Not a particularly auspicious start though. Checking the bike over on the day before
(Sunday 5th), I found that the rear tyre was virtually flat! Not a lot I could do
about it, as all garages were obviously closed. And my Eurotunnel shuttle was leaving
at 0720 the following morning, and I had a planned route to Germany consisting of
more than 300 miles...!
Monday 6th September - Maidstone to Cochem (West Germany)
I was forced to call in to my garage (Chambers of Maidstone) first thing on Monday
morning, and hope that they would be able to mend the puncture so that I could get
underway as soon as possible. Fortunately they were able to look at the tyre immediately,
and after careful examination found no puncture or any other damage at all. Pumping
the tyre up to 90psi was a good test, but no leaks were apparent. The puzzled mechanic
decided to take the tyre off and clean the inside of the rim and also replace the
valve. Once completed, it was on the bike and into Maidstone for the M20. And hope
it would last the trip!
So I was away! A good run down to Junction 11A of the M20 for Eurotunnel, and on
to the shuttle just the three hours late, having been able to change my train time
at no extra charge (thanks - Eurotunnel!!).
It was a beautiful day for zooming along the French, Belgian and German motorways,
and my sat nav set me a route for my first stop at the pretty west German town of
Cochem, on the shores of the Mosel River, and about 70 miles to the west of Frankfurt.
I found my hotel easily and checked in a lot later than initially planned, but I
had arrived for a two night stop, and after a small snack from
the bar settled in for the night!
Miles today - 386
Total Miles - 386
Tuesday 7th September - at Cochem
I spent the day exploring the pretty town despite some inclement weather. When I
woke, it was p-p-p-p- raining gently, but it did clear up later in the day. I walked
around the town centre, admiring shops and buildings built in that typical Germanic
/ Austrian style.
A trip under cover of the rain on a boat seemed a “good idea”, and so I took to the
Mosel for the short trip to Beilstein, an even smaller town a mile or so away. Up
a fascinating lock gate and along past fields smothered in the local grape which
make the famous wine, and on to Beilstein.
The town boasted a castle overlooking the valley, and so I climbed up to explore
the structure, including climbing to the top of the tower - and what an impressive
view from the top!
Eventually I returned to the boat (they seemed to run every hour), and made the return
journey to Cochem. This town has a castle too, and as the weather had improved significantly,
I decided to take a hike up through the streets to see the castle.
During my conducted tour, views of the valley from the high vantage point were again
impressive, and once the tour was over, I made my way back to the hotel for a sauna
and early night - as I had an early start in the morning!
Miles today - 0
Total Miles - 386
Wednesday 8th September - Cochem to Augsburg
More motorway driving to get south and nearer to Austria and Switzerland today; unfortunately
the weather was still not the best, as it rained for most of the day. I travelled
down to the southern German town of Augsburg (about 20 miles east of Munich) via
Koblenz and adjacent to the river Rhine, and my evening at a hotel in Dasing nearby.
Checked out the station at Augsburg on my way through to Dasing, and took photographs
of many of the trains likely to be seen through Eurotunnel in the near future, including
the ICE train (Inter-City Express). Another relaxed evening thanks to the sauna and
an early night.
Miles today - 346
Total miles - 732
Thursday 9th September - Augsburg to Abtenau
A slightly easier day today, as I travelled down through the rest of Germany and
on to Austria, bypassing Munich on the A8. Fortunately no rain today, but still fairly
cloudy for most of the day. However, on arriving for a look around Salzburg, the
sun came out and it became quite warm. Very pleasant!
Managed to park the Wing in the centre part of town, and then walked around admiring
the buildings and views. A group of musicians were entertaining the tourists in the
square beneath the castle, and having listened to a bit of Mozart (Salzburg being
the birth place of the composer), I took the funicular railway up to the castle or
Hohensalzburg Fortress for the views over the city and surrounding countryside.
Construction of the fortress started in 1077 and finished between the 12th and 13th
centuries, after which numerous improvements and additions were made over the years.
Once back at ground level again, I continued on my way towards the small town of
Abtenau, where I was to stay the night.
The hotel proprietors in Abtenau obviously were in jovial mood when they changed
the name of their hotel and didn't tell anyone, and it was only after driving up
and down the main street for a while and then a visit to the local tourist information
office that I was let in on the secret! Other than that, it was another good choice
of resting places, and I had a pleasant meal before retiring for the night - via
the sauna of course...
Miles today - 198
Total Miles - 930
Friday 10th September - Abtenau to Tux
Today was the day!! The day to drive up the highest mountain in Austria - the Grossglockner!!
At 3798m, the “holy mountain” is among the highest peaks in the eastern Alps. The
high alpine road, built between 1930 and 1935 extends to 2502m, and is well known
as a bikers road due to the 36 hairpin bends. The whole area is endowed with spectacular
views of this and other mountain ranges. Round every corner was another view worthy
of a photograph, but en-route to the mountain, I realised that I wouldn’t get anywhere
if I kept stopping!
At the base of the mountain it was sunny and about 25C. On the way up - quite misty
and getting colder.....Through the toll and away!
And at the top, snowing and 4C!!!!!! Many bikes of various makes parked up, and more
coming up every minute! Interestingly, there was locker space specifically for bikers
to leave helmets etc at the car park!
Having had lunch at the restaurant overlooking the Pasterze glacier and looked around
the very interesting museum, I continued on my way. Through the town of Lienz and
then north towards the Tauerntal valley, my next stop was the sleepy meadow-fringed
resort of Matrei and a trip up the Goldriedbahn gondola to the top of the mountain!
Onward towards Kitzbuhel and through the arrow straight 10Km long Felbertauerntunnel,
then onto some minor roads with incredible views, hairpin bends, and the Krimmler
Waterfall. What a sight! Had to go and see it - even though it cost 2 euros to get
Leaving the waterfall behind, I continued on past the pretty town of Mayrhofen and
finally reached the small village of Tux, where I was booked into a hotel for two
nights - to rest my bones, and give the Wing a break! Nice spa here - sauna, steam
Miles today - 213
Total Miles - 1143
Having the Goldwing in the garage, I decided at fairly short notice to “do” Europe.
My initial thoughts were: where did I want to go? What did I want to see? And in
just a few weeks, I had planned my route, set all locations and stopping points in
the Wing sat nav, booked hotels & ferries; and on Monday 6th September, I set off!
Salzburg from the Castle
Cochem sitting prettily on the
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En-route to Abtenau via another long road tunnel under the mountains
Wing parked at the side of the road ready for the assault on the summit!
View from Goldriedbahn gondola showing mountain ranges including Grossglockner
Train from Tasch to Zermatt
Typical taxi service at Zermatt!
Colourful Zermatt restaurant
View from train on leaving Zermatt
(Above) View of Martigny from the cafe.
(Left) Wing parked outside got many admiring comments from a German couple and also
a Scandinavian group. Boy - was I proud! Then I mounted up with all watching and
dropped the Wing!
L to R: Station; the start of the climb; half way up
Going down the cable car to the glacier
As the glacier is constantly moving (1cm per hour) the bridge to the caves is always
Exit from the glacier
The climb back up to the cable car
Attractive river scene at San Esteban
View of San Esteban from the castle overlooking the town
Some of the troglodytes dwellings near the castle
This view of the incredible Matterhorn (4478m) was taken from the streets of Zermatt
Entrance to the glacier cave
Yet another spectacular view of the Mer de Glace and Mont Blanc taken from the cafe
gift shop at Montenvers funicular railway
Mountain pass having left Val D’Isere
Col De L’Iseran summit 2770m
Dangerous roads leading to the next valley
The Blue Lagoon cafe on the Col du Mount Cenis approaching the Italian border