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Swiss Brass Championships, Secret Airports of the Ruhr, Fine Wines of Bordeaux

Swiss Brass Championships, Secret Airports of the Ruhr, Fine Wines of Bordeaux

Old Sep 22, 22, 1:24 am
  #46  
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Bordeaux was a pleasant surprise and it is definitely worth another visit. In addition, I would like to visit the Médoc vineyards and the Atlantic coast

The HIX Wiesbaden is ok, in fact. I gave it a somewhat less than stellar review, but it's clean and is a decent hotel.

As for the prices, they will only come down if people stop paying them. What is more annoying is the fact that there are so many people milling around everywhere, on trains, in airports, in public places. It really has got worse since the pandemic and it was already bad just before. Summer travel had reached a level that could only be described as unsupportable and there were road warriors here on FT saying that they were getting really tired with it all and that frequent flyer status cards only helped partially.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 1:26 am
  #47  
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22. Vielfliegertreff Dinner and Monster Storms in Montreux

After I finished in Lörrach, I headed back into Basel to get the IR36 train to Zürich airport. Tonight was the VFT Stammtisch (Vielfliegertreff dinner) and we began with a Chopfab amber beer at Leon's Loft at the impressive Circle at the airport. The Circle, an interestingly designed upmarket open air mall with shops and cafes, is worth a quick look if you're passing through Zurich airport. It is landside, near the bus stops, so anybody can visit it. We then headed by bus over to the nearby town of Kloten (after which the airport is named) where the dinner was to take place at the Red Lion Chinese restaurant (near the Zum Wilden Mann bus stop). It was pretty good and reasonably authentic, with very friendly staff. But I had a slightly upset stomach for two days afterwards.


This is the only pic I took at the Zürich Stammtisch; I didn't think about taking more, unfortunately!

After the dinner, I took the last train of the day down to Montreux, via Berne and Lausanne. I reached home at Territet at 01h10, only to be confronted by the fact that there had been a monster storm a couple of days previously that had knocked out the power. Consequently, everything perishable in the freezer was ruined (not too much, fortunately) along with a few items in the fridge. The sewers had also been overloaded by the extreme rainfall and had flooded the corridor outside, just avoiding my place. But the external cupboard in the corridor was quite damp and I had to take many things out and store them elsewhere. So, once cleared up, the fridge cleaned and power restored, there were very few hours left before getting up the next morning to get to Sion airport for my next flight. The rendez-vous in the pilots room was 09h30, so I got up at 07h00 in order to leave at 08h20 (bus to Montreux station).


This was taken at the lakeside in Montreux


One of the CGN boats which ply the upper part of the lake

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Last edited by Concerto; Sep 22, 22 at 1:52 am
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Old Sep 22, 22, 4:41 pm
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
Bordeaux was a pleasant surprise and it is definitely worth another visit. In addition, I would like to visit the Médoc vineyards and the Atlantic coast
I'm reliably informed that the Atlantic coast, north to south, is some of the best parts of France.


Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
As for the prices, they will only come down if people stop paying them. What is more annoying is the fact that there are so many people milling around everywhere, on trains, in airports, in public places. It really has got worse since the pandemic and it was already bad just before. Summer travel had reached a level that could only be described as unsupportable and there were road warriors here on FT saying that they were getting really tired with it all and that frequent flyer status cards only helped partially.
Tell me about it. I tried to avoid air travel throughout the summer when I could, not always a possibility. I am flying out again on Monday, not particularly looking forward.
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Old Sep 24, 22, 8:52 am
  #49  
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23. SIR-ZBL Private Plane (F) PP004

LSGS - SIR Sion CH (UTC+1)
LSTA - ZBL Raron CH (UTC+1)

After a very short night I found myself on the train to Sion at 08h40. Pilot Jean picked me up at the parking behind the station and we completed the drive to the little airport of Sion in 5 minutes. In the tiny landside area I was amazed to see that check-in was open for flights to Calvi and St Tropez with a new airline called Mountain Air that operates flights at the weekend. It appears to have inherited some of the planes that Air Glaciers recently got rid of. In the pilots room we studied the weather in detail, printing out the charts, and created a flight plan to the tiny airport of Raron. Pilot Jean then completed the paperwork in the briefing room upstairs including filling out an insurance form for me and we submitted these to the office down below before heading out onto the apron.


In the pilots room at Sion airport


The Piper plane was in the old wooden hangar


Towing the plane out onto the apron

​​​​One of the Robin aircraft had broken down and was in for repairs and the remaining one was needed by an instructor during the afternoon. Our aircraft was exactly the same one we had used for the Alpine tour back in January and it had been carefully placed along with two other light aircraft in the old wooden hangar which is scheduled for demolition. Jean towed the plane, an action which was feasible thanks to a pulling tool, out on to the parking place on the apron. There, we both inspected the body of the aircraft in detail and Jean verified fuel and oil levels. We finally climbed into the cockpit of the small plane and began the preflight checks, eventually starting the motor and propellor. All instruments were checked during the 10 minutes needed for the motor to warm up and we hooked up to air traffic control and quickly got permission to taxi to the runway and takeoff.


Going through the preflight take-off checklist


Instrument panel of the Piper aircraft


Taking off towards Conthey in the southwest
​​​​​​
We were instructed to take off to the southwest in the direction of Martigny and await further instructions during the climb. This time I felt comfortable with ATC and could understand what they were saying in English. The next command duly came and we were able to bank sharp left over Nendaz while gaining height. Before long we were headed towards the northeast in the direction of Raron, a very small airfield further up the Rhône valley where the valley is much narrower. We rose to a height of 5,500 feet but it often didn't feel high enough for me as the terrain sometimes appeared frighteningly close down below. We flew over Vex and Nax, then over Sierre. As we flew over the Forêt de Finges I made out a runway in the distance, but as we got closer there were large X crosses on the runway, meaning that you cannot land there. It turned out to be Turtmann, a closed airfield.


A clear view down the Rhône valley towards Martigny


Looking up the Val d'Hérens, the village of Vex in the foreground; having turned 180° we are now heading up the Rhône valley towards the northeast


The upper part of the Rhône valley is much more narrow


The airfield of Turtmann is visible here, which is closed to traffic


I like this picture of Gampel-Steg, the bottom of the Lötschental where the Lonza river reaches the Rhône valley


A view of the industrial town of Visp, with the factory buildings of Lonza clearly visible

Finally Raron airstrip came into sight and it was quickly visible that the runway had been cut into two parts, one part with large X marks on it denoting that you may not land there, and the other part a short 700 meter live runway. There was a glider planning to land at the same time as us, so we were instructed to land on runway 28 and wait at the end of the runway which unceremoniously ended with a ridge of grass and some abandoned oil drums, a modern industrial building just behind it. The glider landed just behind us, immediately turned and taxied back down the runway to the parking area. We followed suit and duly parked on the edge of a field beside a tiny hangar (for model planes) which had a wooden hut next to it. There is no terminal building, no airport staff, just this hut which had a cafe inside it.


The airfield of Raron, which has indeed been cut in two; we will land towards the southwest, on the left part of the runway here


Approaching the runway after turning 180°, the still incomplete A9 highway on the right


The active second half of the runway in the distance is indeed very short


We parked the plane on the grass beside the wooden hut which contained the main office of the airport and a café

Rating 9*
Aircraft DR40
Registration HB-KFQ
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Last edited by Concerto; Sep 27, 22 at 8:50 am
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Old Sep 26, 22, 4:13 pm
  #50  
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24. ZBL-SIR Private Plane (F) PP005

LSGS - SIR Sion CH (UTC+1)
LSTA - ZBL Raron CH (UTC+1)

We just had time to finish our mineral water and Swiss Rivella drinks before we bade farewell to our newfound friends with yellow sunglasses (you know the sort). The time was 12h45 and the airfield at Raron is officially closed between 12h00 and 13h30, for noise protection reasons. So we had to take off promptly and the American glider pilot in front of us was still doing his preflight preparations. We managed to get ATC permission to take off in the opposite direction to that in which we landed, on runway 10. In the end we commenced takeoff at 11h57 and we were airborne all of one minute later. After a sharp turn, following the terrain of the valley walls looming closer and closer, we gained height and flew in the direction of the first waypoint of E1 at Sierre. There were great views on the right side of Crans Montana and the mountains behind, where much of the snow appeared to have melted except for the highest glaciers. By the time we reached waypoint E2, which is St Léonard, we had dropped height considerably and many details on the ground could clearly be seen, such as the vineyards around Grimisuat and the Bisse de Claivau. If ever you find yourself in Sion that is a walk you absolutely must do, following an ancient water course through the vineyards. I could even make out the building of the Conservatoire, including the windows of the room where Jean teaches his classes! We banked to the right over the hospital and lined up with the runway, coming in for a perfect landing. After we parked the plane, I helped Jean to clean it before the instructor was due to use it, just a half hour later. This business of cleaning was barely necessary in January, but in the summer the aircraft becomes spattered with flies and other insects.


There were a lot of model planes and helicopters at Raron airfield


A view of the buvette at Raron, which offered drinks and snacks, with the model plane freaks just outside


First of a couple of pics of me as we near the end of this trip report


A look down the runway at Raron although you can't see how short it is here; there is a midday curfew so we took off just before it started, with take-off at 11h57


A railway viaduct is visible on what used to be the mainline between Berne and Brig; nowadays most rail traffic passes through the Lötschberg basis tunnel under the Alps



Vineyards approaching Sion, with Grimisuat on the right and the airport of Sion just visible extreme left


Lining up the runway at Sion airport in the distance


A very clear view of the city of Sion


Final approach into Sion SIR airport


I set about cleaning the aircraft from all the splattered insects

Rating 10*
Aircraft DR40
Registration HB-KFQ
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Last edited by Concerto; Sep 27, 22 at 8:52 am
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Old Sep 27, 22, 9:01 am
  #51  
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25. Descrescendo into storms, cooler weather, summer happiness

Towards the middle of June, when I finally began to emerge from the endless recitals and exams, the weather became unbearably hot. The consequence was a series of apocalyptic thunderstorms, one of which overwhelmed the drains and sewers where I am living while I was in Bordeaux, leaving the owners of the house with a big clean-up job. Despite the massive amounts of rain falling in extreme downpours, the whole region is suffering a drought and the water wells where I fill up my bottles are dwindling to a trickle.


CGN lake steamer at the jetty in Villeneuve


As the steamer pulls away you can see a monster storm brewing over Lac Léman (Lake Geneva)


Same day view from the garden at my place, where the palm tree now obscures the view of the lake that I used to have


Large woman takes picture of small dog in Martigny, in an art installation with large stones and mirrors in Avenue de la Gare

Another consequence of this was felt when I went to a remote corner of canton Vaud in the Jura foothills, to the village of Mollens. This year it was the turn of Mollens to organise a Giron de Musique, which normally rotates each year between other villages in the Pied du Jura region, where the local music societies, including brass bands and wind bands, parade down the lanes in full uniforms. Parallel to this is a competition for young soloists which is usually entrusted to me. This takes place in the church, which dates back to Cluny times, which has a nice acoustic and was the coolest place in the village...in terms of temperature. The storm damage was quickly seen when we arrived at the village, after a 20 minutes drive from Morges. Flower beds and plantations had been completely destroyed by golf ball sized hailstones and further down, in the direction of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), the grapes in many vineyards had been wiped out. It was a scramble to clear up and prettify the village again in time for the musical event.


Entry to the village of Mollens


The village church, highly important in Cluny times, where we played the contest


The community center, the headquarters of the contest


There's a lot of forgotten history in the villages at the foot of the Jura, as well as a rather dark record of burning people suspected of sorcery


Quite a bit of excitement with a procession of tractors the same day as the contest: mine is bigger than yours


View from Mollens of the peaceful countryside sloping down towards the lake, which becomes vineyards further down
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Last edited by Concerto; Sep 27, 22 at 9:30 am
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Old Sep 27, 22, 4:16 pm
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I am really enjoying the variety in this report! Thanks for the effort with lots of details!
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Old Sep 28, 22, 1:35 am
  #53  
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Well, I have to declare that we are at the end of this trip report now. The pics of the storm approaching on the lake were taken on 30th June, which was the last day of the 2nd quarter.

My summer trip report will begin being loaded up here starting in October. There's all sorts of excitement in it:

- torturous long distance regional train trips using the 9 Euro Ticket in Germany;
- flights in a private Piper aircraft to see the Technik Museum in Speyer, where it was possible to drool over space shuttles, submarines, tour a real Lufthansa 747 and more;
- enjoy endless delays and cancellations on Eurowings and Condor;
- a trip in long haul business class to the island of Mallorca;
- and hiking trips in the Ruhrgebiet and Niederrhein regions of Germany.
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