|22-03-2006, 01:11 PM||#1|
Mapping the next ride...
Join Date: Mar 2006
European Alps Rumble 2001 (long) pt.6 final
Again morning fog and saying Goodbyes to Oma is a hard one. The last breakfast is a true gut-buster. We’re earlier than on previous days, after a couple of hundred metres we turn back, forgot to leave Oma our little Aussie-flag that graced the rear-end of the Honda ever since day one. More tears….
Back to Klagenfurt and a quick 80km of Autobahn towards Graz, before the turn north at Packsattel up the Lavant-Valley proves a wise choice. It’s a great road up the Obdacher-Saddle and beyond to have a quick look at the A1-Austria-Ring racetrack at Zeltweg.
More Autobahn towards Vienna to the spaghetti-crossover at St. Michael and north to Traboch. Through Trofaiach and up the hill to Eisenerz; a spectacular piece of road.
After the first few k’s out of Trofaiach we get stuck in traffic, nothing moves.
A truck with heavy mining equipment coming across the hill from the mining town of Eisenerz got stuck under a railway bridge
and the ensuing 45 mins of wait-and-watch are a welcome break, catching some sun. It’s hard work for the driver to untangle the mess and get the rig through under “thundering” applause of us bystanders; the poor bugger earned every single cent of his day’s wages.
We’re the first through after the blockage is out of the way, up the saddle then down the long-drawn swoopy road into Eisenerz and on north to Hieflan.
A further 20km north inside a narrow valley before the tack west and a nice, quickish ride along the Salza river to Maria Zell, the stop for the night.
With a long tradition as a health-resort it’s quite a big place, just right for some after-dinner window-shopping, it’s another cool night.
Last day and we’re trying to stretch it out as far as possible.
Dry roads and blue skies from the start, getting off a little bit later due to a lengthy talk with an old lady, which proves to be an orthopaedic surgeon in Innsbruck.
So we’re getting the insider-tour of the Austrian health system, which sounds somehow pretty familiar, some things aren’t all that different anywhere in the world.
Picking as many small roads as possible, it’s amazing to see the number of bikes at the Kalte Kuchl restaurant at lunch time, being a week day and all that.
It’s a well-known bikers-meet; nevertheless the number of bikes parked out front seldom drops below 50 considering the constant come-and-go.
The tucker is good and we hang around in the sunshine. No use in pushing it, we’re close to base-camp, also close to the end of our time, a last soaking up of the surrounding scenery that doesn’t want to let us go.
KTM Shaftie? Doesn't exist? there it is then...
The final target of Wiener Neustadt still gives us another 60km of narrow twisties before the last 8km of busy roads leading into town.
At the last turn in town I blunder and we have to find a chance for 2 U-turns to get us back on track.
Along the last few yards is a bike-accessory shop and what started as a 5-minute-browsing session turns into a 2-hour shopping spree, too much to take home with us, we have to pop across in the morning, using Gaby’s little Daewoo to pick it all up.
Late afternoon finally sees us turning into the drive of our hosts and friends;
5000km, many experiences and more than 3 ˝ weeks of biking richer, weeks choked with 1000s of bends, incredible scenery, mostly good weather, good people everywhere along the way, fantastic tucker…and without hiccups to men or machine.
We could go on and on, the place has been kind to us and there are still a few million bends out there begging to be explored…
Gaby and Fred welcome us back with open arms.
It’s a long night of show and tell, laughter and maps spread all over the furniture, photos flicking over the computer screen.
Secretly it is also a relief to be back without any damage to the bikes, the responsibility of someone else’s property always being in the back of our minds.
It takes the best part of the day to get the 2 bikes back to “showroom-condition” (and they scrape up really well in the end), now they’re just sitting there, ready for the next ride…. If we could only wind back to clock 3 ˝ weeks and go again…I remember that turnoff where we went south after we had lunch, you know….it said: Chiavenna 66km, now, if we…ahhhh, dream on.
Ingo, my old school mate appears during the afternoon, flying across from Duesseldorf/ Germany to pick-up the bushman’s hats and souvenir-ball pens we brought along for him and to say Hello (well, he is a captain with Lufthansa Airlines).
The afternoon starts in earnest once the first bottle is cracked open, it’s all laughter and good times from here, we’re the noisiest mob at the local restaurant and pretty much the last guests before lock-up time.
Gaby, Fred and the girls try to lighten our sad and gloomy mood, it’s our last day in Austria, and we’re flying out in the afternoon.
Do I really HAVE to go??
A last look at the trusty companions
The packing takes a little while, all the new gear we purchased at the huge accessory-store has to be stowed and one of the suitcases is grossly overweight.
Ingo reckons it’ll be ok, he should know.
We’re off to Vienna to catch at least a glimpse of all the cultural stuff we missed; the centre of town really is impressive.
The revolving restaurant at the top of the TV-tower provides great, if hazy, views of the city and the distant hills, the waters of the Danube River encircling a long, narrow island, most of it a public park and reserved for open-air-concerts and other functions.
It seems that the family doesn’t want to let go of us; we have to just about boot them out of the airport lounge, all of us with a big lump in our throats as we watch them walk across the car park back to their car.
We can’t wait for them to come to Australia. Hopefully they’ll have as much of a good time as we had in Europe, we’ll try our hardest to do whatever we can to make it happen, that’s for sure. Time for our flight to Frankfurt, somehow I botched my timing and we’re called on the PA system. Goodie is cracking the shits with me for lingering around so long, I just don’t feel like leaving ….
A good hour later we’re in Frankfurt and it’s off on the excruciatingly 12-hour long haul to Singapore.
Bye, bye Europe… bye, bye to the Fred, Gaby, Birgit and Bianca and many, many deeply felt thanks… bye to the “real” mountains and slopes… bye to all the good stuff we experienced… bye to the great roads, the 2 dead-reliable barges, the oodles of bends and great corners… we’ll be back one day, PROMISE !!
Shit, it hurts to see it disappear beneath us…
15.-17. October Monday-Wednesday
On track, on time, Singapore, here we are!
Mid-afternoon and it’s typically equatorial, hot and sticky, as the minibus gets us into town. The booked hotel throws a major wobbly; apparently someone in Australia has cancelled our reservation weeks ago.
After some hours of back-and-fro something is sorted out but the place is full, so we’re carted off to another hotel.
Just glad to get under a shower, we don’t care anymore in the end, the room is cool, most of the long flight forgotten, and we’re off into town for a short stroll.
The usual Asian hustle and bustle as well as the humid mug bowl us over in no time; time to hit the pillows.
Next morning brings more confusion; the booked city-tour trying to pick us up at the original hotel, it still works out.
There we are, doing the usual touristy stuff, but somehow one needs a bit of an overview. Another tour at night and a quick visit at the famous Raffles-Hotel make us decide to bail out for the next day and try to spend our time somewhere along the river-esplanade.
Not being too muggy in the morning we go by a roughly drawn tourist-brochure and make our way to the water. It’s nicer to watch the bustle from a bit further away, watching the multitude of small boats ferrying stuff out to the waiting freighters in the bay while being in the shade, is entertaining enough.
We’re glad to get out of there.
Shorts and bits:
People are very friendly---but reserved. Make first contact and it’s ok.
Petrol was about A$1.80-2.00
Credit cards not all that common, businesses shy away because of the high cost.
Money: exchanging into/out of multiple currencies is a pain, hail the Euro soon to be issued in most of Europe; except Britain and Switzerland which will go their own way.
Bancomat (hole-in-the-wall) are around everywhere, any card with Cirrus-logo will be accepted—bring your password. All machines are multi-lingual.
Room for the night—any guesthouse/pub in Italy/Austria about A$75-115 night/2 people/ incl. monumental breakfast, Switzerland from about A$ 150/night/ 2people/incl brekkie
1 litre of high-grade motor-oil at petrol station about A$ 35----YES, that’s right.
Hardly any fast food joints/ take-aways, except in the bigger cities.