Fresh off the train from Santa Barbara, we arrived in Los Angeles and were picked up by our friend Katie. That is, Alex was picked up, I navigated both of our bikes through two miles of dense urban landscape to the nearest bike shop. In the meantime, Alex and Katie shoved all eleven of our bike bags into Katie’s car, and accomplished some sneaky maneuvering out back of the Amtrak station to acquire two cheap bike boxes. We rendezvoused at a bike shop downtown, dropped the bikes off for a tune-up and box-up for our impending trip, and crossed our fingers that nothing would go wrong. What trip, you ask? Well, sit tight and I might just tell you later on.
Bikeless (and seemingly weightless), we then arrived at Katie’s apartment, freshened up, and pretty much immediately started feasting and drinking. Hooray for good friends and alcohol! But seriously, a huge thank you to Katie for being a great hostess, able-bodied chauffeur, much needed wine provisioner, and in general helping us tie up a lot of loose ends.
In short, we went out and had a great night. In fact, it was so great that Alex’s stomach expelled the vast majority of that night out of Katie’s car door the next morning. It probably didn’t help that the two of us had to board a plane that day as well, bound for good old Europe!
The reason for that little European side trip of ours was that my sister Anne was marrying Daniel, her boyfriend of many years. An event like that couldn’t be missed, even with us being on our own adventure of a lifetime. Stomachs (mostly) intact, we arrived safely in Hamburg where my parents were more than happy to see us. We hopped in the car and off we went to Rövershagen, strawberry capital of Northern Germany.
The next days were spent relaxing at the beach, wandering around my beautiful hometown of Rostock, barbecuing big fat wursts, eating one Döner after another, going to a beer event hosted by my brother Nick, visiting my old rowing club and coaches at ORC Rostock, seeing a great Big Band (thanks for taking us, Vati!) and biking through the nearby forests. I even got to see my old friend Stephan just before he headed off to the European Rowing Championship to score a medal for Germany. A good chunk of the weight I had lost over the course of our trip was quickly regained thanks to the rich portions that my parents were serving us. (Note from Alex: Tom probably ate more meat in one week than he has in the past year. It was impressive.) Thank you so much for hosting us, Mama and Papa, it was good to be home!
After much too little time in Rövershagen, we were off to Lüneburg, where Anne and Daniel would be married. Seeing my extended family was great, and the whole event itself was outstanding. The ceremony was held in an old water tower, and once the couple had exchanged vows, everybody went up the tower to send balloons flying into the sky with well wishes for the newlyweds. The party kept going until well past 3AM, with barely a sign of slowing down. Anne and Daniel, congratulations and all the best for the future!
After the wedding, we had one more day to explore Lüneburg, after which we ate a massive pizza dinner to celebrate our last night in Germany. Early the next morning, Nick took us to the Hamburg airport and we said another round of goodbyes. A big thank you to Anne and Daniel for the fun festivities and for hosting us at their apartment, and to Nick for driving us all over Deutschland. With a tear in my eye I bid farewell to my home country, just as I’d done many times before, and off Alex and I flew towards new adventures south of the border.