A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: lyndel.hebden

International Indian Rally 2016

Germany here we come

all seasons in one day

90_347460AAAB088590CD51FABC6EF9CBD0.jpegFrom Metmenstetten, Switzerland to Munich, Germany is about 400kms so our riding for Sunday 24 July was mostly on the highways and autobahns of Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria and Germany. Jim P can proudly say he has dropped a koala in each country (we carry the little marsupial souvenirs clipped on our bikes and hand them out to children we meet along our journey) as on that Sunday they were jumping off the Eurochief all day! The riding was pleasant enough for highway riding made a lot easier as, on Sundays, trucks are not permitted to be on the roads. The rigs would be all lined up in the wayside stops for the day with satellite dishes hung from side windows or even a spot of washing hung across the windscreen. At many of the larger truck stops there are bathing and laundry facilities for travellers and truckers to use so the day off the road is their chance to catch up on "chores".
90_3553C5E2DFFAB66819358F37EA4591C5.jpegWe arrived at Werner and Hanna Trautner's home in an outer suburb of Munich in brilliant hot sunshine in the late afternoon. Hanna is an artist and on that day she was holding a small exhibition of her paintings and drawings as well as the craft of some friends. We settled in for a while to drink some beers and talk to the guests and then Werner led us, on his Scout, to the hotel/gaust haus he owns in the suburb of Allach where we would spend the next three nights, hanging up our riding boots to replace them with our tourist shoes. 34D586B9C400CD1D07F05AD64EF938AD.jpegWerner sub-lets the restaurant/bar and so we ate in the rear garden by a swift running brook, our delicious meal of Bavarian specialties served by Eileen and one of the co-owners, Jurgen. He was most helpful in giving us detailed directions to the train station, what stop to get off at and even where to eat for lunch the next day when we planned to go into Munich and ride the HopOnHopOff bus for the day. 3662D269A7B571AB0FED1C23198E8817.jpegMonday, after a relaxing breakfast we walked, as directed, to the station and bought two group tickets (cheaper to pay €12.20 for 5 people than to buy individual tickets). 367DB627CB6B5168C280BAABAA4D54C1.jpeg Getting off at Marienplatz we walked a bit to find the right bus stop for the HoHo bus, having to scramble to buy brollies in the platz as the rain was tumbling down more heavily than we had planned for. 90_34F0C20FFCA59CEABE07111EE6A13AF9.jpegOn to the bus and off on the Red route, seeing buildings old and new, the English Garden, the venue of the Oktoberfest, and grand avenues with many statues. Jurgen had recommended a small, local restaurant near the market area called Zwickl but somewhere during the morning we dropped the map with the address of our lunch spot. We asked the young tour guides who were most resourceful and found the address for us. All we had to do was hook in to a wifi hotspot and voilá Google Maps to the rescue. Finally, a hotspot and finally, we rounded a corner and there was Spickl and the best meatballs on offer in Munich. 180_34EDAB140E44F8E15739CC90419D0809.jpegWine, beer, local Bavarian food and we were very happy travellers. It took a while to find a bus stop to recatch the HoHo bus and so, by the time we had walked for quite a while in the afternoon sun, Jim P, Jorgen and Caterina had had enough and headed back to the gaust haus while the other 5 intrepid tourists went around on the Blue route seeing the artists' quarter, the Pinakotec (Munich's art gallery complex) and a magnificent boulevard with buildings designed in the style of the Renaissance. 358FB631DA923DAB786F00057AF2CBC9.jpeg35971FC4C3A49904CE44D188C929332D.jpeg
We learnt that Munich "makes its own weather" and that temperatures can change 10+ degrees in minutes and that thunderstorms can gather likewise. We had a direct experience of this in the last 5 minutes of the tour with black clouds gathering quickly, thunder and lightning and pelting rain coming out of nowhere. Consequently getting off the bus we got pretty drenched but not to worry! Underground to the train and then home to where the storm had passed and drinks and dinner were to be had.
Tuesday the men went with Werner to see Peter at Munich Indian Parts and the women lazed around reading, doing crosswords, writing their blog and having a look at the local shops. 35CA4EB4E7879AE1C41FF36EC6BE7A79.jpegWednesday we were heading off to the rally and Werner had planned a day of riding about 400kms on small roads so we all chose to have a lazy day to rest and prepare ourselves for the days to come. We dined in the restaurant at night with Werner and Hanna and bright and early Wednesday morning we gathered in the hotel carpark, fired up now 7 bikes and took off for our night's stay in the small village of Trätzhof. We rode the most wonderful picturesque small roads, passing through village after village. I noted that if we rode like this in Australia we would be in the middle of nowhere but in Germany we were in the middle of everywhere! 90_35D97601AB7A5B9EDD81F9A92796520D.jpegAt one point the main road passed through the middle of the medieval village of Dinkelsbuhl with original and restored buildings either side of the cobbled narrow road. Amazing!
361166C5E5AC83DC7745745DEB2E73CD.jpeg3618B3C3F2B604E62D7EFD88267CB130.jpegUnfortunately the Eurochief developed rear brake problems with the diagnosis that Jim had cooked them in the Alps and that the shoes would need replacing. It was on to the trailer for the bike and Jim and after lunch Jim took the driving of the van over from Sharon, at her request. Our afternoon tea stop to eat gelati at the village of Wertheim was also very interesting with old, old buildings set around a large open square and a dominating castle presiding over the village atop a steep hill. 35DFA98F04684947413DE7E221F9D069.jpegWe arrived at our hotel about 7pm very tired and hungry. A great meal outside and then to bed to ride the final leg of our "to the rally" ride on Thursday. I noted a phenomenon I kept seeing throughout Germany at the front of the hotel and that was a cigarette vending machine located on the fence of he hotel abutting the footpath. Not something we in Australia have anymore with our strict laws on the sale of cigarettes. 180_362D616B092C695BC82723ECD4ABF251.jpeg
So on Thursday morning three Scouts, four Chiefs and the black Merc van and trailer set off on the last 200 or so kms to Kierspe to the site of the 2016 International Indian Rally where we would once again catch up with our friends from all over Europe and the UK, a great weekend of fun awaiting us. 363480ECA5133E194B241FCE855DD637.jpeg

Posted by lyndel.hebden 14:07 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Down, down, down to the Swiss Lakes


Our overnight stay in Müster was fun filled with the girls discovering the aperitif Hugo and sampling many over the afternoon evening. The hotel is owned by friends of our Swiss host Urs, and we were treated with great hospitality and delicious traditional dishes from local produce. After a breakfast of the best croissants we had ever eaten we set off to ride to Italy, the town of Tirano on the border via again, those high alpine passes. We were not disappointed! We set off in overcast weather that stayed pretty much like that all day, breaking into sunshine late afternoon.
The riding on Thursday was spectacular yet again. We rode up, up, up out of the little town and just kept going up! We stopped for some photos every so often and then we stopped again so I could put on some layers as by now we were up way above the snowline and the temp was dropping fast. We rode over the Umbrail Pass (2505m) that links to the Passo dello Stelvio (2760m) where we stopped atop the mountain and had a look around the ski village - no skiers insight just loads and loads of motorcyclists and cyclists taking on the challenges of riding those high gorgeous roads.7DA444AEE0AD5DE9CA370178CFC977AF.jpeg
The weather looked like it was closing in with drops of rain starting to fall so we donned our wets and set off. To ride down we were "forced" to enjoy ourselves taking on 40 hairpin bends (no, I did not count them - they had signs with the turn number) and several single lane tunnels (a tight squeeze for Sharon driving the van), the road fluidly snaking down the mountain to the resort town of Bormio where the sun was shining and the temp was a humid 30+c. Did we get those layers off in a hurry! 7D9CBE5DA4C4AEF92C8A46ED9B8189FA.jpeg
Our journey continued, now in Italy, to the town of Grosino where we were welcomed into the hotel Sassella and the Restaurant Jim for lunch. Good story here - the great grandparents of the owners had emigrated to Melbourne in 1901 and opened a fish shop. They made their money and travelled back home and bought a hotel in the 30s where the family has run it ever since. The GGF's name was Giacomo but in Aus they called him Jim (yep that's what we do) hence the name of the restaurant. So you can imagine how excited our hosts became when we told them where we were from. Our younger host told us his son was the 5th generation! Again, yet another wonderful lunch of traditional dishes, this time dishes of Valtellina, local wine and even dessert. How unusual?! Photos of the bikes were taken in front of the hotel at the insistence of the owners and were were even given a bottle of the local wine to celebrate our visit! 7E14A96208F1BA6391A3CA4FA7986650.jpeg
A quick lone walk (Lyndel) up to see the ruins of an old 11c castle and some Iron Age rock carvings high above the village and then a short ride on the motorway to our digs in Tirano. Our hotel for the night was De La Tour, on the main drag into the town near the historic quarter. A few local beers to help settle into Italy then a walk around to get our bearings. Jim was feeling quite unwell so he elected to sleep and so only 7 of us strolled through the old part of the town, seeing some very old domestic buildings as well as finding the more elite part of the town where we came across a little drinking hole. Some red wine and beer then back to see how Jim was. Not good so we left him with a kebab (2 bites were eaten...) and walked back to the little restaurant and had a super meal, red wine, prosecco and Limoncello to finish. A hot and noisy night (hotel near main vehicle thoroughfare) for us all making sleep difficult but we awoke next morning fairly refreshed ready to ride back into Switzerland to the lakeside resort of Locarno. 7E2BDF39BC2E3976A7C4601E4F7C371E.jpeg
The weather forecast for Friday was for showers so I was determined to try out my new waterproof jeans I had bought in Sweden. We rode through deep valleys for the first part of the morning in cloudy conditions but about 12noon Jim pulled over so we could put on our wets as we were heading into black clouds. Thunder, lightning and sideways rain was upon us in less than 10 minutes! With the rain bucketing down the Scout started to splutter and in no time was rolling to a dead stop. The road was awash with water and visibility was poor so I paddle walked the bike about 5 metres to move it off the road, lost my footing and fell over with the stalled bike on top of me! Jorgen and Jim M were immediately behind me so they lifted it up and I happily decamped to the Mercedes. Bike on trailer and off we went with the weather clearing by the time we were looking for a lunch spot. We found a "very nice restaurant" on a descent into yet another lakeside village and had a fine meal of pasta, pizza, salad, wine and beer. If I remember correctly there was a dessert or two involved in that lunch also...
90_7E4FF6C296E3F26DC4B779DA139FD714.jpegThe town of Locarno, on Lake Maggiore, is very popular and was even more popular on the weekend of July 22-24 as the Midsummer festival “Luci e Ombre” (Lights and Shadows) was happening. We realised something was going on as, driving around and around to find our hotel, several roads had been closed off and parking was at a premium. Garni Rondinella was Friday night's accommodation and once parking was sorted (confusion reigning in the hotel carpark at the front with food vendors and karaoke claiming all the spaces) we finally padlocked the bikes up on the sidewalk and parked the van and trailer in the public parking lot across the park (and not until I did a LOT of sweet talking the parking attendant to even let us in!). Along the lake foreshore were many food stalls selling beer, mojitos and wine, with spareribs cooked on open coals and many varieties of cakes and salads. Several bands were setting up so we settled on a country/rock sound and had a great night listening and dancing till midnight. Around dusk, 8:30 or so, there was an aerial aerobatic display with 5 aircraft over the lake which entertained the crowd. The whole night was fun with me waking up on Saturday morning not that keen to ride the Scout... so it stayed on the trailer for the day.
The route for the day, to get us back to Metmenstetten, was via the town of Altdorf where we were to meet Lan and Urs Speck a few kilometres earlier down the road. The weather started out fine enough but soon it was raining and then really raining! A tunnel, 16.7km long and at a temperature of 36c, acted like a clothes drier and the riders went in one end wet and came out the other dry!! Unfortunately, unbeknown to our tour group, it was the first weekend of the holidays and nearly all of Europe was travelling on that road either going to Italy, France or Germany or going the opposite direction. So we endured a 75 minute traffic jam in the van with the 4 Chiefs leaving us to ride up the outside lane so they could rendezvous on time with the Specks. The jam was caused simply by a set of traffic lights to control the number of cars that could enter a two lane tunnel. It appears this is a regular occurrence for school holidays and celebrations like Easter and Christmas. We were wondering why there were Toi Tois (portaloos) strategically placed along the freeway... 7F3F5EB5C5A9BBFEF1F62CAFDC96127A.jpeg
7EE2183CD853761E1100A620E6F8E0FD.jpeg When we all regrouped we took a detour up to see Urs' father at his cabin and then on to Altdorf where the statue of William Tell stands in the market place. We all learnt at school about how William Tell shot the arrow through the apple but what we didn't learn was that he was a true Swiss patriot and is considered the father of the Swiss. Weather still overcast but dry we travelled along side Lake Lucerne where we stopped and Urs showed us some historical sites dating back to the confederation of small independent states, in the 14th century, to become Switzerland. 90_7F62C54A01E3F4806A92E112DF6D4670.jpeg
We arrived back in the late sunny afternoon and, after showers and several loads of washing, went down into the town for a fabulous meal at the local steakhouse, the restaurant having such a good reputation that patrons come from Zurich and all over Switzerland to dine there. It was so much more than a "very nice restaurant".
7FAA3C5DA60A4D600F796A5491B31B10.jpegThe end of our Swiss Alps Adventure had arrived. Before we left Jim had a short ride around on the '38 Sport Scout Urs had recently taken ownership of. Quite a special bike this one with an Australian pedigree and a great story of how it came to be once again on the road to go with it. So on a bright and sunny, soon to be very hot, Sunday we said goodbye to Switzerland and headed on the autobahn to Munich for the start of our journey to the rally. 90_7FB8F478F29D787C236B321A879E2A86.jpeg
That story will be told very soon.

Posted by lyndel.hebden 02:41 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Up, up, up in the Alps

Three countries in an hour

sunny 31 °C

Sun, sun, hot sun, hotter sun! And that was how the weather was for Tuesday 19 July with a forecast high of 31c. We left Metmenstetten around 8:30ish and headed north to catch the Horgen-Meilen ferry across the Zürichsee (Lake Zurich) and then on towards our destination for the night at Kreutzlingen on the ban of the Bodensee (Lake Konstanz).
The distance between our start and finish points was about 90kms, a bit short for a day's riding, so we took a more scenic route. We rode through beautiful farming country; towns small and large, old and new; along rivers; over our first pass - a little one, only 955m high (a practice pass); and generally had a great time on well maintained roads. There is a lot of road infrastructure being built here in Switzerland and so we were stopped many times to share the road with oncoming traffic.
90_5CE0A3FAF5AAAC1BF9BE787AAF1A1B4A.jpeg Jim has brought Karen with him again this year and, to date, she has behaved. She had a little tantrum today and took us on a delightful little trip up a long and winding narrow road through several small villages where we waved to the locals... twice! It was when we passed the cows in the barn on the left and the semi-derelict barn, with the traditional overhanging eaves and fretwork balustrade on the right, that I twigged we had done a big loop. Those cows had not moved 1cm in the half hour it took us to pass them again!
Lunchtime was upon us so with less than 10 kms to go we stopped at Berglin for lunch and went to the auto bank to get some CHF in cash. Arrival time at the Hotel Plaza was about 3 and so we had time for showers, a lie down and then drinks in the bar before walking to Germany to dine at one of the many restaurants at one of the many marinas. 6334821BBADD429D046DEED3316CE904.jpeg6337B54CAC9ED27030A0ED1591B1C455.jpegFrom our hotel the border is about 2kms and the food and drinks are cheaper than in Switzerland. A slow and pleasant stroll home in the balmy evening and then a warm night's sleep as not many hotels in Europe have air conditioning like we do at home, and our room was no exception.
5C31B915AEB45E4AD3FB2CFF6B0DD436.jpeg Wednesday morning was the same old thing... Hot and sunny, healthy breakfast, several coffees, on the road about 8:30. The destination for the day was Müster up in the Alps (1247m). We rode through Lichtenstein and Austria, through the towns of Davos, Klosters, Zernez following Route 28, and through the Flüela Pass (2383m) and a couple of other passes a lot higher than yesterday. 5C02502B9DD2EDF0623777560F51C113.jpeg
Again, lots of roadwork stops. The roads are well maintained - they need to be as there are so many motorbikes, RVs, cyclists etc. travelling around. Lunch was eaten down the mountain at Susasca (962m) where we found a covered bridge (á là Bridges of Madison County) and then through more perfect riding country and down into the town of Müster to Hotel Crusch Alba.

Posted by lyndel.hebden 10:13 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Switzerland - the Alps await!

Our tour around Switzerland begins

sunny 30 °C

FAB2DA58E469AAD21F3D3FB9C762D464.jpegWe arrived at the Speck residence late afternoon Sunday 17 July after a brilliant day on the bikes. Our route had taken us through Freusenstadt, Schramberg, St Georgen, Donaueschingen, Tako, Blumberg (lunch stop), Wettingen, Wohlen - none of which any of us could pronounce with any authority! Lan, Urz and daughter Sarah had everything ready for us - cold beer, iced tea and red wine set up under a gazebo adorned with Indian signage and paraphernalia. A nice touch thanks Urz. A BBQ dinner cooked in the garden where Lan keeps rabbits and turtles of all shapes and sizes. A real menagerie she has. FCAC8B9EF495342BDE2912604F6A96F7.jpeg
The Speck's live in a multi storied building that is divided into three separate houses. It was built in the 1700's as a single residence (Speck house) with barn (now the other two houses). There is also a shared barn where Urz keeps his collection of Indians and Harley's and his original VW Beetle and Combi. The town of Metmenstetten is picture perfect and the views in every direction marvellous! Behind our temporary home are fields of corn and cows with bells... After all we are in Switzerland! FCC71973A5C6E7F9BC5B368CF05EA6A2.jpeg
Monday dawned in brilliant sunshine and another el fresco brekky was consumed. A lazy morning saw males sitting talking and females taking a walk up the hill, past the ever running stream, past those cows with their bells, through the wood, and back via a cherry orchard. FD1DDE35D2758E139CB1B357E9716885.jpeg
Into our riding gear and off for an afternoon's ride around the local area and a little further. We had lunch at a "very nice restaurant" high atop a big hill, "we are not in the Alps yet" Urz told us, then down to a big lake, the Zuger See, around that and then back to Metmenstetten for afternoon drinks in the garden with the turtles having their dinner. FD334EDF04EA705AF854976D81DF484E.jpeg
Lan took Sharon and me to the local farmer to buy some cherries but alas!, there were none left (picked that was so we went into the orchard and had a feast direct from tree to mouth! Yum'!!)180_FD55ADDDC2ADD6F25998CF89EFF0842E.jpeg
Back in the garden (which is across the lane just like the allotments we saw in England last year) Jim and Urz went over the route we will be taking, checking roads and which passes we will be able to ride through.FD7647649CCD453781BAA60423F36EA4.jpeg
A traditional Swiss meal, wine, beer and prosecco was consumed on a balmy evening and then to bed in readiness for our 5 day foray into the Alps starting tomorrow. Apparently we are leaving about 8ish. Let's see eh? FD7EF9BBC7692EEC44B0477A613BEA5D.jpegFD8B0668F95AFF35BC6269F9BDC38FE2.jpeg

Posted by lyndel.hebden 13:33 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

To Germany and beyond!

The road trip begins

sunny 30 °C

F27F82B4E2049ED4772B37AEF3A98E8E.jpegThe Aussie Entourage left Grevbo around 6am Tuesday morning to drive to Duisburg, trailer loaded with the 4 Chiefs like a game of Tetris and the van packed likewise with luggage. Jorgen's Renault van carried the Bluebird and more luggage. The Mercedes was speed limited to 80km due to the large trailer but not the Renault so Catarina and Jorgen left later and passed us swiftly about an hour down the road. The weather was lousy with heavy rain showers regularly throughout the day so we were pleased to be in the comfort of the van for the 1050km journey. Lunch was taken at a fuel stop and we made the Rödby ferry for the 5pm sailing from Denmark to Germany. The Renault caught the same crossing after having a faster journey but longer lunch at a "very nice restaurant" so we were told. For the sake of convenience we had booked our night's stay at the hotel adjacent to the ferry at Puttgarden on the German side - Hotel Dania. A good choice as there was a bar (mandatory), a restaurant (yes, required) and a large carpark for the vans and comfy beds. F2D74B470742EF77B4E5DBF2C96BCB09.jpeg
Off at a reasonable hour Wednesday morning to drive to Duisbug, a further 450kms, an easier day allowing us to have a "very nice restaurant" lunch at the small and ancient town of Tecklenburg. F2F40A01D6A5C751782F1C9F836D1967.jpeg
We arrived at Matthias' house late afternoon and settled in to stay for the next two days. Matt was a brilliant host and took us touring - Thursday on a morning boat trip around Duisburg harbour where Jim saw the MV Indian on a slipway, a boat he had driven up the Rhine a few years earlier with his friend Gerd, and Friday to Cologne to see the cathedral, have lunch at a famous and very popular beer house, and then to a decommissioned steel mill in a northern suburb of Duisburg for afternoon drinks and a climb to the top of the smelter. So many interesting things to see with wonderful food and drinks chucked in for good measure. F2EBA32FCC2760E1751CFCCDBC46507D.jpeg
Saturday 16th July the riding tour began. Five Indians, a van and small trailer left Blumstra 20 Duisburg around 9ish for the 450kms to Baden-Baden, via the Alsace Region albeit for about 20 mins, to the home of Klaus and Sally Wildemann. We all carried our passports as we were unsure of how the border crossing would pan out with the current situation in France but as it was there was no French official there to wish us "bonjour" only a very large and long vacant building that once was the international border station. A really long day on the bikes, made just that bit longer by having a long lunch at a "very nice restaurant" on the banks of the Rhine, the Galthof Zum Landsknecht F315078EBEFFF3B92D2B994E744C3B9E.jpeg
The weather held (overcast but dry) and the scenery was spectacular with castles of all shapes and sizes regularly positioned along the route and villages that looked like pictures on the lids of biscuit boxes that were around when we were kids. A BBQ dinner, wine and good conversation finished off a great day. Klaus and Sally have a very large 1901 home, three stories with at least 10 bedrooms so there was plenty of room to sleep our party of 8 travellers. F323580FFD582D544F5381ABD6EF3965.jpeg
Sunday morning after an al fresco breakfast, led by Klaus, we rode out through the Black Forest en route to Metmenstetten, Switzerland to the home of Urz and Lan Speck. To ride/drive on Swiss roads you need an annual permit so we stopped and bought passes for bikes, car and trailer at the border, this station operated by a very officious young man! A sunny and hot day, the riding was brilliant, again! Urz had sent Jim some photos of the Alps two days earlier when it had snowed and the weather was cold but we've looked at the forecast for the next days and at the moment the weather should be 30 degrees and so, even though there will be snow high up, it should be sunny. Let's hope so!

Posted by lyndel.hebden 09:14 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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