Sunday, June 23, 2013

Here are our bikes

The bikes! They arrived! And they were professionally packed, which makes a huge difference. The pedals were in bubble wrap in their own small cardboard boxes. Sadly, the front racks and fenders had been removed, which is a whole different kind of fun bike project. Ah, well, not a big deal, considering that nothing was broken. Huge thank you to Sandy on Menorca for getting these packed and shipped for us. Yay!

Yesterday, we went on a family bike trip to the grocery store. A dad, his two year old in a trailer, 5 year old on his own bike, me and Joshua. It was glorious.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Back on Track

Okay, maybe not entirely back on track. Once we have our bikes perhaps we'll be back on track. So where are our bicycles? We don't even know at the moment.

The saga started with leaving them on Menorca, where we expected to return after our trip to the US in Dec/Jan. Then there was the whole cancer thing, which derailed us and sent us to Berlin for 5 months. Thankfully, our hostess on Menorca could ship everything we left to Berlin. But we decided to wait for the bikes because we weren't exactly going to be using them in -6 C weather. When it got a bit warmer, and we made other plans to leave Berlin, our house sitting luck turned us back toward Zurich. So we decided that to bring the bikes to Berlin and then schlep them on the train to Zurich was unnecessary. Just ship them to Zurich, right?

Trying to get quotes was not easy, since we were not there with the bikes. We tried Bike Flights and High Country Shipping, as well as FedEx. FedEx was very expensive, High Country was a bit less expensive, and Bike Flights gave us an initial quote of $150 per bike (very reasonable) but then I never heard back from them to finalize. Meanwhile, on Menorca, there are two shipping companies that were willing to ship the bikes. Our hostess went above and beyond the call of duty to get the bikes packaged at a bike shop and then tried to get quotes from the shipping companies. The first company gave a very high quote, but the second had more reasonable rates. They seemed a bit confused, however, and gave her a rate that is only for within Spain. In her words, "Don't think there's anywhere in Spain that you spell Zurich. oh well, we can't all be brains!"

After a few more exciting hiccups - like the requirement of a scanned version of my passport - they finally shipped the bikes last Monday. So they'll arrive just before we do, most likely. It's really going to be awesome if they arrive in good condition and the Swiss authorities understand that we're just bringing them in temporarily, not importing them. The law is that we don't have to pay taxes, but you just never know. We can't all be brains, even in Switzerland.

In the end, we had to pay roughly €350 for both bikes to be boxed and shipped. Not too bad, but a fortune by our current standards. Still way better than replacing those bikes. Unfortunately that doesn't include much insurance. Please let the shippers be cyclists.


Besides bicycle drama and medical drama, we've had a bit of lovely travel, too. Recovery took us to SW France to visit our friends, who we spent time with and house sat for a couple of winters ago. There we did a lot of walking, Joshua started running again, and we both appreciated the advantages of a life in the country. City life is not for us. It's good to have good friends in the French countryside.

And now we're having a lovely visit with other friends who we house sat for last summer, out in Saxony. Despite the flooding, we made it out here. Had to take a different train route and as we were waiting for the second leg on the platform, Joshua realized he'd left one bag on the previous train. The bag with our keyboards in it. The bag with his power cable and many other valuable things. The bag with the mint plant gift. The bag with the iPad. He looked at me, handed me the phone and said, "can you help me while I freak out for a minute?'

We called our friends, and they said we'd probably have to wait until it made it to lost and found in Dresden. But while we got on the next train and then took a bus to our final stop, our friends talked to a co-worker whose other friend lives at the last stop of that particular train at the Polish border. That friend called another friend, who got to the station just as the train pulled in, jumped on board, and grabbed the bag for us. I tell you, it's good to have good friends.

We've just got a few days here, then we take the night train to Zurich as long as it doesn't rain again and wash away the rest of Bavaria. Two months in Zurich, split in the middle by a visit with my sister and a trip to the Alps with other very good friends. And hopefully we'll have some bikey things to write about in just a week or two.