Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 14 – July 21, 2017 – Zell-am-See to Thun

Grind it out

Apartements Julia
Saying goodbye to our residence in Zell-am-See

Today was basically a grind it out kind of day. Get from point A to point B in the allotted time. Today was probably the most stressful day of the whole trip for a number of reasons.

  1. I had to get to Thun before the motorcycle store closed
  2. I realized as I was riding that was this my first solo vehicle piloting a vehicle of any sort alone in Europe. I have never even driven a car or ridden a bicycle here
  3. I had to navigate several motorway, A-road, and B-road transitions.
  4. I also realized as I was riding that if I had a flat or other mechanical, all the tools I had relied on were now with Martyn and MacBean.

Continue reading “Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 14 – July 21, 2017 – Zell-am-See to Thun”

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 13 – July 20, 2017 – Zell-am-See to Hallstatt

Salzburg Lakes

Today, Ibbo took us on one of his rides. It was a great ride. We had perfect temperatures all day. It was a little overcast in the morning, beautiful around lunch time, and we picked up a spot of rain on the last 30 minutes back into Zell.

Ibbo took us to a world heritage site in the Salzkammergut region of Austria about 120 kilometers north-east of Zell. It was designated because of its classical Austrian Alpine style and beauty. It was interesting to try and guess when we had reached the town on the way in. There were so many towns and villages that looked like Austria in the movies. On the way, Ibbo took us down a bunch of one-farm roads that came replete with the smell of freshly spread manure. It is great to see the old way of things still being done rather than the chemicals we cherish in the US. It took me back to my old days of living in Worsthorne.

Picture perfect
World heritage site – Hallstadt, Austria

We arrived in Hallstatt along with many others and had trouble finding parking. Then after hanging out by a parking attendant for five minutes Mac began to drive into the lot as one space had opened up when she looked at us dumbfounded and told us there was free parking at the bus station for motorcycles. We rode back, parked on the pavement, and hoped we wouldn’t get a ticket.

Main Street
Three likely lads out for a stroll.

Apparently, the town of Halstatt has been recreated in China. Consequently a large number of Chinese come to visit the town and see the original. It was interesting to watch one Asian man carrying $5000+ of camera gear around his neck pull out his phone and take a picture with it. The other ethnic group that visit this part of Austia are during the summer are the Arabs. It seems they take a break from the summer heat of the Middle East and decamp to the alps.

Lunch spot
Lunch in the shade

Either at breakfast or lunch, we discussed that we had not yet tried some Austrian baked goods. This complete ignored the fact that Julia and Carola had served us a wonderful apple cake for dessert the previous evening. After lunch, Ibbo took us on a route north to one of the other lakes in the region. It looks perfect for some water skiing but the only powerboats that we saw on the water were deathly quite electric boats.

Still lake

From here we headed southwest to a town with an incredible Konditorei. I had one of the cream filled pastries and tasted wonderful. It is basically the last day to ignore my diet. Martyn and Ibbo both chose something similar. Mac was being good. He declined the cake and had two scoops of ice cream and an iced coffee instead. I think we might all need Harleys the next time we ride.

A second on the lips
A wonderful selection of cakes

The ride back into Zell was great except for a little rain that caught us part way back. It has stopped by the time we arrived and we had mostly are dried. Then came the sad part of the trip, packing up the bike for the last time.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 12 – July 19, 2017 – Bled to Zell-am-See

Tackling the Grossglockner

Leaving Bled, we jumped straight on the highway to head for the border. On the way into Austria is a newly completed tunnel that is over 7.8 kilometers in length. We were ready for it this time and had not put on our sunglasses so we could see in the tunnel. Inside it was hot and humid. My bike was registering 32 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees in real money.

At the border, I was sure I was going to get pulled aside. The border guard went through my passport from front to back 3 times. Then got up and left his building only to return a minute later and stamp my passport.

Once in Austria, we headed for the Grossglockner. The spur-road to the top and the pass are some one of the highest in Europe. Not only that, the Grossglockner is the longest glacier in Europe.

We had lunch at the top overlooking the glacier. The people from Wisconsin would be disappointed. The Austrians have created a sausage wrapped in bacon with cheese in the middle. I'm told cheese and savage should always be kept separate.

After lunch, we went downe the spur road an off over the pass. At the top of the pass is a cobbled road with its own set of hairpin turns that goes all the way to the top. Needless to say, we road it all the way up and stopped for a coffee.

More hairpins to do on the way down into Zell-am-See. You could see Zell-am-See from the top of the Grossglockner and pretty soon we are winding our way through the town to arrive at Ibbo's

We were greeted by Carola, Ibbo's wife, when we arrived. Martyn has known Ibbo for close to 30-years, having met him in the Lake District and subsequently gone to work for him at Cummins. She showed us into the apartment reserved for us and we began to unpack. Their daughter Julia also came by and said high with the broadest of Yorkshire accents having lived in Halifax for a time.

As I was unpacking my bike, up drove Ibbo. Assuming who it was, I went over to introduce myself and got the biggest surprise. I was expecting an accent but not one from West Yorkshire, “Hullo, I'm Paul. I've been reading your blog”. Ibbo was not some European name but a contraction on his last name Ibbotson. I had not put two and two together that was from Halifax and a grand lad with the unfortunate luck of being from the wrong side of the border. He was also nowhere near as old as I expected for a retiree.

Having got in reasonably early we took Mac off to the ER to get his ear checked out. He still could not hear and was running out of olive oil drops.

This time the doctor at the clinic got him sorted by removing ten pounds of wax using a high-pressure washer. This time it did not cost him anything it a was all charged to his EU health card. Good look with that after Brexit. Martyn, Ibbo, and I filled our time at the bar overlooking the See.

The Ibbostson's invited us to dinner at their place above the apartment. They prepared a fantastic Mexican salad, think 7 layer dip but healthy, with steak, and sausage with some lovely cheeses. Dessert was a delicious apple cake. The views from their balcony are stunning.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Zell-am-See, I can highly recommend Apartements Julia. Their website is You may not get invited to dinner but you will have friendly hosts and a wonderful place to hang out with great views.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 11 – July 18, 2017 – Lake Bled

The Hunt for Red Sparkling Wine

The day started well with a local man setting up a stall of breakfast breads, pastries, yogurt and milk at the camp bar. We tried three of stuffed S-shaped roles with meat and cheese. The intent was on each. We barely finished two between us as they so rich and we had a food hang-over from the meat last night.

Today was another non-ATGATT day with us heading into Bled to look at the town and swim in the lake. The plan was to drive the backroad not the town as we had on the way to camp last night. I immediately last Mac and Martyn as they turned off onto the highway route. I spent the next 10 minutes riding into town convinced they were riding like nutcases to be so far ahead of me. I road around the lake, pulled into a parking lot and pulled out my phone to see them coming into town the other way.

We found a shady spot on the shore of Lake Bled and set up camp. I can assure everyone I did not look in anyway like these two.

The view across the lake was amazing and MacBean recalled going to dinner at a restaurant near the church where he'd been served a local, blood red sparkling wine. We determined to pick some up along with some ice in a pannier and try it out. At lunch we asked the waiter about the wine but he had know idea. He suggested it was perhaps in former communist Yugoslavia.

After lunch, we walked back to notice the bikes adorned with new stickers. We had all got parking tickets. Mac and Martyn swore the no parking cone had not been there when we arrived. I had seen it but it did not register as no parking as I have been away son long.

After lunch, we had another swim and Mac and Martyn took time to play on the swing. This was after MacBean had already got the swing caught up in the tree so no one could use it. It took us a good five minutes to try and knock it out before an athletic young lad jumped up and got it.

Notice the look from the chap in the real speedo behind Mac

Here is a lad who knows how to get some air

After swimming, we went looking for the wine and to no avail. It appears to be a furtive MacBean imagination. This along with me working for Hollands Pies in Baxenden

Back at camp, we were served another huge dinner. We asked for the schnitzel but were served pretty much the same as the day before just with more vegetables and salad.

That night two German bikers showed up in camp on on a new Guzzi Stelvio. The other, Mullet-Man on an ancient R1. Martyn threatened to grow a mullet for the business up front and party behind when he retires. He asked if I would but I opted for dreads.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 10 – July 17, 2017 – Zadar to Bled

Lake Bled

The ride up to Bled was tough. The winds blowing across the highway were really strong and the wind socks on the bridges were all horizontal. It didn’t help that the highway climbed a considerable distance in a short space to get over the mountains into the interior. Even there, the wind did not seem to let up until we hit Slovenia.

The main reason for choosing Lake Bled as a destination was that it is a reasonable ride to the Grossglockner, one of the highest roads in Europe. Another is that MacBean has promised us blood red sparkling wine, a la method champenois. We had spotted Lake Bled camping on their website and it looked great. When we arrived they were fully booked but they sent us to Camping Picun in Lipcne just out of town. This gave me a chance to try the Garmin eTrex in full on mode. It got us to Lipcne without problems via backgrounds and villages. When we arrived there were a couple of other new arrivals by the site was empty. We got a prime spot in the corner.

Looking around the views were amazing until you realized there was a big steel works across the valley.

Also when you looked at the inviting lake down below, beckoning you for a swim, you determined that there really did not seem to be any life in or on the water. I figured it would be okay if we did not stir up any sediment. We did find some interesting neighbors over the fence.

The next problem was food. We had found the bar or at least made them open the bar so that was one problem solved. Then we were asked if we wanted to dinner the choices were barbecue or schnitzel. Martyn ordered the barbecue for us, I said I would have prefer the schnitzel until I saw what came. As surprising as it may seem, we could not finish this between us.

After dinner, we partook of the local Slovenian schnapps. Mac was reluctant until our host brought out black current schnapps. He the pointed out that this was for quote Die Damen

All in all it was another great day out riding. The other thing that happened was we finally got the camp radio sounding good.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 9 – July 16, 2017 – Zadar to Uglian to Biograd na Moru

Non-ATGATT day

I learned a new acronym today, ATGATT. It stands for all the gear, all the time. Today was another non-ATGATT day. With no armored gear, we rode into Zadar to get the ferry to the island of Uglian, just off the coast. Mac and I lost Martyn at one point as he rode down a pedestrian mall. We'd just missed the ferry when we arrived so we got to hang for a while and watch the view.

Once on the island, we rode to the most northerly point, wandered through an other pedestrian zone and then turned around to head south. The island was beautiful with some amazing and new houses. There has been a lot of EU investment there over the last few years. The main road actually has a bridge that links the north and south islands built with EU funds.

There is a lot of money coming to the island. We were blasted by a number of big Germany luxury cars, all with Slovenian plates. Lunch was a little fishing village down by the water.

Right next door to the restaurant was a cute little church.

Behind the church was a grave yard which had enormous family plots. They could easily have measured 6 by 8 feet with a large 4 foot high sarcophagus above. Each headstone had pictures of those interred before they had died

After lunch we rode into Tkon to take the ferry back to the mainland 20 kilometers or so south of Zadar at Biograd na Moru. I am sure that this is city named during the Tito era to attract Soviet visitors. While waiting we found ice cream and I promised to salt it it for Charlie.

For dinner, we tried the campsite restaurant but that did not excite us so we used Yelp to find a place around the corner. It was called the Sunshine Cafe. It really should have been the sunset cafe.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 8 – July 15, 2017 – Medveja to Zadar

Oh, what a road

We took the coast road from Medveja to Zadar and it was amazing. When we got through Rejeka, we were a little worried that we had stumbled into the first weekend of holiday traffic. We were stuck in a miles long traffic jam. After a while, we did what the local bikers did and filtered along the white line until we got to the cause of the back up which was a huge motorcycle fire.

Once we got on the coast road proper, we were treated to an amazing road with turn after turn that hugged the coast line. The only spoilers were a few cars who tootled along and held everybody back until they could get past on the few straight aways.

Lunch was at a roadside cafe in a no-name town. For the third day in a row, I had seafood of one kind or another, an octopus salad. It was amazing how soft and delicious it was. Nothing like the rubber feel from octopus in the states.

Once we were set up at camp in Zadar, Martyn made the obligatory beer run and turned up with the original Budweiser. I guess Anheiser Busch InBev does not have the whole market any more.

We took a taxi into old town Zadar for dinner and crossed through the outer walls into the old city.

The buildings around the squares and churches were beautiful. They were a great mix of ancient and opulent early 1900s.

We found a place out on the wharf for dinner and were treated to an amazing sunset. We did not see this in Medveja as it was on a east facing cove.

After dinner, we strolled along the wharf and found an outdoor concert playing to a large crowd. It was a Johnny Cash cover band at the time sounded great. It is always good to sing along to songs you know and they did throw in a couple of 80s and 90s songs, not from Johnny. On reflection and listening to the short video clips we recorded, they probably were not all that great. Beer can make lots of things sound good.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 7 – July 14, 2017 – Medveja to Opatija

Easy day in town

Today was a do nothing vacation day to soak up the Croatian sun and enjoy life. Martyn started the day industriously cleaning his radiator with his tooth brush. He did clean his teeth first. The good news is that it fixed the overheating issue he was having.

Martyn and I took a quick ride into town to refresh his toothbrush and find soap for me as I'd left it in Cortina. The pink rose petal soap is not really my thing but the best I could do.

While in town we found a great little restaurant for coffee and decided to bring Mac back for lunch. The scampi were excellent.

The waiter tried to persuade us we needed a bigger fish for the three of us. It was plenty and just like the shrimp, outstanding.

We spent the afternoon by the beach after I'd found some rubber beach shoes. Flips flops did not work in the water and the beach was impossible to walk along without footwear.

For dinner, we found a little shack at the end of the beach serving seafood, local specialties, and cheap beer. It was not until later that we realized it was a food truck in disguise


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 6 – July 13, 2017 – Cortina D’Amprese, Italy to Medvja, Croatia

Breakfast in Italy, lunch in Slovenia, dinner in Croatia

Over breakfast, Rob announced that he was not going to go any further on the trip. He was struggling with his hips and needed to get back for a steroid injection. We packed up and left Rob at the gate heading southwest towards Trieste and Slovenia. Crossing into Slovenia was a non-event as they are in the Schengen zone.

After we crossed the border, we stopped at the first place for lunch, Porkys barbecue join. Nothing to write home about but we were able use Euros. Little did we know Slovenia had adopted the Euro ten years ago in 2007.

We arrived in Medveja early afternoon and got our tents set up. Here is the view across the bay to Rijeka. What was interesting was that although we arrived on the Adriatic which faces west we were on the west side of a bay facing east. We could see the sunrise but not the sunset.

Dinner was at a quiet place on the beach which was quite deserted. It seems we are a week ahead of the real holiday traffic.


Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 5 – July 12, 2017 – Calavse to Cortina D’Ampezzo

Even more hairpin turns Today, Martyn figured out a dirt road for us to try. Rob wasn’t up for it because of his hips so he decided to go around and meet us at the other end. Mac and I went along but decided we weren’t up for it when we saw it. Having already let my bike fall over twice I figured riding back and meeting Rob was the better part of valor. We did catch a few shots of Martyn running up the hill. It turns out when he got to the top it was a national park and riding was not really allowed.

We headed off for the town where we we were supposed to meet Rob but it didn’t exist. So we headed up the next pass and saw this fantastic view. However, the 1090 decided it once again that it didn’t like me. Getting on it, my pant leg caught the foot peg and because it was angled poorly, over it went. I may have bought these panniers.

We caught up with Rob in the next town and had a coffee together. Then it was off to the next pass and up to the Col Santa Lucia. What a blast, 29 linked hairpin turns to the top.

The ride into Cortina D’Amprezzo was easy and relaxed, providing us this view from our camping spot.

A busy camping spot with hard ground. Dinner was at the campsite restaurant where Rob began to hint that he might not make the rest of the trip because his hips were hurting too much.
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