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Michael’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 25 Jul 2006

Location: Bremen, Germany

MapEntry 51 - Bremen, Germany (16th July - 20th July)

Well, finally I was remembering what life was like when you weren't running around getting from one city to the next, frustratedly living out of a suitcase, getting up in the morning and dragging yourself around a city to see the sights, even if you had never heard of them before reaching the town. Ahh, life as it once was, over 4 and a half months ago - except the whole getting up for work in the morning thing!

I pulled into Bremen, one hand on the steering wheel, the other on the directions I had printed out from mapquest.com, and (almost) flawlessly guided myself to Scottie's place. I made the one mistake when the lane I was in was forced to turn right, so went round the block, corrected myself, and continued on my merry way. When I rang Scottie from his road, asking where to park the car, he flipped out, and couldn't believe I'd found the place. Given the number of narrow one way streets, I could easily have gotten lost...

Half an hour later, I had dragged almost all of the stuff in the car into Scottie's place, much of which stayerd there - Scottie is now the proud owner of a toilet roll stolen from the hostel in Valencia, a 1Lt bottle of Smirnoff, a six pack of San Miguel Beer (donated by Mike as part of taxi fare), 2x1Lt casks of Don Simon Sangria (donated to me by Kristy in Pamps), a tin of peaches and random other food stuffs like a half bag of pasta! Anyway, with my stuff inside, and having a quick shower, Scottie runs his phone hot, and we're out the door heading to the Schleter(?) for drinks - cool. A kebab on the way kept us tided over food wise.

The Schlecter is an area of town that runs along the river that cuts through Bremen, and is full of bars and cafes that have huge areas of outdoor seating, that is usualy pretty packed in the good weather, and this day was good weather. I met a bunch of Scottie's work mates, including a couple other Aussies that had gone through RMIT aero in different years, and Scottie's Sweedish girlfriend - nice work Scottie. For some reason, even in Germany with the best beer in the world, during happy hour we drank cocktails - it just seemed right with the weather. Being a Sunday night, and everyone (besides me) having to work in the morning, we called it a night at 11pm. That night I got to snuggle with Scottie in his double bed Europe style - two singles pushed together inside the same frame - so at least we had a barrier!

The next morning, Scottie headed off for work, and I literrally did nothing for the morning - besides make myself at home. The morning consisted of watching the start of Season 4 Alias on DVD, and never before had I been so content watching TV! Just before lunch I headed to Airbus to meet up with Scottie for lunch and a tour of the facilities shared between Airbus and EADS. It was cool, and Scottie is a really good tour guide; I guess it helps having worked in most of the buildings there by now, and for both companies at one stage or another.

After lunch I headed to the train station to try and secure a ticket to Paris - Scottie got an overnight sleeper carriage for €39 a few weeks earlier, but when I got there, the sleepers were €129 and seat only was €99. Apparently 3 days isn't enough of a pre-book period, and the day I wanted to leave was the day after the school holidays started - so I was screwed. At least I had found out that I could drop the car in Bremen, rather than having to drive back to Frankfurt, and the train ticket was only €13 more, so in the end I would save money on petrol and accommodation in Frankfurt. This would be the first of the train shocks to hit me in a week.

I also spent over an hour on the phone talking to the family - all just to say happy birthday to Jaime! Happy Birthday!

Back at Scotties, I was churning thru more of the Alias Season 4 when he got home, and we cooked a BBQ (on the fry pan) for dinner and a couple of glasses of wine (what is with Europe and wine?). We had planned to go out, but the day was oppressively hot and we both crashed early - god knows I had a tough day watching TV!

The next day started the same as the first - Alias DVD. At least I was utilising my time to also do some laundry. Eventually I got two full loads done. The rest of the day I really didn't do too much. Besides watching Alias and using Scotties computer to update the website I did nothing - and again I loved it! In the evening I headed to the river to meet Scottie for a post-work swim. It was soooo refreshing and a very clean looking river. We swam for a bit, then Scottie headed back to the house to do an interview with a perspective house mate. I chilled at the lake for a while, eventually falling asleep for half an hour or so (another tough TV day...) and the walked back towards home and met Scottie at a Chinese joint for dinner. After dinner we headed back to Scottie's where he crashed for a couple hours, and then we got ready to head to a bar around 11pm. Right at the same time, a French guy named Niokla lobbed up, to crash at Scotties for a few days on work. He took the couch - 3 in the bed were too many!

We all went out for drinks around midnight, and met a couple other people, and given it was the last night before school holidays, there was a particularly young crowd. After a few beers with Nikola, Scottie going low-key, we pushed off to bed.

The third day saw me actually get up early to 'go to work'. We were up at 700am, so I could drive Scottie to work, and then drop my car off at the airport (Scottie works next to airport). The only catch was that Nikola was in the shower for the best part of half an hour, and we didn't leave till almost 830am. Anyway, dropped the car off, and all went well there. There was a note on the bottom of the receipt and I asked what it said, and was told it says 'the car is dirty - really dirty' but that we would not be charged for that. In 30 days, the car acheived the following:

Total Distance Travelled: 5872km
Avg Speed of Travel: 71km/hr
Total Time of Driving: 82.7 hrs

The average time includes driving in cities and being stopped in traffic, at signs or red lights, so it really is quite fast wehn you think about it!

Then, the rest of the day saw the same activity as the first 2, and I managed to finish the whole 4th series of Alias in 3 days - ahhh glorious nothingness! That afternoon I met Scottie at work and we headed out of town to go Go Karting. the track was pretty sweet, and the cars had enough go in them that you had to use the breaks to get around - the only problem being that the cars were so random on performance. The first time (car 77) my best lap was in the 56's and the second time (car 1) I was in the 51's. The guy who posted in the 49's the first time round couldn't post under 53 second in car 77 the secnd time round... Oh well. Highlight had to be Scottie going off road to try and get around George who was swerving to avoid letting him past. They also had more powerful cars, and eventually let us use them, but only in gorups of 5 (there were 20 of us total). After 5 laps of the first group they refunded everyone elses money and said there would be no more driving of the fast cars after every driver came off at least once in the first few laps.

That night we went back to the river and had dinner and drinks down there with more of Scotties and Nikola's friends (Nikola used to live in Bremen). Nikola and I headed out for another couple beers on teh way home, but the town was quiet so we called it a night and met Scottie back at his place.

The following day I relaxed and tried to pack everything into my for the first time since we got the car - easier said than done. I also killed some time actually using Scotties weight bench rather than just look at it like I had been doing for the last 3 days! In the evening I met Scottie and played some basketball for a good two hours with a few of Scotties friends. It was really good fun, and great to get out and run around. I had a quick shower nad then we headed out for dinner around 10pm. After a quick pasta, and a goodbye to everyone, I headed to the train station for my 1149pm train to Paris.

Just hoping for aircraft recliner chairs so I can curl up and get some sleep, I was thrown into a 6-seater cabin, with 6 people, and too much luggage. Eventually, being the tetris master I am, I placed all of the luggage so that it was put away, and I had acheived maximum leg room for myself. But the seats were bolt upright against the cabin walls, and no chance of reclining. Add to that, one of the girls was complaining that it was cold and too loud to sleep with the window open, so it was closed and the box heated up quickly. MP3 player in, I managed to doze from time to time, but it was certainly not what I expected from my €99 purchase. Finally, at 9am local time, I arrived in the city of love - and most voted city to visited by Lonely Planet readers - Paris. My judgement next time....

Entry 52: Wrapping up the Travels - Paris and Le Tour de France.

Notes: Am in London now - as of this morning - and will begin the most challenging part of the holdiday soon. Will have all of the vital stats of my travels (given I am a stats man) at the end of the next issue... probably keep the rediculous amount of money that I have spent to myself though!

Hope you are all well, I think I finally am! Love you all...