Zurich Switzerland -
Did I mention I love this city? I discovered it by accident when I flew to India in 2009. It was my first time flying Swiss Air. As I looked at the itinerary, I noticed that there was a 24 hour layover. The Flight from Boston to Zurich Arrives daily at 11 AM but the once daily flight to Mumbai leaves at 945 AM, therefore you automatically get bumped to the next day's flight...which is totally fine with me!
The Old town area of Zurich is quite charming with a beautiful view of the mighty Swiss Alps (assuming they are not fogged in!). So far I've been lucky that the view was unimpeded every time I've been (this is my third).
Be warned though if you are considering a trip...this city is EXPENSIVE!! a $50 cab ride to the hotel.. $8 for a grande Starbucks coffee. Hotel rooms at $225 a night are a bargain. Meals will run you about $30 - $40 per...so a lengthy stay can add up. But for one day/night, it's doable. The weather was chilly but tolerable, considering it was -4 with the windchill the day I left New England.
The charm of this city, like many European cities is to just walk around, take in the sights, and chill at cafes. There are many dining options and as expected, Roger Federer's photo is everywhere. Then there are the watches, as expected. Prices are quite high depending on brand..anywhere from $500 - $30,000. The Swiss are all about efficiency and punctuality. Boarding of a Swiss air flight is methodical, and efficient. And The nice thing is that passengers listen to instructions, not like the stupid idiots at home, who run up and try to board when their zone has not been called yet. Also pedestrians actually obey the traffic signals. They don't cross when they don't have the light, also unlike the stupid idiots at home...I often have fantasies when driving, of skulls crunching under the weight of my front wheels :-)..because of the moron pedestrians we have to deal with on a daily basis. But I digress, I highly recommend Zurich, and all of Switzerland, for that matter, just a beautiful country. Here are some pics....
So here I am in Logan airport, waiting to board the flight to Switzerland. Did I mention I love the city of Zurich? I will arrive tomorrow morning and then have an entire day and night in that lovely city. Sure it will be cold, but it's Zurich!
After that a hop to Mumbai and a reunion with some family and a chance to meet the (2nd) newest member of the Nimbkar/Joshi clan. Not to mention all the authentic food waiting for us...mmmm.
And of course the two bottles of Single Malt packed away for the debauchery in Pune, upon arrival. My cousin has been around a toddler for a year now and he definitely needs a break and lots of liquor, and I'm happy to oblige!
I will post some photos from Zurich tommorrow. can't wait to get there!!! Oh and did I mention that I splurged and paid the extra money for Business Class for this leg of the trip? So while I type this I am enjoying Cappucino, Pinot Grigio and Brie...this doesn't suck!!!
After our unexpected layover in Greenfield, which cost me $90 for an unused motel room (oh well), we woke up to VERY cold temps..upper 40s. Luckily our clothes had mostly dried, and we layered up but that did not ward off the chill completely. Such are the hazards of this time of year.
On the road and headed towards North Adams, Chris had a problem with his Sena head set...it stopped working, mine was fine. So unfortunately, he had to endure the rest of the trip with no music. Amazing how spoiled you get once you get used to music playing while riding..especially when it is taken away. We found a nice coffee shop on the way and stopped to warm up and have a bite, then continued on to North Adams.
I had a brainstorm...since I had my tablet, I suggested we find a wi-fi connection and attempt to re-install his firmware...but we did not have a micro-usb adapter and had no luck finding one. So it was on the the summit of Mt. Greylock. By now the temp was increasing, luckily as the wind on the summit had kicked up quite a bit.
That did not detract from the view, which was spectacular as usual. The cooler temp actually made the visibility even greater. After a couple of photos, we started to head back. Of course I had to strap on the action cam to capture the Mohawk Trail, which boasts some amazing twists and stunning scenery. The start of this road is a switchback curve where the Golden Eagle restaurant is located, and affords a panoramic view of the Berkshire Valley. Chris took the lead and I ran the camera close behind him to capture the moment, and what made it even better was the lack of traffic in front of us!
We stopped again in Greenfield for lunch..at the Peoples Pint (of course Chris knows where all the brew pubs are). Then it was a straight shot on route 2 for 90 minutes, or so, to home..where football awaited.
Chris and I had planned to leave and travel to Williamstown today..but mother nature had other plans. We checked the weather before we left, and rain was predicted, but not until evening. Since we departed at 2PM, we had hoped to reach Williamstown around 5:30 PM.
Unfortunately, the rain started around 3PM...a slow steady drizzle that never relented just about when we got on route 122N...which, in sunshine, is a beautiful ride. In the rain, a much different story. After layering up and gutting it out for about an hour, fighting chilling temps and poor visibility, we pulled into a rest area for coffee and to rid the chills. We were still about 70 miles from our goal.
I spoke to Chris and suggested that we find a place to hole up for the night and dry out in the immediate area, since the rain was expected to get even heavier, and we were chilled to the bone already. Chris agreed, but we were in the town of Orange and there was no civilization for another 20 miles: the town of Greenfield. We made the decision to get to Greenfield and hope that accommodations were available. So it was back on the road.
The visibility was very poor with a steady rain bombarding our face shields and the going was slow...at times it appeared that the rain might let up, and just as quickly it got heavier. Chris was mentioning through the intercom that his legs were chilled and shaking and his hands were numb..I concurred. It was a bit scary for a while.
Finally we saw signs for Greenfield and diverted off the main road. We passed through a rotary and saw a Quality Inn appear, like an oasis in the desert. There were few vehicles in the parking lot so it looked like we might be in luck. The concierge (Indian - big surprise!) informed us he did have a room with separate beds..and we grabbed it. Once in the room, the heat was cranked and our soaked garments: gloves, socks, and boots were set out to dry. My rain suit kept me dry, mostly, except for a little leakage in the pant leg.
Chris has a leather riding jacket. and once wet, leather is very difficult to dry, it takes a LONG time. But being the resourceful person that he is, he figured out a unique method of speeding the process. He hung his jacket in the bathroom, took the hair dryer from the wall and inserted in the cuff of the sleeve, then turned it on. The warm air blew through the jacket and helped to dry it. After about 2 hours, the jacket was 90% dry.
Exhausted and hungry, there was an Applebees next door and it was welcome. The bartender made us kick ass Mojitos that ht the spot. After stuffing ourselves on pasta, salads and ice cream, we watched gratuitous TV programming in the room until we were both comatose. We would tackle Mt. Greylock in the morning....
Sometimes you just end up in places that you hadn't planned. Today I had planned to visit Bettencourts Honda in Bridgewater, just to loiter about. As fate would have it, I missed the exit. Not wanting to backtrack I decided to continue on with no plan. Picked up I-495 South to route 28..which I knew would go to Wareham and Buzzards Bay. I must say it's always strange being in that town as my ex-wife lives there, and her family. No run ins. The Cape Cod canal is always a nice sight and makes for some great pictures. To my surprise, there was not a lot of traffic. The plan was to pick up route 6, across the Sagamore bridge and then cut over back to route 28 on the cape to Chatham, but time was waning and it was getting a bit cool (anything under 100 degrees to me is cool). So It was route 3A back through Manomet and Plymouth, right along the coast.
One thing stood out to me in both these areas, and that was the large number of houses for sale. In one stretch I counted 15 houses for sale, can't imagine what the asking price was for them, in Plymouth and right against the ocean. Recently there was a Great White sighting in Duxbury MA. So today by the beach there was a helicopter circling the beaches, my guess is that it was doing surveillance for potential sharks, but who knows...maybe someone escaped the local penitentiary...
I often say that as riders, we develop a 6th sense for other traffic on the road with us. When riding, watching other drivers is essential for predicting who might be unaware of you and who is driving erratically. This proved true today on route 3N while headed home. A guy in a Lincoln who was speeding and changing lanes frequently (the constant lane changers are the ones you really have to watch). As he pulled up next to me at one point, I slowed down to give him space...sure enough, my instincts were right. He suddenly veered into my lane...I saw this coming just from observing his driving behavior. The trick is to stay behind a particular car and watch them for 30 seconds or so. That is usually enough to give you a picture of what they might do...then you pull out and pass them quickly so they are behind you now and aware of your presence. That' s it for the riding lesson! Below are some pics...
Woke up at 630, it was cool and very foggy. Quick shower and check out, then coffee. Around 800, started the ride to Greylock. The temp was rising already and luckily, the fog started to burn off. The ride up to the summit is a fun one with hairpin curves and dense forest. One must be sharp as there are hikers and cyclists throughout. Not to mention wildlife that could jump out at a moments notice, deer, moose, even black bears. There are a couple of turnouts for panoramic views that are incredible. Reaching the summit (about 4000 ft above sea level) gives you an unhindered view of about 100 miles in any direction. There were very few people up there at that time of day and the stillness and quiet was very calming and therapeutic. The temp remained comfortable and there was just a slight breeze.
Perhaps the most amazing sight was the cloud cover below this altitude, a soft cotton blanket covering the valley below with intermittent cracks to allow a peek of the green plains and forest lingering below. One or two hawks could be seen gliding the wind currents no doubt looking for food in the form of smaller birds, unaware of their presence.
I don't usually like heights, probably why I failed at getting my pilot's license, but despite the altitude, it was a very comfortable experience. I strongly recommend this area to anyone considering a visit. The local area is rustic, with Williams College as the focal point.
The ride home, I stayed on route 2 the entire time and experienced the Mohawk Trail. For bike riders, this has to rank as one of the best rides around. Winding roads with many areas to stop for pics. Rivers, valleys, streams, lakes, and dense tree cover , the latter of which are almost tunneling in their scope. I debating taking 122S back the way I came but avoiding Worcester is always a good thing, so I stayed on route 2 the whole way, which is boring at times, but listening to music the whole time eases the monotony. I seriosuly want to do this trip again. It's reasonable close and the scenery can't be beat. Along with the ability to escape the chaos of city life for 24 hours!
Well, I 'm here in Williamstown after a rather roundabout trip. Had planned to take back roads but the sign posts were misleading. Unfortunately, wound up in Worcester again...ugh...before finding route 122 north...which turned out to be a very nice ride indeed. Stopped at a gas station in a small town, and there were three older ladies congregated outside...each sporting a Harley Davidson. They didn't really know what to make of me or the Fury.
Later on, the road really opened up and for about 10 miles there was only me and a Porsche Panamera navigating the winding road...both of us with open throttles, as the dense shroud of trees and occasional lakes blurred by. Then something strange happened...There was a Toyota Avalon in front of me for about 3 miles or so. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he pulls over violently and slams on his brakes...as I pass him he gives me the finger...go figure...anyway, after that he turned off.
Eventually, Route 2 became the mode of travel.And what a road it is. Also known as the Mohawk Trail, it has some incredible twists and turns, and vistas that are stunning...photos to come.
Rolled into Williamstown at 6pm. Had a nice chat with the guy in the lobby. An Indian guy from Mumbai. He saw my name, and figured it out. Then it was to the Purple Cow for nachos and a Stone IPA. The guy next to me at the bar was a motorcycle salesman. We had a good talk about KTM bikes.
Tommorow, Mt. Greylock...
Packing up and getting ready to head to Williamstown for the night...about a three hour journey there. Leaving at 2-2:30 should put me there by 530 - 600. Plan is to check out Mount Greylock in the morning, ride to the top and do some filming and photos. Quite a splendid sight. Weather reports indicate cloudy conditions with no rain, though right now there are some dark clouds which look pretty ominous..still no call for rain...so it better not! Will check in later...
Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb...ah never mind!
It was still sunny this morning, and I had the urge to ride. So a quick load up and it was off on route 2 west. I had hoped to make it to Shelburne Falls and then circle route 202, but that was a little further than I thought. Decided to stop for breakfast near Fitchburg, at McDonalds...wasn't my first choice, and since there was no Starbucks around, and McD's had free wi-fi, that was the choice.Yesterday I picked up an ASUS tablet. I always figured I never needed a tablet because I have an ASUS laptop. But Microcenter had a great deal on an open box tablet...with Windows 8.1...the version that allows you to install any software you want, not just what's available from the Windows app store. Have to say, it was a great purchase. I am sold on tablets. In fact, while at McD's, I was able to pull up Google Maps and get a bearing on where I was.
The map showed that I had a ways to go for my orginal destination and Wachusset Mountain and Leominster State Park were in very close proximity. route 31 south skirted the park and the map showed lots of wooded areas, so that was the route, after a quick stop at Wachusett Mountain (Photo below).
Route 31 turned out to be a very nice ride. The forest canopy was right on top of me and I had to flip up my sun shade as it was that dark underneath the trees. There were some nice twists and only one car in front of me for a brief period. Soon in opened up into fields and hills and the warmth of the sun returned...
I had intended to pick up 110 then 111 back to route 2 but missed it somehow and continued on rte 31 until I hit route 9. Unfortunately, rte 9 takes you through one of the most vile, and disgusting cities known to man: Worcester MA. Had to suck it up and continue through the restaurant chains, check cashing places and tattoo parlors. On a whim I diverted to rte 20 East through Marlboro. I used to work in Marlboro years ago when I was in IT, and sure enough drove right by the 'technology park' where I was formerly employed.
By this time I was ready to get home so it was 495 South to the Mass Pike..and here I am now typing this. Hoping that next weekend I can make it to Williamstown MA and ride the Mohawk trail and the summit of Mt. Greylock, but as of now the weather calls for rain all next weekend...which sucks because there are not many riding days left in the season. Let's hope that the predicted rain misses!!