Europe 2017

Friday August 4, 2017

Saturday August 5, 2017
Saas Fee to Andermatt

Sunday August 6, 2017

I spent much of the winter researching this trip.
While researching mountains to climb by bike I discovered www.cycling-challenge.com, and amazing blog maintained for several years by a guy named Will.
Will has climbed, blogged about and photographed nearly 800 cycling climbs in French, Swiss, and Italian Alps (and only one Austrian climb)
He's the Rick Steves of European cycling.
The lists he's compiled, and the pictures he's taken, are incredible, he's a much better photographer than I am:

100 Cycling Climbs Better Than Alpe d’Huez
The Twenty Highest Paved Cycling Climbs in Switzerland
The Twenty Highest Paved Cycling Climbs in France
The Ten Highest Paved Cycling Climbs in Italy
The Highest Unpaved Cycling Roads in the Alps
Col du Galibier – A Brief History

While I probably would have decided to bike up Col du Galibier without Will's help, Will's timely June 23, 2017 post The Best Road Bike Climbs in Central Switzerland was how I discovered Andermatt and the Furka, Oberalp, and Gotthard passes.
I didn't feel confident enough in my biking abilities to try a long loop.
As long as you intend to go back down the same hill your cycling up, you shouldn't get into too much trouble too far from your hotel.
If reasoned that if I biked out of Andermatt I could do both the Furka and Oberalp passes.
In theory I could also do the Gotthard pass, but the south side with the old cobbled Tremola road is much better than my (north) side, so I'd try to cycle the south side instead.
The south side would require a train ride or two, so I'd probably relocate to do the Gotthard pass.

We woke up Saturday morning in Saas Fee.
I planned to go to Andermatt for more cycling, but the only bike shop in Andermatt was closed both Sunday and Monday.
If I wanted a bike, I'd need to get there this afternoon.
Kent was already planning his next climb - an assault on Dom.
We rode the very crowded bus down to Visp together with tickets for separate destinations.
It was bittersweet - we'd had an amazing few days together, but we had different plans ahead.

Allalinhorn 4027m / 13,212' is on the left
Alphubel 4206m 13,799' is in the middle
Täschhorn 4491m / 14,733' and Dom 4545m / 14,911' are on the right (from here Dom appears to be two close peaks, the peak on the left is Dom)
Lenzspitze 4294m / 14,088' is in the clouds

Kent's pic

The trailer full of luggage in back of our bus.

I noticed that my train from Visp to Brig was cancelled, so I asked at the station and they gave me a different train to catch so I could still get to Andermatt on time.
While discussing our conquests at the track with Kent I realized that the train that just pulled in a few tracks over was probably the train I was supposed to be on... so I sprinted away without being able to say a proper goodbye.
We did see each other one last time as my train pulled away and we both waved goodbye like madmen...

The Glacier Express in Brig.
The Glacier Express is an expensive reservation only train.
My train was cheaper and was right behind the Glacier Express

Looking west from the Glacier Express route

Looking southeast from the Glacier Express route

 Looking northeast from the Glacier Express route into Fieschertal

Andermatt's Gotthardstrasse, looking south from in front of the bike shop.
Hotel Badus is on the left, conventiently located a one minute walk from the bike shop.
The bike shop is also directly across the street from the huge and incredibly expensive Chedi 5 star resort.

Gotthardstrasse, looking north.
Hotel Badus is on the right

I arrived in Andermatt 1467m around 12:30pm.
The bike shop was closed until 2pm so I had some time to kill.

Hotel Badus was the only reasonably priced hotel in Andermatt online. 
I didn't book a room yet cause I needed to make sure I could rent a bike before committing to stay here.

Unteralpreuss, looking northwest towards Müeterlishorn 3059m / 10,059'

Hotel Restaurant 3 Könige und Post in front of Oberalp Pass looking east

When I got back to the bike shop at about 1:30 it had opened early - hooray!
The owner said he only had two road bikes - seriously, not again?!
His larger bike was reserved for a customer whose bike he was repairing, but he was pretty sure he'd fixed the customer's bike, his customer wouldn't need it, and that I could have it, but it would be a few hours before he knew for certain.
This was as reassuring enough so I got a room at the Hotel Badus for 3 nights for about 85 chf / night, then went grocery shopping since the Coop would be closed tomorrow (Sunday)

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The room was spacious

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View from my room at the Hotel Badus.
I got to watch the Glacier Express go up and down Overalp Pass!
It was pretty cool...
Rossbodenstock 2838m / 9,311' is on the right

I kept checking back with the bike shop, and eventually I got my bike!
I'd checked TripAdvisor to see what there is to do in Andermatt beside ride a bike.
While this ancient town is undergoing an unfortunately massive development into a modern ski town, there isn't alot to do.
I rode the one kilometer down to one of the few nearby attractions, Teufelsbrücke, the replacement of the 'original' Devil's Bridge.

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The first bridge across Schöllenenschlucht and the Ruess river was made of wood and was first mentioned in written records in 1306.
The first Teufelsbrücke was completed in 1595 and fell into the river in 1888.
This Teufelsbrücke - the one in the picture above with no cars on it - was completed in 1830.
The modern road bridge was completed in 1958.
The railroad bridge, not shown in this picture, was built in 1917.
Looking west

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The Suworow Monument

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PANO - scroll right - Teufelsbrücke with the rail bridge in the background and the road bridge on the far right

PANO - scroll right - Teufelsbrücke with the rail bridge in the background and the road bridge on the far right

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A tunnel on the north side of the gorge leads to another viewpoint

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Teufelsbrücke with the road bridge in the background
Looking east from near the rail bridge

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This is as far north / downhill as I went...
Looking northwest

PANO - scroll right

2017-08-05 16:53

Teufelsbrücke and the rail bridge
Looking west, from the north side.

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Teufelsbrücke and the rail bridge
Looking west, from the north side.

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Later the weather looked fairly ominous...

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Tripadvisor indicated that Gasthaus zum Sternen was one of the best restaurants in Andermatt, but all the tables outside were full.
I settled instead on the Hotel Restaurant 3 Könige und Post, which was fine.
I got one of the last tables, a table next to the river.
Before my meal was served it looked like it was going to start to rain and I moved to a more sheltered table at my waiter's insistance.

2017-08-05 19:33

Second night in a row for Rosti!

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Kent went to Sion for the day before ending up in (much cheaper) Martigny for the night.

Kent's pic of Sion

Meanwhile in Italy:

Paul's pic of Herculaneum / Ercolano
Paul got up early to go to Herculaneum / Ercolano - 'i think i'm the only person at the site [ercolano]!'

Ray got lost again on way to Ercolano

Ray rode on to Sorrento and stopped for lunch in Positano

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

Ray's pic

Paul was in Salerno looking for P38 wreckage (not sure what that reference meant)

Paul's pic
Paul got the 210pm ferry to amalfi
Paul had a nice salerno kebab w/ mayo and picante

The Italy crew entertained the Swiss crew when they tried to get checked in to their bed and breakfast in Amalfi

337pm Paul: '[Ray's] and impossible flounder.  He's been parking his bike for nearly 30m.  I think he is lost in the garage'.
340pm Ray: '[I] got bad directions from an Italian, walked up unnecessary stairs after Paul ditched me'
'[I] have no idea where hotel is'
344pm Ray: 'now i'm standing outside door, its locked, no one is answering.   if you're in there, come get me'

348pm Paul:  'the dude is downstairs'
Kent: 'Its like that movie with Sophia Lauren going crazy in the Italian heat'
Me: 'Which one of them is Ms Lauren I wonder?'
349pm Ray: 'my bags and I are at the front door.  do you realy want me to bring bags down so I can bring them back up.  or is the place actually not up here where it says donna giulia?'
349pm Paul 'we [he and the hotel owner] waited 25m and we both figured correctly that you were lost'
350pm Paul 'you can probalby wait there.  there is now a line of customers cause the guy was waiting 25m away from his office'
355pm Paul 'now waiting in line'
355pm Ray 'waiting to get into room'
421pm they were finally checked in

For dinner Paul got whole grilled squid

Ray got swordfish
Paul and Ray saw firewoks, 15m of church bells, and a boat parade in Amalfi
A woman told them it was 'mary of the snow'
It did not snow there that day

Ray: 'buzzing.  paul forced me to drink more.  now he's trying to sleep so he can go on his hike tomorrow. 
'I've got a horrible day planned.  breakfast at 8, then Pasetum and Santa Maria Capua Maria'

Friday August 4, 2017

Saturday August 5, 2017
Saas Fee to Andermatt

Sunday August 6, 2017