Hello to everyone from Chur, Switzerland,
It seems like an eternity since we last wrote so please bear with us and do not fall asleep.
When we last wrote we were in the throws of getting ready to fly to Berlin, Germany. The buses loaded around 6PM and we were wisked away to the airport where we waited for a flight which was delayed a mere 1 1/2 hours, for what we will never know, as the plane was at the gate and no communications is the name of the game with TK&A.
The flight went well and the carrier, Britannica Airways, provided good service. Arrived in Berlin where we were bussed to a hostel. arriving rather late. The hostel was rather dreary to say the least, and the hour and darkness did not make it any more attractive. As we have been want to do lately, it was off to a hotel.
The following day it was off to see Berlin. We chose to do a walking tour and this proved to be a great way to see this beautiful city. The tour guide was very knowledgeable but spoke as fast as he walked was at a blistering pace. It is amazing to see the money that is being poured into East Berlin to bring it up to world-class standards. We where advised it will be complete in 2006 and the desire is to make Berlin the center of the EU. A daunting goal but one that appears to be on track to be met.
After two days in Berlin it was off to see Dresden. The group was going to a point in between (Seftenberg)
We rode 121km much of it cobble stones and very rough roads. There where many falls as it began to rain and cobbles become as slippery as a well oiled piece of glass. There were also a number of detours that became evident as the day unfolded. It is regrettable that the organizers would not go forward by at least one day so as to be aware of these changes in the route, it makes a long day longer when km are added due to lengthy detours. Shame on those Germans for removing a bridge some 4 months earlier and not letting them know.
We collected all six of us who were going on to Dresden and drove ahead so as to spend an extra day in this unique and once bomb flattened city. Since we had stayed in a hotel overnight and wanted to experience the hostel for which we had already paid (in our original fees) we packed up and moved to what was once the communist training school. The facility was a pleasant surprise and we shared the room with our friends Steve & Al.
Supper was not one of our better experiences and the best part of the meal was desert, which was at the local McDonalds. Never thought we would become McDonalds fans but necessity makes for strange bedfellows.
Dresden is a city which has truly risen from the ashes as it was bombed into oblivion at the end of the Second World War. It still has a ways to go but is going to be a truly lovely city with a beautiful museum and some excellent churches currently under reconstruction. There is still a ways to go in making communications of the history available in more than one language. There are numerous tour groups from all over the world arriving in Dresden and all signs are in one language.
The next day it was off for Terezen, Czech Republic a beautiful ride of 123km. We chose a non TK&A route along 45km of bike trail which followed the river. The route took us by the best apple strudel in Europe, a beautiful ferry ride across the river and all in all a very pleasant day.
We crossed the border, which was a non-event; this was perhaps in part a function of the large number of bikes the guards had to see in one day. By the time we arrived a friendly wave was the extent of our border crossing. When we arrived at camp around 5PM the gear trucks were still enroute as they apparently had been held up at the border, to placate the riders free beer and cokes were being offered.
Since we decided we would like extra time to explore Prague (Praha) it was pack up the car and head off for a 7:30PM arrival at a small hotel some 15 minutes walk from the heart of the city.
What can one say about Prague?
*masses of tourists
*excellent concerts to satisfy all tastes
*superb food at reasonable prices
*Great views of the city from historical sites
*a transit system that is neat
*an Internet cafe that is a Laundromat
*culture, culture and more culture
Definitely a city worth a longer visit perhaps in the fall or early spring.
The group was at a camp ground some distance away, which made it a challenge for them to enjoy fully the many attractions to be had.
Prague to Passau, Germany
The group was transported by bus; we were offered a seat in Al and Steve's BMW so decided we would take them up on their offer of a pleasant drive. We chose to stop at a neat little town along the route where we had lunch and enjoyed the ever-present ambiance that is Czech Republic a truly pleasant day.
We arrived at the campgrounds at about 6:30PM to collect baggage and have supper. It was truly an experience to miss as the group numbers overwhelmed the camp cooks and it took the better part of 2 hours to get fed. It was a unique experience to see one of the senior members of the staff lugging food to the table and yelling out directions, oh for the good old military days.
Passau, Germany to Salzburg, Austria,
After a pleasant breakfast at the hotel, and a quick drive to the campgrounds to retrieve my helmet from the lost and found it was off for a new country.
We drove the first half and left the car at a convenient McDonalds (and you thought we like them because of the food) Our ride was a pleasant 72km's along quiet and very scenic roads. The heat has returned and we were happy to see the outskirts of our evening's destination. The ride through the city was reasonably easy and we arrived at the hostel for an evening of 4 or 8 to a room accommodations. We were lucky and got a room for 4, and as we found out later, a floor where the showers and toilets worked. The rooms were extremely hot and stuffy and sleep was elusive, some even slept on the floor in the halls to get a little relief.
Supper was the ever-faithful spaghetti, the national food of every country we visit. In order to supplement what could be classified as an average meal it was off to McDonalds for a McFlurry and a sundae.
Saltzburg to St Ullrich, 72km
After breakfast it was off again for places that the group would not see this go around. Mary and I decided we would venture off on our own to catch up with the group in about a week's time.
We got off to a shaky start as we got lost coming out of town, took a wrong turn and had to climb a 22% grade hill (read mountain) and instead of ending up in St Johan on Tirol we ended up in St. Ullrich, not a bad day!!!
Stayed at a very nice Gasthous overlooking the mountains and valley and enjoyed the company of the owner who even did our wash.
St. Ullrich to Brixlegg, 78km
After a wonderful breakfast it was off again for a beautiful rider along quiet roads with every turn presenting us with what could be called a postcard opportunity.
Our ultimate destination was a castle built in the 14th century where we would join up with a few of our friends for a couple of nights stay. Finding the castle was a chore and after more than a few attempts we gave in and approached the tourist information for directions. Suffice to say castles are built on hills and getting there was somewhat of a challenge but as it turned out well worth the effort.
Time of the essence we will close this update for now and fill you in on the last few days when we next have access to a computer.
So long for now.
Love, Dave & Mary