Finally, the long desired High Alpine Tour - we are all looking forward to the mountain passes, the curves, some funny german dialects and good food. Starting in Erding we will go down through the Grossglockner High Alpine Road to Lienz. From there to our Rest day in Klobenstein, through the Dolomites, with some activities around Bozen. We then head on to the famous Passo dello Stelvio - a must see! After that we head through Switzerland and Liechtenstein back through Austria and to Erding. All on the way are numerous mountain passes, the list would be too long for this blog...
Today we are Welcoming our guests, all from South Korea. We do our Welcome Briefing together, learn a little bit about the tour and finally have a nice dinner with some german Weissbier!
We are leaving Erding today, out of Bavaria, of Germany and into Austria and into the Alps! We are starting our tour easy, with a stop at Wasserburg, the former salt trading spot and at Chiemsee for an (ice-)coffee. After some time, right on our way into Austria, we can already feel, the curves and the fun roads are starting. But before we go up into the mountains - lunch: At the restaurant Seewirt right after the Pillersee, we have an amazing meal with roasted pig (Schweinsbraten) - an Austrian and Bavarian special - burger, steak, cheese dumplings (Kaspressknödel) and all the side dishes of course. Last but noch least the Emperors special dessert: Kaiserschmarrn!
After all this food, into the gear, then the rain gear, then on the back of the motorbike - no problem for us! Now is the time - we go up the Grossglockners high alpine street. Altough it was wet most of our starting time in the alps we were rather lucky as well - almost no heavy rain hit us! In the end we arrived in Lienz safely, had a dip in the panorama swimming pool and had something nice to eat. See you tomorrow!
Looking at the weather forecast "Wet Alpine Tour" could have been the theme of the day. But after our daily briefing with a short musical introduction by one of our guests we started the day with a lot of positive energy. After we left Lienz we quickly climbed the Pustertaler Höhenstraße, a panoramic road high above the Puster Valley in East Tyrol, Austria. We got greeted by thick fog, but once in a while the clouds drifted apart and gave as a stunning look over the misty, wooden mountains, little farm villages and beautiful churches. Back down in the Valley we rode along the River Drau before crossing the border to South Tyrol and Italy. The first stop of the day was a visit at the Nasswand Warrior Cemetery where 1259 soldiers from different nationalities were buried during World War 1. At this point we were ready for a Café or Cappuccino and some italian Pasticcini at Lago di Misurina. Then our route took us over Passo Tre Cime, through Cortina d'Ampezzo and up to Passo Falzarego with it's funicular to the peak of Lagazuoi. But unfortunately the mountain was covered in clouds and lunch at the refugio was not an option - but Chris came to the rescue with spontanious picnic next to the Museum at Valparola pass. The History of the 4 year long war followed us until our picnic spot on the frontline from 1915 - 1918.
In the Afternoon we tackled more curves at the Grödner Joch, part of the Sella Ronda, and had a hot choclate to warm us up once again. The last big stretch of the day towards Bozen was done in one Go. We left the Dolomites after a rainy, but nonetheless funny and successful riding day, through Val Gardena. Between Kastelruth and Bozen we had to deal with more and more traffic going down to capital city of Bozen. Already looking forward to the nice Hotel in Klobenstein, located at Bozens local Mountain, some of us got a little distracted and the mixture between hype and tiredness led to a small incident 10km before we reached our destination for the next two nights.
Tuesday was our Restday of the Tour. We are staying another night in Klobenstein, which means a less stressed start without packing in the morning.
After a rich breakfest in the old ball room (where we also had dinner the night before), the group left the Hotel for a half-day motorcycle ride around Bozen led by Tourguide Nico. We agreed on a 140 km route through over the Mendel- and Gampenpass over the local mountain Monte Penegal. The two passes were accompanied by a little loop through the apple fields and a fotostop at Castel Katzenzungen (en: Cat's Tounge). After a few Kilometers through Bozen (as a quick sneak for the afternoon) we followed the Sarn Valley for a while before climbing the Ritten mountain again towards Klobenstein.
While the Tourguides had to do some work in the afternoon, our guests enjoyed a few hours in the SPA before going down to Bozen with the Cable Car where we met them at a chinese Restaurant. After a nice evening with the whole group we had to say goodbye to one of the gentlemans who unfortunately had to leave us early. We hope to see you soon on another Edelweiss Trip.
Today was the big day. Probably the most awaited part of every High Alpine Tour is the ride over the famous Passo dello Stelvio (IT) or Stilfser Joch (DE). We planned to leave on time and our Korean Guests were perfectly organised and ready to go at 8:30. After our daily Briefieng we started our bikes at 8:46 and rode the first 50km to Algund, where we enjoyed a second breakfast and some coffee before fighting the exhausting Traffic of Val Venosta. But then, we finally reached the Bottom of the Ortler Mountains in Prad. Time to discuss the group dynamic and some riding tipps for our brave Beginner Rider. And don't forget to put on another layer for the comfort. It might be "a bit" cold on 2757 meters.
The traffic to the top was actually better than expected, only a few construction sites slowed us down on the first few kilometers. We shared the road with fellow bikers, tough cyclists and trapped tourists (in cars) as we enjoyed the colder air the higher we got. The top was crowed as usual, even though the road was only open for about a week now and we are still a few weeks away from peak season. Souvenirshops, Restaurants and Bruno's Sausage Booth are inviting for a longer break. But after the group took photos of the stunning view and shared a quick bite they were quickly back at the bikes. So down on the south side we went. After a total of 46km and 87 curves and switchbacks (48 on the way up from Prad, 39 down to Bormio) we had a late, but proper Lunchspot at the oldest Hotel in the city center of Bormio.
While feasting on Bresaola, Tagliatelle, Pizzoccheri and Venison I explained the rest of todays route again and offered to take the optional route. So instead of the long way over Passo Gavia and Passo dell'Aprica we took the shortcut over Passo di Foscagno, through Livigno and then over the border to Switzerland. A quick photostop on Bernina Pass and a relaxed ride down to Pontresina concluded our riding day - so we thought. But Chris surprised as with the traditional Edelweiss Boot Beer and a nice panorama next to the hotel.
Later at the Dinnertable we had a lot to talk about the day, scary faces and fear of height at the cliffs and a riding learning curve as steep as Stelvio itself.
Oh, and the weather today? Apart from a few drops of rain, a hint of snowfall on Stelvio and a surprising Hail shower at the Swiss Border it was a lovely riding day.
Finally, sun is out in the morning! Jonghyung's sunny weather fairly seems to have arrived - normally it is nice weather everywhere he goes. Maybe she was just arriving late. Nevertheless - she is here now! We started with a bit of free riding up to the Albula pass, where we did not see a war bunker which was hidden really well in the rocks. We did see the red train going through the Alps, which has to be on every postcard.
After a nice picknick from our chef Nico, we left for Liechtenstein. On the border there was another fortification - you don't want to be invading Switzerland, they are very well defended.
Some more Red Bull, some more free riding on the Furkajoch - the ferry struck again, rain behind us, rain in front of us, but not on top! We arrived dry at our hotel in Au and had one of the most amusing dinners on our tour!
Our Highlight today was the castle Neuschwanstein. Crazy King Ludwig II wanted everything built for him - on is a medieval looking Castel - Neuschwanstein. The building started in 1869 - in 1884 the castle was opened. King Ludwig lived 179 days in the castle - wow XD.
From our coffee stop at the lake Starhemberg we went to our hotel as fast as possible. Then one last boot beer, hand over of the bikes and finally a Korean Restaurant...
The final showdown.... The hottest Korean restaurant in town... Literally XD. AC - not working, BBQ grill fully on - it felt like the Amazon Forest on full heat!
Nevertheless, the food was amazing. The tourguides got a real feel about Korean culture. It was amazing - one of the most wonderful tour groupes ever! Thank you so much for your company!
P.S.: we got a promotion!