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A good days ride

sunny 21 °C
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SUN! QUICK EVERYONE UP AND LETS GET GOING!

After a breakfast of croissants and local jam & honey we're on our way by 10am, it's warm and sunny. The packing seemed to have gone a bit ary today but eventually it all fitted, perhaps not where it was supposed to be. We've got to buy a vignette as we'll be using some motorway to crunch some miles, 40 ChF seems a bit steep, but it is valid for the year.

Using the A16 motorway (be nice if they finish it!) and the A6 & A5 we eventually get down to St Aubin on the north shore of Lac de Neuchatel, the Sat Nav had a hissy fit through the tunnels and couldn't decide which way to go. I think the south side may have been better, crossing the lake at Neuchatel. The temperature is up in the high 20's.

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After a bite to eat we're off towards Lucern, although we have the offer of Yolandas' apartment in Basel it's a bit far back north to make it a sensible option.
Using the A1 motorway and the A10 heading East we arrive for an overnight stop in Escholzmatt and book into Hotel Lowen for our meal too.

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Only 130 miles or so on the circular route from Bonfol, now our total distance is round 900 miles. / 1440km.

Planning for Friday, we're heading into Lucern for a look at some of the sites before hopefully heading south to do some Alpine passes in mid Switzerland as the forcast for the next few days is dry but overcast.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 20:08 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Lucern and Looking Good

sunny 20 °C
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At 06:00 we were sure we were being invaded, The Bells, The Bells......constant for about 10 mins, then it all went quiet.

Finally woke at 8am and got everything packed before breakfast. Peace of mind knowing the bikes were in the secure garage, just a bit un-nerving when we saw the size of the cat basket, more like a mountain lion I should say!

Fantastic sunny morning and 15 degrees by 10 am. No need for a fleece today, as we set off on the A8 towards Lucern only 30km or so, after a refuel we start hitting a few roadworks through the bigger towns. Into Lucern and parked up on the lake front by 11 am.

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Off to see the sights and a short sharp shopping trip after a coffee on the river front.

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The restored Chapel Bridge is still closed and now being repaired with new roofing, only accessible from the western side and then only to the medieval tower and gift shop.

The boat for the lake tour starts at 14:30 and we make it just in time for the 1 hour trip. Sooty was trying to get the pilot to open it up a bit but he was having none of it, 'Rules is rules madam, whether your a biker type or not!'

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We have our accommodation booked for the next couple of nights at Brunig on the Brunigpass A8, so by 16:00 we have to head out of Lucern, which is a bit of a result as rush hour is starting. Good biking roads going south but a little difficult at times with the coaches on the steep winding roads. Just get in the optimum, front wheel skipping max acceleration overtake and we stop for an ice cream, waving at the startled passengers on the coach and smiling driver. Fantastic views over the lake in the valley way below.

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We end up speaking to the Kiwi kiosk owner about the rugby! , we're only 3km from our digs and just after the Police speed trap, no we didn't get caught (front facing camera) although it was attended by a scary looking officer who gave that knowing look as we went past, we roll into Brunig.

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The Sat Nav says stop, in the cafe car park? up above us is our ground floor chalet appartment with not alot around in terms of food or other amenities, just one restaurant for tonight and the snack bar opens at 7:30 for breakfast. Train station is just opposite but I think the last one may have gone back to Lucern by 9 pm!

Susten, St Gottard, Furka & Grimsel passes hopefully tomorrow, weather looking good.

Off to bed!

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 22:13 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

3 Summits and a Big town

sunny 25 °C
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07:30 breakfast, clear blue skys and brilliant sunshine lighting up the summit of nearby mountains, temperature 10 degrees.

Off to the Brunigpass just round the corner at 1008 mtrs, loads of bikes going both ways. Easy route through Meringen and Innertkirchen on the A11 to Gadman climbing up through the mist with the sun ahead of us and eventually the misty valley below.

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Getting colder as we climb and reach the snow line at about 2000 mtrs, down to 4 degrees by the time we reach the summit of Sustenpass at 2224 mtrs.
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The car park, cleared of snow, is slippery and icy, Oh look here come the boy racers in thier Porsche & Aston, pity the local plod are already in the car park and follow them off as they decide not to hang about. Time for hot chocolate and coffee and warm up a little, a few more bikes from France & Germany arriving as we prepare to get going. The roads are smoothe and mainly dry, just a few damp areas in the shade but not a problem as the temperature begins to increase.

Moving on heading east we come down the valley to Wassen where we turn right onto the A2 south towards Andermatt on the A19, all the passes are clearly signposted together with thier open, closed or other status, they're all open! Just a bit of road works to contend with but it doesn't hold us up too much.
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Travelling back West now, first the Furka Pass at 2431 mtrs 270_20150926_102640.jpg
Just a coach to contend with, who pulls over and lets us by, plenty of hairpin turns climbing higher.
Then on to a brief coffee stop just after the summit. Temp up to 20 degrees now.

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Looking into the valley we can see our steep route down the Furka Pass from the Rhone Glàcier and up again to the Grimsel Pass at 2165 mtrs after a left turn at Gletsch onto the A6. The mountain motor-rail is parked up ready to transport cars & vans through the mountain in abouf 30 mins, the ride over the mountain seems the prefered option on a day lkke today.

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Passing Guttannen we stop for lunch at Urweld, arriving just as the French tour coach arrives and decants it's load, Joey almost surcomes to life threatening injury as the side door opens into him, a brief exchange reinforces our view of some drivers and certain Euro folk.

It's only 13:30 hrs so we plan for a continued trip, slightly limited due to getting back to Brunig tonight. We're off to-

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The A6 takes us north of Briensee (thd lake) through Brienz and on to a fuel stop at Giswil just before Interlaken.

It's only 40 minutes since lunch and we're in the town centre sweltering in 25 degree heat, lock the helmets and jackets to the bikes before setting off for a look around and a leisurely afternoon. Stocked up on a new Swiss Army / Victorinox penknife case, a couple of assessories and a new watch for Joey. There seems to be certain people buying up the town and getting in everyone's way! Further explanation later if required!

Back to Brunig on the fast route A8 east only takes 30 mins, in time for a shower and dinner.

Covered about 120 miles today, and could have gone back and done the passes the other way, maybe next time.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 22:30 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Going Back West

sunny 18 °C
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Not so clear today, still 10 degrees but very misty outside our chalet. Breakfast at 8, usual continental rolls, coffee, jams, cheese & meat, where's the cereal?

On the road heading South by 9 am on the A8 to Wilderswil just South of Interlaken where we fuel up and top up the V Stroms oil. Carry on directly South and follow the signs off East to Grindelwald after 6-8km of winding mountain valley roads, a few cars and a couple of coaches which posed no problems, arriving at 10:35. No bike specific parking here at the far end of towNot so clear today, still 10 degrees but very misty outside our chalet. Breakfast at 8, udual continental rolls, coffee, jams, cheese & meat, where's the cereal?

On the road heading south by 9 am on the A8 to Wilderswil just south of Interlaken where we fill up and top up the V Stroms oil. Carry on directly south and follow the signs off East to Grindelwald after 6-8km, a few cars and a couple of coaches which posed no problems, arriving at 10:35. No bike specific parking here at the far end of Grindelwald, so squeeze in out of the way but buy a parking ticket anyway, 2 ChF for 2 hrs better than a clamp!
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Drink at a nice little diner looking up towards The Eiger - 3970 mtrs shrouded in low cloud but clearing as the sun warms the valley.

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Quick bit of window shopping and moving again by 11:20 back down the valley and a left takes us south again to Stechelburg, we're off to see the Trummelbach Falls. On the approach we see the Jungfrau at 4158 mtrs ahead of us, the sky is full of paragliders leaping off the tops of the valley, the helicopter waits in a field beside the road to whisk them back to the top. Looks a bit dicey to me, best leave it to the experts. Some good camping to be had here in the level valley.

We park up and fight our way to the entrance to the falls, seems to be some sort of convention taking place!

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11 CHF for entry to the falls, we take the lazy way up in the lift, it travels up at an angle inside the mountain, depositing us near the top.

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The pathway cut into the rock winds up inside the mountain following the falls, all very impressive.

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We walk down, you' miss too much taking the lazy way. In any case it only takes, 15 mins - and it's all downhill

Great views of the valley below as we head to the cafe.

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By 13:30 we're on our way back through Wilderswil and onto the A8 heading West, with Thunersee (the Western lake) on our right where we stop for lunch.

It's on towards Boltigen on the A11 before a right turn to the Juanpass, the roads are smooth, twisty & narrow on the accent to 1509 mtrs. A cafe is filled with bikers, a trip to the souvenirs shop for a JuanPass sticker. There's a mountain bike event going on and the chance to test a few, but not in our kit!

The ride down is not particularly interesting although we pass through a few villages and scare the life out of at least a couple of drivers. The roads here have a light covering of mud from the adjacent fields and a huge stretch of gravel and unmade road.We're soon entering Bulle where we book into The Ibis hotel, only 15 min walk to the town centre for a pizza and a glass of vino.
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It's all becoming a bit more built up. Time to head back north tomorrow.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 17:44 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Back to Bonfol

sunny 20 °C
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No rush today, plenty of time to get back to the North of the country. Need to plan on building a bike kit store like this one, modelled by my able assistant.
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Chose 'curvy route' on the SatNat - they weren't kidding! Stayed off the main road through Aarberg, Biel & Sonceboz then across country to La Chaux des Frond, heavy farming country with interesting routes through the forests. We cross the border into France as we cross the old iron bridge over the river at Le Russey, superb roads through the fields to a stop at Malche, that was a route worth doing more than once, or even twice! Sooty enjoyed it even as a passenger, taking plenty of pictures en route.

Why does every town seem to have a cat out in the middle of a field on it's own?

Pont De Roide is ticked off next, before turning East towards Bonfol via Mathay, Herimencourt and other small towns and villages, crossing back into CH and our overnight stop.

We're greeted with wine beer and light snacks before our meal at the local town restaurant, good food, wine and company with Sooty, Joey Mimi, Yolanda & Jocci.

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A tour of Jocci's 'Man Cave' is impressive but a drive of the 60 yr old tractor will have to wait.

A tiring day but most enjoyable with only a couple of wrong turns.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 18:06 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

The North of The Southern Vosges is good

sunny 19 °C
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But not too many places to eat, the local supermarket at Saale served it's purpose.

A boring run up to Colmar but then it got good after Ribeauville across to St Die, Senones & through the forest & jp over the mountain roads.

Overnight in Nancy, time for a bit of luxury!

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 18:32 Archived in France Comments (0)

We're in Bouillon

sunny 16 °C
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Headed up to Belgium today through the forests of Lorraine, very windy & tiring leaning over to compensate , harvesting season is well under way and it looks like this is the time to fix the roads too.

Arrive early in Bouillon, booking 2 nights in the Best Western, the town looks very deserted despite the warm sunshine.
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They've got really small baths here! 180_20150930_150952.jpg

Not many places open to eat so after a few drinks and a rude waitress 180_20150930_163452.jpg

Ìt's back to thd hotel for the evening after a wander round.

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Looks like the dogs are in charge.

Evening meal included a bit more than was expected.
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Thursday was a lazy day a look round the town in the morning, shame there are alot of places closed or for sale here as it's such a nice place.

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'Ello oh' They're rebuiling the old castle, not surprising really, as it was originally built in 1010when Sir Geofrod was here having a punch up with someone, then went off to the Holy Land. I think that may be why they're rebuilding alot of the streets too, we were there at 1145 so they've done really well.
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Very warm at lunchtime so we plan a route through the Ardennes and go for a play on the bikes and have a spot of lunch high up looking down into the valley, all very civilised.

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Arrive back, refuelled for tomorrow and it's beer O'clock.................................

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 17:19 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Bruges tonight

sunny 3 °C
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Heading back to the coast now, north on the country roads to Bruges, quite uneventfull once we got going after ckearing the ice front the bike seats, 3 degrees, and brilliant sunshine.

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Coffee stop at an 'American' diner and lunch near Toulier. In Bruges for mid afternoon fof a gentle unwind and wander. Dinner in lovely town all very relaxed.

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Posted by Eric_The_Viking 08:15 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Homeward Bound

sunny 18 °C
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Spent the morning in Bruges with some last minute sightseeing, also taking a boat tour of the town.

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180_20151003_095939.jpg Action shot, I think the race is on!

And an ice cream to top it all off. 180_20151003_111141.jpg

A bright sunny morning for our ride west to Calais, but first said goodbye to a couple of old friends.

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A couple of hours riding and a lunch stop in Adenkerk (B) we were at Le Shuttle, waiting while the back log clears after another illegal tries to tunnel to the UK. Obviously need more security and bigger dogs! (Razor wire, guns, lasers, gas, electric fences, etc, etc.) Strange there are no women amoung those we saw along the roadside! (Hermaphrodites? )
Finally get going at 18:20, an hour or so later than expected, parking up for the crossing with a 'Crutch Rocket' pilot who's come up from Spain. I think I prefer the comfort of the Strom!

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Said our goodbyes and head home, Oh, how the driving has changed! I think I might turn round and go back to Europe.

A final stop for a bite to eat at Bluewater and we're home just after 9pm.

The total distance was just about 2100 miles, the bike ran well with no problems other than spraying 'The Tractor' Joey and Mimi with oil from the chain oiler on one or two occasions, It'll wash off. Also one engine oil top up, which wasn't really needed as it was my fault for not putting enough in before we left. The tyres are nicely rounded off and the 'Chicken Strips' are just visible. The loud pipes were a little annoying at times, but hey, it sounded good. The bikes will now need some serious cleaning.

Now looking forward to planning something for next year, with maybe a Scotland and Northern France battlefields/ wargraves trip thrown too.

There will be the usual substantial de-brief in the next few weeks and a chance to recount parts of the trip and look at the video from the bikes

This has been mine and others experiences and recollections of our trip to Europe, most of it will make sense, some will not as it's for those in the know to work it out and tune in to our own brand of humour.
We had a great time, saw some nice places and met some nice people, there are places we'd go back to, sooner rather than later hopefully, but there is plenty more to see and do.

Posted by Eric_The_Viking 09:37 Archived in France Comments (0)

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