The expedition lasted 57 days, of which 50 I spent cycling.


Date:
02 June – 28 July 1995

Participants:
Igor Czajkowski

Distance covered by bicycle:
5040 km


I crossed more than 40 passes, including:

16 at an altitude exceeding 2000 m above mean sea level:

Cime de la Bonette - 2802,
Col de l'Iseran - 2770,
Passo dello Stelvio - 2759,
Col de Restefond - 2678,
Col du Galibier - 2640,
Hochtor - 2504,
Umbrailpass - 2503,
Furka Pass - 2431,
Franz Josefs Hohe - 2362,
Col d'Izoard - 2360,
Passo Pordoi - 2239,
Grimselpass - 2165,
Ofenpass - 2149,
Col de Vars - 2111,
Passo di Falzarego- 2105,
Col du Lautaret - 2058,

and

11 at an altitude between 1000 and 2000 m above mean sea level:

Grosse Scheidegg - 1962,
Malojapass - 1817,
Arlbergpass - 1800,
Passo di Costalunga - 1745,
Gerlosplatte - 1627,
Col de Telegraphe - 1566,
Col du Pillon - 1546,
Cimabanche - 1529,
Col de la Forclaz - 1527,
Col de Montets - 1461,
Iselsbergpasse - 1204.

I assumed that this trip would be first and foremost a sporting challenge, so to say. But you do not travel through six countries only to climb the highest passes. I took a map in my hand and highlighted the most interesting places. I read a few guidebooks and finally came up with an itinerary.

At first I thought I would do more sightseeing but as it later turned out, I was constantly pressed for time, also fearing to part with my bike. I hoped that no one would snatch it. In Switzerland or Austria you can leave your bicycle unattended for a whole day and nothing will happen, unless there is a Pole or an Italian passing by. I wanted to see as much as possible although I often limited myself to but a superficial visit to a given site. I was especially eager to see some wonders of nature like Dachsteinhöhlen or Liechlensteinklamm. The panoramas seen from Alpine passes made a particularly lasting impression on me. The views from Col du Galibier, Furkapass, Grosse Scheidegg and a panoramic view of Cortina d'Ampezzo. will also remain engraved in my memory. I was not so much fascinated with architectural monuments, but still there were some breathtaking moments. The Passau Cathedral really astonished me (although I am not very fond of baroque). I felt the same way visiting the gothic Cathedral of Como in Italy. The most memorable cities I stopped over in were Vienna (with its massive traffic), Hallstatt (beautifully located, with a unique appeal of narrow streets), Stein am Rhein (gorgeous buildings with frescoes), Nice (beaches and the turquoise colour of the Ligurian Sea), and the Principality of Monaco (with its peculiar charm).

Sometimes I tried to feel into the atmosphere of a particular place. For instance, in Salzburg - the city of Mozart - I sat on a bench in the Old Town and listened to the ubiquitous sounds of music. I tried to avoid big cities and when I did end up in one, I wanted to leave it as soon as possible. This was the case with Vienna, Nice and Turin. In this last city I only took one photo, being angry and completely depressed after having my money stolen in a local youth hostel. That loss of three hundred dollars caused me a lot of worry.

But there were nice moments too. Let me just mention the Swiss family from Martigny who surprised me with their hospitality. Not only did they make raclette and open a five-year-old Bordeaux especially for me, but they also waited for me at the Forclaz Pass. During this expedition I met a lot of great people who helped me endure the hardships of the journey. For example, it was with their support that I pulled myself together after an accident in Austria. I would like to thank them all.