As this was my first organised tour I was understandably apprehensive about the experience I would receive. I’ve toured quite a lot in the past but never as part of such a large group and never through a tour operator.
However, from the very beginning with Magellan I knew it was going to be money well spent. Friendly, informative emails and prompt replies to questions set the tone for communication from the word go. It was clear that the company has no secrets about it’s routes or methods, a fact that I found inspired confidence when spending my hard earned holiday money over the Internet!
A comprehensive digital tour pack arrived a couple of weeks before departure along with an email explaining what to expect on the first day. The level of detail here is really impressive, from printable copies of multilingual accident report forms to suggested packing lists and satnav troubleshooting info. Also included is a printable itinerary and GPX files for the entire route.
One of the main attractions for me when booking was this level of freedom and self-control. As explained on their website, they don’t use the ‘drop-off’ or any other riding system during their holidays (I’m an IAM member and had always thought of the drop-off as the best available compromise for an impossible task, I’ve now seen the light!).
With Magellan you’re in full control of your own holiday. There are routes and suggested stops provided but you can get from hotel to hotel however you wish. Want to skip morning coffee and have 2hrs for lunch by the lake? Fine. Prefer to stay behind a more experienced rider or scrape your knee round every hairpin bend? No problem! The guide is always at the back of the group, ready to deal with any issues that crop up and contactable by phone at all times.
At 6:45am on the big day I arrived at the agreed meeting point close to the Channel Tunnel with high hopes. I circled the car park, eyeing up other bikes for potential tour-mates and it only took a few moments to home in on someone and break the ice. By 7 our tour guide had arrived to lead us onto the train.
Whilst on the train our guide took the opportunity to double check everyone’s satnav was in full working order and to spend a bit of time getting to know each of us and explaining the way the tour would progress.
Basically on a Magellan tour the days follow a loose framework of: ‘morning coffee stop’ – ‘lunch stop’ – ‘afternoon coffee stop’ – ‘hotel’. Each stop has precise latitude/longitude information provided in the itinerary and is programmed into the GPX file. All you have to do is get there! And that’s what struck me immediately on leaving the tunnel and riding into France; it really is YOUR holiday.
The next thing that made an impression over the next few days as we cruised through the rolling saffron fields and endless azure skies of northern France was how easy it all was. Get up in the morning, breakfast is always ready. Pack your bike, hand your key in and ride off. Follow your satnav along perfectly surfaced roads to wonderful, thoughtfully chosen cafés and restaurants and finally to the next hotel. Ride up, check in, shower and change and surprise! Dinner is booked.
All you need to do is watch the scenery change from country to country.
As we travelled eastwards through France into Germany and then Austria, both the roads and the views got better and better by the hour until by the time we’d reached our furthest point and turned back west into Switzerland they’d crescendoed with a day off in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The second of two planned rest days on this ten day tour, (The first allowing a visit to either the famous Grossglockner Pass or Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’.) this was an opportunity to ride some of the most fantastic roads in Europe such as the Sustens, Furkha and scarily cobbled Gotthard passes.
Unbelievably well maintained ribbons stretching back and forth on themselves for mile after mountainous mile of hair raising motorcycling heaven! It certainly wasn’t a very restful day in my opinion!
Aside from the world class riding on offer I was pleasantly surprised to find the social aspect of the tour was far better than I had hoped before setting off.
Rather than a pack of egotistical super-riders or boring half-dead motorcycling zombies, I found myself part of a lively mixed group from a diverse range of backgrounds. Single men and women, couples and groups of friends. People in their 30’s to people in their 70’s and all of them sharing a love of motorcycles and travel. A great chance to meet characters you would never cross paths with in your day to day life!
Every stop was like a miniature club meeting with people swapping stories and opinions, and waiting to see who would arrive next. Nobody was left out of the fun.
Evenings were more of the same. Dinner was always pre-arranged by our guide (Although of course you were free to do as you pleased.) and always satisfactory. There was no feeling of elitism of exclusion and I would like to think that in a very short time I made some real friendships that I hope will last far beyond my ten day tour.
Overall I was very impressed by my holiday with Magellan. They have managed to hit on a perfect recipe for enjoyment. A mixture of ease, excitement, friendliness and customer care that far exceeded my expectations and offers something for everyone by remaining so fluid and adaptable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone or to tour with them again myself. See you there!
To read more about the trip checkout the escorted version here:
And the self guided option here: