Mountains, Rivers and a Lake

 

Wednesday August 30           Eugendorf – Salzburg – Bad Reichenhall, Germany

It was a most spectacular day for a ride.  The view as we approached Salzburg (11K) was so gorgeous and the day so beautiful that we changed our minds about going around the city and followed the bike path to the middle of the old city of Salzburg. Most of the ride was along the Salzach River.   After coffee in the main square, we changed our shoes, secured the bikes, and went to the Bishop’s Palace to have a tour. In the 1500’s the bishop was the last word in matters of religious and secular law. He (always a “he”) lived in the style that his position commanded and no other authority, including the king, our ranked him. He was entitled to and took advantage of the best the world had to offer.  

The audio guide was excellent and took us on a 2 hour visit which included the cathedral.  The entrance to the palace and the Grand Stairway were imposing. 

The furnishings, wallcoverings, fresco paintings on the ceiling and the designs in plaster on the walls and ceilings were outstanding.       At the end of the tour we had a bird’s eye view of the cathedral which was fit for a king. 

After we visited the Bishop’s Palace, we found a quiet bench outside  the university for lunch then walked around a street market for a bit before riding out of town toward Bad Reichenhall.

Bad ReichenhallI is a spa town in  mountains across the border from Salzberg, in Germany.  Along the way, we stopped in a small village to share a cappuccino and an iced coffee.  Iced coffee in Europe is a cappuccino, ice cream, whipped cream, a liquor and chocolate sauce.  You can’t get better than that on a hot day!! The ride was mostly on the Mozart Route along the Saalach River. The GPS took us on a journey while trying to find the apartment we had rented for the night.  We got 2 or 3 K up the mountain road to Berchtesgaden before realizing the mistake. We called our host and asked to meet him at 8:30pm to get the key and went back downhill to the walking street of Bad R. for a very good Indian dinner.  We were quite tired and hungry.  Our diversion to Salzburg was definitely worth it, but it made for a long day as we spent nearly 4 hours there.  Our apt. (in a 7 story high rise) is more like a 2 person dorm room from the 1970s, but had a small kitchen, private bath, and balcony.

 

Thursday August 31, 2017           Bad Reichenhall to Lofer

After breakfast on the balcony, we rode around the village to see the flowers in the park surrounding the very old health spa. 

We walked in the ice cold pool (3 laps required) for the medicinal effect of improved circulation to the legs.  The music hall nearby had an orchestra practicing lovely sounds wafting around the park. We knew the ride today would be quite tough as we had to ride over Stein Pass, but as it turned out, all but a few km were on a gravel path (think mt.bike) through the woods and over the mountain.  It was very hot and, at times, more than a little scary riding up and down steep stretches on loose gravel.  Some pushing and walking required. Just as we “topped out” around 12:30, we came upon a farm complete with cows that had bells around their necks, at the top of the pass which was on the border between Germany and Austria.  It seemed to come out of nowhere and had a beer garden out back for the bikers and hikers.  We had our lunch, lots of cold water with gaz, and cooled down. The waitress said that the worst was over and the route would get much better from there on.  She was correct, but it still was gravel most of the way to Lofer. We crossed back into Austria just beyond the farm and when we got down we enjoyed the beautiful buildings of Lofer.  

Our Zimmer in Lofer was in a traditional Gasthaus that had been in the owner’s family for more than 100 years and had gone from a farm house/barn combination to a hunting lodge which was evidenced by all sorts of game hanging from the walls and on the tables to a gasthaus/hotel with very interesting furniture and eclectic art on the walls, with the elderly host and hostess dressed for the part.We walked back into the village for coffee and an apple strudel.  It’s a ski town in the winter and the gondola gives rides up the mountain during the summer for hikers and mountain bikers.  Everything is really beautiful Tyrolian style. The weather was deteriorating with nasty clouds moving in followed by rain before we finished dinner.

Friday, September 1, 2017        Lofer to Zell am See

Friday, September 1, 2017        Lofer to Zell am See

It was raining hard when we got up and right through our breakfast. Our host couldn’t believe we’d ride in such a rain, and suggested we take the bus as they take bicycles. We considered it for a millisecond then pressed on in full rain gear. It continued to rain hard and didn’t stop until we got to Zell, about 50 km south of Lofer. Thankfully the route was a paved bike path the whole way. Mud on such a day would have driven even the hardiest to tears and or a temper tantrum. The temperature, which was cool when we set out just kept getting colder. We stopped at a quick stop at Saalfelden to dry off and have lunch. We each had 2 cappuccinos to warm up and stall going out again. To show how desperate to dry off we were, we sat in the glassed in enclosure for smokers because it was a few degrees warmer than the other seating. We delayed leaving for about 45 minutes and promptly re-entered the downpour. The mountains were draped in clouds.  Pictures were difficult to take because it was raining so hard and our fingers stiff from the cold. The rain gear was in over its head. It finally stopped raining at Zell which is on the shoreline of a fabulous lake surrounded by mountains. We walked around this delightful little town that is the epi-center of about 6 ski areas and were treated to a view of the new snow on some of the peaks that surround the village. The buildings and flowers were beautiful with clouds in the background. Not even a hint of sun today, but the clouds made for some spectacular view. There were one or two very small patches of blue sky that quickly disappeared.

When we spotted snow on the peaks, the camera came back out.  After all, it is only September 1st…..happy birthday Kate!  The photos do not do the mountains or the snow justice. We felt like paparazzi finding better places to take pictures of the snow covered peaks.

We got coffee in Zell and realized to our surprise that it was already 5:25. We both thought it was only about 3:30. Our hotel was another 3 km from Zell at the bottom of the lake, but the rain had finally stopped and we enjoyed the evening ride. We arrived there about 7:10 after more and better pictures of the mountains in snow. We had a great dinner at the hotel and learned that we got a pass included in our stay to many of the attractions around here including 4 gondolas up to the glaciers, and a boat ride on the lake.  We decieded right then and there to take advantage of the glacier offer tomorrow.  We’ll spend most of the day doing that trip up the mountain out of Kaprun to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier then take the train to our night’s lodging in Leogang.

 

It was raining hard when we got up and right through our breakfast. Our host couldn’t believe we’d ride in such a rain, and suggested we take the bus as buses take bicycles. We considered it for

a millisecond and then pressed on in full raingear.

 

 

a

It continued to rain hard and didn’t stop until we got to Zell, about 50 km south of Lofer. Thankfully the route was a paved bike path the whole way. Mud on such a day would have driven even the hardiest to tears and or a temper tantrum. The temperature, which was cool when we set out just kept getting colder.  We stopped at a quick stop at Saalfelden to dry off and have lunch. We each had 2 cappuccinos to warm up and stall going out again. We each had 2 cappuccinos. To show how desperate to dry off we were, we sat in the enclosed smoking section because it was a few degrees warmer than the other seating. We delayed leaving for about 45 minutes and promptly re-entered the rain and spent about half an hour looking for our route. The mountains were draped in clouds.

 

Pictures were difficult to take because it was raining so hard and our fingers were stiff from the cold. The rain gear was in over its head. We rode the full length of the lake before getting to the village of Zell am See (Zell on the Lake.). . It finally stopped raining at Zell which is on the shoreline of a fabulous lake surrounded by mountains.  

We walked around this delightful little town that is the epi-center of about 6 ski areas and were treated to a view of the new snow on some of the peaks that surround the village. The buildings and flowers were beautiful with clouds in the background. Not even a hint of sun today, but the clouds made for some spectacular views. There were one or two very small patches of blue sky that quickly disappeared.

  about 6 ski areas. When we spotted snow on the peaks, the camera came out.  After all, it is only September 1st…Happy Birthday Kate!

The photos do not do the mountains or the snow justice. We felt like paparazzi finding better places to take pictures of the snow covered peaks.

Our hotel was  3 kms from Zell.  We arrived there about 7:10 after more and better pictures of the mountains in snow.

We got coffee in Zell and realized to our surprise that it was already 5:25. We both thought it was only about 3:30. Our hotel was another 3 km from Zell at the bottom of the lake, but the rain had finally stopped and we enjoyed the evening ride. We arrived there about 7:10 after more and better pictures of the mountains in snow. We had a great dinner at the hotel and learned that we got a pass included in our stay to many of the attractions around here including 4 gondolas up to the glaciers, and a boat ride on the lake.  We decided right then and there to take advantage of the glacier offer tomorrow.  We’ll spend most of the day doing that trip up the mountain out of Kaprun to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier then take the train to our night’s lodging in Leogang.

 

Saturday, September 2, 2017           Zell am See- Leogang

The weather remained lousy, but we decided to take advantage of the Zell Card anyway and took the bus to the base of one of the ski areas and rode up the 4 gondolas that took us to the glaciers at the top of the mountain. Although it had been very difficult to see the terrain while in the lifts because of the fog and raindrops on the windows of the gondolas,

 

Kitzsteinhorn Glacier.      We were very fortunate as the clouds moved a bit which opened up the views of the peaks

We stayed  at the top of the mountain about 1 ½ hr and  watched wonderful film about the mountains and glaciers, with pictures that we were able to photograph since we could not see the real thing because of low visibility.  We had lunch and took more pictures before we caught the gondolas down and the bus back to town.

We walked back to the hotel, loaded the bikes and rode to the train station for the short ride to Leogang.  The train ride was a lot shorter than planned as we thought we had to change trains at the first stop and got off (our German isn’t so good). Since the next train was not for a couple of hours we decided to ride to the “Blueberry Apt.” in Leogang only 9km away. It was raining quite hard again and very cold, but we made pretty good time until we got to Leogang, We stopped at the market, got groceries for dinner and tried to find our apartment. The GPS failed us and sent us on a wild goose chase for about ½ an hour.  It turned out that there are several streets in Leogang with the name of Rain with house numbers whose logic defies description.  We called the absentee owner who sent his housekeeper to meet us and guide us to the place.

The non-descript lodging with street number and name not visible from the street. We were cold and wet, but happy to get settled, warm up and have dinner. (P.S. Most of the time the GPS is very accurate, but every once in a while, the place we are trying to find has the same street name as another street in the same village. The house number usually helps, but some houses do not have numbers and some have numbers way out of sequence. Having a smart phone with Google Maps is a good back up when this happens.)

Sunday, September 3, 2017        Leogang to St. Johann am Tirol

We both had a really good night’s sleep and awoke at 8 am to rain and the temperature of 42F. We decided to catch the train to St. Johann in Tirol where we have lodging for two nights in order to take advantage of its proximity to Kitzbuhel. We intended to catch the 10:03 train, but missed it by a few minutes.  It was raining, but we had dressed as if it were ski season, so rather than wait for another hour and a half for the next train, we decided to ride to St. Johann.

As we started up the route, we layered down, but put on waterproof socks and long fingered gloves. The first half of the ride was up hill with our efforts providing us with some warmth.  Actually, “staying warm” was not possible, but avoiding freezing was. It was raining and we could see our breath. The temperature reached 50 degrees, but not until we got down from the top of the pass.At times we had good views of the mountains through which we were riding.   including some really picturesque farm

houses and a building clad in sheep (we think) skins.

We made two lengthy stops for coffee, warmth and drying out. We had been looking forward to this section of our adventure as the bike route was surrounded by mountains, green fields, pastures and cows and sheep. Since the mountains were almost always in the clouds we missed seeing them. After we topped out, the ride down to St. Johann in Tirol was a fun 20km with good surfaces, little traffic and a break in the rain. (The rain had stopped as we were about to leave our last coffee/lunch/drying place and didn’t start again until we were almost at our destination.)

We arrived in St. Johann at about 3 p.m., found our Pension,

and checked in and got out of our wet clothing. We walked around the village admiring the church and colorful buildings.    We spotted  a hedgehog walking along the base of a building and tried to ignore us.

The mountain resort villages are full of lodging of every type, restaurants and, of course, boutique stores selling everything the tourist might want. As an added attraction, some of the areas offer a special card that comes with your lodging.  St. Johann has a similar tourist card to the one we used in Zell am See to do the glacier excursion so we’ll try it out tomorrow and see what the card offers. We plan to do a 25 km ride tomorrow up to the ski village of Kitzbuhel. It’s a HUGE ski complex with the famous landmark mountain named “The Horn.”  It’s where the Winter Olympics were held in 1964 and is connected to several other ski mts. around the area.  It’s very impressive on the map, and we’re excited to spend the day up there.

Monday, September 4, 2017              St. Johann in Tirol

What a day! Exquisite!!  It was cold (44 degrees) and crisp like late fall in the Colo. mountains. The clouds were lifting when we woke up and the upper portions of the mountains had fresh snow.   The peaks continued  to clear as we rode to Kitzbuhel,

By the time we got to Kitzbuhel, the entire area was in sunshine with accenting puffy white clouds.   Kitzbuhel sits at the base of some very picturesque ski and hiking country that’s more candy for the eyes. We ditched the bikes and took a gondola up about 3000’ to the top of one ski area surrounded by 5 more. The views of the mountains around us were fantastic. We walked around at the top taking panoramic pictures. We had missed being in Colorado’s high country in the summer these last few years. No More. The weather was perfect with no wind. Neither the top of the mountain nor the village of Kitzbuhel were crowded.

We had a coffee on the deck looking toward the highest peaks in the panorama and visited the start house of the Kitzbuhel downhill race in addition to walking a 360 degree path around the top and taking loads of pictures. We were at the top for about 2 hours before taking the gondola back down to the village and finding lunch. We walked around a bit and took some pictures of the buildings.

Maggie bought a pair of bike shoes since her bike sandals are falling apart and Shimano is no longer making bike sandals.  Her sandals have succumbed to all the daylong rain rides.

Ed found a bike shop that recognized road bike components and had his front brake tightened and his drive train adjusted to shift more smoothly. There are almost no road bikes around, only mt.bikes, and most mechanics don’t seem to know anything about them.

We took a different route back to St. Johann and stopped for coffee and a church visit in Oberdorf  We stopped briefly at our B & B then went to dinner.   It was a spectacular day to be in the mountains.

 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017 St. Johann in Tirol

Our plan and one of the reasons we stayed in St. Johann a third day was to ride the third of four valleys that converge at St. Johann. (We will ride the forth valley tomorrow when we go to Worgl.) After speaking with another guest very familiar with the area and our host (Trina) at the pension, we decided to take the train back up the valley we came through Sunday (toward Leogang) as it was much more beautiful than the one we had planned to ride, and we did not get to see that beauty Sunday as we rode to St. Johann from Leogang over Griessen Pass with our heads down in the cold and rain.

Despite the weather prediction that we got last night for clearing, it was raining lightly when we got up. Undaunted, we caught the 10:15 train (free as a result of our tourist card that came with our room) and got off at Hochfilzen at the top of the pass. Although it was not raining when we got off the train, it started shortly after we sat down for our morning coffee at the first place we warmed up and dried off on Sunday. We waited about a half hour and embarked on our ride back to St.Johann while it was still raining lightly. The clouds made for some pretty nice scenes as we headed down the mountain.

We visited a beautiful church in Fieberbrunn just before we had lunch in the lovely hotel sitting area where we had dried off and had our lunch on Sunday. The cooled air persisted as we mounted up, but fortunately, as we descended the clouds started to break up and the air got warmer.   We even had a little actual sunshine (very little.) The heavy clouds and patches of blue sky made for some beautiful scenery route we took back was higher on the shoulder of the mountains through 2 and 3 house/barn villages.  They all had names on the map. We suspect they’re named after the families who have lived and raised cattle there for the last 100 yrs..      

It ended up being a very beautiful ride down the mountain back to the valley. 

We arrived back in St.Johann about 3:45 and had a leisurely cup of coffee on the main square before returning to our pension. We did some laundry at the Laundromat conveniently located one building from where we were staying. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant and returned to our room and planned and made reservations for the next few days.

 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017     St. Johann to Radfeld/Rattenberg

It was an annoyingly intermittent rain day. We started out in the rain with the temperature fairly warm. As we climbed out of St. Johann and over the pass, the temperature dropped and the rain tapered and then stopped and started again and stopped and started….     

Clothing was adjusted many times throughout the day. The sun never appeared. However, the mountain scenery constantly changed as the clouds moved and lifted. We turned south and joined the Inn River bike route at Worgl, but we didn’t actually see the river  until we got to our pension in the ancient village of Radfeld.  The mountains on both sides of the valley are breathtaking. We took the train from Munich to Innsbruck through this valley in 2002, but have never ridden it. What a treat.

We arrived at our Gasthaus a little before 6 and got a warm welcome from our hosts. We unloaded and hung our damp clothing up to dry before walking around this tiny, historic village which is only about 3 streets wide. There is an old castle hovering over the main street and many old and pretty buildings that line the streets.  

We noticed that there are many shops that sell intricate blown glass. Hopefully we will find tomorrow the connection that this village has with the artisan glass industry.

Despite the thick cloud cover for most of the day, after dinner, as we were walking back to our pension the sky lit up with color. That is the first time, in a long time, that we have seen a pretty sky in the evening.

 

 

 

 

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