On the Austrian roads

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Our trip on the Austrian roads started by a first break at the town just after the border. We entered in the only café of the main street, for buying the licence allowing to drive on the highway.

We passed by the countryside at the speed of our vehicles. The asphalt followed the relief of the smooth Austrian hills. In the middle of a large field, the nice landscape had beautiful farms with wooden structures very topical of the region. 

We are surprised, after a turn, to discover many vineyards along the hills. The East of Austria has actually some famous white wine vineyards.

The nice turns appeared one after another one until a new breakdown 80 kilometers before Prigglitz, on of the stop over town. On the side of the road, we had to change the gear on the rear well of one of the sidecars. The teeth were worn by the several kilometers drove since Columbia. Without any spare parts, Julien decided to switch the gear from the sidecar wheel to the rear one. This gaves us the possibility to reach the Ural importer workshop about 300kms further away.  After less than an hour, the engine roared again and we reached Prigglitz just 2 hours later after the scheduled time.

We rode 200 kilometres on the straight highway to reach the Welz city, in the Linz suburbs. Nothing fancy, our aim was to reach the Ural workshop as quick as possible and without any mechanical issues. We needed new spare parts to fix our sidecars.

We reached the workshop at the time of their closing time. Magdalena, one of the managers, warmly welcomed us. We started to visit the office with many Urals in the main room plus Royal Enfield and Norton motorbikes. We were particularly surprised to discover a mini-caravan adapted to be fixed on our sidecars.

In the morning, while Magdalena and Harry were working in their offices, a customer arrived with a Norton motorbike. We shared with him a coffee on the picnic table in front of the showroom. Once the espresso finished, we started to work on our sidecars. We had the benefit to park our sidecars in the warehouse. Due to the 30,000 kilometres of the trip, we changed the gear between the final drive and the wheel with the advice of Günter, the mechanic of the workshop who was changing the oil of a sidecar for a customer. No troubles for changing the one of the wheel but it was more difficult for the final drive. To extract the part, Günter helped us and gave us a good advice: not to be afraid to use big tools! So we used one of the machines to extract the part.

We enjoyed to be in this place to replace also worn seals and rubbers. For not loosing our time, we did a quick break in the warehouse with a sandwich. We put tables and chairs out for the picnic which were used as a drawing table by the kids once the lunch finished. During the afternoon, we checked the valves and changed a rear wheel, hoping to do this kind of repair for the last time of the trip.

The following day and after a busy day of mechanics, our Ural sidecars were ready for leaving the warehouse. This time, we headed to the West of the country and the region of Tyrols in the Austrian Alps.

We crossed wide fiels at the beginning of our itinerary. We shared the road with many bicycles. We used nice little roads crossing many villages. We saw nice tower bells and beautiful houses with an architecture from Austria and Hungry: a coloured facade and decoration around the windows.

We walked along the Attersee lake with its clear waters and the first summits of the Alps. We followed the valley shaped by the Gasteiner Ache river. On the first heights of these wide green gorges, there were castles on the top of rocky peaks such as the Burg Klammstein.

By getting closer to the mountains, the rain was back. We found a shelter in a supermarket next to the Bad Hofgastein and we took this opportunity for some food shopping. At the end of lunch, no other choice than going back on the road under the rain.

A hundred of kilometres further and once we crossed the col of Brenner under thick fog, we headed to Italy and the delicious Mediterranean food.

Linz – 6 days – 317 metres above sea level

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We crossed the border and arrived in Slovenia. We met Julien’s siter, Alice, and her husband Manu with their kids, Zack and Loah. Behind the van of the little family, we discovered the Slovenian roads between the hills of the Lower-Styria, located at the North-East of the country.

Once the camp was set up for the first evening next to a lake. We enjoyed a drink to celebrate our reunion. On the table, good French produce: a saucisson and some pâté. We dreamed about this from many months. 

The following day, we visited the 2nd biggest city of Slovenia, Maribor, under a blazing sun. We discovered the ancient marketplace, the cathedral and strolled in the paved streets. Along the Drava river, we had a picnic, sat on the stairs of the quay in the shadow of a tree.

At the bottom of the old Stari Most, we discovered a grapevine growing on the wall of a farmhouse made of stones. It was apparently the oldest kind of vine cultivated in the world. With its 400 years old, it was still giving grapes.

We continued our walk, up to the main square with the colourful facades with an architecture from Austria and Hungary before to arrive at the ancient castle with its golden bell tower dedicated to Saint Florian. Built after one of the fires, this castle was supposed to protect the city from natural disasters.

At the end of the afternoon, we were back on the road to find a new spot for the night. This time, we pitched up the tent between a football pitch and the Ledavsko lake. To enjoy the aperitif of this evening, I went for a run alongside the lake. No dive in this cloudy water but a hosepipe on the roof of a cabin next to the football pitch was worth one of the best locker rooms.

In the morning, we reached the border to enter in Austria after a few kilometres. At the end of the afternoon, we reached Prigglitz, a little village at the South-West of Vienna. We met Eva and Willy, our Austrian friends met in Peru, in their holiday house. We spent a great friendly evening with them.

In the morning, we left our friends and headed to Linz. More specifically, we stopped in Welz, the head office of Ural Europe, for a few days. It was time for some mechanical checks between a couple of BBQs.

Once the sidecars ready and still escorted by the family van. It was time to go back on the road for crossing the Austrian Alps and the region of Tyrols. We changed of direction before Salzburg and headed to the South to reach Italy.

Being confident with our sat nav, we crossed the beautiful valleys surrounded by massive mountains. But after a few hours on this road supposing to cross the border, we discovered the itinerary used the rail to cross the mountain. But the price announced made us changing our mind. We decided to go back and to take the Eastern road which will use free roads to cross the Italy after a summit in the Alps.

But for the time being, we looked for a spot to spend the evening. In this country, wild camping is prohibited and the campsites were too expensive. We opted for a little road along the Saalach riverside. After two negative replies from farmers, it was at the entry of a quad bikes circuit that we had the authorisation of using a little wooden cabin to spend the night, sheltered from the rain. We dined and spent the night on our matresses for the evening.

We left in the morning to reach Innsbruck. We did a quick stop at the ski station of Steinbergbahn which was full of bicycles this day. Then, we stopped in the village of St Johann in Tirol. Surrounded by the colorful houses, the main square was buzzing this day. There was an endurance race of mountain bikes. The bikers were in the paved streets with their best equipment.

We continued our road and noticed signs indicating the temple of ski, Kitzbuhel. On the left hand side there was its famous wall, a vertiginous slope for the great skiers. We avoided Innsbruck and used a little road to reach the station of Patscherkofelbahn and its track of bobsleigh. The rain arrived during our picnic. We stayed in a forest to enjoy our sandwiches of rillettes of fish, under the roof of the family van.

At the end of the afternoon, it was with a thick fog that we crossed the summit of Brenner marking the border of Italy.