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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2011, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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French alps and Mediterranean Sea

Hi fellows!

Been a bit lazy but finally going to write a ride report on this summer's trip that me and my brother did down to the southern parts of Europe.

So here goes!

Day 1 - 11th of July

We were afraid the weather would start out gray and cold with rain, since it had been quite shaky the last few days. However, when we got up and looked out the window it was mostly blue sky and sunny.



Didn't take long until we were out of Skövde and soon we were even halfway out of Sweden. We took short breaks every hour and things were progressing well. A couple of kilometers from Helsingborg, the town our ferry was leaving from, the gray clouds came though. Rain started pouring down. Luckily it only lasted for a little while and as we stopped in the queue for the ferry it had come to a stop. It was only a short ride across to Denmark from there and it felt good to be out of Sweden.



In Denmark the weather was better. We had small amounts of rain around Copenhagen but as we progressed south it only got better. Before we knew it we had entered the town of Rödby and it's harbor and were waiting in line for the next ferry. Funny thing here was that as we paid for the ride across, we were told to get into lane 2 (out of perhaps 15 lanes). As we started driving to it we noticed all other lanes were more or less full. We soon realised this was the VIP lane and they were nice enough to let everyone with motorcycle go into that one. It's funny how people are (at least Swedes) way more keen to go talk to you when they're on vacation and especially when you ride a motorcycle. Many of them older men who had to stop due to their wives complaining too much about it.





In Germany we head onto the Autobahn and proceeded southwards fairly quickly. The traffic was light so we could keep the speed up. We got the first big city, Lübeck, and decided to stop for the night. We could a nice camping and had the tent up in a few minutes and it was really nice to get out the motorcycle gear.



We also got to enjoy a beautiful sunset!



After it was all done and we had showered we decided we get something to eat. We asked the owners of the camping and they showed us on a map where to find one. After about 20 minutes walk we got there, but apparently this day it was all closed up. Not a light turned on inside and no one to be seen either. A bit disappointed we headed back to the camping since we couldn't find any camping nearby. They owner was really surprised to hear it was closed since it was usually open till later. We ended up getting a dinner of champions at the camping instead consisting of beer, sausages, bread and cheese. After a day on the bikes it tasted very delicious so we didn't complain. We had an early night and fell asleep within minutes.



That's day 1. I'll be back with more as soon as I have time

Last edited by Foraek; 08-29-2011 at 06:30 PM.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2011, 05:55 PM
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Looking forward to the rest of the report!

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-29-2011, 06:36 PM
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Looking forward to more myself, nothing like a beer and a sausages.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 01:13 AM Thread Starter
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Day 2 - 12th of July.

After getting up in the morning we were back on the road in under an hour. We decided we'd try to stay off the big autobahns and enjoy smaller roads on our way south in Germany. A few kilometers in we stopped at a gas station and had breakfast. It was starting to reach 27-28 celsius so every time we stopped you got soaked in sweat. Better than rain though!



We aimed for the town of Glückstadt where we'd cross the big river Elbe and head for the tiny country of Luxemburg (we ended up never reaching it but it would have been fun to have been there). We realised as we reached the ferry that going on the smaller roads would be a bad idea. After 3 hours we had barely traveled 100km. With fairly heavy traffic on those roads as well coupled with villages every 5km or so made it very slow. When we had been waiting in line for the ferry (a line which continued over a hill as far as we could see) for about 30 minutes and still were no close to the end of it two motorcycles were going past all the cars. They stopped at us and motioned us to tag along. Apparently you're expected to go past all cars and get squeezed in on the ferry when you're on a motorcycle. We got in on the next ride now and if we had waited in line we'd be on the other side of Elbe about an hour later than now.



Funny thing too, one of the women who stopped and told us to tag along was driving a Versys!



As soon as we were on the other side of this huge river we set the GPS for the city of Basel in Switzerland and it quickly led us unto the autobahn again. Instead of going 100km in 3 hours we went 130km/hour now. Felt good to do some better progress. Though sitting still like that is bad for your bum! But plenty of stops helps out very nicely and the autobahn has plenty of them and most are in good shape too!



Around 7pm we set the GPS for a camping in the direction we were going. We ended up outside a town called Dülmen. We hadn't gotten as far as we would have liked so we decided that next day the goal was Switzerland at least and autobahn would take us there. After sleeping a bit too much the first night we set an early alarm for day 3 after a dinner consisting of the Erdinger Weiss bier and a pizza. As we fall asleep we hear light rain and thunder far away. The heat and humidity makes the sleeping bag feel like a bit too much but doesn't take long for me to drift off to sleep.

The next report will come soon!
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 02:25 AM
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Day 3 - 13th of July

We woke up fairly early to a grey sky but no rain. We quickly got on the road and headed south with Switzerland as the goal. As we get to the entrance lane to the autobahn it starts. Construction work and all closed. We figured we'd continue driving and hope the GPS would find an alternate route eventually. At first it was slightly annoying but it would prove to be a very nice route through a national park and very cool forest with big trees and it was almost like driving in a tunnel. Unfortenately there wasn't any good place to stop and take any photos so i've got nothing from here

After a while we were back on the autobahn though and doing good progress. We had some heavy rain after only a little while on the autobahn, but it didn't last very long and soon it looked like it would clear up and we were getting hopeful of an afternoon with sun.



This would prove to be quite a misreading of the weather. As soon as we had finished lunch it started pouring down again. After this it never really stopped raining till the middle of the night. On our way through the rain we spot a sign saying "Hockenheim". I'm not sure if any of you are familiar with it but it's a racing track. Of course we had to go check it out! Unfortenately we only got to see the outside of it and didn't even spot the track itself at all.





Back on the road the rain got lighter but that happiness was short lived. After hours in rain on the autobahn we were finally standing only a few kilometers from the border to Switzerland. The plan was to sleep in Basel and since it had been raining most of the day we decided to find a hotel to sleep in for the night. We called some friends back home to get some help with finding one. We quickly realised that Switzerland is an expensive country and we went for a hotel in Germany instead. Our friend made a reservation online and gave us the adress and off we went.

We had barely come more than a few hundred meters before the whole sky came down on us. The clouds was so dark it felt like driving in the middle of the night and things were getting really soaked. I found out my boots were leaking too and they were now filled with water. Terrific. We get off the autobahn and the GPS leads us up on small roads on the nearby hills. The rain made us want to reach that hotel quickly and driving in it made it feel like it took ages. We finally reached a small village called Hertingen and as we stopped outside the house with the correct adress we immediately felt something was wrong. This looked like any ordinary house, not a hotel. We double checked the adress but it was the correct one.

We figured we could at least ask and knocked at the door. No one came to open. On the reservation email we had a phone number and we decided to give it a go. Hopefully at least that would be correct. An older man answer and of course he only speaks German. So we try to communicate with him with the limited german we know and we succeed good enough to let him know we've booked a room and are standing outside in the pouring rain. He says he'll come outside and talk to us. And to our surprise he comes from the house next to the one we were at. Not long after he comes there his wife arrives at the scene and luckily she can speak English.

Now to the problem. The room we've booked is already occupied by someone else. So we're standing soaked out in the rain with no place to stay for the night and it's getting late. Good for us the woman feels very ashamed this double booking has happened and she feels obliged to help us. We get to come inside and warm up a bit while she goes to make some calls. All we hear at first is "Scheisse! Scheisse!" (**** in german ) and we're starting to loose hope but eventually she comes and looks quite happy and says she's got a hotel room for us!

We drive only a few kilometers and end up at Hotel Sonja. The woman even manages to get the hotel room cheaper than it would normally cost. We get our gear into the room and are very happy with what we got. Our gear is hanging everywhere to dry up and water is dripping all over the place. A quick shower, pizza and beer and we drift off to sleep. The next day we wake up and it's blue skies and sun! Things have dried alright and we're good to go!





And view from hotel room



That's day 3. A day that looked to be rather boring and only going on the autobahn turned out to be quite the adventure in the rain. Day 4 is where the fun starts though. We're entering the alps!
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Day 4 - 14th of July

We wake up in the mess from the day before with things all over the room. The sky is blue however and with renewed energy and will to go on it doesn't take long until we're on the road. We head for the city of Thonon on the shore of the Lake Geneva. That's where the Great Alp Road starts it's way down to the mediterranean sea.

As soon as we get into Switzerland the alps rise up. After a few kilometers we take a pause and enjoy the view.



We're eager to get going though so it doesn't take long before we're riding again. All of a sudden the highway make a fairly steep turn and what greets us was a complete surprise. Lake Geneva spreads out in front of us and it's a very beautiful scene. We stop at the first place possible to take some photos. This is also where we spot the first alp castle!







The weather is only getting better and things are really starting to dry up and the mood is getting better by the minute. We have to get around this lake the roads take us right next to the shore. It's a beautiful road with plenty of small villages along it. As we get down to the same level as the lake the temperature rise noteably and it almost feels like we're at the mediterranean already. We arrive at Thonon around noon and enjoy a quick lunch down in the harbour. We're eager to get into the "real" alps and get back on the road again. We only stop to get some cash. They're really bad at accepting VISA cards down here for some reason!



We hit the beginning of The Great Alp Road and it quickly takes us down a great ravine. A river runs at the bottom and at every place possible there's rafting going on. Looks really fun!



It's a twisty road and very nice one to drive on.



Doesn't take too long though before it starts going up at a quick rate and the turns are sharper. We stop to get the proof we're on the right track!





We see a lot of Harley Davidsons and as we reach one of the alp villages we notice some kind of HD festival or meetup. Nearby there's also plenty of gliders. Nothing for us so we keep going.





Not long after this the road starts going up quickly. The trees are getting smaller and more scarce and it's starting to feel mountainy!





In the afternoon we reach the first mountain pass at 1640m (approx. 5000ft) above sea level. The temperature has gone from 25 celsius at Thonon to around 11.5 celsius up here. It's a great feeling to be up here but unfortenately it's a bit foggy.





On the other side of the pass we going down quickly. We reach a ski resort and buy some dinner and get the map to a nearby camping place. We get the tent set up at 1000m above sea level and enjoy the daily shower and then dinner before hopping to bed.



And the daily journal writing



This is the end of day 4. The next day is when it really gets going!
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 03:54 PM
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Talking Awesome!!!

GREAT RIDE GUYS!!!!!!!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 05:06 PM
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Good luck exploring the infinite abyss
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-30-2011, 05:24 PM
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The alps looks awsome
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Funny thing is when we were traveling, all those new sights amazed you, but then it only got better

Day 5 - 15th of July

After a gray yesterday it was nice to wake up to sunshine and blue skies. The night had been cold but we had slept well apart from getting woken up by some fireworks for reasons unknown.



While taking the shower the evening before we had found a map of the area and saw a small road leading up the mountainside and almost all the way to the top. Obviously we wanted to see more so we set it as our first goal of the day. It would prove to be worth it. After a small twisting road for a few kilometers we were standing at the top enjoying the view while hearing cows with bells around their necks in the surrounding area.







We thought we'd be alone up here but it was a popular place to start mountain climbing or hiking so there were plenty of cars around.

When moving on the Great Alp Road splits up into two alternate routes. We figured we'd take the longer one since we wanted to enjoy as much as possible. This was a big mistake. It took us away from the nice mountain roads and we spent almost half the day just getting back on track. We got to see some nice views on the way but nothing compared to what we had seen already. When we got back to the mountains it started going up again. We had a small break in the village of Beaufort where we got the direction for a camping place. Our end goal would be Val d'Isère, the famous ski resort.

The way up there would hold many sights though so enjoy some photos!





And the first (and only) pass for that day! almost 2000m above sea level.



On our way down from that pass we came across something interesting we haven't really found any information about. It looked like an abandoned hotel. Would be fun to know what it is/was.



It also had a pool and tower to jump from!





And further down the road we found a huge dam and a lake.





And looking back the way we came from



And just around the corner from there is Val d'Isère. The camping is easy to find and we get a nice spot to set up the tent. According to the GPS we're at 2000m above sea level now.





As we settle in a lot of 4x4s start arriving. We find out that there's some sort of meeting and they're going to drive around on different alp roads. Would've been fun to tag along!



We manage to find a very nice restaurant and had an awesome three course dinner. Was a nice change to get some real dinner instead of just pizza or canned sausages! That's it for today. Tomorrow gets even better!
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2011, 05:57 PM Thread Starter
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Day 6 - 16th of July

We wake once more to clear blue sky and sunshine. The night at 2000m above the sea turned out to be very chilly and despite being fully dressed in the sleeping bag I woke up several times freezing a lot. I got through the night though and as soon as the sun appeared above the mountains the temperature came right back up. Shortly after we got out of bed a baker visited the camping selling newly baked bread. Of course we bought some and had breakfast.

We got back on the road with the aim set on the highest pass in the Alps with asphalt on it. It was only a short way from Val d'Isère and the road starting going up fairly steep not far from the camping. The view was very nice!



And my brother enjoyed it quite a bit



It didn't take long before we were standing at the top of the pass. The view was amazing and it felt really cool to be there! Of course we needed pictures as proof of us being there!







And of course they had built a restaurant and someone was selling candy up there on the top.





And the view was pretty cool on the way down as well!



After the photographing was done we got back on the bikes and headed south. We got through some passes but none of them would compare to the pass that lay ahead, the best pass of the trip. It all started a few kilometers after a small village called Valloire. The road started climbing again and instead of the rocky mountains we had seen so far this was more like big piles of gravel which would later be more like huge grassy hills. The view beat everything we had seen so far and the last part of the road felt like a F1 race track (not that I've ever been on one, but I'd imagine it'd feel like this!). Everywhere on these photos you can see the campers everywhere. They were there getting ready for Tour de France, the big bicycle race that was going to pass this pass in 6 days. Guess they really wanted good seats!





Me enjoying the view



The top of the pass



It looks so flat on photo but it was a truly amazing experience. If you ever come to Europe this is something I'd highly recommend

These two passes were two of the coolest thing on the trip. After this last pass we kept going south and ended up a few kilometers west of Barcelonette on a camping in a place called Les Prats.



After a delicious dinner we checked the weather and noticed they threatened with rain again the next day. We were hoping they'd be wrong!
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2011, 08:18 PM
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Totally in awe!!!!!



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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2011, 09:03 PM
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WOW, that's just spectacular
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-04-2011, 09:54 PM
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Wow!!!!!..I know you guys will never forget this trip..This is what makes the V family so awesome!...
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