First Dive on Bonaire

The first dive of a dive trip is always a nervous goofy messed up affair. Today is no different.

Hermit Crab, Bonaire

Hermit Crab strolling past the pool this morning.

We are packing the truck trying to get to the dive shop for around 9:00 to do our sign up, get tanks and do our check out dive. Oh! We forgot snacks and liquids. I run back into our unit. Oh! Mur doesn’t want to take his sunglasses and I forgot mine. We run back into our unit. OK, we think we have everything, right?

Our trip to the dive shop was easy. No video, no check out dive, just hand in papers, get our tanks and we are off. We decide to go to a dive site called “The Lake”. We miss the turnoff and have to double back. We get there and park and check out how we are going to enter the water. Looks pretty good, just some small rocks to walk over and around.


We set up our tanks, BCDs, regs and weights first. They go together pretty good this first time. Oops! Mur put his together with his tank backwards. It fits much nicer the other way. We fix that real quick.

Next are the wetsuits and booties. The suits are dry and mine is a touch hard to pull up. Hope no one is watching! Dive computers, cameras, masks. I spray the masks with our home made mask defogger of baby shampoo and water. Only thing is I didn’t make it strong enough and didn’t spray enough in, so it dries out fast and we are both fogged up by the time we get to the bouy. I will fix that tonight.


We don all our gear and trundle down to the water. We are standing in the water when I realize we haven’t turned on our air yet. Big OOPSIE! Get that turned on, double check everything else and off we go.

We have a pretty scenic dive for the first one. We see many old fish friends and even some new ones. Our rocky start to the day turns into the beginnings of a great day of diving.

Bait Ball, Bonaire

Bait Ball

PS Our subsequent gearing up for dives goes much much better than the first time. In fact, we get our process down pretty da** good.

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Debbie’s Pannier Contents

I thought I would share what I carried in my panniers while we rode through Denmark in case anyone out there needed help in deciding what to take on such a trip. I will divide my discussion into three parts – riding gear, street clothes and other stuff. Here I go.

Riding Gear

On a normal warmish day I would be wearing:

  • bike jersey
  • bike shorts
  • over shorts – looser longish street shorts
  • lightweight bike jacket
  • socks
  • bike shoes
  • helmet and sweat band
  • bike gloves
  • sunglasses
  • bike computer on my bike
  • 2 water bottles

In my panniers would be:

  • 1 bike jersey
  • 1 pr bike shorts
  • 1 pr bike socks
  • prescription glasses
  • rain pants
  • rain jacket
  • long fingered gloves
  • long legged bike tights
  • buff
  • armings

The only riding item I did not wear on this trip were the tights. It was not cold enough to wear them. The rain pants, jacket, long fingered gloves and buff were worn once and I was thankful to have them. Luckily we only got poured on the once, but we could have seen much more rain.

Street Clothes

Here is what was packed in my panniers:

  • 2 pr of pants – one technical, one linen
  • 2 long sleeved Icebreaker shirts
  • 1 short sleeved Icebreaker shirt
  • 1 short sleeved Tonder Music Festival Tshirt bought in Tonder
  • 1 pr heavy socks
  • 3 pr undies
  • 1 lightweight down jacket
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 toque
  • 1 baseball cap
  • 1 pr of lightweight walking shoes

When we cycle toured Prince Edward Island years ago, we got caught in the rain in our only set of street clothes, so on this trip I insisted we take two sets of street clothes. I used everything except the toque. If we had not been attending the music festival, I may have reduced the heavy clothing such as the socks and down jacket, but I needed the warmth for the evenings and cold weather, and they did get worn. I used my riding rain jacket as my street rain jacket.

Other Stuff

  • iPad with padded carrying case
  • iPhone – used for navigation only – Murray actually carried it in his handlebar pannier
  • camera – hung on handlebars in a small case
  • electronics bag with cables, battery chargers, ear buds etc
  • toiletries-soap, toothbrush/paste, moisturizer, sunscreen, shampoo, prescription etc
  • headlamp flashlight
  • plastic cutlery
  • wallet, passport, note book and pen
  • other liquids bag-laundry soap, cold meds, polysporin etc
  • sleep sack and inflatable pillow
  • knee support sleeve, tennis ball and wrist support
  • straps for converting small pannier to shoulder bag
  • 2 bike lock cables and locks
  • lunch for the day-apple, salami, PB, peanuts, chocolate, potato chips etc

All the liquids were in small bottles and Murray also carried a bag of liquids. He also had the “first aid kit”. Some items I did not use and they worked their way to the bottom of a pannier and other items were used everyday. We stayed in hostels 4 nights so used the sleep sack only 4 times and I used the pillow every night. Next time I might leave that at home and only stay in B&Bs as they were much nicer and cost the same.

We tried to keep the weight in my panniers between 20 and 25 pounds. The weight was distributed between the 4 panniers with the front having about 4 pounds each and the back each had about 8 pounds. The one thing we did that saved time when we got to Copenhagen was to make a list of exactly what goes in each pannier. In Copenhagen, I was able to lay out all the panniers and stuff very quickly using the list. Here is what my list looked liked.

I made one front pannier my “purse” which always had my wallet, passport and lunch etc in it. My rain gear was always packed in the same back pannier in close each reach if I needed it quickly.

Debbie Front #1 LEFT (Purse) Front #2 RIGHT
2 cables & locks toiletries
2 straps vitamins
electronics bag knee brace/tennis ball
notebook & pens down jacket
wallet sleep sack
passport towel
glutendairy pills flashlight
Debbie Back #1 LEFT Back #2 RIGHT
shoes iPad
bike shirt wool hat
bike shorts 2 pants
bike socks 2 long sleeve shirts
sunglasses 1 short sleeved shirt
gortex jacket socks
rain pants undies
armings scarf

There are items that could have been left at home, but I think I packed pretty lightly. Until next time……..

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Murray’s Pannier Contents

Murray’s riding gear and street clothes mirrored mine fairly well. He also had a second set of street clothes but did not utilize the clothing like I did and says he would definitely leave the extra pants, socks and one of the shirts at home.

He carried his Asus laptop and commented that he wished he had taken his iPad instead as the laptop made his pannier very heavy. He had the bike tools, pump and chain lube, so his weight was about 30 to 35 lbs total.

He had an extra pannier on his handlebars which carried his heavy SLR camera, the 360 degree camera, wallet, Tums, passport, notepad and reading glasses. The map and iPhone were in a plastic sheath on top of the bag.

Here is what was packed in each of his panniers:

Murray Handlebar notepadandpen
camera Mur reading glasses and case
iPhone theta
wallet toilet paper
Murray Front #1 Front#2
long fingered gloves socks
tights underwear
towel hat
pillow sheet
clothesline first aid kit
tums chargers etc
flashlight 1/2 liquids
1/2 liquids
Murray Back #1 Back #2
bike jersey pants
bike shorts collar shirt
light jacket Tshirt
shoes computer
tools toiletries
tubes wool shirt
rain jacket rain pants
puffy jacket
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Copenhagen in the Wind

Bikes in Copenhagen

Bikes in Copenhagen

Murray is on day two of his cold and I am on day five. He is feeling kinda sh**ty and I finally am feeling mostly human again. After checking the weather forecast, we bundle up and head out for a long walk.

The Opera House is our goal and along the way we make a few stops. We hear that we should stop in at the Treasury Building as it is something to see inside.

Treasury, Copenhagen

In the foyer of the Treasury

Treasury, Copenhagen

Gold Buillion

The foyer is stunning. A six story atrium very sparse and futuristic looking. They actually have a block of gold buillion in a case, that we could pick up, or try to. It weighs 12 kg. We both have to try, of course! Never touched a chuck of gold before!

By the time we walk to the Opera House, the wind is gusting to its forecasted 60 kph and is almost blowing us away. We are disappointed when we realize the building is closed.

Opera House, Copenhagen

Opera House

We wander slowly back to the hotel, stopping for a quick sushi lunch. Murray is losing power and needs to lay down. I find my little prize to take home – one coaster (for my bedside tea cup) of some funny looking Vikings created by Ib Antoni, a well known Danish illustrator.

We have to repack our three bags, not the bike bags thankfully, and we are set to journey home. Tonight we will go for pizza and ice cream, which is appropriate as we were doing Denmark by pizza mostly when we were cycle touring, so we might as well end with pizza. See you on the other side.



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Back in Copenhagen

We take a risk and fly Easyjet from Berlin to Copenhagen. Airfare was about $70. Amazingly, everything goes very smoothly, from the train ride to bus to airport, to clearing security to boarding and landing. We are diligent with their one carry-on bag policy, but noticed that there are people with two bags and folks with larger bags that had trouble fitting in the overhead bin. Based on our experience today, I would fly them again.

One comment we made after getting here is that we like the bike system here better than in Berlin. There are rules here. Bikes on the bike paths, not on the sidewalks. Cars yield to bikes and bikes yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. In Berlin, the bikes were everywhere, on the road, on the bike paths and on the sidewalk. They would zoom by us very closely and scare us most of the time. It is more organized here and predictable.

Speaking of bikes. I am glad to say that our bike bags, complete with bikes inside and a jar of peanut butter, and one suitcase we left in the luggage room at the hotel, were still here and intact.

We shop this afternoon!  Danish design is fantastic and I love looking at the kitchen stuff – streamlined, bright colours, elegant. I always like to pick up a scarf or earrings for myself on our trips, but I cannot find anything that says to me “I must come home with you!”

We have tomorrow in Copenhagen also so we will take in a couple of sites we missed when we were here two weeks ago. And maybe I will find a treasure to bring back as my own.

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Imposing Architecture

We walk from our hotel this morning towards Potsdamer Platz. It is cold outside, chilly enough that I wish I had gloves on.


As we walk and gaze up at the surrounding buildings, I realize that most of the buildings are massive. Massive and heavy looking. Massive and imposing. Can a building be massive and airy?

I think that maybe it is just those buildings around Potsdamer Platz and we will see some light airy structures further in our walk, but we don’t. The Reichstag (German Parliament) is even more imposing, but I guess if one building should be that way, it should be the main government building, to show strength and toughness and grit and a “Don’t mess with us” attitude.

Reichstag, Berlin

Reichstag, Berlin

Further along, we pass by the Opera. Tall, set up high, still imposing, but coral coloured. At least it is trying to be light and airy!

The Opera, Berlin

The Opera

The Berlin Dom is our next stop. Again…..huge. It warrants an inside view of the dome as I do not think I have seen a dome this large before, so we pay the 7 Euro and head in.

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

As I sit in a pew and gaze up and around. Gold glints off the ceiling, frescoes abound, the stained glass is brilliant. But I feel very tiny sitting there. God and the church are these huge things, and the populace are these itty bitty tiny things? mmmmmm.

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral

After a quick lunch of Bratwurst on a bun, we go for a walk down Karl Marx Strasse. It is an eight lane roadway, bordered on both sides by trees and tall buildings. The sense of scale, again, is massive. What I feel is missing is the volume of traffic, both vehicular and human, that the roadway can accommodate.  It feels very empty for the grandiosness. I think of the Champs Elysees in Paris and it is grand, and full of traffic and shops and people. This is not.

Building on Karl Marx Strasse

Building on Karl Marx Strasse

I think this is the one impression I will be taking back with me about Berlin, imposing architecture that wasn’t totally comfortable for me.

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Berlin Day Two

It’s 4:15 pm and raining in Berlin. I bail on Murray and come back to the hotel, while he walks in the rain to see the Bauhaus Archive building and a couple of other buildings. Too wet for me.


The day starts cool but dry, a good walking temp. We walk over the canal by our hotel and then to Checkpoint Charlie. If you need to locate tourists, go there. We don’t stay long, just long enough to look at a few info boards with photos from the days of the wall, snap a few pics and we are out of there.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

I find it rather ironic that the sign in the back of the photo of Checkpoint Charlie is, of course, McDonalds.

There are two places to view sections of the wall. We stroll by the first one where there is a display and a museum which talk about the wall.

The Wall

Our next stop is the AEG building that Peter Behrens, Gropius’ mentor before the Bauhaus started, designed. It was initially a factory and it is imposing, massive and amazing. Two, or more, story high windows. I feel very small and insignificant standing next to it.

Peter Behrens designed building

Peter Behrens designed building

We walk past the other section of THE wall and this one has displays about all the people who were shot trying to cross the wall. This part of the wall was built through a cememtary, requiring many graves to be relocated. It is a somber sight.

The Wall

The western Wall through the eastern Wall across no man’s land

Our art fix for the day is visiting the Berggruen Museum, which houses modern artworks by Picasso, Klee, Matisse and Giacometti. I love the tall thin figures of Giacometti’s sculptures and the colours used by Klee.

It is way past lunch so we stop in at Charlotte restaurant where Murray has Curryworst and fries and I have Weiner Schnitzel and fries. Curryworst is a large sausage with BBQ sauce poured over top and curry powder sprinkled on. The food is just what we needed.

Oh, a knock on the door…Murray is back already! I will pass the post to Murray now to finish off.

Bauhaus Archive

Bauhaus Archive

Few more Germany/Berlin thoughts. There are no speed limits on the autobahn. It is amazing how the cars fly along the highway. There is a big difference between Alberta and Germany that makes this possible. The roads are in fantastic shape. There are virtually no potholes even on the city streets, no bumpity bumps, no ridges caused by freeze thaw or temperature changes, nothing, the roads are smooth. Our road crews  should come take lessons from the Germans.

We thought we might have trouble using a credit card in rural Denmark so we brought a bit of extra cash with us. Traveled though the entire country and had so much cash left we lived most of our Copenhagen stint with Krone. Then we get to Germany, figure we should have no trouble using a credit card here. But, even in Berlin, the world class metropolis, most of the food establishments we have eaten in  take cash only, no cards, go figure.

Germany shuts down on Sunday. But we are in Berlin, city of the world, yes. No, this place is shut tighter than a drum. Half the restaurants are open, the museums and galleries are open but grocery stores, nope, malls, nope, corner stores, nope. Sunday is a day of rest here.

After saying we were having trouble finding people that speak English in Germany we hit Berlin. Folks from all over the world live here, people need to communicate with each other and English is the chosen language. Here it is unusual to meet someone that does not speak English.

Monday is gallery closing day so tomorrow is a day of sights.

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Metro Day

Debbie in the midst of a cold and not moving too fast so we plan a day on the metro. There are some things too far to walk to, like most of this city, so we work out a route and jump on the train.

A flea market is stop one. I don’t know if there is an equivalent at home but this is like a giant daily garage sale. In what was I think a parking area near the edge of the Tier Garten there are 4 or 5 very long rows of tent like structures. People rent these tents, I presume on a daily basis, and sell stuff. That is the best word I can come up with, stuff. You name it, it is there. Antiques of all description, clothing, some but not many handy crafts, CD’s and records, jewellery, stamps and coins, any kind of small stuff you can imagine, we even note a couple of folks selling old dental picks and mirrors. Weird thing is each of the stalls seems to have a theme. Like the CD guy is not selling any dishes, and the dishes person is not selling any clothing. And all the merchandise is ‘previously owned’. We wondered how the seller managed to amass great numbers of similar objects so they can then be sold. As I presume this type of venue precludes the need for garage sales they could get the stuff from estate sales or maybe folks downsizing or?????? As we progress through our day we discover this is not a one off thing, there is another flea market set up the same way in a section of town far to the south of the one we first go to.

The Berlin metro is amazing. We get off one train and our transfer train is there waiting. Must of known we were coming. The longest we have had to wait is for a bus. We did not know the bus times so we just went there and waited maybe 10 minutes. We zip around the city like we know what we are doing. We need two maps – one of the city streets and the other of the metro/underground train system. We freelance the buses and so far have done OK. We each take a map and sit every once in a while to coordinate.

Nachste halt, Pucklerstrasse. The street names sure are big in German, the locals don’t seem to have any trouble with this but it is hard for us, we go with the first 4 to 6 letters and get off at that stop, so far it has worked.

A couple of hundred meters from this bus stop are a two art galleries – the Brucke Museum and the Kunsthaus Dahlem. The Brucke was a group of artists active in the 1910’s in and around Berlin. I don’t ever recall hearing of them in any of my art courses but I found the stuff they did really cool. They worked in a time slightly after the Impressionist and more in the same time as the Expressionist painters in France and southern Germany. I don’t know how much, if any, contact they had with those groups but the work shows striking similarities. Not the same, just similar. It must have been something in the air at the time. Anyway neat stuff.

The second gallery building started life as an atelier commissioned by the Third Reich. It did go through several other changes but finally in the summer of 2015 it was opened to display post war German sculptures. I am not a big fan of sculptures, not that I dislike them but they don’t stir much in me, but I did like this display. Well worth the price of admission.

It’s Saturday night in the big city and two different symphonies are playing. Thought we should take in some music. We chose by building rather than program. The Konzerthaus Berlin was finished in 1821. It is a finely detailed hall, very different from the Bauhaus architecture we have been following that shuns any ornamentation at all. Even thought it was not a full time concert hall until 1994, it was fun to sit in a hall where concerts have been played on and off for a couple of hundred years. The sight lines did leave quite a bit to be desired. We sat high on the side of the hall and could only see about 1/3 of the orchestra.

The city is vast and it may be another tram day tomorrow. We’ll see.

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Stuff and Berlin

Everywhere we go both Denmark and Germany, except Dessau???, we see kids on field trips. Learning out of the school. Seeing what the world has to offer. And from what I can make they are not just one or two hour trips. The older kids are on buses checking into hostels and wandering the streets of the town in the evenings.

The play parks are, if you can believe it, dangerous. They have climbing apparatus 3M plus high with sand as a landing platform. You know sand that stuff cats actually might shit in, maybe. They have spinney things, not quite like our old merry-go-rounds but something you might get sick on. And there are no fences around the day cares. Oh I feel for the wimpy kids of North America.

English is not very prevalent in Germany. In Denmark it was unusual to run into someone who did not speak English, young, old it did not matter. Travel was exceedingly simple for us. We did learn a bit of Danish and tried to use it but anything complicated required we use English or charades. Here in Germany it is hard to find anyone that speaks English. Not even the folks involved with tourists are very good at it. Young, old again it does not matter. The kids are able to help out but still have to search for words and our conversations are stilted. It is not that people should have to speak English to satisfy our needs it is just that I find the contrast interesting.

I find Germans a little bit cold. Not all, it is just I found a few folks out and out refused to stop and help a lost tourist out. They walked by me as if I did not exist, not even acknowledging I had asked a question. From my Canadian perspective I found this extremely rude.

There are not a lot of panhandlers (beggars) here but there are a few. Two or three in Munich, a big city, and at least one in the smaller cities we have stopped at. The kneel at the edge of the sidewalk and not say anything, just hold out a hat. In contrast I did not observe even one person asking for money in Denmark.

Dessau at least the areas around the center of the city is not very well kept. The lawns for the most part are dead. Not one green blade of grass anywhere. The foliage is also very thin, there is as much dirt as dead grass. The weeds in the so called lawns however thrive and provide evidence that people do not cut the grass as those said weeds are a foot high. (the dead, yellow grass could be a result of this summer’s heat wave but we did not see that elsewhere)

Bathrooms in Denmark are an all in one affair. The toilet, sink and shower are in one small space. The drain is in the center of the room and curb to contain water is at the doorway. I remember this because I tripped over those curbs just about every time I entered the WC. In Germany every place we have stayed the can is on the North American model. The shower is contained with the drain inside the shower stall and the curb defines the shower stall. Odd.

As we traveled on the train from Munich to the north part of Germany we noted how with each village, town or city we passed the urban landscape is noticeably more industrial. The places are not as urbane, more of a country feel to the them. They, except where bombed to hell in WWII, look older. I’m not sure if they are not a well maintained of if they have replaced fewer of the ancient structures.

As we fly across the country side in a train we note little raised towers here and there. Not is any particular place or in any sort of order. When we were in Munich I noted one outside of R & I’s place. R told me the hunters used them in the fall. The climb up in the 1M x 1M blind and sit and wait for game to pass by. All Debbie and I can figure is the beer is too heavy to carry about wandering here and there like the hunters in Alberta so they pack in some beer and wait for the deer to cross close enough to have a shot at it.


We are now in a BIG city. No edge of town in sight. We rode the train from Dessau today and Debbie was astute enough to notice the train ticket, which we purchased to included the tram within Berlin to our hotel, was an all day ticket for 2. So we had a look at a couple of the far flung things we had to do and did those on a more or less free ride.

Hufeisensiedlung (Horseshoe Estate)

Hufeisensiedlung (Horseshoe Estate)

First stop is to see a neighbourhood designed by a guy named Bruno Taut. The center piece of the area is the ‘hufeisensiedlung’, the horseshoe estate. It is truly a great piece of urban design. There is a horseshoe shape building of flats with a green space the size of maybe 5 football fields in the middle. I think I could live there no problem.

I then headed to one of the main Berlin squares and walked back to the hotel. The small part of the city I saw is an interesting mix of new and old. Some with absolute no redeeming features what so ever and other places I had to stop in my tracks and admire.

Konzerthaus Berlin

Konzerthaus Berlin

Berlin is truly an international city. Sitting on the train, looking around there are people from every continent on earth in one tram car.

Looks like this place is going to take all of the energy we have left to explore it in the three days we have.

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In Search of Modern

In my humble opinion the Bauhaus and it off shoots are the root of all things ‘modern’. In the years from 1919 to 1933 the school developed a language for design of the future. The language has ebbed and flowed, changed and altered over the years but the underlying aesthetic is evident in everything considered and has been considered modern from that time forward.

The first years of the Bauhaus were in Weimar, but when the political climate became unfriendly to the progressive ideas being generated at the school, the director, Walter Gropius up and moved the school to Dessau.

Historic Employment Office, Dessau

Historic Employment Office

Today our journey continues thru Dessau. Starting at the Dessau Employment Office. It was built to help people find jobs in a depressed time. Efficiency was the foundation for the way it was laid out. Interesting building with skylights so natural light could reach the depths of the workspace and covered bike parking for the patrons. It has been renovated over the years and adapted for different uses but is still for the most part intact.

Historic Employment Office, Dessau

Historic Employment Office

Next stop the Bauhaus. A building designed to house the school itself with some attached student housing, and space for a vocational school. This is the piece de resistance. Again I have seen pictures of the building for many years and the 3D reality is quite stunning. As we go through the building we get the idea how many times it has been changed and close to destruction. Yet in 1976 the GDR set out to restore the building, in 1996 the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation set about to restore the school to as close to the original as possible and even though there have been some concessions it is remarkably close to what it was like when originally built. Access to the building is actually quite limited unless you join a tour (which on the day we have there is in German) but it is still exciting to walk the halls and see the place.

The Bauhaus

The Bauhaus

The masters houses are just a block or two away and are four stunning examples of Bauhaus design. Two of them were destroyed by the bombing raid of 1945 and have recently been reconstructed. The are NOT as the original but are buildings that reflect the design philosophy and are set up to stage art exhibitions. As we approached I was quite taken but as we got closer I realized the windows are not windows but opaque glass for letting muted light into the interior. And when we got inside I felt it was a total letdown as the spaces were monolithic and not residential like what so ever. Frankly not worth the time.

One of the Masters' Houses, Dessau

One of the Masters’ Houses

We go further down the row of house and the last five have been kept or refurbished to match the original buildings and contain some original furniture and some replicas of furnishings as they were in the 1920’s. This was truly mind blowing. The buildings and the way they are laid out could be any house designed and built today, 100 years after they were constructed. The furnishings are dated but the essence of today’s household is completely evident. I would move into one in a flash.

This week is about the Bauhaus and today was the keystone in the journey.

Kornhaus Restaurant, Dessau

Kornhaus Restaurant

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