Alpe Adria 2019

On a grey winter day, my son Oskar approached me to have a serious discussion with me. “Papa, I would like to cross the Alps by bicycle with you” was the essence of the talk. “As soon as I start my studies, I will plan and do my own trips”. “Great idea, let’s plan the trip!”, was my response. The challenge was to find a suitable planning of my four weeks’ holidays, first the cycling route Bodensee-Königssee with Karin, and second, the Alpe Adria with Oskar. Finally, we decided to meet in Salzburg, where the Bodensee-Königssee Radweg (by then I did already 620 km) ended and the Alpe Adria started.


My son arrived in Salzburg on Sunday, 11 August afternoon. He ‘inherited’ Karin’s bicycle, we swapped the luggage and after an early dinner (or very late lunch), we started our tour along the Salzach river.

The weather was fine and the initial part of the route rather busy, people returning from Sunday cycling trips or came from swimming. We were heading towards the Tennengebirge.

After 30 km, we arrived at the first camping site Torrener Hof, just before Golling. We missed to visit the famous Gollinger Wasserfälle (we were too greedy to pay the entrance fee), but we had a nice chat with our neighbours from Dresden and exchanging ideas about cycling trips.


12 Aug 2019

The second day started with unstable weather and few kilometers along the Salzach Klamm, we even had rain so that we considered to visit the castle of Hohenwerfen. But when the sun came out, we were tempted to climb the road to the Eisriesenwelt. When we saw the destination far up there (sometimes, a map doesn’t fully show reality), we quickly decided we decided to continue cycling along the Tennengebirge to Bischofshofen.

Culture in Bischofshofen! After generous lunch (Oskar had a huge portion of a typical Austrian dish), we started climbing the hilly part of the day from Schwarzach im Pongau.

The climbs sometimes were tough, much more then what I expected. The cycling lane avoided the larger highways only to find smaller roads up the hills.

Klammtunnel – Doomstunnel!

I never experienced such a thing. Almost two km slightly uphill and every passing car made an incredible noise, due to sound reflections. One lorry passed by and I feared loosing my hearing!

The tunnel brought us into the Gasteiner valley where we recovered on a rather flat route along the Gasteiner Ache. However, traffic was always close. Just before Bad Gastein in Kötschachdorf, after 75 km cycling, we pitched our tent at the camping Pub Gastein, a nice, friendly and quiet place. Again, we met two couples, on from Schwaben and the others from Nürnberg, cycling the same route. We would meet them the following days again.


13 Aug 2019

After a wet night I had to carry a wet tent, which doubled its weight, and we had the hardest climb to do. I even had to get off the bike pushing it.

Bad Gastein is a town from the past. Empty looking grand spa hotels remembering glorious days from the late 19th / early 20th century, when artists, writers, musicians and politicians came to chill and relax.

The reward came at the impressive waterfalls where we could relax a bit.

We thought we made it to the railway station Böckstein at the ‘Tauernschleuse’. But it was another 10+ km uphill and the rain started. What a pity not being able to see the majestic mountains in the central Alps.

8 km and 5 minutes cheating! The shuttle train took us to Mallnitz which saved us from climbing another 1000 m up and down.

From there we had great downhill fun without much traffic into the Moll valley. Unfortunately, the weather did not much improve.

One of the rare occasions Oskar took a photo – of what?

What a monster bull!

The route continued in hilly terrain with some steep climbs again until we met the Drau river in Möllbrücke.

Roman remains in Teurnia close to Spittal.

In Spittal, only after 56 km, it started raining so that we decided to stay at the Draufluss Camping.


14 Aug 2019

The campsite was nicely located right at the river and it had a huge common room with tables and sufficient space for drying the tent (remember, I packed it wet). The downturn: two huge Italian campers arrived later and camped right next to our tent – turning on lights, letting the dog (almost) shit next to the tent and making noise. But also the rain made noise, particularly the large noisy drops from the tree above us, bombarding the tent.

Again, we were the last ones leaving the camping. The ride to Villach along the Drau was fast and comfortable. The temperatures rose again and the sun came out.

Villach was a busy and lively town and we decided to have a nice outside lunch. I don’t know what hit me when I ordered a Tiroler Gröstl. Not really a veggie dish! We rode along the Drau passing through Villachs industrial park and turning into the Gailtal. Despite the busy valley with motorway and major rail track to Italy, the cycling path was nice and quiet.

But where would we find the next camping? There was nothing on the map only Google Map showed a campsite named Gailitz!!, some km after Arnoldstein. At a supermarket, we met a German cycling family, who also aimed at that site. After steep climbs and deserted villages, we arrived after 66 km a spot with nothing. Just the river. But on the other side, a group of young people prepared for a party and advised us to find a more quiet place. We had the greatest evening: two women and a boy invited us at their bonfire, stuffed Oskar with sausages and played music with guitar and singing.


15 Aug 2019

The site was almost quiet – just a large trucker parking uphill behind the trees. We survived it.

Instead of returning to the Alpe Adria cycling track via Arnoldstein, we used small and rather challenging hiking tracks to get there.

And when we climbed towards a plateau at Thörl-Maglern we had a beautiful view at the Slovenian Alps.

Before crossing the border to Frijul, we had our last shopping opportunity.

Italy!

On the Italian side we found the fantastic and exceptionally well done cycling route! The next 60 km were built on an old railway track leading through beautiful landscapes.

In Tarvisio, we realised that we were crossing a multi-lingual region, in-midst the mountains where very different cultures meet. From here onwards, we were descending from almost 800 m above sea level to the actual sea level.

I was tempted to divert from the route and visit Valbruna, but the downhill ride was even more tempting, so we moved on.

There were other cyclists and close to towns it was rather busy. Sure, it was the 15 August, a holiday in Italy.

At Pontebba we had our refreshment stop where we also met our co-cyclists from the day before.

25%!!!

At some places, the cycling rout is still under construction and we had to take diversions with sometimes tough challenges.

Torrente Resia in Resiutta

At the former station Moggia Udinese ended the cycling track on the railway track and we had to divert along a hilly dirt road along the Fiume Fella and crossed the wide riverbed just before it unites with the Tagliamento in Carnia. The signage of the route remained exemplary.

The town Venzone was severely hit by an earthquake in the 70ies. All houses were rebuilt and only few ruins remained for remembering the disaster.

Even the medieval walls were partly destroyed.

Our final destination for the day was Gemona di Friuli, also earthquake struck.

Obviously the place with high tectonic activities.

After 87 km we pitched our tent on one of the last spots at the Camping Al Pioppi in Gemona. The camping pub had delicious pizza and we again met the cyclists from the days before.

A thunderstorm with heavy rain during the night turned the dusty spot into a mud-bath. The next morning, we had a lot of cleaning to do.


16 Aug 2019

The landscape, the architecture, the smells and the sun turned into real Italy. The cycling route was hilly and we crossed cultivated land and small villages.

Finally, the sign boards showed the final destination: Grado.

After 50 km we arrived in Udine and had delicious lunch in the city centre. The signage was even good in a larger city like Udine and we were guided through quiet streets with little traffic.

Well-fed we left the city via the Porta Aquileia.

Above and behind us developed massive thunderstorm clouds. We started racing against them and tried to escape the rain. Finally with success and we arrived in Palmanova, a geometrically built town following the Vauban’s pattern.

Massive walls and gates protect the town which was never conquered, because never besieged.

Palmanova’s main square, the Piazza Grande, was impressive.

After few kilometers we passed through Aquileia, an old roman town, where the old port was located.

The Basilica Santa Maria Assunta

And finally we arrived at the Mediterranean Sea! We crossed the Laguna di Grado on a busy road with good cycling track.


17 Aug 2019

After 115 km we arrived in Grado on 16 August.


18 Aug 2019

We stayed at Camping Al Bosco and pitched our tent at a perfect spot with sea view. Yes, it was noisy. Yes, it was crowded. And yes, there were myriads of mosquitoes. But it was worth it and we decided to stay three full days without doing much. except some 25 km cycling in the surroundings.

Last evening


On 20 August we departed. Already in the morning we had more the 30 degrees Celsius. It was Oskar’s aim, to reach Udine by lunchtime because he wanted to eat at the same delicious place where we already ate. And we managed the 60 km in less than 3 hours!

From Udine we took the train to Cania, close to the beginning of the rail track. Back to the mountains – now uphill!

In Chiusaforte, an old railway station, now a nice restaurant with camp possibility in front, we decided to spend the night (we received the recommendation from cyclists in Grado). We enjoyed the cooler temperatures in the evening. We did about 80 km this day.


12 Aug 2019

Despite ahead wind, we progressed well and we decided to continue until Villach in Austria where we arrived after 70 km in the evening.

Unfortunately the weather was unstable, so we visited the town and beer museum. Luckily the lake next to the camping was warm enough to have a nice swim.

Last night with rain and we had to pack a wet tent again. We had breakfast at the railway station and the direct train to Cologne was on time.


23 Aug 2019

Back home: Villach – Köln in one Intercity train in one day.