Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In Chur

We explored the Melchtal route that Jobst wrote about, as well as Grosse Scheidegg and the Lauterbrunnen valley. Its been very pretty, but it rained later yesterday, as well as in the afternoon today, slowing our progress. We are now headed into Italy... Tomorrow is a 2 pass day, and the day after that we should be able to get a good start on the Stelvio. If we are lucky, we shall get it over with before it rains again. This is easily the wettest European tour I've been on, but it's also been very very pretty. I am looking forward to exploring places I've never been.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Many lessons learned...

First of all, don't depend on Swiss Air to be on the ball about getting you lost luggage back to you. They told us we'd get it delivered today at 11:00, but at 10:30 still hadn't called us. We ended up going out to the airport (since we had effectively zero mobility, this meant a Taxi to downtown).

Arriving at the airport, we discovered that the the bike boxes had been incredibly torn up. Mike's Saddlebag and Handlebar bag, which had been packed with the box, had dropped out of the box (or been stolen --- SwissAir filed it as a stolen item). With all that done, we now had 4 bikes, but only 2 sets of pedals, 2 complete set of touring gear, and not nearly enough cycling clothes (especially for Mike, who's so tall that he has a hard time fitting our stuff). What was especially dumb was that I'd forgotten my set of allen wrenches

The rest of the afternoon was spent by Mike and Roberto shopping for gear. There was no question that we wouldn't make any progress today, so my brother and I rode around the Zurichsee, and bought stuff for dinner. We also fixed up our rear wheels, which had gotten some impact damage (a first for me from shipping bikes in cardboard boxes, but seeing the condition of the boxes, I'm not too surprised).

Finally, it appears that Roberto's baggage (with his saddlebag) has shown up, so he's making an airport run to pick up his baggage.

Tomorrow, we'll head over to Sarnen via train and start our first full day of riding. I hope we'll have better luck riding than with flights.

Morning Update

My brother arrived with Good News. He saw our bikes and their boxes at the airport. But they wouldn't let him sign out the bikes, so we have to wait for the delivery, which could take up to 11am. Unfortunately, there's still no sign of Roberto's saddlebag.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A bad start...

We started off with US Airways refusing to supply us with bike boxes. So I ran over to the United Airlines counter and bought 3 boxes. Cost $30. Then there was an amazing delay on one of our legs (into and out of Philadelphia). That cost 4 hours, causing us to miss our connection in Munich.

Then when we got to Zurich, my saddlebag arrived, but none of the bikes did, and neither did Roberto's lugguage. So we are stuck! Hopefully, we'll get everything tomorrow. Otherwise, this tour will start with us all buying new bikes!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Guinness Storehouse Review

So I'm in Ireland for a couple of weeks, for work mostly. In between the bouts of bad weather and other whatnots, I've been doing a bit of city touring. Dublin is a fairly interesting city, and one of the highlights of it is that its the birthplace of Guinness.

So as part of the city tour, I wanted to visit the Guinness Storehouse....I guess its best to start from the beginning.

First you have to get there, not terribly difficult, just take the bus or the Tram and you're there soon enough. The second part is mostly the line. Its a bad adage that Queuing is an English artform, but it doesn't make it any less true. I must have stood in line for over an hour in the rain before I could have the pleasure of forking over 14 Euros (about 18 USD) so I can visit the Storehouse.

There's really not much to say about it. You can see the pictures I took of it over here...The whole museum is split up into about 7 levels but only the first 3 has any substance, there's a bit of a video section which is interesting but not very interactive. Its also a self-guided tour but it feels substantially lackluster compared to say, the Heineken Factory...which is not only cheaper, but has a more substantive option.

The end of the tour of course ends with you enjoying a pint of Guinness. You also get a fairly lame souvenir, a keychain with a drop of Guinness embedded in it, so that "you may never go thirsty again"...

I'm not sure if there's anything I can say that will convince anyone who likes beer to not go, but lets just say that you'll probably get everything you want to know about Guinness out from Wikipedia, and that you can get a much cheaper pint of Guinness than 14 euros. The store in the storehouse is free to visit and might not be a terrible idea, but you can probably find everything you want in the city center with no need for a lineup.

Still...its a tourist trap, and as a tourist in Dublin, I felt obligated to go. =)