Barcelona (Spain) - Le Dramont, Cote d’Azur (France)
The first day was all about getting some kilometers on the meter. Highways AP-7, A9, A8/E30 and then DN7 and D98B to Saint-Raphaël. The last 100km to Saint-Raphaël we got off the highway to enjoy the countryside, which was interesting, but took a lot longer than expected and we arrived at the hotel around 19.45 after a very long ride. There was a restaurant next to the beach, with decent food, but (for French-Provence conditions) way overpriced wine. Overall the first day was a lot more expensive than anticipated, especially with food.
- take 0.5 bottles of water and refill, instead of buying water at the gas stations for ~2 euros the bottle.
- even a 1-2kg filled backpack feels like a 20kg sand bag after a few hours
- if you have a motorcycle jacket with a protector slot in the back but not wearing a protector, you can store a laptop in there
Auberge Provençale, Le Dramont, 73 Impasse Des Sangliers, Saint-Raphael, 83700, France
Nice little place, clean, friendly staff. Speaks little English. 60,- EUR per night.
Le Dramont (France) - Monaco - Genova (Italy)
The day was supposed to be an easy day with just 300km along the coast. But we spent too much time on the way to Grasse, which wasn’t really worth seeing (without the time to actually visit a Perfume museum or producer).
Riding back back down to Nice wasn’t spectacular either. Nice was nice, but way to hot; and again, no time to actually visit or see anything.
Driving along the mediterranean sea to Monaco took forever. Traffic was mad and it was insanely hot with the full motorcycle gear.
After a short break in Monaco we went for a few kilometers along the coast and then back on the highway to Italy, as the coast road took too long. The first impression of the highway was impressive with high bridges over deep valleys and stunning views, but after the 10th bridge-tunnel-bridge-tunnel combination it got boring and quite hard to concentrate on the road. Finding the hotel in Genova wasn’t particularly easy, as there’s an odd street numbering system, but I was happy when we found the hotel and I could park the bike. Afraid of leaving the bike on the street, nothing happened overnight.
Italy though fulfilled all prejudices: the first coffee at a highway station was better than any coffee I have ever had and cheaper than most Cafes in Barcelona (1,50 EUR for an espresso, at a highway gas station). Traffic in the city was utterly insane. I thought I figured out crazy traffic in Barcelona, but this was a nightmare. For dinner we found a nice little place that still served food after 20.00 (everything closed at 19.00!), we tried two pasta dishes and Bruschetta. I can’t even describe how delicious the food tasted (Gnocchi with Pesto Genovese). This was a culinary delight of the trip.
Albergo Fiera Mare, Corso Torino 17/5, Genova, 16129, Italy
Clean, more or less easy to reach, good location in the city and a good price. Nothing fancy. Staff doesn’t speak English, but was helpful. Breakfast in bed was a nice idea, but low quality (baged Croissant and coffee). 50,- EUR per night.
- France and Italy are more expensive than anticipated. Most money we spent on food on highway stations. Pack sandwiches for the way in the morning from a bakery to avoid the unnecessary cost.
- Italians are insane when on wheels.
Genova (Italy) - Erlsbach (Austria)
~517km, Route on ViaMichelin
Leaving at 9am sharp and with sore backs, we managed to rearrange the luggage a bit and get all heavy stuff in the saddlebags. On the (very expensive Italian) highways we covered some distance again. We took the highway all the way to Bressanone (Brixen) near Bolzano (Bozen), even though there was a very charming and popular motorcycle road next to the ‘autostrada’ (highway). Having saved time by taking the highway, we made it over the “Würzjoch”.
From Bressanone to St. Martin and to Anterselva (Antholz) we had a mixed plate (“Jause”, or “Holzplatte”) of cheeses, sausages and delicious bread near the Antholz Lake (two plates and drinks for 25,- EUR), before traversing the “Stallersattel”.
The Alpine pass is only open every 30”-45” minutes of each hour, if you’re not in time, drive the 100m back and enjoy a beer at the lake. The one-lane road up the mountain without oncoming traffic was amazing and with the Austrian/Italian border on the top of the mountain, you can jump the border back and forth if you need some exercise and excitement.
Fam. Fürhapter, Erlsbach 53, 9963 St. Jakob, Österreich
The accommodation we chose was an Austrian farm house, which is in the valley down the Stallersattel. The room was clean, but showers and toilets where shared on the floor. Still, the place was amazing with a stunning view. Especially breakfast with home-made yoghurt, honey, milk, jams, bread etc. 30,- EUR per person per night.
Erlsbach (Austria) - Mallnitz (Austria)
381km, Route on ViaMichelin
From Erlsbach on the tour was based on an article from Motorrad Online about the 10 best Alpine passes in Austria. However, we drove the tour counter-clockwise. This was for sure one of most beautiful days driving. Unfortunately, the first Alpine pass was being renovated and we paid 10,- EUR for a tunnel crossing, which wasn’t interesting at all. But then we arrived in Mittersill and drove up the Thurnpass, 1274m. On the way down in the valley, we stopped at a Sommerrodelbahn (alpine summer slide) for some adrenalin and continued to Kitzbühl.
From there it was a bit of a boring ~1h “transition” ride to the Zillertaler Höhenstraße, which was totally worth it. Up the Zillertal and afterwards the Gerlospass, 1628m, followed by the highlight of the day, the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße.
Going all the way to the Edelweissspitze, we enjoyed some Austrian beverages (Almdudler) and food (Germknödel) there. Unlucky, we got into heavy rain on the way down the Großglockner and stopped the tour early at the next possible motel in Mallnitz.
Pension Hubertus, Haus nr 47, Mallnitz 9822, Austria
With the rain we didn’t have much to choose from. The rooms where clean and comofortable, but a bit pricy and very neutral. Breakfast was great and we had the chance to pack some buns and water from the buffet for the ride.
Mallnitz (Austia) - Bad Mitterndorf (Austria)
~215km Route on ViaMichelin
With some “Brotzeit” (smeared buns from the motel that you can prepare after breakfast for free) we decided to cut the tour a little short and dismissed the “Plöckenpass” and “Nassfeldpass” in Italy. Having lunch at a small stream can be really relaxing.
Driving directly to Gmünd and Innerkrems, the #1 Alpine pass from the route recommendation was waiting for us: the “Nockalm”.
This was indeed the most amazing route in terms of landscape, road cover quality and curves and you should not miss out on this route. After the pass we got some fresh buttermilk and cake at a farm down the valley.
The Sölkpass was a bit difficult to find coming counter-clockwise on the route recommendation, but with the help of locals we managed to find it and it was the last Alpine pass on our tour before reaching Bad Mitterndorf.
Bad Mitterndorf (Austria) - Munich (Germany)
The last few hours in Austria took us along some crystal clear lakes with lunch in Sant Gilgen next to the Wolfgangsee. You can get a roasted chicken, buns and drinks in the local supermarket and enjoy the break right next to the lake.
After the break we went straigt to Munich, which was getting difficult with the increasing heat due to some heat wave over Europe and we arrived in Munich at around 38 degrees in full motorcycle clothing.
Munich is a stunning city with lots to see, but even more to eat and drink.
First stop was and should be the Augustiner Biergarten (beer garden) to enjoy a 1l (eine Maß) beer, hearty Bavarian food and huge pretzels. To fulfil the Tourist cliché, we had another Maß in the original Hofbräuhaus München before ending the day.
Munich (Germany) - Bad Bergzabern (Germany)
Before heading out to the last stage of the trip, you can’t miss out on Bavarian breakfast, which is white sausages, pretzels and white beer.
Highway A8, A5 and A65 at a peak of 41 degrees celcius in Karlsruhe was the worst part of the trip and we were happy to reach the final destination: Bad Bergzabern in Rhineland-Palatinate.
During the next days we set out to smaller trips in the area, visiting various castles, fortresses and ruins. First on the list was the ruin of Landeck in Klingenmünster.
In the evenings, there was plenty of savoury food, and all the more wine.
The next destination was the castle of Trifels and Speyer for a local festival.
The last trip before heading on the way back was the castle of Hambach to get to learn something about German and European history as well as the city of Neustad an der Weinstrasse which has a famous history centre.
Bad Bergzabern (Germany) - Freiburg (Germany)
A5 highway to Freiburg to visit the historic city centre and be a little closer to the next days goal.
Freiburg (Germany) - Chauzon (France)
This was by far the longest part of the whole trip and beside the last 50km not very enjoyable. French highways are expensive, toll stations don’t always work and you should always have multiple credit cards and cash with you. Driving with two people on the bike makes it easier to get through the toll stations though.
Finally getting off the highway after ~600km was a relief and the landscape was great to forget the long ride. An evening swim in the Ardèche river streamed the rest of the bad memories away.
Camping Beaussement, La Chapouillire, Chauzon, 07120, France
We tried something new and rented a Mobile Home at the “Camping Beaussement” site. What we didn’t think about was there’s no towels nor proper sheets in camp sites. There was a supermarket close by to get dinner and if you stick to French basics (white bread, salami, cheese and red wine) it’s not too expensive either. However, I’d recommend getting wine from a small fruit and vegetable store on the way back from the supermarket for 2-3 Euros per liter.
For sure it wasn’t as comfortable as a room in a B&B or Hotel, but a lot cheaper and directly next to the river.
Chauzon (France) - Barcelona (Spain)
The final stage started with the stunning canyon of Ardèche in the south of France (La Provence). Before taking the road, we took another swim in the river right next to the “Pont d’Arc”, which was very refreshing.
After Pont d’Arc some amazing curves bundled with stunning views will await you - an experience you won’t forget.
Unfortunately, after the canyon there’s another ~450km highway to cover until Barcelona, paved with toll stations in France and Spain and nothing really interesting along the way.
4690km in 18 days through 6 countries. An incredible experience with lots of good memories. We hope you get some inspiration out of this for your own tour.
Patrick and Maithili.