Friday, September 2, 2011

3 countries and 8 mountain passes in one day

It sounds like a Hollywood movie:  we had breakfast in Austria, lunch in Slovenia, afternoon ice cream in Italy, and dinner in Austria - all on our second full day of our 5 country motorcycle tour of the Alps!

It was 54 degrees and a heavy mist was hanging low over the mountains when we left Tamsweg at 8:30am, but within an hour the sun came out and the sky was a brilliant blue. We were on our way through 8 mountain passes today, with everyone looking forward to the famous cobblestone hairpin turns in Slovenia. Luckily for us, the sunshine and dry roads meant we'd be able to navigate those hairpin turns without mishap.

John on an F800GS and Jay and Barb on an R1200GS navigating a cobblestone turn

close-up of the famous cobblestone turns

On the way up the Vrisicpass in Slovenia, we stopped to take in the awe-inspiring views. It's a good thing Mike was paying close attention to the roads, because I couldn't stop looking at the mountains spiking into the sky all around us.

Eric and Catherine

We crossed the border into Italy where we drove up one of the narrowest 2-lane roads I've ever been on. At one point, I swear I could have reached out and touched the stone wall on the right side of the hairpin turn, and a car going the other direction on our left-hand side. The road led through a pass called the Passo Pomollo in Italian, or Nassfeld in German. Nassfeld translates to 'wet field', which was spot on because it started to rain as we came to the top of the pass at 1552 meters above sea level, home to the largest ski area in Carinthia.

The final cruise into Kötschach Mautern took us through a wide valley, bordered on both sides by mountains. The sun came back out and the temperatures reached into the low-80's - perfect for enjoying the ride and the scenery. Today's video is here:

The conversation at dinner centered around the roads (worst in Slovenia, scariest in Italy, best maintained in Austria), food (lowest prices in Slovenia, best ice cream in Italy), views (a toss-up; they were all outstanding!), road signs (a graphic of a man falling off a motorcycle, warning about dangerous roads), and various styles of rest rooms in the different countries. We're a diverse group from Canada, the US, and Austria and one of the best parts of the trip is spending time talking about our lives, motorcycle riding history, and rehashing the day's trip. Riding with a group is definitely more fun than riding alone!

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