Balkans 2016 – The Family Reunion, Basel Switzerland

Had a fantastic 2 days of rest and adjusting to non touring daily rituals. As a reward and welcoming dinner, the family decided to head to the border town of Lorach to have all you can eat sushi. Not bad actually. Simple sushi spread but good value for Western Europe. Cost is around 23 Euros per person. It’s great to spend quality time with my family again and I am looking forward to maximize it until after Christmas before I return to Malaysia in early January. 

It’s a but early but I like to wish everyone a Merry Christamas and A Happy New Year. 

Do continue to follow this blog. I will be writing a segment to reflect and summarize the entire journey. Stay tuned. 

Balkans 2016 – Day 79: The finale. Waldshut, Germany to Basel, Switzerland

Wow, the day has come that it will be my final day of riding on this Balkan tour. It felt strangely normal. May be it’s because I have not come to terms with the end of an incredible journey.

The ride to Basel should not be too challenging as I plan to follow the cycle path all the way to Basel. The day started as usual foggy however it lifted earlier today.

The cycle path signs are well placed and organized in Siwtzerland compared to Germany. Today I did not get lost even once. So I made great time in reaching Basel.  Took me a while to find my way to my parents in laws house but I found it eventually.

It still feels unreal that I have completed the tour. I guess it might take a day or two to sink in. Meanwhile I hope you have enjoyed following me on this journey via this blog. Thank you for for following me and giving me the support and encouragement. To all the great people who hosted me during my journey I sincerely thank you all.

Days on tour : 79

Distance covered : 4,030 KM

Countries : 12

Eager to get started for my final ride towards Basel.
I think this is a nuclear reactor
Another mighty river for company. The River Rhine.
Some off road sections right next to the train tracks
Many sections on the main roads have bike lanes like this
I am not sure what the structure is.
Total distance at end of the ride

Balkans 2016 – Day 78 : Singen to Waldshut, Germany

It feels surreal that I am at the end of my incredible tour. It’s seems like 78 Days just went in a flash. Today I plan to ride to Waldshut which is on the Rhine and just across from Switzerland. In fact I will be in and out of Switzerland and Germany the whole day long. 

I had an fantastic and comfortable stay at Ingo’s parents place in Singen. I had breakfast with Hiedi and Winfried and push off at around 9am. The weather is foggy like yesterday. It was not as cold though so it’s a good thing. 

The landscape and scenery was more or less the same. Some small towns and country farm lands. However, the falls at Rheinfall was spectacular even in fog. I imagine it to be even more spectacular when you can see it fully. 

The mapped ride via Google states 62KM but in the end I think I cycled around 75KM. I managed to get a great deal at a guest house in Waldshut so I was not in a hurry. In the end I arrive at the guest house at around 2:45 pm. 

After checking in I cycled to the city to buy some grocery for dinner. Did some planning for tomorrow’s ride to Basel. Just one more sleep before my last day of the tour.  I had a blast and a wonderful experience and a fantastic time. Looking forward to be see my family in Basel. 

Total Distance : 3,960KM

Family photo with cycling enthusiast neighbour Gunther.
Ingo ‘s parents Heidi and Winfried
Thankfully many sections have deducated cycling lanes
Another foggy day out
more fog
School kids out for an adventure
Hello Switzerland
I am getting closer
The famous Rheinfall but too foggy to see much
The fog cleared and sun came out around 1 pm.
Photo opp with the sun

Balkans 2016 – Day 77 : Mengen to Singen, Germany

A mountain biking friend of mine and also member of PCC while he was in Malaysia contacted me some week back and offered that I could stay with his parents place in Singen. He was following my journey via this blog. It was perfect as I planned to pass by Singen on the way to Basel. Ingo is now based in Dubai but does come back to Malaysia every year for Chinese New Year. I hope to catch up with him the coming Chinese New Year. 

I left Mengen slightly later at around 9 am since I have a accommodation sorted for the day. The weather was the same as yesterday but foggier. It also seemed colder. 

The ride was much the same as yesterday, passing small towns, sometimes on farm roads, sometimes on nice bike path along the main road and sometimes on rural roads sharing with cars. However some stretch was void of any cars for long periods so it was great. It was also very foggy at some stretch. The weird thing is that the temperature seems to be toggling from cold to less cold and then back to cold.  Of course there were a few times I got off track but managed to get back without too much difficulty this time. 

The sun came up just about when I arrived Singen. It also warmed up significantly and that’s a shame. It would have be great when I was riding. Oh well at least I arrived and was welcomed warmly by Ingo’s parents, Heidi and Winfried. I was immediately shown to my own room and also was offered a wonderful meal of German noodles and meat goulash. Yummy. 

After I rested awhile I was invited for a light dinner. I have been informed that the neighbour was a keen cyclist and he would like to meet me to have a chat. So Heidi brought me over to meet with Gunther. We talked shop for about a hour. 

I was getting tired and I said my good nights and call it the day. Tomorrow I will ride to Waldshut by the Rhine. I should be crossing Switzerland and Germany back and forth. 

Total Distance : 3,885 KM

The day started a little foggy and cold
Taking a break and a photo opp
Pond already frozen.
More and more foggy.
Starting to clear up
The 2 boys on the bike showing me the way to Singen as the sun started to come up.
Safely arrived at Ingo’s parents house in Singen
Got a room for myself
What a lovely homely house

Balkans 2016 – Day 76 : Ulm to Mengen, Germany

Weather forecast today supposed to be partially Sunny. I did not see the sun at all the whole day. When I started off from Ulm it was cold at around -3C.  Luckily there was hardly any wind so it was not a problem. Today I decided not to follow the Danube route as I want to get to Mengen quicker. I am putting up the night at Mengen just because it’s about halfway to Singen. It is also a place where I managed to get a reasonably priced guesthouse. Why to Singen. Well lucky for me a mountain biking friend from PCC Ingo who is now based in Dubai offered me a place at his parents house to stay. Thanks Ingo. 

The ride today was somewhat stressful. First I accidentally cancelled the route on google maps and as I was offline and I could not redo without getting wifi or switching on data roaming. So I stopped a cyclist to ask for direction and he gave me some indication only. After awhile I was lost again so I had no choice but to sign on data roaming for a short while to recreate the route. Hopefully the charges would not be too high. With the route recreated I was doing great and was on track. 

There was really nothing interesting along the way much the same as the previous day’s. For me the ride is mainly to get to the finishing line. If there is something interesting it would be a bonus. 

About 10KM to Mengen, I was stumped as I hit a section of road that is only for motorized vehicles. So I spent some time looking for another way to get to Mengen. Lucky for me there was a jogger on the other side of the road and I cycled over to ask him for help. He was a very helpful guy but it was really difficult communication as he is Russian and speaks German with a heavy accent and so it was hard for me to understand with my already limited German vocabulary. But with a combination of chatter and sign language I managed to get some idea where to go. 

In the end I managed to get to Mengen safely and now comfortable and warm. Tomorrow I ride to Singen and the day after I am likely to cross into Switzerland.  I am likely to arrive Basel ,end my Balkan tour and be reunited with my family this Wednesday.  Hurrah! I am really looking forward to this. Two more sleeps to ” home”. 

Total Distance : 3,812 KM

Grey and foggy
I wonder what this machine does ? any guesses ?
The Russian jogger who helped me find my way

Balkans 2016 – Day 75 : Donauworth to Ulm, Germany

Sunny day is expected today but the start of the morning is around -3C. Cold but manageable. By midday it should warm up nicely. I was planning to take the Danube rout to Ulm. It’s suppose to be more than 90K.  So I pushed off at around 830 so that I can reach Ulm before 4pm. 

Getting on the Danube trail was more tricky that I thought. I was completely lost and could not find the route at all. So I decided to follow the Google Maps route which is somewhat shorter. Just as well. 

Luckily there was bike path most of the way along the route. I was making great progress and actually reach Ulm at 230pm. Total distance was around 86KM. 

There was nothing much to see on the way as I was following the main road most of the way to cut short the route. 

I was hosted in a student shared apartment. My host Michael is studying to be a doctor and in his final year. He cooked late lunch for both of us. After that I went to the city to have a look see. The Christamas market at the Munster/ Cathedral was massive and so was the crowd. Can hardly walk inside the market square. The Munster was huge and very impressive. I am told it is the largest in the world. It was getting cold so I huddled up back in the apartment in my own room while listening to a great jazz concert downstairs. The student dorm is in a community building. 

Tomorrow I will ride to Mengen and then onwards to Singen. 

Total Distance : 3,730 KM

Nice breakfast at the guesthouse before pushing off
Fantastic light early in the morning
Blue blue sky
Blue cloudless skies.
One of the more interesting towers.
The massive Ulm Cathedral. I think even more impressive during the day.
Another view of the Ulm Cathedral.
Massive Saturday crowed at the Christmas market.

Balkans 2016 – Day 74 : Inglostadt to Donauworth, Germany

As I wake up usually around 630am everyday, I saw that it was windy outside. Also the report is cloudy skies with chances of rain. The weather reports via Google has been incredibly accurate. So I was preparing my self for some rough and hard riding today. 

Just I was about to ride out it started to drizzle lightly. However it stopped after a few minutes so I pushed on. I planned to follow the Danube route today so I don’t have search for directions. Even that I was lost a couple of times. One was because I missed a detour sign due to some works on the Danuabe route. Luckily I found someone working there and he told me to go back and look for the detour sign. I found it but that detour brought me to some hard climbing over the hills and then to a mountain biking territory. In the end I was happy to be  out of the detour and on to the proper path. 

The headwinds were still there and at some point strong but nothing like the one I experienced in the Balkans. Thankfully. I was making great time so I slowed down a bit since I was also feeling a bit tired especially on the climbs. I arrived at Donnauworth at around 2pm and I tried to check in to the first guesthouse but they were fully booked. I asked the worker there if he could help me call the next one nearby and he did. I did manage to get a room there. I was prepared as I downloaded a few possible guesthouse in the area in case they add closed or fully booked. The one I managed to get  room costed 35euros with breakfast. Slightly off my budget  but it started raining again and getting dark so I was not keen to go look for a cheaper one which is 4KM away. 

So I checked in , went to the town to look see and bought some supplies for dinner. The town looked quaint and has very uniformed buildings. All with sharp and steep high roofs. The uniformity makes it very interesting. 

Tomorrow another big ride ahead to Ulm. I have a host there and the sun is out tomorrow so I am not too concern about the distance. 

Total distance : 3,644 KM

Many of the Danube route sections are like this. its nice and quite but a little boring.
I waited a while to see a passing train
Luckily with my limited German i noticed this and it says that I should push down to open.
The Danube route also passes many open fields like this.
A castle middle of nowhere
I was detoured here due to some works on the bike path. A little scary
Nice creek
Guesthouse fior the night.

Balkans 2016 – Day 73 : Regensburg to Inglostadt, Germany

An early start today as it will be a longish ride of around 80KM to Inglostadt. The weather forecasted was also ok , cloudy and around 1C and may reach 9C later part of the day. It was reported to be windy and of course it will be headwind for me. Alexander, my host goes to work about the same time I planned to leave so this worked out fine. We had a simple breakfast of bread and jam and I pushed off at around 8am plus. 

I did not plan to follow the Danube route as its longer and slower as it makes you pass by a lot of towns. So I used google maps to route the shortest bicycle route. Following this route on google map on iPhone is a tad challenging. So I got lost a few times and then I decided to follow the official Danube route. Even that I got lost a few times too. 

In any case I managed in the end to get to Inglostadt at around 330pm. I have to wait for my host to come back at 6 pm so I circled around to find a suitable place to hang out till that time. I finally found a  pastry shop  and decided to hang there till 6pm. 

It’s an interesting situation. Actually the original Couchsurfing host is not in town. She is so nice and helped me by arranging a place to stay anyway. The new arrangement is at her daughters flat which she shared with a few other flatmates. 

I got settled in and my host cooked me a pasta dinner which I wallop in a jiff as I was super hungry. I did not interact much with the host as she was busy. This was fine as I am happy to have a place to rest and crash. In the end I think I did a hard 85km with headwind all the way. 

Tomorrow the weather is about the same but might have light rain. I plan to end my ride tomorrow at Donauworth. 

Total Distance Cycled : 3,577 KM

Alexander , my warmshower host in Regensburg
Alexander’s bike. He just ordered a recumbent
Aiseh deep frost on the trails
Horses also got to wear winter clothes
The Kuchlbauer Tower (German: Kuchlbauer-Turm) is an observation tower designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser on the grounds of the Kuchlbauer Brewery in Abensberg, a town in Lower Bavaria in Germany.
The sun finally came up around 2pm
Wonderful sunset today
My homecooked dinner. can’t remember when is the last time i had so much pasta