The Alps beckoned to us as we approached from the north. The peaks already covered in snow, we knew we were more than just fashionably late to this party. There was a good chance that we’d find mountain passes already closed for the season. But there was no way we were touring Europe without getting the chance to practice our yodeling or channeling our inner Julie Andrews and running gaily through alpine meadows while singing The Hills are Alive. And our confidence was bolstered by the fact that we had picked up our friend, Gerald, who would be our personal guide through the Alps section of our tour. Gerald is from Austria, the Alps are his backyard. We were in good hands.
We met Gerald in Yellowstone National Park in 2013 before we left the USA to points south in our tour of the Americas. At the time, he was also touring the western US. We actually ended up meeting a few times as our paths crossed that summer and kept in touch over the past two years. When we told him we’d be over his way for a Fall season tour we were super excited to learn he’d be able to join us for a month! We immediately appointed him captain of navigation and route planning. Click here for a map of our route through the Alps.
Liechtenstein is an itty-bitty country squished between Austria and Switzerland. We entered Liechtenstein if only to be able to say we’ve been there, and send some postcards for evidence, because they don’t stamp your passport in Liechtenstein. For my friends back home, Liechtenstein is a little over 2x the size of Hampton. And for our friends in the South, 4403 Liechtensteins could fit in the great state of Texas.
We spent one night in Liechtenstein and then crossed back into Switzerland and headed for our first mountain pass.
Up Albula Pass and down the other side. It’s already a winter wonderland and it’s only October!
And the next day we were up and over Fuorn Pass. While steep, the passes were relatively short, nothing we couldn’t do in a day’s ride.
But it was nice when we rode down into a sunny river valley to Meran, in northern Italy, where we thawed out and rested our worn legs.
Rich picking wild hops.
Rich picking wild hops.
Beers and brats, staples of our European diet.
We started the climb to Jaufenpass on a crisp morning and as we neared the top, it looked like we were riding into a winter storm. It became progressively colder going up, and while the snow and rain held off, it was freezing going down!
The Dolomites in northeastern Italy, in our opinion, are the jewel of the Alps. The ride from Toblach to Cortina d’Ampezzo was so incredibly beautiful. If only every day on the road could be like this!
After a few very cold nights where we woke up in an igloo with our tent encased in ice, we decided that maybe it was a good time to head south to lower elevations, to warmer parts of Italy.