Our humblest thanks to Jennifer Motkaluk for purchasing our plane tickets with her Air Canada points. You rock! Three cheers for Terri and Albi DeNardi for giving us a home base in Europe. ABC Photo in Vancouver deserves a round of applause for an awesome job developing 1000 photos 'right now.'
The intent of this sojourn was to see some of the Tour de France, visit Scott's birthplace in Lahr, Germany, and hang in Europe like all the cool kids do, with the added spice of taking our bikes for some cycle-touring.
Click on the photos for bigger versions and hold the mouse over the photos for pop-up comments. The link at the bottom of the page goes to the next section of the adventure. Images and text © 2003 Scott Ferris and Peter Newbury.
Scott's birthplace is Lahr, Germany, a little town north of Freiburg, directly south from Frankfurt, west of Munich and close to the French border. The town was host to a Canadian military base that Scott's father worked at. Scott's parents left soon after Scott was born and the Canadian military left not long afterwards, leaving the base (originally built for the German military phenomenon Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox of WW-II) to graffiti artists and weeds.
Thankfully, we arrive at the airport with plenty of time (given Peter's record with planes in the months prior, this is noteworthy!) for a last meal of sushi.
Squeezed into coach class seats, with Scott in the middle, we snoozed and watched and ate and walked and listened and ate and snoozed all the way to Frankfurt. Of note was the precise German service and Peter's blushful attempts to resurrect his high-school German (and yes, that was a long time ago).
We arrived after 10 hours in the air and a day later. The Frankfurt airport was astonishingly busy, treating us to a jumbo jet traffic jam! Having come from the relative smoke-free environs of Vancouver, stepping into a public space that had smoking bars scattered about was a somewhat nose-wrenching experience. We found our way through pre-customs (big stamps!), manhandled the bike boxes onto neat European-styled carts with useful built-in brakes, and made our way to the real customs agents. "Just bikes and clothes, sir, nothing else." "Move along." And out we went into the wonderful world of Frankfurt. Terri DeNardi, her friend Sarah and her son Mateo were all on hand to rescue us from the monster Army truck that drove by minutes after we exited from the airport. Keeping us in line with a little bit of intimidation? We found the car squeezed into its spot (hmm... much smaller spaces. Ah! Much smaller cars.) and organized ourselves so Mateo and Scott could entertain each other.
This was Terri's first-ever drive into Frankfurt (recently acquired drivers license), so after a bit of jabber, we shut up and let Terri navigate through the maze of signs and, of course, the precision-guided projectiles that would flash past resembling Porsches and Mercedes. Home base for the next few weeks would be Losheim am See, Germany, just north of Saarbruken and near the French and Luxembourg borders. We spotted some wind generators and Cold War-era aircraft bunkers, plus a lot of corn and grapes. After a whirlwind arrival and intros in the DeNardis' Eiscafé Gondola (ice cream café), the bikes went together.
It appeared that nothing was missing! Excellent! The last trip Peter did to Europe was done with a substantially modified socket wrench part inserted into the rear derailleur to make it functional. We rode around the local lake and returned for dinner where Peter almost put his face into his food. Jet lag? Even with the exhaustion, some German was resurfacing, making us feel more comfortable about launching bravely into the German countryside.
We shared a bed, but that didn't stop Scott from waking up early (as usual) and Peter from waking up around noon (as usual?). Scott and I talked about trip plans,
then went for a walk with Terri and company, including an ant-hill full of inquisitive ants that wanted to carry Mateo away. Commenting on the division between town and outlying areas, Terri informed us that there are no buildings allowed in the farmland, not even a barn. A section of land in town would be released for development and no other land would be released until the first section was at an accepted building density. We returned to the concise town of Losheim and packed for our departure the next day.