Day 13 - Admont to Vienna
The last day of this first-ever Eastern European Tour brough not only a very special experience in the iron ore mine of Eisenerz, but also some sunshine and even dry roads. And the roads were simply amazing. Just like the picnic. And everything else.
Thanks everybody for coming on this tour. We had a blast! Hope to see you again soon!
Early morning, Gesäuse National Park, the clouds are slowly moving off
The Enns river, swollen from last night's rain
In the iron ore mine of Erzberg we went for a tour in this "bus", an old dump truck named "Hauly". It was quite an experience!
One tire weighs in at 1200 kgs and costs 9000 Euros!
The excitement builds up...
Europe's largest and oldest iron ore mine produces 3 million tons of ore per year
Special guest, local, photographer and friend Alex joined us for the day.
This is where Kevin wants to race next year. A hard enduro race. Yes, seriously!
The Gesäuse National Park - just beautiful!
The picnic site. Don't worry, the van was not broken. James used it to keep the Leberkas warm...
A true professional never hesitates
The name of this biker's hangout is "Cold Kitchen". Today is was very quiet there. Until we arrived...
Day 12 - Maribor to Admont
We crossed the border back into Austria today, and it greeted us with magnificent roads, and a magnificent amount of rain! Seriously, it rained ALL day. But we didn't let it hold us back - we smashed out over 300kms in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. One more day to go, and the forecast looks good. Bring it on!
Below the Hochosterwitz Castle
Roger and Amanda brave the rain for a quick photo on the Austrian/Slovenian border
Lots of moody-mist around the Soboth Lake
Even in the rain Austria is just gorgeous
Now that's what I call a lunch!
Chanterelles have just come into season. Fresh this morning!
Kevin and Nichelle enjoy the Viennese classic - Wiener Schnitzel
Day 11 - Pecs to Maribor
Another day, and another border - 2 in fact! We left Hungary and made our way to Croatia, where we stopped for lunch in the old city of Varazdin. And then it was off to the border again and into Slovenia. Not the most thrilling riding roads, but great to see into the lives of people from yet another country
Steve rolls into Croatia
Bjorne joins the Croatian party
Nichelle makes it look all too easy
Kevin's pretty happy to get another stamp in his passport
Roger and Amanda look pretty happy to be here too!
Brad rounds out the team
A quick coffee on the border before we head into the countryside of Croatia
Proof that Wally's had something other than beer to drink on tour
Dean ordered a light lunch in Varazdin
The castle of Varazdin - once the capital of Croatia
When it's hot outside it's always nice to take a break in the shade
And here we all are at the last 'real' border crossing for the tour - welcome to Slovenia!
A hard earned thirst deserves an ice cold beer
The pretty old town of Maribor. Too bad that roof terrace was so cozy...
The 400 year-old vine in Maribor is supposedly the world's oldest. Still produces grapes!
People in Maribor know how to make life a ride
Day 10: Timisoara to Pecs, Hungary
Hungary is flat as a pancake so the riding today was rather uneventful. Bumps and potholes kept us awake until we reached the Danube and we crossed it - of course! - by ferry. In Mohacs we disappointed our waiter by ordering soups and salads instead of massive Hungarian meat dishes and learned that a Ducati Scrambler can do 265 kms before running out of gas.
Just a short while later we arrived in Pecs, at 3 in the afternoon (!), so everybody had enough time for beer. Uhm, sightseeing of course. Sightseeing!
And we're off!
Roger mentally preparing himself for the day's ride
Crossing the Danube by ferry - again!
Pecs, a stunningly beautiful city!
2, 4, 6, 8...
Pecs by night - another beautiful old town!
Day 09 - Sibiu to Timisoara
Another super long riding day today - 400kms through the Carpathian Mountains on the not-so-famous but oh-so-good Transalpina. No time for many photos because we were too busy twisting the wrist!
Who would have thought that we could pay for our coffee with Bitcoin?!
But it was not a bad little spot for a break
A spectacular view from Urdele, the top of the Transalpina. What a great ride!
Brad enjoys his Romanian hot dog
Roger and Amanda attack their Salmale and Mich
Whilst Barb and Nick do the same on the other table
A well earned beer at the end of an epic day's ride!
What a dinner!
Day 8: "Rest"day Sibiu
Today we took a rest. Rode a 400 km loop across the Carpathian Mountains on the famous Transfăgărășan road and went to see what everybody thinks is Dracula's castle. Not a relaxing day but an awesome one!
Oh the anticipation!
Some tour members inspecting the local fauna
Ready to ride!
Let's do this!
Side stands up!
What a stunning view from the top of the Transfagarasan
Not too often you get to see both tour guides out on the road together
We made it!
Kevin is first on the way down the other side
Barb's super excited behind Nick on the RT
Steve tucks in
Bjorne looking very smooth
Dean's Harley just eats up those curves
Wally on the attack!
And here comes Tom
Followed by Roger and Amanda
Nichelle rounds the curve
And Brad completes the group!
Curves for miles!
A great view over the dam
What a feat of engineering!
A common sight in Romania, the horse pulled cart
The RS in front of an Orthodox Church
Beautiful shapes inside
The Transfăgărășan Road is a highlight all in itself. Jeremy Clarkson had fun here and we did too!
James and Brad, switchbacking their way up
And what a spectacular day it was!
Second highlight of the day: Dracula's castle. This is the one Bram Stoker had in mind when he wrote his famous novel.
Sibiu by night
Day 07 - Satu Mare to Sibiu
The amazing wooden church of Surdesti - 300 years old and built without a single nail, clamp or screw!
Elaborate paintings everywhere
Not all roads in Romania are in bad condition...
A lovely place for lunch, right in the middle of nowhere
And we're off!
Day 05 - Kosice to Satu Mare
Crossing into Hungary
Kevin and Nichelle at Füzer Castle
Wally and Steve entered the gates
Brad and Bjorne powering up the hill to the castle
A great view from the top
The Tokaj wine, found here in it's underground storage place; the cellar of Rakoczi Pince
These cellar corridors are 1km long in places!
A ferry across the Tisa River
Along the boardwalk
Tom cooks up a storm!
...enjoying a picnic by the lake!
The Calvinist Church in Nyirbator, with it's separated bell tower
It's border crossing time!
Welcome to Romania!
Day 04 - Krakow, Poland to Košice, Slovakia
Two days ago we already set foot on Slovakian soil but today we're here for the night. After crossing the border from Poland everybody noticed how strikiingly different Slovakia is: towns, people, traffic - is was all gone. The scenery was still there, though; forested hills and mountains, pieceful valleys, picturesque villages. A quick picture, comfort and coffee stop in Bardejov, then we were off to Košice. And what a pretty town that is!
At the Polish-Slovakian border.
The town of Bardejov was completely restored at a cost of over 9 million dollars. It was worth it, today it's inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Roger or To Whom The Bells Toll...
A row of burgher's houses in Bardejov
Boot beer time in Košice
Bjorne likes his 'real' Budweiser
Wally does too, of course!
Amanda and Roger and their red horse. Roger owns the old model, now he desperately wants the new one. Sorry...
The boys, doing some passive sightseeing (!) in town
The beautifl old town of Košice
The church, Slovakia's largest, dates back to 1420
St. Micheal's chapel, to the right, is another 100 years older
Fond memories everywhere...
Day 03 - Krakow
Our first rest day of the tour, and we all actually took a rest from the motorcycles! Some visited Auschwitz, whilst others enjoyed the day off and took in all that Krakow had to offer. In the end, another enriching day on the road
Auschwitz; although what took place here now lives only in the history books, you cannot help but be completely moved by what took place on these grounds
Block 14. Just one of the many barracks of Auschwitz
People arriving at Auschwitz were told to put their names on their belongings in order for their 'resettlement'
It's estimated that only 200 of nearly 2 million people successfully escaped through these fences
Forever let this place be a cry of despair and a warning to humanity
Candles burn at the end of the line
The remains of one the gas chambers
It is green now, but when inhabited by nearly 100,000 POWs it was described as cess pit of mud and sewage
But on a lighter note, we thoroughly enjoyed strolling around down-town Krakow; the biggest medieval city square in all of Europe
Believe it or not, this is the basement of McDonalds! In a nearly 1000 year old cellar!
Some very talented buskers play in the city square
The gates of Wawel Castle
The Wawel Cathederal
Well after all that doom, gloom and walking around - I think we've earned a beer!
Brad enjoys a Viennese Schnitzel in Krakow. Why not?!
Wally with his meat platter. Don't tell the doctor!
A little dessert to wash it all down
Day 02 - Brno to Krakow
We had a little bit of everything today - autobahns, country roads, towns, twisty roads, sunshine and a good measure of rain! But we did it all with a smile on our faces and rolled into Krakow just in time for dinner. Thankfully we have a rest day tomorrow so we can dry out those boots and give our backsides a short rest before the journey continues further east!
The beautiful town square of Brno
Art around every corner
The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in Brno
Wally enjoying a morning coffee
Coffee and cake!
Cake and coffee
"It was this big!"
Welcome to Slovakia!
This historic church in Orawka
Day 01 - Vienna to Brno
Crossing the Danube the old-fashioned way: by ferry
Sunshine and the Blue Danube escorted us out of Vienna. We reached the wine-growing region named Wachau, crossed the river by ferry and headed up into the hills. Beautiful twisty and mostly deserted roads took us all the way to the Czech border. Shortly afterwards we got cought by a rainstorm but by the time we reached Brno and our downtown hotel the sun was back. Just in time for the boot beer session. Czech beer is awesome!
The border formerly known as the Iron Curtain today is nothing but a sleepy intersection in the middle of nowhere. Moravia, here we come!
Church towers look different on the other side
Upon arrival at our hotel in Brno we headed straight for the beer garden
Steve and Wally enjoy their cold, tasty Pilsner Urquells
Bjorne in heaven
Room with a view
A few hours earlier:
And we're off!
Tom shows us the route for the day
We're all ears
Bjorne and his RT
Dean on his E-Glide
Wally on the RS
Barb and Nick on their RT
Brad on his R
Nichelle on her Scrambler and Kevin on his GS
Steven on his own bike! What a ride
Tom leads the group out of Vienna
Day 0: A private guided VIP-tour through Vienna
Dean, Tom and Steffl
The "Pummerin", at 21.000 kg (50,000 pounds) the wordl's 7th largest bell
St. Stephen's Cathedral, aka "Steffl"
Like all Americans Dean likes big things. Like these modest servings of ice cream...
The imperial castle
Plachutta's, our lunch place. Famous throughout Vienna and beyond
Schönbrunn palace, the emperor's "hunting lodge"