John on his Suzuki GSX750ES, Randi on her Honda VFR750, Even on his Yamaha FZ 750 and myself on my Honda VFR750 had a really nice trip taking this route:
DAY 1, Oslo-Kiel: As none of us were too keen on driving through Sweden and Denmark going south, we started taking the ferry from Oslo to Kiel in Germany. Not much to tell about this besides the fact that we were a little disappointed about how the bikes were being secured for the crossing. We were given some rope and were supposed to tie the bikes to some guardrails or tubing by the walls of the car-deck. A little scary, but it went all right as the sea was calm.
DAY 2, Kiel-Berlin: After having examined the map we decided to take the scenic route. It turned out to be not so scenic... We might as well have taken the Autobahn. The smaller roads in former East-Germany turned out to be full of potholes and the landscape was pretty flat and boring. Having arrived in Berlin after 10! hours of driving through small towns we had the obligatory round-trip looking for our accomodation in the outskirts of the town in a place called Lichtenrade. After some confusion we found it though.
DAY 3, Berlin: A twenty minute ride with the Schnellbahn took us to the city center the next day. Some guy called Christo had wrapped the Reichstag building in cloth and the place was swarming with tourists. After having visited the Reichstag and Brandenburger Tor we went on to look for remains of the wall. Not much is left, it seems like the Germans are eager to forget the era when Germany was divided. Some wallpaintings from the time of the communist regime still exist though. We had hoped that Checkpoint Charlie would still be intact, but it was completely demolished. A small museum has taken its place and it is absolutely worth a visit if you're in Berlin.
DAY 4, Berlin-Prague: We decided to follow the E55 through Dresden going south towards Prague since we had used such a long time taking the country roads from Kiel to Berlin. Even if it is a main road it has some nice twists and turns (especially on the Czeck side of the border). In Prague we booked a couple of rooms through the AVE accomodation agency and got a discount. Finding a good/cheap place to stay in Prague is no problem, there are several accomodation agencies and several local people were at the railway stations asking if we were interested in private lodging. Some map-reading and confusion here too, but we found the place we had booked in the end.
DAY 5/6, Prague: We liked Prague so much that after having stayed for two nights we stayed on for another night. It was really nice to walk about pretty aimlessly, discovering nice places to eat and drink. Czeck beer from Plzen IS the greatest beer in the world and in places not swamped with tourists it is less than a buck for a 1/2 L. Recommended places are the Reduta Jazz Club at Narodny 22 and a small Rock club 2 blocks from the National Museum in the city center. The name of the Rock club is unfortunatly forgotten... Prague is a place to get screwed; both by the taxi-drivers that will rip you off and at the Black & White night club which supposedly was "the best place in town". It turned out to be a whorehouse with a steep covercharge and expensive drinks...
The oldest bridge in Prague seen from the river The Blues Brothers in Prague
DAY 7, Prague-Austria: The E55 going south from Prague through Ceske Budejovice was our choice since there are few twisties in the area. The trip started to make its toll on the bikes; the forks felt a bit mushy because of the heat and the extensive riding.
Our destination was the small pictoresque town of Hallstatt south of Bad Ischl. We followed the E55 to Linz in Austria and went from there through Wels, Gmunden, Ebensee and Bad Ischl. Great roads and great weather made the trip perfect.
DAY 8, Austria-Italian Alps: WOW! Even greater roads going from Hallstatt to Zell am See through Bischovshofen. The weather is still great as well. At Bruck we turned south taking the Grossglockner Alpinestrasse with its highest point being about 2500 meters above sea level - lots of hairpin turns and great views of the mountaintops. This road is highly recomended even if it is a bit expensive being a toll road. Going down the south slopes it started to rain, but fortunately it stopped after a short while.
Some more snapshots from Grossglockner: In the valley, another one from the top
Further south we crossed the border to Italy at Plockenpass and went on to Tolmezzo where we turned west and started looking for a place to stay for the night. After 13 kilometers we found a place in a small town called Ampezzo and had a huge meal at a local Bar/Cafe/Restaurant where the bartender turned out to be the cook as well.
The backyard of the small hotel in Ampezzo
DAY 9, Ampezzo-Corvara: This was our shortest day on the road, it was really nice to take it pretty easy for a change. We followed road #52 and then #48 going west through Cortina d'Ampezzo. Lots of roadwork were being done and the Italians drove like crazy most of the time ignoring any traffic signs and markings. On the last leg we followed a small mountain road barely marked on the map going from to La Villa Stern. This road turned out to have a great surface and lots of twistsies without nasty surprises. At Corvara we stayed at the Garni Granval (phone #0471-836064) which is highly recomended. A double room with shower, breakfast included was 80.000 Lire (off season) and they had a free garage for the bikes.
DAY 10, Corvara-Garda Lake-Insbruck: Middle-sized roads going south towards Garda Lake: MAGNIFICO! Great turns going down the slopes, WOW! I really wished that I had no luggage on the bike going here. By the lake we relaxed for a couple of hours and Even had his obligatory "small" icecream. Going north towards Insbruck we had planned to take a small road going by the side of the Autostrada/Autobahn through the Brenner Pass. Close to the border it turned out to be closed and we had to take the larger road. It started to rain and when it started to get darker in the evening this was pure hell for me as I have a dark tinted shield on my Shoei helmet. Zero visibility.
DAY 11, Insbruck-Rothenburg: We started the day going shopping for motorcycle-gear since this is for some reason pretty cheap in Austria. I got myself some new Dainese leathers, boots and a back protector. The only problem was making the extra space to transport the stuff back home. My magnetic tank bag grew in hight from about 25cm to being about 10cm taller than the fairing and none of the instruments could be seen.
After having crossed the border to Germany the clutch cable on John's bike snapped out of the fastener and before we had the covers off we thought the cable was broken so I went on to find a Suzuki dealer in the area to get a new one.
After having fixed the bike we went on and found a place to stay for the night at Rothenburg just nort-east of Stuttgart. This is a really special town from the middle-ages completely surrounded by fortifications and it is absolutely worth a visit.
DAY 12, Rothenburg-whatwasitcalled? On our way further north through Germany we chose the Autobahn since we had a lot of km's ahead of us going to Hirtshals in northern Denmark for our ferry home to Oslo. The worn out concrete surface south of Hamburg was no fun, otherwise everything was OK. At a stop by the Autobahn we got a good price on some new bikes and got ourselves each our Honda NR :-)
DAY 13, whatwasitcalled?-Juelsminde: Denmark is mostly flat and windy with straight roads...
DAY 14, Juelsminde-Hirtshals: We started off late in the afternoon because some of us for some reason had a craving for soda and orange juice; 4 liters were gulped down and after having relaxed for a couple of hours we felt a little better and able to drive... No, we don't feel like a beer right now... A pit stop in Denmark.
LAST DAY: The ferry from Hirtshals to Oslo; 8 hours of resting and getting some taxfree stuff :-)