A funny thing happened on the way to Bremen

I got lost.

Lost because I followed the signs for the bike path, which seemed clear enough to me at the time.

I mean, it does seem to indicate Bremen that way doesn’t it? So I took the turn and ended up on this horrible stretch of cobblestone and sand, absolute hell for anyone on two wheels. The former because if you don’t have all the latest fancy-dancy bike suspension rig-thingies the rattling pummels your balls to hamburger, the latter for how it gums up your gears.

After gritting my teeth and cursing whoever it was that must have turned the sign 90 degrees to the left and forcing a traverse of that awful, monstrous and neverending line of cars and trucks I was so hoping to avoid, I somehow got on the right track again, re-joining the path I’d printed out thanks to Via Michelin.

Via Michelin is really helpful if you’re cycling. You enter your start and end points, say you want to travel by bike, and voilΓ ! Out comes a clear description of how to get from point A to point B on two wheels. No need for expensive bike path maps you can never figure out how to fold up again anyway.

Once in Bremen I met the friendly owner of GΓ€stehaus Peterswerder 35 euro a night for a single with shower, great breakfast, clean and homey – locked the bike up in the back, showered, ate lunch overlooking the Weser, flaked out for a couple of hours, then met the first group of bloggers.

Talk about getting whirled from one world to another. From hours of long, solitary stretches lined with oak to patches of pine forest, horse pasture and cornfields with nothing to listen to but the twittering of birds to suddenly be thrust into the company of people bent on over-using a particularly strange adjective at almost every turn…


At one point that first evening I just couldn’t take it any longer and so finally blurted out WHY are you guys calling anything and everything MOIST?

Turns out it was really a running gag they were pulling to see how long I would be able to hold off asking what they were going on about, which I readily admitted I was reluctant to do. When you’re pushing 50 and don’t get out very much and don’t pay attention to pop culture or what’s on American TV it’s a safer bet to follow the old adage: better to keep mouth closed and appear dumb than open mouth and remove all doubt.

Which is probably why I don’t talk very much unless the beer’s been flowing. Rather I take notes. The much-missed B from Eurotrippen wanted to know just what I was jotting down all the time during the Dresden meetup she and her husband hosted last year, so here’s a transcription of my scribblings this time ’round: (links added for flavour and freshness)


thankfully not a gravy moment – Adam

Everything is referred to as moist – what is MOIST?

= fantastic

Write Feuchtgebiet translated excerpts post with moist as hook?

librarything.com headbang8 is member

The Culture Code – buy it or find at library?

Madmen – new TV series – slingbox what costs etc?

Fresh Air NPR Podcast – look up in list

Dexter – psychopath as hero?



Well, there you have it. No nuclear launch codes, I’m afraid – not even free passwords to stuff white people like, especially if you’re a queer expatriate living in Weimar.

Speaking of whom, Adam set the bar pretty high by mentioning my post last time about Dresden was the best of the Whiney Expat Blogger write-ups that time around.

Well, don’t get me wrong – I do appreciate the compliment, Adam – but comparisons are for boy scouts dangling their wieners around the campfire. The reports from across the country are starting to trickle in and – no surprise – we all enjoyed it in our own way.

Highlights for me besides the lovely fall weather and relaxed atmosphere was the chance to finally meet so many people face-to-face.

Like Jen and Sparky, my sole contact with Jen up to now having been comments on her blog, a couple of emails and one enthusiastic Baaaaayyyy-beeeeee! she gave me as she answered her phone expecting it to be her number one.

And headbang8 – as much a pleasure to meet in person as to read online and I’m bracing myself for his weekend review – as well as Diane Mandy, Max and Doggie, sharp-as-a-razor G, our fearless tour guide, organiser and providor of wonderful gift bags Claire, Kim from Bremen, PapaScott from Hamburg, tireless traveller Heidelbergerin and beau, although the latter belongs to the usual gang of suspects rounded up for fingerprinting, eyeball patterning, Canadian passport control, inadvertent impromptu golden showering and general posterity.

I also enjoyed slipping into the relative safety and comfort of social avoidance mode for a couple of hours in late afternoon to have the energy to make it through the second evening. It was on that walkabout that I managed to really see what was all around me, observe detail in buildings, the faces of the people and above all avoid coffee at Starbucks or sliding on dogshit.

It was on that wander through town that I came across a surprisingly common sight in Germany. Some guy dressed in funny clothes sweeping the steps of the city hall clean.

Seems if a young man reaches his 30th birthday and still isn’t married, he has to go down to the town hall and perform the task for his friends and family. They helped out by spreading around hundreds of beer bottle caps which they promptly kicked around as soon as he’d managed to get a few into anything remotely resembling a pile. Ordnung muss nicht immer sein.

The ride back was wonderful. I managed to make it in six hours instead of seven on the way out by ignoring the bike path signs and simply following the Via Michelin map and directions. A tail-wind helped. As luck would have it the S-Bahn I wanted to take from Harburg over the Elbe to Hamburg was closed for repair for a stretch so I had to lug the bike with gear off the train, onto a crowded bus, off the bus, back onto the S-Bahn and then onward, making the journey from just south of the Elbe to home 15 minutes longer than if I’d boarded a train at the station way back in Bremen.


25 Responses to “A funny thing happened on the way to Bremen”

  1. September 30, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    OK, that’s it. Next time I’m coming too. I perhaps won’t ride there on my bike (respect!), but I’m coming. Sounds like too much fun to miss.

  2. September 30, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Hey, that might explain all the beer caps that we saw crammed in all the spaces between and under the stairs of the cathedral!

    It was great to see you again! A moist entry as we all guess before you even arrived! πŸ™‚

  3. October 1, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Delightful meeting you, Ian!

  4. October 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    oooh you met headbanger – I’m jealous!

    and that last image is beautiful

  5. October 1, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks, nurse. That was taken the morning I left. Hard to believe that’s a view midst a city of 600,000, eh?

    Still waiting for headbang to report for duty… πŸ™‚

  6. 6 C
    October 1, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Sorry to have missed all the fun. Maybe next year I’ll really dive into this whole expat blog thing and join you.

  7. October 1, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Hiya C! The general trend seems to be tipping eastward toward Berlin for next year – it would be great to have you along.

  8. October 2, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    My only regret from the entire trip is not having gotten to know you better.
    Perhaps I should warn you in advance, next year you will be stalked… by me.

  9. October 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Gee snooker… is that a threat or a promise? πŸ™‚

  10. October 2, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    I am so jealous. I don’t know a single blogger in sydney 😦

  11. October 3, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Really? Nurse, have you ever checked out your fellow Aussie bloggers at aussiebloggers.com?


  12. October 4, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I, too, really hope to make it to next year’s meet-up. I’m starting to feel left out of the cool kids’ club!

  13. October 4, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Jeez Jul, that’s what I say when I see you guys having all that fun down at Oktoberfest! We should make a pact for next year and do both.

  14. October 4, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Sounds like it was a great time. I’m still hoping to have my bloggers meet in Sevilla – maybe in the spring?

  15. October 8, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I love Turkey and I’m passionate for German culture (Ich kann a little reden unt verstehen aber nicht unterhalten oder schreiben lol). I found you on Cat’s blog. I’ll be reading you. We both seem cosmopolitan-oriented. Ciao

  16. October 8, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Ooooops. Posted my comment on the wrong post. Sorry.

  17. October 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks for letting me know. πŸ™‚
    Never tried this – how about if I try to correct if for you?

  18. October 8, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I would be grateful πŸ™‚

  19. October 9, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I still can’t believe you rode all the way there and back on your bike! Bravo. Hope the band-aid held up until you got home. πŸ™‚

    It was great shooting the breeze with you again. Here’s to next year’s meet-up.

  20. October 9, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Or sooner, Christina! You’re just down the road from us, and in a spot we’ve never been. πŸ™‚

    BY the way… for the curious, that was a band-aid for a blister on my finger. Honest.

  21. October 10, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Eeee, what else could the band-aid have been for?????

    You guys are welcome to come on over any time you like.

  22. October 24, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I finally read your version of that blogger’s weekend. I made the mistake of reading Heidelbergen’s, TQE’s and Papa Scotts all at once and getting very jealous.

    Btw, I wonder if the Moist joke referred to How I met Your Mother.

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