A Travellerspoint blog

The Journey So Far- And Finally

Journey home

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The Journey So Far

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So. this has been the journey so far:
3,500 miles
84 hours riding time

The Journey Home

We are now heading home through France. We are aiming to spend six days with our friends Kevin and Louise at their beautiful place near Pontivy in Brittany. It's worth a visit. Here is a link to Great Brittany Holidays web site. Their place is called Le Clezio.
http://greatbrittanyholidays.co.uk/
By coincidence our friends Neil and Amanda are in the same area at the same time (what's the chances), So it looks like I may be forced to drink more wine than I am accustomed to!

Our intended route is through the Vosges Mountains and then to follow the Loire Valley west,spending some time visiting the some of the great Châteaus along the way.

If all goes well, we will be catching the St Malo to Portsmouth ferry at the end of July.

And Finally

Mrs G and I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Our intention was not to treat it as a travel log, but more as a collection of our thoughts and observations. I have been really surprised at the viewings. There have literally been hundreds and hundreds of you viewing the blog. However, it was written primarily for my parents-in-law, who I know enjoy following our travels.

Thank you again. Especially for the encouraging comments from our friends and family.

Ride Safe

Posted by Mick G 13:22 Archived in France Tagged motorcycle Comments (4)

Bike Problems in Austria and Germany

Trials, Tribulations and Technology

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As you know, when you are travelling there will always be something goes wrong and quite often that involves technology. Our problem involved a left turn indicator and a menu button that decided to go on strike in Slovakia. For a while we managed with Mrs G giving a left turn signal when I hit her left knee. Clearly, this wasn’t a lasting solution, especially as Mrs G was getting increasingly annoyed with this technique and started to hit back with a thump in my ribs.

Consequently, we sought help in Vienna, at the central dealership, in the heart of the city. Reluctantly, I have to admit, there is no way whatsoever we could have found that place without the aid of the Sat nav (aka The Bitch). Although they were unable to help themselves, because they didn't have the part in stock, the Service manager kindly rang ahead to Kuprun, near to our next stop. They agreed to order the part and were confident of being able to fit it on Thursday or Friday.

So it was, we turned up at Kaprun on the Wednesday. Because we were passing, we thought we could call and check to see if everything was on schedule. We pulled into the dealership at midday and were greeted by the staff as if they were expecting us. They showed us the part and indicated they could fit it now. What's more, with no licence shown ,no documents signed, they gave us a bike to pass the time on. That's what I call service.

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A trip round Zell Am See, a coffee and our bike was ready. Indicator and menu switch renewed, all under warranty. Brilliant.

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However, if we thought our problems with the bike were over, we were sadly mistaken. On our way from Krimml to Ulm in Germany we suffered a puncture at 120 km/h on the autobahn. This is not something I recommend trying. Luckily we were in the "slow lane" of four busy lanes, full of BMW's Mercedes etc travelling flat out. There was no hard shoulder,just small lay bys right beside the speeding traffic.

With the aid of the BMW puncture repair kit, we managed to patch the hole and get enough air into the tyre (5 bar to be precise) to get us off the autobahn before we got wiped out by some straying Teutonic juggernaut.

To cut a long story short, we rand BMW Breakdown and we were recovered to a small town near Munich. Because it was Sunday we had to wait until Monday for a tyre to be sourced. 24 hours later, and the cost of two tyres,fitted by a Honda dealership, we were on our way again. The recovery people were absolutely brilliant. They gave us lifts to and from our hotel, Arranged the fitting of the tyre and rang other dealers to source alternatives. Thank you to Herr Hinkfoth at Holzkirchen.

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It just goes to show, that when you are in a bit of a mess, there is usually someone or something that comes along to help.

So although technology can be the cause of some problems I still think it's wonderful. Without the Satnav it would have been a nightmare getting to the BMW dealerships. Without the mobile phone, calling the breakdown service in the UK would be problematical. Without an I pad, changing hotel bookings would be difficult. Just to name a few things that have made solving our problems easier.

Posted by Mick G 12:58 Archived in Austria Tagged people motorcycle Comments (0)

Austria

Krimml and the Zillertaller Alps

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We were heading for Krimml because Fred and Urmer, who we had met in Trutnov in the Czech Republic, had recommended a hotel there. Plus, Krimml waterfalls at 350m are the biggest waterfalls in Europe and the 5th largest in the world. It would also provide the chance to do some of the high passes in the Zillertaler Alps.

The hotel was called the Burgeck Panorama Hotel. It certainly didn't disappoint in the panorama department. The views to the falls and down the valley were incredible.

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The falls themselves were immensely powerful. We walked up them early one morning to avoid the crowds and were rewarded with some stunning views and an ice cream.

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As far as the biking is concerned we added another couple of high passes to our list. The Zillertaler Hohenalpinestrasse
http://www.mayrhofen.at/de/101029/101106/101145/zillertaler-hoehenstrasse.html

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,
and the Gerlos alpinestrasse.
http://www.gerlosstrasse.at/en/gerlos-alpenstrasse/

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Both were impressive as you can see. The unusual thing was that we didn't see another British bike on either of them.

Just to see how the other half live we mixed it with the Ferrari's and Porche's in Kitzbuhl. Even the McDonalds had proper waitresses! To round off a great time we travelled the 161 to Mittersill. A great road with sweeping bends and fantastic views.

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Posted by Mick G 00:35 Archived in Austria Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains skylines motorcycle tourist_sites Comments (2)

Vienna, Austria

Oh Vienna !

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Into Austria via a great route through Slovakia, suggested by the owner of the apartment we stayed in. With a further detour by ourselves around Bratislava, we crossed into Austria on a small ferry. Then on towards Vienna, our stop for the next two nights.

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Neither April or I had been to Vienna before and we found it literally "gob smacking". The scale of the buildings and more importantly the space between the buildings was huge. The architecture is breathtaking. We both stood in St Stephens Square like two country bumpkins gawping at the buildings. ( oh I forgot we are two country bumpkins)

I don't intend to do a travel guide of Vienna. You can google it or buy a book that's far more interesting than what I've got to say. What I will say though, is it's worth researching Vienna, then come and see it for yourself. In the meantime, here are some pictures of buildings and things:

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Posted by Mick G 11:35 Archived in Austria Tagged buildings people boats motorcycle tourist_sites Comments (2)

Bojnice, Slovakia

Beautiful Castles,Crazy Drivers

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We left Zakopane in Poland and quickly crossed the border into Slovakia. Our route was to take us through the Low Tatras to Bojnice . Avoiding the major routes we wound our way through forests that stretched as far as the eye could see. The trees covered all the hills and mountains and looked truly stunning. We passed through quite a few unremarkable villages interspersed with some quaint, well kept places. But, the thought that I couldn't get out of my head was that the communists must have been really soulless.

What sort of bureaucrats, planners, architects, politicians and builders,conspired together, to take a village that at one time must have looked nice and turn it into something out of George Orwell's 1984. It probably contained a number of houses and farms,similar in style to Austria or Germany ,until the afore mentioned had the idea that industry is good, no matter where it is sighted. Let's build a big factory to make non existent tractors. Let's build a big chimney to dominate the skyline for miles around. That way, if we do make something, the pollution will have maximum impact on our forests. Let's build square boxes of flats to house our workers. Need I go on. I'm sure you get the picture. Now I know, they thought they were doing the best for the country. Yes, I'm sure it was an attempt to get the country producing. But, as an outsider looking in, it is soulless, unimaginative and grey. And yes, I do realise this sounds like a rant!

Then we came to Bojnice. What a beautiful place. Slovakia is certainly a country of contrasts.
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Crazy Drivers

Have you ever wondered how people get taught to drive in other countries. Probably not, but it’s a thought that’s been circulating in my head since we entered Slovakia for the first time.

As we passed through Germany there were obvious driving school type cars and in the Czech Republic even more obvious driving school cars. The poor learners there drive a car with a sign the size of a small billboard on top of the car consisting of a blue “L”. There is no mistaking the inexperienced driver. However, it’s the motorcycle learner I felt sorry for. No need for a radio from the Instructor to the nervous first time rider. No need for the Instructor to ride their bike close to the learners to observe their every move. No, they are much more hands on than that. Yes, you guessed it. The poor learner has to pillion the Instructor around the roads. On one occasion I actually saw the Instructor controlling the bike from behind while the learner sat helplessly observing. Talk about giving a demonstration ride!

Anyway, you’re letting me babble on again. The point I was going to make is that there is only one school of driving in Slovakia. That’s the “Kamakazi School for Reckless Drivers”. Their motto is “Pass or Die”.

There are a number of driving techniques employed. All involve passing the vehicle in front as quickly and as recklessly as possible.

This is a translation of an excerpt from the Slovakian Highway Code.
Chapter Three “Guidance on Overtaking Vehicles”
1. The sneak approach. Not as popular as many of the others, but hang back as long as possible until there is a dangerous bend ahead or large on coming vehicle. As it get’s closer wait, wait….then rush onto the vehicle you want to overtake. The aim should be to achieve a near death experience with whatever vehicle/hazard is coming towards you.
2. The rush and swerve approach. This involves keeping you’re accelerator foot flat to the floor. Waiting until the last possible moment, before swerving round the vehicle you want to pass. Close your eyes. Do not worry about on coming vehicles.
3. The stay in the opposite lane approach. Similar to two, but without the swerve.
4. The tail gate approach. Imagine you are the vehicle in front.

I Googled the Slovakian Institute of advanced motorists and found this helpful system of car control on their website.

Drivers should consider the following at the approach to any hazard:
I Information Close your eyes. It’s better not to know what else is out there.
P Position As close to anything else on the road, as you can get.
S Speed As fast as you can go. At all times.
G Gear Any will do, providing it achieves the above.
A Acceleration Yes.

Anyway take care if you are driving or riding in Slovakia. Remember they’re all out to get you!

Public Address System

There are many good things in Slovakia. There are also many things that appear strange and eccentric.

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We had noticed the speakers hanging off telegraph poles, in most of the villages we had passed through. Although unusual to see we thought little more about them. It wasn't until, I heard loud music blaring that the mystery was solved. At first, I thought it was April blasting out her " Now 22" compilation of all time great Slovakian folk tunes,again. I had warned her last time, to turn the volume down for fear annoying the locals. Then I realised the music was coming from the speakers.

Apparently they are another hangover from the Communist days. They used to be to blurt out propaganda to the workers. At the demise of the Communist era many villages decided they liked public music and kept them. ( I doubt however,that anyone who lives directly next to a speaker voted for this). They now have local broadcasts of music and public announcements. Natty idea ? Or. maybe not....I swear one of the announcers sounded remarkably like Terry Wogan. (so that's where he went to)

Posted by Mick G 07:27 Archived in Slovakia Tagged landscapes mountains people motorcycle tourist_sites Comments (3)

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