A minor moment of revelation - The Hills are Alive (with the sound of wheezing) - CycleBlaze

A minor moment of revelation

Wait - I can tour again!

[My provisional title for this journal is of course taken from my rather lazy lifting of the first Austrian thing that springs to mind, The Sound of Music. The wheezing will be coming from me, as I attempt to winch my loaded bike up mountains far bigger than anything I'm used to. Rest assured it isn't a coronavirus reference - I've delivered my quota of bad-taste jokes this week]

During this long, hot summer of the virus, I've been keeping myself sane with minor day rides around in the countryside around where I live in southern England. I've written a little about these on this site; and in particular, and particularly towards the end, how the lockdown measures how slowly but surely had the effect of turning us into semi-hermits. 

It's not a particularly unpleasant existence - both of us have steady jobs which we can work entirely remotely at home, have avoided the virus - so nothing to complain, especially considering the desperate conditions for many people in many places. But I'd underestimated just how psychologically pervasive the tendency to stay at home had become. All notion of travel or touring more than day-rides had really been banished. I hadn't even really been keeping up with the (constantly changing, and frequently contradictory) regulations of who could travel where, and whether they needed to isolate. I hadn't even gone to any restaurants, cafes or pubs.

But then one day last week, in a lull at work, I took a look at my holiday availability. Like I always do, I'd bought extra days this year - I'd always rather have the time than the money - just before the virus hit. I had 27 paid vacation days left, and hadn't used a single one. This was getting silly.

Actually then bothering to check the restrictions, I had my moment of revelation. Belgium could be dubious, but virtually everywhere else I could travel freely. The ferries to the continent were running, as the actually had been throughout the year. I could easily take a train through Germany (or as least as easy as it had been on previous years). Campsites were open. Work was positively encouraging me to take time off (they're worried everyone is going to accumulate it and disappear for most of spring next year). I had all the equipment I needed. A UK bank holiday is coming up - which would give me an extra days holiday. I could tour again!

After some searching, the excellent reopen.eu site (https://reopen.europa.eu) has authoritative information about ongoing restrictions.
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The next week we went to a cafe, and a restaurant for Caroline's birthday - all socially distanced, but it was good to see them in operation. I visited a bookshop and bought a map of Austria on an impulse. Wooded and Germanic places are always good for camping, and I want to see mountains again. 

I was still fantasising at this point. Then on a whim, I plugged in some dates into the Deutsche Bahn journey planner. To my surprise, I could get from Holland to Munich with just two changes for €50. Munich would be a good base to reach Austria. But how would I get back? I had visions of crossing the Alps, to Slovenia or Italy - but trains back from there were 7-change nightmares. Surely coming back from further East would be harder. But to my amazement it seemed possible, with just three trains and €60, to get from Central Europe back to the North Sea ferry - with the bike. 

Within a day, I'd moved from fantasy planning to a possible real journey - in just three weeks' time!

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Scott AndersonHooray! Another tourist will be on the road at he same time as us. And we’ll both be in Europe at the same time! Let’s meet up at the Austrian-Croatian border.
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5 months ago
Jon AylingTo Scott AndersonIt's a cycle touring re-awakening! Sounds good to me - I'm still sketching my route - it turns out I've got more time than I think, and it's not a wide country North-South, so I might well be in the area (if I can make it over the terrain...)
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5 months ago