Colorfull houses
Basel; foto from Wikimedia commons

In November 1994, one of my brothers moved to Basel in Switzerland, and this event was a nice excuse to plan a motorcycle trip (with free bed and breakfast in Basel). My motorcycle was a Suzuki VX800.

I searched for some green crinkly roads on the map, to make this a real motorcycle trip instead of spending hours on the Autobahn. There were some stretches of Dutch highway and Autobahn in between.

November 1994

The trip did not start that well: rain, with a temperature somewhere below 10 degrees ("ordinary" degrees: Celsius). I warmed my hands at a cup of coffee on my first gas-stop, but the quivering did not stop. There was this problem with my motorcycle jacket and pants: both started to leak after a couple of hours of steady rain. But I kept thinking about how nice the green twisty roads would be.

The first green stretch was the romantic part of the Rhine, between Koblenz and Bingen.

I must admit that this part of the Rhine does look romantic, even in the rain, even with a lot of traffic around you. I tried to concentrate on the ruins of the castles at the opposite side of the Rhine, because the curves, so promising on the map, were too crowded by cars to be enjoyed.

I was very glad that these castles and this magnificent scenery were there: I needed them to disregard the rain, the cold, and the fact that the leaking had started an hour ago. Of course, the quivering still did not stop.

The next green stretch was called the Deutsche Weinstrasse , which sounded rather attractive. And ok, there were some nice looking villages, with whine cellars, but everything was closed (it was Saturday afternoon by now), and there were a lot of traffic lights in these villages, and a lot of traffic on the road in between.

By now, I was quivering so much that I thought it advisable to look for a warm café with warm coffee, and maybe even something warm to eat. But Germany did not seem to have anything like that. In fact, I was lucky to find one gas station which was open, but they did not serve coffee.

To make things worse, I got lost. The signs with "Deutsche Weinstrasse" had disappeared somehow, my map was wet, and at a certain point I got the strong feeling that I had been there an hour ago. I stopped, and inspected my wet map, to make it a lot wetter.

It was dark by now, so I had to find a lamppost to do this. I was right about having been here before. But going on in the right direction was not that easy. My direction should be Strasbourg, and this rather big city was not far away, but because of being French I suppose, it did not show on the German signs.

Eventually I reached Strasbourg. From then on, it was stop-and-go traffic. In the rain. The temperature had dropped, according to some sign, to 2 degrees Celsius. The quivering stopped. At this time I felt too tired to look for something warm. The only thing I could think of was Basel Basel Basel (called Bâle in France; it did show on some of the signs!).

That was about it. When I finally reached my brother (of course, I got lost in Basel too, and I heard my first Swiss German when I tried to ask where I was) I spent one hour in a warm bath, and kept quivering after that. The next day I was ill, but the day after that I have even seen something of the city and the Rhine.


Well, this is obvious: in the first place, I do meet a lot of friendly Germans, but only outside Germany. When you travel on a Saturday afternoon through their own country, they hide inside, and close all cafe's (at least, they do so along the Deutsche Weinstrasse).

So, when traveling from Holland to Basel, go through France! I did that on my way back, and drank lots of coffee, and ate lots of croissants, and above all, it did not rain. The route through France crosses the Vosges, and I rode my first hairpins there.

Later I learned that it is a bad sign when you stop quivering: you are getting supercooled, and may get dizzy, careless and absent-minded, which doesn't go along too well with riding a motorcycle. I remember that I could not bring myself to stop then, though in France, there were a lot of warm cosy restaurants where I could have had a warm drink.

In short, this trip is maybe one of the stupidest things I ever did on my motorcycle.


© Copyright - Author: Sylvia Stuurman , Pictures: Ernst Anepool .
Copyright 1993-now.
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