Arrival in EU
After spending so much time in a country that has everything hand built, without a single straight wall in sight, the roads following the contours of the landscape not to mention the constant ordered chaos on the roads. It is a very strange feeling being on final approach firstly to Dubai with its street lamps perfectly in order, evenly spaced with not a single light bulb out of place, the roads stretching outwards like an octopuses arms holding on for its life to the surrounding satellite cities. Then on approach to Europe you see the ordered farm lands with each perfectly measured piece of land being a slightly different colour to its neighbour of the same size. As you fly into any city you see a beauty from above that soon disappears once your on the ground and lost in a concrete urban jungle. the constant drone of the cars driving past in order all at the same speed.
From a place where a situation can turn ugly with mob mentality taking grip and make a situation very explosive.
Along the road we came across a traffic jam, after walking down the road a bit it came to light that there had been a motorbike accident and the rider was critical. the locals wanting to preserve the accident site until the police came did what they could they simply blocked the road to the traffic.
For people that have not been to Nepal before, here is some advice, DONT RUSH you’ll only end up being angry. Respect the locals, they may do things different to you but it has its sense and rhythm and even though at times it may look out of control or hectic it will work out in the end.
here we have an Israeli man that needed to get to KTM airport attempting to move a bamboo roadblock.
moments later a simple misunderstanding leads to the entire mob practically lunging themselves onto him with his body disappearing behind a sea of bodies looking at him and thinking one thing…..bamboo massage 😉
EU day: 1
after getting lost in vienna because we over looked a stop, and losing around 3hrs in the city we finally made it to Villach at 2330 (losing this time was the difference between making it to Lienz that night and not.). the first hotel gave us a price of 130 eur per night…. at this point i had been up for the last 48ish hrs but i wasn’t going to agree to paying that price, so we kept walking. we ended up at the next hotel with a price tag of 90eur per night. honestly if it hadn’t been raining in the area and we were a bit further away from town i would have run the risk of paying a fine for camping out and pitched the tent.
Ahh the comforts of the modern world… On demand scorching hot water in the shower, constant power supply to all the gadgets you could imagine to need to charge without the fear that it will soon stop and you’ll be stuck once again in the dark with nothing to do. The choice of 80 tv channels, so what that you don’t understand the language that is being spoken on 76 of those channels whats important is that you have them, Right?
EU Day 2:
The hotel wanted to charge us 9eur each for breakfast, so we did as so many others do when you want something cheap. McDonalds came to the rescue with its free wifi and the fact that it was a mere 30m from the hotel, i must say that this was probably one of the freshest and tastiest breakfasts i have ever had from this food chain and unlike in Nepal, the bacon actually tasted like bacon.
we discovered that the train to Lienz leaves every hour and we had enough time to do some small shopping and head to the station to jump on one of the OBB trains that i must say, run like clockwork are fast, clean, modern and a pleasure to ride on. very very big contrast to the life i have been leading the last 18 months.
one cool thing about the rain, is it provides some of the most beautiful views in the alps with low cloud bases dropping to a couple of hundred meters above the valley floor.
we discovered a day ago that some friends were in Tolmin but had decided to head up to Lienz, this being pretty much the closest place to go and fly not counting Mayerhofen we decided to head that way and meet up with them to at least have some people to talk to during the rains. before we head northwards to Kossen for the testival which had already lost one of the show days as the organiser has just cut the 9th of may due to bad weather forecasts. (starting to think that we should have just left the solo rescues in Nepal. But we will see what happens with the weather over the next few days and then decide if we head south to slovenia/italy or if we stay in the main part of the alps.
As we approached Greifenberg, we decided to get out of the train, once out a quick recognisance and we were walking to the camp site www.fliegercamp.at situated literally on the landing. nice and clean with all modern needs catered to, laundry included. With the rain starting to fall just as we begin to finish putting all our things into the tent, we head to register and find out that they have great fast internet…..that you need to pay for…. set back….
22.5 eur per night for 2 people in a tent that is big enough for one of us with gear is a bit steep but thats the price in the alp.. good thing Kate is compact 😛
EU Day 3:
It began early, too early. 530 we woke up and i wasn’t able to stay in the tent any longer. so off i go out into the cold and damp morning air, to look pathetic enough that maybe someone from inside the restaurant will see us and let us in to the warmth of indoors.
After about an hour an a half we finally get let in by an elderly gentleman that looked like the owner of the establishment, even shared his morning coffee with us to help warm up.
Its strange for me having to sit in one place for so long not doing anything productive, by long i mean 6.5hrs of slowly editing photos and videos.
Majority of the day was spent sitting in the cafe.
EU Day 4:
This trip is slowly starting to resemble less of a holiday and more of a punishment. With rain, clouds and train rides in search of flyable weather. Finally some flying, managed to get in a 45min flight from griefenburg, nothing to brag about but it was nice to get in the air after a 8day break.
EU Day5 :
weather looked nice, even though the forecasts have predicted strong winds and chance of storms in the afternoon we head up to takeoff early and get airborne as early as we can.
Short flight to Lienz today as we were stuck with my old solo glider and had to manage to fit it into the passenger harness making it almost impossible to sit normally for either of us. so big sarcastic thank you to the Austrian Postal service for being closed for so long…(all 5 days we were there)…
Big thanks go out to Sergey for agreeing to take our Solo rescues to Russia which we took with us in the attempt to use them during the Kossen testival that was unfortunately postponed a week.
we landed at a Model airplane club just west of Lienz city centre and were lucky enough to meet some of the lienz locals enjoying the day off in the sun surrounded by amazing mountains reaching for the sky.
We jump on a train headed west as the forecasts for this area were only going to get worse in the coming days. we get tickets to San Candido and on the way there decided just to use these days of bad weather to deliver the solo glider to Werner.
EU Day 5-6-7:
Big thanks go out to Werner and Olesandra for their wonderful hospitality and managing to put up with us for 2 nights.
we managed to sit through 2 days of bad weather in good company and to finally decide where we will be going next. I had hoped that we would be able to spend more time in the alps but even camping becomes too expensive there. so Annecy here we come. looks like we will be in some good company there as some friends that i have met in Nepal should be heading that way this week also.
EU Day 8:
Sitting on a train ride from Zurich to Geneva that costs as much as our hotel in Nepal for a month it really hits you how expensive europe is compared to what we are used to.
things would have gone smoothly if only when we were being the tickets and asked for a printout of the route, the guy would have printed all that we needed to know. we only had 2 transits during the trip (according to the plan) we should have however had a 3rd in Annemassse, don’t get me wrong i like a bit of adventure but when your carrying 35kg packs the novelty wears off pretty quick. once again some time to kill at yet another train station. three hours later we get a bus heading back the way we need to go to get to Annemasse and then a train south towards Annecy, no if we had caught the original train that would have been the end of it, but this time the train was heading a different way and we would need to catch yet another bus to Annecy itself.
We ended up taking a hotel room as we discovered that the camping area that was meant to be in Annecy had been sold to a development company and no longer was functioning.
EU Day 9:
we seem to be getting all the worst case scenarios this trip. we woke on sunday to discover that we would have to walk from Annecy to Dousard as it being a sunday, none of the public transport was operating.
it doesn’t look it in the photo but i can guarantee that this path is probably the steepest path i have seen in a long time, at least the steepest without stairs
EU Day 10:
first day flying, Annecy was quite pleasant, even though we were caught a little off guard but he frigid temps at only around 2500m asl. we took it easy, crossing the lake a couple of times and enjoying finally having a fly.
EU Day 11:
Short day flight, strong wind sheer so taking in some scenery 😉
EU Day 12-13-14-15:
Rain rain rain and o yes rain with wind.
Big thanks go out to Alexis for the use of his camper to shelter ourselves from the non stop abuse we were receiving from the sky.
Met with Steffan Haase, good luck to him during the up coming adventure race the X-ALPS 2013
luckily the people running the caravan park in an attempt to keep us from moving offer us free wifi during the rainy days.
Kossen Testival cancelled and Annecy Festival delayed, things are not looking that promising.
EU Day 16-17:
APX, a bit of a disappointment, having the Kossen festival cancelled, and then bad weather for the APX, a bit less stuff then i had though would be here. but hey still nice to have a look at whats around.
utilizing the wet weather productively. first stages of designing my own gear for bivy flying. constant disappointment from producers are pushing me into either moderately modifying my gear to suit my needs, enough is enough. once back in Nepal I’m getting a machine and sewing my own gear.
EU Day 18:
We managed to score a Ride with Andy as he was travelling past Torino several days before we were to leave for malta, and with the forecasts for all of the alps not improving till well after we left we didn’t have any regrets about abandoning France in search of at least some sun. Welcome sunny Italy, after climbing the mountains on the boarder to the clouds we descended into the Torino area and were all welcomed by the sun. What a relief. We thought that with this turn in weather we may get some flying in, but this is turing into more of a backpacking trip than a flying trip. (Big thanks go out to Andy for the Ride)
EU Day 19:
sun turned to thunder and rain, i think this is me paying the price for having so much good flying weather this year in Nepal. you can’t have it all the time your way, and I’m slowly starting to enjoy the quiet moments without flying every day. it is a nice break from the normal routine.
EU Day 20:
on the final night of us being on mainland Europe we decided not to risk having problems with getting to the airport from the caravan park 40kms away and stay in a hotel that was one stop away from the airport by train. it was definitely more relaxing to sleep in a normal bed again and be able to stretch your legs out in any direction that you would like.
EU Day 21:
We awoke after a nice night sleeping on a comfortable mattress and headed down for what seemed like a crappy breakfast, to our surprise it hit the spot and we felt satisfied.
Malta here we come, we need some sun, fun and relaxation after freezing our bits off in the Alps.