There is so much to talk about. Jessica and I covered a lot of ground in Europe. Or original plan was changed after only 3 days. We got really cold (in early August nonetheless) just riding to Denmark, and the rest of Scandanavia scared us both. There were no more clothes to put on, and we weren’t getting any warmer.
Just so there are no wrong impressions, Jessica and I are only friends. We’d travelled a lot together even before this trip, and we trusted each other enough to go for a month on a road trip that wasn’t even very well planned out. Mostly she trusted me to take care of her and not get us hurt. I’m happy to say I kept that trust.
We started out from Stuttgart of course. Our first day was planned to get up to Hamburg which turned out to be quite a drive – the longest day of our trip by far. We stopped in Frankfurt to get her a new helmet, it turnes out the one I had wouldn’t work for her on the highway.
Here is a photo of Jessica and the bike fully loaded before we left (no she’s not fully loaded)
((as always, with all of these photos you can click on them and make them larger))
Neither of us knew what we were getting into. Of course I’d travelled plenty by motorcycle, but it was always in the states. Europe is a different animal. First of all, we don’t speak most of the languages in Europe. German helped us and Spanish too, but there are always communications problems when you’re not speaking in your first language. Another thing is that gas prices aren’t exactly cheap. For me to buy a gallon of gas the average price was over 5 dollars, in France and some parts of Germany it was closer to $7. If you think $2.65 is expensive please reconsider.
The truth is I had never really travelled with someone before. Sure, Trev and I had done a week trip to Florida back in 2003, and I had done a couple days with Strider1 once, and there were the weekend trips with Sharon, but this was different. Not only was there someone else with whom to concern myself, but she was on my bike! With all that gear and a second person the bike wasn’t the same as unloaded. It wasn’t as peppy or agile, but I adjusted quickly, and we made it through safely and for the most part dry. There were only a couple days we actually needed the rain gear for rain (usually it was to block the cold).
I see I’m already getting long winded, and this was just supposed to be a highlight post, so I’ll get on with that and save the full stories for individual posts later on.
We arrived in northern Denmark and stayed with Jessica’s cousin and her Danish husband. They were wonderful people and quite good hosts. We had a great time meeting his family and seeing the countryside.
This is Bent and Laura and Jessica at the North sea just 20 minutes from their house, plus one of Jessica and I loaded up on the bike
From there we rode to Copenhagen, which is one of my favorite European cities. It is really beautiful there and full of channels and great architecture.
I should probably also mention the last gas stop before Copenhagen. Well, it was a little more than a stop – something like a push. We had a pretty bad headwind, and the gas stations were just a little too far apart. Thankfully I ran out in sight of the exit (the first in 40 miles) with a gas station. There was another mishap on the way to G’dansk, Poland. One of the hard saddle bags fell off. I wouldn’t have known except for the pain in my side from Jessica’s rather strong pinch. It turned out to be her bag… Of course this gave her another opportunity to take a photo of me walking along the highway. Thankfully those were our only two unplanned walking moments.
Our next stop was Poland (rather than Sweden) and we took a ferry from Copenhagen to a small port town on the Polish-German border. Thankfully the people there spoke German, the older people did anyway, the younger ones couldn’t do English or German. Here is one of me soaking in the sun on a mildly warm day while crossing the Baltic Sea. This one is to make Trev (Who I hope to see very soon) jealous just a little.
We stayed in G’Dansk with Kuba, my good friend from the first semester. It wouldn’t be the last time we saw Kuba on this trip.
After G’dansk we headed south and east to Olszytin to visit a mutual friend of ours, Gosia. Gosia is quite a spirit and was quite happy to have friends visit her. Olszytin is not a big town but she showed us around, and we really enjoyed the peacefulness of it all.
Here is a photos of the three of us and her parents who were great hosts even though we couldn’t speak to each other.
Her mom is a fantastic cook, and we learned some culinary delight when we spent a night at their lake house and in the morning picked fresh mushrooms from the forest. These are some I picked
We threw them all into a pan and made eggs for breakfast. 😀
From there it was to Warsaw, a place I had been but was excited to go back because Kuba was there. I specifically requested we eat with his grandmother who I think would try to marry me if she weren’t already taken. Babcia is what we call her, and Dzacik is the name for grandfather. He speaks German from the times after the war so we could speak with him. It is a shame that I never really got to converse with Babcia, she is a really wonderful woman.
That night Kuba invited us to a party with his friends out in the country side. We accepted and probably partied a little more than we should have. I ended up in a pond while chasing a frisbee playing in the dark. They laughed, and when I got mad they told me I should have asked if there was a pond over there. Of course I should have asked if there were a pond before chasing a frisbee in the pitch black DOH!
Jessica had one wish while we were in Poland, and that was to see Krakow (or Cracow in English). She being an architect was told that this was the best city in Europe to visit. I was more than happy to go back even though I didn’t agree on that point. While there I stopped to snap a couple photos of the castle.
From Krakow it was back to Germany. I have a friend that lives in Dresden, formerly in East Germany, that went to school with me in St. Louis. We had met up a couple times in Stuttgart, but this was the first time in over 6 months that I saw him. It was a good meeting, and he already had other guests, so it became quite a fun visit. Not to mention that Dresden is a very beautiful city with lots to do and see.
On the left here is the Dresden Theatre, and on the right is the Church of Our Lady. Both of which are very famous and important buildings. In front of the church you can see a statue of Martin Luther. He was an important figure in our world’s history and that of Germany.
From Dresden we rode back to Stuttgart. It was 2 weeks after leaving and the first half of our trip was done. We had ridden a good 5 thousand kilometers and seen so much. I was glad to have seen my friends again and seen Denmark which I had been wanting to do for quite some time. Right now I have to end this post, but the second part will be up very soon with photos of France, Spain, and Ireland. Some of the biggest highlights are still to come!