Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas? - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 21 Old May 29th, 2009, 9:38 pm Thread Starter
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Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Northern Europe. We plan on leaving end of July. The trip will be a 2-3 week trip. We would like to incorporate a few days (3-7) to ride. Can anyone share any ideas or suggestions? Thanks

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Champagne in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride' ".


Ed

2003 BMW K1200LTC - "La Vaca"
1999 Kawasaki Concourse
1993 BMW K75
1990 Harley Davidson - Softail
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post #2 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 12:34 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

You know, "Northern Europe" is a very fuzzy term, particularly to a European. It's like saying North America. Be more specific about where you will be coming out of - Scandinavia? Germany?

Without knowing any details of your trip, I'd say that you can open the map, hit any mountainous area on it and have a blast of a time.

Really serious fun areas are within one day's ride from almost anywhere. The grand-daddy of all fun riding are the Alps, of course, particularly the Slovenia-Austria-Germany-Italy-Switzerland axis.

I also had pleasurable rides further east, in the Carpathians, but the accommodation base over there is not as developed. This is probably also away from your radius of interest.

Going west, the unheralded, but great riding areas just within a few hours from the North Sea are the Vosges range in western France and Massif Central in south-central. Vosges, in particular, is off most riders' radar - but it has great winding mountain roads and wonderful wine-country villages. I did a few 3-day jaunts there and enjoyed that thoroughly.


Rentals:
You can arrange a rental before-hand, in the US, through a touring provider like Ad-Mo Tours, http://www.rental-motorcycle.com/, or Bosenberg, http://www.bosenberg.com/. Both of these have rental stations in several EU countries. I've used both and had good experiences with them.

If you are going to be coming out of Germany, you are in luck: that is the best place to pick up a machine.

Beside the above agencies, I used those (both have English-speaking staff):

In Munich: MotoGreek Motorradvermietung
phn.: +49 (89) 7849904, email: [email protected]
contact: Stergios Papagatsios

In Wiesbaden, just 20 minutes from Frankfurt Airport:
Motorrad Center Tullius GmbH
phn: +49 (611) 182106-0
email: [email protected]
http://www.motorrad-tullius.de/
contact: Andreas Fehr

Below is a Web site that lists a whole network of participating renting Motorcycle Dealers, sorted by brand. Knowing German helps, but you can slog your way through and at the very least find contact info.
http://motorradvermietung.net


Paperwork:
Your US license (with motorcycle endorsement!) generally suffices. Nevertheless, make sure to have an International Driving Permit - and make sure that the AAA clerk stamps not only "B" (cars) but also "A" category (motorcycles). Few of them know about it.

Even though they are supposed to, rental agencies rarely check IDP. However, I have been stopped at police checkpoints in Austria and asked for it.


Hope this helps.

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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post #3 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 2:18 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Excellent write up, Robert.

Although not really in "Northern Europe", you forgot to mention the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa in Spain..
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post #4 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 5:20 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

You can also PM Hilton. He and his wife Rena have been around in Europe (and also Scandinavia) and being Aussies themselves they can give a pretty unbiased opinion on our continent...

Say hi from me too,

Regards

Ari "the Farkle-Freak-Finn" Ignatius

Hyvinkää, Finland
2004 ('05) LT, Dark Graphite, "Sunset Cruiser II"

Bike trip from Finland to USA:

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post #5 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 7:49 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

How does one go about getting an IDP?

On His Ride,
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post #6 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 8:42 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by simoncharles
... you forgot to mention the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa in Spain..
Yes, you are right. these are great areas. As a matter of fact, I am flying out this Friday to Barcelona, where I'll pick up a bike from IMT.

It's a new one for me: I actually managed to talk my wife into joining me for a few days on the pillion! I am planning a little loop: up the coast to France, than back over the Pyrenees.
I am looking forward to this one - not sure if my wife is... We'll see.


I did not mention it in my previous post, because Pyrenees are probably too far for Ed's time budget. Although, with a little advance planning, it is doable. German Railways operate the excellent Autozug (Auto Train) network, which allows you to pack your bike and save great distances of superslabbing. Entry stations are throughout Germany, destinations all over vacation spots of Europe. The setup is oriented, of course, toward German drivers/riders with schedules allowing them to depart in the evening before a weekend and return Monday morning.

I took that a couple of years ago. Loaded up the bike in Frankfurt in the evening, comfortably slept overnight (even though all Germans partied in the bar car) and in the morning rolled off 1500km away in Narbonne, France, reaching the Pyrenean slopes by the afternoon.

For those who care, here is the Autozug site in English: http://www.dbautozug.de/site/dbautozug/en/start.html

This is probably too much for Ed's itinerary, considering that it may be his first trip in the area and not much time is left for his arrangements.

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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Last edited by rdwalker; May 30th, 2009 at 8:58 am.
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post #7 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 8:49 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_R
How does one go about getting an IDP?
Just walk into an AAA office, money and your driving license in hand. I think it cost a whopping $15 or so. You do not need to be a member.
They will take your picture and issue the IDP - which, basically is not a real "license", but a translation to accompany your national document.

It is very important to make sure that the AAA clerk stamps not only "B" (int'l designator for passenger cars) but also "A" category (motorcycles). Very few of them know about it.

I understand that there is an online outfit that purports to provide you with the IDP. However, it is my understanding that that is not a proper document, as in the US only AAA is authorized to issue these. If you can stop by the club office, you are much better off having proper paperwork.

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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Last edited by rdwalker; May 30th, 2009 at 8:55 am.
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post #8 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 1:06 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Thanks Robert. I'm a member. I'll go be there sometime and get it done. Always good to have one of those since I travel some for the company.

On His Ride,
Steve
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post #9 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 2:52 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Robert,
You will most probably pass through VIELHA just on the Spanish side of the border. Highly recommend this place if you have to spend the night locally http://www.hotelfonfreda.com/
There is an excellent meat restaurant 3 minutes away just off the Carrer Major. Can´t remember the name, they will.
If you are anywhere near here http://www.auberge-audressein.com/ it is worth stopping off for a meal.
The road from La Seu d´Urgell to Vielha is fantastic, whilst on it, it is worth making a detour up to a village called Espot.
If you need any more info, just let me know.
Simon
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post #10 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 5:17 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Not that we are hijacking Ed's thread... but then again, if he did not try European touring yet, this will give him a taste of things to come. Wonderful, indeed!

Simon: thanks for the note. Actually, I will not make it to the north-western end of the Pyrenees this time - but I am planning to do that one of these days, as I have some business contacts in Bilbao and will try to combine business with pleasure. I'll keep your suggestions for future reference.

This time, we will stay along the Mediterranean side: run from Barcelona along the coast to Collioure in France, then for another night in Carcassonne. Finally, I intend to give my wife a taste of the high peaks by crossing back at Puigcerda, Spain. Since it his her introduction to long-distance overseas riding (and our few stateside outings did not go too well weather-wise), I am trying to keep it warm, sunny and relaxed. Short distances, lots of good wine in the afternoon. Will let you how that goes.

For more aggressive riding, I'll wait until fall. A few hours ago, I exchanged text messages with my riding buddy and we tentatively set up a date in Munich in September. As you can see, I just love riding in Europe!

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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post #11 of 21 Old May 30th, 2009, 5:39 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Robert, actually the area I mention is the South Eastern part. Three hours from Barcelona.
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post #12 of 21 Old May 31st, 2009, 4:48 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Sorry Ed, I am highjacking your thread slightly; I hope soemone chimes in with more suggestions.

Robert, on reflection I suppose the area could be classified as central Pyrenees, even so, it generally takes around 3 to 4 hours to get to Andorra from Barcelona, so everywhere I mention is what I would call "local".

You are right, the N 152 between Puigcerda and Ripoll is a memorable ride. Here´s hoping the weather is good for you.
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post #13 of 21 Old May 31st, 2009, 8:08 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

So, Ed,

what do you think? Exciting? Confusing? Too many choices? Lost interest?

Simon,

for some reason I thought at first that Vielha was further west. Keeping note of your suggestions. I'll probably stay on the S-E side of Andorra, though: I'll try to keep my daily distances to 200-250km.

As a matter of fact, that is another hint for Ed:

The daily distances you'll cover in mountainous areas in Europe are much shorter than what you are used to from "super-slabbing" in the States. A relaxing pace (with cappuccino stops, my favorite!) for 2-3 riders will give you 300-350km in a long day. Solo a bit more.

With a pillion rider , especially if he/she is not used to many hours in the saddle, you should really take it easy. As mentioned above, I am planning on 250km and am afraid that even that is too much. My wife rides with me only a few times a year, in the easy-chair comfort of the LT, and gets fidgety in the back after a couple of hours. More aggressive riding style, twisty roads and an unfamiliar seat of the rental bike may shorten that time even more.

Your girlfriend may be more intend on pleasing you... and will be willing to suffer a bit more time, but don't push it. Yes, during a transfer you can bomb down an Autoroute/Autostrada/Autobahn and figure 120km/h average pace, but once in the mountains, 50-70km/h average is a good estimate.

Would you agree, Simon?

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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post #14 of 21 Old May 31st, 2009, 10:29 am Thread Starter
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Robert:

Not confusing at all! In fact, very useful information. Thanks.

Given the facts that I am not familiar with driving in Europe and my limited timeline for planing, I've decided to take a tour with one of the tour companies, Edelweiss. I've heard nothing but good things about them. Other than the fact that they are pricey, they seem to be a good option, particularly given my limitations.

We'll be flying to Amsterdam, staying with friends for a few days, then take the train to Munich. Do the eight day motorcycle tour through the Alps, and then southern France.
We can't wait!!!!!

Thanks again to all.

CIAO

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Champagne in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride' ".


Ed

2003 BMW K1200LTC - "La Vaca"
1999 Kawasaki Concourse
1993 BMW K75
1990 Harley Davidson - Softail
Prior to 1990 - too many, too fuzzy
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post #15 of 21 Old May 31st, 2009, 10:57 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FloridaBMW
... I've decided to take a tour with one of the tour companies, Edelweiss...
Good plan. Organized touring is certainly a good way to get introduced to European riding. I also understand that Edelweiss is a good outfit - met some of their groups in my travels and the riders were all smiling,

Have a great trip.

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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post #16 of 21 Old May 31st, 2009, 12:42 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Good desicion Ed, that will take all the worry about organising things.

Robert, not far wrong there, although I calculate 100 kms/hr taking into account refueling and eating.
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post #17 of 21 Old May 31st, 2009, 11:38 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by simoncharles
Good desicion Ed, that will take all the worry about organising things.

Robert, not far wrong there, although I calculate 100 kms/hr taking into account refueling and eating.
Simon: Good point.

Now that Ed abandoned his thread, time for us to to that as well.

However: I checked your Pyrenean suggestions and the Web sites of those places looked great!
I think we should have a thread listing great cappuccino/restaurant/hotel places per region.

I am too busy now to check my notes, but after I come back mid-June I may start a threat. Until then!

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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Last edited by rdwalker; May 31st, 2009 at 11:40 pm. Reason: typos
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post #18 of 21 Old Jun 1st, 2009, 10:56 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

OK have a good trip both of you.

Robert, if you ever need any help, my mobile is +34 649 989 949, my Spanish is, if I may say it, excellent.
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post #19 of 21 Old Jun 1st, 2009, 2:43 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Simon: that is very kind of you. I'll keep your number.

Indeed, in my travels I did find that Spain is the one major European country where English is hardest to find, I believe worse than France. Hotel staff and tourism professionals are OK, but once you are on Main Street, no more foreign languages.

Since grammar school, I've often been in countries where I did not know the language, so that it does not faze me. I know that smiling and hand-waving goes a long way - rarely if ever do I find unfriendly people on my trips. Still, sometimes local knowledge helps.

Thanks again, Robert.

Robert in Northern NJ

'09 R12GS, '08 R12RT, '03 R1150RT, '01 F650GS - time to thin the herd?


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post #20 of 21 Old Jun 1st, 2009, 6:14 pm
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Be safe... Have fun... Take Pics... Make friends...

Come home safe...
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post #21 of 21 Old Jun 4th, 2009, 10:55 am
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Re: Upcoming trip to Europe. Any ideas?

Well...i am from Belgium at the North-sea.
If someone is deciding coming over and needs some help or guide up here ;o).
I could try to help you guiding a bit around here.
Famous old towns, city's and villages like Bruges (known 4 earlier medievil etc), Ypres (known for medievil and 1st WW and were i live), Passendaele (1st WW), Damme (known from early roman time), Zeebruges (and his world shipping traffic), De Haan (known 4 the original Belle Epoque style buildings) and many more...i know the way hihi
http://www.ieper.be/ieper_en.aspx?SGREF=10587
http://www.brugge.be/internet/en/index.htm
http://www.knokke.be/
http://www.damme.be/
http://www.dehaan.be/vertaling_engels/toerisme.htm
http://tourism.veurne.be/home/2263/default_tourism.aspx

PS excuse me for my bad englisch spelling ;o)
Grtz Patrick YPRES BELGIUM
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