25 November, 2006

We made it!

This post has lots of photos of the Alps, as this was my first ever crossing of this beautiful mountain range and I was knocked out by what I saw. I hope you like the pictures.

To begin at the beginning…

Last night I stayed with Roland Trescher of the Munich improv group Isar 148. He’s so modest I didn’t even get a chance to take a photo of him, which is a pity, because he’s got to be one of the most good-looking blokes I’ve ever met in my life. He not only put me up but also showed me round the old town and gave me the lowdown on its history and quirks, which was wonderful. Thanks, Roland!

The next day, coming out of Munich I picked up some hitchhikers who turned out to be luthiers (guitarmakers to the rest of us), and they invited me to stay the night at their fairytale Alpine villa at Bad Goisern:
luthiers’ house, Bad Goisern
Early the next day I took them the 10km to luthiery college at Hallstad-See:

This remote hamlet, tucked alongside the equally remote and beautiful Hallstad See,


is home to Austria’s only luthiery school – and one of only three in Europe, apparently. I was amazed to see students arriving at this middle-of-nowhere place from all sides at 8am. Clearly, students are more motivated than they were in my day.

Then it was on – to the Alps. For someone like me, who lives in the Netherlands, just seeing these mountains appear is amazing. They rise up out of the landscape like a wall:

looming Alps

I drove up into the mountains – long bits were in first gear – and through the mist

into the mist

and the most beautiful landscape appeared… colourful Alpine houses lay half-shrouded in mist that danced and swirled like airy tumbleweed…

through the mist 2

through the mist 3

through the mist 4

through the mist 5

through the mist 6

through the mist 7

through the mist 8

TomTom took me through a gorgeous valley

looking back

and up to a tiny little pass – with a gate across it… I ventured in a bit, but this was clearly going to need snowchains (which I have) so I turned around and found an empty garage in the village where I could fit them. A passer-by then explained that the road was blocked by metre-high snow for eight months of the year. Doh! So I headed west, for the next pass at Obertauern:

into the Alps

and stopped for a cream coffee and fresh-baked apfelstrudel in this busy ski town:
ski town Obertauern

which tasted great and cost less than they would have done in Amsterdam. We’re being ripped off at home, people. The rest was downhill all the way:


and I had time to pop into famous beauty spot Bled

lakeside Bled

before reaching Ljubljana in the afternoon, almost exactly 1500km after leaving Amsterdam. The DS has used a litre of oil, but has been no trouble at all.


23 November, 2006

the Riedels

Anton, Anke, and Fat Ed, who put me up in Köln. Anton also volunteered a much better design for the ‘here+now’ logo, which should be on the car soon. Thanks Anton!

On the road

23 November, 2006

We’re off – the DS, me, some clothes and some musical instruments. I spent some time under the car at Auto Renaissance – thanks Dan, Maurice, Marco, Rene, Jeroen, Gijs! – and the DS could not be better prepared for a hard winter: brand new Michelin XVSes up front, a new radiator and hoses, sluiced-out heater radiator, new electrics, adjusted tappets and perfect timing. It still won’t start on LPG, but I’ve kinda given up on that – the engine’s done three to four hundred thousand kilometers and is probably too worn out to enjoy perfect timing any more.

Raining on the A1

This is the A1, where it almost always rains. As you can see, the newest version of TomTom, running on my Treo 650, actually drives the car.