2009-01-28 49 11
On an access road between two shiny new business buildings in Amberg, Fleurystraße 3 and 5.
I usually don't go to hashpoints that far away, but that's because most of them end up in the middle of a field or in a forest anyway and it's hard to tell in advance if they're boring or inaccessible. This one was inside the town of Amberg, which I've been to a few times before, and from the satellite imagery appeared to be at the edge of a construction site.
Research of the location on the internet told me that there were two new business buildings on the site, but the exact coordinates were between them, possibly on a road. The place was about 1 km from the train station, with the old town center between. I also picked a few geocaches I'd try to find, and found that there was a webcam cache on the town square, and even better, there would be free, unencrypted wireless internet access!
I left the office at 18:00, a bit sooner than usual, and cycled to Regensburg's central station. Bought tickets (Bayern-Ticket Single, EUR 19.00, bike ticket, EUR 4.50), and waited for my train which was at 18:30. The train ride itself was uneventful - only limited space for bikes was available, but there were no bikes other than mine at this hour. I listened to music and relaxed; didn't bring anything to read as my bike bag was already at its load limit.
I got off the train in Amberg, left the station, and cycled a rather random course through the narrow alleys of the old town. Ever since I got a mapping GPS, I have really enjoyed navigating through foreign towns at night. A few minutes later I arrived at the coordinates, and what I found confirmed my expectations: there was an access road between the two buildings, with parking spots on either side. The hashpoint was exactly on a filled pothole in the middle of that road! The impact of the hash must have damaged the road surface ;)
So I spent a few minutes taking pictures from various positions around the hash, then my phone rang and I had to do a bit of remote tech support - apparently my mom's Thunderbird thought it was a good idea to randomly mark an e-mail from my cousin as "junk", despite never having received any junk mail before.
I left the hash shortly after 20:00 and continued cycling around the old town to the southeast to look for two geocaches along the way, but quickly lost my nerves about both of them and set a course for the town square instead. Since the shops were all closed for the night already, there were very few people in the pedestrian zone around the square, and most of them were groups of boys talking in foreign languages, and women talking on cellphones. Approaching the square, I immediately recognized what I had thought to be a kind of pavillon - it turned out to be a winter housing built around a fountain. I parked my bike next to the fountain, booted my EeePC and tried to log on to the supposedly open wireless. Signal strength was excellent, and it did connect, but I didn't seem to get a valid IP address. After rebooting, restarting the wlan adapter, and fiddling with various other settings (which shouldn't have been necessary in the first place) didn't help, and I got cold from standing in the cold wind for nearly half an hour, I gave up on it.
Unbeknownst to me, relet was watching me that whole time through a remotely-controllable pan/tilt/zoom webcam on the church tower above the square. I had asked him to save pictures with me in it, but didn't really expect him to be so patient as to wait a whole hour for me to show up, and I had no way of knowing it at the time. I shone my bike LED headlight at the tower for a few seconds before departing, and he managed to snap another picture of the light!
I remembered reading about another open wireless access point near another cache to the northeast, and so I cycled there. I pushed my bike along Emailfabrikstraße (enamel factory street) but NetStumbler did not show any unsecured networks. I did find the geocache though, and retrieving it was fun - probably the coolest zntargvp microcache I've found so far. Noticing it was less than half an hour until the departure of one of the hourly trains back to Regensburg, I returned to the station and warmed up inside the building. While waiting for the train, a man curiously eyed the GPS on my handlebar, and then asked if that was a GPS or a compass. I explained that it was both, and how the map display helped me find my way through town. I also mentioned I was there just for fun, participating in an internet game. We talked a bit more about the pricing of GPSes, and where to get maps etc. until the train arrived and we split up. The train and bike ride back home were rather uneventful again.
May be worth noticing: I have a strong rubber o-ring stored inside one of the bar ends on my handlebar, which I can quickly take out and use to "lock" the rear brake - that way, I only need to lean my bike against a free wall in the train, and it stays there without swerving and rolling out of place. This little "invention" has made taking my bike on the train much more relaxed for me :)
Unlike my original plans, I did not eat dinner in Amberg, my schedule was just too crowded for that, and I preferred coming home before 23:00.