Innsbruck, Austria: I cycled from Germany to Innsbruck on Tuesday afternoon, devoid of emotion and more than ready to complete this first leg of my Euro challenge. The ride into Innsbruck was sublime: sunny dry skies through gorgeous Alpine country, along the Isar and Inn rivers and the turquoise waters of Achensee, without any Uh Oh moments. I even had more downhill than uphill. The promise of cycling days like this attracted me to Europe in the first place. I was lucky with the weather, for this sunny Tuesday was sandwiched between a series of grey, wet, cold un-summer-like days.
But all that I could think of as I pedaled to Innsbruck was that Alka Selter commercial…. ‘plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is!’
Relief. That’s what I feel.
This Euro cycle adventure has been reduced to a feeling of relief. No elation, just relief.
When I reached Innsbruck I felt massively thankful that I have safely traveled so far on my own. Grateful that I have this opportunity to chase a dream, and all the fun and not-so-fun parts associated with it. Relieved that I end the first leg on a positive note. And very relieved that I don’t have to get back into the saddle any time soon.
In Innsbruck I stayed at Herr Astner’s home, the father of my good friend Sabina from Munich. This was my second time as a houseguest in Josef’s warm home. He’s a generous host and over the years has become quite a cook. Last night he treated me to some Tyrolean knodel specialties and this morning I enjoyed some home-made bread and an assortment of hausgemacht marmalades. Apricot is my favorite. It was a fitting way to cap the first half of my journey.
Today my cycling goes on hiatus so I can enjoy some much-needed family time. I will reunite with my family in Vienna very soon, and for the next few weeks we’ll embark on a different kind of family adventure in Eastern Europe. With no more planning than a car reservation, a map and return flight reservations, we’ll explore parts of Romania, Hungary, and Slovenia, making up the journey as we go along. Admittedly this is not a normal family vacation, but then again, I’ve never been accused of normalcy.
My push to Istanbul resumes in late August when I return to Innsbruck, pick up Bubba Too and my things from Herr Astner’s place, and start spinning until I reach Istanbul. This first leg was supposed to be the easy, warm-up part with charming hotels and good food through cycling-friendly countries. The real adventure starts from here. I think I need an alka seltzer when I think about what lies ahead.
For now, here’s the score so far:-
Stage 5: Konstanz, Germany – Innsbruck, Austria via Liechtenstein and Munich
Highlights: The big detour to little Liechtenstein. Cycling through Bavaria, especially around Fussen. The kocherball in Munich. Austria’s Achensee.
Most popular blog posting: “40 days, 3,000 kilometers and some extra character”
Leg I: Lisbon, Portugal – Innsbruck, Austria:
Distance: 3,280.77 kilometers
Ascent: 23,293.28 meters. To put this in perspective, Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, is 4,810 meters.
Days: 46, of which 10 are non-cycling days
Countries: 7: Portugal, Spain, France Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany
Incidents: 2: flat tire on Day 45; police reprimand on Day 2
The blog continues while I am on cycling hiatus.