In addition to registering at the City Registration Office and extending the validity of my visa, there was still one clincher that kept me from addressing myself as an authentic Freiburger from the time I arrived here two months ago: travelling by bike. And I finally did so yesterday.
Four of my classmates ended up together in a Floh Markt/flee market at the new Messe which is located in the outskirts of the city. It is in the industrial part of the city, where one could find spacious paved areas mostly for city events, the last of which was “the second biggest travelling circus” in Europe.
The Floh Markt primarily catered to used clothes, although various toys and trinkets were invariably sold, and of course there’s the Fahrrad (bike) Markt. The spacious Messe lined up with rows and rows of clothes was a dizzying site, and it could have definitely passed for an Philippine Ukay-ukay Expo. Ukay-ukay, literally “rummage-rummage” in my vernacular language, are shops which sell used clothes and other articles of clothing, whose stocks mostly come from foreign countries like the U.S. and U.K.
The bike I bought is not the kind that you could take to the Black Forest for a day of off-road biking, and expect to take it home in one piece, but for a 55 Euro ten-speed (I haggled down the price from 60 Euros), it’s not at all that bad. Some may argue that it’s not necessary when you get a semester ticket which one could use to take the excellent transportation system of the region. However, the main reason I have received was not for its health and environmental benefits, but for getting home after late nights when the tram and bus service have gone. Ask a student why he got a bike, and that reason never fails to pop up. Cycling relieves one of that annoying feeling when you run to catch a tram, and end up not getting on it. Waiting for the next one is just as much torture.
My bike’s first day with me probably had been quite eventful as it witnessed a bike accident, it’s seat buckled up after going over a pothole, and as well borrowed by another student. Despite this, I hope it would last until I finish my studies, and maybe even longer as it is passed on to its future owner.