Archive for the ‘Travel/World’ Category

Another Month Another Paseo (de Todos)

December 7, 2011
Nice mural

Nice mural

It’s been a while for us, but we finally went back to lovely Mexico for Paseo de Todos.

Once again, the motorists were mighty kind, much kinder than Americans its “Finest City” which strives to “stay classy” and thus Mexican motorists are fine indeed.

The ride was fun, but (luckily) this time, fairly uneventful.

I spent a lot of time talking to my friends about how great the ride is.

Also, I realized that riding in Tijuana at night is a lot like ice skating. It smells the same as the Zamboni. The air is actually cold–similar in temperature to skating. Thus, one should definitely button up. Just because it’s Mexico does not mean that it’s going to be warm at night. In fact, it was cooler than many places in San Diego so be warned. Also, it felt a bit like skating because we were cycling. The only big difference is that I didn’t have the lame-ass butterflies in my stomach that I had when I was a teenager as the main purpose of ice skating is to hook up with the other skaters. 🙂

After the ride, we went to a taco stand where we got yelled at for drinking on the street. Oops. I don’t follow a lot of rules, but I definitely make it a habit to follow all the laws in a foreign country.

Then we went back to the hotel for the usual late night conversation like we do with all close friends who don’t have narcolepsy. 🙂

The discussion was very good especially when we revealed our findings of the faked data of the Cross study which I had mentioned in other posts.

It was really, really awesome to hang out with people who understood the significance of this immediately. Contrast this with people who continue to make up their own version of reality and call the rest of us who actually read studies “superstitious.”

These kinds of things are seen in a book I mentioned before, _You Are Not Smart_. I got it from the library, and I started reading it.
It’s fun to read, but pretty depressing. On the other hand, since I am working on humility this week, it’s a good for me.

Anyway, the next day, we took a long walk around Mexico, with our bicycles. We found the holy grail of food which is Chinese-Mexican which we’ll try next time.

Since we got lost–but it wasn’t scary at all–getting home required us to cross this strange Mad Max style pedestrian bridge with no sides on the stairs. They just let you fall one story if you slip.

It crossed this large cement slab of a river which had a tiny trickle of water in it.

Finally, we had to wait in line for a long, long time. The pedestrian line snaked back really far. But it seemed to go fast as the local entertainment was quite good.

I can’t wait to go back.

Border Crossing Tijuana to San Diego

Border Crossing Tijuana to San Diego

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I Met a Tourer!

December 2, 2011

Yes, my commute often gets lonely because there is usually nobody around.

However, there’s one guy who passes me many times, who always says hello. I have gone on some rides with him, but never got to know him well.

Also, there are the various other cyclists I see.

A few days ago, I caught up to a cyclist, which is really rare.

Usually, I pass someone first, so I don’t startle them, then I turn and say “hi”.

However, my princess has given me detailed lessons on how the do’s and don’t’s of talking to strange women in the streets. Thus, in general, I only say “hi” when it’s appropriate.

This time, it wasn’t so I stayed silent.

I was hoping to pass the cyclist so I didn’t freak her out.

Imagine riding, alone, on a dark road and some guy trails you. Not good.

Unfortunately, our paces were perfectly matched when it came to climbing. Perhaps it was due to the fact that my chain was messed up as stated in an earlier post.

Also, she had no back nor front light which is kind of dangerous on this road. Thus, it wasn’t totally bad with my front light illuminating the road and my back blinky (hopefully) seen by cars.

One thing that thrilled me was that she had two largish panniers which meant that she was probably on tour. Cool! But still no reason to be annoying so I squelched the urge to ask her the usual questions that tourers get so sick of answering.

Then my friend, Mike, rode by me yelling his usually, “hi”.

“Hi, Mike,” I said.

The girl turned and asked me what I said. I told her that I was talking to Mike.

She didn’t comprehend me, and she said a bunch of other stuff.

I didn’t hear anything because the road was so noisy. Also, the bike lane got really narrow in places which prevented me from riding next to her.

Finally, we got out of the valley and up to the (a little bit) quieter City Heights.

We chatted for a bit at each light. She asked if her light was out, and I told her that it was. Also, we discussed her tour a little. Finally, I sensed she might need some help so I offered.

She politely declined. “I’m meeting some friends who are waiting for me.”

That’s a really good answer though perhaps not true.

Still, I don’t blame her for not coming over though in touring it’s less uncommon than you would think.

When I got home, I recounted the story to my princess. The first thing she asked is, “Did you invite her over?”

Haha, she, too, was excited to meet someone on tour which is always a rare sight even in San Diego which is the terminus of many East and West tours and a stop on many North and South ones.

We love tourers so much, we are even contemplating getting a bigger place so we can put some up, comfortably. 🙂

More Sea Port Village

June 2, 2011

I don’t have too many guilty pleasures because I don’t have too much guilt in my life.

However, when I really examine my feelings, I realize that Sea Port Village is one of them.

Previously, I had stated that it is not a village, but it could be.

Another reason, I am guilty about loving it is how annoying the shops are. I have no problems with being a tourist in my own town nor do I have trouble catering to tourists. Heck, I used to do so myself.

However, there’s a fine line between touristy good and a amalgamation of everything I loathe and Sea Port Village’s shops are closer to the later. This isn’t unlike the cheesy “Main Street” in Mall of Georgia despite the fact that a few traffic chocked highway miles away is a beautiful and neglected real downtown.

I really try to avoid complaining on this blog, but hey, I guess that’s guilty pleasure number two of the day.

The sickening sweet smell of cookies is another turn off from Sea Port’s decor.

Another thing is the “Viking Store” which I hadn’t gone into, but I had a review from my Danish friends.

They apparently went there and had a laugh.

The things that were supposed to be Danish were actually either Dutch (wooden clogs) or German (clothes). I give this store an “A” for trying. Plus, it’s just good family fun.

But a bad way to learn about the world.

Sea Port Viking Store

Aside from the coupling of the coolest urban layout in the entire city of San Diego, and arguably the worst retail choices, the other thing that blew me away was the bike infrastructure.

Blocked Bike Path

By infrastruture, I mean that there’s actually a bicycle path which is separate from the pedestrian area. As I said in earlier posts, if you combine it together, it becomes either a defacto parking lot path (as is part of the OB Bike Path) or a defacto dog walking path.

I have no beef with a path to get to a parking lot nor a quiet place to walk dogs.

I do, however, disagree that we can’t call a path “bicycle infrastructure” if it isn’t for bicycles as we can bicycle on most city streets, but we don’t call that “bike infrastructure”. Nor do we allow pedestrians on the freeway.

So, sure, mix it up, but I think that most of us are happier when pedestrians, motorists, bicycles, and trains all run on separate tracks.

I did think it was funny how people just stood in the middle of the bicycle path when the pedestrian path was much larger and the paths were clearly labeled. I just know that none of these people would ever call a cyclist a scofflaw nor suggest that they stay where they belong. 🙂

Overall, though, the families were a wake-up call that I needed to slow down so I walked my bicycle and enjoyed the view of the bay.

I finally did make it to my destination which was a party where I was by far, the least cool dresser. What can I say? I’m just not into clothes.

Since I didn’t know too many people, I played the games which were great social facilitators.

Many people introduced themselves.

dodge ball

Friendliness is definitely San Diego’s strong point.

Later on that night, we relocated to an undisclosed location where I made a few new friends talking about dog training, Melville, Camus, and Sartre.

Kopenhavn XI: Tivoli

May 25, 2011

I’m getting sick of my shadowboxing, argument posts so I’ll post some more memories of my wonderful trip.

We were last seen on the fortified castle.

As I crossed the moat, I thought, “there really was a time when a small swimming pool was enough to deter the military. Wow!”

Once on the island, the whole “compound” was smaller than I thought. The castle was beautiful and amazing, but I also thought that if I felt like I needed this to protect me, I certainly would have realized that I made a wrong turn somewhere in my life. Yuck!

Cecilia negotiated with the people in order to get us in the castle, but it turned out to be far too many Kroners, and not enough fun to be worthwhile.

So we had to figure out what to do next.

Nobody really knew what they wanted to do.

I normally would have expressed my idea, but the NYC couple only had a single day left so I deferred to them.

We finally figured out what to do and once again broke off into two groups: the bicycle group (me here!) and the bus crew (everyone else).

We rode to Tivoli which is a really, really old theme park.

Underneath the gaudy exterior is a beautiful old style park. The decorations are standard for theme parks with things like giant eggs (it was soon Easter) and so on.

There were even jungle noises in the bathroom. Only later did we realize that the whooping when you make a big one is not pre-programmed. We knew this because through Cecilia, of course, we met the art designer of Tivoli. So overall, the decorations of Tivoli were awesome. 🙂

In Tivoli, we had a traditional theme park time where we walked as couples, awkwardly like on first dates or something.

I did manage to swing some coffee ice cream which was great.

Otherwise, my princess and I, as huge intellectuals, didn’t really feel the need to engage in much of the park. It was more like anthropology (the field not the store).

Until, of course, the swings.

The swing set is a large spire that can be seen from far away from Tivoli. It’s like the Space Needle of Seattle (which doesn’t actually shoot you into space or anything). 🙂

For a few kroners, they will strap you into a swing. Actually you strap yourself in. The wires which hold the whole thing up have links that look like reinforced paper clips. The bars are cheap aluminum tubes.

I’m guessing that the shoddy workmanship is deliberate to make a routine ride insanely scary. All I could think of as we were brought up over the city was the links breaking. Well, I guess it was time to die.

Then they spun us which shouldn’t have been surprising, but I wasn’t paying attention. I immediately grasped my glasses.

So there I was with a perfect 360 degree view of Kopenhavn, and all I could do is hold my glasses and pray for the stupid thing to get my down before the wires broke.

Of course, I survived as did NYC couple who got me into this whole mess.

The rest of the day was an exercise in gratitude for still being alive.

Kopenhavn X: Bike and Castle

May 11, 2011

Next thing I knew, we started riding. Finally, I was living the dream and riding my bicycle in Denmark!

Marcellus noted that I had a huge grin on my face.

How could I not?

I started playing around on my bicycle riding really fast to pass Marcellus. The gentleman that he was, he was going to allow me to lead, giving me directions as I went, but I am used to following on a bicycle so I allowed him to pass me again.

The ride was amazing. I was passed by many older women as well as all stripes of people. Everyone looked so glamorous except for us three American dudes.

I had a feeling that everyone knew that I wasn’t from Denmark.

The ride was long, and when we got there, we were at a castle surrounded by a moat. We had to walk our bicycles through a park to get there.

I noticed that the trees had their tops cut off in a square shape so that each tree was exactly the same size.

When we got to the castle, they had a “no bicycles” sign which felt a little weird seeing how open they were about bicycles in other parts of the country.

We ended up chaining our bicycles to the bench while at the same time setting the internal locks on our bikes.

Then we closed over the drawbridge which was down and entered the island on which sat the castle.

Kopenhavn IX: A Bike of My Own

May 6, 2011

After breakfast, we headed outside where we were going to do some last minute touristing for the New Yorkers.

Since I was mainly there to see cycling, which I saw, and to ride bicycles which was going to happen, I was content to do anything. I really just wanted to spend time with Cecilia and her SO. I _would_ really have liked to see Hannah more, too, but that was not to be. Next time.

Once outside, Karina, one of the New Yorkers, wanted to take the bus instead of ride a bicycle again.

I was so excited! Now I would have a bicycle!

And I did.

It was a pink girls three speed with a really solid basket. I suggested to my SO that she get a basket just like it.

The bicycle was largely rusted and it felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. The handle bars were really short and dorky because it was stolen and this is the modification that the thief had made.

A thief with bad taste, imagine that.

The best thing about the bicycle was the internal lock which pretty much all bicycles (and none in the US have). I have no idea why we don’t explore this innovation in here. I know that it’s not a permanent solution, but it is great for many cases.

The lock helped Cecilia get the bicycle back.

She saw the bike in a park, and she bravely approached the rider and asking to try her key to the lock. When it fit, she asked for it back. She got it back without a struggle.

Stories like these make me like our friends even more!

Even before we got started, I rode back and forth behind the three story apartment building in the cute courtyard which was almost completely filled by a line of bicycles.

Beyond the courtyard, the neighbors had their laundry out to dry. Yet another sensible thing we almost never see in the US.

The sun was out and there was a light breeze. It wasn’t too hot nor too cold just like a typical day in San Diego.

Perfect day for riding.

Kopenhavn VIII: Feast

May 4, 2011

We woke up the next day late. This was a pattern that we had repeated for much of the trip: going to be early and sleeping in.

It wasn’t so much jet lag in that we were shifted in schedule, we were just exhausted all the time.

If figured that this was because we had been doing so much in San Diego that when we finally had a chance to not go to work and sleep in, our bodies took it.

I would have thought that I’d be so excited to be in Europe, but perhaps it’s because I’m older or perhaps Kopenhavn is just a really relaxing city. Who knows…

We tried to call Cecilia to no avail.

We rushed to get ready and went outside.

She was waiting outside.

Even saying “waiting” belittles what I saw.

If I hadn’t known her, she could have been waiting or she could have chosen to pose, next to her bicycle behind our building next to the brick wall because she was in a photo shoot. She could have just decided to stand there and smoke.

She looked so calm and happy as if standing there was the most natural thing in the world as if she could stand there, happily all day until she rode home or perhaps to a local pub.

Of course, by “happy”, I didn’t mean grinning or laughing, but merely a calm contentment.

She did smile when we got there then she apologized as she was sleeping late, too.

Was the entire city under some kind of sleeping spell?

We took another glorious walk to her apartment where they served us a large and continuously coming breakfast.

The dishes were too many to recount and too many to consume.

However, I did remember getting pickled herring in both curried and non-curried kind on rye bread. There was also salmon, but this time on a different kind of rye with some kind of special spread.

The rule was that all the dishes had be assembled just so and eaten in the proper order.

I’m usually not a slave to rules, but for some reason I felt it was important to stick to the script.

Of course, the food was delicious. The Danish diet was made just for me, I believe.

Kopenhavn VII: First Hangover

May 3, 2011

The night, we walked home early because we were exhausted.

We watched a little Danish TV which was fun, but strange. I don’t recall what we saw. The main things I recall from the whole experience was watching “Too Fast, Too Furious II” and a Danish Steve Irwin who spent most of his time smelling koala dung.

I did like the Danish, Irwin, better because he was a normal person. In contrast, his guest on the show was being an asshole as he let spiders crawl all over himself while he bragged at how dangerous they were. Idiot show off.

As usual, my SO when it comes to the sleep department. I wish I could view sleep as an “escape” or like a friend, have amazing dreams, but I don’t recall my dreams, and I wake up too soon.

Outside, there were bicycles, bicycles, bicycles and I wanted to join them, but I didn’t want to leave my love.

So I sat and read _The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech: A Detailed Commentary on Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva_ as well as _Reluctant Metropolis_.

I also meditated for a while and drank all the beer that the hotel kindly had provided.

I don’t know when, but I finally collapsed into my first Danish sleep.

I’m in Denmar

Kopenhavn VI: Meeting People

May 2, 2011

One of my favorite things to do is to meet people and this day was no exception.

Of the people I met, Mikel was one of the most out going. He talked to me as we walked back to the apartment.

He was an Americano-phile of which a lot of Danes apparently are. US cyclists love them; they love us. Sounds like a happy family.

Mikel talked about the fact that few Danes were early adopters of new technology which I thought was a good thing because it showed contentment, but because Denmark is such a small market, it was tough to get products with good Danish support.

From my own work, I know that this is true as Danish is not part of our original languages to translate the software into. Even Dutch would have been neglected except that one salesperson wants it.

We can’t neglect our bicycle loving countries!

The walk back was not too chilly as I had worn lots of layers, but like many Danes, Mikel just shivered in his fine suit.

Finally, we got back to the apartment where we were treated to a superfine home cooked meal by Cecilia’s husband.

We could taste why she keeps him around.

From then on, we talked mostly about books as we found out that Cecilia’s guests from NYC were also into writing. We even barely dodged an argument about the Oxford comma which I have strong feelings about as a fellow maven would realize by going back and looking at my longer sentences. 🙂

Kopenhavn V: Outdoor Pub

April 29, 2011

Of course, only a few hours in to our trip with a few drinks in us all ready, we headed over to an outdoor pub.

While walking over there, we walked down even denser streets which had many food stands on them. Kopenhavn smelled of hotdogs! Delicious.

My SO noticed that it wasn’t a sea of blondes nor even a sea of whites, rather there were differing types of people most of whom were speaking in fluent Danish which added to the surreal feel.

In one of the narrow alleys I even saw a place to meditate. How wonderful.

Finally, we go to a large square which was paved all in stones. The adjoining streets were quiet.

It was as if, in the middle of a large square someone had set up tables and chairs. All of them were filled with Cecilia’s friends.

We sat down and met everyone, who were super-friendly. Then we started drinking again. I didn’t even see where the beers were coming from.

I was especially to see Hanja and her boyfriend who would soon ride motorcycles across South America.

We talked about their trip as well as their finishing their thesis on bicycles in the San Diego and Barcelona.

Time went really fast, of course, and people slowly started to leave.

In the meantime, of course, I had to pee.

The bathroom was the best ever.

There was a spiral maze made from metal. In the center was a trough. I love the trough! I made many trips there.

This was one of my highlights of the trip as I adore novel bathroom technology.