Day 07 – Haage to Munich (Germany)

Germany, Motorbike/Motorcycle, Travel 1 Comment
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I left on Saturday night at about 10:45pm, and rode through the night. There was no traffic on the Autobahn, and it was easy going. At first it was 18 degrees Celsius, which was nice, but within a few hours the temperature had dropped to 11 degrees, which wasn’t so nice. So I had a few stops along the way. At one stop, which lasted about an hour, I sat and read a German computer magazine.

As I neared Munich, the sun was starting to think about rising, and it was very pretty. There was a bit of heavy fog, but nothing too concerning.

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I was already passed the center of Munich when the sun finally poked it’s head over the horizon.

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And then a little while later, I was admiring the sun rising over the Starnberger See (Lake).

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I decided that I had time to circumnavigate the lake – and it was well worth the ride.

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Notice the snow still on the mountains in the distance?

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But it was shaping up to be a great day! Virtually no clouds to be seen anywhere.

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The road was very relaxing – the greenery was stunning.

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I bought some pretzels for breakfast and sat by the lake. It was so peaceful.

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And it wasn’t long before I had circumnavigated the lake, fuelled up the bike and packed all my stuff.

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I travelled 2750km in 5 days (plus two days without riding), and had averaged 100.6km/h for the whole trip despite snow and rain.

It was a wonderful experience, and I can highly recommend it to anyone. Frankly, if I hadn’t had to go to Berlin, I would have spent a few days touring the Black Forest instead. That would have made this trip perfect.

And as for AllRoundRent? I have not heard from them since I returned the bike, so I presume they were happy with everything. I certainly was, and will rent from them again!

Day 06 – Friedensau (Germany)

Friedensau, Germany, SDA Church, Travel No Comments
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I once again left the bike in the shed, and travelled with my aunty and uncle by car to Friedensau, the Seventh-day Adventist University located near Berlin.

It was a beautiful morning, and the fields were in full bloom. Around Berlin the roads are very straight, as the land is very flat.

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My uncle commented, that Friedensau must be the only village in Germany that has a sign advertising church services on Saturday.

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I was surprised by the size of the campus, as there are only approximately 200 students. However, they do offer three bachelor programs and 5 masters programs. I guess each program is comprised of a rather intimate class.

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This is one of the key buildings – it houses the administration and also the chapel.

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The inside of the chapel.

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The new library.

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Some of the staff and student accommodation.

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The old and the new fire station.

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A post office, which doesn’t open on Saturday, but opens on Sunday mornings.

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Adventist youth from around the northern part of Germany had a camp at the time I was there, and this was their main meeting tent.

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There is an adventure course and climbing wall for use by the youth.

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And finally, there is also a retirement village – all in all, Friedensau is a well thought out community. I think it would be a great place to study!

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Day 05 – Stölln (Germany)

Germany, Travel No Comments
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I didn’t do any riding this day, as I hopped in the car with my aunty to visit one the local attractions. It is an old Interflug IL-62 plane, that had completed the maximum allowable number of takeoffs and landings. Just a short while before the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik – East Germany) reunited with West Germany, this plane was flown to Stölln, where a small airfield operated for the use of glider planes. To get this plane here, the insides were removed and the weight of the plane reduced from about 90 tonnes to just 75 tonnes, but that was still technically too heavy for a grass airfield. Well, its a long story, and you can read all the details elsewhere.

Here are some links to get you started:

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Day 04 – Heiligenblut to Haage (Austria, Germany)

Austria, Bogenhofen, Germany, SDA Church, Travel 1 Comment
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Elevation Profile

The view from my balcony was superb … the sun was shining and I was thrilled to be heading over the Hochalpenstrasse today.

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But I was wondering if I would encounter a similar scenario to the day before, when the snow closed the Fluelapass. Both of the following photos were taken from my balcony also.

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Even though I was the only guest, they put on a splendid breakfast for me! Notice the forest visible through the windows.

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As I was riding out of Heiligenblut, I took one last photo. While this photo was taken from the road, it is an almost identical view to what I had from my room.

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And just out of town I passed the start of the Hochalpenstrasse – I was finally at the point which was the original attraction for taking this detour to Haage (near Berlin).

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This is the first hairpin (or Kehre in German), or the 27th if you are counting from the other end!

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And then I arrived at the toll station … and how short-lived one’s dreams can be! It turns out that there was a storm at the top of the pass, with lots of snow. Only vehicles with chains were allowed up. They were not sure if it was going to open that day, but certainly not by mid-day. The black VW Golf you see parked there also had to turn around – they didn’t have any chains. As for the bikes at the toll booth, I didn’t hang around, but I’m sure they were soon turning around also. Frankly, looking at the weather, I’m sure it would have been very unpleasant, even if the road had not been covered in snow and ice.

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So I decided to take an alternate route, and headed back to Lienz and then up to Mittersill.

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I’m not sure what this building was, but it looked unique!

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The road to Mittersill headed directly north from Lienz, which took me into the same mountain range as Hochalpenstrasse, except on the left hand side of the Grossglockner.

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However, as I headed higher, I was starting to worry. Although the road was listed as open, the weather ahead looked just a bad as on the Hochalpenstrasse. And as I kept climbing, it looked like I would have to pass over the top anyway.

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One of the advantages of being on a motorbike is that it is easy to park and take photos. I have often wanted to take photos of these covered roads, and on this occasion was able to do so.

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Looking out from the covered road, this beautiful waterfall was visible.

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And there were more roadworks. The roads in Europe are really good, but you do pay for it by having to stop all the time for road works.

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As I headed up the mountain, I finally worked it out – I didn’t have to go over the top of the range, because I was able to take a tunnel!

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I was relieved, because the weather at the tunnel entrance was pretty poor – and we weren’t even near the top of the mountain.

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And so into the tunnel I headed!

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After 5.5km of perfectly straight road, this was the view that struck me. Snow was falling very heavily.

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In case you can’t see the snow falling, check out the close-up of the little hut. Did I mention it was cold?

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I counted myself very lucky – to this point, I had pretty much been in dry conditions despite having rain forecast every day. What I didn’t know, is that I would ride the next 750km almost constantly in the rain (this day I travelled 986km, and at this point had covered less than 100km).

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Around lunchtime, I could see a huge wall of rain come my way, and I thought that this made an excellent opportunity to stop for lunch. I quickly parked the bike and went into the restaurant for a nice hot Rösti.

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The weather cleared up a little after lunch, but rain was never far away.

This photo is take at the boarder between Austria and Germany. I cut across Berchtesgaden (Germany) and then back into Austria.

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I always had to smile when I saw this sign – it can really be interpreted two ways:

  • The passing restriction does not apply to passing tractors (ausgenommen means except)
  • The passing restriction does not apply to tractors (i.e. tractors may pass other vehicles).

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After re-entering Austria, I dropped in on the Seventh-day Adventist College in Bogenhofen, as I had not been there before. I must say, I was surprised by the state of the facilities. This campus is definitely state of the art.

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The main drive and cafeteria.

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Also in the same building as the cafeteria is the administration (upstairs).

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The old castle (Schloss), including hallway upstairs and visitors room.

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The old chapel.

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The new church.

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One of the classrooms and the gym.

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The library.

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Staff and married student housing.

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An unused greenhouse in the background.

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From Bogenhofen, I headed up to Haage, near Berlin – but it rained a lot, so I took no more photos. Also, my aim was to reach Haage at a reasonable time – and it was still exactly 700kms away. It was 4:08pm when I left Bogenhofen, and I arrived in Haage at 10:55pm (having stopped for fuel several times and once to call my aunty and rest for 30 minutes). Average speed: 112km/h (including petrol stops, but excluding my 1/2 hour stop). Not bad given that some of it was country roads and that it was raining most of the time. I promised my aunty that I would be there by 11pm, and I kept my promise :-).

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

Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Travel No Comments
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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
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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 01 – Munich to Ravensburg (Germany)

Germany, Motorbike/Motorcycle, Travel 1 Comment
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Elevation Profile

Arriving at Munich Airport, it isn’t half obvious that this is the home of BMW! This engine grill is in the luggage collection hall.

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Of course for Audi is trying to make an impression too – this is a three story poster outside the arrival hall – the reason I took the picture was because the of the fairly clear sky.

The weather reports for this week were rain all week everywhere I wanted to go, but I feel very blessed to have had GREAT weather.

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Wonderful sunshine as I caught the train from the airport to Marienplatz (in the heart of Munich).

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I went to Marienplatz so that I could find a bakery and buy a pretzel for breakfast!

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And then I caught the subway to collect the motorbike. The subway is a long way down – look at the length of the escalator … and I am already a third of the way down, because that is how long it took me to get my camera out.

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I got to AllRoundRent by about 8:10am, but they don’t open till 9:00am. My experience with them so far is that they are a good business to deal with. I wanted a RAM mount fitted so that I can mount my own Zumo 550, and they ensured that happened. They were also very good in getting the paperwork done. It can take a little while when collecting a bike so don’t (like I did) have a tight schedule and hope to be out of there within 1/2 hour. I spent about 2 hours there, much of it chatting about related things (my choice), and during this time I saw how they deal with a variety of customer issues. From what I have been able to tell, they do deal with people fairly – though they are running a business, and do charge for everything to which they are entitled.

This is the office office of AllRoundRent, and the bikes out the front are weekend returns while they are closed.

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I was grateful to get a bike R1200RT with ESA (because I had never ridden a bike with this feature), and really like the location of the RAM mount. The bike also had heated seats and hand grips – which came in really hand when riding in the snow!

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It did take me a couple of days to really get used to the R1200RT, having ridden a R1200GS extensively. The steering geometry is different – and that is quite noticeable at slow speed. However, it really loves riding on the Autobahn – I loved my ride to Haage (near Berlin) and back. It is a great cruising machine! I particularly liked the fact that you don’t get wet when riding in the rain (except for your feet) – the fairing is designed in such a way that if you are moving, you won’t get wet.

On day one I only rode to Ravensburg, which was good, because I had only little sleep over the previous 56 hours (I had only slept on the plane).

Day 00 – Preparation and Trip Overview

Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Travel No Comments
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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.