Some questions on a Europe trip, and motorcycle shipping...

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by cialowicz, Jan 11, 2008.

  1. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Insurance. My experience is that US insurers won't touch anything in Europe - you'll need "Green Card" 3rd Party Liability insurance - available from a number of sources. You will need this to be in effect before they will let your bike out of Customs. If you find a US insurer that will extend their coverage to Europe, please let me know. Green Card was €20/month in 2009. It's gone up somewhat since then.

    Breakdown. I have ADAC Plus - but then, my bike is stored with Stefan Knopf in Heidelberg, and he lets me use his address as the return point. Not sure what you'd do without a fixed location. Sorry.

    Also consider a medical air evacuation policy. I use MedJet Express. While I (thankfully) haven't had to use their services, I know people who have and they're very happy with the service.
  2. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson #1 Earl Pitts fan!

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    Thanks for the lead. I'll follow up on this if I survive New Years Eve. [/LOL]
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  3. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    *https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/drivers-and-riders/riders/riding-abroad* This is a UK govt site and just shows how crap and useless these sorts of "info" sites are. The UK's AA site has similar howlers - but their excuse is that they are trying to sell you stuff.
    It may be prudent to bear in mind that while there are EU rules which apply everywhere and there are international treaty obligations which any countries we are considereing will apply - the State Identifiers - in my case a "GB" plate. EU countries have relegated this to a sidebar on the number plate. Many years ago I was forced to buy a very expensive one in order to enter Germany - they are normally free.

    End of the day, riding in Europe is easy, the vast majority of drivers and riders are far more skillful and often more sensitive towards bikers.
    Speeding can be quite strictly enforced and in France at least, the fine must be paid there and then. Similarly, the local definitions of dangerous or reckless driving can be severely dealt with. Crossing solid centre lines, not completely stopping at STOP signs, or overtaking stationary trams/buses doing a drop.
    You won't be the first to find that someone, somewhere forgot to include the motorcycle endorsement... check before you leave the building. Oh and an IDP can help out, they used to be compulsory in Spain and Italy before The EU. Now... as far as US citizens?
    Again as far as France is concerned, random road blocks and spot checks are relatively common. I am usually just waved through.

    The roads are mainly well surfaced, if in some countries more so than others. If you don't marry yourself to motorways then the riding will be sublime if you have a look at a map first. You are looking for squiggly roads - not always well indicated on small sale maps.
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  4. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Yup - 1:200,000 or better. The Kompass hiking maps at 1:25,000 & 1:50,000 get really insane.
  5. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson #1 Earl Pitts fan!

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    Bill 310, thanks for the advice. :)

    I've driving over for the last 15+ years, so I'm good on rules and signs.

    I've certainly pushed past my usual 140-150, a speed that pretty well meshes with the general traffic flow. But either Herz comes up with a car that can't get out its own way (e.g., the current wretched Jeep they must have been desperate to get out of the garage) or my wife insists on being cheap on rentals. Many of the cars I don't trust at any real speed (e.g., beyond typical Interstate "racetrack" speeds). Occasionally Herz hands us a winner (nice Audi or BMW - woohoo!), though. NTL, most of the time, trying to run much beyond 160 (100) turns into near racing. BTDT got the trophies, sold the race car. What's great fun is watching someone in a kick-butt car (Ferrari, etc) fly by at near supersonic speeds, only to almost turn the disks red hot coming down to 60 (35) for a construction zone. Heh, heh, heh...

    I wasn't aware that vignettes could be purchased and mailed as you describe. I'll certainly do that for Switzerland and Austria. I doubt I'll see any autostrada.

    France... yes, well... without meaning to offend, it's very, very unlikely I'll be setting wheels down there. We drove up the Wine Route in Alsace a couple of years ago... merci non. :)

    Sleeping pills and jet lag. IMHO that's trouble looking for a place to happen. But everybody should ride their own ride.

    I'll get in touch Stefan Knopf regarding insurance. I do have a fixed address here in Germany, so no worries on that score. (Interesting, for me, coincidence - In the town where we live in the States is major touring bus operator - Also Knopf. OK, I find that interesting)

    Anyone who goes touring in Europe without a license and passport along deserves what they get. For example, IIRC operating a car in Germany without a driver's license is a felony offense.

    Filtering... just not big on my list. Most eastern states don't allow it, it's not a skill I've spent much time on... Pass (no pun intended).

    Much as my Garmin 660 annoys me (insert vein-bulging rant here), I keep it running all the time I'm here. The aforementioned Jeep's speedo lies like a rug. The GPS tells the truth. One of the Garmin's amazing skills is taking a path that totally ignores the autobahn system; it thinks any open road is good for 100 (60), making back roads seem like a good idea. [/face palm]
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  6. RBEmerson

    RBEmerson #1 Earl Pitts fan!

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    Edelweiss, in their infinite wisdom, sent everybody out with a map that covered at least Switzerland, Austria, Northern Italy, and southern Germany. So very helpful when lost near a town small enough to have more cattle than people...
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  7. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    I think I should have expanded more on the use of sleeping pills. They help some people (myself included) deal with time zones better. The time difference Vancovuer to Frankfurt is 8 hours. I sedate myself when I board in Vancouver and wake up in Germany. We always plan a very short day when we leave Stefan's for a few reasons one is time zone differences and the second is that the bike invariably needs a new battery installed.
  8. Frgich

    Frgich Long timer

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    No trickle charging while stored?

    BR
    Dooby
  9. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    Only in theory, the last time two friends were stuck for 3 days waiting for batteries. I had my anti gravity and got going till I found a new battery.
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  10. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Vignetti are so easy to come by, I wonder why people pay a premium to have them delivered?
    I don't use Swiss toll roads but they will sell you one right on the border if you enter via a motorway. Filling stations, garages, post offices and official sellers at the border all sell the Swiss version. You only need one on motorways and certain other roads.
    I have been told that the Swiss police hang about on over bridges near the borders, scoping out the vehicles without vignetti - then phone their friend down the road. I believe the fine is not so wallet friendly.

    In Austria its even easier. When I entered from Italy last year, the guy at the till asked me how long I wanted as I walked in, had the ticket ready before I could get my card out. I don't know if every filing station and shop in Austria sells the vignetti, but it sure seems like it, they all seem to have signs assuring you they do.
    I don't know how often the police check in Austria, but the motorway from the Brenner into Innsbruck had signs warning of detection cameras.
    Again only motorways have the need of a vignetti.
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  11. enduro Dan

    enduro Dan Sticks and Stones™..

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    Over complicate.

    It's what some people like to do.

    France was some of the best riding on my last tour and the people were wonderful !
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  12. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Plus, they'll also sell you a Vignette on the spot. An offer you can't refuse.

    Re: Jet Lag. I hit Stefan's, prep my bike and get a good night's sleep. The next morning, I'm good to go. 6 hour delta from the east coast of the US.
  13. Frgich

    Frgich Long timer

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    Yes, this camera thingy monitoring system is spreading around. Slovenia also has them, so if haven't sticked vignette to your windshield you will get a greeting card with hefty fine.

    I once forgot to buy one in Austria and ended the trip miserably. You live and learn, so for sure won't forget it again :D

    HNY to all,

    cheers
    Dooby
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  14. enduro Dan

    enduro Dan Sticks and Stones™..

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    Happy New Years Dooby!
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  15. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    After 40+years I have come to that conclusion too. Finding hotels or other accommodation is so easy in France too.
    Not to mention places to eat. Or visiting the markets and get stuff for a picnic. Everything from a simple baguette with cheese and a beer, to a cold cuts banquet from the traiteur. Not forgetting what delights can be had from the patissier.
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  16. Frgich

    Frgich Long timer

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    Damn nickguzzi, stop with all the delicacies, I am willing to do harm for tart or brioche :D

    I'm so crazy about these stuff, that I have fantasy to open patisserie :dukegirl

    br
    Dooby
  17. GvG

    GvG Been here awhile

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    Slovakia also has them.
  18. Frgich

    Frgich Long timer

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    Rode only once across Slovakia in torrential rain sometimes in 2007, so wasn't looking for cameras, was fighting for life there :D , but always good to know where is the big brother watching :thumb

    br
    Dooby
  19. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    In the end it always comes down to riding your own ride and considering other factors such as time zones/time in the air/etc

    A lot of what each of us says on here what is applies to our own circumstances and works best. Our first trip over years ago it was suggested that we take the Auto train into Italy from Germany . It didn't work for us and we wasted 2 vacation days getting our time zone heads reset( we couldn't sleep on the train)

    The first time we crossed into Austria we spenta few hours before finding a place that sold Vignettes. Mail order simplified my life and when you put that small addtional cost into the total cost of 3 weeks in europe, hotels, tourist things, meals and operating a bike it is a very small cost that can save time and hassles on holiday.

    Sleeping at Stefan's

    I am 6'4," the beds are not, and depending on the room it is often a less than restful sleep. I am on vacation and want to get to a decent bed after getting some miles in.

    I am unlucky enough to travel too much on business and I know how Flight time and time zones affect me - a few hours make a difference and unasssited jet lag managmement is a challenge for some people myself included. Therefore I take a sleeping pill for the flight and I am rested for thenew time zone on arrival and can get to Stefans and be on the road in a couple of hours

    New York to Frankfurt non stop 7h 35m time zone hours 6

    Vancouver to Frankfurt non stop 9hr 45 time zone hours 9 - This translates into a trip time of
    1 hour to airport,
    check in a minimum of 2 hours before international flight,
    Flight time 10 hours
    customs in Germany, pick up luggage, 1 hour
    shuttle to Stefans, 1 hour
    buy insurance pay for storage from Stefan, install new battery, pack bike leave 2 hours

    This means for us flight leaves at 12:25 PM arrives at 7:05 am Frankfurt time

    We are out of the house at 9:00 am our time (up 2 hours before) and land in Frankfurt 10:25 pm our time (time for bed in Vancouver) except it is 7:00 am in Germany)

    By the time we are at Stephans and ready to go it is now 4 hours since we landed and it is 2:35 am in Vancouver or 11:00 AM in Germany.

    The best way I have found to manage this process is to drink lots of water before I board, have my own inflatable pillow, Boise noise cancelling headphones, eye lid cover, take the window seat and take a sleeping pill before boarding.

    YMMV
  20. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Look into Iceland Air. I fly them from Washington Dulles to Frankfurt in Saga (Business) class that's about half the cost of United's and about $300 more than United's Economy+.

    You DO have to stop in Reykjavik each way (it's where you enter and leave the EU), but my stops there are minimal (1-2 hours).

    The only issue that I've had was last July where a nasty storm whipped through Dulles and delayed the flight by about 90 minutes. When we got to Reykjavik we had just enough time to clear Passport Control and hustle to the connecting flights - which were being held. My baggage, of course, didn't move anywhere nearly as fast - but it got to Stefan's two days later around 10 AM - so I only lost one riding day.