About Dave OByrne

Dave OByrne

A traveling Motorbike Journalist, Dave has a passion for the Great Outdoors, motorbike camping, finding new trails, as well as discovering the Great Indoors, in the form of Urban Exploration or URBEX.

This has led to many exciting experiences, cultural exchanges and interesting situations over the years, as Europe is littered with post-war, post-industrial, desolate, abandoned structures and cultural sites, usually far off the beaten track. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Dave has spent the last 15 years in Denmark, which he uses as a base from which to explore the rest of Europe by motorbike, both onroad and offroad.

One of the founding partners of Motorbike Europe, with nearly 20 years experience in graphic production, over 12 years in webdesign and development, including 3 years in the design of floating structures and villages, Dave currently runs the website aka www.motorbikeeurope.com, where he covers the areas of Webdesigner, Road Writer, Photographer, Content Manager, Social Media Manager, manic networker, motorblogger, and handles any other interesting digital possibilities that might crop up.


Latest Posts by Dave OByrne

A Chat With Motorcyclist, Global Traveler & Storyteller Sam Manicom

May 26, 2012 by  

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Sam Manicom set out on a journey, said goodbye to life as we know it, and took off on a long motorcycle adventure.

There’s more though. For a sprinkle of added spice, Sam’s journey began at the edge of the Sahara desert after just 3 months of riding a bike. The plan? To spend a year riding the length of Africa on a 1991 BMW R80GS. Sam told me, “You know, if I hadn’t told my mates in the pub back home that I was going to make this trip, then perhaps, at that moment I might have turned around and gone home.”
He didn’t though, and this one-year trip turned into an eight-year, 200,000 mile epic across 55 countries around the world (Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Africa again, South, Central and North America).

But there’s a twist in this introduction. Sam has now four books published about the journey, and he never intended to write a thing. The point, for him, was to hunt out new adventures, but along the way, other travellers encouraged him to write magazine articles. He did this successfully over the latter 4 years of the ride, but he’s quick to point out,

“Writing never took over as being the point of the journey. Sometimes you find yourself in places for longer periods of time. It might be because you are on a Visa hunt, that takes longer than anticipated, or that you have simply found yourself in a place form where you really don’t want to leave in a hurry. I wrote all of my articles in times such as these. The journey is what really matters.”

His first book, “Into Africa” was written as a result of readers’ letters to magazine editors.

Sam has a fairly unusual background, in that he was born in the Belgian Congo in Central West Africa. His parents worked and lived through the two rebellions that preceded the change of the country’s name to Zaire. They brought the family home to England when he was ten years old, and for the first few years at school in the UK, he was known as ‘Jungle Boy’, he said with a wry grin.

His first big trip was a backpacking, seat of the pants voyage of discovery across Europe, India and Australia, which often saw him down to his last $10. On arrival in Australia, no one asked him if he had any money or a return ticket. He had neither. He told me that what was needed, he earned along the way, and this, he says, was a great learning curve.

“I suspect that without it my motorcycle journey would have been a far less rich experience. My biggest lessons were attitude and priorities. The original three-year backpacking trip taught me what an amazing place the world is.”

Though not looking for a girlfriend, Sam met his partner Birgit Schuenemann in New Zealand during year two of the trip. Sam says, “Birgit wasn’t looking for a boyfriend either; certainly not one like me!” After riding pillion with him for 3 months through Nepal and India, she joined him for the latter four years across Africa and the Americas. She was travelling by bicycle when they met, but transferred steeds to ride her own motorcycle, a classic 1971 BMW R60/5. She started her ride in Africa with just 600 miles of experience on a motorcycle…

Sam’s books are prescribed reading for any motorbike traveler, or indeed, anyone with the desire to explore. His four books complement each other extremely well, and cover a broad geographic scope: Under Asian Skies, Into Africa and Distant Suns(Southern Africa plus South and Central America). Also Tortillas to Totems (Mexico, the USA and Canada). I asked him if there was any particular reason for his decision to attempt to write the books in the first place:

“I guess it was a new challenge and I’d spent time during the last year or so, on the road, wondering what I could do with all that I’d learnt. Not only would trying to write a book be a new adventure, but I had another thought in mind. In part, my books are aimed at those fortunate enough to know, that they actually can go out and live the dream, with the hope that the books might encourage them to have a go.”

He said, “I hope this doesn’t sound horribly pompous, but when I was writing, I was doing so with full appreciation of exactly how fortunate I really am. I’ve been hugely lucky. I thought, if a person can’t do it, then they can at least live the dream with me. In particular I’ve written them for those who live in circumstances that may never allow them to ride two wheels into adventure. But I’ve also written them for those who love the sound of travelling, but are quite happy with adventure from the pages. No worries. I’m always drawn by tales of the road, and I know the value of a comfy armchair at the end of a long day. Who knows though, perhaps I might change a mind or two! “


What is it about his books, that have drawn the many good reviews they have, from both readers and the press?

“I’ve been very honest with what I’ve written. Yes I did daft things and I stuffed up on many occasions, but that’s all part of a big ride. I’ve also written about all the things I think go into making a journey. Each day is a wonderful mix of culture, politics, history, geography and of course people. I met some amazing people out there, and they really restored my faith in human nature. And, of course, I’ve written about the riding, and the fact that being on two wheels, with the whole of you exposed, means that all your senses are working on full power.

Before I set off, I had no idea how much this was going to be such a bonus and vital part of the journey. Riding this adventure by motorcycle is one of the best things I’ve ever done and what a great bike it was too – especially when I’d learnt how not to fall off all the time!”

In just his first year on the road, he was shot at twice, arrested three times, thrown in jail, and had a seventeen bone fracture accident crossing the desert in Namibia.

So riding bikes across the world is a pretty dangerous thing to be doing then, Sam?

“It is if you are a bit of a disaster magnet. Stuff kind of happens to me, but there’s always something spectacular that follows, as a direct result of things going pear-shaped. I’ve written about the mad, the scary, the beautiful, and the surprises. There were days that my ‘traveller’s guardian angel’ took time off without warning me, and I cost my medical insurance company a fortune! When my angel was there, the journey around the world was a combination of fascination and adrenaline-burning fun. But, she did seem to take a few too many siestas!”

What’s the best bit of reader’s feedback you’ve ever had?

“That’s an easy one. About six months after Into Africa was published, I had an email from a guy who’d ridden his bike as far as Nairobi in Kenya. He wrote, “Sam, I thought if an idiot like you could do this then so could I. I’m having a ball!” From that moment on, the book was a success for me and just that email encouraged me to crack on, and write the next three books.”


Sam at a book signing, with Austin Vince (left) and Paddy Tyson (centre), and on the way into Columbia (right).

Are your books very different to each other?

“Absolutely! It’s not only because they are about very varied parts of the world. Actually, that’s one of the things about the journey that I found fascinating. Each part of the world sounds different, smells different and of course the food tastes different. It’s also that each stage a book covers, sees very different things happening. For example, Africa is not only a fantastically challenging continent to ride, but I was a novice.

By the time I made it to Asia, there was more time to see what was going on around me; perfect timing. It’s an incredibly colorful part of the world. ‘Distant Suns’ is different if only because it’s in this book that Birgit and I start to ride together, and that throws a bunch of new aspects into the mix. As for riding the Andes, wow! Tortillas to Totems? Well, how diverse can three neighbouring countries get? And I do admit of a stack of preconceived ideas being blown out of the water!”

Sam, if you have one bit of advice for anyone dreaming of such an adventure, what would that be?

“Just do it. I know that sounds awfully easy to say, but the fact is, that it is an amazing thing to do. It’s life changing for the better. We do live in an incredible world that is full of great people and fantastic things to see. It’s such fun.”

Montra Hotel Sabro Kro in Denmark

May 15, 2012 by  

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Take your bike and your friends, take a ride to Sabro, and discover eastern Jutland and Aarhus, with Montra Hotel Sabro Kro as your base. To experience, also requires an excellent setting to enjoy the impressions in, and Hotel Sabro Kro is a 4-star hotel of a high standard, located in a quiet, rural setting, just 14 km from the centre of Aarhus, Denmark.

Click on the image to open the gallery…

 

The rooms are large and modern, with walk-in closet, French balcony and a bathtub. You can also choose one of our huge junior suites, with private balcony or terrace, and a spa with a starry sky. You can enjoy a drink in the bar, and see the wine cellar, or work out in the gym, get a massage, play petanque, table football, billiards and table tennis, Or, you can enjoy the sun in the garden, enjoy the campfire, and completely relax. The kitchen prepares splendid, contemporary Danish cuisine, where the emphasis is on quality ingredients from the season. The motorcycle can be parked free of charge, in our secure parking area.

 

Click on the image to open the gallery…

 

When you ride into Aarhus, we suggest you use some of the time to see, for instance, ARoS, The Old Town, the quaint Latin Quarter with designer boutiques, or Christie’s Gallery. And there are plenty of things happening in Aarhus this summer, such as Northside Festival, Classic Car Race, Aarhus Jazz Festival, Aarhus Festival, Viking Moot, or you can even join a guided tour of the city.

 

MONTRA HOTEL SABRO KRO

Viborgvej 780
8471 Sabro
Denmark

+45 8694 8922

www.sabrokro.dk

 

Denmark’s Third Oldest City: Aarhus, a Viking Trading Town Near the Sea…

May 4, 2012 by  

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From the Viking trading town near the sea, to the world’s smallest metropolis, Aarhus, or Aros as the Vikings called the city, lies along the river Aros, which, in the old days, was the highway into the hinterland. Aarhus is Denmark’s third oldest city after Ribe and Hedeby. Late in the 8th century, the ancient trading center lay on the north side of the Aros river, making the city excellent for trading. It was easy for the Vikings to get to Aros by sea, and they could sail many miles into the hinterland using the inland river system, in their slim Viking Longships.

The town was fortified with a defense system around the year 934, possibly on the initiative of King Gorm the Old, the first King of Denmark. The defence system was built and enhanced by his son Harald Bluetooth. The Vikings earned their living with trade and crafts, and the many excavations in the city since then, have given a detailed insight into their daily lives, more than 1,000 years ago.

Aarhus lies facing the sea, and is situated between the two forests, “Risskov” and Marselisborg forest. The royal Danish family have their private residence at Marselisborg Castle, beautifully situated with view over Aarhus bay. “Mindeparken” (Park of Remembrance) is a monument for the soldiers that fell during “The Great War” of 1914-18. Marselisborg Castle is a gift from Aarhus City to the royal family.

The Danish Queen comes to town every Christmas with all her children and grandchildren, and Christmas really comes to town. You can nearly imagine the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, sitting with his candle and writing children’s stories about Christmas. Hans Christian Andersen doesn’t actually come from Aarhus, but it’s a nice story anyway.

Aarhus City has a lot to offer, from small cosy restaurants scattered across the city, to an extensive cultural scene and business life, which puts all the experiences into perspective. The city has Scandinavia’s largest container port, and giant container ships are often moored in Aarhus harbour, with their steel containers filled with merchandise from faraway countries. However, we don’t sail the goods up along the Aarhus river in longships, any longer.

Attractions such as “The Old City” (Den Gamle By) and the large art museum “AROS” draw many tourists to the capital of Jutland each year. If you like shopping, it’s only your wallet, and packing space on your bike, that set the limits.

Aarhus river has been covered over for many years, but now the river has come into view again, and has become an architectural and cultural attraction. Along the river in the city center, you will find a multitude of cafes and restaurants, and you can definitely spend some nice hours there. If you like music and dance, then take a walk around town, and find the right venue; you will find both new Danish music and international artists on the program. You have to experience the nightlife in the world’s smallest metropolis, as part of your great motorcycle adventure in Aarhus.

Take In Incredible Landscape Via Denmark’s Djursland

April 26, 2012 by  

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Djursland is one of Denmark’s most beautiful areas, with wide open spaces and fresh sea air. There many reasons to tour to Djursland, and spend one or more days in one of Denmark’s nicest landscapes.

If you come from Aarhus, take the small roads along the coast to Rønde. At Rønde, turn off towards Kalø castle ruins, with the hills of Mols Bjerge forming a nice backdrop. This is where Djursland starts, and continues with small beautiful roads that meander through the countryside. There are many roads to choose from, but don’t be afraid to choose the wrong path, as all the roads are beautiful, no matter where you are in Mols Bjerge. You can choose to eat lunch outdoors on Helgenæs, or you can take a tour of Ebeltoft.

EBELTOFT AND THE FRIGATE JYLLAND

Ebeltoft is like a pearl at the bottom of Ebeltoft Vig. You can easily spend a few hours in Ebeltoft, exploring the good food which you’ll find in small eateries, scattered around the town. You can also find a few nice restaurants at the fishing port. After a good lunch, you have the opportunity to explore the local culture. Ebeltoft is known for its glass museum and world-class craftsmanship, and a lot of art galleries. Above all, you can visit the Frigate Jylland, a landmark for the town. The Frigate Jylland has a long, tumultuous and violent history, and you can get the full story at the museum, which is really exciting. The frigate and its museum allow you to feel the history, and there are probably many stories about the Frigate Jylland, which you don’t already know, so the old sailing ship is well worth a visit. It may well require a good beer and some calories after a cultural afternoon on the Frigate Jylland, but you’re in good hands; there are many fine inns and hotels in the area.

Spend a night or two in Djursland and discover Helgenæs and views over Aarhus Bay, Samsø and Tunø. If you have fishing rod, you have a good opportunity to catch a few fish at Sletterhage lighthouse. If water isn’t your thing, you can ride up to Trehøje in Mols Bjerge, and enjoy the views of Aarhus there. When you stand up there, looking out over the landscape, try to imagine how the Vikings once stood there and watched over the area. Remember your camera, there will be something to show the family when you get home. You can drive down from Trehøje through the small town Tokkerbo and get back out on the main road again, which leads you to either Ebeltoft or Grenaa.

GRENÅ AND THE BEACHES TO THE NORTH

On a tour of Djursland, you should also visit the Kattegat Centre in Grenå, which offers a different type of entertainment, featuring all kinds of fish. Sharks, rays, cod and probably many species you do not know. If you’re brave, you can get to dive with members of the Centre in a giant tank, enabling you to come in close contact with the fish. The Kattegat Centre is beautifully situated by the harbour in Grenå.

From Grenå, drive north and you’ll find the beautiful beaches and stunning wild, raw nature. Northern Djursland is filled with good, small roads, winding through fields, woods and small towns, such as Karlby, Gjerrild and Sangstrup. Djursland has everything you could want from a motorcycle holiday – but be warned, the beauty of Djursland gets right under your skin.

Suggestions of Places to Visit

  • - Trehøje in Mols Bjerge
  • - Agri Bavnehøj in Mols Bjerge
  • - Jernhatten between Balle and Dråby
  • - Gravhøje nearby Thorsø
  • - Stabelhøjene in Agri
  • - The cliffs at Sangstrup
  • - Karlby and Gjerrild
  • - Store Baunehøj in Rønde
  • - Ellemandsbjerget on Helgenæs
  • - Lushage

VISIT DJURSLAND

Ny Lufthavnsvej 21
8560 Kolind
Denmark

+45 8752 1800

www.visitdjursland.com

Oh, That Gorgeous & Vibrant Gibraltar

April 25, 2012 by  

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I began the journey towards my destination in Gibraltar. It felt incredibly early, after the days spent in Barcelona, but I would like to get going while there was still a bit of coolness in the air, and the traffic wasn’t really awake yet. It had been a couple of exciting days in Europe’s possibly most interesting metropolis, and I would have liked to spend a week more there.

The roads were calling and there were new destinations to reach, and this time it was Gibraltar. I knew it was a bit optimistic, since there are about 1,000 km down to there, and I had more or less decided on an overnight stop, somewhere along the way. The sun was baking more and more, even before I got out of town, so I took the coast road N340 and N332 further south, which I had decided to ride the whole way.

It’s not the fastest route, but you get the greatest impression as you ride along the coast, and pretty much have to go through all small and major cities along the road. As the sun came up and got stronger, the usual morning mist burned off, and from around 10 o’clock, the sun was again baking down until sunset, around 11 o’clock in the evening.

This puts you in a dilemma as to which clothes to ride in. I chose what everyone else does: Helmet, t-shirt and jeans (except those that were shirtless and in shorts and sandals), and this outfit was what I started out in. While the road twisted away, the sun was more and more evident over the Mediterranean Sea on my left side, and mirrored beautifully in the calm sea.

In Catalonia, where Barcelona is located, most street signs, etc. are in both Catalan and Spanish. When you go further south, to the Valencia district, you can get by using Spanish alone. The same phenomenon applies in the Basque country of El Pais Vasco. Both autonomous regions cherish, as you know, their own language and distinctive culture.

There is already a lot of traffic, and it goes especially slow through the towns, and therefore you can’t go as fast as you might think. Every Spanish town has its own weekly market, where everyone does their shopping for the week, and the towns where the markets are really hard to get through, so you need to devote half an hour extra for these.

The winding coastal road is incredibly beautiful, and alternates between cliffs, sandy beaches, plantations, etc., all punctuated by small and large towns. The first major town is Tarragona, which is approx. 350 km from Valencia, which can be reached in late afternoon, and is very suitable for lunch by Spanish standards. When you’re riding in Spain, tapas just feels like the right thing to eat.

Just remember not to go overboard and order too much, as all of the Tapas is very tempting, and you can’t really choose between the many delicious delicacies. The large agricultural areas around Valencia are among the most developed agricultural areas in Europe, and can be harvested three to four times a year.

The area is called “Huerta” and was originally called “Heaven on Earth” by the Moors, because of its fertile lands. The city was founded by the Greeks, and later taken over by the Romans in 138 BC. Today, it’s just a fantastic city with a lot of content of every conceivable kind.

It was really hot, but as a Northerner I should not complain and just enjoy the temperature. However, I have to remember to keep my knees away from the tank that is now unbearably hot. The jeans are also burning, and you drive with your legs as far away from the engine and exhaust as possible. After Valencia comes coastal towns Oliva, Denia and Javea, which are so beautifully situated between cliffs and sea. The roads here are of high quality, and consists of one consuming curve after another, without straight sections between them.

The roads are fairly empty, now that the siesta has taken over, and this offers a few enjoyable hours of riding. However, one must be aware of local bikers, who like to get a couple of kilometre in, in the same period, and can execute hairpin turns at an incredible pace, even though there is 100-metre vertical drop on the other side of the auto-structure.

AT AROUND 6 O’CLOCK THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR POPS UP

But it can’t be right, are we only in Calpe, what’s going on here? It turned out Calpe has its very own Gibraltar rock, thrown with the same casual manner onto the beach. This one is “only” 332 m. We’re riding out to the rock which appears to be nature reserve, and fantastically located at the end of a peninsula, where the town of Calpe is located right up to the rock. Here, we decide to stay overnight in order to investigate this natural phenomenon a bit closer the next day.

The rock, which is more like a mountain, turns out to be called Penon de Ifach, and is an amazing geological phenomenon. At the end of a reasonably flat peninsula, the rock mountain, completely unmotivated, jumps up to a height of 332 meters, as if it really was a giant meteor that had just happened to land here.

As mentioned, the area is classified as a nature reserve, and you can walk 2/3 up the mountain without too much difficulty, by prepared trails, where you’ll come to a tunnel which was carved into and through the mountain, in 1918. It runs along 50m through a difficult area. Having gotten through the tunnel it is possible to get the up last 1/3 of the mountain under your own steam, which I didn’t, mainly due to vertigo. All the way up there, are the most amazing views which cannot be described, but must be experienced.

Down again, we were just overwhelmed by the urge for a dip in the lagoon on one side of the mountain. If you like diving, the area around the rock is world-class, and there are several diving clubs in the area, where you can test your skills. Since I myself am a certified scuba diver, this was obviously tried, and I can only recommend it. There is an incredible fish life already from 1m depth, and had I brought my harpoon, dinner would have been ready.

 

 

 

 

From Grossglockner in the Austrian Alps to Denmark by Bike

April 24, 2012 by  

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Grossglockner is situated in the Alps and is the highest peak in Austria. At 3,798m, it sits on the border of the federated states of Tyrol and Kärnten, and is a part of the range Hohe Tauern. The mountain peak itself, lies in the southern branch of the range. At the foot of Grossglockner lies the Pasterze Glacier. In spite of increased melt-off, due to rising temperatures, it is still the largest glacier in the eastern Alps. The recognisable pyramid shaped peak is actually two mountaintops, Grossglockner and Kleinglockner (3.770m), they are separated by the highest mountain gorge in Austria.

 

The real trip to GrossGlockner starts in Lüneburg, about 190 kilometres from the Puttgarden ferry, and is perfect for an evening ride, after crossing over from Rødby.

HOTEL FOR THIS STAGE – FRIDAY-SATURDAY
Gasthausbrauerei Nolte – Dahlenburger Landstr. 102 -21337 Lüneburg
Expect to pay between €30-40, for 2 persons in apartment.
www.gasthausbrauerei-nolte.de

The German Fairytale Road Through fairytale country, on the trail of the Brothers Grimm. Travel trough the Land of Fairytales, on the German Fairytale Road, from Bremen to Hanau. It’s one of the oldest German holiday routes, and it passes through more than 70 towns, municipalities and counties, all of which have important ties to the lives of the Brothers Grimm, and their collection of fantastic tales based in folklore, myth, legends and sagas – in short, a fabulous travel route. The Adventure paradise leads us to places, where childhood dreams come alive again, where, behind the seven mountains, live seven dwarves along with a princess. Where you’re enchanted by fairies, lured away by pied pipers, or meet Little Red Riding Hood, in the middle of the woods.

Here, between the River Main and the sea, everyday life seems further away than the moon. The German Fairytale Road lead through a landscape full of poetry, to the romantic marketplace with the Bremer City Musicians, to the historic castles, where Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella come from, to the picturesque timbered town, where Max and Moritz, Wilhelm Busch’s precursors to the Katzenjammer Kids, came up with pranks, or the enchanted castle, where Rapunzel let down her hair.

Along the road you’ll find tons of art and culture, no less than eight nature reserves, and lovely mountains and river basins. Around here, the quaint timbered villages come at you, one after one, like pearls on a string. Delve into the lush, flourishing landscape, and enjoy the hospitality of one of Europe’s oldest and most popular holiday routes.

The Castle Trendelburg, where you are able to enter “Rapunzel Tower”, from where a wonderful view of all of the great forest Reinhardwald, can be seen. Or Castle Sababurg, where the Prince awoke Sleeping Beauty with a kiss. In the Mill Museum in Ebergötzen, you get a chance to see the seven world famous pranks, concocted by Max and Moritz. In the lovely landscape Schwalm, you’re reminded of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and in Hameln, you meet the tale of the Pied Piper. In the town of Polle, you can even follow in the footsteps of Cinderella.

In some towns, visitors are even welcomed by living characters from the tales. Feasts and menus from the fables, with Stable fests, Princely banquets, and the ever-popular, medieval table settings, offer rich opportunity to indulge yourself, on your holiday. Along the Road of Adventures, you’ll find copious amounts of art and history, and the phrase “look at that“, will be exclaimed time and time again, on your journey along this German Fairytale Road.

HOTEL FOR STAGE 1 – SATURDAY-SUNDAY
Hohlebach Mühle – Ziegenhainer Strasse 51 – 34576 Homberg (Efze)
Expect to pay between  €50-60 pr. room per person.
www.hohlebachmuehle.de

For more than 50 years, natural environment, culture and hospitality have been the trademark of the “Romantic Road”, the most famous and popular German turist route. 350 romantic kilometres lead to a varied cultural landscape along the “Romantische Strasse” from Main, through the Frankish wine country, to the Alps! This route of dreams from Würzburg to Füssen presents the traveller with historic hamlets, full of impressive buildings, and villages with long and colourful histories, which until today have kept their original splendour and appearance. The route goes through the lovely valley of Taubertal, Nördlingen im Ries, which lies in the middle of a volcanic crater with some very fertile soil, then through the picturesque Lechfeld, Pfaffenwinkel – Land of peasants, artists and monks, in the highlands before the Alps – and finally reaches the famous fairytale castles.

The name Romantische Strasse, expresses the feeling many domestic and foreign visitors get, while in this backdrop of wealth, western history, art and culture: Fascination and retrospection. But a journey on the Romantische Strasse is more than just pretty landscapes culinary treats. Great names accompany the route: Balthasar Neumann, who created Würzburger Residenz, Tilmann Riemenschneider in the lovely Taubertal Valley, and Carl Spitzweg, who was all about Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl. Exciting geological occurrences are found in the Ries area. In Augsburg, you’ll bump into the Romans, and with ‘Fuggerei’, the world’s first housing project from the 1500’s. Wieskirche (UNESCO-world heritage), one of the most famous works of art from the Rococo-period, is in Pfaffenwinkel. Schwangau, “The Village of the Castles of the Kings”, is framed by four lakes, with the reservation ‘Ammergebirge’ as a backdrop.

At the foot of the mountains, are the two castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, two exciting castles from the 1800’s. These world famous castles were built by the Bavarian fairy-tale King Ludwig II and Crown Prince Maximilian, and are dreams of times past, built in stone. They tie up the end of the Romantische Strasse at the base of the Bavarian Alps. At the edge of the Alps, and on the border of Tyrol, lies the highest town in Bavaria, Füssen, at 800-1200 metres above sea level. The completely preserved medieval town centre, holds many art treasures and historic buildings. High above the town, the church and monastery of St. Mang, and Hohes Schloss – the former summer residence of the Prince Bishops of Augsburg – make up a remarkable ensemble. From here, a trip to Germany’s highest mountain – Zugspitze (2.964 m) – is highly recommended. There is an unforgettable view of countless mountaintops in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

But to see and experience it all, you ought to go by this route. The many hospitable restaurants along the route, from Main to the Alps, tempt you with their culinary offerings. Motorists, bus tourists, campers, festival guests, and connoisseurs go exploring on the Romantische Strasse. On the trip, you’ll experience geology, 2000-year-old cultures and, of course romance. You’ll have to experience the many castles and monasteries, to remind you of the feudal ages at least once. Just take your bike and get going.

HOTEL FOR STAGE 2 – SUNDAY-MONDAY
Hotel Post – Haupstrasse 25 – 87484 Nesselwang
Expect to pay around €60.00 per room, per person
www.hotel-post-nesselwang.de

The German Alpine Road – a drive-in movie theatre of the highest quality! In 2002, it celebrated it’s 75th anniversary, and is one of the oldest German tourist roads. Lots of curvaceous kilometres, from Lindau by Lake Boden, to Berchtesgaden by Lake Königssee near the Austrian border, enchant the visitors. The fascinating part of this route is the variation, the constant changes between Alpine meadows, soft rolling hills and steep mountainsides, green forests, romantic valleys and sparkling lakes. Embedded in the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, are ancient villages, and over 25 glorious castles and monasteries invite you to stop.

The more than 20 crystal clear mountain lakes are not only a delightful sight, but also offer many recreational opportunities. Also, well known historic spas and cultural monuments give an occasional urge to take a break. Here you drive through sharp turns through beautiful countryside with its unique richness of nature and culture on the edge of Allgäu and the Bavarian Alps. One needs only an open mind to the beauty of nature, its wonders and secrets – and for the people who live there.

It is a region where the old customs, often religious in origin, are still maintained. Here you can still experience increasingly cosy lifestyle, happy peasant weddings and fairgrounds, but also folk music, sitar and horn music, at home. The many lakes, national parks and countless nature conservation areas, make the area a paradise for practitioners of outdoor sports, and recreation seekers. Each season presents itself here with a different picture – in the spring, when deciduous trees are rays of fresh green colour, in summer, when the mountain meadows bloom, in autumn, when the sun makes the leaves more colourful, and in winter, when the whole country is covered by a white and glistening blanket of snow – everything looks like scenes that are straight out of a painting.

In winter, the German Alpine Road, with it’s snowy landscape no less interesting. There is a wide choice of resorts of all sizes and with different degrees of difficulty available. Lake Constance, with its mild climate, angled alleys and narrow gabled houses are waiting for visitors in Lindau. Oberstaufen, Germany’s sole Schroth-spa resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze, Linderhof Palace – a white dream of colourful scenery.

If visiting the monastery Ettal, you must definitely taste the famous monastery liqueur. Other places worth visiting, are the little violin builders town, Mittenwald by Karwendel, or Füssen and Neuschwanstein Castle, or the picturesque town of Berchtesgaden presents itself, with Königssee and Watzmann massif, to mention only a few.

Restaurants can be found everywhere, along this panoramic route. Taste the delicious Bavarian specialties – juicy roast pork with “Knödel” (a kind of dumpling), veal shank fresh from the oven, savoury kale dishes and not least the “large beers”- perhaps in the fresh open air, in one of the beautiful outdoor pubs, or one of those old-fashioned pubs. This will make a bike trip in the world of spectacular peaks, an unforgettable experience for everyone.

HOTEL FOR STAGE 3 – MONDAY-FRIDAY
Gasthof Waldheim – Talstrasse 1 – 6280 Zell am Ziller
Expect to pay between €25-30 per room, per person.
www.gasthof-waldheim.at

The German Avenue Road under trees from Rügen Island to the Boden Sea.

It is almost intoxicating, to ride through the avenue of green tunnels. Around 100-year-old trees intertwine their branches over the roads, and thus provide a protective roof, where sunlight only comes through in some places. From Arkona, on Rügen island of Reichenau in Lake Constance, the old trees form a green belt along the road. Just below this canopy runs Germany’s longest and greenest holiday road, with a length of 2,500 kilometres. It presents us with an inexhaustible variety of impressions. Is there a more evocative ride than through a stately avenue with an enclosed, shady canopy? Ancient forests, vast lake districts with crystal clear lakes – from bird’s eye view it sometimes seem as if a large mirror had fallen onto the ground, and gone in a thousand pieces – resulting in large and small lakes everywhere.

If you have a longing for lakes, you’ve come to the right place. Mighty old trees, picturesque images, but also pristine areas, with a unique animal and plant life can be discovered. You move through stunning landscapes, the roof of the foliage swishes in the wind, see birds build nests, inhale the fragrance of a meadow in bloom – it is simply “big” and a good camera must be included, so you can capture the perfect scenery. Between Rügen and Lake Constance, the Avenue Road runs all the way through a total of eight federal states. You experience glorious scenery, the beautiful sights on the left and right of the route, and above all: Avenues. The route first passes through Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to Rheinsberg and from there, either through Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt in Goslar, or via Dresden through Erzgebirge to Thuringia.

 

From Meinigen, the trip goes through Hesse, via Koblenz, Rhein-Taunus and the Palatinate Forest in Ettlingen, at Karlsruhe. Here, begins the eighth and final chapter, through Schwarzwald to Meersburg on Lake Constance, and the route’s end point on the island of Reichenau. This section, raises your awareness of the avenues, which can also direct you to regional attractions. The avenues run along main roads, and display the natural environment, as well as roads that are more in harmony with the many idyllic locations.

The tour opens up to magnificent landscapes, and it runs almost entirely in Lime, Oak, Maple, Chestnut and other magnificent old trees. Depending upon the season, you look through the trees out onto yellow flowering canola or corn fields, with red poppies and blue cornflowers. In the autumn nature, this transforms the green canopy into a stained explosion of colour, and the Avenue ceiling is set ablaze in a multitude of colours – It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.

Small towns, with tall towers and picturesque villages, historical, classical buildings and places where the museums invite you to stay longer. The harmony between land and sea lends itself to swimming, and a typical example of this is the peninsula, Mönchgut. It’s a good idea to take your time to tour the German Avenue Road – a trip without haste, increases the joy of the country, people and culture. The German Avenue Road is highly recommended for motorcyclists. If distinctions were awarded among cruising roads, the German Avenue Road would surely be nominated.

 

 

 

 

Salvador Dali Museum in Spain is a MUST DO!

April 22, 2012 by  

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As I woke up one morning, I was thinking about my room when I was young, and the two Salvador Dalí  posters that I had hanging on the wall, alongside my beloved Beatles pictures from the white double album. One poster had elephants with some enormously long legs; the other was of a man on his way out of an egg, which symbolised the world.

In 1975, I bought an LP by the band James Gang, “Newborn”, just because of the cover. My favourite guitarist Tommy Bolin, had recently left the band, but I had to buy the record because of the egg-man…. Well, that’s a different story.

I’ve always loved Salvador Dalí ’s art and expression. Images of something “wacky” are just me. The Dalí museum is something I really look forward to.

ABOUT SALVADOR DALÍ

Salvador Dalí was born in May 1904 and died in January 1989, and is the most famous of all the spectacular surrealists. He graduated from art school in Madrid. In 1927 he met the painter Joan Miró, who introduced him to other Surrealists, as André Breton and Paul Éluard.

In 1929 he joined the Surrealist movement in Paris, and created surrealist film together with Luis Brnuel, such as “The Andalusian Dog” and “The Golden Age”, both huge successes. By this time, he had found his own style of surrealism. His depictions are dreams about sexuality, religion and metamorphoses, in which his girlfriend Gala Éluard, frequently appears.

Mostly, the backgrounds of the images are the deserted beaches of his birthplace, ‘Figueras’, populated with objects like ants, telephones, soft melting clocks and figurines with semi-open drawers, supported by the fork-shaped wooden crutches.

In 1938, Salvador Dalí was expelled from surrealist group, because of his political attitudes towards the dictator Franco. Like so many other prominent Spaniards, from the time he had to kiss the ass of the vile dictator.

In 1940, he moved to America, where his talent for self-dramatization and eccentric inventions earned him success, “over there”. In 1955, he returned to Cadaques in Catalonia. Things such as his Autobiography, “Salvador Dalí, Secret Life”, “A Genius Diary”, and the Dalí Museum in Figueres, are helping to keep the myth of the brilliant eccentric alive. No one can remove him from his position as one of 19th century’s most famous artists.

In the 1970s, Dalí built his museum in Figueres, where a large body of his works hang. He spent the last years of his life near his museum in Figueres, and left instructions to be buried there. So today, there he lies, in the basement, in his own universe.

Dalí was once asked about the difference between his art, and the work of the painter Pablo Picasso, to which he responded:

“Pablo paints ugly ugliness, I paint beautiful beauty, otherwise, there is no difference.”

DALÍ THEATRE-MUSEUM FIGUERES

Gala-Salvador Dalí Square, 5, E-17600 Figueres, Spain.

www.salvador-dali.org

 

Cruising Along the Spanish Coast in Altea in the Alicante Province

April 17, 2012 by  

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The sun was shining through a clear blue sky, as we found ourselves cruising along the coast in Altea, situated on the Mediterranean, in the Alicante province in Spain. Today’s goal was Guadalest in the Cordillera Bernia / Benicadell. Alicante is the southernmost province of the autonomous region of Valencia, where the warm Mediterranean breeze blows gently inland from the coastline. Sandy beaches and dunes, interspersed with rocky areas and steep slopes, make up a landscape of blue, yellow, white and green tones.

DANGEROUS BENDS AHEAD

First gear screams a little, and we gain traction and get moving. Out of Altea, and onto the road towards Guadalest. After about 10 beautiful kilometres you get to Callosa, and then you start a long series of swings, on the best asphalt you can imagine. The swings lead you up and down mountains, through canyons and valleys, over ancient bridges and rivers, and after each turn, a new and fantastic natural phenomenon reveals itself.

Wild olive trees, strange undergrowth, orange and lemon groves, desert landscape haciendas, and lonely Fincas. You really have to concentrate on your riding here, because in those few places where there actually are roadside barriers, they usually only consist of white-painted concrete blocks, set up at intervals, which you can easily slide between if it all goes wrong. And it’s a long drop.

MOTORBIKES AND MUSEUM MECHANICS

After 1 hour of riding these hypnotic swings, a large building suddenly appears with old cars parked outside, so we slow down to check it out. “Museo Colección de Vehículos Históricas”, it says on the sign. A motorcycle museum all the way out here in the Badlands? To be more specific, in Valle del Río, Guadalest. Inside, a man sitting behind a desk lets out the local version of ‘Hola’. Tickets can be bought for 3 Euros. Inside, there is indeed a museum, 500m2 filled with more than 140 motorcycles, and a dozen micro-cars, ranging from the 1920’s up to the 1970’s. Over 50 different brands, mainly from southern Europe, but also Indian, Harley Davidson and Henderson are represented.

All vehicles were collected over a period of 30 years, by Frac Ricardo and his wife, and then later, by their son. The motorcycles and cars are in incredibly fine original condition and running order. This is truly a well kept museum, where the surroundings are as breathtaking as the vehicles. The museum is situated around 7km from Guadalest, and open every day except Saturday, all year round. Time goes quickly, in the company of such mechanical beauty, and there’s a lot to see here. Iif we didn’t have to continue riding, I could easily have spent the rest of the day here. Highly recommended.

 

Finally, we can see the church spire in Guadalest, consisting only of the top 5 feet of a normal church tower, placed on top of a mountain peak, making it very distinctive. How anyone can climb up to this tower is a mystery, but it would undoubtedly be an advantage with a background as a mountaineer, as there is no normal access or stairs.

Guadalest was originally founded as a fortress by the Moors, in the year 715, after which the village grew out around it. Castillo de Guadalest was considered impregnable for centuries, until Jaime first changed that perception. The only entrance to the village is through a tunnel carved into the mountain side, approx. 30m in length, 3m high, and 2m wide.

A few hundred steps take you up to the tunnel, so it goes without saying, cars and other vehicles won’t make it up here. For this reason, you only meet walking traffic the streets. The town perches deftly on the mountain top, and a few hundred steps even further up, you’ll find the cemetery. The main street consists almost entirely of restaurants and souvenir shops, as this spectacular location draws many visitors.

From the town, you have a fantastic view down into the valley, over a large turquoise lake, flanked by the surrounding mountains, with the Mediterranean in the distance. The lake was formed by damming the river, and you even can float around on it if you want, in solar-powered electric boats.

You can get a lot out of a day like this, both in terms of the trip, but especially the places visited. If you like good riding roads, with lots of turns and very dramatic nature, then this trip is highly recommended. Dedicate a whole day, so there is time for immersion along the way. That evening, after a long day in the saddle, I said goodnight to the motorbike, which, although as tired as I was, seemed quite happy with the day’s hardships, and responded with a cheerful “beep” when the alarm was activated.

 

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