20 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 9 - Stelvio? Yes.

The entire trip has been like the search for shangri-la; the sunshine is just the other side of the mountain, when you get there it's.... Well you know!

Today it was sunny straight off. On the road from Merano it was dire. Traffic and lots of it. Being a weekend it turned out to be the last weekend of the school holidays for Swiss and German kids, and they were making their way home.

Once on the road up to the Stelvio through Prato it was better.

There were a few twats about who seemed to enjoy cutting up other bikes as well as the cars. Sadly the two that cut across me as I was halfway around a tight turn were on 1200 GS's. So they were faster than me, but at the end of the day they were arseholes no matter what they rode.

After a wurst and a beer and a bit of sheltering from a shower, we set off taking in the Umbrail and into Switzerland. I was enjoying the almost deserted 8 miles to Santa Maria until after 2 miles of smooth tarmac it was unpaved packed mud and gravel time for the next 4. Not a worry one-up, but not as much deep joy two-up and loaded.

Luckily we were prepared at the sight of the blackening sky and were already togged up. We'd just got ot the top of the Ofenpass (2149m) when bikes coming the other way all had their wet kit on, so we did the same. 

As we headed for Davos it started to pee down. We then decided to let the train take the strain for 11 euros we rode on the train through the Vereina Tunnel under the mountain to Klosters. 

On the train... Vereina Tunnel
On the Vereina Tunnel train
This is an experience; loaded into a rail car that resembles the truck carrying carriages on the Shuttle. With the bike in gear and sitting on it with Claire standing holding my arm we hurtled through the dark for about 10 or 11 miles! Well worth the money! Better than a theme park ride for sheer fright!

Stein, Switzerland

The last 80 or so miles to the YH at Stein on the Rhine was uneventful. Nice medieval old town. Sitting having a bratwurst for dinner was the first night for over a week we haven't been surrounded by mountains as we ate.

Tomorrow we set off north to the Rhine in Germany. Two nights in St Goar with a day off the bike?

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