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Alpenstrasse - September 1989 - Two weeks cycling across the Alps with Robert and Heather.
Friday 1st September - Finish work at noon and drive down to Heather and Robert's house. Pack the stuff and leave by 3pm. Fly to Zurich. Arrive at 8.25pm. Try to get the overnight train to Lindau but it is not possible. Leave the bikes in left luggage and catch the train to the city centre. Walk round the city for a while, very impressive. Back to the airport for midnight, sleep on the floor, very warm.
Saturday 2nd - Sleep well, but still very tired, wake at 6.30am, lie in and have coffee and croissants. Put the bikes on a train for St. Margrethen at 7.30am. Nice views from train, but wet. Arrive at St, Margrethen and start cycling. I have lost the nut from my seat stem, so we buy another one. Also a couple of spokes break. Cycle across the Swiss / Austrian border, another spoke goes. Stop and buy another wheel and block, uses all our Austrian cash. Cross into Germany. Go to Lindau Island on the Bodensee. Wander around a bit and have a great meal, I have steak. Go to a very official campsite on Lindau.
Sunday 3rd - Rains in the night and all morning. Have 'Dr Oekter' chocolate muesli for breakfast, when I get home I have to mix my own version from Coco Pops, Alpen and chocolate chips, I eat it for breakfast for at least the next 12 years. Not get out of the tent till noon, still raining. Cross into Austrian again and find the Alpenstrasse, a very nice smooth road. Go up a very steep zigzag road, weight of my bike does not seem too much of a problem. Stop for a beer at the top. Have bread and wurst and then beef burghers. Cold, but not actually raining. We are at 2000 feet. Stop near Lindenberg, put up the tent and then go to the bar. Have a beer and a huge pork steak. Sleep very well.
Monday 4th - Wake up to the sound of rain, it rained all night. Have a bit of a lie in and then leave at 11am without breakfast. Cycle on, continuous rain. Go to a small Spar and buy some good food, have a good nosh, bread, pate, cheese, chocolate, milk. Then cycle on, meet a guy from Liverpool who is out here on his own, talk with him for a while. Heather buys a funny rain hat, buys some meths and cook a tea of soup and ravioli. Camp near Immenstadt, very wet. Put up my new Blacks tent but it is leaking badly. After tea move the inner of the tent under cover. Have a nice warm dry night.
Tuesday 5th - The weather breaks during the night. In the morning there are bright skies. Leave at about 11am, wearing shorts and t-shirt. Go through Immenstadt, Heather fixes her camera, ride on to Hindelang. Then go up a long ( 7km ) winding hill to Oberjoch. Very cold on the way down. Have a dinner of rye bread, meat and cheese. Still cold, ride on to Fussen for about 6pm. Get our first glimpse of the two castles from the road. Camp near the road, have spicy beans and sausage for tea. Go to the restaurant for a beer later.
Wednesday 6th - Heather does the washing, have more chocolate muesli for breakfast. Cycle to Hohenschwangau. Nice sunny day. Cycle up the hill to Neuschwanstein. Queue for an hour before getting into the castle, have an English guide. Only 15 out of the 65 rooms are finished, amazing woodwork. King Ludwig I only lived here for 170 days. It took 17 years to build. Go over Queen Mary's bridge. Go down to Hohenschwangau Castle, a lot less people, not as big. Watch people hang-gliding for the top of Tegelberg(1800m). Cycle into Fussen to buy some food, back to the camp for an early night.
Thursday 7th - Very misty in the morning. Cross into Austria again. Go past some high mountains, see more great views, mainly downhill to Garmisch-Partenkchn. Have tea at the campsite and then walk into the centre for a drink, the best scenery so far today.
Friday 8th - Brilliant sunny morning. Ride to Ettal Cathedral, very good views inside. Quite steep hill up to it, but no problem. Ride on to Linderhof. Have a tour round, quite a small place. Walk round the grounds, go down to the grotto. Ride on to Oberammergau, walk round, lots of wood carving shops. Get back here quite late, have a debate over whether to go up the Zugspitze tomorrow or not. Stay at Garmisch again.
Saturday 9th - Heather decides to come with us up the mountain. Ride into town and cash all the travellers cheques. Then ride on to Eibsee, very steep uphill, further than I expected. It cost £17 for each of us to go up the Zugspitze, 2964m, very steep cable car to the top, only takes 10 minutes. A bit misty on the top. Go back to the camp site and pack up, ride the 12 miles to the Tennsee campsite. Very good campsite, have a good shower and Heather does the washing clothes.
Sunday 10th - Wake up to the sound of rain. Get up at about 9.30, still raining. Get away by noon, still overcast. Cycle downhill for a long way, go though a nature park, very easy riding, good views of a dry river bed. Go about 55km in total. Camp near Tegernsee lake. Plan where we are going to go for the rest of the holiday, a long way to go tomorrow. Watch the paragliders coming down from the mountains, illuminated cable car.
Monday 11th - Wake up at 7.30am, have the usual breakfast. Get away by about 9.30am. A bit overcast in the morning, but soon gets very warm. Relatively flat at first, then up a steep hill. I am not able to ride up it, so walk instead, Get level with the top of the cable car. Very fast bends all the way down. Have a large lunch at the bottom at about 3pm. Cross a river at 450m elevation, climb up again to 750m Cross into Austria for a short time. We are within 20 miles of St Johann im Tyrol, where I go skiing in 1995. Cycle downhill to Ascau. Get here just as it is going dark. Have chocolate and coffee for tea. Watch a thunderstorm.
Tuesday 12th - Cycle into Ascau and go to a Spar supermarket and buy some more muesli. Leave campsite at noon, cycle through Bernau. Try one campsite but we cannot get the pegs in. Cycle to another site. Put up the tent and leave the luggage. Cycle to Prien, catch the ferry to Herrenchiemsee, very impressive. Get the ferry back at 6.10pm. Ride back into town. Stop at the an Italian restaurant for dinner. I have tortellini and French special ice-cream, very strong alcohol. Cycle back in the dark.
Wednesday 13th - Have bread and nutella for breakfast. Set off for 11am. Cycle to Prien railway station and get information about trains from Salzburg to Zurich. Cycle round the top of the Chiemsee and then head east. Stop at Traunstein for dinner. Have chicken legs and bread with cheese. Have some more Ritter sport chocolate. Cycle on to Ainring, goes quite easily. No large hills at all. It just starts raining as we put up our tent. Have more Ritter Sport and coffee, lie in the tent as it rains. Go for a meal, carvery, in the campsite restaurant. Very heavy rain in the night, not get much sleep until about 5am.
Thursday 14th - Get up at 7.30, breakfast of bread and nutella again. Leave at 9.30am and cross into Austria. Do a bit of hairy cycling in the half-hour rush to get to the railway station. Book our bikes on to the train. Leave our luggage and have a wander round Salzburg, find Mozart's birth place, catch the train at 14.19 to Zurich and then fly home.
Ireland July 1987 - Two weeks cycling across Southern Ireland with Robert and Heather.
Monday 20th July - Meet Robert and Heather at Bristol Parkway at 11pm. Go to Heather's for coffee and then drive to Fishguard. Take the bikes off the roof and prepare them. Get on the ferry at 6am, 3� hour journey. Go to the Tourist info in Rosslare, nice blue sky. Cycle to Wexford, have a burger and then on to Arthurstown and catch the car ferry. Camp on the Passage East community field. Try some Guinness at the local pub. Some local lads call us names when they realise that we are English.
Tuesday 21st - Have coffee at 9am and fruit and fibre for breakfast. Start cycling at 11am, my legs are less tired than yesterday, head to Waterford. Have dinner of cobs, buy a paper, cycle on to a campsite at Dungarvan. A nice gentle day, about 23 miles. Camp just by the sea. Have a beef risotto with added corn beef for tea.
Wednesday 22nd - Wake at 8.30 to a nice sunny day. Have breakfast and leave by 11.30, cycle into Dungarvan for lunch of donuts. Cycle down the N25, go over quite a ridge and have very good views. Ride round the lake to Youghal. Have more food and carry on to Middleton. Try and find somewhere to camp, contemplate camping on a road traffic island. End up asking a farmer and he lets us use one of his fields, play scrabble, I get thrashed.
Thursday 23rd - Cycle 12 miles to Cork, a bit misty and not very nice, have a burger. Head out on the N71. Very sunny and we all get a bit of a tan, me especially on my back. Go over a nice ridge and stop before Bandon for a Guinness. Heather has a puncture. Arrive in Clonakilty at 8.30. I ride into town and get some groceries.
Friday 24th - Get up at about 8.30am. Have a lazy breakfast and watch everyone else depart. There are a lot of foreigners, mostly German and some French. Leave at about noon and cycle through Clonakilty. Take a detour before Skibbereen and go on some very steep hills. See some very nice scenery and stop at Glandore. Have a long lunch and feel very sunburnt. Carry on to Baltimore. The ferry comes at 7pm, watch it being loaded up with building materials and then lift our bikes on. Three quarters of an hour journey over a very calm sea. Arrive at Cape Clear island. It is almost impossible to cycle anywhere as the roads are so steep. The place is littered with clapped out VW beetles, none of which have any sort of exhaust pipe.
Saturday 25th - Get up at 8.40am. Have a leisurely breakfast and then climb up to the castle and the old lighthouse. Good views of the Atlantic and the Fasnet lighthouse. Walk up to the islands two electric generating wind turbines, first time that I have seen any. Walk though some very thick brambles back to the road. Walk up to the north end of the island and observe the local rubbish tip. Walk back along the road and buy some goats cheese and chocolate ice cream from a blind man. Go and have a pub lunch. Later on go for a walk down to the south end. Have a good tea of beef casserole and spaghetti.
Sunday 26th - Get up late as usual. Struggle to get everything packed away ready for the 11.45 ferry. Arrive back in Baltimore and then cycle on to Skibbereen and have a stop for fish sandwiches. Go over a bit of a ride and against a fair wind. Stop at Bantry and have fish and chips. Stay at the Eagle point camp site. Have a long, warm shower. Get very bitten by insects.
Monday 27th - Weather is a lot cooler. Wear white jumper and shorts all day. A long climb out of Bantry Bay with good views. Climb the hill easily despite the weight. Go through a small tunnel at the top and enter county Kerry. Have dinner in Glengariff and I buy a cuddly lepracon for Anna, 'Paddy McGinty'. Good fast downhill stretch and then a drag into Kenmare. Have a look round and a rest before pushing on over the second ridge. Also a long drag to the top but I enjoy it. Just begins to rain when we reach Killarney, about 45 miles today. Get to the camp site at about 9.30pm. Have tea and then go to the Gleneagle hotel bar.
Tuesday 28th - Get up late, ride into Killarney intending to take the 3pm train to Dublin, the fare would have been £35 each. There is a train in the morning for £19 so we decide to stay for another night. Leave the bikes at the station and walk round the town. I sit in the park and read while Heather and Robert go round town. Come back to the same campsite as last night. Go back into town for a meal. Send a lot of time looking as the restaurants are all full of American tourists.
Wednesday 29th - Get up at 5.30am to the sound of rain. Get everything packed away by 7.30 and cycle down to the railway station for the 8am train to Dublin, arrive at 11am. Go to the Guinness brewery. Go to the see the book of Kells in the long room at Trinity college. Quick look at the national museum and the parliament. See a street musician playing a harp. Cycle 10 miles out from Dublin to find a campsite.
Thursday 30th - Leave the campsite at noon. A lot of drizzle in the morning. Go round the back of the Sugarloaf mountain, very windy. Stop for lunch at about 3pm and have turkey sandwiches. Stop in Rathdrum for a quick coffee, end up staying till 8pm talking about old television programs. Push on down the valley, very scenic. Decide to stop at the next camp site we see and seconds later we do. See some imitation Romany caravans.
Friday 31st - I walk onto Avoca in the morning to get some milk. This village becomes famous later for the Ballykissangel television series. Quite sunny in the morning, lazy around till 1pm, then set off down the valley. Stop for ice-cream in Arklow on the coast. Cycle down the main N11 road south, very windy, noisy and dangerous. Stop for lunch at 3.30pm for an hour. Get to a campsite for 8.30pm, very crowded but good soil. Have fish soup for tea and then Robert goes to bed. Me and Heather stay up and chat.
Saturday 1st August - Have a very slow morning. Go for a paddle in the sea, set off at about 1pm. Cycle along small roads to Wexford, have some more turkey sandwiches and a rest. Cycle the 10 miles to the campsite. A bit of rain and I get quite cold. I get a large puncture and have to change to inner tube. Looking forwards to a Guinness when we arrive but there is no bar.
Sunday 2nd - Get up at 6am, breakfast and packed away for 7.30am, cycle to the harbour in the rain, catch the 9am ferry. Arrive back in Fishguard at 12.30pm. Takes 2 hours to get the bikes onto the roof rack. Drive the 90 miles to Rhossili to stay with Anna for a few days.
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