hippy blog - aussie cycling in london

01 March

Mummy! Mummy!

Egypt

22:39:42 - hippy - 5 comments

19 April

9 days in.. Turkey

Day 1: 20 April
Welcome to Turkey and the start of your awesome ANZAC experience! Choice of shuttle transfers to hotel. Rest of the day free in Istanbul, a city that straddles both Europe and Asia! Overnight – Istanbul

Day 2: Istanbul - Pamukkale - breakfast
South to Pamukkale, home to the naturally occurring thermal travertine pools. En route, we visit a carpet dyeing, weaving and manufacturing house. Dinner and overnight - Pamukkale

Day 3: Pamukkale - Kusadasi - breakfast
To Roman Hierapolis which sits at the top of Pamukkale’s travertine source, where we enjoy a short tour. Here, perhaps opt for a dip in the Pamukkale Thermal, an amazing pool full of sunken Roman columns. Continuing all things Roman, we enjoy a guided visit at Ephesus - perhaps the best-preserved classical city on the Eastern Med. We’ll also take in a fashion stop at a top-grade leather garment house, before driving to coastal Kusadasi, where we can relax and enjoy the hotel’s facilities. Dinner and overnight - Kusadasi

Day 4: Kusadasi - Ayvalik - breakfast
Driving north, we visit the Roman ruins of Pergamum with it’s steep hillside amphitheatre (good photo call) & neighbouring asclepion (ancient medical centre). We then continue to Ayvalik on the Aegean coast. Dinner and overnight - Ayvalik

Day 5: Ayvalik - Gallipoli - breakfast
Departing early, we enjoy a short visit to Homer’s Troy, famed for its Trojan wooden horse and the fabled Helen. Via a ferry crossing at Canakkale, we continue to the Gallipoli Peninsular. This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour aboard the coach (where subject to traffic from time to time we can get off and explore) of the evocative war memorials that dot the region, for example; Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair, The Nek and Johnston’s Jolly not to mention the masses of trenches and Kabatepe - the modest ANZAC museum (subject to timings) and memorial gardens. Tonight, we’ll relax at our exclusive catered ANZAC Eve Turkish BBQ before later grabbing some space at the atmospheric ANZAC Eve vigil. BBQ Dinner and overnight - Dawn Service site (ANZAC Cove)

Day 6, ANZAC day: Gallipoli - Istanbul
First light heralds the Dawn Service. After, with maps in hand, you’re free to explore the many memorials dotted en route as you make your way to Lone Pine or Chunuk Bair for the Australian or New Zealand National services. This afternoon, we return to Istanbul, arriving late tonight. (timings on 25 April subject to coach traffic). Overnight - Istanbul

Day 7: Istanbul - breakfast
Today, a classic city tour of Istanbul. This afternoon, enjoy an afternoon cruise on the stunning Bosphorus, the body of water which separates European from Asian Istanbul. When the sun sets, enjoy Istanbul by night! With dinner, belly dancers and entertainment at a central Istanbul venue, it’s a top value evening and a great way to celebrate the end of the ANZAC smoko tour (transport shuttles provided). Overnight – Istanbul

Day 8: Istanbul - breakfast
End of arrangements.

21:12:25 - hippy - 5 comments

10 January

Hogmanay 2005, Edinburgh

Grant, Sheila, Picky, Nelsie and I visited Glenn and Dee in Edinburgh for Hogmanay (NYE 2005) and other drinking games. Lucky for you lot I took very "phew!" photos. Click here for the gallery or any photo below for a bigger version.

Arthur's SeatSome of us at HogmanayNelsie and dawgHogmanay festival continues..Dotted around where King James I/VI fell over drunk, hitting his head on the pavement! How fscking cool?!SpikeyThing(tm) and ferris wheelView of Edinburgh from Calton HillDogmanayView of Edinburgh from Calton HillObBike: Bike 'melting' into footpathDark & moody on Calton Hill, just like me..More SpikeyThing(tm) action
07:24:03 - hippy - No comments

28 December

SNOW!!!

Back from Prague now.. It snowed, it snowed, it SNOWED!!!!!

It was even snowing at Stansted Airport when we arrived back in England! (It's -2degC in London now).

Briefly: Drank loads of Czech beer, ate loads of traditional food (mmm dumplings and goulash..), explored a bunch of beautiful buildings and generally wandered around the lovely city, bought my first scarf, played in the snow (I like snow!), drank loads of Czech beer, bought some souvenirs (something I didn't do during my bike tour), played with the others (Grant & Sheila, Steve & Nelsie) in our toasty apartment (hehe.. Fur TV!), added two beanies to my growing beanie collection, drank hot mead (18% not 80%), ate sweet twirled thingies, scoured Christmas markets (blue, neon xmas trees?!), took a few photos, watched the Astronomical Clock on the Town Hall do its skeleton dance, collected beer paraphernalia, lost my voice, lost at poker, crossed Charles Bridge and climbed towers, explored Prague Castle, struggled to come up with a background to this, wondered aloud about the clothes worn by the "women of the night" in sub-zero Prague temps (didn't manage to get a quote after all ;)), tasted carp (much-hated fish in Australia and has nothing to do with the hookers! ;)), drank hot chocolate with rum and whipped cream, bought enamel cat trinkets, lost sleep chewing Sheila's ear off and again with the Czech beer and running around like a stoopidhead (scored 5quid for walking down the street to buy a Rizek in my yellow smiley-face boxer shorts and a t-shirt - any wonder I have a cold now), stood on the river bank at night after the snowfall and sighed at the beauty of it all, won and lost random games of Rock-Paper-Scissors and Thumb Wars, snatched coasters from many hospoda (pubs), pondered the meaning of life, cured cancer, blah, blah, the usual tourist stuff! :-)

As always, full report will probably not follow because I'll be too lazy and/or doing something else, like: Hogmanay. :-)

20:08:02 - hippy - 5 comments

02 December

Once I've DONE Europe, I'm moving here..

Up In Alaska: Sunrise-Sunset
Up in Alaska: Sunrise, sunset

Alaska!

04:56:53 - hippy - No comments

02 November

Last Batch of Europe Tour Pics

New photos:
2005-09-23 Trier
2005-09-28 Luxembourg
2005-10-08 London
2005-10-01 London


New videos:
Rhein in Flammen, St. Goar, Germany (3.2mb)
Rhein in Flammen, St. Goar, Germany (16.2mb)
Buckled Wheel, Diekirch, Luxembourg (1.5mb)
80k Junior road race, sprint finish, Heestert, Belgium (15.2mb)


Earlier Photos:
2005-08-15 Berlin, 2005-08-15 Potsdam, 2005-08-17 Dresden, 2005-08-20 Leipzig, 2005-08-24 Nuremberg, 2005-08-26 Heidelberg, 2005-08-27 Switzerland, 2005-08-29 Freiberg, 2005-08-30 Waldgeist (Killer Schnitzels!), 2005-09-02 Heidelberg, 2005-09-04 Heidelberg (Fireworks), 2005-08-14 Berlin, 2005-08-14 'Up to Hamburg', 2005-08-14 'Up to Bremen', 2005-07-26 Groningen, 2005-07-14 Apeldoorn, 2005-07-03 Haarlem, 2005-06-21 Brugge, 2005-06-09 Tournai, 2005-05-29 London, 2005-05-28 London, 2005-05-13 London

Earlier Videos:
Trummelbache Falls, Hamburg ITU Triathlon World Cup, Drumming in Hamburg, Haarlem Tent Storm 1, Haarlem Tent Storm 2, Haarlem Tent Whinge 1, Apeldoorn Ride 1, Apeldoorn Ride 2, Den Haag Marching Band 1, Den Haag Marching Band 2, Den Haag Marching Band 3, Den Haag Cheerleaders 1, Den Haag Marching Band 5, Riding along on my pushbike honey.., Gent canal cruise, Tunnel bike path, Belgium somewhere

19:46:50 - hippy - No comments

09 October

A Short History of Nearly Everything

El Seano modelling The Short History of Nearly Everything:


I found this image funny because we both bought Bill Bryson's book during our separate European travels. We both cycled. We both worked for the same company. God damn copycat! :P

Update:
Unfortunately, due to the laws of astrophysics, the original image cannot be altered. I instead offer this modified image as an alternative for the United Christian Hands Across Gods America members. Cast not your eyes upon the foulness above! Bathe in the gloriousness of his holiness.. (hippy agrees, the knee WAS a bit too much!)

El Seano Updato

01:47:23 - hippy - 5 comments

07 October

Look out London, I'm back, hairier than ever..

Yes folks, over four months and I have returnethedededed.. Behold!

hippy returns

I'd love to fill you in on all the details but I have a hangover to nurse (happy birthday, whatever your name was!) and I have a package to unwrap and a WHOLE SUITCASE of CLEAN CLOTHES to try on!!!!!

I also have a real towel and VEGEMITE!!!!
1st Vegemite in 4 Months!

There will probably be many summary posts from now until I find a job (Captain Time Waster, at your service).

I want to note everything I unpack from the bike so I know what to take next time..

UK SIM is back in, but my phone screen is still dead.

Dead Nokia

Looking forward to unpacking and throwing my bike in the river hehe

Update 1:
I am sitting here, probably for the REST of the day, replying to emails, blogging (in a very half-ar$ed way) and maybe I'll even get started on unpacking (yeah right!).

As for cycling, well, temporarily, it can get fscked!

I need to replace my seat (bent in 2003!) and probably the cheap SPD pedals which I seem to have bent (too powerful for my own good).
Broke a spoke on the rear wheel too (could have been when someone else moved the bike while it was locked) and I want to murder the fscked up rear mudguard which required adjustment every 10mins on the last two days riding.
The handlebar bag is holding on but I might try and find a replacement bracket for it before it snaps totally (Deuter brand, perhaps they have spares?).

I totally can't wait to ride the bike once it's unloaded!! You have no idea how much I hate panniers. What is worse is that they are so damn useful for cycle touring! :S

Mudguards, however, are my sworn enemy and I will take great pleasure in dousing them with petrol and watching them burn..

For the curious, I weighed myself and I'm about 4-5kg heavier than when I left (100kg). So, with all that riding.. I managed to do a lot of eating too haha :P
Mum is helping me lose weight by airfreighting me packets of Tim Tams! hehe Mum, you rock!

21:00:04 - hippy - 1 comment

06 October

Back in the USSR!

Okay, not really, but I am less than 100k from London now! Busted out a couple of big days to get here. Currently in Kemsing, tiny little village south east of London. The hostel is kinda quiet and the dude here let me into reception to use the pc..

I'm done talking now. Buy me beer.

07:53:42 - hippy - 8 comments

04 October

Me and my big mouth..

After my little gloat, the wheels fell off the hippy train..

I really did feel ill after that beer and it carried on through the night and the next day. I think I just pushed my poor(ly maintained, poorly treated) body too far..

Unfortunately, being an old-school hostel, they lockup during the day, so I had to vacate. This basically forced me ride to Ypres instead of lie in bed all day recovering. My physical collapse was well-timed - it was one of the coldest days I've had (10degC) and it pissed down all day!!

To give you an idea of how woeful I was feeling, my speed through the mountains (the natural enemy of a fat crunt) was just under 20kph at the end of a full day.. my speed from Kortrijk to Ieper, a 30k, relatively flat ride, was 14kph!!!! Two hours to ride 30k!!

It felt like I'd been hung from my wrists and repeatedly punched around my torso. Every bump rattled my insides, I cursed every freezing gust of wind and the chilling rain. I wanted to roll up into a ball in front of a heater and sleep.

I already knew the Ypres/Ieper hostel was booked out so, using the Kortrijk hostel guy's advice, I went to the Museum in the Market Square where a nice lass helped me find a BnB. The singles were taken but a double was free for 45euro. I shook my head. There was some discussion in Flemish and the price became 30euro.
"Can I check in now?"
"Yes."
"I'll take it."

I booked a spot on a Flanders Fields tour for Monday, bought some Frites and Belgian chocolates and laid in bed all day watching TV - with the heater on! :D

Points to note: I saw a ProTour race in Dutch (Bettini won), a pro race of some sort in French, a cyclocross race, Kevin Costner's Waterworld, an episode of Flying Doctors - with Bud Tingwell as a patient, no less!
The doco on London sewers was quite interesting - half in Dutch and half in English and it even had Holly (Norman Lovett) from Red Dwarf playing one of the ye olde characters!

Bike Content: Have you seen VELO-CAM? I've never seen it before, but in the ProTour race, one or more of the riders had a camera mounted on their bike! It must've been on the fork or down tube as it showed the front wheel and rider's hands on the bars - awesome!

Did the Flanders Field tour this morning which was very interesting. The number of soldiers who's bodies were never recovered is astounding! I think more than 50,000 on the Menin Gate and another 20,000 on the wall at Tyne Cot cemetary. That's just Aussies. War is fscked!

Oh, met an Aussie staying here this morning and he told me some crunts bombed Bali again.. fark. Be great if all the bombers put their hands up and we could just find a nice corner of the planet for them to detonate themselves in. Arzeholes!

To end on a lighter note.. this BnB has free 'net, I'm in Belgium surrounded by beers and in a drinking mood again, I should make Calais or Dover by tomorrow night, the weather is good today, did someone say Belgian beers? WTF am I sitting here for?!?! *runs*
Actually, I'll wait for the other Aussie to get back - he was talking beers this morning.. ;)
Maybe a warmup brew? Or two.. or..

01:14:52 - hippy - 6 comments

02 October

Man on a mission..

I've made the decision to head back to London and I'm not fscking around.. over 300 kays in 3 days!

This includes crossing the Ardennes!! and I'm still the same fat crunt you all know and hat.. love! :)

Actually, I'm still achy from the stack, but it's okay, I think it's just bone fragments severing some nerves or something..

Don't _I_ just rock?!

"What a wanker!"
"Hey! Who said that?! This is MY blog and I'll spin whatever crapola I want!" :P
Notice all the bold? Who's a little bit proud of himself then? :P

Right now I am wrecked.. I've pretty much crossed Belgium in the last four daze. My arse is begging for a rest.. everything hurts.. I had one beer tonight and I feel like I'm gonna spew.. but you know what?

It's still mad fun!

Mum reckons she's following my progress on a map or something so..

- The crash had me riding trains all over Luxembourg to find a frickin' bike shop that was open! Ended day in Wiltz (pron. "Viltz").

- From Wiltz I rode along bike path to Bastogne in Belgium, where I spent half a day in the tourist office while the nice staffer called people and photocopied three maps, just so I could make it to the hostel in Champlon via the "as yet unmarked" bike path (actually just small roads). I did. It was full! I couldn't believe it! Champlon is tiny! Friggin' school groups! Anyway the situation quickly turned better when they said I could camp on the grounds, with full use of facilities, for nothing! One of the dudes even shouted me some Rochefort Trappist beers, brewed in the nearby town of.. guess? :P

- From Champlon, I removed all trace the locals' doubts (and mine actually!) by making it to Namur. To enhance the challenge ("Fat bastard versus the Ardennes", that is) I also took a few hours out of the day to visit the Han cave system in Han-sur-Lesse. The caves rock!
But the train rides, walking and boat trips must come to an end and then it was back onto the bike and into the rain, climbing some sickening, windy, evil bastard hills to get to Dinant.

Note to Self: Even if you are in full cycling kit, holding a helmet, dripping sweat onto their desk.. Never assume the tourist info person knows you are riding!
I'm sure there was an easier way along a river but I rode along the N90 or something.. 7% up for 2k, 7% down for 2k, 7% up, 7% down... I flipped out and started swearing loudly at the world (okay, so I do that normally, but this was crazed "can't even get the words out" insane ranting-type swearing.. )

Dinant was a lovely riverside town and I thought I was going to have to stay here, which wouldn't have been too bad, except the options were 80euro per night or camping. I'm over camping. It's cold here damnit! But, this lovely TIC chick says "it's 30 kilometres to Namur, all along the river". I do a double take and test my theory with "so it's flat, all the way to Namur?". "Yes", she replies. Holding back a jump for joy I get her to book me a place there and haul backside to Namur. Mmm hostel goodness..
Spent the evening with a crazy, openly gay, American jazz singer.. and if I ever say "I was too fscked to walk" it DOES NOT mean what you foul-minded miscreants are thinking. My arse is and will always remain a virgin, thank you very much!

- The next day I ripped out another 100+ kays riding from Namur to Mons. The distance should have been closer to 80k but YOU see if you can find a French speaking Belgian (Wallonian) that actually knows how to get anywhere without using the motorways! I just love riding around in circles... *takes random circle and cuts it into little bits, stomping the pathetic remains into the ground*. Um.. I'm not crazy, really..
Ended up in a pharmacy looking for drugs.. I mean directions.. and wound up speaking to the husband of one of the workers there because he could speak English. This helped a lot and I did the old TT effort along the river.. until the next hiccup where some old dude ends up (after getting frustrated at my directional stupidity, no doubt!) wheeling out a pristine, black, latest model, all the bells and whistles, Eddy Merckx flat-bar roadie!! Saved again!

- Mons was actually quite nice too and I was going to stay another day there.. until I woke up and, almost out of habit, put on my soggy gear (the heaters weren't on) and rode off! There were a few hostels in the NW direction - I'd already stayed at Tournai and it was too early when I hit Renaix ("Ronse" in Wallonian?), so I kept going to Kortrijk (Courtrai) where I found one of those older style hostels. Nice and has 'net and beer, so I'm doing this..

Plan is to do one of the Ypres tours (infamous WWI battle ground) and then hit England again. This time I WILL take more than one day from Canterbury to London! Probably even take a train the last bit because this time I don't have a "London A-Z" with me.. we'll see..

Oh, the aim is to make it to the party on the 8th at Grant and Sheila's.. I hope they want me back! :D

07:05:31 - hippy - 8 comments

28 September

Crash!

Four months gone by.. guess I was due. Head-on with a motorbike is a new one for me!

It was totally my fault. I was in the Luxembourg Ardennes on the way to Clervaux in the north, from Echternach. Going too fast down a nice long hill and lost it around a tightening corner (told you this "habit" would get me sooner or later!). There was a motorbike coming the other way and as I turned to avoid him I clipped his bars and stacked it. Got up real quick, limped over and dragged my bike off the road. The other guy stopped and checked if I was okay. He just had to adjust his indicator and was totally fine with the whole thing - "shit happens" were his exact words.

I smacked my left knee and calf and I must've tweaked my left wrist, because it's tender this morning. I think I hit my head but I don't remember.. :P I think I twisted my left knee too - probably because of my dodgy pedals not releasing cleanly.

The bike didn't fare so well. The left pannier clip was bent, the bag hanging by the front clip only, but I bent it back and it seems okay. The front wheel though was cactus. I tried truing it (with my Alien multitool), standing on it, smacking it into the ground - nothing would get the multiple wobbles out. I rode the next 20k to Clervaux slowly, with no front brakes and a very wonky wheel. It took me about 2 hours, but there are some hills here! My handlebar bag mounting bracket also snapped but the bag still hangs on.. for now.

In Clervaux I found a newsagents and they were very cool and helped me find a bike shop (all the way back in Ettelbruck) and pointed me in the right direction to catch a train there. Waited about an hour and caught the train to Ettelbruck. Asked a few people where the bike shop was - "velo shop??"

The bike shop was closed - fark! Waited for another hour to catch a train to nearby Diekirch - the trip took about 10min.. doh! Luckily, this shop was open and I got a new wheel (Mavic X221 I think?) for 38euro. I gave the guy 40euro because he also fitted the tyre and tweaked the brakes for me. Nice bloke, hope he does well in the upcoming cyclocross season. The shop had some SERIOUS hardware! I took some pics :)

It's about 7pm now. I bought a daily train ticket so to make the most of it I plan to head north again to Wiltz and stay in the hostel there. It's close to Bastogne in Belgium. I borrow the conductors phone but there's no answer at the hostel.. uh oh.

You may wonder why I borrowed his phone? Well.. mine is stuffed! It was in the bar bag which clipped the moto. I think I can still receive calls but the screen is totalled so I can't access numbers or send/receive text messages.. doh!! Luckily the ipod and camera are still working :)

Arrive in Wiltz around 8pm and it's dark and raining.. I love cycle touring!
Actually, after all this I'm very surprised I'm so calm about everthing, usually I'd be mad as fsck! Must've been the bump to the head or maybe I have changed?
Anyway after asking a few people for directions and climbing another big bad hill I found the hostel and it was open - sweet!

Warm shower, wash clothes and tend to wounds (nothing open, just bruises). Down stairs to unlock bike and ride into town to find food and I find the front tyre is flat - how's that for Murphy's Law?!
I walk to a nearby kebab shop and enjoy an awesome kebab and chips, then it's into bed.

I should be in Belgium today, once I leave Wiltz. I fixed the puncture - it was one of the thorns I picked up on the Rhine!!

Don't send me text messages from now on!
As much as I'd love to read them.. I can't!

19:05:33 - hippy - 7 comments

27 September

A REAL TOWEL!

I'm in Echternach now, which is in Luxembourg. I just spent two nights in a hostel in Luxembourg City. Hostels are cheaper here so I can justify not using the tent. I also met a couple of Aussies (Toby and Ben) and Dutch dudes (Tom and "Stay fun" Steffan) who were a laugh. More details on that later, for now, we go back to the Mosel:

Mon 19th
After going through Koblenz I made it to Cochem at about 7pm (about 100k) and setup camp (in about 35min). Went to the supermarket and bought dinner - filled pasta (uncooked, eat straight from pack - yum!), juice and some potato chips (dessert). The best thing about Cochem though is the supermarket, which also sold.. TOWELS!
Yes, after >3 months I finally bought a real towel!
Well, it's pretty small but it only cost 3euro or so and after sending so much stuff back to London, it actually fits in the panniers. The best thing in the world is the fact that it actually dries me off properly!

Heaven is a real towel.

Tue 20th
I totally froze my arse off that night! I woke up at 2am and was scared that if I left the tent for a piss, I would freeze to death on the way. It took me about five shivering minutes to finally decide to do the dash. On the way back to the tent, I replaced my shorts with cargo pants, put on socks, put on a thermal top, a polypro t-shirt and my polarfleece. I also put on my head-warmer! I was SOOO cold! At 9am with the sun out it was still only 5degC.

Continued along the Mosel, stopping at a few towns to either explore interesting stuff or look for bakeries :)
Made it to Bernkastel-Kues (about 100k too) and found the best Campingplatz so far - Cueser Werth. Only 7euro per night, no fscking "token-operated" showers, friendly receptionist, spot right near the office/bar/toilets/showers and soft, grassy ground. Setup time down to 17min! :)
Found supermarket and stocked up. Met "Hans" who was riding from Cologne into the hills somewhere past Trier to see his 101yo Grandma! We had a good chat in the bar about all kinds of stuff and he was born near Trier so he gave me some tips about it. Top boke!

Wed 21st
Next morning I woke around 8am and chatted to Hans again, who was getting an early start into the fog. It was warmer here than Cochem but I still slept in almost everthing I'm carrying! A bakery van arrives at the campsite at 8.30am! Told you this campsite rocks! :)

to be continued..

01:59:31 - hippy - No comments

24 September

Well, it's certainly been a while!

Why:
1. I find exploring Germany MUCH more fun than writing about exploring Germany.
2. I have been hooning along the Rhein and Mosel rivers and staying only in the tent in small village campsites. Internet access is hard to find!

I am now in Trier, a larger city near the border to Luxembourg. It has a uni which means it has cheap kebabs and internet! :)
It also has a bunch of ancient Roman ruins which I've been getting sunburnt checking out today..

What have I been doing before Trier?
Well, I left Heidelberg with the goal to sleep only in the tent, no hostels except for the ones in castles (which I think are cool) and the private one in Trier which belongs to the German Backpacker Network (these are generally heaps of fun!). The first castle hostel in Bacharach turned out to be <1hr away from Rudesheim, making it a fairly pointless stop. The second was in Koblenz and, at the time, I was panicking about getting home to London and trying to cover lots of ground, so I explored Koblenz but didn't stay there. So, my "tent only" goal so far has been met.

But.. it is getting VERY cold at night here so I am not sure which I regret more - the decision to camp everywhere or the decision to post my arm/leg warmers and thermal pants back to London, wrapped around a beer stein?!
I am really getting into this camping thing so I guess it is the latter :)
Last night I slept really well in only t-shirt and jocks. Either it was warmer or the fact I'd done 100k and was totally stuffed helped? Note to self: Don't skip lunch.

Although the nights are getting cold the days are fantastic! It's shorts and t-shirt weather for sure and really good for riding (and my tan lines).

After Mainz (did I mention I went to a church service here? Okay it wasn't a typical one.. they had synthesizers and slides! :D) I headed along the Rhein to Rudesheim (opposite Bingen). Riding along a river is so much better for my navigation skills! Drosselgasse is a famous street and full of pensioners drinking wine and singing and dancing. Scary stuff so I headed around the corner to Hajo's where they served a vaste range of drinks other than wine! (The only bad thing about riding the Rhein and Mosel is the wine.. it's frickin wine, wine, wine, wine.. why can't there be a Beer River or something?). Anyway, got well hammered here and stayed until close with Sophia the bartender asking me questions from German Trivial Pursuit! Yes, they have Trivial Pursuit in the bar?!?! Tried some apfelwein and a strange drink called "Geiss-Mass" which was Asbach (a spirit, produced locally, from wine) mixed with Altbier and Coke!
I should mention my earlier nude run and hatred for "token showers". These showers for some reason appear in the more expensive campsites and require you to insert tokens for water. Last time I used one of these it was all good and I had enough time. This time I'm lathered up and bam! no water. "FARK!". Do you think I have another token? Nuh uh! So, I dash across the room and rinse using the basin, before dashing back to the shower. Tip: Buy EXTRA tokens for these evil showers!

Note for Plodder, before I forget, Kolsch spotted as far south as Worms (or was it Mainz?).

Spent 9euro on a ring ticket which got me a ride over the vineyards on a cable car thing up to a massive monument called Niederwald Denkmal. Great view from up here. Then hiked around the hill for a while (with more great views on the way) and took a chairlift down to Assmannshausen. I think it was the first time I've been on a chairlift, at least that's the impression most people would've got with the size of the grin on my face!! :D:D
Assmannshausen is pretty dead. The slopes on which they can grow grapes though is friggin amazing! Mildura on its side!
The ticket also included a river ferry ride back. Money well spent. I got off at Bingen and explored this town (waiting for sunset at Klopp Castle) before catching a smaller ferry across the river to Rudesheim. Watching the ferries dock is cool. The current is pretty strong so they have to really swing the boats around towards the pontoons. There's a constant stream of barges loaded with all manner of stuff going past too. It's Germany's busiest waterway I think and very interesting to sit down and watch boats struggle up stream or fly downstream.

In Bacharach (the town that wasn't far enough away from Rudesheim to stay in the castle hostel) I explored and took a nice photo in St. Peter's Church of snakes feeding on a woman's breasts.. don't ask.. just accept..
Then on to Oberwesel which wasn't nearly as "olde worlde" cutesey as Bacharach but wasn't without charms: Schonburg castle, churches, the Rathaus (town hall) and a wine festival that was (thankfully?) not "on" yet.

For all you mountain goat, climber types (huck too!), I know it's not much I found a 16% graded road. It's the steepest I've seen thus far and I just HAD to climb it! :D
Turns out it lead on to a viewpoint for "Zeiben Jungfrau Rocks" (or something like that) where the seven rocks in the river are said to be all that's left of seven virgins who shunned all suitors and then perished running away from some more nice dudes.. Let that be a lesson to all women out there! :P
Anyway, they were underwater so technically I didn't see them..

Next stop was St. Goar. I had missed the fireworks in Oberwesel (2nd Sat in September) but wasn't going to miss the "Rhein in Flammen" in St. Goar (3rd Sat in September). Here are some much better firework photos than mine.

It was only Thursday so I setup camp early and explored the area. The campsite was CHOCK-A-BLOCK FULL of campervans and caravans!! It took me a while to find a spot for my one-man tent!! (I have pics of my poor little tent in the midst of all these "Great White Farks"). Apparently I wasn't the only one who had heard about the fireworks..
It's actually a three day festival here with music and wine and stuff happening in both St. Goar and on the opposite side at St. Goarshausen.

I think it rained on the first night so I was forced to read and play Solitaire (I bought cards so I didn't finish the book too quick) in the tent for a while. Bakeries in this town rock! I should point out that at this stage I'm almost a real cycle tourist with speeds way down and an attitude to take my sweet time about checking places out. Rhein riding rocks!

Explored the castle Rheinfels which was great. I made up a song about American tourists the other day and was singing that under my breath when I encountered a pack in the castle.. it was funny (for me). At one point I was following two chicks into a pitch black passageway, thinking "Oh, so this is why they sell the candles!" and "hahaha suckers! It's ladies first in Germany too!" hehehe I'm such a Rimmer! :D Great views (this is a common theme along the Rhein and Mosel) of Grundelbach valley from the "Uhrturm" (clock tower).
I get the impression from the museum (and lots of other things) that the Germans aren't too happy about Louis 14th blowing up all their cool stuff! "xxx castle, destroyed by troops of Louis 14th" etc.. all over the country! :)
I was a bit worried too when I noticed in the "Apotheke" (medicine/pharmacy) display both Strychnine and Arsenic (or that's what the German words looked like to me)!

cfsmtb: I have acquired quite a taste for Radler so, if and when I return, you might not be the only one downing the odd shandy at Goat! :D
"Real men drink.. whatever the fsck I want!" :D

Town is getting swinging (well, I'd moved onto the Hefe-Weisen Dunkels by now!) with a choice of bands to watch - popular english and german songs performed by a party band, a brass band, some sadass piano accordian music and a *cough* dance party playing some well-dodge R&B shite. All are surrounded by bier stalls or wein stalls.. Germans like to drink!

I had dinner in "Lore's Keller". Why? Because there was a guy who used to race at Glenvale in a "Kostrizer Schwarzbier" jersey, black. I wanted it. Anyway, I saw a sign for this beer above the door for Lore's Keller and decided I had to go there. Simple really. Had a very nice meal of "Schweinschnitzel natur mit Zweibeln, Bratkartoffeln und Salat" washed down with a Ramazotti (a disgusting spirit that I'd never heard of and wanted to try). Some Poms on a motorbike tour arrived later and I joined them. They were a laugh that's for sure! I have a diagram in my diary which shows the width of "Brownie's" schlong - "55 ligne".. as measured, apparently, by a female assisstant in a printing(?) company he worked for!
Also keen to sign my diary was "Luigi" who was the Italian running the show. So, if you ever get to St. Goar, say hi to Luigi and Honorata (who cooks a fine schnitzel) and stay away from bikers! hahaha :P

After this I ended up wandering between beer stalls and bands, getting my groove on (ish) and trying all the strange beer mixers that are so popular here. E.g. Asking for "eine shuss" will get you half Pils and half Malz beer. Ended the night at a bar run by dudes my age, talking crap to one of the "workers" (they drink more than they serve, I'm sure!). He suggested I call in again tomorrow when he would be on the drinking side of the bar.

I woke up (eventually) and then had to shift my tent so a guy could empty the dunnies I was next to. Doh! Luckily my neighbor was on hand to lend me his hammer again - the ground here is very rocky and even a superman like me can't push the tent pegs in. I count 22 parked tour buses as I walk into town. Being Saturday, fireworks day, there's a bunch more activity and heaps more stalls selling all kinds of stuff (mostly food or drink). The population of the town has probably tripled, or more!
I visited the tiny Shipping & Signalling Museum (it was free and open) and it might've been more interesting but was in German, except for the pictures, which strangely enough, seem multilingual :P.

I take the ferry across to St. Goarshausen and climb up to Burg Katz and then on to LoreleyFelsen. Then quickly down to the Loreley statue on the river. "Loreley", by the way, is a famous mythical maiden who was said to lure boats onto the rocks here. It's a beautiful day for a party, as evidenced by the couple taking the time to, uh, "couple" in the bushes near the Loreley statue..
Tour-bus count from LoreleyFelsen: 33.
I try some "Hackbraten" (big hamburger thing bubbling away in onion stew - nice) and "Sekt", German champagne, which tastes just like the $5-a-bottle Great Western stuff that comes out at our family xmas's! :)

The fireworks were the best I have ever seen! First, Burg Katz was lit with Bengal Fire and then fireworks were launched from it. Then, fireworks were launched from a barge on the river, quite close to our bank, then they launched from Burg Rheinfels! THEN! Back to the barge for a final, loud, beautiful barrage! Awesome display guys! No wonder so many people turned up. I read they use 12,000euro worth of fireworks? It went for aaaages, getting louder and louder! Yeah, you get the idea. I liked them. I took some photos but I was more often juggling beers..

Met the dude from the night before and we went to the place where the dance party was the night before. This time they actually had some good music and the place was packed. Some guy tried to have a go at me on the door when his missus (I guess?) bumped into me and "I" apologised. When he saw that I was going to remove his head and feast on his still-functioning internal organs he backed down. Tool. Don't fsck with someone who's off his head and been on the road for 4 months! ha! grr! etc.. :P (I didn't actually remember this incident until days later.. I'm a nice guy, really..:P)
Yeah, so myself and that dude and the chicks that were at that bar the night before and some of his mates (all names forgotten for some reason! Burp! Actually, I have one in my phone..). Um, yeah so we had fun that night at Hermy's and around 5am (when they closed??) we moved on to some underground place (Felsenkeller?) where they were playing stuff like Rammstein and while most people were falling down asleep we kept going for a while longer..

Oh yeah, g'day to "Claus" (love the wine cork on the hat look!) and "Nadia" who I had a boogy with earlier at the "Flying Hats" gig. It's amazing what you will listen to when pissed! Nah, they were playing fun stuff like Twist and Blues Brothers kinda music. I think that was where I found "bar stall dude"?
Eventually, with eveyone falling off their chairs asleep I walked home through the fog. It was cold and the other side of the river was clouded in thick, white mist. Cool!

Couple of hours sleep and then, for some unknown reason, I decided I wasn't quite ready to leave town? Wonder why? :)
Spent Sunday chillin' out along the river bank and in town, where some bands still played.

Mum panicked me into getting back to London with something she said so on Monday I was packed early. Radler and CaB (coke and beer) with Nutella sandwiches for breakfast. Am I getting feral yet? Hey! I had to get rid of the bottles before I left and I wasn't just gonna leave them!
Boppard's museum was closed but I took the chairlift up for the famous Vierseenblick and Gedeonseck views of the "bendiest bend on the Rhein!".

Through Koblenz I looked at anything I could that didn't require entering places and continued, but now I was riding along the banks of the Mosel!

(and now I need a piss and you need to do something more productive and perhaps I will continue this later?)

02:14:43 - hippy - 9 comments

13 September

"Ciao Mainz"

Yes, blue skies and a relatively dry tent, so I packed everything up and I'm moving on. Probably to Bingen or the town on the opposite side of the Rhein from it - Rudesheim?

19:45:33 - hippy - 2 comments