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Thread: Planning a trip to Europe...

  1. #1
    Biker gunnert's Avatar
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    Planning a trip to Europe...

    Have decided to begin planning a trip to Europe for July 2011 and I'm looking for advise. Route will probably be Munich to Barcelona, at least two weeks long. I'll be riding two up with my bride. Options are:
    1. Tour company all the way...
    2. Rent a bike and plan my own route
    3. Ship my bike and plan my own route

    I currently ride an 08 GT. And would rent the same. I HAVE to ride the Autobahn if for only an hour! Want vast majority to be in the mountains. As long as it's paved, I'll ride it... I'm over 50 and have had my share of camping in a tent... 6-7 hours a day in the saddle are about right for us. Prefer secondary roads.

    I've "heard" you can ship your bike and fly on the same plane and numerous other tales, but all second hand. I'm looking for advice from those that have "dun it"!

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Probably cheaper to rent then ship 2 ways, if you are only going for a couple of weeks.

    Tour companies are great, especially if there for the first time, but if you have a specific destination that may not fit. They will cost more $$, but might be greater value.

    What does the spouse expect?? If she expects a European vacation, again a tour company can offer more amenities and more free time (away from planning) and with a van, the ability to over pack.

    Have done it both with and without a tour, and both have advantages/disadvantages. If it is the first time over there, tour coumpanies do offer advantages, at a cost.

    If you want to be somewhat independent, but have the added value of a tour, check out Beach's Motorcycle adventures. They let you do your own thing while riding, but take care of the logistics for you. Unlike some others you don't' have to play follow the leader unless you want to.

  3. #3
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    For two weeks, it will be significantly cheaper to rent than to fly your own bike. If you want to do your own trip, I think that's great! Buy a copy of John Hermann's Motorcycle Adventures in the Alps etc. This is a good guide book on what to expect and where to go. I believe the latest edition includes the Pyrenees, too.

    IMHO, the only reasons to take an organized tour are because 1) you want to bring more luggage than you can carry on the bike, 2) your wife might want to ride in the luggage van some days, 3) you don't want to deal with many of the details, or 4) you're particularly concerned about communication problems with the locals. My personal belief is that 1) is a bad idea and 4) is highly overblown. Only you can say what 2) and 3) are worth.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  4. #4
    Global Touring
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    Lots of info/ links on this very website
    http://www.bmwmoa.org/global/ToEurope.htm

    You can also combine organized tour w/ independent rental; they're not mutually exclusive.

    Munich-->Barcelona? Do you mean one-way? That's more problematic for independent rentals; few bike rental agents offer "one-way".
    If you're intent on such an itinerary, consider
    http://www.dbautozug.de/site/dbautozug/en/start.html
    Last edited by CourtFisher; 12-03-2008 at 05:03 AM.

  5. #5
    franze
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    The "do it yourself" or " pay for a guide" comes up for discussion on a regular basis. Our magazine only publishes stories about how great it is to tour in Europe and have someone take care of all those needs like gas, food, and lodging. I lived in Switzerland for three years, rode 40,000 km of back roads, and guess what? I did it by myself, riding solo, with intermediate French as my second language. Click on my name to see some of my Ride Report posts.

    Do you and your bride have the pioneer spirit or do you want to be told at a riders meeting what you're going to see and when to take a picture and when and where to have lunch?

    How about the weather? Do you like riding on dry roads? Of course you do and that's the best reason of all to plot your own course. All of Europe is rich in good riding, history, food , culture.


    Regarding shipping your own bike or renting, that would depend on your budget, what kind of bike you have, and what/where you want to ride.


    I'd be happy to answer any questions you have so PM me if you want.

    Good luck and congratualtions

  6. #6
    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    gunnert: Please keep my information handy, my son Seth & I may return bike to Germany

    If you were to consider flying into Frankfurt and using http://www.knopftours.com/Amerika/ha...l_amerika.html my Son Seth and I would be interested in returning your Knopf Rental to Kircheim. Stefan is currently updating his web site and in a Thanksgiving e-mail to me he mentioned he may be getting a new shop at a new address.

    I'd check his website after the first of the year. If he posts me with more info, I will add it to this thread.

    I ride motorcycles in Europe on a regular basis: Pyrenees this last May, Alps in May of 2007, Andalucia - Espana in February of 2006 and Alps again October 2005.

    I always rent my bikes from Stefan Knopf of Knopf Motorradreisen of Heidelberg, Germany. I will be renting again from Stefan for a Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily trip in May of 2010. Stefan would certainly be willing to work out an arrangement for us where you would two would pay the rental for your time on the bike and we Stanley Boys would pay for the rental on our two weeks back to Deutschland.

    Don Stanley: beemerdons@aol.com & home phone in Chandler of 480-917-3863.

    Stefan has a nice black R1150RT in his rental fleet I have used times previously.

    Frankfurt is one of the least expensive airports to fly into from the United States.

    The train depot is below the Main Terminal and I can tell you the train number to take to Heidelberg and the transfer train to take you to Kircheim. From station stop to Stefan's Shop and B&B, which I also always use, is only 100 yards tops.

    Seth will just be fourteen in July of 2011, so he would still fit on a K75RT just fine.

    Stefan has a fleet of K75's he rents out for a super great price. Very nice BMW's!

    However, a modern GT would suit us just fine. Whatever bike you select is sehr gut!
    Don Stanley; aka Chuy Medina "El Burrito Ballerina"
    BMWMOA #24810; www.azbeemers.org/forum #89

  7. #7
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    BTW, another vote for Stefan Knopf. Stefan is a can-do guy. I used him to ship my R11RS to Europe and stored it with him for a few years--it was inexpensive (as these things go) and the bike was always ready when I arrived. He also shipped my R52 home after I bought it there, and it was completely painless (except for the Ôé¼1300 it cost me, but that was not out of line, Frankfurt -> SFO). I have recommended him to others before and they have come back with glowing reports.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  8. #8
    Peter_Krynicki
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    When you get farther along and if you plan to stay in Bardelona for one or more nights, I have a list of restaurants for lunch or dinner which I compiled on an 8 day trip there last year. You're welcome to it.

  9. #9
    Out There Somewhere bmwrider88's Avatar
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    language difficulties???

    hey good luck on your impending tour/honeymoon.

    one good bit of advice i have, unless you are fluent in german and spanish,
    would be to get yourself a copy of Lonely Planet's phrasebook, one for each country you plan on visiting.

    Lonely Planet has a great, down-to-earth perspective and these books are as much pure entertainment as they are practical and easy to use! VERY comprehensive, they'll benefit you not only at restaurants and train stations but also in MANY other places including the hospital, asking for directions, and numerous other places you may find yourself.
    in addition to being a great way to communicate with folks, they are small and light- 3.75" X 5.75" X .5" thick...invaluable, a must- IMHO. small enough to keep right in your pocket for easy access!

    the L.P. guidebooks are great too. very broad perspective, covering lots of cultural turf, including camping and partying, which many guide books don't even talk about. maps and everything, breaking it down region to region.

    my experience in europe and abroad tells me that in the big cities, PROBABLY (!) many or most people speak english. once you're out in the provinces or country towns/ villages, you can pretty much forget about it.

    no matter where you are, or who speaks what language, i CAN tell you, without a doubt, that if you go into any place at all, with your little book, TRYING to speak the language, as opposed to assuming they know yours, [most] everyone will absolutely come out to you and your overall experience will be VASTLY improved!
    believe me.

    bon voyage.
    tom

  10. #10
    franze
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    picture book

    most travel stores will also carry a small picture book that has pictures of every service, food, or activity you would ever want. Just point and the charades begin. Very entertaining. A very smart man on this forum once mused that if you know 2% of a foreigner's language and they know 2% of yours, you can communicate the basic needs.

  11. #11
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    Throughout the Alps, you can get by with English, most people speak it fairly well as they are taught it as a 2nd 3rd or 4th language.

    If you are going to learn one lnguage, German or German dialects are used in Switzerland, Northern Italy, Austria and eastern France..

  12. #12
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    Have decided to begin planning a trip to Europe for July 2011 and I'm looking for advise. Route will probably be Munich to Barcelona, at least two weeks long. I'll be riding two up with my bride. Options are:
    1. Tour company all the way...
    2. Rent a bike and plan my own route
    3. Ship my bike and plan my own route
    Well thats long term planning!

    Are you planning a one-way route? If so, you might have trouble finding a rental. There is no AVIS or Budget in the motorcycle rental business.

    Tour company? Well I'd think you you'd want to spend some time alone with your "bride", so that wouldn't be the way I'd go. Besides, going with a tour company is like going on a tour bus as far as I'm concerned. Yes I know, they let you go off on your own...might as well do that in the first place at less than half the cost.

    Renting or shipping a bike and planning your own route might be the way to go. The rental rates and shipping charges will enable you to figure out a break even point which is usually about 4 weeks give or take.


    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    I HAVE to ride the Autobahn if for only an hour! Want vast majority to be in the mountains. As long as it's paved, I'll ride it... I'm over 50 and have had my share of camping in a tent... 6-7 hours a day in the saddle are about right for us. Prefer secondary roads.
    Everyone has to drive the autobahn at least once, but the mountains are where the fun roads are and the more secondary they are, the better.

    400 kilometer days make for a long day if you are in the twisties and stop for photo ops and chats with other riders.

    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    I'm looking for advice from those that have "dun it"!
    Been there 14 years in a row; soon to be 15.

    If you are serious about this, I'd get some good maps and start the fun part...the planning. I've discussed maps on the Alps link below and there are some maps that are put out by the ADAC (German auto club) that have specific motorcycle road recommendations you can download for free. I've also posted some lists to motorcycle friendly accomodations...both maps and accomodations are in the first two posts in that link.

    You can also ask questions on the Alpine Roads forum.

  13. #13
    Biker gunnert's Avatar
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    All great comments and contributions. The bride is a good biker. We actually travel better by ourselves or with just one other couple. Prefer my own schedule.
    I understand I'll probably have to do a round trip ticket due to logistics involved. I'ld just like to do it all. Accomadation need to clean, not 4-5 star. We have tent traveled to rallys but have had about enough of that. The wife is a maritimer from Nova Scotia; she understands a bit of French but speaks very little. We don't need much to keep us entertained.
    I'm a daily rider. Commute into DC daily, about 105 miles roundtrip. The Beemer gets 30K a year on it for that. I have a couple of other touring bikes but we are starting to use the GT more and more. I don't like it, but I'm always prepared to travel in the rain/cold.
    I'll start checking some the routes you guys suggest and rental companies.
    Please keep the comment coming.

  14. #14
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnert View Post
    All great comments and contributions. The bride is a good biker. We actually travel better by ourselves or with just one other couple. Prefer my own schedule.
    I understand I'll probably have to do a round trip ticket due to logistics involved. I'ld just like to do it all. Accomadation need to clean, not 4-5 star. We have tent traveled to rallys but have had about enough of that. The wife is a maritimer from Nova Scotia; she understands a bit of French but speaks very little. We don't need much to keep us entertained.
    I'm a daily rider. Commute into DC daily, about 105 miles roundtrip. The Beemer gets 30K a year on it for that. I have a couple of other touring bikes but we are starting to use the GT more and more. I don't like it, but I'm always prepared to travel in the rain/cold.
    I'll start checking some the routes you guys suggest and rental companies.
    Please keep the comment coming.
    Rent a bike an go where you like. You won't have any problems and you'll have a great time. There are tons of "biker" hotels in the Alps that are not expensive yet very comfortable accommodations. As I said before, get a copy of Hermann's book, then mark the passes he likes the most on your map. String them together on your way to Spain. There are some great ones in the Maritime Alps in eastern France. The riding in the mountains between Nice and Briancon is great and there's little traffic.

    Here's a couple "postcards" from the Pyrenees when I visited Spain in 2002:





    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  15. #15
    Lost again Texpaul's Avatar
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    Europe Planning

    My wife and I just did 2 weeks in the Alps and Dolomites back in September. Had a great time. The information and help we got from people like Court Fisher and Globalrider helped make the trip much more enjoyable. BTW, doing it on your own is the way to go. Being able to set your own schedule and having the flexablitiy to change when weather or interest dictate are big pluses.

    Here's some tips/tricks I learned and maybe they can help you.

    We had no problem with language in Germany, Austria, Italy or Switzerland. Most of the good motorcycling areas are also ski areas (in the winter) so almost everyone speaks, or at least understands, english. In fact, at most resteraunts the menu was in several languages, including english.

    If possible try staying in each stop for more than one night. It is easier if you don't have to pack and unpack every day. Also, we found most places gave better rates for multiple day stays. It also gives you some options for local exploration (read shopping).

    A planning tool I found helpful was MS Autoroute. It's the Euro version of Streets and Trips. It allowed me to try different routes for time and distance, and with the info I got from other folks, check out the area for accomidations, etc. If you tie it with Windows Live Local you can actully get a good idea of the terrain and roads in a given area.

    As many people will tell you 300 kilometers (about 200 miles) can be a long day in the mountians. If you stop to take pictures or sightsee that's about all you can expect to do. Be conservative in your planning (distance wise) and you will enjoy yourself more. Though my wife is a good rider and doesn't shirk from a long day, she was much happier when we held the ride to about 300 KM a day. And, as we all know, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

    You're going to have a great trip.
    Paul Mulhern
    MOA# 56330
    '05 1200GS Big Blue

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