When our Shadow Racing Team friends in Australia emailed us, on our Southern Roadtrip in June, 2016, asking if we’d be interested in meeting them in the Alps for a two-wheeled adventure in June, 2017 our response was an immediate “YES”. The year following was one of anticipation and planning.
We landed in Ljubljana exactly a year ago today and spent a couple of days exploring the city and adjusting to the time difference. Picked up our bikes at Adriatic Motor Tours for our self-guided tour, thanks to Rob’s thorough planning (highly recommend for rentals/tours if you’re in the area!). We then spent an exhilarating 17 days exploring the Alps of Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France with our friends, ending the vacation with two days in Venice for just the two of us.
A small taste of a few things I learned along the way:
- A Slovenian meat platter for two is enough meat to feed a family of four.
- The Alps in early June can be a mixture of bitter cold at the high altitudes and sweltering heat in the valleys. Layering is a necessity when exposed directly to the elements.
- Being a pillion on an active ride through up to five mountain passes a day burns three times the number of calories (according the the iWatch) as sitting at a desk and you will have abs to show for it.
- Hostels are not created equally. The hostel in Innsbruck was an aged, filthy abode for the night whereas the hostel in St. Moritz was nicer than many hotels I’ve stayed in. For all the travel I’ve done in the world, I had avoided staying in hostels to this point. I’d take a St. Moritz situation over most other hostels but I can’t say I’m in a hurry to try another hostel in the near future
- Europe is far more Celiac friendly than any place I’ve stayed in the US or Canada. Breakfast buffets in hotels, hostels and inns all had segregated items on offer and the cheese, fruit and yogurt made for hearty breakfasts. Pizza options in Italy are outstanding.
- When travelling with others, I need some alone time every three days or so for everyone’s benefit – most especially my own!
- Switzerland is a stunning country with mediocre food and the least value for travellers.
- The Milan opera house will allow a man to wear sneakers in but not flip-flops. Women, however, seem to have fair game on footwear.
- Single-lane mountain roads in Northern Italy will provide you with breathtaking vistas and the pleasure of variety in who/what you are sharing the road with: sheep, shepherds, logging trucks, motorcycles, cows, Lambourginis, Ferraris, Mazda Miadas, and Audis in a fifteen minute time frame.
- Lake Como is massive and worth going back for a visit for a week to explore all of the towns that share its shores.
- Chamonix is a French Whistler with charcuterie and fromage shops.
- June is shoulder season in the Alps. Just past ski season and not quite summer tourism. Perfect time to explore if you don’t mind limited hotel and restaurant options like we experienced in Cervinia, the Italian side of the Matterhorn.
- The price of espresso is the perfect measure to determine economics of a given place. We paid a range of 1.50 Euro to 4 Euro for espressos. Sometimes beer is less expensive than espresso or water. Which is unfortunate because neither of us drink beer.
We are now in discussions with some of the same members of this trip, planning our next adventure with them in 2019. Possibly Spain and Portugal. I’ll have my motorcycle license by then – maybe I’ll be on my own trusty steel steed. Or maybe I’ll opt to ride pillion where I can simply enjoy the scenery and document via photo and video. We’ll see where this next year takes me.