Category Archives: Germany

Day 324 – Hometown

First thing you see in the morning

First thing you see in the morning

Our stay in Sommerach was lovely and filled with great food. Breakfast with fresh buns and good coffee gave us an excuse to hang around, spending some more time with family.

At noon, we had to go though…another 180km to Frankfurt. Just a short ride but an important one. Finishing the trip. Throughout most of the ride, our mood was pretty triumphant. Close to Frankfurt, we decided to take a detour so that we’ll come in on the A5 which would give us a view of the skyline. Shortly before we could actually see it, the mood turned sombre. We started to realize that these are the last kilometers of our trip. We had actually done it. We were still sitting on the same bike which had left Clifton Terrace in Wellington all those months ago.

Frankfurt, eh?

Frankfurt, eh?

When Frankfurt came into view, I started crying. The mix of emotions was just too much: Happy that we had made it, sad that it was over, proud to have made it, happy to be home, missing Wellington like crazy. Just too freaking much. Also, this way I ended the journey the same way as it began: in tears. I’ve come full circle, haven’t I?

Arriving in the suburb of Okriftel where we would stay with more family, we went on a last little detour to the place where we had bought Rocinante. Unfortunately, no one who has anything to do with bikes was around. So we left again for the last couple of meters to our temporary home.

Arrived at Flo's family's place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Arrived at Flo’s family’s place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Just to be stopped again when we turned into the road where Flo’s family lives. An unconscious figure lay on the footpath next to a bicycle. A man and a woman were standing at the accident site, too, but it must have happened only moments before. Flo stopped and while the woman told us that she already called the ambulance, we could still offer our first aid kit as no one else seemed to have one. There was a lot of blood from a wound on her head. One of the helpers had just started cleaning the wounds and her face when she regained conscience and the ambulance arrived. Having witnessed nothing and being already the third persons to help, we cleared the road and left to finally arrive at our destination just down the road.

We’re home now. In one of our homes.

Complete trip with important city dates

Complete trip with important city dates

 

Day 323 – Lucky peeps

Moment of truth...radiator all fixed up to be welded

Moment of truth…radiator all fixed up to be welded

Overnight, it got cool and our tent was wet in the morning. Either it had rained in the night or much condensation happened. Packing a wet tent isn’t ideal but we didn’t have time to wait around: We had an appointment at 8 am deciding our fate.

We didn’t buy food last night so we didn’t have anything for breakfast. Hoping to find an open bakery, we drove to the mechanic’s place and were half an hour early. Enough time to look around the small town and find something to eat.

Success! This hole has been fixed

Success! This hole has been fixed

The mechanic opened up at 7.50 am and saw us right away. With a long prelude about the risks of welding aluminium, he began to work. The motorbike radiator has small and thin fins so the chance of melting metal accidentally and creating a new hole while closing up the old one is substantial. However, the mechanic managed to close up the visible hole without creating a new one. So much relief. It is hard to tell you just how much relief we felt. To be completely certain that it is closed up now, the radiator was dunked into water and air was blasted through. We all watched out for tiny air bubbles but it was closed. Instead, air bubbles were released from a different location…we had a second hole.

This one was smaller and at the place where it’s fastened to the bike. It might have been created when taking out the radiator but it was still a problem now. Again, he fixed it and the next water bath test didn’t show any bubbles anymore. We could continue! *happy dance*

Happy dance! All packed up and ready to go!

Happy dance! All packed up and ready to go!

The workshop where the rest of Rocinante had spent the night opened at 9am so it was already open when we arrived. Needing help attaching the radiator back to the bike, staff promised us to make it happen between 11am and noon. Thus, we had a couple of hours to spend in Passau and started with a coffee and baked goods in another bakery. We passed some time at the river Danube but returned at 11 am to see how things were going. Rocinante was good to be clad in her plastic parts already! It took us another hour to fix up the bike, pack all our luggage back onto it and return the rental car. But at noon we were off!

Arrived at the restaurant from Flo's dad and Silvia. Achievement unlocked

Arrived at the restaurant from Flo’s dad and Silvia. Achievement unlocked

From here, we had another 300km to go to Würzburg and we did it in one go. No more stopping, no more messing around, just riding. Well, we kept an eye on the engine temperature just to be safe. The bike behaved all the way to Würzburg, or rather Sommerach, and both Flo’s dad and Silvia were over the moon to see us. We had a quick shower, a snack at the restaurant (so good! With fresh chanterelles!) and then watched the football game at their place.

Returning to the restaurant “Beim Zöpfleswirt” after the game, we had dinner together. Flo proved how much he had missed Silvia’s cooking by not only finishing his giant plate but his father’s as well. So lovely to see family again and be spoilt. 🙂

 

Day 322 – Breakdown

Rinse and repeat. That was the motto for today. Get up early, ride hard, push through all of Austria and arrive in Würzburg at Flo’s dad’s place in the evening.

Austria in a nutshell. Or so.

Austria in a nutshell. Or so.

From Budapest, Vienna is just 150km away so when we reached the Austrian capital, it was time for our first coffee stop. Not wanting to get into the city traffic, we had it at a motorway fuel station along with the obligatory Mozart chocolate. It had been raining since we crossed into Austria and it didn’t look like it would stop any time soon so I put on all of my rain gear now, Flo was still wearing his from yesterday’s rain.

It only got worse. All through Austria, it was pourring down with rain. While the suits kept us dry, our gloves were soaked through leading to cold hands and our boots were simply carry-on puddles. During a roadside lunch break at Burger King’s, we emptied our boots out, at least.

Trying to get warm and slightly dry

Trying to get warm and slightly dry

All this rain led to the probably most dangerous situation of the whole trip. It was gushing down, making it hard to see much and the Austrian traffic people deemed it appropriate to paint a giant white arrow for direction right into a corner. Only the right lane turned but the next lane over was also ornated with an arrow pointing straight ahead…in a corner. Rain and paint are the deadliest combination of things for a motorcyclist. The rear tire gave way and slide which brought the bike to wooble dangerously before the tire had grip again. Lucky us that we didn’t fall going 130 km/h on a motorway.

Damn, green cooling liquid all over the place

Damn, green cooling liquid all over the place

The border between Austria and Germany is practically non-existent. We were waved through without a glimpse into our passports and weren’t even able to stop at the “Welcome to the Federal Republic of Germany” sign as there was simply no place to stop. Still wanting to get a “back in Germany” photo, we stopped at the next rest area. As soon as we had crossed over to Germany, the rain had stopped. Still, we didn’t quite get our celebratory photo as Flo discovered bright green cooling liquid on Rocinante’s side; we had a leaking radiator.

Broken Rocinante and desperate Flo waiting for the towing truck

Broken Rocinante and desperate Flo waiting for the towing truck

The next fuel station was not too far away. They even sold liquid that is supposed to fix small leaks. All you have to do is pour it in and keep the motor going for 15 to 20 mins so that it can harden. As soon as the engine went on, cooling liquid was gushing all over the place. This motorbike was going nowhere until the radiator was fixed. Out of money and out of time, this would mean the end of our trip. No riding into Frankfurt, celebrating our achievement. What a bitter disappointment. Flo was desperate.

Our bike does this way too often

Our bike does this way too often

So first, we called the ADAC. There was nothing more we could try at the fuel station so we might as well hope that they send a mechanic. They didn’t. They sent a towing truck for a car. He was competent nonetheless and we had Rocinante securely on the truck in no time. The workshop we were towed to was awesome but they didn’t have good news for us: The replacement would only be here at the end of the week and it would cost us 500 euros. Impossible. We have neither the time nor the money for it. Completely deflated, we asked about a botch job. Due to German law, the workshop is unable to provide anything like that. You could sue the workshop and no one would take that risk. However, one of the staff people gave us the hint that we, ourselves, could ask someone to fuse the holes and put the radiator back in. This way, the workshop would be not liable and we have at least the chance to ride to Frankfurt. They were even able to point us to a mechanic for radiators of all sorts. Flo called him and he agreed to see us at 8am tomorrow morning to take a look at the radiator and try to fuse it.

Well, this is not how we thought our last night on the road would look like.

Well, this is not how we thought our last night on the road would look like.

Tomorrow morning. At least, there was hope again. All we had to do now was get a rental car as the mechanic was 25km away from Passau. Oh, and a place to spend the night which wouldn’t cost 50 Euros. We checked everything online but 50 euros was the cheapest we could find. So we concentrated on finding a rental car and got lucky. There was a special offer: 33 euros for one day and 300km. If everything else failed, we would sleep in the car. As Passau turned out to be too expensive for us, we started driving towards the mechanic. The GPS showed a camp ground on the way and maybe it would be less than 50 euros.

The camp ground turned out to be amazing. 12 euros for a night for two people; exactly what we needed for one night. Super-duper tired, we put up the tent one last time. Tomorrow would tell us if we can arrive in Frankfurt on two wheels or if we have to resort to four wheels instead.