Sunday, 31 October 2010

2007 It Had to Happen Sometime-It's Cold Up Top

We awoke with clear blue skies and Ian did what he does best, put on the TV. In the early morning there are a few channels that show the mountain passes via a camera located on the top of restaurants or ski lifts. The live pictures are often accompanied by accordion music. This certainly was not music to our ears when the passes that we wanted to ride were closed as they had six inches of snow on them! Travelling east was therefore out of the equation. Up north the weather did not look too promising, travelling west would only take us back the way we had come, therefore south was the only answer, besides Ian had never seen the Med.

With our plans rescheduled it was time to hit the open road. Our route to the south was over Grimsel Pass, a road that we have travelled before and enjoyed. Looking back down the pass did nothing to prepare us for what lay ahead.

As we climbed higher the temperature began to fall. The results from the previous days weather fronts were becoming visible.

With Ian’s sometimes legendary map reading skills not required due to there being no junctions to negotiate, it was just as well if this information post was a sign of things to come.

We passed by a group of bikers that had parked up to take a photo for their holiday album.

Eventually reaching the summit and carefully bringing the Guzzi to a standstill, cups of hot chocolate and a warm snack were certainly welcome. It was so warm in the restaurant that we were almost falling asleep.

Returning outside we took a photo of perhaps the most photographed motorcyclists in Switzerland.

Crossing over the road there is a small enclosure that is home to a family of marmots.

This is reached by going up some steps, not surprisingly covered in ice. Ian managed to scale these without problems, finding himself knee deep in snow!

A group of tourists from one of the parked coaches also tried to walk up the steps have a look, only succeeding in sliding all over. When will people realise when to change into appropriate footwear?

Returning to the Guzzi we had a welcoming committee. Waiting by their coach, camcorders at the ready, we became minor film stars as Ian and Guzzisue mounted the Guzzi, gunned her into life and rode away. Travelling down the pass and out of the snow we had to do a quick country check. Yes we were still in Switzerland.

Warmer climate and our world’s back in balance.

Away from the Grimsel Pass we were able to cover ground at a steady rate, passing near Mont Blanc and surviving the rush hour in Grenoble, we picked out the N91, heading for Le Bourg d’Oisans and a welcome overnight stop.

Some hope! This was like a Goldilocks moment. The first B&B, Guzzisue almost suffocated herself trying the mattress as it wrapped itself around her, the second was very cheap, very tatty with a dubious clientele. The next was full.

With daylight fading we eventually came to Le Freney d’Oisans and the Hotel-Restaurant Le Cassini. Although it seemed to be expensive at €69 each for half board and another €2 for having the Guzzi under cover for the night, we had no option but to accept.

Having unpacked it was time to have our evening meal. Not knowing what to expect the set menu was handed to us.

Roast Chicken Salad

Venison with sauté potatoes and vegetables

Cheese Platter

Chocolate Mousse

Coffee was offered in the lounge to those requiring a caffeine fix.

Good company with a couple of American cyclists made for a pleasant end to the day.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

2007 It Had to Happen Sometime-Did I Mention The Rain?

The day was planned to travel slowly east through Switzerland towards the Austrian Alp region, managing to complete three passes on the way. These were the Col de Corbier, Col de la Croix and finally, Col du Pillion.

Stopping at the summit of the Col du Pillion there is a cable car that can take punters up to the world’s highest Alpine Coaster ride. We were tempted to try this however the price 6 Swiss Francs (CHF) for the coaster but another 33 CHF for the cable car. A trip to the nearby could be taken for a mere 54 CHF. All these went under the banner of Glacier 3000. With the cloud coming down and obscuring the mountain tops this helped our decision to move on.

Travelling along the A8 towards Interlaken there were a few spots of rain in the air so we turned towards the town, booking in at the Hotel Derby. The Guzzi was placed in the garage for the evening.

Then the rain came down. It was time to shelter in our room for a couple of hours. With the need to eat becoming stronger we headed towards the centre of town and

decided on Bebbie’s tacky burger bar. Inside there was a group of Japanese tourists getting the complete Swiss “Experience”. The décor was a mixture of wood panelling, pictures, various flags from around the world, wooden figures holding a glass of beer or an Alpen horn and a ladder suspended from the ceiling festooned with various bells, which the owner shook on occasions to try an liven up the place. A few of the Japanese tourists then became the floorshow as a selection of Alpen horns were brought into the centre of the restaurant, not very tuneful but taken in good spirit. Some of the members of staff then showed us how they should be played. At least this took our minds off the rain.

Back in the warmth of the hotel Guzzisue had a play on the hotel’s internet to check out her blog and the weather forecast. Rain was expected for the next four days across Austria and Germany, heavy rain for Tuesday in Southern Switzerland. We are seriously thinking of changing our plans, but for now we will sleep on this and see what happens in the morning.

Any idea of going further east disappeared, like the sun, from the start. We were woken up by a dawn chorus of the heavy spotted thunderstorm. Having checked out the weather forecast on the morning television, the weathermen had indeed got it correct last night. It did not take much of a decision to stay in Interlaken for another night.

Eventually the rain abated and we went for a walk down to the lakeside. On the way this little mountain goat came up to their enclosure fence

and told us to look at the mountain tops.

There was some fresh snow on the high ground. We had been so engrossed in looking at various items along the way that the snow had not been noticed by any of us. It did not appear to be too much to worry about, so it was soon forgotten about.

As its name may suggest, Interlaken is situated between two lakes, Brienz to the east and Thun to the west. The river Aare connects the lakes. Our walk took us to the local sailing club, situated close to Lake Brienz. Several yachts were moored up in the harbour, sheltering from the incoming weather. The clubhouse was all locked up so there was no chance for a warming drink.

And then the rain came down again. Fortune was on our side as there was a bus shelter nearby with one due in ten minutes.

Back in the town centre we found the local museum, situated behind a fountain in a quiet area.

Eventually there was a small break in the deluge and Guzzisue managed to take a few photos. As we have come to expect, many of the building are brightly painted with the occasional mural thrown in.

Hiding in some local foliage was this woodcarving titled Potscheboum.

With more rain coming down it was back to the hotel and hide for a while. This persisted into the evening when we trudged back into town for a meal. Not wanting the same as last night Hooters gave us lads some beautiful scenery to look at. Guzzisue even thought that the fayre was not too bad either.

No matter where you are rain literally puts the dampers on everything. It would be too judgemental to give Interlaken the thumbs down because of this. In the vicinity

there is the Schilthorn, advertised as the top of Europe and used in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This is a must for us in the future, however because of the cost it may well be way into the future.

Roll on tomorrow and we will be rolling on whatever happens.