Waldshut to Sigmaringen #4

No photos this time. They are in the movie below. Cheers!

Andy was very lucky to get into a physio by the sounds, we tried both in town and they were booked out for 6 weeks. Luckily one of them said he would see Andy at 7:30am (before he officially opened). His orders were to take it easy and not ride too far. That day we rode 75kms to get to the other side of a city having accidentally ridden the alternate route through the wilderness. His knee is now fully healed but unfortunately his back is now playing up. We have joked many times about me ‘doing a top gear’ on Andy. For those who haven’t seen top gear, every time one of them brakes down the rules are they get left behind to sort the problem themselves. Also to be kind to Andy and his injured knee I told him I would ‘break his wind’ for him for the next few days (meaning I would ride in front to create a slipstream). I definitely ‘did a Mum’ on this one cracking myself up and impressing myself with my comedy. Andy didn’t think it was as funny as I did though for some reason. Haha.

We are in a town called Sigmaringen and have just come back from visiting a castle that was built in the 1500’s and has the largest collection of old weapons and armour in Europe. It was pretty amazing (even if it wasn’t a beer castle).

The beer here is awesome. Every town has its own locally brewed beer. This town they even supply beer doilies to stop the condensation dripping down on to your coaster and your coaster sticking to the bottom of your glass. Ha! The only problem with all this luxurious beer drinking, is the European wasps that like to take a dip in your beer. From our observations so far, it seems the European wasps here are relatively friendly and dopey compared to at home. Locals swat them away like flies and the wasps don’t care. It seems that the Australian versions have mutated/adapted into much larger and more aggressive than their ancestors here.

From Waldshut where we wrote the last blog we have ridden through Basel and continuing along the Rhine River for a few more days until we got to Nuemburg. Here, we turned east off the Rhine as we wanted to head back up into the mountains again. The Rhine had become much wider and a bit dirty for swimming.

We rode to a place called Frieberg which is the second nicest city in Germany apparently. We went there with a plan of having a brief look around the city, then getting on a train to the top of the Black Forest Alps to a place called Titisee, where the Danube River started. When we got there, we got fairly lost trying to find the centre of town, found out from a nice local that they stopped running trains to Titisee the day before we arrived due to doing maintenance of the tracks. The next option was the bus. We went to the bus station (eventually after getting lost numerous times but being helped out by so many friendly locals, pointing us in the right direction). We probably rode at least 10km extra than we needed to around that city trying to find the train station, bus station centre of town and somewhere to stay.

There were heaps of busses with bike racks on the back but none that were clearly labelled with where they were going. There were also many different companies which made it difficult to know which one to go to. We ended up trying to ask the bus drivers where they were going and them not understanding us, then locals would get involved and try to translate for us. It was all complete mayhem. We then eventually found an office of a bus company that apparently would take us and our bikes and tell us what time and what number bus to get on. Or so we thought. Andy was in line at this bus office for well over an hour. When it was his turn, and Andy asked for a bus to Titisee, the man simply said ‘No’ and that was all. Our only option then was to ride up to the highest point in Germany through the black forest. My resilience levels were fairly low at this stage and I wasn’t overly helpful trying to read the map or find any solutions. Ha.

After arriving in Frieberg at about midday and it now being 6:00pm, we didn’t really feel that Frieberg was the second best city in Germany at all. Across the road from the bus office there was a bike shop Andy still had some enthusiasm left to go in and ask if they had any smaller cogs for our bikes that would make the hill climbing possible the following day. We had no luck in Australia at all with finding the parts. 2 bike shops searched everywhere for us with no luck so I wasn’t hopeful at all. But surprise surprise they had what we wanted. The bike dude said it would cost us 20 euro for the part and 20 euro for the labour per bike. Then if it didn’t work it would cost us another 20 euro to put it back to how it was. He tried to talk us into getting a cog with 26 teeth but we insisted on the 24 teeth (makes it easier to get up hills). The bike dude tried to insist that it wouldn’t work and the gear changing would be too rough etc etc blah blah.

Andy then asked if he could fit the cogs himself with the use of their tools. Surprisingly he agreed. So, here we were after a kind of crappy day, at 6pm at night in an alleyway, not knowing where we would stay the night, pulling our bikes to pieces. Again, I was super helpful and my prime role was bike holding! A very important job. Andy changed his bike first and it was perfect almost straight away. No worries, Then it was time to do my bike which turned out to be a little more difficult due to using a second hand part that required the right sized spacers. After changing my new cog on and off 3 or 4 times to get it right it was now about 7:30pm. Thankfully, Andy has the skills to be able to do all of this stuff, it cost us 37 euros all together instead of about 120 euros.

Our next task was finding a place to stay before riding up multiple huge mountains the following day. After being yelled at by locals for riding our bikes in a walking street (oops we can’t read German) we tried to navigate our way to a camping ground. We got lost yet again and the bridge and bike track we needed were closed. As we stood there looking defeated, a guy came up to us and offered us help. Turns out he was also a keen cycle tourer and so was keen to help us. He personally escorted us to the camp ground 6km’s out of town. On the way, a German man riding near us struck up a conversation with Andy, asking about our trip and where we were going etc. We explained our predicament and he told us that there was a gondola that would take bikes up to the (almost) top. When we looked on the map we discovered that the gondola climbed over 1000 vertical meters but it would take us about 100km short of Titisee. We didn’t mind at all, as at least it would take us up that high. Thank goodness we ran into this guy by chance or else we would still be trying to get up the mountain. Lucky!

To get to the Gondola was an adventure involving heaps of mountain biking through the Black Forest foothills and a lot of climbing. But we found it, and it was awesome. Turns out a way better choice than the train and I’m so glad we went this way. The riding to get to Titisee and Donuashegen was amazing. We had a few great sneaky camp sites, heaps of unexpected mountain biking, lots of climbing, amazing views, German alpine ski villages and awesome “Alpen berries” (similar to dangle berries but way better Haha).

Turns out our bikes are actually really good. We are constantly getting stopped and people are asking about our bikes having never really seen bike like it before. It does make me feel a bit more worried about them in cities though. If we were to buy bikes over here, we would have ended up with an overpriced mountain bike with smaller wheels. Our bikes were actually cheaper, faster (larger wheels) and better than most of the bikes we have seen for sale in bike shops. So, it was worth the effort of getting them here.

We had a very ordinary map for about a week. We started the trip with a very detailed map that came as a book. When we got onto the other maps, navigation became much harder and we could no longer talk in the lingo we had developed while using the book maps. For example, when one of us wanted to know how far we had to go we would respond with how many pages and we would know and understand exactly how far it was. “How far do we have to go?” “2.5 pages”

Or… “There is a hut and pine tree coming up soon. Do we want to stay there?” …. Meaning there was a pension/guest house.

Our German has improved significantly. We know speak like locals. All you need to do is add ‘berg’ or ‘shern’ or ‘targ’ or ‘lingen’ on the end of everything.

Dad, I think you would be very proud of me! Every day, I am rocking the socks and sandals without fail. Who knew that you were on to such a good thing for all these years. I never knew. If I had known that it was so good, I would have never have given you such a hard time and teased you. I can’t believe I used to think it was a dorky thing to do. Turns out it is actually very popular over here too. More importantly though, it is practical. It protects your feet from sunburn, makes it feel like you’re wearing proper shoes, stops your feet/sandals from getting stinky and is comfortable. Andy is not as keen on the socks and sandals thing as me but he has certainly done it from time to time. His feet were so badly sunburnt it blistered so he had no choice.

As I have mentioned earlier, we are constantly taking wrong turns and getting distracted by the scenery and end up having to back track or find an alternative way back to the correct path. On one particular occasion in the black forest in a small village, we had an English vs German conversation with an old Nanna. Neither of us could understand what the other was saying but we both understood perfectly. It went a bit like this:

Nanna: “Hello, can I help you, you looked like you need help”

Us: “Yes please. Is this Trink Wassa? Can we drink this water?”

Nanna: Yes it’s good. You can drink it.”

Us: “Great thanks. Do we go this way to Titisee?”

Nanna: “Yes, go down the hill then turn right”

Us: “Great thanks. Bye”

After we filled our water bottles, we rolled off down the hill we got distracted by the coolness of the town and started talking and zigzagging all over the quiet roads enjoying it. Then we heard in a huge booming voice from the old Nanna (150 metres away) who was till obviously watching us to make sure we didn’t miss the turn off.

“Oi, you missed the turn off” (‘you vague, airy-fairy tourists’ she was probably thinking)

We turned around and went back to the correct path after yelling out our thanks again.

We have been constantly blown away by how helpful people are, especially in a place where there are not as many cycle tourists. Another example was the other day, sitting in an old town in the morning after getting up at the crack of dawn to pack up our sneaky camp. We were making a coffee by a water fountain, on our beer can stove. A woman came out of her house and came up to us, obviously taking pity on us and our dirty homeless look that we are rocking now. She said “you like coffee? I make you one” so off she went back into her house and came out with 2 coffees. She asked where we were from and where we had been bike riding. We told her we had started at Oberalpass. When she understood what we were saying she said ‘Oh wow, so far”. For the first time then I actually started to think that it was a long way that we had come even with injuries etc. We haven’t done a proper tally yet of the km’s that we have done (due to our Aldi speedo being dodgy – who would have thought. Mine broke on the first day and Andy’s you need to add on about 3 or 4 kms for every 10km we do) but it is at about 800kms give or take. When we started at Oberallpass we had no idea what we were doing, we still don’t really, but we are definitely not such beginners as we were then.

Bike travel is really great. We have worked out there are 2 types of cycle tourists. The first type are kind of like road riders who smash out as many km’s in a day and it is about the destination and the physical. The other type are much slower, social and cruisy and take their time and are using the bikes as a means of travel through a place where it is more about the journey and what you see along the way. No points for guessing which we are. Sure, there is still an element of wanting to ride a long way in a day and physically push yourself. We are enjoying feeling fitter and stronger but we are still taking our time, drinking way too much beer, riding with a hangover occasionally and once (yesterday) only riding 10kms in a day if we find somewhere we like and want to explore.

Andy has progressively thrown out more and more of his clothes as he goes along. He has realised that he rides and wears the same thing every day so there is no need for much else. Just a t shirt, jocks and long pants. So, this means he has been wearing his bike riding shorts which are more like undies and is so used to being in public in his undies all the time. So much so, that the other day when he was actually only wearing his undies in a caravan park, he got out of the tent in his jocks and was walking around everywhere, went off to get a beer then came back and told me that “Oops, I have been wearing my jocks around outside” So, on with some shorts then he was off to get some beers more appropriately dressed this time.

We have a bit of a routine now. In the beginning we would be up at the crack of dawn (6am) and riding by 7am. Now, when we are wild camping we are up at the crack of dawn so we don’t get caught. When we are staying in a caravan park we are usually a little hungover and take it a bit slower and get going by about 8:30. When we stay in a guest house we leave late, making the most of the comfort, internet, shower and included breakfast and get going on the road by about 10:00am. When we sneaky camp we have to ride for longer as we can’t set up too early or we will be seen. We have had some awesome spots where we have ‘wild camped’ and it is nice to be out in the bush. The only downer is the constant “What was that?” “Is someone coming?” “Have we been seen?” “Do you think they will go and tell the landowner?” We have had some close calls about being spotted.

The last sneaky camp, we went up into the bush and camped next to a hunting hide/shack. I originally thought they were for bird watching but I don’t think they are. We saw someone in one of these on the side of the road calling out like a dying rabbit with cammo stuff everywhere. Our theory was that we were better off to camp there so if any hunters came, they would see us and not accidently shoot over our heads towards a deer or something. The truth was, we couldn’t be bothered looking for anywhere else as we had stumbled upon a local beer festival that afternoon and it was too late to go anywhere else. It was a bit stressful though.

The hardest thing can been finding somewhere to stay at night. Most tourists and cyclists seems to have their accommodation (guest house and camping ground) pre-booked so places can either be booked out or just not open. When we wild camp we buy a takeaway beer and then ride out of the town towards the bush and try and find somewhere before our beer gets warm. It can be a stressful thing! Haha. Another thing we do before setting up our tent is to look around for the nearest church and do everything we can to get as far away from it as possible. The church bells that go off every 15 mins drive us mad. In a tent there isn’t much of a sound barrier. Peter calls it Time Spam. Apparently the locals hate it too but they have to put up with it because that’s how it is, and that has what has always happened.

Tomorrow we leave this town and head further down the Danube River. We have also posted another video. Enjoy! xx

 

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Lake Konstanz to Waldshut

Lake Konstanz – WaldShut

There are so many amazing places to swim. The water looks so inviting being crystal clear. Apparently it has been unusually hot, hottest summer on record for Switzerland. Nothing like North East Vic heat waves, but bloody hot when you’re pedalling all day. Thankfully now it has cooled down a little. Andy keeps hoping that every castle we see is a beer castle with icy cold beer for cycle tourists. Unfortunately, every time he is very disappointed to learn that it is a plain old castle with no beer.

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Andy's Beer Castle!

Andy’s Beer Castle!

We have dumped a few of our possessions gradually along the way, trying to lighten our load. As we are becoming more accustomed to the heat, bikes and the heavy load, our riding has improved a lot. We have done a couple of days of riding 80 or so km’s and not feeling overly tired at the end of the day. So we are getting fitter.

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The further out of the mountains we get, the worse the camp grounds seem to get. They are all full of permanent campervan set ups. They leave a tiny space for tents and cram people in tightly there is not even enough room to have your bikes on the site and we have to stand them up and tie them together. We have slept with snorers next door for many nights. We will avoid camp grounds like the plague from now on if we can help it and free camp in the woods from now on.

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We arrived in Konstanz which is a beautiful city with an incredibly interesting history. We were lucky enough to stay with Peter who was probably the best person to stay with in all of Europe as he is a professional bike tourer/businessman. Peter’s apartment was amazing. He lives in the best part of town and has a large 5 star luxury apartment, the building is over 400 years old! Andy met Peter on Mt Buller about 6 months ago during summer while mountain biking. Peter over-heard Andy talking about riding the Rhine River and started talking to him and said we should stay at his place in Konstanz. What are the chances of that!!!

Peter's place is the Red building. Luxurious

Peter’s place is the Red building. Luxurious

We emailed him and it all worked out well. We had been sleeping in a tent for over a week so the thought of a bed was very appealing (plus it was rainy) originally we thought we would stay for one night but after going out for a few beers with Peter and his friend we were convinced to stay for 2 nights. Peter has numerous businesses that all mainly involve bikes in some way or another. He has cycled all over the world and has designed, planned and made maps of many of the cycle routes in Europe. So now we have a plan based on his advice on where we should go.

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We aren’t going to ride the whole Rhine River. We think it gets pretty boring and industrial which we thought it might (based on our research). We are going to ride as far as Basel (Germany/France) then ride through the Black Forest and ride down the Donau (Danube) River to Vienna (Austria). We are also wanting to head west into France before the Black Forest hopefully. Not too sure yet though.

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It was lovely to ditch the bikes somewhere secure for a while and have some time to be a tourist in a nice city. Andy and I don’t really love cities but Konstanz was nice to spend a day in. We also were able to do some repairs/ maintenance on our bikes, buy maps a proper bike lock etc. It was really weird staying in a complete stranger’s house. We were out for most of the day as he runs his 4 or more businesses from home (the room we were staying in). He was very welcoming and made us amazing espressos in the morning. We also got a gift for staying at his place of bicycle shaped sunglasses, we’ll have to put up a photo. Way better than waking up in a tent and making our coffee on a beer can on the ground.

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It is so much cheaper in Germany about half that of Switzerland. The last camp ground we stayed at cost us about 60 AUD for a patch of dirt. So after staying right next door to some poms, the following night we tried our luck at ‘wild camping’ which is illegal technically but Peter said he does it all the time and it is fine as long as you don’t get caught. Haha.

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We pedalled a short distance the next day due to 70km/h head winds. We had to pedal flat out down hills. If we stopped pedalling down the hill, we pretty much came to a standstill. It was the pits!!!!! So we stopped early at lunch time and decided we would ‘wild camp’ We went down these non-existent tracks to the river, through corn fields and pushed our biked through the scrub and stumbled across the most amazing place that looked as though it was made for sneaky camping. It was right on the water, had a fire pit and had a nice sized clearing. We fell asleep on the edge of the river for a few hours and went swimming. There was no one around so we thought no one would find us. However, in the late arvo, all the locals appeared. We wanted to set up the tent and go to bed but had to wait for the last local to stop fishing and leave at about 9:30pm. Our sneaky spot was not so sneaky. It was the locals hang out and we had stolen the prime hang out spot. Oops. We woke up at 6am like every morning and packed up quickly before the first boat went past, made a coffee, had breaky, had a swim and left. We are getting much faster at packing up everything. From waking up to having the tent packed up, panniers packed and on the bikes, we can now do in 20 mins.

Sunrise wild camping

Sunrise wild camping

Mum, you will be pleased to know that I now have to eat breakfast every morning or else I get hangry buy about 9am after a few hours of pedalling and ‘Andy the poor bastard’ (as you would say) cops it. So, I have come to the conclusion that breakfast is a good idea for everyone’s sake. Plus, I can actually feel the lack of energy if I don’t.

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HANGRY !

After 2 weeks or whatever it has been, I now feel like I really know my bike. We have worked out that slow and steady is the go with the large amount of time on the bike and the loads we are carrying. Some days we are on the bikes for 8 or more hours. We think we are carrying a lot of gear but the truth is we have 2 less bags than most pairs of cycle tourists we see. We have seen twice now, people pulling a hammer out of there pannier bags to hammer in the tent pegs to the lush, soft Swiss ground!!! There have been no crashes from us yet. The drivers are very kind to cyclists which is great. We have only been beeped at once! We go the wrong way at least 4 times every day .Our maps are all in German, so that’s to be expected I spose.

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Peter’s apartment.

There are so many decisions that need to be made every day.

‘Should we try this backroad?’ ‘How much further should we ride?’ Should we wild camp tonight?’ Where are we on the map’? ‘What should we have for dinner?’ Should we buy food here or wait and see if there is another supermarket closer to camp?’ What if there isn’t’?

Some days we are buggered and every decision is so much effort and we both suffer from the old Chronic Indecisiveness ‘Too Hard Basketitis’ AKA (CITHB) an annoying sickness that can arrive in the afternoon and last a few hours. When this happens worse to one of us than the other, the other person becomes ‘trip leader’ and makes the decisions. It’s great sometimes just following when you have CITHB.

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View from the top of the church. Konstanz.

We are now in a lovely town called Waldshut, we have booked into a hotel for 2 nights. I am currently listening to a guitar and saxophone player playing just outside our window and there has been a variety of great buskers right outside. Pretty luxurious. Andy injured his knee the day before we arrived in Konstanz and it has got significantly worse. It is painful for him to ride, sleep, and walk (he doesn’t have a great track record). So we are resting for a few days. I am keen to get on the road again but am certainly enjoying this hotel and town. Andy is going to the physio tomorrow morning, which will hopefully help. We are lucky that we have 3 months and can take our time. It is the way that we prefer to travel anyway.

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Cheers !

 

 

On the Bikes

Our stay at Glutentargs was lovely. It was nice to get some rest before getting on the bikes and we enjoyed exploring the lovely town of Andermat. We got up early and had the most awkward breakfast ever with another man staying at Glutentargs place. The language barrier was a key factor in that awkwardness. We rolled out of glutentargs and boarded the train in our usual highly strung way. Is this the right train? How are we going to get all of our stuff on and off this train in time before it leaves? Turns out that there is heaps of time, still its not that easy with so much gear.

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It seems to take us so much time to get everything ready and on the bikes, which I’m sure we will improve on. Having finally got all our stuff loaded we found ourselves in the heart of the Swiss Alps above 2000m looking down and the most amazing road we’ve ever seen, with about a dozen hairpin corners to coast around. Surrounded by mountain peaks, enourmous cliffs glaciers and stunning alpine views we wobbled our trusty steeds, Wally (amy’s) and Whaley(andy’s cos it’s overoaded) into the first steep descent and loved it.

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DCIM101GOPRO

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Since then we have seen a lot of people on bikes, but only a few like us with all the camping gear on board. We have descended 1400m and just finished climbing 300m up. The total distance we are covering is about half of what we thought we would do, as we have to stop all the time an marvel, film and photograph so many amazing things we see along the way. On the first day of riding after taking a wrong turn that led us to a really great part of the ride we found ourselves in a huge hail storm and happened upon a tiny little wood shed to shelter in for about half an hour until the hail had eased enough to get out and ride again.

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

So it turns out the first few days were mountain biking, not really ideal on our touring bikes. Amazing trails through the bush. The other thing that didn’t quite go to plan was using lamp oil for cooking in a home made beer can stove. Due to the language barrier we ended up with the wrong fuel, a near bushfire when I tipped it over, and the blackest pot you could imagine. I was ready to give up on the beer can stove after the most stressful cooking experience ever. Glad to say that we got the right fuel now, and the beer can is cooking like a dream. Overall, my year 9 German is coming in very handy though. Turns out I was listening to the German teacher after all. I just ordered 2 large beers in full German with no mistakes.

 

After a very slow start to the distance we are covering, we are managing 50km + days. We are currently sitting at a bar overlooking a marina and Lake Konstanz. It has been well above 32 Degrees and way to bloody hot to be riding all day with a head wind! Most people in Switzerland are athletes, the old nana B&B host in Andermatt goes mountain biking, paragliding, skiing and we thought she was old and frail. We think that there might be a fat tax in Switzerland on fatty foods that we crave after 8 hours of packing up/riding/getting lost/checking the map/shopping for food that will survive 30+ deg heat and eating like a vegetarian for dinner. We are leaving camp on average at about 7am and getting to camp between 2 and 4pm. Unfortunately, ‘wild camping’ is not the go in Switzerland so we are in caravan parks with a million other people, but the showers are nice for sure. Looking forward to some “wild camping’ in Germany.

Travelling by bike is really quite nice. Bike touring is amazing! We are not hard core bike tourers, but are loving the life on the road. After a few shitty camp sites, there is nothing better than getting on the road again at the crack of dawn. We have improved signifiacantly to the first day. It took us 3 hours by the time we got up, packed up, made coffee and breaky and being on the road, Now we are doing it in an hour. This morning we couldn’t do it fast enough, we could wait to leave Buchs, due to the bells from the church that rang every 15 mins all throughout the night. We have been swimming in the Rhine River along the way to cool off.

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We are carrying all together including the bikes about 85 kilos everyday. Even though this is a summit to sea, there is still a lot of uphills that we weren’t expecting. We have probably climbed 700 vertical metres all up over the last 5 days. But have descended a lot more than that.

We are sad to be leaving the Alps and the most amazing mountain scenery I could have ever imagined. We are looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead, swimming in the blue lake Konstance for the next few days, and whatever is around the next corner. We had our first conversation with an English speaking person today who was looking at our bikes outside a supermarket today. He thought that he would like to do this kind of trip.

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Things that kinda suck but are all part of an amazing adventure

-head winds

-sore arses

-being overtaken by old nannas or kids

-getting spiked / scared everday by my mountain biking pedal spikes

-the sunburn in weird places (ankles, feet, calves)

-not speaking german

-church bells we originally thought these were quaint and end up being awful. We camped next to a church where they went off every 15 mins all night long, I wanted to pack up, and night ride at midnight but Amy was not so keen.

P.S we are 4 giant Austrian Beers in, after going to 3 different countries so far today. Cheers

From Home to the Swiss Alps

We have made it. It is Thursday morning. I have been up since 5am not being able to sleep so thought I would try out if I would be any good at this blog stuff.

If we do blog entries, there are probably a few things that you SHOULD definitely expect from them:

  1. They will probably sound like a 10 year olds recount of their holiday. “and then we did…. And then we”
  2. True to our style, there will be spelling and grammar mistakes and it probably won’t be proof read. (Time is short)
  3. They will not be regular and they will probably cease all together at some point.

 

Now, here is an update of our journey getting here starting from the point when we left the front door of home. (Just kidding).

Packing the bikes into the bike boxes took way longer than we thought. 4 hours to be precise. I was not much use really, although I did do some very technical bike holding while Andy did pretty much the rest. But he was a bike mechanic after all, which makes him way more qualified than me.

On the way to the airport, I was busy stressing out about all the things out of my control (What if they are too heavy? What if they lose the bikes? What if they get damaged? How are we going to get all these boxes from the airport – Airport train station – Zurich Train station – Gloshenberg Station – Andermatt Station) while Andy was kicking back in comfort in the back seat.

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Planes really are boring. Here are my thoughts and comments:

  1. I shoulda packed my toothbrush!
  2. When you order a drink, don’t just order 1 like everyone else, order 7 at a time. (It’s the only way to staty hydrated)
  3. My personal space was very invaded constantly by strangers
  4. The people watching is good in such a populated space
  5. Dubai airport is amazingly grand
  6. Turns out that getting to Europe takes waaaayyyy longer than getting to Asia
  7. Dragging bike boxes plus other stuff at 75 kg total around really does suck and is extremely awkward
  8. Most other countries in the world are amazingly educated in language (from cleaning staff to baggage handlers, everyone speaks English) English speaking countries (me) are really slack only knowing 1 language
  9. It was the longest night ever!!! We took off from Melbourne in the dark and didn’t see daylight for an unnaturally long time as we were chasing the night time around the world. (Shoulda gone the other way round the earth)!
  10. Emerites airlines are amazingly strict. There will never be any danger of someone getting on the plane who shouldn’t be there as they check your passport and boarding pass 5 times in a 30m section. Seriously!

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Surprisingly, everything worked out pretty well (even with all the bike boxes). The bikes and other boxes arrived at Zurich airport. My bike box was all bent up and out of shape though. I am still yet to see if there is any damage. We went up and down a few incorrect lifts to get to the train station below the airport and rolled up to the correct platform eventually and man-handled our bikes onto the train. Arrived in Zurich HB station and had to wait a short time for the change over. We got lots of weird looks from passers-by, probably wondering ‘why on earth have they got these bikes in a massive awkward box? Why aren’t they assembling their bikes and using the wheels that they so conveniently come with to get around?’ I was wondering the same thing! If we assembled our bikes at the airport, we wouldn’t have arrived in Andermatt last night as we just got the last train from Gossenen to Andermat that allow bikes on the train. We also saved ourselves a lot of money as assembled bikes cost a lot more than a cardboard box. The view from the train window was amazingly spectacular. We were like 2 excited kids not quite believing what we were seeing.

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To be a spectator watching the 2 of us get these bike boxes on to the train and off again, would have been comical if not slightly concerning. The changeover at Glossenen was the worst! The absolute pits really. I felt so sorry for Andy carrying/dragging so much more than me. I had my bike box, handbag and a pannier bag. Andy had his bike box, laptop bag, pannier bag and a super heavy and awkward cardboard box with the additional 4 pannier bags in it. We had apparently 6 mins to get from one platform, down some stairs, up some stairs, down a busy platform and on to another train. Turns out we didn’t have 6 mins though, it was more like 3.5mins. We were running full pelt (as fast as we could go) to get this last train to Andermat. I was in front and was accidently / not really caring bashing in to people to get on the train. I looked back and saw Andy taking up about 3 meters(across ways) on the platform as he was dragging his bike box on one corner as it had tipped almost completely on its side. We made it though, just in time, Phew!

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Got off at Andermatt and there was Glutentarg our host who is really called Welgar (nothing like Glutentarg except that’s what I have been calling her for the last few days as I couldn’t remember Welgar). I straight away got scalded for not calling her and telling her what train we were on. She had apparently come to the station 3 times looking for us that day. OOPS! With everything that has been going on and being so busy at home before we left, we forgot to write her phone number down and forgot to get my travel sim working properly. We loaded our bikes very precariously on the roof of Glutentargs car. Andy was bust ensuring that they were secured properly doing truckies hitches etc and Glutentarg was impatiently saying ‘Ok, that is OK. Will be fine, we go slow” Well we didn’t really go slow up the hill but they got here without falling off the back of the car. Had a massive Kebab down the road and went to bed. I think we were both asleep before our heads hit the pillow.

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From the time we left Mum and Dads to arriving at Andermat Station, we had been on the move for 37 hours with maybe 2 hours sleep each in that time. Today will involve exploring Andermat and getting gear, bikes etc to go tomorrow.

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO