Travel Through Austria on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Austria on a Harley (1/5/98 - 12/5/98)
Distance 1619 km (98841 km to 100460 km)

This is part of the third section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from  Liechtenstein

2/5/98 We came to Austria to see its magnificent scenery and that is what we did today. After heavy rain for 180 km to Innsbruck it slowly dried as we headed into the Hohe Tauern National Park at the Gerlos pass. Then south on 108 before back up north on 107 through Gross Glockner and the 2600 meter pass. 450 km, many spent in tunnels, one 13 km long and another 16 km plus dozens of smaller ones, outside the scenery was always beautiful. Being so cold and wet outside the tunnels, on entering their warmer air my glasses would immediately fog up to the extent that I couldn't see a thing, obviously dangerous at 80 km per hour. Off course all the European riders would be accustomed to this but us Aussies in warm, rarely wet and devoid of tunnel country, the first time it happened was quite a shock. The Gross Glockner Pass to Franz Joseph Glacier lookout was only opened for the summer yesterday and the snow blowers have sculptured deep cuts in the snow to clear the road. The mountains here more impressive than Switzerland due to the dusting of new snow only a couple of days earlier and the roads almost designed for motorcycles. This being the first holiday weekend of the riding season, thousands of bikes from all over Europe were out enjoying it. Overnighting in a small zimmer (private room) just to the north of the park, broke after $US 40.00 road and tunnel tolls for the day.

3/5/98 A sunnyDeep cuttings of snow still on mountain passes day at last and up to Werfen for the largest accessible ice caves in the world. Well that's how the brochure describes them if you call 6 km of 21% incline road, a fifteen minute walk followed by a 600 meter gondola ride, another 15 minute walk and a further 200 meter climb within the cave accessible. I guess even in Austria you have to be high into the mountains to get ice formations within caves. This old limestone cave virtually has a glacier inside, plus the usual stalactites, stalagmites and pillars, only in ice, plus enormous ice flow, frozen lakes, condensed ice crystals, just like being in an enormous natural freezer. The water flows through the 400 meters of rock above to flow over the existing ice in the cave before freezing and building up deposits. After walking down the mountain under the gondola (not stupid enough to walk up though) we entered the sunday afternoon road racers roads. Hemmed in within cities of Europe and pushed down by rules, one of the great summer releases is to wrap your motorcycle around the tight corners of an Austrian road before heading back to the mundane office Monday. Of course the boys in blue wereIce flow inside a cave out in force to spoil the fun and raise revenue and probably save lives.

4/5/98 With just 12 days before flying home and raining again its time to think what to take and what to leave for our return in November. Next trip we will be camping, extra weight, so we have to ditch something and Kay keeps insisting it won't be her. Two people on one motorcycle, even a big Harley, will be tight with up to twelve months of belongings, camping gear, spares and tools. The arvo was spent in the oldest still working salt mine in the world. I thought it would be in Siberia, but no its near Salzburg (salt town). Evidence of salt mining from 1200 BC through the Roman period, and today they drill a hole, pump in water to dissolve the salt in the rock and pump out the saturated (26%) solution and extract the salt by drying and centrifuging. 800 meters into the mountain we could view enormous caverns where the salt had been extracted together with saturated salt lakes and tunnels linked by small railways. Only a small amount ends up on the table, a lot is thrownA bigger version, promoting the hotel as biker friendly around the roads across Europe to melt the ice and keep the car manufacturers in business replacing rusted cars and corroding parts on my Harley.

5/5/98 Yesterdays rain virtually melted all the remaining snow on the nearby visible alps but has steadily been replaced by the vivid greens, new leaves of the deciduous trees. Salzkammergut is famous for its lakes and in a loop tour we visited about 10 in our 240 km meandering ride up and over valley passes between lakes. The movie "The Sound Of Music" was filmed in the area, and the hills are still alive with it, tourists come to photograph the church where the main players were married etc. and you can still see a younger Julie Andrews running through the mountains singing. Many older locals still wear the traditional Lederhosen (nickerbockers) and the Austrian cap with its feather. Back to our room at Obertraun near the most beautiful lake Hallstattersee where the windless evening left the village mirrored upside down in its waters.

6/5/98 Into Salzburg,Aussies not welcome here?? Mozart's town, well he was at least born here and despite him doing most of his work elsewhere because he didn't get on with the authorities here it doesn't stop them claiming  him everywhere from a town square, chocolates, birth place, residence and museums to the endless lists of Mozart concerts. Staying at the International Youth Hostel, full of English speaking visitors, we indulged a beer hall in the evening. Really a barn of tables and chairs with swillers of beer drinking from large (up to 5 litre) steins. A deceptively easy place to get pissed on the local monk's brew.

7/5/98 A quiet day strolling the city and visiting the castle overlooking the town.

8/5/98 Off to Vienna, 350 km, to Linz on the motorway then the scenic route along the blue (now brown) Danube. A similarly large river like the Rhine in Germany, large barges fight for space with tourist boats and pleasure craft all out enjoying 26 degrees of spring sunshine. Castles, forts, grape vines, forests and bicycle paths line its shores. Well after only 4 years and three months, 5 tons of petrol, 125 kg of oil, 3 front and 5 back tyres, 2 batteries, new base gaskets, a cam and lifter repair, new drive belt, new speedometer cable, broken tachometer, new catch on the top box, spark plugs and air filter and oil filters, engine stabilisers, today we clocked 100,000 km on the speedometer. Not bad considering 37 countries, half way around the world fully loaded with luggage. Amazingly cultured now after 5 months in Europe, well you can't help but pick up some appreciation for the arts over here compared to Australia, we went to dinner and the opera. Oedipus, not that it really mattered what opera as it was sung in French with German sub titles displayed electronically. Blew the budget? No, fishMagnificent lake of Halstattensee patty burger for Kay and a roll mop roll for me washed down with authentic Austrian mountain spring mineral water from the city bubbler and standing room tickets at the opera. $US 10.00. You can sit in average seats for $US 18.00 or stand just behind with great views for $US 1.70 and you even get a rail to lean on. But wait, the cultural evening didn't finish there as it just happened to be the opening of the Vienna Festival and outside City Hall was an open air concert with a full orchestra and the Vienna Boy's Choir, other older choir members and performers playing pieces from Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and to finish, Strausses "Blue Danube". A long day standing but full on culture.

9/5/98 After its 100,000 km birthday the motorcycle is having a rest today while we caught the tram around town to the Lipizzaner Museum, past hundreds of historical buildings in one of the most beautiful cities this trip. And in the evening, yes, another opera, the Mozart opera "The School for Lovers" (Cosi fan tutte), standing at the back again for less than $US 2.00 each this time we managed to "acquire" empty seats for the second half of the performance.Around the clock the first time

10/5/98 Not being people for formal religion we have avoided churches other than to admire their architecture and beauty as works of art, but this morning we succumbed to a church service. The Jesuitenkirch (church) has a classical church choir and orchestra and plays Joseph Haydn compositions during Sunday service. We sat through the one hour forty minute service quite enjoying the music. Afternoon was spent at the State Opera House, three and a half hours of "The Sleeping Beauty", an excellent ballet production for the children and mums in the audience for Mother's Day. Incredibly elaborate costumes and some amazing body gyrations of the performers. I was surprised however when on numerous occasions the ballet would stop, mid scene, for the leading performer to take a bow centre stage, and then return to the performance. It had the effect of breaking the flow, bringing the audience back to reality.

11/5/98 If there is oneA not so official ride to Motzarts statue thing I detest it is shopping, and worse it's trying to buy presents for others. Do you get some small useless souvenir to take home or impress people with something nice that sends you broke. Souvenirs are always ridiculously priced and tacky cheap objects and in Europe anything worth carting back to Australia is out of budget. So after many hours of looking around we settled on 4 Ferraris, well not the real ones obviously, well made metal and plastic models, big enough to impress, small enough on the budget. One for the daughter too? Don't be sexist. Luckily we reconfirmed our flights despite assurances from the travel agent when we purchased them that there was no need, as the flight had been brought forward 2 hours. Quite a shock we would have been arriving at the airport just as our plane departed. In the evening, yes another opera, the last in Vienna, or anywhere, at least for a while.

12/5/98 Off to the Netherlands, we fly home on May 16, but first the Lipizzaner Stallions at a training session. For 2 hours we sat with a couple ofLipizzaner practicing in Vienna hundred other tourists inside the most elaborate dressage arena. The novice to fully schooled horses ran through their tricks, skipping, marching, marking time and just trotting around the arena. Then the autobahn out of Austria to the Bavarian forest in Germany where after watching another horse parade, Shire horses being judged in a small town, we settled in for the night.

13/5/98 Early start all the way to Waldbrol, 650 km, in 30 - 32 degrees, jumping straight out of winter into summer, our hosts treated us to a real German barbeque just like home. With the weather and food we could have been home.

Move with us to  Netherlands or go to our next visit to Austria




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