Day 2: Paris to Bregenz - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 20, 2019

Day 2: Paris to Bregenz

A "Training Day"

We had planned to walk in wonderful Springtime Paris yesterday, and to meet with our friend Didier in the evening. But with us both fighting colds we lacked the strength to go anywhere, and also did not want to spread contagion around the continent. This morning, feeling just a little stronger, we looked out our window and confirmed that yes, wonderful Paris was still there. We had little time, but at least could enjoy the walk to Gare de l'Est.

Even on the short jaunt it was all there - the triangular six or seven story buildings, active but low speed traffic, bicycles, cafés, and ultimately the efficient Metro and train system.

Outside our door, the Paris that we love was waiting.
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We had by-passed the 6 euro each basic breakfast at the hotel in favour of what we might find at the station. We chose there the ubiquitous but excellent Paul bakery. Since we both felt ill, it turned out a French style breakfast was just right. That is, croissant and coffee, or in the case of Dodie - hot chocolate. I was however a bit surprised that Paul not only did not supply butter or jam with their breakfast "deal", but claimed to not have it at all. Dodie says my butter demand was a North American expectation that I need to adjust out of. Ha, ha, I know I will soon be in Austria, the land of brotchen and butter! Anyway, the total breakfast cost was 7 1/2 euros, and the few items we did get were excellent.

Seven and a half euros was a reasonable price for this, but some butter would have been nice. (Ok, so croissants are already loaded with butter, I know.)
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We soon added to our food supplies with one of those comprehensive "Sodebo" salads, plus a seeded baguette - chicken sandwich, and something they were calling an Anglaise abricot, which to me is a chausson abricot. This is one of the things we look forward to when anywhere near a french train station.

These are my favourites from the train station bakeries.
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The station itself, as with nearly everything in this place so different from home, held many things of interest. For example, there was a wall of plaques, commemorating people who had been transported to concentration camps from here during the war. And there was the scene of the tracks and beyond - more of those iconic Paris buildings.

In the Gare de l'Est
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Memories of war victims transported from this station.
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The tracks and the buildings.
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Our "training" day started off well, as the gate by the ICE train to Stuttgart magically recognized the piece of paper we had printed back in British Columbia, and we seated ourselves in our very own reserved places. The seats were way wider than on Air Transat, the legroom more, and the recline more efficient. There was on board wifi. Wow, we slumped back and absorbed the luxury of this "second class" European train.

Our ICE train looks like a really mean machine.
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This was the typical train speed. The thing was really just loafing, and should be able to go at least 320.
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All was well as the thing just flew through the green countryside. The speed was generally given as about 240 kph. Looking out the windows we saw many cosy looking towns, with houses clustered about a church, usually in a hollow of some kind. We began to daydream about buying a place in a town like that. We would need a nearby bakery, and access to the train system and to bikeways. That did not seem like a tall order. What was tough was photographing any of it, so fast was the countryside sliding by.

There were many little villages, each clustered around a church, and nestled in a hollow. This one, in Germany, does look very German. Should we buy one of those cottages?
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Fast or not, the train managed to arrive in Stuttgart 21 minutes late. We ran to the adjacent track and arrive in time to wave goodbye to our train to Singen. We had looked at the itinerary set out by trainline.com with some scepticism, since it featured changes as short as 3 minutes. We did not really expect the milk trains among the small towns to be accurate enough to meet a schedule like that. But we were surprised when the first link, off a vaunted ICE train, proved to be a weak one.

We trudged (but quickly!) to the Deutsche Bahn desk inside the station and joined other vexed travellers from our train looking for a new solution. The lady at the desk said this was a common occurrence and a standard procedure, and she quickly arranged a re-route. This actually had fewer trains and more do-able transfers that what we had started with. She even threw in some vouchers that bought us two orange juices, to calm our nerves, and a form that could be used for additional claims, in case we had been forced to use a hotel or had sustained other unusual costs due to the late train. This was called a "Passenger Rights Claim Form" - so good, would be great to see that with the airlines.

Dodie joins others to ask "Now what?"
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This is being written on the first of the three trains that hopefully will actually get us to Bregenz tonight. Our next stop is Konstanz, one of our favourite towns, to which we will pedal back in a few days. 

....... Well yes, the new trains did work. At Konstanz we got our first look a the lake, which is indeed very pretty.  This time a full moon was rising above the water (something my camera is rotten at capturing - sorry). The trains then took us along by the lake (Lake Konstanz - also known as the Bodensee) on its Swiss side, and we enjoyed continuing water views. For the past month my handlebar bag map case has sported a map of the lake, since this is where our cycling begins. But back in Cobble Hill this map looked so very out of place. Now it is absolutely spot on. As usual, it's hard to believe we are actually here, after so much anticipation.

Our friend Bernie was disappointed that we bailed on sleeping at his place, but our minds are at ease since we know we are protecting him from infection that he really does not need. We are comfortably installed at the Hotel Helvetia, on the edge of Bregenz old town. Still, we will go over to be with Bernie and Delia, at least during the day, for the next two days. Bernie has not been well, but we will see what sort of activities can be cooked up. We are hoping to go (probably by car) into Switzerland for a look at mountains and an overlook of the lake. Bernie's town of Ho

chst is just by the Rhine, where it enters the lake, and the Rhine here is the border between Switzerland and Austria. So from Hochst it is most normal to be stumbling into Switzerland if you circulate around the area. And since this area is right in the foothills of the Alps, you could easily find yourself up a Swiss snow peak.

Zoom in and out, and change the map style in the upper right corner, to get a good idea of where we came from today and where we are.
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joe st. clairGlad to see you on the road again! Just one small observation on your Paris experience at the beginning of your trip: you were complaining about the absence of butter alongside the croissants chez Paul. What you were served were "croissants au beurre" recognizable by their more or less straight shape. Croissants made without butter are the crescent shaped ones. At least, that the theory. Have a great trip, fueled with great pastries!
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2 months ago
Sue PriceHope you are both feeling much much better before Saturday. Looking forward to reading about your ride and all the tortes!
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo joe st. clairSteve is well known for asking for butter in France. A few years ago he asked for some with bread in a restaurant, and was greeted with stunned incredulity.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceThanks Sue. We are actually beginning to recover and are confident that by Saturday we will be good to go.
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2 months ago
joe st. clairTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThe next time you're in a restaurant in France, Steve, ask for radishes; you'll automatically get butter to go along with it. Why? Because french radishes are notoriously "hot"!
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2 months ago