Tuesday, Sept 4th, we arrived in Vienna early, at the Hotel Stephanie, located in the Old Town. We all gathered in the meeting room and the manager welcomed us to Vienna and discussed all that we could see and do here. After checking into our most spacious room we went out to explore Vienna. We walked to one of the main squares called Stephansplatz, where the famous St Stephen’s Cathedral is located, originally constructed in 1147. We went inside the church and gazed at the distant High Altar, that took over seven years to build from 1641 to 1647, in the baroque style, representing the stoning of the church’s patron St Stephen. We wandered around marveling at the impressive nave with the organ and huge pulpit and the many side chapel. Continue reading
We started our day with a boating adventure on the most popular river route in Europe. We cruised through the famous Schlonger Schlinge in Austria, where the Danube snakes through steep, forested mountains in a series of sharp and scenic bends. The weather did not cooperate however, and it was cold and wet on the top deck of the boat, where we spent most of our time watching the scenery, cruise boats and towns pass us by. It was fun going through the locks as it was the first locks I have been through on a boat. Watching as the water lowered, then the gates opened and we passed through to the other side. We began biking at Schlogen along the Danube, and headed toward Aschach through a beautiful forest. Loved seeing the wild swans following us on the Danube as we pedaled along the bike path.
We stopped for lunch at the bakery, Cafe Konditorei Weltzer Aschach, just as the rain began to fall. Aschach is an old town in the state of Upper Austria, first mentioned in history in the year 777. We had a delicious Austrian sandwich and the famous Austrian Linzer cookies (Linzerkekse) for dessert. The rain stopped after lunch so we continued riding along the bike path, and crossed over the Danube on a dam.We rode to Ottensheim where we were transfered by private coach to our hotel at Weissenkirchen, in Austria’s Wachau Valley wine region. This charming village is dominated by St Michael’s Church, which dates to 987. The small white steeple on the church is the name given to the town, meaning White Church. Our hotel, the Raffelsberger Hof is one of the many Renaissance buildings with a romantic inner courtyard. We checked into the hotel and then headed out to explore the town and have dinner with some of our group. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
This morning we traveled by train from Cesky Krumlov through the Sumava National Park, the largest national park in Czech Republic to Horni Plana. When we arrived. the bikes were ready for us to start our ride through a beautiful forest, far from traffic and villages, except for the occasional logging truck that takes up the entire path. We entered Stozec where the van was waiting with snacks, water and a shot of Eggnog liqueur. At Nove Udoli we rode our bikes into Germany. This unique border crossing was closed in 1945 and reopened some time ago for pedestrians and bicycles only. At the border we saw a replica of the Iron Curtain that was built after WW II to keep the people living in the Soviet Union, under communist region, from escaping to the west.
Once we crossed into Germany the landscape changed drastically to beautiful manicured fields compared to the poor farming villages of the Czech Republic. Bavaria is among Europe’s most beautiful and serene cycling areas. We rode along a gravel bike path for 7 km, then came to a Biergarten where we stopped for lunch prepared by the owner-family. We continued on the gravel bike path after we left the Biergarten for 18 km to Waldkirchen, where we were shuttled to the historic Baroque city of Passau, situated at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. We stayed at the Alstadt Hotel overlooking the romantic Danube River, where we had dinner with the VBT group. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
Today we met all the people on the VBT bike trip, 20 total, when we met at 8:30 in the hotel lounge with the VBT representative, Barbara. We hopped on a bus and were transferred to Cesky Krumlov in the south of Czech Republic, about a 3 hour drive, our driver made it in 2 1/2 hours including a pit stop. We were met by our VBT leaders Petr and Hana who took us to the Hotel Bellevue where we checked into our rooms. We had some time on our own to enjoy lunch by the river at Papa’s restaurant and explored the town. Cesky Krumlov is a unique UNESCO World Heritage town in Bohemia, built at the curve of the River Vltava and dripping with medieval authenticity. Then we met at 3:00 with Petr for a safety and bike fitting session followed by a warm-up ride through the town and into the countryside for 9 miles. We love our e-bikes and had fun riding the short 9 miles before heading back to the hotel for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
We began our VBT biking trip to Czech Republic, Germany and Austria on August 25th, leaving Vancouver at 1:30pm and arriving in Prague, Czech Republic at 11:00am on the 26th. We were met by the VBT representative, Barbara, and waited for Karen and Bruce to arrive shortly after so we could take the shuttle to our hotel together. We are staying at the Mamaison Hotel Riverside, next to the Vltava River, the longest river in the Czech Republic. We could not check into our rooms until 2pm, time to explore Prague. We stopped for lunch on the River near the Charles Bridge (Karlov Most) and watched the river boats cruising down the Vltava and through the locks. Then we walked across the famous Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge still standing over the Vltava River. Charles IV had it built in 1357, and it took almost a half a century to finish it, completed in 1402. There are 30 baroque statues mounted to the balustrades of the Charles Bridge forming two rows on either side of the bridge. One of these statues, the Statue of St John Nepomuk,(depicting St John being thrown off the bridge) is said to bring you good luck, and if you rub the bronze plaque on the statue, you will one day return to Prague. We walked to the Old Town Square, from the bridge, and marveled at the architecture around the square, especially the Gothic-style Church of Tyn and the Old Town Hall.
We finally left San Diego on June 15th heading north to the Oregon Coast where we had booked into the Sea Perch RV Resort for two nights, located near Yachats, We explored the beaches near the Park, first drove to get a beautiful view of Heceta Beach at the viewpoint looking across to the Heceta Lighthouse. After enjoying a fabulous late lunch at the Yachats Brewing + Farmstore we drove to Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and took the short hike to see the Devil’s Churn, Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn. We were there near high tide around 5:00 and we watched the turbulent ocean waves crashing through small cracks in the rocky shore, spraying straight up into the air. The next day we drove north toward Newport and stopped at the Seal Rock State Recreation Site. We hiked down through the Seal Rock State Wayside, and saw views of large off-shore rock formations that provide habitat for seals. sea lions, and other marine life. The beach has interesting tide pools as well as excellent ocean views and a sandy beach which we walked the entire length, enjoying the ocean breeze and the beautiful views. As we drove back to Yachats we pulled off the road to see these huge amazing wood carvings. It is the Brian McEneny Woodcarving Gallery and has one of the largest displays of refined chainsaw sculpture and tables on the Oregon Coast. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
From Albuquerque we drove to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, created in 1907 as Chaco Canyon National Monument, in 1980 became the Culture Center, and in 1987, a World Heritage Site. The Chaco people made this high desert valley the center of their world 1,100 to 1,200 years ago. They began to build here on a grand scale in the mid-800s, and ruins of the great houses of Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida, and Penasco Blanco are still intact today. We started are tour at the Visitor Center then drove the loop road exploring the magnificent houses of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Keti. We were fortunate to get on a guided tour of the Pueblo del Arroyo, Spanish for “village by the wash”. We crawled through tunnels and into small dark rooms where they stored the food. After the tour we did the Pueblo Alto Loop Trail hike, 5.4 miles R/T, where we had spectacular overlook views of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Keti. We explored the sites of Pueblo Alto and New Alto and passed by the Chacoan stairways, the Chacoan “road” system. The roads linked the great houses in the core of Chaco Canyon to far-off communities. Whenever the Chacoan road builders encountered a cliff, stairways or ramps were constructed to continue to straight road alignments. The panoramic views of the San Juan Basin was breathtaking. Chaco Canyon is well worth the visit as it is one of the most amazing places in the country and one day is not enough time to explore the entire Canyon and Culture. We hope to return and camp for a few nights Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
We arrived in Ruidoso, NM on April 25 staying at the Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch, the only Class A luxury RV resort in New Mexico.There is a lot to see and do here, besides the Ruidoso Downs Race Track, which has been the regions premier attraction since the 1940s. Labor Day attendance to the All American Futurity was nearly 25,000 fans. We weren’t here for the races though, but we did go to the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino located in the mountains just above Ruidoso, beside the pristine Lake Mescalero. A wonderful place to come and relax and enjoy a cocktail on the expansive deck looking out on Sierra Blanca Mountain range. We visited the Hubbard Museum of the American West, a Smithsonian Affiliate. The Museum’s 10,000 piece collection includes: wagons, carriages, saddles, firearms, and many Native American artifacts. The life-size horse sculptures outside the Museum is called “Free Spirits at Noisy Water” by Dave Mc Gary, and is a very impressive work of art. The small mountain village of Ruidoso, at 6,920 feet, also has a ski resort called Ski Apache, where we drove to see the vistas and check out the lodge. This was a great stop and we would definitely find our way back here again. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
We left Texas today and drove into New Mexico to Carlsbad and stayed at the KOA Campground just north of Carlsbad. Our first time visiting the Carlsbad Cavern National Park and we were very impressed. We were lucky because the elevator wasn’t working so there were not as many tourists going down into the cavern. It is an incomparable realm of gigantic subterranean chambers, fantastic cave formations, and extraordinary features. We did the Natural Entrance Route, a 1.25-mile, self-guided tour that follows the traditional explorer’s route. We entered the cavern through the large historic natural entrance and descended 750 feet into the Earth, following steep and narrow trails through a tall spacious trunk passage called the Main Corridor. As we descended this route we saw the Bat Cave, Devil’s Spring, Green Lake Overlook and the Boneyard, a complex maze of dissolved, Swiss cheese-like limestone rock. We continued on the Big Room Route and passed many large features like the Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, and Painted Grotto. The 8.2 acre Big Room is a must-see. Then it was time to ascend back up through the Main Corridor and up the switchbacks to the large natural entrance. What an impressive work of nature’s underground beauty, that began around 15-20 million years ago. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
On April 9th, we left Alpine and drove south toward Big Bend National Park. We stayed for a week at the 5 star, Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, Texas, tucked between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. Lajitas is a remote vacation destination, with an onsite spa, zip line course and an 18-hole championship golf course, equestrian trail rides, plus restaurants. In 1977 the town was purchased by the Houston entrepreneur, Walter Mischer, who restored and developed the community to a western-themed resort that it is today, and the mayor of this West Texas town is Clay Henry III, a beer-drinking goat. After we settled into our site we went to visit Big Bend National Park. Continue reading