(9/10/2010 - 9/15/2010 - from THIS TRIP)
On this page are pictures and descriptions from 9/10/2010 - 9/15/2010. These are mostly pictures of Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland (on motorcycles). Click on any picture or panorama for an ENORMOUS version. Click here to go to the homepage and get a description of what this is all about.
Here I am departing San Francisco airport checking in with an extra bag and an overweight bag. :-) The gratuitous airline fees were fully anticipated, a small cost of a motorcycle trip through Europe.
I arrived into Munich, Germany the afternoon of Saturday, 9/11/07. Below I took a picture as I went to baggage claim.
Next I pass through passport control, entering the European Community in Munich Airport.
On these tours, the guides pick you up at the airport in a van and take you to the hotel. (You don't get a motorcycle until the next day, so you can get over jet-lag.) The tour is based out of Olching (near Munich). Here I am getting a van ride with Brian Beach (my buddy) and Scott Keeler driving the van to Olching.
Ahh, back in Hotel Muhlback, Olching, Germany. I've been on a few motorcycle tours that both start and end here, so it's like a second home to me.
Below is Brian Beach on the left and and Scott Keeler (van driver on this tour) on the right.
The next morning is 9/12/2010, and after breakfast we go for a little ride. Pictured below is the Olching breakfast buffet. Ahhh, European breakfast (Continental?) Ham, cheese, eggs, bacon, and German bread and rolls! The Germans are particularly good at bread.
Our first ride to warm up, here we are north of Olching, that's Brian Beach in blue. The weather is PERFECT, not too warm, very cozy.
Typical German countryside.
The night of 9/16/2010 is the kickoff of the tour, which begins with a group dinner where Rob Beach (standing in plaid shirt below) welcomes everyone and gives a few safety tips. That's my first German beer (Pils) I've had in 3 years in the foreground, and it makes me happy. :-)
From left to right, that is John Perkin, his wife Nola Perkin, Jo and Scott Farnham, Rob (Bud) Martin in the black shirt, Robert and Lois Wilthew, and at the very far end behind Lois is Paul Cooke.
From left to right, that is Robert and Lois Wilthew, and at the very far end behind Lois is Paul Cooke, around the end of the table in glasses and blue shirt is Paul's wife Rebecca Cooke, and in black shirt with white cuffs is Martha Leahy then husband Jack Leahy.
From left to right, that is Martha Leahy (black shirt and white cuffs) then husband Jack Leahy, and Rob (Doc) Hannagan in black shirt talking with Steve Lange facing away from the camera. Standing up in green shirt is Paul Moreton talking with Peter Manchester (also standing). In front in glasses and blue shirt is Brian Beach.
From left to right, that is Peter Manchester and wife Jane Machester in black top, then in white top and blonde hair is Lisa Koenig and (new!) husband Dana Koenig (they are on their honeymoon).
Standing at the bar in orange dress is Gretchen Moss, and in plaid shirt by the fireworks on the birthday cake is Rob Beach (tour owner).
And finally, this is me (Brian Wilson) standing by my motorcycle ready for a day's ride! This is the morning of 9/14/2010 and we're ready to leave Olching.
Below is my motorcycle I will spend the next two weeks riding around. Notice the GPS and map in the map bag on the gas tank. The tour includes any BMW motorcycle you want.
Brian Beach (in blue) at the side of the autobahn. We are just taking a break to take a picture of the pretty mountains and check our maps.
One of the main things we look for on our motorcycle tours through the Alps are mountain passes. They correlate highly with beautiful motorcycling, great views, and curvy roads. Below is a picture of the first mountain pass sign "Fernpass". The red slash means "leaving" in Europe signs (like leaving a town, or leaving a speed zone). I've been on Fernpass a couple of times before in my life.
A picture through my motorcycle windshield of an Austrian mountain pass. Notice the wooden half-rounds for guard rails.
Lunch on a restaurant on Hahntennjoch Pass, in Austria. Brian Beach (pictured below) and I have eaten in this restaurant before. I'm having "Spätzel" as a side dish (the white stuff) which is an Austrian or German type of pasta that I enjoy. It is a soft egg noodle, very tasty, hard to find in the United States.
A picture of what we are looking at while eating lunch on Hahntennjoch Pass in Austria. Notice our motorcycles lower in the picture.
A stop near Steeg, Austria to adjust motorcycle equipment, swap maps, take a picture.
We are close to Silvretta Strasse in Austria. I'm not sure what those rows are along the top of the mountains on the left. You can zoom in by clicking on the picture below if you want to tell me what they are?
Here is a closer view of those "rows" of fences along the hills. I'm curious what they are, maybe to keep the snow on the side of the hill for skiing? Or to prevent avalanches? Or they are agricultural "vines" of some type?
Going over Flexen Pass. Some passes are big, some are small. Flexen Pass is kind of small.
The restaurant at the top of Arlberg Pass, Austria.
A very pretty toll road, worth the $8 (?) Euro cost of entry, is Silvretta Strasse Pass (Silver Road?) in Austria. Click here for a Google map marking the location of Silvretta Strasse. Because it is a toll road, there is almost zero traffic, and well maintained smooth roads, and big ripping wonderful curves for motorcycles. This is the view of a pretty lake by the restaurant at the top. I was also here in 2007, and filmed a video driving this road you can watch here.
That's Brian Beach in blue, and overlooking the lake at the top off is Silvretta Strasse Pass in Austria.
This next picture is of a gas station bathroom and it means WE ARE IN AUSTRIA! (YAY!) You didn't know this, but Austrian bathrooms ROCK!! I don't know why, but Austrians care deeply, DEEPLY about their toilets, and what you are looking at below is an *AVERAGE* example of a gas station bathroom in Austria. You think I'm joking? Go to Austria and use a bathroom, I swear I love love LOVE LOVE the Austrian's and their cleanliness fetish!! I've driven 30 miles out of my way in Europe to go from Italy over into Austria for a bathroom break. :-)
This is the brand of a lot of the porcelain fixtures: Laufen. Their motto is "Form follows flow: Bathroom Culture since 1892".
Ok, back on the road, I swear a lot of switchbacks look the same after a while, below is a picture of one of them. This is why we are here, gorgeous views, wonderful motorcycling roads, and switchbacks like the one below to lean the motorcycle into.
Below is a picture with red arrows pointing out the road. Notice all the twists and turns and switchbacks, GREAT motorcycling roads.
A random scene with my motorcycle in the foreground.
A picture as the sun is getting low in the sky at the end of the first travel day. This is outside of "Sonntag Austria". It is very pretty here.
The motorcycles are parked at the same location as the picture above, I just walked up 60 meters to get a picture of the motorcycles near Sonntag Austria. Brian Beach is in blue.
Same location, picture the other way up the road. The Austrian hills are extremely scenic and green.
The Faschinajoch Pass, Austria. It's getting late in the day, we need to make time to get to the hotel by sun down, so we don't even get off the motorcycles to take the picture. :-)
As the sun is setting, we reach Furkajoch Pass in Austria, below is the plaque at the top.
Brian Beach and I caught up to another of the sub-groups of motorcyclists in our tour at the end of the day at Furkajoch Pass in Austria. Here we all are at the top. It's 30 more minutes to the hotel for the night.
A closer picture of the crowd of motorcyclists. Rob Beach (the owner of the tour group) is in mustache in the center of the picture.
A picture of Furkajoch down one side.
And here we are in Hotel Alpenrose in Feldkirch, Austria. Below is a picture of the Austrian Bathroom. I *KNEW* I was in Austria when I opened my bathroom door in my hotel room and saw this. That's 3 levels above any 4 star hotel bathroom anywhere in the USA. For bonus points, notice the "big flush" and "little flush" buttons for the toilet, they are more environmental that USA toilets and unlike our low flush toilets these Austrian toilets always work well.
The next morning is 9/15/2010 and here we are at Hotel Alpenrose parking lot. The motorcyclists all leave at different times, but they tend to leave between 8am and 9am so you see everybody getting ready.
This day Brian Beach and I drove with Peter and Jane Manchester, here the three of them are with our motorcycles taking in the view.
Another picture in the same spot.
Road construction in the mountains is a constant in the summer time, we often wait like in this picture below for 2 or 3 minutes for a one-way area or a piece of construction equipment. That's Peter in the white helmet and Jane on the back at the left of the picture.
Castles are everywhere in Europe, here is a pretty little one in a gorgeous setting as the sun rises.
The roads we motorcycle on through Switzerland and the Alps are some beautiful if challenging motorcycle roads. Below is an example of the dramatic drop offs and road construction and thin rocky mountain passes we motorcycle through. Click on the picture below to zoom in on the road bed around that corner.
Very pretty Switzerland scenic mountains.
Here we are at the summit of Albula Pass Switzerland.
The small restaurant at the top of Albula Pass in Switzerland, if you scroll to the FAR RIGHT you can see Peter Manchester smiling at me.
I like the picture below as "Motorcycle Artistic". :-) I took it from my motorcycle seat, and if you look in the mirror at the center of the picture you see Brian Beach behind me on his motorcycle taking a picture of the same thing.
Below is a panorama of the same spot without the motorcycle mirror. Switzerland is GORGEOUS, and very fun to ride motorcycles through.
Almost lunchtime, and we pass by St Moritz Switzerland. The lake is stunningly beautiful during the summer, the pictures below do not do it justice.
Another picture of the lake near St Moritz, Switzerland.
In Switzerland and some of the other European countries, we'll run into cows on the roads. Below are some people herding cows right through the middle of town.
There are some extreme roads in Switzerland, below some red arrows point to where we are about to go up the hill almost vertically on switchbacks then through a kind of tunnel with windows out the side of the road. This is near Montespluga, Italy.
Here we stop for lunch at Montespluga Italy. This is at the Italian end of the Splügen Pass, which is a big dramatic mountain pass between Italy and Switzerland. We caught up with a bunch of motorcyclists from our group here, seen below.
Rob Beach (owner of the tour) in mustache on the left, with Gretchen Moss and Paul Moreton in front. In the back you can see Jack and Martha Leahy.
A close up of Jack Leahy and wife Martha eating lunch.
On the far left that's Lisa and Dana in black, Jane in white with the menu in back, john and Nora in purple, and Peter Manchester in back almost obscured by the closed umbrella.
Our group having coffee after lunch.
This interesting convertible car pulled up, and the owner let me take some pictures. It is a "Smart Roadster". We have SmartCars in the USA now, but I had never seen or even heard off this.
The back end of the Smart Sportscar, I don't know if there is a trunk in there. :-)
After lunch, we gun the motorcycle engines and ride up Spluga Pass Switzerland. While the road is excellent quality, look closely in the picture below at the guard rail (periodic vertical motorcycle catching posts), complete with missing pylons and a thousand foot plunge to death beyond.
Where did the pylon go? Probably a motorcyclist took it out on his way over the edge. :-)
It is a beautiful if challenging road with many hairpin switchbacks as seen marked with red arrows in the picture below.
Below are some of the switchbacks on the Splügen Pass road (it has different names, it is "Splügen" to the Swiss, and "Spluga" to the Italians). Notice the cow poop in the corners? That's just to make it more interesting.....
Oh, did I mention there are Poop Factories wandering around? That's how the cow poop got into the corners! The picture below is *NOT* photoshopped, that's a couple of real cows there in the road blocking my path.
The second cow wandering by blocking my path.
As the cow saunters by I snap a picture from my motorcycle.
There are two motorcycles in the picture below.
Brian Beach and I head over the top of the San Bernardino Pass in Switzerland. It is one of the bigger passes in Switzerland.
Down the other side of the San Bernardino Pass in Switzerland, in the picture below you can see Brian Beach ripping down through the turns on his motorcycle.
A close up of Brian Beach (in blue) motorcycling in a hairpin turn in Switzerland.
Another close-up of a motorcycle through a hairpin turn:
That's Peter and Jane Machester motorcycling through that hairpin turn. Picture taken from above zoomed in from far away.
Big open roads with curvy turns for motorcyclists in Europe.
A pretty scene in Europe:
Brian and I went up over the tiny mountain roads near the town of Indemini Switzerland. We specifically looked for this spot, we were here together before going the opposite direction in 2006, you can see a picture here. Indemini is near the "M" on the map here. I always remember the picture of this dog on a car in Indemini.
For some reason, the border crossing from Switzerland into the EU (Italy) or vice versa up near Indemini is not manned after hours, but still open. If you want to enter or leave Switzerland undetected, this is the route to take!! It is remote and hard to get to, but it is a free border crossing. Below is a picture of the border kind of knitted together from two photos.
Descending into Laveno Italy.
Brian Beach and I make the ferry by sundown, that's Brian in the picture below coming out with our tickets.
A quick 15 minute ferry ride across the lake to where we will spend the night in Verbania, Italy.
This ends the 9/15/2010 day, click the link below to see the rest starting the morning of 9/16/2010.
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