Flags and kites

Reflections #7: Warnemünder Woche

With all the excitement from the Warnemünde Woche now finally dissipating, it’s about time I recall all my wonderful memories and tell you about them. The Warnemünde Woche, as you could probably guess, takes place in the busy tourist town called Warnemünde each year. Warnemünde is an active city anyways, but during this special week, there’s even more to see, do, and new things to try (on the culinary-side).

Giant wheels of cheese
Giant wheels of cheese

The action all begins July 1st . The beginning of July marks the grand opening of the so-called “Bummelmeile” ( “stroll mile”) along the historic “Alter Strom” (a small, busy channel that cuts into the mainland creating a harbor for small fishing boats, boat tourism and a highway for small shops and vendors along the waterfront).

Busy Ostmole
Busy Ostmole

My friends from the MSC (Marine Science Center–my work) and I crossed the River Warnow with the ferry on a daily basis to make our appearance at all these exciting events. Each day there was a new band performing at the stage beside the lighthouse. On Monday night we enjoyed the musicianship of the “Pirate Band”, AARRR!! None of us knew what to expect, but it all turned out to be pretty entertaining.

MSC chicas dancing to the "Bad Penny" band songs
MSC chicas dancing to the “Bad Penny” band songs

Another band we would recommend was the groups called “Bad Penny”. This band of local artists played German rock and some of the most popular English hits, creating the perfect environment to sing as loud as you wanted and to dance to the sounds. It probably seems funny to all the young folks in town, but all the music has to end by around 10pm here. This is a rule set by the local inhabitants, or so I heard. This is all because the majority of the people with permanent housing along the beachfront and old downtown are of older generations and have lived here the longest, which gives them seniority and more say in local decision making. I think many of the younger people in their early twenties and late teens, became a bit annoyed by this rule, since the music would often be over long before the evening sky actually turned dark. Warnemünde is so far North, the sky doesn’t turn dark until close to midnight during the summer. This has lots of pros, but also a number of cons. One big benefit I find is that you’re able to make the most of the day by spending as much time outside as possible. Even in the late evening, the city is busy with night life. Most bars around here have live music until early in the morning, some cafes and restaurants are open past the usual closing hours of 8pm, and in a city like Warnemünde, there’s always something to do along the beach.

Other exciting events to see at the Warnemünder Woche were the skydivers, sail boat races, dragonboat races, street performers, beach handball tournament, and other musicians and dancers. There was often so much going on at the same time, it was hard to decide what to do or see first.

Dragonboat racers getting ready for take-off
Dragonboat racers getting ready for take-off

There were hundreds of street vendors along the promenade each day. Some were local Imbiss booths, others were from far away. We tried “Langos”, a Hungarian specialty, crepes, German Bratwurst, candied almonds, Döner from a vendor from Turkey, real German beer and many other German delights.

Overall, I really enjoyed this eventful week. It was too bad that some of the events were canceled because of the weather. Had the weather been less stormy during the first couple of days, maybe it would have drawn even more visitors from Rostock and neighboring cities.

Festival der Kulturen

Reflections #6: Berlin–City of action and history

This past weekend I wanted to travel a bit. So I jumped on the next possible train to Berlin to see my family and to experience the “Festival der Kulturen”. It was a wonderful trip overall.

The Muegge Family on the Berlin side of the world
The Muegge Family on the Berlin side of the world
IMG_5336-300x225
Die Hakenburg

When I visited my grandparents’ house in Lichtenrade the weather couldn’t have been any better. My grandma and I went on a scenic bike ride along the “Berliner Mauerweg” (The Berlin Wall Trail/Path) and we almost made it to Potsdam (which would have roughly been a complete trip of 50 miles). Instead our trip was only 27 miles long…which was long enough. It was quite the rough ride since many of the paths are made up of the uneven, bumpy Backstein Pflaster. My grandma and I had a blast though.
I was able to take a picture of some old remains of the Berlin Wall, the Hakeburg, and some impressive memorials at the Südwestkirchhof (a large graveyard in which some of Germany’s famous writers, nobles, and other nations heros rest in peace).

Reflections #5: Interesting Innovations

Sandburg

I have heard and seen robotic vacuum machines, but never have I
seen this–a robotic lawn mower! After a long day outside, eating another Mohnschnecke, enjoying a scoop of gelato, going to basketball practice with Dirk Stenke, going swimming in the ocean, and looking at the artistic sand sculptures at Pier 7; I finally made my way back to Hohe Düne.Robotic lawn mower


Taking a different route back home, I explored the “Hohe Düne Hotel” complex and found, to my amazement, multiple robotic lawn mowers speeding across the grass on site. It’s pretty facinating to see them in action. I believe they can sense when and where the lawn stops and if there is something (an object or animal) in its anticipated path.

I was also happy to find a work-out or fitness parkour on the complex which I’ll be sure to use this upcoming week. It was another great day overall. Almost a little bit too warm for my taste, but as long as I could cool down in the chilly ocean water, it was pleasant.

Wavebreaks

Reflections #4: Taste the Happiness

German culinary art is outstanding. People come from all over the world to try some of Germany’s most admired cultural venues. I most admire the baking tradition here. It is hard to miss the “Bäckerei” or “Café” signs at almost every street corner. Here, people can satisfy their appetite by trying the more tradition breads (Vollkorn-, Dinkel-, Weißbrot etc.), rolls (my favorite are Laugenbrötchen), and then there are the pastries. Yesterday I tried a “Mohnschnecke” and brought it down to the beach for a sweet afternoon snack. It was absolutely delicious. It’s a dessert that contains a poppyseed filling and has a sugar glaze on top. The one I tried yesterday was a bit dry, but I’ve had numerous other ones that were made to perfection (sweet, light, and containing just the right amount of moisture so you didn’t need an additional drink to accompany the pastry).

Mohnschnecke
A delicious Mohnschnecke. Took 5 minutes to buy, 1 minute to devour.

As mentioned, I spent most of the afternoon along the ocean front. Here the locals flock the beach starting as early as sunrise, the tourists take wind- and regular surfing lessons, and others simply enjoy the weather with their friends and family. The fun lies in catching the waves! The water fronts here are fairly calm (probably due to soft and hard armoring along the coast), without big waves that you can use to surf. Nevertheless, people wait along the shore until the occasional wave hits.

Scandlines cargo and passenger ship
Scandlines cargo and passenger ship

This happens everytime a big freight ship or cruise ship enters or exits the harbor close by. As soon as one wave breaks at the beach, a mass of surfers runs into the water. It was pretty entertaining to watch. What I also liked as I walked along the “Promenade” that stretches parallel to the beach, were the numerous kites flying up high. People here really take advantage when a day of nice weather reaches Warnemünde and the surrounding towns.

Flags and kites
Flags and kites
beautiful sunset

Reflections #3: Ferry this, ferry that

Traveling by boat sounds time consuming, but really it really isn’t in this niche of Germany. Although I live in Warnemünde (GER), the only way to quickly get to downtown Warnemünde, is by boat – specifically by ferry. At first I thought buying the occasionally ferry ticket would be enough, but I’ve come to realize that I’m better off buying a pass for the entire month, which also covers the bus system and S-Bahn system in the entire area considered part of Rostock. On a regular basis, I take the ferry across the channel to the other side, where all the action is.

Today was an exceptionally beautiful day here. We had an average temperature of about 73 degrees and only a slight breeze. On my way home, after going to go workout in downtown Rostock, I took some fantastic pictures of the horizon as seen from the ferry. It was absolutely stunning.

Big ship

Tomorrow is a special day over at the docks. Once in a while when multiple big cruise ships leave the harbor, there is a type of “going-away” celebration at the harbor front. Mostly there are lots of small food stands selling Bratwurst, beer and ice cream (or so I have been informed), but there will also be some fireworks later on in the night. One of these huge ships was anchored in the harbor all afternoon, and although I didn’t think it would leave so soon, it departed by the time I returned to Warnemünde.

I’ll keep you posted if I end up going to the Board Party tomorrow. For now it’s, Gute Nacht (good night) und bis Morgen (’til tomorrow).

Copenhagen_garden

Reflections #2: Getting there isn’t always as easy as it seems

For those of you who travel a lot, you will easily be able to relate to my experience. Even those who don’t travel, yet have a busy schedule based on specific appointments, meetings, and events, you will also be able to know how I felt on my trip from San Francisco to Rostock, GER. It had all been planned out perfectly: fly from San Francisco to Chicago, from Chicago to Copenhagen (Denmark), and lastly, take the ferry from Gedser (100km from Copenhagen) to Rostock (Germany). However, this plan did not go accordingly. It was edited multiple times before my plane ever took off from San Francisco, and even while I was in the air, changes continued to be made. Here’s my advice to fellow travelers: always be prepared for the worst and value changes as opportunities, not predicaments.

First off, being prepared can save you time and trouble. My family is used to preparing for long trips. So, before saying my goodbyes I was handed a huge Ziploc bag full of chocolate goodies, cut apples and carrots, and a warm mug of tea to take to the airport. I’d never think this snack bag would come in handy, but it actually saved me from times of despair. Due to weather problems over the Chicago airport, my flight that was supposed to leave from San Francisco at 10:20am ended up boarding, and being delayed for 3 hours. Since I hadn’t been able to check-in to my connecting flight in Chicago, I was getting a bit uneasy as the minutes kept ticking away, and one delay announcement followed the next.

Finally, I couldn’t stop worrying about potentially missing my flight, so I spoke up. Communication is the key. Talking to the stewardess initiated other ideas…like, why don’t the pilots get another snack. As a result, the crew announced that all passengers had the options of deplaning and since I wasn’t able to get Wi-Fi on the plane, I gladly jumped on this opportunity to check-in to my next flight. By the time our plane actually took off, I had called my next airline provider, checked-in online, eaten all of the chocolate treats, sent out a few emails and felt very accomplished.

Talking about changes in planes, the worst was yet to come. Realizing that Gedser was too far away from Copenhagen to allow me to catch my ferry on time, I had to make a quick decision–it resulted in canceling my ferry reservation and booking a flight from Copenhagen to Berlin. Flying to Berlin meant that although I would arrive in Germany, I’d still be a bus ride and train ride away from my final destination. All went well though, and talking to people who were experienced at the airports helped get me from one transition point to the next.

Also, whenever you travel, make the most out of each opportunity given to you to explore a new place, do something out of the ordinary, or learn something about the people and the cultures around you. Before I even set foot on the plane to Chicago I learned something everyone should know about San Francisco’s airport: the people there are genuinely nice. That’s a characteristic not every airport can boast about. Not only were the people at the gate happy to assist me by printing my next boarding pass, they even gave me suggestions while I was frantically trying to find the toll-free number for my next airline provider.

If you’ve never flown with Virgin America, I’d like to suggest trying their services next time you book a flight in the US. They had excellent service and the most comfortable seats I’ve ever sat in on a plane—now, now…of course I’m not talking about flying first class!
Try to avoid the Chicago O’Hare airport if you’re flying in the Midwest. The chaos you’ll encounter is normal there but it’s very difficult to find good affordable food and the corners that have free Wi-Fi are hard to find.

Traveling in Europe is easy—both physically and as well as it’s easy on your wallet. One of the nice things about flying within Europe is that they don’t usually charge you for checking in your first piece of luggage. If you travel by bus in Germany, you’re almost guaranteed to get where you want on time. This also holds true for the train system in Germany. Everything is wonderfully punctual.

Taking a short-cut across the channel
Taking a short-cut across the channel

Overall, I’m glad I safely made it to Warnemünde, Germany (it is a city on the outskirts of Rostock). I’ll keep you posted about the life of marine biologists here at the Marine Science Center and about the culture of Germany and the people of the Baltic Sea!

Category 3 Women's Podium, Courtesy of Chelsea Summer Brown

Turlock Road Race

I was thrilled it didn’t rain at all for the race. The weather forecast people lied (but what’s new). Joined Evan and Co. for the early morning ride to Turlock, had a good warm up and was off to the starting line right on time. Still, I need to get used to showing up a bit earlier since there are always those announcements. Missed them, but oh well. Just then, I also realized they had combined the P/1/2/3 racing fields simply due to numbers. My plan for the race was to stay in the front group and to see how things developed. This would be my longest RR (46.5 mi) so I was especially excited. I like the last road race I did (Bariani) so I was hoping for another enjoyable race.

The field moved out at a really slow pace and no one chased after the one Metromint girl who created a big gap for herself. I kept calm and quiet and didn’t make any efforts to change the pace or close the gap. Truly just sat in for the entire first lap. It was actually pretty annoying how slow the pace was. It sped up when we got to the prime section but then it went back to the same old pace. Actually, I think the pace did speed up when one of the Cat 1 girls, I had raced with at OTF, took the reigns. Slowly the Metromint girl was pulled back into our midst.

When we reached the feed zone I handed one of my empty bottles to Evan’s dad but told him I didn’t need anything since I really wasn’t working hard. The second lap was much the same as the first. We almost had two crashes due to the course marshall on the motorcycle. He told us to go single file 2x to let the men pass and by doing so he completely killed what little momentum we had. The second time it was really inconvenient since he slowed us as we were descending and getting ready for one of the longer climbs.

Turlock Road Race Course Profile
Turlock Road Race Course Profile

The tempo sped up a lot on the last couple rollers. A few ladies made attacks, but they didn’t last long (it did show me how much power many of the riders had left in their legs). I knew I had to quickly get up to the front if I wanted a chance at placing. Right after the puddle section I took to the outside and made my way to the front of the group (was positioned in the top 5 riders). It was good since people rushed out of the final 90 degree turn and more attacks happened in the last 2 miles before the finish. I was in the front with 200m to go and went for it. The finishing straight is a false flat which was just perfect. I went for my sprint, pushing the usual big gear (I know I need to work on being more efficient with my lower gears :) ). Head down, pedaling fast, I suddenly heard the terrible sound of carbon bikes becoming roadkill. A couple riders went down (or at least that’s what it sounded like). I turned my head to check, couldn’t tell what had happened, turned to the other girls on my left and shouted “do we keep going?”…argh, what a lousy beginner’s mistake. The girls on the left just started pedaling faster. I realized my mistake and tried to sprint back to first. Lost my stupid first by an inch (AGAIN!). Happy I didn’t crash, but mad I didn’t get first. In the end, I should be happy with my result. Got second place and got a big jar of honey. Now it was off to another 2.5 hour ride home and to rest for Sunday’s Santa Cruz Crit.

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