Sunday, January 24, 2016

Double-Edged Bike Tours

Hot-Blonde Cousin and I frequently seek out bike tours when traveling to new foreign cities. The first one I ever actually took was still the best one by far: a stunning magical jaunt through the vineyards of the Wachau Valley outside of Vienna. Despite the deluge of rainfall accompanying our adventure, I left the day sufficiently tipsy and having made friends with the Aussie Tour guide who now has to suffer through word vomitous whatsapp messages from time to time (or daily, not that we're counting ; ) In contrast, we went on another bike tour through the Tuscan hills surrounding Florence, leaving me with nothing but angry diatribes and lungs very much worse for the wear, care of the mountainous terrain and unnecessarily perky Italian guide. So when Cousin suggested we hop on bikes again to see the sights of Berlin, I gladly accepted, conveniently forgetting that it was January and we were nearing freezing temperatures.

En route to our meeting spot the next morning, it became increasingly clear that our surroundings were more akin to windy frozen tundra and that taking a bike tour might be the worst possible idea ever. Happily, a good 50 or so other people were equally as optimistic slash idiotic, so we knew we were in good company. Our tour guide was a verbose and witty Irishman, who did his very best to impart his historic wisdom while trying to prevent us from throwing our bikes into oncoming traffic and racing into the nearest heated building. All in all, I was glad for information on the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, and the carpark that currently resides on top of Hitler's Bunker. But I was even more glad that Cousin and I had taken some pictures around town the day before because my fingers were so frozen together I couldn't handle more than a second or two sans gloves. 

Interestingly enough, as we made our way back to the hotel so that we could hide under blankets for a few hours, we couldn't help but stop at the icey inner tube slide we had walked past the day before. Climbing to the top of the frozen chute certainly helped us warm up a a bit, and charging down like a rocket brought my heart right up to speed. Even so, it still took me a 30-minute shower, an hour covered in blankets, and a hairdryer blasting on my face to regain feeling in my toes.

This happened just in time for us to jet off to our dinner reservation for the evening. We chose a place called Pantry, which offered a wide variety of European dishes. The presentation was beautiful and the food delicious. Aside from some creepy paintings of children holding guns on one wall, we were completely satisfied and fortified before our final evening about town.

Now, we had originally planned to scout out a bar or two we had read about, until the same Aussie Tour Guide from Vienna told me to hit up a hostel bar because his friend was a manager. He did not, however, inform me that the supposed friend would be working all DAY, night NIGHT. (Strike THREE for Bike Tour guide advice). When we arrived and asked for this possibly fictional character, we were told he would not be in that evening, and we were left to our own devices. Well, after voice memo-ing Aussie friend several times in jesting reprimand. Happily, hostel bars are quite cheap and we were two hot blondes sitting at the bar for a few hours; a recipe for magnetism if ever I heard one.  I know I chatted with some French speaker at one point, though I do not remember where he was from. We spent a good deal of time with a short Argentinean man. And I was ultimately peer pressured into kissing a 20 year old for a few minutes because he couldn't believe how old I was. Word to the wise? Never party at a hostel bar. Or maybe, never (slash always) go on bike tours.

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