Sunday, 30 November 2008

2004 Within These Walls - We Shall Pass

Here I am at 09:20 waiting in place for Ian and Guzzisue to appear. I was a little impatient as the sun was out and I wanted to ride.
They turned up 10 minutes later and we headed for the first pass of the day, the Jaun Pass.

This was then followed by the Grimsel Pass

and after doing some Marmot watching at the top

we headed down the Furker,

onto the Oberal, then onwards to the Lukmanier before ending the day completing the San Bernardino.

The day was spent in glorious sunshine with wonderful scenery. We saw a glacier and several large dams and snow on the mountain tops. Things are a little vague as we just lost ourselves in the joy of riding such great biking roads. If only we could bring them closer to home!
With the evening drawing in we stayed the night at the Hotel Suretta in Splugen.
Having unpacked the Guzzi it was time for a walk around the town. This didn't take too long as it was a very small place. It did however give Guzzisue chance to take a few photographs.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

2004 Within These Walls - Afternoon Visit

Having eaten a small lunch it was time to venture inside another museum. The ground surrounding the entrance was covered with paving slabs like the one below.
There was also two sculptures outside. This is the first,
whilst for the second Guzzisue took a daytime shot (scary)
and a night time one (frightening).
The sculpture is called the Birth Machine Baby and is the work of H R Giger and his museum is situated at the top end of Gruyeres.
Giger, apart from being known for his work in the films Alien and Species has also designed album covers, including the one for ELP's Brain Salad Surgery
and Debbie Harry's Koo Koo.
Inside the museum there was many of the original sketches from Alien III and also Species.
His paintings are on a very large scale, so large that pictures in books do not give them any justice. Some of them would cover our living room wall! In fact the more that we looked at them, the more we saw.
Guzzisue could not take any pictures of any work on display in the museum but she was rewarded a little later on.
The museum is located on three floors with things to see round every corner. The Alien film was playing away to itself, in German, if I remember correctly, in one room.
Eventually working our way down to the gift shop area,
there was also a small display of old resin books with lizards, bats and assorted things emerging from their pages. This was the work of Martin Schwarz.
The Giger afternoon was completed with a visit to the Giger Bar, situated across from the museum. The decor is based around some of Giger's work, including Guzzisue's favourite piece, the wall of babies.
The ceiling was formed into arches with molds of vertebrae
Sitting at the bar itself could have been a risky business as the bar chairs spun round and were also raised on platforms. We opted out and took window seats and watched as day trippers looked in the doorway, took a photo and disappeared again.
Later we walked down to the new town but it was closed so returned uphill to the old area and went for our evening meal. Seeing as we were in Switzerland, home of the fondue, it would have been impolite not to try one. Melted cheese and potato devoured it was back to the hotel to start packing for tomorrows journey.

Friday, 21 November 2008

2004 Within These Walls - The Castle

It was pleasant to have a relaxed start to the day as breakfast was not served until 08:00, with the usual continental mixture of cereals, meats and cheeses. We chatted with a Canadian couple who were doing a whistle stop tour of France, Germany and Switzerland before heading back to their children.
Having breakfasted it was time to go into the old town add have a look around before all the tourists started to arrive.
Gruyeres Castle has had a chequered history starting in 16th century (although the castle dates back to the 11th century), when Count Michel had to sell it due to financial troubles. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bren shared his earldom between them. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the baliliffsand then to the prefects sent by Fribourg. In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who restored it with help from their friends. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public.
On entering the castle grounds we noticed that we had missed a sculpture exhibition as they were dismantling the exhibition rooms, however there were several bronzes scattered around the courtyard including this one of a group of soldiers.
There were also bronze snails of various sizes along the ground and up the wall.
Hanging on the wall there were two very large circular bronzes with intricate detail.

The castle gardens were well kept and there was also a wonderful view of the surrounding scenery.
A visit to the castle takes us through 20 rooms, some of which are used for temporary exhibitions, including the kitchen, guardroom, 2 galleries-one of which in 1559 had a sundial placed in it before the roof was put on, the chapel and the Baroque Room which contains these stained glass windows dating from the 1600's.

Gussisue was intrigued by the description "painted tapestry". This turned out to be painted walls, something lost in translation somewhere?
In one of the galleries there was an exhibition of Patrick Woodroffe's work. Ian first became aware of him by his collaboration with Dave Greenslade and the combined book and double album The Pentateuch Of The Cosmogony, from which some of the original paintings were on display.
The morning flew by and after wandering down to the shops for a bite to eat we were ready to tackle the afternoon's museum.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

2004 Within These Walls - De De Deeer (Almost)

After the usual excellent buffet breakfast we were on the road by 09:30 and then just another 50 odd miles on the motorway before we headed across country. The town of Langres is a walled town that was holding a patchwork exhibition with a difference, the quilts were that big that they were hung from the town's walls!
As we entered Switzerland we were stopped at the boarder and had to purchase road tax, costing 40 Swiss Francs. If a land-locked country like Switzerland or Austria can charge road tax for foreign transport I cannot understand why this cannot happen at home.
Continuing to travel south we approached Lausanne and turned east along the motorway over looking Lake Geneva heading towards Montreux.

All together now.....De De Deeer, De De De Deer......

Stopping at a service area we got talking to a couple from the Bristol area travelling in a racing green Lotus who were off to a Eurocamp nearby.

Leaving the motorway before Montreux we headed north for 30kms to Bulle and then a short distance to Gruyeres.
Guzzisue was expecting Gruyeres to be a small village, but it turned out to be a medieval walled town on top of a hill. We arrived after the day trippers had all but disappeared and had no problem booking into the Hostellerie des Chevaliers, situated a few yards outside the city walls.
After a quick shower and change it was time to hit the town. Problem was there was very little town to hit after the day trippers had left. There are the usual souvenirs and cheese in the shops, and odd pieces of art scattered around.
How about this for guttering?
Or this for a water hydrant?
And I would have liked to have gone to school in a setting like this
After a brief language problem, with which a lady on the next table to us helped out we dined on a local speciality of boiled hams, potato and cabbage. We were all so hungry that we could have eaten almost anything though!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

2004 Within These Walls - The Wheels Turn

In time the title for this year's trip will come apparent, even if it sounds a little obscure at present.

We all awoke at 04:30, loaded up the Guzzi whilst watching young fox cubs in the garden and were on the road to Dover by 05:15. The only problem we encountered was on motorway where a lorry had gone down an embankment and two lanes had been closed for its recovery. The tailbacks were quite lengthy but Ian managed to filter without any problems. After this the motorway was quiet and we made good time and were able to get on an earlier ferry.
At Dover there were several bikes already queuing as it was Assen weekend, the majority of them being race reps with the pillion having to carry a haversack on their back. Three cheers for panniers, tank bags and racks!
Docking at Calais at 12:30 we were soon on the motorway heading towards Reims, stopping to speak to a couple that had stopped on the hard shoulder. They had run out of petrol and were waiting for service recovery. They recognised us from off the ferry and later caught up with us at the next service station. It had cost them over £100 for half a tank of petrol (and we go on about petrol prices today!) and were hoping to claim on their insurance when they got back home. I have a feeling that they would not have been successful as it may not have been deemed a mechanical breakdown.
Whilst at the services we also met three people from Derby/Nottingham that were in France for their first visit. They had no idea where they were, or were they were going as they had no map.
The group had set off at 23:00, caught the 05:00 ferry and caught up with us at 15:30!
We finally reached out destination for the evening at 17:45, Campanile at Troyes, after Ian taking a wrong turn and getting caught up in a wedding reception party crossing the road.
The weather forecast for tomorrow is 30 degrees with wall to wall sunshine.
Recapping on the day there was very little to report on, the most surprising was seeing a Guzzi and racing sidecar on a roundabout, complete with passenger leaning out. We also had a police motorcyclist wave to us. Once again the SKAT sticker puzzled several people.