Monday, July 21, 2014

Going to Salt City (A Mini Blogger Meet-Up)

There is the now legendary tradition, that had begun a while ago in a galaxy far far away: The blogger face-to-face encounter. Our recent meet-up didn't by far cover the epic distances of an IMBC (International Moto Blogger Convention), but it was no less remarkable, plus it was done by Vespa.

Aristotele said, "It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom." Well, I don't know about that, but I know that getting up early contributes to open roads, a blissful ride, lots of fun, and will likely include the promise of good company and great food at new places. My inner clock woke me up a 5:40 AM, and powered up by a quick shower and a strong espresso we were packed up and ready for the road under an hour later. Empty roads, the early rider's paradise.  Pasture was glistening with dew, and the spicy scent of fir trees filled the air.

It was an otherwise unspectacular ride towards Hall, or Schwäbisch Hall as it's called in nower days, merely interrupted by a stop at a petrol station, and 220km later we arrived at our destination, a cafe right in the heart of the medieval core of the town. We were lucky to get a spot in the shaded area of the patio, and treated ourselves to cold refreshments while waiting for our fellow blogger to arrive.

Ianto, Alonzo and Bella making acquaintance
Chris and Sonja, just doing the same.

Shortly after, Chris a.k.a. Salamander arrived on her almost spick and span Vespa LXV125, called Ianto. Still a newbie to the two-wheeled means of travel, this trip had been her first longer solo adventure. Yet another two-wheeled Chris who is vegan, I thought, while remembering another encounter on a different continent,  when we simultaneously ordered gluten free cereals, topped with soy milk, and fresh fruit. As Vespa riding vegans, fellow Trekkies and Whovians we had a lot in common, and the morning flew by in an instant.

Then we went to explore the city in the valley of the Kocher river. Hall's wealth was founded on salt, which had been mined, or better: distilled by the Celts as early as the fifth century. The origin of the town's name is derived from there Germanic word Hall, the process of heating salty ground water to extract the white gold.

The medieval architecture still reflects the incredible wealth of the early days, and we were impressed with all these historical and still intact and liveable buildings. It was getting hot in our gear, and Chris treated Roland to an ice-cream, while we vegans got sorbet, and so we continued our stroll through the alleyways. If rocks and stone could talk, what would they tell us?

Over a bridge on to the river island we found a couple of old mechanic story telling machines, similar to the mechanic fortune tellers you'd find in amusement parks (still giving me the heebie-jeebies). The machine came alive after feeding it 1€, and we stood and watched like (mildly scared but nevertheless fascinated) kids.

At the end of our walking tour we decided that a short group ride was in order, and targeted Schwäbisch Gmünd for no other reason that it was located on a north-south axis. This way we wouldn't unnecessarily increase our return distance, as Chris at one point needed to travel East, while we would have to take the southwesterly route.

After some initial issues with TomTom, which got confused by the inner city road system we hit the smallest country roads we could find, at times meandering along river Kocher, and through fields, ready to be harvested. It was hot, and the temperature gauge was up to 38C but we enjoyed every minute of our tour. Chris was keen on getting as many pictures from the trip as we were, and our flower picking speed was just the right speed for our travel group.

Schwäbisch Gmünd turned out to be rather unspectacular small town but we found a nice cafe on a market place where we had ice cold home-made lemonade while listening to a brass orchestra mutilating an Beatles-Abba-Gilbert o'Sullivan medley. Soon, we fled the scenery in quest of something more substantial, and found it in form of Greek food at the Poseidon. We ordered a variety of vegetarian appetisers to share, while Roland treated himself to a meat platter. The food was excellent.

We could have continued talking the evening and the night away but at one point we sadly had to part our ways, since we all had another two and a half hours ride ahead of us, and wanted to avoid riding in the dark. So we said our goodbyes with the promise to meet again another day.

On the road again we got stuck in a traffic jam around Stuttgart, and to make up for the loss of time we hit the highway and blasted home. We just made it home before the last light was gone, after 500+ km, quite exhausted, but happy that we met a soul mate. Soon after, I got an email stating that Chris got home safe and sound as well. Kudos to Salamander's first major solo road trip. I am sure that both, Chris and her Vespa have gotten the taste of long distance riding. What an awesome day!

Guess the nationality...


Wir reisen in die Stadt des Salzes (ein Mini-Blogger-Treffen)
Eine großartige deutsche Version zu diesem Vespa-Abenteuer gibt es hier auf Salamander's Blog.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hill Climbing, the Pedal Way.

This is what we were hoping for.
This is what we got in the past weeks. Lots of it.
So we waited, and waited, and waited... 
And finally we could bring out the pedal bikes.
7km uphills and 330m difference in altitude. Doesn't sound much? Well, try that on a Beach Cruiser Cycle.
In need of the occasional break
Arriving at 550m altitude, the Radler was well deserved.

The next 12km were fairly easy going.
Nice view into the valley.
The hills are alive...
The last leg of the trip through the Valley of Nordrach creek.
A stork between bees


Bergsteigen mit Fahrrädern
In den vergangenen Wochen gab es immer mal wieder Regen, Hagel und Gewitter, mit gelegentlichen Trockenpausen. Wir warteten in unseren Startlöchern auf solche Unterbrechungen um dann schnell die Räder heraus zu holen. Diesmal ging es die ersten sieben Kilometer ging es eigentlich nur bergauf und wir mussten immer wieder Verschnaufpausen einlegen. Nach 330 Höhenmetern erreichten wir eine Bauernwirtschaft und bestellten uns erfrischende Apfelschorle und Radler. Auf dem nächsten Stück wurden wir geschont, dann gab es eine steile Abfahrt und wir fuhren gemütlich durch das Tal der Nordrach wieder nach Hause.