Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A walk in the Alps

There is something to be said having a beer under the shadow of the Eiger and Jungfrau. After a 6.5 hour hike up a mountain and along the side side of it to get there- it tastes a bit like victory. It was a heck of a climb (Min Altitude: 2,146 ft Max Altitude: 7,342 ft ) however the views kinda make you forget the huffing and puffing you just did. You may have to zoom in with the google map... or just click the link to see a larger view and see all the stats.

View Wandern durch die Alpen! in a larger map

Lauterbrunnen is an amazing place, small and less toursity then Interlaken... but no less exciting! On Sunday we saw no less the 5 base jumpers while walking in the valley. Pretty sweet.

Best part: My feet did not hurt at all! Plus with the snow my Gore-tex was again tested and yet again--- passed beautifully.

I am getting sad about leaving Germany-- it is so easy to get to the Alps from there and don't forget the Schwarzwald and Bodensee! I am sure I will find some nice hikes in England though. So I guess I am sad but excited :)

Pictures coming! Plenty of cows and pretty mountain flowers!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bodensee- Deconstructed

So I was trying to get Google Maps to play nice, and I got tired of it after a few minutes. So I used a postcard I got for my Granny (HALLO GRANNY!) to illustrate!

The purple line indicates my path (more or less). OK, so its kinda hard to see (click for a better view), if you want you can check out Day 2 on Google Maps if it would make you feel better. I started in Konstanz and headed southeast (this postcard makes it look all funky, but trust me, Germany is above Switzerland!) thru beautiful Switzerland and then onto (apparently) confusing Austria. If you can see there is a part in the upper left of the postcard where I go off on some crazy ride (which was about a 12km diversion round trip) I did not realize my error until I saw sign with Swiss webpage addresses :(

A beautiful (albeit slightly misguided) viewHonestly though, when you have the Alps for a backdrop, you really hardly care (well after 4.5 hours of riding I sorta did), but come on... with views like this, seriously?

I stayed at Hotel Stift in Lindau, an excellent location in the Alt Stadt (Old Town). I paid 55 EUR for one night, which included breakfast. There was a bike stand outside, which in my circumstances worked out quite well.

If I had to go back to any town I passed, I think it would have to be Meersburg. I do not think I could spend a whole week there, but something about it was just adorable and the hills around it looked like fun wandern! Also, it seemed near wine country :) Perfect!

SO yes, this WAS for training right? What I learned:
Meersburg Schloss
  • Get padding for your bike seat: Believe me, I was shocked when I found a bike shop open on a Sunday in Germany. However, I think the damage was done the previous day.
  • Stretch periodically
  • SUNSCREEN: Even in Germany!
  • Always bring energy bars/GORP to munch on
  • Take photos and notes often
  • When stressed, close your eyes, breathe in the fresh air, and then open your eyes and take in the view. No matter where you are it will look better and your spirits will be lifted (I seriously had some epiphanies on this trip)
  • I need to strengthen my back and shoulders more: my pack was killing me after a while, although I do not think the angle I was riding helped
Oh so the numbers (guesstimated)--
Total Hours Riding: 9-10 hours
Total KM: 130KM (give or take-- my GPS said something different)
Total Calories Burned: 2372
Number of adorable animals seen: too many to count

Oh! The map I used! It was a RadwanderKarte for Bodensee und Umgebung. You can actually get a detailed one of JUST the Bodensee Radweg (ISBN 978-3-89920-199-4). The trails were pretty well marked (except that ONE okace), you can also check out www.bodensee-radweg.com

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 2 of Bodensee Rundweg

0835: ich liebe Deutsche früstuck. I count no less than 7 different cheeses on the table (no cheddar but plenty of Brie and Swiss) and 4 varieties of müslei, something I have grown vey fond of during my time in Europe. Don't get me wrong, I would kill for some blueberry pancakes or some eggs,toast, and sausage.... But when in Rome!

I feel really good after my bike ride. True I passed out around 2100, woke up and listened to the hockey game for a bit, then passed out around 0100 again. My only concern is my butt and my back. I am hoping a good nights rest and paracetemol will cure it, but yes definitely some lessons learned!

I am determined to make it to Meersburg, a town 30km away. We will make a judgement call then. 'We' being me and my butt ;)

35min in: Wasserburg

Ever get the feeling that something is out there watching over you? That's how I felt when I saw a bike store open on a Sunday. I said 'ein Kissen for mein sitzplatz auf mein fahrrad?' it worked! 11 euros later I know have a cushion for my bike..... Relief!

In Meersberg I made the executive decision to take the boat to Konstanz. I am pretty sure I could of made the extra trip to überlingen and from there to Konstanz. However I was reaching new levels of pain with my butt and my knee was starting to 'feel off'. I know I have a hash on Tuesday and hiking next weekend in the Alps, so I figured one must save my knees.

I biked thru so many cute towns I wish I could of spent more time in. Friedichshafen had a zepplinmuseum and Meersburg just seemed like a nice place to spend a lazy weekend with a hike or two. Something about the water made them so appealing. Between the two towns I sat at a biergarten and had lunch on the beach. I felt so at peace with the sun shining and just sitting there I could have stayed for hours.

Had I had another day I could of easily finished the lake. Had I more training/prep with the bike I could of squeezed more miles in. However, for my first real ride of the season: In two days I biked about 119 km (71.4miles) thru three countries. I biked along the lake and in the shadow of the Alps. I crossed fields of flowers and pastures with grazing cows. I had such a lovely time I can only hope to do this sort of thing more.

Oh yeah, this was training for another adventure! Awesome! I will update this with photos soon, but for now it's time for some (well deserved) sleep!

Schönen nacht!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bodensee Radweg

Maybe Java was right... It seems wrong to wake up at 0515 on a Saturday, regardless of reason. However, once I get an idea stuck in my head-- I tend to follow thru. And with less than a month left in Germany, I figured it was time to bike the Bodensee. So, with sleep still tugging at my eyes, I slogged out of bed to get ready.

Of course in true Melissa form I left my bike lock keys in my apartment and I only realized this AFTER I climbed down the stairs. So back up the stairs (all 148 of them) I went with my bike to grab the key.

The entire Bodensee Radweg is 260km long. Even for a cautiously optimistic person that is a lot to cover in two days. This includes the ~46km trip to Schaffhausen (where the Rhinefalls are) so I can take comfort that my trip is shortened by at least 25 miles. Woo....

I am being realistic and keeping my options open. I will see how I feel after my 76km (roughly 45 miles) ride today. There are trains along the path on Sunday, and although I would be disappointed... I would rather play it safe than risk some injury!

So as I sit here on the train I think about Java and how only a few hours ago he probably crawled into bed as I was waking up... and the beautiful day that lies ahead of me. I think I win :)

0906: auf dem zug nach Kruezlingen. Does anyone notice the closer you get to Switzerland, the nicer the bathrooms on the trains are?

1 hr23 minutes in: I am in Romanshorn, did 23km in this amount of time! That's 1 km ever 4 minutes! Not too shabby for stopping for photos!

I love this area. It is so beautiful, and it definitely helps that the sun is shining! The lake is very calm today and the cows are out-- guess what most photos are of?

12:33: stopping in rosarch for lunch along the Bodensee. If I see a bike shop I am buying padding for my bike!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The Bodensee (known to Americans as Lake Constance... why we do this all the time to German words is beyond me) is pretty close to me and I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Lindau last summer. Geographically speaking the Bodensee is in a pretty awesome place. On one side you have Germany, and then on the other side you have Austria and Switzerland. Lindau itself is great because it straddles Baden-Wuttemberg and Bayern , so a State ticket from either one would get you there (I think... don't let the DB people catch you with a falsche fahrschein and you tell them 'Oh, well MELISSA said...').

I have read about people biking the Bodensee, so I figure its high time I try it myself. I do not think I will make it the entire 260km trail (156 miles) in two days... but I will definitely log some decent miles the first day and then see how I feel the next day. Luckily there are ferries which can whisk you across the lake at certain points so if I am feeling really tired those can always be viable options to!

I bought a map at Decathlon and it seems pretty intuitive so I am not to frightened about getting lost (If I do not see water, I am probably off track)

All in all I think my training is going fairly well- I am staying active and I am pretty sure I am the most fit I have ever been, lets just hope it's enough!

(image from this blog: http://kevinsger110.blogspot.com/2010/09/bodensee-and-berchtesgaden.html)

Monday, April 11, 2011


Testing an iPod app for blogging. Still unsure if I should bring mini mobile moose or if this will do in a pinch! There are a decent number of blogging apps, however I refuse to pay for something I cannot try. Plus I have no way of getting photos on this thing.... Curses

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hash House Wha??

So one of my friends has been trying to get me to hash (if you dont know what it is check it out here!) for a while now. And since I am leaving I figured I should give it a shot.

Now, I do not really like running too much-- I did it a lot more in DC and it kinda went on the wayside to hiking and spinning. I figured however it was time to break out the running shoes and see what this was all about.

So I went with the Stuttgart Chapter and I must say I had a pretty good time! First off I saw a part of Stuttgart I am sure I never have seen (nor would have seen) if not for this hash. I am not sure how far we went, all I know is that there was a beer stop in the middle, some beer at the end (in the circle), and then a biergarten afterwards. It was a great way to get a run in, socialize, meet new people, and drink beer. There is no real pressure to drink beer either, although I am pretty sure its sacrilegious to go to a biergarten and not have a beer :)

So all in all a great day-- finished and submitted my paper and got a run in. So to all the hashers I say... ON ON!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rain and Socks....

So, let's be honest-- I will be hiking in England. And to add to the bad juju--I will be traipsing thru part of England which gets the most rainfall (which btw is 185 inches/year). So it seemed almost crucial to worry about keeping dry. Hiking about 15 miles a day is bad enough, but hiking while wet can be a morale (and feet) killer.

  • So for my feet-- my boots are gortex so I am not overly concerned unless I decide to start stomping thru large puddles or bogs. I did buy smartwool hiking socks as well as some EMS Dry Liner Socks as a base layer. I am hoping this will also reduce my chance of blisters.

  • I also have an EMS rain jacket which I believe would do the trick (unless its torrential downpours).

  • I broke down and bought waterproof overpants. They have full zips on the sides (unlike the pair I already own) so I can easily throw them on whilst on the trail, as well as make some ventilation.

After doing that hike in the Black Forest when it was raining/snowing and still feeling quite snug, I definitely know how important it is to feel dry even when walking against mother nature.

Speaking of the Black Forest, I did a quick 8.5 mile walk this weekend in my favorite part of the black forest-- Titisee/Feldberg. Can you believe we were watching snowboarders while basking in 70 degree weather?? Pictures to follow!