The Monaco Grand Prix seems like a lifetime ago now! We have packed quite a lot into the last few weeks.
The GP was even better than we anticipated. It wasn't race day but a practice day so it wasn't like you see on TV but still the atmosphere was fantastic. It was a gorgeous blue sky day and we were really surprised to find our seats were opposite Michael Schumacher's pit. The sound of the cars was amazing and of course deafening. Once you put ear plugs in there was no turning back to the naked ear. Didn't stop Garry sitting right next to the track mesmorised by the cars. He had a screaming headache by the end of the day but said it was worth it or maybe it was the one beer he had (light weight!).
Scutcher reunion was next on the itinerary and we rode back through Italy, through the Mont Blanc tunnel (11km tunnel - a bit claustraphobic after a while) and into France again. In Chamonix we met up with Garry's mum, dad, brother Paul and his girlfriend Rachael. First one to get a hug from Garry was Paul's new motorbike (ZX12R for anyone interested). Once again we stayed in the same campsite we had stayed in four years ago. The view of Mont Blanc and the French Alps from the campsite was beautiful and it was very exciting to meet up with the family again.
Unfortunately after a day or so the rain set in and we were forced to pack up our tents in the wet (not fun) and move on. We stayed with mum and dad and said our goodbyes to Paul and Rachael and rode further into France to Annecy.
The campsite we stayed in was perfect. We had mountain views again and each day watched paragliders sail off them. We were able to hire bicyles and cycle into town on a fantastic cycle path along the lake. The weather was also perfect with 30-35 degrees. We met up with Paul and Rachael again here and all rode to the top of the mountain to watch the paragliders jump off. Its both spectacular and scary viewing.
Following our previous path once again we headed back to Gorge de Verdon in the south of France. We were still with mum and dad and looking forward to seeing the gorge in sunshine this time. The ride was exhausting in 35 degree heat and after inspecting 4 or 5 campsites we finally found one and collapsed for the night. We stayed near a tiny town called Moustiers-Sainte-Marie which was full of little pottery and gift shops. It was very quaint and very French.
We took a ride up to the top of the canyon where the views of the gorge are fantastic. We took great joy in throwing rocks over the edge and counting how to long until they landed (dad was a huge fan, it took 10 seconds to hit the floor).
On our last day with Mum and Dad we hired a paddle boat and cruised up Gorge de Verdon. The water was a crystal clear green and it was a gorgeous day. We each took turns jumping in for a swim and paddling. It was a perfect way to end our trip with mum and dad.
After a sad farewell we headed back to Annecy on our way to Switzerland.
Once we had left mum and dad we felt a little lost. We had started to have a holiday rather than be travellers and having re-visited places we really needed something new to wow us or an adrenalin rush to kick start us again. We started having those 'what are we doing with our lives?' type feelings. It's tough being stuck in a travel rut! (Go on - roll your eyes).
We attempted to get the bike serviced but were very unrealistic in trying to book it for the day before we left town. Garry is planning on servicing some parts himself and we will book ahead to get the rest done in Munich. Unfortunately Garry bought a 4L container of oil for an oil change only to discover he needs extra tools to get the oil filter out. So Jo has been carrying 4L of oil in her lap for the last 400 miles (600kms)!!!
We had high hopes for Switzerland to pull us out of our "travellers depression" and at first were a little disappointed. We had planned to stay near Montreaux (Lac Leman) but the campsites were dire. One was just a public park and as far as we could see there were no facilIties. Another was run by a guy with a moehawke who was a bit gruff (only second to his wife!) and the pitches were right on top of each other. We made a quick exit and travelled further to Martigny. The campsite was ok'ish but the wind was not. We feared for our tent as the wind ripped through the valley - actually it was three valleys so the wind was coming from all directions.
We did have a nice ride into a nearby town of Sion and then rode into the mountains on some fantastic twisty rodes with lovely views of the moutains and valleys. The ride down the mountain was fantastic. Garry is really getting used to the bike and we enjoyed the twisties.
We had heard a rumour that there was a road toll to use Swisse motorways. We asked at tourist information and discovered it wasn't a rumour and was 40 Francs. The woman was amazed we had been travelling on motorways ever since arriving in Switzerland without paying the toll. We had thought all the cameras were speed cameras on the motorway! Hopefully there isn't a fine waiting for us in the UK (both for the toll and speeding!).
From Martigny we rode towards Interlaken (now avoiding motorways). On the way we stopped to catch the train to Zammatt - a car free town except for electric run cars. From Zermatt you get the best view of the Matterhorn. It has been a childhood dream of Garry's to see the stunning peak but unfortunately cloud covered most of the summit. The town of Zermatt was lovely though and had an amazing atmosphere. We imagined what it would be like with the Matterhorn in full view looming over the little village. We had to settle for a postcard instead! There is even a cemetary dedicated to climbers who have died while climbing the mountain. It's grim reading but at the same time we thought it's best to die doing what you love, or at least trying to.
Late in the afternoon we set of on our next leg towards Interlaken. This meant crossing a mountain range and as it was raining and the weather was closing in we were anxious to get it over with, although the excellent scenery made it a little easier. We saw plenty of bikes coming down which made us feel better about the ride - at least it was do-able. It was probably the most dramatic ride we have had with one hairpin bend after another, a sheer drop down and towering snow capped mountains on either side of us. At one point Jo wanted to take a picture of the winding road below but Garry said wait until we reach the top. At the top we were in the clouds! We couldn't see the road in front of us let alone the road below us! Although our families don't want to hear this, visability was at the most 5 metres.. It was freezing and scary but we loved it. It was the adrenalin rush we needed. It was amazing to think last time we rode through snow Jo was reduced to tears but this time she was taking photos and laughing about it. The scenery was artic. We felt like we were the only ones in the world and the world was just the few metres around us. Very surreal experience. Having said that though it was nice to come down the other side and we didn't envy the bikers we passed who had that ahead of them. The scenery on the other side was breathtaking. As we decended we road out of the clouds into Heidi country! Switzerland is so green, so lush and so fresh. Waterfalls gush down the moutains which constantly surround us.
We rewarded ourselves with a night in a hotel. The first since we set off on our trip (approx 60 days). We have to admit it was nice to sleep in a bed and not cross a field to use the loo (although we had to go down the hall - we didn't splash out too much!). Because of the expense of a hotel we avoided spending more on a restaurant and instead raided the snack machine. So we had a bed and roof over our heads but dinner was crisps and a snickers bar. We were so happy about our moutain ride and getting our travel spirits back we didn't care. Also took advantange of breakfast supplies and left the restaurant with our pockets stuffed with jam, butter, sugar and tea bags!
As we rode to Interlaken we heard some jets and our natural reaction was to look up but they were in what seemed like a field of cows next to us hurtling full power down the runway!! It was awsome to hear and see them right beside us. We have been amazed our many jets there are in Swizterland. Perhaps it is the equivalent to cruise boats or yachts in Monaco!!?? We also saw some army troops training with tanks in a field near Montreaux. We thought Switzerland was supposed to be neutral or is there something going on we don't know about?
We are now in Interlaken and have been enjoying some mountain walks. There are so many gorgeous places to visit with spectacular views in this area. We are falling in love with Switzerland. Jo has seen the Milka cows but is yet to see a purple one - will keep you posted. Garry is certain it's days are numbered and he will soon have two cows behind him on the bike!!!!
In terms of our whole trip we are now moving slightly out of our comfort zone. In the region we are in now they speak German (or Swisse-German maybe - not sure). No matter what we can't speak German. Up until now we have been fairly ok with the language and with the cultures but we think from now on we will have to work a little harder to get by. But this is what makes it a challenge and more fun. On Saturday (11th June) we ride to the Black Forrest in Germany. Bring on the beer!Posted by Garry Scutcher at June 13, 2005 05:58 PM GMT
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