Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for the 'Germany' Category

It begins tomorrow

428 kilometers.
Biking 50-70km a day for 6 days.
Back on June 7th.

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Critical Polo

When searching for a good bike ride on the weekend, I surfed my way to Critical Mass, an event that brings hundreds of cyclists together to bike around the major cities once a month. It took almost three hours for the parade of colourful characters to cover around thirty kilometers of Frankfurt.

Lifting our bikes may have slowed us down a little (not actually a weekend photo): Read more


With a little help from my friends

A bike trip can be strengthened or destoyed by your relationship with your friends. You’re all in this together, so when they suffer, you suffer. You’ll never be able to block out their whining for an entire week. That’s why I need to make sure that my friends ride in comfort.

This is why it’s critical to invest in a few good pairs of bike shorts. They let your friends breathe, and keep friendly friction to an absolute minimum. If the internet is to be believed, quality shorts are one of a cyclist’s most important pieces of gear.

That’s not all the internet has to say about the matter. I’ve been doing a lot of questionable googling recently, and apparently it’s very important to let your friends have an intimate, trusting relationship with your shorts. No barriers, no judgement, and most importantly, no underwear.

I’m not the jealous type, so that’s fine with me. I know that my friends need room to breathe. But like a protective mother, I’m worried about my friends. A speed dating session in a sports-store changing room seems like a great place to meet interesting shorts, but what about safety? Those sports store shorts get around. I don’t like thinking about how many other men have pulled this very pair of shorts over their sweaty, hairy friends.

I guess meeting new shorts always comes with risks. I just have to let my friends run free, and live life on the wild side.

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More potential for public humiliation

A Canadian has promised to pay me a visit in June, and we’re currently smoothing out a plan to bike around Germany. I’ve always wanted to do a proper bike trip, I can safely file this in the Pretty Damn Awesome category. We have our sights on Germany’s Romantic Road, a chain of cities that ends at the castle that inspired Cinderella. We’ll cover around 350 km (dreihundertfünfzig) in 10 days. We’ll cover around 50 km on the longest day, with racks loaded with enough equipment to survive ten nights in hostels.

I have no idea of how to properly plan a bike trip, but my gut is telling me that if I want to pedal a weighted bike for 10 straight days, I’m already behind in my non-existant training schedule. My legs enthusiastically agree. The internet tells me that my ass should be screaming in terror, but it’s currently passed out, beaten and bruised, from the first day of real biking in months.

To prove (or disprove) the motivating power of public humiliation, I’m going to let the entire internet judge my training. I’ll log my workouts in a public google spreadsheet. You can use it for drinking games, you can forward it to all of your friends (you’ll have good luck if you send it to at least five people!), or you can just feel sorry for how badly I’ll embarass myself when I fail. Or maybe, just maybe, you could even give me some advice. Who knows, maybe I’ll even listen.

Oh, and to make it interesting, my bike is in Canada.

Until May.

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Counting in German

One of the strangest parts about German is counting. Things start out simple enough: Eins, zwei, drei…

Like most other languages, German has a system for the two digit numbers above twenty (zwanzig), only the Germans decided to mix things up a bit. Instead of saying twenty-one, you flip it around, and say one-and-twenty (einundzwanzig), like some ancient founding father whose car got 40 rods to the hogshead.

Things get worse when you start using larger numbers. German’s notoriously long words are usually compound words on steroids, since German encourages you to pair up any remotely related words, like some kind of redneck singles club. If you ask a English salesman about the price of a new car, he might tell you that it costs twenty-four thousand three hundred ninety-five Euros. A German would say this:

“Das Auto kostet vierundzwanzigtausenddreihundertfünfundneunzig Euro.”

word by word, that’s four-and-twenty-thousand-three-hundred-five-and-ninety. Simple, no?

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Austria 11 – Back home

October 1, 2008 

A flight back to Germany, a series of trains, and a handful of levels in FFIV.  An uneventful day, which was just what the doctor ordered after a week and a half in Austria.

I definitely didn’t expect the surprise birthday party. I think that I could grow to like it here.


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Austria 10 – Last Day

September 31, 2008

After a day of hiking on a mountain, a day spent walking around town is child’s play in comparison. For the record, child’s play is becoming increasingly difficult for us old timers. We attempted another geocache, designed by young scouts for young children. We wandered in circles in the woods for 30 minutes before deciding that the cache was lost and that our search was futile. Several days later the intrepid young scouts confirmed that the cache was where it should be, and we were in fact just very old and dumb. Those scouts should learn to respect their elders, and keep that racket off my lawn.

Our spirits crushed and energy drained, we headed out for some tranquil, relaxing rock climbing. I should really look into picking up the sport. It’s certainly more legitimate than Parkour, although the shoes hurt a lot more. The pictures are less awesome, to boot.

Two days of rigorous exercise had put us in the perfect state of mind to enjoy the culmnation of our trip: all-you-can-eat sushi. With surprisingly little sushi.

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I saw a physics show known as Physikanten last month, and they blew the crowd away. I couldn’t understand a word they said, but they made suitcases dance on a table, flames reach to the ceiling, giant smoke rings fly over the audience, and a whole lot more. This was probably the highlight of the show:

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Austria 9 – Hike

September 30, 2008

You can only spend so much time nestled at the foot of Austrian mountain ranges before you find yourself seduced by high altitudes and the thrill of the outdoors. We grabbed our gear and headed up Bärenschützklamm.

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Austria 8 – ChoCoPhonia

September 29, 2008

You just can’t have an Austrian vacation without a trip to the Zotter chocolate factory. We opted for a self-guided tour, feeling like Charlie let loose in the factory. We sampled, snacked, slurped, and became totally gorged, almost unable to move.

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