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Thread: The ONLY way to See the Alps...

  1. #16
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Zillertal Höhenstraße, between Ried and Hippach, is not my fave. The climb from Ried was OK, but the descent to Hippach was very much "BTDT returned the T-shirt" between all of the blind corners, the wood bridges near the apex of turns, and being stuck behind an English "caravan" that wouldn't let me by. No need to repeat that.

    Stelvio, particularly going up, was a serious challenge, but I'm glad I did it.



    Added: I let myself get over-psyched by the climb's "fame". I can't say that it was my best riding (photos by the Stelvio equivalent of Killboy not withstanding). NTL it taught me a few lessons. As Freddy Nietzsche put it: "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." [/LOL]
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 12-01-2016 at 04:44 PM. Reason: Updated GIF movie to non-proof images
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  2. #17
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
    I just stumbled across this thread (never got past the garage area before...).

    I did an Edelweiss tour this past July ('16)(Central Alps Tour - more about that below). Amen to riding being the best way to see the Alps. When it doesn't rain a lot.

    We drove to the Innsbruck area from near Frankfurt, Germany. The point being that I tried riding and driving twisties (not the same roads, though). A car in the tight twisties, IMNSHO, is... you gotta be kidding.

    Five days of passes and the occasional bit of non-pass road is hard to beat. Not only is the landscape awesome, but I learned a lot about riding. I definitely came away with a different approach to riding the places where the road doesn't go straight.

    In broad brush, some of the passes are easy with turns that aren't uncommon in the States. A couple of passes were to the level of "oh? that was a pass?" But one pass and one road were serious tests of riding skill. Stelvio is "all that". Coming from the north side, there are 48 hairpins (and a sign that counts each one down to the top - I was verrrry happy to see "!"). The road is the Zillertal panoramic high road - somewhere between 1 and 1 1/4 lanes, no guard rail, and a serious drop in places. And of course, tons of blind turns around the rock wall on the other side.

    Edelweiss... at least for me, the group never really gelled. From what I've heard, and what I read in the pre-tour info, there were supposed to be some get acquainted events (including the group picnic that's supposed to be a hallmark of the Edelweiss experience). None of that happened. Everyone was left to sort themselves as best they could.

    There were 19 bikes and two guides. One guide got the more conservative riders and one guide was heavily into "if you're not fast, you're seen for too long". The conservative group had a couple of riders that literally scared me. Nothing like seeing someone come within 4-5" of sideswiping a raised curb at 40-50 MPH not once but twice. And was totally unaware of it. Somebody in the group dropped their bike coming up the Passo dello Stelvio road. So I rode with the other group but found myself pushing much harder than I really wanted. (And almost stuffed it twice - Not Good) To make it worse, the groups wound up with 7-8 in one group, and 11-12 in the other group. There should have been some to pick up some of the excess and keep the groups down to manageable size.

    We were given a "how we'll spend 5 days" booklet in advance. Which was almost completely ignored. Any hope of a bit of rubbernecking was almost completely lost. At one point I asked someone if the saw (I forget what - something of passing interest). "No, I was too busy riding." And you came here why?

    This was an "out and back" trip. That is, we didn't change hotels every day. Which was fine with me; living out of a suitcase isn't a big fave. The hotel was spendy and only OK. Nice people and all that, but if you're not there all day and knackered at night... meh. A nice pension (sort of a scaled up B&B) would have been fine. And far less expensive.

    I really, really wanted a K1600GT, which is available on some tours. But Edelweiss said "no way!"; I got a '15 R1200RT instead. And two late sign-ups got H-D baggers. Say what???

    I know people who took the same tour (at another time) and were totally enchanted with the experience. But for me, between the group dynamics, the oversized groups, far too much loosey-goosey from the guides (for example: great sermon about obey traffic laws and then breaking them left and right), and paying way too much for the hotel... I'm done with Edelweiss.

    But I'm already planning a return to the Alps. This time I'll make my own arrangements.
    Your experience and concerns are the primary reason why I want to ship my K16 over and self guide my own routes.
    Its very cost effective if you plan on touring two weeks or more. Route planning on BaseCamp and uploading to a GPS makes it easy and there are plenty of "self guided motorcycle tours of Europe"resources available to make sure you hit the highlights. Plus I get the added benefit of riding my own motorcycle.
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm.'
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  3. #18
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I'd go through the aggro of shipping for a two week trip. I suppose you're on the balance point between cost to rent and cost to ship, NTL I'd check that closely. One thing to watch out for is some renters charge for the bike itself, with add-on fees for the panniers, etc. Get the details sorted out before pulling the trigger.

    Two minor but "don't forget them" surprises: you need an autobahn sticker for Switzerland, and one for Austria. The Swiss sticker is about 35 SFr annually - there's no "but I'm just here for a week!" price.. The Austrian sticker can be bought for different periods. Being caught without them is more expensive. Much more expensive.

    A pickup in Munich means you're in easy distance of good cruising country. Even if, for example, you picked up a bike in Frankfurt, you'd still be only about 6 hours from Austria and ditto Bern and Zurich areas. And, of course, you can do a pickup in Switzerland. Not all of Switzerland is Alp country, but it's a lot closer than then States... For that matter, there have to be options in Austria, too. I didn't look into those.

    I get the "wow! this bike was there!" point. I sorta do that with my riding gear even now. [/LOL] Still, I'd do some serious homework on rentals.
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  4. #19
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
    I'm not sure I'd go through the aggro of shipping for a two week trip. I suppose you're on the balance point between cost to rent and cost to ship, NTL I'd check that closely.
    I dunno. Even with the caveats, this looks pretty simple:http://tinyurl.com/omk3wq2
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  5. #20
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    A group of Brits (YouTube - Richy Vida) shipped four (or five?) Honda VFR's to Canada, rode in the US, and shipped the bikes back, all in a process similar to what I see in the Air Canada piece. If all goes well, next summer I'll take a stab at some places I missed (so many places, so little time!). Much as I love my K1200RS, and think it'd be just right for the trip, the Red Flash will stay home. As always, ride your own ride.
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  6. #21
    Cowboyatheart
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    The best bike in the Alps is small and nimble, and F700GS or F800GS are two of the best.

    A 1200GS is good if you want to get out and give it a run on the autobahn.

    However, if you ride the twisties, you will be 20km/h to 30 km.h all day long.
    Turning radius of a coke can, some pavement actually touches each other as you go around the bend and loop back in the opposite direction.
    Speed and hp are not required nor to any great benefit.

    A F700GS does really well; lighter and you will be less tired at the end of the day.

    200 km a day is a good day, 250 km is a LONG day.

    You can rent directly from BMW in Munich too.
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  7. #22
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Well, yes and no. The 650's and 800's have a lot going for them. I've ridden both and agree that they're nimble enough. But I wouldn't care to spend lots of time in the saddle with either. Running at 100 km/h (60 mph) gets tiring. And not every road is tight twisties. Timmelsjoch, for example:


    Even the Stelvio road from the east isn't just hairpins:


    The Zillertaler road, for example, does have a lot of tight stuff, and there are other places, too. But there are also relatively simple roads to get from one place to another. Brennerpass is depressingly boring, and Fernpass the same only narrower. I was quite happy to have a bike that would eat those distances or travel on the A12 to get to some of the passes near the Swiss/Italian border.

    Uh, 20-30 km/h (12-17 mph) all day? Not quite. In some really tight places may demand it, but, again, there are twisties and there are turns.

    Finally, if you've dropped a small fortune on tickets, bikes, etc. and it's non-stop rain, there's no option to say, "well, next week, lads." A bit of fairing has a lot to recommend itself. Bottom line, the RT did well enough for me, and I'm looking forward to doing things on a K1600GT.

    BTW, although this is Provence and not the Alps, consider this sprint on a K1600. Jens won't tell me how fast he was going but the lean angle suggests it was a brisk ride...
    Mont Ventoux
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 11-24-2016 at 01:12 AM. Reason: Replacing yet another lost YouTube video...
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  8. #23
    Cowboyatheart
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post
    Well, yes and no. The 650's and 800's have a lot going for them. I've ridden both and agree that they're nimble enough. But I wouldn't care to spend lots of time in the saddle with either. Running at 100 km/h (60 mph) gets tiring. And not every road is tight twisties. Timmelsjoch, for example:


    Even the Stelvio road from the east isn't just hairpins:


    The Zillertaler road, for example, does have a lot of tight stuff, and there are other places, too. But there are also relatively simple roads to get from one place to another. Brennerpass is depressingly boring, and Fernpass the same only narrower. I was quite happy to have a bike that would eat those distances or travel on the A12 to get to some of the passes near the Swiss/Italian border.

    Uh, 20-30 km/h (12-17 mph) all day? Not quite. In some really tight places may demand it, but, again, there are twisties and there are turns.

    Finally, if you've dropped a small fortune on tickets, bikes, etc. and it's non-stop rain, there's no option to say, "well, next week, lads." A bit of fairing has a lot to recommend itself. Bottom line, the RT did well enough for me, and I'm looking forward to doing things on a K1600GT.

    BTW, although this is Provence and not the Alps, consider this sprint on a K1600. Jens won't tell me how fast he was going but the lean angle suggests it was a brisk ride...
    We travelled different roads then.
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  9. #24
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    For those wondering what the heck we're talking about with Stelvio, Timmelsjoch, etc., here are three videos to explain them.

    Stelvio - properly Passo dello Stelvio in Italian, Stilfserjoch in German - is in the Italian part of South Tirolia* is a high pass (~9000 ft) considered to be The Pass by many riders. The east road features 48 hairpins (they're numbered). K16Troll's ascent is on a 1200GS. (IMHO he's a bit on the scary side with some of his passing)
    Stelvio

    Timmelsjoch is a lower pass, and a good warmup for Stelvio. The video starts with the ascent on the Austrian side of the pass; the descent is on the Italian side of the pass. Yes, there are no customs, passport checks, etc. - hurray for the Schengen Treaty that makes this so! Alexander Thiessen's video was my introduction Alpine videos +. At the start of the video, yes, there is a toll booth. The road isn't a freebie. Alexander's riding is a little(!) more conservative than K16Troll's. NTL you'll see some passing that would never fly in the States. It's quite acceptable in much of Europe, not just the Alps. Coming back to the States, I had to sit on myself to keep from doing it.
    About the snow... These roads don't open until May or June. Based on the video's published date, my guess is this video was shot sometime in early to mid-June. When I was in the area in early July there wasn't as much snow along the roads, but there's still a lot on the mountain sides. Runoff crossing the roads is common and the interior of tunnels can be equally wet. It all adds to the fun...
    Timmelsjoch

    Zillertal Höhenstraße (Zill [River] Valley High Road) is a collection of roads along the mountains that overlook the Zill Valley. It passes through one of several large ski areas in the Zillertal region. K16Troll's video is a little puzziling because the stretch up from Hippach (town name) is nothing like what I saw coming towards Hippach. My guess is our guide found another of his wonderful secret roads (<- sarcasm) for the descent. The ride towards Ried Im Zillertal (town name) is the same road I saw. Go figure. Zillertal Höhenstraße is another toll road.
    Zillertal Höhenstraße

    One last bit of road videos. If the mountain pass roads become boring, try one of the French "balcony" roads. They literally hang off of steep valley walls and don't allow cars to pass in either direction except in pullovers. Think of single track roads with no bailout. If this doesn't pucker your sphincter, nothing will.
    Route D7, France

    *For those who care about this sort of thing: Süd Tirol (South Tirolia) used to be Austrian. it was handed over, by the British, to Italy after World War I. The Italians call the region Alto Adige. This despite 70% of the population speaks German, roughly 20% speak Italian, and 10% something else. The point here is this is why the same place has two names. For the historical details, consult Wikipedia. The meaning of "Passo" is obvious, "Joch" less so. Literally translated, it's German for "saddle". The jump, based on topography, from there to "pass" should make sense. The German word "Pass" is also used (Fernpass, Brennerpass as examples).

    + Alexander references getting his music from Jamendo.com. This is a great site for free music. The artists are certainly unknown compared to the Allman Brothers, Steppenwolf, and all of the other music memes used in motorcycle videos.
    Finding stuff on Jamendo is ...um... challenging (the search engine only uses tags, which are often puzzling at best). I usually do a Google search on Jemendo.com and a style or artist and then use the Jamendo "similar artists" option to drill down through singles and albums. Try "jamendo.com Dickey F" as an example.

    ADDED: Most of the YouTube links failed for no obvious reason. They were present and then they weren't. I've reloaded them in the URL form instead.
    Last edited by RBEmerson; 11-23-2016 at 12:59 AM. Reason: Restore YouTube links
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  10. #25
    Cowboyatheart
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    Yes I too did Passo dello Stelvio and many others that you likely did, but the video below demonstrates the FANTASTIC roads that 80 km/h is a burst for passing...and yes, I was on a R1200GS wethead, but a F700GS would have been more than needed and way lighter and more nimble...(do love the power of the wethead, that can't be beat, in a boxer anyway - and I have a fondness for boxer motors...)

    wind noise is present in this video, you might want to turn down your speakers...

    took me a little over five minutes to get by the car...

    I loved this road... the view was amazing, the turns, the tunnels, well see for yourself

    Video is shot in 1080p, so make sure you up your quality setting on Youtube when watching.

    https://youtu.be/9yh-QeS70Xo
    Last edited by nelliott; 11-25-2016 at 04:48 AM.
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  11. #26
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    BTDT - bought a hat instead.

    Where was the video shot? The timestamp says this was shot in August, still, no snow anywhere?

    Props to the guy you parked next to - he's got my Olympia jacket.

    No props to the car in front of you. He showed all the skill of the dimbulb English RV driver I was stuck behind while coming down from the Zillertal Höhenstrasse. Worse, with the driver on the right, how hard could it have been to edge to the right enough to let me by?

    As my GIF "movie" shows, I was on a wethead RT. The handling was great. A lot of nay-sayers said the RT would tire me out. I didn't feel that way but the motor was... Get it well into its power curve, it can lift its front end (v. interesting experience for a non-wheelie guy). But anything below 3K; it was flat and nearly useless. That meant a lot of "gear jammin'" to stay on the power. After 1498 km (930 mi) I was very happy to give the bike back.

    By comparison, my K1200RS will keep pulling at, and forgive me for dropping to, 1.5K. It's my understanding the GS has a wider usable power band. In retrospect, because we never saw any real rain, the GS would have been the better call. But I found tours where it rained non-stop. Oh thank you no.

    Also, coming off a K-bike, no more boxers for me!

    Back to "tired"... what left me feeling wrung out, though, was the concentration needed. Between the roads and being in a group ride, that really did wear me down. I almost never do group rides, so I had to play catch-up on the skills of staying on the pace.
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  12. #27
    Cowboyatheart
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post

    BTDT - bought a hat instead.

    Where was the video shot? The timestamp says this was shot in August, still, no snow anywhere?

    Props to the guy you parked next to - he's got my Olympia jacket.

    No props to the car in front of you. He showed all the skill of the dimbulb English RV driver I was stuck behind while coming down from the Zillertal Höhenstrasse. Worse, with the driver on the right, how hard could it have been to edge to the right enough to let me by?

    Back to "tired"... what left me feeling wrung out, though, was the concentration needed. Between the roads and being in a group ride, that really did wear me down. I almost never do group rides, so I had to play catch-up on the skills of staying on the pace.
    Location is near Levico Terme, Italy - the town at the end of the road was Lochere, Italy.

    Video is shot in 1080p, so don't forget to up your quality setting in youtube.

    I was on a Beach's Classic Alpine Tour, this was Day 9 of 14.

    I did NOT ride with the group. Well, I did a couple of days, for a couple of hours, but I don't like the pace, nor working to keep with the group, nor the stops they took. Rob and Gretchen are totally good with riders heading off on their own, Beach's provides a GPS with various routes for each day, or you can create your own. However, Rob has great roads, all mapped out, so in my opinion, it was well worth listening to his talk the night before and choose a route based on his recommendation.

    So I bailed and rode 80% of the trip on my own, and the rest with one other guy, or one guy and his wife. Never more than two of us, with the understanding that we might go on our own way at any moment. Worked for us. The GS wethead has lots of power at all ranges, but kept it in lower gears and worked with higher RPMs.

    In the video, once I got stopped at the one switchback, by the car, I travelled a little slower to give space between he and I. Then I watched for a stretch where I could get by him. This road ended up in this really lovely treed road, that was just fantastic.
    Last edited by nelliott; 11-25-2016 at 04:53 AM.
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  13. #28
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nelliott View Post
    Location is near Levico Terme, Italy - the town at the end of the road was Lochere, Italy.
    Found it - you were almost out the South Tirol region then.

    Video is shot in 1080p, so don't forget to up your quality setting in youtube.
    I shoot in 1080p 30fps. The uploads to YouTube are compressed and generally messed over. On a couple of occasions I've put small clips, as zip's, up on Dropbox. It's all very frustrating to spend a lot of time tuning the color, etc., only to see trash on the screen.

    I was on a Beach's Classic Alpine Tour, this was Day 9 of 14.

    I did NOT ride with the group. Well, I did a couple of days, for a couple of hours, but I don't like the pace, nor working to keep with the group, nor the stops they took. Rob and Gretchen are totally good with riders heading off on their own, Beach's provides a GPS with various routes for each day, or you can create your own. However, Rob has great roads, all mapped out, so in my opinion, it was well worth listening to his talk the night before and choose a route based on his recommendation.
    Interesting. I looked at Beach when researching last year's trip. It seemed a little ...um... doctrinaire about bikes, which put me off. After a week with the RT, I bed to differ on the "horsing around" comment. That was the 3rd or 4th time on a wethead RT (blessing unto Hermy's BMW for be quite willing to turn someone loose for a couple-few hours of demo). It certain didn't get me in the States, and didn't ambush me in the Alps except for the power curve thing. I wasn't a fan of boxers then, and a week of boxer time killed me off for sure. BTW, there was a couple also on an RT. AFAIK they were good with their choice, too. Anyway...

    Good news about the GPS! The RT GPS mount will take a Garmin 660. I brought mine along (already has Europe in it) and was glad I did for two reasons. I had some sense of where in the world we were. Edelweiss supplies a map that covers much of middle Europe - not good for finding out how to get from village A to village B. [/facepalm] In the twisties, I dialed it way down to get a sense of what was coming down the road. It was a big help in anticipating what was coming the next couple of minutes.

    One of listed stops was Neuschwanstein - Kind Ludwig II's "Disney castle". BTDT Had zero interest in doing the (literally) 3 hour tour again. I loaded up a loop that would have taken about 2 1/2 hours to run. But the guides blew off the castle altogether. Feh. I also built a route to St. Anton (ski area in the Aarlbeg, west of most of the trip's routes). That didn't get used, either, because of the ad-hoc changes. (No great loss as the area is badly overgrown with villas, etc. that weren't there the last time we skied there) NTL, having a GPS for a backup to "where are we" is a big plus.

    It's not too hard to tease a good route out of a map, but having a local to find the good stuff is, agreed, a big plus. We had lunches in some very off the beaten path places. They were on the map, of course, but it's hard to know who's good and who's Burgerking with an accent.

    So I bailed and rode 80% of the trip on my own, and the rest with one other guy, or one guy and his wife. Never more than two of us, with the understanding that we might go on our own way at any moment. Worked for us. The GS wethead has lots of power at all ranges, but kept it in lower gears and worked with higher RPMs.
    Riding with another bike is usually manageable for me. I ride with a guy on an '07 RT. We use Sena intercoms and it all plays out well. The option to say "see you at the hotel" when someone wants to shop or take tons of pictures is a good thing.

    In the video, once I got stopped at the one switchback, by the car, I travelled a little slower to give space between he and I. Then I watched for a stretch where I could get by him. This road ended up in this really lovely treed road, that was just fantastic.
    I saw that. I'd have been just about screaming. As a matter of fact, I did cuss out a similar idiot - in German. Message delivered. Heh, heh, heh...

    Was this an "out and back" trip, using the same hotel, or did you change hotels regularly? How many in the group? Where were they from?

    There were 19 bikes, plus one two-up on my trip. Two riders were from Indonesia, and one was from Turkey. The rest were from the States. The trips were "out and back" which was fine with me. I have no great fascination with living out of a suitcase unless it's the only option.
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  14. #29
    Cowboyatheart
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBEmerson View Post

    Was this an "out and back" trip, using the same hotel, or did you change hotels regularly? How many in the group? Where were they from?

    There were 19 bikes, plus one two-up on my trip. Two riders were from Indonesia, and one was from Turkey. The rest were from the States. The trips were "out and back" which was fine with me. I have no great fascination with living out of a suitcase unless it's the only option.
    This was a 14 day out and around the Alps Tour, you can see the route at a high level here... http://www.bmca.com/classic-alpine-adventure.html

    If memory serves 12 riders.

    Beach's sherpa your luggage and deliver it to your room each day, it is waiting for you when you arrive. A few double overnights in the same hotel, which was a nice break for out and back runs.

    Countries included: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia

    The route book, with alternate routes is sent to you prior to your plan departure to Europe, so you can read up on the alternate routes and history.
    Beach's provides lots of great materials for your perusal; prior to your trip.

    The GPS unit they give you is pre-loaded with a variety of routes, more than in the "route book".
    Fantastic selection of very technical to pretty light and easy routes each day.

    They pick you up at the airport and drop you off at the airport for your departure after the tour.

    Excellent customer service, and you can rent any BMW you want. You want a K-Bike, you just need to ask Rob, and he will do his best to make that happen for you.

    I can't recommend Beach's enough, if you have the $ and want a worry free trip, and don't have the time for detailed planning ahead of time.
    Last edited by nelliott; 11-26-2016 at 04:26 AM.
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  15. #30
    Kein Nasebohrer RBEmerson's Avatar
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    Dang. More and more, I'm kicking myself for not digging further into Beach instead of going with Edelweiss. The initial investigation gave me the impression Beach's was more "we know what's best for you" than appears to be the case. Sigh... done is done.

    Getting to Munich is no biggie. If I do the trip, I'd be heading there from near Frankfurt (about 5-6 hr drive). Anyway, lots can happen before I can pull the trigger...

    Thanks for all of the info!
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