Biking and Hiking through Europe is no longer for the young!!!!

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August 29th 2012
Published: August 31st 2012
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This is Vienna
Traveling through 15 countries in three months was never really the plan but as oft laid plans often happen, they went astray. I hope you enjoy sharing this adventure with me through words and pictures.

This journey is actually threefold beginning in Vienna with car camping south into Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia for two weeks. Words simply cannot describe the incredible beauty we found at the Plitvicka Jerera National Park in Croatia. It's fame arises from the multitude of lakes and waterfalls, falling from tier to tier with water so clear it looks like the Carribean. We thought it would be difficult to find other treasures in a country that suffered so much only a few years ago. We were wrong. The coast shares the same waters of Greece and offers many islands to explore as well as many inland villages that retain much of their flair from the past.

Montenegro, Bosnia and Albania haven't caught up to Croatia as a tourist destination and are still struggling economically. But they too are quite beautiful except for their mountain roads that are really only fit for goats and jackasses. I think we were the latter.

After visiting Budapest and returning back to Vienna, we began our preparations for the second stage of our travels but this time by bike. It was planned for four weeks with four of us beginning in Vienna and one leaving after reaching Prague. Eight days seemed a reasonable timeframe to get there and still allow stops to visit points of interest along the way. Some camping gear would be taken along in the event we could not find a zimmer or pension (room). Arrangements had been made with a rental bike shop in Vienna, however we hadn't realized the bikes were built to tank specifications; 21 speed hybrids that weighed in at around 160 pounds. Ok, not really, but they were very heavy and too large for our body size and with the additional weight of the loaded panniers, we were in for a challenge. It took the first week to get accustomed to the bikes and our new found butts but we began to meld together into efficient moving machines. Marked trails and country roads were nice especially when we occasionally lost our way and strayed across borders and into corn fields. The Czech Republic is a great place to bike; drivers are courteous and the countryside and small villages are very enjoyable. Germany is a country of bikers and as we got closer to Dresden, we began to compete for room on the trails. We biked along the Elbe River which is quite level, a nice respite after the up and downs of the Czech Republic. Of course the best part of traveling like this, is meeting people along the way. We were very lucky to have been hosted by other bikers in Prague, Dresden and Krakow. We spent two nights in each city with local people who gave us a sense of who they and their countrymen are. After leaving Krakow, we headed for Zakopane, Poland and then on to Braislava, Slovkia and finally to Budapest and a return to Vienna.

Tour of Mont Blanc covers the "frontiers of France, Italy and Switzerland and covers approx 105miles, with an accumulated height gain and loss of something like 32,800ft". This is proclaimed to be one of "the great walks of the world". Obviously these are not my words, mine would be more like @#$%%$#$#@@$$$$%**&^%@!!!!! I would like to clarify things by saying THIS IS FAR FROM A WALK! It is a difficult and strenuous hike, very beautiful and rewarding in many ways but perhaps more by the other people challenging themselves to complete it. There was not one night we spent in a hut where we weren't engaged in conversation with people from all over the world, the common language being English with many hand gestures.

There was an incident where Janet and I arrived at a hut first. Our boots were removed before entering and placed in cubicles inside. As we were soaked to the bone, we began hanging our wet clothes outside to dry. I was returning to the hut to retrieve my boots when Janet asked if I would get hers too. As I did so a young Spanish man had just entered the hut, removed his boots and started talking with me. Being preoccupied with the task at hand and while still talking and not looking, I grabbed the boots from the cubicle and then excused myself. I walked directly back to Janet and handed her the boots immediately realizing I had taken HIS boots by mistake. Embarrassed, I quickly went to replace them. Ciro, the young man, laughed and said, "Oh,when I see you take my boots, I think American women, they so wonderful, they dry my boots for me"! We became quick friends.

People, that's what travel is about, understanding we are very much alike and with a smile and a few kind words we can all get along.

Additional photos below
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1st September 2012

And I thought I was a world traveler. Have a super duper time and we will compare notes when you get home
1st September 2012

Biking and hiking
Lynda, I am so proud of you! My only concern is that you are going to wear your body out before its' time. :-) You are a wonderful writer. Have I told you that? You are able to bring things to life with your words. Thank you for including me and especially for the pictures. WOW! Can't wait to see you and hear about everything in person. Stay safe, Penny

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