Friend Surfing 101

After a successful ride share from Berlin to Hamburg, I arrived with plenty of time to eat and explore the city before making my way once again to some friends who Greg and I had hosted through Warmshowers.org last spring. Johanna and Andreas are no ordinary hosts. On November 4th, they returned home after 20 months of cycle touring around the world. I could base this whole post on how awesome they are and how endless their exciting stories about the world are, but you should read (and translate from German) for yourself! www.cycle-the-world.de If I were to summarize what I learnt from their inspiring journey it would be to go to China. Apparently you can see everything you would ever want and more in China and although it was by far the most difficult country to bike through, they are both dying to go back and continue to try to understand the culture which is so utterly different from our own.

Nightime in the old storage house area

Night time in the old storage house area in Hamburg

So, not only was I  the first guest to stay in their new apartment, I arrived before most of their furniture! They had literally gotten the keys to the place 3 days prior. None the less, they went out of their way to make me feel at home. A highlight for me was acquiring a new spork from them. As a parting gift in Vancouver, they left a blue spork which has been my trusty companion these many months. Sadly, I stepped on it in Prague thus ending its functional life. I am now the proud owner of a brand new yellow one which among other things, will remind me of my great time and continued friendship with Johanna and Andreas. Hamburg is definitely a nice city and I found myself thinking this is maybe what Scandinavian countries feel like.

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It definitely felt cleaner, ritcher and more elegant than Berlin though it is too bad I was not there during the summer as there was promise of paddling trips and other such adventures if I ever was to return “at a better time of the year.” No matter the month, the famous Reeperbahn was bumping and we spent a night out on the town enjoying Astra (beer from Hamburg -2nd best in the world according to Johanna. A runner up to the beer from Loas) and some extremely cheap tequila shots 😉

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My next stop on this friend hopping adventure I seem to be having was Heidelberg where I arrived to be greeted at 6:35am at the bus station by the lovely Sarah Finckh! I met Sarah through the Queen’s Climbing Club when she was on exchange in my fourth year. Sound familiar? If you read Greg’s previous blog you will know that he stayed with a guy named Richard who fell under the same description. Sarah and Richard both stayed with us for two weeks after a hitch hiking trip to Alaska over two years ago. Greg and I often referred to this period of time as the glory days because of their stay with us and because apple cinnamon cheerios happened to be on mega sale at the local Buy Low Foods at the same time.

Sarah is currently finishing up her studies in Spanish, English and Biology (she is super woman)! We spent 6 days relaxing, exploring the very magical town and castle, catching up, drinking Gluhwein and biking around. I even went to one of her English classes where we discussed at length the meanings of various topics in the book Fight Club. It was inspiring – people actually discuss interesting things in some university classes…

Sharing some Gluwein

Sharing some Gluhwein

Sarah and I also took a trip to Frankfurt to visit a friend of hers. I can now say that I have seen the main train station and Sarah’s friends couch in Frankfurt… I unfortunately got some 24hr bug and spent the day between the couch and the WC. I stayed one additional day to rest before moving on to Lucerne Switzerland where I spent 2 days.
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The small Swiss town situated on the edge of lake Lucerne and nestled in the mountains lived up to its reputation for beauty . It also fulfilled its duty of burning a huge hole in my pocket in a matter of hours. Mike had warned me that Switzerland was expensive but it wasn’t until I was told that tap water was going to cost me 3 franks (just over 3 CAD) at a supposedly cheap restaurant I went to for lunch that it really hit me.
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I did some ferry boating, mountain summitting (by cable car) and walking but perhaps the highlight for me was an impromptu visit to the city’s transport museum where I spent a full 6 hrs exploring all the exhibits. I saw an IMAX and planetarium show, did a fully rotational flight simulation, drove a train, explored a full Swiss Air plane from the 50s and much much more! It is the most fun I have had at a museum since I visited the Toronto Science Center 3 years ago.
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Felicia and Colin my CS hosts in Lucerne provided me with some great tips and evening entertainment. Felicia is a great cook and Aries their male cat is essentially the cuddliest dog you ever met trapped in a cats body.

I am now in Ljubljana after a successful night train (nothing stolen) but I will keep this for my next post. Greg is currently in Montenegro and we are arranging to meet in Athens on the 14th to collect our bikes before we return home.

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