Tuesday, August 12, 2014


We spend a couple of days in Austria and after thinking about cycling round the whole country, we end up changing your mind. We are attracted by its mountains, its villages and its history, but we do not feel comfortable with the people. It's been very little time to generalize, but the faces we see in the squares, streets and roads are of sad people, and rarely do they greet us. At one point we crossed the Rhine on a Sunday looking for an open supermarket in Switzerland and we did not go back into Austria, dazzled again with the Swiss unexpected sympathy.

We head to Altenrhein to take a look at the tent that Monique found us online. On the way, we stop at the Rheineck train station, very close to our destination, to visit the bathroom. Christobal a master sculptor, has also come to the station today to say goodbye to his daughter. When he returns to his car, he is surprised to see a couple of cyclists loaded down with packages and a huge cardboard sign which says they are travelling round the world by bicycle and began in Spain. Christobal is happy, takes the opportunity to practice his good Spanish but want to know more about these travelers. He has also seen the weather forecast tonight and there is a high probability of hail, and just today the place that a man from Madrid rents at his house is filled. He does not miss the opportunity, his wife, Barbara gives consent by phone to accommodate these two cyclist travellers so they won´t have to sleep tonight under the storm.

Happy with Christobal´s invitation, we go to see the tent. We want to compare it with ours, and just at the time that we are setting it up, another pole of our beloved Vaude facilitates the choice by breaking in the same place as the other one. The "bribe" with ice cream and cold beer is not necessary to close the sale, but deeply appreciated. And so we undo kilometres to find   Christobal´s house who has drawn us a map and their phone number in case. What scares us is that he said the forbidden phrase "no loss" it is a house exactly 1.7 km from the station, unmistakable for its stone sculptures. We started up the hill, confident that the same thing will never happen again  (and in any case, we have two tents for the night). The problem is when we start to go down the hill ... and we fear the worst. We turn around and look for the house desperately, and more out of pride than anything else, and two hours later Barbara welcomes us with open arms, and worried that we were not going to appear. With GPS life would be simpler, but we would have missed the view of Lake Constance from the top of the hill.

That night we redefine the route. We forget about Austria and decide to cycle the Bodensee-Königsee Radweg (this last word, as you may have guessed from its resemblance to  Spanish,  means cycle route, and Bodensee, as you can also know intuitively, is Lake Constance). When Pope John Paul II came to a country, when he got off the plane he bent down to kiss the ground. In a pathetic emulation, as soon as we cross the invisible border between Austria and Germany, I do the same. Gabriel would describe it in Facebook as follows: "A wrong turn, a drop in the rain, a rear wheel that is spinning and Ainhoa ​​resting peacefully on the ground and Gabriel from the top of the hill screaming that it isn´t that way, ..... "

With a skinned arm and knee (but goretex raincoat intact, thank God), and an unequal pain spread all over my left side, I have to go all over Bavaria. Luckily nothing is broken, but the bone pain is persistent and the burns are  going to take more than a week to start to heal. To this we must add that the sky does not give us a truce, and showers that slip between the German trees are excessively generous. Neither the best materials in the world would have prevented us from getting soaked and with that nice whiff of cheese which adheres to the wet plastic. The day of the fall we have to stop soon, more because of the torrential rain than the pain, leaving us the next day an overview of 65 km of Berg and Regen (rain and mountain in German) to reach Wertach, our next destination. We do what we can, and Gabriel has to ride my bike up the most demanding slopes, those that my dislocated shoulder means cannot do. It´s a blessing when we get to Martina and Edi´s house; we can dry everything and Martina tells us to stay an extra day to let my bruises and wounds recover. Edi gives me a magic balm that his mother makes from propolis from the bees that leaves me no excuses for the following days.

Maybe too optimistic, we prepared a route for the next three days a route through the German Alps before taking the road  north to Munich, which is almost 200 km. away. But just an hour of pedaling is enough to make us give up, it´s not worth continuing in these conditions, so we opt for the easy and fast way and take a train to Munich. But to get to Uta and Abel´s house, where a week of relaxation awaits us, will be another adventure in itself.

Martina had told us that the train was not expensive, but you have to pay a small surcharge. However, in this globalized and dehumanized world where the Luddites began a task that they should have finished, the machines have been stripped humans of their jobs. That is, in the vending machine the "Fahrrad" (bicycle) option doesn´t appear. So we get the tickets knowing that we are going to have problems. Although this is not the biggest problem we will have. To make the transfer in Kempten we only have 5 minutes to change platforms, and each bike weighs more than 40 kilos. When we reach the station we find that there are only stairs (what about citizens in a wheelchair?), and considering that I cannot drag my bike because of my dislocated arm, we make the decision to cross the tracks at a low pass at the end of the station. When we are about to board our train, a security guard stops us with an uppity disproportionate cry: "Do you know what you have just done? Gabriel says yes, cross the tracks because there are no more options for bicycles. The guard responds impassively: "stairs". He adds ... "passports." We cannot believe it, the train leaves in a couple of minutes and the “little” soldier has called the police. A patrol car arrives and a policeman gets out. He does not understand very well the disproportionate distress call from the security guard, and pretends to write down our personal data and helps us lift the bikes onto the train, already delayed with the delicacy and agility of a lame elephant. When we think we're safe, the conductor tells us that we should have paid the surcharge by fahrrad. The big problem is resolved by paying by credit card, but there's also an irregularity that for the German eye does not go unnoticed. We had the audacity to try to pay with a card that is not signed. And with a pen that does not write. He does us the favor of noticing such a big crime and we can continue our path without any more surprises with authority. On the platform we are awaited by Uta, our hostess the next few days that will delight us with a delicious gastronomic holiday. During this time the wounds heal and we watch the storms placidly from the window. We visit the city, play the fool  in the Milka chocolate museum and plan the next days.

Suddenly we find that there are very few interesting profiles in Warmshowers for the route we have planned, which gives us   extra freedom but a little less comfort. The weather knows no middle ground: either too hot or too much rain. We follow the Isar River to the foot of the natural park of the Bavarian Forest, where we can see that being flat is not comfortable or easy. In Germany also they have also perfected the art of camping in the worst places: right next to an airport, next to a place for model airplanes where people never cease to arrive, a river where there is more humidity and mosquitoes, or one kilometer from a village festival that hosts a tribute to Maiden. One night once again too optimistic, we decided to enjoy the forest views and not put the tent. It is completely clear night. The sky lights up occasionally, but I think they are the lights from the concert. The lights are a prelude of a thunderstorm, lightning and torrential rain, more of which we have been soaked with in Bavaria. No wonder the Germans go to Mallorca for the summer.

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