Monday, June 28, 2004

Of Sausage, Mushrooms, Mountains and Churches..

Today I heard my beloved utter something I never thought I´d hear "I surrender, where can I trade the Harley in for a BMW?" Of course she didn´t but she did give it some serious thought. And today was an "easy" day on the mountain passes! We had picture postcard views, mountain passes with snow, switchback, hair pin turns, rain, sunshine and fog.

Many BMW's - and one lone Harley! Posted by Hello
Saw two of King Ludwig castles, Castle Neuschwanstein  and Castle Linderhof (from a distance), tried Weisswurst a  Bavarian wurst and a mushroom dish that must have been the inspiration for Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup (it has suffered mightily in the translation).  We are riding the Tyrolian Countryside of Western Austria, riding through picture postcard towns such as Mittenwald in Southern Germany & Kesselberg, in Austria.

The mountain passes topped anything 6 Flags Roller Coasters have to offer. Sheer drops, a road they claimed was 2 lane but we begged to differ, hairpin turns and no retaining walls. The Austrian do not spend their tax money on boring things like concrete walls to separate on coming traffic. And we now know why BMWs are so popular - they are made to corner on the tight curves without spinning their driver into on coming traffic.

We shared the road with cars, busses, trucks, farm equipment (which went very, very slow) and other motorcycles (which went very, very fast) and bicycle riders who did not let a mere 5000 foot peak dismay them. We got to the top of the highest pass -there was still snow to be seen, and there were some older gentleman on their bikes. And they weren't even breathing hard. The hills of the MS150 are mere bumps in road compared to what these men were dealing with.

We returned in time to take advantage of the sauna and the steam room (most necessary) and another wonderful meal. We are staying at Hotel Holzleiten and the bike tour is organied by Edelwiss Bike Travel.  Edelwiss is a company that specializes in motorcycle tours of Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and the United States.  Much experience in the field and it shows! They do know what they are doing.  We are doing their Alps Touring Center tour, which differs from most of their tours in that we come back to the same hotel each night, rather than from moving from city to city.  We are headquartered in The Mieminger Plateau, a  part of Austria renown for summer hiking.

The company is equally delightful. More on that later. We have been told that Austria is a mixture of German efficiency and perfectionism and Italian "Que se ra, se ra" and live in the moment and the hotel's internet connection most definitely has an Italian flavor.

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