Technology Hell

May 18, 2015

I bought a cheap Asus Windows tablet for this bike trip. It would appear that cheap is the operative word. This morning, two weeks to the day of its purchase, it bit the dust. This, just 48 hours after sending out a mass email announcing my blog. Oh dear; I can’t do this on an iPhone.

Fortunately, we were still in Saarbrücken, where we could actually buy a replacement. So off we went to Germany’s version of Best Buy. I knew exactly what I wanted. It was the Microsoft Surface tablet, which I had, with great restraint and maturity, not purchased two weeks earlier.

All was going well. The sales person spoke English, they had the tablet in stock, and the price was good. Then came the bomb: It had a German keyboard. In fact, every computer in the store had a German keyboard. Now, this shouldn’t have come as a great surprise to me, but it did. I hadn’t paid attention to the keyboard until I couldn’t find the ‘Y’. It turns out that German keyboards are QWERTZ, not QWERTY, and they have extra keys, and some of the keys are in different places. How bad could it be? I bought it.

I thought it might be handy to have a German keyboard. At least I wouldn’t have to go digging around for umlauts. Silly me; 45 years of touch typing is hard to undo. So, I reconfigured it as an English keyboard. The keys are mostly in the right place, but lots of them have the wrong labels. It’s confusing, to say the least.

My new keyboard
My new keyboard

With our technology crisis sorted out, we packed up and headed downstream on the Saar. The first 50K section, from Saarbrücken to Merzig was surprisingly industrial, but not at all unpleasant. Along the way we passed the Völklingen Ironworks, an amazing old abandoned steel factory. It’s a huge hulking structure, reminiscent of a Borg ship (for you Trekkies out there) – forbidding, yet strangely beautiful, as Jeff described it. Our pictures don’t do it justice, so here’s a link to some web photos. We were surprised to discover that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, just like the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Go figure. That’s the thing about bike touring: You can’t help but get off the beaten path and you never know what you’ll find.

A less bucolic stretch of bike path
A less bucolic stretch of bike path
The doors about to close for a barge in one of the many locks on the Saar river
The doors about to close for a barge in one of the many locks on the Saar river
Hmmm ... Which way to Mettlach?Hmmm ... Which way to Mettlach?
Hmmm … Which way to Mettlach?

May 19, 2015

A cold front came through today, so we bundled up in many layers of high tech fabric and continued down the Saar. This next section was absolutely gorgeous! Lush, green, quiet, peaceful, with almost no highway noise. What a treat. We even encountered some hills, one of which measured 15%. We didn’t have to walk it, so we must be getting stronger.

Our ride ended in Saarburg, a beautiful little town, with a castle and waterfall, that is not significant enough to be listed in the Lonely Planet guide. We often find that our favorite spots aren’t in the guide books.

A more bucolic path
A more bucolic path

DSC00752-C

A mini church, probably 8' x 10'
A mini church; probably 8′ x 10′
Saarburg's  castle
Saarburg’s castle
Waterfall, Saarburg
Waterfall, Saarburg

Tomorrow we head off for Trier, which is billed as the oldest city in Germany.