After our daily continental breakfast (included free in our 75 Euro per night room) at Gasthof Zum Schupfen, we said goodbye to our host, Evelyn, and set off on a long day of riding to get from Austria to Slovenia ( around 423km and 8 hours on the bike).

We had uneventful border crossings from Austria into Italy, Italy back into Austria, Austria into Italy again and finally Italy into Slovenia. Borders were either unmanned or we were simply waved through.

We took the A13 South from Innsbruck to Bressanone in Italy, then left the motorway to pick up the E66 heading East. We stopped at Sillian back in Austria for lunch and shortly afterwards headed South East picking up the beautiful B111 – a magical road in Austria. We passed so many SPARS (supermarket)  we’ve seen more in this little corner of Austria than anywhere else. We stopped again in Arnoldstein, refused and then headed South to briefly reenter Italy before crossing over into Slovenia. The road we followed passed through Triglavski Narodni Park, we followed the D206 North through the Park with the road weaving alongside the Soca River……its magnificent turquoise coloured water was so inviting….we had never seen water so translucent and clean….amazing. It even rivalled the glacial lakes we have seen in other parts of the world.

A wonderful and unexpected surprise was the climb to Kranjska Gora taking in 24 hairpins up and 24 back down, with a nay twist and turns in between…..truly spectacular! After dropping down on the Northern side of the pass we made our way out to the E61 motorway and blasted down to Ljubljana.

We had a short wait at the studio appartment we had booked online for 40 Euro. Nina was most helpful in showing us the features including how to lock the front door which required a violent shove to close…..Vince had to do this! We had picked up some provisions in one of the early SPARS and Vince made his Thai Green Chicken Curry….but this time we had the luxury of a stovetop and sink! It was around 7.00pm when we arrived and by the time we had freshened up and cooked dinner it was past 9.00pm …so our hopes of visiting the old town had to wait until tomorrow…..we are both exhausted!

A few weeks ago we’d arranged via email and telephone with Lukas Schraffl, BMW Motorrad Service Manager at BMW Innsbruck (Unterberger – Denzel GmbH) to bring the bike in for its 20,000km service, and for a pair of new Conti TKC80’s. Since then we’ve been cruising slowly through the alps, enjoying the twisty roads and alpine passes whilst trying to not clock up too many additional km’s on the bike as we’d reached the service interval, or wear out the tyres too much – as decent grip is essential here on the steep and windy roads. Yesterday Karen and I dropped the bike in (a day early so it was ready for Lukas’ team first thing the next day), and we got the chance to meet Lukas, and I finally replaced my much loved but extremely worn-out Dri-Rider Velocity gloves with a pair of ritzy BMW 2-in-1 gloves, courtesy of Karen’s visa card. Karen had actually tried to source some new Velocity gloves for me whilst we were still in Perth but Dri-Rider no longer manufacture them, which is a shame.

This morning we did some packing and sorting, and mid-afternoon we caught the bus into Innsbruck and posted a few more items home, and then headed out to BMW to collect the bike.

Lukas and his team had done an excellent job on the bike, and their attention to detail was fantastic. In addition to the service and new tyres (generously discounted), they had replaced the footpeg rubber on Karen’s left footpeg, picked up on the missing reflector on the front fork (RHS) and gave us some double-sided tape to reattach the reflector (it had been knocked off when the bike was in transit), replaced the missing windscreen circlip with a stronger version (and gave us a bag of spare circlips and another pin), and then they had found time to wash the bike as well !!! A sticker had also been placed over the speedo to warn about the slippery new tyres.

Lukas then assisted us with purchasing a few spares (spark plugs and rear brake pads, at a discount which is always appreciated), and showed me how to access the air-filter so that could be cleaned out with compressed air, as required. To wrap it all up – Lukas had also been kind enough to take some photos of the bike whilst it was being serviced – I’ve added them to the gallery below so you can see it being worked on.

Karen and I were very pleased with the service we received from everyone at BMW Innsbruck, and from Lukas especially, and with a few discounted parts here and there I was pleasantly surprised with the cost. I might use what we saved as a down-payment on a new i8 – the one we saw in the car showroom looked pretty neat 🙂

Now we’re back at our Gasthof Schupfen, sorting out some photos and blogs and our route for tomorrow – Innsbruck Austria to Ljubljana Slovenia, and we can’t wait to get back on the road !!!



BIKE: Running well for the 11,000 km clocked up on this trip so far… apart from loss of pin & /circlip from the windscreen twice and problems with the pillion footpeg rubber (LHS).

ACCOMMODATION: Very expensive in UK and Europe ….we have tried to go budget but with a private bathroom but still expensive. We camped in UK only 3 nights due to weather and health issues. So far we have camped about 25 nights in Europe. Campgrounds don’t always supply toilet paper and at many campsites you have to pay for showers and hot water.

FOOD: Initial difficulty in finding food! Once we bought a frypan things improved dramatically. However not speaking or reading the language we often find our meals are a surprise when they arrive ….Vince copes far better than this than Karen…who often goes hungry.

ROUTE: Has changed slightly due to down time for medical treatment (8 days) and three weeks fill in waiting on bike service and new tyres in Innsbruck.

HEALTH: Initally six weeks of colds and chest infections for both of us. Karen (chemotherapy reaction/burns unit) for 8 days treatment. Since then….all good!

GIFTS or ASSISTANCE: Discount on Electic Vests from BMW Guildford, a gas lighter from relatives in Greenock, Tyre Fitting in Bath, Map of Switzerland from a fellow camper in Tasch, Swiss Camp cooking fork from a fellow camper in Umbrail, and a discount on gloves and free circlips and windscreen bolt from BMW Innsbruck.

THINGS LOST: Vince – 1 dry bag (Chamonix). Karen – 1 earring (Dozengham) and 1 spare camera battery – unknown who is responsible for this one!

‘FUCK ME’ MOMENTS WHILST RIDING: Only once really, when some idiot in a car pulled out from behind a truck that had just braked to a stop in front of it, and as we were oncoming we were heading straight into a head-on crash on a wet road with no where to pull off to. Thank goodness for ABS because without that we would have split the car in half. Another time we got a green light at some road works and advanced down the road but were then delayed quickly by a road-work vehicle, and then once that pulled out of the way we met traffic coming up from the other direction so that was a bit squeezy on the one-lane track – but we managed to fit through better than the cars behind us 🙂


ROAD RULES BROKEN: Vince has lost count. Sometimes the GPS has guided him the wrong way down one-way streets and if he’s not quick enough to pick up the road signs we end up with a scenic tour the wrong way around. We’ve dodged under barriers (twice), and Karen tells Vince that he sneaked through a red light early one morning, but in his defence the road was empty and the lights hadn’t detected the bike. Oh and in Ireland he got the impression that at temporary traffic light signs as used at roadworks its normal to go on the red light as one day we counted five cars in front of me go through on a red light so he tagged along with them, and then he realised maybe that wasn’t the right thing to do 🙂

– Riding
– Navigation
– Everything else, including but not limited to:
– Finances
– Logistics
– Accommodation
– Linguistics
– Public Relations
– Equipment
– Procurement
– Entertainment

Up in time to catch the nice continental breakfast at Gastoff Shupfen – our quaint little hotel, and then we raced out the door to catch the passing 4140 bus before it sped down the hill and into Innsbruck Main Station, passing the Wilton Basilica and Wilton Church on the city outskirts. Tickets cost 5.80 Euro for the pair of us one way.

We set off armed with a free tourist city map to find Maximillion’s Golden Roof and the Swarovski Crystal Factory…. located in the Old Town. We also had a list of practical things to track down…..laundromatt, camera shop (replacement extra battery for my camera), post office (we need to send more stuff home), food supplies (the hotel kitchen is closed on Mondays), Hajib (for me for visa photos), passport photo places (we need some for Iran and India visas), Pandora Shop (charms for Switzerland, Italy and Austria) and a bank (Iran doesn’t have teller machines or take credit cards from foreign banks).

We were surprised that not only did we manage to tick off our list, but we added some extra opportunistic wish list things…..extra MSR tent pegs and guy ropes, a backup gaslighter, a spatula, a kitchen knife with scabbard. At the SPAR we were in absolute heaven….Vince found most of the ingredients to make his famous Thai Green Curry Chicken for tonight’s dinner, we even found dry ginger (unheard of everywhere we have been in Europe) so we bought some cheap scotch to drink with it….yahoooooo!

We had lunch on the run …Vince had a Hot Chiky – chicken and vegetables in a pita bread with a hot sauce. I was a bit more cautious and settled for a Pretzel Place and had a cheese and spinach roll …where at least we could sit down to eat and drink.

We had trouble locating a scarf or shawl long enough for me to use as a makeshift Hajib, but we eventually settled on a 13 Euro sarong from a Hippy Bong Shop (much to Vince’s amusement!)…It is black with blue Celtic Knots….very fitting for his “Celtic Warrior Princess” (a name he has started calling me since my hair now resembles Side Show Bob….it’s wild!!!!!)

Back at our hotel we fired up our trusty “Dragonfly” in the Beir Garten and cooked dinner. We then came back upstairs so Vince could listen to songs from the Sound of Music downloaded from Youtube….yesterday he made me sing “DO-RE-MI” over our Senas as we crossed the boarder into Austria… all makes sense now!

Woke up to a damp morning in our forest campsite at Umbrail in Switzerland, at the base of the Umbrail Pass – this is the pass that we took yesterday when we peeled off near the top of the Stelvio Pass, having approached that from the southern side and been a little jaded with all the traffic – and it appears to me that Italian drivers in their little cars have a manic need to overtake anything in their way, even if the roads are single lane and large vans up ahead will eventually retard their progress – but that’s another story.

Kristoff – the German rider we were speaking with last night was already up and pottering round outside his tent so I fired up the Dragon Fly and boiled enough water for Karen, Kristoff and myself for a tea & two coffees. Kristoff and his riding mate Christian each have 850cc Tenere’s (Kristoff has 10 of them – including an ex-Paris Dakar one), and he was very interesting to chat with. Every year he & Christian go on a 3-4 week adventure ride, and they’ve done Morocco a few times, Turkey a few times, the Balkan states a fair bit, etc etc. Kristoff is a firefighter by profession but learnt his trade as car mechanic at a young age and loves tinkering with bikes, and has established a reputation throughout Europe as the go-to guy for anything Tenere-related. Christian woke up and joined the conversation, and asked if he could borrow our Switzerland map (we’d been gifted that in Tasch by Earnest) so I gave the map to Christian, and in return he gave us a map of Albania – so it all goes around in a big circle I think 🙂

We were packed up first so we said our goodbyes – Bernard stopped by as well to bid us farewell, and we headed into the nearby village to refuel and find breakfast. Refuelling was a small saga as the driveway of the petrol station was that steep I couldn’t get off the bike, and Karen needed to squeeze around the bowser to pass the fuel nozzle, whilst trying to not knock me over, as I was balanced so precariously on the slope. Refuelling finished we idled through town but couldn’t find food, so we headed back up (south) the Umbrail Pass to the top where it meets the Stelvio Pass road. We paused for a few minutes at the junction so I could fit the GoPro’s, and as we started up towards the top of the pass it started to drizzle. The road side was covered in snow and ice, and a few guys were out on their pushbikes, pushing on through the freezing conditions. We crested the top of the pass and saw a few bikes parked alongside the shop stalls there. but rather than stop we kept on going and launched ourselves down the iconic northern side of the Stelvio Pass. Our progress was slow and cautious as the road was wet and I wasn’t completely confident in our deteriorating front tyre, and when I saw faster bikes come up from behind I’d pull over a bit and wave them through. Google just told me that there are 48 hairpin bends on the northern side of the Stelvio Pass and 60 in total, and the 48 switchbacks we dropped down through this morning were a bit of hard work on our heavily-loaded bike.

When the road eventually straightened out we entered the little sleepy village of Trafoi and pulled over for a hot lunch of spicy spaghetti which was delicious. Back on the road it started to drizzle again, and we rode steadily down the valley, following the SS38 to Spondigna, where we turned northwards and headed towards the border crossing in Austria. Shortly afterwards Karen’s digital camera battery went flat so we stopped for a few minutes whilst she grabbed my camera out of the top-box – but the scenery we passed from that point onwards wasn’t quite as stunning as what we’d seen earlier in the day, and we eventually got funnelled onto the A12 motorway that led us into Innsbruck.

Our GPS led us to south Innsbruck and up the hill towards our hotel for the next four nights, but not without taking us off the main road and down a little goat track of a back road that reminded both of us of the rough track into the campsite we’d followed a week or so ago in southern Switzerland, but fortunately this track was at least sealed and it eventually rejoined the main road, not too far from our small but quaint hotel.

We’re about 8km south of Innsbruck, and tomorrow we’ll start on our list of chores, culminating in the bike service & tyre fitting on Wednesday. And on Thursday morning it’ll be “Slovenia – here we come !!!!”

PS: I don’t have any GoPro photos of the Stelio Pass I’m afraid – yesterday morning I updated the firmware on our two GoPros and without realising it, the upgrade changed the video capture settings and switched off the Video+Photos mode. I’ve checked the video but the camera lenses were smudged with rain drops so the video isn’t too flash. I’ll check Karen’s camera later and see what photos she managed to snap and upload a few of those, so watch this space !!!