Sunday 17 July 2016 Villach

A silver lining to my enforced stay in Villach is that I can get to watch the German MotoGP, and even better I don’t even have to get dressed for it as it is on my hotel tv!

After the racing,  I get dressed ūüėČ and go for a wander along the river.

This sculpture is next to my hotel.


And this brewery opposite! 


As usual the graffitti catches my eye!


As I walk across the bridge I spot a “shell” sign. Seems the Camino De Santiago pilgrims are  everywhere!

I’ve remembered to see if there are any geocaches here. There are, but today is not my day, I try 3 different ones and cannot find any of them…perhaps something is lost in translation!
The first one is hidden at the beautiful church that I took a photo of yesterday. It is currently being renovated and to be honest not as stunning up close.  Although the entrance ceiling is interesting. 

My walk taken me back into the town centre.  Perhaps I should have stayed here! 

The pavements in the town centre are cobbled, they even cobble the drain covers.

Love both of these example of ironwork that I spot. 



It’s 5.30pm and I’m starting to get hungry.. I spot a couple of tables,   in the centre of town where people are eating so decide to join them. I always prefer to sit outside to eat if possible, especially when travelling alone 

It all looks so good I decide to have a starter as well as a main course.
But I don’t quite get what I expected Steak Tartar to start, a first for me and quite nice. As are the dumplings, and the local beer.

The bridge, and in fact, the whole Old Town are festooned with bunting- very pretty.

The sun is  still shining strong, so I decide to make use of the funky public seating along the river in front of my hotel and chill for an hour or so catching up with The Archers on podcast! 

Back at my hotel,  and there’s a great view from my window, as I pull my curtains to go to sleep.

Saturday 16 July 2016 Trieben to Villach

I set the alarm on my phone for 3.50 am, but as is often the  way I wake up at 3.45 anyway!

I creep downstairs and the taxi is there, and I hear Sue creeping downstairs too!

It really is goodbye now or Au Revoir as the French say- it is only a matter of time until our next adventure together, and who knows what continent it will be on!

I fall back asleep quickly, and wake up to the sound of rain. Not so good.

After breakfast the rain has stopped, but with weather still looking dodgy, ¬†I load the bike, put on my waterproofs and after a quick detour to the local petrol station I’m off.

I’m feeling quite anxious, ¬†not like me, but today’s route is not a challenging one, ¬†only ¬†a planned 4 hours of riding time. ¬†I ride at an easy pace, even at times pulling over so that cars can ¬†overtake me. ¬†I am not in the mood to rush today, but need to get into the flow of the ride.

My route takes me South on 114 to Judenberg. Then right onto 317

I stop to take a photo of this church at Scheifling, as its gleaming copper tower catches my eye

At Neumarkt, I take a left onto the 92, which at first takes you up over a hill bringing you out to a sweeping vista below.

My nerves are beginning to settle now and I really start to enjoy the ride.

I stop at Huttenberg to capture this unexpected view, which turns out to be a Tibet Centre

I also take a photo of this roadside shrine, one of many you pass as you ride along.

The road continues to curve it’s way through many little villages.

Another quick stop ,when I spot this shrine with carved scenes of the crucifixion, and dated 1608.

I also use this as an opportunity to take a photo of my Tiger.

I reach Buckl, and turn right onto 82, having decided to lunch at St.Vent.

About 5 minutes drive later ¬†and I pull over into a lay-by. For the life of me I can’t remember why now ūüėē, but when I try to start the bike there is nothing, absolutely nothing.

I remember to check the kill switch – been caught by that before- still nothing.

Try again- still nothing. The needle moves, dashboard lights come on, go off, leaving just engine management and oil light on, but none of the normal gurgling  noise that usually happens.

Shit!

Time 12.05

I WhatsApp Roger but he’s at work.

Time 12.30

I decide to call Carl Rosners to see if they have any ideas. The guy on the phone takes me through the basic moves to start it up but still nothing. He suggests it may be flat battery or the ignition overheating. He suggests waiting 15 minutes and trying again.

I wait 20 minutes and try again. Nothing.

Time 1.04pm

Time to call the RAC. I ring the number on my key fob and after being on hold for what seems like an eternity, I get to speak to someone and give him all the details, starting with the fact I’m in Austria.

He then tells me I have to be transferred to the European Breakdown Service. I then have to repeat everything, including my name, contact details and the problem to a guy with broken English.

He wants to know where I am. I give him the road number and that I am 5 minutes West of Brukl- that’s not enough. But he seems happy when I give him the EXACT GPS cordinates.

He tells me he will text me when someone is on their way. He lies.

Time 1.56pm

Roger calls me. He thinks it may be battery, so I get him to talk me through what to do do bump start it. Maybe a kind biker will stop and help .

Just after this , a breakdown van goes past, he gives me the thumbs up and I say No and wave at him to stop.

He turns the van around,  gets out and starts looking at my bike.

After trying to start it himself, he tests the battery- not flat. He tests other things, and tries to read the diagnostics but no good.

I start to look up on my phone where the nearest Triumph garage is- it looks like Villach,  but it closes Saturday lunchtime.

Another biker stops and offers sympathy and confirms Villach is the nearest.

Time 2.46pm

I still haven’t received text to tell me what is happening, so I call RAC, as I also want to know if I can use this guy and reclaim it and to find out if they will take me to the Triumph dealer – they can’t tell me that!

Apparently they wrote my number down incorrectly and don’t think to contact RAC UK. ¬†I can cancel the call out or wait for their guy. I decide to wait.

I ask Stefan – the lovely breakdown man- if he can find out how much his firm will charge to take bike to Villach.

He calls his boss, ¬†then asks me if I’m with RAC, yes I say. In that case he can take me to the Triumph dealer as the call had just come through,

HOO fuckin RAH!

Time 3.17 pm

I phone Roger to give him the good news that it all seems to be sorted.  ( how optimistic of me)

We have to drive to St Veit to swap over to a van and trailer that can take the bike.So I grab my stuff, put it in the van, take a quick pic of the bike and we head off.

A short journey and a quick swap over  of vehicles  and we are back to load the bike.

This guy is my hero of the day. I can’t thank him enough for all his help. He is the one person who deserves praise for his help today – especially as he stopped to help a ” damsel in distress”

The Tiger is loaded, although it does try to escape a little further down the road.

As we are driving Stefan receives a text about my call, but they do not know where I am. He laughs saying he knows where I am, sitting next to him!

Time 4.18pm

I have to now start thinking logistics.

I cancel my room on Booking.com and send an email explaing the circumstances and asking if they will waive the cancellation charge.

Then I need to book somewhere for the next few nights,definitely tonight and Sunday and possibly Monday, maybe even Tuesday. I hope not.

I decide to use my IHG points and phone to book into the Holiday Inn for tonight through to Tues morning. They are fully booked on Tuesday. But the optimist in me hopes that won’t be needed.

Time 4.53

I receive a call from RAC, asking if there is anything I need help with like hotels, taxi. I advise that I have booked hotel and how do I claim it back, but the lady said we could sort that out later.

Stefan and I have a lovely chat whilst we are driving. His English is very good. He loves visiting London, rides an old Ducati Monster and had 3 Vw campervans. I am  sad to be told that he lost his stepbrother Marcel aged 24, 4 weeks ago in a motorbike accident. I am going to light a candle for him in Porcaro.
We arrive at the Triumph dealer,  but I am unhappy about just leaving my bike here in front of the shop with no security.

Stefan agrees and calls his office,  where they tell him he can take it to their depot 5 minutes away where it can be locked up over the weekend and they will deliver it back to the dealer first thing on Monday. Perfect, well it should be, but when we get to the depot no-one is there.

Another phone call, and Stefan is told to leave it outside, we leave the keys as well, so that the garage will be able to look at it straight away on Monday, or not as it turns out.

Then it’s a 5 minute drop off to the Holiday Inn, where I sign the paperwork. Getting a copy made at reception as I have no idea what I am signing!

Time 6.30pm

Five and half hours and 53 kms from when I called RAC I can relax, hardly the 5 star service they advertise.

A while later, I head into the town centre and find a nice Italian in a courtyard setting to enjoy garlic prawns.

As I cross the bridge to my hotel the setting sun lights up this church beautifully.

What a day! I’m exhausted!

Friday 15 July 2016 Trieben

One of my” things” is that I do like a hot drink when I wake up, coffee or tea it doesn’t matter, but I’m not awake until some caffeine has gone down my throat. So even though I try to travel as ¬†light as I can on my bike, my one luxury item is this travel kettle I picked up in a charity shop a few years ago. It is a great design, two cups slide on either end, there’s a coffee filter if you want real coffee, and room inside to transport my sachets of expresso coffee and coffee mate. Perfect!

We go down to breakfast. I do like the Austrian/ German style of breakfast, it’s definitely the meal that they do better than the French! ¬†Coffee,tea or hot chocolate, juice,yoghurt,cheese ham,salami,hard-boiled eggs and fresh bread rolls. Yummy. We won’t be needing lunch today!

After breakfast, we walk to one of the local shops where Sue has spotted a giant wheelie suitcase to purchas.  A plan ( we both like plans) has been decided to get Sue home with the least hassle. Its not a cheap plan, but no-one can ever accuse us of being cheap! 

So what’s the plan?

Well, our lovely hotel owner has sorted a taxi to pick Sue up at 4am Saturday, ¬†driving her to the airport, along with her mega wheelie case. The size of the case means she can take home all her stuff…normal clothes, toiletries etc, but more importantly the expensive bike kit , in one case.

At the airport Sue has reluctantly, but realistically, arranged for wheelchair assistance. Sometimes it helps to have a friend who isn’t scared to say it how it is ūüėČ

She then flys business class home, with one transfer. Sorted!

Back at the hotel I pack  the case, and the few unimportant bike bits are put in the panniers, and we walk up to the recovery storage place,  about 5 minutes away.

We pass the town hall on our way.

Sue pays the owner for the bike storage charge due until next week,( including a discount for cash ūüėĀ) when transport is arriving to take the bike back to Ireland. Ireland being where Sue normally stores it and where it is registered. ¬†This gives Sue a choice in the future on whether to return back to Europe to ride or to sell the bike on.

A photo for posterity of Sue and her bike, both battered and bruised, but ultimately ok!

We head back to the hotel, for another chilled afternoon of girlie chat, as ever accompanied by red wine!

At this stage I’d like to put a big shout out for our hotel¬†Triebenerhof¬†and it’s owners.

If you are ever looking for somewhere to stay in the area check them out.

From the outside it looks like a traditional style hotel, but the rooms in the annexe where we stayed are clean and modern with  large single beds. The wifi is free and a strong signal. And at 55 euros a night for a single,  well worth the money.

The restaurant had smoking and Mon smoking rooms and the food was good and reasonably priced, especially for the size of the portions.

But an even better reason than all of the above to stay there is how kind and helpful they were to Sue,  after her accident. They could not have done more to help her ( or me).

Five star service, and that goes for the ambulance service too,who went above and beyond, for a stranger in need.

Not only did they do their job taking Sue to hospital after her accident, but they took all her luggage off her bike,  arranged for the bike to be recovered, waited  for Sue to finish at hospital and then found her a hotel to stay, and finally transported her and her luggage to her room in the hotel.

We head off to bed fairly early, having first said our Goodbyes, although my plan is to get up to see Sue off at 4am

Thurs 14 July 2016 Vienna to Trieben

I wake up to the boom, diddy-boom of the train hurtling across the countryside and the sound of rain through my open window.

It wasn’t a bad nights sleep considering.

At 7.20, an hour before our arrival time, there is a knock on my door and the conductor delivers my breakfast. You have a choice of 6 items from a typical German breakfast menu,which you choose the night before.

I have to go and get my coffee from the conductors room at the end of the corridor, ¬†but that’s OK as I need to go to the loo anyway.

Yes, unfortunately unless you go for a deluxe cabin, your in-cabin facilities consist of a tiny, ¬†cleverly concealed washbasin. And on this train, unlike the previous,there are no additional shower facilities, so it’s a cat’s lick and a promise for me this morning!

The train goes through a very long tunnel, and luckily the weather improves the other side and it is now dry.

The train pulls into Vienna’s main station, but those of us with vehicles have to stay on board as the Motorail is a little further down the line( make sure you go the the right place if embarking at Vienna!)

We get off the train, but once again no-one knows what to do!

The transporter carriage is moved from the end of our train, to the end of the carriage you can see in the top right hand corner of the photo above.

There is nowhere to leave our luggage safely, but luckily a car passenger agrees to stand and look after it.

The bikes are unhitched by the staff and then it’s another head-down, slow, careful ride through the carriages…

…riding directly out onto the station.

We all park up on the platform and load up our bikes.

It may not be raining, but it is very windy. I prefer rain!

My first stop is to a petrol station, to fill up but more importantly to buy a Vignette, which you must have to ride on the motorways in Austria. Even if you don’t plan to ride on the motorways, I would recommend buying one as I beleive the fine is currently about 200 euros, and it is possible to accidently join a road that needs one. Just sayin’!

My route today is a boring one. All motorway, as it’s about getting to Trieben as quickly as I can, about 3 hours away.

My GPS navigates me through the city and I’m on the motorway, ¬†a VERY windy motorway. Not an enjoyable ride.

The wind continues for the next 50 odd miles on the A2, ¬†but lessens once I’m on the A6/A9.

Once again, I am very happy to have my cruise control, especially as there are many sections down to one lane and 80km speed limit.

I finally make it to Trieben, find the hotel and more importantly Sue.

After a shower, it’s downstairs for that all important first beer.

Over our beer, Sue tells me about her accident – she had an argument with the road and broke her collarbone; -her bike, currently in storage in the town ; and the rest of her holiday so far.

After our beer, we go for a wander round town,  and to get some wine and nibbles.

Our hotel on the right.

The ribbons on the Maypole blowing in the breeze.

Then it’s back to the hotel room to discuss plans on how and when Sue will get home.

It’s so sad that we will not be able to do our trip together, ¬†but I am glad that I was able to get out here and support Sue, and that it is just a collarbone broken and not a worse outcome.

In the evening we eat in the hotel, opting for one of their specials, a sharing dish for two which turns out to be a meat fest! We do not do it justice, especially as we also had a Carpaccio starter each.

Then it’s back to Sue’s room for a good girlie catch, as I haven’t seen her since November whilst we finish off our wine!

Wed 13 June 16  Home to Dusseldorf 

An early 5.45 am start to catch Eurotunnel train departing at 7.20am.

Weather is wet and chilly, so I decide to wear GoGoGear leggings. This does mean taking two pairs of biking trousers when I am trying to travel light, but it turns out to be a wise decision.

All packed, and waterproofed up ready to go.

Because of bad weather last night,  I pack up the bike this morning, definitely not my preferred choice to do first thing.

I arrive at Eurotunnel just in time for check in, but miss the loading for my 7.20 crossing by 4 cars, but no problems it means I have time for a coffee.

It seems that Eurotunnel have changed how they load,  in the past bikes were always loaded last, but I am mixed in with the cars.

There are no seats for us bikers, so I sit on the floor to enjoy my breakfast.

The train journey goes quickly, then it’s a damp boring motorway ride to Dusseldorf.

On the way I stop for petrol in Belgium, and forget that their credit card machines are hidden at the end of the pumps,unlike in the UK where they are right next to or integral to the pumps,  so I stood there like an idiot waiting for the petrol until I realised. Duh!

I arrive at Dusseldorf station with hours to spare, I wanted to be 100% sure I didn’t miss the train.

There are a few cars parked already, but no bikes. I’m not sure about leaving my bike with all the kit on it, strange as I don’t normally worry. Luckily another biker turns up, a Dutch guy, Arnold, who offers to keep an eye on the bikes.

I go off and have a meal, and then return the favour.

A few other bikes turn up and we all quickly make friends and get busy chatting. Another Brit, and his gorgeous 54 year car, and a lovely lady, Lizbet, from Vienna join us in the banter too.

Nobody really knows what is meant to happen to board, not even me who’s been on the train before, so thought I should describe it so that others know what to expect.

#Motorail from Dusseldorf 

You can purchase your ticket here from Db Motorail.

You need to purchase a separate ticket for your vehicle, and one for yourself, including a cabin if you want one.

The cabins are pretty small so I would suggest going for the best you can, for example I paid extra to ensure I had a cabin to myself.

The website has an English option, but the online tickets are in German, so I used Google Translate.

It says they start loading an hour before, but the station guy was there about 2 hours before.

He spoke to us bikers in a group, and in English, which was handy!

He hands out 4 loops to each bike, which once you are onboard you have to attach to your bike, 2 on the front, 2 on the back.

You also have to take off all soft luggage, which is a pain as previously we could leave it on. Hard luggage can stay.

There isn’t really anywhere to put it, so we put it on the ground near the hut, the railway guy keeps an eye on it.

You are told when to drive on. You will need to keep your lid on as the roof is very low and it is difficult not to bang your head.

It looks quite scary ,but it’s not so bad, honest!

Once you’ve ridden on, your bike is tied down using the loops. I always wait round to check that my bike is secure.

You then go back and pick up your kit, and walk to the main station platform, where hopefully your train and your carriage is waiting.

On this train we were given a welcome bag, with slipper, a tiny towel, soap, earplugs, water, and pretzels.

The conductor also brings a glass of Sangria.

She is also available on this train for you to order snacks,  light meal, and drinks which are sold at reasonable prices. But you need to check as the previous train I travelled on did mot have this option.

See tomorrow ‘s post for how I slept and what happens when we arrive in Vienna.

I’ll end this post with a photo of my new international train friends: Arnold, Tim ( from UK), Slobodan ( from Sweden) and Lizbeth ( from Austria).