BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

That's not a mountain...this is a mountain!
4/7/12 Early.

We were up and ready to roll early today. I grabbed my Sat Nav and punched in our destination, Portschach, and pushed the "avoid motorways" button. Portschach was only a few hundred kilometres away and we had plenty of time to cruise the back roads. The stupid sat Nav told me there was no alternate route. I tried again and got the same response. OK, we'll just go and look around.

Then I looked out the window at the scene from the previous night and it was full of bloody big mountains. They were hidden by the clouds yesterday. OK, this was going to be interesting.

We kicked off with a little side detour to Salzburg. What an interesting place. The old part of Salzburg (complete with castle) is beautiful and as with most places over here, full of ornate statued and fountains. It is a very pretty place. We found a nice little cafe overlooking the main plaza area and ordered breakfast. This cafe is renowned for it's omelettes, so we both went with an omelette. The waiter asked if we wanted bread and when we said no he laughed at us a and shook his head as he walked off. I guess we need to read up on local customs a little more before we order food from now on.

After our delicious omelette (it looked like it was baked in an oven, not cooked in a pan. We'll be trying this at home) we had a wander around town before pointing the bike south and heading toward all the craziness of the World Body painting Festival.

Yes Suzanne, this is how I expect my coffee to be presented when we return home. Hair style courtesy of Shoei helmet venting system again. I'm thinking about dying the sticky up bits different flouro colours. What do you think?

Just your average village square fountain. 

Cool piece of artwork in the square. 

OK, my grasp of Austrian isn't that good so I can't read signs very well. I'm guessing by the total lack of any private vehicles in the area we rode straight into a pedestrian area parked our bike and had breakfast. Then we rode out again. No biggie. 

Now the fun started. We had about 200 kilometres to cover. Based on our previous travel times that should take about an hour and a half, including a coffee stop. Off we go. Oh my Dog! Look at those mountains, there, and there, and there's a bigger one, and look over there, and, and, and. My neck was sore from my head swivelling around like a Priest in a Primary School. This was like nothing I had ever seen before. I now realised why the Sat Nav said there was no alternative to the motorway. If we hadn't stopped last night we would have ridden right by these mountains and they would have been enveloped in cloud. We would have missed the whole thing. I have no idea how many time I said wow out loud inside my helmet.

Just the start. 
Taking photos from the back of a bike with a digital SLR is pretty difficult. You can't look through the viewfinder. Thanks Suzanne, you did good.

I was thinking "How much fun would that be on a dirt bike?" 

Yup, they're getting bigger. 

The bridges were also pretty exciting. You could see them side on before you got to them, and you could see how high they were. I must admit I was more than a little uncomfortable riding over them.

Hmmm, how are we going to get over that? 

I was looking at the view above and thinking there are going to be some pretty steep climbs coming up soon. But no, we went through some of the mountains. The tunnel system is very impressive. What's not impressive is when you ride into the first one then realise that you have your sunglasses on. T'was a bit dark and I slowed down pretty fast as we entered the opening. After that I did the old close one eye as soon as you know you'll be in the dark trick. Your pupil dilates and once you're in the dark you open your eye and you can see quite well. Even with sunglasses on.

We arrived in Portschach after about three hours. For all of this trip I've been travelling with the flow of traffic on the motorways, but today I was in the outside lane doing the Sunday Driver thing. Any slower and I would have had to drive a Volvo and wear a bowls hat. The scenery was just so stunning I had to slow down and enjoy it. Today has blown me away.

But wait, there's more. We were going to camp here in Portschach, but at the last minute I though Suzanne would really like to be able to rest well and look her best when she meets up with all her painty friends, so I booked a hotel. We rolled down the driveway of Hotel Schlossvilla Miralago and found a beautiful, old, hotel. It's not five star, but the atmosphere here is soothing and calm and it just feels great. 

We walked in with all our gear on looking like we'd put in a hard day and tried to check in. Johannas would have none of it and insisted we dump our gear on the floor, sit down outside in the shade, and have a drink before he would even consider checking us in. Oh, OK then, if we must.

The hotel from the lake. 

You can check out the hotel here If you are ever in this neck of the woods I have to say you should stay here.

Welcome to Hotel Miralago. 

Check out the view from the balcony. Not to shabby eh?

After settling in we walked the long three minute walk into town and found a nice outside bar / restaurant. Keira was our waitress and she's a bunch of laughs. More about her later. As we sat there I heard the guy at the next table say something about "half a dozen stubbies". Do you reckon he was an Aussie? Turns out that Suzanne knew both him and his wife through the face painting forums, but they had never met. Maria and Clarke are really nice people and they are competing this weekend. Good luck Aussies.

So after a beautiful pasta feed we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the Body Circus party that was scheduled for tonight, but that's another story.

Where's Rex's Buff?

This is Maja. Check out what Maja is wearing. Apart from Rexy's Buff, Maja is wearing paint. Yes folks, the jeans and top were painted on, yes it's paint, by Mark Reid. I don't know why everyone was praying for rain.

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