Day 03 – Kloster to Heiligenblut (Switzerland, Italy, Austria)

Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Travel No Comments

Elevation Profile

Please note that the peaks in the above chart are slightly lower than the actual elevation, as the above is sampled from 8500 waypoints. Unfortunately the highest peaks are missed. For example, the third peak reached 2111 meters according to my GPS, but the chart has missed those points and is reporting just under 2000 meters.

I woke up at 3am and looked out the window, only to discover that is was snowing.

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I wanted to go outside and take lots of photos, but as I hadn’t slept much the last three nights, I set my alarm for 5am instead. I got up at 5am, and it was still snowing lightly.

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It was 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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This is the hotel I stayed in.

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And some photos from around town as the sun was starting to rise.

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This is where I enjoyed breakfast – it was fun watching the snow fall.

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I headed off just after 8:30am – it was still snowing, but as you can see from the photos, the ground was too warm for the snow to stay on the ground. So I decided to head over the Flüelapass – or at least give it a try.

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If you take a look at this photo, you can see it is still snowing.

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And just a few corners later, the scenery looked quite different.

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I was very overwhelmed driving this road – the bright snow with the sun shining on it, the freedom of being on a motorbike, the cold, my senses were in overload.

In the following photo, you can see a truck. It was stopped and putting on chains – that was not a good sign.

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And it was less than 1km later that I felt it was time for me to stop. Ice was right across the road. Although I was near the top, I’m guessing less than 800 meters from reaching the top, I felt it was not safe to go on. My elevation at this point was 2308 meters, and the highest point on the road is supposed to be 2383 meters. So I was just 80 meters below the top of the pass.

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This picture shows the conditions best.

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As I was heading back down, two motorbikes were heading up the pass. I turned around and we stopped and talked. They were keen to give it a go, especially since the snow was melting quickly. Much of the road heading down the pass had dried out in the 1/2 hour since I had gone over it. I ended up asking a truck driver who had just come over the pass what he thought, and he said that there was no chance of us going over – the other side heavy snow for about 4km. So that sealed the decision, and I headed back to Davos, to catch the train through mountain (rather than riding over it).

On my way up, the church in this picture was surrounded by snow – one hour later, the snow had melted completely.

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I was the first vehicle to purchase a ticket for this departure, and we only  had to wait 15 minutes before the train left. The tunnel is about 19km in length, and all the vehicles drive onto the train.

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I guess the bikes coming the other way didn’t make it over the pass either.

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The road was nice and dry on the other side of the pass.

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Spot the castle.

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My two biking friends heading off to southern Italy.

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One of many covered roadways. Notice the waterfall.

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There were lots of roadworks.

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The defense forces were having a training exercise – I was lots of communication vehicles parked near some warehouses in Zurich, and this day I spotted many more in various places. Can you see the vehicle in this photo?

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The road was etched into a steep mountain range.

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When I arrived at the top of the Dal Fuorn pass, two military vehicles were parked at the top. The occupants of the vehicle were standing aournd chatting. They told me “Der Krieg ist vorüber” (the war is over). I asked them if it was OK to take photos of military vehicles in Switzerland, which they assured me it was.

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This vehicle was parked around the corner, and I walked over to take the photo. However, they must have heard me coming (some microphones on the outside of the vehicle or motion detectors). The top turned and I would see the periscope mirrors – I waved to them and left.

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I’m not sure the driver of this vehicle would be much warmer than I was.

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It snowed much of the time I was having lunch at the top. In fact, it was the first time that I had experienced temperatures between 6.5 and 7.5 Degrees Celsius, and had snow falling. Snow was falling on/off all day.

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You can see the snowflakes in this close-up of the kiosk.

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As I wound my way down the other side of the pass, the scenery remained stunning, in a less rugged way.

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Crossing the border into Italy.

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In Italy I was a lot of churches and castles.

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Here is a panoramic view I created out of multiple pictures I took.

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The town of Merano.

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There were numerous places on this trip that i rode through arches like the one in the distance, but I usually cam across them in heavy traffic or with little warning, and therefore didn’t take a photo.

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Another one of the many castles.

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Notice the little white church on the hill?

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Here it is close-up.

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More stunning scenery.

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Heading over the Giovo Pass, with San Leonardo in the distance.

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What was unique about this pass, is that it went to an altitude of around 2000 meters – a similar elevation to the mountain ranges in the distance. Usually we look up to such magnificent ranges, but here they were basically at eye level. Nice windy road too!

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The top of the pass – 2004 meters elevation.

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After the descent, there was a few kilometres of mountainous road the immediate terrain was quite flat. These pictures are taken from a small town called Dobbiaco looking directly south to the Dolomites.

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This is a photo of Dobbiaco.

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I then crossed the border into Austria, and found this interesting bridge in Panzendorf, along with a sign highlighting a route one can take to look at many more such bridges!

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Given that this castle was so close, I wanted to see if I can go inside. Unfortunately it is only opened once or twice a year for concerts.

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Another view of the Dolomites, this time from the road that leads from Linz to the Hochalpenstrasse, which starts in Heiligenblut.

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The scenery heading up to Heiligenblut was also very picturesque, but this had been a pretty full-on day with lots of photos. By this time I was thinking about finding dinner and a bed.

However, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the water wheel and one of the many waterfalls.

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When I arrived in Heiligenblut, I found that although a lot of accommodation was advertised, no-one actually seemed open. The town was almost empty, and I after going to close to 10 different hotels, all of which were closed, I was starting to get frustrated. One hotel didn’t have a sign that it was closed, and the door was physically open, but when I went inside, the lights were all off and there was no-one at reception! After riding down the main street for the for the third time, I saw a sign for a youth hostel. So I tried that, and found that they were actually open – though there wasn’t much going on. It turns out that I was the only guest for the night, and I could choose any room I wanted.

Here is the view from my room, which cost me a mere €19.00 and €3.50 for a membership card. Take a look at the photos from the next day – I have more photos from the balcony of my room.

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This was the view from my bed – I was lying in bed when I took this photo!

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Day 02 – Ravensburg to Kloster (Germany, Switzerland)

Germany, Motorbike/Motorcycle, Switzerland, Travel No Comments

Elevation Profile

I started early on the second day. First item on the itinerary was to have breakfast with my cousin in Bräuningen, Black Forest. As you can seen from the photos below – it was beautiful sunshine in the morning but only about 8 degrees! The traffic was also heavy.

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Then I headed for the Touratech shop in Niederschach, also in the Black Forest. I bought quite a few things, but was disappointed that when I asked about the MwSt (GST) refund, they misinformed me. I found this out a week later when I tied to get a refund at the Munich Airport. I am now waiting for them to address this. However, it was great to browse the store and see the items before buying them.

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From there I headed to Schaffhausen to the Rhine Falls. The weather was looking very dicey – it looked as though a cloud burst could happen at any time … but I was lucky – I outran the weather.

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If you take a close look at the map, you will notice that Schaffhausen is in Switzerland, and that after leaving there, the road crossed back into Germany, before continuing on in Switzerland.

While I didn’t really spend any time in Zurich, I did like the character of the city.

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Solar Panels can be seen all over Switzerland.

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The road provides views of the Zurich Lake to the side and snow covered mountains in the distance.

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A nice mixture of old and new forms of transport with majestic mountains in the backdrop.

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Below is a picture showing how two lanes become four on the Swiss Autobahn (the same as in Germany). Cars find it difficult to pass, due to the lack of space. Wide cars, such as the S-Class Mercedes allow just 20cm on either side of the car (sometimes less if the truck/bus being passed drifts just a little) – there is not much room for error at 80km/h. I was actually trying to take a photo of a truck/bus being passed, but in 20 minutes of waiting, did not see any.

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After the Zurich Lake, come two more lakes: the Obersee and then the Walensee. Pictured below is the Walensee, which is where I choose to have dinner – the scenery was just stunning! I enjoyed an authentic Swiss Rösti while watching the weather change several times.

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And the Autobahn continues against the backdrop of the amazing mountains.

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I then started up into the mountains towards Davos (which BTW, is Switzelands highest town).

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A new tunnel leads into Davos, so that one doesn’t have to drive over the pass in winter (the road was often closed), but I didn’t take the tunnel – I wanted to go over the pass.

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Fortunately I didn’t take the tunnel, because I ended up driving through Kloster instead – and decided to stay there for the night.

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I stopped at a hotel, where the rate was reasonable – it is still low season, so most of the hotels were closed. The room I rented had this view from the balcony.

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Day 00 – Preparation and Trip Overview

Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Travel No Comments

The above map shows the complete trip, which was comprised of 2758km (less 19km for the trip through the tunnel near Davos).

Average speed: 100.6km/h (due to quick dash to Haage, near Berlin, and back).

This page will be completed later.