And glad you’re still reading Cass – I was hoping people wouldn’t get bored or stop reading, so it looks like I’ve held your attention thus far.

    Hopefully Alisha and I will have much more to report as we explore the city and countryside even more.

  3. HI Joe,

    again fun to read.

    The raft id called “Flo√ü”. In the former times the Flo√ü was used to bring wood to Munich. Means the made a Flo√ü with the wood, went down the river and brought the wood to Munich.
    Today they bring the wood back to the starting point every evening with heavy trucks.

    I do not know when say started to have these raft trips open for public, but most of the guests are tourists. Also tourists from Cities in Bavaria, but I woudl guess most of the people are not from Bavaria. They enjoy the ride with the Bavarian style music, food, lots of beer and fun.
    In the middle of the trp they have a kind of “slide” with the raft. ~500 feet you slide down with the raft and end up in flat water with a big splash. ( see picture: http://www.spassladen.de/verleih/flossfahrt.de/flossfahrt_1.jpg )
    The trips are expensive. ~130 Euro (~$160)/person – dependent on the food and music it can be more.

    Ciao Anke

  4. Hi Anke РThanks again for the great information. I certainly did not see the Floß make the slide, but that would be quite interesting to watch or ride. Quite pricey though! Maybe on a special occasion or something.

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