ArchieVan Mountain Van.

    A drive deeper into the Pfalz to Kaisersluten didn’t reveal the stunning town I’d hoped for – but it did take me through beautiful mountain roads with fairy tale castles clinging to the very edge of the hills they were built on.

    We tackle what we then thought were our first hills, but oh my how our ideas have changed since.

    Even in Bavaria!

    After a forest stop for lunch, my new version of road food, we’re back onto the autobahn and a very long drive south.

    Road food, with trusty Opinel.

    The Bavarians definitely drive a lot faster than their northern counterparts. Mercs, BMWs and Porsches fly past at 150 mph, perhaps more. When we manoeuvre ArchieVan for an overtaking exploit we wait until there are no lights approaching in the outside lane, even if we can see a mile back. The VW’s acceleration isn’t up to much and so we glide along rather than race.

    Tired out and late we arrived in Rorschac to a fantastic welcome with Michael and Gabriella, Swiss bikers who stayed at Archavon Studio a few weeks back. Good wine, good food, good conversation and I finally fall into the van at midnight.

    Sand sculptures on Bodensee, Rorschach.

    For the first time I wake with just a sore neck rather than a totally painful one. I haven’t worked out whether it’s driving or sleeping that’s causing it, but I wander around trying to gently stretch it much of the time.

    After a stroll around town and along the lake shore, checking out the sand sculptures, and visiting Gabriella at her workshop and showroom, it’s back on the road. We leave Switzerland after less than 24 hours – we’ll be back though.

    Gabriela’s wonderful work.

    Again I loved the houses – no consistency of style in town, but every one interesting, and some look truly stunning.

    Within a few kilometres of the Austrian border the road ahead is dominated by dark, foreboding mountains.

    We climb and climb.

    ArchieVan’s 163 bhp isn’t enough to make light of these fellows.

    Doesn’t look steep – but I can’t get above 30mph.

    We drive in third for several miles before plunging down the other side and taking a rest at Fischteich, this great fish restaurant just outside the town of Au, for a spot of lunch. Grilled trout – and delicious it is too. Saved a bit of fish skin for Polly’s delectation.

    Fish restaurant – Au.
    Lunch – with a little blogging in progress.

    Our destination was Lech – just because the road looked good on the map. The last 5kms down to Lech were a tad hairy, narrow, and with a massive drop to the river below. But Lech wasn’t too exciting so we slipped through, and then through Zurs before stopping above Zurs with two other vans.

    My nearest building – looks good, ready for The Cornish Way’s touch.

    It’s a 20 minute walk down to Zurs on a little stream side path, but nothing is open. It’s a ski resort, and while there’s snow, it is still summer. I saw just three other souls outside of cars. Cloud drifts over and the mountains are obscured. They fall further and even the path disappears, but its always moving and within moments the jagged peaks emerge again.

    Our view from the van.

    Back to the van for a couple of hours work – and birthday dinner!

    5 degrees over night  – needed the heater on. Bad design, it heats Polly’s space like an oven, but doesn’t do a lot for the rest of the van.

    If you can make this photo big enough you’ll see ArchieVan in the bottom right, taken from a big walk up a very big hill as a morning stretch.

    Archie bottom right – and check out Calgary on the hillside.

    I later saw the people in the old Hymer I camped next to and they told me they’d been moved on from there by the police the previous week. It was worth them coming back though.

    Moving through the Austrian alps there is so much to be photographed, but so few places to stop. This was so amazing I spun the van around to go back to take a quick shot out of the window. As was often the case, away from the motorway junctions there was very little traffic. I did feel a little sick parked on the bridge with a thousand foot drop just the other side of the barrier.

    Beautiful – near Landeck.

    After Innsbruck we started the long climb up the Bremmer Pass. And the good thing about not being on the motorway is that you get to see the incredible construction that ferries thousands of cars a day into and from Italy.

    One of many views of the Bremmer Pass, from underneath.

    As I leave the beautiful mountain country I have a simple plea to the otherwise friendly, orderly Austrians – Guys, the indicator is a cool tool, please use it!

    And a reminder for myself incase I ever get used to the drop at the edge of the road and think it normal… KC – it used to scare the pants off you!

    Italy tomorrow.

    Todays music: I let iTunes do its thing today, randomly selecting albums, although most of the time I drove in silent dread of the drop messed me. Always interesting with 30 years of CDs on iTunes what turns up.
    The The – Should Mining. This was once such an important record to me and great to hear it again.
    Sade – Love Deluxe(?). A mellow one and at the perfect time when tired, but witnessing amazing scenery against a setting sun.
    Trent Reznor –  Before the Flood soundtrack.





    2 Replies to “ArchieVan Mountain Van.”

    1. Brilliant travels of the KC and Polly. Hope she’s enjoying the time in foreign lands.
      Take care and safe travels from sunny Spain

      1. Kelvin Collins says: Reply

        On holiday again? You live well!
        The first van tour is wonderful. Most of the van doesn’t work, but it’s still brilliant.
        Best you both. KC

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