The Paxmans Time With Bernie - Travels With Bernie - CycleBlaze

The Paxmans Time With Bernie

Two years passed from the time Bernie came to us in Canada, and sure enough we were back in  Europe, with a scheme to circumnavigate France in "Grampies Tour de France".  This trip had a special bonus, the plan to meet up with our good friends the Paxmans, in Amsterdam, and hand our bikes over to them for their own tour in Belgium, France, Germany, and Austria.  Austria? Yes, the land of Bernie, and the idea of the Paxmans dumping our bikes with Bernie, until "next time". Read the whole story of the Paxmans 2018 tour by clicking on this sentence.

From Marvin: This is being written over a year after our tour ended in 2018, and subsequent to our having received news of Bernie's passing, we wanted to document the wonderful time spent with Bernie and Delia and highlight the hospitality, camaraderie and enthusiasm that was so characteristic of Bernie.  Indeed, one of the great joys of tour cycling  occurs from time to time when you meet and get to know people like Bernie and Delia.

As we left the campsite (Park Camping Lindau am See), I didn't realize that we had been camping only a few hundred meters from Austria.  However, we took  the radweg close to the lake and almost immediately came upon a marina tucked inside a small bay formed by a narrow peninsula.  Following the path out onto the peninsula meant that we had the marina on our right and on the left was the river Leiblach, the border between Germany and Austria at this point. We were now entering Bernie's territory.

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Note the 2 towers in the middle background of this picture
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Now, at the rightmost tip of the peninsula from the last picture, we are looking northwest, at Germany, and the two towers are on Lindau island
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Looking southwest across the east end of the lake toward Switzerland. What looks like a long low breakwater or dike out beyond the sailboats is a breakwater that directs the neu Rhine (new Rhine) into the Bodensee.
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looking south from the mouth of the Leiblach we are looking at Bregenz Austria
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The sunbathers in the foreground are in Germany, the cyclist sitting on the gravel is in Austria
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I just can't resist taking pictures of sailboats under sail. Because I can see the neu Rhine breakwater behind the boat, the hills in the background are in Switzerland
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On our way again, I may have taken this picture because we were crossing the river into Austria
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As we enter Bregenz, we look back to the north through the maze of sailboats towards Germany
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A very unique looking outdoor theatre on the waterfront of Bregenz
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Bregenz has a long public waterfront and it was a beautiful day
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This is what the theatre looks like from the seating
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It is a very large capacity theatre
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They change the look every couple of years
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There was a lot of swimming going on. It was tempting
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Bench of the day. We were relaxing and taking our time because we didn't want to arrive too early at Bernie and Delia's place
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We took our time getting to Bernie and Delia because it wasn't very far to go and we had told them we would be arriving in the afternoon.  We tried to get some shopping done but all the stores were closed because it was a holiday in Austria. How were we to know?  The ride from Bregenz was beautiful, we followed the coast until we reached what appeared to be a river which on the map is called the Bregenzer Ach.  We followed it south to a crossing and then soon crossed the neu Rhine, the diverted waters of the Rhine that run through the western tip of Austria.  Between the neu Rhine and the original Rhine lie the municipalities of Fussach, Hochst and Gaissau.  We passed through the center of Fussach and made our way to the southeast corner of the Hochst municipality where we would stay with Bernie Grabher and his wife Delia.  Steve (of the Grampies) had arranged for me to contact Bernie and so I had exchanged some emails with him over the 2 months leading up to our meeting.  He was most helpful and welcoming in every response, and so we were really looking forward to meeting them.

As soon as we arrived they welcomed us into their home, set us up in a spare bedroom and then Bernie suggested that he could take us for a drive up into the hills to the south in Switzerland!

We have only just met, but he is ready to drive us across the Swiss border and up into the hills. Never over exuberant, Bernie had a laid back enthusiasm that was so very delightful.
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The sign on the left indicates we are leaving Hochst. We are about to cross the Rhine into Switzerland
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The original Rhine riverbed and the border
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Crossing into Switzerland was no more than a quick check-stop

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It has been too long since we were there for me to remember the specific things we saw.  But the general impressions and sheer delight that it was for us and especially for me, are still very memorable.  While Erika had traveled around Europe in her youth while living in Germany, in my youth I had never even dreamed of one day seeing places like Austria and Switzerland.

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Now looking at Germany across the lake from up on the hills of Switzerland. In the foreground, at the foot of the hills is Hochst.
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Quintessential Swiss pastures
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The little lake in the foreground with the island is Swiss. You can see the double row of trees coming out of the lower right. The river is between them.
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Bernie grew up in the area of Bregenz, so he was a constant source of information.
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Down in the valley, on the right you can see Hochst and on the left, Gaissau, with a bit of Switzerland poking in between them as the old riverbed runs north and then south before continuing northwest toward the Bodensee
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I was really taken by how steep the pastures were and how they were rippled with the paths of the livestock that had pastured there for so many years
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Apparently a cyclist is taking a rest in this relaxing pastoral setting
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A rather iconic looking house in the Swiss hills
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The Upper Rhine valley is stretching off to the right in this picture with the Austrian Alps in the distance
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I think this is a zoomed picture across the Rhine valley toward the Austrian alps
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In the foreground is that little patch of Switzerland that juts out into Austria between Hochst and Gaissau.
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A last picture taken up in the hills before descending back to Hochst
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I think the next 2 pictures were taken as we returned to Bernie's neighborhood and I was taking pictures of the area we had just come from up in the Swiss foothills.

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Once back, Bernie showed us around his house and yard.

Bernie had done some very interesting work with rocks.
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A very tidy and tight stack of wood.
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Bernie had made this carving of a Canadian maple leaf. He really loved his visit to Canada when he spent time with the Grampies on their farm in Cobble Hill.
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We found this sculpted collection of rocks really beautiful and interesting. Bernie didn't alter the individual rocks. He just had an incredible eye for collecting them and then assembling them in this way.
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We enjoyed a really good dinner prepared by Delia, then spent time visiting and finally, off to bed.  In correspondence I had with Bernie shortly after our return to Canada he remarked how lucky he was that she cooked so very well.

Next morning, after a wonderful breakfast provided by Delia, Bernie was happy to take us to a mall in Dornbirn, southeast of Hochst and up against the Austrian foothills.  

We stopped for Bernie to put some diesel in the car.
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At the mall we found the soft sided luggage bag that we were looking for to take our stuff home with us in.  It would be much easier than trying to keep track of several panniers.

Bernie then took us for a walk into the old town centre in Dornbirn.

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We also visited a church in this part of town.

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Bernie and I sat in the shade while Erika checked out a few more of the shops.
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We returned to Bernie's place and had a really nice lunch that Delia had prepared.  After that, Bernie gave me time and space to organize and pack up the equipment that belongs with the bikes for storage in his garage.  I also showed Bernie the bike systems and how they worked so he could use the bikes occasionally and do any necessary maintenance on the batteries until Steve and Dodie came back in the spring.

Delia was going out to visit friends and Bernie suggested he would like to lead us on a bike ride following the river (and the border) down to the Bodensee and then to a restaurant along the lake.  This would be our last chance to ride the bikes on this epic adventure (for us at least) and it was a really wonderful end of this cycle tour especially with such a wonderful local guide who obviously really loved to show us how beautiful this part of the world is.

Although we had the advantage of e-bikes, we still had to stay lively to keep up to an energetic Bernie.
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The sun was getting low in the sky, coming over the river on our left as we followed it roughly northwest.
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Typical of this part of Europe, bike paths are very good and plentiful.
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Here we came up on a community garden where we met a couple of Delia's Filipino friends and had a look at the produce they were growing.
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I don't remember what kind of gourd they told us these were, but they sure do grow big!
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I think Bernie told us we were looking up at one of the churches we passed the day before up in the Swiss foothills
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This is the crossing from Gaissau Austria into Rheineck Switzerland. If we were heading into Switzerland on our bikes we would check with them and then just ride past the building to the right of the picture to a bike/pedestrian bridge 100 meters downstream
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Immediately after the border station there is a small marina on the Austrian side. The border station that we just passed is outside of the picture to the left and I have turned around to take a picture of the bridge leading to the river crossing for cars into Switzerland. The guys at the right edge of the picture in the orange and blue shirts are standing on the river's edge.
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So now we are right over the middle of the river on the bike/pedestrian crossing with Austria to the left and Switzerland to the right. We are looking upstream at the bridge crossing for cars.
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So we are trying to position ourselves so that Erika is in Switzerland and I am in Austria :)
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This made a really nice picture to remember our last day of cycling on this tour. Thanks to Bernie for taking it.
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Making the final few hundred meters to the Bodensee, it was almost 7:30 pm (daylight time)
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Bernie stopped here to show us how we could see 3 countries from here. Here, looking roughly southwest, are the Swiss foothills. (The Bodensee is directly behind us)
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Looking more to the southeast, we see the alps of Austria. Behind the dark green descending line of Swiss hills you can see the tallest mountain in sight looks to be also the farthest away. That mountain is in Liechtenstein
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One last glimpse of Liechtenstein
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Bernie stopped to show us these flowers because he had also seen them when he visited Canada.
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We had a really nice meal with Bernie while watching the sun set over the lake.
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It was such an incredibly pleasant evening and a delight to spend it with such a lovely person as Bernie.  

While we are heartbroken to hear of his passing we are so fortunate to have known him and count him and Delia as our friends.

Thankfully, I remembered to get pictures with them before we left the next morning.  I love the picture of us in our bare feet and shorts, so indicative of the laid back and relaxed hospitality that they shared with us.

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The following morning Bernie, generous and helpful as always, drove us to the train station in Lindau just as he had suggested he would do, even before he had met us.

Our grand adventure of "Planned Spontaneity" had come to an end on a very high point.

Spontaneous is defined as "occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus"

Truly our encounter with Bernie created "Spontaneous Friendship"

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