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Thread: Euro Ride - Barcelona-Prague-Barcelona next fall.. ideas/experiences/routes?

  1. #1
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Euro Ride - Barcelona-Prague-Barcelona next fall.. ideas/experiences/routes?

    A few friends and I are planning on a 15-16 day trip to ride Europe - and I just picked the start and turn-around points out my head (places I've always wanted to see..)

    So the plan is - rent bikes in Barcelona (there appear to be a lot of Spanish bike rental places - most with BMWs) - spend a few days there, then head for Prague. Spend a few days in Prague, then back to Barcelona.

    We are avoiding the packaged tour deal since my trips often result in diversions from the plans made - if I see something interesting, I'll go see it, and if it isn't on the original route, it becomes the new route. Makes for a more spontaneous trip - plus if we run into crappy weather and can find an interesting place to stop for a day or so - we do. I usually plan 1-2 extra days into my trips just for that reason.

    So - I understand there are some hills between the two cities. Something called the Alps and Dolomites I think (have to dig out the Michelin map SWMBO got me for Christmas - which was tacit approval of the trip.) While I can't go hog wild on expenses - this is a bucket-list trip for all of us, so we are not staying in the European equivalent of Motel-6. We generally like to find decent lodging with a restaurant/bar within easy walking distance. One of the riders will be our interpreter - he was born and raised in Germany...

    Suggestions on routes, places not to miss, places to avoid like the plague. That sort of info would be hugely useful - especially since it appears I won't get to ride for another week or two given the deep freeze NJ is in at the moment.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  2. #2
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Don, sounds great! There are also the Pyrenees to ride, just outside of Barcelona. I enjoyed Barcelona greatly, would love to go back. I loved that there is art just about everywhere in the public spaces. Go see the Teatro-Museo Dali, it's weird and fun. If you like pork products, don't miss trying out the large variety of Jamon Iberico (air dried ham) available all over Spain.

    In the Alps/Dolomites, there are lots of hotels that cater to motorcyclists. They tend to be inexpensive, but comfortable, and usually with a good breakfast.

    Buy a copy of (MOA Member) John Hermann's book Motorcycle Adventures in the Alps and Corsica. Pick out the passes he mentions that fit along your route. You'll have a great time.

    If you like cake at all, make it a point to try out a Konditerei in Germany for Kaffee und Küchen. Black Forest Cake (Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte) is better in the Black Forest! I can suggest several places that I have enjoyed.

    If you're stopping in Munich, spend a day in the Deutsches Museum. Also, the BMW Museum is excellent, after the total remodel they did about 5 years ago. If you're a beer geek, make a point to visit Kloster Andechs in the countryside south of Munich (take the S-bahn and bus to get there) and drink some of their Bock beer.

    If your dates include the first weekend in July, you might want to hit BMW Motorrad Days in Garmisch (about an hour south of Munich). You'll see lots of custom BMW stuff that is never in the press over here.

    If you're thinking of going through Austria to get to or return from Prague, and you have even a taste for vintage BMWs, I highly recommend visiting the BMW bike musuem outside of the tiny village of Vorchdorf, an hour behind Salzburg on the A-1 autobahn. There's an exit for Vorchdorf, but the museum is about 10km west of the village.

    If you liked the Deutches Museum, and it's on your way, visit the Technical Museums in either Speyer or Sinsheim. These are chock full of different kinds of transport. The Speyer Museum has a U-boat you can walk through and a 747 mounted on the roof. Sinsheim has a bunch of older planes on its roof and both a Concord and a "Concordski" or Tupolev SST that you can walk through.

    I can probably suggest a bunch of other things, just depends on what you're interested in.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

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    Registered User womanridge's Avatar
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    And if you should make it to Motorrad days in Garmisch, stop at the CIC booth and say hello. I should be there working.
    Karen Jacobs
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  4. #4
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    A quick Google maps check shows 1700KM from Barcelona to Prague taking the direct route on the highways, if you plan on exploring the Alps, it will be at least TWICE that, ONE WAY!!! Now consider if you ride long hard and fast, on the good roads, a great day is 400 km, NOT stopping to see anything, and to do that day after day is near impossible. A good day after day average is 250KM/day so the mountain route ONE WAY will take you over 13 days.

    Your average speed in the mountains, if you are an aggressive and skilled rider will be about 50-55 km (30-35 mph).

    If you want to see and ride the Alps do it, cities are interesting too, but if you want to do a city tour, go back and just get a train pass and take the rails from city to city. If you want a MC trip do that, maybe take a day or in a couple places, but they need to be a LOT closer than the 2 you picked.

    Personally I am always perplexed at people that say they want to see Europe, and they start listing the cities, they are very interesting and filled with stuff, but if a European said they wanted to come see America, and said their plans were to visit NY, LA, Chicago, Dallas and SF, most of us would scream TIME OUT, as we know THAT is NOT America at all, they are just city's in different locations. It is the same in Europe, they are all just city's , what you can't get here is the MOUNTAINS, roads and culture of the REAL Europe.


    So pick one Barcelona would give you a reasonable riding range into the Pyrenees, Maritime Alps of France, maybe some of Switzerland and W Italy. Prague would get you E Austria, and the Dolomite regions. If you look at a Majority of the Tours they start in Munich, Frankfort etc, for good reason. Those locations put you in the heart of the Alps.

    From Barcelona to Prague and back in the mountains would be near impossible in 15 days, especially for a first time Alps rider.
    2010 F800GS Full Ohlins package, '04 R1100S Replika
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  5. #5
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    While pffog has a point, you can easily do this, if it's what you want.

    I went to Spain in 2002 for four weeks of riding. But my bike was in Karlsruhe, in SW Germany. It took me 1.5 days to ride to Barcelona, across France on the Autoroutes. I only stopped to sight see at the Pont du Gard near Avignon (the famous Roman aqueduct bridge).

    My point is that you can make good time, and quite reasonable (by American standards) distances, by slabbing it between two points of interest. Stay in each place a couple or three days, then move on. A popular place to go in the Alps is Andermatt, Switzerland, where there are four spectacular passes and you can easily get to several more in one day. So book two nights in Andermatt and spend the day in between "bagging passes".

    Last summer a friend and I toured around Tuscany. We booked a suite in a tower in the wall of a hilltop village and we spent three days riding around the country side. This was after a one day ride from Germany. We also rented an apartment in Florence for three nights. We also visited Berlin, and rented an apartment there; it was a day's ride from Karlsruhe.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
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  6. #6
    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    A couple points Darryl, it was not your first European rodeo, you have had some Alps riding experience and are familiar with riding habits, traveling in Europe etc. And Don said he wanted time to be spontaneous and deviate from a plan/route. With what he outlined it will be an iron butt marathon with one goal, making miles. Yes you can eat up miles on the autobahn/strada, but every second spent there is one not taken on the beautiful scenic, twisty stuff, that is the reason to go there in the first place.

    My personal feeling is they will miss SO much of the great culture, food, scenery and roads, that they are going to see in the first place. Like I said 250km/day is about you want to plan on day after day in the mountains, if you want to have any time to look anywhere but the road in front of you. Some of my best days, were the days I traveled the least.
    2010 F800GS Full Ohlins package, '04 R1100S Replika
    '01 F650GS Wife's bike
    Maritime Alps and Vosges 2012
    Tuscany and Central Italy 2010

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    Well, I was born, grew up and lived in Europe (mostly Germany) for the first 36 years of my life, I may be qualified to chime in.

    As opposed to maybe the U.S. most of the culture in Europe is indeed in the cities. I have many friends who have visited Europe. Some on motorcycle tours and some in cars and other methods of transport. The feedback is clearly, if you want to experience culture and history, you do not do a motorcycle tour. Motorcycle tours take you mainly on winding (mountain) roads from one biker-friendly hotel to the other. Get yourself a couple of DVDs from PBS titled "Rick Steve's Europe" and then judge for yourself. But this is not the issue and the topic of the discussion.
    The trip from Barcelone to Praque. There are basically two ways to get out of Spain and into France. One is towards Bordeaux, the other towards Marseille. As you are in Barcelone, I would think logistics and available time dictate the route should be the southern one along the Mediterranian. As you approach the Rhone river, I would strongly recommend to turn north towards Lyon and avoid the Sea-Alps, if you want to get to Praque within the timeframe you are planning. From around Lyon, head towards Geneva in Switzerland. Be extremely careful observing the speed limits in Switzerland. They are really nasty to foreign speeders and have no tolerance. I avoid Switzerland when I travel from Germany to Italy.
    From Basel, you have the option to go north along the Rhine valley and then east towards Praque, or you can try to go east towards Munich and then north towards Praque. It is a little more difficult to make time from Basel to Munich than it is from Basel to, let's say, Heidelberg or Stuttgart.
    Whatever you want to see on the way, is up to your personal preference. Cities have a lot to offer, the countryside makes for more relaxing time.
    When you eat Kuchen, make sure they spell it with a regular u, not an Umlaut and the signs for Schwarzwald will read without a t in it

  8. #8
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Hey, I had to go to a lot of effort to get that ü in there!

    BTW, that brings up something else: no matter how bad your language skills, it pays to learn how to say please, thank you and do you speak English, as a bare minimum, in the local tongue.

    Anyway, my point is that you can travel far in Europe and still see a lot of local color. Find a small set of base camps and stay a few days at each one, then move quickly to the next.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  9. #9
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone so far.. (and hope there is more.)

    When I first thought of this ride - I goggle-mapped it. The distances Google comes up with for two routes are 1744km and 1714km - both are about 1,000 miles. These are fairly highway/slab intensive routes.. but our riding style is a lot like Darryl's - do some slab for a few days to get to the interesting riding - then spend time doing the interesting stuff. 1,000 miles of slab - well two days for most people (about 16 hours according to Google) - since we like to relax a bit - we'd probably take 3 days.

    That's 6 days of slab off of 14 days available to us (figuring a day flying in and one flying out), leaving 8 days to get lost/small roads, see things. I'm not Alpine pass crazy - where that's all I want to do - so 2-4 days of doing passes might be enough.

    Plan so far is going to Prague we might take one route (Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic) and returning to Barcelona another. Perhaps picking up Austria, northern Italy, Monaco (and France and Spain again) on the return. Austria might be a bit of a stretch, but that's the great thing about flexible routing, if it can be done we do it, if not - we'll save it for next time.

    Mike, great info on avoiding Switzerland (or being very speed conscious there) - I do have a friend there I'd like to visit with (virtual, but we've meant to meet for a long time) so it's likely on the route in at least one direction. One route Google picked up sounds much like your recommendation that includes along the Rhine (I'm guessing in the Rhine Valley

    Time of year - early September - after the European's return from "holiday"..

    PPFog - thanks much for the PM, and I'll call as the trip gels a bit and I have a little better idea of where we might wander off-slab..

    See if embedding the map from Google will work:


    Hey - how cool is that!

    BTW - for "seeing" Europe - SWMBO is eyeballing euro-rail and canal trips, that's called payback.. Not that it's a bad thing. I expect that will be in my future before too long (perhaps even before the 2 wheeled trip..)
    Last edited by deilenberger; 01-26-2014 at 03:01 AM.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by darrylri View Post
    Hey, I had to go to a lot of effort to get that ü in there!

    .
    I hope you didn't "copy and paste" but used the "alt" key....??

  11. #11
    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    Just a few recommendations on things to see if/when you take the northern route on your map. These are things that can be seen in a fairly short amount of time; for the most part. We lived in these areas of Germany for 6 years.

    Hockenheim near the intersection of Autobahn 5 & 6 south of Heidelberg. Site of the F1 track of the same name. The F1 race will be in late July but maybe you will catch another race. Near Waldorf where there are good places to eat.

    Heidelberg: Old German City on the Necker River that was almost untouched bt WWII. University town, great castle. If your timing is good you can catch the burning of the castles all along the Necker. If you decide to divert to Heidelberg let me know and I'll provide the names of some good palces to eat. Heidleberg is across the river from Handschusheim where Knopf has his motorcycle rental operation. You might consider renting there and then making the loop to Prague and Barcelona. Since you are starting and ending at the same place it matters little where that place is. Germany may be a better option due to cost & transportation. Being nearly equidistant from either end of the loop it gives you greater flexibility to react to the unforeseen.

    Bad D?rkheim: Located west of Mannheim and north of Hockenheim. The first week in September is normally when the Bad D?rkheim Wine Festival is held. This is the world's largest wine festival. It draws more people than Oktober Fest and is a great time.

    Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Take Autobahn 7 about 15 miles north off of Autobahn 6. An ancient walled city good for a few hours walk and to take in some German history and culture.

    Nuremberg: Reich Party Congress Grounds site of Hitler's most infamous gathering of the Nazi party as shown in "Triumph des Willens" (Triumph of the Will) by Leni Riefenstahl. A sobering visit.

    You may be crossing northen Bavaria at the time when the harvest is in and many of the villages are holding a small fest. These are not elaborate affairs. Generally one large fest tent where the locals gather for beer and brats and just a general good time. In my experience in rural Germany they are very welcoming to strangers and you'll soon find yourself immersed in the local goings on with a liter of beer in your hand.

    Czech Republic: When nearing the Czech border try to findout if any of the Cold War border security infastructure is still in place. If so that would make for and interesting visit.
    Kevin Huddy
    Tm Pterodactyl MT Outpost

  12. #12
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Don,

    I've ridden in Europe three times, and each experience was awesome and different from the others.

    It seems to me that you're aiming at getting to the Czech Republic more than taking every last Alpine road. My aim was a bit different: ride passes. I bought Hermann's book, read it, and made a list of the passes and roads I wanted to ride. Then I got a large-scale map of the Alps, and a yellow marker. I highlighted the roads I'd put on my list. Then I connected those roads so I had a coherent route (start here, go there, stay two nights here and there and the other place, etc.) with little backtracking and repeats. It was fabulous.

    Wherever you ride, I second DarrylRi's advice to find a spot to base yourself in (like Andermatt, Switzerland, an excellent choice) and do some loops. Packing and moving out and finding a new place and moving in and unpacking takes a lot of time; staying for a night or two or three in the same lodging avoids this.

    One other thought: keep some free time in your schedule. I found that after some days of riding...I just didn't want to ride for awhile. For me, that turns out to be one day in five or six. YMMV.
    Last edited by dbrick; 01-27-2014 at 08:28 AM.
    David Brick
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  13. #13
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Started looking at lots of rental places - all over the proposed route. So far the least expensive I spotted was in Prague.. but no BMW's listed. The most expensive generally appear to be in Germany... although..

    Many of them see quite reasonable until you start adding in things like bags (40/E per week), GPS (5-10E/day), better insurance coverage.. sort of like being nibbled to death by ducks. Some charge you an extra fee if you take the bike out of their country - claiming border crossing fees (didn't all that go away with the EU?) Some are really full service - including offering medical insurance coverage, and services like MedJet offers.

    The bike I'm most comfortable with - an R1200R with a low seat, looks like about $1000/week (unlimited or > 2,500km mileage), and some of the new F800 models - a bit less - maybe $850/week.

    David - thanks for the suggestions - and on most longer (> a week) trips I make - I do usually add in a few "extra" days, just in case we don't feel like riding (for whatever reason including awful weather) or we find someplace interesting to see that we didn't have on the route. Kevin - thanks for the very specific suggestions - some of them look really interesting.

    Here are some of the places I've looked at:



    Decisions, decisions, such a delight with a polar-vortex heading our way again this week.. I think I have to start a spreadsheet...
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  14. #14
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    If you're considering renting in Germany, Stefan Knopf rents not-quite current machines for a chunk less than charged by others, and provides other bike touring services as well. We've rented from and stayed with him; he's a good man.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

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    If you consider renting in Germany, try these guys. It is a affiliation of motorcycle dealers who offer rentals. I have used them, because I am not particularly hooked up on BMWs, but I did rent a R1200RT once.

    http://www.motorradvermietung.net/

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