It’s 6am. I’m sitting waiting for the breakfast buffet at the Hotel Helgoland, which is were I’m staying, but not where I made reservations. I just slept for `10 hours after what may have been the crankiest day I’ve ever seen my parents have. I’ll leave out tales of bickering and short tempers because I’d rather they weren’t remembered, and there was very little humor in it. (With the possible exception of seeing my dad sitting in the back seat, nodding off and shouting driving directions.)

Travel day 8/24:

6am PST: Woke up in hopes of taking a quick jog, packing my carry-on (I’m a big time procrastinator), and petting my cat before we leave at 8.

8am PST: I start wondering why my parents are awake yet. That’s when I figured out my flight was two hours later than I thought. So what do I do with 2 extra hours?

10:30am PST: I’ve finished packing more stuff, checking email, and eating a second breakfast. We pack the car and head out at 11am.

11:35am PST: The lady at the NWA Check in informs us we may miss out flight. Something my father is terrified of, and which creates more stress on top of what travel forces us to deal with already.

1pm PST: Our flight leaves, with us on it. The flight is about 9 hours, in which time I had planned on sleeping. So had my parents, but that’s not what happened. My dad stayed up talking to an older lady the entire flight. At one point I was stretching and practicing my high kicks with the flight attendants in the back of the plane when my mom came back and spent 30 minutes convincing a lady to join her rowing club (the lady was convinced after about 5 minutes, but my mom kept talking until the look on the lady’s face showed that she would probably avoid learning to row just to avoid another of my mother’s ramblings. (I was once talking on the phone with my mom while on the beach in Hawaii. I was on the phone for at least an hour, and my friends counted 6 words from my mouth the entire time. The first of which was uh-huh, and scared the people around me, who had thought I was sleeping.)

8/25 – Europe

7am Amsterdam: The customs agent found the fold up tool-kit in the bottom of my backpack that I accidentally stole from Loren a couple weeks ago. They wanted to take it away from me, but after the two security agents tried stabbing each other with the allen wrenches they decided it was no threat, and let me have it back. (Oh yeah, hey Loren, I took one of your fold up hex sets, I’ll bring it back when I come down for Tinley’s.)

10am Hamburg: I claimed two bikes, and 6 wheels, but my mom’s bag was a no show. It’s amazing how much stuff fits into a small Volkswagen.

12pm: Motel Hamburg informed us that they do not allow two people to share a bed, even if they’ve been married for 37 years, but their sister hotel had a double room for them.

1pm: We finally get checked into the Hotel Helgoland, where we will be until the 30th. I unpacked my bike, put away my clothes, checked email, and watched an episode of the Daily Show that was on TV (in english). For some reason I didn’t feel tired at all.

2:30pm: I’m ready for a bike ride, so I go to let my parents know where I’ll be. They’re both passed out. It looks like a scene from a mob movie, where the mobsters were shot in the room before they had time to react. My dad’s on his back with one leg off the bed, mouth gaping open, and flies making full use of the open-door policy. My mom was frozen on the second bed, one hand on the remote, and her body looking as though she had been shot while sitting up, and had just slumped over. This was the first of two times in one day that I would walk into this exact scene.

3:00pm: My parents drop me off with my bike near the transition area. I tell I’ll be back at 4, but if I”m not back at 4:30 they should assume I’m lost and just meet me back at the hotel for dinner.

4:15pm: I’ve just finished pointing at a map with a german guy that didn’t speak english, and figured out that somehow I was in northeast Hamburg, when I was certain I was on the race course in West Hamburg. There was a concert playing in the park, but I skipped out thinking I could just make it back in time to get my running shoes from my parents before they give up on me and leave.

5:30pm: We get back to the hotel. The plan is to change clothes and go grab food so we can get to bed early.

6pm: my parents skipped the dinner part. This is when I see the mod scene for the second time. Almost identical to the first, only my mom has started snoring. I wake them up to see if they want me to bring food back, and they decide to come with me. There’s a restaurant about 10 min walk away, but by the time we see a McDonald’s a block away our plans change. “Don’t they have salads with chicken?”

The German McDonald’s is a lot like the US McDoland’s. The prices are even the same, only in Euros instead of dollars. This adds 50% to the price because of the terrible exchange rate. Actually, everywhere we’ve been seems to follow this trend. Prices seem reasonable, until you do the exchange rate. $12 breakfast becomes $18, 3 Euros for a bag of ice.

8/26 – Hamburg

8am: I’ve been eating while writing this post. The $18 breakfast is completely worth it. I’ve had fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, eggs, hearty bread, dried fruit, nuts, cucomber, hard boiled eggs, orange juice, milk, grapefruit juice, more granola, more yogurt, more fruit, more bread. I don’t think I’ve been this hungry in ages. I’m trying to figure out how to take some food for later because it’s just so good.

The breakfast crowd is the most out of shape group I’ve seen here. They look like americans, only most are speaking German. yesterday I saw so many people riding around on bikes and walking and jogging to where they were going (it still blows my mind to see men and women older than my parents riding bikes down the street in business attire) I began to wonder if everyone in Deutschland is healthy. Sadly, it’s just the people outside this hotel. Not that I blame them, with a 5 hour breakfast buffet I may have trouble keeping my figure too.

I’m going back for more fruit.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. I was getting ready for my race down here in Santa Barbara (I’m done with and am now drinking a Cabernet at 7:51am the day after) and for the life of me could NOT FIND MY ALLEN WRENCHES. I’m glad to have not lost them but will scissor kick you in the neck right before tinley’s. PS – I didn’t see sharks in the Pacific.

  2. I love the utter disdain you have for people who dont exercise, it brings a smile to my face. You apparently have not done much traveling in middle America, where eggs and bacon are their own food group. Do they have Nutella there? I really dig how Europeans use that stuff on everything.

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