Arnold's Odyssey

Europe  (see also the first leg)

June 21, 2000 London, England

21-June-2000 (#22)
London, England {First visited in 1984}  {I was just a "spring chicken" back then}

"Please mind your bags.  Professional bag thieves operate in this area."  The above caution sign in posted in the Starbucks cafe next to Chinatown and caused me to tighten my grip on my shopping bag, as I sipped my brew.  Earlier I had purchased a new bike odometer at "Evans U.K. Bikes & Bits" on Waterloo Rd.  (I have to replace the odometer - it's on my Ti-bike, yes! - & wiring harness - the wiring got stretched & broken in shipping.)
Cutting across Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho I'm looking at the bright theatre marquees - just like a tourist, gawking.  A pleasant young man approaches me & queries, "You like hash-hish?  Cocaine?!"  Tsk-tsk.  -AC

June 26, 2000 Newbridge-on-Wye, Wales

26-June-2000 (#23)
Newbridge-on-Wye, Wales

"Tra bydd golau goch sefwch yma" (When red light shows wait here)
I am flabbergasted by the Welsh language on bilingual traffic signs here!  Wales is adjacent to England, yet it seems the root language is from Planet "W":-)
Whew!  Five weeks layover in Seattle, & I am way of of shape, though I get a boost riding my own Ti-bike in this hilly, lush green terrain - where numerous...P17 "sheep" "Defaid" are grazing.  (My knee is still tender.)
Psychological warfare (You heard it here first): One (or more) disgruntled O2K rider is depositing live 12-gauge shotgun shells around camp.  I discovered two!  :-O  -AC

June 28, 2000 Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland  28 June 2000 (#24)

I should be ashamed of myself: here on O'Connell street, the 'main drag' in this bustling, bright capitol city of the Irish Republic, I went and done stuffed myself at the local McDonald's!  (It seemed apropo.)
The final biking leg to the ferry boat at Holyhead, Wales was 80 miles.  I got there in time, but then my (peculiar) compulsion to ultimately pressure-jet wash my titanium bicycle (at a gas station) took so much time, I nearly missed the boat to Dublin!  Oh, well: Cleanliness is next to Godliness."  :-)  -AC

July 4, 2000 Belfast, Northern Ireland

4th of July - 2000 * * * * (#25) 

Happy Fourth of July! to you in the USA celebrating Independence from England.  (It's a different story here, where the Protestant majority are "Loyalists" to the Crown.)
Biking into Belfast was Bucolic & Beautiful, for the most part.  Bad News: it is "Marching Season," tensions are high - a woman Odyssey rider was assumed to be "the enemy" and was assaulted & slammed to the ground; her helmet saved her from injury.  -AC

July 8, 2000 Fort William, Scotland

8 July 2000 12AM
Fort William, Scotland (#26)

"Y-M-C-A, It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A!"
- So blares the disco loud speakers, from across the wet sports facility field on which Odyssey is camped tonight.  The Scots seem fun loving & friendly, but there's a bug here - the "Midge" - that's been chewing through our collective hides, like cotton candy! (I've put on Long Pants.) - Arnold

July 20, 2000 Oslo, Norway

20 July 2000 (#27)
Roald Amundsen <- First to South Pole [globe] (Ahead of Scott, who did not make it back!)
Oslo, Norway

A highlight of our time in this beautiful place was a visit to the "Frammuseet," a museum housing the entire original Arctic exploration ship Fram, built in 1892, and used by Amundsen.  Odyssey 2000 bicycle riders have climbed some challenging terrain, but I'm afraid "Roald" would still think we're pampered! - Arnold

July 25, 2000 Copenhagen, Denmark

25 July 2000 (#28) Total Trip Kilometers ~18,650
Copenhagen, Denmark

This town is the most "bicycle friendly" place Odyssey riders have entered (so far)!  There are bike paths on both sides of arterials; there are lots of bikes in use - perhaps 50% of residents are regular riders; and car drivers seem docile toward cyclists.  Today I visited the famous "Tivoli Gardens" amusement park (by bike) and saw, on an outdoor stage, a trained-seal act.  There were two seals; they were glistening & black & surprisingly huge; and they were good!  One trick performed was to balance 4 filled wine glasses on a tray, on top of a wine bottle, on the seal's nose! (even I cannot do that trick. :-) )
Copenhagen is so charming, I don't want to leave... Arnold

July 31, 2000 Stockholm, Sweden

31 July 2000 (#29) Total Trip Kilometers: 19,498
Stockholm, Sweden

I'm staying at the Odyssey's "Vandrarhem Stf Backpackers Inn" - a youth hostel with large, 14-bedded rooms.  The hostel converts the local Gardesskolan School (during summer recess) for revenue bookings.  Even with 14 in a room, I slept like a brick! - with the help of 'natural' was earplugs, and sheer exhaustion from riding.  Well rested, this afternoon I took a guided tour of "Sveriges Riksdag" - the Swedish parliament building, and got an introduction to democracy here.  Very classy, elegant, understated; the place reminded me of ... Nordstroms! -AC

August 3, 2000 Helsinki, Finland

3 August 2000 (#30)
Helsinki, Finland

The friendly gal behind the counter assured me that the northern lights were visible here last spring.  I'll have to take her word for it, because it's summertime now, and the sky stays light!  Nokia is indigenous (oops, native) and our "Grand Marina" hotel room is a veritable wireless wonderland.  Messages, or menu?
- Arnold

August 4, 2000 St. Petersburg, Russia

4 August, 2000 (#31)
St. Petersburg, Russia
(Formerly Leningrad, Formerly Petrograd)

I joined "Denise's Tour", out of Helsinki by train, to visit this city called "The Venice of the North."  During the siege of Leningrad in World War II, ~600,000 perished.  Now, the place is alive again with capitalism ascendant...
- Arnold
[picture of soup bowl]
Spicy bowl of Borscht

August 10, 2000 Berlin, Germany

August 10, 2000 (#32) Total Trip Kilometers ~19,850
Berlin, Germany

"Checkpoint Charlie" is a relic of the cold war after the Berlin wall was torn down in Nov. 1989.  Berlin is historic, and some if its history is grim: our tour group visited the site of Hitler's bunker where, in the waning days of WWII, he & wife committed suicide.  The bunker has been filled-in and cannot be entered; an entrance way is circumscribed by stone, and forms a sandbox in which children play...!  Arnold

August 14, 2000 Prague, Czech Republic

August 14, 2000 (#33)
Prague, Czech Republic

Fellow rider, friend "Safari Bill" advised me to not call the country "Czecheslovakia" because Slovakia has SPLIT! (News to me :-) )
I've got some buying Power here, with the U.S. dollar fetching 35-plus Korunas.  (Contrast with pricey Scandinavia $$$.)  I'm tempted to buy A-N-O-T-H-E-R CHESS SET!
- Arnold @ [bike] 20,000 Kilometers

August 16, 2000 Salzburg, Austria

August 16, 2000 (#34)
Total Trip Kilometers 20,222
Salzburg, Austria

"[music] The hills are alive, with the sound of music [music]..."
There is a sightseeing tour available here (for $25) that takes in the Trapp Family Villa, made famous in the movie. Since time is tight - what an odd predicament, I'm purportedly on vacation - I'll try to see a re-run of "The Sound of Music" A.S.A.P.! [music] :-) - Arnold

August 22, 2000 Flims, Switzerland

August 22, 2000 (#36)
Flims, Switzerland

[music] "SHAFT", ELVIS'S "You're the DEVIL in disguise!", BEATLES "PaperBackWriter," - Hit after Hit of GOLDEN (English) OLDIES comes over the PA system here at the gigantic SPORT-ZENTRUM complex where we're camped.  The narration is rapid-fire German, and the effect disconcerting: r-f FlashBacks of younger days...
The Swiss ambience is friendly, well-to-do, clean & orderly, the only noxious aspect here (newbie's perspective) is the pervasive cigarette smoke! :-(  -AC

August 28, 2000 Turin, Italy

August 28, 2000 (#37)
Turin, Italy

I went "off-route" from Odyssey 2000 at Raron, Switzerland, to take a train south, to view the "Shroud of Turin!"
Time Magazine's recent cover story on this venerated relic described it (at first glance) as appearing like the scorched cover on your ironing board; and so it did.  More impressive - stunning, staggering - is the ("post-processing") photo-negative image of...the man of the shroud! - Arnold

September 4, 2000 Luxembourg, Luxembourg

September 4, 2000 (#38) Accum Trip KMS: ~22,000
Luxembourg, Luxembourg...

Where am I?!  I got this map-postcard to get a geographical fix on my current location!  <I've rejoined Odyssey 2000 in "The Novotel" Hotel (It's not a telecom) but my memory lingers over the 10-day break to view the Shroud of Turin.> :-)
This place is a hotbed of E.C. (European Community) institutions, including the Court of Justice, Investment Bank, and Computer Center.  The news concern the sliding €uro: [down arrow], trading @ $0.88 USD! - AC

September 5, 2000 Bastogne, Belgium

September 5, 2000 (#39) Accum Trip KMS ~22,060
Bastogne, Belgium

At Kilometer 65.4 on today's daily route guide (DRG) is the instruction, "(Take) right around army tank towards La Roche at light." The tank on display is an U.S. Army Sherman M4; it was hit by a German shell on Dec 30, 1944 during the "Battle of the Bulge." It was from this greatly strategic town that American General McAuliffe, when asked to surrender, issued the historic answer: "Nuts". - Arnold [bike]

September 12, 2000 Amsterday, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands Accum Trip KMS: ~22,570
September 12, 2000 (#40)

(Vincent Van Gogh is a native son, and his vivid self-portrait on reverse leads off the permanent exhibition of his paintings here in town.) Odyssey 2000 set up camp 25 Kilometers out in the boonies; (but where there's a will, there's a way) I got to share a taxi-wagon with 7 others eager to see this city. Now, in Seattle, panhandlers will often times play an instrument or wear a card board sign lamenting their fate to garner donations. Tonight, in Amsterdam, I witnessed a middle-aged pan-handler perform suspended acrobatics in the center of town, wearing only an emerald lamé jock-strap! (I should have stayed out in the boonies.) - AC