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Well, I'll get dinged for this but I'm gonna say it anyway: the best motorcycling on earth is in the European Alps. I'll entertain arguments about that statement, but only from people who've been there. It is simply unbelievable -- the entire nature of the roads, the scenery, the people, the whole experience, will simply stun you....riding in the Alps have been among the best moments in my life....

And we ain't rich: and when we were first getting interested, we were turned off by the $8K to $12K cost that most organized motorcycle tour operators charge for a two-up couple....and that's after airfare.....for maybe seven days! Red and I are educators, me now retired, and we didn't have a silver spoon in our mouths. We just couldn't afford such an "organized" tour. But we learned how to do it, with just a few adjustments, and the the type of touring we now do almost anybody, I believe, can afford..... it's simple....and I'm gonna teach you how, right now.

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,
, 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 backpack, and your camping gear will probably fit, too.

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 Goldwing for the roads you're gonna be on, 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!

(to be continued in another post!)

Dolomiti!



At the summit of Stelvio....



A Yankee hick in paradise, Passo Dello Sella



Riding a Dolomite road, my trusty photographer on the pillion!



On the road to Stelvio......

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
(Continued......)

Done with Balzano and the Dolomites? Okay, turn in the bike to the nice people at the rental place, ride the Drusso bus to the train station, and buy a ticket back up the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck. At Innsbruck, buy a ticket to Interlaken, Switzerland, playground of the rich and famous! (But don't worry, ol' CJ and Red Goudger fit in just fine there, and so will you!) I don't know what the cost of the train is to Interlaken, but, I estimate it at about $170. At Interlaken, take your big pack with the riding gear and camping stuff and walk right on by those $500 a night rooms, and catch a bus or hitchhike out to the delightful five or six waterfront campgrounds on the road to Thun. We stayed here, http://www.camping-alpenblick.ch/, for ten days, for about $115 (2004).

The next morning, take a bus of hitchhike to Thun, and find this place, http://www.moto-center.ch/, and rent yourself a bike.... in 2004, we rented a Honda Silverwing super-scoot here for $500, ten days, and it was a bargain! Then ride back to your campground, pick up your copy of Hermann's Motorcycle Journeys, throw some water, cheese, and bread under the seat, and go up into the Berner Oberland of Switzerland, my friend, mumbling over and over again in your helmet..... "Day-um! That dammed CJ was right all along!" Susten, Firkka, Grimsel, Oberalp.....mountain passes beyond number, and you will have the best time of your life....... When you're done, turn in the bike, ride the train back to Munich, fly home, and look at all your pictures and dream........

There you have it, three to four weeks, maybe $5 k total, and you have ridden two of the best motorcycle places on earth -- the Dolomites of Italy, the Berner Oberland of Switzerland -- and you didn't have to mortgage your home or spend your kid's inheritance to do it.....

To Take:
-passport
-two Visa credit cards (ATMs are everywhere; be sure and let your card companies know you're going to Europe....don't ask how we know that!)
-your own driving license
-an international license is nice ($15 at your local AAA)
-an emergency medical and medical transport plan (also AAA)
-a winning smile for the Europeans, who really like Americans, honest!

Swiss riding buddies...nice people, but kind of quiet.....



Susten Pass, Berner Oberland.....



High Swiss valley......

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow, Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. We need more photos and stories. What was your favorite part of the trip?
Here's a few on this thread:

http://www.goldwingfacts.com/forums/5-general-motorcycle-discussion-forum/396351-how-humble.html

Fonz..... here's my blog, and buried somewhere in there is an account of our first trip, enjoy!

The favorite part of the tour? The roads, the mountain, the people....all blended together!

http://odomtrrhpsdy.blogspot.com/
 

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Europe

I never traveled by cycle in Europe but I did get around and as long as I was far away from a military base people were very friendly. I was stationed in Germany for 2 years and had many German friends. I also got over to the Netherlands. That was great place and nice people. I hope to return someday.
 

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Oh man, what an awesome time that must have been. Thanks for the great info.
 

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I agree with Mel on the scenery in Switzerland. I traveled in those area's Mel quoted in Switzerland myself only last year in early July. I also camped but had the luxury of all the stuff with me in the trailer being towed by my 1997 GL1500SE. Similarly I used a single camp site as a base and rode the many mountain passes in the largely South & West of the Country before finally leaving to travel onwards South East to Northern Italy again going via the Grimsel pass plus others I forget there names now with the trailer in hot persuit. I think the Grimsel pass topped out on the road at around 8150 feet but the actual mountain continued on higher. The last 1000 feet in thick cloud & I mean thick cloud & onwards to Lugano "sweating heavily in the summer heat in a full stop traffic jam through the town, no fun in all the gear with the bikes radiator fans running non stop" leaving Switzerland & entering Italy before travelling to Austria "My favorite", The Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Belgium then home back to Cornwall in the UK. Absolutely fantastic trip. I was baked in Lugano and almost drowned in Poland but all in all the best trip I have ever had to date. Thanks for your memorys & recommendations Mel.

:)
 

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As an alternate to train fares and rentals you can also purchase a good used bike if you know anyone over there, use it for the entire trip, and then sell it for what you paid for it.
All it would cost you then is the gas and insurance.
Also the plane fares are much much cheaper in the early spring, however you best be prepared for much wetter weather that time of year too.
 

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I worked in Munich for a couple of years and I did that train ride. The south of Germany is absolutely beautiful. I never could understand why a nation that had it all wanted more and and brought a disaster of a war on themselves. But that's getting away from the thread. Take Mel's word for it lads, it's a trip well worth taking.
 

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Thats it! You just inspired my 2015 motorcycle vacation!!!
 

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Inspired you? Good! Go, and rejoice!

:claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps::claps:
 

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Never traveled in the Swiss Alps by MC but I had the chance to hike in them for a week when I was station in Germany. Also got to white water raft in Austria. All I can say is CJ is 100% correct on the landscape and people there. It's absolutely breath taking. I will return to Motocamp in the next few years.
Thanks CJ for posting this information. This great information for someone planning a trip.
 

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Thanks for that!

its on the list.
 

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Cousin Jack, you are killen' me! You and I have much in common. RVN and a bad marriage, followed by a beautiful woman who loves me in spite of me and a life far richer than I ever deserved and kids that still love me and bring me short people to play with.

That's where the similarities end. The two things I continue to lust for and will never achieve is to play a musical instrument and write as you do.

Keep writing and describing places I may still be able to visit. We are currently planning a three week trek into the Dakotas and over to Colorado again next June. Until then, PGR funerals and escape riding will keep on keeping me somewhat sane.

Chief
 

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I too had the fortune of riding in Europe. While not in Italy, I was able to ride a lot in Germany and Austria over a couple of year period. In essence I would agree with everything you said CJ, the roads are better, and the scenery is sometimes better, but it can also be very nice here to. (scenery wise) In general the road quality where I rode was far superior to our roads. On the downside however, there is ALWAYS road construction going on. Hence the roads being in such great conditon. It is a lot harder to get your Drivers license in Europe, it it much more expensive to get your license in Europe. It takes a lot longer to get your license in Europe. Given that, there is actual training that you do and in general MC riders in Europe have a much better skills than the U.S. All of this together makes it hard to compare here and there. We have a lot here in the U.S. and I think maybe we take to to much for granted sometimes. They do with a lot LESS there, and maybe they recognize that and appreciate it more?
 

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Awesome post and very good info CJ. I am also happy to announce that the best is yet to come for you. Ride the west coast of Norway and you'll know. Include Lofoten during the summer and you will find it hard to beat. You might even want to bring an extra memory card for that camera....
 

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Awesome post and very good info CJ. I am also happy to announce that the best is yet to come for you. Ride the west coast of Norway and you'll know. Include Lofoten during the summer and you will find it hard to beat. You might even want to bring an extra memory card for that camera....
Yup... that germ of an idea is fast firming up. West coast of Norway, Nord Kapp, and then down Finland on or near the Baltic Sea, then Eastern Europe all the way to Greece. We'll camp, but I'll ship a bike for that one, I think. May be a two summer project....
 

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Mel, chances are that I will never get to see Europe and all it has to offer. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of beauty.:waving:
 
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