Athens was not what I expected. It was much larger, too desert like, and more crowded than I anticipated. Greece has 11 million people, and almost half of them reside in Athens. Add to that all the tourist, and it’s pretty much a mad house. However, in spite of the chaos, I still managed to…
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with Geneva. Aside from the lake, it felt like just about any other big Western European city to me, but you have to consider where I had just been. I had just arrived after five days in Zermatt, which is a nature lovers paradise in the Alps, so I think any big city would have disappointed me at the time. In any case, I made the most of my short time there by going on a day tour of the city and later visiting Lake Geneva. Besides the typical rich history of most European cities, with many museums, cathedrals and galleries, Geneva is probably best known for being global peacekeepers and for having Western Europe’s largest Lake.
The United Nations
Geneva is the city with the highest number of international organizations in the world. It is home to the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization. It is host to one of the four global offices of the United Nations and is of course where the Geneva Convention was signed. Geneva has a reputation for diplomacy and in fact has a refugee welcome center near the heart of the city. Perhaps that is why the people are so warm and inviting. I think it’s the nature of the Swiss people.
Zermatt Switzerland reminds me of Whistler, Canada and Rhotang Pass in India mixed all together. The panoramic views of the Alps, combined with the easy access to world renowned trails for recreational sport, make Zermatt, Switzerland a biker hiker, skiing paradise for tourists from around the globe. And by biker, I mean bicycles, because no gas engines are allowed in the town, nor are any private cars. The taxis and delivery vehicles are all electric, and residents get around by walking, bicycling, cable car or train. It leaves the air smelling about as pure as you can find anywhere on the planet.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
With a cost of about $135 USD for a round trip to ticket, it’s expensive to get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, but it was worth every penny. It sits at an elevation of 12,739 feet and the view will leave you breathless. It’s about a 45-minute cable car ride to the top. As you sit in the relative comfort of your cable car, you look down on glaciers, green meadows with pretty wild flowers scattered about, pristine waterfalls, and lots of people hiking and biking the trails. At the top, there is an ice palace full of ice caves and ice sculptures, a restaurant, café, and panoramic viewpoint for tourists to enjoy.
Vienna is a fascinating city, that provides a crazy mix of history, culture and modern-day amenities. With a local population of nearly 2 million people, plus all the tourist, it is a big and bustling city. Two days was not nearly sufficient time to enjoy all it has to offer, but I got enough of…
I spent only a couple of days in Salzburg, but it was long enough to realize that Salzburg is a most extraordinary city. It’s a fantastic mix of ancient architecture and modern-day cosmopolitan conveniences. The food is delicious and the people extremely friendly. Honestly, there is nothing I didn’t like about the city, except for…
Standing on Seegrubenspitze Mountain, at the top of the Hungerburg station (the name for the cable car), I felt like I was living inside of a postcard. Everything I had seen that day, from the world-renowned “Goldenes Dachl” (Golden Roof), to the lavish Innsbruck Cathedral was astounding, but the view from the top left me…
I only spent two days in Munich, but it left a lasting impression on me. The grander of the Alps, the many shades of green, the opulent castles, the delicious food, and helpful people, all left me wishing I could stay longer. It may have only been a stop-over on my way to Austria, but the bier, brats and beauty of Munich Germany will bring me back.
It took us about an hour until we were outside of the city and passing beautiful green farm fields, giant windmills and starting to see glimpses of spectacular mountains poking through the mist in the distance. The closer we got to the mountains, the more excited I got. My heart was racing as I took picture after picture of the grand mountain peaks towering above charming Bavarian villages.
I signed up for a day tour to visit two fairy-tale looking castles. The first stop was Linderhof, the smallest of the three royal castles built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II, who was known for being quite eccentric. He was never married and died a suspicious death at the age of 41. The palace was built in the French Rococo style and is surrounded by perfectly groomed gardens and picturesque landscaping. A large white swan swam elegantly around the glassy pond and colorful flowers lined the shore. Outside the palace was a gorgeous fountain that shot high into the air every half hour. The inside of the castle was even more impressive. Every nook and cranny was gleaming with gold plate atop extraordinary designs. The walls and ceilings were covered in murals honoring various legends or religious figures. The color and detail was incredible! The king’s bed was especially lavish, covered in blue velvet and silk with real gold embroidery and accessories. I stared in awe and couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like to live as royalty in such a beautiful palace.
I’ve had a lot of weird experiences on this cross-county motorcycle trip, but my wild night in Badgerville, Wisconsin might top them all. I spent the night in Badgerville RV Park, just off the freeway, and next to Kegonsa State Park. I was assigned a cute little spot next to the fish pond.
As I was setting up I met the neighbors, Dave and Tami. I couldn’t help but notice that they, and most of the RVs in the park, had decks and sheds. Turns out that instead of buying a weekend cabin like many of us do in the northwest, people in that part of Wisconsin buy a year around spot to park their RVs, and then they proceed to customize it with decks, fences, sheds, and so on. As a result, most of the weekend residents know each other. They also have their own golf carts just for driving around the RV park.
Next to the office was a cute little bar, and I had some computer work to do that required WIFI, so I figured that was as good of a spot as any to get my work done. I sat there working for about 2 hours and it was nonstop entertainment. I met Jan, who had lived in the park for 15 years! She was the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. I also met Big Joe, a large guy with a fun sense of humor. who insisted on buying me a drink, and another drink, and another….
There aren’t many places in the world where you can see two bears and half an hour later play miniature golf or visit a cool wax museum. That is exactly the situation in the charming towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. There are all kinds of fun hillbilly happenings in the stunning Smokey Mountains,…
Riding though Zion National Park, I found it hard to concentrate on the road. The vivid contrast between the red rock and the green trees made the whole place look like a living painting. There is so much beauty in the American west, and in the past week, I’ve been honored to see some of the most stunning places in the U.S., including the massive waterfalls in Twin Falls, Idaho and the breathtaking rock formations in Arches National Park.
Visiting such places on a motorcycle adds a whole new dimension to the adventure. Weather plays an important part in my journey. It’s been very hot so far on my trip. Yesterday it was 101 in Zion. To deal with it, I try to start my day very early and hydrate best I can. I have a water bladder tucked in my tank bag where I can drink from it while I ride. But sometimes the elements get to me. Traffic was stopped for an hour in Zion before the 1.1-mile-long tunnel and I had to sit there in the heat of the scorching sun and do nothing but wait. RVs that are 11.4” high or taller have to go through one at a time because they have to drive in the center of the two lanes. As a result, traffic was backed up in both directions for about half a mile. It was brutal and by the time I got through I felt sun burned and a little dizzy.