|08-27-2013, 03:00 PM||#1|
Joined: Mar 2013
The Euro Itch that had to be scratched
Forgive my ramblings as once i start i do like to write and am a firm believer in setting the scene, a prologue to the main story if you like so if you wish you can just skip to the pictures instead
Following on from our 2011 group Pyrenees tour.
Fast forward to Aug 2012 with a beach holiday booked for us and a small group of friends headed to the South of Spain for a tour the self planned tour itch was still there, nagging away like a splinter that not even your mother could get out with the sewing needle.
No group tour was in the pipeline for 2013 so it was up to me to make something and throw out a few ideas i had.
I created a facebook group called 2013 non committal tour as i really do hate committing to anything, more a sort of last minute kinda person.
I added all the old crew in and set about throwing up a few new pyrenees routes up for feedback.
Between one thing and another it turned out no-one else could commit anyway so in the end it was just myself and the wife.
Fast forward yet again to Sept 2012 and the tour had changed altogether to France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and back again, dont ask me how that happened but it did, looking back it may have been a little ambitious for a first solo tour but luckily it all worked out fine, routes were all done and loaded onto the Chinese made Peaklife GPS which seriously impressed me on this trip.
As neither of us had done the Euro Tunnel i'd opted to ride there, cross over to France just for the experience and ride to the first nights B&B.
As is customary for our group to have a send off for whoevers going away a few turned up to wave us goodbye.
Day 1 27th July - Wales UK to Tilloy les Marchiennes
All packed up and ready to go we set off for Magor Services via the M4 which always excites me even when travelling toward it in the van it gives me fond memories of the 2011 tour departure point.
Steve had brought along a camera pole to use but the bi-boobied camera wielder declined so i think Steve was looking for another use for it.
In this pic you can see Steve looking and thinking 'Two weeks on that seat?' and he was right, its not the best for comfort.
Queuing for the train
Could do with a wash mind you
Finally boarded and to top it off we were locked in with a load of cars, not another bike in our carriage
A nice German man offered to take our picture
Off the other side in no time and on the road albeit on the wrong side
The wife had some sort of fascination with the pylon 'men' as they are so different to ours in the uk
Through a few nice towns on the way to the B&B at Tilloy les Marchiennes in France.
One of the sat nav charging pins on the cradle had snapped so i had to resort to the 12v usb plug and GPS pc lead to charge it.
We finally arrived at around 6pm so it had been a long day, the proprietor spoke little english and we spoke little French but we managed to get our room and finally showered.
Too tired to do anything we made some packet noodles for food which we had packed and retired for the night amidst a huge storm, needless to say we had no trouble whatsoever sleeping after the long day.
Did i mention i dont ride in the rain?
Day 2 28th July - Tilloy les Marchiennes to Hosingen, Luxembourg
Next morning bright and early we dressed, packed the bike and sat at the breakfast table with a couple from Belgium who were on a cycling holiday.
There was a bemused look between all of us as there was a coffee pot but no cups or mugs to drink out of, common sense or Logic has no language barrier and we all agreed to use the cereal bowls for our coffee, strange but it did the job.
We had a good chat as they're english was very good.
We waved goodbye to them as they cycled off down the lane and we left.
So back on the road to cross through a part of Belgium and into Luxembourg where we were to camp for the night.
A bit of motorway to eat a few miles.
The onboard camera person was functioning correctly as i could feel her moving about on the back capturing random things on camera for your pleasure
As it was our first solo tour everything was new and different to us so i think everything had its picture taken.
We pulled into a little Belgian town where we had to start to get into the lifestyle that we would be a part of for the next two weeks.
Straight to the bar
Opposite the bar was a boulangerie and patisserie, being a lover of all things cake i had to investigate and see how these euro cakes taste.
Well hello there, what do we have here?
We decided to save the cakes for later so into the tank bag they went until we could find a suitable place befitting of such a food, crossed back into France and enter stage left the beautiful town of Givet.
I could think of no better place to stop for cake
After our cake stop it was back on the road as we still had a couple of hours until we would get to the campsite.
Id routed in some nice twisty roads befitting of the KTM on the way but rain had fallen an hour before and ruined what could have been a very nice and pretty ride through the trees.
It did dry up when we got closer to the campsite but as we arrived the weather looked a bit dodgy again.
The campsite entrance at http://www.camping-des-ardennes.net/
Booked in, tent up and to the bar!
The site had a good restaurant and seemed a place that a lot of locals came to in the evening and we couldnt figure out how it was so busy until we took a walk into the town that was practically deserted no restaurants, shops nothing open at all but was nice nonetheless.
Headed back for food and with the menu being in a funny language we sat scratching our heads until the owner who booked us in asked a local to translate for us
The safe bet for me of course was steak and Tash had pork steak in a creamy mushroom sauce, our first proper meal since landing in Euro land it didnt last long i can assure you.
Back to the tent after hearing an American guy who had checked in just behind us telling his tales of months of travel on his bike.
Seemed a fascinating character and i regret now not introducing myself and getting in on his tales.
Boiling up for a coffee back at the tent before getting some sleep for day 3
JJay51 screwed with this post 10-28-2013 at 02:47 PM
|08-27-2013, 04:32 PM||#3|
Joined: Mar 2013
Day 3 July 29th - Hosingen, Luxembourg to Cochem, Germany
I had booked tonights B&B in advance on the river Mosel in the pretty town of Cochem.
Had a decent sleep, up early, washed and packed the bike up, Monday was day off for the owners wife who usually did breakfasts but no today.
Oh well, food on the go it would have to be.
A few nice roads and towns on the way
This picture actually reminds me that i need to find out why they paint the white stripe on the trees
My kinda roads
Oh and what of breakfast i hear you ask, why cakes of course from a full blown, fully stocked boulangerie in a filling station in the middle of nowhere literally as it was on the border between Lux and Germany
Onwards over rolling hills through pristine villages that were deserted apart from the retired old folk who were pruning the already pruned grass, yes we were in Germany, it was evident, not a blade of grass out of place you have to hand it to the Germans, they're meticulous in everything they do and it shows.
Not a one-sie nor a hoodie in sight.
I'd seen signs for the Nurburgring and decided to go find it and see what all the fuss was about.
Today was Porsche owners day and not a bike on the track, at the filling station outside a bunch of middle aged men in flame retardent suits were filling up and cleaning the windows on their porsches before going back out on track.
Unimpressed by the lack of bikes we headed off again, the route took us onto the motorway again to eat a couple of miles..... Autobahn baby!
Did the obligatory full throttle which the pillion was unimpressed by until we hit a sudden bank of rain, then a rumble of thunder, then came the lightening and i mean big lightening, heavier and heavier the rain got, we passed a BMW rider and pillion who were obviously more averse to riding in the rain than me that they decided to pull over there and then on the Autobahn to don the wet gear, i decided against potential suicide and took the next exit and we suited up just off the junction.
Mesh summer jackets are not waterproof i can assure you
As it happens the route had recalculated and we stayed off the Autobahn and 10 minutes later the rain stopped.
We had now landed just on the Mosel River and started to travel alongside it to Cochem.
The Mosel Valley should be renamed the Valley of the Vines as every nook and cranny of the hillsides are covered in grape vines.
This we felt is where the tour really started as we'd planned the previous couple of days as a means to get here.
We checked into the B&B with its secure parking underneath and set off for the town to explore.
One thing i'd been looking forward to doing on this trip was a couple of cable car rides, Tash not being a lover of funfair rides etc. wasnt as keen but when in Rome or in this case Germany then it would be rude not to say you've done it.
There was a small cable car at the top of town that took you up to a cafe with a viewpoint.
You see, she enjoyed it really
We had a drink up top, Tash had a wine and i had some sort of cloudy bier, i can tell you not being a drinker that that cloudy bier was a strong one!
Next up was a trek up to burg cochem http://www.burg-cochem.de/english/history.htm
It was a fair old trek and wasnt sure if we'd make it to the top as Tash has arthritis in both knees and is awaiting treatment
But we got there albeit with a little break
On the way down we spotted this little chap
Had a stop in town for coffee and of course cake...
Before heading for food and to bed for an early night.
Cochem was a beautiful town and reminded me a lot of 2011's tour to Tossa de Mar with its busy streets hidden away behind the main road terraced buildings, you'd miss most of it if you didnt go looking for it.
|08-28-2013, 02:46 PM||#4|
Joined: Mar 2013
Day 4 Cochem to Bosen (Bostalsee camping)
With our first contintental breakfast of this trip under our belt and it was a good one too especially with a view like this off the veranda
We checked out of our B&B and got the bike out of the lock up underneath
Turns out the KTM was all on its lonesome in there all night as the other bikes that tried to get in failed as they were too long for the spaces due to being some big chrome cruiser type things
We set off down the Mosel which was as beautiful as we expected and worthy of a future more relaxed tour over more days.
Passing loads of campsites that were absolutely packed to the brim and who could blame them with the riverside location and then the miles upon miles of vines it really is hard to comprehend or describe just how many vines are planted along the way.
And then when i get too old for biking, theres always one of these
I'd planned todays route to take us out of the valley on some of the nice looking twisty roads and it was a good decision as they took us in and out of the valley up and down and hairpin hill climbs and decents.
Weaving in and out of the vines we were fascinated by some of the workers aboard machinery that was custom made to operate on the sloped vineyards.
Bit of a squeeze
We took a short break just after climbing out of the valley for the last time and took the opportunity of a few snaps wih the star of the show in them too.
We moved off along some more fantastic roads, it was overcast but warm and humid and we could see the sun was trying its hardest to get through.
Travelling along and what should i spy but another cable car ride
This was fast turning into the tour de cable car.
Parked up, paid the fare and climbed aboard.
A quick pic to show where we were
And of course her now obligatory feet shot
We were orignally going to stay at Saarlouis but as the going was good we decided we'd try to get further south and get ahead of schedule.
Through Trier which was one of the disappointments of the trip as it seemed too busy, dirty and generally scruffy looking even alongside the river.
We opted to go straight through and a quick check on the camping app showed a good campsite at Bosen so set the sat nav in that direction.
Arrived at Bosen and checked into a rather nice campsite - http://www.bostalsee.de/en/camp-site-bostalsee/
Checked in for 12 euros and had a choice of pitch so opted for the closest area to the shop and restaurant
Set up camp which we now had down to a fine art and headed off for a walk to the lake.
Went back to the site for food at the restaurant and retired for the night after the usual ritual of coffee before hand.
Just as we were about to zip up for the night we could hear thunder rolling in the distance, it was getting louder and louder accompanied by massive flashes of lightening and then the rain started, this was heavy rain, pounding the tent like someone throwing small marbles on a tin sheet roof it was noisy, the tent had never been wet tested and the rain was relentess but still we managed to get to sleep with no leaks evident, fingers crossed we wouldnt wake up in a muddy puddle in the morning.
JJay51 screwed with this post 08-28-2013 at 03:07 PM
|08-28-2013, 03:50 PM||#5|
Joined: Mar 2013
Day 5 - Bosen to Hagenau, France
The rain finally stopped sometime in the small hours just as daylight was starting to show itself.
We awoke to no muddy puddle thankfully and the £23 tent had proven itself
It was starting to warm up by about 8am, took turns to go for a wash when it came to my turn Tash went to the onsite bakery for breakfast, yes cakes again, with no idea what they were she just pointed and gestured her way to a four pastry bag of delight.
Packed up and hit the road again that had thankfully dried up nicely in the morning sun.
We'd decided to change course again today to head further south.
Pretty town after pretty town we just rode through the waypoints id set on the GPS without knowing exactly where we would end up, i guess thats the one advantage of a self planned tour, no exact route to stick to and no one else to please except yourselves.
Vines were still in such abundance they were growing them everywhere they could.
This town seemed to have a fascination with donkeys as there were quite a few dotted about the place, some painted in wild colours.
One of the breakfast cakes was our first real German Pretzel which we stowed away in the tank bag for later, later was now so we decided to take a short break.
After a nice stop we set off again and found a McD's in Wissembourg to use the WiFi to find a hotel for the night.
We found one in Haguenau for £43 euros on the booking.com app, booked it there and then and set off again as we still had about an hour left to get there after setting the via points away from motorways and on the nicer roads.
Booked into Europe Hotel which for the money was amazing value.
After locking the bike up in the secure garage, we checked into the room, showered and went back downstairs to the poolside for a beer.
After a longish day this was heaven, an ice cold beer poolside.
As the hotel was just out of town we opted to eat on site another one where locals came to dine with full waiter service included.
After a real chilled out evening and some high class food where you could have fitted the food into a tea cup rather than use the what looked like an oversized plate to the portion of food we retired for the night after checking on our washed drying clothes hung all around the room
|08-28-2013, 04:56 PM||#6|
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: northern Arkansas
Would love to take a couple of months to explore europe; I'm 'forced' to spend my limited time there in the Alps. Great photos and writing.
R1200GS Ural Patrol KLR650 DRz400 XL185
Austria '08 http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=352082
Back to the Alps in '11 http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=744205
|08-30-2013, 02:31 PM||#7|
Joined: Mar 2013
Day 6 Haguenau, France to Rothaus, Germany
We awoke to glorious sunshine after the previous day of one or two showers and were looking forward to getting back into Germany as today was the day we'd hit the B500 and also would be going through Wolfach which we'd planned on after seeing pics on a report here.
With a good breakfast inside us.....
......we headed off, a quick fuel stop down the road and away.
Almost felt like home (except for the good drivers, nice weather etc.) when we spotted this
Its on mornings like this that make the day ahead even better
Crossed the river Rhine into Germany
Which way now? I'm not sure they had enough signs at this junction
We hit the B500 in no time, we started to ride on snooker table smooth tarmac with some nice hairpins thrown in.
We started to climb and we could feel the air getting colder, more and more bends, plenty of other bikers enjoying this awesome route and in no time we reached a high viewpoint
We happened upon a cafe that just so happened to be geared toward bikes and there were a few bikes parked up so we decided to stop for a drink
And hows this for biker friendly
Tash had managed to get our tag stuck on a post by the visor wash station
We finished our drink after watching loads of bikers pull in and out and go past and i was eager to get back onto this excellent road.
I'd happened to take a wrong turn but decided to ignore the GPS's nagging voice to turn around and continued on some fantastic smaller tighter roads that seemed to climb up and down the valley.
Feeling all twistied out we finally reached Wolfach for a break and it was every bit as pretty as we'd hoped
By now it was getting really hot so what do you do when the temps are up?
Why sit in the shade with ice cream of course!
As i'd been having so much fun on the small roads i'd lost track of time and we still had a way to go.
You could tell we were in the Black Forest Region.
We came across a waterfall that seemed to be a big attraction so we decided to have a quick stop and pay the 7 euros each to go see it.
Bit over rated in my opinion and most definitely not worth the money!
Unimpressed we set off again, more and more clock shops sprung up on the side of the road
We'd finally reached Schluchsee lake which is where we were hoping to camp as the site looked a large one with a good rating http://www.camping-schluchsee.de/
Unfortunately due to the change in weather it seemed every one else in Germany had the same idea and there wasn't room for us so out came the camping app and we found one a couple of miles away and set off.... again!
This was turning out to be a long day, hot and tired we arrived -
Found the owner who was a funny little man, a friendly but stout, loud german that liked to talk and shout at some of the occupants across the site.
He spoke no English at all and so shouted to a young chap to come over and translate.
I knew the german for 1 tent 1 night and between the 3 of us, secured a nice spot under some trees for the princely sum of 13 euros.
Tent up, changed and bar!
Now being quite adventurous when it comes to food i wanted to try some wurst so while i ran back to the tent for something i asked Tash to order me any one of the wurst dishes on the menu.
Turns out i was having a wurst salad which was rather tasty, i can onoy describe it as being like a stringy polony sausage type of meat.
Needless to say it soon disappeared
Back to the tent for a welcome early night.
No trouble sleeping i can sssure you and dreamed of the next day that would take us into another country - Switzerland!
JJay51 screwed with this post 08-30-2013 at 02:39 PM
|09-01-2013, 03:20 PM||#8|
Joined: Mar 2013
Day 7 Rothaus to Brunnen
After a good nights rest we found out what the big marquee on site was used for, they'd set up a small breakfast type bar with freshly delivered breads etc and coffee available in large flasks.
So with a pastry and coffee inside we packed down the gear and loaded up for the day ahead that would see us entering Switzerland.
The original route was to head for Vitznau and to camp but it didnt turn out that way.
There wasnt a cloud in the sky when we got on the road and it was looking like a hot one ahead.
After some awesome roads we came across the border gate.
After enquiring here about the vignette, we asked the guard for info and he said stay off the green roads and save yourself money.
So thats what we did
We went through Zurich just to say we'd been but wished we hadnt as it was mental, such a big city, we tried to get through it as quick as possible.
We finally managed to escape the madness and came alongside Lake Zurich which was huge!!
By now the day had been quite long as it was and with the heat it was time for a break.
If there was proof required that we were in Switzerland it would be here that it would become evident.
Two deserts and two drinks rang in somewhere around 18 euros!
It was hot, we were tired and the view wasn't bad so i think i would have happily paid double if required.
We moved on trying to get to Vitznau but the scenery was so nice it slowed us down but we eventually got to Vitznau.
A pretty place but dampened by the fact that the campsite labelled as right by the lake was in fact across the road, up the hill behind some houses, needless to say i wasnt impressed.
We decided to head back toward a McD's we'd seen to use the wifi again to find some digs elsewehere.
We found a hotel in Brunnen that was reasonably priced so set the gps for that direction.
We got to Brunnen, hot, tired and both a little grumpy.
I headed off for the hotel only to find it had been sold to be turned into apartments, seriously hacked off i stormed off to the Tourist info office to get some help.
As we'd camped a few times and saved a fair bit of money i raised the budget here based on how hacked off we were and to be fair was one of the nicest places we'd been so far so the additional cost was worth it.
We were given directions to Hotel Schmid -
At 125 euros it was expensive but location and all that i didnt care.
Parked the bike up and an elderly gent came hobbling over impressed with the bike and trying to figure out where we were from by the plate.
He spoke decent english and we got chatting, he told us he'd been living here a while moving from Austria, we explained we'd had trouble finding a room and he questioned if we'd sorted something, i genuinely think he would have offered us a bed for the night bless him.
Checked in to the hotel and overheard some english speakers in wedding attire entering the lobby.
I jokingly remarked how nice it was to hear another british accent and congratulated them.
I chatted to them and they seemed amazed that we'd ridden from home to here on the bike
Checked into the room and did a quick wash of clothes and hung them out to dry and showered and hit the town both in much better mood and who could blame us with this view from the room
Well chilled out after a good night out we retired for the night, tomorrow would be the day of the 3 passes!
|09-02-2013, 11:20 AM||#12|
Joined: Aug 2010
What a nice ride. I wish I can do that riding in europe in a couple of years.
'04 KTM 950 Adventure S
|09-02-2013, 02:54 PM||#13|
Joined: Mar 2013
Day 8 Brunnen to Interlaken
The high price of the hotel thankfully included breakfast and it was a good one too.
The owners were very nice and i would recommend this hotel to anyone :)
Got the bike loaded up ready for the day ahead, the day that was for me in the initial planning stage to be the pinnacle of the trip, the high point quite litterally as we were going to be hitting a couple of the passes.
First was onto the Axenstrasse and part of Gotthardstrasse to head for Andermatt.
The day was overcast but i didnt care what the weather was doing as the scenery from here on in would be some of the best so far.
Plenty of bikes about so it was looking like this was a popular route.
A random large boulder with some flags on it and people getting pics next to it?, i had no idea of the significance of this piece of rock.
We were climbing higher and higher on some fabulous hairpin roads, but the going was slowed by cyclists going up, all credit to them for doing it but most do seem to have no consideration for the build up of traffic behind them.
Higher and higher, colder and colder
We came to a small pretty town at the top and fuelled up
Back out onto the open road
We were now climbing the Furka pass
We arrived at the high point and parked up for the obligatory pictures of the signs.
Had to tag the sign with our mark too
Set off again for the decent down the other side that would take us straight back up the Grimsel pass next.
We started the climb up the Grimsel pass
It was quite busy probably as the overcast skies had cleared to reveal glorious sunshine.
The road finally started levelling out
And we were finally at the top
One of the glacier lakes on the top
Tash said she wanted to find some snow to get a picture with as it was hard to believe there was still some here as the bike was saying it was 26deg yet here it was, a big slab of snow.
Stopped in the souvenir shop and picked up a sticker and a bar of chocolate before heading down the other side.
We came across a viewpoint by one of the glacier lakes right by a dam at this place http://www.grimselwelt.ch/home-en/
I'd seen a funicular on google during the planning stages that i wanted to try but when we got there it was an hours wait for it to cme back down then another hour to ascend as we still had a bit of a way to go we didnt bother.
Instead walked across the rope bridge, well i did anyway
Tash went far enough to get a pic on it and came back.
It seems that if you start stomping across making the bridge wobble you end up getting it all to yourself as everyone seemed to run back and wait until i got across before coming back over
And the view of the bridge from the road
We set off again
We finally reached Interlaken
Looked a very big place but our final destination wasnt here, we were to head out of the city to Lauterbrunnen to Camping Jungfrau - http://www.camping-jungfrau.ch/
This campsite was set in a valley surrounded by small waterfalls.
We pulled into the site and was greeted by one of the caretakers/ groundskeepers/ staff.
He spoke german then we spoke english so another man stepped in and asked 'Sprechen sie englisch' i replied yes, he said 'yeah me too mate' i'm from England originally
I did set him straight and said we weren't English we were from Wales, he said same thing grinning and led us to our plot.
He gave a decent sized plot and we set up camp, we had it down to a fine art by now and had it done in no time then admired the view that would surround us for the night.
We decided to go for a stroll after hanging our bike clothes to air on the makeshift line on the bike and set off.
As we were walking along the sky was getting greyer and greyer then black and then came the rains, then the thunder then the lighteneing.
We then remembered we had bike clothes outside so i ran back to get them inside, tash couldnt run due to her knees so got wet
So there we were st in the tent with the rain hammering down on us.
It did ease up slightly so we decided to go for food.
Again wanting to sample local cuisine this is what we ordered.
Very nice it was too
Got back to the tent and the rain had stopped so we decided to go for a ride up the valley as far as the road would take us.
The river was up quite high even after just 30 minutes of rain so shows how much comes down off the mountains.
We got ot the end of the valley, turned around and went back again, unfortunately the valley ends at nothing spectacular and we couldnt get near any of the peaks we could see from further down the valley.
Darkness fell and at night the main waterfall is lit up.
Not a bad sight at all before retiring for the night.
This felt like it, the pinnacle of the trip, we'd now done all the parts we were most looking forward to during the planning stage and we thought the rest was just travelling home but it wasn't the case at all....................
JJay51 screwed with this post 09-02-2013 at 03:08 PM
|09-02-2013, 05:29 PM||#14|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Very nice report.
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