Regrets, I've Had a Few ..... - 9 1/2 Weeks - CycleBlaze

September 27, 2019

Regrets, I've Had a Few .....

Gransee to Berlin DE

.... But then again, too few to mention.

No worries, 'My Way' is not song of the day, but it's is a good set up for how Kirsten and I have always felt about Berlin.

We have been very fortunate in life and we really do have very few regrets. However, this one does get a mention. 

1989 was a momentous year. We got married. We also moved to Glasgow a few months after our wedding. That didn't rock the world but is was pretty big for us. 

Around the same time the Iron Curtain was in the process of being rapidly dismantled and the cold war appeared to be over. Europe was undergoing a massive change and a rewrite of the post WWII era and we were now living right on the edge of it. The Poles got the wrecking ball rolling in June, electing Solidarity. Hungary was next, opening it's boarders with Austria leading to an  exodus of eastern Europeans to the west.

In October, it was the GDR's turn. Largely peaceful protests throughout the country in October lead to the opening of the Berlin wall on 9th November. 

All of this was unfolding in real time on the BBC and we were literally right next door. On 9th of November I was having lunch in the company cafeteria with another Canadian expat and we were astounded by, and marveling in what was unfolding right then. Wally K looked at me and said 'This is history happening. We should get on a plane or train and go. We can be there tomorrow'. 

He was right. We should have gone. But I was worried about how much vacation time I had; had a project due; had yada yada yada.... and the moment was gone.

Until now, 30 years later, and we are riding into Berlin. It won't be the same, but it's still an iconic place to children of the 60's.

So after that (melo)dramatic set up, what was the day like you ask? in a word, wet.

We left the twilight zone, aka the Gransee Louise hotel in full rain gear. Very nice riding, much like yesterday on paved paths through forests, but with a constant drizzle.  We made good time to Oranienburg and things started to change from forest riding to urban riding. We were clearly getting close to Berlin now. 

What was planned as a quick lunch stop at a Konditorei turned into a very nice 90 minutes sit down lunch in a very busy and very good Italian restaurant in Oranienburg. We were looking like wet rats when we arrived but were well served and very well fed.

Then it was back on the bikes for the final very interesting 30 km's into Berlin. The route we had (generated by Pocket Earth) stitched together a number of bike routes and residential roads and we soon realised that a good portion of our route was through 'no mans land' where the Berlin wall used to stand. Pretty cool! Also pretty, no make that very, wet. Yeah, the drizzle continuously intensified to a full on deluge by the time we reached our hotel near Alexanderplatz in the former East Berlin.

We've seen this movie before. Bikes were stashed in the underground parking lot and the hotel room was soon turned into a drying closet. Huge shout out to Ortlieb though. Everything inside our panniers was bone dry. These bags are 10 years old and have over 20,000 km's on them and they are still bomb proof! However, everything on our bodies was more or less a wet rag!

When we were checking in we saw all sorts of skinny sporty looking people around the hotel. Turns out the Berlin Marathon is on Sunday and goes right past our hotel. Obviously lots of marathon participants are staying here too! We will probably check it out as we are taking Saturday and Sunday off from work.

After getting warmed and cleaned up, we strolled around through the area and found a lively and good Tapas place for dinner. The lack of life and stimulation we had last night was more than made up for tonight! This is a fun place!

Song of the Day, Have a Cigar , covered by Elephant Revival at Red Rocks.

As we were cycling away from the zombie like Louise hotel this morning, we were laughing about the extremely odd dining experience we had last night. I commented that the 'industrial soundtrack' we had was very much like some of the parts of Pink Floyd's classic 'Wish You Were Here' album. That made me think of this song, and the extremely unique cover and video by Elephant Revival. We were leaving a staid (stultifying?) Prussian manor house and heading to bohemian Berlin. This song seems like a good segue for that... at least for me

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So long Hotel Louise. I guess your friend is Thelma?
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Into the drizzle we go
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Lunch in Oranienburg. Very very good! Real minestrone and Tagliatelle with parmesan and truffles
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Loving the hot soup
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Entering Berlin proper ... still a long way to go to hit the city center though. We started with a ride along the old wall / no mans land
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The sign says it all
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Our ride through 'no mans land' ... what better use for where the Berlin wall used to stand than a bike way! Pretty heavy rain from here on into our hotel ... still 10 km to go
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This is what it looked like in the '80's
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Len DeMossIn 1990 I ran the Berlin Marathon; it was the first year that the marathon went through into the previous East Berlin through the Brandenburg Gate. I recall vividly, couple days before near the Spree River that long long sections of the Berlin Wall was still standing. People were "renting hammer/chisel" for 5 deutschemark to chisel away as much of the Berlin Wall as you could and take home. Yeh I did that...ended up with more skin off my damn thumb than the amount of Wall I took home but I did take numerous pieces home which I still have and on my fireplace mantel. Had a good race in the marathon finishing on the Kurfürstendamm. Stayed 4 more days to attend the mass party in front of the Brandenburg Gate; I don't think I even paid for any of the beer I drank that night! One hell of a party!
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1 month ago
Lyle McLeodCool story Len! A good friend of mine, Jim Tarlton, also ran in the same Marathon. He’s been known to like a few beers to so you may well have been partying with him at the Gate!
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1 month ago
We've arrived, very blurry, very wet!
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The evening cleared up and we found a lively and tasty Tapas restaurant. More than made up for the very odd ambience last night!
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Small but lively place!
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Yum ... nice Ribera del Duero to accompany it too
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Our tapas sends it's love ...
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Day 6 done
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Today's ride: 88 km (55 miles)
Total: 516 km (320 miles)

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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Bill SawyersHi Lyle
Visiting Clair and Marie in Roblin and we were catching up on your journey. Clair was very confused about the Berlin wall stuff, but thats Clair.
Hope things continue to go well, and that you don't get too much rain.

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1 month ago
Lyle McLeodTo Bill SawyersHi Bill ,
It’s taken a while to get back to Folks when they comment. As you know, and contrary to what a lot of people think, there’s not a lot of free time on a bike trip! We do really appreciate the comments and encouragement that we get from folks though . As for Clair being confused, maybe we can have nightly history lessons at Amiskwi!
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekWhat a great opportunity to ride where the wall once stood.
And I'd never heard that version of Have a Cigar- it's great. Thanks for not choosing My Way.
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1 week ago
Lyle McLeodTo Ron SuchanekHi Ron,
Glad to see that you’re enjoying sotd. I can’t guarantee that everyone will like every day, but they all mean something to Kirsten and me.
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1 week ago