18 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 7 - Grossglockner

There was only one goal for today and that was the Grossglockner and the two side attractions, Edelweisspitze and the Glacier.

After a very slow procession across country we got to the Grossglockner. The trip took us around the Hallstatter See and on small roads clagged with trucks and motorhomes. As it was a working day we would have better off retracing our steps from the day before and going via Schladming and Radstatt.

Unfortunately it was also the last weekday of the local school holidays in Austria and Germany and many people decided to cause a massive road block. Ironically to avoid the weekend's massive roadblock! Once again we had to slip on waterproofs as it began to rain a little.

On the way up to the tolls we stopped for a spot of lunch at the side of the road and watched the bikes going up towards the tolls and those that had done it and were coming back. Bikes of every sort, some fast but most taking it steady.

For most of the way from the toll booths we followed behind a couple of custom bikes with the pillion on the one directly in front using a video camera. Claire had my Nikon and took a load of pics from the back of our bike.

Edelweissspitze
First stop was to take the left turn up to the "Bikers Nest" at the Edelweissspitze. This part is very narrow and we got stuck behind a motorhome. We still followed the other bikes and the video queen.

It was bitterly cold up top and and we had a few minutes standing about looking at the orientation boards and reading about the pass and how long it has been open before we mounted up and Claire took the obligatory pic of a fat bloke on a GS by the sign. Luckily she managed to click the shutter just as a crowd of cyclists muscled in, you can see one of the observant chappies on the right of the pic.

From the Edelweiss we headed back down and off over the main part of the Grossglockner to take in Hochtor. 
Hochtor
I wanted to manoeuvre the bike to get a pic of the sign as I had done with the GT in 1999, but they have changed it a bit and put up a sculpture. When we arrived there were a couple of bikes and we needed a coffee, so after taking a pic of Claire by the patches of snow that nestled in the hollows alongside the Hochtor Tunnel we went for a coffee and hot chocolate in the gift shop. When we came out there were a couple of Croatian guys, one on a Triumph Rocket-3. We had a chat and he said that it had cost him €20000 but he thought it was worth it as it was a great bike. I took a pic of him and his buddy with his camera and he returned the favour, the GS now by the sign and the sculpture thingy.

From there it was a short ride to the roundabout that took us up Kaiser Franz Josef's Hohe and the sight of the grey glacier. Once again it is biker friendly up there, with separate parking and lockers to put your gear, so you don't have to traipse about with it. We opted to traipse about as we parked as near to the visitor centre as we could with a selection of GS's through the ages... It was warm in the sunshine and we had an ice-cream overlooking the Glacier.

The people that took the funicular railway down to the bottom of the valley looked like ants. It was then as I peered over the edge that we got to see a real marmot. I'd not really believed that they existed outside myth as we had been warned across the Alps from France in the West to look for them and hadn't seen hide nor hair, and then there they were, not just the furry toys the sell everywhere and that you can hear squeaking in all the gift shops as punters squeeze them, but real ones.

Marmots (and Alpine Choughs)
Marmots and a chough!


Once in Heiligenblut we played hunt the youth hostel as we had done in 1999 with Steve H. Last time we hadn't pre-booked so gave up. Although not sign posted it is about 150 metres from the main square and not where it is supposed to be on Google Maps! Thanks to the lady in the tourist office!

Tomorrow we head for Italy, the Dolomites and the Stelvio.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you got there! Hope you could see some views. When will you post a picture of the Hoctor?

Steve

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