For many years I have been keeping up with the information associated with the discovery of a bronze age man in the ice on an Alpine pass. This summer I resolved to visit a museum dedicated to Otsi the iceman in the Tyrol area of Northern Italy.
South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology - Museum Street, 43 - 39100 Bolzano (Bolzano)
I spent a number of half days organizing and reorganizing my luggage and finally arrived at a set-up in the bike that could accommodate my camping and cooking gear.
When I travel on my motorbike I don’t stop much; and when I do stop I want to be somewhere picturesque and isolated. If necessary, I want to be equipped for wild camping, as I don’t book ahead for camp sites. The day before I left, I visited Aldi and stocked up on my staple diet; tortilla wraps, (which don't squash like bread would) sliced ham and sliced cheese. That means I can eat any time anywhere.
Day 1 Wednesday 28th June.
Whenever I go to the continent I write off the first day, and travel as far as possible on the motorways.
I left Wootton Bassett at 0900 to travel to the tunnel for a 12:30 train. Approaching the slip road into Folkestone terminal; the traffic officer vehicle brought the traffic to a standstill with the off-slip in view. I sat and watched a couple of guys jump out of a truck with buckets and proceed to repair potholes around the cats-eyes of the exit slip. The clock is ticking down to my departure time. I checked in with 5 minutes to spare, and got straight into the queue for passport checks. This took 20 minutes, despite there not being a lot of travellers. The summer will be a problem I think. I ate a ham and cheese tortilla whilst standing next to my bike on the tunnel. Then off Onto the E40 heading for the Eifel region of Germany. The E40 is a dreadful dirty busy motorway. Grubby services and awful driving. Then there is the nightmare of the brussels ring road. Manic.
Leaving the motorway at Eupen and the pretty roads start. Pretty yes - but there is the road to hell to look forward to. Those May Trippers may remember the road which joins Belgium to Germany and could probably best described as corrugated. There is even a cafe called “The Road To Hell Cafe”. Well - it has been resurfaced, the cafe is still there. I was kind of disappointed that the road was smooth. Although back in 2013 it did for my alternator on my TDM900.
I arrived at a lovely camp site. Unfortunately It was just past 8pm so I missed the bar restaurant. Trusted and tried wraps for dinner.
Day 2 Thursday 29th June
Breakfast on the Ruhr on a pebble beach next to the tent. Earl Grey tea, cheese and ham wrap. Whilst packing away my tent, I noticed a couple of racoons picking over my crumbs. I watched them swim across the river and disappear into the woods. I think it was a mother and baby, as one assisted the crying other getting out on the other side of the river bank. Very cute.
I took a circuitous route out of the Eifel region and headed for Adenau (on the Nurburgring) for lunch. Satisfied with an excellent curryworst, I headed towards Koblenz and followed the Rhine South, a picturesque road keeping the river on the right.
Stumbled across a camp site right on the bank of the river.
Pitched my tent then off to a local shop. Peaches in season. Tin of vegetable soup to go with my cheese and ham wrap. Warmed the soup on the beach.
I am a member of “The Wessex” a male voice choir based in Swindon. We had a concert coming up on Friday 14th July so I needed to get my words and notes polished up. Had a beer in the bar and did choir practice.
Day 3 Friday 30th June
A peach for breakfast; very healthy. It rained quite heavily in the night. I took the opportunity to pack between showers and followed the Rhine south. Took continental breakfast in a cafe on the Rhine.
Crossed the Rhine at Karlsrue and headed for Baden Baden. So bad they named it twice. Then East into the Black forest. Great twisties. Stumbled on a camp site in the middle of nowhere.
(camping Erbersbronn. Drove back to Forbach and bought food.
Day 4 Saturday 1st July
Bacon bits for breakfast then more black forest roads with a stop at a cafe for cake. Genuine Black Forest blackforest gateaux; heavy on the Kirsch.
Passed alongside the Bodensee
Then crossed into Austria at Bregenz and bought my vignette, a pass for the Austrian motorways.
Stumbled on a camp site in Bludenz. Auhof camping. Pretty basic. But a shopping mall 500 metres up the road. Bought a tin of chili con carne and did some rice accompanied by a cold beer from reception. This seemed to be a feature of a couple of the sites I found; no shop but they do sell cold beers at reception.
Day 5 Sunday 2nd July
Rained in the night. Brewed up with the Kelly kettle whilst packing. Got away by 8.
Breakfast on the road. I ran out of wraps, but found some strong German bread to accompany my ham and cheese.
A bit of the S16 motorway with a diversion thru the Albert pass. Then turned South on the 186 down to the Timmelsjoch pass. This is an amazing pass with a 21 Euro return fee. There is a museum at the top. Still snow lying in places. Had to put my jumper on for the passes.
Unfortunately it was Sunday when I traversed this pass, so there were a lot of motorcycles and sporty cars. I managed to avoid coming into contact with one biker who overtook me and promptly fell in front of me, unable to negotiate the hairpin we were approaching.
Stumbled on a nice campsite in St Leonhard. Camping Zogghof.
Got on the interweb and reserved a ticket for the museum the following day. Two nights here with a day for a trip to the museum.
Day 6 Monday 3rd July
Drove to Bolzano and visited the Iceman museum. It was a very hot day, but I managed to lock my gear to the bike by passing the locks through the sleeves and legs. Hot day in a busy town, just bearable in shorts and T shirt. Pleased with the museum and amazing how much research has been done of the man and his belongings.
The bloke in front is 66 years old, the bloke behind is 45 years old.
Back at the campsite at 3pm. Thunder and heavy showers. Dinner of beer and pizza at the campsite bar. I seem to have eaten a lot of cheese.
Day 7 Tuesday 4th July
Continental breakfast in the camp site bar then back over the Timelsjoch pass. Lovely. Very quiet. Did a lot of lovely roads. Ended up at a campsite on a lake at Titisee in the Black Forest.
Had a meal (first knife and fork use on the trip) in the campsite bar and a beer with an English biker from Bristol.
Day 8 Wednesday 5th July
Rained a lot overnight and still heavy rain in the morning. Had a tea in the little wooden picnic hut. Bought bread, ham and cheese from the campsite shop for breakfast. Major panic, could not find my passport. Packed and unpacked twice. Eventually resigned to turning up at the tunnel and having a load of hassle I dressed to set off only to find I inadvertently poked it down the sleeve of my jacket instead of the inside pocket. Doh! Didn't leave the campsite till 11.
Heading West into the Vosges region of France. I had lunch in a pavement cafe in Munster and enjoyed watching the storks in their nests on the roof tops.
Stumbled across a campsite at Lac de Longemere, near Gerardmer. I was erecting my tent when a second pole split. I taped it up, but the tent was not going to do me for many more nights.
Day 9 Thursday 6th July
Decided to head towards Calais. I had my fill of beautiful scenery and twisty roads and was tired of putting my tent up every evening and packing away every morning. Set the phone to avoid tolls and off we go. After an hour I hit the motorway and settled down to a steady pace. I had a campsite noted in the Ardennes that another biker had recommended about 4 hours away. But figured I might as well ride on. Then the tunnel is only 2 hours away so I book a flexible ticket using the Le Shuttle phone app for 7pm. Arrive at 6pm and straight onto a train and in Folkestone for 6pm U.K. Time.
After a 500 mile day, I arrived home. 2,000 miles covered. I put the tent in the bin, showered and had a quick pint in the local pub with Barbara.
A super trip, with great roads and great scenery. I did find that the evenings dragged a bit on my own. I found the same when I rode in Portugal last September. I need to find like-minded individual/s to share these journeys. Bought a new tent the next day; a tepee style with just one pole. Should be nice and easy to use on my next trip. After 20 years of motorcycle camping, I have finally achieved a luggage solution and kit combination that I am happy with.
Ride safe - Mark