Monday, June 14, 2010

A little trip around Dresden

We spent Monday hanging around Dresden. Last time we were here we visited the Kunsthofpassage (Artist Passage) in Neustadt. Armed with a new camera with a wide angle lens, I was able to get a better feel for the space.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Bees are a Buzzing around Europe

Lately, it seems, everywhere we go there has been this incredible buzzing noise emanating from every nook and cranny around town. It sounds as if killer bees have invaded us from Africa. In fact, they have. They are in every house, pub, and public space. This invasion I’m talking about is the World Cup. For my American friends out there, the World Cup is the World Soccer Championship. This year it is being held in South Africa and every pub in Europe has the game playing, usually outside. So you can’t really go anywhere without the constant drone of the crowd – thousands of people blowing on horns – like an angry swarm of bees. It is quite deafening just walking around. I can’t imagine what it would be like in person.

On Sunday, Germany played their first game in the series. To say that they were excited is an understatement. American football fans do not have anything on Soccer fans. Every bar was packed to the gills and giant outdoor viewing areas where set up to watch the game.

World Cup Public Viewing Area on the Elbe

Along the Elbe, there is a viewing area with a giant outdoor screen that can hold thousands of people. You can always tell the when someone makes a goal by the deafening roar that rises over the entire town. On Saturday we hung out on the bridge and a local biergarten to watch the crowd. On the river, people were launching balloons, drinking beer and having a good old time in preparation for the big game.

A Little Pre-Game Balloon Launch


 Eine Luftballon

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stolpen Ride Restart

Last year when I was in Dresden I had an epic ride to Stolpen and then to the Czech border. That ride wasn’t supposed to be epic, but became that way after I tried to follow hi-tech route that I was given by my friend Dave. The route, supposedly entered into a GPS was a complete mess. I got sent all over the German country side looking for non-existent trails. Well it turns out they were not so non-existent and this year Dave and Ingo decided to show me the “correct” route.
As per normal for a ride with Ingo, the weather started out with a bit of a mist in the air. We left Neustadt and headed for the Heide forest. Last year I spent an hour completely lost in this forest, well this time we “found” an old railroad grade and zipped through the majority of it in about 15 minutes. No ravines, no cliffs, just a nice smooth trail along a mellow gradient.
Somewhere in the middle of the forest we met up with Ingo and miraculously the sun came out, peaking her head over the forest canopy. Hmm, maybe we will doge this rain thing after all. Time to put on some sunscreen. Onward we road through the forest, passing hordes of toddlers out for an afternoon stroll.

After we left the Heide we entered the small town of Weissig and started following an old railroad grade through the fields surrounding Dresden. This trail was definitely easier than the up and down route that I had done before!

Notice the FLAT trail
After a couple hours of mostly mellow riding though picturesque farming communities, we stopped in Elbersdorf for a quick bite to eat and a much needed sports drink. As we headed back down to town, Dave’s city bike decided that it had maybe one too many adventures off road and decided to start losing spokes. Now let me tell you, those spokes are there for a reason. They aren’t  there just to look pretty. In fact, if you lose one or two, the wheel gets downright wobbly.

A Bad Case of the Wobblies

After completely failing our MacGyver test, we quickly decided to cut the ride short and head for the closest train station instead of trying to ride all of the way back to town. Lucky we decided to turn around because soon the sky opened up with a deluge of rain.

Crossing the Elbe

We managed to get a bit of relief from the rain when we crossed the Elbe on one of the ferries. Another kilometer or so and we were at the train station. For a supposed mellow ride, this turned out to be quite the adventure. <

Stolpen Start

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There’s a Little Irish in all of us.

It seems wherever we travel, we end up at an Irish pub. It seems strange that you would visit Germany, Belgium or even Hungary and end up in an Irish pub. Seriously, why not go see some ohmpfa band or something with a bit more local flair. The reason, I think, is that one of the best places to meet locals is an Irish pub. By their very nature, Irish pubs tend to lend themselves to talking and joining in with the band. The local aspect comes into play, because many locals go to Irish pubs to help learn English. So if you happen to speak English, well, there are often locals there that are just jonesing to get some practice. A fine example of this type of pub is the Tir Na N’og pub in Neustadt, Drsden -
The Ter No N'og - Complete with local improvements
Here you can listen to some good Irish music, indulge yourself in a pint or two (or three or …) and possible finish off with a “Mini Guiness”.
"Mini Guiness" - Kahlua & Baily's
As you might imagine, we ended up staying there way too late, but then, why else are we here?
Lord preserve us and protect us, We’ve been drinking whisky for breakfast.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

YVR –> DRS, back in the USSR

Okay, not quite back in the USSR, but back in the former Soviet Republic state of East Germany. It has been a year since I have visited my friends Dave and Lisa in Dresden, Germany and two since Kathy had visited. I figured it was high time to get back on the old airplane and see what was happening over there.

So last Wednesday, we flew from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) on a direct flight to Dusseldorf, Germany and then to Dresden on Air Berlin. 

I hadn’t flown out of Vancouver for a couple of years and was impressed with all of the work that they had put into the airport for last Winter’s Olympics.


Inside YVR

I was a little apprehensive about using a discount airline for international travel, but my fears where for nothing. Air Berlin was a nice airline and nothing beats flying directly to Europe instead of the torturous multi-leg hop on domestic carriers. So after a hop over the northern tundra of Canada, we arrived in Europe just nine hours after we had left. Another layover, a quick hop and now our vacation can start, but a first a quick nap.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A Quick Escape to Inati Bay

After a pretty dry winter in Bellingham, May has decided to be extremely wet. I don’t think there has been a weekend without a least a day or two of torrential downpours. So you can imagine that when we had a small weather window last Saturday, we decided to quickly head over to Inati bay. It was sunny and warm, short sleeve weather the whole sail. Of course Sunday, the rain came back, but at least we had one nice day.

Here is a 360 view of Inati I took with my new camera.