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Route PlanningWhere to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Hi there folks,
Planning this years trip.
The basic trip is Athens to the UK, 2 up on a PanEuropean ST 1100 . Duration - about 2 weeks max 3 weeks.
Firstly this is not my first trip in Europe but this is the first time that I will have to plan a route. I normaly travel with my brother and mates, so I was not fussy about where I stayed.
This trip is slightly different. My 20 year old daughter will be riding pillion.
I'll be carrying a tent for the more expensive countrys.
My route so far is:-
Leave Athens on 23rd June heading for Sandanski (Bulgaria), Pitesti, Transfaragas Highway, Sibiu, Brasov, Vienna.
I’ve only planned as far as Vienna.
So looking for suggestions where to head for after Vienna, was thinking of the Alps so maybe looking for a good route to and through the mountains.
Please feel free to comment on any part of my route.
Second sunday of July, every year = Stella Alpina meet
You could ride just about anywhere in the Alps and spend two weeks there alone, so I fear you will be short of time.
If your timings allow, then head for Bardonecchia, Italy for the weekend of 8th July (this year) where you will find the annual Stella Alpina meeting - about half way up the mountain you can camp for free among 100s of other bikes/tents.
Outside that weekend the place is pretty dead, being better known as a ski resort, but for those few days just follow the bikes up the mountain - you can't miss them!
Personally, I wouldn't take a Pan to the top of the Col, but that is because I have been there! All kinds of bikes have been up there, so I am not saying it can't be done - just have a thought for the bodywork on your bike.
The camping is done lower down, in two separate locations with one next to the mountain refuge hut (and a road bike can easily get to either). The whole concept of this meeting has always been about taking a road bike to as high as is feasible for a road bike to go with a decent rider.
That can be misunderstood which is one reason why this meeting is never advertised; there is no organiser, no costs, just turn up.
An Italian guy goes there every year in his van to sell badges & sandwiches but you don't have to buy one; he probably makes a small fortune.
There will be some folks there who drag a crosser out of the back of a van, but they are a small minority.
It is a great weekend to see a lot of bikes from all over Europe - anything on 2 or 3 wheels basically.
The guy who first did this trip is now on sticks/zimmer frame and gets there by car (I met him in the town, not up the mountain) - that is how old he is nowadays; as they say, spend time when you are old regretting what you didn't get done when you were younger, or something on those lines.
We had a great campsite about 10 minutes from the north end of the Transfagarasan Highway, in a little village called Carta.
It is run by a Dutch/Romanian family good facilities clean highly recommend.
Mike says the was a wee bit warm but that was not the fault of the camp site.
We are heading towards Switzerland in August.
Hoping to make the weekend at Cannich, Mike is working abroad just now so not sure where he will be, and me as usual due to work the Saturday but then I have a weeks holidays so at some point I will be there.
I think that 2 weeks is not sufficient time to go from Athens to the UK, unless you are a real 'Iron Butt' rider who enjoys spending 8+ hours a day in the saddle. I don't think your daughter would enjoy that, even though you might. Based on my own experience of riding my ST1100 around Europe for the past 10 years, I suggest that you either cut the planned route in half (i.e. plan to do Athens to perhaps Zurich), or, take the ferry from Greece to Ancona in northern Italy and then start your riding from Ancona, which would have the same effect.
Either way, doing one of the above two things would give you more days that you could spend looking at cities, attractions along the way, etc., rather than just looking at the exit signs on the highway (as you ride past them) that point towards the cities, attractions along the way, etc.
Of the two choices above for cutting down total miles ridden, I think that taking the ferry from Greece to Ancona would probably be the best, because it would put you halfway to the UK at the end of your 2nd day of travel. You could then enjoy a 'western Europe' ride with your daughter, and some other time (next year, for example) you could do the Balkans, Bulgaria, Romania, and Austria as a stand-alone tour.
Never forget that for someone who is a passenger, there is a huge difference between covering 200 miles a day and covering 500 miles a day. The 200 miles a day option is far more pleasant, whether it is done in 3 hours on the highway, or done in 8 hours poking along secondary roads, with frequent breaks for coffee, decent sit-down meals, exploring interesting things you see along the way, etc.
I also suggest that rather than carrying a tent, you plan to stay in hostels (sometimes called 'youth hostels') in the more expensive countries. The total cost of staying in a hostel is about the same as camping, and it will be a logistical nightmare to carry camping equipment and personal baggage for two people on a ST1100... heck, you will almost need to pull a trailer along with you to hold the camping equipment, your daughter's stuff, your clothing, etc. Plus, hostels offer showers and breakfast, something that you can't always count on when you are camping.
I've read your report a while ago , some good photo's
I intend to take a minimum of two weeks to do the trip staying mostly in hotels.
In fact, I think I will take your advise and forget about the tent.
The important parts of the trip from Athens are , Transfaragas Highway, Transylvania and Vienna. I don't really like city's, preferring natural scenery and country people. The only city I need to visit is Vienna
I'm totally flexible on time, If it takes 3 weeks, no problem.
If necessary I will cut the trip short by taking a direct route from Vienna to the Hook of Holland (about 750 miles, two easy days ).
More info/suggestions greatly appreciate.
Transylvania is a nice region to tour through, but it's not the kind of place that you can tour through quickly. The most enjoyable experiences will be off the motorways (what little motorway there may be there) and on the secondary roads. That implies that for practical purposes, you shouldn't plan on accomplishing more than about 150 miles straight line distance (i.e. as the crow flies) towards your ultimate destination.
Much the same applies to going east to west across Austria. Although you could do Vienna to the Swiss border in one long day on the motorway, that would be a real waste of good rubber and gasoline. Far better to take the highways through the mountains, which, if you travel leisurely but with some purpose, will require about 3 days to transit the country.
I guess what I am hinting at is this: I once rode from Netherlands to Poland in 6 hours on the German autobahns, but all I saw along the way was the yellow strip at the edge of the left lane of the autobahn. Damned if I could tell you what the scenery was, whether or not there were any cities or towns along the way, or what Germany looked like. On the other hand, I once rode from one end of Switzerland to the other end in 7 days - I only bought one tank of gas along the way - and it was one of my most pleasant and memorable tours.
Thanks for the input Michael,
It’s good to get info from people that have done the miles.
I agree with you on the 150 mile per day suggestion. That is the sort of distance I normally do when touring. But as you know, you can’t see everything. I will usually tour an area for a few days then hit the highway and burn a tank-full or two then take to the back roads again. I’ll probably spend most of the time on the route from Athens to Vienna and then re-access my route verses time left. I’m fairly well traveled in Western Europe (France, Germany, Poland, Czech Rep, etc.) so I’m not so bothered zipping through those countries. I think Switzerland and the Alps are a trip on their own.
I’d appreciate some points of interest you may have come across in Romania and Bulgaria, particularly food// chill-out spots.
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