Saturday, November 6, 2010

May 15 - Back to Zurich

We got out around 8:30 in the morning - the journey finally ready to come to an end. Frankly, I was ready, with the flu in full swing. I left a nice note for our hosts in their guest book, we ate and cleaned up the kitchenette, and then we saddled up.

The 25 miles back to Rumlang was largely uneventful and the rain held off the whole morning, which made me happy. We only had a couple minor misdirections, but otherwise stayed on course and mae it to Rumlang by about 11:30. We decided to stop by the pizzeria near the train station to refuel. We split a pizza with bacon and olives.  It was actually quite good - even with my dulled palette.

Pizza, 2 cokes, and a salad was almost 40 Swiss Francs...ahhh back to Swiss prices! After eating, we rolled across the street and downhill to the hotel.

We got our bikes down to the garage and got our bags from the front desk. Thus began the dirty and miserable task of disassembling the bikes. I made it through the packing of my bike and half of Rick's before giving up and heading back to the room. There was a problem with the keys that i had to sort out before hitting the shower and nap. I ended up watching the Giro until Rick got back.

Then, I cleaned up, threw out some clothes that were done-for, and re-packed everything. We rested and had another failed attempt to access any meaningful web sites on the hotel computer. Then, we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant. I had mac n' cheese - Rick had a burger. Fortunately, our drinks were 1/2 price, leaving us with 30 Francs for breakfast.

We got a call from my parents, and I chatted with them briefly before retiring to the room. I made a poor attempt at sleep all night with the lungs and sinuses going full-boar. Finally, at 4:00 am, I gave up and got out of bed. That ensured time for a shower, which was nice.

We rolled out from the hotel at 5:00. The first assault on my respiratory system being the smoking lounge in front of the hotel. Thus began my 20 hour effort to suppress my symptoms to avoid infecting those around me.

We paid about 29 Francs for 2 coffees, 2 waters, 2 pain au chocolate and 2 bananas at the airport. Yikes! Then, we had a short flight to Paris and enjoyed watching the mustard fields of Dijon go by below. We rested in the sunny waiting area at Charles du Galle before boarding the 747. The next flight was completely full, to my dismay. It was the most miserable 11 hours ever - with my body in a full histamine reaction - coughing into my blanket and going through every paper towel and kleenex we could get our hands on. I had a good 30 minutes following the post-lunch cognac, that the rest was pure misery (I'm sure for those around me, too!).

Fortunately, we had a safe flight and a pretty painless immigration and customs at SFO and finally got home around 3:30 pm. I was surprised to find it was still winter in the Bay Area as well. I loaded up on anti-histamine, cough suppressant and nasal spray and managed to sleep fairly well for 10 hours....ahhhhhhhh.

May 14 - Cycling with the flu and watching the Giro

We at breakfast at the home where we stayed over, and then had to leave Hohettengen on account of a 40 person Austrian tour coming to town and absorbing all the accommodations. We headed east to Hachstetten, where we looked for a room. We tried one hotel that did not answer and another that had a "Bett and Bike" sign up. They apologized on account of the weather, but had a family group coming and no other space to let. So, we continued to Jetsetten. There was a rather fancy looking hotel, so we stopped at the Rathaus to see what was available. An older lady who had been to the market on bike stopped to ask if we needed help. We explained that we were looking for somewhere to stay the night. She said "You can stay with me!". So, we followed her on her bike as she wound us through town.

She showed us her guest apartment and introduced us to her husband. They moved their car out of the garage so we could put our bikes in. The apartment was large with a kitchenette, dining area, queen bed and a small side room with a single bed. There was a lovely, large bathroom. And, it was only 50 Euros per night. A steal! We checked in around 11 and had a change and headed out to the bakery to pick up breakfast provisions for the next morning. We also stopped at the market to get some chocolates to take home with us.

I then had a leisurely two hour nap. We watched the last 60km of the Giro in the afternoon - I was relieved to see it was also rainy and muddy in central Italy. Cadel won solo, which was pretty cool - all covered in mud. We showered up and headed to dinner at a local restaurant. I had asparagus soup, green salad and pommes frites with wine. Rick had beer and cordon bleu and shared some with me. We finished off with coffees.

We walked back to our house and ate some of the ginormous butter cookie dipped in chocolate that we'd bought at the bakery. All in all, it as a mostly restful day, thanks to the Familie Hennings and their hospitality.

May 13 Schnee in May

And, then came the schnee. We woke up after a fairly sleepless night (track hack extending - me wanting to blame it on the hotel guest down the hall who was smoking....but knowing the achy feeling with it probably meant the flu...). We looked across from our hotel balcony to see snow/rain mix falling. We decided that riding over some of the high passes in snow wasn't the best plan.

So, after breakfast marinated in orange juice (Rick used the stemmed glass to douse the entire table when we sat down, which sent the inn keeper into fits of laughter), we headed across the street to the train station. We caught the 9:30 train to Frieburg. As we moved through the Black Forest, the snow got heavier, and it started accumulating several inches. But, by the time we got down to Freiburg, it was just sleeting.

We bought tickets in Freiburg to get our bikes to Eglisau - which we thought was the closest German town to Zurich, where we planned to hang out for a couple days. We had a nice chat with an Australian couple who was touring the Danube for six weeks. We had to ride to Schaufhausen, and we thought the Schwartzwald train pass would get us there, but alas, we had to pay 18 Euros more to get there. Then, we hopped a light rail train to Eglisau. When we got off, we realized we were in Switzerland - not Germany. We crossed the Rhine, but were still in Switzerland, and the only hotel we found open was 288 Euros per night - a little rich for our tastes. So, we begrudgingly rode in the freezing rain to the nearest German town - me starting to feel significantly worse. The town was Hohetengen, about 7 miles from Eglisau, and quite painful when feeling ill, with a full bladder, an empty stomach and freezing rain falling. But, we were able to find a family home with a room for 50 Euros. They had a bath (yay!).

We rested and warmed up before dinner. We found a restaurant across the street and loaded up on Spargeltoast, pommes frites, salad and wine. Spargeltoast is  a must-try if you are ever in the Black Forest. It is buttered, toasted bread with spears of white asparagus wrapped in black-forest ham and doused with melty cheese and hollandaise sauce.  It was a decadent meal, and a nice end to a somewhat miserable day.

May 12 - Rhine/Danube continental divide

We had a nice, served breakfast at the Hotel Adler and hit the road at 8:45 - a new record for getting out in the morning. The route took us west through Triberg to get a glimpse of the "highest waterfall in Germany". We decided to skip the dueling "largest cuckoo clocks".

There was a fairly stiff climb out of town and then a crossing of the continental divide separating the Rhine and Danube watersheds. Right after passing the divide signs, we had a wicked descent to Triberg, where we then climbed slowly through the cute, gingerbread town. There was an exclamation from a lady on the sidewalk - something along the lines of "look at the Frau". I guess they don't often see women schlepping straight uphill on bikes with baggage. I think the family cycle-touring culture sticks to the flat river valleys for the most part.

We had about an hour to explore the falls, each of us taking a turn to walk up the short hiking trail while the other stayed with the bikes. Heading out of town, we took the "hilly" route. It started at a "gentle" 11-12%. Then, I had to ratchet down to my granny 20x34 as it went about 15-16% for half a mile or so and then about 200 meters of 20% plus - a bit worse than the top of Mt. Diablo. It was all I could do to keep my front wheel on the ground. Then, it "leveled off" to about 10% for another mile, which was a relief. We topped out our climb at just over 1000 meters. I took a breather at the top, as I had a nasty case of "track hack" (roll foreshadowing music).

We rolled downhill gently to Vohrstat and then had a climb to Hammer-Eisenbach. We pulled over at a cafe and considered stopping for the day, as the sky was looking heavy with water. But, as we ate our bockwurst, shokocroissants and coffee, the clouds lightened. So, we decided to continue on to Eisenbach. It was a gradual climb to town, and we decided to look for a place to stay, as the rain had started falling lightly. We found a couple hotels across from a factory at the near end of town, but decided they were not that tempting. So, we continued to Neustadt-Titisee.  Fortunately, it was a screaming 8km straight downhill from there.

It took us a while to find an open hotel (bad time of day, as usual). We finally found the Hotel Jagerhaus where we found a room for 70 Euros with breakfast. We showered, did laundry and napped. We decided to eat at the hotel, as it was raining pretty hard at dinner time, and we didn't feel up to walking around a lot. I enjoyed a stew of venison and wild boar with noodles and salad with local rotwein, which was really sweet.

We walked around briefly after dinner to digest. It was quite cool out and we were thinking it was going to be a full-jacket day when we got back on our bikes in the morning (roll more foreshadowing music). The good news about the bad weather was that it meant the volcano ash from Iceland was not likely to spoil our trip home.