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Austria Holiday

Originally posted at Wed 14-09-2011 14:04:58, last modified at Wed 21-09-2011 11:22:07, in the personal category.

Monday the 12th of September, day 1

Before leaving for Austria this morning, I had to take care of some last insurance details. Since I just bought a new motorbike, I hadn't received the insurance papers for it yet. The moment I stepped out, it started to rain. Having read it would be dry all day, I was kind of flabbergasted. Luckily for me, it stopped 5 minutes later, and it didn't set the mood for the rest of the trip. With the insurance papers with me I returned home, finished packing my stuff and left. I only packed a single backpack, and no tank mounted bag this time, as I was afraid it wouldn't really fit on the weirdly shaped fueltank of the MT-01.

The trip to Landal Rehrenberg, in Viehhofen, Austria, was one of 898km or so my Garmin Zumo predicted. Having made a 1500km trip to Cortona, Italy, twice before, I wasn't expecting a very physically tiring trip. The weather in Germany was just fine, until I reached Munchen it was mostly clouded, with some sunshine here and there, and on just one short occasion some minor light rain. After Munchen the weather changed for the better: splendid clear skies and loads of sun!

It would have been 100% awesome, if the holiday transportation demon hadn't struck once again. This is the third holiday in a row that brings bad luck to my mode of transportation. My previous holiday to Italy in June this year, my Ducati motorbike broke down the morning I wanted to leave, forcing me to make the trip by car. The holiday before that one - to Italy as well - my Ducati broke down on the second day of my holiday, after deciding that it had sparked enough, and the bobines (the thingies that charge the spark plugs) decided to quit working entirely, forcing me to leave Italy in a rented Fiat Punto. And yes, this time, something happened once more: although it didn't prevent me from finishing my trip, it's still nasty and needs to be taken care of as soon as I return home in two weeks. The left side of the MT-01's mini "windscreen" mount has broken off completely. At first I thought some screws had shaken loose (the 1.7L engine is not a very smooth drive, the entire bike is shaking constantly ;-)), but after close inspection half way through the trip I noticed that it has actually completely broken off. Since I have 6 months of warranty from my dealer, and I own this bike since last Saturday, I'm assuming it will be taken care of when I get home. The "windscreen" is now dangling slightly on one hard-plastic mount. It has survived some 700 odd kilometers already, so I'm hoping it will survive the rest of the holiday as well.

Other than this minor incident, today was awesome. It took me 9 hours to do the 900km, averaging out at 100km/h including four stops for gas. That's a not much less than the +/- 120 km/h average I got on my trips to Italy on the Ducati. However, since the Ducati has a bigger screen on the front, forcing the wind mostly over my person, it's a lot easier and more comfortable to drive on long stretches. Apart from the very, very tiny windscreen the MT-01 has, it's a naked bike: I found out that doing 150km/h on the MT-01 is about as physically straining as doing 250km/h on the Ducati! So although it's a shorter trip in both distance and time compared to Cortona in Italy, the same amount of energy was definitely used.

I arrived a little past 19:00, only to find the "rezeption" closed. Luckily there was a phone, and when I picked up I heard a voice say in quite broken German: "Landal Greenparks Rehrenberg, met Marlies" (sic!) I immediately recognized the way most Dutch people pronounce the German language, and also the "met" (the Dutch word for the German "mit") gave it away: she was Dutch. That made communication a lot easier for me, as my own German completely sucks monkeyballs. Five minutes later I arrived at my appartment \o/

Now I thought I had booked some sort of 2 person hotel-like room, or so that was the impression I got from the small photos on Landal's website. I didn't pay close attention to what I booked really, since the 612 euro it costed was cheap enough for me for 14 days (usually hotel rooms go for +/- 80 euro a night, times 14 days = 1120 euro, so 612 was nothing.) But after arriving here, it turned out I booked a regular 2 person appartment, including a bedroom, livingroom, a kitchen (with dishwasher!) and a reasonably sized bathroom with a bath tub! :D Happy like a little puppy I couldn't stop beaming until I hopped in the bath tub: time for relaxation after the trip ;)

During the trip I hadn't eaten much, just two sandwiches and an icecream. So when I got out of the tub, and realizing it was alreaday half past eight, I got hungry fast. The bistro on the Landal park turned out to be closed on Mondays, as was the park's restaurant. So I had no choice to drive the bike again, in search of a local restaurant. Luckily for me, that was only 500m away from the park ;) I ordered a pizza and a coke in my best German (*cough*), paid, and left for my appartment again. Watched some Dutch TV (yes, that's available here :D) and went to bed. Awesome day, driving 900km!

P.S. A few kilometers from here, a family had put up a sign indicating they had a room for hire ("Zimmer frei"). The sign also displayed the proud name of its owners..... The Schmuck Family :D:D:D

Tuesday the 13th of September, day 2

Before I left yesterday, I quickly checked the weather forecast for Salzburg, roughly the closest large city here. The forecast wasn't very good: fine weather for Monday and Tuesday, but nothing but rain after that. So today I decided that I was going to enjoy the amazing Austrian countryside as much as possible. When I got out of bed, I saw a completely clear sky: not a single cloud to be seen, and I guess it was about 24C, a fine day indeed! Since I had only packed a single backpack, and I therefor had no room for any food or bathroom supplies, my first priority was getting breakfast, and then a toothbrush and toothpaste, some shampoo and deodorant. Luckily my Garmin knows where all the supermarkets are, so one quick trip and I had all I needed: I added energy drinks (jeez, really foddie? ;-)) to my shoppinglist as well, and arriving back at the appartment enjoyed a much deserved breakfast, and took a shower so I could finally get my long hair back in order -_-

Next up was planning a trip to .... yeah, to what? I really didn't have any clue where I wanted to go, so I just hopped onto the bike, started driving and all I did was enjoying the countryside, the absolutely beautiful roads, and the nice weather. The Landal park lies about 870m above sealevel, but when I finally reached a dead end (or I had to continue riding my Yamaha onto what I believe was a hiking trail), I was at 1120m above sealevel. I think that's about the highest I've ever been on any motorbike! ;) But since the MT-01 is not an offroad bike, I turned back and decided to tell the Garmin to avoid highways, and lead me over the shortest (not fastest!) road to a random street in Salzburg. That was a VERY good idea! It took me on all sorts of extremely fun roads, insanely beautiful sceneries and right through a very beautiful part of Germany! If you're ever near the area, set your navigation to Melleck, Germany. It's near the border with Austria, and the road leading up to it was awesome (although way too short... :-/ )

When I neared Salzburg, I decided the city itself wasn't very interesting, and while still in Germany I noticed a sign that read Berchtesgarden: 18km. Now that rang a bell, although I'm not sure yet (no wikipedia here) why. If I'm not mistaking it's where Adolf Hitler had his eagles nest in the second world war, but it could also be because it's a famous ski resort or something :D I'll google for it later ;) (I did that before posting this, and yay I was right ^^) Anyway, that, too, was a good idea. I ended up in a small town near Berchtesgarden: Maria Gern. The roads there were freaking awesome, although at some point taking random turns, I ended up on another dead end, forcing me to turn back.

All these curly roads, going up and down, left and right, made me love the MT-01 immensely. The 150Nm torque really showed off at one point when I found myself on a 10% hillside going upwards in second gear on idle gas and the bike was able to drag itself smoothly over the hill without stalling or anything! That was insane compared to the Ducati, which had trouble (on idle gas) driving smoothly even on a flat road :D (although I know that's caused by the L-twin producing max torque around 9000rpm, while the MT-01 produces its max torque around 3700rpm, much closer to the idle rpm)

Back home I had decided to put in the DB-killers, which (officially) make the exhaust pipes legal. Anytime I noticed a cop car, I didn't get nervous (as I often would with the Ducati which had no DB-killers, and an open very loud Termignoni exhaust.) The weather was fine today, and after I returned home I checked in with the park (yesterday the reception was closed, I just got my key so I could sleep, but I still had to pay.) Luckily the girl behind the counter - who wasn't Dutch this time like last night - spoke fluent English. I explained to her my booking mistake: I booked for 14 days (until the 26th), but I have to leave home the 22nd since Better.be - my previous employer - is throwing me (and three others) a goodbye party. I booked AFTER agreeing with that date, so I can't really cancel on them now ;-) However, my own laziness backfired: since I accepted the key yesterday and haven't contacted them about it earlier, she couldn't do anything for me, I had to pay for the full 14 day reservation. Had I called or e-mailed them before I arrived, they might have been able to change the reservation.... The only discount I got was a 1,10 euro a day tourist tax discount, so in stead of paying 612.65, I paid 608.25 euro! SCORE!! O-)

Before dinner I got myself 3 types of beers (no clue if the local brew is drinkable or not, so I'm checking my options), and ofcourse a bottle of Jagermeister. It's not freezing (not even closely), but I felt that high up in the Alpes, I had to get a bottle and put it in the freezer anyways. Just because I can O-)

All in all I drove about 240 km today.

P.S. I checked with the reception girl what the forecast for the area was. She said, quite in contradictory to what I read online last Sunday (see yesterday), that the weather would be like today's for the next few days! Hope that's true! :-)

Wednesday the 14th of September, day 3

The weather today was as the forecast said: completely clouded. However, other than Sunday's forecast, it didn't rain. I got some more supplies this morning (more energy O-)) and decided to check out the lake nearby, the Zeller See. Drove around it, and once again enjoyed the lovely view. When you're in love with mountains as much as I am and live in a country as flat as mine, then almost any road around here is completely awesome to drive on :D Nevertheless, I found one that's even more awesome than the average road here. It's some sort of pass that starts at 1130m above sea level. The pass can only be used when you pay 19,00 euro (or 29,00 in a car.) Since it was very cloudy and the pass seemed to go into the clouds (literally), I decided to turn back and try it again tomorrow, since the forecast for tomorrow is sunny like the last two days! So hopefully more on this pass tomorrow! :)

After coming back at the park, not certain about the weather I thought it was best to park my bike in the underground parking area near the entrance of the park. This was really an enjoyable experience, as it's a very low (2.5m tops I think) area, about 20x30m in size, and one small opening. You guess what I did :-P Open the throttle as much as I could, and enjoy the insane echoes bouncing off the walls. Absolutely awesome! :D Such a pitty my smartphone's recording abilities weren't able to pick up any of the sound properly ;-)

Today I drove about 80km.

Thursday the 15th of September, day 4

When I left the park this morning to go to the bank, I noticed a police officer on a motorbike who had stopped a car. He seemed to be writing a ticket for something the driver had done. However, to my great surprise the driver got out of his car, and joined me in the bank to get money... Ehm, huh? I'm seriously hoping it's legal to pay tickets to cops here in Austria, otherwise I've probably witnessed some fraud/corruption going on... :D Oh well, not my problem -_-

The weather started out clouded today, so I decided to not yet try the pass I found yesterday. In stead I told the Garmin to take me to Innsbruck and see what would happen. Well, nothing special, the road turned out to be quite boring, in contrast to the road to Salzburg. About 50 km out I noticed a sign that said something about a "pass", so I decided to check it out. A good idea, as I found a single long road that contained two mountain passes on either side of the road to Innsbruck! The first one was easy to drive, and beat Tuesday's record of 1130m to 1256m. Turning back, and trying the same road on the other side I found an even better pass that ended after a 5km tunnel at 1636m above sea level :) Both passes were DEFINITELY fun to drive. The second (and highest) one has a tollbooth half way through though, requiring you to pay 8,00 euro. So I paid that twice, going back and forth, and chose a verrrry long path back to the park.

At one point on my way home I came across a special transport: a shitload of tractors pulling caravans. Just a bunch of old people going some place. No comment about that. However, the bad thing about this was that they were doing 20km/h on a 100km/h road!! Fortunately I saw the trail of cars following them on time, but I was quite surprised about there insanely low speed. Luckily with my bike I was able to pass them quickly enough, althought that still took more than 5 minutes (they were that many!)

I have noticed something particular about Austrian drivers. Back home everybody (or is it just me?) apparently is always in a terrible hurry. People (and yes, I myself am like that as well) always demand that everybody else at least drives the maximum speed. Faster is better, but not required. This is not the case here in Austria. I've encountered many cases where people would happily drive 65 km/h where 80 km/h or even 100 km/h is allowed. And weirdly enough, most other Austrians simply tag along at the same speed, creating small trains of cars doing far less than the maximum speed. Ofcourse there are exceptions to every rule that describes human behaviour, but it seems they are indeed what the term says: exceptions. When you do 70 where 80 is allowed, back home people will instantly use their horns on you, and try to overtake you after 2 seconds. But not over here. Whether or not this is because Austrian traffic law has terrible fines, or people know that overtaking is no use because another slow driver will be around the next corner, or simply because Austrians are inherently more relaxed than us Dutchies, I will never know ;)

Last thing, I also realized that I have yet to see the first sportbike around here. This surprises me since the roads here are practically like racing tracks. On the other hand, the steep climbs are in fact way easier to drive with a bike like mine (V-twin with torque and power at low RPMs), than on a racing bike. Most bikes I see around here, are AT/TA's, BMW boxers (1150GS, etc.) and choppers. My bike fits in quite nicely here. Had I still been driving my Ducati, I would have been an exception, a freak O-)

I did about 300km today.

Friday the 16th of September, day 5

Today I unintentionally answered my own question I voiced yesterday.... :D I decided to take a quick tour over one of the same passes I did yesterday, when on my way home I noticed a biker not greeting me regularly, but instead motioned his hand downwoards, therefor telling me to slow down, obviously implying there were cops down the road. Now I've been a very good boy since I got my drivers license back a week ago (and intent on staying that way), so I haven't speeded at all while I was here. Ofcourse sometimes you drive 85 when 80 is the limit, but that's not what I call speeding, that's just roughly keeping the maximum speed. So when I saw that motorbiker I wasn't startled like "Ohmygawdddd I hope they're not lasering me right now!?! EEK", but instead became curious about where they could be hiding, I wasn't doing anything wrong anyway! So, I started looking far ahead of me, trying to figure out where they were. This wasn't my wit at its best. Because of this, I totally forgot to pay attention to my speed or to the maximum speed signs. After about two minutes of franctic searching for cops, I noticed them! Oops, they were already quite close by. All of a sudden I realized that I hadn't taken a look at my speed in two minutes, I looked down, and knew I was screwed, I was doing 70km/h inside city limits (where 50km/h is allowed.) They motioned me to stop, and there it was: I had unintentionally been speeding, the only time I actually did so in Austria, exactly at the moment I knew cops were in the neighbourhood with laserguns... You don't make this stuff up! :D

Since you have to pay right away and I didn't have any money on me, they allowed me to drive to the local bank while they kept my drivers license and registration papers. The total damage was 30 euros. For 20 km/h too fast within city limits! This answers yesterday's questions: no, Austrian traffic laws doesn't have rediculous fines like Dutch law. And yes, having to pay a cop at the side of the road is normal here, as I noticed an Austrian couple who were getting money at the same bank as I was for exactly the same reason ;)

Other than this incident, today was a day about relaxation in optima forma ^^ I've worked on my game engine, reorganizing code and the build system, and I've had quite a number of lovely Gosser and Zipfer beers ^^ BURP

I did about 110km today.

Saturday the 17th of September, day 6

Today I had plans to visit my brother in Nurnberg, Germany (which lies pretty much exactly on the road back home :D) I made the 337km trip in beautiful weather, although it sucked bigtime that there were so much traffic jams near Munchen: I spent about 30kms driving through stopped or slowly driving traffic. As soon as I arrived, my brother and his girlfriend checked out the MT01 - liking it very, very much - and off we were, to the first Yamaha dealer. On monday I had noticed one of the mountpoints of my bike's windscreen (flyscreen it's called officially) had broken off. I had asked my brother to find some Yamaha dealers in the vincinity of Nurnberg, and we checked them all out. Unfortunately, this wasn't helpful at all, as one was closed, one was more a bicycle shop with one or two motorbikes (but officially a Yamaha dealer), and one simply didn't have the mounts in stock. So we took the windscreen off and put it in my backpack after deciding I'll take it home in the bagpack and have the mounts fixed there.

I had a nice time with my brother, eating Mexican food, drinking way too much, waiting for his girlfriend to return home, and then drink Mojito's (correct spelling? :X) at his place later on.

Oh, and ofcourse, as always, I was "allowed" to fix his laptop. Even though I am officially on a holiday, it seems that I'm never able to fully let go of everything ;)

And last but not least, I've been monitoring my bike's mileage: to my great, great surprise, it's way more efficient with gas than the Ducati! The Ducati did +/- 14,5km to 1 ltr on the highways, and about 12,5km to 1 ltr when playing. The MT01 however does +/- 16.5km to 1 ltr on highways, and an astonishing 19.2km to 1 ltr playing here in Austria! Although "playing" with the Ducati is definitely different from "playing" with the MT01, still, the difference baffled me. I'm loving it that I finally own a motorbike that is somewhat fuel efficient! ^^
I did about 350km today.

Sunday the 18th of September, day 7

Blegh, today was definitely the lowpoint so far. Yesterday's weather forecast said it wouldn't start raining until late in today's afternoon. So I had planned on leaving early this morning, and make most of the trip in dry weather - if I was lucky. That turned out to be not exactly how things were going to play out in reality. It started raining during the night, HEAVILY (I mean cats and dogs, but also hippos!) and it hasn't stopped since (literally, as I am typing this.) I made the trip back to Austria in nothing but constant, unrelenting rain. Not once did it stop raining, not even for 30 seconds. Now this wouldn't have been such a very big deal, if it hadn't been for the so called "waterproof gloves" I bought before my trip.... #$)@(#*$)@(#*$)(@*$)(#*)$(#* I'll not repeat the things I've thought during the trip about the store that sold them to me, but the bottomline is: the trip - all in all - took 5 hours to complete, but after the first 30 minutes my hands were already completely wet. I made one stop for 15 mins after driving +/- 160 kms, switching gloves to my normal leather ones (hey, if I have to drive with wet hands, I prefer to do so with the most comfortable ones I've ever had.) Also, I had to warm up my hands and fingers. 90 kms later I had to stop again, right after I passed the Austrian border (and I mean right after, +/- 150m :D). In that gasstation I met a German and an American biker who were so kind to point out that the bathroom had warm water taps. This time warming up my hands took quite a lot longer, almost 30 minutes. Continuing home, I had to make one last stop once more, only 16km away from the park. It had become just too cold (only 10C up in the mountains!) and my hands were once more freezing. I had a nice chat with the girl working at the Shell gasstation, she hadn't intended on having a frozen motorbiker in her store for almost an hour :D After about 40 mins there, when I still hadn't warmed up my hands to a sufficient level, she all of a sudden realized she had hot running water on the tap behind her (blond....) So I got a cup of that, which unfroze my hands almost instantly. The last part of the very chilly trip, only 15 minutes, I made with warm hands ^o^

Bottomline? Never trust a store when they say that gloves are waterproof....grrrr...#(*$@(*$7@(*$&(*#& *ANGRY*. It pisses me off, I thought I had prepaird properly for rain.... :X
Monday the 19th of September, day 8 This morning I had the biggest WTF-moment in recent history :D:D:D

I mean... (click any photo for a bigger version btw!)
And this is my current food supply:
Nearest supermarket is 6km away... HALP! ;)

Tuesday the 20th of September, day 9

Not much to report today. The weather was slightly better, it didn't snow anymore but the temperature wasn't much higher than 10C. At least the snow melted away. I've done some driving, picked up some groceries, read my Dune books, nothing fancy ;)

Oh, I did notice however that Yamaha's suffer from the same problems as Ducati's: my license plate is shaking like a mad man, just like the 999. It seems to be holding on though, so I'm not worried much. And otherwise I can simply blame the store that sold me the bike, and claim my warranty :D
I did about 100km today.

Wednesday the 21th of September, day 10

Today started out very clouded. Pretty soon however the sun started shining, and drove off all the remaining clouds and mist. I decided to redo last week's trip to Berchtesgaden. I did, and found even more absolutely amazing routes which I stored in my Garmin. On the way back, this time not driving the reverse route, but going over another pass, I experienced first hand how Austrians fix roads.

I was on a "pass" called Hochkönig (as far as I could determine), and I had just passed over the top at about 1250m, when I noticed a sign that said road construction. At that point the road was going down at a rate of more or less 5%. So reasonably steep. I then noticed a traffic sign, obviously placed temporarily since there was probably only room for one car on the road ahead. So I waited, still quite relaxed, for the light to turn green. When it eventually did, I took the turn right, right after the trafficlight, and was horrified: they weren't fixing just a small part of the road as I had seen them do many times before, they were fixing the entire road! And they weren't - like I'm used to back home - replacing the top layer of the asphalt on the road (so only a small layer would be "scraped off"), no, THE ENTIRE ROAD WAS GONE!! All asphalt was gone!! :X And to make matters worse, the slope was going down even more, it must have been almost 10%. Now the MT01 is pretty heavy (about 280kg fully fueled), and I had to slowly roll it downhill, constantly breaking (!), on a road made out of sands and small rocks!! Obviously, I was going at a very, very slow pace, and decided to first let the cars behind me pass. I hate to admit it, but I was quite scared the bike would slip away out of my control, I had to constantly break THAT hard. I think my heart skipped all beats for about 30 seconds, and I haven't breathed at all during the +/- 2 minutes it took to get down. Luckily after that the ordeal was over, and I continued the trip on regular asphalt.

I took some awesome pictures of the MT01, check out the photo section of the site!
I did about 200km today.

-- Foddex



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