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Alps Lakes 2013 (The first)

Monday, May 20, 2013 | Paul Kustermann | Europe

In Bavaria the spring is in full bloom around May. There is still snow in the mountains, and the lakes and rivers are flush with rushing water. We were Looking forward to a wonderful tour together as our guests arrived - and we weren't disappointed. From Ireland, Switzerland, USA and Brasil!  From all points of the globe they came to experience the beauty and exhileration of the Alps and Lakes Tour! XXOO from your guides / Paul & Gerhard

Monday evening was our welcome dinner with a special surprise for our birthday-boy from Chicago. But before we got to the fun part, we had some rules to clear up. Here a view of the group at its first briefing! Very serious business

It wasn't long however, before we replaced those earnest gazes with broad smiling grins and friendly cheer. Everyone started warming up as as the birthday cake began to sizzel.

Tour guides naturally also have a bit of a rock musician in them. With a portable speaker system and his Mahalo Ukulele Paul got the spirits soaring... and with that the week was off to a good start.

Dinner at our starting Hotel in Erding near Munich (Hotel Henry) is always a memorable event. Good service, good food, good time! And our Tour-Guide-Number-2 (Gerhard) isn't missing - in case someone wonders - he is taking the photo!

First Day Riding / Erding to Salzburg

After luscious fields of "Raps" and Hops and grains, we arrived at the medieval town of Wasserburg where we duely stopped for a sip of coffee... Then it was off to Chiemsee where we would visit the infamous castle of crazy king Ludwig - the one he intended to be an imitaiton of Versailles and went bankrupt doing it. Here's how we kept our helmets from wandering away.

If I'm not mistaken, that's Daniel Craig on our tour - disguised as an engineer from WallaWallaWashington. Albeit, it was off to the ferry to the island of Herrenchiemsee... In the distance a bit of weather was brewing up. But for the meanwhile it was sunshine and good sailing.

That was the view approaching the palace.

Below the view King Ludwig had looking out over his courtly gardens.

And here seven heros gathered at an historic monument. One of us, by the way, wasn't available for the foto. He must have gotten lost in amazement over this stunning place. We did find him later at lunch - the natural place for hungry travelers to gather.

The sign on the way back to the landing informed us that the island is a natural game reserve. Typical for the times, it could have served as a hunting santuary for its priveleged owner as well... but Ludwig only spent 8 days in this place after completely depleting the coffers of Bavaria building it and not even nearly finishing his extravagant plan. None-the-less, today it is a hallmark of Bavaria, bringing in much more revenue than the critics of King Ludwig could ever have imagined. And the view and ambience is absolutely priceless!

On the mainland a storm was building up a good head of steam.

But the gods were smiling on us and spared us the shower. Soon we were on our bikes and off to the city of Mozart for a dinner in Europe's oldest restaurant! For nearly 2000 years people have been pilgering to this magical spot just behind St. Peters Cathedral and the Franziskaner Church. We too would soon be adding our humble selves to the noble list of visitors.

Our arrival in Salzburg - the home of Mozart and Kings and Commerce - was timely enough for us to cruise the town before dining. A wonderland of ancient and vernerable sites.

Riding Day 2 / Salzburg to Gmund

After a stop at the motorcycle shop to fit ourselves out for the forcasted rain, it was off to the scenic "German Alpine-Road" and the "Rossfeld Panoramastrasse" where we would visit Hitler's famed and coveted "Eagle's Nest" for a bit of history and a great view of Berchtesgaden.

Here's the mountain range called "See of Stone" (Steinernes Meer) which divides Germany and Austria on the south-east corner. No division for new-found friends however!

Believe it or not... we were right at the snowline. Below the Kehlsteinhaus, blooming springtime flowers, and above a winter wonderland - which quite inspired fun!

The way back down was full of smiles and thoughful memories.

The outing paid off. Our stomachs were fed. And then the chance to use the clothing we just bought... for just as we got to our bikes, the rains came down and washed our spirits clean. The reward for our durableness was a gorgeous break of sunshine as we reached the valley of the "Salzkammergut" on the way to the Postalmstrasse.

Riding Day 3 / Gmund to Kaprun

After a clowdy blustery start on lake "Traunsee" in Gmund, we then took a rousing run to and from lake "Attersee" before stopping for a fortifying bit of cake and coffee at one of the nicest Cafés in Bad Ischl.

If anyone thinks bikers are too tough for cake... please notice that even Superman and James Bond eat here! The next bit of riding was to "Hallstätter See" which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Remains of Neolithic tools found here put it the town Hallstatt on the world map some years back. And now there is a road leading right to it. But until the 19th Century it was only acessable by water and the aged-old "Salt-Route leading through the Tauern mountains.

Salt was the spice of life for thousands of years. It was a source of trade which connected Europe even before Rome extended its empire, and here is a tell-tale sign of where it lies. Under those cup shaped mountains are probably salt-domes! Our route today takes us right around that ancient trade-route. Brilliant motorcycling roads, and at the bend in the road at the town of Pürg where the castles Wolkenstein, Gumpenstein and Trautenfels are holding vigil, we head east.

The southern leg of the journey leads us right through the "Dachstein" range. A stunning experience. And the reward of the day: two nights at one of the nicest Hotels you could imagine! Sportkristall Vötter right at the base of the road running up to Austrias highest pass - the Grossglockner. The owner here is a motor-sport afficianado! In the basement of the Hotel he has collected and displayed one of the most remarkable collections of motor-powered vintage vehicles in Europe!

Riding Day 4 / The so-called "Rest-Day"

One guest took the opportunity to actually do that. He stayed home and enjoyed all the luxuries that were available to him including massage, spa, a jaunt around the area, relaxing and charging up his desire-batteries at the fireside. But the rest wanted to do an outing, so we headed for the "Krimmler Waterfall" and the Gerlos-Pass because the Grossglockner was snowed in and the Felbertauern-Bridge was closed due to a landslide. So it is in the mountains. The powers of Natur just defy planning sometimes, so you make a new plan and adjust. Despite rain and fog at the falls - we had a nice visit there. Even a bit longer than we planned because a bike-key got lost. But it was found by some wandering tourist and returned, and then it was up to Gerlos Pass which was covered in snow. The brasilians loved it! and even I found the experience quite novel.

Riding Day 5 / All good things must come to an end...

I think the last day of this tour is one of the most beautiful one can experience in the alps. It is lakes and streams and alps and fields and bavarian charm and on and on... everything one could wish when imagining to do this trip. To cap off the day even a bit of speed on the German Autobahn going 170 kmh (legally and in traffic) on one of those great bikes you got from Edelweiss. Leaving Kaprun we run north through "Zell am See" which is a beautiful alpine lake and town. Then west a bit just between two ranges of mountain which enthrawl with their majestic grandeur: one ist the back side of "Steinernes Meer" which we saw from Eagles Nest and the other "Kitzbühler-Gebirgskette" which houses one of Austrias most renounded ski areas and is home to the infamous "Hahnenkamm" race which draws attention world wide every January. Then we disappar from the earth in a little glen of sublime beauty. A little quiet special spot where one can dip their feet into placid clear blue waters shared only by ducks and trout, maybe even a pike or two. There is spring fed water source to fill your bottle and a sound-wheel here which makes one think an indian (north american or other) would feel most at home here.

That said and done, it was off to another grander and more attention-getting lake, the "Pillersee" is like an invitation to greet the gods who make this beautiful country. Here we had the best hot-chocolate of the trip, and then it was off to another lake, the "Walchsee" and finally the boarder to Germany where we stood above the river "Inn" with feet in both countries saying goodby and thanks to the beauties of this land.

It was a great tour. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make it what it was. Great comeraderie. Great fun. Great riding. Hope to see you all again... down the road!

Your Guide and Blog-Guy...

Paul / Pazlo

P.S. Please leave a comment on the Blog!

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Donal Moore
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 00:11

Really appreciate the Blog now I'm home. It helps to recall and reflect on the great adventure we had. Thanks for taking the (long) time to put it together.
P.S I think your camera is faulty. Its seems to add 10 lbs to me in the photos.

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