Motorcycle Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Some folks might strongly disagree, but... I'm gonna say it anyway. The best motorcycling on earth is in the European Alps. Riding there is simply unbelievable. The roads, the scenery, the people, and just the whole bike-friendly atmosphere is unsurpassed, anywhere, on any continent.... and it's cheaper and more available to the American motorcyclist than you might think.... here's an example of what we did in 2012.

First, forget the organized tour and the guides.... you don't need it, or them.

What you need is this guide book, John Hermann, Motorcycle Journeys in the Alps and Corsica (get it at Amazon.Com) and yeah, it's expensive so buy it used. Keep it and cherish it; it's the ticket to the best riding of your life.

Second, take camping gear. The campgrounds in Europe are unbelievably luxurious and well-cared for....there is simply no justification for spending $200-$300 a night for even a three star hotel when you can stay nearly two weeks in a campground for the same amount. The nature of Alpine riding is such that it lends itself to a "basecamp" approach -- set yourself up in a comfortable campground, and make day tours from it. Keep it simple: a $150 tent (with a fly) and a $100 sleeping bag (45* rated), a sleeping pad, and maybe a backpack stove, and you're good to go! Europeans themselves stay in campgrounds, and they love Americans that do, too..... trust us!

Take your own riding gear and jacket and helmet. Put it in a big rucksack, and your camping gear will probably fit in another. Go very easy on clothes: we took mesh riding gear, a fleece, one pair of convertible pants, two pairs of synthetic underwear that we could wash out, and Frogg Togg raingear. And that's it......

Okay, here we go. Buy a roundtrip ticket to Munich (Munchen!). We got ours in high season for about $1800 apiece..... stay the night in Munich to get de-lagged (3 Star Hotel, $165). The next morning, go to the old Munich Train station and buy a ticket to Balzano, Italy via Innsbruck and Brenner Pass. Go second class; we were always able to "upgrade" our seats on the train once aboard.... we paid $125 for our tickets. Take the small digital camera out.... the train ride is spectacular!

In Balzano, if you get there late, cross the street and stay in the Balzano Youth Hostel, http://bozen.jugendherberge.it/cs.asp?st=1&sp=en, for about $20 a night, and that includes breakfast. There are four bunks to a room, and you might have to share the place with some laughing young women who don't speak your language (and the downside of that is.....?).

The next morning, take the Drusso street bus to this campground, and set your tent up.....http://www.moosbauer.com/en/t/prices.html.... this is a lovely place, and Red and I spent about $125 for a week for clean, luxurious restrooms, a well-stocked store, a pool, a restaurant, friendly staff, and good, good company with the other guests....a truly remarkable campground.

In the morning, take the Drusso bus to this place, http://www.rent-a-bike.it/47/english.html, and rent yourself a bike..... do not go too big! You don't need a Roadking or a Goldwing for the roads you're gonna be on, stay at 750ccs or smaller, even two-up, and a super-scoot is just fine.... then ride back to the campground, get your copy of Hermann's book, and go on and ride the great Dolomite roads! This will keep you busy for days and days, and will be one of the best times of your life!


We are often asked, "why don't you use organized tour companies?" Please note I have nothing against organized touring. There is however a really, really good reason, I believe, for going it alone and cobbling up your own experience: the constant exposure to Europeans.

On our trips to Europe, the train rides and campgrounds almost forced us to "rub against" Europeans in a positive way..... While I've never experienced one, a canned tour would seem to me to "encapsulate" you within the group, to limit your exposure to local people and customs -- and I realize I may be very wrong about that.

Some of our best experiences came from off the bike: the lovely Austrian girl named Kristine we met on the Munich/Balzano train, who shared her first class compartment with us and educated us on the landscapes of Brenner Pass, and who suggested we stay our first night in the Balzano Youth Hostel..... the wonderfully eccentric Brit couple in the campground in Interlaken, Switzerland, who gave us free tickets to the Niederhorn Funicular Railway (about $150 worth!)..... the laughing, wonderfully funny three young motorcycle mechanics from Amsterdam, who spoke perfect, entertaining English to us in a Balzano campground, while drinking amazing quantities of beer in the gaz lantern light.... the soft-spoken, long-haired young German student who suggested that we take the Chunnel train from Munich to London, and who ran with us carrying one of our heavy packs as we desperately tried to catch the last departure (which we did successfully by the way.....). Wherever we went, whatever we tried to do, ordinary Europeans seemed to come from everywhere to help us, to enrich our experience over there, to make sure we were "all right" and doing what we wanted to do -- and after the initial "culture shock," we always felt completely comfortable, completely at ease. This kind of travel is addictive, and immediately whets your desire for more.

Like all U.S citizens, I see things from an isolated perspective. We seem to evaluate everything against American standards, which is not accurate and not fair. But it's not completely our fault; there have always been two big oceans between us and the rest of the world, and it's hard to overcome those limiting factors and remain objective that way. But our "ground-level" travels to the old countries have opened our eyes; have gently brought us around to the idea that we have more commonalities than differences with the other peoples of the world, and that we should do our best to illuminate that fact whenever we can. After all, a motorcyclist is a motorcyclist, no matter what language her or she speaks, and no matter what roads they're on.....and the same rain falls on tents all over the world! And please, please, by whatever means you choose -- budget touring, canned touring, whatever -- get out there soon! And see for yourself what old Louis Armstrong used to sing about..... "What a wonderful world!"





 

·
American Legion Rider
Joined
·
20,011 Posts
It's on my bucket list but that will probably happen about the same time my ship comes in. I do have to hit all of our states first though even if my ship came in. That was on the list first.
 

·
Female Rider
Joined
·
9,324 Posts
OK, how do I go about getting this Green stuff off of me??? I am so Green with envy. I had to share your story and photos with my husband. We both absolutely love seeing this wonderful world from the back of our Vision. Like Cowboy says, we want to see all 49 of our continental states and Canada first, but would love to take a trip like you and many others on the Forum describe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, Moni....... here's a few more pictures. I would put them on the initial entry but I can't figure out how to edit these posts!

(On the way to Stelvio Pass)



(typical Dolomite road, Northern Italy.....)



(my best girl in our Balzano campground......)



(Ma and Pa Kettle on the loose in Northern Italy......)

 

·
Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
Joined
·
12,315 Posts
they edit button has a time elapsed period. It is there for a while and then gone
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,169 Posts
I remember Interlaken it is the north side departure point for the Jungfrauyoch cog rail to the top of the mountain. The glacier is a sight worth seeing from the top if you are there. Also worth exploring is the caves carved out of the glacier and filled with more or less permanent ice sculptures since they are inside the glacier. If you are not acclimated to the altitude it is best to only stay an hour or two at the top because altitude sickness can really get to you. You don't want to know how I know that.
When you are in Munchen do not miss the Hoffbrau Hous or the museum, more or less a museum of science and industry. Both of them are worth a side trip just to see them.
The Hoffbrau Hous at Marienplatz is a great place to spend an evening with the oompah band and the general atmosphere of camaraderie in the place. Tables are meant to be used by 10 or 12 people and you will end up seated with other people from all over the world at the table you choose. There is no such thing as a couple taking personal possession of a table, they are meant to be shared.
The museum is just incredible. If you have a whole day to spend it would be even better. I only got to stay there for about 5 hours.
 

·
Aging & Worn
Joined
·
4,516 Posts
Thanks for the great pictures and description of your trip. I won't have the same pleasure, but at least I could live it thru YOURS!

-Soupy
 

·
Very Famous Person
Joined
·
9,810 Posts
I remember Interlaken it is the north side departure point for the Jungfrauyoch cog rail to the top of the mountain. The glacier is a sight worth seeing from the top if you are there. Also worth exploring is the caves carved out of the glacier and filled with more or less permanent ice sculptures since they are inside the glacier. If you are not acclimated to the altitude it is best to only stay an hour or two at the top because altitude sickness can really get to you. You don't want to know how I know that.
When you are in Munchen do not miss the Hoffbrau Hous or the museum, more or less a museum of science and industry. Both of them are worth a side trip just to see them.
The Hoffbrau Hous at Marienplatz is a great place to spend an evening with the oompah band and the general atmosphere of camaraderie in the place. Tables are meant to be used by 10 or 12 people and you will end up seated with other people from all over the world at the table you choose. There is no such thing as a couple taking personal possession of a table, they are meant to be shared.
The museum is just incredible. If you have a whole day to spend it would be even better. I only got to stay there for about 5 hours.
--

Oh, sure, NOW you tell Jack. :(

--
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,169 Posts
I tell what I remember from my experiences when something triggers them RonK. My memories from my time in northern Switzerland are rich. I have some facility with the french language and studied german before that trip. I actually found myself acting as a go between at a flea market in Zurich between the german speaking sellers and french speaking buyers. French and german are both accepted languages in Switzerland but not all residents are able to speak both. If I had not studied german before my trip I would have been totally lost. French I had studied since grade school as a person growing up in Canada. By having both on tap I was able to help.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top