Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The European Trip, Day 23 - Uraling the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse

The day started a bit after 8AM when I showed back up at the Ural dealer in Marchtrenk, Austria.  Hari, the owner was all ready for me and he took me out to the rental rig while his daughter Michaela prepared the paperwork and took my receipt of payment.

Hari found the existing speedometer malfunctioning in terms of the needle doing the windshield wiper effect so he replaced it last night.  So, it'll be really easy to figure out how many kilometers I will be putting on the rig over the next nine days, since I am starting at zero.

Rig briefing over with, Hari showed me around his shop, which I thought quite large and well stocked but he said it's bursting at the seams.  He's the European URAL distributor so one wall was just stacks of crates containing new URAL sidecar rigs, waiting to be shipped to dealers.

He did show me some of the motorcycles he's hung onto over the years:

Hari's racing sidecar rig....he doesn't race anymore
but back in the day....
Made only for the Russian market, a chopper version
of a URAL, with ape hangers and a radiator!
He did mention the radiator didn't have a water pump so 
it really didn't work well at all.

A Minsk motorcycle, only sold in Russia, they've not gotten
a model approved to be sold by Hari in Europe.  

Michaela and Hari

Around 10AM, everything was ready and I got my riding gear on, said my goodbyes and headed out of Marchtrenk on the B1 road which I would end up taking all the way to Salzburg.  Got a bit lost in Salzburg as I wanted to avoid the autobahn there but ended up on it anyways.  It was speed limited to 80 kph so it was all good.

Following the route I'd programmed into the GPS, based on the route Gary France had sent me info on, I eventually (after getting turned around twice due to umleitungs or detours) ended up at the entrance to the Grossglockner High Alpine Road near the town of Fusch an der Hochalpenstrasse.

Note, the Grossglockner mountain is Austria's highest mountain apparently.  More info that you probably want along with videos and such are available by clicking the link above or this: LINK

It's a park so one must pay a fee to ride the road, a bit pricey too at 34.50 Euros, perhaps that's what they mean by the "high" portion of the road's name?  

The cost wasn't stopping folks from riding the road though, I lost count of the motorcycles I saw going both ways and there were plenty of cars as well.

Hochalpenstrasse or High Alpine Road.  The Grossglockner is known as a great motorcycling road worldwide and based on the amount of motorcycles I saw today, it's quite popular!

My first clear view of the still somewhat snow-clad
mountain peaks from the northern end of the Grossglockner road.

Looking North on the Grossglockner road

views from the Edelweißspitze

Short tunnel at the summit.

The descent was fun as well, had to keep it in second gear in order to not have to use my brakes much to slow me down for the sharper turns as I headed towards Lienz where I would be overnighting.

I am staying at the Brauhaus Falkenstein, situated next to the brewery where they brew Gösser Beer.  I had one with dinner and it was quite tasty.  Or, perhaps because I rode a bit over 300 kilometers today made the beer taste that much better!

180 miles doesn't sound like much but it took me a while, what with getting turned around due to detours and no Internet access to get updated route information, twisty twisty twisty mountain roads and moving at Ural speed once again.

Tomorrow morning, the mountains around Cortina d'Ampezzo I believe.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The European Trip, Day 23 - Wels, Austria and the Family goes home.

This morning, I took Martha and the boys to the Frankfurt Airport and we arrived with plenty of time for them to check in and go through customs/security.

In fact, because we were so early, I managed to turn in the rental car, walk over to the Long Distance Train Station in the airport AND get my ticket changed to an earlier direct train from Frankfurt Flughafen to Wels, Austria!  It did cost me 4.50 Euro to make the change but I gained over 4 hours in time!

The ride on the train was smooth and boring, the way you want train rides to be.  It came on time, got me to Wels on time, living up to the reputation of German train schedules this time.

A similar train to the one I rode in....

Once in the Wels Station, I went over to the taxi stand and a few minutes and 11 Euros later, was at my hotel.  Easy Peasy.

After doing some work, I took a break and borrowed one of the bicycles available for guests of the hotel and rode the almost 8 kilometers to the Ural dealer in nearby Marchtrenk.  Man, that's work.

Got there with no issues, met Hari, the proprietor who was very busy.  So I got out of his way, and took some pictures of some of the more interesting rigs he had on display besides the new rigs he had for sale.

The oldest rig I found, in military colors....very interesting

Interesting airbox on this rig, kind of like the one designed by
a sovietsteeds member I think.

Cargo space to spare....

This is the rig I'll be renting, note the starting kilometer reading

Dneper/BMW rig....wonder how it runs.

So, I pick up the rental rig tomorrow, may have to get some more cash out of ATMs beforehand as it appears the dealership is not set up for credit cards for this work.

All for now, tomorrow, I head into the Cortina di Ampezzo area with a bit of luck.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The European Trip, Day 22 - Heidelberg

We left Rothenburg ob der Tauber around 10:30 or so I think and made it to Heidelberg before 2:30PM.  We did lose perhaps 30+ minutes in a traffic jam which we think involved a car driving off the road.  All the onlooker traffic delays of course created a slow moving traffic jam or Stau as they're known as here in Germany.

I think, that Germany's autobahn infrastructure, much vaunted as a high speed system in the past, has reached saturation with too many cars and trucks.  I don't recall these traffic jams happening as much when I was here in the mid-80s but that could be my memory as well.

Parking can be at a premium here in Heidelberg but we managed to snag a spot at a parking garage near the hotel we're staying at.

We wandered about town after a short set of naps and climbed up to the top of one of the towers belonging to the Church of the Holy Spirit that was near the bridge for which Heidelberg is famous for in pictures: The Alte Brucke or Carl Theodore Bridge.

A friend of Martha's from here college Army ROTC detachment lives nearby, working for the US government.  Joe C. met us at the Church of the Holy Spirit and we walked a short distance to the Black Swan restaurant where we had a great meal and Martha and Joe rehashed old times.

Joe C. and Martha

After dinner, we said our goodbyes to Joe, and the boys walked back by themselves to the hotel.  Martha and I went across the Old Bridge to look for the spots we wanted to recreate for some other Then and Now shots.

The Heidelberg Fortress from the Altebrucke


After nightfall, I went back out by myself, to see what kind of lighting the fortress was illuminated with at night.

While I await for full darkness (the sunset itself was nothing to write home about), I did see a couple of cruise/dining boats motor by the town, here's one of them.

Finally, it was last light at 10:19 PM (though the sky was still lit) and the lights shining upon the fortress walls became evident.

and a little bit later.....

Sunday morning, we woke a bit late but still got to the Altbrucke way ahead of the maddening crowds.

Then and now: Martha on the Altbrucke
(I'm going to have to add a wide angle lens to my kit)

then and now

After 10AM and with Miles in tow now, we took the Bergbahn or funicular railcar up to the Fortress in order to save the hike up (turns out, it would have been easy).

The main objective was to check out the Apotheken Museum, or Pharmacy Museum which Martha was quite interested in seeing as she's a medical professional.

Next stop within the Fortress was the Grosse Fass or Great/Giant Vat.  Back in the day, one paid one's taxes with wine, and it was all poured into this giant vat for storage.  Now, call me crazy, but mixing wine made by different folks/wineries doesn't seem to be the way to go for fine wine?

Grosse Fass

Miles with a statue of Perqueo, the cellarmeister

Next was a walk along the fortress walls, with a pretty nice view of Heidelberg below:

A lot of the fortress is in ruins.
One of its towers got blown up by lightning when
it struck the gun powder stored within!

back on the bergbahn funicular car

Church of the Holy Spirit

Lunch at the White Swan Restaurant

The highlight of the day was a visit by Sonja and Roland!  They were driving back from visiting family and graciously agreed to stop in Heidelberg on their way home to visit with us for a bit.  We had a good time chatting about motorcycles, life in Germany, and generally catching.  We learned several new things about living in Germany from them.

Great way to cap off the trip as a family. 

Roland, Sonja, Martha and yours truly

The Chang Gang

Tomorrow morning, we leave for Frankfurt airport and I drop off Martha and the boys to fly back to Colorado via New Jersey.  I will then catch a train to Wels, Austria where I will overnight, picking up the Ural rental in Marchtrenk, Austria just a few miles from my hotel.