A Travellerspoint blog

Biker Heaven aka Switzerland

rain 10 °C

Up early as we got a lot of miles to cover today and the weather outlook for the first time on the trip wasn't great. The hotel had a buffet breakfast which was awesome because it meant we could stuff ourselves and then create lunch out of the assorted rolls, meats and cheeses! We ended up making 4 massive rolls for lunch, which Jayne took great delight in making me try and smuggle back up to the room.

Bike prepared and bill paid we hopped on as the clouds started to roll in and the rain started to fall. It was pretty light at first but about half hour in it was full on lashing down and as the roads glistened and the edge of the cliff beckoned I slowed down to a snails pace and focused on getting us off the mountain in one piece. This was made more of a challenge by only being able to part see through a dark smoked visor that had misted up!

About an hour later the rain began to ease of and return to a light sprinkling as we approached the Swiss boarder. A queue of traffic was waiting and people were running backwards and forwards from an office that looked like it was issuing papers to cross. We opted for the 'look like a local' option and just rode straight up to the border guard, still with the dark visor down on my helmet. To our surprise the guard just glanced at us and waved us through without a second look. So far we have crossed 4 borders and only shown our passports once, and that was in England!

The roads had dried up a bit, but Jayne (convinced we were about to drive through a deluge) put on her neon twat sack. The twat sack is what we named her florescent yellow all in one water proof boiler suit that she bought prior to the trip, called this mainly because you look like a twat dressed in a bright yellow sack when you wear it!

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As Jayne was making herself look....yellow, we bought a Viniette to stick on the bike. This is an annual motorway tax that has to be paid in Switzerland and cost around £30. Once bought you display the sticker on your vehicle and are then free to enter any motorway. even if it is only for an hour, you must buy the full year.
The roads got even drier and the sun started to come out as we stopped at Lucerne in Switzerland for our pre-made rolls and a diet coke. It seemed like a very touristy town with many people posing for photo's with the swans and a large variety of boat trips, pedalos available and flowery bridges available.

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The hunt for a toilet was unsuccesful as Maccy dees and BK had locks on their toilet doors so off we went a little desperate for a wee, but glad the sun was shining. The sun began to come out in full strength and we had the most amazing next 4 hours. The roads were practically empty as they wound up and down mountains on squiggly roads that were to die for with pretty villages and massive lakes wizzing by.

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We even managed to get a friendly Chinese lady to take a picture with both of us in it for once!

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Eventually we decided to stop and find a place for the night next to Briez lake in Oberrieden, Switzerland. The task was to find a room with a balcony and view of the lake for less than £100 a night as it was super expensive here. After a few inquiries we found a rather strange and incredibly empty rustic looking place with a room that overlooked the lake for £95. The Swiss owner of the house couldn't speak a word of English but gestured we could put the bike in his garage, which was a nice thought. When he opened up the doors we were confronted by the most mint looking Ferrari soft top that I have ever seen. Apparently it was his so we should have maybe bartered the price on the room!?
We got a few large beers and sat on the balcony enjoying the sunset before chomping a sausage and giant pizza in his restaurant and heading to bed.

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Long day ahead tomorrow as we have planned several slow mountain passes, but the forecast is sunshine all the way, so should be an incredible day on the bike.

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 13:06 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

The Black Forest

(and the best roads so far!)

sunny 12 °C

What an amazing nights sleep, I slept like road kill all through the night! (I'm sure it helped to know the bike was safe in a secure underground car park).
I had all the intentions of going to the Hotel gym this morning, but no chance as it was late morning and we wanted to get on the road again. The ritual of stuffing 75 litres of kit into a 40 litre pannier began and after a bit of a heaveho everything was stowed away and fitted to the bike again. A bit peckish and reluctant to pay the £15 each for breakfast at the hotel we set off in search of the penny market we had seen practically next door. Unfortunately it was closed, as was the Lidols and countless other stores we saw!? It wasn't until a bit later we realised that it was Germany Day and being a national holiday most things were closed. DOH!
It was going to be a long day today and keen to get most of the way through the Black Forest it was going to have to be Motorway for an hour. The weather was bright and sunny so it wasn't too much of an effort but due to Germany day depriving us of breakfast we stopped in a town called Baden Baden (presumably so good they named it twice?). Just on the outskirts to town Jayne spotted a Cafe that was open so I bounced up the curb, dodged a few unsuspecting locals and parked right outside their window.
It was a bit of a shame but the Cafe only served coffee and the most disgustingly amazing looking array of Gateau's and cakes!

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3 whopping sized slices of Gateau and 4 coffee's later we felt ready to take on the Black Forest (the actual Black Forest, not another Gateau!). Jayne picked out a road that seemed to take us through the middle of part of the forest and in the general direction of Switzerland so off we set.

The road took us over a mountain pass where we climbed steeply up to over 1000 meter's and the air got noticeably cooler as we entered the clouds. There were amazing views all around us and the roads were full of motorbikes enjoying the scenery. We stopped for a quick photo before continuing on.

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The next 2 hours consisted of the most incredible roads I have ridden so far. Sweeping bends of smooth tarmac slicing through dense green forest and views of villages far below that are simply stunning. I was in biker heaven!
A brief stop at an idyllic town called Schiltach...

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...for some water and a comfort break was all we needed before heading of on more amazing roads to try and get as close to the Swiss border as we could before bedding down for the night. At around 5 o'clock and the daylight starting to fade we arrived in a village called HinterZarten and after a few visits to hotel receptions, Jayne managed to find a reasonable priced one with a great room.

Tired from the long day it was decided that eating in the hotel might be favourable so we scoffed another massive meal before having a planning session for the route tomorrow into Switzerland.
It was at this point we googled translated the name of the town we were staying in to find out it was actually called 'Tender Behind', how appropriate!!!

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 10:54 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Castles Along The Rhine

sunny 15 °C

Had an OK nights sleep, but as the bike was parked in a main road out the front of the hotel I kept waking up and wanting to go check on it!
Jayne was up early and disappeared out for a run where as I opted for the slide out of bed late and make breakfast option.
When Jayne arrived back we ate as much as we could manage and stuffed our bags with every last bit of food from the fridge to last us the day (old travel habits die hard!).
I was incredibly happy when we went outside and the bike was still there, sat in its space waiting dutifully for us. We had to check out of the room so loaded up everything onto the bike and headed back to the cathedral, hoping to have a look inside.
The good thing about having a bike on a trip like this is you can pretty much park it anywhere! So I parked it on a curb just round the corner from the cathedral. The doors were open so we quietly wondered inside. It was very impressive with hugely tall decorative ceilings, incredibly intricate mosaic floors and stained glass windows that lit up the inside in every colour of the rainbow.

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After our fill of culture I set the nav to get us out of the town and we blasted down the motorway for a few miles before jumping onto the route that followed the Rhine (The B9).
Now this was an inspired choice of roads as the weather was amazing and it was stunningly beautiful. There were castles springing up on every corner and hilltop as we followed the tree lined valley alongside the river Rhine.

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The lonely planet mentioned a large castle in ruins at St Goar and as we were passing, it seemed silly not to stop and take a look. Parking the bike up a nice lady behind a desk offered to look after our jackets and helmets while we meandered around the castle. It turned out it was absolutely massive!

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They give you a flyer that guides you around several routes and imparts information about what you are looking at. It is definitely worth a look if any of you ever go near here. Our adventurous side got the better of us at one point as we even managed to go under a metal railing and start descending into the mine tunnels below the castle. They reminded us of the Vietnamese tunnels as they were less than a meter high and kept going deeper and deeper as we crawled on our hands and knees using the iphone for light. After a while there were a lot of turnings off and in fear of spending the next few weeks trying to find the way back out we turned around and headed for the surface.
Quite exhausted and our clothes a little muckier from the tunnels we thanked the lady, collected our gear and moved on down the road to place called Worms. Unfortunately I made a few wrong turns (I was getting tired!) and we got lost a few times. But we did end up having to cross a river on a tiny ferry which was exciting...

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...before finding our hotel in Leidenburg. Jayne had managed to find it on the internet the night before at a wicked price of £38 instead of £175!! Absolute bargain, it was lush! They even gave us a free glass of sparkling wine as a welcome gift!
Deciding it was probably WAY above our budget to actually eat in the hotel we changed into some casual clothes and hoped on the bike for the short ride into the old quarter. Tiny narrow cobbled streets and cafes greeted us as we prowled around the center looking for an eatery. Jayne spied a busy looking place so I parked up the bike and we ordered a selection of local dishes. The meals came and they were the largest meals so far!! Jayne had stuffed pigs stomach, sausage's and liver dumplings while I had 3 different forms of pasta, fried potatoes and pork loins with mushroom sauce.

I felt so full it actually hurt afterwards, so we slowly rolled back to the hotel for a deserved nights sleep.

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 14:14 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Cologne

Oktoberfest?

semi-overcast 13 °C

We said goodbye to Martijn and Beer as they had to go to work (it was Monday) and carried on ramming our stuff back into the pannier boxes. I managed to get the bike back out of the alleyway without scratching it (god knows how, it was about 1cm narrower than the bike!) and we loaded it back up again. It was sad to ride away from Martijn and Beers as we'd had so much fun, but at least we knew that it was easy to visit them again in the future.
As it was going to be a relatively long ride to Cologne (about 300km) we opted to start on the Motorway to chomp into some of the miles.

Martijn had informed us that the first part of the route was mostly large towns anyway, so not that inspiring to look at.
About half way we jumped off the Motorway and into a town called Arnhem for a bum rest and a coffee. As we drove along the waterfront Jayne spotted a nice coffee shop so I stopped the bike and she hopped off while I tried to park it. I soon slammed on the breaks when Jayne shouted 'BOXES' and I realised that I was about to whizz between 2 lamp posts, forgetting about the big metal boxes sticking out the side of the bike! Luckily I stopped just in time and decided that I'd just park it on the curb (close one Jans!).
The nice Dutch lady brought us some strong coffee, but not before a strange noise started to emanate from all around us. I can only describe it as a really loud siren, a bit like an air raid one only electronic sounding. It was coming from all around and everyone else seemed not to even hear it? It went on for about 2 minutes then stopped as quickly as it had started....still not a clue what it was!!
It was gorgeously sunny, we have been so lucky with the weather so far!

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After stuffing ourselves with Stroompfwaffles (Thanks Beer!) we hopped back on and opted for a back road for a while. It started out really pretty, then we seemed to do a tour of all of Germany's power plants,

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then sat in traffic in what looked like a council estate for about an hour! Anyway, back on the motorway we shot into Germany and arrived in Cologne.

It was difficult at first to find the B&B as it was literally just an apartment block with a small sign above the bell. Jayne rang the bell and a mysterious click and a buzz later we were in. It was just stairs, stairs and more stairs. After a brief accidental ringing of an apartment door bell (I thought it was a light switch) we were beckoned into a small apartment and informed that our room was on floor 2 and they wanted cash only. Seemed a bit dodgy but what the heck, chucked them some Euro's and they led us back down the stairs to floor 2.
We were shocked that the woman flung open the door to an actually incredibly nice apartment. It had a large bathroom, big lounge with double bed, satellite TV, and a little kitchen area. The girl explained that we help ourselves to breakfast and to our surprise the kitchen was filled with coffee, tea, croissants, bread, fruit juice and in the fridge there was meat and cheeses. Breakfast and lunch tomorrow me thinks !!
Stuffing a couple of croissants and downing a fruit juice we headed out into the center of Cologne.
It is an interesting town with a real collection of old and new buildings. We were only 5 minutes into our walk when turning a corner a huge Cathedral suddenly loomed over us and Jayne remembered that the largest one in Europe is here!

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Photo shoot over it was time to find the massive beer halls. We found it hard to hide our disappointment when we did as they were just like large pubs with normal tables and not a Tuba or Accordion in sight (bad times). Bored of drinking small shots of beer (0.2l) and after a nice meal of JaegerSchnitzel and Brauhauswurst we tried to find a more happening place. Now either we are too early, or too late for Oktoberfest, but nothing seemed to be happening. The streets were empty and the bars only had a hand full of people in. Ducking into the liveliest looking one we were confronted with a weird bar complete with a man who looked like he was out of the mid west in the 1800's playing Jazz on a very old piano.
We ordered a round of drinks and sat chatting whilst listening to the cat trying to catch a moth on the piano keys (or at least that is what it sounded like). The cat most have finally caught whatever it was chasing or given up as the seemingly random hitting of keys stopped suddenly. A man from another table put money into a hole in the wall and pressed some buttons and our eyes widened as we realized what he had done! All around the bar were life size wooden figures of people in German dress with Tuba's and Accordions that instantly sprang into life!

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I managed to decipher a flyer on the table enough to understand that you could request a variety of well known (and some unknown) songs. I spent the rest of the night with a couple of Euro's in my hand waiting for a slot where I could select the Muppets tune 'Munama na' but sadly the opportunity never presented itself :(
Meanwhile Jayne ordered some disappointing pancakes for desert so we decided it was time to start the walk back to the room and to see if the bike was still there!

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 12:43 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Windmills and Herrings

Only in Holland!

sunny 14 °C

Woke up around 9am with the sun shining through the skylight and it was another beautiful day.
We eventually rose from our sleeping bags at around 10:30 and Beer and Martijn prepared a monster breakfast. It consisted of fruit, yogurt, muesli, bread, spreads, Cheese and some random aniseed flavored sprinkles that you put on bread along with cucumber, tomatoes and so much more.
Stuffed to the gills they then took us on a tour of nearby areas in Beers dads car. It was nice to see some more of Holland and nice to be driven around for once.
Our first stop was Scheveningen which is a local touristy beach/fishing port. It was nice to walk along the beach and we had a surprise when there was a Kite exhibition of all sorts of amazing creations. My favorite was one that looked like a super hero shooting across the sky
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although the large Manta Ray was impressive also!

After the long walk our guides decided that a traditional seaside snack was in order. This consists of a filleted raw Herring covered in diced onion. Sounded lovely! (?).
You eat it by holding it by the tail and dropping it head first into your mouth. Jayne had one of these....
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whereas I fancied Kibbeling (fish cheeks battered and fried!) which was much more normal!

It was an interesting experience and actually tasted really good!

We met Beer's parents as we returned the car and her dad offered to drive us back to Leiden (we were going to get the train). Her mother also made us some nice green tea and we ate strange aniseed sweets that were filled with a salty weirdness that made you pull a yukky face when they popped open!
Back in the apartment I considered a power nap while Jayne went for a run around the local park.
As soon as she came back we headed for the local kebab shop for a 'Hairdresser'. This is actually called a Kapsalan and was invented by Hairdressers who basically wanted everything in the kebab shop in one tin tub. It's chips, kebab meat, salad, cheese, mayo, chilly sauce all mashed up in a tub. It was luuuuush!
Time for a fairly early night as our hosts and us were still suffering the effects of the Belgium beer the night before.

Tomorrow we leave Holland and head to Cologne, Germany for Oktoberfest fun !

Posted by Chris_Jayne_RTW 23:28 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

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