Our trip so far, with town names!

1) Habére-Poche, France. Where we are so lucky to have wonderful friends.

Sitting on my butt on a ski lift going up the hill.

2) Évian-les-Bains, France. Where we shockingly saw people buying bottled water, and had to eat take out pizza on our balcony since our CA COVID QRs didn’t work and you needed them even to eat outdoors at a restaurant.

Balcony, enjoying the view.

3) Montreaux, Switzerland, 2 nights. Where our fancy hotel (it was our Anniversary) had fire alarms going off our second night. I felt like Bill Murray in a Wes Anderson film standing on the street at 2am in my fluffy hotel bathrobe. (Sadly no photos…)

View along the promenade.
Umbrellas on the terrace at night.

4) Sallion, Switzerland. In the wine area of the Rhône valley. We kept looking around thinking we were in Italy because it’s a dry valley.

A confluence of the glacier chalky Rhône and a clear side stream.
Vineyards for more white wine for me!
Old town of Sallion on a hill.

5) Eischoll, Switzerland. Which we had to take a train and cable car to since we could not find a hotel in Sion – totally booked – but which ended up being a joy up in the mountains with a long long decent the next day.

Well deserved cold white wine after a long day, and what a view!
Our first Bisse sighting. Historic irrigation canals are a draw of the area around Sion.
We were captivated by the historic buildings in Switzerland, they were protected early on and add such a fascinating dimension to the towns. This is an old mill.

6) Brigerbad, Switzerland. Where we visited the Thermalquellen Bridgerbad – outdoor pools still filled with vacationing Swiss and French, and 2 lone Americans who enjoyed themselves very much (again, no photos allowed.)

Dinner at our hotel restaurant, impossible to get a bad glass of wine in Switzerland.

7) Zermatt, Switzerland. 2 nights. Yay, a lovely train ride up to the largely car free town with a view of the Matterhorn always near, clouds willing.

Mid hike lunch on a mountainside terrace.
The ride out of town was interesting, showed how much infrastructure is required to support this “car free” town.
All sorts of domestic animals on our ride down, including this big guy who had just walked slowly through irrigation sprinklers and came over to slobber and shake on me.

8) Feisch, Switzerland. Where we started debating whether or not to ride over the Furkapass. We decided on a train boost after the next town, but had a lovely gondola ride up the mountain.

Up we go! Love the gondola views.
Happy Hour at a restaurant at the top of the gondola.

9) Obergoms, Switzerland. Where, after riding up its valley for days we got to peep at the source of the Rhône river! (Almost, not quite the glacier but it’s pretty tiny here, that mighty river.) And we got our train hop to the top of Oberalppass. And rode down. Feeling a bit sheepish seeing all the cyclists coming UP the pass, but it was great fun that downhill.

Look how small the Rhône river is!
Happy train riders.
Rich descending. So many switchbacks.
Pause for view appreciation.

10) Disentis, Switzerland. Another town, another gondola. You generally get a free or discounted pass to the gondola – we just made it on the last ride up and had to be sure not to miss the last ride down.

Our own personal gondola ride. Room to play.
Another Swiss alpine view from the gondola.
A good dinner on the terrace of the youth hostel.

11) Ilanz, Switzerland. 2 nights. Where we swam in a stainless steel swimming pool, took a day trip to Chur and decided to head to Germany.

Train boost! This was a Sunday so we think the big bike cars were added to the train to handle the weekend numbers.
Briefly in Austria, that little yellow dot is Rich., forgetting to stop for the obligatory border photo.

12) Wangen im Allgäu, Germany. Our first stop in Germany after a crowded ride along and away from Bodensee holiday bike traffic.

Met some lovely German cycle tourists headed the other way. We bonded over our non e-bike status and exchanged emails.
A good way to practice German? Gossip mags and wine.
Age is not important. Unless you are a cheese. Words to live by.

13) Memmingen, Germany. On the ride here we continued to be amazed by the number of solar panels on rooftops and had to seek shade for our picnic lunch.

So much solar! So impressive.
Roadside shrines and monuments generally have trees. A fairly good place to stop if we can’t find a shady bench.

14) Landsberg am Lech, Germany. First proper Biergärten, odd fun fact: Johnny Cash was stationed here during WW2. He was a Staff Sargent and a crack Morse code operator.

Enjoying beer and wine on the Lech River.
Riding out of town down the Lech.

15) Augsburg, Germany. 2 nights. Wandered the old town enjoying the canals, and got Rich’s bike fixed! No easy feat with bike shop repair demand and an older touring bike chainring failure.

Loads of farmland riding in this part of Germany. On the upside the corn can block the wind, on the downside- little corn gnats if you rode too close to the corn.
Will Singer to the rescue. He was super nice and let us leave the bags and bikes until he could find time to fix the bike. He had it done by noon.
Really, lots of farmland.
Good tram system in Augsburg.

And on to our next destination. Happy Pedaling.

Cycling while cat spotting.

Ready for cat pics? Germany has been a cat bonanza. Usually I confine my cat posts to Instagram, but the last two days cycling in Germany have been so cat rich I can’t resist sharing.

This cat in old town Memmingen was very fond of Rich.
This farm cat in Kißlegg was very interested in a cuddle.

First we had a six cat day, which we considered a lot, and then today we had a fifteen cat day while riding almost 70k to Landsberg am Lech.

Calico cat warming up in the sun.
This cat was enjoying the last rays of sun outside old town Wangen im Allgäu. Up for pets? Yes.

Many of the cats spotted were in fields hunting or sleeping, not close enough for decent photos or interaction.

“There’s one.” I think this was #12.

It makes the miles/kilometers pass. Happy pedaling.

Cat mechanic.

Tschüss Switzerland!

Rich enjoying a sun break on a shaded decent down the Rhine Valley

This morning we’re waiting for a train to Austria, then we ride into Germany along the Bodensee, also known as Lake Constance.

We really enjoyed our time in Switzerland. We even got our vaccine QR codes (Rich will write more on this.).

Cowbells! Not just for tracking cows and delighting tourists.
These Valais sheep!
The start of the Rhine River.
Many trips to the Coop market to get picnic lunch supplies. we have a one sit down meal a day rule. It’s easier and faster for us to picnic for lunch and then relaxing to go out for dinner.
All the beautiful Swiss Brown cows. And the yummy cheese they help produce.
Met some other cycle tourists. These 2 great guys were headed up a pass we were riding down.
So for now, farewell Switzerland ❤️
Fun bike graffiti in Chur.
But before getting on the train I spent some of our change in the vending machine. Masks and chocolate, what else in these times?

A little forgotten history, and a push to include women in museums.

We’re in Zermatt, Switzerland, which is famous for skiing, being car free, and the Matterhorn. OK, that car free part might only be relevant to some for its fame, but it was a big reason why we came here.

Golden hour selfie with the Matterhorn being imposing in the background.

Who reads in room magazines at their hotel? Me! Zermatt Magazine has a super interesting article about the first woman to go up, and summit the Matterhorn – get ready, it’s earlier than you might think. And, like much of women’s history, kind of sort of ignored a bit.

This plaque was placed on the Zermatter Walk of Climb in …. 2019. A bit late, thinks me.
This plaque outside the Zermatt museum is a bit misleading, An Italian woman came close to summiting in 1867.

Per the excellent hotel magazine article (I’m a big fan of airline magazines too.), an 18 year old Italian woman, Félicité Carrel was the first woman to attempt to summit but had to turn back 100 meters from the summit as the wind came up, caught her wide skirts, and almost blew her off the mountain. Take a moment and imagine that, climbing in skirts- big skirts.

This American climber got there a bit late, the British climber Walker heard she was on her way to Zermatt and quickly got her team in place to try for, and reach, the summit.

Did I care about mountain climbing women before reading this article? No. Had I even thought about when women started mountaineering in the Alps? No again. But I made a point of going to find the plaques on the street and visiting the Zermatt museum because of the article.

The museum is trying to address the fact that women have been left out of so much cataloging of history. These orange signs were a new addition, reminding visitors that there were women and they were not included in the official accounts.

There’s Lucy Walker, on the right – the one in the dress. Bad photo, sorry.
These orange placards alerted you to a bit of missing history.

Oh yes, the excellent article by Thomas Rieder also points out that that the woman from Liverpool, Ms Lucy Walker, summited the Matterhorn only six years after the first ascent by Edward Whymper and team. Read that and think about Mt. Everest which took 22 years for a woman, Junko Tabei from Japan, to follow the first summit of Hillary/Norgay in 1953.

The American climber Brevoort, photo from Wikipedia.

I get overwhelmed just looking at that mountain and imagining climbing it. But I am so grateful to this excellent opportunity to add meaning to our visit here. Hotel room magazines for the win. Museums for the win, and adding women back into history as a goal.

The mountain has more meaning for me now. It’s not just a beautiful background.

Off we roll!

It’s not often I’m ahead of Rich on a climb (we had just taken a break and I requested he stay back for a photo.).

And we’re off on our touring bikes at last. After watching so many bike touring vlogs during the pandemic we’ve been itching to ride. We spent our first night at Evian-les-Bains, after a moderate climb to col de Moises followed by a long long long downhill to Lac Léman.

I’m very glad we came down, the climb from the lake up to col de Cou looked brutal. Rich looks like he was wishing to go up. The man loves climbing.
Crossing the Rhone river on our way to Montreaux.

The ride from Evian-les-Bains was lovely in parts, and needing improvements in parts. A few stretches you would not recommend for a novice cyclist, although the French drivers are very good around bikes.

On a recently built stretch of the route, a trail next to an unused rail line.

Our second stop is Montreaux- we’re spending two nights here, yes, it’s a rest day already. And it’s our 24th wedding anniversary. This a perfect lovely romantic place to spend two nights. We’ve walked the promenade, we took a train up into the hills behind town and walked down to find the most atmospheric restaurant ever for lunch.

On the train winding up the mountain.
Masks: a new addition to train station vending machines.
And walking down.

A lot of good travel advice starts with “walk away from the tourist areas…” We did, and had a great but steep walk back down towards town.

Perfect walking weather, cloudy and mild.

The route took us by perhaps the cutest, most atmospheric restaurant ever. It was lunch time. We were hungry.

Nestled into a little nook. No view of the lake but so cozy.
The tables were lined up along a public water fountain.
With constantly running taps.

As we sat waiting for lunch we wondered if the water was potable? We’ve seen a number of taps in villages and mountain trails labeled as non potable, but this one had no label. Well, potable or not, still one of the cutest restaurants ever, we agreed.

It didn’t take long for the first local to stop by to fill a bottle.
And another local. Must be potable – or good for plants?
And then our waiter, behind Rich in the green shirt, filled a carafe for our table. Question answered -potable and tasty.

Next on our agenda today is a swim in the lake and then tomorrow we’re off up the Rhone Valley, EuroVelo Route 17. There will be wineries.

Walking our way out of jet lag.

We arrived in France to the best welcome any traveler can have: friends meeting you at the airport. With all of our bags and two boxed bikes in tow we arrived to a lovely meal, wonderful friends to catch up with, and finally sleep. Thank you so much Erik and Hannah.

Waiting for the bikes at oversized baggage in Geneva airport.

We have been following our own tried and true jet lag recovery strategy; no naps, power through on local time, and most importantly, get out in the sunshine and exercise. It helps reset your internal clock.

At the Pointe de la Jonction in Geneva, where two rivers of different color meet and mix, the Rhone and the Arve.
Rich and the Rhone.

We went to Geneva so Rich could visit a dentist (all is well), and a friend of a friend took us on a fantastic walk – thank you Jenny! How wonderful it is to have a local show you around. She skipped the tourist spots and took us down the river. We eventually had a lovely lunch with her and her husband, another Richard, also a tall cyclist. Hearing him talk about cycling made Rich wish he had his road bike here.

Our little stroll to the bakery.

The next day a stroll to a local bakery turned into a longer walk and lunch out. It feels so refreshing to be walking and seeing new things. We certainly love San Francisco and it is a unique and wonderful city, but after pandemic lockdown and shelter in place it’s great to be somewhere new.

A lavoir. These public wash basins were built from the 17th to early 20th century.
Farms and cows and fantastic cheeses.

Since we walked further than planned we stopped for lunch out. our first meal out in France. We were shocked and delighted that the vaccine QR code issued by the State of California worked for the French QR code reader. You must be vaccinated to eat at restaurants. We had our vaccine cards ready but happily didn’t need them. What joy when systems work!

Cow bells hanging from the eaves.

Three things that make travel more fun.

For years we’ve been thankful that we live a city life that makes travel less frightening than it is for some travelers. Three things we do on a regular basis here in SF make our trips easier, less daunting, and help us have a wider variety of experiences.

Buses. Being transit friendly makes getting around a joy. My favorite transit app is Citymapper. Citymapper has opened up a world of transit that used to be quite challenging to figure out. In London, like most tourists, we would be tied to the underground, with the confusing but understandable and always available map, but now, with Citymapper we use buses a lot. You can plug in your destination and be directed to the best bus routes, shown where the stop is, and the app will ping you before it’s time for you to get off the bus. No worries about missing your stop. The best part about riding a bus is being above ground and getting to appreciate the city – especially from the top of a double decker.

Riding the bus in Honolulu.
BorisBike on a London bicycle super highway. Now that’s bike infrastructure.

Bikes (of course!). Ever since I first used the Washington DC bikeshare while there for a conference years ago, and had my eyes opened about what a game changer bikeshare is, I believe that bikeshare, especially electric assist bike share, is the ultimate urban transportation. Fast, convenient, clean, space efficient. We’ve ridden bikeshares in SF, Glasgow, London, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Honolulu, Aspen and are looking forward to many more rides in many more cities. Similar to being comfortable on public transit, being a confident and safe urban cyclist opens up a lot of experiences you might otherwise miss. If you aren’t a comfortable urban cyclist I highly recommend taking an urban skills bike course.

We were not expecting bikeshare in Aspen Colorado, it was a welcome surprise, as were the inspirational bike quotes on the back wheel skirt guards/fenders.
On the Camino Ingles with an old friend and a new friend who joined us for a few miles.

Walking. Here in San Francisco we think nothing of walking a mile or two to dinner and home again. Yesterday we walked 1.2 miles to our dentist (Thank you Nikki! You rock!) had a Raman lunch, and walked home again. While traveling we cover a lot of miles sightseeing. Our base level of walking fitness serves us well. Before traveling it’s a great plan to walk a lot so you’re ready to do 6 or 7 miles exploring a new city, and to make sure that your walking shoes are up to the task of helping you explore. And have your Citymapper app ready to help you get home if you need a boost!

A hike in Kep, Cambodia.

Being flexible with your transportation will help you have so many more experiences than when you are limited to driving or taking taxis. And, having those options will give you the confidence you need to get out and explore. Some of our best times have come not from a planned destination, but from a serendipitous find while out on bikes, buses or foot.

A Camino marker in Porto, Portugal.

Happy Travels!

Feels like limbo, looks like pelicans.

Watching the brown pelican migration.

After 3 weeks working flat out getting our condo ready to show and sell we’re now waiting. Most of our stuff is in the storage unit, the condo is as clean and tidy and minimalist as it can be, and we wait for someone to fall in love and buy it.

The upside is that we can go back to doing what we love to do in this city, walking, eating, and seeing friends. Our walk along the Batteries to Bluff trail was enhanced with flocks of California brown pelicans flying by above, below, and at eye level. They are migrating from the breeding grounds on the Channel Islands to British Columbia, apparently, even those these pelicans seem to be going south, or south west.

Batteries to Bluffs trail.

California brown pelicans were listed as endangered by the federal government in 1970, but their rebound has been robust and they were removed from the list in 2009. It’s very impressive to see so many flying along the SF coast. I remember as a child in SoCal in the 70s when these big birds were a remarkable and fairly rare sighting.

Sunny day for hiking.

This is the month locals call Fogust, and SF lived up to its name this year with cool grey days that make us the coldest place in the US, but we got a sunny day for our coast walk.

SF looking almost … tropical?

And now, back to waiting and hoping our condo will sell quickly and our flights to Europe will not be canceled.

Took a break from packing, it was lovely.

When your home looks like this, maybe it’s time for a break?

Before we made our long discussed but quickly implemented decision to sell our flat we had booked a trip to Chicago to see friends and family. Not great planning, we thought at first, but it turned out to be a perfect break from sorting, packing, and purging. It also allowed some painting work to happen while we were gone, which was nice.

Train and bus from O’Hare airport to Ravenswood neighborhood.
Friends! We’re lucky to have fun and wonderful friends who kept us busy and kept our minds off what waited at home. More packing.
We discovered that it is indeed a thong the whale is wearing on his head, but never discovered why?

Places where you never need a car to go out and have fun are high on our list of what makes a trip relaxing and successful. The Blue Line to the 81 bus got us from O’Hare airport to our friends. Our feet carried us out to dinner in Andersonville. And so it continued, walking, busses, the L, and eventually Metra to get out to visit family. The only car trips were in the suburbs with family to dinner, our hotel, and getting dropped off at the airport.

Waiting for the bus on a rainy Sunday morning.
That underwear on head whale makes a mean pizza.

To get to visit family in the suburbs we needed to take Metra downtown and then switch stations to go out. There is always the challenge of what to do with your luggage while trying to enjoy a day in the city. There is no left luggage in the train stations unless you are a ticketed Amtrak passenger, but thankfully there’s now an app for this. Vertoe lets you find a local business, book and pay on line, $6.00 per bag, to leave your bag.

Tags through your zipper for reassurance and tracking. Nice shot of my new Ecco sandals!

Our bags relaxed at a shoe repair shop while we walked around downtown Chicago and had lunch. It was a great solution to that age old traveler problem – what to do with your bags while you sightsee. Thank you Vertoe!

Make room for awesome.

The posters at our storage facility are giving us advice as we move the first load in to our new space.


Elevator selfie.
Master of the dolly.

Selling and moving is a lot of work. It’s exhausting and exhilarating, and in an hour moods can range between joy and snappish cranky. We are doing what we can to make our lives easy, not much cooking since our kitchen is in a state of disarray for cabinet painting.

The auxiliary kitchen. Everything from the lower cabinets is in the bike room.

We keep reminding ourselves how good it is to cull your stuff – so much to GoodWill already! We’ve been in our lovely flat ten years. That’s a good long time to accumulate stuff. So now, we cull, save what we love, send the rest out for others to use.

Making room for awesome. As advised.

The signage game at this storage facility is strong.