Dual Wed 22 August 2018

JOURNEY TO THE NORTH

Four friends, two motorcycles and a compass pointing North
This is a trip that leads to the discovery of Austria, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
We depart on a Sunday morning from Verona heading for our first stop, Brno. Our bikes are loaded and after a few kilometers, the fun begins; we reach Lessinia, a highland to the North of Verona and through winding roads we get to Val d’Adige. Here we flank the river and without realizing it we are in Sillian on the border with Austria, were we stop to buy the motorway vignette (toll sticker) that will allow us to travel Austria’s highways.
Mid-morning, we reach our destination for the second day: Katowice. After finding a hotel and parking our machines, we visit two of the most famous concentration camps in Poland. It’s a beautiful day but as we enter Auschwitz’s gate with its “Arbeit Macht Frei” lettering, the mood changes; the sensations while visiting this place of human misery are strong and the people’s memories are tangible. A guide explains and leads us through this prison of suffering and death until we reach Birkenau where the words gas, pain, lack of dignity, horror, echo around us.

We leave from Lower Silesia through Poland, gathering dark clouds suggest stopping to wear our rain suits. Dressed to challenge bad weather, we proceed for Brandenburg until we reach the port city of Rostok where we embark heading for Gender (Denmark). The motorcycles, that were numerous on the road, now are few and leave room to countless wind turbines that, lined up as soldiers, dominate wheat fields. And here we are, at one of the focal points of this trip, the Øresund bridge, which is considered one of the most outstanding modern architectural engineering structures in the world. It is impressing; the first part is an underwater tunnel that becomes an imposing bridge able to resist the strong channel winds.  
Our next destination, Stockholm, is reached after crossing beautiful cereal fields and then woods and little lakes as far as the eye can see.
Stockholm: organization, cleanliness, history, innovation, environmental awareness. This city strikes you for its royal palace, its position on the sea, the Vasa museum that exhibits the only preserved 17th century Swedish ship. The city can also be visited on boat along its water ways. We have dinner in a Viking restaurant where, welcomed by people loudly speak their name, we sit on fur coated, use old-time silverware and goblets and eat traditional food while listening to Celtic music. Surely, a unique and characteristic place.
From the capital of Sweden, through woodland and lakes, lakes and woodland, we get to Oslo, where the Norwegian National Opera, the Frognenparken and the royal palace are all remarkable; with a boat one can also appreciate the beautiful bay with its unique little stilt houses on the water.

The city doesn’t feel polluted, people mostly use public transportation, bicycles and there are a lot of electric cars; civic-mindedness and green life style are real. Intrigued by the ice-bar we enter for an aperitif: covered with a cloak, we drink in glasses made of ice, sitting on chairs made of ice while admiring ice sculptures … fascinating.
It is interesting to know that in Oslo monitored parking garages are free for motorcycles. On roads with no potholes, rough asphalt and nonexistent traffic, we cover 350 km until we reach Göteborg, where we sleep on a ship turned into a floating hotel.
The next day we take a ferry to Denmark, reaching Copenhagen under a sky that alternates sun and rain; people here learned to live with it, abandoning umbrellas in favor of rain-proof clothing. Wind and unpredictable weather are typical in Denmark. We see the famous mermaid, symbol of a city able to expresses its essence during a stroll or from the famous boats with which one can visit the channels discovering its wonderful history.
Since the capital is rather expensive, in the evening we decide to move towards the country where we find a cottage near a lake, were to stay.

After a good night sleep, it is time to start our way back; we pass Hamburg, Hanover and in Regensburg we decide to stop at a camping site that has wooden prefab barrel-shaped two-people rooms.
The last part of the journey sees us crossing the Alpes and returning home.
A real experience, full of scents, flavors of important lands full of history and emotions that lived riding our motorcycles are more intense.

Km: 5800
Days: 12
Liters of gas: 390
Motorcycle: BMW GS adv, BMW GS adv LC
Participants: 4
48€: a plate of prawns and two beers in Oslo

Text and Photos: Luca Sauro