off the beaten path

Taking the road less traveled is really paying some
dividends.  That’s the philosophy
of a Rick Steves’ tour:  enjoy what
Europe has to offer but do it through the back door.  Get out and meet the ‘real’ people and not just the tourist
traps. We’ve hit all of the major cities on this trip, but we usually stay
outside of town in smaller family-run hotels or bed and breakfasts.  It’s led to some memorable moments.

Yesterday we rolled into the Burgundy region for our latest
stop, a recently converted 18th century home.  The owners had tables set up on the
grass in front of their home for a dinner and planned musical performance.  Just before we sat down it started to rain
and it became a mad scramble to get everything inside.   We ended up crammed in their tiny
dining room, surrounded by a keyboard, drum set and an accordian player with
the stamina of Bruce Springsteen. 
He and his wife teamed up with a 79 year old drummer and proceeded to

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杭州楼凤

crank out French classics for two straight hours.  And they had a silly costume change for nearly every
song.  For the rest of my life the
‘chicken dance’ will whisk me away to France!

Crowded, loud, and an absolute scream.  

Of course, it can also lead to some bumps.  Two days earlier I was accused of being
a criminal for stealing a bike! (There’s nothing worse than being yelled at in
German)

Long story (not very) short….

Kandi and I got up early at our guest house for a morning
bike ride.  It was a departure day,
so it had to be a quick one.  We
headed out to a nearby lake which would give us a great camera angle on “Mad
King Ludwig’s” Castle.    

Sadly, we took the wrong fork in the road and wasted half an
hour in the wrong direction. (Uphill, of course)  Scrambling back we return to the fork, and my much wiser
wife says we should head back so we won’t be late.  Unwise Gord thinks he can whip down to the lake, snap the
photo, and return in time.   

Loser.

I whip down to the lake to discover the angle of the sunrise
eliminates any chance of a decent photo of Ludwig’s shack.  I jump on the bike to race back… and
the front end falls apart.  The
wheel is totally useless, and I’m 8 kilometers from our hotel.  Carrying a bike.  In Nike sandals.  On departure day.   

Big loser.

I am in full panic mode.  I try carrying the bike for 1 minute and realize it has to
go and dump it to the side of the trail. 
I start running as fast as I can carrying my pack.  15 minutes later I hit a hikers shack
with two cars and four bikes parked outside.  Nobody is home. 
 

Really big loser.

I look at the ‘unlocked’ bikes, pick the worst one, and jump
on.

Thieving Loser.

I arrive at the hotel as people are loading the bus for
departure, confess my dirty deed to Daniella our guide, and look for a hole to
crawl into.

The hotel owner flips out.  He’s yelling at me in German and the only word I understand
is ‘criminal’.  Daniella manages to
calm him down, we load the stolen bike in his van and head out to the
shack.  It was never missed.   His bike is on a trail not
accessible by car, so we head home. 
Daniella smoothes things over (it was a well used bike), I slip the
hotel owner 50 Euro for repairs, and we’re on our way.

Easy to write about now….. but not my proudest moment.

Moral of the story? 
Listen to your wife.