Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's that in my pasta?

I was eating a nice tuna roe pasta in Genoa when I felt something like a pistachio shell in my mouth. It was one of the gold crowns on my molar that had popped off.

I just got done with the dentist this morning. He had to replace the filling that the crown was sitting on top of and then re-glue the crown back on. My tongue still feels like a potato.

Driving from Genoa to Zurich

We drove from Genoa to Zurich on our last day before flying out of Zurich in the morning. There is a tunnel through St Gotthard pass that is the only link through the area. The pass itself was closed because of the snow the night before so we had to take the tunnel. There was an accident in the tunnel and traffic was dead-stopped for 30 minutes, then we moved forward about 1 km and then we dead-stopped for another 2-hours. 

Snow. We got out of the Alps just in time. 

Dead stopped on the highway

After that, we inched along in 1st gear for about an hour watching the gas gauge drop towards empty and then the gas light came on. We were not near the tunnel yet, and we really did not want to run out of gas in the tunnel. Fortunately, there were signs for a rest area with gas that we could see off in the distance. As we approached, we saw that the gas icon had a big red X through it. No gas. We had to stop there anyway because at the inch-an-hour rate, we would run out of gas no matter what. We thought that we could wait out the traffic and then try go coast through the tunnel on what remaining gas we had. At the rest stop, we learned that they keep an emergency ration of gas so we paid the $50 CHF for 20 liters of gas, had dinner, and finally arrived in Zurich just past midnight. The hotel bar was still open and, out of sympathy, the check-in clerk gave us two drink tickets ;)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hiking along Cinque Terra

Here are some of our photos from Cinque Terra today. The trails from Monterosso to Vernazza to Corniglia are open but the paths to the last two villages are closed.
We took the train from Genoa to Monterosso in the morning and returned after the hikes. The Italian train system has me pining away for Germany.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sherry on the ropes

Well, chains really. We went for a long hike on the Portofino Peninsula. A lot longer and holier than we had expected. We missed the last boat out of the little village we were hiking to and had to hire a small boat to get us out.
The trail had chains for the steep and exposed parts.

Went to see the Modigliani exhibit along the way

His work really stands out from the others.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Over the St Bernard pass into Italy

We decided to drive up and over the pass rather than take the tunnel through the mountain. It was a beautiful day  the extra driving time seemed worth it.
The buildings at the top of the pass are where the St Bernard dogs were initially bred.
We are now safely in Genoa.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tomorrow, Genoa

Driving down to the coast of Italy tomorrow for a 3 or 4 day stay. Hoping to hike around cinque terre.

Hike photos

A few photos

From our Hikes over the past two days.

Our home in Switzerland

We are staying at our neighbor, Frankie's apartment in La Tzoumaz. Here are pictures looking out from the patio, looking at the front of the apartment building, and looking to the right from the patio.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


The tire is back. Hope Hertz doesn't notice that a slightly worn tire with a different brand name is on the front.

Busted flat in La Tzoumaz

I ripped the sidewall on a curb I didn't see. Saturday evening in a remote mountain village. Fortunately, it happened right in front of the apartment we were arriving to. We have food, drink, a bed and electricity.
The tire is now in the hands of a guy I met in the local bar who apparently has a repair shop nearby.
Not sure how to turn off underlining on my tablet .....

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tandem in the toilet

We almost got kicked off the train to Zurich because the tandem did not fit anywhere on the train and I did not have the tool for breaking it apart (lesson learned). The bike was on the train but was blocking the entire passageway and we were not going to be able to keep it there.
One of the porters said that the handicapped bathroom was out of service and we could try to wedge it in. Here is the result.

Bike ride summary

Here is a quick summary of our two weeks on the bike. Starts on 20 September and ends on 4 October. Germany did it's best to thrown us curve balls including the complete lack of hotels in Boppard and the closed train station ticket windows on a day we had to travel and the ticket machines that won't accept our credit cards or bills larger than10 euro and little towns who are closed on Mondays. Oh, and the train that stole my wife.
Friday- ride from Amsterdam to Utrecht
Saturday- ride to Arnhem
Sunday- ride to Emmerich
Monday- train ride to Bonn and ride to Linz am Rhein
Tuesday- ride to Lahnstein after a stop at Bad Breisig
Wednesday- ride to Bacharach
Thursday- ride to Mainz
Friday- train to Koblenz and ride to Bad Honningen.
Saturday- enjoy the spa and then ride to Osterspai
Sunday- rest day. Boppard wine fest and boat ride up the Rhein
Monday- train from Boppard to Trier and ride to Mehring
Tuesday- ride to Traben
Wednesday- ride to Cochem
Thursday- day off. Hike up to Eltz Castle.
Friday- hop the train to Zurich

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tomorrow, Zurich

Taking the train tomorrow to Zurich. We have been pedaling for two weeks and are ready for a change.
Renting a car, packing up the tandem and then heading to the Alps for a few days. Considering a side trip to Genoa later in the week. We could use a little warm sunshine.

Swans are everywhere

And so are little fountains in every town square.

From Trabach to Cochem

A few photos from the route.

Pictures from the Mosel

Sherry on the train and also wearing her cold morning riding gear. The Mosel river in the morning near Muhring.

Mosel river route

We took the train from Boppard to Triers to start our next little side trip. The vacation beard is growing in nicely.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Photos from the Boppard wine fest

The next perfect plan

Wake up and take the train from Boppard to Trier via Koblenz and spend three days or so riding down the Moselle river back towards Koblenz. The Moselle (or Mosel here in Germany) is smaller and quieter than the Rhine.

Our day off

We spent two nights in Osterpsai and took a day off from riding. We went across the river to Boppard and took a boat upstream to Oberwesel through the narrows at Loreley. Oberwesel has a lot of Roman ruins and it was a nice day to wander. Boppard was having a wine festival so we got way too drunk on German white wine while playing 'guess that tune' as the big band played your favorites from Abba to Earth Wind and Fire.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why are Germans as fat as Americans?

This is the eleven Euro mixed grill. It has four big hunks of meat, a salad with cheese and a big bowl of fries. This is about $15 in a nice little restaurant and is typical of the serving sizes in Germany. In Amsterdam, this would have been three meals, each 20 Euro.  
It is a challenge to order the right amount of food here. We are ordering one salad and one main meal and splitting them. Seems to work most of the time.

Two perfect plans ruined

We took the train back up to Koblenz to re-do the best part of the Rhein valley. We had time, so plan A was to ride up the Moselle river for two days and take a boat back to Koblenz. So, of course, the one and only boat had a private party booked on the day we wanted. So, plan B was to ride up to Bad Honningen, take in a long spa day and then head back up the Rhein. The spa part worked great, but there is a wine festival going on and all of the hotels heading back up the Rhein are completely booked, something we were unaware of until lunch today. So, lots of "do you speak English" phone calls later, we have a nice room in Osterspai where we are staying two full days. We have ridden for nine days straight and are ready for a break. The wine festival is only 4 miles and a short ferry ride away in Boppard so we may stop in tomorrow.
Until then, here is a photo of Sherry catching some radiation and a typical scene from the trail.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


For the previous post

Is it really Friday?

Last post had us getting off the train at Bonn. Since then, we spent nights in Linz am Rhein, Lahnstein, Bacharach and we are now in Mainz.
The photos are mostly of the view from the youth hostel in Bacharach. There is also a photo of one of the ferry boats that we take to cross the river. There are very few bridges. There are also a number of hiking trails through the hills. There is a photo of one of the sign posts.
In Mainz, we tried to decide if we wanted to go up the Main river or continue down the Rhine. Instead, we are going back to Bonn and doing that last section over again. The stretch from Koblenz to Mainz is a UNESCO heritage site and it has lots of beautiful little towns and we just blew through it. We are going to do it again, only more slowly. Let's see if we can manage getting on and off the train this time:-)
We went to the spa at Bad Breising a few days ago. Forget every advertisement you have ever seen about European spas and instead envision lots of old fat Germans soaking in lukewarm mineral water. We had paid for the bath and the sauna so we went to the sauna. Sherry came out of the women's locker and almost bumped into a few nude men. You could see the immediate confusion - 'did I go into the wrong locker room?'. The sauna is a clothing optional/unnecessary affair. There was a little garden area with it's own little hot house where we participated in a group sauna after laying out in the garden turning often to avoid sunburn on parts that don't normally see the sunshine. Sorry, no photos.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day four wrap-up. In the Rhine valley

We skipped the industrial part of the Rhine and took a train to Bonn and then rode down to Linz au Rhine for the night. Finally, the picture book promise of the Rhine valley. Navigation is now really easy. It is easy to follow a river when it is in a valley but really hard to navigate through a river delta.
Here are three pictures from the day.