Falls ihr es noch nicht wissen sollted -

For those who don't know yet: We both finished our studies. Mascha got a ingeneering degree and Matteo his PhD in chemistry. But, as we will have work enough in the next years, we decided to postpone (as long as our savings last) this beginning. The FIAT Uno project was not practicable. We will try by bicycle.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Again in Europe!

Welcome to Europe
Here we are, again in Europe.

We left Sri Lanka more than one month ago, and it seams already two years that we left Asia. It was a long discussion where to go. You know, Sri Lanka is an island and from there you can only fly. We discussed a lot if and where to continue our journey in Asia, maybe China, Vietnam and so on. But Mascha did not want to miss her annual family meeting near Berlin in middle june, so we decided to fly to Europe and chose to fly to Amsterdam, because we didn't want to finish our journey flying directly to Munich or Berlin, we wanted to cycle also a bit in Europe, to taste the difference. Moreover Matteo has a couple of friends and cousins living in Benelux, and it was the right occasion to visit them. Sο, we booked the cheapest fly to Amsterdam (370 Euro each, bicycle included...not bad!) and we came back to the western civilization.

Our flight had a stop of 7 hours in Bruxell. In Asia we ("Wait, wait, shouldn't it be Matteo?!?") were used to eat really a lot, because every 50 meters there was someone who was selling delicious food at really cheap prices (at least for an european tourist). Moreover, after a couple of months a cycling traveller usually develops a super-speed-metabolism, and needs to eat much and often ("Stop again, shouldn't it be Matteo at least this time?!?"). The problem was that two unenployed travellers could not substain such a metabolism in an European airport, and defenitvely not in that of Bruxell. That was our first contact with Europe, and we had a price shock and also a "fashion" shock: everyone seemed to be perfectly dressed and to have a special taste for expensive fashion. For the first time we mentioned that we were wearing the same cloths since 6 months. Anyway,  Matteo tried to buy something at Starbuks, the only thing that was not a posh lounge restaurant in the airport. They asked him 7.80€ for a sandwich with some cheese and ham. He refused to pay such a fucking price for such a shit, and he started his personal hunger strike against the Bruxells airport. At least Italy is still immune from horrible chains like Starbucks. They do not dare to open a shop in Italy and ask 2€ for a bad espresso or 4€ for a disgusting "capucino" that they are so stupid that they do not know that capuCCino is written with two fucking "c"! If they try to open in Italy we should set the shop on fire! We already missed our chance when they opened McDonald or Burger King, and now they are espanding. We should not repeat the mistake again!
           - End of the rush-

cle transport in Amsterdam
Arrived at the airport in Amsterdam our friend Guido came to pick-up us with some tulips for Mascha and a bier for Matteo. From there we started our tour visiting Matteo's relatives and friends around Benelux. We had a nice time with all of them! Thank you Guido, Stefano, Valentina, Federico and Teresa!

The first real "carbonara" after 7 months
Matteo forced his friend Stefano into a barber shop.
Would you recognize him???
A crazy house we almost rented

In Brussels we spent some hours wandering around the city, visiting the European Parliament and marvelling at the art nouveau houses. The craziest one of them was for rent and we almost decided to move to Burssels just to live in this tiny slice.

Matteo, his cousin Federico and their gran-gran-father
Holland- three kind of tracks: horses, bicycles and pedestrians
After a night out in Amsterdam we returned to Leiden (near Amsterdam where Guido lived) at 7:00 in the morning. Unfortunately this was the  Sunday we actually planed to leave for  Berlin. Well  said - done we  left very late afternoon. The next Sunday, we where already in Berlin. Not bad for 800 km (and one day-off because of rain)! The Neatherlands are a cyclist's paradise with a lot of cycletracks and maps on every corner. Sometimes, it was too much even for us. For exemple when we rode through a national park. There were three kind of tracks: one for pedestrians, on for cyclists and one for horses. Incredible!!!
On the boarder to Germany we stopped at the place of Mascha's mothers friend Lore. Lore greeted us with a first class menu, consisting of several courses. That's exactly what a cyclist needs. Because of constant rain the next morning we decided to stay one day longer. For sure we made a new record in longtime-chatting, starting from 18:00-2:00 the first evening, continuing from 9:00 in the morning till1:00 at night, the second day and from 9:00-11:30 the third day. It was very cool to discuss problems of our present society and to listen to crazy stories about the time when Mascha's mom was in her mid-twennies. 

Somewhere in Westfalia...
Germany is surprisingly green!
Germany greeted us with nice weather and very nice landscape. We anjoyed cycling though fields, along some rivers and even a short peace of the middle-land-cannel. Camping outside and wild was much easier than in the Neatherlands, where we hardly found a spot that was not surrounded by fence or water. In Germany the access to the fields is free, so we could camp somewhere under the trees or next to the road. On the left you can see our tent in the middle of camomile flowers. We had a tea of them before going to bed and smelled their odour all night - very relaxing. We were quite confused by the long days ever since we landed in Amsterdam. Sunlight seems to last forever and it was still bright at 22:30. For us coming from Sri Lanka where it is dark at 18:30 this was unusual. So we often forgot to eat or did not think about going to bed, because it was still too light for us. The long days also bring a lot of beautiful sunsets, which we enjoyed in the fields. 
Because of earlier experiences, Mascha was a bit conserned about the fast traffic in Germany and about the drivers who are not willing to break for cyclists. Well, this might be the case in deet, but after some months in Iran, India and Sri Lanka German traffic was quiet and smooth for us. The streets seemed to be empty after the masses of people in Asia, even Berlin seemed to have lost it's inhabitants.   

Summer in North Germany
On our trip we saw how beautiful the nature can be here as well. With a lot of green and a lot of different flowers. Red corn poppy, blue cornflower, white camomila, yellow goldenrod and so on.
We saw some opjects of virtue as well. Such as this former call booth, which serves now as a free library or book store, where everybody can put books inside or take some. We got a play by Brecht. 
Or this house on the right. The owner seems to have a strong need for security.  

free books
Architecture at the border to Brandenburg

Mascha's experiments on Matteo's head go on
After a visit of the capital and a guided tour to the new embassies (thank you Steffi!) we finally reached Fritzfelede, in Brandenburg, where we stayed for the family gathering for 5 days, basically eating and drinking the whole time, and recovering much of the kg lost in the past 7 months. Matteo could finally eat some of the familie's especiallities. Hans had brough glasses of the special danish fish, which has to be tasted together with Aquavit as well as "Soleier". "Soleier" or salted eggs are a very old german recepy, where eggs are boiled and then stored at least 2 weeks with a slightly cracked shell in brine (???, basically, salted water boiled with onion skin and other spices). Then they have to be eaten in a very special manner (at least according to Hans), with pepper, tabasco, oil, vinegar and mustard.
Neverthelass Matteo won the second price in the table tennis contest.
Lovely breackfast on "the foil" -the master piece of our equipment

And now, after a stop in Munich, we are on the way to Padova! Trough the Alps, into the summer!!!