Monday 13th June 2016
We caught our usual 5:00pm ferry from North Shields. As the cost was relatively small we’d upgraded to an outside cabin – a room with a view! We’d also pre-booked our usual all-you-can-eat buffet, but found, in view of our ever-reducing capacity to eat large quantities, we could barely do it justice. The same could not be said for the large and well-behaved party of primary school children who impressed us with their willingness to try unfamiliar foods, especially such things as calamari and mussels.
Ship traffic at Ijmuiden meant we were a little delayed docking, so were late setting off for Ulm. There was a fair bit of rain about, but the worst delays were caused by the number of roadworks and the sheer volume of traffic. Time after time we found ourselves filtering through queues several miles long. Filtering is illegal in Germany, so we were pleasantly surprised by the number of drivers pulling over to let us through. Only three tried, and failed, to block us!
We phoned the hotel to say we’d be arriving late. No problem. As it happened we were there soon after 7:00pm, so had time to change before going in search of dinner. We chose a local restaurant for local people, with long tables to be shared.
After breakfast we had a look around Ulm, beginning with the attractive riverside and making our way into the town centre. The distinctive old town hall was flying a rainbow flag in sympathy with the people of Florida where a nightclub had been subject to a horrific homophobic attack two days before.
In the centre of town was a huge fruit, vegetable and flower market , so Pat was in her element. The first strawberries were in and several parties of small children arrived with their carers to buy some for lunch. The smaller, less attractive berries were being sold for jam-making and the stall-holders had boxes of jars to go with them.
Then it was onto the bike and off to Kitzbuhel. It was a pretty wet ride, but our waterproofs are good. The biggest complication was water getting on the screen of the Zumo. If Colin tried to wipe it, it changed screens!
In Kitzbuhel we were staying at the Jagerwirt where we’d had a lovely stay the previous December, skiing. We were immediately pleased to renew our acquaintance with the lovely Inge on reception and to meet the new man, Hanno. Inge found us a dry, sheltered place behind the hotel where we could park the bike. We stretched our legs with a walk into town to revisit a remembered coffee shop, then renewed more acquaintances with the hotel dining room staff.
The weather looked like being ok for the next couple of days, so we thought we’d head for the heights of Kitzbuhel’s two main mountains. First up was the Horn, most of the way up being a nice twisty road, so we thought the bike might enjoy the ride. It did. The road ended at the upper lift station so from there we were on foot. It’s hard going in biking gear and it was a long way to the top so we contented ourselves with walking up to the first ridge. Stunning views – this is the 120° panorama looking towards the Hahnenkamm.
However, the quiet was continually interrupted by very noisy cowbells!
We were taken with the alternative routes beside the paths, intended for children. Small rock walls with climbing holds and arrangements of logs were provided for the way up, and slides for the way down. Simple but innovative and effective, we later saw more examples of these “kletterparks”.
Today was the turn of the other of Kitzbuhel’s main mountains – the famous, or infamous, Hahnenkamm. No road up this time, so we took the cable car. This was the mountain we’d skied in December, so we had great fun retracing our steps and seeing how much different the slopes looked without snow.
To help the environment, and to improve the availability of early season snow, some of the winter’s snow had been piled together in huge mounds, covered by the modern equivalent of a tarpaulin. An impressive sight.
We stopped for lunch at a mountain restaurant, and were intrigued by the dish that the next-door table was sharing. It turned out to be Kaiserschmarrn, in essence a shredded pancake. We’d not come across this before, and made a mental note to try it when we felt we could take it on. It doesn’t come in small helpings.
We also had some stunning views looking towards the Kitzbuheler Horn. Another 120° panorama.
A day trip today, to Krimmel Falls. We knew from past experience that we’d find a dedicated bike park with lockers for our boots, helmets and other heavy gear
so we went equipped with walking shoes and hiked up about half-way. It’s a BIG waterfall, or series of falls really. We dodged showers all day, enjoying the splendid views of the falls and the rainbows that the sun made in the spray. Colin took advantage of the hat shops to replace his tatty Red Sox hat but, sadly, not with a felt Tyrollean number with a feather but with something more like a golfing cap.
Today it was time to move on to Altaussee, where we were to stay five nights. We needed petrol before leaving Kitzbuhel, and while at the petrol station Colin decided we should take precautions in case there was no food in the apartment we were due to stay in, and bought a couple of pizzas. Fine dining is us!
The ride to Altaussee was wet – very wet! After a couple of hours the Zumo had got so wet that Colin couldn’t read it, and again wiping the rain off simply changed the touch screen. Luckily we came across some services where we could park the bike up in the dry while we went in and had some lunch. The shop sold wine, so we bought a bottle of the local red to go with our pizzas.
We, or rather the Zumo, found the apartment in Altaussee easily enough, and what an apartment it turned out to be. We took our landlady’s hints and unloaded the bike first (in our large shared garage), so that we could take off some of our dripping clobber before walking on the polished wooden floors of the apartment. It was huge! A large living area and a good-sized bedroom both opening onto a balcony, a large and well-equipped kitchen/dining area, and a bathroom with bath, power shower and sauna.
Once our landlady had left Pat headed straight for that sauna, so Colin had to wait for his wine and pizza. Worth the wait, though but.
We started the day by finding the village’s main supermarket and stocking up on essentials, like more wine and whisky. We then had a walk clockwise round part of the lake but it was still dull and cloudy and very wet underfoot so we didn’t complete the circuit. Fabulous scenery, every bit as the photographs that had brought us here suggested. Thanks, Google!
Dinner was in one of the local restaurants.
A bright, sunny day dawned so this time we decided to walk all the way round the lake. It really is in a beautiful setting, and the scenery was if anything even more stunning. This is the NE end
and there is the village at the SW end.
Halfway round we stopped for some ice cream and drinks and got chatting to the waiter about the upcoming UK referendum on leaving the EU. We gave our opinion that it wouldn’t happen but we all agreed that it was a worry. Back for a picnic lunch on our balcony. Somehow the afternoon disappeared!
Early in the morning we received an email from the hotel where we were due to stay in Koblenz on Friday, to say that the town was hosting a couple of fun runs and all the roads to the hotel would be closed for the afternoon and early evening. We decided we’d probably aim to get close to Koblenz, then eat on the road and arrive once the roads had opened again.
The plan for today was to have a nice ride out, taking in the Sölker Pass heading south, then circling back north via Obertauern and Untertauern to stop for tea in Schladming. It all went according to plan, although the Zumo decided to make our route as windy as possible. The Pass gave us some lovely views, and our favourite cafe in Schladming gave us some lovely ice creams!
We’d done a bit of investigating, and found there was a nice little road all the way up the peak behind Altaussee, finishing at the Loseralm Bergrestaurant. So we took it. Great fun to ride and the usual spectacular views at the top. Yet another 120° panorama!
Back down in the village we had a look at the ferry which does tours round the lake, but the boat was crowded and the only seating left was inside and would be too hot, so we decided to give it a miss. Instead we had a walk round the lake to a nice cafe we’d spotted on an earlier walk and enjoyed tea and cakes (or something!) Pat thought about doing what the locals do and having a swim in the lake but decided that the water would be too cold. Our landlady thought she was a wimp. She herself had swum twice that day!
For our last night we decided to eat in again – more pizzas and wine.
Today we faced a long, mostly motorway, ride to Koblenz. Not far into our journey the rain started, and it was soon bucketing down. Colin’s visor started getting too wet to clear, both inside and out, and once the rain reached his glasses he had to stop under a bridge and dry everything off. Luckily there was a service station before too long, which gave us a chance to take a break. The sympathetic proprietor produced hot drinks and snacks and let us sit at his one table until the rain had eased slightly.
There were also a lot of roadworks, and we again spent much of the journey filtering between lines of stationary traffic.
We eventually reached the services just short of Koblenz that Colin had earmarked as a potential dinner stop, at which we ate before making our way to our hotel in Koblenz. We were able to go straight there, because it turned out, once we had chatted to our helpful landlord, that the races had been cancelled due to the bad weather!
By the time we arrived in Koblenz the sun had come out and the evening was very pleasant. Our hotel was good and our room with its small balcony faced directly onto the river. Pat’s priority was a shower, Colin’s a beer, so we went our separate ways before meeting for a short walk along the river, followed by drinks on the hotel’s riverside terrace.
We liked the hotel, and the town, and plan to come back sometime.
An uneventful ride to Ijmuiden, with only a little rain to contend with. The traffic, however, was as bad as ever.
You’ll find a gallery with more of the photos we took, including full-size copies, here.