|We took another little side trip for 2 nights to Chamonix, France. I had skied near there many years ago, and wanted to drive the pass from Switzerland. It was really a fun trip. We left early in the morning, trying to escape the heat. We drove south for about an hour, to a place called Kandersteg; then put the bike on a train to go through the tunnel to Goppenstein. That was a little nerve racking. I had no idea how to tie the bike down. I have tied bikes on boats before, but the system was completely different. I managed to get a half dozen ropes on it, and figured that as long as the train stayed on the tracks, it would be OK. The train driver had been to Canada a few years ago, and recognized our flag, and invited us up to the front for the ride. It was cool!!
Back on the bike for the short ride to Tasch, where we had to park the bike, and take another train to get to Zermatt. What a neat little car free town; and great views of nearby mountains, including the famous Matterhorn.
Leaving Tasch, I think the temperature increased a degree with every km downhill that we rode. It was at least 35 degrees at the bottom. Wallis, the valley that we were in is in the very southern part of Switzerland, right against the Italian border. It is has a mild climate, and had fruit stands everywhere. But Hot!!
Nearing the west end of the valley is the city of Martigny. A few miles out of town, Barbie said that she had to stop, and get cooled down. A little later, she said I have to stop NOW. Not much I could do on the Autobahn. I took the next exit, and pulled into a grocery store parking lot, and could hear barbie starting to pant; I was afraid she was going to pass out. Finally I got stopped, and got her off the bike, and into the air conditioned building. It was really a close one, she was really overheated. I bought a couple of face cloths, and wet them and put them on her neck and feet, and wiped her down. We were quite a sight, in the middle of a shopping centre restaurant! It took a good hour before she was feeling anything near normal. Sorry, no pics. We climbed back on the bike, and went up over the pass to Chamonix, France.
We took a little while finding a place to stay, but finally got a cute little hotel, just around the corner from the main downtown area. We went out for a nice, but late supper; and I made extra sure to drink a lot. I didn’t want to get dehydrated and overheated like Barbie! I wish I had taken a picture of the monster 1 liter beer mugs, made from 1” thick glass! They were sure good.
The next morning, we were planning to jump on the bike, and take the tunnel to Italy, then go over the famed St Bernard Pass (yes, home of the big dog!), into Switzerland, then take another pass back to our hotel in Charmonix, France. As we were putting our gear together, Barbie mentioned that it would be nice to just stay in town, and maybe take one of those gondolas we could see climbing into the heavens every 10 mins. It was the first hint that I had that she would overcome her fear of heights, and take a ride on one. Actually she says that she is not afraid of heights, but she is very afraid of dangling in space on a string! But, she did say yes, and that was it, instant change of plans, and within the hour we had our ticket to the top of Europe.
The ride up was great. Barbie made out just fine. We took lots of pics, and that should explain the views better than ten thousand of my words. But WoW, were we high! At over 12,000 feet, the air was noticeably thin. Going up a few short steps would leave you feeling winded. After the hour and a half we spent up there, I was starting to get a headache. It was really weird, looking down a few thousand feet at airplanes flying down the valley. Again, we were really lucky with the weather. We could look East into Switzerland, and South into Italy. Really beautiful. This is the second time we have been within a couple of clicks of the Italian border, but we have not yet been in Italy. It’s still on the list!
Next morning, we saddled up and headed for home (that would be Linda and Werners place, but it sure feels like home to us). We rode north, past the town of Albertville. You remember Albertville; they had the winter Olympics there a few years ago. Really nice mountains.
Riding out of the mountains, we arrived at Lake Geneva, and followed the south shore east bound. Barbie slept most of the way, so we stopped for an expresso to wake us both up. We then crossed into Switzerland, and back into the mountains to Thun. Can you believe it; we got rained on!!! Only for about an hour; but it cleaned the dust off the rain gear! We have ridden just over 5000 km on our journey, and have spent less that 3 hours in the rain gear. We are really lucky.