Arriving at Reims for our first stop, we were soon relaxing in the courtyard drinking some aperitifs prior to our dinner rendezvous at a restaurant on the busy pedestrianised area just outside. We followed dinner with a walk to the cathedral to see the light show however, because there was another event taking place at the same time, the first light show at 1030 was cancelled and only a few waited until the 1130 showing.
Off we went the following day to Germany, high temperatures forecast again as we crossed northern France along fast yet straight roads – they were so straight that I think I counted three corners all morning!
Our stop was in a lovely hotel just outside Baden-Baden which more importantly was situated on the famous B500 – one of the more famous motorcycle routes in Germany which follows sweeping bends through forest on good tarmac as it winds its way south-east.
A good night’s rest and we were off again with the anticipation of more exciting driving and we were not to be disappointed. Lovely fast roads with the mountains appearing as we neared Oberammergau which is just north of the Austrian border.
Another lovely hotel with a shared terrace which we took advantage of prior to leaving for dinner at a lovely Italian owned pizzeria nearby.
An early start the next day saw us driving through Austria past lovely ‘chocolate box’ villages with mountain pastures en-route for the Timmelsjoch Pass which creates a link through the Ötztal Alps along the border between Austria and Italy. The route up on the northern (Austrian) side is quite barren but once you reach the summit and descend on the Italian side the road gets more exciting as does the scenery. The hairpins transfix you and are yet a further taster of the mountain passes to come.
The heatwave across Europe was starting to take its toll on us all and we were in constant temperatures of low to mid 30 degrees centigrade. What made things worse was the amount of roadworks we encountered once we descended the pass which combined with hitting rush hour as we passed through one large town (having been delayed by the roadworks) plus the scary antics of the Italian drivers made everyone tired so we were all glad when we arrived on the shores of Lake Garda and our stop for three nights.
Most of us took advantage of the rest days to do just that – relax by the pool, swim in the lake or explore the town however one group visited Venice, another took the ferry across the lake to explore another town for the day whilst a few choose to explore the local mountain roads and get in some practice on tight twisties.
Leaving Lake Garda we headed towards Switzerland to take in one of the more famous mountain passes – the Stelvio – praised by Top Gear as one of the must do routes in the Alps.
Again heavy traffic as we left Lake Garda but this reduced after the coffee stop and soon we were being treated to mountain scenery with snowy peaks and nice roads (and lots of tunnels) as we made our way towards Bormio.