Archive for 2010

Paris 3

18 July 2010

Do not go on the grass. It is important to observe this in French parks. We admired the nice soft-looking green grass in the Jardin des Tuileries but did not step on it for fear of hearing that officious whistle! We walked past Notre Dame early and went inside briefly. There were no crowds. An interesting scene at the front was a couple of chaps photographing a teddy bear that was dressed up in long black priestly vestments, with Notre Dame as the backdrop.

We paid homage to Le Louvre and then wandered around Le Marais and then to Centre Pompidou. There was a long queue by opening time but it moved pretty fast.

Ian in front of the Louvre

We saw the Lucien Freud exhibition including Aprez Cezanne from the National Gallery of Australia. The Dreamlands exhibition was also interesting – about the copying and recreation of iconic buildings and locations in different places around the world. A bit weird to see this, then look out the window and see the real thing! Another memorable, confronting and amusing (to us) piece was part of the women artists exhibition. It was a video of the enjoyable life one can have while dressed in a full burqa, including swimming, roller skating, self defence, exercise biking, ballet and other activities.

At 5pm we went to Jardin de Luxembourg for an outdoor Chopin concert. The pianist was Leszek Możdżer, Polish, who played jazz improvisations on themes of Chopin. He was amazingly virtuosic and for several pieces modified the piano by placing things on the strings (eg a towel, a glass, a box) to alter the sound. Almost as interesting as the performance was the behaviour of some audience members. As the crowd grew, the available space around the rotunda became more cramped. People who arrived early were sitting on chairs, but latecomers sat around the edges of the rotunda  (this included us) and some even inside the rotunda. This upset some French ladies who made their displeasure clear by calling out and poking the offenders with their programs and admonishing them. Parisiennes have a particularly blood-curdling way of saying ‘Madame’. Nevertheless the trespassers stood/sat their ground (they must have very thick skins).

We ventured into Chinatown for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. Not much English on their side nor French or Vietnamese on ours. They had little faith in our menu selection or ability to cope with the choice we made. The Vietnamese omelette was too special for us, we wouldn’t like it, we should choose something else. We said it was an ‘aventure’ and persevered. It was delicious -crispy omelette with savoury filling, masses of leafy greens (lettuce, several types of mint and basel). We finally remembered how to eat it (distant memory from a Vietnamese restaurant in Woolloomoolloo years ago). The staff were frankly incredulous.

Back at the hotel, Rosalie donned her head scarf a took her ax (ukulele) down to the Seine for her ritualistic songs on location. Not much appreciation from passers-by (they probably thought she was busking and Parisians are so over busking) but on man did join in Chanson d’Armour en passant.

Paris 4

19 July 2010

A day of promenading in gardens –  Le Jardin des Plantes and Le Jardin de Luxembourg. The flower beds in these gardens are beautiful with masses of begonias, cosmos, dahlias, marigolds and petunias but it’s hard to get close enough for a good photo without transgressing the barrier beyond which people are not meant to go.

Les Jardin des Plantes

In Le Jardin de Luxembourg we listened to a school big band from the UK. They were playing in the same rotunda where the Chopin concert was held. Some people were on the grass and they didn’t get rebuked or whistled at. Law and order was lacking.

Un acteur grecke recont son part

We also took in some culture with a visit to the Museum of the Middle Ages. There was a lot to learn there! We learnt a little of it.

Unusual sight for the day: nun scooting. Yes, on one of those small wheel scooters that you push with one foot! She was rather young so I’m not sure if she was la vraie chose, but she looked genuine with a full pale blue habit and white head scarf and it was nice to see nevertheless. Go nuns!

We dined in an Algerian restaurant – tagine, couscous, forgettable and regrettable desserts. Then walked along the Seine and watched people picnicking.

On the Pont St Louis a group of roller bladers was gathering, obviously with a plan. They constructed a jump by stacking wooden pallets with a sheet of plywood for the ramp. Then began a display of skill. Added to the setup was a high jump made of bamboo with the bar getting higher. So we saw some pretty good jumping with somersaults and backflips until the police arrived and called it off.

We now have a big map of France and are planning the next stage of cycling which will begin on Wednesday. We have accommodation and couches reserved and plan to arrive in Biel on Saturday.

We are a bit annoyed about the election as it is not easy to arrange to vote while overseas. We are awaiting assistance from our (current) MHR! And good to know that we are Moving Forward this time. Inspiring stuff.

Meringues

20 July 2010

This is what they do with all those egg whites once they’ve made their brioches.

Parisian meringues

Paris 5 & Orainville

21 July 2010

We found after 3 days in Paris that we were using the Velib in a rather profligate manner that chomped through more euros than we had anticipated. The best strategy is to exploit the ‘first 30 minutes is free’ rule and do lots of short trips and return the bike to a station. This keeps them in circulation and allows you to keep your costs down. Seems obvious doesn’t it?

Observations of Paris: clean, safe, few homeless people, few Roma, air quality pretty good, not outrageously expensive, tap water good, standard of fashion seen on the street comparable to any other city. Ian made his own fashion statement which is sure to influence the Parisiens. Watch next summer’s designs! It’s easy to get lost in Paris because the height of the buildings, mostly 6 to 8 floors, conceals landmarks. The uniformity of building style and material is pleasant. There is little high rise, at least within the Boulevard Peripherique.

Our last breakfast in Paris – le petit dejeuner formule. This consists of orange juice, cafe au lait (or hot drink of choice), a croissant and a baguette with butter and jam. Sometimes it includes fromage blanc (like yoghurt). Our boulangerie had a window display of giant meringues in a range of pastel colours. With breakfast you can’t really go wrong. A good lunch is a cheese plate – an assortment of cheeses with bread. They bring out more bread if you need it to finish off the cheese, but they don’t bring out more cheese to help you get through the bread. Dinner can be risky and we’ve achieved about 50% success there.

We departed Hotel Les Argonautes and took a bus to Gare de l’Est, then with time to spare we both had haircuts. It costs twice as much for feminin as masculin – not much egalite there! On finishing the haircut, Ian’s barber told him that he looked like Bill Clinton.

Then, with 20 minutes before our train, quelle horreur! I remembered that our passports  were at the hotel. A rapid rearrangement of travel plans ensued. Ian to Reims, me to Velib for a quick return trip across town. Lucky we didn’t leave Paris without them! Gare de l’Est has armed guards wandering around. It’s for le securite since 9/11.

Back in Reims, Alex and Claire took us to see the Basilique Saint-Remi de Reims, a magnificent church in which is buried the remains of St Remi who baptised Clovis, the first king of France. History is important to French people.

Then home for a family dinner with Alex’s parents, Alain and Christine, and his little nephew Theo (3) and niece Sam (18 months). Too tall to be Asterix but with his red hair, moustached and esprit Alain is one of those indomitable Gauls, bien sur! This was a lovely evening with great food, wine and company. Thanks Alex and Claire for everything!

Alex, Claire and family in Orainville

Navigation

21 July 2010

Except for one day when we refused to comply and continued to cycle on the banks of the Meuse despite his protestations (and consequently paid the price of back-tracking from dead-end paths on the wrong side of the river), Monsieur Garmin (Edge 705 GPS with a digital European road map installed) – il parle en Francais a ce moment, naturellement – continues to do excellent service for us.

His route finding is practically limited to about 50-70 km per stage but if we make a note of a few villages, towns or cities that represent significant way points for a day’s cycling we can ask M. Garmin to plot our route from one to the next. If we ask him to avoid major roads but accept unpaved roads he tends to lead us on very quiet picturesque byways – even on tracks through the forest or farms – and never on highways or dead-ends. He is prone to suggesting extensive detours to avoid very brief sections of main roads and so uncritical acceptance is not desirable.

M. Garmin is very adept at navigating us into, out of and across new cities – a task that can be very time-consuming and tedious using the traditional methods. It’s very nice not to be stuck on noisy, smelly, ugly intersections trying to cope with wind, rain, one-way streets and missing street signs at the end (or the beginning) of a tiring day. We can enter a business name or a street address and he will lead us straight there.

Unfortunately, M. Garmin is unaware of the Limburger Fietsnetwork (too new perhaps), canal towpaths and some ravels (rail-to-trail paths). Narrow Parisian streets challenge his satellite reception from time to time.

Saint-Dizier

21 July 2010

Aujourd’hui, nous faisons le VGV (Velo a Grande Vitesse) riding 134 km from Orainville to Saint-Dizier. We’re hurrying for a few days so that we can be with our friend Henri in Biel, Switzerland on the weekend. We had a lovely day to cycle so far (with panniers) – cool, cloudy and calm (maybe even a gentle tail wind at times. Flat most of the way but rain for the last couple of hours.

Our first stop (south-east of Reims) by a rail line was rewarded by two TGVs passing at a tunnel portal. 300km/h looks faster from outside!

We rode through the vineyards of Champagne including Moet & Chandon and Bollinger, with a climb over the Montagne de Reims (not  proper mountain, just a hill actually). In the small town of Conde-sur Marne we stopped at the boulangerie for a croissant and pain au chocolat (bien) and at the bar for a coffee (pas bien). We spoke to a man who was also resting there. He had a large rucksack and told us he was on a pilgrimage from Belgium to Santiago and expected to be on the road for 3 months. Later in the day we met 3 Belgian women, also on the same pilgrim route.

Lunch was in Chalons-en-Champagne, a town with a cathedral and 2 other amazing churches of great antiquity, and many half timbered buildings. We bought lunch (baguette, sausage, camembert, pastries, apricots), then went to the canal near the River Marne to consume it. Here we got distracted by watching boats going through a lock. We spoke to the Dutch captain of a large canal boat that only just fitted with a few centimetres to spare on either side. His load was bauxite from near Marseilles, going to Belgium. He and his wife carry various loads on canals all around Europe.

Arrived very damp in St Dizier. We didn’t get to see much of this town but enjoyed the scenic industrial route past the rail yards and a metal recycling plant.

Flowers in the fields

Cycle route:
Orainville to Saint-Dizier (except I forgot to start start M. Garmin)

Vittel

25 July 2010

An overcast day – good and not raining – good! The first part of the route took us along a canal – flat. We passed lots of small locks, many with lock keepers who live right beside the canal. Passed the occasional fisherman. At one lock a French woman of mature years spotted us and called out something that we couldn’t immediately understand – but she was offering us water (de l’eau, de l’eau!).

At Joinville it seemed like a good time to stop for coffee except there were no brasseries open. We cruised around for a while and found a bar-tabac on the way our of town. These are like a combination of a bar, cafe and the TAB and seem to be rather manly places. However, we got good coffees and enjoyed the ambience. When Ian ordered a second coffee in his excellent French, the bar man thought he wanted a Pernod! This is probably what a real French man would have at that time of day.

Ian sans pernod

Our route took us past cows, fields of wheat, corn, canola and sunflowers, forest tracks, a wind farm, lots of villages. We saw a deer cross our path along one of forest routes.

At lunch time we stopped to shelter in a small park as some light rain was falling. Some people began to arrive in their cars and were obviously gathering there. It turned out to be a walking group. We spoke to a woman (of few teeth in the lower jaw) and she told us that they meet regularly to walk in the area. She said they wanted to do the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, so we told her about our meeting with the pilgrims on the previous day. All the walkers told us Vittel was not far away. They didn’t know about Garmin who often takes the long cut!

Vittel is a spa town and a famous brand of bottled water. We stayed in a slightly down at heel resort hotel where we had an enormous room – about 3 times the size of our room in Paris.

Cycle route:
Saint-Dizier to Vittel

Montbeliard

25 July 2010

We decided to take a train part of the way to avoid another day of over 100km, so on the advice of our couch surfing host we headed for Vesoul.

The weather was fine and the scenery beautiful. This is a rather untouristic and (for France) unpopulated area where there are longer distances between villages. We rested by the Saone where Ian did his exercises (all going pretty well, augmented by medication when necessary) and had a coffee in a small town with open shops. These are quite rare!

French drivers do not consider it necessary to stay behind a cyclist. They find it more convenient to pull out, scream past and then quickly swerve back to avoid oncoming vehicles, often with seconds to spare, making it quite safe.

M. Garmin guides us through the bois

In the early afternoon heavy grey clouds were gathering and we could see rain approaching. It soon caught up with us about 14 km out of Vesoul, so we sheltered on the front porch of a house, conveniently furnished with table and bench, and ate the nougat from Claire and Alex, and then the Jatz biscuits and peanuts from KLM. Just goes to show it is worth keeping them!

After the heaviest rain had passed we continued into the town and looked for a cafe. We found one near the station, but no food was to be had. ‘C’est fini’, said the man. He asked where we were from and enquired about the time of day at which people ate food in Australia. We said ‘anytime’. He said ‘Well, you are in Vesoul…’. But we found Chez Claudine where they were happy to sell us hot chocolate and sandwiches – but the girl had to run over to the boulangerie to get a baguette first.

French trains are good – space for bikes, they go fast, they leave on time, it’s easy to buy a ticket online with MasterCard.

In Montbeliard we met Nicolas who was hosting us. He lives in a small flat on the main square of the town. He’s a surfer, a bike rider and works for an IT start up company. He told us about the huge Peugeot factory that is the main employer in the town and that the downturn in the car industry has caused a loss of population. The French government is providing subsidies to attract new economic activity and that was the reason he moved there. He cooked us a nice dinner of Montbeliard sausage with potatoes and salad and we had a good evening talking about politics, France, surfing, bike riding and travelling.

Montbeliard square from Nicolas's kitchen window

Cycle route:
Vittel to Vesoule (and then by train to Montbeliard

La Suisse

25 July 2010

An early start to go over the border into Switzerland to meet Henri in Porrentruy. Passed a music shop on the way out of Montbeliard with lots of yellow and orange vuvuzelas in the window – I reckon they would have been going cheap.

The border was marked by two appropriately painted rocks on the roadside. Almost immediately on entering Switzerland we heard the sound of cow bells, which stayed with us most of the day. Shortly afterwards we passed the customs station – deserted. A long downhill swoop into Porrentruy where Henri was waiting for us.

Then followed a wonderful day of cycling through the Jura – cows, fields of clover, barley, oats, forests, valleys, huge farmhouses. We felt cold for the first time and had to stop frequently to put on jackets or take them off as we warmed up from climbing.

Lunch in Montfaucon, wind farms, tracks, grass roads, steep hills followed – up and down. At last we descended from the high country and had a long downhill run including 2 tunnels (spooky), a walk around the old town of Biel, then along the lake and finally up one last and very steep hill to the home of our friends Henri and Mireille. We found a warm welcome, hot shower, cold beer, delicious dinner, good company that included son Lino and friend Marcel, then a comfortable bed.

M. Garmin was adamant that there was a road

It was great to be met and guided by Henri through the Jura -a long ride with lots of hills. We’re looking for a rest over the next few days.

Lake Biel from Henri's living room

Cycle route:

Montbeliard to Gerolfingen

Gerolfingen

26 July 2010

Gerolfingen is where Henri and Mireille live, about 10km from Biel overlooking the lake. Today (Sunday) we did the following:

Chasseral

26 July 2010

Early start for a big ride. It was raining at breakfast but soon cleared.

Along the lake, around the southern end, then up!

Highlights: beautiful town of Le Landeron; fields, views, cows, cow bells, a cheese factory, beech forest, passing the tree line, reaching the top, paragliders, views west  to France, going down the other side, Neuchatel, view of the alps (faint in the distance but there they were), old town of Erlach. Then home, shower, beer, dinner. Tomorrow Berne.

Three bikes on Chasseral

Cycle route:
Gerolfingen to Chasseral and return via Neuchatel

Berne

28 July 2010

We travelled by train to Berne with Henri and Mireille to see Klee meets Picasso. Klee is a Bernese artist and a magnificent gallery has been built on the edge of Berne to commemorate him.

Bernese bear

Then some tourist activities – but first came lunch: 2 kinds of bread (v good), 3 kinds of cheese (excellent), a tomato, a park bench and a Swiss Army pocket knife. This was just near the old bear pits that are now converted into a performance space for humans (Waiting for Godot is coming soon). The bears have a new home nearby, overlooking the river. Anyway, as lunch was finishing I saw this. People who have seen Exit through the gift shop will know about the street artist Space Invader and his tendency to place mosaics in public places around the world. He has put quite a few around Berne (which I only found out later) but it was a bit of a thrill to spot it like that!

Ok – the tourist activities. The river – it’s pale green-blue and fast flowing with rubber raft groups floating downstream. Henri and Mireille took us to the low lying part of town that gets flooded every so often. Then to the Berne Cathedral. It has painted sculptures over the entrance and, inside, the ceiling is deep blue with gold stars. We listened to the organist who was playing a 20th century piece (goosebumps on last chord). Then up the tower (222 steps) to see the view over the city.

Around the old town, to the Swiss Houses of Parliament in front of which a computerised fountain sprays jets of water that children love to play in on a warm day.

Art galleries and tourist activities are at least as tiring as riding up a big hill. We took the train home and Henri made fondue for dinner. You are meant to have it in winter but we’re in favour of breaking rules. It was delicious with chunks of onion and garlic added. Blueberries and blackberries for dessert.

Gerolfingen to Luzern

28 July 2010

We bid an early farewell to Henri and Mireille, our wonderful hosts who helped us, fed and housed us and made us feel welcome. Thank you!

It was a beautiful clear morning and we could see good views of the alps as we travelled east. Our friend Chasseral was also clearly visible as we looked back and it only disappeared from view late in the morning. A nice steep road took us through fields, forests and farmyards and we had a close encounter with some cows. I also found the ideal setting for a Sound of Music re-enactment.

The hills are alive...

At lunchtime it began to rain so we stopped in Huttwil – Zaentrum Cafe to be exact. I give the lunch 3.5 stars. When we came out we found that our bikes, which we had left leaning nicely against the shoe shop window, had been moved. I suspect that the shoe shop owner noticed a downturn in business, assumed it was related to the presence of the bikes, and took direct action. A shoe display  was placed where the bikes had been. Number of customers before and after: 0.

We were rained upon all afternoon. In Luzern we found we had been upgraded – woohoo! To the hotel instead of the pension. Weather forecast for tomorrow is not promising but we are ready for an early ascent of Pilatus if it’s clear.

Cycle route:
Gerolfingen to Luzern

Where are the alps?

29 July 2010

The weather obeyed the forecast and gave us a thunderstorm followed by torrential rain. No early dash up Pilatus. The alps are all hidden by cloud. We took the ferry to Gersau while the rain continued then cycled a short distance to the YH that’s right beside the lake.

It seemed likely that the weather would clear if we went up the Rigi, and that’s where we’re now sitting, watching the cloud go up and down and enjoying the view when it’s there.

View from cog railway on Rigi near Luzern

Food highlight of the day: brezels from Luzern bahnhof. I know it’s only Swiss fast food, but they are good.

Brezels are tops

Travel tip: don’t take the exploding pannier approach upon entering your chambre for the night. This what Ian does. Everything comes out and gets distributed around the room. I am urging him to adopt Jameela’s method which is to neatly fold your clothes and place them in the cupboards provided. I don’t think he’s going to do it.

Gersau to Unterentfelden

1 August 2010

(Fri 30 July) The YH at Gersau is called Rotschuo – Red Shoe. It’s an old Swiss farm house with dormitories added on each side. It was full of families with children and babies and few assorted extras like us. The rain was still pouring down, so we had breakfast and I had a swim in the Vierwaldstattersee (aka Lake of Lucerne). No sign of rain stopping so we sat for awhile in the old sitting room, floors, walls and ceilings all of dark timber. Unexpectedly the alps appeared as clear as anything! Then out into the rain and on the road.

Our Swiss German is pretty limited but we can order zwei schale hell (2 milk coffees) and are successful at purchasing items from the konditorei.

A welcome sight for cold and wet cyclists

Our destination was the home of Hans and Irma in Unterentfelden. We were happy to see them again and Flavio and Vera, now a lot more grown up than when we last met in 2004. We were given luxury accommodation in the garden house (recently constructed by the whole family) and a delicious dinner of raclette and black forest cake. After dinner lots of talking about our various travels, followed by a concert of recorder music (Vera), drumming (Flavio), then Australian and Swiss folk songs sung at full volume by everyone with ukulele accompaniment.

Cycle route:
Gersau to Unterentfelden

Winterthur

1 August 2010

Travelling east we could see the Alps on the horizon, a beautiful clear sunny day. Our route took us through farms and villages and then across the urban fringes of Zurich with a long steep downhill run into Winterthur. Here we found Guido, a friend of our family since 1989. We went for a walk through the old town, had a beer, saw a buck’s party featuring groom-to-be in mankini, then retired to Guido’s private cinema (his living room) to watch Les Petites Fugues, a film about life on a farm in the Jura (recommended).

Bridge at Baden

Cycle route:
Unterentfelden to Winterthur

Swiss National Day

1 August 2010

We have noticed a lot of flag flying around Switzerland. I think they are generally a lot more keen on this sort of thing then we are in Australia, but it is also due to the fact that 1 August is Swiss National Day and everyone is feeling especially patriotic.

We went with Guido to Zurich for the day, starting out on foot to Kyburg, a castle about an hour from here, then by bus and train. It was sunny and quite hot. Swimming and sunbaking was pretty popular. We all had a swim in the lake and then a ferry ride to the centre of town. On Guido’s advice we decided to leap into the Limmat River which flows out of Lake Zurich with quite a current, and float downstream a short way. This was good fun though it could easily have been a longer trip as it was harder than it looked to stop and climb out!

Rosalie floating down the Limmat

Then on the train to Uetliberg where there is a lookout and tower overlooking Zurich and giving a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside.

The Swiss celebrate their national day with fireworks and bonfires. We went to watch the lighting of a huge bonfire nearby followed by the municipal fireworks display.

Winterthur to Hüfingen

2 August 2010

Here we are in Hüfingen near Donaueschingen, Germany. On a climb toward the end of today’s ride we crossed a fateful watershed. The drops of sweat falling from our brows no longer find their way to the Rhine and the IJsselmeer in Holland (where attentive readers will remember we swam four weeks ago). Now that sweat heads East (if it doesn’t evaporate of course) into the Donau/Danube and the Black Sea. We feel committed to Istanbul now!

Husemer See

Guido lead us through forests, farmland and a high railway bridge to the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen this morning – an awesome amount of water and those clever Swiss engineers have found ways to build platforms REALLY close to the torrent. We then said goodbye and headed out of Switzerland into Germany where we had some navigation challenges as we had no map and Garmin’s map had a hole in it too.

Rhine Falls

A ride through drizzling rain brought us to a kiosk in the forest where German bushwalkers were taking refreshments (very classy fare) – we joined them of course.

Arriving in rainy Donaueschingen we asked Herr Garmin for a list of accommodation. The closest, Landgasthof Frank was just 180 metres away (our of sight). We rode there and they had a room for us – who needs to book!

The sadness of leaving Switzerland and our Swiss friends was slightly ameliorated by a splendid (and inexpensive) meal at a Croatian restaurant called Forelle – excellent for hungry cyclists.

Cycle route:
Winterthur to Donaueschingen

Hüfingen to Sigmaringendorf

3 August 2010

Today we’ve followed the cycling path along the Donau (Danube) from the Catholic Church’s claimed source in Donaueschingen to Sigmaringendorf. We’ve been going mainly downhill on paths or very quiet roads in dark forests and along sunny river banks. No traffic except for hundreds of other cyclists. The river started out not very prepossessing but grew bigger and cleaner during the day. Herr Garmin is totally ignorant of this bicycle route and believes that we have been cycling through trackless wastes most of the day.

Danube source

The gorge in the Naturpark Obere Donau is beautiful with dark forests and steep limestone cliffs. There were many large camps on the banks of the river with hundreds of teenagers enjoying wholesome outdoors fun.

Youth summer camp on the Donau

A couple of times during the morning we met two Catalonian riders from Barcelona who had taken the train to Zurich and were riding the Donau to the Black Sea. In Sigmaringen we met a Viennese woman riding to Santiago de Compostela.

We saw some storks in the morning but were unable to get close enough for photographs.

About 30 km from Sigmaringen I discovered that my rear rim was failing – splitting due to the tension from the spokes on the drive side. It seems that wheel wasn’t built for Swiss hills. There was no alternative but to ride it carefully into Sigmaringen where I was able to buy a new wheel from Radladen Sattelfest. I hope this one lasts.

Bicycle rim not made for Switzerland

Herr Garmin has once again directed us to a nearby guest house with a room available at a reasonable price.

Tomorrow we’ll ride to Ulm to meet up with Fabian.

Cycle route:
Huefingen to Sigmaringendorf

Ulm

5 August 2010

Our gasthaus in Sigmaringendorf was nice. Contact Ingrid if you want to stay there. No hotels were open for dinner (obviously they all close on Tuesday nights) but we walked to the other side of the Donau and found an open one at which we were the only dining customers. Goulash, schnitzel and coupe Denmark (ice cream with cream and chocolate sauce).

The countryside after Sigmaringendorf is more open and we made fast progress. We rode with a German man named Klaus for awhile and met him again several times along the way. Saw one live stork and as we approached and entered Munderkingen saw lots of stork statues.

Stork statues in Munderkingen

We met a couple of Bike Friday riders here, Marj and Peter from Wonthaggi, travelling with their young granddaughter (on the tandem) for 2 months. Of course they knew Margaret and Graham.

Donau Radweg

Mr Ortlieb would be happy to witness the popularity of his products. They are seen on the majority of bikes along the Donau-radweg.

A noticeable characteristic of Germany has been the number of solar panels on rooves of houses and farm buildings. If only we could see this in Australia where we have plenty of rooves and a lot more sun.

As we came closer to Ulm we could see the spire of the munster (highest in Europe). We walked through the town centre, saw a group of young punks with mohawks and big boots, then sat near the munster and had a drink while a group of young people did energetic Christian song and dance.

Fabian, our exchange student from 2004, lives on the edge of Ulm in a tiny flat that looks out on to wheat fields. He cooked us a Bavarian dinner of dampfnudeln. It was great to see him again and to hear about his studies, travels and family news. Fabian is an expert on European travel and booked our train tickets to Munich as well as telling us alarming stories about his experiences in Romania and Bulgaria. We are still planning to go there.

Cycle route:
Sigmaringendorf to Ulm