The Gerrard Chronicles 2004 - Traveller's Tales

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December 2003, Roy organised a coach tour with his Singles Club to this village near Koblenz on the Rhine, staying in the Hotel Alexander von Humboldt (named for the great scientist who came from here), simple rooms but good food. We went to the several Köln markets where we bought a ceramic church model for our Catholic cleaning lady & inspected their gloomy cathedral. At the Rudesheim market, there seemed to be more stalls than last time, plus pony rides & natural horn players. We wandered above the town for the view.
There was a boat trip with a bar & dancing from Boppard up the Rhine, which is 4 metres shallower than 4 years previously, causing great navigational difficulties. Global warming?


Köln Heumarkt

Dolls stall in Köln

Avis on the boat

The 'China Dolls' on the boat,
Joyce (1/2 German, 1/2 Chinese)
& Linda (3/4 Chinese)



We had been saving Wengen for our 'old age' but jumped the gun. After the horrors of the Hotel Falken last time we went there, the Hotel Brunner, on the ski run into the village, was a relief! The snow was super, the weather good. We took an 'off day' to go up the Schilthrom Mürren for the view & Ken went back the next day to do the super black down, which was not too bad but very long. He also did the Lauberhorn race track where the racers jump but it is not safe to do that with other skiers around. Avis' huge improvement of last year was maintained. More on these links for Wengen & Mürren.

Avis (circled) & the Wetterhorn

Ken in Wengen

Avis in Mürren


With the extra information Patrick Delaforce gave us & more research by Ken, we flew Ryanair to Carcassonne, picked up a car & did a round trip over the Pyrenees & back. Web users have a full report on this link.


With all the new family information, Ken gave a talk to the Anglo-German Family History Society, who's web site he still maintains, called "It was a Long Time Ago", as his first encountered German ancestor was Numabela of Cantabria, a Goth born about 750. This is on his Mother's side, the Angles on his Father's not being 'on the record'. Granny Numabela is not on the direct male line but was the wife of Loup, Duke of Gascony, who sorted out Roland. He published the talk in booklet form for those members who could not come or hear properly & you can down-load a pdf file (1.9MB) of it on this link. Some were shocked at what they saw as the mountain of work ahead of them!


Newly equipped with boots & high-tech shirts, Ken picked up last year's aborted trip from Sembrancher station and made his way up to Verbier, staying at the expensive Hotel de Verbier, the only one open. The objective was to complete the Chamonix-Zermatt Tour but when he walked up to the Mont Fort Hut, the guardian convinced him (local knowledge can be over-cautious) that the obviously wintry conditions underfoot precluded doing the 3 Passes trip, so he went down again, rescuing three English walkers who were dangerously off-route on the way, earning himself a beer in the valley. He hitched, trained & bussed to Arolla, staying at the Hotel du Pigne (nice & good company) & spent a rest day doing two easy walks before completed the next part of the tour by a tremendous plod, strictly a day-and-a-half walk, over the Col de Torrent to Grimentz, a particularly attractive village, on the only day of poor weather, the Hotel Crystal being the first building gratefully encountered there. Then, a half-day to St Luc, to join with the last part of the walk he had already done. This involved a hairy torrent crossing on a bent railway line, all that was left of the bridge to Ayer. From St Luc, he bussed & thumbed to the Grande Dixence dam. The hotel is the workers' hostel & had a group of priest-led but amusing, if irresponsible Irish. The next day, Ken did the stage by the lake & over the Pas de Chèvres back to Arolla, then thumbed down to Les Haudères & the Hotel les Haudères, which has a tough landlady. The Pas de Chèvres has a goat-proof 40 metre vertical ladder at the top to be climbed! A full report & more photos on this link.

Ken in new gear

Dix Hut from Pas de Chèvres (circled)

Geneva Old City from the lake


In September, we flew Easyjet to Athens, & stayed the night in the Hotel Ioanis, found with some difficulty after the pleasant experience of the new airport & efficient tube system. At the crack of dawn next day, we took the bus (now quicker because of the completed motorway to Aghios Konstantinos) & hydrofoil combo to Skiathos, where Geof (web site on this link) met us & took us to the "Farmhouse" villa on his land, where we had a largely lazy week, somewhat overshadowed by the flat troubles back home. We hired a little Suzuki SUV for three days, necessary on the several new dirt tracks across the island & saw views we had not seen or not available on previous trips. But the SUV beat up Avis' shoulder & gave her trouble all Autumn, the roads still being excessively rough in places. We had several feasts during the trip, breaking in a new (to us) restaurant at the Hotel Bontzos & met Zoi's boy-friend Milton at his bar. The journey back was rather trying, as it all takes place in one 20 hour day & it is hard to relax in Athens.

Geof barbecuing

Avis eats

Ken drinks

Milton & Zoi


Leeds? They have a German Xmas Market & Ken had never been to the city. We drove up on Nov. 27th, calling at Win's & taking her to lunch on the way. Staying for 3 nights at the Ramada North Leeds, we visited the market on the Sunday. The city itself has many impressive buildings. The market was in the Millennium Square, with about 40 stalls. Frozen, we warmed up on glühwein & bought a stollen for Xmas. With plenty of time, we discovered Helmsley (ruined castle) & Riveaux (ruined abbey). The next day, we went up Wharfedale to Hawes in splendid weather and, going back by Wensleydale, took in a load more ruins: Middleham Castle, Jervaulx Abbey & Fountains Abbey.

Leeds German Xmas Market

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Contact: Ken Baldry or Avis Saltsman, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)020 7359 6294 or e-mail him or her
This page's URL: Last revised 30/11/2004
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