vaya con pance

i’m so transparent August 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 3:28 pm

It’s been about 6 months since I moved back to Blacksburg. Moments of elation sound like, “YAY! Living here rocks! It’s SO GREAT to smell trees every day!” This usually happens when I’m driving my jeep around town at dusk on my way to cheap beer, having just run several miles or participated in some other seratonin-inducing activity that makes all the world seem right-side-up.

Other times I don’t feel so picturesquely free. I feel downright claustrophobic, squeezed by the small town. As my cousin poignantly put it, “Things change here, just not very often and not very fast.” True words. How is it that I lived tangled with 8 million people for 9 years and didn’t feel quite as boxed in as I do now? Answer: I lived anonymously. I’m not saying one is better, they’re just different. Kinda reminds me of the Glacier National Park Freak Out of 2008. Wide open spaces do not guarantee leaping feelings of liberation.

Speaking of box, I’m still working through a box of store brand plastic wrap (and sundry spices) from my Brooklyn grocery store. It actually makes me sad to use it. What the hell am I gonna do when it runs out? I find myself pitifully equating subpar saran wrap with a sense of freedom, the very opposite of its purpose. But whatever, it’s the one little functional thing I still have that reminds me of daily life in NYC.

Of course now that I have so much superfluous space, I can own tons and tons of tupperware in all shapes and sizes. I won’t need the saran wrap anymore. But give up the autonomy? Nah. My leftovers deserve more than that.


Switzerland Day #Last August 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 3:46 pm

Leaving Grindelwald for Interlaken, another sparkly lakeside city and our final stop, was tough. We loved Grindelwald, we were loving our trip and it was all just about over. Upon arrival we went grocery shopping for lunch and biked to the water’s edge. Alex exchanged some fighten’ words with a nasty swan who tried to neck his way into our meal.

Our ride back to the hotel was quiet. I like to think it was because we were each spending some time in our heads, reviewing the past several days, reliving the adventure. There was a melancholy awareness (at least por moi) that once we got off our bikes this time we weren’t getting back on.

I still had to survive an overnight+ layover in Istanbul (where I managed to sleep on a bench – pictured – for 3 hours), but the party at large was over.

My speed topped out at 52km and we covered about 115 miles of ground total. Not too shabby.

I did *not* sleep much during the 10 hour return flight into wild, wonderful Dulles International. I watched “We Bought a Zoo” and cried through the whole thing while I slowly got drunk on free whiskey. Sometimes it can be cleansing to feel emotions so powerfully, good or bad. It makes me kind of thankful to feel anything at all. So many people just don’t. While I was doing zombie laps around the plane I rolled the vacation over and over again in my head and wondered if I could call it the best trip I’ve ever taken. That’s a serious designation, after all. But I think the jury’s still out… which means the challenge to top it is right. there. waiting.


Switzerland Day #4 August 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 3:54 pm

Good Morning Day #4. After a yummy Euro-style continental breakfast, which we had become deliciously addicted to (bread, cheese, meats, yogurt, granola, incredibly strong kick-you-in-the-ass coffee), we climbed up and out the other side of Meiringen, driving ourselves even closer to the Alps.

Simply because the song got stuck in my head the moment we landed in Switzerland, I was compelled to reenact Maria’s hilltop spin – even though Maria wasn’t in Switzerland at all and I’m not on a hilltop. Details. Thanks to Alex for his lovely sound of music. Side note: we had a trip-long joke of always looking for Gandalf – also nowhere near Switzerland.

Today we would go up and over Grosse Scheidegg mountain pass, past the vegetation line and into the snow. Our bikes lend great perspective here:

The descent from the tippy top down into the town of Grindelwald ended up the highlight of our trip. The adrenaline rush was unbelievable, we flew. Once in town we scored hostel-style accommodations once again, hung out with our newfound friends from Salt Lake City and bar-hopped with locals. Best. Day. Ever.


Switzerland Day #3 August 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 3:46 pm

We got a pretty early start leaving Lucern the next day because our hostel roommate from Beijing told, what I’m sure were, fascinating stories in his sleep all night. But alas, it was nothing a little coffee, some breakfast and gorgeous lake views out of town couldn’t make up for.

Midday stop in a cute town square for a drink and a check of the map.

We went up, up, up and up a 10% grade incline on gravel until we had beautiful views of the lake below…

… then we continued down, down, down and down gravel switchbacks on the mountain behind the town of Meiringen (pictured below), where we bunked for our 4th night’s stay. I treated myself to a Kinder Egg which yielded us a toy Gargamel. Turns out he was thirsty, too, so he joined us for our routine end-of-day beer. Even though he didn’t earn it at all.


Switzerland Day #2 August 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 2:31 pm

The second day awarded us our first *real* climb. I had a mini panic attack because, as it turns out, I was using the bike assistance mechanism terribly wrong. I thought I was ready (thumbs up guys!!) because, as a cyclist, when I spy a hill my body automatically starts to pedal harder, faster, stronger. I got this! Well unbeknownst to me my added effort was sending a message to my bike that it didn’t need to work as hard to help me. But by the end of the day I had learned how to back off and let the bike do it’s thing when I needed it to. An entirely strange, but welcome, sensation.

I developed a fascination for the glorious chorus of actual cowbells that clanged along most of our farm-side stretches. If you turn up the volume you can enjoy them, too, along with our not-so-unique SNL commentary:

We got a little lost in the middle of the day but eventually found ourselves back on track and biking past some local kids’ snack stand. Despite blank language-barrier stares on both our behalves, I managed to utter “rice cake” with a deliberate point to such and viola, rice cake was mine.

Our second night was spent at a hostel in the lakeside city of Lucern. We dined on fondue (Switzerland = cheese, naturally) and closed out the day with a nightcap at a German beer garden; however, exhaustion had set in so deep no beer could cure.


Switzerland Day #1 August 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gogopance @ 3:51 pm

Too much time has elapsed since I was in Switzerland. The travel high that lingers after a great adventure has gone bye-bye. I look at pictures daily, trying to meditate myself *back* to that happyplace, but it hasn’t really worked. Which is actually what keeps me anxiously planning future gallivants; something must always be on the horizon. Many are addicted to buzzes of the substance-abuse kind. My name is Pance and I’m addicted to buzzes of the travel kind. Hi Pance.

So in my slackitude I’m just going to post pictures. I will include little/no commentary unless there is a particularly interesting story or quip to share. Pictures are a higher currency than whatever words I could pull together anyway. And I’m lazy. And ready to get past the lingering Switzerland blog devil on my shoulder already.

First off – I was able to sleep most of the 10 hour flight from Dulles to my connection in Istanbul where I met up with fellow traveler, Alex. Maybe it was all the free wine or my boring cinema selection but, regardless, waking up and realizing I only had two hours to go was pretty serendipitous.

Eunice, our third mate, was waiting for us in Zurich, where we began the journey. We each rented one extra bike battery as back-up and followed red bike route signs each day. Day 1 = Route 99, which meandered through the alpine foothills. After biking around 30 miles we landed in the town of Willisau for the night.