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Our last day of cycling was nice and flat, with a view of the mountains to inspire me to pedal. I have to admit that the previous day’s climbs had tightened my muscles and because we hadn’t cycled fast or far I wasn’t as diligent in my post-cycling stretches. It was beginning to catch up on me.

The paths took us through many vineyards and orchards. Each time we turned towards the lake and I could see the Alps, I had to stop and take it all in.

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The problem with not cycling the lake in the same stages as everyone else is that you can miscalculate the distance. Ferries crisscross the lake and some tours don’t cycle the entire route. And then I realized that today was going to be a big climb out of Konstanz.

On a positive note, the direction we cycled had a path parallel to the road on the uphills. The downhill was amazing! Cycling on the road through the town of Liggeringen (which I only know from looking it up on Google Maps later) was exilerating. I reached almost 67km/h on a fully loaded folding bike and didn’t crash! Read the rest of this entry »

The Americans had booked 2 nights because rain was forecast for today. They were booking on the fly which cost them a lot but they seemed to like the flexibility.  I’m a weather shopper in English and find that German web sites tend to have more accurate forecasts for Germany than English ones. Luckily we no rain as we cycled. Again, most of the rain came after we had eaten and returned to the hotel.

Today’s journey went around what’s known as the Untersee (or lower lake). Radolfzell was about halfway so we stopped at a baker for coffee and croissant and walked around its Altstadt Read the rest of this entry »

Unlike most of the websites we found, we decided to start and end in Bregenz. Part of this was because I wanted to take the Pfänderbahn to see a view of the lake, but also because some of the recommended stages were in larger or expensive towns. One of the challenges was finding affordable accommodation in Switzerland without sharing a bathroom. In Romanshorn, it meant staying in a hostel.

A lot of people online said that Austria was the broken link for directions,  but we had no problems. You just follow the bike sign with the blue rear wheel. The number changed when we got to Switzerland but the signs were everywhere. We only missed one by a Supermarkt in Gaißau Austria because we were so focussed on the traffic. That bridge brought us over the Rhein and into Switzerland.

The weather today was cold and we had a sprinkling of rain as we were cycling the 50 km between Bregenz and Romanshorn. But in the evening, it came down in buckets. Sometimes, it’s all in the timing.

The area around Lake Constance is known for its apples. And NosyNeighbour decided to climb in a large pitcher of Apfelsaft for a photo op. I was impressed with his flexibility and deductive reasoning to get back out.

We saw the zeppelin fly over and a hobbit house in Altenrhein. Then we walked our bikes through Rorschach and its Altstadt then followed along the lake.

We explored Arvin then arrived at Romanshorn around 2:45. Unfortunately, check in really was 5 p.m.  We couldn’t even leave our bikes or bags because there was nobody at reception.

Romanshorn is about halfway between Austria  and Germany on the circuit. It doesn’t have a quaint Altstadt, instead spending money to develop the waterfront. It claims to have Lake Constance’s biggest harbour and we did see a lot of ferries crossing over the lake. The waterfront park had some neat fountains that turned on while we were there. But I wouldn’t have gone there just to see them. Eventually the time passed and we were able to check in.

Of course we were dying to get Internet, but we couldn’t seem to get it to work because the system couldn’t text us the code. Why must the Swiss authorities insist on a two-step process for Internet access? And what if we hadn’t had our phones? The one English-speaker who worked there, sent us off to the train station.

We took the advice of the English-speaking hostel chef for supper and ate where the locals do …Pizzeria la Luna . ..like an episode if season 2 of Master of None. Zuppa pomadoro war lecker. It was served with bread that was pizza dough cut in small pieces and baked.

We stopped at the brasserie again after supper then tried the Internet again at the hostel. For North Americans it is 001 plus area code and phone number.  No + required!

We arrived at the train station in Bregenz and eventually found our way to Hotel Helvetia, which is located on a busy street that borders the main pedestrian area. NosyNeighbour assembled the bikes in our room on the third floor. For North Americans, that would be three flights above the ground floor. And did I mention no elevator?

I know when to stay out of his way so I walked to the Fußgängerzone and returned with cold beer and snacks (hello again my paprika Pringles!). It turns out that CATSA opened both suitcases and left us notes indicating they had been searched. At least all the pieces were still there!

NosyNeighbour had done his research on good local restaurants, so we headed over to the Wirtshaus, which is on the lake, then went for a walk along the waterfront after dinner.

The next day we went for a short test drive with the folders. We made it to the Bregenz open air theatre on the water. Each year a new stage is created in the lake tailored to that year’s opera. Although we missed the performance since it was shoulder season, you could walk right into the seating area and look in awe at how grandiose the stage was. Did you know that the theatre appears in the Bond movie Quantum of Solace? In 2008 several scenes were filmed right before and during a night performance of the opera Tosca.

Having folding Dahon bikes, doesn’t mean they fold up perfectly into our Samsonite featherlight suitcases. Some disassembly is required, which usually means adjustments are needed. My bike wasn’t going into the 7th and 8th gears, so the next day, we dropped it off at a bike shop for adjustments.

A market took place in the pedestrian zone until early afternoon. After we picked up my bike, we took the Pfänderbahn up and saw a wonderful view of mountains and the lake. I’m so glad we did this to get a sense of what we were about to cycle.

For supper, we took the hotel’s advice and went to the Goldener Hirschen. In typical European fashion, we were seated with another couple. It makes for a more interesting evening when you can practise your German with native speakers.

It’s nice when your travel day starts on a positive note. We had a great cab driver who had no problem fitting our two large suitcases in his drunk. He was polite and personable and gave us his card so we can contact him for our next trip. It was a much better experience that our last Uber to the airport where the oversized driver didn’t move from her seat and we had to arrange everything in her van ourselves.

Once at the Ottawa Airport, we checked out the new automated check in system. It had only arrived two weeks earlier, so at least we weren’t the only ones trying to figure it out. Once you enter your aeroplan number, the machine brings up your itinerary. Then it scans the passports and you enter the number of pieces of checked luggage. You collect your boarding pass and luggage tags from the print out and pass by an Air Canada agent to have the boarding pass scanned. Then you drop off the luggage at another machine, which scans it and weighs it. From start to finish in under 5 minutes!

After going through security (what! no lines?), we decided to have the first vacay beer and nibbles at  Darcy McGees. After 3 inattentive waitresses ignored us, we got the best server. He was attentive and funny. We both tried something new to us: forkies and  buffalo cauliflower (hot!)

All was going well ….until the announcement on board that there would be no hot beverage. Then visit the toilet to discover it’s because there us no water!! But other than that, the flight was uneventful.

I love clearing customs in Europe. You self select red or green entryway for declaration. No forms to fill out, no silly questions being asked. And best of all, no lineups!

Our luggage arrived and we set off to buy train tickets. 190 euro for 2 to Bregenz, with a transfer in Mannheim and another in Ulm. Our second ICE train was late and thankfully there were enough of us transferring that the IC train waited for us.  The ICE trains offer free WLAN and onboard charging.

On the IC  a coffee cart guy came by. When we ordered coffee he plugged in the machine! It was a bit like an espresso. He said something in German as it was pouring. NosyNeighbour didn’t understand so he repeated it a bit louder. Then I guessed it was the German equivalent of say when. And I was right!

The last train was the slower, stop-at-every-station train. When the train was sitting on the tracks at one station with the engine gone, I started to wonder what was going on. So I asked an older woman who sitting across the aisle. My comprehension of German is very contextual. And it was good while she explained that another train was being joined for the rest of the journey. But when she started talking about her daughter and going mushroom picking it took me a bit to follow her train of thought!

There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about Ontario’s new law that requires motorists to leave one metre between themselves and cyclists. Ottawa Police on bikes are testing a new sonar device to educate drivers about just how far that distance is. Delivery trucks are parking in bus lanes and buses are parking in bike lanes. Several newspaper columnists have written columns about their experiences either as a cyclist, driver or both. In all the comments, the one that spoke to me the most was the one that said something like: there are dickheads on bikes and dickheads behind the wheel. Please everyone stop being dickheads. Read the rest of this entry »

I wasn’t sure what to expect this year after the stress of registration. Bike New York had hired a different company and their servers crashed for the first four hours.

So I was pleasantly surprised when the staggered start was on  time. Central Park also had no bottlenecks.  But all that was waiting at Astoria Park. With only one exit and all riders being forced through it, we waited more than 20 minutes trying to get out.

After that it was smooth sailing under sunny skies. Even the wind wasn’t too bad. We made it to the festival and waited in line for our free TD souvenir photo. Another few miles and we hit the growing line for the ferry. But the TD crew was walking through the crowd handing out free Popsicles to help keep us cool. We chatted to a few people along the way, some from Detroit, Philadelphia,  Australia and even a few locals.

Despite the hiccups,  the overall experience was great. And this time on the ferry I looked not just at the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline,  but also at the Verrazano Bridge behind us.

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Today’s plan was to find some shirts for NosyNeighbour,  a hat for me, and various accessories for our Dahon folding bikes. 

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We arrived at Century 21 shortly after it opened and found some good deals. After dropping off our puchases,  we walked through the Financial District to City Hall and then along Broadway to East 13th Street, to bfold, a bike shop recommended by a guy at the Bike Expo.

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You would never find it walking down the street. It’s jam packed with folders and the most helpful guys. In addition to the big apple tires,  we picked uo the xooter rack and a Thule bag. We also learned a bit about the guy who referred us. We knew he had worked at the store. But we didn’t know he’d sold his violin to buy his first Brompton. We may check out his foldiefoodie tour next time.

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We walked over to Union Square for a quick bite and munched on our pies while we people watched. There was a lot to take in. A tour group were listening to the guide talking about the history of the neighbourhood,  while a hundred people were getting pumped for the New York Marijuana Parade. Methi ks they were gojng to be leaving a bit late and maybe inthe wrong direction.

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After a bit of a hiccup getting on the N whe we needed the R, we eventually made our way back.  NosyNeighbour replaced his tires while I surfed and wrote drafts for the blog, but only after I’d found tge tablet,  which was hidden in the safe.

So,  to kill some time,  we took the free  ferry to the Brooklyn Ikea for an ice cream and a pass by tge Statue of Liberty. The Ikea bistro was ceazy busy. And at leasf now with Ottawa’s bigger Ikea,  I dobt need to shop for stuff here.

Time killed, we returned back to the hotel having walked more than 17,000 steps.  We visited Ulysses’ for supper, sharing some spring rolls. NosyNeighbour gad fish and chips,  and I had the Stone Street salad with chicken. Here’s hooing we’re well fueled for tomorrow.

We spent longer than expected at Woodbury Commons.  Ironically all of our puchases were made at the first store, Northface, which had opened a bit earlier.

Then we set off for Manhattan,  but undecided about which bridge to cross. While we were driving, I used the Garmin to fing a Petco. We’d been looking for a replacement cat harness for our cat, and Petco was the only place I knew of that carried the figure 8 style that works withnour highly active urban cat.

But finding our way back to the Tapanzee bridge was a challenge.  And then we had conflicts between the Garmin and car GPS. What should have been a cheaper route became expensive when we crossed the Triboro
Bridge.

But eventually things work themselves out and we arrived.  After unloading the car, we headed off to Basketball City to pick up our tour packets. We meandered through all the exhibitors and then ate shawarma before returning to the hotel.

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After a quick change,  we set off to Terra Blues to Greenwich Village via the R line. The first band, Saron Crenshaw Trio, played an acoustic set.

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The second group  Michael Powers Frequency,  was plugged in but not too loud. We stayed for a few songs but didn’t feel the connection that we’d had with the first band.

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Interesting ride back in the subway. Ended up on the car with sketchy scruffy guys sleeping on the seats.

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