It started

Last night Johannes and I took Justin to the train station. He was the first goodbye. I have photos but you’ll have to wait till tomorrow.

It was sad. And I know that many more are coming in the next month. Vanesa is the next. She will be leaving us in a week.

I’m a little sad.

But for a good reason. The year is nearly over. I’ve been here in Germany over 9 months already, seen many things, and met many wonderful people. That is the part that gets me most. The people here are wonderful. I’m going to miss them most. Justin, the second person I met here, is going home in 1 week, and soon after more people will go. At the end of July nearly all the friends I made this year will go to their homes in their home countries, and we will only have the memories of what happened to keep us company. Some people had already gone home after the first semester; we still miss and talk about them.

Some of the people I’ve met here are the dearest people I’ve ever met. Everyone has such a unique personality. Take for instance Gosia. Gosia is one of the most likeable people you can ever meet. She is a beautiful girl from Olsztyn, Poland that is always having a good time. You never see Gosia without a smile. She will dance until the sun comes up and continue if you can still stand. Besides being a fantastic cook she is an architect and a very good one at that. I see many good things from her and know that she will succeed at anything to which she puts her heart. Which is a very big one.

Someone else I have got to know is Elena, a beautiful girl from Valencia, with whom I enjoy every minute we spend together. She and I can laugh about many things one of those being that we live with Germans. She is one of the few people here to have found love. It Last semester she met a guy named Marcos from Argentina and plans to go see him and try and make a life. This is a big decision for her. I am very happy that she has found some one with whom she can share her life. Those of us with the fortune to know her are very lucky to have Elena here with us. Many times we have knocked on her door when she was in her pajamas and within just a few minutes she was ready to go out. She has a great spirit and enjoys life very much. A friend as good as Elena is very hard to come by, and I am so happy to have met her and spent the time we did. I wish you all the luck in the world Elena! Eres maravillosa. Besos. Perdoname.

Another great person is César. César is from Madrid, Spain. He and his friends the Pablos, Luis, Iloylan and Christiano always made me feel at home. He and I did what we call a tandem which is when we share time together speaking each others native language. Because of these guys I was able to practice Spanish in real life conversations. Usually we did this over lunch (sometimes Spanish lunch means 4PM). We would eat at the local cafeteria or in a kitchen from these guys. Even though it was my job to speak to these guys in English I think I always got the better end of the deal and we usually spend more than 50% of the time speaking Spanish.

Someone else that I always enjoyed hanging out with was PieterJan. PieterJan comes from Brussels, Belgium and is genuinely one of the most liberal people I’ve ever met. He is also one of the most entertaining. You will always have a good time hanging out with PieterJan, sometimes called PJ. PJ was kind enough to show a group of us Americans around Belgium for a couple days. He let us stay in his house and fed us well, Belgium style – something of a treat being as we had been in Germany for so long.

And who could forget Sarah Wendlandt. Sarah was our only Australian. She has a great accent although won’t admit it. Sarah is also the youngest person in our group only turning 20 last month. Sarah was a great person to party with and was always a little more friendly when she was drinking. I am not sure where she is going in life, but I am sure she will have a great time doing it.

Then their is Kaziu, also known as Cashew. He was also one of the first people I met upon arriving. He’s a funny guy and can liven up any party. I remember times when he’d have to work so hard we wouldn’t see him for weeks it seemed. But then he’d be right back in the thick of things. We teased Kasiu a lot for that among other things. He took it well and even gave it back on occasion. I look forward to seeing him before I leave to travel in August.

A group of people I really liked and was lucky enough to travel with were Tomas , Aileen, Javier, and Poncho. We and 2 more went to Portugal together for a week before Christmas. It was quite a pleasure every moment with these guys. Poncho, Javier and Tomas are from Santiago, Chile, and Aileen is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Chilean guys are a hoot. They both spoke English very well, but you would never know it. I always wanted to talk to these guys in Spanish. But the only thing is they don’t speak Spanish. Chilean is a dialect of Spanish that has been corrupted by the years; it is a cross between muttering and mumbling with a few curse words thrown in. I really enjoyed trying to figure out what they were saying, but of course I never did. I look forward to getting down to Chile and seeing them in a few years. Aileen was a great girl too and quite pretty. I got to know her best through Vanesa, but she and I had several great excursions together and she was always a pleasant person to be with.

Someone else I’m going to miss is Pascal. Pascal is one of my German roommates and has been here since basically the beginning. He rides a motorcycle too making him that much cooler. It that wasn’t enough he also flies glider planes on the weekends. He and I share an intimate hatred for our ex-roommate Christian. One of the happier days of this year was when Chiristian had to move out. That was actually my birthday, and Pascal and I partied till real late in the morning. Of course so did all the other guests. They didn’t know the real reason for celebrating.;) Pascal speaks English very well and hopes one day to spend a year in the U.S. working or studying. I wish him lots of luck.

Then there is Steve Dragan. Yep, that’s his real name. Steve is quite a character, and one of the best laughs I’ve ever had was at his expense. Jessica and I paid him to eat sand in Lagos, Portugal which he did. If that wasn’t enough he then had to use ocean water to wash his mouth out. I still laugh thinking about it. Steve is also quite a wrestler. He’s the only guy my size in my life to give me a good match. Steve is always smiling and has a great desire to travel. He is the kind of guy that you will never see down. Born in Dallas he now lives in St. Louis and will be married soon after returning. His attitude alone with take him far.

Speaking of Jessica: there is a lot I can say about her. I like Jessica a lot. She is quite a nice person and even shares many political beliefs I have. After a quasi-rocky start we grew to be friends that can discuss anything. I didn’t even meet her until late in the first semester, but soon after we were traveling partners. She was one that went to Belgium with us and then she convinced Steve, Alison, and I to go to Spain and Portugal with her. It took very little convincing. Recently I have spent more time with Jessica making rootbeer floats or going to the pool. Also from St. Louis she is a big city girl and looks forward to going home to see her family and especially her grandfather. She is a friend I imagine to have my whole life.

Speaking of traveling I have to mention Anais. Anais is my favorite Venezuelan girl. She decided to join Kuba and I on a last moment invite trip to Berlin. I was very glad she joined us. A very pretty girl that speaks great English we had a wonderful time while Kuba sailed in his competition. We toured all over Berlin and got to know each other. This was my first non university sanctioned trip, and I won’t forget it. Lately Anais and I have gone to the same dinner parties. I always look forward to spending time with her.

This brings up Matt Devrie. Why you may ask? I met Matt on my first trip out of Stuttgart. The university sponsored a small group to go to Prague for a grand total of 50 Euros. That fee paid for room, travel, and some food. Matt and I got to know each other pretty well while there and were friends from that point on. Matt has a brilliant mind (in his own mind 😉 ) and will go far. He attends Rose-Hulman in Indiana and will take the education he gets there and run with it. He was my first football throwing buddy, and when we saw each other it was always good times.

Where would I be without Carlos? Carlos is a great guy from Valencia, Spain. He, Kasia, Gosia, and Gonzalo invited me to join them in Amsterdam which I gladly accepted. Carlos has taught me a lot of Spanish, and I hope I have helped him with English too. A very generous person, Carlos is part of one of my tightest groups of friends. He is another I will consider a lifelong friend. When he is not working Carlos can party till the sun comes up and still wants more. He likes to dress up nice and look good for the ladies. Of which he had a very pretty girl I hope he spends a long time with.

Kasia was just mentioned. There is no way I could talk about anyone without talking about her. Kasia is also from Poland , Poznan to be exact. She is a social butterfly if you’ve ever met one. I think Kasia has more friends than a person who as recently won the lottery. She is always doing something exciting. She is best friends with Gosia, a perfect match. Just the other day on a whim they grabbed a pair of scissors and cut Emmet’s hair. Kasia is interesting in many ways. She speaks 5 languages, yep 5: Polish, English, German, Russian, and Chinese. Of course I’ll have to take her word on the last two. She is another Polish girl that really knows how to cook. I think there is something in the water there; I haven’t met a Polish girl yet that was a bad cook. Anytime she invites me for dinner I’m already on my way. Kasia and I have traveled together too. Amsterdam was our second trip, Lichtenstein and Switzerland was the first. I think she has infinite energy. Kasia will go a long way with her many friends. I look forward to seeing her after this year.

I mentioned Emmet just now. Emmet is our resident Irish guy, and he fits th bill too. He does like his beer. This guy can liven up a room and probably without realizing can hold the attention of anyone. He’s got a great character. He went with us to Cologne for Carnival. Actually it was his idea. Let’s just say he and I saw some crazy things there. Emmet is an architect and spends a lot of time with Gosia and Jessica, lucky guy. I’m not sure what he wants to do when he grows up, or if he even wants to grow up. But he’ll have fun doing it.

This reminds me to mention a couple other people, Eric and James. These two guys are quite a pair. Well, not pair exactly, but they are in the same fraternity of the same university. Two more different people they could not be. James outgoing and funny, Eric a little more introverted with his own wit. Both are great drinking buddies and traveling companions. They are very lucky to have each other. Next year will probably go easiest for them having someone each day to talk without about the great times and experiences they had. I’m just a little jealous of that.

Someone else that inspired me was Juliana from Brazil. Juliana came to Germany without speaking a word of English, German, or even Spanish. Portuguese was her only form of communication, and there are only a hand full of people that speak Portuguese here. I think she made friends with them quick. We met her first day here and got to spend the whole day together. I understood about one tenth of what she said when we met, but both of our Spanish and German has grown, and now we can understand each other pretty well. She is a fun person to be around and quite brave if you ask me.

I have to talk about Justin and Gerald too. These guys are a fun bunch. The two of them do like to party. I’ve got lots of good memories drinking with these guys, pulling Gerald out of a tree and Justin quitting smoking and or drinking 4 or sometimes more times per week. I suspect one day he will successfully quit both. Gerald probably has the most stories out of all of us. He came for a good time and he sure found it. I think Justin also found what he was looking for here. I’m not sure what it was though. Since he’s leaving in one week I, and is the first to go, I wish Justin lots of luck. May he find good influences in his life to follow.
There are several more people that made a big impact on me. These people really shaped my time here. Without them my experience in Germany would have been much different and probably not nearly as wonderful.

Johannes was the first person I met in Germany. He was assigned to be my “buddy” and meet me at the airport and show me around the first couple days. He did far more than his job. Out of all the buddies as they are called, he is the only one that still hanging out with his exchange students. He even adopted a few more who lost theirs early on. Johannes is the most generous person I’ve met this year always wanting to contribute and take part. He treats everyone like his best friend and is as sincere a person you will ever meet. His humor sneaks up on you though; you have to watch him carefully. One would be very lucky to have him as a friend. Johannes is going to do a year in Portland, Oregon next year, and I cannot wait until he comes down to Texas so I can show him around. He is someone I will never forget and look forward to every time we see each other.

Another person I will never forget is Vanesa from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Vanesa had me won from day one. She could have told me to jump, and I would wait in the air until she told me to come down. Her smile alone would warm any heart. You can feel her presence when she enters a room, and you want to follow her when she leaves. Vanesa studies wind energy, such a cool subject. She will have lots of luck with anything she does. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever met. She can spend 9 hours at the job and come home to study even more. Vanesa will succeed, and I am sure her life will be filled with happiness.

These last five people are more than good friends and have contributed something really special to my experience in Germany.

Thomas Waltz is quite a guy. Coming from a conservative family in Michigan he turned 20 here and learned to drink. I’ve talked a little about him on this blog before. Thomas is a person that is always right and yet sometimes wrong. He brought a sense of humor with him from his friends and kinda hoped we would all catch on. I’ve picked up a little but there is a long way to go. Thomas has big wishes and bigger dreams. His list of goals in life is a long one and complex. If there is anyone in life that will complete their personal goal list it is me, but Thomas is next :D. He is a hard worker to a fault and more punctual than a German. His work ethics will take him far and he is going to be very successful. I wish Thomas the best in whatever he does. May he reflect on his year in Germany as the best year he’s ever had and remember the friends that he made for ever.

Tania Kiefer showed me a lot of things. One thing she showed me was that Germans can cook. She learned Spanish in Mexico and picked up a taste for spicy things and tequila. That alone attracted me to her immensely. She has the same desire to travel that I do and has had a lot of luck doing so. Tania teaches English, Spanish, and German, and I imagine she is a very good teacher. She certainly taught me some things. We dated for several months until I pulled some silly stunts and upset the flow. I still don’t know why I did that. Even afterward she accompanied me on a motorcycle trip to England. Tania plans to continue teaching but one day move to Spain. She will never give up traveling and will probably spend a good part of her life in a Spanish speaking country. Tania, I hope you find the good time you are looking for.

And Wasim. Wasim and I have not spent much time together outside of class, just a few times, but we did spend a lot of time working together. He and I were and still are lab partners in what may be the most interesting and learning experience of my life. The class itself was excellent, and Wasim helped me through. Together we gave presentations to large groups of people from all over the world and performed experiments neither of us had experience with before. Then we had to write the reports. And I do mean reports. From 30 to 50 pages these reports could be, and we had to turn them in every week. There is a lot of trust between us that can only occur when two people count on each other as much as we do. I want to mention that Wasim is from Palestine. I do so because he is a great friend and we have broken many barriers together. I am lucky to have him as a laboratory partner and couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. Wasim, you speak English very well and do excellent work. Good luck to you. I hope we can meet again. You are always welcome in Texas.

The last two people have already gone home, but they made such a big impression on me I will always consider them a part of my life.

Kuba Pawluk is a kindred soul. This man has more energy than an atomic bomb and sometimes reminds you of one. Kuba inspired me to meet a lot of people and see Poland where my ancestors are from. He invited me to spend Christmas with his family even after the death of his father. His family took me in like one of their own. His mother and grandmother are such wonderful women and of course great cooks. I met his grandfather and two sisters too. He is remarkable in so many ways; I think there is nothing Kuba cannot do when he wants to. I’ve seen him do things that are reserved for super heroes and still he looks for more. Taking after his father Kuba is a sailor at heart. I hope to one day sail far with him. He is one person that without a doubt will get the most of life. We could all learn from Kuba.

There is one more person I want to talk about. His name is Gonzalo Ramirez Troxler. His grandfather was Swiss, his mother born in the USA, and he’s 100% Chilean. Gonzalo is like a brother to me. From the first minute I met him I knew he would be a good friend. I still remember well how he sat down with a bunch of perfect strangers and made everyone happy to meet him. There are certain types of people in the world like Gonzalo that you meet very seldom. I am lucky to have done so. He has a true feeling for people that is rare and more friends than he is willing to admit. I wish he could have stayed here longer. He has to finish school and be with his family. I understand, but I still miss him. We remain in contact and will for ever. The first thing I will do when the opportunity and possibility arise is go to Chile. There is no doubt in my mind that we will see each other again. Good luck Gonzalo.

A song by Bob Dylan pretty much describes what I will have left of my friends soon. I will have memories and photos and of course email addresses. I can only hope to meet them all again in their respective homes or in mine, but as the song says, we’ll never all be together at the same time. I would give $10,000 at the drop of a hat if it could be like that.

While riding on a train goin’ west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I had spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied
Jokin’ and talkin’ about the world outside.

With hungry hearts through the heat and cold,
We never much thought we could get very old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
And our chances really was a million to one.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices they was few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter or split.

How many a year has passed and gone,
Many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a first friend,
And each one I’ve never seen again.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that. – Bob Dylan

Good bye friends.

You won’t believe it

Another great day. I am so tired. After last night staying up slightly late I got up today to do some wine tasting. This region of Germany is famous for wines (at least in Germany) and we have vineyards everywhere. Proof of that was seen today when we took a very short train ride right into the middle of wine growing region.

The idea of the excursion was to see a wine museum and then have a picnic and some wine testing. We did that for sure! First the museum was a lot of fun. Fabian our leader translated for us as an older German gentleman led us through the museum. We saw some very neat antique instruments of wine making and some more recent. Plus we learned a few differences between grapes along with what problems growers have to deal with: bugs, fungus, cold, sunlight – just to name a few.

I’d love to go over the whole museum with you, but it was too much. Here are the photos however.

After the tour we walked up the mountains past lots of vineyards. The views were amazing. Here is an example

lots more here starting with some strawberries of course. 😀 We stopped by a few cherry trees on the way up and really enjoyed the fresh and ripe fruit.

The next part lasted several hours. We snacked and drank wine till about 6 something, but then it was time to go home. The view from the monastery was amazing. I’ll have to ride the bike up there sometime soon. I’m tired now though, lots of sun these last few days.

One last photo. This is a typical Southern German town in case you were wondering.

Great Day again.

Today was a lot of fun. Last night Jessica and I were drinking a bottle of tequila over a steak I cooked, and DJ came over to invite us to his Rugby game. It would be the last of the season for him and a few of the other guys we know. So we agreed.

This morning 9AM came early thanks to the tequila, but we met up and went. Most people went with bus and train; Thomas and DJ rode their bikes. I picked up Jessica on my bike and we rode over there too. The roads were still wet from the rain earlier, but it wasn’t raining at the time. I made sure to bring a waterproof jacket just in case.

It started out a little cold and cloudy and did rain a little, but pretty soon everything cleared up. They home team tied the first game, lost the second, but won the third. So they won the last game of the season.

Besides watching the game the fun came for us between when we could sit on a pole vault mat and hang out. There were lots of us and it was quite entertaining: many good laughs. I won’t try here, because I couldn’t do it justice, to recreate them, but we laughed almost the whole time.

We got a photo of the whole group while still there – minus a few people. Thomas left early, and Gerald took the photo. Thanks Gerald! Evan and Nick ran off somewhere, and DJ was preparing for another game.

(click for larger)

Left to right: Lisa, Candice, Bo, Jessica, Ismael, me, Daisy, above: James and girlfriend, Emmet.

It was already a perfect day. The sun was shining, we were happy. The rest of the photos.

In there are pictures of most of us.

On the ride back Jessica had the great idea to stop for some ice cream. And we did. She got walnut and snickers, and I got Strawberry and Lemon. Mine was delicious! 😀

I also snapped this photo on the way back. I like it a lot.

Emmet thought we should bbq afterward, and people are coming over now. The day just gets better.

edit to add that the bbq was a lot of fun and we stayed up late talking and drinking.  lots of laughs.

OH man

I just got out of lab.  Well, it wasn’t lab, but 6 hours of calculations.  We did the lab last week and next week the report is due.  The calculations turned out to be harder than we though; actually we only did them for one data set, we have another probably 15 to do.  The good news is that we now know the proper procedure.  Hopefully we should get it all done tomorrow and have time to write the lab report which also takes a lot of time.  The good news is the weather is great and I’m making plans for this weekend!

Bath! We needed one.

This is about the second half of the day in England.
We left off at Stonehenge just a couple posts below. Thankfully it had stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy that time. We weren’t there long as it really is a pile of rocks although neatly placed. This time our goal was to reach Bristol for a late lunch and then on to Wales.

Somehow I missed a turn, but being as I travel by memory that’s not a big deal. Normally I look at a map and memorize the way till the next stop where I look at a map again. Well, we had no map, all the places we stopped that morning had nothing or something equivalent to the world atlas of England bigger than either of my types of luggage. So this was pure memory and a little luck that we found our way without having to back track. And in case your are wondering I do stop often for directions when I suspect I’ve made a turn or want to know how much farther something is. Try doing that in France! You’ll never get where you’re going.

Anyway, the rain picked up again, but the wind wasn’t so bad, and as it was noon already the morning chill was gone. We rode on nice country roads to the town of Bath. Now, Bath is a neat place. It is named appropriately for the thermal springs there. It seems Romans had discovered the only hot springs on the entire island and made it a public bath. Something else interesting about Bath is that it is centered in a valley with very tall hills/mountains all around. For me this is perfect, one of my favorite settings, and I’ll tell you why. When a town is centered in a valley you can go all the way around it and see it from different views. In the case of Stuttgart a different overlook for each day of the week. I’m certain you could spend a month in Bath and not see all the great sights. It was that cool.

So we did something very typical for me: ride to the tallest point possible and see what you can see. The view from Bath’s golf course was spectacular. From on top of that hill we could see a lot, although Tania opted to remain on the bike while I snapped these photos. She did that oddly; stayed on the bike even when I was going to be away for a little while. About half the pictures I have of her are sitting on the back seat of the bike waiting for for me.

now for the photo. (click for larger image)

Bath was neat and we decided to eat lunch there rather than continue to Bristol. As in all European cities the best places to go are in the center. We headed down. The city is old and mostly made of bricks. Actually most of what we saw in England and Wales was made of bricks – especially Portsmouth. The center was alive for a Monday, and we started looking for a place to eat. Tourist information was easily found, and it occurred to us to ask about the price of visiting the famous baths.

The woman at the counter was polite (and spoke English which I was very happy to be in a country with a language I understood without having to strain myself) and explained what was going on. The baths are 2 blocks over, cost 20 Pounds per person per 2 hours, and so on – you should make reservations though they fill up. This is when I asked her the now infamous question: “are they nude like in Germany?” Without pausing she continued, “Oh yes, they are perfectly modern and new, you won’t be disappointed at all”. Ummm… “I said n-u-d-e” “OH My Lord now, we don’t do that here” Tania and I had a good laugh out of that one. Seems the British are a little more prudent than the Germans. Shoot I saw naked women today at the city pool.

We made reservations, which turned out unnecessary and went to eat. Lunch was ok, Sandwich and fries, otherwise known as chips. Then to the Bath. This was well worth the cost. I was stiff and tired, and I imagine Tania was too. The cold and strong wind plus having slept poorly the night before in a crowded room on a boat was a lot to carry around. First we hit the rooftop pool which had a great view of downtown; then the rest: sauna and the likes. All in all it was great although there never was really hot water. I’ve been in hottubs before that I found more relaxing for the temp. But those you couldn’t stay in long. We were there 2 hours plus a little. When we left it was like being reborn. I wasn’t tired, sore, stiff, or even wanting to ride. The relaxation was great.

But we had to ride on. This time we were just going to skip Bristol and then on to Swansea. After asking some Germans for directions (which they had no clue) we found our way and would soon be at KitKat’s. One very cool thing on that trip (when it stopped raining again) was that there is this huge amazing bridge that crosses from England to Wales (in the southern part – they connect further north). It is a toll bridge. I hate tolls. This one was in Pounds and would be like paying twice for the same thing. Argh. Except, they don’t toll bikes and we rode through with a wave and a head nod. 😀

Now we were finally in Wales and the sun was shining. I guess you’ll have to wait till next time to read about how great it was to finally meet Sally a.k.a KitKat and see beautiful Wales.

Until then the photos up to now.

Bath starts here

and a couple you can see right off.

Me and my sign that we had to go (it says The Cross Bath ;))

and the bridge

so there you go.

Quite a Surprise

Mad_Dog from Intruder Alert called me this afternoon and asked what I was doing. He was already halfway to Stuttgart and wanted to meet up. I have been looking forward to this day for a long time so I was very happy to hear his voice on the phone.

I got to see his beautiful M109 and we even rode a little. It was a short visit as he had to get home, and I have class in about 30 minutes. I showed him one of our curvy little roads around here, and we stopped in at a Biergarten for some lemonade and chat.

It was like we’d been friends for every. Of course we had to get past the formalities of meeting for the first time, but as soon as we did that it was like old pals. We talked about everything of course – and that includes you! It was really great to see him take the short ride we did. I hope to over get his way soon so we can continue the conversation.

And I told Mike hello from everyone that I could remember. Lots of people said hi!

Photos! I owe ’em. Here they are

(click the thumbnails for larger photos)

First we headed out North and West. Our goal was to cross to the Atlantic in one day, but that turned out to be too much. It was a long way, and we took the long route. See, France puts tolls on all their interstate highways. It would have cost me a minimum of 50€ just to cross, plus more to get where we were going. It’s 30 just to get to Paris about halfway. Some of the highlights of the first day are here.

I realize the terrible smudges. I can’t fix that right now.

France has some amazing churches in some of the smallest towns. The first we saw was in what I would call a “Hick Town”. But the church was freaking amazing

All of those were in some pretty small towns.

Actually the last was in Caen (pronounced con with a long o) near Omaha Beach in Normandy. We were there on Sunday before Memorial Day. Here are some photos of the beach and memorial.

There was a beautiful rainbow in between rain showers. Damn I hate those spots. Tania’s camera has better photos, but I didn’t get those from here.

We arrived too late to see the Cemetery there. It is famous though; perfectly aligned with over 9000 American graves.

here is a link to a photo from above.

And a link with all photos from Germany to the end of France

Next was the ferry from France to Portsmouth, England. It was an interesting trip. We had originally planned to take the ferry from Cherbourg, but there were no more running that day, and the next was completely booked. I’m not sure how, but they said no more motorcycles would have find. Believe it or not!

We landed in England at 7Am. First thing I did was get behind another biker to learn what to do on the left side of the road. It was confusing at first. I had just recently stopped hating traffic circles and now there are more than ever – not only that, but they go the wrong way. Plus cars coming at me from my side of the road also gave me a few thrills. I can’t mention enough times how wonderful the people in England are. Very kind. Tania’s gloves she had brought with her weren’t water proof nor that warm. She was very uncomfortable. At the gas station we asked where a store might be open to buy her some, but it was a national holiday and still early. The attendant there gave her a pair to wear that were waterproof and warm. We could continue.

First, after the cash machine and gas, was Charles Dickens’s birth house. Not much to see from the outside although very cool to be there, but it was closed and we couldn’t go in. Here it is.

We headed out again. This time we wanted to see Stonehenge. It would be an experience. It was cold, really cold; windy, really windy; wet, really wet. I told Tania later that it may have been the worst conditions I’d ever ridden it. I’ve ridden in colder, wetter, and windier, but never all at the same time. It was work just to stay on the bike. Thankfully it was a short trip down the highway before we stopped for breakfast and to look for a map. In the time we took the wind died down a little and it started to warm up. Plus we got on smaller roads with more wind block. It was tough.

Then we arrived at Stonehenge! It was cool. We parked for free somehow, they charged everyone else. And walked over. There was a good view from the road

(click for larger photo)
The ride wasn’t over yet.  We still had a long way to go.  And so does this story.  I’ll be back later.