Monday, July 10, 2006

Pfaffing about

I've made it to Linz in Austria. It was a short ride compared to the last one. Only about 90km. I'm sure Ianto would scoff at such a measly effort, but in the heat of the German summer, the lack of a yellow guernsey and the unforgiving traffic, I'm sure the rest of you would understand. The German/Austrian additions of bike paths besides their main roads is an excellent idea. Too bad they change sides of the road every 2 km or so and sometimes, completely disappear altogether.

I managed to say goodbye to most of the girls before I left. Those i missed out on: Bye.. If you're ever in Australia and need a place to stay, let me know and I'll see what I can manage.

I feel a bit useless doing this travel thing now. Not that I'm about to stop, but I see all these super intelligent people studying really hard and I feel like my degree was a bit of a waste of time. I want to something a bit more practical, like mechanical engineering or carpentry. Something I can use my hands with. But I think the biggest problem with my degree other than the degree itself, was that I procrastinate I'm lazy, over opinionated and have a healthy fear of failure.

Talking about fears, I think I have found one of my irrational fears. Water. I went swimming yesterday with Simone and a small posse from the house, we only had one car (A Ford 'Ka', like Aliese's), so only 5 people could go in squishy comfort. We climbed a hill to access an old quarry that had filled up with water over time. It was beautiful in its own way and I kicked myself for not bringing my camera. The water was beautiful and warm, but I found that soon after my feet weren't able to touch the bottom, a slight panic came over me. At first I didn't realise what it was and thought I was just fatigued, swimming back to the shore so I could walk around and meet the others on the opposite bank. While I walked around, I thought back to the other times I've been swimming and realised that every time I'm faced with water too deep to see or touch the bottom, I start freaking out. This was a little embarrassing to admit to the others, but they were cool about it and swam with me on the return trip to our beach. I still got a bit freaked out by it, but because I knew what was happening and could see the others close by, I made it. I guess this stems from two incidents; the first being with my sister at Semaphore beach, where I remember us both getting caught in a rip (help me out Jo, my memory is fuzzy), and some guys in a dingy pulled us out of the water. And the second was when I was about 9 at the Parks Community Centre. I dived from the 5 metre tower into the outside pool, wearing goggles and snorkel, ready for some Jacque Custo adventures, completely forgetting that I couldn't swim. After thrashing about and swallowing a whole bunch of chlorinated water, some life guard type person pulled me out and made sure I was ok. I've also had troubles with my ears, which makes me paranoid about swimming. And I thought I was invincible.

On the way today I stopped at a bike shop just outside of Passau. The guy who worked there was super friendly and had exactly what I needed (new tyres for the trailer, which are impossible to get without ordering them). While he was fixing a spoke on one of my wheels, he said that he liked riding bikes because it was a good balance between body and tech. The tech of the bike appeals to the gadget side, the effort required to get something out of riding appeals to the body side. A really simple philosophy which I can easily relate too.

Some cool stuff I saw on the way to Linz but didn't take photos of:

* A big statue of a man made of roof tiles and ornaments. Looked cool but would have probably given me nightmares when I was a kid.
* A train that looked like a truck, which I misjudged the distance of and nearly walked in front of.
* Several people all working a farm semi-nude. It looked straight from a WOLFing website gallery.
* Back streets and little breweries in people's sheds.
* My trailer flipping over for the first time, almost spilling its contents in front of oncoming traffic.
* The dead boarder crossing, no longer needed thanks to the European Union.
* The last 10kms to Linz, which turned into a by the river sprint. Lovely stuff.

I'm staying with Martyna (Poland) and Fernando (Portugal), who both met in France six years ago and are now married. Martyna is doing her PhD at the Institut for Semiconductor and Solid State Physics, and Fernando works as a web programmer from home. They are just another example of the fine people you meet through Hospitality Club. When I said "danke" to Fernando for letting me stay, he said there was no need to struggle with speaking German as he doesn't speak a word.

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