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Grand Tour des Alpes 2021 - 2000 km in 9 days - a travel report.


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Initial planning:

How the Cheese Tour became the Grand Tour des Alpes.

 

A small group of Mustang enthusiasts were together on a round trip through Switzerland in July 2019. The motto of this tour was: "007 – in Goldfinger's footsteps" and we visited various film locations of this legendary motion picture on our route, in which a white pre-production Mustang convertible also made its first appearance. Thomas and Doris from Switzerland planned and organized this tour very lovingly and in detail, so that no wishes remained open and it would be difficult to top this performance.

Unfortunately, my own Mustang failed at that time with a capital engine failure and I was forced to drive this tour with the everyday car. I was torn between the elation of watching six classic Mustangs drive in front of me and the dejection of not being able to participate with my own Mustang. So the dream grew to drive this tour again at a later date.

In late 2019, it was foreseeable that the engine damage would be repaired during the cold and dark season, I started planning a small ride over a long weekend, virtually as a dress rehearsal for the newly rebuilt engine.

The plan was a relaxed drive from Stuttgart to the Allgäu with a stop in Zwiefalten, the following day a visit to a cheese school where you learn to make your own cheese in small groups, as well as a drive up the Nebelhorn or a visit to the Breitachklamm. The following day we wanted to return to Oberstdorf through the Bregenz Forest, the Montafon, the Arlberg and the Lechtal Alps. The trip home was to be south of Lake Constance through Switzerland, finishing in the afternoon on the Höri peninsula. Everything was planned, the hotels, the events such as the cheese school and the ride on the Nebelhorn cable car, and the restaurants for the rest stops in February 2020 booked. And then Covid19 came along and all the travel plans were history.

To make a long story short; 2020 only allowed a few day trips in the local area. Multi-day trips could not be safely planned. Nevertheless, my Mustang put nearly 3,000 nearly breakdown-free kilometers on the clock in 2020. The engine overhaul had proven stable. So the thought of repeating the Switzerland tour continued to circle incessantly in the back of my mind.

Trusting common sense that the restrictions on public life experienced during the year would be reversed bit by bit by the summer of 2021, I worked out a new tour in the fall of 2020. This consisted of fragments of the failed cheese tour, the 007 tour from 2019, and some new aspects. A call in the group of Mustang-Freunde-Stuttgart, a loose interest group of over 100 drivers of classic Mustangs from the greater Stuttgart area, immediately showed sufficient potential participants.

The round trip should lead us over nearly all considerable mountain passes in the east of Switzerland and in the west of Austria. That the tour would lead us over 30 different mountain passes at the end was not foreseeable to me at this time. The daily stages should not be longer than 300 km and the pure driving time per day should not exceed 6 hours. Average speeds of more than 50 km/h on mountain passes are an illusion anyway.

Three hotels were set from the beginning.

  • the Aurora Hotel in Andermatt (CH), which also served as a filming location in the 007 movie Goldfinger and which we could only marvel at briefly from the outside in 2019,

  • the Vezia Hotel in Lugano (CH), which already inspired us in 2019 with its design from the 1950s,

  • and the Explorer Hotel in Oberstdorf (D).

This was followed by weeks of research for hotels that could be reasonably conveniently located in the route of the tour planned so far, that would definitely offer a safe parking space for the Mustangs and that finally also called for accommodation costs within a manageable range.

So after many inquiries by email, tough negotiations by phone about overnight costs, reservation allotments, and adjusted cancellation agreements, etc., 3 more hotels were found:

  • the Sihlpark Hotel&Spa in Schindellegi,

  • the Sarain Hotel in Lantsch,

  • as well as the Silvretta Park Hotel in Klosters.

Now the detailed planning of the itinerary and the daily stages could be started.

- to be continued -


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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

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The Grand Tour des Alpes

Day 1

On July 10, 2021, three Mustangs start the tour in Calw. Via secondary routes through the Hecken- and Schlehengäu, past Herrenberg and keeping south of the Schönbuch, we reach the district town of Balingen through the foothills of the western Swabian Alb. Even this stretch through the Eyachtal valley shows us that beautiful car routes can be right on our doorstep. Southeast of Balingen, the first foretaste for the next few days awaits us, the Lochenpass. This pass road, which is closed to motorcyclists on weekends for safety reasons, is very well developed and takes us from the foothills to the heights of the Swabian Alb into the region of the Großer Heuberg. At Friedingen on the Danube we leave this again and the road now leads through the Hegau. Thus we reach our first lunch stop in Hegne at Lake Constance. The first 150 km are on the clock. Here a fourth Mustang joins our group.

After an extensive rest we change to Switzerland at the border crossing Tägerwilen. We cross Thurgau, keep heading south and pass Wil and Wattwil. At Wattwil we change from the north-south route 16 to the east-west route 8 and reach Rapperswil in the early afternoon. Crossing the dam that separates the Obersee from the Zürichsee, we ride to the south shore of the Zürichsee with a spectacular view, you would think you were riding in the water yourself. Continuing to follow Route 8, we climb the heights, the Etzel always ahead on the left, driving couterclockwise around it, and reach the destination of our first stage of the journey in Schindellegi.

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starting point

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lovely village in Switzerland.

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Ferris Wheel at Lake Zürich.

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Landscape around Zürich Lake

- to be continued -

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

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Day 2

After a somewhat restless night, it had started raining like cats and dogs in the late evening, we start the second stage after a more than generous breakfast. Our way leads us again to the south. Continuing to follow Route 8 and then Route 2, we soon reached Lake Lucerne. In Ingenbohl our route leads along the very well visited lakeside promenade and the guests show their enthusiasm at our cars.

Route 2 along the lakeshore allows sensational views of the lake lying to the right of the direction of travel. South of Lake Lucerne, we then keep to the left and follow Route 17 up the Klausen Pass. The pass road becomes increasingly narrower and steeper. From the last bend, above Unterschächen, two post buses suddenly drive in front of us. Overtaking is out of the question on this narrow road, but after a few minutes we realize the advantage of this situation. The postal buses always have the right of way in Switzerland and all oncoming traffic must grant the two postal buses this right of way. The queue of cars following the post buses enjoys these advantages as well and so we reach the height of the Klausen pass at almost 2,000 meters safely and without danger. After a short rest, route 17 leads us further east and over two descents, through the middle of cattle grazing on the right and left of the road, we reach Glarus and Näfels.

Next, we want to enjoy the view of Lake Walen. Therefore, we climb the high plateau of the Kerenzerberg from Mollis. During our lunch break at the vantage point Seeblick we can see one of the highest waterfall cascades in Switzerland. The Seerenbach waterfalls consist of three cascades that fall a total of almost 600 meters into the depths.

Well-fortified, we set off to meet another fellow rider a short time later in the Rhine Valley. Doris and Thomas, our 2019 guides have joined us. Now on the road with five Mustangs, we follow the sweeping Rhine Valley via Chur to Tamins, where we turn off into the Vorderrheintal (Valley of the Anterior Rhine). The winter sports resorts of Flims, Laax, Disentis lie ahead of us. Via Tavetsch we follow the Vorderrhein to its headwaters on the Oberalp Pass, which is over 2,000 meters high. We treat ourselves and our Mustangs to a break at the picturesque Oberalpsee before we tackle the last descent of the day, covering a difference in altitude of around 600 meters within 10 kilometers. The ride through Andermatt to the Hotel Aurora was like the finish line after a race. Many guests of the very well visited restaurant and hotel terraces along the Gotthard road, which can only be driven at walking pace due to its narrowness, celebrate our Mustangs loudly and enthusiastically. So we reach the Hotel Aurora with a big smile. Here the operators of the hotel surprise us with the announcement that we may park our Mustangs, contrary to the usual rules, directly under the canopy of the hotel.

Since the hotel has not yet opened its own restaurant at the time of travel due to the Corona restrictions, we were recommended a restaurant with Swiss specialties in town. This recommendation is exactly to our taste.

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beautiful ancient house in the middle of a Swiss city.

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Lake Lucerne

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ascending

the Klausen Pass

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narrow roads

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the postal buses in front of us.

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Walensee with water fall cascade

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nice car at a nice place.

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Oberalp Pass

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Hotel Aurora, Andermatt (CH)

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sleep well!

- to be continued -

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

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Day 4

But the rain god does not want to spare us from the rain either. After breakfast we load our Mustangs on the fourth day and start in light drizzle towards San Bernardino. It rains sometimes more, sometimes less, but never stops as we find ourselves at Mesocco first in fog and then suddenly in thundershowers. The rain pelts down torrentially on us. Now our Mustangs have to show that they are waterproof. The heavy thundershower alternates with the low-hanging clouds and finally we climb the San Bernardino, which is just over 2,000 meters high. The rain becomes less. Nevertheless, the temperatures feel just above freezing and there is a strong wind blowing from the south. The restaurant on the San Bernardino is unfortunately closed, so after the obligatory pass picture we climb back into our Mustangs as quickly as possible and drive off into the Hinterrheintal. In Nufenen, a restaurant along the way promises warm drinks and a snack and keeps that promise. Rösti with various side dishes are a big hit at this moment.

After everyone has been fortified and it has been ascertained that the Mustangs are more or less waterproof, we drive to the town of Splügen before crossing the Hinterrhein again and turning onto the Splügen Pass road.  

Here a new adventure begins, because at first glance it looks like the road is completely impassable. The asphalt surface is completely worn away and only gravel, very unevenly applied gravel, is present as a surface. Nevertheless, we dare to try and after about a kilometer of gravel road, this road has returned to an asphalt road surface. Now follows one of the most iconic pass roads of the tour. Serpentine after serpentine we climb the mountain and after nine kilometers and about 600 meters of altitude we reach the top of the pass. Here is also the border crossing from Switzerland to Italy. If the sky wasn't so cloudy, the view would be really fantastic. We wait for the arrival of a group of Porsche drivers, which meets us on the top of the pass and then drive on the old Splügen pass road via Montespluga to Chiavenna. This road is closed for heavy traffic as well as for small trucks or motor homes for a good reason. It is so narrow that even we have to back up once to be able to take one of the narrow serpentines.

We reach Chiavenna in good spirits and turn left there in the direction of Sankt Moritz. We drive a few kilometers along the valley, when we notice a lot of green stuff on the road. Was there recently a green cut along the road? All indications speak against it. Suddenly we recognize the cause; to the green on the streets also white mixes. A hailstorm must have passed through here a few minutes before we passed through. One does not want to imagine what would have happened if this hailstorm had hit our Mustangs. Fortunately, we are not affected by the storm and after a beautiful ride through this valley, including the ascent to the Maloja Pass, we reach the lakes before Sankt Moritz and take another break at the Silvaplaner Lake in beautiful summer weather.

Further our way leads us over the Julier pass. This pass is relatively unspectacular compared to the previous ones, but it does have some interesting details. On the descent towards Albula, we first pass the Marmorera reservoir. Then you come to the village of Mulegns. Here, in the middle of the village, there was a bottleneck for many years that could not cope with the increasing traffic volume for a long time, because the passage was so narrow that only a single vehicle could pass through at a time. So it was decided to move the landmarked White Villa on the inside of the bend by a full 8 meters to make room for a second lane. This shift took place in August 2020.

We reach Tiefencastel without any problems and after a short climb we reach our destination for the day, the Sarain Hotel in Lantsch. We are allowed to park our Mustangs in a comfortable and spacious underground garage and then meet in the smugglers' bar for a drink. After dinner in the Säumerkeller and a very quiet night, one of the most strenuous stages of the tour awaits us on the fifth day.

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Breakfast room at the Vezia Hotel

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thunderstorm knocking on the door.

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Mustangs on rough terrain.

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It's raining cats and dogs.

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something to warm us.

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gravelstone road

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really nice serpentines

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close to the edge.

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Splügen summit

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The hairpin turns are so tight that even the '66 Mustang has to back up.

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Will it stay stable?

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Street after a hail storm.

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ascent to Maloja Pass

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The heraldic animal of Graubünden welcomes us.

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comfortable garage for the mustangs.

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heading to the smuggler's bar.

- to be continued -

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

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Day 5

We therefore start half an hour earlier than usual, much to the chagrin of late risers. The Albula Pass is our first destination. If we first have to descend into the valley of the Albula, a narrow road soon leads us up into the heights. Always accompanied by the rails of the Albula railroad line, we drive through Bergün to Preda. There the railroad line disappears in a long tunnel as we continue uphill. Soon we reach the top of the pass at just over 2,300 meters. This is also where the Albula Trail starts, a very demanding route for advanced mountain bikers.

After a short stop, we head back down to the valley and reach La-Punt in the Inn Valley. We follow the Inn Valley towards Sankt Moritz, but then turn off at Engadin Airport towards the Bernina Pass. Passing Pontresina and the remains of the once mighty Morteratsch glacier, our Mustangs also climb this pass. Once again we are over 2,200 meters above sea level. Now follows a short descent towards Italy, before we soon turn left onto the pass road towards Livigno, the Forcola die Livigno. Arriving in Livigno, the first thing we do is to take advantage of Livigno's status as a customs exclusion zone and fill up our Mustangs with cheap gasoline.

After an excellent lunch in one of the local hotels we saddle our Mustangs and reach the outskirts of Bormio via the passes Eira and Foscagno. Now the Stelvio Pass lies before us. The unsettled weather of the last few days probably kept many cyclists as well as motorcyclists from riding the Alpine passes. The route to the Stelvio Pass is almost deserted today. Only a few vehicles drive up with us and also only a few vehicles come towards us. So the drive to the top of the pass is a wonderful and eventful ride. With an altitude of about 2,750 meters, the pass summit of the Stelvio is also the highest point of the entire tour.

Due to lack of time, we are not able to also take the descent to Trafoi, so we drive back a few kilometers and turn onto the Umbrail Pass. Now we are back in Switzerland. Also on the Umbrail Pass there is very little traffic. We wonder a bit, but what the heck; empty pass roads are fun. Suddenly a sign warns us of construction work. Slowly we approach the construction site and are then allowed to watch the road workers for half an hour as they apply a new mineral concrete surface to the road especially for us. This mineral concrete had just been delivered and dumped by the trucks in the middle of the road. After the forced break we drive off fully into the valley of Müstair.

Barely arrived on Route 28, the road starts to climb again. The valley becomes noticeably narrower and we soon reach the top of the Ofenpass or Pass dal Fuorn in Rhaeto-Romanic. Again over 2,100 meters high, a VW Beetle from the late 1960s meets us here. On the descent from Ofenpass one of our ponies weakens. The ignition cables are the weak point, but no quick replacement is available. So two of the ponies decide to take the train loading to Klosters from Zernez, while the others set their sights on the last two pass roads of the day. From Susch we climb the Flüela Pass, again with a pass height of almost 2,400 meters. From there, the road meanders in wide sweeps and a few sharp switchbacks to Davos. Now only over the Wolfgang Pass, then Klosters is literally at our feet and the Silvretta Park Hotel welcomes us warmly. Shortly after, the two ponies, which have made the last leg by train, also reach the hotel.

During dinner we think about how to get the lame pony going again. There are no spare ignition cables available, because unfortunately no one had thought of them along with the other spare parts. We develop the idea that two of the ponies would exchange the ignition harness, since the dimensions of the spark plug connectors paired with the small distance to the exhaust manifold is recognized as a problem point. With another pony this would be uncritical, since more space is available. So in the night the harnesses are changed and the next day the pony is recovered.

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tiny start to the Albula Pass

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roads won't get wider.

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one of the small villages on the route.

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more small gaps

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Albula summit

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what's left from the Morteratsch glacier.

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like pearls on a string

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lunch time in Livigno

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on the way to the Stelvio

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a look back to where we came from

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tunnel after tunnel

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the highest point of the entire tour.

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waiting for a new road.

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road work ahead

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Hospiz at the Flüela summit.

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Pony on the train.

- to be continued -

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

Mustang_Mach1_wallpaper_300_150.jpg proud member of clublogozusammen.JPG.59fb4a10d15cfff9ec756235059135b8.JPG

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Day 6

On the sixth day a rather comfortable stage stands on the tour plan. We ride relaxed along the valley to Landquart. There we turn right onto the track towards St. Luzisteig. Shortly before the border to Liechtenstein, we cross an old fort of the Swiss army, which is still actively used as a firing range. The border to Liechtenstein is not perceptible.

Our route continues through Balzers and Vaduz towards Feldkirch in Austria. Here the traffic stress, whose absence we have literally enjoyed in the last few days, catches up with us again with irrepressible force. The passage through Feldkirch takes us almost an hour. As a reward for our efforts, we decide to take our lunch break at the Workshop in Rankweil, an excellent steakhouse.

 After lunch we say goodbye to our Swiss fellow drivers as well as to a Mustang from Germany and continue our journey towards the Allgäu region. Our way leads us first over Dornbirn and the Losenpass to Schwarzenberg and Alberschwende, from there as an insider tip to the Brüggele Alpengasthof. Fortified with coffee and cake, we set off for the last stage over the Riedberg Pass to Oberstdorf. A well-deserved rest day follows, both for our brave Mustangs and for the crews.

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the recovered Pony on an early test drive.

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aim very exactly.

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three Ponies on a short break.

- to be continued -

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

Mustang_Mach1_wallpaper_300_150.jpg proud member of clublogozusammen.JPG.59fb4a10d15cfff9ec756235059135b8.JPG

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Day 8

In Oberstdorf we meet three more Mustangs. So after the rest day the Mustangs are again saddled early and we drive on the eighth travel day over the Riedberg pass again into the Bregenz forest. This time, however, our route takes us via Mellau in the direction of Damüls and over the Faschinajoch into the Große Walsertal. While passing through Bludenz we meet a larger group with English roadsters.  

Our way leads into the Montafon and via Schruns and Gaschurn to the Sivretta High Alpine Road. Here, too, there is very little traffic due to the weather and we enjoy the climb until we drive into the low-hanging clouds again. On the way we are only surprised by cattle standing in the middle of the roads and fast downhill cyclists without lights. Fortunately, the Bielerhöhe is not in the fog and we can take our lunch break on the serviced terrace of the Piz Buin Hotel.

 After the lunch break, our route follows the gentle meanders of the Paznaun valley to Pians in a relaxed manner. There we change to the Arlberg road and climb the heights again. Shortly after St. Christoph we reach the Arlberg pass summit at just under 1,800 meters. We let our Mustangs roll westward until we reach the turnoff to Lech. Over the Flexenpass we reach the fashionable resorts of Zürs and Lech. We continue to Warth and from there turn right down into the Lech Valley. Again the road follows the gentle curves of the Lech until we reach Weißenbach am Lech. Here we turn off into the Tannheimer Tal. Unfortunately, heavy rain sets in again here and we hurry to cross this wide high valley as well. We now complete our pass road tour with the crossing of the Oberjoch. The thirtieth pass road in less than 10 days is done. Now the way leads down into the valley to Sonthofen and from there back to the hotel.

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A narrow passage, called the deer jump.

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the restaurant we had dinner.

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two of the new kids in town.

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cattle in the middle of the road.

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Mustangs on the Silvretta High Alpine Road.

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Flexen Pass gallery

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Getting some gas.

- to be continued -

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

Mustang_Mach1_wallpaper_300_150.jpg proud member of clublogozusammen.JPG.59fb4a10d15cfff9ec756235059135b8.JPG

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Incredible trip, incredible cars and incredible scenery! The pictures you included were fantastic. I was very impressed by the elevations you went through....my Mach 1 has been up to about 6000 ft max. 

Thank you very much for sharing all this!

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That is awesome! 

Wisdom, knowledge and intelligence are three very different things.

1971 convertible, H-code, Ram Air

1971 Mach I, M-code, Ram Air

1972 Mexican GT-351

1988 Bronco II

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Thanks for taking the time to post up the trip details and photos.  I felt like I was there with you guys!

 
"The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter."
 
-Winston Churchill
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Beautiful trip. I was station at Spangdahlem AFB many years ago. I miss the scenery for sure. Hopefully we will be making another trip over soon. I want to start in the Netherlands and finish up in Croatia. That looked like an awesome trip for sure.

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Great write up for an unforgettable driving excursion with mustangs being driven they way they should be on fun rides.  I'm sure there are many of us reading your journey notes who are very envious of the trip.

Well done!

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I would like to thank everyone for your kind comments.
Here are some more statistics of the mountain passes crossed.

GTdA-Reisebericht-EN-Statistics.pdf

Cheers Frank

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1972 Mach 1, 351C-2V, wimbledon white, blue all vinyl luxury

born in Dearborn, grown in the district of San José, spent a lifetime in California, moved to Germany in 2010

Mustang_Mach1_wallpaper_300_150.jpg proud member of clublogozusammen.JPG.59fb4a10d15cfff9ec756235059135b8.JPG

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Great description of the trip. Thanks for taking the time to do it. Chuck

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If there are plans for doing this again or something similar… if I may I’d really like to partake, seeing as I’m in Europe and my Mustang is used to long distance journeys. … 

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Mike
"If I were you...... I´d rather be me." 😛
Check out my video:
http://www.7173mustangs.com/thread-my-mustang-in-action

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What a beautiful trip! Great cars and great scenery! 

[align=left]Jeff T.

 

When I die I want to die like grandpa, peacefully in my sleep... not screaming, like his passengers. [/align]

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Frank, 

thank you for letting us contribute to your great trip with our friends and making it a detailed tour guide so much, thank you for sharing and you efforts. It could be a blueprint for some others doing the same... Mustang Tours :thumb:

 

Tim

 

Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly :runninpony:

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