26 July 2007

The Bicycling Begins

Not much has gone on with my travel plans recently. I bought a backpack and we interviewed a cat-sitter. So let's get back to Helen, shall we?

Insert wavy lines that indicate flashback here.

After several days on the cruise ship Helen and gang disembarked in Rotterdam. "Every one here rides around on bicycles and cute little motorcycles. Never in my life saw so many bikes." Helen's group didn't actually get their bikes here, though. They spent a night in a Rotterdam hostel then took the train to Arnheim, then to Cleve, where they got their bikes and had to assemble them before going on the first ride. July 12 -- "Had our first picnic lunch and our first ride on our new bikes." They have lots of picnic lunches throughout their trip and it's evident that they get bored of the breads and cheeses. At the hostel in Cleve, "Met and talked with an old German man who spoke Engl. He spoke of Germany as a porcupine which would prick anyone who bothered it."

Below, postcards from the hostel in Arnhem. The outside and the dining room.

Train rides and bike rides through Germany for several days. Cologne, Bad Godesburg, Bacharach (by steamboat, the notes say), Mainz. One of the lunch entries on the road indicates bread, meat and cheese (again), but with pastries. Unfortunately there was no fruit in the entire village. Later that afternoon they got a special treat--glasses of cold milk. At the hostel in Bad Godesburg there were many Hitler Youth. The girls sang songs and then the boys marched up singing a different song. They all pitched in the help with the dishes after dinner. The next morning, Helen and gang were awoken early by a bugle. They looked out the window to see the Hitler Youth doing an early morning workout on the lawn. Then everyone had breakfast and a Norwegian fellow who spoke English led Helen's group out of town.

The journal is actually entries from both Helen and another friend on the trip. I'm not able to tell all the entries from each other, but they have similar voices. Neither of them gets into the politics of the simmering pre-war going on all around them. It's all observations of actual daily life details, like the Hitler Youth waking up early for a workout. I find it fascinating.

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