Day 37 - Back to the Alps

Friday 1st August 2014

We set the Tomtom for the fastest route back to Austria. In less than 10 kilometres we are on a spanking new highway that cuts through the foothills and onto the plains of Western Slovakia.

It's a real change to travel fast and smoothly again. One good thing is that Slovak motorways, while charging 4 wheelers a toll vignette, are free for motorcycles.

In less than 2 hours we have covered the 250km to the Austrian border at Bratislava. We see the magnificent castle up on the hill overlooking the city but no time for that. We don't do cities.

The Kalte Kuchl Alpengasthof
As we are continuing on the autobahn south into Austria we have to buy vignettes for the bikes. In Austria it costs €4.90 for 10 days, so that's OK. Later in the trip we will enter Switzerland, where we will be very careful to avoid the toll roads. Only annual vignettes, valid from 1st January, are available and they cost around £40. That's a lot if your visit is only for 3 or 4 days. Fortunately there is always an alternative route if you take care. The Tomtom helps a lot with this.

We zip past Vienna to the west and head down towards Steirmark (Styria in old English).

We are heading for another location I found on the internet during the days of planning last winter.

The Kalte Kuchl Alpengasthof is another wonderful discovery on a tour filled with them. It's big pub, restaurant and pension in the beautiful mountains to the east of Mariazell and a well known Bikertreff.
Evening assembly
There are a pair of swimming lakes in the valley below the house and on this lovely evening the car park is filled with bikes of all descriptions.

We are warmly welcomed by Klaus and Frau Rieder and book in for two nights. Our comfortable room and breakfast costs just €27 each, a good deal in Austria.

We are soon chatting with Klaus as the sun goes down and the bikers start to leave for home. He not only runs the busy Gasthof but also the farm in which it stands.

He is taking a day off tomorrow, and would we like to make a small tour with him in the surrounding mountains? Well you don't turn down an offer like that do you? He rides a fully-rigged Gold Wing.
Swimming lake at Kalte Kuchl
I think back to earlier in the year when I was in Friedrichstadt in the Black Forest and a massive Gold Wing Owners Club rally turned up in the town square where I was taking a coffee. Within minutes I was surrounded by several hundred of the huge bikes, all playing different tunes through their on-board music systems and hailing from half a dozen European countries.
Loonies invade the lake
I was the only GB plate there, but as I was on a BMW not a single person spoke to me! Obviously Klaus wasn't among them.

 Suddenly Klaus gets quite excited (for him). "Come, come" he gestured towards the lake. The local brass band has turned up to play an impromptu concert. As we approach we can see that they are wearing swimming attire and as we watch (and I get the iPad video running), they march into the water and shuffle round a fountain in the shallows, all the while playing their instruments. 

As a finale they lay down the brass and go leaping into the water from the jetty. You couldn't make it up.
What a great life we are living.  


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