This morning I took the train into the city to purchase a bicycle from a very hung over Englishman. I had emailed him the night before about thebike that he had posted on Craigslist. It probably should have tipped me off that he would be young when I asked him what time he could meet me in the morning and he suggested 11am. The bike is a lovely 5 speed German made city cruiser with kinetic lights and I LOVE it already. He even had a very official bill of sale printed up and filled out for me, despite his inability to actually read it, so that if the police stop me, I have proof that I actually purchased and did not steal the bike.
Before I move on, please let me notehere the reasons that the police might stop me while on my bicycle. Besides the obvious reasons such as doing something illegal or getting into an accident, the police in Berlin can stop you on the street to inspect your bicycle. The police here WILL happily write you tickets for running red lights and riding your bike on the sidewalk, but thankfully there are bicycle stoplights and plenty of bike lanes in the city to help guide you on your way. What I find the most fascinating is the fact that they can stop you and fine you for not having the “proper equipment.” This includes reflectors on the spokes and pedals, a light on the front and back, and a bell, among other things that I need to take note of before taking the bike out too much. As at home, you may also be fined for riding your bicycle while intoxicated. Here that is defined as 3 beers. I don’t foresee that being an issue for me, as if I drank three ½ liter beers I’m pretty sure bike riding would not be an option for me.
Without going into too much of a tirade, let me just say that I find the whole German hyper-regulation thing pretty fascinating, intimidating, and overall a little bit psychotic. Yes, that’s right. I said psychotic. Being here always has this amazing duality for me in that it both reinforces my love for some German things while at the same time making me turn my little American nose in the air in superiority at other things. Yes, it makes for a very conflicted existence, but the nuances of my personal philosophy are what they are because of my experience…blah blah blah…back to the story of today.
After taking the train back out toZehlendorf, we harnessed the girls in their new trailer and went out for an afternoon bike ride. Naturally, 5minutes into the ride we had to make a quick stop to pull the hands under knees tree watering trick with Annika, but then we were on our way again. With highs in the lower 50s (Fahrenheit) and abundant sunshine, the weather was really just begging usto get outside. We rode all around the paved canal path near our apartment and then stopped at a spot to feed the ducks and have a picnic. We rode intoTeltow, a sleepy little town just across the canal from us and stopped to let the girls play at a playground. We rode up to the local gelato shop to get a few scoops and then back down the other way into Kleinmachnow to show Andy where the Museumdorf Düppel and the Kinderreitschule are. All in all it was a very lovely family day capped off with a big pot of vegetarian chili.
As usual, each of us learned a few lessons that were not on the agenda.
-Andy learned that riding a bicycle while towing 100 extra pounds of trailer, kids, and picnic supplies can be a major workout.
-Mayzie learned that if you don’t eat gelato fast enough, it will melt, your parents will try to help you with it,and throwing a fit about it will result in it being flung to the ground and inedible.
-I learned that the angle of the bicycle seat can make it dangerous when getting on it.
-Annika’s lesson came when the girls were in the bathtub this evening. She learned that kissing Mommy’s razor is not a good idea, and that lips bleed profusely though heal quickly.
Our adventurous little girls are sleeping peacefully having been completely worn out by our day, and we will surely not be up too late tonight. All that lovely fresh air and sunshine definitely were just what we needed.
A few pictures from our adventures:
A few pictures from our adventures:
The new trailer! Great for carrying little girls AND beer home from the grocery store.
Here is Mayzie returning to get more bread to feed the ducks that kept swimming away.