M/C Summer Report #2: Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany

Two classics and us. Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy. Highly styled, gorgeous objects of beauty in a tiny museum.  This pretty much is the antithesis of our trip so far: )

Twenty-one days in and we’re still on two wheels and four feet, which is pretty remarkable considering how we started and where we’ve been (eight countries and about 2500 miles).  It’s true that the four feet ache a bit and the two wheels look the worse for wear, but we’ve crossed our own rubicon having fully transitioned to our on-the-road selves.  This manifests itself in several obvious and not so obvious ways:

  • Our new normal routine is get up, get dressed, get packed, have a quick breakfast, and we’re on the road before 8:00 AM.  Typical day is 200-300 kms with 3-4 stops along the way.  As soon as we know where the day’s end will be, we stop so that KR can book a hotel from a roadside restaurant along the way.  It usually takes us between 30-60 mins to find the hotel. Then rest, take a shower, put “street clothes” on and go to dinner somewhere around 8PM.  Repeat everyday except those that we stay in one place for more than a night.
  • We’ve both been through a remarkable transition.  KR is feeling so good that she’s lugging our bags up flights of stairs, walking around each town we visit, and eating like the horse she’s become.  I’ve become a motorcycle riding machine, no longer worried about each curve or bump in the road.  After three weeks, I’m fully in sync with NoName: )
  • Dinner conversation (well, breakfast and lunch as well) revolves around maps and GPS headings.  It usually includes at least one Zoom call with Sam H. while he’s on Google Maps and I’m on our analog maps.  It’s worked out remarkably well given we never really know what to expect or where to go before our dinner conversations.
  • The Southern Loop of the trip is done as we’re now heading northwest to Spa, Belgium (I write this from Rotheburg ob der Tauber in Germany).  We’ve been through a bit of northern Italy, crossed the Adriatic Sea in a ferry to Croatia, ridden to Dubrovnik on the southern tip of Croatia, with brief passages through Bosnia and Slovenia, and then back north along the Croatian coast, up through northern Italy and into the Austrian Alps.  We stayed a day and a night in Austria and are staying in one of Germany’s most picturesque Medieval cities tonight.

This is what 2500 miles through 8 countries in 21 days looks like.  Map and countless hours of help courtesy of Sam H.

If I were a better writer I could take you along with us through the many, many backroads we’ve ridden up, down and through.  Last night Karen remarked that the the sunflower fields of the Loire Valley seemed like years ago, and they do.   The most remarkable biking roads we’ve been are through the Swiss and then Austrian Alps.  We did 400+ kilometers on Wednesday through the Austrian Alps that I wanted to shout out loud, “Wow wow wow, look at this, and over there!” but I would have become hoarse because the beauty never stopped.  Riding through the back roads of northern Croatia was like stepping back in time, to what seems like a grayer time.  No more easy, laid back beach life of southern Coast once we go inland  to northern Croatia, which still shows signs of its dull communist past.  Both extremes were experiences to remember.

Even though we ride as fast and far as we can, there’s no escaping the red hot temperatures smothering all  of Europe.  Everyday ends soaked in sweat.  Yesterday it was 90ish here in Rothenburg, just like in Omis, Croatia or Dijon, France.  Surprisingly, tonight’s old German hotel is the first without air conditioning.  Rain wise, we’ve been lucky, only getting drenched once (who says hair driers can’t be used for soaked boots?).  I write this sitting under an umbrella in the garden of the Hotel Gerberhaus.

Enough with the verbiage, here are the pics.  This is only a small sampling…


Going South Through Northern Italy on Our Way to the Adriatic Coast

By far the most elegant place we’ve eaten was the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy. We could only afford a coffee mug as a souvenir.

I love this picture of a meeting in Enzo’s office sometime in the ’50s. It looks intense.

This captures the downside of looking for a hotel the day you need it. You’d think that booking a hotel on the internet would be a piece of cake, but it isn’t. News flash — most places EMBELLISH in their description.

Riding through the mountains in Tuscany. Nice, very nice, unless you’re KR in which case your eyes are closed to avoid seeing the impending disaster of the next curve

The third largest church in the world, the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, was massive. This shot is about 11PM as the line to get in was hundreds and hundreds of people long during the day. Nice church even from the outside.

Typical night scene in a European city, this one is Florence. Italians know how to cook pasta. OMG.

KEY LEARNING: Don’t go to Europe in August. This is Florence, which was the first large city we entered and were almost overwhelmed, no to mention trampled. Southern Croatia made these look tame.

Body language says it all about the “suite” we got on the overnight ferry from Italy to Croatia. This was after a pretty bad day that included losing Karen’s purse and almost not making the ferry because no one told us they wouldn’t accept digital tickets. Oh well, at least it didn’t sink.

If Fred has on a shirt with a collar, it must be a Tuesday which is NGIN meeting day. Meetings start at 4PM and last until 9PM ish. This is dinner afterward.  Compare this shot to earlier in the day…

Same day, same place, a couple of hours earlier. Selecting a hotel is only the first step in actually using a hotel. Next, one has to actually find it in the center district of very old cities. Here, I’m waiting next to a taxi stand in the busiest part of Florence as KR is walking about looking for Hotel Italia, which turned out to be down some narrow alley three blocks away.

Dogs everywhere in Europe. This dog is not greeting his owner, but rather a fellow bar patron. Everyone was liking this. Then KR looked at the menu offering a choice between a Donkey Burger and a Horse Burger. She didn’t eat: )


Along the Coast of Southern Croatia

The vibe along the coast of southern Croatia is beach party casual. Everyone is in swimsuits, having a drink, or just laying around. Lots and lot of small beach towns between Split (where the ferry dropped us) and Dubrovnik on the southern tip

Dubrovnik is a beautiful, Medieval city clinging to the hills around a large bay.

KR having a glass of Rose in the city center

Our room in Dubrovnik overlooked this medieval walled fortress that was said to never have been breached.  Nice room if you don’t mind bending down to not hit your head on the ceiling (and this is 5’5″. FW talking: )Hotel/AirBnB prices in Croatia were out-0f-this-world high.  August is not the time to visit.

Same ol same ol. There are literally hundreds of outdoor restaurants crammed into Dubrovnik. I liked this picture because of the colors and because for this split second no one was sitting down.

Mid day rest stop some where along the Adriatic coast. KR is looking for a hotel for that night, of course: )

This is what she found — Osmi. We stayed two nights, we liked it so much.

Bridge to nowhere… Two tunnels are being bored out in the mountains above Osmi to make room for another highway. Bridge between the tunnels not quite ready for use.

I could show you a hundred pictures like this of narrow, interesting, charming nooks in old cities across Europe. I promise this will be the last… for a while.


Northern Croatia, Slovenia and Italy(Again)

Barren islands and peninsulas follow the coast north. After a while, it reminded us of the Sea of Cortez in Baja.

That was until we happened on a beach town like Senj. There were a remarkable number of RVs and caravans throughout Croatia.  Everyone wants to be next to the beach, even if its…

this crowded

As soon as you turn right and go up into the mountains, one starts to come to villages like this

and this

And this..  “Mrs. Garmin” was remarkable when the settings were switched from “fastest time” to “curvy roads.”  We would have never been able to find these places without being guided by Mrs. Garmin.

Danger Will Rogers! Scene of my most challenging parking job. Had to ride up this narrow street, stop NoName at the just the right spot, find the keycard, scan it, and get into the really off-camber entry. I know, not quite Dakar Rally stuff, but challenging none the less:))


The Austrian Alps

Me smiling, KR weary — must be the Alps! The single best part of this trip — any motorcycle trip really — is getting to share it with your woman. There is literally no sweeter sound than that of KR chirping away on what we’re passing. Of course, there’s not much worse than “Fred, slow down!” that occasionally comes roaring into my ears also.

Austrian Alps following a couple of bikers. There were hundreds of bikers on the road with us.

This is what we looked at for 400+ kilometers

Lots of road construction during the summer in the Alps

More Sound of Music Country, which I learned was filmed not too far from this shot

Ohhh please, don’t let this ever end!!: )))


Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany

Cutesy Rothenburg.

Every building was old, colorful and cute.

Our hotel was protected by the wall surrounding the city. That little door on the left is NoName’s garage.

Today’s office in the Hotel’s garden.

Yah, I’m pretty happy

And so is KR as she goes off exploring.

More as it happens.


fw & kr

7 replies
  1. Doug Morris says:

    Hey Fred, Sam sent me your link. Thanks for the post. April, Eve and I were just in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Bavaria on a road trip with some German friends in July. No bikes, just a Citroen minivan, but we saw a lot of the same country you passed through and best of all, we had a ball. But summer isn’t over, In early September I’ll be riding a rented BMW R1200GS for a 2,000 mile r/t ride to my (gulp) 55th high school reunion in Clarkston, WA. Three-days up and three-days back. BTW: I looked through your photos a couple of times looking for at least one shot of “No Name” but to no avail. What was your ride? Inquiring minds…. Doug

  2. FHW says:

    Doug- It’s good to hear from you. Sounds like you had a great trip as well. “NoName” is a 750GS with lowered suspension. I had originally reserved a 1250GS (I have a 1200 GS) but it wasn’t lowered and I couldn’t really touch the ground with both feet:) NoName has been terrific despite the fact its a bit harder to get off the line fully packed, uphill:). Have a great time on your reunion. fw

  3. Gregory Morse says:

    Fred, I always enjoy catching up on your adventures. Thanks for sharing. Glad you’re doing well.

  4. Charles S Wade says:

    Late to the party…but what a trip. Good to see you both with smiles. Thanks for including us vicariously. Great pics.


  5. Judi says:

    You really need to visit Chiavari, Italy where your nephew lives. He has a 3 bedroom condo overlooking the Med and would love to see you both!! His birthday is 23 Sept and tho kids will visit earlier in Sept. they will leave by the 20th! Your visit would be a great BD gift!!!

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