With just two exceptions we were able to participate in all the cruises this year, and I have made it to all the dinner meetings. This gave me ample opportunity to speak to many of you at length. Although the topic of conversation tends to revolve around boats, I have been impressed by the interest and knowledge our club members have on a wide range of subjects. We have experts in design, tech, sales, education, finance, medicine and many other careers. Our group also has wide ranging interest and knowledge beyond marine activities. I have learned about world travel, cycling, history, skiing and of course beer. All this is a big part of what makes our little club great. Not only are the topics of conversation varied, but solid advice is always to be had. I have learned about WW1 battles, troubleshooting diesel engines, and NEVER to put Colin’s Guinness in the fridge.

With this as a prelude I thought I would share some recent experiences. Julia and I just returned from a great cycling trip in Germany and the Czech Republic, our first trip to both areas. We started with a few days in Berlin, a city with a fairly troubled past. Despite this, it is a great place to explore with amazing museums, parks, great food, and of course, beer. Berlin seems to have come to grips with both its role in WWII and its more recent division and re-unification after the fall of east Germany. The government and its citizens are open about Germany’s devastating activities in WWII with memorials and museums chronicling the rise to power of an unjust government, and the terrible creation of the Holocaust. None of this begins to atone for what happened, but the effort to acknowledge Berlin’s role and educate the public is very visible.

From there it was a great ride through the countryside to Dresden and then on to Prague. The cycling infrastructure in Germany far eclipses anything I have experienced before. Bike lanes and trails stretch for miles, and drivers are competent and courteous around bikers. Prague is a very accessible and beautiful city. It was largely spared the destruction of WWII and offers medieval architecture, narrow winding streets, open public squares and lots of tourists. Czechia has more castles than anywhere else in Europe. Czechs have the highest per-capita beer consumption in the world. They invented Pilsner and consider it a national treasure. On a more serious note, Prague has been through some hard times. Until recently there were locals who lived through the repression of the Hapsburg empire that ended in WWI, the occupation by Germany in WWII, and the subsequent bleakness of decades of Soviet rule. The Czechs have proved to be resilient, and Prague is a lively and dynamic place to visit. If you ever plan to travel to Berlin, Dresden, or Prague, and want some information, feel free to contact me.