The Virtual Race
Leg 6
Training for the Circus

Treasure Hunting
Kimberly: Hi again, gang! Patrick & I are at the Internet café, and Patrick is finishing up our task - which you'll find out about next time. (What, you thought I was going to tell you about it? Ha!) We had a few hours to wait outside the cafe before it opened, so I figured I'd catch you all up on how things are going.

After all the racers checked in at the last Pit Stop at Brandenburg Gate, Patrick & I decided to change our routine a little. Usually we head to the hotel or wherever it is we're going to stay, wind down, do laundry, do a little research and strategizing, then crash out. No sightseeing or walking around. We figured we could always come back if we wanted to do that. But we were starting to feel a little strung out, so we decided to relax and be tourists for a few hours.

After nearly snitching one of our coasters from the beer task, we decided that we had to find a small souvenir. Nothing really appealed to us - until we walked into a little hole-in-the-wall not far from the Berlin Museum. Patrick found a lighter in the shape of a girl wearing a dirndl. It looked like a brassy St. Pauli girl. Its features were roughly finished and the body was buffed to a bright finish. It was hella ugly. At first I didn't understand why Patrick had picked it up in the first place. But then Patrick flicked the lighter.

We bought three. If we hadn't been limited on funds, we would have bought the whole lot!
Shrill, piercing notes screeched out from the depths of the lighter. The wail, which I found out later was the German national anthem, went on and on, and seemed to get louder and louder. But the most appealing accompaniment to the music was that the blouse of the dirndl actually flipped down to reveal two bright red lighted nipples.

We bought three. If we hadn't been limited on funds, we would have bought the whole lot!

Flying High
Well, it turned out that our little vacation from the race was just what we needed, and we started off the sixth leg with a fresh outlook. Plus, the information we got about the layout of Berlin during our little excursion helped us quickly get to Checkpoint Charlie and the Olympic Stadium. While we waited for the Olympic Stadium task to open, everyone speculated on what we'd be doing. Everybody kept guessing Olympic events - the discus and javelin were the favorites - but just like with the ski jump in Norway, it turned out we weren't doing anything remotely Olympian.

Patrick woke me from a catnap when he found out about the hot rocket bungee. "You're going to bounce around like a little Chinese cat toy!" he grinned. "That'll be your third Roadblock to my two." Before the race, I'd readily agreed to doing anything that involved hanging from a bungee, because Patrick had recurrent back problems. Now, though, as I looked up at the huge crane and its thin wires and riggings, I regretted that decision.

"It looks like it'll be really fun, huh?" Patrick offered just a little too brightly. He could obviously sense my nervousness.

"Oh, yeah. Fun. Well, since we haven't had a chance to eat breakfast yet, I've got nothing to lose - literally."

"Come on, hon. It'll be something to tell the grandkids."

"Grandkids?" I asked. "I thought you weren't sure if you wanted kids. How are we going to have grandkids without kids?"

He laughed. "You mean we can't just skip the kids and adopt grandkids instead?"

Patrick kept coaxing and cajoling while the safety guys hooked and fastened and chained. I freaked out when Kendra collapsed after her ride, and again when the safety guys were about halfway done dressing me in the bungee harness. I managed to talk myself through it both times with a comforting tirade of bitching. When the guy running the rig finally released the spring, it was terrifying - unlike regular bungee jumping, you start off with a lurch and you take off like a missile. I'm such a wimp that I screamed at the top of my lungs the whole time I was going up, then I kept yelling while I was bouncing around afterwards. And to think that when I was a kid, I wanted to be a trapeze artist!

Patrick cheered me on while I was still riding out the bounces, but once they started lowering me down, he started to tease me by mimicking my bitching. "'This thing is so uncomfortable. Don't yank it like that! Why isn't this adjustable? And there's no padding, that sucks! Dammit, why do the load-bearing straps have to go through the crotch?!? How am I supposed to have kids after this?'" He kept it up all the time I was bouncing on the bungee, and all the way to the airport!

Baby, You Can Drive My Car - If It Runs
We took the later Air Berlin flight to Budapest. When we arrived and found the Trabants we were supposed to drive, we couldn't believe our eyes. "Holy crap," Patrick exclaimed as he lifted up the hood and peered around. "These things look like they're from World War II. Where's the sign that says, 'Caution - Clown Exit'?"

I'd already gotten in to try out the driver's seat while Patrick filled the car with gas and fiddled with car doohickies and automotive whatzits. "Are you going to be able to drive this thing with your stork legs? I don't think you can adjust the seat back."

Patrick sniffed. "Stork legs? Hrmph. At least I don't need boxes on my feet to drive!"

"Yeah, just call me Kimberly Short Round," I snapped as I tried to adjust the angle of the steering column, which was pointed straight at my stomach. Patrick finished up whatever he was doing under the hood and relieved me of that arduous task. When he settled into the driver's seat, I started laughing at how awkward he looked. His legs were definitely too long for the seat. He looked like he was sitting in one of those tiny chairs designed for first-graders.

Patrick tried to look hurt, but he couldn't keep from laughing himself. "I feel like I'm training for the circus," he grinned.

As it turned out, the lever that I thought adjusted the angle of the steering column was actually the gear shift. (Okay, so I'm not a car person.) We eventually got everything adjusted, and we got our Trabant going - but it didn't want to go very fast. Patrick got the hang of the column gear shift, but he couldn't get the car to go higher than third gear for very long.

It took us forever to get to Eger. Our car stalled out a couple of times, but it didn't totally break down - although by the time we got to the castle described in our clue, our Trabant's gears were making quite the racket and smoke was seeping out from under the hood. "Now we know that 'Trabant' means 'econobox piece of shit' in Hungarian," Patrick quipped as he parked the car.

Going Medieval
When we found out that this leg's Detour was a choice between figuring out how to use a medieval catapult and moving a cannon and 55 cannonballs, we didn't even need to discuss it. We both remembered watching at least half a dozen shows on the catapult's accuracy - or rather, lack thereof - so we started pushing the cannon. "Actually," Patrick noted pedantically, "that's not really a catapult - it's a trebuchet. See the sling?"

"This is one of those 'It's not a tank, it's an armored personnel carrier' man-moments, isn't it?" I asked.
I rolled my eyes. "This is one of those 'It's not a tank, it's an armored personnel carrier' man-moments, isn't it?" I asked. Naturally, Patrick responded with a series of manly grunts - although he could have just been straining to push the cannon.

After we got the cannon into place, we ran back down the hill for the cannonballs. They were as big as Patrick's hand and awkward to carry, so I suggested that we make our jackets into makeshift slings we wouldn't have to make as many trips up and down the cobblestone hill. The jackets worked perfectly, although the seams probably got a little stretched out.

Patrick kept up a running patter as we stacked the cannonballs into a pile. "Oh, balls," he drawled. "This is the much more ballsy Detour choice. I'm having a ball. After this, I'm going to Bali ..."

Yes, there are moments during the race when I can't decide whether to laugh or tape Patrick's mouth closed. I finally said, "If you don't shut up, I'm going to shoot you out of this cannon."

Patrick grinned. "Well, that would fit with the circus theme this leg!"

After we finished piling up the cannonballs, we headed to the train station to get back to Budapest. The ride took a while, so we played poker to kill some time and earned some extra cash. We weren't playing for high stakes, but by the end of the trip, we were up about US$25. It may not be much, but we figured every little bit counts.

We arrived at the Internet café in third place, behind Gus & Hera (yeah, we were shocked, too!) and Jonathan & Victoria. The place didn't open until 10:00pm, so of course all the other teams caught up with us - well, all the other teams except Lori & Bolo. We hadn't seen them since we'd left Berlin. Adam & Rebecca said that they'd seen them struggling with their Trabant in the airport parking lot, so they were in the right country, at least. Patrick & I are hoping Lori & Bolo won't get eliminated, because there are definitely other people who deserve it more.

Okay, we've got to sign off and head to the next route marker. Patrick can fill you in on what we did here. Until then, viszontlátásra - that's "bye" in Hungarian!

Next week: we regret ever saying that we like Hungarian food.

Discuss these racers.