Posts Tagged With: Not so great food

Day 28: Arnhem to Amsterdam

99 km today, about 400 meters climbing, but mostly a down gradient all day.

I woke up very excited, as tonight I am going to see my daughter Shellbe who flies into Amsterdam this evening. It is nearly a year since I last saw her ūüėÄūüėĬ†She lives in London.

When we set out it was once again looking like rain. The first 30 km was a slight up gradient on a bike path, but in one direction. It was great to ride a few km without having to check which way you needed to be going. The only delays were the traffic lights. We went through a small few towns and stopped at a patisserie and chocolatier at about 40 km. I had a really nice strawberry tart.

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Food stop last ride day

The bikes have the right of way when you are following a bike path across a road, unless there are lights say otherwise, which takes a bit of getting used to. I hesitated a few times as I was not sure that cars were going to stop as they seemed to be going quite fast, but they always did.

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Checking out a thatched roof.

At the lunch stop I took a photo of Esther, Gergos wife also from Hungary, and their son Lawrence who is nearly 3. Lawrence was happily playing as small children do with water, puddles, and sticks while we waited. Also took a picture of Gergo and Judy from NZ.

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Esther and Laurence

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Tour leader Gergo and Judy at last lunch stop.

We got to the lunch stop at 70 km at about 11am, to find that Gergo had now decided that we would all meet here and convoy in together. It would have been great if he had shared this earlier this morning, as there were a number of places we could have stopped along the way, instead of waiting an hour and a half on a piece of grass with nothing but the road to look at, while we waited for the rest of the riders to arrive. This was not helped by the darkening sky and the feeling of impending rain.

As it turned out, most of the other riders in the end ignored him and just headed off, but about 12 of us waited and went in the convoy.

We went through another star shaped town Naarden (like Palmanova) it was very picturesque with the canals and boats and wharves.

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Rode as a convoy from lunch to the finish. Passing through Naarden Vesting.

Then back on a bike path where it started to pour down (I was trying to ignore my irritation that if we had not waited an hour and half to convoy we would have been at the hotel by now). As we came up to an underpass there was a group of about 100 children and teachers sheltering from the rain. Just as we got there, they decided to no longer wait and about 30 took off in front of us. The next 5 km was spent trying to pass young boys who were serving all over the path.

 

We had to go up over a really big bridge – Nescio Bridge – made just for bikes and walkers and then road the last few km into Amsterdam. Getting through the outskirts of the city took awhile as there were lots of students going home from school. Thankfully by this this time the rain had stopped.

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Nescio Bridge (photo from website)

We arrived at the Mercure Hotel at about 3pm. The bikes had to be left outside in an open area, which a number of us were not that thrilled about. We managed to move the hotel bikes around and at least managed to get our bikes locked to the bike stands. The hotel bikes, like the white bikes at the Muller Kroller, they were really heavy, at least twice the weight of my bike.

Then checking in: what a mission! The biggest and busiest hotel for the trip. The person behind the counter was not helpful or friendly:
1. He insisted there was no booking for my daughter – I had to go and dig out the paperwork. When I took it back to another person they found the booking without the paper work.
2. When asking if we could stay in the same room the next two nights we were told “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow until tomorrow”!!

Not quite as frustrating as Janice from Townsville who had her partner Philip joining her here, who was told her and Philip had been put in a room with Cathy. This was sorted out by TDA quickly, but the person behind the counters attitude was not helpful.

We had a get together at the hotel on arrival, with some bubbles and snacks to celebrate our arrival and finishing the trip, then off to get cleaned up and ready for dinner.

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Arrived at finish hotel Mercure Amstel

We met down in the lobby at¬†6pm¬†to taxi to the finishing dinner at D’Vdff Vlieghen in central Amsterdam. The traffic was chaos.

I am unsure by what manner the finishing venue is chosen, but this was not a good one – we were cramped in, and apart from one long table of about 12, everyone else was sitting at tables of 3 to 4, ¬†and there was no room to move around and interact. So it didn’t really feel like a finishing dinner, more like just a normal riding day dinner. Brett and I sat with Graham, with a seat saved for my daughter Shellbe.

The menu was an entree of smoked fish, a piece of chicken with an onion (no carbs, no salad or veges), and a piece of chocolate slice and ice cream. Plus red or white wine. Luckily they had bread rolls, otherwise there would have been a lot of hungry riders.

My daughter Shellbe arrived halfway through the meal, I was delighted to see her again.

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Mum and daughter find each other

After the meal Gergo advised us that it was up to the riders to get themselves back to the hotel – about an hour walk, or 15 minutes in a taxi.

We caught a taxi back with Graham, and then sat in the bar catching up on the news with Shellbe for awhile.

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Having a drink with my daughter Shellbe 

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Day 20: Schwabisch-Hall to Heidelberg

The original schedule for day 111 km, but now thanks to Gergo’s new cycle path book it is 139 km. It actually ended up being 150km but will get onto that later.

We climbed 864 meters up, it felt way more, and went down 995 meters.¬†To make it worse, Gergo had said after 14 km it’s all downhill and it wasn’t, and we were riding in a heat wave.

Yvonne is still unwell and is going to take the train to Heidelberg, Maureen is going to go with her. It was tempting to join them, and later in the day I regretted that I hadn’t.

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Departing Hotel Goldener Adler

The first 3 km out of town was very steep, then we followed a bike path through field and forest trails for another 11 km, at times a gentle gradient and others steep, but also some downhill.

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Hard climb at the start of the day to Waldenburg

We then had a steep path down to a main road, which we were on for about 5 k then it was back on the bike paths.  At times we would come out onto the road, ride a few metres, go up another bike path and climb up a couple of kilometres, then come back to the same road, not much further than where we had left it!

The paths go all over the place and a lot of time was wasted working out which way to go. The other issue is often they have quite sharp built up edges, and you have to be careful which way you hit them when going from one path to another. I unbalanced a couple of times, but managed to un-click my shoes and put my foot down so I didn’t topple over.

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Feeling puffed!

Once again on the paths we went through a mixture of fields, forests, alongside roads, through forests on all types of surfaces, and through towns. At one stage we were winding through one village and we came along a windy narrow path and went straight through an archway in an old castle.

The villages are so picturesque it’s like being in a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, and so many castles.

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Hirschhorn

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Neuenstein

At about 70 km, we had to go through a rocky forest track, the surface was unpleasant and I kept jarring my arm. We came out to a clearing where a man dressed in red stopped us and said we couldn’t go past, as they were clearing a dangerous tree. He told us to go back to the town about 6 km away and detour around! We asked how long before we could get past him, and he said an hour and a half!

We sat down to think about it. So frustrating as we were less than 5 minutes behind Cathy and Janice, who had got through ok. The distance we still had to ride, the heat, and the thought of either one and a half hour wait or going back down the horrid rocky road was too much, I cried. Thirty minutes later we decided we were going to do the detour, as there was no guarantee the wait would only be another hour. Just then another couple of other riders, not part of our group, showed up and they decided to wait.

Back down that horrid road, through town, and along the other side of the river. 12 km after we had left we passed the spot we had been stopped on the other side of the river, and we could see the two other riders still sitting there.

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Over the Neckar River at Neckargetach, before the road block!

We stayed on the main road, with a nice 1.5 metre wide shoulder, for about 10 km then managed to recross the river and pick up the planned route again. Looking back I don’t know why we didn’t stay on the main road. Most of the next 25 km was uneven surfaces, and a few spaces were really unpleasant, as I kept jarring my arm. Lots of other bike tourers were coming the other way. We went past a seat on the trail made out of a huge tree.

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At 14 km before Heidelberg, we crossed onto the main road and had 8 km of downhill, then through a village and then on a bike path along the river.

There were some stunning views coming into the city: huge castles, churches, bridges and old buildings. In the city there are bike paths through town, sometimes half of the footpath, and sometimes running along the side of the road. The walkers keep off the bike paths, and traffic gives way! Such a novelty.

We finally got to the hotel at 630pm, tired, hot, and grumpy. We are staying at an IBIS, which would win the prize for the smallest room ever. The shower was so small you could barely fit in it, and the door banged against the toilet. It was a mixture between a small cabin on a ship and a prison cell.

It was also on the outskirts of town, with homeless people living under the bridge next to it. Our view out the window was rail yards.

By the time we had had a shower we just wanted to eat and sleep. But, the hotel had no restaurant! By this time we were full of joys of the day.

Only option was to go out. In the lobby we caught up with Janice and Gregg, who told us that Graham had had a pretty nasty fall at 39 km, had knocked himself out and was in hospital. It was nothing life threatening, but they were going to keep him overnight for observation.

Janice and Gregg were going to an Italian restaurant back in town, but we decided to look for something closer. We walked the other way past a group of drunks on the sidewalk, and there really wasn’t anything. The IBIS is located right by the main train station, so we went in there, but it was all food hall type of food.

There was one restaurant called the Metropolitan near the hotel, which we had discounted when we first saw it, but by now it was 730pm so we decided to go in. The barman bought us a beer, but when we asked about ordering food he said he would send his colleague.

After 15 min Brett went to the bar¬†and was told “Yes the colleague is coming”. Another 15 minutes later I went up to the bar, and he said he would get his colleague to come!

I was getting close to tears for the second time in a day, when the colleague finally came. I was going to order pizza, as I couldn’t face more tough meat, crumbed and covered in sauced. But it turned out the pizza oven was broken! Not wanting to give the colleague the chance to get away and possibly not come back again for another 30 plus minutes, I chose a burger and chips. The barman came over and apologised that his colleague had taken so long to arrive.

Janice and Gregg arrived at the restaurant, the one they were going to go to was full and so were the others they had looked at, so they came back looking for something closer to the hotel. Thankfully the barman, seeing they were with us, decided he could take their order without the assistance of the colleague, and their meal arrived only a couple of minutes after ours. The burger was pretty basic but at least it was food. By this time it was 930pm – time to sleep.
Nekar

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Day 11: Maniago to Cortina d’amezzo

The whiteboard said 120 km, with 2600 meters up and 1100 meters down. I was not sure what the gradient was going to be and was a bit daunted as we set off from the hotel.

We pretty much started climbing straight away, with some sections not so steep. At about 15 km I realised I must not have done the top on one of my water bottles up properly as I have lost it. Hopefully we will pass a shop so I can refill the bottle I have.

We seemed to go up and up and up and up, some tough gradient. At about 30 km we had some very pretty lakes and not much of a gradient for awhile, but then the climb began again. We had a couple of small tunnels, so it was nice and cool inside. At an average speed of approx ten km/hr this was going to be a long day.

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Old rail trail

We passed through a number of villages, and all the houses had impressive stock piles of wood ready for next winter.

At 52 km we went through quite a long tunnel, but it had gaps on the side and way below it was a very pretty town. We had a fantastic 10 km downhill to the town, then climbed up to turn and leave the main road, to go along a side road along the river to the lunch stop.

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Big climb Day. Check out Kaye’s eyes “WTF have you got for me around the corner you bastard hill?”

At 1:30 pm, after 5 and a half hours riding, I got to lunch. By this stage I had climbed 1,330 meters with only 68.5 km ridden. At this stage, looking at my riding speed I wouldn’t get to the finish until 8 pm. Taking into account my cold and my sore arm, we decided Brett would ride ahead and I would take the truck.

The only problem with that idea, is that on this trip there is a lack of infrastructure and the truck can only take 4 riders – and 6 riders wanted a ride. We tried to order a taxi, not but not surprisingly a driver from Cortina (60 km away) was not keen to come to pick up people from a ‘river’, with not great directions and language barrier.

The next option was to get the dinner truck (the one that goes straight to the hotel and flags the route to come back) which meant a couple of hours wait. Then this wait would be even longer as Gergo, who was driving the dinner truck, had to go and pick up Tony who had come off his bike. We were not clear about why he couldn’t then continue to come and get two of us. So then we had a bit of a standoff: none of the 6 of us now want to start riding, as another hour has past and we will be looking at arriving at¬†9pm instead of 8pm.

Without any other solution apart from two of us riding, and not wanting to be involved in deciding who that will be, I asked John W if he is prepared to hitch hike with me.

John W and I set off taking our helmets (but not our bikes as they can go on the rack on the back of the truck) with us to hitchhike. To start we had to walk back the 3 km to where we left the main road Рwhile wearing our cycling shoes.

Luckily once we got there the 12th car stopped for us. The male driver was Italian and spoke no English, he wasn’t going as far as Cortina but agreed to give us a lift to where he was going. He wanted to know where our bikes were, but with the language barrier we were not able to explain.¬† We did manage to convey that we had accommodation in Cortina, and John knew how to say it was a beautiful country.

We thought at least if we get to a town we will be better off. Well bless this man, there may have been a language barrier but he took us into the middle of a town about 20 km from where he had picked us up, and dropped us off at a bus stop. We offered him money but he wouldn’t take any.

So there we are at the bus stop trying unsuccessfully to read the bus timetable in Italian, when a bus turned up.
We asked the driver “do you go to Cortina?”
“No” he said “3 minutes”, then got out of his bus, locked it, and went across the road!
So then John and I are wondering does he mean he drives the bus to Cortina but not for 3 minutes?
Well exactly 3 minutes later the bus to Cortina arrived! To say we were happy would be an understatement! The bus took us to Cortina and dropped us off in the centre of town at the bus stop. Then we just had to find the hotel! Would you believe, right there in front of us: orange flagging  tape! Which we followed the 2.5 km to the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel at exactly the same time as a Brett, who had of course made excellent time not having to wait for me.

Tony, the rider who came off his bike, was unharmed but broke the hanger for the derailer and had no spare! Luckily the bike shop in Cortina, whilst not having the correct one for his bike, managed to fashion one to fit.

On arriving at the hotel I immediately had a cold beer with John W, Brett and Walker (all four of us did the Trans Europa in 2012).

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Safe arrival beers: 2 riders, 2 hitch hikers!!!

Afterwards, I had dinner with John, Walker, Brett and Graham. We had pasta with tomato sauce, Chicken schnitzel  (nasty and dry), Strudel and ice cream, and Red wine called Pinot Nero

The Hotel we are staying at is called Menardi Hotel.

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View from the balcony

Introducing
Walker and his Wife Carol – both retired
Walker and Carol did the 2nd half of the 2012 TransEuropa
They are from USA. Walker was an investment banker and Carol a music teacher. Carol is on a singing tour (she is in a choir) of the UK, whilst Walker is doing the ride. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren, no cats or dogs.

John W and Marilyn (doesn’t ride), they have 2 sons, no pets
John is an almost retired university professor from Vancouver, he still does some consulting. This is his 4th TDA ride.

 

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1956 Olympic ski run

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