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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tracing the Roman Empire

It has been on the list for a long time. But never done, until now. Finally! Rome! Have heard some many thing about this city, a must see; Rome, my beloved. It now was time to see myself.

Luckily, there is a direct flight from Nuremberg. Which makes it so comfortable and convenient, if there would be the flight, the first that day, almost in the middle of the night. But ok, it's just that way, let's do it.

The hotel was like really close to the Vatican, a 10 minutes walk. Too bad, and a bit of bad luck, we have chosen the breakfast over being the first in line for the Vatican Museum. Couldn't help, there needs to be priorities. During the first waiting hour we were exposed to direct sunlight. At least some people were selling water to survive. And around the corner, shade was awaiting us. Which wasn't shortening the other 2 hours. But an improvement, a little.

The museum itself was impressive. And too much to see for one day. And you had to look carefully at the things you wanted to see. Once passed, there was way back. The mob was pushing you forward, with constant speed. And even if there was a chance to jump 10 metres back to have a closer look, you wouldn't do it twice. Just go with the flow - astonishing enough. Amazing what people are capable of creating.

Being on the feet all day, walking around, in the heat, that made us deserve a good dinner. And a beer, and a wine, a bottle, after that day - finished, day was over, lights out!!!

And one thing shouldn't be missed - yeah right, the Colosseum. This time, more clever. With the Roma Pass we were allowed to skip the line. Do what certain people tried to sell us, organised, official companies, more than on a Turkish bazaar. And they somehow reacted allergic to sentences like: "We already got tickets!" The Colosseum was fantastic, and impressive, and it really felt like being thrown back in time.

View from the Palatino

Fontana di Trevi, squeezed in with thousands of other people

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Being stuck at the summit!!!

What has happened?
I arrived at Rifugio Teodulo the previous night.
I had an ok-4-course-dinner.
I went to bed and had a good sleep before the alarm went off the next morning.
So far all normal. I tried to have a look out of the windows. To see how the outside conditions are. But nothing to see. The glass was blurry, ice crystals at the outer side. I went down, opened the door and found myself in a winter wonderland.

Snow storm, temperatures had dropped to -5°C or so. View of 10 metres, if lucky. That made me get stuck directly on the Italian-Swiss border. No way back, no way further. I spent the time reading a book, drinking coffee or having a chat with hikers/climbers who experienced exactly the same thing.

The next morning, it was much nicer. Blue sky, the Matterhorn clearly visible. A clear view under those conditions often goes hand in hand with freezing cold temperatures. So it did this time, too. And I was so not prepared for this. How to get out of this?

I have put all cloths on I had carried with me, two pair of trousers, T-shirt, 2 two jerseys, sweatshirt, rain jacket, 2 pair of socks and a third one on top of my cycling gloves, to cover the finger tips as well. A French couple had come up with  another idea. I borrowed his spikes and them on, overy the click pedal cycling shoes. Must habe looked so hilarious.

I followed four hikers (wanted to make sure not to go down into one of those crevasses) until we reached the skiing track. From there I would make it on my own. Bike riding the glacier was not that much adventurous, but so much fun. The snow was soft, so even if crashing, it didn't really hurt.

1000 m decline before the snow was gone. Most of it I was the first person trying to find the path. And sometimes, sheep have already found it.

The rest was easy going. I passed Zermatt and went all the way down to Stalden, dismounted my bike, put it back in the car and went home. I have to say, one of the heaviest tours I did in the Alps.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rain, every day all day

8 am at Rifugio Tournalin. Things are packed, ready for breakfast. I could take my time, it still was raining cats and dogs. Another bread, another coffee. Clouds everywhere and I harfly could see the oposite mountains. Italian hikers told me there might be a gap and the rain might stop between 9 and 11. They seemed to be convinced and started walking. I did the same, passed Col di Nana and Col des Fontaines. Right after that, the time was over. Heavy rain and thunderstorm started, me in the middle. Shortly after Cheneil I was forced to stop, found a shelter and tried to dry myself and my clothes by using a hot air hand dryer in the lavatories of a picnic area where, luckily, the door remained unlocked.

I used the waiting time for my lunch break - fresh bread with Italian cheese and Salami. Then I went on, half wet but not hungry anymore. The street led me to Breuil-Cervinia, a skiing mekka just consisting of hotels and restaurants/bars. Again I took the lift which, to my surprise, didn't go up to the very top. I had to try my luck, not sure if I can make it. Weather changed again and snow aggravated the whole thing.

I walked 10 m and had to rest for a while. Catching breath at those heights ain't that easy too. I saw the Rifugio Teodulo for quite some time, but it seemed I wasn't really getting any closer. What a struggle! Somehow I made it to the top at 3317 m. And the view was stunning!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Sun still exists - but not for long

The weather forecast promised sunshine. At least until midday. I needed to start early to get the most outta it. With the sun shining everything is a bit easier. The ride/climb down, as well as the tour upwards through Gressoney (Saint-Jean and La-Trinité).

In Stafal I took the lift to Colle Betta to save time. It got colder and the weather changed again. I needed to hurry, passed Résy and Saint-Jacques-des-Allemands. The ride up to Rifugio Tournalin was perfect, winding up in a quite moderate way, and again I arrived before the thunderstorm hailed down. And they had the best Panna Cotta ever (I got the recipe too).

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

If you think it can't get worse - it can!

The shortest stage of the Tour, but not less hard. It started to rain early in the morning which made the 400 m of decent not easy. I went through Alagna Valsesia and Riva Valdobbia before turning right towards Sant' Antonio.

Rain started and the track got really slippery. I couldn't see a thing, being surrounded by clouds for the entire walk up. I reached Rifugio Ospizio Sottile (built around 1700 and it really still looked like that) at half past two, luckily, as heavy thunderstorms started to develop in the afternoon.

I was the only guest, there was no shower and electricity was cut short in order to save as much energy as possible. The whole stay was kinda travelling back in time.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Rise and shine and still too late

Getting up at 6 am is not a thing I'd like to do too often. But this time, the view made up for this. The rising sun coloured the mountaintops reddish. A moment where even the breakfast had to wait.

The way down was too steep, too rough, too many rocks and roots. It was almost impossible to bikeride but push and carry it instead. Even the local Italians adviced to take the lift! For going down? No way! Three hours later, I finally rolled into the village Macugnaga. On the market place there suddenly was life again. Locals selling local products overpriced, but people bought stuff, so did I. Some sweets for going up to Passo Colle del Turlo.

Just half an hour later the street ended abruptly. A sign made me aware of hiking for another four hours to the top, following an old mule track. Again pushing and dragging the bike and I almost lost my motivation. Soon I was alone, no one following me, no one came towards me. A Capricorn was the only one I met.

The track down was amazing and even more challenging than upwards. It took me one and a half hours to reach Rifugio Pastore after a descent of 1100 m. My fingers were burning from continuously breaking. Really challenging but so cool!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Starting Tour Monte Rosa

First day and late already. I left Eichberg quite on time, but it almost took forever passing Oberalppass and Furkapass. Too foggy and too many tourists with their campervans slowing down the traffic.

With a delay of about 3 hours I started in Stalden (860 m). The backpack was too heavy. But I had no idea what could be left in the car. When travelling alone you need a bit of everything. I followed the main street, through Saas-Grund and all the way up to the lake Mattmark. With 2200 m it was quite high already, but the heaviest part was just about to come.

From now on, I needed to push or carry the bike uphill. The track was getting rough and rocky, temperature dropping to less than 10 degree with the sun setting. I reached the Rifugio Oberto at almost 2900 m in total exhaustion, and with only one other guest.