Just realized I didn’t publish the English version of the roadtrip article from August 2018. So here we go… although it’s going to be a shorter version of the original.
I’ve had the roadtrip plan in my head for several years. The reason I went for it was simple – I finally had a proper car to do it. And when I got a free week from home, there was no reason to hesitate.
The plan was simple – spend a few days in Austria and the rest in Italian Dolomites, exploring the roads and mountains with the M5. The itinerary contained the basics: Grossglockner hochalpenstrasse, surrounding areas, Wilder Kaiser walley and Krimmel waterfall area for Austria. Italy then the triangle of Canazei, Arabba and Cortina d’Ampezzo. On the way back, the plan was to stop at Munich and also Dingolfing. To visit the BMW factory and M5’s birthplace.
Let me say the timing of half of August was a total disaster. Summer season was at a peak and the traffic was a complete nightmare most of the time. Everywhere.
The weather was just perfect. Although the main roads were full of cyclists, caravans, cars, buses and trucks, the B roads were surprisingly friendly and empty. I didn’t spend all time driving but also took some time to relax, doing some hiking and sightseeing.
The best part – climbing up the Grossglockner road – was just perfect. If you don’t mind the traffic and average speed of 15 km/h. I spent most of the day there, driving up and down in all directions.
The area around Canazei and Cortina is just a blistering array of small mountain roads and passes. On the day one, I went for the Misurina lake and the area around. The lake itself if georgeous and mountains surrounding it even better. The trip from Austria was painfully slow and long but the main fun was yet about to come.
I had a few road tips from my friends, so from the Misurina lake I set the nav to Arabba, a small city located in the heart of all mountain pass roads. Does not really matter which way you go from Arabba, you always have to go through some incredible hairpin road. After passing through Cortina, I went for Passo Giau and did not regret a second.
Although the traffic was still heavy, the climb to the top was beatiful, full of hairpins, while the views were breathtaking. On the way down, the traffic went away and I stopped to take pictures and admire the mountains.
For the record – I stopped at one hairpin to take a break and some pictures. After some time I decided to get going again, threw my phone into the car and wore the gloves. Suddenly, a familiar sound of a revving engine comes from the valley and before I know it, I’m watching a Ferrari 458 Italia climbing my way. Behind the wheel, a 60 yrs old gentleman in a white shirt and golden sunglasses. Hitting the brakes, kicking down the gears into the first, turning in and powersliding through the hairpin, leaving me in a soft cloud of white smoke and fierce V8 whining. This experience left me completely speechless. I only managed to fix my stupid grinning face while listening to the V8 noise fighting its way up. Very nice, indeed!
I spent most of the next day just travelling around. Passo Pordoi, Canazei (mind you, 1 liter of fuel for 2€!), Passo Gardena, Falzarego, Valparola, Campolongo, Cortina again. The traffic was a complete sluggish nightmare and to give you an idea: the trip from Passo Falzarego to Cortina is not very long. But it took me 1 hour and 3 minutes (yes, 1:03h) to get over the last 8 kilometers. Downhill. Crazy.
The thing that gets you really pissed off, is a complete lack of tolerance or friendly behavior from other drivers. Nobody will ever let you pass anywhere, nobody gives a sh*t. I’m always used to make way for bikers or faster cars but the tourists, not so much. They just don’t care. Plus – and that suprised me a lot – the bikers don’t make a way for others either, even though they go slowly. I spent one hour behind some bikers, who were going roughly 50 km/h in average without any effort to let me overtake them. Always speeding on the straights, braking into the corners. Nightmare, properly!
After 7 hours of driving, I only managed to cover 140 kilometers. Do the math of average speed yourself :). Key takeaway – don’t go to Dolomites in the peak season. Ever. You can’t really enjoy anything because if you’re not getting blocked by a caravan or a tourist car, you get a bus or a cyclist (respect to those crazy folks, climbing the roads uphill, though) or anything else you can imagine.
Those 2 days in Italy were just enough for me to realize there was no reason to stay there any longer. My original plans were to go to Lago di Garda for 3 days, however the traffic was so horrible, I decided to go home. The only stop left on the plan was Munich and Dingolfing.
Leaving Arabba early (4:10 AM), while raining, had a big advantage. The roads were completely deserted. So it took me circa five hours to get back to Germany and Dingolfing BMW factory. I took some pictures with the car and the factory, bought some small things for kids in the BMW shop and then went back to Prague.
Germany was much better then because the traffic allowed me to stretch the M5, cruising on 200 km/h for few long moments, and also attacking 275 km/h few times on the autobahn. Very nice!
This was my first proper roadtrip. Definitely not last. I have realized I’m able to enjoy the experience by myself only. And also that a 19 years old car can still function in a way it was originally designed. Still able to generate a wide smile on my face, punish the hills with the performance, exploit the hairpins with the suspension, and that even hot brakes are still strong enough to stop the car anytime. And the sound in the valleys.. man!
In the end it was clear I didn’t cover anything significant. I only spent 4 full days of driving, while covering only a small part of Alps and Dolomites and the roads around. So there is still a ton of places to be explored with the M5.
Details and statistics
- Roadtrip length: 7 days
- Number of filling: 7 (Premium Unleaded, 98+ octanes)
- Kilometers covered: 2.480
- Average consumption: 13,68 l/100 km
- Oil consumption: 0,6 l
- Failures / damages: 0
Small bonus here. I tried to capture some of the driving on my old GoPro. Well, from all those hours of raw footage, only a few moments could be identified as interesting. Here they are..
If you’re looking for pictures, you can find them here, below the Czech version of the article.