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- Category Archives Travel
So I eventually made it to the Chalet and met up with FiSH and John after checking in. Brief spot of lunch, sort out ski hire and lift pass, and a short while later we’re heading up the mountain for my first attempt at nreaking bones in 14 years or so.
With a shout of “No guts, no glory” I launched myself down the slope. The first turn was a bit iffy (I had completely forgotten how to) but then muscle memory kicked.in and it was all good.
Had a great arvo skiing even hitting some red runs. Weather and surroundings just gorgeous and surprisingly empty slopes.
After the lifts closed we headed back to the Chalet for a warm-up in the Onsen before heading to dinner at a local Izakaya. Highlight was horse sashimi – delicious and so tender it melted in your mouth.
Then back to the Chalet for and early night.. brekky at 7:30!
So a mate of mine, FiSH, texted me around 5pm saying the skiing was great up in Yamanouchi and that it would be great if I could join fir the weekend.
A few clicks later and I had a reservation at Chalet Shiga, the place he’s staying at. Then off.to ask my boss if I could.take the Friday off – to which he surprisingly agreed 😀
Next priority – down to Bar82 where I was meeting up with some old friends. A few beers later and it’s to the JR counter to get a Shinkansen ticket to Nagano.
Back to the apartment, pack, shower, set alarm, sleep. Too few hours (6) later and I’m up – 10 minutes before the alarm!
A short while and a pic of sunrise later and I’m on the Yamanote line bound for Tokyo where the Shinkansen stops. In typical German style I’m on the platform 40 minutes too early – time to write a blog entry and have a coffee!
Got up early(ish) and had a lovely brekky before anybody else was around. The lovely lady brought me my washed clothes which weren’t quite du yet. Oh well. I spread them out in the roof outside my window while I packed the rest and fit the bike ready.
The roads and views once I got going were absolutely stunning, with hardly any traffic about to spoil things. Soon however I was out of the mountains and into the plains where summer asserted itself with a vengeance. The temperatures climbed well into the mid thirties and the roads got ever more boring.
Things did not really improve once I hit Austria, if anything worse as I encountered several roadworks with long waits in the scorching sun. Eventually however I found mountains again and took advantage by taking several detours along promising looking roads. One of the highlights was the Höllental, only slightly spoiled by a slow bus in front of me which I couldn’t get past.
Eventually I reached my planned stop for the night though, the Wildalpen, which were in even more stunning scenery than any I had driven through so far.
First stop was a restaurant where I had a well deserved beer. They helped me find a bed for the night in a B&B just a few doors down.
While sorting out my room a couple of bikers pulled up at the servo opposite and I got to chatting to one of them. Markus and I ended up having a beer before he had to keep going. I had a great dinner of red deer steak followed by a childhood delight, Kaiserschmarrn.
Then it was trying to sort out the home Internet connection with Dana’s help before heading to bed.
Hot hot hot! Rode to the salt mine and got a ticket. Nice and cool down below.
Pretty impressive underground tour. Did the extra museum tour as well.
Came out of mine to find it had rained heavily. Helmet was soaked, great.. and it had cooled of a lot. Still the roads down to Zakopane were pretty good although heavily trafficked. Zakopane itself I didn’t like to much. Way too commercial and touristy. And every piece of dirt had some dude hovering over it waiting to charge you parking while local cops ensured you didn’t park on the side somewhere.
I saw a bunch of bikers in a cafe and pulled up. They had just come back from a training ride and one suggested I keep going to a town called Smokovec in Slovakia, which I did (after coffee and cake) and glad I did so! Once in Slovakia the roads were perfect and the scenery amazing.
I ended up getting a room in Penzione Koliba with a great view of the Tatras. Dinner was red deer steak, then to bed to plan the ride for tomorrow. I’m sorely tempted of going to try to get to the Hochalpenstraße in Austria after seeing some pics from some friends who rode that road a few days earlier.
Up way too early – woke up at 5 or so due to the guy one bed over felling entire forests. Underwater. Dozed until 6 and then got ready. Luckily breakfast was available much earlier than advertised so I got a quick bite before heading off.
Once on the road the GPS said it was only an hour to Auschwitz instead of the two Google had said last night. Oh well, at least the roads were pretty clear.
Auschwitz did not have as big an impact on me as Buchenwald had a few years earlier. Either I’ve become desensitised or the exhibitions in Buchenwald were more graphic. Auschwitz was mostly just the buildings and pictures, whereas in Buchenwald a lot of the old Nazi equipment was still on show. Terrible regardless.
From there I wanted to see the other camp, Birkenau, only a couple of miles away, but some busybody parking attendant wouldn’t let me park in an unused corner of the staff carpark and told me to park in the commercial car park half a mile away or so despite a security guard having earlier told me it would be finev for me to park in that corner.
So instead I rode around the camp on the bike and then headed to the mountains.
Unfortunately I discovered that the south of Poland is very different to the north, or indeed most places. Instead of having villages consisting of a cluster of houses with a couple of streets they just build the houses along the main street. Cue villages which are tends of miles long and hence a mostly unenjoyable ride as it was all at 50kmh.
I did take a wrong turn at one point and ended up in Slovakia for a few miles. The road just near the border was awesome as it went up into the mountains and there were no houses. Yayy.