Peewee’s big adventure

When my wife, daughter, and I arrived in Bonn, Germany, in August 1989, the country was divided into two nations, one democratic and capitalist, the other autocratic and socialist. A few months later the Berlin Wall had fallen and the socialist regime in the DDR had collapsed. By the time we left, in June 1990, Germany was a few short weeks away from formal reunification.

I returned in 1995 for a brief visit that was marked mostly by herding my small children and trying to avoid death on the autobahn in my rental Dodge Neon, whose maximum speed, fully loaded, was barely 60 mph. We visited our friends the Mekkis and were only in Germany for a few days. I noticed little and remember less.

Last year I visited my eldest son in Berlin, another brief, five-day trip. I was blown away. While living in Bonn-Bad Godesberg I had never been to Berlin. The night the wall came down, my friend Jan Volek and I drove to the border crossing at Hildesheim, entered East Germany, and got caught up in one of the most famous traffic jams of all time: a several hundred kilometer “stau” all the way to Berlin. We were running out of gas and he had exams the next morning, so we became the first people in history to go from East Germany to West with our car in reverse on the autobahn through the military checkpoint without stopping or being shot at.

Since my visit last summer I’ve been planning another trip to Germany. This will be a bike trip. My youngest son, who is seventeen, will accompany me to Cologne, where we will buy a pair of department store bikes and pedal across the country to Berlin. It should be about 800 miles if we don’t make too many wrong turns and if we don’t have to take too much evasive action to avoid our German stalker, Jens the Biker from Manhattan Beach.

I should add that my son doesn’t hardly ever ride a bike. Also, being able to count to ten and ask the age of one’s wife, I consider myself to be rather bilingual.

I like to travel light, so here is what I’m taking for the 21-day trip, including the clothes I will be wearing.

  1. Small backpack
  2. Pants: 2 pair, one long, one short
  3. Underwear: 2 pair
  4. Socks: 2 pair
  5. Bike multi-tool that I don’t know how to use: 1
  6. Tire lever: 1
  7. Shoes: 1 pair of sneakers
  8. Shirts: 2, one long-sleeve, one short
  9. Belt: 1
  10. Rain cape: 1
  11. Toothbrush: 1
  12. Dental floss: 1 roll
  13. Toothpaste: 1 tube
  14. Passport
  15. Credit card: 2
  16. Cash: $500 Euros
  17. Hat: 1 SPY trucker gimme cap
  18. Pen: 1
  19. Notebook: 1
  20. Phone: iPhone 4, badly scratched but still has cool orange SPY sticker on it
  21. Book: 1, Undetermined
  22. Eyeglasses: 1 pair SPY Rx
  23. Sunglasses: I pair SPY Rx

Since we don’t know how far we’ll get each a day or where we’ll end up, we’ve decided to use Air B&B. Our first night is a really cool place in the corner of a Vietnamese student’s apartment for $11. After that we will look for more reasonably priced accommodations.

I think that should cover it. Istanbul, here we come. Glad my eldest son is staying home and manning the fort to shoot and kill potential thieves intent on stealing my other two pair of undershorts.

END

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34 thoughts on “Peewee’s big adventure”

  1. Safe journey Seth! I expect the Germans will take to your brand of humor quickly! (They love bathroom humor so you should be good to go!)

  2. What an adventure! I LOVE this! Your packing list looks about right. I think I would take a debit card too, just in case. But that’s me (and I never have NEARLY that much in cash). My only concern would be your son’s back end after a day or two on the bike. Actually, your’s too on a dept store saddle. By day 12, all will be well, I’m sure. But Day 2 to Day 11, I can imagine some agitation.

    Have fun! I can’t wait to hear the stories!!

  3. Might I suggest…
    24. Bib shorts
    25. Cycling jersey
    26. Arm warmers
    27. Helmet
    28. Gloves
    29. Cycling shoes
    30. Pedals
    31. Tire levers
    32. Spare tube
    33. CO2 Inflator
    34. Bidon.

    Sounds like a fantastic trip…good luck.

    1. Or “Gute Fahrt!” like they used to say on Assos shorts, which was always good for a laugh!

      1. Love it, “Gute Fahrt!”
        Der Gorilla is doing well. Not to mention Der Yellow Jersey.

  4. Erik Vanderaerden

    1. Phone charger to fit Euro style socket.
    2. Credit card with chip, they don’t accept the old (US) style.

  5. Make sure your multi tool you don’t know how to use will remove a bolted on dept. store wheel- but maybe they sell them with skewers over there. Have fun!

    1. I wouldn’t know what to do with the wheel even if I could get it off. Sell it?

  6. Geez, who’d have guessed you had a daughter. Hope she rides a bike. Seriously.

    Just got back from Munich. Great trip; wished I’d had a bike and didn’t spend so much time in the ER with bronchitis. If you’re next to a sick person on the plane demand to move or get off the plane. Else plan to spend $150 for ER services that in the U.S. would cost $2000+

    Great people in Germany. Great health services. Hope you won’t need them.

  7. Roger nurnberger

    Try warmshowers.org. Or the European equal for traveling cyclists staying at other cyclest homes

    1. My goal is to be so filthy and broken and sick and hungry and miserable at the end that my normal life will seem comfortable.

  8. Make sure your credit cards have the new RF chips in them. They are pretty much standard in Europe now, and many merchants will reject a less secure card. Get one issued by your bank.

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