I needed to get a “bit of wind around my nose” and we headed to the Ötztal this morning. Traffic on the Fernpaß was awful, as it always is, but it is the quickest way to get down there. Once we are in the Ötztal we slow down a bit to enjoy the scenery, as we did today.
We drove almost to the end of the valley (where you can go no further unless you head over the Tim Continue reading 2.800 Metres (or 9.186 feet)
Tirol was beautiful – just as I remembered it from half a year ago. It was just undescribably beautiful and wonderful to be back in the mountains on two wheels. Gosh, it was good to get back out there :-)))))))
Here are some of the things I saw:
The Christmas party was o.k. Except for the Nikolaus. He did an awful job. Every year, they write up a lengthy rhyme containing funny stories of things that occurred throughout the year. This Nikolaus stammered and stuttered through the rhyme, taking all of the fun out of it. I am quite sure he hadn’t read the text he was supposed to read in advance – oh, well.
My usually so generous luck on the raffle had left me this year, but I did come home with a coffee maker for two cups and a shower gel / bath set (which I quite like – I am sucker for stuff like that). We also won two smoked eels and two smoked trout, and Hilde won a set of dinner plates and a table stove to keep serving dishes warm.
As promised, here some additional pictures from my most wonderful summer ever. I wanted to post them yesterday but couldn’t, because I’d exceeded my hosting space. I’ve now upgraded a bit, and with that taken care of, enjoy. As always, click for larger.
Well, not the country itself but the border crossing over the top of the Timmelsjoch (pictured on the left) is already closed for the winter season. We were, however, able to drive as far up as the tollgate. Alone. We were the only ones on the road and it was spectacular, quiet and wonderful.
When we got to the top, there was a single car and a single motorcycle. Absolute silence – the only thing that could be heard was the light wind.
The view from the tollgate site is not as breathtaking as that from the italian border some 6 km further along and 400 meters higher up, but nevertheless quite impressive (click on the panorama for a larger image – it’s worth it):
Not being able to continue into Italy, we decided to return to Sölden and have a look at the Ötztal Glacier Road. We were pleasantly surprised to learn at the tollgate that the road continues up to an altitude of 2.800 meters (9,186 feet).
It’s a very steep road with signs for motorists warning that only experienced motorist should continue; there are many hairpin turns – well, have a look yourself:
We were quite surprised, once we got to the “top” of the road, to be next to a large glacier where there were lots of people skiing and snowboarding. And there was snow (obviously)!
By the time we reached the top it was almost 2:00 in the afternoon and I was absolutely famished. We didn’t want to stop at the skier’s place to eat as there were tons of people and descended half-way down and stopped at a single, lone “Alm” where I finally got something to eat and was thus very happy.
And last but not least, my nomination for the motorcycle of the year, being 11 years old and having accompanied me for 11.000 kilometers this summer alone, without a hitch:
(yes, that is snow in the background)
The *hatchoo* Kiwi and I passed the 10.000 km mark yesterday while descending the Achenpaß into Austria south of the Tegernsee.
*Sniff*We decided to make use of the lovely albeit cool fall weather to make what is likely to be our last trip into the mountains this season *hatchoo* and to explore the higher points of the Zillertal.
By the time we got the Achensee just south of the pass *sniff* with the same name, I was well chilled and fought with a sudden sneezing attack, so we stopped at a gaststätte by the road for coffee and something warm. Before I could even open my mouth, Hilde ordered three “Fritatensuppen”. *hatchoo* I didn’t have a clue as to what kind of soup that might be, but she shushed me up and said I would like it. We had quite a laugh when I discovered that it was, in fact, pancake soup. It is quite amazing what an effect 100 km distance and a border have on culinary names.*sniff*
Warmed up, we continued into the Zillertal and found the signs leading to the “Zillertaler Hochalpenstrasse” (Zillertal High Alpine Road). *hatchoo* It was little more than a paved path through the forest, quite narrow, curvy and steep, with hairpin turns that *hatchoo* were not marked at all in advance, causing us at one point to continue straight on to the edge of the road while the road curved sharply to the left at a 180° angle and up the mountain. *sniff*
There was little or no traffic to speak of (thank goodness) and the road seemed to continue on forever. *nose blows* I never got out of second gear and at times, had to stay in first gear – average speed was about 30 kmh. Seeing around most of the curves was not possible, and I was glad that there wasn’t much traffic from the opposite direction.
Just before we got to the very top, we stopped for a breather *sniff* and had this view of the Zillertal:
At the top, there is an Almhütte where we stopped and had a tasty lunch, basking in the sunshine and admiring the snow-covered 3.500 meter high peaks in the distance.
The road down the mountain was similar to the road up; *hatchoo* we slowly made our way down to Zell, admiring the Berghütten we saw now and then, such as this one:
And now I will be spending today on the sofa with my vitamin C and lots of tissues. *sniff*
I swear I am going to bathe the Kiwi in Champagne today and polish her with the best wax available.
We took the day off for a tour yesterday; my father suggested the Timmelsjoch as the goal of the trip. This is a mountain which is on the “end” of the Ötztal in Austria, a skiing area including such towns as Sölden, Längenfeld and Obergurgl. Realizing of course, that we were going to be on the border to Italy, I insisted we take advantage of the proximity and continue on into Italy and return home via the Brenner Pass, where I wanted to buy tomatoes (that’s an inside joke).
The pass of the Timmelsjoch has at least 7 hairpin curves on the Austrian side. The difference in height from the start of the pass to the peak is 1800 meters (6000 ft.) and when you get to the top in Austria, you are at the border to Italy.
(click on the pictures for a larger view).
|This is a view from the top of the Timmelsjoch at the toll booth site in Austria.|
|Continuing into Italy, this is the view just a few kilometers further. The pass peaks here at 2.500 meters (8000 ft.). Needless to say, there were no more trees or such, just lots of rocks and some sheep grazing in the grass atop a ledge.|
It was significantly colder there, of course, and now and then there was a very icy wind. At some point just before we reached the Italian side, both of our motorcycles sputtered a bit, presumably due to the thin air which was no longer satisfying the air-intake valves of the carburators.
The road down the Italian side of the mountain was not just breathtaking; for anyone with fear of heights it would have been disastrous. There were no guard rails, just a few small cement pillars now and then. I counted seven hairpins on the way down, all marked with traffic signs well in advance (“Tornente” in Italian).
We had planned on stopping in Merano, 20 km further on, to have coffee; however, by the time we got to St. Leonhard (in Italy – South Tyrol) it was relatively late and we continued on, heading for the Brenner Pass. What we didn’t realize, is that before getting to the Brenner, we would be driving over another alpine pass, the Jauffenpass.
While we started up the mountain, the curves and hairpins were so identical with the Timmelsjoch that I feared we were on the wrong road (mountain); at some point however, I saw the road sign 44 and knew we were on the right road. Now and then, a few gaps in the trees allowed us to see where we were headed and I grinned, seeing the bare mountain peak above us with the zigzag road pattern that signalize hairpins cut into the side of the mountain.
|This is at the top of the Jauffenpass (2000 meters).|
We continued on to the Brenner Pass, avoiding the autobahn and instead taking the “old” Brenner road to Innsbruck, after which we headed home via Seefeld/Mittenwald/Garmisch.
We got home at 9.00 p.m. – not bad, considering we had left relatively late (almost 10 a.m.) in the morning.
Kudos to my 1994 Kawasaki Ninja 500. She took all those passes with the wink of an eye 🙂
The current conditions and happenings in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast boggle the imagination, to put it mildly.
Seitherin has taken the time to put together a comprehensive list of charity organisations here, here, here, and here, to which you can contribute. Please do. Every bit helps. Even 5$. Go. There. Now.
Second, the Idiotic View of Things
It has come to my attention that the German Minister for the Environment, Jürgen Trittin, has made some really assinine comments about Katrina, Kyoto and Bush. Please be advised that Mr. Trittin does not represent the view of the majority of Germans and is in no way representative. He’s an idiot, to put it very mildly.
Third, the Fun Stuff
Summer returned to us for a short visit this week and so I took two whole days off and headed for the Austrian Alps (of course). The first trip on Tuesday took me and the Kiwi up the Hahntennjoch. The pass road peaks at a height of 1900 meters (6200 feet). The second trip also took me there as the route we had planned to take through the Karwendelgebirge was still closed due to the flooding of a few weeks ago. To put it short, we were all over the place in Austria.
(click for larger)
|This is at the top of the pass, which is not quite at the top of the mountain.|
|This was on the way up; a view of the surrounding scenery.|
|A view at the top. There is actually a Berghütte higher up; the sign stated that it is a hike of 1 1/2 hours. We promised ourselves to take the time to hike up there during our next visit 😉|
|Here, we were coming down from the “Lautaschtal” after lunch – the peak seen here is the “Wetterstein”.|
|And this photo was taken from the same spot, looking down at where we were heading. The town in the picture is Telfs.|
|Jumping back to Tuesday’s ride home, this is the view of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, seen here from the Austrian side.|
and some pictures
I had an appointment with a new customer on Saturday afternoon half-way between here and Munich, so I seized the opportunity of “practically” being in Munich and continued on to visit my favorite aunt Gisi and to install her DSL connection for her.
She had been accessing the internet on my old 56k modem with her 400 Mhz computer; needless to say, snail mail was faster than her internet.
It took me a while to get it set up, especially trying to get around the heavy weight software of AOL, but we got it working and she can now surf the internet at the speed of light.
She treated me to a nice dinner of various cold cuts and garnishes and then I headed for the ride home, as I was there with the Kiwi and once again, thunderstorms were in the forecast.
There were none, and I got home safe, sound and dry.
On Sunday, I was in complete “lazy day” mode and managed to wash and polish my motorcycle before I even bothered to brush my teeth. Ooooohhhhhh. Yeah. After a nice lunch of grilled steak and fried potatoes I decided to treat myself to a nap and turned on the TV, expecting it to drone me into heavenly slumber. Instead, “Tootsie” was playing and though I had seen it years ago I was so drawn into the charm of “Dorothy” a.k.a. Dustin Hoffmann and watched the movie to its end.
Later, I did an extended bike tour to the edge of the Alps. The weather was breathtakingly beautiful. Not even a hint of rain 😉
Here some pictures from a few weeks ago. On most, click for larger.
|This is the carving that I bought at the flea market we spontaneously stopped at a few weeks back.|