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RBEmerson
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« on: March 24, 2016, 03:43:40 pm »

The next birthday has a zero in it, and I'm thinking hard about celebrating with a little ride through the Alps (probably a mix of Germany, Switzerland, Austria). I'm reasonably fluent in German and familiar with driving in the area. The options are to do a solo ride and arrange my own rental or take an organized trip.

The issue isn't where (so many places, so little time), it's how.

Let the fun begin.
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2016, 04:08:42 pm »

I've taken two organized tours in the Alps and I'll probably do it again.

The organized trips were cool, low stress, everything arranged.  All you did was show up and ride as much or little as you wanted, with or without any other tour members or guides, on what ever roads you wanted.  Hotels, meals, luggage hauled, support in event of problems etc.  You also had beer drinking and bench racing buddies every evening too.

They were also relatively expensive.  The dollar/euro exchange rate may have lessened the cost but, still expensive.

I'm not retired yet, so when I go, it's not like I'm Neda and Gene wandering the countryside with no set destination or time.  If I was retired, I'd probably go solo without any set plan, not even a return date.  Just a fixed amount of $ and ride wander until it runs out.

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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2016, 04:16:37 pm »

I would just rent and do your own thing.

Take a day off whenever you feel like it and sit by the pool.

You don't have to fret over routes as, you can throw a dart at a map of the Alps and hit a good road, from the Maritime Alps in France to the Julian Alps in Slovenia.

For something a bit different, you can drop down into Croatia and dip your toe in the Adriatic.

Agostinis in Mandello rents Moto Guzzis  Bigok
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2016, 05:57:37 pm »

Either way is good. I've done organized tours a few times. Being fluent in English and French only, I appreciated the guides presence when issues came up in other countries. However, you can always find a way to get things resolved. Guides also know good places to go, to see, to stop for lunch, etc.

Enjoy!

Post pics.  Bigok
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2016, 10:21:08 am »


I've taken two organized tours in the Alps and I'll probably do it again.

The organized trips were cool, low stress, everything arranged.  All you did was show up and ride as much or little as you wanted, with or without any other tour members or guides, on what ever roads you wanted.  Hotels, meals, luggage hauled, support in event of problems etc.  You also had beer drinking and bench racing buddies every evening too.

They were also relatively expensive.  The dollar/euro exchange rate may have lessened the cost but, still expensive. [...]

Who did you tour with? My major concern is minimizing aggro with logistics. As long as I stick with the German areas, I'm good.
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2016, 12:55:22 pm »

Edelweiss both times.  They do everything including picking you up at the airport and shuttling you back at the end, they even put your luggage in your room at every new hotel.  

They also have started offering tours without the luggage van only one guide if you want a little more spartan and lower cost experience.  It's probably closer to how we do it here.
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2016, 02:07:45 pm »

Other thoughts about organized tours, your dates may not fit with their schedule and you must enjoy riding / dinning with a group.
Some operators will let you loose while others want you to absolutely follow your guide.
You can also find self guided tours. They're less expensive. You get a bike, gps, hotel reservations, breakfast.
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2016, 03:50:16 pm »


My major concern is minimizing aggro with logistics.  


If that is your main concern then, maybe a guided tour is a good option.

I took a 3-week Edelweiss tour as my first European trip. As greench440 said, the bench racing during the evenings is great among like minded enthusiasts. It's also nice not having to fret about choosing accommodations.

On the other hand, striking out on your own does give a sense of satisfaction. Language isn't that big a barrier. Many hotel staff speak English and many restaurants have English menus. You don't even have to speak at gas stations. You just hand over the money. When you get the hang of it, it really isn't that much more different than from traveling in the states. I got my bike fixed in Croatia despite not speaking Croatian and no English speakers around. It only adds to the adventure  Bigsmile
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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2016, 06:22:48 pm »

A couple lesser known tours are also pretty interesting.
I have some friends that went with Adriatic Moto tours a couple times and were well satisfied.
Another friend has toured with Paradise Motorcycle Tours in New Zealand, but they offer a tour of the Alps.
The wife and I decided on Paradise/Alps this summer.
They are affiliated with BMW Motorrad.
The tour seemed a good length of time, not to short or long.
You pay in NZ dollars which offers Americans about a 30% savings and they're pretty darn reasonable to start with.
They were great at answering questions to the point of calling me from NZ.
Lots more but at least check them out.
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2016, 11:43:33 pm »


If that is your main concern then, maybe a guided tour is a good option.

I took a 3-week Edelweiss tour as my first European trip. As greench440 said, the bench racing during the evenings is great among like minded enthusiasts. It's also nice not having to fret about choosing accommodations.


The logistics of nailing down a rental and accommodations are a strong attractor. Group rides haven't been a part of my riding life.

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On the other hand, striking out on your own does give a sense of satisfaction. Language isn't that big a barrier. Many hotel staff speak English and many restaurants have English menus. You don't even have to speak at gas stations. You just hand over the money. When you get the hang of it, it really isn't that much more different than from traveling in the states. I got my bike fixed in Croatia despite not speaking Croatian and no English speakers around. It only adds to the adventure  Bigsmile


As long as we're speaking German (or English), we're good. Goodness knows what the Swiss speak, though.  Lol

Orson, I'm curious about your process to pick a place to stay.

Assuming I DIY, how did you handle bike insurance before the Moto Guzzi and the Triumph? And how do you handle your medical insurance?
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2016, 07:51:59 am »

Before I got my i-Pad, it was just luck of the draw  Bigsmile Wherever I ended up at around 5 or 6 PM is where I ended up staying. A bit like Russian Roulette  Lol Thankfully, more times than not, the places were decent. And since I usually travel in May or September/October, vacancies usually aren't a problem.

Now, with an i-Pad, I can look ahead 24 hours and estimate how far I will ride, then browse Tripadvisor for a suitable place.


 Group rides haven't been a part of my riding life.

I think Edelweiss doesn't mind if you ride your own route alone if you chose. They just expect you to arrive at the next hotel or they begin to worry that something bad happened.



Assuming I DIY, how did you handle bike insurance before the Moto Guzzi and the Triumph? And how do you handle your medical insurance?

If you're going to rent a bike, the renter should arrange the insurance. The bike shop in Italy arranges my yearly insurance for the Guzzi. I got coverage in the UK for the Triumph through Footman James.

My employer's medical insurance works in Europe.

Just my opinion but, sticking to German-only speaking regions robs you the opportunity of riding in Italy. Italians are incredibly friendly people plus, there's the great food, wine, roads and scenery. Italians have that wonderful live-for-today outlook on life.
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2016, 11:06:46 am »


Before I got my i-Pad, it was just luck of the draw  Bigsmile Wherever I ended up at around 5 or 6 PM is where I ended up staying. A bit like Russian Roulette  Lol Thankfully, more times than not, the places were decent. And since I usually travel in May or September/October, vacancies usually aren't a problem.

Now, with an i-Pad, I can look ahead 24 hours and estimate how far I will ride, then browse Tripadvisor for a suitable place.

LOL   And even that can be a gamble. I'm thinking of a stop in Aiken, SC... Euwwww...
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I think Edelweiss doesn't mind if you ride your own route alone if you chose. They just expect you to arrive at the next hotel or they begin to worry that something bad happened.

Time to ...ah... reach out to Edelweiss. BTW, alternative companies? I don't know diddly about this area of business.
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If you're going to rent a bike, the renter should arrange the insurance. The bike shop in Italy arranges my yearly insurance for the Guzzi. I got coverage in the UK for the Triumph through Footman James.

(That name conjures up the image of someone in an elaborate costume, riding at the back of the royal carriage and ready to sprint to assist alighting from the carriage)
When we rent a car in Germany, we self-insure through our plastic. The coverage is effectively the same insurance offered by Hertz et al. Time to ask our issuer about what happens with a bike.
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My employer's medical insurance works in Europe.

Hmmm... I need to see what DAN (Divers Alert Network) can do in this setting. DAN is our health insurer for trips to the Bahamas (i.e., out of the US). DAN coverage isn't limited to incidents in the water. I forget what covers us in Euro-land.
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Just my opinion but, sticking to German-only speaking regions robs you the opportunity of riding in Italy. Italians are incredibly friendly people plus, there's the great food, wine, roads and scenery. Italians have that wonderful live-for-today outlook on life.

Oh my... That's a whole other topic. Having recently become a bit more earnest about being an oenophile (something one can claim publicly without fear of having to register with the local constabulary) , a tour tied to Italian wines is rapidly climbing on my bucket list.
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2016, 11:16:23 am »

I've ridden so far in France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and best of all, Italy.  Pretty much zero problems with language barriers, and I don't speak a bit of French, German or Italian.  There have been some exchanges with lots of arm-waving and pointing, but it always worked out in the end.  Don't let language be a reason not to visit.

My #1 destination, without a doubt, is the Dolomites in Italy.  Between the passes, the scenery, the friendly Italians, the food and the abundance of other bikers doing the same thing it's a little slice of heaven on earth.
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2016, 11:25:00 am »


Time to ...ah... reach out to Edelweiss. BTW, alternative companies? I don't know diddly about this area of business.


I don't have personal experience but, I've always read positive reviews about Beach's Motorcycle Adventures

And they've been around for 40 years so, they must be doing sumthin right.
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2016, 11:32:47 am »

"Time to ...ah... reach out to Edelweiss. BTW, alternative companies? I don't know diddly about this area of business."

See my post above...Smile

Paradise Tours spends 3 nites in the Dolomites at a BMW Motorrad affiliated   Spa-Hotel.
They have a fleet of bikes there and local tour guides offer half day and full day tours which I believe is included.
From this base, you can also explore alone.
The cost for the wife and I is $8300.00 NZ dollars which is about $5500.00 US depending on the exchange rate.
This includes your choice of 1200cc BMW's. I'm going witha R1200RS as the GS is to tall for me.
This includes everything the other tours include except dinners.
Pack your own gear, no chase van. Side-Top cases included.

No affiliation, just trying to share what I've found, being a couple steps ahead of you in the process.
Now onto trip insurance... Crazy
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2016, 11:41:11 am »

Two comments about "the German thing". Erstens, I speak German with a fair degree of fluency. Zweitens, my in-laws live about an hour west of Frankfurt. SWMBO (who doesn't and won't ride) may well spend the time with her family. (The idea of day traveling from one or more locations is somewhat in play)

Additionally, if I opt to DIY, there's some good riding going to southern Bavaria (Odenwald, Schwarzwald) without slabbing on the Autobahn (good for making miles, sux for rubbernecking).
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2016, 11:44:32 am »

I'll follow up on Paradise. The Dolomites are on my "second trip" list. Oh my yes.
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2016, 12:09:07 pm »

Edelweiss only expects you to get to the next hotel by dinner, or call if you'll be even later.  How you get there is up to you.  I rode solo a couple of days with road recommendations from the guides and one day just me and a guide rode from sun up to sundown on roads you wouldn't find on most maps.

Beaches is another company I looked at, their dates and routes didn't match up with my needs.

When I go back, I want to hit the western Switzerland and the French Alps all the way down to the Mediterranean.
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2016, 03:07:17 pm »

I like the sound of that.  Bigok

I'm not anti-social, I am a strong believer in "ride your own ride". Group rides make that challenging.
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« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2016, 03:21:58 pm »

Re: Medical Insurance

If you are on Medicare, you need to check out how much coverage your supplement policy covers.  If not on Medicare, do likewise with whatever you have.  Find out if motorcycle accidents are excluded.  Usually requires several calls till you get a reliable answer.  You'll may pick up some secondary coverage from your credit card.

We almost always buy a supplement through insuremytrip.com.  Plain supplemental medical is not expensive  Worth it for the peace of mind.  

As far as trip insurance, pretty much an excess expense in my book unless you have a unpredictable job situation or sick relative. Read the limitations carefully.  Same with vehicle coverage.  Every European country I've ever rented from has minimum mandatory coverage. Between that and what you get on the credit card you're covered.  

As far as language, as well as you speak German, you'll have no problem anywhere.  Most restaurants have multiple language menus, even if no one there speaks English. So far, my experience with conversational language translation apps has been worthless, although I use them for technical documents.

Best conversation I ever had was in the parking lot under Lake Geneva with an Italian who spoke no German or English, and a French woman who spoke German and Italian but not English. lots of hand waving.  

As far as roads, Ken Denton is right on.    I hope to go back next year (to ride).  

PS be sure to check out Paradise.  Paradise Pizza above Lake Garda that is if you're over that way
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