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.
March 23rd, we left Oceanside, CA, to head to new Mexico and Texas for 6 weeks. Our first stop was Tucson, AZ, to get the RV serviced at Freedom for a few days. We decided to stay longer in Tucson at the Voyager RV Resort to play pickle ball and relax. Then on to Las Cruces, New Mexico, stayed at the Hacienda RV and Rally Resort, it is close to Old Town where we explored one day. Our first outing was to see the White Sands National Monument just north of Las Cruces in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. It’s known for its dramatic landscape of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand that engulf 275 square miles of desert. We stopped to see the White Sands Visitor Center designed in Pueblo Revival style, built during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. We drove along Dunes Drive, a loop road to the Heart of the Sands to hike the Alkali Flat Trail, a 5 mile loop trail. What beautiful white sand, it is so fine you could slide down the dunes, and finer than beach sand. The whiteness of the sand in contrast to the brilliant blue sky looked surreal as we walked along the trail. Then we did the Dune Life Nature Trail, dotted with interpretive exhibits on plants and wildlife that live here. On the way back we stopped in at the White Sands Missile Range Museum and Trinity Site, the place where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945, but we didn’t have ID to get inside the compound. When we returned to Las Cruces we stopped for a beer and a bite to eat at the Spotted Dog Brewery. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
This year the Chagrin Valley Ski Club went to Mammoth Mountain in January from the 27th to Feb 3rd. Bob and I drove to Mammoth from San Diego, a six hour drive and we arrived at the Condo before the bus did. We were staying at the Juniper Springs Lodge with our roomies Karen and Bruce, within walking distance to the Eagle lift. Unfortunately, the bus with all the Chagrin Valley group hit a rock and broke the transmission, and had to get towed, the group got another bus but they were delayed by about 4 hours. We finally met everyone at the wine and cheese party that night and collected our passes for the week. The next day was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and we took Karen and Bruce all over the mountain. The conditions, however, were not the best as the mountain was lacking snow and chair 9 was almost bare in spots. We had fun going to the summit and seeing the view of the mountains, then skiing down for lunch at the main lodge. Where we sat outside in the warm sunshine eating lunch and watching the snowboarders in the half-pipe. For dinner we went to a sushi restaurant in Mammoth Lakes. Continue reading
Our next stop was in Cedar City, Utah, staying at Cedar Breaks RV Park from October 19th to 24th. We tried to get into two other Parks closer to Zion National Park but both Parks were sold out. You have to book almost six months in advance to get into those Parks. We were happy to be in Cedar Cedar because we were closer to Bryce Canyon National Park where we were going to do a hike. Here in Bryce Canyon is the largest collection of hoodoos in the world and we wanted to spend more time seeing them up close and personal. We choose to do the Fairyland Loop Trail, 7.4 miles, beginning at Fairyland Point. We saw spectacular hoodoos and beautiful scenery along the rim and into the canyon. We took the side trail to Tower Bridge before heading back up to the rim. It was a steep downhill to Tower Bridge from Sunrise Point but well worth it. We had great views of the China Wall in the distance. Tower Bridge, you can’t get that close to, but you can see it through a break in the trees. We continued on the Fairyland Loop Trail from here and had better views of Tower Bridge as we ascended up the trail. As we hiked along the wide open trail the clouds disappeared and the white sandstone against the sapphire sky was incredible. This was a great hike, where you really get to see the beautiful hoodoos up close and to experience the wonders of Bryce Canyon. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
We arrived in Heber City, Utah, on October 12th, staying at the beautiful, five-star, Mountain Valley RV Resort until October 19th. We took a four-wheel drive road into the Wasatch Range and drove forever along the dirt road until we realized we had missed a turn somewhere. The fall colors were beautiful, and we got lost in the scenery. We ended up coming out near Sundance Ski Resort and drove to Bridal Veil Falls on the way back to Heber City. The Falls are right next to Hwy 189 in Provo Canyon, and fall 600 feet through a double cascade to a wide lacy veil into a small, shallow pool at the bottom. The Falls are very impressive all year long. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
Our next stop was at Bend Sisters Garden RV Resort near Sisters, Oregon. We drove to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway past Mt Bachelor to Sparks Lake where we had great views of South Sister across the Lake. We also stopped at Devils Lake and walked around the lake, a beautiful shallow lake, with waters an exquisite turquoise color. Devils Lake provides access to the Three Sisters Wilderness where we started at the Devils Lake Trailhead, to hike up toward South Sister (10,358 ft) and Moraine Lake. The views of Moraine Lake from the snowfield was awesome , and then we hiked down to the Lake before heading back down the trail. We met three guys on their way down the mountain who had hiked to the summit, they were exhausted. It is a great hike and maybe the next time we will hike to the summit also. Our reward for this hike was a stop at Next Level Burger where we ate delicious vegan burgers. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading