Three Special Couples on My Turn to Munich


I dig twist of fate moments in life –like when a man dressed in wonderfully humorous bavarian cycle wear stopped to ask if I needed assistance. I asked his opinion between two routes towards Munich. He suggested the one that turned out to be a beautiful ride on mostly trails through forested area and along rivers and lakes. Given my surroundings, I opted for another undesignated camping area and set up my tent as close to one can possibly get without actually being in the river. In the end, it was actually too close as I surprisingly found myself having difficulty sleeping as the rushing river sound was so loud that I kept dreaming about my tent flooding and floating away. I was out of sorts cycling the next day, but ended up talking to a nice older man, Gus, on bicycle too He said was on his way for a swim at a nice lake, and offered to show me the way if I might like to head that way too. I thought it might be the lake I was looking for so I followed him. Turned out it was the wrong lake, but we had a nice visit any way.  It was indeed a lovely little lake, and I introduced Gus to peanut-butter, honey & banana sandwiches. He told me that he had been married fifty years and had four children, and lots of grandchildren. I got thinking about the fifty years –that is longer than I have been alive. That’s a long time. He said, “we fight and laugh a lot.” Ha!


I eventually made it to another pretty, but much larger lake area, Ammersee, within an easy day cycle from Munich. After setting up camp at a legit camp place, I headed to the lake for a drink and to write. A super nice local German couple (Couple 1), Inga & Guenther, ended up sitting at my table. Married for more than twenty years, they had done many cycling vacations through the years, and continue to do so. They fly with their bikes to a destinations, and then cycle and stay in hotels…never are the particular routes or hotels planned. I really enjoyed getting to know them and hearing their tales, again often of human-kindnesses that happened along journeys. After chatting for quite a while, they very sweetly invited me for coffee and breakfast, and to stay if I liked. So nice! I was already set up at the campground, but I liked the idea of joining them in the morning. Who knew it was going to rain…and the I would fail to set up my tent properly! At around 4 am, I found myself in a pool of water! Need-less-to say, my breakfast invite, turned out to be very helpful as my belongings went into their dryer as we nibbled. The breakfast of fruits, cheeses, meats, and yogurt was beautifully laid out in their flower filled sun room attached their cool Bavarian style home decorated lovingly with unique collections of items from pocket watches to unusual smoking pipes to accordions! It turned out that Guenther plays the accordion, and he broke one out during our morning meal.


I opted to stay another day in the lake area and give my Munich friends (who were just returning from the US) a day to rest before having to deal with me. Inga asked if I might like to see the town of Landsberg not far away. Even though I knew I should have used the day for writing, I could not resist the invite. It’s such a treat when nice locals show me around. We had fun wandering through the quaint old town set on a hill and along a river, and sampled local eats and drinks. Guenther decided to bond with Steel while we were gone, and had him totally lubed up when we returned. How thoughtful! Steel and I were most appreciative as his right break was not working properly, and the grease did the trick. After, we went for a pizza dinner. My first in Germany and it was really good…even if the pepperoni turned out to be pepercini. Ha!


In the morning, I dropped by again to say goodbye to my new friends before Steel and I made our way to Munich. It was a sweet, rather emotional, farewell as Inga tied a pretty little rose and ribbon to Steel, and gave me a little stuffed bear in lederhosen keychain (which I totally needed), and a perfect sized backpack to replace my failing one that I use for groceries most days. It was hard to say goodbye, but I feel confident we will meet again. They are overdue for a US trip, and we have plans to roller skate in Golden Gate Park!


I was off to Munich and a visit with Couple 2: Riia and Elahu. Riia is from Finland, but we met a few years back at Ohio University -more specifically, when she boldly opted to join a couple of friends and me on a long weekend road-trip to Chicago. She had just arrived to do a post-doc at our school (like the day before), so she did not know any of us. I was impressed by her “go-for-it” spirit, and we all had a great trip. The last time I saw Riia was in San Francisco for a conference a year ago, and she was just getting ready to marry Elahu, a super cool sweet fellow that she obviously fraternized with in the lab at OU. Riia and Elahu, a home-grown Ohioian, no sooner married, and then took jobs in Munich, Germany –hence the cool reunion. Occasionally in life I think couples are great matches. Well, here you go, Couple 2 are great -the most fun-loving Ph.D scientists you’ll ever meet! You would start to roll your eyes if I tell you all the mushy sweet bits that I observed between Couple 2, but really the impact was inspiring and hopeful. It’s nice to see couples really enjoying one another. We had a great visit, and I was super impressed by the homemade killer risotto they whipped up one evening for dinner. I made it to the largest bier garden in Munich (perhaps the world?) and I had the largest beer I’ve ever seen….1 liter (that’s like… a lot!). Then I did sort of a strange thing.


I was having such a nice time hanging with Riia & Elahu that my motivation to get on the road was lacking. So the day I left, I did not actually get packed up and rolling (destination Austria!) until about 3:30 in the afternoon, and there was a call for rain. I knew it would be an ordeal finding my way out of Munich, and my friends strongly encouraged me to circumvent downtown Munich, which of course, is exactly where I ended up. After some circling and back-tracking, I eventually hit the eastern outskirts just as the skies turned dark and winds started to blow. Bring on Couple 3!


As the rain started and I struggled to lock up Steel in order to duck into a pub, a friendly English couple chatted me up. They were heading into the same watering-hole in the fine city of Hohenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn. Dee and Roger invited me to join them. Well wouldn’t you know, they just so happened to have biked together around the world two years prior! I had never met a couple who had long-distances together, nor anyone who had circumnavigated the globe. When I returned from the bathroom, a beer was awaiting me and I had a great time listening to their tales. They shared great stories of human kindnesses, and in unexpected places like Iran. Dee commented, “It’s always the people who have the least that seem to give the most.” I most agree. Couple 2 was not in Germany on a holiday, rather Roger’s father had passed, and the funeral had happened a couple days prior. His pops was living in Hohenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, which Roger shared had a claim to fame as being the city with the longest name in Germany. Indeed! They invited me to dine with them too, but after a two hour chitchat, I knew I had to get on the road. It was already 8:30 pm, and the sky had cleared again. I cycled on for another 2 hours thinking about the three impactful, inspiring couples I had met that week. When I could no longer see the road (no such thing as street lights in German countryside), I took shelter in some random woodsy area and slept very soundly. Austria here I come…

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