Our first night in a hotel I was going to use AirB&B even though I had listened to a radio documentary explaining why the sharing economy was nothing more than stupid task rabbits dumping money and data into the pockets of Wall Street investors. I had picked out a lovely space next to the desk of a Vietnamese exchange student which was being offered for the reasonable sum of eleven dollars when I discovered that before you can book a request you have to provide all of your personal information.
This proved what the documentary had alleged: the biggest value is your personal data. It also confirmed that the real evil is that the cheaper prices mean that taxes aren’t being paid as they would be in licensed establishments.
So I deleted my account and booked online. My only criterion was price, and for three nights in a row I had, for about $50, gotten perfectly atrocious accommodations. And yes, that is a card table and yes, those are gang showers.
Now we were in East Germany and prices dropped further. We’d booked a room in the Wanderherberge, a mere five miles outside Eisenach. Unfortunately, five miles on an Internet description is about 15km of hilly riding in real life, but we’d been on the train all day and sort of didn’t mind being lied to.
The most awesome thing about putting your bike on the train is the entry/exit scrum where the non-bike passengers are pushing to get off and three 75-year-olds on electric tandems are trying to untangle their pedals from the asses of random passengers and you’re kicking people in the shins while smiling politely between English oaths like “cocksuckers” that everyone understands but pretends not to while the bells beep the doors close and you realize that you’re on the wrong train.
Fortunately I didn’t have too many problems because prior to entering the country I’d received an official douchebag certification, which I could simply flash and immediately clear a path.
We found the tourism office and got free maps with terrible directions to our youth hostel. Woodrow was feeling pretty good about not having to ride 30 miles uphill and so was I.
For dinner we bought a big loaf of black bread, salami, cheese, half a gallon of milk, some bananas, and chocolate. “This is real food,” I said.
“And it’s not terrible!” Woodrow added brightly.
We ate and ate and ate.
“We have to leave by six.”
“We’re supposed to have heavy thunderstorms all day.”
Woodrow stared at his black bread. “And where are we riding to?”
“How far is that?”
“Fifty-three miles. We backtrack towards Eisenach then head east to Gotha, Erfurt, and Weimar.”
“How long will that take us?”
“Eight hours if it’s flat.”
“Is it flat?”
He looked at his bread some more. “Well ,” he said, “it will make a good story, right, Dad?”
I looked at my black bread and chewed it, breaking out a few more teeth. “Right.”