Ekke writes:

June 30, 2007  It had been a hectic two weeks leading up to our departure: preparing the house for the renters, finishing off at work, finalising the motorcycle preparations and of course figuring out what to pack for a "round the world" trip.  Little did we know that our hectic pace would catch up with us.  The Lunatic Fringe BMW motorcycle rally had been pushed ahead to the July 1 long weekend so we could attend but we didn't make it for the Friday evening kick-off.  We didn't make it for Saturday morning either.  Or Saturday afternoon.  We finally finished off cleaning and putting the final items in the basement about an hour before the renters arrived at 10:30 AM on Sunday morning.  After dropping the Jetta off in Airdrie and then picking Audrey's bike up at a neighbour's house back in Redwood Meadows (strange seeing other people's cars in our driveway!) we finally managed to get to the rally in High River at about Noon.  We missed putting on the “field events” but it was a lot of fun catching up with people and making new friends.  We helped clean up on Monday and then rode up to Airdrie to stay with my parents for a couple of days.  

Some final, final preparations were done on the bikes on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.  As per the instructions from Motorcycle Express we gave the bikes a good cleaning, making sure to remove any dead bugs. The locking oil cap on Audrey's F650 wouldn't unlock so we spent quite a bit of time trying to open it so that it could be inspected if necessary.  Then we noticed in the fine print of the shipping contract that we should bring along a spare set of keys for the bikes.  We couldn't find the spare for the F650 (perhaps it was safely tucked away in our basement in Redwood Meadows) so we debated whether to pop by a BMW shop to get a blank and then have it cut.  Since the oil filler cap had taken so much time we decided to forego the spare keys and head straight to the airport.  Having rebuilt the R100GS starting last October it sure felt good to have the bike run so well on the way to the airport.  It had never been smoother or more responsive!  At the Aero Ground cargo facility we drained the excess fuel from the bikes and then disconnected the batteries.  By the time we returned to Airdrie a lot of tension from the last couple of weeks seemed to drain from us and we relaxed a little.  Wednesday we tried to whittle down our items to pack into something that would actually fit on the bikes and also clean up some of the paperwork.  That evening we went to Carstairs to say goodbye to Audrey's parents over dinner and then came back to Airdrie for a small Bon Voyage party held in the back yard.  Thursday the Jetta was put into storage and we made our final preparations for departure that evening.  We arrived at the Air Transat check-in counter a few minutes after it opened and there was no line so we were hopeful that we could get seats with a bit of legroom.  No luck; stuck in row 24 on top of the wing.  After a tearful goodbye at the security gate we went to the departure gate to see if we could get a glimpse of the bikes being loaded aboard our plane.  No luck there either.  We really hoped that they were on board!

A good cleaning before taking the bikes to cargo

Off to the cargo terminal!

Disconnecting the batteries

While I was in a terribly awkward position with my knees jammed into the seat in front and my head too high for the headrest I at least had brought ear plugs (one of the advantages of motorcycle travel is that you usually have ear plugs along!), unfortunately Audrey had kept her ear plugs in her motorcycle jacket, safely stowed in the checked baggage.  A few young people a couple of rows back kept up a loud conversation for the first 8.5 hours of the 9.5 hour flight so Audrey didn't get a wink of sleep until the final hour and even that was fitful as we hit some bad turbulence at about that time.  We were pretty exhausted when we landed on Friday afternoon at 1:30 PM local time.  Fortunately, Munich must have one of the most efficient airports in the world.  It was a short walk to the baggage carousel with only a short line at the passport control to slow us down.  While the luggage was coming down I went to the luggage tracing to ask where our motorcycles could be picked up.  The first thing the nice young gentleman said was that we could pick them up at the large luggage pickup over by the skis and golf clubs!  A little more explanation was obviously in order.  We eventually got vague directions to the Swissport cargo facility on the other side of the airport and then went out to meet Audrey's sister, Helena, who had come to pick us up.  Helena lives a few minutes drive from the airport so it was very handy to come over and give us a ride to the cargo facility.  It was also nice that she spoke excellent German and even a bit of Bayerische (the local dialect).  It took a while to find the Swissport offices but they said they would phone us back in an hour or two when we could come and pick up the bikes.  When they didn't call Helena's house we called them and they told us the bikes were ready so off we went.  After paying a nominal fee of 17.50 euro for each bike we were then able to take a form down to customs for them to stamp.  With the stamped form we then walked to the Swissport cargo gate where a hundred fork lifts all seemed to be whizzing around at 100 km/h and all of them intent on running us over.  We looked the bikes over and could find no damage but we also didn't find our keys.  Back and forth upstairs to the office didn't turn up the keys but since I had my spare keys we decided it was best to take my bike out since storage charges would be applied if we didn't remove the bikes before Sunday.  If the key didn't turn up we would have to call a locksmith to get a key made for the F650.  As I rolled the bike to the ramp a woman from the Swissport office came back to say that they were tracing the keys.  Since Audrey's keys were in a unique little pouch I thought it would be a good idea to show the woman what exactly they were looking for.  Balancing my bike with one hand I reached for my keys, which were in a pouch matching Audrey's, with my right hand. At that moment the bike started to tip over towards me.  I tried to catch it but the bike kept coming over and then the gas tank hit my left knee.  I could only watch in horror as my knee bent over at a bizarre angle accompanied by a sharp, wrenching pain before I was pinned under the bike.  I scooted free with my good leg but it was obvious from the bulbous protrusions that my left knee was ruined.  I started swearing a blue streak; not from the pain but because I could see our trip vanishing, the trip around the world that we had planned and saved for for four years.  Vanishing because of a stupid mistake made while fatigued by the long flight, which itself was the culmination of two and half hectic weeks.

That knee isn't supposed to look like that
  

A First Aider, two paramedics and a whole truckload of firefighters got the situation stabilised until an ambulance arrived.  There wasn't too much pain after the initial wrench but having dislocated my shoulder a few times I knew that there would be a lot of pain when the knee was popped back into place.  At the hospital in Freising an X-Ray was performed to ensure that there weren't any broken bones before straightening out the leg.  I gritted my teeth as the doctor and paramedic slowly moved the patella back into position while simultaneously straightening my leg.  They and I were both amazed that I had not a hint of pain.  I guess no nerves were trapped.  The patella was floating free because the ligament towards the lower portion of the leg had been completely severed so it was decided to put my left leg in a cast from hip to ankle until it could be operated on.  The doctor said it would be 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery with a brace and then another month to build up the strength before I could ride a motorcycle again.  In the meantime an MRI was scheduled for Monday to determine if there was any further tissue damage that needed to be repaired.  When I awoke on Saturday morning I couldn't believe my eyes.  A bulletin board at the foot of my bed had a Touratech poster advertising their latest trip from Canada to Mexico (Touratech is a company specialising in making equipment for motorcycle travellers and both of our bikes are graced by a few of their baubles)  and a second poster of a perfect gravel road switchbacking up the side of mountain.  These two posters certainly reinforced my will to continue with the trip and staring at them over the next week would prove to be quite motivational.

An army of firefighters, the paramedics and ambulance attendants on the scene


Nice cast!


The motorcycle posters gracing the foot of Ekke's bed


Now the real work began for Audrey.  Despite suffering from the same fatigue that caused the accident she now needed to deal with all the issues arising from the mishap.  The first order of business was to call our medical insurance provider and make sure that we were covered and to tell them about the accident.  She then had to figure out how to get the bikes out of cargo.  Swissport called to say that they had found the keys in the crate (right where Audrey had told them to check in the first place!) so at least Audrey could ride her bike.  She only needed to have the battery reconnected.  The German automobile club has a reciprocal relationship with the CAA so a call to ADAC confirmed that they could come and reconnect the battery as well as tow the R100GS to Helena's house.  On Saturday the R100GS was put onto a flat bed truck and then Audrey rode behind them to the apartment in Erding.  The tow truck driver untied the bike and then asked Audrey and Helena to hold it up while he tilted the bed down.  Since this bike had just put me in the hospital when it came unbalanced, they were understandably a bit leery!  Somehow they managed to do it and then the tow truck driver rolled it down into the parkade.  Now Audrey had her own transportation and she could visit me in the hospital whenever she wanted to; the ride from Erding to Freising being about 35 minutes.

The results of the MRI were given on Tuesday and it was good news.  Only the patellar ligament was ruptured, no other damage was evident so the surgery was scheduled for Wednesday.  The anaesthetist recommended a local anaesthetic saying that if it didn't work then they would simply go to a light general, this way I wouldn't suffer from the side effects of a general anaesthetic unless necessary.  Even though the operation was scheduled for Noon I got a call at 9:30 saying they were ready to go.  The local anaesthetic was injected using a long metal tube so that the knee could get the maximum effect.  After 15 minutes I was wheeled to the operating prep room and cleaned up and a short while later I was wheeled into the operating theatre itself.  I was quite alert as the operation was started but I soon felt some pain in my patella and that was the last thing I remember.  I assume I went under a general anaesthetic immediately after showing some signs of pain.  I woke up a little while later to find my leg wrapped in a full cast again.  The rest of the day is a bit of a blur but there were almost none of the debilitating side effects of a general anaesthetic.  I didn't eat much of supper (especially considering I missed breakfast and lunch) so I asked the nurse to give me a double portion of breakfast the next day!

The pain in my knee was almost unbearable on Thursday morning and taking the pills didn't help.  Eventually it was decided that the cast was putting undue pressure on my swelling knee so the cast was cut off.  Fortunately I recovered from the light-headedness of the pain enough to eat my double portion of breakfast.  Later that day the doctor came by and said I would be wearing a brace that had no mobility for four weeks followed by a week of 30 degrees of movement, a week of 60 degrees and two weeks of full movement (90 degrees).  He also suggested that a bit of physiotherapy after the brace came off might not be a bad idea before getting back on the bike.  Since we now knew that we would be confined for a minimum of two months we started looking at renting a small apartment.  The insurance company said that they would fly us home on business class with an accompanying nurse.  This sounded nice but if we could find an apartment (without too many steps!) for not too much money we would rather spend the time in Bavaria.

Audrey came to visit on Friday, riding her bike as she had done every day since Tuesday but to add insult to injury, when she got back to the bike in the hospital parking lot someone had stolen her licence plate!  They were nice enough to return the bolts back to the holes so she knew for sure that it hadn't just fallen off somewhere.  We could almost understand if this had occurred outside of a nightclub in the middle of the night but this was in broad daylight in a hospital parking lot.  What unbelievable luck we were having!  Not only was Audrey now without wheels again until a new licence plate could be obtained from Alberta but all of our other paperwork, most importantly the carnet de passages, would need to be done over.  Fortunately, Audrey had left an authorisation form with my parents so that she could get her registration renewed while we were on the road (it expires in January of 2008) and the same form could be used to authorise my mother to get a replacement licence plate.  Of course there was only one authorisation form so the new plate would have to wait until August which is the earliest a person with a last name starting with “A” can get a motorcycle plate that expires the next year.  Automobiles can be registered for two years at a stretch in Alberta but not motorcycles and they can also be renewed on-line whereas motorcycles not.  Not that we're bitter about a system that seems so blatantly discriminatory against motorcyclists but it sure makes our lives as travellers more difficult.  In any case, at least Audrey didn't have to go back to Canada to get a new plate.  When we get the new plate number we can contact the CAA to get them to issue another carnet de passages and courier it out to us in Germany.

With Helena's help Audrey found a nice gasthaus for us to stay in during my recuperation.  It is located in Schwaig and has good bus access to both the Munich Airport train station as well as Erding.  The brochure sure makes it look like a nice place to spend a relaxing month or two.  The ground floor unit has no steps, comes with a kitchenette and a nice concrete patio to sit on, all for only 30 euros per day.


Gasthaus Huber brochure photo


July 30 Update, Ekke writes:  

It was great to be out of the hospital on Tuesday, July 17 and we celebrated by going for a walk in to beautiful altstadt Erding on Wednesday.  How wonderful to be sitting at an outdoor café in a small square of an old town in Bavaria!  On the way back, I stumbled on some cobblestones and automatically used my bad left leg to catch myself.  This was accompanied by a sharp pain and an audible (to me anyway) pop.  Needless to say we were worried I had buggered up the surgery.  There was no more pain after the initial jolt so we hobbled home.  I took it easy the rest of the day but later that evening it looked like the normally swollen left knee was swollen to a more significant degree.  I took a couple of Advil and used ice to reduce the swelling and in the morning it looked better.  

Around lunchtime on Thursday I was hobbling back to the sofa from the washroom and my knee just felt really odd.  When I put tension on my thigh muscles to lift the leg it felt like the patella was trying to come up too.  I just froze on the spot.  I couldn't move for fear of damaging my knee.  I eventually forced myself to the sofa (two steps away) and plopped down.  We both thought that I should go back to the hospital to get this checked out but I couldn't see myself getting down the stairs to catch a cab.  So we called the emergency number (112).  Audrey talked to the call centre operator at first but they didn't speak a word of English (doesn't that seem odd?).  Audrey gave me the phone and I was able to let them know I needed an ambulance.  They transferred me to another line where not a word of English was spoken either but it was apparently the ambulance dispatch.  I told her of my predicament and she said she would send an ambulance.  (When I told her my name she said, "we transported you last week!")  Fortunately Andrew (Helena's son) and a couple of friends came home just before the ambulance arrived.  The paramedics couldn't possibly have carried me down the stairs without assistance so they drafted the three strong boys.  As it was, there was a person on each corner of a special wheel chair and a fifth person (one of the paramedics) holding up my leg.  What a ride!  All seven of us were rather amazed when we made it down without mishap.  

Four flights of stairs.  108 kilograms.  Five porters.  One bad knee.

Ekke looks happy to be back at the hospital

On the ambulance ride back to Freising I sat upright watching the scenery and wishing I could be riding these nice German roads on my bike.  Emergency was much busier this time and I had to wait an hour and a half before I could even get into an examining room.  Audrey got to ride in the ambulance too so she spent the whole time in the waiting room.  Eventually I got a room and a little while later a doctor came by.  He read up on my case and was very impressed with the surgery.  He said that they had made an especially strong repair using special dissolving thread (3 to 4 months) that was very unlikely to be broken.  Nevertheless he thought an X-Ray and ultrasound would be a good check.  He then took my brace off and played with the knee a little bit.  All of a sudden there was another "popping" sound and he looked up at me expecting to see me in pain.  I just gave him a beatific smile.  I said that that sounded like the popping sound I had heard when I stumbled.  So maybe my knee had dislocated a small amount when I stumbled and now he had popped it back in.  The X-Ray showed no problem but it was quite a wait to get in to ultrasound.  When I finally got in the technician was very thorough.  He must have spent close to an hour with me and I got to see the cord used for the repair.  He couldn't see a portion directly under the patella so he asked if it was OK to bend my knee.  I said, "No!" since I was rather paranoid of hurting it.  He went out and got a doctor (whom I had met a couple of times last week when he was doing rounds) and he again said it was OK to bend my knee up to 30 degrees.  When they lifted my knee up my muscles were so tight that it didn't bend!  I eventually relaxed them enough to bend the knee and the technician could see a bit more.  He was still missing a small spot but overall he thought that no damage had been done.  Back in the examining room the doctor consulted with his colleagues and a sports medicine doctor and they all determined that everything was OK and I could go home.  When I hobbled out to the waiting room three and a half hours after entering the emergency room Audrey was very relieved and happy to see me coming out under my own power.  Helena (who works three days a week at a place near Stuttgart) drove straight from her work to the hospital and she was there a little after 8:00, about half an hour after I got out.  Amazingly I managed to fit in the tiny Opel Corsa so we headed back to Erding (via a Burger King drive-through at the airport!).  So, long story short (too late!), I was OK and not in the hospital again.

Friday we moved to Gästehaus Huber in Schwaig, about seven kilometres from Erding.  This would be our home for a while.  A reporter for the Freising Tagblatt had seen the police report on the stolen licence plate and when one of Helena's friends contacted the paper to tell them our story the reporter wanted to interview us.  The reporter and photographer came by the Gästehaus at about 5:00 PM on Monday, July 23.  The photographer took a few shots of us with Audrey's bike, pointing at the missing licence plate and then took off.  The reporter spent about a half hour getting the information from us about our trip, the accident and of course the missing licence plate.  Afterwards he said the article would probably be published in a couple of days.

Audrey goes for long walks in the country around Schwaig

Maypole in Schwaig

Thursday I had a check-up at the hospital in Freising so we caught the direct bus there from Schwaig.  Too bad that the bus didn't have a handicapped seating area where I could stretch out my leg so I was forced to stand for the 20 minute ride.  Since we were early for the appointment we popped in to the hospital café to kill a little time.  The Freising Tagblatt was for sale there and we decided to buy it but before we could do that the cashier asked Audrey if her licence plate had been recovered yet.  Apparently she recognised us from the newspaper article!  We saw a few of the nurses from my ward and every one of them asked how we were doing and if the licence plate had been recovered.  Maybe this paper had a higher circulation than we thought.  When we opened up the paper we were greeted by our own smiling faces on the front page of the regional news section with the headline: "Knie Kaputt bei km Null".  (Click here to read the article)   The check-up went well, with the doctors indicating that swelling and heat were perfectly normal at this stage and that the knee was healing just fine.  We walked down to the train station via the old city centre after the appointment (down was a different challenge on the crutches) stopping off at a café for a break before catching the bus back to Schwaig, via the airport.  On the way to the train station we got passed by an older couple.  As they went by, she turned around and started speaking German very quickly.  I went into my usual spiel that I didn't speak German very well when she interrupted and said (more slowly) that we were the Canadians from the paper.  She seemed pretty excited to see us and asked if the licence plate had been returned.  So this is what it's like to be a celebrity!

Hospital café and Thursday's paper

A Banana Split in Freising (for medicinal purposes of course!)

Hobbling around the old part of Freising

September 2nd update, Audrey writes:  

Ekke's doing fine but still hobbling around on crutches. He went to the doctor on Tuesday, August 14, and the brace now has 60 degrees of movement, meaning a lot more range of motion in his leg. My new licence plate arrived from Canada, sent out by Ekke's parents (thanks, Ekke and Magda!) and it's nice to have wheels again. I use the bike to go to Erding for groceries or to the Munich airport for some English reading material at the international news shop. The airport's only a few minutes away and resembles a shopping mall with lots of stores and services, and of course, its own beer garden. Ekke gets physiotherapy every couple of days either at Therme Erding or the Gesundheitspark, while I do some shopping or go into the hot pools. Life here is very good and the leisure time is a gift that, hopefully, we're putting to good use with extensive reading, trip planning, sightseeing and mastering Sudoku puzzles from the London Sunday Times. Helena's invited us to movies, festivals and dinner at her friends Melanie and Steve's beautiful home in Niederding for some fantastic English fare complete with Royal Dalton china.

Audrey tries out her new licence plate

Ekke walks for fresh buns every morning

And then enjoying the fresh buns sitting on our patio

Maybe this is why Schwaig feels like home?

We are able to watch DVD's on our laptop, and are currently watching Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's trip, Long Way Round, about their motorcycle adventure around the world. We're itching to go to begin our own motorcycle adventure, but know we have to be patient and just let the healing of Ekke's leg run its course. So, we're trying to see a few places around here, and visiting the BMW Museum in Munich was first on our list. We caught the S-Bahn, a regional train, at the airport and it took us to Marienplatz and then Olympiazentrum station which is near the museum. It was disappointing to find that the museum was closed for renovations, but then we discovered that a temporary museum was set up with most of the important exhibits from the original. One hour of looking at cars and motorcycles was just fine with me. The temporary museum did not have Helge Pederson's bike, however, so I knew I would have to come back to see that. Helge, a Norwegian who spent ten years on two wheels, inspired us to get planning our own motorcycle adventures. They did have Michael Martin's bike on display, and he is well known in Germany for travelling to interesting locations on his bike, taking beautiful photographs, and giving slideshows back home in and around Munich. We had heard of him from friends of ours from Bielefeld, and from Ekke's cousin, Paul-Jürgen, who had sent us a signed print of one of his photos, so it was great to see his somewhat battered BMW R1150 GS. After a lunch of Bavarian sausage and kartoffelsalad (watery potato salad with no mayo, but surprisingly tasty), we wandered around the site of the 1972 summer Olympics. We gave the Olympic tower a miss as it was an overcast day and we wouldn't be able to see the Alps. The stadium and other buildings were covered by various tent-like structures with plexiglass inserts, and looked very modern, considering they were 35 years old. It was all a very festive atmosphere as it was summer funfair time.

The new BMW delivery centre and museum should be open this Winter

Michael Martin's bike in the temporary BMW museum

Audrey in the early years...

Amazing plexiglass structures at the Olympia Zentrum

Helena invited us over for a fabulous home cooked Middle Eastern feast, and while there, we got a chance to use the internet and check if Michael Martin was giving a slideshow any time soon. Ekke discovered that he was currently doing a presentation in Tokyo, and wouldn't be giving a show here until sometime in February. Our hopes for meeting him were pretty much dashed.

Ekke's dad is a member of the Blue Knights, a motorcycle/police organization, and he had emailed the German chapter, telling them of our misadventures. We soon received a phone call from Tom and Andrea, two police officers from Munich, asking if they could come and visit us as part of their Sunday bicycle trip. So, we met here, walked over to the Schwaiger Hof Bier Garten, and had a nice chat about motorcycles and travelling. Andrea ordered a Kaiserschmarn and since Ekke's mom had mentioned that she loves them we each ordered one too.  When a little bowl of what looked like applesauce arrived Ekke and I looked at each other and said, "It looks just like applesauce but what the heck, it must be special."  When we dove into the sauce with the supplied spoons, Tom stopped us and said, "That is the applesauce that goes on the Kaiserschmarn!"  Oops, almost a major faux pas! A moment or two later, a big plate with what appeared to be a cut up pancake, sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon came out.  With the applesauce on top it was delicious. During the conversation, we happened to mention that we went to the BMW museum and saw Michael Martin's bike. Of course they knew who he was and were familiar with his photos. We said goodbye, with plans to attend a Blue Knights club meeting on Thursday. Later that night we received a phone call from Tom and he was very excited. Apparently they were putting their bicycles on the train near Neufahrn, and who should be sitting in their train car but the photographer, Michael Martin! He was coming home from his trip to Japan and was taking the train from the airport to Munich. They chatted with him for a while, and he mentioned that he was trying to get a show together in Herrsching, about 40 km south of Munich, and was only awaiting approval from the town. We were quite flabbergasted with the amazing coincidence and, of course, a chance to see his show.

Tom and Andrea after riding 50 kilometres from their house

Tom and Andrea picked us up for the Blue Knights meeting on Thursday, which was at an active military base in the north part of Munich. Tom advised us to carry our passports with us and then hope that the guard at the gate would know that Canada was part of NATO!  As we passed through the gate, Tom flashed his and Andrea's police i.d. cards, and the guard just waved us through. Tom said, "He may know that Canada is in NATO but he apparently can't count to four!" I checked with Andrea to make sure I wouldn't get arrested before taking a picture of a German tank outside the barracks, and she said it should be okay. About 25 people showed up at the meeting, apparently a great turnout for the middle of summer holidays, and we enjoyed some local cuisine and Weissbier (wheat beer, a local specialty). Most of the proceedings were in Bayerische, but it was just so special to be invited, it didn't matter. Ekke gave a quick speech in English, which most people understood, explaining our trip plans and how quickly they changed. We were given club patches and a pin and were able to chat with a few people. On Sunday, Andrea and Tom picked us up and gave us a great driving tour of Munich. The Asan church was quite spectacular; we didn't realize that Munich had so many grand avenues with even grander arches and monuments. Nymphenburg Palace had pleasant grounds for walking and after that we drove to Lacky and Judith's house for a fantastic barbeque. Lacky greeted us in lederhosen, and showed us his garage with a rebuilt Yamaha SR500 and a BMW R1100 GS. The pork garlic sauce and Bavarian Schnapps made for a very special evening.

The Assamkirch set on an ordinary Munich street

The extraordinary interior of the Assamkirch

Swans in front of Nymphenburg Castle

Audrey enjoys Lacky's hospitality at the BBQ at their house

Lacky came out for a visit to Gastehaus Huber (and to see if the Hubers were the same ones
he knew from years ago.  They were; yet another coincidence.)

Everyone had been telling us to visit the Deutsches Museum (science and technology) in Munich, so off we went. The line up to get in was huge, but the 30 minute wait was definitely worth it. The museum covered at least 6 floors, and our strategy was to start at the top and work our way down. There were great views of the city from the rooftop lookout, along with a selection of 22 sundials on display outside. We took our time wandering through the astronomy exhibits, which were accompanied by plenty of English information, and really enjoyed the displays showing the development of the computer. The food technology area was quite interesting, complete with ploughs and milking machines throughout the ages. And what Bavarian museum would be complete without the beer making exhibit, which was quite well done. After spending hours wandering, viewing and reading, we realized we had only covered 3 floors, all of them quite a bit smaller than the 3 floors and basement below. So, with one hour remaining before the museum closed, I decided to just do a quick walk-through of the rest of the floors, leaving Ekke to meander through the aerospace technology and environmental exhibits. After a quick journey through cell structure, oil and gas, marine science, tunnel building and flight, I found a spiral staircase that led to my favourite part of the museum, a labyrinth of mines and mining history. A sign at the beginning warned that it would take at least an hour to go through but with a bit of a push, I completed the route in 15 minutes. There were no exit points at all as I elbowed my way past slow-moving tourists, through darkened tunnels, past dioramas of salt and coalminers, and eventually out. Ekke was having his own adventure as he walked through the environment exhibits. All of a sudden at about quarter to five a loud clang reverberated throughout the room which all of a sudden seemed to be devoid of human life. A moment later the lights were switched off and only a pale light came through the windows.  He hobbled to the sound of the clang to find the doors locked and a man standing by the light switch. Ekke asked to be let out and then for the elevator down. Apparently the access to the regular lift was locked off now and the man with an air of exasperation opened a special cargo/handicapped elevator. There the man curtly pressed the ground floor button and stepped out whereupon he heaved the doors shut leaving Ekke to descend by himself in the pre-programmed lift.

Entrance to the museum

From the rooftop of the museum (yes it is more humid here than in Calgary!)

An early computer using vacuum tubes

Milling wheel

Early experiments in flight

Cross-section of a modern jet-liner shows where our motorcycles would have been stowed

Working in the salt mines

On Friday, the 24th of August, Ekke and I took the S-bahn into Munich after his physiotherapy appointment in Erding, walked around a bit and visited the Frauenkirch, a huge gothic church near Marienplatz. We then caught the S-Bahn to Herrsching, on the Ammersee (lake) in a beautiful forested area with rolling hills. After a dinner of what I'm sure is the local Bavarian specialty, Hawaiian pizza, we met Andrea, Tom, Judith and Lacky for the Michael Martin slideshow. As soon as we walked through the gate, Michael Martin came right up to us and said, "So you must the Kanadechen (Canadians). I read your website and the newspaper article about your accident". Apparently Tom had emailed him saying we were coming and had included our website address. Wow! Michael Martin knew about us? We chatted for a while, and he really wanted to stress to us the importance of getting a new carnet de passage. Since my licence plate had been stolen, I had to get a rectifie stamp and my new plate number written in on all 50 places on the carnet by an official at ADAC (the German CAA). Michael said that it would definitely be a problem, especially in Egypt, if every number on the carnet didn't match what was on my bike, this from somebody who had crossed over 300 African borders. We crossed his path twice more in the evening, and again he said that we should get a new carnet. I guess we'll get a new carnet! We bought one of his books of photos, which he kindly signed, and Tom took our picture with him. The slideshow itself was absolutely astonishing. He and a friend, Christine, had travelled the world's deserts for 900 days, 2-up and very fully overloaded with camera equipment. He gave the commentary in German, of course, and was an excellent speaker, judging by the reaction of the audience. But the pictures really spoke for themselves, about the people and landscapes they encountered, as well as the joys and hardships of motorcycle travel.

Poster in Herrsching

We get to meet Michael Martin

Tom and Andrea invited us to an IPA (International Police Association) barbeque in Halbergmoos, which is about 7 kilometres from Schwaig. As they got off their motorbikes here at the Gastehaus, we noticed Tom had his hand over his neck. He revealed a huge bump, apparently from a wasp sting while travelling on the highway. He is quite allergic to stings, but luckily carries cortisone in his keychain. After a drink of water, we were on our way, Tom, Andrea and I on bikes and Ekke with Christian, our landlady's son, in a big, black BMW. Ekke wasn't on a bike but at least he had air conditioning. After a very quick ride, we arrived at a farm where the courtyard had been converted to a bier garten and country bar. We felt quite at home, as the bar was decorated with North American memorabilia, including some Canadian licence plates. We thought it would have been hilarious if we had seen my plate nailed to the wall what with all the police officers around, but no such luck. The food was great with four types of meat and a selection of salads, bread and pretzels. The Erding organizer, Hubert, made a welcoming speech and mentioned us and our trip. Later on, a huge glass boot, filled to the top with two litres of beer, was passed around, apparently a local tradition. Sometimes an air bubble would form in the 'toe' and a drinker would get a big splash in the face, as Andrea found out. Lacky and Judith, who arrived later after picking up their daughter at circus camp, gave Ekke a ride home, and I followed behind on the bike. The cool night air was great to ride through and hitting the occasional warm pocket felt even better.

Andrea avoids the backsplash this time while Tom looks on

One of our day tours with Helena included a trip to Landshut, a gorgeous medieval town, with a castle on the hill. Of course, we headed straight to a café in search of kuchen (cake), as we're on a mission to determine which of these Bavarian specialties is #1. In the running so far was a chocolate and egg cream delight from a café near Ekke's physio clinic - how convenient, and an orange cream cake made by Frau Huber. Ekke ordered a layered egg cream cake in Landshut, and immediately declared it #1. It was a gorgeous day, and the castle afforded fantastic views of the step-gabled architecture of the town, church towers and surrounding countryside. We stopped by the airport on the way home for some convenient Sunday shopping and fish and chips from Nordsee.

Incredibly wide street in Landshut with the tallest brick church steeple in Germany

A hike up to the castle in Landshut with Helena (OK, she drove us to the top!)

After one of Ekke's physio sessions, we decided to go for kaffe and kuchen, and I believe I unseated his #1 cake with a banana chocolate cream concoction. Ekke did not agree, however, so we figure all we can do is try them all again. So many kuchen, so little time!

Ekke wanted to check out a a BMW motorcycle shop, Karl Maier BMW, in Neufinising, about 15 kilometres from Schwaig. It was a place we had visited in 2002 for tires and service, and he wanted to get some parts that would help improve the fuel economy of his bike. The trip took us most of the day, as we had to catch a bus from Schwaig to Erding, the S-Bahn from Erding to Markt Schwaben, and a bus to Neufinising. It ended up taking us about 2 hours to get to that BMW shop. Karl Maier is a world champion dirt track racer turned BMW shop owner. The store was great, with excellent clothing selection and beautiful new BMW bikes. Karl Maier saw Ekke's knee brace and crutches, and then, with some excitement said, "Hey you're the guy from the newspaper article, the Canadian!"  Sheesh, that article was published a month ago and we're still being recognised! We couldn't stick around to chat because we had a 14:45 bus to catch so off we went. The bus didn't show up on time, which we thought was kind of odd considering their usual punctuality. Finally, looking at the schedule we noticed that the 14:45 only runs on school days and the next bus wouldn't arrive for another hour and a half. A bakery with a small seating area across the street from Karl Maier allowed us to while away the time with a pleasant view of the comings and goings at the dealership.

As you know, Ekke rebuilt his motorcycle last winter. During the rebuilding process, he found an eloquently machined part, available only in Germany, to replace the exhaust nut on his bike. These parts were made by Walter Price who lives about 140 kilometres northwest of Munich. Friday evening we received a phone call from Walter. He had read our website and found out we were staying near Munich and asked if we could meet up some time. We told him that we were going shopping with Helena on Saturday and were planning on going to a motorcycle accessory store in Munich so we decided to meet there at 13:00 on the first day of September (has it been almost two months already?). Helena picked us up and we drove to the Halbergmoos S-bahn station, where we took the train to Marienplatz in the centre of Munich on Saturday morning. She knew of a great café with a view over the Marienplatz from the second floor. We girls had a delicious breakfast while Ekke stayed true to café form and had a Schwartzwelderkirschtorte. (Apparently delicious but not unseating his #1 cake in Landshut). Back on the train we rode to Pasing and then walked a few blocks to Louis, the motorcycle accessory store. At some locations Louis has a wind tunnel set up so that you can try on a helmet or jacket before buying it but not at the Munich store, too bad, that would have been cool to try. Walter and his wife Monica met us at the shop and after buying a few accessories we went to a café for lunch and cake. Helena and I split a cheesecake while Ekke had tortellini with cheese sauce. Nope, the banana cake at the Gusendheits Park was still Number One in my books. After saying goodbye to Walter and Monica, we went downtown to a very elegant and flashy Bogner store where Helena's son Andrew works. He gave us the grand tour of the exclusive Bogner clothing, replete with fur, sequins and embroidery. We made a tough decision and did not buy the 7999.00 coat, instead saving our money to ride through Africa!




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