Sunday, July 05, 2015

The European Trip, Day 28 - Traveling Day and Some Notes

Due to the oppressive heat wave that is hitting the region of Europe that I am riding in, I am changing my riding schedule a bit.

Now, most of the riding will be done in the morning, with the objective of being at the next hotel by 2-3PM at the latest, earlier is better.  It was 95°F (35°C) this afternoon according to weatherunderground website.  It has felt like an oven the last few days, in the afternoons.

Some travel notes before I forget them and then, on to the pictures today.

The following are my observations, based on my experiences, if I am in error, please let me know.

1.  When buying a SIM card for your phone, go to the cellphone provider's main stores, don't go to a shop that provides such things from multiple vendors unless you know it's trustworthy either by reviews from site such as  I overpaid by 35 Euros by trusting the sales guy at this "Telecom Shop" in Fussen, Germany and he bundled in crap I didn't need.

2.  If you have an Italian SIM card, and you do data roaming in Austria, it somehow invalidates your Internet access via the SIM when you return to Italy.  Now you have to find an open Tabacchi store, where they sell smokes, and have them "recharge" or ricaricare your phone with at least 5 Euros.  That's the theory anyways, it's Sunday so these type of stores are all closed.  I have to wait till tomorrow morning to find out.

3.  On Sundays, Italian gas stations without an attendant (and a lot of them outside the cities are automated service only), will not recognize your Visa Credit card.  Turns out, when in such an automated mode, they only accept cards issued by Italian banks!  Sure, you could use cash, but if you don't have a bill close to the amount you need, don't expect to get change back.  I realized this seconds after I pressed the commit button and ended up paying double for a tank of gas.  Stupid.
Try and find a manned gas station, and even then, I have my doubts about non-Italian bank cards.

4.  If you're not going fast enough (and you may be speeding according to the speed limit signs) drivers and riders will zoom past you.....lane markings are apparently just a suggestion, so don't count on solid line markers keeping folks from passing in dangerous spots.  They really don't mean to be dangerous, it's the way folks drive here.  Don't take it personal.  Keep a wary eye on the mirrors and try and slide over if you can.

5.  Leaving what in the US is seen as safe following distance is something that is apparently an open invitation for cross traffic to drive out of a side street and onto the road you're on.  You can't tailgate and be safe, you just have to be prepared for vehicles to dart into traffic in front of you.

6.  The GPS app I got for my phone proved lacking.  Sure, it can store maps offline but to do route corrections you have to have Internet access.  It also has an annoying lag when doing voice prompts so that by the time you're told to turn somewhere, you've gone past that street.  This got annoying quick.

I use voice prompt mode only, I don't want to look at a tiny screen and monitor busy traffic conditions at same time, one must be hyper alert in traffic!  So the lag I mention above led to many wrong turns, re-routings and frustration.

I've taken to navigating by road numbers and towns, using the GPS only for the last few miles to find the hotel in question.  No sense draining the battery on the GPS when really there's only one route to your destination, and most times, it's clearly marked.  I did lose a lot of riding time by having to stop and check my GPS whenever I'd get confused (which was a lot).  Sometimes I'd miss a sign because of traffic or poor sign location, sometimes it just wasn't intuitive, sometimes all of the above.  I have found though, that I have a great facility, when presented with two choices of road, of picking the wrong one....then within five minutes realizing this, checking the GPS and reversing course.

I have got to get a blue tooth headset for my helmet, wires for headphones are driving me crazy.

7.  I am now booking hotels the night before, not after traveling all day and being hot and tired while searching for a place to stay.  My mind, being frazzled, has caused me to make some big mistakes in terms of booking, costing me time and money.

I'll add to the above as other things are recalled.  Now, here's some pics I took while driving from Amerlugen, Austria to Bolzano, Italy today.  The idea was to be in a good staging point for tomorrow's passes enroute to tomorrow's destination of Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Taken yesterday evening while in Amerlungen, Austria, really close to the northern border town of Schaan, Pricipality of Liechtenstein.

The view from the main viewing areas of Hotel Yoga
where I stayed while in Amerlugen, Austria.

That's the castle in Vaduz, where the reigning Prince and
his family lives.  

I left at 8:20AM this morning after a nice breakfast with a family from Denmark on their way to France for vacation.

Just a picturesque scene, this area of Europe is chock full
of views like this.

Festung (Fortress) Nauders, near the town of Nauders on
the road to Reschpass (nothing to write home about).  
You come out of a tunnel and face the gun
ports of this old fortress.

Convento Monte Maria or Marienberg Abbey, the highest Benedictine abbey in Europe
thanks to Bob VanArsdall for the info!

The rest of the ride was boring state road driving, looking for gas and paying double for it, and just generally baking in the heat of the day!  Took me a while to find the hotel as my sim card wasn't working (see #2 above) and I had to navigate by stop, look, drive, and repeat.

Took this shot of Bolzano, Italy after taking one last wrong
turn before finding the hotel.


Martha said...

While the trip lessons are vastly different from your Alaskan adventure, it is indeed an adventure.
Stay cool and hydrated, to the best of your abilities.

While you sound a little road weary and overheated, the views remain incredible. And hey, it's only money, right?

SonjaM said...

Being used to European travels I am used to things like credit cards not working, but usually there is another motorist around helping out. Just ask, and exchange fuel for cash simply with the one after you in line.

We always use the trip advisor app for finding accommodation and food, and yes we also learned to plan this ahead as it can be nerve wrecking to find a place to sleep while exhausted from a day's ride.

And as bad as it sounds, when traveling a tiny part of the adventure will be getting ripped off in one way or the other. Your issues where small really, don't let is spoil your wonderful trip. And the best: Your CFO gave you official approval of staying relaxed, and not giving in. It's only money.

ToadMama said...

Wow, that's really hot. And I'm guessing there're few places with AC. As Martha said, make sure you drink a lot! The Bluetooth for the helmet is worth every penny. I can't imagine living with wires again. Hang in there, Dom.

RichardM said...

I'm glad that you are willing to put forth the effort (and $$€€) to figure these things out for all of your followers. ;-)

Artie & Leinen's Grand Adventure said...

You would rather be in Europe this year than Alaska. We have broken the record for the number of acres burned due to fires. Very smokey right now in Alaska. I'm hoping you have a better week.

Trobairitz said...

We are getting the same heat wave here so I understand your frustrating and not wanting to ride later in the day.

You are still managing beautiful photos though. You'll really need to start thinking of that photo book/calendar soon.

CCjon said...

Dom, great ride you have going there. Finally caught up on the reading and checking out your great photos.
That was a fantastic vacation with your family. Creating new memories and reliving old ones. Wow!

And now Uraling around Europe, you are the adventurious one. Keep the great photos and commentary coming, looking forward to following along day by day now.

VStar Lady said...

Good lessons learned. One reason I have a dedicated GPS (mapping via satellite not cell service.) I load the appropriate maps and keep them updated - because like you I rely on the audio so I can concentrate on the traffic (oh and my cell phone isn't water resistant.)
But the scenery ... it's worth it all isn't it?( (and your rental is working perfectly - touch wood.)

redlegsrides said...

Martha, yep, only money...I just hate doing something stupid. But as I mentioned, the common element is leaving decisions to AFTER riding all day and being tired and hot.

SonjaM, yep, it's really small amounts of money. It's more being mad at myself for being careless. Still, I'll quit whining now. The thought of asking other riders didn't occur to me, thanks for the suggestion.

Kathy K. Yep, one of the Sena kits is in my future, something I can move between helmets somehow I think.

RichardM, sometimes, as the saying goes, my purpose in life is to show others how not to do some things. :)

Bridget, it's forecast to be the same all week in terms of heat. I just have to suck it up and drive on. Going to invoke hot weather riding protocols now. Too bad about the fires in AK, I think it would make my eyes burn.

Trobairitz, thanks, someday I'll get around to that, just not seeing an overall context to wrap around the pictures you know?

CCJon, thanks to you as well. I don't know about adventurous, I just point the rig in the general direction of passes.

VStar Lady, the scenery is indeed beautiful at times. I am getting used to traffic flows as well thought I do have to repeat to myself at times: "let it be, let it be", like the song....

Thanks all for commenting, like I said, I'll quit whining about my "first world" issues now....

redlegsrides said...

added a sunset picture

Unknown said...

That unnamed abbey is the Convento Monte Maria or Marienberg Abbey, the highest Benedictine abbey in Europe. Ref:

Thanks for taking us along on this amazing ride!

redlegsrides said...

Thank you Bob vanArsdall, for the info.....