Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Extended Family in Germany

Daryll writes:

I think I may have brought this up previously, but motorcycle travelers that meet on the road share a bond that is indescribable and exceptionally hard to explain.  I think it is due mainly because only they understand the difficulties, the challenges, the hardships that one endures by being on the road for an extended period of time.  It is this bond that brings fellow travelers together and regardless of how much time you may have spent with them, they become automatic family.  It is this family that spurred our travel to Germany.

We left Paris on an overnight train to Berlin.  We thought we were wise to choose the seat option cabin, but maybe we should have gone with the sleeper cabin as it wasn’t very comfortable sleeping sitting upright in a 6 seat cabin with 5 other people.  There was one guy who tried to sleep and slipped completely off his seat.  He later left and decided to lay down in the bicycle storage compartment.  I’m sure he had a better sleep than us. 
We were going to visit our friend Wolfgang in Potsdam, a town on the outskirts of Berlin.  We had met him on our last day in Buenos Aires.  He had arrived the night before to the hostel we were at so only spent the morning chatting about our different experiences and swapped contact details.  Wolfgang was kind enough to meet us at the Berlin Hbf. train station as it would have been a confusing few hours for us to figure out the trains and subways to get to his place in Potsdam which used to be in East Germany till the unification.  He works as a chef and worked a night shift the night before and hadn’t slept and had to wait an hour for us as our train was delayed and he even took the next 2 days off so that we could spend together.  What an amazing guy.


The afternoon that we arrived, Wolfgang picked up his bike (a Honda Transalp) after having some work done on it in preparation for his next trip.  He is hoping to leave in October to ride to India – what a lucky guy.  He has his panniers already packed and gear ready to take off.  It made us extremely envious as we don’t have our bikes with us anymore.  Wolfgang explained the transport system to us and we managed to pick up a tourist map of the city and set out the next day to see the sights of Berlin.

Our first stop was the Reichstag, which now houses the German Parliament followed by the iconic symbol of East and West Germany, the Brandenburg Gate.  Thousands of East Germans flocked over to the West in November 1989 when the Berlin Wall started to come down.


After visiting the National Holocaust Museum in the centre of Berlin which was a sombering experience to say the least.  That afternoon, we took another train towards the East Side Gallery – a stretch of the former Berlin Wall where artists were given a section to express themselves.

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That evening Wolfgang invited some friends over together with is son and prepared a lovely meal for all of us and we spent the evening going through his photos of his South America trip with lots of German beer.  Seeing his photos brought back a lot of good memories.


From Potsdam, we booked a train to take us to Erfurt (in the country) to visit another friend of ours Lutz who spent a few weeks with us in Vancouver before heading south as well.  We had last seen Lutz in Ensenada, Mexico for a day and had always known that we would visit him wherever he was in Germany.  It was by pure coincidence that the weekend we had arranged to spend with him was also his birthday and he had some of his friends from his home town visiting to celebrate as well.  So it was a filled house with lots of German/English translating going on together with German beer while we watched the women's world cup game between Germany & Japan.  Germany unfortunately didn’t make it through to the semi’s.  No riots in Germany though!


While somewhat planning what we wanted to do in Germany and the family we wanted to visit, we had arranged with another biker friend of our’s Paul who we had first met in Quito, Ecuador to pick us up from Erfurt so that we could spend a few days with him and his wife Kathy in Munich.  It was our first experience on the autobahn and cruising at a comfortable 160 km/hr didn’t seem that fast after all.


More Germany photos added to my facebook page.
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