Wednesday, June 27, 2007


so, this weekend past, i was feeling stir crazy, and though the threat to rain was in the air, i rented a motorad from Cintula Honda - a Honda TransAlp 650 - and headed south to check out Dresden, and some other relevant historical and natural German sites, as well as to meander through the countryside.

though not my first choice, enduro bikes are very popular around here these days, as the guys like to drift them around mountain curves (yes, like drifting cars, but different) and this one did the job adequately. i actually recieved a couple of compliments on the bike - one in particular from an old guy who, i found out, even with our limited capacity to communicate, rides an '84 BMW R80, set up for touring. i tried to explain that i have a '72 BMW R75 in America, but i think that was beyond my ability to communicate, and his to understand. but, he seemed impressed with my chosen steed, and put it best when he said, with a huge old guy grin, "Riding motorbikes is the best."

i had been wanting to rent a bike for a couple of weeks now, to take a trip somewhere, and Dresden seemed like an obvious choice. It's close, it has "relevant" history, with WWII and as the long time capital of the Saxon area there, and because it was close to the Czech border and a huge fortress and a crazy outdoor area.

So, i rented the bike, and with clouds in the sky, hoped to make it out of Berlin before the rain hit. Well, that was not meant to be. had i been 10 minutes earlier, i would have been fine (i guess i should have skipped the salami baguette), but as it was, i got hit by the worst rain storm i had seen in days, at the first redlight i stopped at by the hotel. For those familiar with my pad in LA, that would be like leaving the driveway - no rain, stopping at the redlight on 26th - downpour. HA!

well, luckily i had commited myself to inclimate weather, and was wearing full riding gear, courtesy of the shop, so i didnt get that wet . . . sort of. my shoes were soaked, but i got onto the autobahn, headed south, outran the rain, and had a nice 1.5 to 2 hour ride to dry out. Lets hear it for syntheics! by time i got to Dresden, i was totally dry. i was afraid i was going to have to buy some new shoes.

Dresden was very cool. a charming little place on the Elba river, it is more well know for the fact that we (the allies) basically completely leveled it at the end of WWII. i spent most of my time in the "historic" section, which i loved. because i love history. i didnt really get much of the history from my time there, mostly because i dont speak german, but i got enough. and i went on a tour of the "old fortess."
as a mideval city, dresden was originally surrounded by a big wall/fortress enclosure, the gates and original bridge of which are now covered by a park. it was built right on top. however, you can still tour the old gates, and see some of the fortifications, etc. through a cool little museum under the park.
after the fortress, i checked out an art gallery, with works by Martin Kobe. i was impressed with his geometry, and his use of light and color. being not an art history major, i'll just leave it at that.

i ate dinner in on what was basically the touristy restaurant street. i had the Sauerbraten, witch beef "dresdener style" (read: heavy brown gravy), with red cabbage and these funny little potato dumplings that they like to eat over here. it was very tasty. i finished it off with a "local delicacy" egg custard, which was boring and dry. how unfortunate.

after dinner, i wandered around a bit more, and went to bed, and the Hilton, where i stayed for no better reason than: it was there, available, close, and i didnt feel like trying to find something cheaper. it was right in the middle of the historic stuff, and that was enough for me. they offered a complimentary breakfast which was fan-freaking-tastic. complete with omletes, sausage, potatoes, eggs, bacon, pancakes, bread, pastries, fruits, baked beans (for the English), and fresh squeezed juice. soooo goood. there were some engilsh peeps there in a big group, must have been for some kind of conference or something, and i heard one skinny little girl complement the breakfast to her friend saying that she had eaten four plates of food - and the plate she was holding was not empty by anymeans. i chuckeled to myself judgementally: "way to go fatty . . . " i thought as i glanced down at the table in front of me . . . . wich also had . . . four plates . . . (oohh those pancakes were gooood). at which point i promptly finished my omlet, got one more piece of hypocritical bacon and left.

so i headed south, my destination: Festung Konigstein - an old fortress first built in the 1500's, which has been used in every military conflict that the area has been involved in . . . ever. pretty impressive, i think, for a crazy huge fortress built on top of a rock in the middle of nowhere, basically.
however, on the way there, i missed my exit and took a little detour through the Czech Republick. that was really cool. after the border, the hiway is lined with huge walls, you cant see anything past them, untill you get to the first exit, and then, suddenly, you're in these beautiful mountains, on your way to Teplice. the hills reminded me alot of West Virginia, beautiful countryside, bored teenagers in little villiages.

so, after my little scenic detour, i was back on my way to the fortress. the border crossing was actually not as easy back into Germany. the border gaurds were very confused by my work visa, and i had to wait a few minutes on the side of the road wondering if i'd get my passport back. but, of course, i did, and i was off.

the fortress is indescribable. its basically a villiage on top of a rock. you'll have to see the pictures to really get any kind of idea. but, i'm telling you, i had seen pictures before i got there, and it was still impressed. i did the walking tour, with my english language headphones guide, and i think i learned about every nook and cranny of the place. i think i walked aroud for 4 hours discovering history. and, as i got to about #40 interest point - (out of 60 or so. incidentally i think it was the well, which is 152.5 meters deep, the second deepest in all of Germany) i was struck at one point by the fact that it was probably a good thing that i was alone, as i dont know if anyone else that i know could have possibly tolerated 4 hours of historical minutia. but, i loved it, so there.

after the fortress, i headed out through the countryside to Bastei. some crazy rock formations across the river from the Festung Konigstein. due to its popularity with toursits, already, in the 1800's, somebody thought it would be a good idea to build a big stone bridge across some rocks. why they picked the location that they did, or why they even thought it was a good idea to build a stone bridge in the first place, i dont know. i heard it was meant to replace a wooden bridge in the same spot. whatever reason, i'm glad they did, cause its crazy!

after an enjoyable day cruising through history and the great outdoors, i pointed my motorcycle back toward Berlin. i had thought to drive through the towns of Radeberg and Pulsnitz on my way out, but, i learned something important about Germany and signs and maps here. The signage here is not really designed for the out of towner. you get to the middle of a villiage (and there is one about every 5 km or so) and you see, oh, maybe 10 signs, all pointing down a road to another villiage. This, at first glance seems very helpful. however, the problem becomes that, though you have a myriad of signs to chose from. . . none of the names on those signs correspond to the names of villiages on your map of all Germany. HA! so, you just cruise around it what you think is the right direction for a while, untill you find something you recognize, or a highway, or fireworks in Dresden, 20 km away.

so, i stopped in Neustadt in Sachsen for some food, which is where i met the old dude and talked about bikes. i also met the kid at the pizza place, who responded with my desperate inquiriy of "English?" with the slightly amused "of course." now, i quickly pointed out to the kid the hilarity of that statement. that "of course" the one kid in an open pizza joint on a Sunday in the middle of nowhere Germany spoke excellent English, when even the people in service capacities in Dresden, where there seemed to be more Americans, per capita, than Berlin, didn't speak much English at all. we laughed about this, and it turned out that he spoke great english because he was part of a pit crew for an international racing team, and was just in town saving money to go to college. he was a cool kid.

the kid pointed me in the right direction, and eventually i made it back to Berlin, even if a little later than expected. but man was it a great trip.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dresden, Etc.

today i rented this
and went to here, where i currently am writing from.
tomorrow i'll be checking out some cool stuff that i will hopefully tell you about tomorrow night, along with the whole story.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Dear Craig,

you know how i said i would post something cool on the blog for you last night? well, i went to karaoke instead. but can you blame me? i mean, c'mon, who doesnt want to see crazy germans doing rousing renditions of '80's balads, and one asian lady screaching out Bridge Over Troubled Water, and owning it?
besides, i had to do a pulsating rendition of My Sharona, as originally done by The Knack. and even though we ran out of time and i didnt get to do Living On a Prayer in the style of Bon Jovi, or Winds of Change in the style of Scorpions,

Scott killed it with Superstition in the style of Stevie Wonder, and that one Hoobastank song in the style of . . . Hoobastank . . . (shout out - Morgie!)

it was great. i love karaoke.
this guy only occasionally seemed to even know he was on stage, supposed to be singing . . .

the host finnished us off with some ballad about "the end" . . .

Monday, June 04, 2007

yep, its legal

seems like just about everything is street legal here in Berlin . . .
and some rides are just plain sweet.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

National Donut Day (+1)

so, yesterday i heard that it was National Donut Day in America. so, in observance of a day dedicated to one of my all time favorite delectibles (i could be said that i have a problem) - i went to one of my favorite places, The Europa Center, to a Dunkin Donuts, and had, what may have two of the worst donuts of all time. i had a Lemon donut - i'm a succer for lemon - and a blueberry crunch donut.
the problem wasnt that they didnt taste good, so much as that it was 8:00 pm by time i got there (thats 20:00 for those of you in europe), and if they are a real Dunkin Donuts, that means those babys had been sitting on the shelf for 15 hours. ("Five am, time to make the donuts . . . ).

well, what can you do. at least i had a donut. although, this morning i had a cruler from the grocery store before playing soccer, and it was fantastic. who says the Germans cant make a good donut?