Thursday, October 11, 2012

One Week Later

It's been a week since we ended our journey. The trip turned better then was expected.
Plans for next year have already started. We will be going back to Lausanne and heading up and over the Alps through "St Bearnard's Pass". The trip will be 31 days and take a year to plan.

A few things to note about the final leg of our trip. Flying the tandem over to England cost $150.00, coming home, 65 Euros, the same cost of shipping an extra suitcase.
Our flight from Geneva to Dublin then Dublin to Boston.
When we arrived in Dublin we did not know what gate we were going to be flying out of until the last 20 minuets. When it was finally posted, we had to run.
The United States Customs are in the Dublin airport. The Customs wants to check you out before you do the flying over so if there is a problem, they will not have to fly you back. When we arrived at the Customs, they asked how many bags did we check. The customs agent could see on his monitor a photo of our three bags on the ramp as we were checking them back in Geneva. When I said we also have a bike in a box, things changed.
We needed to go into a different room and wait until they located our bike box. After about 20 minuets, the customs agent said, "I have good news. "The good news" was that they found the bike and had a picture of the box on the ramp entering the plane. He said we could now go.
To make a long story short. The tandem was left in Dublin while we flew home.
When we got to Boston we were told that the bike never made it onto the plane and would be delivered to the house when it arrived the next day.
This is not the first time that this has happened to the point that it was expected.
The bicycle was delivered that next day at 10:30 pm and all is now fine. It was however an upset that it had been kept in Dublin, known as the number one bike theft capital in the world.

Our final stamp for our travel passports at the Cathedral in Lausanne was a good one. Most of the stamps were simple address labels without any picture. Past pilgrimages, the stamp had some type of symbol representative of the area we were in. This trip we were told that they were going to be getting something soon for this route, but for the most part we only got the address.

We are looking forward to next year's trip. Keep in touch with this blog from time and time again for updates of our plans. Thank you for coming along with us on the Via Francigena Adventure!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Our last full day here in Switzerland and our adventure. It seems like a year ago we set off from Canterbury and crossed the channel at Dover.

We spent the morning walking around town to get two bike boxes for the tandem's trip home. Lucky as we are, we did find one by phone at a small pro shop and with guidance from it's owner, another at a shop that seemed to sell everything. The owner there was grumpy, but it looked as if we had disturbed him from his lunch time beer. (I would be upset too!)

We returned to the hotel for Barb to have a well deserved snooze and for me to get the bike in the box.

Things went smoothly. The two boxes fit together well and there was more then enough tape to secure the two together. I love packing the bike and now after having done it in all types of places, the space in back of the hotel worked great. It rained for a bit, but a little rain never hurt.

The next step was to get our stamp for the pilgrim passports. We had been to the Tourist Office yesterday and got what looks like an address label, but were told that if we wanted the real thing, we must go to the cathedral around 5:00pm and there would be someone there.

We are right next door to the Metro. It's the end of the line so each time we get on here, it's empty. We headed up town for the stamp.
The Metro is quiet and nice. People are expected to pay to ride, but no one ever checks and there aren't any turnstiles like found in other big citys. It's the honor system and it seems to work fine.

Luasanne is such a beautiful city. They call it the Swiss San Francisco because of the hills. It's ten times San Fran in space and street level. Something to be seen to be belived. The photos do not do it justice. Really. we walked off the streets walked down two flights of stairs, crossed the building and looked down at the street, two stories down!

We got to the Cathedral and it was open, half the battle while traveling in Europe. We walked through the door to very loud pipe organ music playing, what a nice surprize.
The music made taking the photographs all the more fun. Another wonderful place with fantastic stained glass.

Thirsty from todays bike box hunt and getting the bicycle box ship shape, we headed off for a drink. We had a nice walk in the lite rain to the metro and back to the hotel for an early dinner.

Barb and I want to thank you for following our blog. This has been an incredable trip.
We both look forward to seeing you in person so we can share the stories and the photos that were too many and too long to print.

Plans to complete the road to Rome are in the making. The first leg would be starting here in Luasanne and heading over that mountain range you can see at the end of yesterdays post of the mountain and the boat.

We especially want to thank the readers that took the time to comment about the posts. It made writing fun knowing someone was reading and gave us something to look forward to at the end of the long days ride.

Hope to see you soon,

Scott and Barb

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day Twenty

Orbe to Lausanne. Our last day on the road.

We woke to rain and were told it was going to rain this afternoon as well.
The sky started breaking up around 10:00am and never got wet for the rest of the day.
This was our last day of our ride and this leg of the Via Francigena for us this year.
Before hitting the road we wanted to get some last shots of this little town we stayed in.

After a few last shots, we got on the the road and tried to find our way. This would be the first day of our journey without a map. We don't always use the map, but like to check from time to time if the GPS has us on track.

One last look back

After about 5k we came across a cycle route that said it was going to Lausanne. We thought that mapless it would be a great way to go. I followed the railroad tracks that were also going there, so knowing that Railroad tracks are usually flat and the trail being hard packed, we were on the right road and had nothing to loose.
As it turned out, it only stayed with the tracks for about 2 miles and then made a sharp right hand turn. At that point it not only headed back to where we had come from but also straight up hill.
We figured it to be the pretty route and stuck with it for the lack of high speed traffic.

By that time it was 12:30 and best to look for lunch before everything was closed.
Around the corner we found this place.

They had 8 different types of potato's for sale and a little fridge with cheese that their farm had made. Sold by the honor system, we bought some cheese and packed it on board.

Down the road a bit we found a great little restaurant with a delicious roast chicken for lunch. The fellow who owned the place was very sweet, was happy to speak English and tell his story how he ended up in this little town.

After lunch we got back on "Cycle Route 5" I had us going North when we wanted to be going South and West when we needed to me going East, but it was the pretty route. Safer we thought and les cars. No trucks anyway.
No lack of climbing and a far cry from the flat of the tracks we first thought we had.

Back on to a dirt trail and rolling along listening to Django Reinheart, the rear deraileur cable snapped. No problem, we have a spare and it couldn't have happened in a nicer spot.

Over the past day we have passed 3 flour mills. The Rodynam mill in Orbe and two others along the way. We have never seen any in France during our past years of cycling, although we have ridden through field after field of wheat. The mills here are huge with tracks and trucks moving wheat and processed flour.

Their tall grain elevators can be seen for miles.

As we rode, the mountain range we crossed a few days back was looking smaller and smaller. In the distance we started to see what looked like real Alpine mountains. Jagged topped but mostly a dark silhouette.

The closer we got to Lausanne the busier it got. Lusanne is a city and getting into town safely we thought would be best done on Cycle Route 5. The route never stopped zig zaging along. Watching the GPS, the route was not at all taking us straight there.
Sunny and dry weather made it easy to stick with it, but after a while we decided to just go straight to town.
It was a good thing we did because our change of route had us at the hotel in about 25 minuets.

Looking across the street from the hotel is amazing! The mountains that we had been seeing are now in full view. One of the most beautiful places we have seen this trip. We both agreed that its a good thing that we don't have to cross them,,, this trip.

We will be in town all day tomorrow getting ready to come home. The laundry needs to get done and we need to figure out where we ar going to get a bicycle box to ship the tandem.

We are looking forward to a day off the bike and a chance to see this beautiful city!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day Nineteen

Sainte-Croix to Orbe

We started in sun, dry roads and no wind. The first 10K was all down hill. 1600 feet down hill! The view from the top looked like you see from an airplane.

Switch back after switch back, we pulled over at times to let the traffic pass and to admire the view.

All along the ride down in my mind I could hear James Brown singing "The Big Pay Back" and thinking how good it is that we did not have to climb it.

At the bottom the road became flat and open. Looking back gave us an idea of exactly what we had descended.

It was possibly the niceset day we have had our whole ride. Warm in the sun and cool in the shade. Long stretches of open road with almost no wind.
Beautiful views in a beautiful country setting. Something everyone should see.

We arived in town around 1:00, in time for lunch. Our bags had been delivered to the hotel, so we checked in, changed, and went out.
After a quick walk around town and a stop in the office of tourism for our passport stamp, we went next door for lunch.
Warm enough to sit outdoors we enjoyed the Plat de Jour of some roasted veal and desert. Full meal with desert for around 21 USD each. Price does not includ drinks or after dinner coffee.

This is a cute little town first setteled by the Romans in 160 AD and abandond in 270 AD. It was later setteled in 1233. It's main atract is a huge water drop that for years has been a flour mill. The town has one the oldest stone bridges in Switzland.

We took a walk around town and took a couple of photographs.

Industral steel roller flour mill


The old sign to the water powered Flour Mill.

Tomorrow is our last day of our ride. Checking in to the hotel will mean breaking down the tandem to come home. This has been a great trip.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day Eighteen

Mouthier-Haute-Pierre to Sainte-Croix

We woke compleatly socked in, in fog. You couldn't see across the street. Within an hours time the fog was lifting and the beautiful view out our bed room window opened up.

We are in the mountains now. Every turn of the head tells you so. It was hard to get going because of the beauty right out the window of our room.

After a lite breakfast and a few adjustments to the brakes on the bike, we headed out to what was now a sunny and drying day, all up hill.

Most of our ride has been around 500 feet above sea level. some ups and some downs. A few days beck we had large climbs into hill top towns, but never above 700 feet. Yesterday we went above 1000 feet and todays finish was at 3500 feet.
I noticed about half way through the day that our rear derailleur shifter cable was breaking. When they break, just at the lever it starts to frey leving sharp single strand cable ends. It can go like that for weeks. but when it brakesm its not good.
I had used my spare to replace the Drag Brake cable this morning and no longer had another. Having the cable compleatly brake would mean no low gear. We are "living" in the low gear these days and losing it will be dificult.

Stations of the cross

The route got a little mixed up crossing a huge vally with a wide and flat open space.
after 3 times of sitting down and studying the mapm each time we were able to figure out a safe route. Sometimes in the mountains you need to go back to go forward and when all the traffic as well as the river and train tracks go through toe only space avaliblem it gets a little tough. Hard as far as map reading and as far as trying to not get hit. We choose to walk the bike if things become questionable.

All the cows here have bells around their necks. you can hear them for miles.

We reached the Swiss border today. We have crossed the whole country of France by bicycle. Thats not a bad feeling at all!

After the border crossing, it's down hill for about 4 miles. The road is narrow and drops down on both sides about 20 feet. There is no sholder. We rounded a large corner and the afternoon sun was coming through the mountain to our right and was lighting up only a herd of cows. Everything else was dark. I told Barb I notice the differance of being in Switzerland already! Their cows are all lit up! How do they do that?

We came to the town of our hotel and nights stay. The first store we came across was a bicycle shop. It was open and they had a stainless tandem gear cable for 5 Euro.

This is the first time for me in Switzerland, another country that my lovely daughter Madeline has beat me to!

Two days left to ride.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day Seventeen

Besancon to Mouthier-Haute-Pierre

Sunday, We started out in the wrong direction and it was a good thing we did.
In the town of Besancon there is a clock and watch museum, that yesterday we wanted to go to but decided to go to the fort on the top of the hill. Today the admission to the collection of time pieces was free. We saw some of the oldest and nicest we have ever seen.

The museum also had old clock tower escapments on display on the top floor with an unfinshed cieling. The perfect room for these machines which are works of art.

On the road we got turned around again and found our selfs in a little village just in time for lunch. Eggs in a wine sauce with bacon. Its as good as it sounds and with the bun and coffee breakfast from the hotel, we were now ready to ride.

Some of the nicest riding yet. We are now in the mountains with real climbs.

You see signs like these all the time without thinking, but when france...

We had never seen so many fawns at one time.

It got darker later in the day and started raining. Climbing in the rain is heads down with the only thought in mind to just get it over and done with.
Today's climbs were now up around 2000 feet and fairly open. We were starting to see huge clifts and signs warning us of falling rock. Even though it was raining, we just had to stop to take a photo for you.

We arived at our hotel late, cold and wet. Happy to be there we went straight to the room and got ready for dinner.

This was our last full day in France. Leaving is always sad. Tomorrow's ride will be for the most part, all up hill. We will be crossing the French, Swiss border in the afternoon and hopefully be to our hotel before dark.

We can only hope for a dry day but look forward to being back on the bike again.