there and back again

Our first full day of blue sky in what seems like centuries. Exaggeration? Of course. We haven't even had frost, let alone snow, so I should just keep my small mouth buttoned. To take advantage of the weather we made our Sunday a working Monday, and screwed off today instead, tossing our bikes on the S-Bahn (with their own einzelfahrausweis! how grown up) toward Grünewald, a large forest/park to the southwest. It's a gorgeous park (I can only imagine how much more stunning it is when it's actually beleafed and summery) filled with a handful of evergreens and plenty of white-skinned birch, rigid nudes in contrast with the spongy, mottled browns and mud on the forest floor.

We even got to hang out with a bunch of Deutsche bikers at a roadstop at the southern edge of the forest, an Austrian-styled hof with a friendly staff that greeted everyone with a "mahlzeit!" at the door. Biker gear is international; plenty of leather vests and faded jeans, impossible gray facial hair and close-cropped but still balding pates. There was one guy that looked as if he'd sprouted cloudy mushrooms from his cheeks, mutton chops gone wild -- and I hoped he'd ordered something orderly and sauce-free, say, a hot dog.

Und zurück: spurred by the sun (and the days, they are getting longer. You can tell -- there's softer, rounder light in the evenings. I'm noticing roofs again.) we rambled through Zehlendorf, the coveted neighborhood in Berlin *if* you've got a million Euros in your pocketses. We learned the word "villa" in our language class but hadn't quite understood what the word represented: more-than-gigantic, turn-of-the-century, fancy-pants personal castles, many complete with their own spires, for effect. Egads. Many, granted, seemed split into smaller apartments (which I guess doesn't really make them villas) but there were plenty with just a number on the gate. The largest "villas" in our 'hood are the make-shift embassy plattenbaus near the Hoffman's Getranke -- I think Cuba's is pretty hip. Or square, to be specific.

I may have lost my legs around Mitte, however. About 40 kilometers in a day is more ground than these sticks have traveled in some time. Tomorrow: there will be limping. Oh yes.