maandag, november 28, 2005

Week 13: Dusseldorf, Germany – 24 hours in Germany

I left off planning on heading to Germany to skate Dietsches Pool, a wooden 'pool replica' bowl he built almost completely by himself over a 6 week period. So I started my German adventure at 12:58 in the early afternoon from Horst, Holland. I skated down the street to the bus stop where I waited for about 20 minutes. No bus came. The third person I asked actually answered me, and told me what, “De Idiot van Hey, er is geen bus die bij deze bushalte ophoudt” translated to in English. Yup, no bus. So I skated through the town following signs to Venlo, the border town in Holland where you can take the train to Germany. After some stuggle and miscommunication, I found out there was a train from Horst that could take me to Venlo. I skated about 5 kilometers to the train station, not without incident. I was about to skate into the street (smoother surface) but realized the bike lane was too small and the road too fast with cars. I stopped, and slipped, and fell on my ass hitting my semi-broken thumb (before I even got to the bowl) and my legs dangled in the street as my board shot out. Screeeeeeeching of brakes, and a few honks later, I was back on my way. I arrived to the train station in about 25 minutes, and waited 50 minutes. I borded the train and got to Venlo. Switched trains to Mönchengladbach which I had to transfer again to Dusseldorf. This 1.5 hour estimated trip was already into hour 4! So I am finally on the train to Mönchengladbach, and the train stops. Murmers in German let me know something was wrong. Bomb threat at Mönchengladbach. Great. Bin Ladin, or old WWII bombs were the guesses from the unamused germans trying to get home. And me, I had Dietsches and Gerd Rieger (contributor to Concussion #27 with Basque skate article) waiting for me in Burger King. So, I took the bus to Mönchengladbach, and when I arrived, the station still existed. No bomb: shocking! I took the train after 25 minutes and finally arrived in Dusseldorf, met Gerd and Dietsches at Burger King (where they had waited for 2 hours), and proceeded to the pipe warehouse where the bowl was situated. The bowl was super fun, bigger than I thought, complete with a death box, pool tiles, and stairs. I skated with about 6 other Germans, who took turns skating and huddling around a home made gas heater because it was less that 0 degrees celsius in the pipe factory (apparently the metal pipes hold in the cold making it colder than outside). But after some runs in the bowl I quickly warmed up and although I slammed at the end of almost every run, I had a blast. I stayed the night at Dietsches house and we watched pool skating videos of Fresno and other California pools and after almost feeling homesick seeing some of my friends on a German TV, I called it a night, on my custom modified cushion bed on the floor. The next morning I headed on back to Horst, making it within 2.5 hours, returning home to my bewilderment at 12:58, exactly to the minute, 24 hours after I left. Check out the 1 minute quicktime video of me and Dietsches skating his bowl:

Dietsches Bowl

or come and test it out for yourself! – Jonny Haywire

Gerd Rieger - sweeper - Dietsches Bowl

Dietsches over the stairs

maandag, november 21, 2005

Week 9-12: France, England & Holland – the Journey Continues

I left off about to board the TGV from Paris, back to my beloved Anglet/Biarritz. I have now returned there 3 times, although not the smartest voyage path financially, I am now more set and determined on my quest of exploration across Europe. I spent another 6 days in the Anglet youth hostel, before it shut for the winter, and then transferred with the other stragglers (mostly people from around Europe who have relocated for one reason or another to the South West coast of France). I randomly met up with two guys from Santa Cruz, Niall and Reed. They arrived in the youth hostile in Anglet one night, Niall wearing a Riff Raff tshirt, a greaser punk rockabilly type band from Santa Cruz who have since disbanded. “Are you guys from Santa Cruz?” Sure enough they were, and we slightly recognized each other from surfing The Lane over the last decade or so. They had rented a car because they were on a mission to get some good waves while in France, before continuing on their trip to the Canary Islands. The next 5 days we would check all the spots around the area, up to Hossegor and all around French Basque country, with the dirty Czech bastard, Bre who is the most enthusiastic surfer I have ever met. I was so impressed with the Czech’s motivation to surf, I left him my surfboard to use while I am traveling around the interior, non-coastal parts of Europe.

Anglet with Rain over the Pyrenees (Basque Country)

We didn’t totally score any super-sick waves, but we had a good time, finding some quite large beach breaks in Seignosse, north of Hossegor, and a big semi-powerful wave at the dirty river mouth in Anglet. That day we suited up in the parking lot, determined to charge whatever Neptune had to offer us. When we had a visual of the spot, I was a little intimidated, going out on my 5’10” in 10-12 foot stormy surf exploding against the pier, with about 75 gauking French onlookers watching the powerful nature of a big swell. Niall and Reed paddled out and I walked down the pier for a sketchy descent down the rocks, dodging the bashing waves, and jumped in and paddled like a madman to the outside. The session was the most memorable I have had so far, not for the quality of the waves, but for the size. There were no other surfers out, only two boogie boarders getting bounced in the air, with their little sponges not being able to withstand the size of the waves. It looked really funny, but probably not half as funny as when I paddled with 100% commitment into a wave that I finally thought was makeable. I began to take the drop and got caught in the lip, described by Reed as a “Jay Moriarty” (RIP) Mavericks drop. Off course the wave wasn’t nearly half as big, but it was quite large on my little board, meant more for small-medium sized waves. So I was caught in the lip, about 12 feet up, and the lip pitched me out, my board went flipping off to the right and I plummeted through their air about 12 feet down, hit the water feet straight as an arrow, and plunged another 15 feet down to the depths of the ocean, my ears popping, and then my brain, for the first time ever, feeling the pressure of the deep water (the bends), building up in my skull to the point of near explosion. I started coming back up, and then the wave sucked me down again in a turbine of high tide mayhem. I lay lifeless like a baby in the washing machine, until I finally resurfaced, but the pressure in my brain remained. I caught another wave all the way to the shore pound and jumped off in the sand, my head going underneath the sand consisting of small pebbles like an ostrich in the desert, and then beached like a little whale on the sand. I was met with applause from the onlookers, and chuckling to myself at how funny the whole thing must have looked. I dizzily stumbled across the beach, thinking I might need to go to the hospital and get a whole drilled in my brain to let out the pressure. I was actually quite worried. About half an hour later the pressure diminished, as I videoed the rest of Reed and Niall’s session, happy that I had not drowned or had a brain aneurism. It felt really good to be sitting on the sand videoing the pounding outside waves thrash my Santa Cruz buddies, while I sat safely on the shore. (see video footage coming soon).

Waves crashing over the Jetty - Anglet

The rest of the week we surfed some fairly decent waves in Anglet and a reef break south towards the Spanish boarder. The hostel closed and we moved on to the Biarritz hostel, which is open for an extra 6 weeks. The hostel was really nice and new, but a bit far from the beach. I figured out how to hack into the internet connection on my laptop, requiring a little rewiring in the back storage room where the server was located, rather than paying 1 euro for 30 minutes. I stayed there for 3 days and headed off to London to meet up with Cornel, my Dutch friend I had met on my first stay in Anglet. He sells pottery in his van in Holland, Belgium and England. He in the London vicinity for a week and agreed to pick me up from the airport and take me back to the Netherlands with him, where I could work in peace at his house, with an internet connection, away from the many distractions beach life always provides. We stayed in London for several days and went out to a hip hop club in Brixton, watched Manchester United (my favorite English team since a wee lad) defeat Chelsea at a little local pub, went to a ‘strange’ party (don’t ask – but let’s just say Annie Lennox greeted us at the door) on the penthouse suite of fancy London apartment watching the Guy Fawkes day fireworks, dressed as Beatles Paul and Ringo (with a mullet), and then headed off on the road (again), working on my computer in Cornel’s van as he made some stops selling his pot(s) from Holland. The next night we boarded the ferry with all the burly truckers from Holland, Germany and Italy, and spent the night traveling across the sea to Holland. We arrived at sunset, and drove to Cornel’s work in Rotterdam where I worked in the break room all day, and then headed to the beautiful and historic Brugge in Belgium where we would spend another night in a fancy bed & breakfast in the ancient town center.

The historic canal city of Brugge, Belgium

After walking around Brugge for hours, and finally finding the worst skatepark in the world, I walked into a cool bar/café/hostel where I was able to log on wirelessly for a few hours for free, thanks to the gracias bartenderess who gave me free scratch off wireless cards. That night we went to some bustling little bar a block from our B&B where I listened to horrible music and chilled out soaking in the Beligian night life until it was time to leave. Morning arrived and Cornel and I headed off in his Pottery van back to his work headquarters, for a little mid day football action with his co-workers and eventually to his home in the South East corner of Holland close to the German border. The minute we arrived Cornel's friends pulled up to take us to a local concert of this band from a small town next to their village (called America), who are famous all over Europe, but especially all over Holland. They are called Rowwen Heze ( and they sound like a mix between Flogging Molly and the Pogues, but in Dutch. Apparently their lyrics are really good, but I missed out on that part of the experience. However, I did witness roudy dutch boys ripping each others shirts off in the pit (everyone came out with no shirt on), a huge posse of "Lord of the Flys" extras who are the hardcore Rowwen Heze fans. They are 13-25 year old boys, no shirts, and ink all over their faces, arms and chest written with pig ink (remember Piggy from L.O.T.F.), the same pen they use to draw on pigs that doesn't come off for weeks. So after the show, these kids have to go to school and whatever with ink all over their faces for the next several weeks as it gradually fades. The other 'thing to do' at Rowwen Heze concerts is to throw your beer all over everyone. The beers were relatively cheap, but I wasn't quite seeing the point of repeatedly throwing my beer over everyone. But...when in Holland, do like the Dutch. Anyway, check out their website and maybe order a cd, because the music is really quite good and different.

Cows at Sunset - Rotterdam, Holland

So currently, I work at Cornel's house all week long with nothing but a bike to get me out and about outside of the compound, so I am finally getting a lot of website work completed, and making some money so I can continue on my quest. This next week I have been invited to skate this sick wooden bowl in Dusseldorf, Germany, with our Concussion German subscribers. I suppose membership does have it’s privileges, as I have been keeping in contact with subscribers from all over Europe to hook up some good skate missions in the next several months. As usual, photos coming as soon as I can get the black and white negatives scanned. – Jonny Haywire

…crossing and recrossing the country…south in the winter and north in the summer, and only because he had no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Interesting observations about Holland/Netherlands:
Nobody locks up their bikes, even outside of bars, an easy target for thiefs.
The sun never gets high in the sky
The drinking age is 16.
On the radio they play eighties American rock.
Amsterdam is a city in Holland. It is not the whole country.
Just because pot is legal in Holland, does not mean that everyone smokes it. I haven’t seen one person smoking it. A good argument for the legalization of marijuana in the United States. If a drug is legalized, it doesn’t mean everyone turns into an abuser of the drug, in fact, I have witnessed the contrary.
If you are from California, you are automatically a "surfer dude".

Rainy Day in Biarritz - Eric and Reed jamming out some tunes