So Where Are We Going This Year?

Mick and I have been touring in Europe for a few years now. Planning begins in the winter and by early summer we are raring to go. The Alps are usually involved because they are a great biking area that we have come to love over the years.

However it is always good to add new places. For the last couple of years we have started off in the Picos de Europa mountains , taking the ferry from Plymouth or Portsmouth to Santander on the north coast of Spain.

Last year we headed for Corsica. Three years ago we rode overland to the Alps and then further east to Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

Three years ago I rode down the spine of Italy and then across Greece and Turkey with two German friends, arriving finally at Mount Ararat in the mountains where Turkey, Iran and Armenia meet.

This year we decide to explore the Balkans. We have seen a few YouTube videos of the Kotor Serpentine road in Montenegro so that becomes the ultimate destination for this trip.

Our route will take us across Western Eur…

Day 1 - Maidstone

Friday 23rd June 2017

June 23rd dawns bright and fine. The bikes are all packed and we are finally ready to begin this year's Euro bimble. Mick's son Sean is at my house to see us off and our mate Bob is on hand to get the obligatory 'setting off' photos.

It is 220 miles from home to the Days Inn at Maidstone services on the M20. It is not the most scenic place for an overnight stop but it's handy for the tunnel and we have a pleasant room on the ground floor.
We are permitted to park the bikes on the grass outside reception, which is manned all night so we have no security worries. All is well as we sup a beer and bed down for the night.
it's a shame that Mick forgot to unplug his phone charger in our hurry to get off next morning.

Day 2 - Luxembourg

Saturday 24th June 2017

It is a misty and grey morning with drizzle in the air, but we are up and off early in time for our 07:20 check-in at Eurotunnel. 

For anyone who is wondering how bikes travel through the tunnel, here you go

They tend to hold all the bikes in a group so there are usually a number of fellow bike tourists to natter to during the 35 minutes transit. With all the admin completed on the English side we ride straight out onto the roads of Northern France.

Our first destination is the lovely hilltop town of Cassel near to the French-Belgian border for breakfast.

Most years I visit the Belgian Buell club Twinpower for their annual bash, and Cassel is where we gather to meet up for a scenic ride to the rally site.

So we stop for the traditional croque-monsieur and coffee at the usual cafe.

The weather is looking a lot better as the morning wears on. We leave Cassel and get onto the motorway for the 200 mile ride to Luxembourg. Belgian motorways are free to use but almost invar…

Day 3 - Schurrenhof

Sunday 25th June 2017

It's a warm and bright morning as we head off from the High Chapparal.But we have a near disaster right at the outset when Mick stalls on a cold engine just as he is turning up a right-hand hairpin. There is nowhere for his foot to get down so the inevitable happens and down goes the GS.

These bikes are pretty tough and a combination of pot protector and pannier save the bike from any real damage. Mick is ok too, if a little embarrassed.
We have a broken right turn indicator which can be fixed with tape and a broken pannier lid lock which a couple of bungees take care of. The weirdest problem is that the ignition key is stuck in the lock, so for the rest of the tour the key stays in the lock. Who needs security?

Our first port of call is just down the road in Kautenbach and the Hotel Huberty where Rudi and Birdy have looked after me and Mick a few times on previous trips.

It is Rudi's 60th birthday today so he is closed today but he recognises us and with his …

Day 4 - Grainau

Monday 26th June 2017

Our route today avoids the autobahn and takes us along some of the great 'A' roads of Southern Germany.  The Alps get larger and larger on the horizon and you always know you are getting close to the mountains when the tunnels start to turn up. 

We were aiming for a camping ground in Oberammergau but when we arrive it is not very impressive so we head on in search of a better one.

We ride on through Garmisch-Partenkirchen, home of the annual huge BMW Motorrad rally. Apparently it happens next week, and the guy at the camping site we choose in Grainau asks if we have arrived early. No mate, didnt even know it was on. 

The site is fully booked up in a few days time so it's lucky we didnt clash with all the Beemer boys.

The atmosphere is getting very sultry and humid as we set up our tents. A storm is definitely brewing.

It is a good site with an Aldi just across the road for all the essentials. We stock up on bread, cheese, liver wurst, wine for me and weissb…

Day 5 - Stilfes

Tuesday 27th June 2017

The storm rumbles on all night and as the rain lashes down it is a real test for the tents. In the morning the camping ground is waterlogged in places but all our essential kit has remained dry and both bikes start up first time.

The rain eases off around 6am and has stopped by 7. A patch of blue sky appears. We have a quick breakfast of boiled eggs and bread. One french loaf we left out has a big hole gnawed out of it. Mice, rats weasels ripped my flesh? Who knows?

But for now the rain is holding off so it's time to get on the road. Our route today will takes us into the high Alps, across Austria and into northern Italy.

Our first alpine pass road of the tour is a run over Fernpass from Bavaria into Austria. The rain is holding off for the present but traffic is heavy on this busy road. 

It is a relatively low pass so attracts the heavy lorries and caravans.
The next section is quite fast as we head across Austria and find the road up to Timmelsjoch.

This is a hig…

Day 6 - Kötschach

Wednesday 28th June 2017

 We enjoy an excellent Austrian breakfast at the hotel Wieser after a good night's kip. The weather is undecided, not raining yet but looks like it may be on the way.

Our route takes us west through the Tyrolean mountains as the day brightens. It is a lovely day for a ride.

We are heading for Staller Sattel, a narrow pass back over into Austria that is one-way and controlled by a traffic-lights system. The lights are green for 15 minutes at the top of the hour for travellers heading east into Italy and 15 minutes on the half hour when travelling west over into Austria. it is only open from May to October from dawn to dusk. I heard that a toll is planned for Staller Sattel but if so it isn't in operation just yet.

We hit the 11:30 slot neatly without having to stop and 10 minutes or so later we pull up at the summit on the Austrian side. it is 2,052 metres above sea level. It's time for Mick to add a new sticker to the panniers on the GS.

From the summit…

Day 7 - Kobarid

Thursday 29th June 2017

Everything is good here at the Bierhotel. So of course the buffet breakfast is excellent. German/Austrian brekkies usually are. Everything hinges on the quality of the bread rolls and today they are epic. There are boiled eggs, 4 or 5 different sliced meats, the same variety in the cheeses. The jams and marmalades are all in big jars and the butter is served as curly slices in little pots. Loads of different cereals and muesli stuff, fresh fruit of all kinds. No sticky-fingers plastic-wrapped portions in a good German breakfast. And the coffee is unlimited and good.

It is a murky morning and rain is in the air as we head off up Plöckenpass for the second time. Traffic is light and as we drop down the fabulous winding roads and hairpins (tournanti) on the Italian side the roads are drying fast and the sun is trying to shine.

After a few miles we turn off the main road and start the climb up the Cason di Lanza Pass on Attilla's Route. The road is narrow and poor…