Today I start my daily journal. Our appointment has been set by our dearest Fazli Shukor of BMW Motorrad Malaysia to visit BMW Motorrad Plant in Berlin. Once again thank you so much Fazli for arranging in such short notice and for only both Sham and me. A direct train form where we are staying to Spandau before taking an underground train to Rathaus which is 2 stop away. Since we do not know how far it is from the station we took a cab by which it is only 10 minutes walk away. At 10am sharp, we are already at the guard station waiting for Frank Sensenschmidt.
Frank took us to the main lobby which displayed their bike including the Husqvarna. After a quick coffee we were taken by Frank to visit the amazing BMW Motorrad Plant. BMW plant in Berlin is one of the oldest plant. The building still holds the historic values. One great thing about special visits (well I would like to say it special) is that we are able to have more quality time. BMW Plant in Berlin represents the finest touch of BMW towards their client needs, satisfaction and appreciation towards their brand. Specifying into individual clients needs, their clients can even change their specifications within 10 days before delivery. Talk about personal attention. (I have made a special section for BMW Plant visit)
Walking back to the station is highly recommended. Photo taking along the pathway is definitely worth it. Have I mention I just love Germany? Being in Germany early March is pretty amazing. You can have best of the ending of winter and beginning of spring.
Berlin Wall is a must stop and a must visit. The town where stood Berlin Wall is different in a sense that you get the feeling of an ancient town. Located in Potsdamer Platz it is not that far from the train station. They historic wall still stood well. However I didn’t get to go to Charlie Point. I can do the walk even though it is far at the end of the wall but it is the cold weather that I cannot endure. It is quite alright when it is cold, the wind is what makes it unbearable and that day is definitely windy. Moral of the story, makes sure you are always in sufficient warm clothes while you are in German.
On our way at the train station we stop to buy our dinner, the Turkish Kebab. Let me interest you another important part of travelling, which is the food. You do not have to worry about food here especially for Muslim. There are about 5 million Turkish in German and almost all except for really small station have Turkish Kebab kiosk. In major city like Messe, one Kebab will cost you almost Euro 7 but at the train station you can get it at Euro 3 each.
It is time to leave peaceful, beautiful Pension Fahrhaus Rahnsdorf. Next stop Munich or Munchen. Apparently Munich is in English and Munchen is in German. The train ride to Munchen is almost the time as Frankfurt to Berlin. We booked at Günstig Schlafen 24, another place that offers similar facilities to Fahrhaus. It has almost everything that we had in Berlin except the lake view and the hospitality. We had to walk more than 800 meters to get to another house because the advertised room was more expensive than what stated. To have the stated rates booked we had to go to another house of them but you have to find your own way to get to house number 104 from house number 24 no way they going to sent you over. Not far he say ended me walking for more than 800 meters. Morale of the story, do make sure the exact address of your hotel and find out other hidden information when you book.
That night we had a dinner invitation from the boss of BMW Motorrad. Mr Heinich picked us up at around 7.30 pm and took us this very old restaurant and bar called Hofbräuhaus am Platzl which stood at the same place for the past 400 years. History says that back in 1516 beer are not allowed to be sold to public. In 1828 King Ludwig 1 declared by decrees the royal beerhall to become public beerhall.
There are traditional Bavarian band playing, waitresses were dressed in ‘lederhosen’ and they served us the giant pretzels. Picked any seat you wish. Just sit with any patrons there. Everyone is so friendly you hit on conversation the moment you sit. We sat with a couple who seems intrigued by our features. Apparently the husband was in Malaysia 5 years before. What a coincident and we chat like old friends. Their main menu besides the whole list of western food is the Beer. As for me, traditional fresh apple juice with mineral sparkling water and the food, pretzels not Aunty Anne size but huge pretzels dip with cheese. It was absolutely delicious and filling.
Heinish is a wonderful host / tourist guide. He explained everything that we see that night. What I can say about this bar is that everyone is having a blast. They eat, they drink, they chat, they sing and they dance. He took us around town that night explaining the history and the building that still exist for 800 years or even more. We saw several old building with great sculpture and ancient architecture. Unfortunately it was dark to take any pictures and according to Heinisch there are zone where no vehicle is allowed. It was almost 11pm and we still see people walking on the street, youngster hanging out with their friends. Years ago Munich is considered as village because every shops closes at 8pm and you can hardly see people on the street. Things have changed now Munich is considered as one of the busy city of German.
Henisch pick us up at 8am to collect the RT1200R that being loan to us for our ride. The store is located somewhere at Dolstrestraße. I call it the BMW town because showrooms of BMW, BMW HQ, BMW museum everything is so BMW here. We have been on the train so much that we beginning to think there is no traffic jam in German. Traffic is pretty heavy during peak hours.
We met a guy (sorry I can’t remember his name) who is responsible preparing our bike. He is kind enough to help us mount our GPS, change the seat to a lower unit and showed us how to use the motorcycle gadget. It has been raining since morning. Another important fact here, the weather forecast is almost accurate. The same as if you seek direction from a German, they really know their way about. We decided to extend our stay in Munich and start our journey first thing the next morning.
Rise and shine, well not exactly shine because it is still drizzling. We left Munich around 10am main destination Italy but not before stopping in Austria and definitely Switzerland. First time riding in a cold weather is not easy. The heated grip and seat on the RT1200R does help a bit but riding in a cold weather is totally a crazy thing to do according to Heinich. We had to stop at the first rest and relax area after 1 and half hour ride, really cold. It is the wind that you cannot stand but it was a great experience.
You will not be able to find ‘Toilet’ or ‘Ladies’ or ‘Gents’ here. If you need to go, WC is the place. You have to purchase a ticket that cost Euro 0.70 but you will get a return ticket of Euro 0.50 that can be used to purchase anything in the shop. The washroom here is incredibly clean. The toilet bowl has a button that cleans the toilet seat with disinfected soap. For almost 2 weeks I am here not once I find shoe print on the seat.
The best way to see a country is definitely on the road. Sham has set the GPS according to country side. What a breathtaking view, extremely beautiful. We passed through some beautiful view that made me reminisce my childhood days with my dad when we were admiring the scenic calendar pictures of open green field with one single house in the middle or a serene country home up in the higher field that make you feel at peace when you look at it. That was what it represents in reality.
Upon leaving Germany before entering Austria, you will have to purchase a toll ticket. For bike it costs Euro 4 and valid for 10 days.
Austria officially the Republic of Austria is a country of 8.4 million people that covers 83,855 square kilometres. Official language is German and Euro as currency. The country is of similar with Germany in many ways such as its atmosphere, the weather, the architecture, the town and the language as well. One thing I notice there are total relaxation when you are either in Germany or Austria and later when I was in Switzerland. People do not seem to be rushing here. Austria is a largely mountainous country due to its location near the Alps. They have beautiful mountains regardless which season. Should you want to stay here Austria is quite cheap. Check out hotel rate in www.booking.com which ranges from Euro 30.
Officially called Swiss Confederation with its long history of neutrality whereby it has not been into war internationally since 1815. It has an area span of 41,285 square kilometers and population of 7.9 million. Nothing can beat God’s greatest creation. Switzerland has the most mesmerizing, breathtaking, outstanding and incredibly beautiful view I have ever set my eyes on. I have been trying to find the best word to describe what I saw but I just unable to. There are no word exist to describe it. You just have to be here to be totally getting it. Since it is end of winter we could still see snow everywhere and beginning of spring with baby flowers starting to show.
As mention by Heinish, no one ride during this time of year so, we are the only two that is riding through this amazing countries. We stop several times to take pictures and not missing eating at Marche Restaurant. It was an epic moment for us to be on the road through Switzerland on bike when there are not even many cars passing through especially when it was getting late and it was beginning to be dark.
Cruising on the road that is almost deserted gave you certain feelings. Passing through huge mountains on both sides makes you realized how small you are at the same time the late evening cold gives you certain chilling feeling too but definitely I have never feel such peace. Well I guess that is just me. For sham he is just too happy to be back here again and do what he love, ride especially this time with BMW RT1200R that even though after hours of riding you do not feel that exhausted. Believe me if you want to travel on bike for thousands of miles RT1200R BMW is definitely one of the top bike we recommend.
Riding through the mountains at night as lights from villages on the hills emerge gave a great view. We stop at a place called Bellinzona Nord thinking that we are already in Italy but actual fact is we are still somewhere before border between Switzerland and Italy. Weather is not that cold anymore which helps a bit. Toll is somewhat to be expected when in Italy. The rates of bike are the same as car. They however have convenient machine whereby you can use your credit card to pay. Finally we are in the land of Italy.
We are heading towards Milan which is about 20Km from the first toll. Look out for direction on a sign board which is along the highway if you do not use gps.
The journey continues… Italy, a Southern European nation that is famous for its food, art and history