Monday, October 9, 2017

Swiss Alps motorcycle Tour September 2017 - Part Four.

Thursday 9/14/17

Part four - final report.

Got on the road at 9:00 AM  weather report shows a storm coming in where we are headed.   Slight breeze as we leave, not as cold as yesterday.  We had a fine time in St Moritz but it is time to head north to Stein am Rhein. 

Up and over Julierpass, seems to be a shorter ride leaving St Mortiz. Much warmer than when we came in two days ago. Still hitting the stops at the constructions zones. 

The sun is breaking through lighting the green valleys.  The trucks and buses were still using all the
road as we went over the pass. Warm enough when we reached the village you see in the picture, we needed to pull over to take off our jacket liners. Stopping for constructions again so no time was lost. There are
still dark clouds but the sky was clearing. Hope the weatherman is wrong on the weather up north. 

Because of the distance and weather we will be taking Hwy 13 north that runs along the boarder with Liechtenstein.  As we got near Liechtenstein  the wind came up. The strongest wind in the 50 years I have ridden.  Trucks were pulling off the road, wind speed may have been 50 MPH+    Wind was swirling like a small tornado stripping leaves from green trees, we watched the leaves swirl in front of us as we ride on.  I slowed way up and took the next exit to get some shelter. I did a screen shot of the wind at lunch (red dot in the picture). We drove through a border, I thought we were in Liechtenstein. Found a small Pizza restaurant and stopped for lunch. We both had soup for lunch which was good and just what we needed in the wind. When it was time to pay I found out we were in Austria, needed Euros to pay and we only had Swiss Francs. The proprietor took a 20 CHF note. His elderly father seem concerned that we were going to ride into the storm, he followed us out and watched us leave.  We had stopped for close to an hour and the wind had died down. Just a few miles up the road the rain started.  We then rode over two hours in heavy rain. After about a half hour  of the rain it got cold and we had to stop and put the liners back in our jackets.  I pulled over to a rest area without any shelter and put our liners on in the rain. Veronica is a real trouper to ride with me in this weather. 

Still raining when we got to our AirB&B in Stein am Rhein. Found the room key and got out of our riding gear.  Only our gloves were wet, jackets and pants did their job. I would not want to think how cold we would have been without the riding gear.  Heat was off at the Air B&B so we found a coffee shop to warm up.

When we got back we met our host and asked about some place for dinner she recommended a fish place on the water.  The wind was blowing but not as hard as earlier. The good news is the sky was clearing.  

The fish was very good.  Veronica had her's with noodles and I had the rice.  This was going to be an early night we are both tired from today's weather. 

The restaurant was right on the Rhein River. We had a great view as the sun set. 

Friday 9/15/17

Last day on the bike. Got up early and went out for coffee and yogurt.   Had to walk around to find a place open early. Found a small bake shop with the classic Swiss mix of yogurt, muesli and berries.  Just what we wanted for our last breakfast before heading back to Basel.

In 2004 Stein am Rhein reminded us of Disneyland. We passed many of the same buildings on our way to breakfast that we saw in 2004.   

The Swiss have flowers everywhere. Flower boxes in windows are the norm. 

After breakfast we walked down to the river. The skies were blue and it was just a fine morning for a walk. 

A light fog was rising off the river making for a picture perfect morning. 

The Rhein is almost crystal clear. Look close and you can see the fish in this picture. 

Like most towns in Switzerland there were fountains with Crystal clear drinking water. Great place to fill your water bottle.  

Our host suggested going to the castle on the hill. You can just see it over the building in the picture on the left. Going to make a quick run up there before loading the bike. 

We walked around the castle, still amazed that buildings as old as this are still standing. The trees around the castle were over grown blocking the views below. 

We did stop part way down the road where we could get a clear view of Stein am Rhein below.

Veronica and I came to Stein am Rhein in 2004. Happy to see it is still a nice small town and has not got commercialized. It is time to pack up and head to our next destination the Rhein Falls. We also visited the falls in 2004.

This has turned into a beautiful day to ride, some of the best weather of the trip.  The GPS (Gravel Pointing System) still had one more surprise left for us. The GPS took us down a gravel bike path to get to the falls. When it turned to a single track we turned around. Took avoid highways off the GPS and all was good.    

Unlike Stein am Rhein the falls has been commercialized.  All except a few area now require a ticket. Not a big deal, just sad that it was not the same as in 2004.  We had a sausage for lunch before heading for Basel and turning the bike in. On the way we crossed into Germany.  Roads just as nice, big change was the speed limits.  In Switzerland maximum limit off the highways is 80 kph or 49.7 kph  in Germany it goes to 120kph or 74.5 mph big difference. 

When we got to the Toff Center to return the bike something was going on. Tables with pretzels and the smell of sausage cooking. And bowls of Swiss Chocolates on the tables.

A full selection of beers.

An expresso machine if you did not want a beer.

And a large kettle of Brats.

The women were wearing the  traditional Dirndl. The men were wearing lederhosen.  Sorry I did not get a picture of Felix the owner in his lederhosen.

Yes it was Octoberfest. The Toff Center sure knows how to have an Octoberfest sale. 

Well that concludes our motorcycle tour of the Swiss Alps. Except for the two hours of rain and the high wind it was a great week.  Might do it again next year.  

Hope you enjoyed our trip
Bill and Veronica.

Swiss Alps Motorcycle Tour September 2017 - Part Three.

Part Three

[Note: Click on any picture for full screen of picture. Esc to return.]

Wednesday 9/13/17

We got a really good nights sleep, tired from the long day yesterday. Woke up to blue skies, it was  crisp and cold with a light frost. This was going to be a resting day. We were going to ride around valley and check out the sights. We had a couple of recommendations from the hotel staff on what to see in the area. 

Walking down to breakfast we passed the resting bench covered with frost. The bench is for old folks who can't make the hike up up the hill without a rest. Glad we are not that old, yet ;-)

Nice breakfast at the Hotel, the European breakfast of sliced meats, cheeses and breads can grow on you. The yogurt in Switzerland is the best I have ever had. All whole milk and not greek.  This morning Scott Hendrickson came over and asked if we were riding the BMW out front. Scott and his son Eric were on a self guided Edelweiss tour of the Alps. They came from the Nashville Tennessee area. You do meet the nicest people riding a motorcycle.   We had passed the GS 700's they were riding on the way to breakfast.  The self guided tour they were on sounded like a fun way to see Europe. GPS set to take you on small roads that are so easy to miss. A book with local points of interest so you could pick what you wanted to see. Your hotels for each night were also reserved for you. I may want to look at this for next year.     

Our breakfast, yes they did have bacon "speck" in German and eggs if you asked. The small cup of yogurt was mixed with berries and muesli it is fantastic. 

It was time to gear up and see the sights of the valley. First stop was going to be the funicular that will take us up to Muottas Muragl. We were told the view would be fantastic. With the bags on the bike empty we could stow the riding gear and not wear it as we looked at the sights. 

Our ride to the top. Switzerland has funiculars and cable cars all over the Alps. In the summer they take you up for hikes and great views. In the winter they are full of skiers. 

 The views did not disappoint. Clear and cool with a light breeze. You could see forever.

 This panographic photo gives you an idea of the view.  Julierpass comes in beyond the second lake in the picture.   Next we would be riding up the small valley to the left. 

We were told there would be a cheese making demonstration at the top. We could not find it as we hiked around looking at the views. So we asked at the Hotel on the top.  The clerk said it was not today. She did say we should ride up the valley to Morteratsch and find Alp-Schukaserei to see cheese being made.  So it was time to  ride the funicular down the mountain and look for lunch. 

Enjoy the ride down the mountain.

We rode up the valley to Morteratsch. Where we were told we could see local cheese being made.   We found the small road that ended at a rail stop  with  two hotels. We parked and walk across a small bridge to the older of the two hotels. They had a resturant with outside seating, the food looked good.  We crossed the rails and there was a trail that went to a glacier, too long of a walk for today. I told Veronica the hotel looked good for lunch but it was just a little to early eat,  so we went looking around. 

While we were on the other side of the tracks a train came by and made a stop, unloaded and continued on. You really can get almost anywhere in Switzerland by rail. 

Walking around Veronica spotted the sign for Alp-Schaukaserei, just 200 meters down a gravel road. There was a large group speaking German having lunch outside. After seeing the food we knew this is where we were going to have lunch.

This is what we saw the large group eating. Only their boards were 3 feet long. We decided on the smaller serving. Breads, meats, fruit and cheese made on site. You can not get a spread like this in California.  I also had a bowl of barley soup. This may be one of the best soups I have ever had. 

They were cooking milk to make cheese.  Old school style with a wood fire, must add something special as all the cheese was so good.

Just one last stop before we leave Alp-Schaukaserei. 

Walking back to the bike after lunch we passed a small waterfall. There is beauty to see everywhere you look. 4 days ago it looked like snow would keep us from getting to St Moritz on the bike. I am so happy the weather changed.


Riding back into St Moritz village Veronica told me to pull over she needed to take pictures of the cows.  Our grand daughters would love it here. In the pictures you can see the electrified orange wire, this is all that keeps the cows off the road.    

We rode into St Moritz village and parked the bike for a walk around. Think Carmel California on steroids. Looked but did not buy. Time to head back to our room this is our rest day. 

As with other towns in Switzerland there are always walking streets. No cars makes it easy to get around. 


Our hotel used to be an observatory. You can still see a dome on one of the buildings. This was the view from outside our room. 

After a rest we freshen up and headed down the hill to dinner. I had the local fish and Veronica had the barbecued beef ribs.  She was surprised to  get beef short ribs with barbecue sauce. The polenta served with the ribs was very good. The chef did come out and talked with us, asking how we liked our meals.  Service at this hotel was top notch. 

Thursday 9/14/17

My birthday today, 67 is just a number. I will continue to not act my age. Hotel surprised me with a card and a small cake at breakfast. They really did a great job.  Berghotel Randolins St Moritz was a  great hotel  I would stay at again. 

As birthdays go it does not get much better. Waking up in St Moritz  on a motorcycle ride through the Swiss Alps. Best part I was able to share it all with the woman I love.  

That wraps up our time in St Moritz, and part 3 of my trip report.  Next we leave for Stein am Rhine and our last night on this ride.  It will be a long ride and the weather is changing. 

Click here for part four