Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Heading for the mountains

We were heading for the Großglockner, a world famous pass in Austria, considered by many to be the most scenic one. Of course the words 'mountain pass' already has Mike gleaming, add steep and winding to it and he's in heaven. In short, we were heading for the Großglockner! As the weather hadn't been that good the last couple of days in this part of the world, we had waited a while for the mist and fog clear, but now was the time to go! It's not just the Großglockner that's beautiful though, the ride to it was amazing as well. As Mike missed a turn on the GPS, we even ended up taking a much longer beautiful route…!

The GPS we have is pretty good. It re-calculates very quickly when we miss a turn or find a road blocked for instance. The landscape we were riding through was so incredibly beautiful that we were all rubber-necking and thus Mike didn't pay much attention to his GPS… The GPS didn't mind, it just recalculated the route and by the time Mike glanced on the screen again it had already found another route. All seemed fine. It wasn't until much later that he realised the route length had increased… Not a GPS fault, no doubt it had asked him several times to make a u-turn but in the end assumed the u-turn wasn't an option and thus re-calculated another option which took us around the mountain.

Normally this wouldn't make him very happy, in this case though the GPS simply added another mountain pass to the already incredible route and just simply added to the fun! We weren't the only ones having fun either. I've honestly never seen so many motorcycles going for a ride on a Sunday as here. By all accounts the summer had been pretty wet and miserable over here, and now that it was dry and glorious weather everyone with a bike was making the most of it. Some a bit more enthusiastic than others as you can see in the movie on this page.

We found ourselves in an area called the Kalk Alpen. Beautiful place with mountains (funny that), streams, passes and all of it accessible via very good roads. Because that's another thing I should mention; the roads here are amazing and the bitumen so superbly smooth and perfect that you can ride!

We stopped at a bakery for 'something' with apple for lunch and then enjoyed another couple of hours of majestic mountains, winding roads and beautiful scenery of the Wild Alpen, a fitting name! These are the days where you don't look at distances or speed or anything but all the nature around you. The intercoms are totally quiet as we are all too busy looking and admiring. Is this the most beautiful place on earth? Well, I haven't been everywhere yet but it must be very close at least. I wondered why I hadn't been here before when I still lived in Europe and then realised why; in the summer it's a madhouse here. Especially in the school holidays we wouldn't be riding here as it would be clogged up with caravans and motorhomes. Now, at the end of the season, it's pure heaven! So if you like what you see and think 'let's go' make sure you do it in spring or autumn. Spring, just after the snow starts melting, must be a pretty spectacular waterfall bonanza here too.

As the Austrians had 'enjoyed' a very wet summer, we had plenty of water in the rivers and 'green' everywhere. We camped at a small farm campground, and where again the only ones there. The farmhouse itself was just renovated but originates from the 16th century. Which brings me to another point worth noting. The history in Europe, compared to Australia, the USA and Canada, is amazing. Australia's settlement only started in 1788, compare that to European history and you'll understand why it is so different here. The roads we ride on today could have been built as tracks well over 1,000 years ago and quite possibly a lot longer. Farmhouses of 400 years old are quite common. Little villages with small, narrow winding roads are normal too here as they were built when nothing but people and horses moved through them. It may only seem small differences on paper (or screen) but results in a totally different feel, different towns and much more atmosphere.

Mike's tent keeps attracting dogs… must look like a doghouse then :-)
Austrian winters are long...
The Nach-bagauer farm camp-ground is a nice place to say, the views are amazing! What was also amazing is the hot water system… A wood fired hot water system, which they started especially for us (being the only campers). It works very well and gives a sort of added aroma to the place. Nachbagauer can be found at N47.66489,E15.017333

Built in the 16th century… still in use today!