After a drop down through beautiful Gstaad I soon started climbing to a high point over 4,000 feet and then a long downhill into Spiez on the shore of Lake Thuner See. Continuing along the south shore along roads and finally a separated bikeway into the touristy and busy Interlaken on a sunny day. Interlaken sits between two large lakes, the second of which is Lake Brienzer See, where I went along the north shore.
The lake views disappeared as I approached Meiringen. Here is where things got a little interesting. I had a room booked in a chalet in a little burg called Hasliberg. I knew it would be a 5 mile or so climb. What I didn't know was that it was on a gravel trail with grades of 10 to 15%! I got up about 2 miles, met some rock climbers who advised that it continued steep, and it was getting late. I had to walk stretches and was more concerned about my cleats than my Schwalbe tires. In any case, I quit, switchbacked my way back to town and with some effort found a room.
Meiringen is a cute small town, which I like so much better than the cities. There seemed to be some rain in the forecast and I am holing up here for 4 nights. There is some touristy stuff here about Sherlock Holmes, who is rumored to have died near one of the many waterfalls. He was a fictional character after all.
In the next day or so, I find that there is a bus that goes up to Hasliberg and also a Gondola that could have taken myself and bike up to a point where I could have biked more easily to my lodging. Oh well, the vagaries of shoestring travelling.
I think I'm doing pretty well after 30 days, having biked 1300 miles and climbed over 52,000 feet, not to mention, EFI!!
DAY 29 - JULY 9 - CULLY to GSTAAD
I Continued along Lake Leman for a bit until reaching Vevey, where Charlie Chaplin lived after he couldn't return to the states.
The climbing started and there was a bit of gravel track which I tired of quickly and got back on the asphalt with the vehicles. There were some big chateaus, one castle, cute towns, and in general, the entire day was eye candy. There was a haze in the air that did not slow down my photography one bit.
Gstaad is a lovely place and I soon discovered that the locals here speak German, which does me as much good as French. This is not a huge problem. Usually someone with a little English nearby hears the problem and jumps in to help.
Along the lake and now in the hills, I was never very far from a train line. They seem to go everywhere in Switzerland.
DAY 28 - JULY 8 - GENEVA to CULLY
It was flat, warm, and hazy as I took a very quick look in Geneva and proceeded along the north shore of Lake Leman. The lake is the border between Switzerland and France. I stayed on the Swiss side. The ride itself was mostly on marked shoulders of roads for bike use, some sidewalks, a few trails along the lake and a few just busy roads.
Some interesting towns like Nyon, home of UEFA with a minimalist office on the lake, Morges, and Lausanne were along the way. There were some chateaus and even an ancient Roman ruin.
On arrival at my reserved hotel room in Cully, the air conditioning was not operating, for which I felt obligated to negotiate a lower price.
DAY 26 - JULY 6 - ALBERTVILLE to GENEVA
Today was splendid. After leaving Albertville, mostly on a path along the river, I made a left turn near Ugine and was on a paved, separate path from the road, for more than 20 miles to Annecy. It was Saturday, lots of bikes and people out, and beautiful scenery. The second 10 miles was along Lake Annecy.
Annecy is a little jewel and of course the place was crawling with tourists.
There was some climbing after leaving Annecy and I came to the Caille Bridge. I was amazed that the engineers of the day could build a suspension bridge this grand back in 1839! I bicycled across it. Even the newer bridge built in 1924 is impressive. For those interested, here is a link;
I went over the low Col du Mont Sion (and bus stop) before dropping down to Geneva. That last picture of a river going into Geneva, might look pretty, but was polluted, I'm pretty sure.
Having a two night stay in Geneva, only seeing a glimpse of it as I arrived and left, which seems to be the way I roll.
DAY 25 - JULY 5 - GRENOBLE to ALBERTVILLE
A little of everything except hills today, but finally some beautiful mountain and river views. There were some narrow roads with traffic offset by some quiet paved paths. I stayed with a nice family in their home, sort of a BnB affair.
DAY 24 - JULY 4 - ROMAN SUR ISERE to GRENOBLE
Another hazy, hot day, on some narrow busy roads, until I got closer to Grenoble. Then I stumbled onto a nice paved path for many miles to town. On the way there was that wonderfully designed bridge and mountain views became more prevalent. I did stay at a beautiful and expensive hotel, and was too tired to really explore the great city of Grenoble.
DAY 23 - JULY 3 - DONZERE to ROMAN SUR ISERE
This was not the most exciting day mostly along the Rhone River until Valence. Fairly flat, hot, a headwind, and fairly narrow road. There was a nice lavender field and the Cruas Nuclear Power Station, one of the largest in France, producing 3,800 MW.
DAY 22 - JULY 2 - AVIGNON to DONZERE
I must come back to Avignon. What a fabulous old medieval town. It's got the narrow cobblestone streets, unbelievably preserved walls, grand churches and most impressively, the largest surviving Gothic palace in Europe, namely, The Palace of the Popes. Apparently, an elected French Pope in 1309 thought Italy was too dangerous a place to live so he moved the whole shooting match to Avignon. The darn thing is too big to get one picture. Seven popes lived here for about 100 years.
I wanted to stay another day, but the lodge was booked, so it was easier to hit the road. I got some pictures as I was leaving town. This was a shorter day, but very hot and for good measure I had a nasty head wind. I did see some sun flower and lavender fields along the way.
That Arc de Triomphe is in the town of Orange. Something the Romans put up in the 1st or 2nd century to commemorate some victory. I just love that stuff.
DAY 21 - JULY 1 - MAUGUIO to AVIGNON
Today was a long and very hot affair, but not very hilly. I went through many little medieval towns and France is just dripping with them. The big highlight for me was the Chateau de Tarascon on the banks of the Rhone River. There is a little placard with information that I took a picture of too. An even older giant church is right across the street. Be sure and listen to my cicada video clip. The last picture is one of the entrance gates of the wall around Avignon.
DAY 19 - JUNE 29 - NARBONNE to MAUGUIO
After my rest day I was raring to go....not! But off I went, putting full faith in my software (cycle.travel) to put me on a righteous path. This was a mistake. I was on some nasty rocky roads and later when I got lost and let it recalculate the route, it had me doing some very unwelcome climbing. We remain in a deadly heat wave and after today's misery I am hunkered down for two nights.
By the way Mauguio is just outside of Montpellier, near the airport.
DAY 17 - JUNE 27 - PERPIGNAN to NARBONNE
A fairly flat day, but deadly hot as I let my software lead me down some back roads, this time successfully. Going through a lot of vineyards on this day. Narbonne looks interesting, but I am much more interested in being inside an air conditioned room, and will stay put on DAY 18, only venturing out for some groceries.
DAY 16 - JUNE 26 - GIRONA to PERPIGNAN
Today I crossed the border into France. It wasn't the most scenic ride to date. There is a pretty good hill getting to the border but only just over 600 feet...not exactly the Pyrenees, but enough to get my attention with a narrow road and tourist stuff on both sides of the border.
Right away I noticed that the French are much less courteous drivers than the Spanish and always in a hurry. They probably still haven't gotten over what Greg Lemond did to them in Le Tour way back when.
Also, Europe is in the midst of a major heat wave....lucky me! I would have stayed over in a very nice hotel, but they were booked solid.
DAY 15 - JUNE 25 - GIRONA
Girona is a good sized town, but the big interest for us tourists is the old quarter. It is mostly surrounded by a wall that you can walk along, which I did. There are lots of steep walkways to deal with along the way. All of the pictures are from and in the old quarter.
DAY 14 - JUNE 24 - BARCELONA to GIRONA
I got a few parting shots as I left Barcelona. The Gaudi influence is obvious with amazing architecture that just makes you smile. So much here to see....so little time. The ride to Girona was not exciting and damn hot. You will see Girona as I take another rest day tomorrow.
DAY 13 - JUNE 23 - CALAFELL to BARCELONA
Calafell is a very nice beach resort and most of this day's ride was along the coast. Then there was a cliff side climb, very much a Big Sur type event, until it dropped down to the coast again where I got completely lost trying to get to central Barcelona where I would be staying the night. Finally, a big climb by the Olympic Center and some great views of the city and I found my way to my destination. Barcelona is a big sprawling wonderful city and much more deserving than my one night stay. Big cities and bicycling are not a good mix.
DAY 12 - JUNE 22 - MOLINA D'EBRE to CALAFELL
Over a low col and down to the Mediterranean Sea where it became very resort like and more crowded. The highlight of the day for me was going through the town of Tarragona with a large assortment of ancient Roman ruins. I would have stayed except for a room reservation in Calafell. Continuing along the coast, more Roman antiquities were evident.
DAY 11 - JUNE 21 - MOLINA D'EBRE
Another rest day and I had a little walk around town. Nice views of the surrounding countryside, narrow streets, and a castle or fort that was closed.
DAY 10 - JUNE 20 - ALCORISA to MOLINA D'EBRE
Another day winding through the Spanish countryside with views of ancient towns and I think olive groves and wind generators.
DAY 9 - JUNE 19 - TERUEL to ALCORISA
Another long day with a good amount of climbing as I headed northeast to avoid a headwind. Warm again on quiet roads as I went by more wind power generators and some nice scenery. Those yellow flowering bushes fill the air with a wonderful fragrance. There was the small mining town of Escucha with it's mural. Alcorisa is a tiny spot on the map, but my home for the night. I think I woke up the owner to gain entrance to the small hotel.
DAY 8 - JUNE 18 - TERUEL
Another rest day because I want to see town, it's hot out, I have a nice room, I'm tired, and I can! It's a great town, with a mix of very old and new buildings. The old aqueduct was interesting.
DAY 7 - JUNE 17 - MOLINA de ARAGON to TERUEL
A longish day on quiet roads and not too much climbing. Getting closer to Teruel I notice a sign telling motorists to give cyclists 1.5 meters of clearance. This is almost 5 feet, a little more than the 3 foot rule in California, but never enforced in either place, I'm sure. I do find the Spanish drivers very courteous and cautious. Also I pass what looks like an abandoned airport, possibly a place where old jets go to die. Teruel is a pretty and busy little town, wealthier than most.
DAY 6 - JUNE 16 - MOLINA de ARAGON
A day to explore town as I started by walking around the castle and up to the watchtower. Nice view from the top, even though gnats were buzzing around. Typical narrow streets in the old town and a nice atmosphere along the little river. I did go into the museum for a quick look around.
DAY 5 - JUNE 15 - SIGUENZA to MOLINA de ARAGON
A few more pictures of the hotel-castle and church as I leave Siguenza. Today brought some pretty farmlands, cute old towns, some decent dirt roads, and a fair share of climbing. Wind power is popular here with generators on most ridge lines. Arriving in Molina de Aragon you see the castle or fort and tower in all it's glory up on a hill. It turns out the castle is an empty shell, but the watchtower up above is open to tourists.
I'm taking a rest day here and will explore the points of interest tomorrow.
DAY 4 - JUNE 14 - GUADALAJARA to SIGUENZA
A little hillier today through beautiful farmlands, ancient small towns, and it got hot. Most of the roads were desperately empty and quiet. A few single wide paved roads were fun with no vehicles to be seen.
The bicyclist object was seen as I was leaving Guadalajara. Leaving was a bit of a challenge as I didn't want to believe my software that was putting me on a restricted highway. After some time and consternation I learned it was a service road, next to the highway for a few miles, finally dumping me out on a more manageable small road. Look at the Relive file if you want to have a laugh.
Siguenza is built onto the side of a hill with a castle on top. It has been turned into an upscale hotel. They can't all be preserved as antiquities I guess. More pictures of it and the giant church tomorrow as I leave town.
DAY 3 - JUNE 13 - MADRID to GUADALAJARA
Today started a little wonky about 3 miles in as I was heading down a nice bike path along a river. I could not pull up a course that I had plotted on my Garmin the night before. I stopped at a convenient Starbucks, got out my laptop and spent the next couple hours figuring out what went wrong.
On the road again on a pleasant paved bike path around the outskirts of Madrid. After Alcala de Henares, where the Arab influenced architecture is evident and home to colonies of storks, I was hopelessly lost. At one point I clambered down and up under a train station to get to the other side. Even asking the natives, I got a lot of "you can't get there from here" responses without getting on the bicycle restricted main highway. Well, I finally got to Guadalajara, and it's a nice little town.
DAY 2 - JUNE 12 - MADRID
You may have noticed that I skipped DAY 1. That is because I spent most of the day sleeping, rousing for a meal or two. That jet-lag got me pretty good. DAY 2 was allocated for exploring Madrid. One full day for a great city that is deserving of a week. Well, this is a bike tour and my goal is to get a flavor and a few pictures. It is a busy, noisy, majestic place. Many roundabouts with 5 or 6 exits make it easy to get lost.
I stumbled onto a bicycle tour with a guide and followed along for awhile as it was in English. The pomp and circumstance with the horsies and carriages was due to a visiting foreign dignitary but I never got the details. The government buildings, giant churches, and beautiful plazas are in abundance and are amazing. The baby's head statue is near the train station. All of the statues and lovely fountains got my attention. Don't miss the video clip from Plaza Mayor.
DAY 0 - JUNE 10 - LOS ANGELES to MADRID
Yesterday and today was possibly the longest day of my life or so it seemed. I arrived at the airport 3 hours early with a couple of my buddy's help, only to find out the flight was delayed by 2 hours. Like they say, "LA is one big freeway", and it's a zoo as well. So, I wasn't in a hurry. Going through TSA was unbelievably slow as they were re-screening and hand checking more than I have ever experienced. Safety first I'm sure.
Norwegian Air is a discount airline and they have reconfigured the seats to get maximum passengers, so very little leg room and elbow room. There was a huge crowd getting on and I asked how many persons on board, answer 345. I was seated next to a slender girl who had a 1.5 year old toddler who was very cute, but noisy and fidgety. I managed a couple hours of sleep on the overnight 10 hour flight. Oh yes, lose 9 hours of life also due to the time zone shift going west to east.
It was a smooth flight, but now I had about a 15 mile bike ride to get to a place I booked for 3 nights, knowing I would need some recuperation time and time to see Madrid. Before leaving home I plotted a route on some software to possibly be more bicycle friendly and avoid traffic. There were dozens of turns and I literally got lost as many times and was asking directions frequently to folks who did not speak English and of course didn't know the backroads that I was trying to take.
They were all very courteous, as were the drivers, and especially the buses. The roads and bicyclists aren't burdened with SUV's and pick-up trucks that are so popular in the USA. I made it across Madrid, not daring to stop for photo ops as it was getting late. I made it to my destination in the dark and had the rude surprise of a 4 story walk-up. The landlady carried my 2 panniers and I carried my bike. Travelling is exhausting! All's well that ends well.