April 03, 2009

Hiding From My Blog, The Euro Pic Tour

I feel like I've been hiding from here lately because I have the whole German week long travel/drinking experience to put into words...and I dread not doing it justice. I've been struggling to find any free time as of late, but my training is going great and the miles are continuing to add up. In fact I am currently on an 11 day running steak that will see me hitting 13 days through the weekend before finally taking a full day off on Monday. Top that off with the fact that I am somehow in the middle of a nine day work stretch and by next Friday April 10th I'll end up finishing a 17 day stretch where I will have run 16 times logging somewhere over 250km, and worked 14 of those days...huh, I didn't actually recognize all of this until right this instant...ok, I don't feel so bad for not updating on here now...I'm busy DAMMIT!

On that note, here are some of the highlight pics from the trip, and a brief overview:

Ten days out I managed to convince a local friend to join me for the excursion. As it turned out she had a best friend who moved to Germany one year ago and ended up marrying her German boyfriend. My friend Amber had promised she would travel over to see 'Stacy and Stefan', but wasn't sure how she was going to make it happen. In the end Amber talked very BIG about how she would book the flight if she could find the same deal...as she was very clearly not able to locate the same pricing...at which point I jumped onto the computer and found the EXACT flight for just $20 more. As Amber was delaying her decision I was already typing in her CC details!

-Tues into our Wed departure, sleep 4hr:

I worked all day Tues and had yet to pack a bag! It was midnight before I even made it to my friend Amber's place. 4.30am wake up to make the airport on time. Arrive in Munich 9am Thurs, catch a train South and meet up with Stacy and Stefan in Ubersee for early afternoon. Head immediately for some German beers, follow that up with dinner and end up out till 2.30am local time, or 5.30am Van time, which would put us up for over 24hr!

-Thurs into Fri, sleep 4.5hr:

Up 7.30am as my body just couldn't sleep...and quickly learn that due to the lack of preservatives in the beer, the hangovers are virtually null and void! Across the street to local bakery, where of course I can not enjoy the wonderful baked goods...but the owner makes me an all you can eat, on the house, ham and eggs breaky...and then cracks a beer for me! Beers for breakfast...it's what they do in Bavaria!

Tour the town, make contact with my friend Paul who is North of Munich. My initial plan to join him for a weekend party excursion in the North of Germany falls through due to a broken down car on his part. Random Facebook update that goes something like this:

"Gary is struggling with this German keyboard!"

A good friend who I have not seen in almost eight years, Brady Anderson, to me,

"Where are you right now?!!"

At this moment I realize that Brady 'used to' live in Germany...but the 'used to' is actually 'still does'...

"Ubersee, what's your number!!!"

A brief conversation ensued and quickly ended when I realized I had twenty minutes to make the train station if was going to meet up with him that evening. Amber decided to join the adventure and we were sprinting to catch a train 19 minutes after I hung up the phone. 3.5hr later and we were wandering around a train station looking for my long lost buddy Brady! The meet and greet filtered us straight into drinks as we of course needed to catch up over beers!

A full tour of the town ensued and we eventually hit up an all night Snitzel house at 5am. Back to Brady's for 6am and to finally call it 'a night'. Oh yeah, and there may have been some table dancing earlier in the evening...and the first EVER documented full extension onto the wall, while holding onto the pole...umm, like this,

Oh yeah, Brady just happens to work for Adidas, and he just happens to be in charge of their compression tech and development department, of which I had no idea...more free gear and even prototypes that haven't hit the market yet!! Brady's goal is to make compression so effective that it will eventually be banned from The Olympics! Having had lengthy conversations with him about this topic I can honestly say it is only a matter of time before he reaches this goal!

-Fri into Sat, sleep 5hr:
Up 11am and out for an all you can eat brunch. Brady lives in Nurnberg which is an area steeped in WWII history as it was a major staging ground for Hitler and his armies.

Brady rounds up some bikes and an friend and we do a 20k scenic tour.

While stopping off at beer gardens along the way of course!

Return to Brady's for 7pm, expecting a nap, but somehow we are sitting in a restaurant 35min later with pretty much the team of developers and department heads of Adidas in Germany!

I was told we'd be home by 11pm...so right on time, at 2.30am we make it back to Brady's place.

-Sat into Sun, sleep 3.5hr:
Up 6am to head North to Poland to visit another friend, Linda who I met many years ago in Costa Rica. She is Swedish and attending med school in Poland, obviously a long story, but figured it'd be cool to see a second country and to catch up with an old friend. I was struggling to find the proper train connections to get me there in good time...so Brady offered up his Audi to me for a few days!! I was very literally speechless...an Audi on The Autobahn!!!!

Depart Nurnberg at 7.30am after dropping off Amber at the train station heading back South to Ubersee. Hit THE AUTOBAHN!!

Brady to me: "Don't do anything stupid, it cruises nicely at 160k"

Me to Brady: "Me...stupid, of course not!"

About two hours later I achieved a childhood dream...

205 km/hr on The Autobahn!

Six hours after departing I arrive in Szczecin, Poland...and there was no official border crossing, just drive on in! I eventually find Linda in town and head out for lunch to catch up, thankfully and finally without beer! I actually managed to grab a nap a few hours later before heading out to dinner and getting my first proper nights rest of the entire trip!

-Sun into Mon, sleep 6.5hr:
As mentioned Linda is a student so while she was off getting an education I went about exploring the town on my one run of the week. I managed a 21k jaunt, but unfortunately I felt absolutely every step of it as my hip had actually gotten worse since DD with all of the sitting...and well, drinking and lack of sleep probably wasn't doing me any favors either! I had a great run however, and ran the circumference of the 3rd largest graveyard in all of Europe! It was just under 6km in distance and had everything from the near indescribable,

on down to a basic mound of dirt and a cross.

It was somewhat startling to stare out over an absolute sea of graves in every direction, but beautiful none the less.

From here I was able to link up onto some trails across town and to fully test out my Montrails on some foreign soil!

I came across a very random and apparently elaborate structure that had been bombed upwards of sixty plus years prior. I struggled to understand how a building that was hidden by itself in the forest could have even been considered a threat, and then so precisely destroyed.

There was little evidence of damage on the grounds surrounding the structure. Thanks to my Garmin 405 GPS google earth download, I was later able to determine that what I had found was previously a 47 meter tall tower overlooking the entire area! Kinda made more sense after I discovered this pic of its former glory.

-Mon into Tues, sleep 7hr:

Up early to walk Linda to school and then off to hit THE AUTOBAHN again! I actually did keep it under 200k/hr on the way home...I swear it Brady!

Back into Nurnberg for 4pm, catch up with Brady again before eventually boarding a train South to Regensberg to meet up with my original planned friend to visit, Paul.
(Paul and Amber grabbing some 'za')
Amber had trained it up from down South and at 10pm they met me in the train station with beers in hand...it was St. Paddy's Day!!

Pints upon pints ensued, especially since it was our last night of our six day German odyssey! We ended up crashing out at 3am, with the alarm finding us at 6am!

-Tues into Wed, sleep 3hr:
Alarm, train, bus, airplane...and yet the tour was not fully complete just yet...
My pacer for Western States is Luke Laga, who I paced to his first ever 100 miler last June at The Kettle Moraine 100. I met Luke and Emily back on Roatan in Honduras in 2003. They are now living back in Madison, Wisconsin and have an amazing kid named Spencer.

Luke and Em are teachers. Luke and Em live 3.5hr from Chicago. Amber and I were stopping over in Chicago for 4hr. Luke and Em called in sick for work, drove 3.5hr ONE WAY, picked us up at the airport, treated us to lunch and an hour in a nice local park, dropped us off back at the airport...and then turned around and drove home!!!! ROCK STARS to say the least!

All I know is that I most certainly would not drive almost seven hours to see me, so I'm always floored when friends make such incredible efforts. It's what confirms in me that we'll be friends for life and that I have the absolute right pacer for Western in June.

Then back on the airplane, 4.5hr back to Van of which I slept every single second. Into a taxi, onto a bus, home in my own bed at 3am...back to work for noon...and that my friends, is what I like to call, my German Odyssey Version 2009!! I get tired again just thinking about it, but energized to think of how much can be accomplished in just six short days. I've spent over two years travelling over the years, and this six days ranks right up there with the best of the best!! And with that, I need to be up and running again in six hours...the trails beckon me, and the sun will be there to greet me, of which I don't want to miss a second of it!

It's all about 'the no plan, plan'...60% of the time, it works every time!

GR...even The Blues Brothers made it to Poland!


Matt Hart said...

too many words for me to actually read.. but great photos!

garobbins said...

Apparently too many words for most people to read...but understand that most of us suffer from some form of A.D.D.!!
Nice work on the ski touring lately, awesome weather for early April!!

Leslie said...

Finally, we get the Germany adventure! They do have yummy preservative free beer and clearly, you were on a sampling frenzy. Thanks for re-living my European backpacking trip of 1991!

I do howeve, think my spontaneous holiday in San Fran was a little bit healthier than your spontaneous holiday in Germany!

garobbins said...

Yeah, I've just been able to catch up on your last few BIG trips in the last few days...I must say Leslie, you are one impressive person leading a very balanced lifestyle! Great to see, and a pleasure to read about!!

Amber said...

Well you certainly have a way with words...and detailed stories though words really can't put into perspective the EPIC trip that we had!
It's left such a lasting impression on me to say the least, thanks for the introductions...;)