Nena's Holiday

Do you remember that a couple of years ago i went on holiday to northern Germany with Maddy? Well this year she asked me again hoping i think to get some inside information from my experience as she was heading to the Alps. Well it was quite a laugh last time so i agreed to go, we'd be mostly camping again and travelling on Maddy's famous bike, Foxy. I packed my case and joined Mad's at silly o'clock in the morning for the train to Manchester airport for our 8am flight to Zurich in Switzerland. Surprisingly everything went to plan and we got off the plane earlier than expected but under leaden skies. Our first job was to put Foxy together before meeting up with Mad's friend Fiona who lives nearby - I say we but I'm no good with spanners so it was Mad who did the mechanicing.

Fiona suggested we take the train to Winterthur as the weather was better there so after saying our goodbyes we took the train for the short ride east and sure enough it was dry when we got off. I got the job of navigator as we set off for our overnight stop near St Gallen @ 100km away. We could have been pretty much anywhere, the countryside was rolling, the traffic light and we made good time under blue skies but then shortly before we reached Wil the heavens opened and we had to take shelter on a flower stall! eventually it eased and by the time we reached Wil the sun was back out so after a late lunch we were on our way again.A quick look at St Gallen later and shortly before six we reached our first overnight stop at Wittenbach and Mad soon had our accomodation and tea organised.

We awoke to the patter of rain on the tent and a very soggy campsite so as we had a long day ahead of us we packed up quickly and were soon on our way to the shores of Bodensee where after a cuppa we caught the ferry across the lake to Lindau in Germany. It was sunny by now and we set off following the route of the Bodensee - Konigsee bike route into the Allgau. Wow it was much harder going than Mad's had thought, once or twice the road climbed very steeply, i'm not sure how she managed to get up some of them!

Certainly Mad was quite tired when we stopped for a light lunch at a little bakery, the sun was beating down and it was in the high 20's or low 30's. Refreshed we set off again toward Immenstadt where our campsite was on the edge of the Alpsee. We arrived quite early, before five, its a good job we were booked in as the place was hosting a triathlon and the site was full to overflowing! After a walk by the lake we had a nice dinner at the site then chilled some more watching the sunset by the lake.


It was dry and sunny next morning and after negotiating our way past the triathlon we headed for Kempten where Maddy claimed there was something she wanted to show me. Boy it was warm, but I wasn't doing the pedalling! Mad took us to a place called APC which stands for Archaeoligischer Park Cambodunum which is Roman Kempten. We had a couple of hours exploring the reconstructed temple enclosure and of course the baths, the weather remaining lovely and warm. Our destination for the day was the Koenigs Winkel near Fussen some 60km further on so rather than linger in the modern town we started out for our afternoon ride south.

The road climbed for quite a distance until we reached Oy before dropping again as we returned to the Alpenvorland. Mad's was gasping by the time we stopped in Nesselwang for another late lunch then it was the final assault to our destination. We were booked in a hotel at Hohenschwangau for a couple of nights so that i could take Mads to the castles, we were both glad of a cool shower in our room after another very warm day. The pleasant evening saw us joining many people walking around the lake before eating in a restaurant in the village.

I was a bit miffed at getting up so early on a Sunday but after a quick breakfast we soon joined the queue for castle tickets managing to get on the first English tour of the day at Hohenschwangau then two hours later at Neuschwanstein. It's difficult to describe what you see on the tours, photographs are not allowed but its fair to say you'll never see anything like it anywhere else. After our visits Mad was keen to show me something at Tegelberg so we collected Foxy to take us the short ride to the cable car.

It was such a nice day that Mad sprang for a ride to the top where we watched people jumping off the mountain for a while before returning to the bottom where we got some lunch. Afterwards we made our way into Fussen where they were having a medieval fair so after a quick look at the schloss we spent a while looking around the old town before returning to the hotel. Once again we ended up eating in sight of the castles but decided on an early night as we would be travelling again on the morrow.

Overnight rain left the roads damp for our departure but after the previous heat we were quite happy to be riding in slightly cooler conditions. Today we were heading to Bad Tolz, i managed to navigate us to Weis church before going south through a very quiet Oberammergau to cross our first pass at Ettal. There were a few drops of rain as we made our way to Kochel where the heavens opened on us. You can't hide forever so we pushed on but when we reached Bad Tolz things deteriorated to a regular downpour. It was too wet to explore so we took a decidedly wet trail to the campsite at Arzbach - guess what, it stopped raining there! The site restaurant was very good and after a stroll around the village we had another early night.

Mads wanted to try a real mountain pass today so as it was only overcast and not raining we set off to conquer the Aschen Pass on our way to Prien on Chiemsee. I generally am sat in a luxury coach going over these things so the long climb took on a new perspective for me but Mads was elated to reach the 940m summit before we plummeted down to Teggernsee. It stayed overcast for pretty much the rest of the days ride, the sun coming out when we got to Prien. We were having another two night stop here so we could explore around the lake so after a quick ice cream we went to find the campsite which was right on the lakeside.

The weather returned to bright and sunny for our circumnavigation of the lake which took us pretty much all day. There's not a lot to see, views across to the castle on Herrenchiemsee, boats, bathers, you get the idea. We took a little side trip to look at some archaeology then a longer one to visit Traunstein where we had, yup, another late lunch. then it was back to the lake to complete the circuit. We had a good dinner at the campsite as we were heading into the mountains next day.

It was overcast again when we set off for Koenigsee and we had a few drops of rain before we stopped for the Mammoth museum at Siegsdorf. Then we took the road to Ruhpolding before heading towards Bad Reichenhall. It was still dry when we arrived in the salt town but by the time we set off for Berchtesgaden it was starting to spot culminating in an opening of the heavens as we started the descent to the town. Mads was drowned, no way was i leaving my snug seat in the barbag! It rained all the way to our campsite at Koenigsee, Mads had to put the tent up in the rain too. It dried up enough to go into the village (there are somenice shops there) before eating at the campsite and snuggling down quite early to the sound of the nearby rising river.

The heavy rain overnight gave way to fine drizzle by the time we set off, first taking a daylight look at Koenigsee lake before dropping back to Berchtesgaden to start the day's excitement. Mad wanted to visit the Kehlsteinhaus so we set off for Obersalzburg where you take the bus up the mountain from. Its a very steep and long climb which took a good hour to do and the rain was quite persistent by the time we ducked into the restaurant for a coffee. It seemed senseless going up in this weather so coffee became early lunch before we headed over the hill into Austria and down into a bone dry and sunny Hallein. Our ride to the campsite was disrupted by the trip's one and only puncture but Mads is good at this stuff and we were soon on our way again.

Dark skies greeted us next day as we started a long day tracing the Salzbach river up to our next stop at Zell am See. On the coach we miss all the twisty roads, passes and gorges that we travelled along all morning, the autobahn often hiding in tunnels as it heads south. We grabbed some lunch at St Johann / Pongau then the valley turns west taking us past dramatic waterfalls, through tunnels and the chance to watch gold panning in the fast flowing river waters. By the time we found the campsite the weather was improving with a glint of sun over the mountains to the south.

This was another two night stop to give Mads a bit of a rest but i still convinced her to walk around the lake to Zell itself for some dinner! The original plan for the 'rest' day was to ride up the pass to the Gross Gloeckner, I have to say Mad didn't take much convincing to catch the post bus instead. Mountain weather is very changeable and on the north side of the pass it was pretty grotty at times as we climbed to nearly 2500m then on the south side it gave way to dry and sunny all the way to the somewhat depleted Gross Gloeckner glacier. We looked out for marmot's and ibex, hit the souvenir shop and posed for pictures before catching the return bus. We were back in Zell by two so Mad suggested a short bike ride around the lake which ended up at over 40km! As we'd done Zell during the day we ate at the campsite, 'homemade' pizza, Austrian Sunday TV and tea - great preperation for another long ride.

The weather was determined to be kind after another damp night and by the time we reached Kaprun the sun was out and things were warming up. Today we were aimed at Mayrhofen which meant a long ride up the remainder of the Salzbachtal to Krimml and then over the Gerlos Pass. It seemed to take forever to get to Krimml, you can see the falls from a distance so we passed up walking to look at more water in favour of an ice cream then started the climb to the 1694m summit of the pass. Mads was once more pretty stoked at the top, we stopped at the lake view cafe for more icecream before starting the long descent off the pass. We were both hot and sticky by the time we reached our campsite just after four. After freshening up we walked up through the town and ate at a quiet restaurant overlooking the river.

Mad wanted to ride over to Italy today so we set off before nine, the road very quickly climbing steeply through tunnels and a narrow gorge, about three quarters of the way up Mad ran out of steam. After a bit of discussion we decided to retrace and head for Innsbruck instead so we returned to Mayrhofen (3 hours round trip!) then on down the valley to join the Inntal grabbing some lunch on the way. From there we passed by Tratzberg Castle (shiver) and the Swarovski crystal factory before reaching Innsbruck. Mad having been before wasn't fussed about sightseeing so we followed the river west to the campsite at Voels.

We were booked into a campsite at Solden in the Oetztal the following night so we made our way up the Inn before turning south to start the 40km to our overnight destination. On the way we stopped at Umhausen to revisit the Oetzi Dorf which is celebrating 10 years since it opened grabbing lunch in the cafe. Then the skies opened and the rest of the ride was a case of me hiding and Mad drowning pretty much all the way. We got to choose the camping pitch, the original one was flooded but the rain eased off allowing us to walk into the town for some dinner in a nice Italian restaurant.

We'd already been to the planned stop for today so we reached our destination of Landeck at lunchtime. It started out quite damp but by the time we broke for a late breakfast at Imst things were improving and it was quite pleasant by the time we set up the tent. As we were so early Mad could have a rest from the bike and we spent the afternoon exploring the shops, visiting the Schloss and getting in some supplies for our al fresco dinner back at the tent.

To get back to Switzerland we had a big lump of rock to cross and a choice of passes, I suggested the lower Arlberg option but that just set Mad off on doing the 2000m plus Silvretta instead. It was overcast but dry as we set off up the Paznauntal, we made good progress through Ischgl before taking a coffee break at Galtur. Then it was a final push to the top during which liquid sunshine started to descend, by the summit it was quite damp and after lunch in the restaurant it was chucking it down. Not great for riding a bike but with little choice Mad set us off down the 29 hairpins which was a bit hairy at times but the rain eased some and by the time we reached our overnight at Nenzing the sun was out and we were drying off nicely.We spent our last evening in Austria walking the 2km down to the village for a mooch before visiting the castle ruins on our way back up. The campsite restaurant supplied dinner before we retired only to be kept awake by noisy neighbours until after midnight - not very friendly.

The penultimate riding day started nice and bright, we were headed first to Lichtenstein before going on to our last campsite at Appenzell in Switzerland. To be honest there isn't a lot to see in the capital Vaduz so we moved over the Rhein to Switzerland and along to Buchs where we grabbed a hotdog for lunch. We had a choice of two routes from there, shorter but hillier or a bit longer with less climbing, we opted for the latter and so followed the Rhein valley northwards to Altstetten before climbing the Stoss pass into Appenzellerland. A bit of damp was annoying as we did the last few kilometres to Appenzell where they were having a festival which made exploring the town a bit difficult. The campsite was 3km above the town so we crawled up to the alpine meadow where we camped, dined and slept.

Our final bike day started like so many before, damp, well raining in fact, we had a rendezvous with Fiona in Zurich at four so we needed to get on. Mads decided that one big climb was better than several smaller ones so we turned onto the road which took us over the 1300m Krazeren Pass. The rain eased on the descent pretty much stopping by the time we stopped at Kappel Ebnat for cake and coffee. Then it was down to Wattwil before another low pass to Rapperswil where we had a quick stop on the south shore of Zurichersee. We could take our time from here, about an hours riding and over two to do it so we followed the lakeshore north to arrive in Zurich just before three.

We met with Fiona for a drink then headed for our hotel out near the hotel arriving shortly before the rain! I had a nice shower whilst Mad repacked Foxy for the flight home, we spent the evening talking, we even forgot to get some dinner. The trip home was uneventful thankfully both of us getting home mid afternoon - just as well as i had to go into Global next day and Mad was back at work too! Despite the often damp weather we had a fun trip, maybe i can get Maddy to use more hotels if we go again though, it was a nightmare keeping stuff dry!

Nena Ziegler