Change is Good
Yesterday’s post is arriving a little later than usual, and here it is. To be honest, while I enjoy writing late at night, I don’t always have the energy to collect my thoughts and produce something digestible at the end of the day. I feel rushed to produce something, which leads me to think there’s something missing as soon as I hit Publish.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to shift to a new writing schedule by publishing my post on the following morning for the previous day’s experiences. Now that I have a working kettle in my Airbnb, I’ll recount the previous day with a cup of coffee (à la my AeroPress) with the rising sun. Poetic.
After my morning cup of Joe, I tidied up around the apartment to get things organized and clean. While there’s plenty of space, I like to put things in sensible places (”everything has a home”). Surveying the pantry and refrigerator, I made a list of items that I needed to buy from Rewe, one of the large discount market chains in Germany. The store is right around the corner, so it’s a 6 minute walk max (with some fun inclines).
Based on my observations so far, I believe grocery stores in Germany are the busiest on Saturdays. Given that almost everything is closed on Sundays, the only day on the weekend to grab groceries for the coming week is Saturday, which makes the supermarket one of the hottest spots in town. I was one of many shopping for the upcoming long weekend (May 1st is International Workers’ Day and a holiday in Germany).
I grabbed the usual goods: cereal, cheese, milk, bread, fruits, Nutella hazelnut spread. Now that I have a much larger fridge (with a freezer), an oven, a stove, and more pantry space, I also got eggs, pasta, sausages, and a bunch of random snacks, with beer. I’d like to cook at home more often, and not have to rely on eating out every day of the week.
Unfortunately, while I was shopping, a jar of cherry yoghurt rolled out of my basket and broke on the floor, shattering into pieces and spilling yoghurt everywhere. I felt horrible, forgetting that many goods in Germany are packaged in jars. An employee cleaned up the scene of the crime, and I learned my lesson to either get a shopping cart for more space, or place jarred items at the bottom of the basket.
Hunting for a Bike
After schlepping my groceries home, I poured myself a glass of orange juice, and got online to find a bike shop that offered rentals or sold used bikes. It was slim pickings. I couldn’t find a store that would rent bikes or sell used bikes. The explanations I got were that since Covid, no one rented bikes due to limited demand. Instead, bike shops focused on selling new models where the real demand was, which also meant they didn’t sell used bikes (that didn't make sense to me, because that is a natural secondary market, but I didn't question it too much). After searching around the Stuttgart radius, I turned to Facebook Marketplace and Ebay.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought great things on Facebook Marketplace and Ebay in the past and had no problems. But I had a hard time trusting the results I was finding. For example, someone on Facebook Marketplace was selling a 2023 Trek Emonda for 91€. This bike normally retails for ~2500€, especially a brand new model. That seems shady for me. Another person was selling a decent BMC SLR for around 500€, but he was located about 100km from Stuttgart. I didn’t have the energy or desire to go out that far just to get a bike.
Maybe it’s the fact that the great Classics Cycling races are currently wrapping up in Europe or maybe it’s the upcoming legendary tours (the Giro, Tour, and Vuelta), but I decided to drop into the local bike shop. I found a store near the main city center. I stopped to grab a fried chicken sandwich from Burgerheart on the way.
Talking to one of the shop employees, it was clear that the dominating choice should be a gravel bike. A gravel bike looks and feels like a road bike if you like to use dropped handlebars to go more aero (I do!), but it allows for bigger tires (almost like mountain bikes), which makes it great to go on trails and dirt roads. I originally thought I’d buy and sell a bike once I finish my trip, but I decided I’ll ship this back with me. The prices for certain models here is slightly cheaper and I’ve wanted to jump onto a Cannondale for some time (since they partnered with Rapha and EF Education-EasyPost). I decided to go with a Cannondale Topstone Carbon 3 700c Quicksand.
Eagerly taking the bike home, I threw on my cycling kit, and jumped onto the road. I found a nice route that went into the hills nearby. The bike felt so smooth to ride on road and on trails. It’s a carbon frame, so it’s considerably lighter than my gravel bike back home (which I will now sell as soon as get back).
The trails turned muddy quickly, so I got a nice mud bath for a short while. I also got lost multiple times, so I gave up on following any prescribed path and just followed the trail until I thought it was a good time to turn left or right. Somehow ending up back at the city center, I dropped in to the store to let the guys know that the bike rode beautifully. I asked them for a quick seat adjustment until I can get a hex tool multi-set.
Weaving in and out of the busy shopping corridors filled with lots of people, I eventually made it home. I had nearly one fall, as I didn’t realize the bike lane on a certain segment actually turned into the curb with a substantial height difference. I managed to recover ungracefully and escaped home.
All in all, this is a fantastic bike, and I can’t wait to ride more often while I’m here, especially with friends and colleagues. I’ll most likely return the rental car, because parking is a nightmare here, so I’ll start using my bike and public transport more often as well.
Dinner + Dance Theater
Wiping off the mud and showering, I headed out to grab some dinner. I met with some colleagues at Hans Im Glück, Round 2 (no picture unfortunately!). Sore from my short cycling escapade (it’s been some time since I rode regularly), I slowly walked over for dinner. After dinner, we made our way to a local theater. The performance, translated in English as “Who Still Has Air to Breathe?”, was a musical theater performance that heavily incorporated elements from street dance origins (breaking, popping, locking, etc.), while centralized around breathing. It was hosted at the Rampe Theater. Here’s the translated description:
”Breathing is a natural function of the body and is mostly passive. But what happens when breathing stops? How fast do we switch to survival mode? And where does conscious breathing take us? On the dance floor.”
I was really impressed by the dancers control and abilities, especially when a large element of the show involved dancing to no music at all and dancing without taking a single breath. It was a creative take on control and survival.
The Rampe Theater is apparently a hot-spot for creative performances like this hosted by local artists, dancers, and musicians. It’s 2 blocks away from me, so I hope I can go there again soon. It also doubles as a street trolley landing zone for the cars.
Call Me Old Fashioned
After the performance ended, we went out to a bar to grab drinks, Hanky Panky. It specializes in well-known American cocktails (apparently, the owners are famous cocktail judges). Built like a cellar, you travel down a few flights of stairs that opens into what looks like an underground vault. Due to limited indoor options, we sat upstairs and outside. After the intense performance about breathing, I invited the cold refreshing breeze.
I found the menu to be pretty interesting. It shows you when each cocktail was first created in history. For example, the Mai Tai is considered to be first “created” in 1944 in Oakland, California. Now, I’m normally very weary of places that say they can make traditional American cocktails outside of the US, because some bartenders just get it so wrong. Simplicity does not mean easy.
I had an Old Fashioned, my barometer to gauge a bar and its bartenders’ capabilities. It was simply made, but had the right ratio between bourbon, bitters, and sugar. The orange peel didn’t pull the base away from the bourbon, but complimented the bitters well. It was slightly sweeter than I’d normally prefer it, but overall, I was impressed. This was a nice change of pace from the Hefeweizen beers and Radlers I’ve been having recently.
As we individually departed, I popped my head into an Irish Pub, Biddy Early’s. After the Old Fashioned, for some reason, I was craving a Guinness on tap. This place was packed. All I could hear was English spoken with crystal clear American accents. This seemed to be where a lot of soldiers would come off base (which were pretty close) and visiting folks on business from abroad would gather. The live karaoke drew a large crowd.
Finishing my nightcap, I walked home and crawled into bed. I was exhausted. All in all, a great day. I’m looking forward to having a long weekend with Monday off to reset.
Frieden und Liebe ❤️ (translation: peace and love)