So after 4 days in beautiful Berlin it was time to leave and start travelling south where the weather should be a little warmer…hopefully. Berlin was a great City, very easy to get around, friendly people and plenty to see but it was time to move, so I jumped onto the nearest Autobahn and rode south towards the border with the Czech Republic. After a few hours I was across the invisible border and into Prague. I found a cheap Hostel parked the Bike and headed off into the City to find out what all the fuss was about. Welcome to Prague.
The centre of this Medieval City looks very similar to others I have seen on this trip, but Prague is full of cars and people and is very busy. Its also not cheap as I found out when I sat down in one of the Restaurants to have dinner. This is the Central Square and is a very popular place.
The narrow streets are easy to walk around but not so if you are trying to ride or drive, my GPS guided me into the city when I arrived and I immediately got lost in a maze of small narrow streets some which are one way and some which from the looks of the pedestrians I think are not supposed to have vehicles in them……
Prague was a nice place but I think I’ve seen too many Medieval Cities now it didn’t feel special, maybe I needed more than one night there to appreciate it more.
The next day I rode out of Prague and headed back into Germany to find the small Town of Neckarsulm near Heidelberg in South Western Germany. This is where Till and Carolin lived (The couple I met in Kyrgyzstan and rode with through Azerbaijan and Georgia), they had invited me to stay for a while and I was looking forward to catching up. So a few hours on the clogged up Autobahn and I found their place and settled in for a few days rest. It wasn’t all relaxation, I put on a new front Tyre which Till had ordered for me, the original had over 24,000 kilometres on it and could easily do another few thousand but they are so much cheaper in Germany. I also gave Till a hand changing his very worn out rear Shock on his Africa Twin, this had been ‘repaired’ a few times as it collapsed in Kazakhstan and again in Georgia but they managed to ride all the way home on this ‘Frankenstein’ Shock.
Neckarsulm is home to the famous NSU Motorcycle Museum and Till gave me a guided tour. They had other bikes as well as NSU and this one, BMW’s original Adventure Bike the R80GS was the favourite, my bike is a direct descendant and I would love to find one of these in Australia but that is not easy.
After a few days of relaxation and Bike maintenance I reluctantly left Neckarsulm.
And headed east towards Bavaria where I found this little shack on top of a hill. This is the Eagles Nest which was built for Hitler during WWII and is a stunning building primarily because its perched on top of a high Mountain with virtually 360 degree views and they lifted all of the materials up there by crane from the narrow road about 100 Metres below. The building is used as a Restaurant now but you can still go up there to have a look without eating at what is a very expensive Restaurant. I had to leave my bike down at the Village below and catch a Bus to the top just like a common Tourist but it is well set up with numbered Buses all running in sequence precisely on time, typically German.
The Tunnel leads from the Car park to a lift which is the only way in or out.
The view from the top is spectacular, what makes this ironic is Hitler was apparently scared of heights, didn’t trust Elevators and only came here a few times, ah Dictators, History would be pretty boring without them?
Later that afternoon I crossed another invisible border into Austria where I found this nice quiet and relatively cheap Camp Ground to spend the night.
The next day I dropped into Hohenwerfen Castle not far down the road, this is one of the most famous Castles in Austria and was where they filmed ‘Where Eagles Dare’ in 1968, its also been used as inspiration in one of the Call of Duty games so my youngest son wanted me to go there and find a Zombie…
The only way in is a sort of Cable Car which runs up from the Car park below, this used to be an old fashioned Cable Car but was rebuilt around 10 years ago.
They have a Birds of Prey show which was fascinating but scared a lot of people when the Eagles swooped down on them.
So I didn’t find any Zombies so it was time to head south again and ride the Grossglockner Pass which is close to the Italian border. After paying around $40 AUD for a one way trip over the Mountains and putting on some extra layers of clothing it was time to climb again.
There was quite a bit of snow up the top which would no doubt get heavier until they closed the road in late October. It was slow going due to the slippery road but the views were just stunning.
Nice place at the top for an expensive Cappuccino.
After yet another fantastic day in this part of the world I found a nice out of the way dirt road and set up camp.
The surroundings were fantastic and even though it was very cold I had a great nights sleep.
The following day was a slow cruise through the rest of Austria and past the Dolomites in Northern Italy into the Stelvio National Park where after a few hours of riding around I found what is probably the most scenic Camp Site yet.
All set up and nothing left to do but admire the view.
The following morning the sun came out and improved what was already a stunning view.
Then it was time for one of the big ones, the Stelvio Pass, but first a Coffee at the Café below, you can’t do these things on an empty stomach.
Made it to the top, the sun was shining, there was hardly any traffic and a fantastic experience which can’t be missed if you are ever in Northern Italy.
A small amount of snow just to make it interesting.
I then headed towards the Swiss border and decided to camp before contemplating another series of famous Mountain Passes in Switzerland. Same procedure, find a small road then another road off that, preferably a dead end and there is your quiet and free camp for the night.
The next morning I crossed into Switzerland and headed for Andermatt where I had a hearty but expensive Breakfast before tackling the first of four Passes, Susten Pass.
Then it was Grimsel Pass which stood out because of the lake and the colour of the water.
Third in line was the nearby Furka Pass which had two spectacular roads running down from each side of the Valley.
And finally the lesser known but equally picturesque Nufenen Pass.
Having all of these spectacular Mountain Passes all so close together combined with the friendly people and courteous drivers quickly elevated Switzerland to one of my favourite places from the entire trip so far, if it wasn’t so expensive I could quite easily live here.
So after the order of Switzerland it was time for the craziness of Italy again. I headed south east for Lake Como but first had to navigate through a few busy Swiss towns and then the manic traffic of Italy. It was a long day and a long ride but I finally made it into Mandello del Lario on the banks of Lake Como where I found a nice Camp Ground for a few days.
I had planned on visiting the Moto Guzzi Motorcycle Museum just up the road but its only open for an hour a week and not on week ends which was when I was there, only in Italy could you get away with these opening hours. A photo from the outside will have to do.
After a few days of catching up on things and eating lots of Pizza it was off to Venice to continue my Italian Tour.
Venice was one of the busiest tourist areas I had been to and it wasn’t peak season, walking around the narrow laneways dodging people was very tricky.
I managed to catch up with a few old friends in Venice for dinner and just got the last ferry back to the Camp Ground on the mainland at midnight, if I missed that it would have been a rough night on a park bench somewhere.
The next day after around 4 hours of riding on confusing Freeways I was in Florence which was busier than Venice, something I didn’t think was possible.
I stayed in a small Camp Ground just outside Florence, which was cheap and you could catch the bus into the City for a few dollars to save the stress of riding in. After two days exploring Florence I headed west for a few hours to have a look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Yet another Italian City full of Tourists, but I was entertained by all of them trying to get those ridiculous photos of each other holding the tower or trying to push it over, it was quite a laugh.
Pisa is not that big and doesn’t really have any other attractions other than the tower so a few hours there was more than enough then it was onto the Motorway and into the mayhem of Genoa.
I managed to find the Ferry Terminal in Genoa and bought a ticket for the ferry to Barcelona leaving the next day. Then I found a nice quiet spot in the hills behind Genoa and set up camp for the night. The following morning I slowly rode down to the ferry Terminal and waited patiently for the Ferry to load.
Some of the Ferries have awesome paint jobs.
Later that Afternoon we left Italy bound for Spain.
After a rough night sleep on a seat of the Ferry I arrived in a very warm Barcelona, it was certainly a lot warmer in Spain, something I was looking forward to.