Eastern Alps

Introduction

Almost till the last moment I didn’t know if I could go to the Alps. A lot of cases held me up almost until the last day. Fortunately, I succeeded.

The routes and passes we were supposed to cross have long been developed by Marek. This time it fell on the Eastern Alps in Austria, Italy and a little in Slovenia.

I admit that I underestimated the plan, which turned out to be very ambitious, especially when it comes to the number of kilometers. Fortunately, the weather was good and very good.

Day 1. Arrival in Austria.

We planned to start at 7:30 on Sunday. Of course, it started with a problem for me. Before leaving, I did not check whether the USB charger works for the phone in which I had maps. Just a few weeks earlier, when I went to Masuria, everything worked OK.

This time it turned out that … the cable is good but the charger refused to obey. I guessed that the seal had come loose and water poured into it. Damn, every year I have to buy and assemble a new one. Moisture kills them every time.

Well, I haven’t tried to fix this problem anymore. The phone had a large battery and I didn’t have to use it all the time. For this I had Garmin navigation. As it turned out later, Marek had the whole route in the “finger” guided us perfectly.

By the way, the question: do you still take paper maps with you? Please write answers in the comments below.

When I arrived at the station I saw that my colleagues are already there. Quick welcome, refueling and on the go. 1100 km ahead of us. Ambitiously. I must admit that I thought we would overcome this route quite quickly. After all, it’s highways. Unfortunately, renovations began just after Berlin. After seven, I stopped counting them. Consolation, and sometimes a salvation, was that we rode motorbikes and could somehow “jump” over them.

We arrived at the place just before 9pm. I could hardly feel the four letters. We had accommodation booked in Kolbnitz, Austria. It is so cool that it was a great base for the next days. The guesthouse itself – Haus Kolbnitz – however, I do not recommend. It had its glory years long ago.

Haus Kolbnitz

Day 2. Grossglockner, Krimmler waterfall, Gerloss.

At breakfast we checked the forecasts and webcams. The weather promised to be good so we decided to go to the Grossglockner Pass and of course the pass itself.

In truth, I was on the pass a year earlier, I was so happy, because the route led a completely different path – this time from the south. We also drove up to the glacier.

Glacier. Although it was smaller from year to year, it still looked impressive.

Grossglockner (on the left in the clouds).

Here it is worth getting to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, where there is a large car park and several viewpoints. For those who have more time, I suggest using the cable railway that takes tourists to the bottom of the gorge. There, in turn, you can do a short trek to the glacier front.

After the first photo session, we turned back onto Route 107 and continued on to the Grossglockner Pass. Although it got visibly cooler, they were great safety pins, when climbing up and down, they warmed us up a lot. The temperature dropped to just a few degrees. It was still a “small beer”, compared to what happened to us when we came back. But more on that later.

Grossglockner Pass from the south.

We went west towards the Gerlos Pass. On the way we wanted to see the Krimmler waterfall. It is one of the highest (380 m) waterfalls in Europe and the highest in Austria. Unfortunately, the weather has broken down. We decided that first we would go to Gerlos, we would go to the next town where we would have dinner and on the way back we would try to ride to the waterfall again.

There was a downpour on the Gerlos Pass.

It was even worse on Gerlos. It started pouring down. In such conditions, we gave up the approach to the waterfall, the more that on the way back we were again passing through the Grossglocker.

I must admit that I was hoping that entering the pass will make it easier. However, as we started the uphill ride, weather matters began to get even more complicated.

Around the middle of the entrance fog appeared. The temperature began to drop sharply. It started to blow. All that was missing was snow and ice! There was already “milk” on the pass itself. In my life I didn’t ride a motorcycle with such limited visibility.

I thought I was right behind Mark, and I didn’t see his tail lights. It got terribly cold. I turned on the heating of the grips to the max and it was still … cold.

I remembered that before noon we were cornering with full enthusiasm, now I had a lot of fears. There wasn’t really much to see. Driving along the edge began. Those who were on the pass know that I do not have protective barriers … but they are quite large chasms.

After leaving the pass, on the other side, luckily there was no fog and it wasn’t raining. Arek was already waiting for us there. We stopped literally for a while to cool off of the experience.

On the way to the guest house we stopped for some shopping.

It was a really tiring day with a very demanding route of over 389 km.

Day 3. Glockenhutte, Nockalmstraße, Turracher Höhe, Dam and Malta-Hochalm

In the morning we had a good situation. Even at breakfast, deciding where we would go, the sun was shining. The forecast for most of the day was very good. However, as soon as we got on the motorbikes it started sprinkling. Literally within a few minutes there was a cloudburst. We tried to escape the downpour, which finally succeeded, but we were soaked and after a few kilometers. Barely the beginning of the day, and here the gloves are soaked. Some also had water in their pants …

Fortunately, after a dozen or so kilometers it stopped raining, and after a few dozen, when we entered another valley, it cleared up. Already on the road, clothes began to dry.

Avoiding a section of the E55 motorway, we headed north and arrived at Glockenhutte. Great views awaited us here.

Glockenhutte

Glockenhutte

A little further, the Nockalmstraße route continues. It is worth to drive it all the way to Turracher and … turn back quickly because it is a holiday resort – simply a resort. Returning the same route we stopped at the Glockenhutte pass, where literally next to the road is a great pub. Just for dinner.

Hungry we enter Glockenhutte again

In front of the pub you can try on such a motorcycle.

After a great dinner and very good coffee, we head to the Malta dam. On the way, we stop at the Fallbach waterfall. The valley itself is beautiful. Along the road from Gmund to Malta itself there are several really large waterfalls.

Fallbach waterfall

The dam makes a huge impression. It is about 600 m long, and in addition about the middle there is a specially attached observation deck.

Malta dam

Terrace at the top of the dam

View of the dam from Gasthaus Kölnbreinstüberl

The terrace has an interesting construction and is a challenge for tourists. It is made of glass (walls and part of the floor) and lattice steel.

It is worth to ride about 300 meters “behind the dam” where the charming Gasthaus Kölnbreinstüberl pub is located. We have already headed back from the dam.

That day we traveled a bit less because “only” 248 km.

Day 4. Plöckenpass / Passo di Monte Croce Carnico (Italy – Venezia Giulia), Panoramica delle Vette, Monte san Simeone, Nassfeldpass – Passo Pramollo.

I will write immediately that it was the most exciting day of the whole trip. What we saw, the passes we have overcome, and above all the routes we traveled can not be described in words. There were great views and a lot of fear and risk.

It started very innocently. Overcoming the Plöckenpass / Passo di Monte Croce Carnico we entered Italy. It got warmer immediately. There is nothing to hide. The Southern Alps are different in this respect – warmer. Already at the pass we started to undress from unnecessary things. It’s good that I took the white shirt, at least the sun reflected. Summer gloves have finally come in handy.

We were to enter the Panoramica delle Vette from the side of Ravascletto, unfortunately the road was closed due to renovation. But what is that for us? Marek immediately decided that we would not let go and we would get from the other side. We had to drive a little further west and start climbing from Noiaretto.

It was too expensive. I will say this: narrowly, only for one car. The road to the pass is climbing very steeply. Safety pins every now and then. No security. Additionally, uphill you can’t see if anyone is riding down. And so a dozen or so kilometers uphill.

Panoramica delle Vette

Panoramica delle Vette

My Kruszyna at Panoramica delle Vette – Agriturismo casera Chiadinis alta (1934)

There is a small car park on the pass, but it is worth going down literally 200 m to an agritourism farm. They serve delicious coffee here. You can relax in the shade and enjoy the views.

If anyone is hungry, I have seen (unfortunately I did not cost) that they serve tasty penne, spaghetti or tortilla.

The descent from the pass was even more exciting. This time, probably because of the higher speed, I paid more attention to the lack of barriers giving a minimal sense of security than whether something is going uphill.

However, this was just the beginning of my experience. If entering the Panoramica delle Vette was difficult, entering Monte san Simeone was “extreme”. 23 safety pins, with a turn over 180 degrees. Tunnels and the road where the car can barely fit. Chances of passing each other – none, unless in designated places (I have not seen) or just in the bends where, sometimes there is a little more space.

Monte san Simeone

Once you get through this entry, the reward is a great panorama. The view over the Taglimento river valley knocks down. To sum up, it’s worth venturing to see it. Just as it is worth taking something to drink and eat, because on the summit you will find nothing but a meadow where you can stop. The meadow was mowed because paragliders start from it.

Monte san Simeone

Taglimento River – view from Monte San Simeone

Downhill is probably easier. We know what to expect, and you can see a bit more. We were already quite hungry so it was time to look for a pub. We got to two places, but they looked poor. Only a dozen or so kilometers away in Pontebba we asked where to eat something. Instructed in a universal – sign language – we arrived at the pizzeria. Cold, non-alcoholic beer, super tasty pizza and … we didn’t want to come back. A nap would be useful. Well, there was no time for it so we drank after a double espresso and went on our way.

Non-alcoholic beer of course!

On the way back, we still supported the Passo Pramollo pass.

Passo Pramollo

While the entry could be said to be sleepy, the exit proved to be extremely demanding. Unfortunately, we encountered an accident on the lower section. Two motorcycles on a tow truck, policemen … The managers were all right. I hope nothing serious happened.

That day we traveled 315 km. It was good to sit down in the evening with a cold beer, this time with alcohol and talk about an eventful day.

Day 5. Passo Pramollo, Sella Nevea, Mangart, Trenta Valley, Wurzenpass.

We repeated the beginning of the road from the previous day. Quickly defeating Passo Pramollo and actually we climbed immediately to Sella Nevea, where we stopped for coffee. Some low pressure in the mountains. Maybe slight tiredness from previous days. Either way, it’s better to stop and relax, take some caffeine …

Coffee under the Sella Nevea pass

Bridge over the Mangart River

From this bridge over the Mangart River (probably everything is called Mangart ?!) began quite interesting ascent to the top. Summit, of course, with the same name. Approximately 500 m before entering the viewpoint, however, no entry was set. Rocks sank on the road, which was decided to close. However, the truth was different. Although there were some stones, as it turned out, the passage was possible.

The downhill biker waved something at me. I took it more as an incentive to disregard the ban and entry than a warning. I threw one and let me climb up the hill.

I will say, oh it was worth the risk! At the very top were just views. We left the motorbikes by the road (there is a small parking lot), and then we walked a few dozen meters on foot. See for yourself.

Mangart viewpoint

Mangart viewpoint

From Mangart we descended to the valley of the Socza River. It is often described as the emerald river. In fact, its color and charm can be admired from the “saddle” because for many kilometers the river flows literally along the road. Now I even regret that we did not stop at one of the campsites or beaches and did not use the option of bathing.

The valley itself, which is also a national park, is associated with tragic events from the First World War. There was fierce fighting here. Italians attacked and defended the Austro-Hungarians. Tens of thousands of soldiers were killed. The valley has many fortifications. We decided to stop by one of them for a moment.

One of the fortifications in the valley of the Soczy River.

That day, we’ve been looking for the longest dinner place for the longest time. At some point I even started to doubt if Marek, who was leading us, is going to eat something that day. Fortunately, we pulled down to the roadside bar. It was a hit. Incredibly tasty local food. I highly recommend Gostilna Metoja Božo Bradaškja. They are not fooled by the size of my plate. Fortunately, it’s for two people.

Gostilna Metoja

On the Austrian-Slovenian border, we still encountered a copy of the tank. We could not agree on what model. Maybe some of you know? Write in the comments below.

It was getting cold, you had to dress warmer and get off the pass peacefully. Go past Villach and reach our guest house.

We planned to have one more day driving on the passes. Then return to Poland – about 1100 km. I must admit that at the very thought of riding that long, my butt began to hurt.

A year ago, when I was in the Alps, I spread my return over two days. It dawned on me to do the same now.

Colleagues turned out to be very forgiving. In turn, I had the opportunity to go calmly distributing my strength and enjoying driving. For this I was to spend the evening in Prague! I didn’t write about it before but I like Prague very much. The unique atmosphere, monuments, food and beer …

Day 6. Kolbnitz, Prague.

In the morning, after breakfast, I started packing. I didn’t have much stuff so it took practically a while. We left the guest house practically together. Colleagues had one more day riding the passes. The road to Prague was ahead of me.

When I left the Alps it warmed up. And when I entered the Czech Republic, I had to stop and remove my pants and windstoper. The road itself was already well known to me, so traditionally about 80 km before Prague, I stopped for a sikstop and a meal. I thought I would get to the Czech capital but I was hungry terribly. In addition, I noticed on the horizon that the weather began to change worryingly.

What happened in the suburbs of Prague surprised me even more. Well, I’ve never encountered such a storm and downpour. It was just a wall of water, lightning and a terrible wind. I was very lucky that everyone slowed down to a dozen or so kilometers per hour, and I was in the middle between cars. Thanks to that, the wind did not tear me so much.

I overcame the storm in a dozen or so minutes, while the rain did not let go down to the center of Prague. For the first time I had the opportunity to feel my arms hurt a lot when hail hits them.

Coming up to the hotel, I knew, fortunately, where the underground garage was and I immediately headed there. A hot shower and a longer rest allowed me to gather my strength to go out into the city. By the way it cleared up. It promised to be a beautiful evening in the Czech capital.

Entrance to the Charles Bridge

View of the Charles Bridge and Hradčany

Powder Tower

Prague Astronomical Clock

Access from Kolbnitz to Prague is just over 500 km.

Day 7. Prague. Poznan.

I figured it out with driving that day. There is nothing like turning on two GPS and not paying attention to what they say. Google proposed the shortest and the fastest way. Garmin had a different opinion.

There is no way to make over 60 km without a reason. Already as I was driving, and as far as the section between Bolesławiec, Legnica and Polkowice was concerned, I knew that I had made a good route. Don’t ask me what was going on. I have no idea. At the end I turned north towards Poznań. It must have been this way.

With the addition of a road to Legnica, I traveled a little over 550 km that day 🙂

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