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Thursday, December 27, 2012

How autumn feels like in Franconia

Hill top view from Walberla, with empty glasses already

This is probably the last post for this year, I am running outta time - I am almost off for New Years Eve in New York City :-P But I've got some pics from the open day of schnaps distilleries sourrounding the Walberla, Forchheim. Something I can really recommend, next year, if possible. The weather was perfect, so why not having some foretasts in the distillery or emptying a bottle while hiking across the Walberla? Pretty cool action, without getting too drunk due to the walking tour...

Autumn tree while sunset, near Leutenbach, Bavaria

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scheduled for years and now done, finally

Pasquale and me at the top of the Gloriette, Schönbrunn Palace

Next week, next action. I was looking for a lift going to Vienna, found one and a few hours later, my good mate Pasquale (known him since I was in Sydney) just picked me up from the metro station. Nothing serious was going on that night, the next morning was starting with a tremendous breakfast on the Naschmarkt, followed by all tourist attractions Vienna has to offer. And the Wiener Schnitzel was not missing on Sunday.

Wiener Schnitzel as big as the plate itself

Monday, December 24, 2012

Using last summer days for a good ride

Karwendelhaus in the left corner, 180° view at almost 1800 m

It was time, the weather forecast was promissing regular temperatures and the basketball season has not started yet. So what to do with a whole weekend full of freetime?

Before downhill riding
Right, gathering all bike relavant things together, squeezing it into the backpack and heading south to the Karwendel, Mittenwald, near the Austrian border. Start: Saturday morning, the typical Karwendel tour was chosen, reaching the Karwendelhaus (1771 m) at lunchtime. Antje and me still in a perfect mood.

Right time and spot for some refreshments and delights. After a while, fit and strengthened again, it was going doin, nice trail, nice pics - but too quick, unfortunately.

The Falkenhaus (1848 m) was awaiting us, the graveled path too steep to ride. Another break was more than deserved before speeding down the harsh trails. The clock stroke 5 already, and it was time for heading back. Easier said than done! Another two mountains were in the way, thus only two possibilities came into consideration.

  1. Crossing those two massive and unexpected mountains - would mean breaking our backs.
  2. Taking a detour of another 30 km.

Falkenhütte shouded grey clouds

It was getting dark already and we were not even on the way up the second mountain. A river carrying freezing cold water needed to be crossed. No bridge, no shallow water. Shit, the only way was just going through it. The feet won't be warm again before getting home. The only things working at that time were front and back lights, motivation and conditions were down. Mittenwald was reached at 9:30 pm, restaurants hardly open. But the sleep was more than tight. ^^

Buckelwiesen near Mittenwald, view to Wetterstein Mountains

The next day was starting with superb weather. The planed route was adapted to make it just as simple as possible. We were following it through the Mittenwald region, Elmau, up to the Wettersteinalpe, and down to Mittenwald, before heading home.

Wettersteinalpe, way up to Schachen

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Mate visit in Berlin

Egyptian Museum, Berlin Cathedral and TV Tower @ Alexanderplatz

Uwe and me waiting for the boat cruise

Time to come back here for some blogging. It's been a while, so I roll everything up that was happening the last weeks. First of all: Berlin, just one week after getting back from the racing bike adventure in the Pyrenees. The weather was perfect to do all those tourist things, thus we've been some of those trotting aound a bit and enjoying life. Dunkin Donuts was helping us pretty much. Sunday morning started with a delicious brunch at Café Bleibtreu, followed by a shopping tour across the Kurfürstendamm. The highlight was definitly the Lego store (!!!) before hitting the road again to dash south...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Following the Tour de France though the Pyrenees

Panoramique view towards Spain, from Col de Péguère
It was 12th August 2012. The alarm clock went off early in the morning. The sun was not even rising and I knew a long long journey would start if the door bell rings and Tobsen is showing up. First stop: Marburg, to pick up the second Tobi. After having a another breakfast we hit the road again, leaving Germany behind and going across France until approaching Perpignan at 2am the next morning. We checked in and took a long beauty sleep... The next day started late and relaxed. After breakfast we rolled down the beach, but couldn't make it that far. Some broken spokes forced us to stop and see the next bike shop. Tobsen bought a new rear wheel - perfect start - and we had a second try to take a smooth bath in the Mediterranean Sea.

Me at the top of Col de Pailhères, at a hight of 2001 m
Next stop was a tiny village called "Belvianes-et-Cavirac". We checked in at "La Maison Templiere Hotel" and were suprised of the friendly staff. The served 3-course menue was delicious, duck served with fries and crêpe gourmand were my favourites. Bike riding was scheduled as well, Col de Jau, Col du Pradel and Col de Pailhères, just to name a few.

Col d'Agnes, another beast of the Tour de France
Three days later, we were heading west again, approaching Saint-Lizier just after approx. 100km. This time, our apartment was even better, located on the hilltop "Le Domaine du Palais". We found a little restaurant just around the corner and we made it our favourite pub (nobody needs to know that it was the only one in town). We climbed the surrounding mountains the next two day, including the Col de la Core, Col del Portel and Col d'Agnes, before heading more west to Bagnères-de-Bigorre. The hotel we found was not as excellent as the previous one, but ok, for staying over night and sleeping only - moderate. The mountains can't be any better. We climbed the Col du Tourmalet from the west side and had a fantastic race downwards with some tourists in their cars and vans. The following day was presenting three first class mountains, the Hourquette d'Ancizan, the Col d'Azet and the Col d'Aspin. Our last stage was leading us to a small village named Louvie-Juzon. The last ride was about to begin, but a tremendeous one - the Col d'Aubisque was awaiting us. Sun and good weather conditions would be too easy - it was more than foogy, with a visibility less than 10 metres, I would say. Not a good finish, but an experience. So, that was it, that was all. The last day was spent taking the car and passing by the Atlantic Ocean, finishing everything off with a little swim.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Going round the frozen Iceland

Jökulsárlón in the island's south-eastern part
It hasn't been easy - flights don't wait for specific persons. I left Erlangen too late aleady, due to a delay of trains caused by track maintenance. Bla bla! My scheduled reserve time of 1 hour was gone before I entered any train. In Erfurt, I left the train behind, took the car to rush to Berlin. Unexpectedly, without traffic jams or delays. After having the car parked on a P&R just to tram stops from the airport, the journey could begin, with one of the last flights at that day, at 11 pm.

Sunset near the Seljalandsfossen
Antje and me had approached the airport at approx. 1 am. We just slept a bit, not pretty comfortably seated in one of those plastic chairs in front the airport restaurant which was also used to get the first Iceland meal - they served fresh & hot paninis. The funny thing was that the car rental company were already awaiting us right after arrival. We preferred to wait and made them come again to pick us up the next morning, as agreed. A bit inconvenient for both sides, but ok ;) We headed to Reykjavik pretty early, even before something was going on in the city. Shops closed, restaurants and cafes closed, streets empty - all in all: not much to do or to see. Sleepy city, at least on a Friday morning. We went shopping as a next step, buying stuff the the whole upcoming week. Further we go, reaching the Pingvellir Nationalpark within less than one hour. Impressing landscape already, just a stone's throw away from the capital. Long-time erosions formed gorges and canyons. We followed the street on the "Golden Circle" and had a little stop at Strokkur Geysir (which erupts every 5-8 minutes to a hight of some 30 metres) and Gullfoss. Impressive, but it should come better: We found our first night camp right next to Seljalandsfoss - a waterfall which you can walk round completely.

The next morning, we had breakfast somewhere on the field, surrounded by plateau mountains. Three sheep (apparently, Iceland sheep are always gathered together in groups of three) joined us. Strengthened, we had a little hiking tour on and around the Dyrholaey cliffs where a few hundred puffins were surpisingly still nesting. I could have spent hours there, but time was ticking and we needed to go on towards Skaftafell Nationalpark and, the next day, to Jökulsarlon. I don't know what to rank highest, but this spot is definitely somewhere pretty much on top. The glacier was reaching the ocean some 50 years ago. Nowadays, it has been decreasing and leaving a lagoon behind. From time to time, ice blocks are breaking off the glacier itself, cracking in the warmer water and drifting by slowly.

Yawning puffin sitting on cliff edge
Following the ring street, we were led through the stoney desert. No flowers, no trees, no animals, just wind, mountains, sand and stones. Harsh weather conditions made us look for a camp site soon, but it was hard to find one. When the sun was already setting, we bumped into one near some kind of horse range. From there, the Dettifoss (another of those waterfall monsters) could be reached easily. Every now and then, a bus drops a few Chinese tourists which are gone again as quick as they appeared. And in between, we had some good chances to get close to the fenceless edges of the waterfall. Sometimes a bit too close... Next stop was Husavik, a fishermen's village which is now famous for the humpback whale watching tours. 50 Euros each, and you're in. And it was worth it, we saw a few, coming up several times before diving deep again. Absolutely great.
Having dinner on the camping site
Myvatn and the geothermal activities around were stunning. Antje and me took a bath in one of the warm bubbling lakes although the sulphuric smell was disgusting. And volcanos everywhere. Some we climbed, non-active ones of course, I hope. After a short stop by the highest waterfall, Glymur, we closed our round trip in Reykjavik and were heading back home. Perfect week for getting a first impression, but we'll coming back for sure to have a closer look on the inner part of the country.
Creek photographed at around midnight

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting a warm "welcome back"

Just arrived in Erfurt, coming back from 3 weeks holidays - I was welcomed with a little firework ...

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Franconian Switzerland

For training aspects I did some rounds near Erlangen - most of the time through Franconian Switzerland which is hiding some awesome spots, and not only for cycling. You don't have to go far to see those things ... ;)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Holland sailing trip

I was never on such a big sailing boat before. Together with some colleagues I was heading to Holland once again, for a 3 day sailing boat trip. The first day, when leaving the harbour in Harlingen, can't be worse. Stormy weather, I was wearing all cloths I had with me. It was freezing cold, and no way out. The only thing that helps was to standy right next to the chimney, to get dry as soon as possible.

Bikes infront of church in Amsterdam, look at the front wheel

There was also a bit extra time to spend an evening in Amsterdam for Koninginnedag. The whole city was full of party and coloured in orange. Pretty cool to see. I also met some good old friends from Brielle. Good to see those guys again.

The partner boat, a little bit ahead of us

The weather was calming down a bit. Sometimes, I just found myself on deck, relaxing and falling asleep, with the sun in my face. Let the others do the work, I was taking a time out.

Sunset in habour of Makkum

Last night, we approached Makkum, and saw the sun setting this way. Nice finish, definitely.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Haven't been there before and almost seen everything

Hill top view from Parc de Montjuic towars Torre Agbar

Easter time, that means time to go somewhere and spend a long lovely weekend abroad. Rome came into my mind first, but the city might be fully booked. Thus, why not discovering Barcelona - a city with heaps of things to see.
Queue of umbrellas infront of the Pablo Picasso Museum, downtown Barcelona

Main Entrance to Park Güell

Fingerfood in a typical tavern - just make your choice

Sagrada Familia, still under construction, completion year unknown

Monday, May 21, 2012

Melchsee-Frutt once again

Claus, Hoschi and me (from right) at Bonistock ski station
Time for repeating the annual skiing action in Switzerland once again. Karl was awaiting our approach at Melchsee-Frutt on Wednesday, starting to ski on the following (sunny) Thursday. We took the last gondola to get to the top, and it didn't take long to be equipped with the first "Jagertee". The more relaxing the first evening was, the more will follow the next day.

View to the south, towards Sätteli, and Grimsel further on
Claus, without hesitation, was waking people up by firing some snowballs in one's face. Disgusting thing to start the day with, but effective. The weather was excellent, thus skiing was more than enjoyable. We finished the day off with having some drinks in the sauna, falling to bed almost dead, going into a coma for the rest of the night until snowballs were hitting the face early next morning ...

Without anyone else - enough space to rotate :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Little roadtrip to the east - Prague

There is surely better weather to start with in a new year, but Prague was making it special in a certain way. The capital of the Czech Republic had some things to offer, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, city centre for strolling around during daytime, having dinner somewhere in one of the numerous restaurants and a variety of clubs to go hard.

Surrounding mountains offer great lookouts down to the river Moldau (Vltava) and the city centre. Grab a coffee, sit down and relax.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Back in the UAE

Arriving back in UAE we had 1 day to explore Abu Dhabi as much as possible. That would mean a lot of walking through downtown Abi Dhabi (= "Father of Deer", pretty funny name). An impressive city, but way too big to walk around, and it's just not designed for doing so. One spectacular highlight was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE and numbers during Eid can be more than forty thousand people.

Always great to look at - Abu Dhabi skyline at night, seen from Abu Dhabi Theatre.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crossing the border - entering Oman

After spending the first day in Oman, we picked up our car at the airport. Finishing the way off wasn't that easy. Numerous passport and border checkpoint were slowing us down, and it has been around midnight already. We stayed at Tobi's place, in the middle of somewhere, hard to find in the dark at 2 am. Next day: Off to Muscat.

The second day in Oman was starting with a little off road track up to Jebel Shams, Oman's highest mountain, surrounded by a massive canyon. I could rest there for hours, watching the eagles gliding the sky in cycles.

The desert Whahibi Sands in sunset. Sand as far as one can see, coloured in red. We hired a 4x4 incl. a driver to show us around a bit. Well, apperently, selt belts were not needed, everything's safe - or with other words: An offroad vehicle is simply not well equipped. Thus, I tried to grab everything that secured my stay in the Jeep while the Omani was rushing through the desert with more than 100 km/h. Luckily, we got stuck in the dunes after a while :) A must do!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

First stop: Dubai

The flight was leaving Nuremberg at a moderate time, 10 am. Having a little stopover in Zurich, the 10 hour journey was continued without any inconveniences. Chilling and snoozing, drinking white and red wine and watching some movies, no problems to survive those few hours before entering Dubai. A taxi was waking me to the hotel at Deira City Centre. Haven't thought it could be that silent in such a mega city at 2 am. It was even difficult to get some food...

View across Dubai Creek to the old Dubai city centre. Important spot for trading everything: spices, tires, all kinds of electrical devices, jewellery, ... To cross the river, hop on those wooden boats called Abra, it just costs 20 Cent, and either you are on your own or travelling with 20 others. Perfect chance for the feet to get some rest.

Burj Khalifa, the highest tower on earth, 828m above sea level!!! The tourist platform at a hight of 452m is simply amazing. The elevator is kinda speeding to the sky with 10m/s, and the head feels like it's gonna be explode. Well, a bit!!!

View from the platform. Sand everywhere, and between that, roads, cars, skyskrapers and a few people ...