Bike luxury

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I made one of my wishes come true this week! Ever since some sneaky sneaky thief stole my much loved bike in 2011 in Bremen, I’ve been wanting to have a bike front basket again. Because I do transport lots of things on those two wheels, I now treated myself to the not-so-cheap Klickfix system which allows you to ‘click off’ the basket if you want to take it into, say, the Aldi store (since after buying the Klickfix you can’t afford any other supermarkets).

One of the things I always pass by on my way to work is the Miele store. As you most probably now, Miele is a large German company selling white goods, especially washing machines. Recently, they visually enhanced the distribution box outside their store (I think at least that that is what is is) – in such a smart and fun way and in such accordance with their brand, I had to stop to photograph it:

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The good, the bad and the cold

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Our office dog Emma has a jacket to stay warm.

What do you consider cold weather? If you are my bike, then you believe -8 degrees Celsius is inacceptably cold. I know this because my bike froze in the beginning of this week. Düsseldorf has been experiencing much colder temperatures than in December but still, a bike’s brake and gears should not freeze at minus 8 after standing outside for one hour if you ask me. Somehow the cold does, though, feel much colder down here than it ever did in Sweden or Hamburg. Maybe it’s because there, I retreated into the comfort of heated public transportation while in Dizzel, I relentlessly bike even though the upper part of my right pinky hurts so much that I think it might have frozen off.

With the cold, the work came back. After a December that was so calm it started to get boring, mid-January has presented me with a full to do list again. Our next event is coming up in only one week in Berlin which will also give me the chance to meet my friend Annelie’s new baby for the first time. (After the two-day-event, not during. I doubt the baby is particularily interested in discussion about refugees’ integration into work life.) Then there is the new issue of our magazine coming out (I have driven through a layout change and really hope it will look fabulous, and also I am editing all incoming texts now because of my die-hard-love for readers) and I have initiated the first planning of the 15 year jubliee of our youth chapter. Blank pages of all kinds, that’s the projects that really spark my enthusiasm. 

If only I didn’t have so much stuff to do with my apartment. Yesterday I transported two IKEA items on my bike. The point with ordering from IKEA was that I do not have any car. But the delivery man came at 12:16 when people like me (and apparently my neighbours) work, so he left it at the post office. Great. Thanks. You know how annoying it is when you cannot even go on the sidewalk because the stakes on the streets are narrow and your package is 3 metres long? Well, at least I managed to get the stuff home and I even assembled the Billy book shelf all by myself. It took 90 minutes. Building IKEA stuff is not one of my foremost talents.

Meanwhile, I am desperately trying to find curtains (if you have 6 metres of only windows, that is a challenge), am fighting with the moving company and am trying to get fixed what they messed up (like a hole in kitchen countertop).

And then there is this immense urge to bake soft gingerbread, a recipe I got from my friend Michelle’s mom. As a Catholic, you can always say Christmas Time is until Candlemas (February 2nd). And my colleague already said she still has glögg left…

 

Hamburg by bike

By the street, at the lake

By the street, at the lake

You never quite understand a city before you have cycled in it. You do not grasp the dimensions and you cannot see the connected streets from the metro. I still remember how I suddenly noticed the shortcuts in Stockholm when I imported my German bike.

So now I finally got a decent bike in Hamburg. Pernille is pretty but somewhat of a difficult partner in traffic, I had to learn. She is the short-distance-guest-bike now. As a Christmas gift, my parents bought me a used bike off ebay that is old but working very well (so far, do not praise the day before the evening as we say in German as a hatched-chicken-version).

The bike, so far nameless, and I took a tour to church on Sunday in bright daylight and lovely weather. Encouraged by that, I dared to cycle to work yesterday. First thing I did was take the wrong bridge and go a huge detour.

Hamburg is the biggest city I have ever biked in and I stared at the cyclists ignoring the red lights in amazement. Not that I have never crossed a street illegally, but usually that was when I felt I was in control of the traffic. In Hamburg, I’m more cautious for now.

Yesterday, I was wet to the bone when I arrived at home because Hamburg weather is, at least in January, not really bike weather. Still, my route is one of the nicer ones. On the way by the water, my brain quickly started matching streets, sights and places to Stockholm.

I go down the entire Norr Mälarstrand (An der Alster) and look at the large lake (Alster). Then I continue on Strandvägen (Ballindamm) and pass Hotel Diplomat (Le Royal Meridien) and the Grand Hotel (Hotel Atlantic). I cross Stadhuset’s square (Rathaus), pass the lively Drottninggatan with all its shops (Mönckebergstraße). The last part leads through either 2012’s Centralstationen (basically, an annoying construction site) or alternatively through Centralbadsparken (a tiny park, Michelpark).

Today I chose not to cycle. Typical for Hamburg, a storm drew in. Trains are not running regularly anymore and authorities warned for three storm floods tonight and on Sunday…

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My tragic love story

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No, I am not talking about the tragic aspect of, as a potential immigrant, loving a country that has voted for a party that rejects immigration. That, too, is a tragedy, but I want to report on a more mundane new love.

Since weeks, maybe even since I moved here, I wanted to buy a bike. I sold my beloved Bremen bike to Martina in Stockholm before I left, thinking that I could find a new bike in Hamburg. Well, it proved more than difficult. I went through numerous bike stores, spent weekends on flea markets and checked ebay. It was only when my friend Wiebke who seems to be a lucky charm accompanied me to the Schanzen flea market. We had only walked one metre when I caught of her, my new friend. I must admit I fell mostly for her looks, something that should get back at me. But who can resist that color! Wiebke and I walked across the entire market to make sure there was no better one, and there wasn’t. I paid the money they asked for and took her with me. I decided to name her Pernille to honor my new Danish affinity.  Pernille did not have a lock so I had to walk into and through the mall with her and buy an expensive lock. As I cycled home and the wind blew through my hair in the autumn sun, I was happy.

Until Pernille started to become very hard to pedal. I checked and found that her wheel was not going straight. Just a small thing, I thought and took her home. The next day I travelled on a crowded metro with Pernille for an hour to Evelina’s place and we tried to fix her – without success. Today I rushed from work to take her to the bike store. They fixed the wheel and said the handlebar was not compatible with the bike and the chain was loose. Then the guy in the store said the cruel, tragic words, “You couldn’t have seen that as an ordinary person at the flea market, but I would not invest another penny into that bike.”

I really like Pernille but this took hard on me. I fear our relationship will be short. So if you are a kind person and have a bike somewhere in your basement that you do not need, let me know. I must be prepared for the day Pernille breaks up with me.