While we were staying in Aldergrove, we took a few trips to Mt Baker area in Washington as it is close and has fabulous hiking trails. One of our most favorite hikes is the Yellow Aster Butte Trail within Mt Baker Wilderness. We went in October and the alpine flowers covered the foreground in reds, yellows, oranges and purples which you can see from the photos is the best time for the brilliant palette of fall colors. We also enjoyed spectacular views of Mt Baker, Mt Shuksan, and the Border Peaks, Mt Larrabee and the western portion of the High Divide. We started the hike at the Tomyhoi Lake Trailhead and switchbacked up through an avalanche path, gaining elevation until the trail breaks out to a flat bench in a meadow. After a steep half mile trail we finally reached the windy summit of Yellow Aster Butte with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. It was a perfect day with a few clouds hanging above the peaks in the distance. Another time we would love to backpack here as there are phenomenal tent sites located in the meadow with tarns for camping next to and time for a day hike up Tomyhoi Peak. It’s a 7.5 mile R/T hike, with a 2,550 ft elevation gain. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
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