• Tag Archives travel
  • Last minute ski trip – first afternoon

    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!


  • Last minute ski trip – departure

    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!


  • Poland Day 9 – Tatras to Wildalpen

    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.


  • Poland Day 8 – Wyjście Salt Mine

    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.


  • Poland Day 6 – Auschwitz and the Tatras

    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.


  • Poland Day 5 – Warsaw to Krakow

    Instead of the originally planned route, which was mostly highway, I took the 79 all the way. This meant quite a detour but I had no other plans for the day.

    The road was well paved but at times very frustrating. The first 20km or so out of Warsaw was extremely slow moving traffic. Then there were some very long stretches at only 50kmh. But still better than highway.

    Later in the day I got to some very nice open stretches with little traffic and even some small hills and corners.  Moments like those are worth all the other bits.

    For lunch I stopped at a service station in the middle of nowhere which had a nice looking restaurant next to it. They had strawberry-filed peroggi! So I called them lunch with a cup of coffee.

    Later in the afternoon thunderstorms abounded. I managed to avoid them all, sometimes by minutes as the last rain fell and the roads were soaked. But about 20km from Krakow I slowly but surely entered a downpour which persisted on and off until I parked next to Wawell castle. Combined with some roadworks the bike now looks like I’ve been plowing fields with it. Need to find some bikini girls to wash it now! Lol.

    In Krakow I soon found a Tourist Info, but this time without riding into the main square. Just as well, plenty of cops about. I booked into Momotown Hostel which was easy enough to find. A nice hot shower later and I was ready for dinner. The weather wasn’t..  so I had a good conversation with a chap called Dave until the weather cleared as I hadn’t thought to bring bad weather clothes for walking around.

    I had been told about a herring bar so resolved to try and find it. But the spot were it was so posed to be only had a closed up shop next to a Cabaret and a sex shop. Hmm. 2 young guys hit me up for some money for wine (at least they were honest about it!) while I was standing there a little aimlessly, which I refused. Nevertheless they said they knew of another herring bar just around the corner and walked me there. It turned out to be the smallest bar in Krakow (space for about half a dozen people), and a really neat place to boot.

    I invited Jacob and Piotr (the aforementioned winos) for a couple of vodkas while I ate (the vodka apparently being essential while eating the herring) and had a great chat with them for the next hour or so. Might catch up with them again tomorrow.

    But for now, and somewhat inebriated, I need bed as it’s an early start tomorrow.


  • Poland Day 4 – Warsaw

    Had a quick brekky at the hostel and then rushed off to make the free walking tour of Old Town.

    Our guide was called Bartosz, or Bart for short, and gave us an interesting 2 hours guided commentary around the sights, statues, and people who have populated the area for the last 600 years or so. The highlight for me was seeing Marie Curie’s birth house (I never knew she was originally polish) but I also liked the narrowest house (from the front only, to avoid taxes) and the story about Shit Hill.

    After the tour I had lunch (a very yummy steak tartare and polish sausage in mustard sauce, washed down by a couple of beers) with Bart and a mate of his Blazej, and later on Blazej’s girlfriend joined us too.

    From there I headed to the tallest building in Poland, the “Palace of Culture and Science”. It was presented as a gift to the Polish by the Soviet people, but many consider it to be a sign of Soviet supremacy over their capital city. As such there is some controversy over it. Nevertheless I got a ticket to go up to the 30th floor which has the public viewing gallery. I picked a bad time and had to wait for at least a million school kids to go up on only 2 elevators but finally made it. Nice views from the top but not entirely sure it was with the wait.

    Having reached ground level again I walked to Łazienki Park, another 2 or 3 km away.  By now my feet were complaining bitterly, as the sandals I had with me on the trip were apparently not very suitable for much walking. So unfortunately I did not enjoy the park and palaces as much as I had been looking forward to, but still had a good slow wander around with a few pauses to take in the sights. I even got some pics of a peacock and red squirrels!

    To get back to my hostel I cheated and used a bus.. nice long hot shower and I’m rather contemplating skipping dinner and just going to bed.. Off to Krakow tomorrow!

    Oh, btw, the centre of town is quite civilised with plenty of free wifi around.