After my successful trip to Alps, Italy and Croatia in 2003 (the report can be read here http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=122967
), I decided to make another one man trip with my bike Yamaha TDM 900 in the summer of 2004. This time the destination is Pyrenees and finally the beautiful Baleric island Mallorca. The route was the following: Stockholm-Gothenburg-Kiel (with ferry)-Hamburg-Narbonne (with train www.autozug.de
) -Andorra-Pamplona-San Sebastian-Bilbao-Zaragoza-Barcelona-Mallorca-Barcelona-Narbonne-Hamburg (with train)-Copenhagen-Malmö-Stockholm. The trip took about 6500kms (~4000 miles), this time I saved some miles thanks to trains.
Instead of staying in camping places as I did in the Alps the year before, this time I decided to stay at small hotels since prices in Spain are more reasonable. I raised the standards of my trip
Compared to last year, I have the same bike TDM 900, I installed new exhausts in 2004 (an italian brand called GPR) to wake my neighbors up
An early and rainy (typical Swedish summer morning in other words
) July morning, I am ready to start my journey.
My next stop is the city of Gothenburg. Gothenburg is the second largest city of Sweden, it has a big harbour and is heavily industrial. Volvo,SKF and many other big swedish industrial companies are located around Gothenburg. The ride is around 450kms and it rained the whole trip
My plan is to take the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel, northern Germany. So, I skip driving through Danmark and get some good sleep.
I like taking ferry rides in my motorcycle trips. I get some time to read, prepare for my trip by reading about interesting places and get the chance to meet interesting people.
The view of Gothenburg harbour
I stay in a two person cabin and meet a very interesting retired swedish man. His passion is photography and makes trips to take pictures of people and landscapes. Photography is also a hobby of mine, so we have a lot to talk about. He had four cameras with him
He shows me a lot of his pictures, some of them were really impressive. After showing to me at least four digit amount of his pictures, he decides to go to sleep and I visit the bar for a short time. As usual, the bar is crowded and people seem to be happy. As some of you might know, alcohol prices are quite high in Scandinavia because of high taxes. But when ferries like this sail to open waters, they serve alcohol without that tax and passangers try to take full advantage of that. I wonder if these Scandinavians around the bar are the ones considered to be shy and silent? Not after couple of drinks for sure
Next day early in the morning, we arrive to Kiel. I have a short ride ahead of me actually. I will drive to nearby city of Hamburg in northern Germany and load my bike to a special train. This train will take me and my bike all the way down to Narbonne, a city located in southern France close to Spanish border.
This train also called autozug in german (more info at www.autozug.de
) is a very comfortable way to cover long distances and save time. If tickets can be booked in advance and high seasons are avoided, it can be a good economic alternative in comparison to gas, tire and bike depreciation, one night hotel expense and last but not least the extra risk taken on highways. I took this train fron Munich to Hamburg in 2003 and was very satisfied with it.
My travel companion is waiting to be loaded to the wagon
I met this group of swedish bikers with their Suzuki Intruders. We had the opportunity to test german beers in train's bar
Now bikes are in the train. You simply drive bikes into the wagon but should have your helmet on since we've been told that some people hit the low ceiling and injured theirselves
Autozug people do a very good job of securing the bikes.
Soft bags and large cruiser type windshields are not allowed and have to be taken away. The reason is the wind turbulence that bikes are facing. At first, we bikers especially our Intruder owner friends could not understand the logic of taking away the windshields from their bikes but the argument from autozug people sounded quite solid. The turbulence can hit the windshield from back side with a speed of 100-120km /h when two trains pass each other and windshields are not designed for that. So they took away the shields away and step on the train like proud roman gladiators
I was lucky and shared the cabin with two other bikers from Danmark. We discussed our future trips and excanged some information.
They were also driving to Pyrenees but first planning to make a stop in Andorra to do some shopping. Andorra has tax free prices and some motorcycle shops with good offers. Since prices in Danmark are very high, they were looking forward to find cheaper prices in Andorra.
The train leaves now. It is a relaxing experience to travel with train. I read a little, chat with danish biker fellows, eat dinner in the restaurant wagon and drink some beer with swedish group. A perfect start for a trip. Tomorrow, we will arrive in Narbonne and I will be couple of hours away from PYRENEES! Exciting...
To be continued...