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2017 Euro Alpine Road Trip

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    Posted: 05 Aug 2017 at 5:29pm
Before i start, some apologies.  Firstly, for the lack of photos on the first few days.  The weather was abysmal, with rain and thunderstorms, so photos opportunities were pretty slim.  Secondly, i forgot to enable geo tagging on my photos until the third day.  Thirdly, i forgot to plug my external mic to my dashcam until day 3.  Fourthly, i didn't have chance to test optimal placement of said external mic, so the sound quality is a little disappointing.  And finally, my Chinese knockoff Go Pro (for the tow hook mount) didn't arrive in time :(

Anyway, in the words of Tim McIlrath......."Lets go!"

2017 Euro Alpine Road Trip

Day 1 - Lets leave this crappy weather behind

As always, we catch the earliest Eurotunnel train possible, which involves a 3am alarm :) and a 4.16am departure from the house to Folkstone.  After minimal delays at checkin and border patrol we manage to get on the 6.50am train, slightly earlier than our booked 7.20am train.  



A quick stop off at the Carrefour for cheap supermarket fuel to get us to Italy and we hit the motorway south.

The weather in France is pretty good, definitely better than what we left behind at home in the UK and it stayed this way until about Dijon.



Then things started to turn.  The closer we got to our hotel (just after the Petit S. Bernard Pass) the worse the weather got.  There was heavy rain, thunder and lightning and hail!











The weather may have been bad, but the scenery made up for it!











The plan was after we checked into the hotel, we wanted to take a short drive to the tunnel where the opening scene of The Italian Job was filmed, but the weather was just too bad.  But my t-shirt was there in spirit :)



Instead, deciding to leave it for first thing the next morning.  Thankfully there was a bar/restaurant 10 seconds walk from our hotel where we had a well deserved cold beer and food.



No time to relax though, as we had an early start the next day.

Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/Eurotunnel/etc) - 17 hours / 730 miles

Edited by mjn77 - 05 Aug 2017 at 9:27pm
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Day 2 - "The Loop" and losing things.

Awaken early and check the weather......sunny, blue skies.  Excellent.







The Hotel



Shower, dressed, breakfast and out the door by 9am.  Unfortuantely, by 9.45am i realised we've left my daughter's coat at the hotel and i don't have my wallet.  So we pull over and i search my car for the wallet.  No luck, so message the hotel and we carry on.  Thankfully, my wallet only had foreign currency and my pre-paid credit card.  A few taps on my phone and the card was blocked.

No time to head back, we carry on.  The plan today was get to the hotel, check in, then hit "the Loop".  But before anything else, we needed to check out that tunnel.  In the film, they actually used some clever editing, as only one of the tunnel has an arched entrance (the other end is square).  As such the Lamborghini Miura enters and crashes at the same end of the tunnel in the film.  But for us, no bulldozer :)







First pass of the day was the Colle San Carlo and Col Du Grand St. Bernard passes, and as quick as we entered Italy, we left and headed into Switzerland, towards the Nufenen Pass.





Re-creating the photo from 2013 (i think)

2016


2013


At the Grande St. Bernard pass.


















En route, we passed an awesome looking pedestrian suspension bridge, so i quick U-turn and we park up.



















The Nufenen Pass leads into the St. Gotthard Pass and then onto the base of the Furka Pass.



As we ascended the Gotthard pass, the blue skies disapperared and the fog moved in.  Our hotel was located 2 miles from the Furka.









After checking in and dumping the bags, we consult the map and decide on the best order to tackle the passes.  Decide on Furka -> Grimsel -> Susten, after already completing the Nufenen and St. Gotthard on the way to the hotel.  By this time it's 16:30 and were hoping that the passes would be quiet....

The hotel


And we weren't disappointed!  We had them pretty much to ourselves.  But, by this time the rain had joined the fog and as started to climb the Furka Pass the driving conditions were very poor.





Any hope of recreating that classic scene from Goldfinger dashed.



But anybody that has driven in the mountains knows, the weather can change in a instant, so we carried on, hoping that on the otherside of one of the passes lay blue skies and sunshine.





And, as you can see.....sunshine!!!



On the descent of the Furka pass there is the Rhone Glacier and over the summer months there is an "Ice Grotto" were you can walk 100m into the glacier.  This was extremely cool and i wasn't expecting it to be blue on the inside.



















After a browse of the souvenir shop we head back to the cars and carry on to the Grimsel pass and to find some food.  At this point, the GF says, "i can't find my car key!!!!!!"  We empty her handbag all over the road......not there.  Empties all her pockets.....nope.  We ask at the shop, Ice Grotto and the small cafe to see if anybody has handed one in......nope!  The walk from the shop to the entrance of the Ice Grotto is erm.....quite lengthly, and if she dropped it there, it was never going to be found.  So, i locate her spare key in my car and cautiously hand it over to her.  She also contacted BMW in Germany about ordering a new one and collecting it in a few days.

So, just a recap, we've now "lost" my wallet, daughter's coat and the GF's car key!

After the mini crisis we soon find ourselves on the Grimsel Pass and have reached the peak in no time at all.







By now, we're starved and nowhere appears open :( but!!!.......just before we head onto the Sustem Pass i spy a restaurant!  I can see people outside drinking beer and the lights are on.  Excellent.  We park cars and drag our weary bodies to an empty table.  After a little conversation, turns out they're just closing at 20:00 (we parked up at 20:03), but just for us, they'll stay open!  The staff were lovely and no doubt didn't want us to spend ages choosing what to eat, so they quickly explained about their speciality.....rosti.  I've never heard of it before, so no idea what it was.  Always willing to try new food, i was like, bring us two!  And while we waited for it to arrive, a nice cold beer to relax.









This stuff is nice and by 20:45 we're back on the road with full stomachs!  Now it was just a case of getting to the hotel for sleep.

A quick dash through more fog and over the Sustem Pass, and there was the hotel.  I'll be honest, these two days were brutal.  30 hours of driving and 1000 miles covered and glad that day 3 was a rest day.







Cool map of the St. Gotthard area.



Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/food/etc) - 13 hours / 260 miles

Edited by mjn77 - 05 Aug 2017 at 8:12pm
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Day 3 - The Police and Steam Power

Our rest day, saw us spend most of the day on the Furka Pass Cogwheel Steam Railway.  After stumping up CHF450 for 1st Class tickets this better be good i thought to myself!  And it didn't disappoint one bit.



The train departed Realp at 10.15 so could afford a lazy lie in and breakfast.























Stopping for water...







Furka Station






Looking up at the Furka PAss



The rain which started yesterday, still fell, and any spectacular views were hidden by the fog and low clouds.  Still, it was an experience and the staff which are all volunteers were fantastic.

The train stops over in Oberwald for 1hr 15min so you can grab some food and have a walk around.  This was easier said than done.  All places next to the station were fully booked and we had to walk to the edge of town to find somewhere.  By now, we were short on time, but the owner offered to drive us back to the station if we were running late!  Really nice guy!  In the end, we didn't need to accept his offer and we were able to walk back in time for the return leg on the train.

Beer



More Rosti



The return leg followed the exact same line back to Realp.  The only difference is that the Steam powered engine needed a little help from a diesel engine for the steepest climb to the Furka Pass station, as there is no cogwheel system on this stretch.













Heavy rain had swelled the rivers/streams



Diesel Torque FTW





The train was back into Realp at 16:30 and we're on our way to the next hotel via the Oberalppass.





Driving down the pass, the gearbox in the GF's car got stuck in 3rd gear!  It'd change using the flappy paddles, but then changed back to 3rd.  S and M modes were ok, D was wanting to stay in 3rd.  We found somewhere to stop and had a little chat.  We'd brought no OBD cable or OBD Bluetooth dongle to read codes.  Only thing to do was the old "off and on" trick.  So restarted car and the GF went for a short test drive.  GF came back 5 mins later reported all ok.  So we got back on our way again only to have our way blocked by the Police.  Out stepped two officers and informed me it was a papers check.  Out come the passports, driver's licence, V5, insurance documents and MOT certs.  We were asked where we'd come from, where we going, why we were in Switzerland and what our plans were.  We had our cars checked, lights and tyres inspected, etc.  I get quizzed on all the speed limits of the roads in Switzerland and asked if i've been in trouble for speeding in Switzerland before.  I told him the truth and said never.  He asked me three times.  In the end he thanked us for our cooperation and they let us go.  We passed them a few miles down the road at a coffee shop.  I reckon they just stopped us to try and extract some easy money, oops, fines, for coffee and donuts.  They couldn't find a single fault with cars or paperwork :)



After our small delay we were on our way again.  When i booked this hotel, it was supposed to include in the price, an evening meal.  But when we arrived, there was no meal :(  Looked like an error on the booking.com website.  But have no fear, there was an excellent pizzeria about half a mile away :)

More beer



More food.....well, there was, but i ate it all!





And as we were eating, the GF received an email from the Ice Grotto to say that her car key had been found, here.....



Can you believe it??!?!?!?!?!

Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/food/etc) - 2 hours / 67 miles

Edited by mjn77 - 06 Aug 2017 at 10:15am
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Day 4 - Hello Italy......again.

After a relaxing day on the train the day before, we were feeling refreshed and ready to munch some miles.  And every day starts with a good breakfast...





Day 4 would see us tackle two passes in Switzerland before we dropped down into Italy and did two more passes.  The first two passes were Julier Pass and Bernina Pass and then onto the Gavia Pass and Stelvio Pass.  Some of you may be familiar with some of those :)



























A word of warning now.  If you plan to tackle the Stelvio via the Gavia Pass, be prepared go slow.  The Gavia Pass is in a shocking state.  Potholes and crumbling roads and for the most part 30kph limit.  The speed is not needed as the road condition is not suitable for anything faster.  But the 30kph limit is needed due to the fact that the Gavia pass is mostly single track with appalling visibility.









Poor road condition seems to be common in Italy.  I must have lost 10k miles life off my shocks and springs.  Seemed they spent their entire road budget on the Stelvio pass!  At the top of the Stelvio, it was doing its hardest to snow.



















Little souvenir



Road repairs on the Stelvio



And if the roads couldn't get any worse.....the road outside of our hotel was being resurfaced.  Exposed ironworks, sudden changes in tarmac, with some brutal lips.  And then my car grounded out slightly when going into the underground car park.  On the plus side, the weather was nice and the food even better.

More beer



Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/food/etc) - 10 hours / 210 miles
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Day 5 - cyclists and angry Italians

Just before we left on this trip, another member advised that the Sella Pass was going to be closed to "fossil fuelled" vehicles on the Wednesday.  While we were disappointed, we had plenty of other passes to drive to keep us busy.  However, with the pass being closed to 99% of cars and bikes, it just meant that just about every cyclist in Italy was in town!

The Gardena Pass and Sella Pass share the same approach and we had to fight our way through a crowd of cyclists.  Seems they had no concept of any road laws, much like most Italian drivers to be honest.  Once we got to the point were the road splits, the cars went to the Gardena and the cyclists went to the Sella.  From here we did a rough figure of 8 of Passo Gardena / Passo Campolongo / Passo Pordoi / Pass Fedaia / Valparola / Passo Giau.  These passes are all very close to each other and we hit Passo Campolongo twice, once in each direction.  Be warned though, there were plenty of speed cameras.



























Gotta watch out for cattle













This place is spooky in the dark





Passo Giau





It was then a drive to our next hotel, which invloved a lot of 50kph limit roads.  Italians don't like to drive at 50kph.  However, i don't want any speeding fines, so was sticking to 50kph (GPS confirmed) using cruise control.  At one point i had a very angry driver behind me, beeping his horn, flashing his lights and shaking his fist.  He was most irate after a few miles of 50kph.  But when the limit changed to 100kph and i dropped a gear and mashed my foot into the floor, he was nowhere to be seen! lol

We arrived at the hotel and the car park was rammed and it was very busy.  There was a wedding reception with bad karaoke....oh no.  But when we were soon our "room" he led us outside and pointed to the little cottage, "you stay here,  this is yours!"  We only paid for a triple room, but ended up with this lovely cottage type thing.





And then the food was even better.  We properly stuffed ourselves here.  With starters of goose and pasta, cheese and pasta, and mains of sausage and venison and cold beer.



Fantastic day.

Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/food/etc) - 9.45 hours / 211 miles
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Day 6 - Revenge Of The Grossglockner

Best way to start the day?  Cake of course....



Some of you may remember that last year the GF's car broke down at the top of the Grossglockner.  So this year, we attempted it again.  But first we had to tackle Monte Zoncolon.  This is one of my favourite passes.  I've driven it twice now and only ever seen about 4 cars in total on it.  It really is a fantastic little pass.







Last year, the Grossglockner was mental busy.  No real change this year.  The toll has also increased from €35 to €35.50.  This time we first headed to the dead end section of the pass as we never explored this last year.  Got to mention though, last year the temperature was in the high twenties, this year firmly single digits.  Visited the shop and picked up a few items :)









View from the car park and walkway








After a little walk we headed back over to the main section of the pass and found food.









Bratwurst and chips and beer.  Perfect.









The very very top of the pass is accessible via a cobbled road or gravel footpath.  As we'd been sat in cars for 5 days, and were in no rush, thought it time for some exercise and off we set.











The view from the top once again ruined by fog and rain.  The rain started to really to come down hard, and the car parked rapidly emptied.  Only 5 cars left by the time we walked to the car park from the summit.











The hotel for the night was in Germany, so we had some miles to do.  Entering Germany via the Plocken Pass we soon got onto the Autobahn and put our foot down.  We soon arrive at the hotel.

Munich is mental is rush hour and not wanting to be late at BMW Welt, decide that we need to be out of the hotel at 8am the next day.

Finish the day with more beer and gyros.





Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/food/etc) - 10 hours / 205 miles
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Day 7 - M3 and the Autobahn

The last day before we head home.

As usual, start with a good breakfast...







Another rest day.....kinda.  We started off by collecting tickets and doing the paperwork for the M3 hire.  €1000 down on the credit card for "deposit" *gulp*  copies of driver's licence and passport taken, waiver signed, all good to go.



We went down to the collection point in P2 and found the caretakers of the cars.  I was shown to my M3, fresh with only 522km on the clock.  That meant no running in service, which equaled limited revs and a warning if you went over 175kph!  We only had an hour, so wasted no time and roared out of the car park.  My first time driving a left drive car and was very strange.  All of a sudden i had no idea where the edges of the car were and did not want to be responsible for damaging any of those factory fresh 20" alloys!









I got my M3 back with no damage, but with a greater desire that my next car has to be one.  After having the cars inspected and reluctantly handing back the key, we had a little break before our Factory Tour started at 11.15.  The Premium Tour involves a short tour of the museum with commentary from our guide, a substancal tour of the factory floor and finally a tour of the Welt facility.

Before we knew it, it was 14.45 and we were starved, so more currywurst!



The factory tour in itself is a 5km walk, plus the museum bits, there were some tired legs.  After food, our daughter wanted to go and see the M cars on display.  She wasn't interested in any non-M models!










Then a photo on every motorbike there!

When you collect your new BMW from BMW, this is where you drive it from.....





The Isetta



We finally got out of Welt at 16:30 and started on our way to the final hotel of the trip.  We arrived at the hotel at around 9pm and the weather was excellent.  A lovely meal of steak and beer outside was a perfect way to end the day.





Total driving time (including stops/fuel ups/food/etc) - 5 hours / 215 miles
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Day 8 - Home

Our Eurotunnel home was late in the day, so we were in no rush to get to Calais.  

A nice breakfast....





As usual for most trips, we stopped off in Luxembourg to take advantage of cheap diesel (€0.95 / litre) and have a relaxed lunch.  I say relaxed, but there was a band trying to entertain people.










The closer we got to Calais, the worse the weather got.  At one point on the motorway, we had to crawl at 15kph due to the fact the rain was so heavy we couldn't actually see the road.  We made it in time and again managed to catch an earlier train.



Erm, i'm sure this should have some info and a boarding letter on it?



Thanks for reading.  Videos to follow shortly.

Interested in coming next year?  PM Me.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote rpennington Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2017 at 7:04pm
Hi mjn

Thanks for sharing your trip & photos. It looks like you had a great time driving on great roads with beautiful scenery too apart from some bad weather thrown in. Some nice glasses the beers were served in but it looked a bit cloudy or was that the norm.

Can I also ask how you are able to post so many photos without going over the 3MB limit & what size photos do you post as the limit is also 300kb which is the limit set by the forum.I had to delete photo files from my profile manager to enable more photo posting & by doing that it deleted my previous photos due to this limit.

Sorry for the question.

Regards rich

Edited by rpennington - 05 Aug 2017 at 7:06pm
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Re: the photos... I use IMG tags from photos hosted on Photobucket.

Re: the clouds...yup, very cloudy.
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Thanks for the answer
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Re: the clouds...yup, very cloudy.
[/QUOTE]

Sorry I mean the beer
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote NickDE Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Aug 2017 at 9:52am
Looks like you had a fabulous trip ! Thanks for sharing
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjn77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Aug 2017 at 10:16am
Originally posted by rpennington rpennington wrote:



Re: the clouds...yup, very cloudy.


Sorry I mean the beer
[/QUOTE]

Yesm, meant to be cloudy as it's wheat beer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Roger123 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Aug 2017 at 10:21am
Great photos, and some very interesting places and roads.  Just wish I could do something like that...
Thanks for sharing.  Beer
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Some great photos there! Looks like an amazing trip!!
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Edited by mjn77 - 07 Aug 2017 at 8:06pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote issus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 3:29pm
Very interesting pictures and tales of yr tour.

How did the purists get on with yr Red Alloys?
....and second comment : I must caution people not to tank up with beer whilst navigating the Alpine passes? Mike Fishwick will go bonkers on thisWink

Looks like you covered most of the passes which is no mean achievement. My Wife would not remotely consider coming on such a tour which even doubted Hannibal and his elephants.

Well done!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjn77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 3:34pm
Only beer i had whilst driving was with food.  And it was only 500ml bottles.  So have no fear, no danger of any drink / driving. Wink

All other beer was consumed after driving for the day.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjn77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Aug 2017 at 4:02pm
Originally posted by issus issus wrote:

How did the purists get on with yr Red Alloys?

Oh and they're BMW Valencia Orange, not red :)



And i get plenty of thumbs up from people Big smile

Come check them out at Gaydon on Sunday if you're going.


Edited by mjn77 - 09 Aug 2017 at 4:06pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjn77 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2017 at 10:32am
Of course, if anybody does fancy Passo Gavia, have a look here.....





Starts off fairly civilised, smooth roads, safety barriers, two lanes, etc.  Then that soon changes :laugh:
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