We have just returned from a rather spectacular 2 week trip around the Alps! We rode through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy; covering over 3000 miles. It was great. The weather was unpredictable, to say the least. We started off the holiday with 40 degrees heat, froze at the top of the mountain passes at 5 degrees, got poured on through Switzerland as we started heading home and witnessed plenty of snow.
The aim of our trip was to reach Garmisch-Partenkirchen and spend 3 days at the BMW Motorrad Days. Neither of us had been to this event, but having seen photos and videos over the years, we were dying to find out for ourselves what all the hype was. It is safe to say, that the event is huge. There are food and drink stands everywhere, lots of small businesses promoting themselves, BMW selling things everywhere and the big brands like Touratech and Garmin offering freebies, beer and sweets. Despite the ridiculous temperatures, we really enjoyed ourselves. We thought the event was phenomenally organised, with plenty of police and security everywhere, and loved the jaw-dropping background of the Alps, which set the scene perfectly. Inigo throughly enjoyed some off-roading too.
However, rather than tell you everything you probably already know about this world famous event, I thought I would share some top tips if you are thinking of going.
- Take your own water and refill – this might sound stupid, but in the 35 degree heat we experienced, Inigo and I ended up spending over £60 on water bottles! Unlike the food which was not excessively priced, the water was ridiculous. In fact, everything was cheap in relation to the water. It wasn’t until the last day that we discovered that the only water fountain in the entire event was located inside the cinema building. Having learnt this, we recommend you take your own bottle and refill – not only will you save money, but you will also save the planet!
- Learn the raffle rules – on the Friday and Saturday evening, a motorcycle is won through the raffle. This year the r1250GS and the nine-t scrambler were up for grabs. Rules: the numbers get announced backwards. So if the winner is ticket 4589, they call out number 9 first. The numbers are called out in German, so find a translator or, wait until the full number is called out in English and they hold the number up on a card. The winner then has 1 minute to get to the stage, show their raffle ticket and pin, before being announced the winner. Fear not – on one night it took 3 attempts for someone to reach the stage, so don’t lose hope if they don’t call out your number first.
- Suncream – on this trip Inigo referred to me as ‘yes, mum’ whilst I plastered him with suncream. It stopped him from getting burnt though, so I remind you to take some. You cannot buy any once you are there either, so bare that in mind.
- Book in advance – this goes for hotels (if you decide not to camp) and test rides. Hotels in Garmisch sell out 1 year before the event! It is crazy. If you are thinking of going next year, I recommend you book your hotel before Christmas. As for the test rides, aside from the Sunday, test rides were fully booked with a mile long queue of people waiting to see if there were any spaces on Friday morning at 9am. Apparently, you can book the test rides online before the event, but we never managed to find this option sadly.
- PacSafe – most people who were staying in hotels around the area came to the event on their bikes, but dressed in shorts, trainers and tops, to avoid the heat and not have to carry anything around whilst they perused around the stalls. By the second day, we followed suit. However, we took our Pacsafe to safely keep our helmets attached to our bikes. It would appear that they have retired this product however, there are other brands that make similar products.
- Zum Wildschütz – if you want a lovely and filling dinner out, with traditional food and a great atmosphere, we recommend Zum Wildschütz. We were told to go there by some local Germans and it was delicious – we ended up eating there twice in three days! the pork knuckles are as must, but you have to reserve them the day before.
We highly recommend the event and think it is certainly worth visiting. If you get involved in lots of events and rides, there is certainly enough to get busy with over the 3 days. Here you can see this year’s program to get an idea of the activities available.