September 2011 saw me once again heading for the Newcastle Ijmuiden ferry for a trip to see the Eastern Alps. I had hummed and hawed about this trip, debating whether to book a place on an expensive organised tour where all the hotels would be booked for me, all I would have to do would be follow the group to get to them. Despite the attractions of this its not really me, so I set about planning a route of my own, where I would be free to ride at a pace I liked , and to stop when and where I wanted. I planned to do some of the wonderful biking routes such as the Stelvio, Grosglockner and Timmelsjoch. I headed down to Switzerland to do many of the high passes, then continued into the Italian Dolomites, on up into the Austrian Tyrol, then back through Switzerland. From there I was going to head north to Ijmuiden via the Black Forest but in the event that plan changed. After over a week of spending eight hours a day in the saddle I fancied a day off, so I returned to Interlaken to spend a delightful day up in the mountains visiting the Schilthorn. My overnight stops on the trip were at Verdun, Interlaken, St Moritz, Molvena, somewhere near Gerlos, Pfunds, Interlaken again (2 nights), Gerardmer, Mechelen, then north to catch the ferry home. I was carrying camping gear but the riding was too intense to have time to find campsites, setting up and striking camp each day, so hotels it was. These varied greatly in price, with price being no indication of quality, in fact the cheapest hotels were often the best. I was very lucky with the weather with rain only two or three times on the trip, and this year I didn't break down!