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Albany and Return via Amtrak

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We had no trouble navigating the next 5 miles through residential and industrial park areas of Green Island and Watervliet because of the the good map shown here. This was about the only really useful map I was able to find on the internet. The lack of trees and grass through this area did not help the heat and humidity we experienced.

We did goof trying to find the trail that would take us the last 5 miles into Albany. The map clearly showed the trail on the opposite (river) side of I787. Not only that, Google Maps' street view captured the bike path on the river side of the interstate. Nevertheless, we turned onto a bike path that dead ended at the Schuyler Flats Cultural Park; and we had to turn around. Once we found the right path, we continued through the cooler woods between the river and the interstate.
Almost there!
A couple of blocks before the bridge to Rensselaer, we found the bottom of the pedestrian walkway across the street to the right, and used it to get across the river to the Amtrak station.
Apparently the bike tour people also used Amtrak to return to Buffalo.
Downtown Albany viewed from the bridge to Rensselaer.
We arrived at the Albany - Rensselaer station around 3:00 in plenty of time for the scheduled 7:05 departure of the Lake Shore Limited #49. The first thing we did was head for the quicktrak machine to print our tickets.

Note: Amtrak veterans recommend printing tickets as late as possible. Not only does this prevent you from losing them; but it comes in handy if you have to take advantage of Amtrak's generous change/cancellation policy. This requires you to make separate reservation for the return trip; which is not a problem because there is no price reduction for round trip reservations. (e-Ticketing has since made this advice obsolete, except that it is still a good idea to make separate reservations.)

An Amtrak employee came up to us almost immediately; and my first thought was he was security checking us out. However, he only wanted to encourage us to take care of packing and checking our bikes as soon as possible. So after handling the paperwork and payment, he took us downstairs on an elevator where he brought out the boxes. Packing took longer than expected because of the handlebar problem mentioned earlier. Lynn's unadjustable, threadless stem was the most difficult.

After leaving the packed boxes, everybody else went back up to the waiting room while I went out on my folder to look for a place to eat. Gary, Lynn, and Paula were only going as far Buffalo, so they were in coach which does not rate free meals in the dining car. The Italian restaurant just across the tracks and a bar and grill a block in the other direction (I had remembered it from 30 years ago) were both closed on Sunday. No one was interested in walking further in the 90+ humidity, so we opted for the rather nice coffee shop in the station. As luck would have it, by the time everyone was ready to eat, the line had grown considerably from almost nothing because the Boston section had arrived; and many of its through passengers got off to take advantage of the coffee shop . The Boston train arrives 45 minutes before the New York section; and once the latter arrives it still takes another 45 minutes before the combined train departs - apparently switching cars has become a combination of brain surgery and rocket science for Amtrak. I settled for a beer since Jeanine and I would be getting diner in the dining car (er .. diner-lite).

The employee who took care of us earlier invited Jeanine with our meager luggage to accompany him when he escorted the handicapped and elderly down to the train before the general boarding. It was nice because I could concentrate on finding a place to stash my folder. The boarding process was a zoo, many passengers getting on and many reboarding. One attendant was telling people to get on a full car, while another was telling them to go down to the next one where there was space. I took advantage of the confusion to sneak onto the nearest coach and put the bike in the luggage rack at the end of the car

After the train departed pretty much on time, Jeanine and I headed to the diner-lite for supper. I ordered the salmon, which was not bad; whereas Jeanine made the mistake of confusing the braised flat iron stew meat for flat iron steak, which had been an Amtrak staple for a number of years. One word describes it - embarrassing. On the other hand, the service was excellent. My standard for service is what you would get at any small town Midwest "spit-n-whittle" cafe. Mary, our waitress, had that NY way about her but still met this exalted standard

After supper I went up to the coach to sit with my sister. Not long after we left Albany, the heat wave gave way to thunderstorms; and while sitting in the coach, I was rained upon from a leak in the roof of the Amfleet II
Gary and Lynn. Who says you can't sleep in coach?
I retired to our roomette shortly before Syracuse and woke up while the train was stopped in Buffalo, but all I could see out the window was woods since we were a long way from the station in the last car, except for the NY baggage car. After starting up again, just as we were about to pass the station I saw Gary, Lynn, and Paula right outside my window. I waved and rapped on the window but they didn't see me. Then we stopped again and I realized the train had double spotted just so they could get their bikes from the baggage car. I then saw them depositing the empty boxes up against the station wall and we took off

I woke up around 7:00 AM at Bryan, in western OH and we were on time. So I was surprised to see that we had been almost an hour late getting to Buffalo. At breakfast we both avoided the scramble eggs and once again, Mary's service was excellent. Noteworthy was the leak in the roof, this time from a Horizon car, that landed on the table right in front of me. Later, we had to go 15 MPH for 50 miles between Waterloo, IN and Elkhart, IN, because of flash flood warnings. Then we got back up to speed and were only about 50 minutes late, just in time to check our stuff at the lounge and meet my cousin, Lou, and his wife Barb coming in on a suburban train.
Lou Mitchels, a traditional Chicago lunch spot near the station. After meeting Helen, another cousin whom I had not seen in 50 years, we relaxed in the Metropolitan Lounge for sleeping car passengers at the station and then walked to Lou Mitchels for lunch.

BEWARE: Lou Mitchels does NOT take credit cards. I had made much of owing Lou and Barb a lunch because they had treated us during several Chicago layovers before. So, not having that much cash this late in the trip, I was in a predicament. I excused myself and went out looking for an ATM machine, but against all odds, could not find a bank. Jeanine came to the rescue when she spotted one in the lobby of the restaurant.
When it came time to board the Illinois Zephyr #383 for the last leg of our trip, we presented the usual spectacle of pushing our bikes to the head of the line when the gate attendant called for senior citizens to come forward. I was pleased to see the experienced conductor/assistant conductor duo back; and they had us put the bikes in the usual space at the end of the car.

The train was full and could have used a quiet car, especially with us seated in a car full of returning college students. Not that they were in any way doing anything wrong; they just wanted to get reacquainted with one another; and we were tired and just wanted quiet. We moved twice to quieter locations as passengers got off, messing up the system. The newbie duo we encountered on our Quincy to Chicago trip probably would have chewed out, but our conductor put up with us with a smile. Our journey ended when we arrive in Quincy about 15 minutes early.
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GREAT ALLEGHENY PASSAGE AND C&O CANAL

2006 Trip Report

Introduction   Itineraries   2006 Trip Report   2010 Quincy to Chicago   2010 Pittsburgh to Boston   2010 Boston to Connellsville   2010 Connellsville to Confluence (Ursina )   2010 Confluence to Meyersdale   2010 Meyersdale to Cumberland   2013 Trip Report   2015 Trip Report      Return to Main Page

Day 1: Pittsburgh Amtrak to Connellsville: MILEAGE 53 (plus about 20 with the shuttle), LODGING Melody Motor Inn

After biking a short distance through downtown Pittsburgh, we easily found the Eliza Furnace Tail heading SE along the Monongahela River. On the other hand, we had to get help from locals to find the exit to Carlow University in the Oakland district to pick up Paula and Karen. Once we left the path, it was less than a mile straight up. After meeting up with Paula and Karen, we coasted back down to the trail, eventually crossing the Hot Metal Bridge to the Southside Trail. We blew right by the end of trail sign until it dead ended about 1/4 mile from the Glenwood Bridge

After walking our bikes the 1/4 mile on the edge of the railroad right-of-way (not the tracks of course) to the Sandcastle parking lot just beyond the bridge, we met a shuttle provided by Yough River Transport that we had prearranged. The shuttle took us through the parking lot and a street through a new shopping center before continuing on PA 837 until crossing the Monongahela into McKeesport. The shuttle left us here and we soon found the trail. I observed that we could just as well ridden the entire portion. The whole route seemed to either be bike lanes or sidewalks for the faint of heart.

We enjoyed lunch at the Picnic Place, an snack bar right along side the trail in West Newton.

As we were approaching the 50 mile mark, everyone was getting tired; and I thought I might have to call a SAG wagon (cab) for Jeanine. But we soon entered Connellsville; but we still had 1.5-2 miles to reach our motel. We passed a supermarket and decided to purchase food for a picnic at the motel, rather than finding a restaurant. The motel, even though it was located in Walmart Country, turned out to be very nice; and it had tree covered picnic tables that hit the spot.
Day 2: Connellsville to Confluence: MILEAGE 30; LODGING Colonial House B & B

Today we would be riding what most would consider the most scenic part of the ride, through Ohiopyle State Park.


After a good night's sleep, or part of one anyway, we arrived about a half hour late in Pittsburgh- a good thing since the scheduled arrival was 5:15 AM. The bikes which traveled in the baggage car on the Capital Limited, arrived in good shape; but I needed more time than usual to reassemble and adjust my old Schwinn touring bike.
Resting along the GAP. Youghiogheny River in the background.
The Youghiogheny rapids at Ohiopyle State Park. The Ferncliff High Bridge is in the background.
On the High Bridge. It is referred to as "high" because the trail first crosses the river on a "low" bridge; but then the river makes a U turn and drops considerably in elevation. The trail then recrosses the river high above. it.
After descending from the continental divide and passing through the Borden tunnel we reached the Frostburg trailhead. The trail had not yet been completed into Cumberland; so we we took the bike path up a steep steep hill into town and US 40 which would take us into Cumberland. Also we wanted to have lunch in Frostburg and visit the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad station.

From the eastern edge of town, an exhilarating 6 mile long downhill ride on US 40 took us to the Super 8 in La Vale. Fortunately, there was a wide bicycle lane (shoulder). Although La Vale functions primarily as an exit of I68, it was slightly more user friendly than the typical asphalt jungle at interstate exits. One of the nice things about the GAP/C&O, now that the Frostburg - Cumberland section is completed, is that you can go the whole distance while avoiding the typical sprawl-land.
Day 5: La Vale, MD to Paw Paw, WV; MILEAGE 34; Lodging Heritage Trail Bed & Breakfast.

Rather than continue on US 40 through the Cumberland Narrows, we took Bradock Road, which changes to Greene Street, into Cumberland. Not much traffic; but one slight up hill.

We met Gary and Lynn, who had driven from WV, at the restored Western Maryland station. It houses the National Park Service information office and museum and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad ticket office. Lynn was not able to ride the entire way on the long days from here to DC; so she switched off with Jeanine, both riding part way each day and driving the SAG wagon the rest of the time. This was fortuitous because Jeanine would also have difficulty with the long days between here and DC.
Another view from the High Bridge.
We stopped for lunch at the restored RR station in the scenic village completely surrounded by the Ohiopyle State Park. While we were there, a large group of girls on an outing from an Orthodox Jewish school in Pittsburgh were getting fitted out with rental bikes. Their general decorum was amazing, no squeeling and schreeking that you would expect from a group their age. They did present quite a sight biking in long skirted dresses.

We enjoyed supper at Sister's Cafe in downtown Confluence.
Day 3: Confluence to Meyersdale: MILEAGE 32: LODGING Yoder Motel.

The B & B proprietor had difficulty getting breakfast for some reason; and we were a little late getting on the road. This wasn't a bad thing because at the time we would have normally left, it was raining. By the time we got underway, we were able to jettison our rain wear. If I were to do it again, I would negotiate a no-breakfast rate.
Approaching the Salisbury Viaduct from the west.
Approaching the Salisbury Viaduct from the west.
The 1908 feet long Salisbury Viaduct dominates the valley just NW of Myersdale, PA
The Salisbury Viaduct crosses the Castleman River, CSX railroad, and a four lane highway.
The trail enters Meyersdale on a ledge north of town. The restored Western Maryland Railroad Station houses a museum, gift shop, model train display, and trail information. It was open when we were there on a week day. However, its website says that it is open weekends from May through October from 1 to 5 p.m. and by appointment. The main street that takes you into downtown crosses the trail at the trailhead.

The Yoder Motel seemed to be a cross between a mom & pop motel and a B&B. At first we wondered about possible noise from a small motel and ice cream drive in directly across the street because it seemed to be a Harley hang out. But the ice cream shop closed early enough that it did not disturb us.
Day 4: Meyersdale to La Vale: MILEAGE 28; LODGING Super 8.
West Portal of the Big Savage Tunnel. The 3,294.6 feet long tunnel lies 2 miles east of the eastern continental divide at Deal, PA.. It turned out that we were the first official riders through the tunnel after a major construction effort. Grand opening ceremonies were held later that day.
We had been going uphill almost imperceptibly from Pittsburgh to the continental divide just west of the Big Savage Tunnel. When we emerged from the east portal, the gain in altitude became visible. The Cumberland Narrows and Potomac River valley are in the background.
Departing Cumberland, MD on the C&O Canal towpath. A Western Maryland Scenic Railroad train pulled by a steam engine is also departing Cumberland.
Lock tender's house at Oldtown, MD. Can you spot the odd ball?
We had lunch at the Schoolhouse Kitchen in Oldtown. It was housed in a former elementary school building, along with an antique auto restoration business. To find it, turn left into town for about 0.2 miles and then turn right for another 0.2 miles.
Along the towpath and canal between Oldtown, MD and Paw Paw, WV
Slowing down for cattle on the trail west of Paw Paw. That is Gary pulling the trailer; he wanted to camp some of the time. He later said the narrow track was not suited to a trailer.
The B & B's accommodations were fine; although management was nowhere to be found. I believe someone had just purchased it and was trying to figure out how to run it. We had supper at the Sweet Magnolia Family Restaurant, a block or so from the B&B. Breakfast was provided at Grandma's Country Kitchen and Inn, another B &B next door.
Day 6: Paw Paw to Williamsport: MILEAGE 56; Lodging Red Roof Inn
Emerging from the Paw Paw Tunnel just east of Paw Paw, WV.
A rock cut just east of the Paw Paw Tunnel.
NOTE: at this point the camera battery died and we had forgotten the charger.

We made the obligatory stop at Bill's Place in Little Orleans for coffee only, since it was too early for lunch. I was glad to see that it had been rebuilt after a fire a few year's ago. We were met there by Lynn, who had had difficulty finding it among the back roads in the area.

Although the trail condition was not bad, we were happy to move over to the asphalt Western Maryland Rail Trail. The western trailhead is to the left of the canal trail at Pierre (whatever that is!). We exited the trail for a few blocks in Hancock to have lunch at Weaver's Restaurant & Bakery, a very popular spot. Near the eastern end of the WMRT, we elected to ignore the sign pointing us back to the canal. Shortly afterwards we found ourselves at the trailhead parking lot; and our only option, other than backtracking, was to follow US 40 for a mile or so until the entrance to Fort Frederick State Park. Here we made our way through a big reenactment event back to the canal.

The Red Roof was located on US 11, the main thoroughfare, about a mile from the canal.
Day 7: Williamsport to Brunswick: MILEAGE 47; Lodging Green Country Inn

Today was the road detour around Big Slackwater, an area where the tow path has been permanently washed out. The route of rolling hills and mcMansions added only about 0.7 miles to the trip.

It was Memorial Day weekend and we could hear the redneck rendezvous going on in the campground across the river before the Shephardstown bridge. I wouldn't want to have camped along the trail in this area.

As we approached Harpers Ferry after about 40 miles. we were hot and tired. So we locked out bikes at the base of the railroad bridge across the Patomac into Harpers Ferry. Then we walked on the sidewalk along side the tracks over the bridge into Harpers Ferry to a restaurant overlooking the valley (I forgot the name). Service was slow (it was Memorial Day weekend); but it was amaziing how a beer revived us for the last few miles into Brunswick.

The Green Country Inn, on the edge of Brunswick about 2 miles from the trail, seemed to be the home away from home for CSX Railroad employees. Brunswick must be a division point; and there is fair size railroad yard there (several years earlier, I had camped along the trail and could hear the banging and clanging of freight trains being put together all night). The motel seemed fairly modern; but was not the best. However it did have a decent restaurant that stayed open all night for the benefit of the RR workers, I suppose.
Day 8: Brunswick to DC; MILEAGE 58, Lodging Harrington Hotel
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AUSTRIAN ALPS & BERLIN

Zell am See

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Aug 9 Tuesday – some light rain: We retraced our steps part way back to Salzburg on a REX to Zell am See. We easily found the conveniently located Landhaus Christa about ½ mile north of the lake in the Oberreit ortsteil of Maishofen. I had just about given up hope of finding lodging in our price range during high season in Zell am See or any of the nearby towns along the Tauern Radweg, when I found Landhaus Christa. It was an older but very nice pension with bath tub and balcony in our room and an extensive breakfast.
Decked out, as usual, in rain gear at the main square in Zell am See
Landhaus Christa
View of Zeller See from the Landhaus Christa balcony.
Oberreit, an ortsteil of Maishofen
Marcia and I checked out the Maishofen area and selected a restaurant/cafe in the center that featured Italian for a change. It was at this point that I realized Maishofen was a much better choice than other surrounding towns. It was located in a broad valley with a very pleasant network of bike routes.

We caught the first few numbers of a very interesting "big band" concert at the music pavilion in Maishofen. They used traditional rotary valve brass instruments but swapped out for American instruments for a few numbers.

Click for some excerpts.

The first excerpt was definitely American big band; but the rest some sort of Austrian pop music. Marcia was impressed with the triple-tonguing by the trumpets. Despite huddling under the porch of the adjacent church, we were wet and cold; so we left early despite a very interesting program. I was disappointed that it had not been moved indoors. The poster on the wall of our pension said that it would be moved to a nearby gasthof "bei schlectes Wetter". But a more recent flier at the Maishofen tourist office said "nur bei gutes Wetter" (only if good weather)
Aug 10 Wednesday - cloudy early, then nice: We met Stafford and Monica at the train station - they had stayed behind in Buch - and proceeded to bike around the lake.
A rest stop on the bike path south of Zeller See looking south.
Looking north towards the lake.
The route took the road on the east side of the lake; but it wasn't a problem. After a slight uphill approaching Thunersdorf, we rested at a park. We then continued around to the north side of the lake where we turned north on nice country lanes and bike paths. We had lunch on a bench at the intersection of 2 country lanes.
Schloss Prielau just north of the lake.
A typical country lane in Maishofen.
A more rustic path along side the edge of the mountain.
We returned via the center of Maishofen to Landhaus Christa for a final round of 6 handed Euchre. We had supper at a restaurant featuring Mexican in Zell am See before saying goodbye to Stafford & Monica at train station. The mussels were not appreciated.
Aug 11 Thursday – sunny and mild. We escorted Janelle and Marcia to the train station for their ride back to Salzburg and on to Stuttgart for their flight home. At the station there was a lot of action on the narrow gauge tracks of the Pinzgauer Lokalbahn which runs up the Salzach valley to Krimml.
Sorry to see you go.
Narrow gauge Nostalgiebahn - special train with vintage cars - being pulled by a diesel engine.
Nostalgiebahn pulled by a steam engine.
Up close
The bike car just doesn't seem to fit in with the other vintage cars.
A replica of Emperor Franz Josef's car? or the real thing?
A modern triebwagen (self propelled diesel car) used during off peak times. They run as DMU's (diesel multiple unit) during peak times.
We headed to Kaprun, a ski resort town, about 5 miles south of Zell am See.
Bike path along the Lokalbahn track heading toward Kaprun.
Kaprunerache (creek) in the center of Kaprun.
St. Florian doing his thing on the wall of the Kaprun fire station.
Kaprun parish church
After having lunch on a bench at the tourist office, we headed east along the Tauern Radweg to Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße about 4 miles away. While in Kaprun we tried unsuccessfully to locate a classic gasthof where we had eaten outdoors 9 years ago and then attended a big band concert in the square next door. Where I thought the gasthof had been was a new, nondescript hotel; and the square was filled with building construction. Someone at the tourist office confirmed that the hotel had replaced the gasthof.
Schloss Kaprun viewed from the Tauern Radweg.
Bridge across the Salzach in Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße. The town's name advertises its proximity to the Großglocknerstraße, a tourist road that crosses the Großglockner mountain, the highest in Austria.
The center of Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße.
Another view of Schloss Fischhorn, this time from the Tauern Radweg in Bruck.
From Bruck we headed the 4 miles back to Zell am See northwest across flat ground south of the lake, completing a triangle, and then north along the lake to our lodging.
The center of Zell am See viewed from the south shore. The center sits on a peninsula that juts out into the lake, hiding the northern half of the lake.
After resting up we headed back the cafe in Maishofen for supper. But since it was ruhetag, we wound up eating at a nearby gasthof and had a good fish fillet. We then head back to Zell am See via Schloss Prielau for a blassmusik concert at music pavilion on the water front. It was very good; but not as impressive as the one in Buch.

Excerpts from the concert - Can you spot the schnapps ladies?

More excerpts

With each number the video gets darker. By the time the concert was over, we needed our bike lights as well as street lights along the path to get home.
Aug 12 Friday - sunny with thunderstorm in the late afternoon: we took the Pinzgauer Lokalbahn to Mittersill and biked about 22 miles back. While at the Zell am See train station, we bought tickets for the next day to Radstadt. I was disappointed that the 9:15AM direct IC had all bike space booked. Thus we had to settle for an REX to Bischofshofen, changing to an IC to Radstadt. Even though the IC segment was very short, we had to pay the IC bike price of 10E, vs. 5E for the REX. Although there were IC's every 2 hours between Bishchofshofen and Radstadt, local trains had been cut back to rush hour only.
Lokalbahn station at Mittersill.
Salzach river east of Mittersill. This shows how rivers and creeks are channelized.
A prototype for modern alpine residential architecture in Stuhlfelden.
In the small town of Uttendorf, I went looking for the WC in the Gemeindeamt (town hall). When I went to leave, the door was locked. There was no sign outside; but signs on the few office doors inside indicated that it closed at 12 noon - it was about 12:20. I banged on the door and about 20 minutes later someone finally heard me and called an official who let me out. No sooner were we ready to leave town than I realized I had left my rain coat in the WC. Not only did it come in handy with all the rain, but it had sentimental and souvenir value as well. We went back and someone just happed to appear and opened door for us. Talk about clean living!
The town hall where I got locked in. The tourist office next door was only an indirect help since it didn't reopen until 5:00PM. But someone from England who was checking it out called someone from the town.
View across the Salzach valley between Uttendorf and Niedernsill.
St. Florian again - this time at the Niedernsill fire station.
For the last few miles back to Zell am See we had the choice of the flat, slightly longer route via Kaprun or the more direct route via Aufhausen. Since we had been to Kaprun the day before, we selected the latter. After a short, but very steep climb we reached the small village of Aufhausen.
A nice downhill, then through an apartment complex's garage and a stairway under the highway brought us to the edge of Zell am See. Just as a short, heavy downpour hit us, we found a pancho for Jeanine at store in an Austrian version of a strip mall.

After resting up, we went back to the gasthof in Maishofen for more fish.
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Flachau

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Aug 13 Saturday - intermittent light rain: When we arrived at the station for the trip to Radstadt, someone suggested that the 9:15 IC may have had bike cancellations because of rain. The agent said there was room, and we could take it using the same tickets. The IC had a city shuttle cab car on the front end with plenty of bike space.
IC 515 calling at Radstadt. The city shuttle cab car with bike space is just barely seen on the front end. The route between Graz and Innsbruck is the only IC route in Austria that runs push-pull with a cab car, at least as far as I know. I find it much easier to load and unload bikes from the cab car than from the baggage car found on the other IC's.
When we were last in the area in 2003 local trains stopped in Eben in Pongau and Altenmarkt in Pongau, both closer to Flachau than Radstadt. But locals had been cut back to AM & PM rush hours only. So we biked the 9 miles on the Ennsradweg via Altenmarkt to our accommodations in Flachau under intermittent light rain. I had remembered that to get to the Ennsradweg from the Radstadt station, you had to backtrack a couple of blocks and then cross the Enns.
The sign between Radstadt and Altenmarkt pointing to a snack bar had changed and a bench added since 2003; but the mist, barn, Ennsradweg sign, and chalk board listing the specialties of the day were still in the same place.
Kathi's apartments. It was a brand new building and our small apartment had a bath tub. At only 14E per person, we opted not to have kitchen privileges. But I did get a high speed internet connection using an ethernet cable. Although it was only two blocks from the flat center of town, it was on a plateau up a steep hill.
View facing north from Kathi's apartments. The patented Enns valley mist is in the background.
Statue of Flachau's favorite son - Hermann Maier - former world champion downhill skier.
Flachau is a ski resort but also promotes Summer tourism. We happen arrive about the time mountain bike races were wrapping up. The town was swarming with riders in full uniform on fancy mountain bikes. There was also something going on called Bike-Night.
More bike night activities
Aug 14 Sunday - sunny and mild: Attended a standing room only mass with choir (mostly traditional music except a weird rendition of Down by the Riverside) at the village church on top of hill.
Flachau parish church high atop a hill adjacent to the center of town.
After mass we climbed down the hill and caught bus that carried bikes up to Gasthof Alm. Gasthof Alm is located at the start of the Ennsradweg near the headwaters of the Enns. I was interested in taking the bus and then riding the 8 miles back to Flachau because in our previous two tours along the Enns, we had started at Flachau and Radstadt, respectively. At that time I did not want to bike up the mountain to the start, and didn't realize buses could take you. While on the bus, Jeannine worried because it seemed to take forever and go up and down. It must have been an optical allusion because we sailed down and got back to Flachau in about an hour.

I was disappointed that when the bus let us out at the Gasthof Alm stop at the end of the line, the actual gasthof was still some distance away up a zig-zagging road.
Near the start of the ride back. The 1st third of the way was on a country road with very little traffic since we were paralleled by an autobahn somewhere up the mountain side.
After a while a bike path appeared. We met a large number of riders heading up the hill in the opposite direction.
Further down the path
Same view to the north from Kathi's; this time on a sunny afternoon.
Aug 15 Monday - predicted rain most of the day, thunderstorm.

Today we returned to Salzburg to return the rental bikes and catch the train to Berlin. I wanted to bike to Bischofshofen on the Salzach with a direct connection to Salzburg, rather than backtrack to Radstadt and perhaps have to change trains in Bischofshofen anyway. Back in 2002 we had biked from Bischofshofen to Flachau; and I remembered a long climb and then a downhill into the Enns valley. Since we were going the other way, I worried about hill out of the Enns valley. A website with GPS data indicated that the climb was only 93 feet in about 1.2 miles; and it did turn out to be negligible. We sailed down to the Salzach from Eben in Pongau.
Resting before heading downhill from Eben in Pongau to Bischofshofen. There was very little traffic on the road, partly because of the parallel autobahn somewhere on the mountain to the right, and partly due to it being a holiday - Maria Himmelfahrt (the Assumption). So far the predicted rain is holding off.
Approaching Hüttau.
Hüttau
We topped to rest in Pöham where there was an outdoor mass going on in front of a church right along the highway. The local Musikkapelle (brass band) in traditional costume played the hymns.

When we reached the Tauern Radweg along the Salzach north of Bischofshofen, we decided to head north along the river to catch a REX in Werfen.
Along the Tauern Radweg between Bischofshofen and Pfarrwerfen. The clouds indicated the predicted rain would materialize.
It started raining as we passed right by the Pfarrwerfen station. From the schedule I had gotten the idea that the next train would be an REX which stops in Werfen but not Pfarrwerfen. So we continued on the 2 miles to Werfen; and by the time we reached it, we would have been soaked if not for my fancy rain jacket and Jeanine's pancho. The ride in the rain was all for naught because the next train turned out to be an S-bahn (local) which stopped at Pfarrwerfen and every station and Haltestelle along the way.

In Salzburg we headed to the old city where we noticed that Topbike was not open due to the light rain. So we parked and walked around the old city, stopping at the Cathedral and Franciscan Church. A noon mass was just ending at the Cathedral; and we were treated to a Soprano and organ Mozart concert. The schedule indicated that we had missed the 10:00AM Mozart high mass.

We then headed back across the Salzach and through a central shopping district frequented by locals. It was wall to wall pedestrians even though everything was closed due to the holiday. We then checked out the privatzimmer that we would be staying at when we returned to Salzburg the night before flying back. By going over a set of steps directly from the platform and through an apartment building parking lot, it was only 2 1/2 blocks from the station.
Domplatz in Salzburg - cathedral to the left and former bishops residence, now part of a university, to the right.
Pedestrian zone in a shopping area frequented by locals in the Schallmoos neighborhood, across the Salzach from the touristy Altstadt.
Later, in order to return the bikes to Topbike a little over a mile from the station, Jeanine plunked herself, our luggage, and her bike down at outdoor table of a Chinese restaurant near the station while I rode my bike to Topbike. By this time it had stopped raining and they were open. I believe one could return a bike when they are closed by locking it up and putting the key in a box for that purpose. I then walked back, returned Jeanine's bike and walked back again to where we had Chinese food before heading to the station. A rental location at the station would have come in handy.
While we were waiting on the platform, a special excursion train with vintage cars pulled into the station.
Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler stepped off the vintage train.
The overnight ride from Salzburg to Berlin involved an EC and CityNightLine, changing in Munich Ost (East). The EC ran from Belgrade, Serbia via Zagreb, Croatia, and Ljubljana, Slovenia to Munich, picking up an Austrian section in Villach. We wound up in a coach in the Belgrade section with 2x1 seating. I would have thought we were in 1st class were it not for the regular looking passengers.

The Austrians delivered the train to Salzburg on time. But no sooner did we cross the border into Germany than we encountered unscheduled stops and slow orders, due I'm sure to track work. It was scary because we had only a 22 minute layover in Munich Ost. But a very helpful conductor assured us we would have 10 minutes, which track it would be on, and how to reach it. Sure enough, we easily found our train, car, and compartment.

Our economy compartment had bunk beds with a covered wash basin for storing stuff and a locker with room for 1 pannier set. Unlike Amtrak roomettes, there was room for 2 to stand up with both beds set up for sleeping; but it was almost impossible to sit on the bottom bunk with the top bunk in the horizontal position for sleeping; and there were no seats.
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AUSTRIAN ALPS & BERLIN

Return Trip

Introduction and flight   Buch bei Jenbach   Zell am See   Flachau   Berlin - Schlachtensee   The Other" Berlin"   Return Trip      Return to Main Page

Sun 21 Sunday - sunny: We returned to Salzburg by way of two ICE's and an EC. We had a choice of 3 or 4 routes to the Berlin's main train station from the bus stop only 1/2 block from hotel. The first one to come along was a bus that took us on a final tour of the city to Alexanderplatz, where we caught an S-bahn that backtracked to the station.

We boarded a crowded ICE to Nürnberg, grabbing seats together and facing the right way, not a less comfortable table shared with others. The only problem was I forgot to check the electronic reservation display at the seat; and we were displaced almost imediately at next stop, Berlin Sudkreutz, and had to split up. I found a seat at table with 3 others, not as comfortable. A elderly lady across the aisle talked nonstop to a silent companion. It sounded loud, perhaps because we were in a quiet car. The AC and WC were out of order (a printed paper "Klimaanlage defekt" was sign posted). Staff distributed free mineral water.

At Leipzig we headed to the next car and copted the only double being vacated. But to my dismay, we departed backwards to head west. We had traded the hot, quiet car for a cooler one with a noisy toddler. We never seemed to pick up speed for the ride across the Herz Mountains. At Nurmburg we transferred to another ICE that went directly to Munich IC - the one we were on continued to Munich via Augsburg and would arrive after our IC to Salzburg left Munich. At Munich the Dortmund - Graz EC was waiting for us.

At Salzburg, a trudge up to the overhead walkway and 2 1/2 blocks brought us to Haus Lechner, a nice Privatzimmer in the Schallmoos neighborhood. We were too tired to go out to eat; so we satisfied ourselves with rations picked up earlier.

In general, I was disappointed with the ICE. Way back in 1994 we had made a short turn in one from Munich to Augsburg and back; and I remember compartments and mostly business men. This time it was more like the economy section of a trans-Atlantic flight. There were electronic signs at the end of each car indicating the speed. From Berlin to Leipzig 200 kph (120 m/h), about the speed of standard European trains, from Leipzig to Nurmburg 110 (66), and Ingolstadt to Munich 200 (120). Only from Nurmburg to Ingostadt did it run at what I would call high speed (295 km/hr). I did see signs indicating they were upgrading the track from Ingolstadt to Munich for high speed.
Very nice Haus Lechner convenient to the Salzburg train station. The room opened onto our own private patio.
The return flight departing Salzburg at 2:30PM and arriving at 10:10PM in Chicago was uneventful but tiring nevertheless. Remind me never to change planes in Frankfurt or Toronto. When we arrived at the Toronto gate I grabbed one of the many wheel chairs sitting around for the long dash to our next flights. I don't think I could have made it carrying our luggage and walking at Jeanine's pace. The wheel chair seemed to give us special privileges going thought Canadian and America Immigration and security.

Since we had pre-cleared Immigration at Toronto, getting out of Chicago Ohare was simple. We called our motel, Ohare Inn and Suites and were relieved to see the van about 15 minutes later.
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ERIE CANAL 2015

Erie Canal Heritage Trail

Introduction and Itinerary   Depew Amtrak station to Medina   Erie Canal Heritage Trail   Palmyra to Dewitt   Dewitt to Utica   Utica to Schenectady      Return to Main Page

Leaving Medina we join the most popular segment of the Trail, the Erie Canal Heritage Trail which runs from Lockport to Newark.
We crossed the canal to the trail and spotted our first rent-a-barge.
At the edge of Medina, the canal is carried by a high adquiduct over Orchard Creek.
Crossing Orchard Creek
One of the guillotins that supposedly control the flow of water.
Sign board describing the Medina Culvert which takes the canal over a country road.
Riding over the Medina Culvert
Approaching Knowlesville
Small village of Eagle Harbor
Rental bikes at Brockport tourist office
Spencerport, the last town before Rochester. Shortly, the canal begins its arc around the southern edge of the Rochester area. The trail crosses over to the south the canal and is paved from here to just beyond Fairport.
We overnighted at the Motel 6 Rochester Airport just off the trail. It was quite nice; but was hard finding places to each in the vicinity. We settle on El Latino, which bills itself as an unassuming spot for Latin American eats.
Resting where the canal crosses the Genesee River in Rochester.
Lock 32 in Pittsford, a Rochester suburb, opening to let another rent-a-barge through.
Between Pittsford and Fairport.
View across the canal at Fairport
Fairport
Coming out a restaurant in Fairport we met this Dutch family touring on very heavy bikes.
Back on the stone dust east of Fairport
Closeup view of the large rent-a-barge version in a lock west of Palmyra
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EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISE BUDAPEST TO AMSTERDAM - 2018

Friday Aug 10 - Passau

Introduction and Itinerary   Preliminaries   Sunday Aug 5 - Vienna to Budapest   Monday Aug 6 - Budapest   Tuesday Aug 7 - Brataslava   Wednesday Aug 8 - Vienna   Thursday Aug 9 - Dürnstein & Melk   Friday Aug 10 - Passau   Saturday Aug 11 - Regensburg   Sunday Aug 12 - Roth and Nürnberg   Monday Aug 13 - Bamberg   Tuesday Aug 14 - Würzburg   Wednesday Aug 15 - Miltenberg   Thursday Aug 16 - Rüdesheim   Friday Aug 17 - Köln   Saturday Aug 18 - Amsterdam   Summary      Return to Main Page

We awoke to what I consider the most interesting section of the Danube, i.e., between Aschach an der Donau and Passau. This section is lined with forested hills on both sides and very few small villages.
Small car ferry near Inzell
An unidentified small village
A bike ferry heading for the left bank at the Schlögener Schlinge. We've used it 3 times.
Hotel Donauschlinge in the small village of Schlögen
Before reaching Passau we stopped at the small port of Engelhartszell to disembark passengers who had booked optional excursions to Salzburg and Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Český Krumlov, is near České Budějovice, formerly known as Budweis, the home of budweiser beer.

Since we would be in Passau most of the day, we opted for the relatively short walking tour of the old city, the wedge between the Inn and Danube rivers.

We were now in prince-bishop country: Passau, Regensburg, Bamberg, Würzburg, Mainz, and Koblenz. Here the bishop was not only head of the diocese, but secular ruler of a territory around the city and electors of the Holy Roman Emperor.
One of the few patches of greenery in old part of Passau
The square in front of the famous cathedral. The heat wave had broken and with it a bit of rain that didn't last long.
The cathedral organ, its main claim to fame
Ceiling up close
A side altar
Our tour guide with flag lowered and microphone partially covering her face
Making our way back to the river
Still raining as we reach the river.
Feste Oberhaus, a fortress on the opposite side of the Danube
After lunch on board I biked quite a way up the Inn River, crossed over to the Austrian side and returned through farm land.

This evening we learned that due to low water on the Danube, most likely near the famous Valhalla just downstream of Regenburg. So we would sail overnight the short distance to Vilshofen, then take a bus to Regensburg. There we would board the eastbound Avalon Impression, which would turn around and head west. I presume the Impression's passengers were bused to Vilshofen and boarded our ship.
Gourmet food time in the ship's restaurant. The wine glass in the center with red must be Marcia's. I usually had white. One of the staff's only job was to go around making sure your wine glass was topped off.
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EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISE BUDAPEST TO AMSTERDAM - 2018

Saturday Aug 18 - Amsterdam

Introduction and Itinerary   Preliminaries   Sunday Aug 5 - Vienna to Budapest   Monday Aug 6 - Budapest   Tuesday Aug 7 - Brataslava   Wednesday Aug 8 - Vienna   Thursday Aug 9 - Dürnstein & Melk   Friday Aug 10 - Passau   Saturday Aug 11 - Regensburg   Sunday Aug 12 - Roth and Nürnberg   Monday Aug 13 - Bamberg   Tuesday Aug 14 - Würzburg   Wednesday Aug 15 - Miltenberg   Thursday Aug 16 - Rüdesheim   Friday Aug 17 - Köln   Saturday Aug 18 - Amsterdam   Summary      Return to Main Page

We would be in Amsterdam all day so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to take a canal boat ride.
Boarding the canal boat
Weird sign along the harbor
Still haven't entered the canal system. The ship looks even bigger than ours; must be a Viking.
Still in the harbor, passing Central Station and St. Nicholas Basilica
The canal system was laid out in concentric semi-circles around the center of the city in the 17th century.
The houses are all tall and narrow.
The NO sign sign says "open boats: no amplified music". How civilized! Bridges over canals provided parking space for bicycles.
Boat houses are parked all along the canals. Are they charged for docking, sort of like trailer parks.
More colorful houses
Passing a boat similar to ours. The seats in ours were laid out in groups of two facing each other, meaning that half of the seats face backwards. Not great for sightseeing.
Another means of transport in Amsterdam
As we turned the corner heading back to the harbor, the canal became much wider
The guide had been pointing out that because the houses had been built on wooding pilings over 300 years ago, many were listing to the side. This picture reminds me of a bunch of drunks lined up.
One last view of the canal.
After having lunch on the ship we went biking with the objective to get out into open country. I remembered how to find the Ferry across the IJ from Azartplein just past where the bike and barge ships dock. Then a bike lane, bike path, and another through a park and we were into open country.

An American couple who had been eyeing the bikes the whole cruise finally joined us for the ride.
The first task was to cross the body of water where the ship was docked to Sumatrakade, where bike and barge ships dock. It is right next to the bike and pedestrian ferry that crosses the IJ.

The ships had changed; but both the North Holland and South Holland ships were in port since their cruises run from Saturday to Saturday. I was sorry I didn't be a picture for old times sake.
Just before breaking out into open country, we came across an iconic windmill. This was actually a museum; we never reached real windmill country
A very nice path along a canal. The scenery reminded me of our 2016 North Holland bike and barge trip.
Still along the canal, the bike path gave way to a typical rural road, typical least to North Holland. They have only one fairly wide car lane, tiny bike lanes on each side, and narrow, rough brick shoulders.

At the ferry crossing at Ilpendam, Janelle and Marcia and the other couple continued on while Jeanine and I, worried about the wind we would face on the way back, turned around. We stopped to rest at this wind protected bench at another ferry.

It is here that Jeanine lost her phone. But someone found it, emailed me, and was kind enough to mail it back to the US. If it weren't for the good Samaritan, this scrapbook would have no Amsterdam page. I had forgotten to bring my camera that day.
The headwind coming back was fierce; and we were relieved when we reached town where the trees and houses blocked the wind considerably.

We had one more night on the ship; and although we had to be out of our rooms by 9:00 Sunday morning, we could leave our luggage aboard and hang out in the lounge until 3:00PM. Sunday morning we walked to mass at St. Nicholas Basilica nearby. I particularly enjoyed the choir. It had that English boy choir sound, although it was mixed voices. All their music seemed to be Renaissance style.

We walked back to the ship, relaxed in the lounge a while, and then walked to Central Station where we caught a sprinter (local train) to the airport. We had no trouble purchasing tickets at the machine; but had a difficult time finding our track because only the trains' destinations were listed. Once I discovered our train's destination was Hoopdorp, we had to trouble finding it. A hotel shuttle took us to the Bastion Hotel. Like most of hotels near Schipol Airport, it was in a nondescript area with nothing in the way of restaurants except a McDonalds.

I set my phone alarm for 8:45 the next morning into order to catch the 9:30 shuttle to get to the airport the recommended 3 hours head of departure. I somehow set the alarm incorrectly; and we didn't awake until 9:15. Scurrying, we made the shuttle. We need not have hurried. It took only a half hour get from the front door to our boarding gate.

The flight back, stay at the Candlewood Suites near the Chicago airport, Lyft and Metra train ride to Chicago Union Station, and the train home went smoothly as planned, unlike our earlier misadventures.
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