Thursday, 13 January 2011
Austria - Part 2
Today is the day to cross those Austrian Alps! The Host with the Most, Klaus has prepared breakfast, the weather report and exact times of schedule to get through before the weather changes later today... I usually do these things myself, so it was wonderful to have somebody else figuring it out for me...
I'm packed and ready to go! My alps-crossing escort is nearly ready too!
One last photo, before I leave the beautiful Zell am See...
It will be a good day, to follow the leader.. don't have to think too much or monitor the gps.. and just ride....
The clouds are indicating the weather change is near..
The weather was really good.. I was beginning to wonder if I am too hasty to get out here so quick.. UNTIL!! We eventually get to a deep dark valley between the mountains.. in here the wind is going wild, and the clouds are coming around in thick dark gray.. this is what I was worried about all along. I wonder how long this rough bit will be..
Not long after, we turned a corner and came to a stop! Trying desperately to hold the bike upright in the strong wind, Klaus yells out that we get on the train now. He told me briefly about this earlier, but I didn't expect to see the train looking so open and odd.
But I do remember thinking.. thank God.....!
We arrived right on cue.. they rushed us through, I could barely take some quickie photos. This train was ready to go and takes us through a tunnel that only lasts 10 minutes.. Only 10 minutes! I have ridden through much longer tunnels, why is the train required on this one? Klaus explains that they had a bad accident at one time with fire.. and people got trapped and died. This was the best way to ensure everyones safety.
A very fun and unique experience!
A group of passengers on the train explain that I am lucky to be here now as just a few days ago they could not pass by car because they had already a big snow.. which has melted now. I must be in a weather pocket, because the guy in Prague said the same.. clearly I am lucky and on the edge of the season..
On the other end of the tunnel, the wind was no where near as strong. However, those gray clouds couldn't hold out any more and it was raining big time.. ! Ick.. but we knew it was coming and rather a big rain than a big snow in these parts. We had also made it through what would be the hairiest part of the Alps anyway. (Which wasn't hairy at all except the windy cloudy bit.. most of the really fun roads popular with motorcyclists are closed already) Klaus had very much pre-planned a must have stop for his daily cappucino here in the town of Spital an der Drau. What a gorgeous town it is.. good choice!! And from here we are getting close to the Slovenian border, where Klaus will turn around and I will continue again on my own..
Due to the heavy rain the photos stop, and camera under water protection. We eventually make it to the border as the rain starts getting even heavier... say a warm goodbye to my new friend and amazing host and ambassador to his country, and know things will be changing now.
Mainly because the biggest goal ever since I left Finland was to head south as fast as I can, so I don't get stuck by the winter snow. Always worrying and riding with intent, trying not to waste any time just to get past the Alps. Now... I can breathe, slow down and let the pace become more normal.
I'm disappointed I don't have photos to share at this point.. but it was not a nice ride through Slovenia. The rain was brutal, and my goal is to get to the ocean town of Rijeka in Croatia for the night. It got darker and darker and more difficult to ride in the rain. I tried to find a place to stay in Slovenia, but I couldn't. I was off the beaten path, and the roads were rough and small, winding and curving through the somewhat mountainous small villages. I stop a couple times, and know it's stupid to be riding, just wanted to stop. But sometimes it's best to pull it together and finish the job. Which I did... after many worrysome kilometers, up ahead I could see some big lights, and turned out to be the Croatian border... Whew!!! Thank God number two for the day!!!
Rijeka is so close, but I hadn't planned a place to stay. I just start stopping at hotels and asking the prices.. Very expensive, being a tourist town!! Finally a wonderful man in a very primp and proper place gave me great advice to a family run hotel/restaurant just out of town, and yet still on the ocean.. I hope this one does the trick, because I am soaking wet, cold and really want and NEED to stop. Cheap, somewhat clean, a little bit loud, but I got a bed for the night... Good Night!!!!!