Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Willkommen In Berlin

The train trip from Munich was far from comfortable, 10 hours with 3 changes. Getting touring bikes on and off trains, down stairs, up lifts, through carriage doors into a crowd of school kids with suitcases all within 3 minutes, is enough to turn my beard grey!
Arriving in Berlin a little exhausted we had a 10km ride from the station to our campsite which was directly opposite to Berlin international airport, lucky we had ear plugs!
We headed in to check out a second hand market the next day, it was amazing until it started raining and didn't stop for the next couple of days.
Totally soaked and freezing cold we road back to the campsite. As the tent started to get soggy along with our spirits, we decided it was time find alternate accommodation.
Now we are living it up in a toasty apartment in the former east suburb of Prenzlauer Berg!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The hills are alive with sound of music


"The hills are alive with sound of music", we sang as we peddled along to a melody of the clanging cow bells.
On suggestion of our good friend Bill, we took a little time out to better explore the Tyrol mountains.
We headed out of Munich to the end of the train line. It's not far from there to the Austrian boarder.
The Zimmer (bed and breakfast), we'd booked for two nights was in a tiny village nestled in the shadows of two looming mountains. What we didn't know was the zimmer was separated from the town by a gaping cravas of a valley! After huffing and puffing our way out of the valley we decided to stay only the one night.
The next morning we had the most beautiful ride down to lake Achensee.
Carved out between the alps was this incredibly vivid emerald green lake.

We cycled around it then up into one of the valleys. It was a surprisingly gentle gradient considering the sheer walls on either side. That night we found a much more convenient zimmer at the end of the lake with an impressive frontage of window boxes and collection of taxidermied woodland creatures.

The three day break to the Tyrol's has us recharged and ready for our next stop - Berlin!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Munich


If you love beer you must visit Munich.
As explained to me by the locals beer is not just a drink but an integral part of the diet, as important as bread.
There is no time like the beginning of "Weisen season" to experience Munich at its best.
Oktoberfest or "Weisen" definitely lives up to its reputation as the worlds biggest piss up. Even thought the Muechner say the festival is no longer truly Bavarian. There are still plenty of traditions that keep it authentic enough for blow in's like us.
As much as I don't like to admit I got a little caught up in the moment and drank more than my share. But what's Oktoberfest without a bit of excess and There's nothing like a traditional Bavarian breakfast of pretzels and weissworst to bring you round.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Get high on the mountains

These are photos from the top of Untersberg 1972m. We took the cable car up and the view was amazing as the alps peaked through the clouds and then totally disappeared. The temprature was a chilly 6 degrees.
After that experience I had a hankering for some mountain climbing of my own. So all prepared for alpine conditions in a tee shirt and shorts. I set off with an unloaded bike to tackle Gainsberg 1265m the mountain looming over our campground. It was a very long climb as the road twisted and turned, but when I finally made it to the top the sun was setting and alps in the distant were like nothing I have ever seen. Unfortunatly I couldn't stay long as the discent in a sweat soaked tee shirt was unbelievably cold. Lucky the adrenalin from speeding down the mountain at a cracking pace kept me warm.

Salzburg


Friday, September 10, 2010

Österreich


We have had so much fun in Austria and would absolutely recommend it as a cycling destination.
There have been some backbreaking climbs but with one decent being 18km it more than evens out.
We have now ridden more than 2500km and been on the road for 71 days! Spending more time in supermarkets buying food than both our life times combined.

It was while waiting out the front of a super market in the small town of Mattsee 25km from Salzburg we met Stefan. He was really friendly and after chatting about bikes he invited us to stay at his place. With the weather closing in and the night drawing near the invitation was much appreciated.
When we arrived after a very steep climb we were rewarded with cold local beers and a breath taking view of the lakes with mountains peaking thought the clouds in the distance. Stefan and his lovely partner Andrea made us a delicious dinner and let us sample some of the local wines yum!
Thanks guys :-)

Riding the Danube river


Austria is crisscrossed with cycling paths but the most popular one follows the banks of the river Danube.
We rode this for 100 km from Linz to Passau. The scenery was very picturesque and the ride very easy, as the route is almost completely flat and mostly on dedicated cycle paths.

We camped at the half way point were the river bends around on its self. Rising above the banks on both sides steep mountains of trees dotted with the occasional castle.

The next day we took a ferry across and continued all the way to Passau. a beautiful town on the river.
On arrival in Passau we found a bike shop not surprising consider the amount of cycle tourist taking the river route.
I purchased a new front bag to replace the one I had that had already fallen to pieces. The bike shop owner was really friendly and invited us to have beers at the pub opposite. This is where he sits until someone walks into the store and he goes over to serve them. It wasn't long before another cycle tourist came along to the shop then straight over for a beer.
Stephen turned out to be from NewZealand and came back to the campsite and we shared a bottle of wine and bicycle stories.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lost in the Forest

On our last day of riding in Czech republic we got hopelessly lost in the forest. After riding through countless muddy overgrown tracks for 30 km a local with a Forest map saved us. He let us follow him out of the forest as he drove through the middle of grassy fields in his beat up hatch back.
When we got back on track after a 3 hour adventure we crossed the boarder at Dolni Dvoriste in to Austria. There was a cycling route that we followed that took us on the most round about way through more fields and windy forest paths. We came across small stream that had a plank of mossy wood as a bridge. Miriam slipped while pushing her bike across and fell in bike and all.
Muddy cold and wet we made it to our first Austrian town Leopoldschlag Markt. We stayed in a converted farm house soaking up the luxury of a hot shower.

Riding Czech list

Riding in the Czech republic has been alot of fun. So much so we made a handy 5 step guide to keep newbys like us out of trouble.

1. Beware of chickens crossing the road.
2. If following a sign posted "cycle route" be prepared to carry your bike on some sections and make sure you get a decent map.
3. Hills of 12 percent and greater are inevitable and frequent.
4. When it rains it pours and rains some more.
5. Cars and tractors will not slow down under any circumstance so it best to get out of the way!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Road out of Prague

The ride out of Prague was a bit of an ordeal. We followed a bike route 11 and ended up on some out of the way muddy tracks and back alleys.
We did find our way eventually with an amazing decent to a little town on the river. We camped there and made a fire as the temperature had dropped off to single figures at night bbbrrr.