The EuroHoon '17

An Alpine Adventure

Welcome to the EuroHoon ’17

 

This Alpine Adventure encompasses some of the finest and legendary Swiss, Italian and Austrian Passes. Heading out from the UK, we head through France and into the Alsace region via the historic Circuit de Reims-Gueux. After the obligatory photo stop and a well earned break (and no doubt some fine French wine). We drop down across the border and into Switzerland.

From here we have four days of driving east, zig-zagging the Swiss-Italian border, enjoying sweeping curves and tight hairpins, all in the shadow of the snow capped mountains.

After tackling the infamous Stelvio Pass, we’ll head north to Munich. Finally heading west on our way back home via Stuttgart. While in Munich and Stuttgart we’ll have the chance to drool over the epic metal at both the BMW and Porsche Museums.

UK to Obernai, France

Circuit de Reims-Gueux

Leaving early on Sunday morning to escape the shores of Blighty, we have a 9hr drive to our first destination of the tour; the beautiful town of Obernai in the Alsace region of France.

We’ll be breaking the monotony on the French motorways with a coffee stop at the legendary Circuit de Reims-Gueux. The 7.8 km Reims-Gueux circuit is situated on the western edge of Reims, between the communes of Thillois and Gueux.
The circuit was used for the first time in 1925 for the first Grand Prix de la Marne organised by the Automobile Club of Champagne. In 1938, the Automobile Club of France used it for the French Grand Prix, and the first official Formula 1 course was used in 1950. The circuit was used for Formula 1 for the last time in 1966.

Obernai, France

The charming little town of Obernai, Alsace is located at the foot of Mount St. Odile and is the second most visited town in the département of Bas-Rhin after Strasbourg. The medieval streets of its old town are bordered with magnificent half-timbered houses which are overlooked by the twin towers of the St Pierre and Paul church and the belfry.

…Copyright © French Moments Ltd unless otherwise stated. Read more at https://frenchmoments.eu/obernai-alsace/ .

Our hotel – The Parc Hotel

Le Parc is situated 900 yards from the centre of Obernai and its Christmas Market, and features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a garden and a health and wellness spa.

The en suite guestrooms offer satellite TV, free WiFi access and some of the rooms feature a fireplace.

Le Stub serves traditional Alsatian cuisine, La Table features gastronomic cuisine. A buffet breakfast is served daily.

Obernai, France to Oberwald, Switzerland

Passes: Klausen, Susten and Grimsel

Heading down through the picturesque Alsace region, through the historic city of Basel and into Switzerland, we start the EuroHoon in earnest. Remembering the all important Vignette, we have a short blast on Swiss motorways to navigate around Zurich before heading into the mountains and our first Alpine Pass of the tour.

Klausen Pass

“The Klausen Passis the first “major” alpine pass you reach driving south from Zurich, in fact, using the highway you can be at the foot of the pass in a little over 1 hour – it really is a passage directly into the heart of the Alps.

The great thing about the Klausen pass, unlike some other passes in the Alps, is there is a highway alternative, therefore the traffic on the pass is really restricted to locals or driving enthusiasts, so never gets busy despite it’s proximity to Zurich.

Some History first…..the Klausen Pass is home of the legendary Klausen Run (Klausenrennen), a 21.5 kilometer pre-war hill climb. More recently a vintage event is run every 4-5 years, the last race taking place in 2006. The race (and of course the pass) consisted of 136 curves with a difference in altitude of 1237 meters (bottom to top). In 2006 the race was labelled by far the craziest mountain motor race in Europe with over 40’000 spectators and was honoured in Stoneleigh Park with the prestigious “Speed Event of the Year” award.

Enough about the event – for those not planning on entering in their vintage car, here’s a brief run down of what is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled Alpine Passes in Switzerland.  On entering the start of the Klausen Pass at Glarus you drive a short stretch along the original pass cobbles. The Klausen Pass then quickly winds up through a forest section, taking in several high speed sweeping turns, before a series of tight switchbacks. You then continue through through several small tunnels, with another straighter stretch through the forest – a fantastic adrenaline rush. Keep your wits about you though as this stretch is rather tight, and some of the cambers on the old cobbled stretches can catch you out, especially if you a running very low suspension.

As the road starts to level, you suddenly burst through the forest and onto a 5 km long Alpine Plateaux, Urnerboden. Here to your right are some of the most spectacular sky-scraping granite peaks you are likely to see anywhere in the Alps. Drive this plateaux taking in the sights, but again be mindful of the undulations.

At the end of the plateau, at what then appears to be a dead end to the valley (granite walls all around you) are several nice waterfalls (most powerful in late spring / early summer) that you can park up nearby then walk directly up to. However, you are certainly not stuck at a dead end! Look right and you will see the next stretch of the hill climb, literally carved into the rock face, up and out of this basin. Something like around 40 turns later you are at the top of the Klausen Pass – once here we recommend that you stop at the Klausen Cafe for a coffee and to catch your breath.

The ride back down the Klausen Pass is not as spectacular, and needs to be taken with caution as there are several sections near the top with flimsy barriers and sheer drop offs! However, once though this stretch you are back to some great sweeping turns, then once again into the Alpine forests. Lower down the valley there is an unbelievable waterfall across the valley that drops several hundred meters into the green abyss, rare these days as most are tapped for electric power generation. The descent to the foot of the Klausen Pass finishes at Burglen, birthplace of William Tell and worth stopping at for a quick wander around, there’s a museum dedicated to his legacy.” – ultimatedrives.net

Susten Pass

“The Susten Pass is another outstanding high mountain pass in the central Swiss Alps, and what is part of what is collectively referred to as the “Big 3” passes, which also includes Grimsel and Furka. 

In fact, it may be less well known than the Furka, but without doubt this is the greatest driving road of the three, and in out opinion (provided you catch it at a quiet time) probably the best driving road in Switzerland, as it has an amazing variety of road style, from the sweeping valley roads on the eastern approach, with amazing uninterupted forward views, to the switchbacks that take you to the summit of the pass at 2224M, to the run back down the pass towards Innertkirchen, whcih takes you through forests, and across stunnig stone bridges. 

En route, there are also some great stop points, including the foot of the Stein Glacier, where you can take coffees, before making a short (10 min) treck that gives some great views of this (much eroded) glacier.” – ultimatedrives.net

Grimsel Pass

Often resembling a rocky lunar landscape the Grimsel Pass offers stunning views and classic Alpine hairpin action. An engineering masterpiece the road carves it way across the pass, leading along the banks of a number of gem-like reservoirs. Built in 1894, it’s high and cold, often snowing in the middle of summer. The Swiss postal service use it to keep Meiringen and Oberwald connected, so there are often snowploughs keeping the way clear.

Travelling south we have a great mix of a steep, tight hairpin decent with a sweeping fast forest lined climb.

Our hotel: Hotel Alpenhof

Hotel Alpenhof

The alpine-style Hotel Alpenhof is situated at the edge of the forest in Oberwald, at the foot of the Grimsel and Furka passes.

All of the spacious guest rooms at the Alpenhof have a private bathroom, a minibar and a safe. A flat-screen TV is provided in each room.

After a day out in the mountains you can relax in the hotel’s sauna.

Oberwald, Switzerland to Chiavenna, Italy

Passes: Furka, Nufenen, Tremola, Gotthard, Oberalp, Lukmanier, San Bernardino, Spülgen

Today… will… be… epic. Starting with a pre-breakfast hoon up and back down the Furka Pass, we’ll have a full day of some of the finest passes the Alps has to offer. We will snake our way east, shadowing the Swiss border until finally dropping into Italy. Where we’ll spend the evening in the pretty town of Chiavenna and enjoy some well earned Italian food.

Furka Pass

The Furka Pass; one of the best in the Alps and part of the ‘great three’ that create a driving nirvana loop in this part of the mountains. Travelling west to east the drive begins with a steady climb, providing fantastic views it reaches the top, home of the iconic Hotel Belvedere. From the top down, the pass is a pure drivers road, starting steeper with average road surface, it soon becomes smooth tarmac and fast sweeping bends with great visibility. This road will bring a smile to your face.

The Furka Pass also became immortalised in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. Providing the setting for the classic Aston Martin DB5 vs. Ford Mustang convertible car chase. Just don’t forget to pack your tyre slashing extending wheel knock-offs!

The names Bond, James Bond.

Nufenen Pass

The highest domestic pass in Switzerland, the Nufenenpass is snow covered all year round. The approach to the summit often involves slicing through snow plough created snow walls. The view across the Valais valley is stunning from the summit.

Just make sure you dodge the suicidal marmots on the way down!

Tremola Pass

“To me, the original, cobblestone Gotthard road is pure art. The Tremola was an important trade route and has seen many travellers come and go. Sparse and powerful, a veritable Neil Young of mountain roads, I love that feeling that the paved surface is ‘handmade’.”

– Stefan Bogner, Curves Magazin

Lukmanier Pass

The Lukmanier Pass is slightly underwealming, pine trees, small towns and good roads. However, there are some culinary delights on the way, taking a small diversion and heading to Ludiano you can find small “Grottas”; natural caves that house small Italian restaurants!

San Bernardino Pass

“The San Bernardino Pass offers a great amount of variety, and the road is surprisingly wide on the ascent from the south, where initially it passes through several small villages. Eventually climbing up through the tree line, the road throws in a couple of hairpin bends, and you can see the A13 below. The village of San Bernardino is virtually closed in the summer, and is reached on the ascent. After the village, the terrain changes, with trees fading, and the vista becoming tundra like, the road then becomes more interesting with tight twists and turns, but with good visibility, and limited drop off areas. The road allows a flow whilst driving, and passes a landscape crafted from glaciers, whilst passing the glorious lake Moesola. The alpine section is a dream, fast, but with some hairpin bends thrown in.

The descent introduces different conditions, with the road narrowing and becoming much steeper, with tighter turns with the road following the cliff line. Eventually the road opens into rich farmland and allows you to reflect on what is a wonderful ribbon of tarmac, combining everything the keen driver wants.” – drivingforpleasure.co.uk

Splügen Pass

Running between Switzerland and Italy the Splügen Pass climbs to an elevation of just under 7,000 ft. Less well known than some of the other Swiss passes it provides a challenging and fluid drive.

In amongst the obligatory hairpins the road has several straights and shallower curves allowing the pace to be increased and explore a little more of the cars performance.

At low levels the road is beautifully lined with pine trees that slowly thin out as you ascend to the summit.

Our hotel: Hotel San Lorenzo

Hotel San Lorenzo

Located in Chiavenna, Hotel San Lorenzo offers air-conditioned rooms and a restaurant.

The rooms come with a TV and tiled floors. The bathroom is complete with a hairdryer and free toiletries. Some rooms have a balcony or mountain view. Most rooms feature a hydromassage shower.

Breakfast at the San Lorenzo is served in the bar room and offers sweet and savoury food, which can be both cold and hot.

The restaurant serving local Italian cuisine is set on the ground floor. It is equipped with tables and chairs and is open every day. Special menu for vegetarians is available on request.

Chiavenna, Italy to Livigno, Italy

Passes: Maloja, Albula, Flüela

Today we continue to press east, taking in some of the lower, more flowing passes in the Alps. Taking lunch in St. Moritz we loop through Davos, across the Flüela Pass and dropping back into Italy for a night in Livigno. Setting us up for tackling the infamous Stelvio Pass.

Maloja Pass

The Maloja Pass is kept open year round. The tarmac is good quality, with a fantastic set of hairpins that climb swiftly in to the trees. One not to miss.

Albula Pass

“The Albula pass road, built in 1865, connects the capital of Grisons Chur with the village La Punt in the Engadine. Since 1903 also a train connects both valleys at 1.823m height through a 5.9km long tunnel. The former customs border house is located in Guardaval, where all the passengers have been checked in earlier days. If you ride from Thusis in direction to Davos and you have already left Tiefencastel behind you, the Albula pass road starts with a right turn off after the railway crossing of the Rhaetian Railway. In light curves, always following the railway, the pass is slowly gaining altitude in the lower section. The Rhaetian Railway crosses often the road on imposing stone viaducts on the way up to the pass until the road disappears into a small forest. Here the road is much narrower and more curved. The path then leads through the nature reserve of the Piz Palpuogna (2.730m), where the area becomes more rocky and barren.

The northern part is the most beautiful part of the Albula pass road. In the lower part until you reach the village Berguen the road is built very well and follows the course of the Albula river. Two miles before you reach Berguen the road climbs up on the right along a cliff with several serpentines to reach the height of Berguen where a fantastic view opens up to the Albula canyon. From Berguen on the road is no longer a beautiful road related to surface and quality. Narrow, with poor road surface, the road winds underneath the Albula railway viaducts upwards to the pass summit. During winter time the road is closed from Berguen on and is used as a open air bob sledge. The Swiss word is “Schlitteln”. With the Rhaetian Railway you travel from Berguen all the way up to Preda, which is a small station just in front of the tunnel. There you can rent various types of sleds with which you then can speed down the pass road all the way back to Berguen train station.

Reaching the top, the view opens onto a small plateau with a small lake. The hospice is well equipped and the small gift shop next door invites you to browse. A longer pause is worthwhile, especially if you own a Binoculars. In summer you can watch comfortable from the hospice marmots and lots of alpine animals easily . We recommend this together with a Cappucino which is served directly on the small sun deck aside the pass road.” – alpentourer.com

Flüela Pass

The Flüela Pass is a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps. The road connects Davos and Susch in the lower Engadin valley.

This is an excellent pass along an extremely quiet valley, with a limited number of villages which allows you to get into a great driving rhythm, without having to slow down and then speed up again every few kilometres.

Starting from the north end at Davos, the initial rise up is through a beautiful alpine forest, with a nice collection of wide sweeping bends running into one another. As you rise further up the pass, and burst through the forest and above the tree line (approximately 1800M) the pass starts to tighten, however it never becomes extreme (switchback on top of switchback) so allows you to keep the rhythm going all the way to the top.

Coming back down is a little steeper, and there are a few more twisty sections as you come out of the main valley and back into the wooded area. The pass has an immaculate road surface, and you can usually enjoy it end to end almost uninterrupted.

Our hotel: Alexander Charme Hotel

Alexander Charme Hotel

Offering a free fitness centre and indoor natural swimming pool, Alexander Charme Hotel is set in a panoramic location in Livigno.

Rooms at the Alexander come with an LCD satellite TV, a minibar, and free WiFi. Each features a private bathroom with bath or shower, free toiletries, and a hairdryer.

The hotel’s wellness centre features a natural swimming pool for adults and children, sauna, Turkish bath, emotional shower, relax area and a salt room. A variety of beauty treatments, a gym and playground are also available.

Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast every morning. The restaurant serves Mediterranean and international dishes, as well as a carefully selected wine list.

Livigno, Italy to Munich, Germany

Passes: Stelvio, Umbrail, Hahntennjoch

The Stelvio Pass. This is the most iconic pass in the Alps, made famous by the Top Gear episode where the TG boys declared it “The best driving road in the world!”, that’s not something I’d agree with necessarily from a drivers perspective, but it’s certainly a ‘must drive’.

The third highest pass in the Alps, featuring two very different sides. The southern face climbs steadily, increasing in steepness and frequency of hairpins as you approach the famous summit. The northern face is one of an engineering masterpiece, an intense and relentless sequence of serpentine hairpins climbing what appears to be a sheer cliff face. It’s spectacular.

Having discovered the lesser known Umbrail Pass last year, we climb almost to the top of the south side of the Stelvio, take a left to head down the Umbrial and drive round to spend the night on the north side of the Stelvio, ensuring we can tackle the Stelvio the best way round, north to south.

We then have a long drive north, through Austria and into Germany. We’ll take in the Hahntennjoch Pass on route to Munich, before arriving at our hotel and earning a well earned litre of beer!

Stelvio Pass

“The Stelvio Pass – it’s not the most beautiful, but certainly one of the highest (official the third highest in the Alps at 2757M) and most dramatic mountain passes to drive in the European Alps.

Of course much was made of the Stelvio Pass after Top Gear voted this the best driving road in the world in 2008. A pretty bold claim, and actually in our opinion it’s not the best pass in the Alps to “drive” however, that said, it is a truly stunning road to view, and the wall of 48 switchback turns running up its north face really are a sight to behold, and worth the drive for that part alone.

However, here’s the catch. Due to the Stelvio Pass’s iconic status (not just with car enthusiasts but bikers), it’s one of the busiest of the ultra high passes in the Alps. This means, to get the most out of the drive, you want to be on the road nice and early, plus ideally midweek and outside of the peak months of July and August. We also strongly recommend that when you drive the Stelvio Pass, you locate yourself in a hotel very close to the pass (such as the beautiful Bella Vista in Trafoi) that way you can rise early, and drive the Stelvio Pass before any tourist traffic starts to arrive.

Anyway, the next question seems to be, from which direction should I tackle the Stelvio Pass?

Unlike many mountain passes where approaching from either direction offers a similar experience, with the Stelvio, it’s best approached from the north west side. It’s only by coming from this direction you get to drive up the Stelvio Pass’s famous wall of switchbacks – and one thing we know from experience is that’s always lot more fun than heading down. It’s also by approaching from this side you get to run through the heart of the Stelvio National Park itself before starting the ascent – this run takes you through several great stretches of alpine forest and many KMs of fast/ sweeping roads before arriving at the foot of the pass. Once on the pass, each of the turns are numbered with stones, so at least you get to count your arrival to the top, 48, 47, 46…

Heading back down the Stelvio Pass towards Bormio is still a great drive and there are several superb vantage points to park up and take pictures back down the valley, though once at the foot of the pass your are literally spat out into the centre of Bormio, which is not the most beautiful of places at the best of times. Tip – if you like tight and twisty passes, rather than heading down to Bormio, less than 1KM after starting the ascent, head north and onto the Umbrail Pass, and back into the Swiss National Park, this deserted pass really feels like you are visiting the land that time forgot, then takes you directly into the heart of the Swiss National Park and the beautiful Offenpass.” – ultimatedrives.net

Our Hotel: Sofitel Munich Bayerpost

This 5-star hotel is an historic building offering modern interior design and free Wi-Fi, just 100 yards from Munich Main Station. Spa facilities at the Sofitel Munich include an indoor swimming pool, sauna and a modern 24-hour fitness studio.

Sofitel Munich Bayerpost features a Wilhelmine facade and is on the site of the former Royal Bavarian Post Office. All rooms are air-conditioned and include a European king-size bed, flat-screen TV and an exclusive Nespresso© coffee machine and Hermes© toiletries.

Guests can enjoy modern French specialities at the elegant Délice La Brasserie as well as a rich breakfast buffet featuring the finest French viennoiserie specialities, freshly carved Tyrolean bacon, typically Bavarian white sausages or your favourite egg dishes (on request) at the Schwarz & Weiz restaurant. The Sofitel Bayerpost’s Isarbar serves exotic cocktails and select wines.

Welcome to Munich!

After five days of hard driving through the mountains, we have the chance to see some legendary cars, rather than just drive them. Having the day to relax, see the sights and sample some of Bavaria’s finest beers.

We’ll visit BMW Welt, the BMW Museum and have dinner in one of the infamous beer halls. We all love a good sausage!

BMW Museum

Experience the “pleasure of driving” in the BMW Museum, a historical retrospective on the beginnings of the Bayerische Motoren Werke, right up to the development of today’s most advanced cars.

The BMW Museum, opened in 1973, offers visitors a broad overview of the history of the Bayerische Motoren Werke – this is what the abbreviation BMW stands for. In the immediate vicinity of the BMW Museum is The BMW Welt: A combined exhibition, museum, and amusement venue, which is the link between customers, visitors, and the car brand.

In the BMW museum itself, visitors can admire more than 125 original exhibits around the topic of mobility. On approximately 5,000 square meters, divided into in 26 permanent focal points and seven exhibition halls, a unique blend of history, technology, and experienced world is created.

Each of the exhibition halls deals with a specific theme, such as the historical development of the company or the complex design processes that lie behind each of the BMW vehicles. For motor sports fans, there is a private exhibition space, and also for motorcycle enthusiasts.

BMW Welt

Experience the “pleasure of driving” close-up at the BMW Welt.

In addition to the exciting museum, the BMW Welt offers plenty of other highlights, such as restaurants and shops – so the whole family can spend a day together, full of memorable experiences around the theme of “driving pleasure”.

BMW offers purchasers of new vehicles a special treat. These can be picked up at the event and delivery center at the BMW Welt. In addition, a vehicle is not simply handed over to its new owner: the handing over of the new car to the buyer is quite a memorable event – an experience that one should treat oneself to!

After an exciting day at the BMW Museum you car return to Laimer Hof Hotel comfortably via the public transportnetwork – or in your brand new BMW. We look forward to your visit and welcome you warmly and personally on arrival. Enjoy the first-class service in our house!

Munich, Germany to Stuttgart, Germany

Blast to Stuttgart

After out night out in Munich, we get take a ‘leisurely’ drive on the derestricted 96 heading west to Stuttgart. Once in Stuttgart, we’ll be staying at the petrolhead nirvana, the V8 Hotel. From here we can take in the Museum situated at the hotel and take a trip over to the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen.

Porsche Museum

More than 80 vehicles and many small exhibits are on display at the Porsche Museum in a unique ambience. In addition to world-famous, iconic vehicles such as the 356, 550, 911, and 917, the exhibits include some of the outstanding technical achievements of Professor Ferdinand Porsche from the early 20th century. Even then, the name of Porsche stood for the commitment never to be satisfied with a technical solution that fails to fully meet or exceed all of its requirements, including opportunities for further improvement.

From the lobby, visitors ascend a spectacular ramp to the entrance of the spacious exhibition area, where they can gain an initial overview of the impressive collection.

Here the visitor can choose whether to start with the company history before 1948 or head directly into the main area of the exhibition which represents Porsche`s product and motorsport history in chronological order. Both areas are interlinked by the “Porsche Idea” section, which forms the backbone of the exhibition.

The Idea section explains what makes the various themes and exhibits so unique. It tells of the spirit and the passion that motivate the work at Porsche, and pays tribute to the company as well as the people behind the product.

As a living automobile museum, the Porsche Museum presents numerous special exhibitions on specific topics or meaningful anniversaries. As a result, exhibits are changed on a regular basis and visitors always find something new to discover.

The new interactive „Porsche Touchwall“ is waiting for the visitors at the end of the museum’s tour. The 12 meter long installation covers nine decades of exciting automobile history on the basis of 3.000 pictures, drawings and technical data allowing the visitor to explore almost all Porsche street- and racecars.

Our hotel: V8 Hotel

Amidst the automotive region Stuttgart, surrounded by the historic charm of a former airport site, you’ll find the exclusive V8 HOTEL.

Extensively restored in a classical modern style, the hotel not only impresses through its historical flair, but also offers, in center of the MOTORWORLD Region Stuttgart, an exceptional setting for your stay.

Both Hotel and MOTORWORLD are all about the automobile: automotive themed rooms, legendary vintage cars, sporty young timers, exclusive and special classic cars, make the hearts of the technology enthusiasts, the aesthetes and the nostalgic go racing.

Stuttgart, Germany to Calais, France

Time to head home…

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