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by Tara

It was difficult, and a little sad leaving Felix and Nadine's cozy apartment. I wonder if it will ever be easy to pick up and go again once we've settled in somewhere for a few days? Along with being bummed about leaving our new friends, we were hit with the standard stresses of getting back on the road.

Each time it is the same: the awkward packing, the last-minute losing of some important item, the subsequent tearing apart of every single pannier trying to find it, the staying up too late, the waking up too early with still dozens of errands left to do. The to-do list only half marked off, journals left to be published, and countless photos to be sorted. Thankfully, all of these tasks are as rewarding as they are overwhelming!

As it was, Felix woke us up early so he could say goodbye before he would bike off to his government job as a busy German bureaucrat. First, he made us some of his insanely good coffee once more, and then, we hugged goodbye as he wished us well. Felix, we will miss you! Once he was out the door, we finished the packing we had started last night, and puttered around with Nadine, cleaning up.

When everything was ready, Nadine helped us schlep all eight panniers, one handlebar bag, two rack packs, our camera, and all the assorted items we strap to our bicycles, downstairs. Then, we unlocked the cellar and retrieved our bikes, carrying them up to ground level.

After re-assembling our bikes on the sidewalk outside the apartment building, we were finally ready to go. When Nadine saw that we had not mailed the package we had prepared to send to the kids (Tyler's brothers and sisters), she offered to send it for us. Thank you Nadine! We were overwhelmed with gratitude for this small task—it was one less thing we had to do!

With several hugs and promises to keep in touch, we said goodbye. We will miss you Nadine! We're so glad you were working when we went to your shop! With a final hug, we rode off into Munich.

Before leaving town, there were a few things we wanted to do. Inspired by my new pants and how much I freaking love them, Tyler decided it was time for a new pair as well. My clothes had been all baggy, worn and mended countless times over the last year. Tyler's were reaching a similar state. It was time for a new pair.

So, we cycled to one of the outdoors' stores we'd visited previously. I stayed with the bikes while Tyler went shopping. A good forty-five minutes later, he returned, dejected. Nothing fit him. Another shop—nothing. A third —nothing. Oh the joys of being short. Finally, after returning to North Face, realizing he hadn't looked at ALL the pants, he returned triumphantly, wearing his new pair! They look great on him, and they actually fit because they roll up as capris (we'll have to hem the legs).

After pants shopping came hat shopping! On a whim, Tyler decided to buy a hat, inspired by the one Felix wore when we went on our hike. He also declared "I'm tired of black! I need a little color in my life!" I laughed saying, "who ARE you!?" This is the same man who used to own 14 of the exact same black t-shirt so he'd have one a day, and do laundry precisely once every two weeks. What with his now loving vegetables as well, I don't know what to do with myself.

Tyler came back with a hat, and we laughed and enjoyed this new look. It's amazing how great clothes shopping feels when you haven't gone in ages. So fun!

Successful, we bought sausages for lunch, and hit the road at the late, late hour of 2:00. Our destination was the Dachau concentration camp, only 20 kilometers away. But the bike paths we were on were very winding. Through fields, zig zagging along, the scenery turned to lovely streams and fields of wheat. Beautiful, but not efficient.

German Cycle Path German Field

By the time we arrived, it was 4:30 and raining. The place closed at 5; there was no way we could do it justice.

Instead of trying to rush it, we biked off and found a decent free-camp only few hundred meters away. It wasn't the best spot ever (hidden behind some bushes and trees right by the concentration camp car park), but it would have to do. We decided to wait until it got dark to set up, and so in the meantime we sat on our walkstools and worked. When the sun began to set, Tyler made camp while I grabbed everything we'd need for dinner.

It was our first night trying out our new pot/pan (our cookset and stove were stolen recently). It would also be the inaugural lighting of our new WhisperLite. It was so nice to take it out of its bag without getting soot all over my fingers! It was hard to believe our old stove was ever silver. Unfortunately, its perfect condition didn't last very long.

We cooked thin Asian glass noodles, and then proceeded to strain them. The whole situation was an awkward mess: noodles fell out of the pot and onto the stove, the perfect consistency to clog up the holes. The stove sputtered and choked, becoming smokey with tall, whispy, orange plumes. So much for the efficient and powerful blue flame! So much for keeping a low-profile at our not-so-hidden free-camp! The first day, dammit, the first day.

Oh well. Our Asian noodles with green beans were delicious anyway.

Asian Noodles & Green Beans

We ate directly out of the pot, turned on a Star Trek, and zoned out for awhile. When it was over, we heard thunder off in the distance. We listened as it approached, and finally tore the skies apart, releasing a heavy rain. As the thunder boomed overhead, rain pattering on the rainfly, we were thankful to be dry and warm in our tent, settling into life on the road once more.

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Hi guys, I'm desperately trying to catch up on all your journals coz I'm feeling totally out of the loop and I don't like it :( but every time I look there are a dozen more :P I think "going slowly" is false advertising. Can you please go a bit slower?

Pretty much every time I read one of your blog posts I find something else we have in common. Mike couldn't find hiking pants that fit either! Okay, so not really a major thing in common :) But yeah, outdoor clothing manufacturers totally discriminate against small men. In the end he had to buy women's pants! I'm sure he wouldn't mind me telling you that. I often think about how a sentence using the word "pants" would sound to a Brit and then giggle - as I'm sure you know it's their word for underwear.

Your story of meeting Felix and Nadine and their friends is so amazingly similar to ours with Andrea and Silvia! When we left we felt like we were leaving family behind. We're planning on spending a couple of months in Padova not this autumn but next - funny to think we're planning so far in advance when we can't even keep a plan we've made for a couple of months time from changing. So amazingly cool that you met an Andrea and Silvia of your own. We'll have to get in touch with them if we're ever near Munich!
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