October 16, 2009 GMT
KTM, Ice Caves, Motoway Boredom & the kindness of strangers

Day 38 - KTM & Ice Caves

Heading to the KTM factory today which was only 15ks away, so we packed up and went on our way. Both excited that we might be able to have a look around factory. We arrived at the village, of course the factory wasn’t too hard to spot, the bright orange building gave it away. We parked up in the staff car park on the opposite side to the main factory and R&D buildings. The main reason for this that Rob though he should try to hide the fact that we rode in on a Yamaha and wore a Suzuki helmet. We went straight to the shop to have a look around and there was plenty of great things we both could of come away with, but instead we settled for a cap for Rob and headed to the reception and asked there if there were any tours available. The receptionist was extremely friendly but was the bearer of bad news. Although the tours are free they are only in Fridays and the next one wouldn’t be until September as the factory was closing for holidays. Gutted. Rob was extremely upset at this news and sulked like a two year old for some time. (Rob edit: I was more like a 5yo as there was some foot stamping invoved)

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We took a few pictures of the bikes outside and the factory and then decided that we would head back to Wefern as there was an ice cave that we had found out about and sounded interesting. Even though we had agreed we wouldn’t back track, the KTM factory had thrown our plans so we decided to go for the ice cave. It didn’t take as long to get back to Wefern and the road to the ice cave was interesting. Rob told me that at one point the oil and fuel warning lights had come on going up the hill as the road up was that steep. I did wonder why he was almost lying on the tank at one point. We parked up the bike stripped our selves of jackets, helmets and gloves, grabbed our jumpers and made our way to the ticket office. I nearly fainted when I read the sign "a 20 minute hike to the cable car, a 10 minute ride and another 20 minute hike in the cave". I felt a little worried that I may not be able to make it, I am the first to admit that I am very unhealthy. I went anyway, the first hike wasn’t too bad in fact, I was surprised to see that we were overtaking people. This made me feel a better, we got to the cable car and enjoyed to ride up, more for the break than the scenery. The hike after the cable car was a little harder than the first one, although we still seemed to do it in good time. We arrived at the cave and the cold breeze coming from it was a very welcome one. We got in the queue to go in and waited slowly cooling down.

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The wait wasn’t very long and before we knew it we were being told we had to climb an estimated 700 steps up and 700 down. My heart sunk again, I had obviously failed to read this on the sign. I was very nervous, and it was below zero degrees inside and we all know what a cold person I am. So jumpers went on and zipped all the way up. Inside the cave was amazing. We were told that no photos were allowed to be taken but we got a few sneaky ones in along the way. I loved every minute if the cave and thought it was well worth the money and the climb. After an hour in the cave, about 1400 steps later we were making our way back down the mountain to the bike.

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It was then that we realised we had spent 4 hours there. Oh well as I said before it was worth every second of it. Feeling hungry after our climb we went back to the same café as yesterday for lunch and then headed back on the road again, this time we took a different route. We also decided that we would take the motorway as it would be quicker. And it was after a long day the 3 hours of riding later we got off the motorway to find a camp site. We found a little village called Leoben and got our selves checked in to a camp site where another free welcome drink was offered, of course it would have been rude to refuse, so the owner bought it over to the tent for us. We waited until he had left before we drank it. I have never tasted anything so disgusting in all my life, of course we didn’t tell the owner that, apparently it was made with some kind of nuts that were grown on the trees around us. It was like a mix a really bad coffee and something which I can’t describe, I think I preferred the petrol from the other camp!!! Yet another tent pole breakage after which we consulted the maps over a beer to see which roads we would be taking tomorrow. We threw together a dinner while it the weather turned threatening and went to bed waiting for the heavens to open on us. The storm never happened so a good night's sleep was had by both of us.

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Day 42 - Motoway Boredom & the kindness of strangers

After our reasonably good sleep we woke up due to the heat. We did our thing and hit the road, not before going to the shop to buy a toll pass for the motorway. We let out friend know that we would see him in Slovakia that night or the next day. Considering we weren’t supposed to be there until Saturday he was excited that we were going to be near enough 3 days early.We hit the road expecting it to be a long boring motorway day, but we made good distance quite quickly. Just before we came out of Austria we decided to stop at a big supermarket to get some lunch, we found some sandwiches that looked to be extremely tasty and a few treats and headed of the cash register. Ready to pay for our items the lady then informed us that we couldn’t pay by our master card so we tried with the visa and she said no to that too, really pissed of we left the supermarket and back to the bike. Threw everything on the ground and thought about our next move, I had seen a little café next to the petrol station nearby so we started to pick up our things when a big 4x4 parked up next to us and called us over. I thought oh god what does he want. Rob went over and the man in the truck handed Rob 10 euro’s. Rob just looked at him in surprise and stuttered a thank you and asked why. The very nice man replied "enjoy your time in Austria" and drove off. The man in the 4x4 was behind us in the supermarket and had seen our predicament. We just stood there in shock for what felt like about 5 minutes. Trying to take in what had just happened. We went back into the supermarket retrieved our lunch and went out to the bike to eat it. Still amazed at what just happened. It may not sound like a big deal but it was to us, it was a really nice thing to do. Stranger had bought us lunch asking for nothing in return.

We headed back on to the road and in no time at all we were crossing the Slovakian boarder. A little while before this as we were going down the motorway and a transit van decided to sit literally on our arse. This pissed Rob off so when looked back at the van, they made hand signals to go faster, Rob waved his hand at them as to signal that he couldn’t indicating the road works and only one lane. After a little way the road split back into two lanes and as the van went passed us his passenger decided to give us the finger. Rob and I have never been so quick off the mark to return the one finger salute. Welcome to Slovakia!!!!

We arrived in Romans home town of Piestany and found a Tesco where we pulled in and phoned him. It was stinking hot, close to 39degrees. Even hiding in he shade it was hot. Roman came and met us and took us back to his house and introduced us to his parents, I was a little nervous as we have no idea of the language and neither did they. Roman did a fantastic job of translating and considering ten months ago he didn’t know a word of English he is doing fantastic now. After a translated chat we Romans parents and a cold shower we were refreshed again. We spent most of the afternoon chatting away and then headed down to the local pub just on the river. Unfortunately Rob and I were knackered so decided at 11 it was time for bed. Yeah soft I know!

Posted by Rob Mott at October 16, 2009 12:57 PM GMT
 


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