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Patti and I took a motorcycle tour of Europe with Edelweiss Bike Travel in July, 2003. We took the Best of Europe tour -- nine days of riding in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria. It was absolutely fantastic, and far exceeded our wildest dreams and expectations. Here are a few of our photos, but they do not come anywhere close to capturing the spectacular views and scenery.
All of these photos were taken with a 3.2 Megapixel Canon PowerShot A70, shooting at the highest resolution (2,048 x 1,536) and the middle (fine) JPEG compression mode. Resizing for web viewing was done in Paint Shop Pro, saving the images with a 50% JPG compression for small file sizes and fast downloading. The thumbnails on this page are 200 x 150. Click on any thumbnail to see an 800 x 600 version.
We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto
Or anywhere else in the United States either, for that matter. You have to click and view the larger image to really appreciate this one. Let the record show that at about 4:05pm on July 17th Patti and I were clocking an indicated 165 km/hour (that's 102 MPH for the distance conversion challenged) on the autobahn heading toward Munich. A few minutes later we managed to break 170 km/hour, but that was all the BMW R 1200 CL was good for.
We simply do not have roads like this
This is a view of Bart's Garmin StreetPilot III GPS receiver showing some of the routes out of Andermatt, Switzerland. See all those crazy lines looping back on themselves? Bring your cornering skills, because they are all switchbacks climbing up the mountain. We spent our "rest day" riding about 300 kilometers of roads like this, and it was arguably the most fun day I have ever spent aboard a motorcycle.
Street scene in Dinkelsbühl, Germany
A typical street scene, this one in Dinkelsbühl, Germany. Dinkelsbühl itself dates back to the 7th centruy, and its cobblestone streets and many of its houses date back to the 15th century. One of my most vivid memories of the trip is that there were flowers everywhere, and you can see an example of this in this shot. That's some of our tour group with the four motorcycles across the street. Patti, in her white hat, is in the foreground.
The churches were nothing short of spectacular. This is the church in Dinkelsbühl.
The Night Watchman of Rothenburg
This is Hans Georg Baumgartner, the Night Watchman of Rothenburg, Germany. Hans performs delightful and informative tours of Rothenburg every evening at 8pm in English, and 9pm in German.
I'm pretty sure this is a shot of the inside of the church at Schöntal, Germany. The entire community of Schöntal is located inside the walls of a former monastery that dates back to the 12th century.
A group shot. Most of us, anyway. From left, Claus (our tour guide), Jean, Stephen, SueAnn, Bart, Katie, me, Patti, Drew, Julie, and Marty. Missing are Greg (taking the shot?), Gabe, Brad, and Barbara. I have no idea where the hell we are, other than at yet another old castle with an amazing view somewhere between Heidelberg, Germany and Ottrott, France. I do know that this is prior to Johanniskruez, Germany.
Dashing fellow, isn't he?
Marty, looking positively dashing in Patti's white hat! This is at a coffe stop at Johanniskruez, a well known meeting place for bikers; it is at the crossroads of two amazingly fun roads. Marty's watch says that is it 11:50am, and the folks at the table in the background are all sucking down pints of beer. This is something we observed at pretty much every morning coffee stop; even at 10:30 or 11:00am you can count on finding somebody sitting in front of a pint!
Typical village scene
Here's a shot of our bikes going through a typical village; this is probably still in Germany. Cobblestone streets, and flowers everywhere.
Gabe visits the tower
Gabe visits the tower in his rear view mirror! This is at, I think, Rocher de Dabo, France.
Patti and Greg enjoy the view
Patti and Greg enjoy the view from atop the tower at Rocher de Dabo.
The view from Rocher de Dabo
And the view itself, or at least part of it. Photos simply to not do justice to the 360 degree view from atop the tower. I believe this shot is looking out toward the Rhine river valley.
The view from Mont St. Odile
One of the views from Mont St. Odile, the old monastery of the patron Saint of the Elsace. The monastery was founded in the year 700!
Sundial at Mont St. Odile
This sundial was built in 1835. It shows the time at various locations all around the world, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Pretty clever.
SueAnn at the House of 1000 Clocks
Need I say more? Pretty damn big cuckoo clock, eh? This is in the Black Forest. Oh, you can visit them on the web if you are so inclined.
Inside the House of 1000 Clocks
Uh, they weren't kidding. This is just one room inside the store.
Heading to our hotel at Titisee, Germany. See that sign with the woman holding a child's hand? That means "pedestrians only." Yea, just ignore it and drive through the crowd. While it seems odd, driving on the pedestrian walkway is allowed if you are staying at one of the hotels at the end of the walkway. Titisee is a beautiful tourist spot on a wonderful lake.
This is still in Germany, heading toward Switzerland. Just one of many wonderful curves. That's our tour guide, Axel, in the lead, followed by Marty and Julie.
Statue of Wilhelm Tell in Altdorf, Switzerland
We're in Switzerland now, in the land where Wilhelm Tell shot the famous apple off of his son's head.
A glimpse of what is yet to come - the Alps!
This was probably taken on our way out of Altdorf. One of the many spectacular glimpses of what we were about to experience.
Let the switchbacks begin!
Woo hoo! Here we go! Pretty typical shot here. We are heading toward the tree line, and entering one of the thousands of switchbacks. Drew and Jean are pretty much through the curve on the far right, followed by Marty and Julie, Greg, and then me and Patti.
Typical view of the road ahead
We're heading down there in just another switchback or two!
A typical rest stop: looking up! Here we see Axel and Bart, looking up in awe at the beautiful peaks surrounding us.
Patti and the view
Here's a shot of Patti at the same rest stop, with a glimpse of some of what was surrounding us. Notice that you can see Stephen behind Patti, taking a shot looking the other way. This shows how photos don't begin to capture the 360 degree view all around us.
Westward view from hotel balcony in Andermatt, Switzerland
This is the view looking west from our hotel balcony. Life just doesn't get any better than this.
Another view in Andermatt, Switzerland
Another view from near the hotel in Andermatt. This is from just across the street.
Patti and the piper
This shows Patti and the piper outside our hotel. The building in the background is our hotel, and our room and balcony was the one in view on the corner of the second floor. In the larger photo you can see a train going up the mountainside (it's the red thing).
Spectacular valley view
Just one of the many spectular views that Patti caught from the back of the bike.
Another valley view
And another. Every time you think you've seen the best, another even better one comes into view.
Besides motorcycles, the roads were full of bicyclists. We were in awe of them, climing the same peaks we were motoring. Some of them had what appeared to be legs of steel. It's a little hard to see the bicyclist in the thumbnail, but you can clearly see her in the larger view.
Passo del San Gottardo
This is just the upper portion of the Passo del San Gottardo, perhaps the most photographed stretch of switchbacks in the world. The clouds were moving in and out very quickly, but they were in when we paused to snap this pic. Still, the larger pic gives a very good view of just how much fun this road is. One thing you can't see in the photo, however, is that the entire road is paved in cobblestone!
The view heading towards Furkapass
This is one of the views heading towards Furkapass. Do a web search and you can easily find some interesting sites on the Furkapass, including this one with some great pics of an incredible amount of snow at the top of the pass at the end of May, 1999.
Rhône Glacier on the Furkapass
Claus, Greg, and Patti at the foot of the Rhône Glacier. Five Swiss francs gets you up close and personal with the glacier.
Another shot of the Rhône Glacier
Another shot from the same point, this one a little zoomed in.
Entering the Rhône Glacier
Greg and Patti about 15 feet into the tunnel cut into the glacier. Yes, it really is that blue.
Deep inside the Rhône Glacier
Patti and me in the large "room" deep inside the glacier.
Deep inside the Rhône Glacier
Claus and Patti in the large "room" deep inside the glacier.
Deep inside the Rhône Glacier
Greg in the large "room" deep inside the glacier.
Looking down from the Rhône Glacier
This is the view down from the glacier. In the larger pic you can see the twisty road with numerous switchbacks that awaits us.
The view from the Klausen Pass
I think everyone was pretty much in agreement that the Klausen Pass was the most breath-taking and spectacularly beautiful pass of all.
The entire group at Klausen Pass
The entire group! From left to right, Greg, Patti, me, Bart, Katie, Gabe (in back), Julie (in front), Marty, Stephen, SueAnn, tour guide Axel (partially obscured by SueAnn), Brad, Barbara, Drew, and Jean!
Patti and me at Klausen Pass
A Kodak moment to remember, even if it was caught on a PNY compact flash card!
Bart, Katie, and Gabe at Klausen Pass
Bart, his wife Katie, and his brother Gabe at Klausen Pass. Bart's an eye doc, Gabe's an emergency room doc. Boy were we glad to have these guys along as insurance!
Greg and me at Klausen Pass
Greg and me immediately after we arrived at Klausen Pass. (Hey, if you want strict chronological order, you came to the wrong place.)
The view from the Furkajoch Pass
Sadly, Klausen Pass was our last mountain pass in Switzerland. Furkajoch is a pass in Austria.
The view at Warth, Austria
This is the view from our hotel room window in Warth, Austria. In the larger pic you can see a figure in white right in the middle of the shot. That's Greg coming back from a morning run.
Greg ends his run
You da man, Greg, you da man!
Tour guide Claus
One final shot of our tour guide, Claus. Claus, and his fellow tour guide, Axel, were wonderful guides. We would follow these two guys anywhere, and we pretty much did! Our vacation included spectacular views, wonderful hotels, great meals, and excellent riding companions, but most of all two very wonderful and attentive tour guides. Thank you, Claus and Axel!