Meet the Bike: 2014 Kona Dew Plus

Last fall, as an early-birthday present (and maybe so I would stop using the spare bike), I received a shiny new Kona Dew Plus for my birthday.

It has logged about 400 kilometres as my commuting bike, mostly during September to November, and on roads and pathways.

This bike is the first bike I’ve chosen for myself, so I wanted something basic but reliable. The Dew Plus fits the bill, and is described by Kona as a hybrid commuter bike. Here are some of its notable aspects.

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Biking around Calgary

One of my favourite things about Europe in general is the fact that one can bike almost anywhere. After coming back to Calgary, I realized that while I can probably live without things like bakeries at every corner and constantly watching for dog poop (Dresden Neustadt, I’m looking at you), puttering around on a bike on a daily basis was something I wasn’t willing to give up.

The bike I used getting around Dresden - there was no front brake and the basket was held on by rubber bands! Oh the days....
The bike I used getting around Dresden. There was no front brake and the basket was held on by rubber bands!

Now, a little about Calgary. It is great for recreational biking because there are about 700 km of bike paths in the city, mostly in our numerous parks and along the rivers. What the city is not too great for, however, is commuter biking – i.e. biking to get groceries, biking to get to work, biking to your friend’s place, etc., because there are virtually no practical bike paths and most drivers have little experience dealing with bicycles on the road.

Calgary has some great pathways!
Calgary has great recreational pathways!

Since biking around Calgary takes more planning than just getting on a bike, I decided to take an urban cycling skills course. Basically, it teaches you how to not get killed biking city streets. Actually, it’s safer than one actually realizes!

The following video, albeit made in the US, is a pretty good overview of what we did in the course:

Anyway, after all this, I’ve explored a lot more of Calgary that I realized I would, and determined I’m still pretty good at not getting lost (generally – hint: Google Maps!). It’s fun, it’s free exercise, and most of the time I’m not going too far (though it’s 20 km to the University – sometimes I split it up by taking the train in between!).

Here’s some Instagram shots I’ve taken getting to the University – it’s such a nice way to start the day!

Now, I’ll see how it goes in the winter….

Happy cycling!

Settling in: Dresden, Germany

It has been almost a month since I’ve left Calgary and it is just now that I feel settled enough to sit down and write. I have been in Dresden for almost three weeks after spending my first week away in Switzerland. It is hard to believe that is already the beginning of June – it feels like time has been flying by and I have to catch every possible moment that passes.

Sitting by the Elbe river
The river Elbe

I will be here in Dresden until the end of August, and nearly every weekend I have booked for some event or travel. During the week I am at my internship. It has been an adventure working here without not knowing very much German, and I am quite grateful for the opportunity of being here.

Otherwise, it has been a simple life so far: I live a twenty minute walk from work and five minutes from the grocery store. I will be getting a bike soon. There has been a lot of rain. One of my roommates occasionally makes lovely dinners. I water the plants on my window once a week.

2013-05-19 11.35.41
Simple life

I’ve also been learning: I’ve learned pancakes are eaten for lunch or dinner, but not breakfast. I learned that the word umbrella is Regenschirm and that it’s ironic that the word for weather is wetter. I’ve learned how exceedingly important it is to have someone with you who speaks German whenever dealing with the following: insurance, taxes, any sort of form that you have to fill out, and any location with suffix -amt (“government agency”).

I haven’t been learning German as quickly I would like, but I’m learning, either way.

Settling in… to my most quiet, wonderful adventure.

A day with Einstein: Bern, Switzerland

We spent a day and a half in Bern, Switzerland, and one inadvertently ended up being a day dedicated to Albert Einstein. Bern is a lovely little town that is partially famous for being the home of the patent office where Einstein worked on his first papers on physics. Bern has at least two homages to him: the Einstein Museum and the Einstein Haus, another smaller museum and coffeehouse located in the old flat in which he lived.

Who else?

I found both places to be worth it in their own ways. The Einstein Museum, in addition to featuring the obligatory homages and chronology of Einstein’s life, also featured the history that surrounded it. I found the tidbits on World War II almost as interesting as his life itself (Also, did you know he was married to his cousin until his death? Or that he renounced his German citizenship and considered himself to be Swiss?). We spent almost three hours wandering the exhibits and learning about his surprisingly interesting life.

The Einstein Haus is much smaller – we spent about forty minutes there, and twenty minutes was from watching a documentary. The entry was only three Euro, though, and albeit being on a touristy main street, it was quaint and interesting enough to warrant a visit, especially if you don’t have time for the other Museum.

Outside the Einstein Haus

The lower level had the sitting room of the flat in which Einstein lived, while the upper level had a room where you can sit and watch a documentary, plus another room which presented yet another exhibit on his life. The street level had a cozy-looking cafe called Einstein (which we skipped because nobody wanted coffee ): ).

Inside the flat where Einstein lived
Inside the flat where Einstein lived

We ended the day with a surprisingly cheap (for Switzerland) restaurant dinner with a massive pizza for the four of us.

Dinner!
Dinner!

We did have enough time to wander around Bern afterwards, albeit the smatterings of rain, before going back to our hostel in Zurich.

Happy travels!

squishy human documenting life on planet earth. just don't forget to bring your towel.