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  #16  
Old 30 Sep 2011
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September 26 Ferry from Corfu to Venice

September 26
This is the last ferry of our trip. It is going to be a long one, all the way from Corfu to Venice, about 24 hours. Without this ferry, our route would have been different. We would have not been able to go as far South. So here we are. This is our turn around point. We are headed back.

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We were on the road at 5:00 to meet a 6:30 ferry. It was helpful that we stopped by the port to get the lay of the land the night before. We had to check in at a little office on the port street, then go to one of the docks on the port that they pick that morning. No signs. I guess I was expecting something like our ferry from Plymouth to Sandander in the spring. We made it though and talked to a German woman who was from Munich. She gave us information on Oktoberfest and where to stay. They sure pack us in on the ferry.
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We got on the ferry, had breakfast and decided we were still tired. We went to our cabin and had a snooze. What a luxury. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Internet was very slow so we read and let the time pass.

The sun was coming up as we were slowly proceeding through the channel into Venice.
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The trucks had their engines running as we loaded up our bikes. Although the ferry fans were running to clear the air, they weren't keeping up. The truckers were interested in the tool containers on my bike. Mike had a chat with one of them as we waited to unload.
Eastern Europe on two V-Stroms-dsc_0719.jpg
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  #17  
Old 30 Sep 2011
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September 27 -- Venice

September 27
The ferry arrived in Venice at about 7:30 am. We disembarked and the trusty GPS took us right to our hotel, the Elite hotel which was a 20 minute bus ride to Venice. There is a 10% discount if you book this hotel through bikerhome. it but we didn’t discover that until after we checked in. We had breakfast, did some internet work and a room became available early. We were fortunate to be able to get settled before our venture into the old town. Our goal: see Venice and take a gondola ride and get a picture.

The prices for a gondola at the square were stupid expensive – 200 Euros! We wended our way back away from the most popular areas and found a gondola for 70 Euros. Still too much but this was in line with what we learned was a going rate. The gondola ride was nice. The highlights from the gondola driver’s point of view were Marco Polo and Casanova’s houses.
We accomplished our goal.
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Cassanova’s house

Venice would absolutely be quite enjoyable if there weren’t so many people – on a Tuesday at the end of September the place is wall-to-wall people. We found our way to San Marco square, took typical tourist pictures along the way.
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A not so typical tourist picture -- a Venice garbage hauler.
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We stopped in one of the many squares for a and something to eat. The people at the table next to us included two Asian women. One was speaking Italian with a Japanese accent. Then they switched to French, English and Japanese. Why they kept switching languages we do not know but we were thoroughly impressed. We started a conversation with a young couple sitting next to us from Barcelona. They too had noticed the languages spoken at the table behind us. We tried our Spanish with them. His dream is to take a motorcycle trip through Africa. We gave them the Horizon’s website so he could dream a bit more.

We were kind of relieved to get on the bus back to our hotel where we got a recommendation for dinner. It was our first fancy dinner on this trip (last trip we did two fancy dinners). The Italians sure know how to make a meal.
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  #18  
Old 30 Sep 2011
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guys love the blog, good to see you are both in good heath and looking great, looks like a fantastic trip, great photos from Bev, truely wish we were with you again, safe home.

Paul & theresa

PS poor Mike in the hospital looks like he needed a big hug
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  #19  
Old 1 Oct 2011
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September 28 Innsbruck

September 28 Innsbruck
We got caught up on our email and got an early start. We were going to Innsbruck which is about 330 kilometers. We cheated on the first 100 kilometers and took the freeway. The area is flat farmland. When we hit the Alps, we took local roads. The scenery is spectacular. We drove slowly as we wanted to prolong this part of the drive.
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Beverly has ha trauma ever since she couldn't get bulk wine in France on our trip last spring. This makes her happy. €1.69 per liter. We found some in the mountains and we had some last night. It was good.
Eastern Europe on two V-Stroms-dsc_0805.jpg

On the last bit of freeway into Innsbruck, Beverly's tank bag came off her bike at 70 mph. We did retrieve the bag but her camera was in it so pics from now on are on our old point and shoot. It will be a challenge for her to keep up the quality of the pictures.

There was some king of medical convention in Innsbruck. We spent some time looking for a place to stay and found Pension Stoi. It was OK. We went out to dinner at the most typical restaurant we could find. We asked Alex, our waiter to just feed us some traditional Austrian food. He gave us Tiroler Grostel, which is beef slices and potatoes and vegetables, fried with a fried egg on top. It was very tasty. For desert, he gave us Kaiserschmaren. This was like a rough crepe, cooked it a rum and sugar mix with apple sauce. We were stuffed and happy. After a quick walk around Innsbruck we retired for the evening.
In the morning we toured the old town of Innsbruck and had breakfast. Here is where we stayed the evening.
Eastern Europe on two V-Stroms-img_0412.jpg
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  #20  
Old 1 Oct 2011
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September 29 -- Munich and Oktoberfest

September 29
We were told by a local that we must experience Oktoberfest once. To see it twice, the choice is ours. Although we hadn’t yet heard that philosophy when we decided to put Oktoberfest on our agenda, it did reflect our thinking. Munich was on our return trip to Heidelberg AND Oktoberfest would be going on. Of course, we had to stop in and check it out.

The 175 km trip through the Alps was, once again, stunning. As we continued North through the back roads, the hills were taking on a burnt orange color and we could see and feel fall setting in. Leaves were starting to fall and swirled around when we drove through. The air had taken on that crisp cool feel. In the high Alps, Cordial is a town in a valley of rolling green hills surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Alps. It looks like a perfect place to use as a base for some hiking.

We checked into our hotel in Ismaning, got settled in, did a walking tour of the small town and decided it was time to go experience Oktoberfest. Back to the train station.
Eastern Europe on two V-Stroms-img_0420.jpg

This is when we met Alexandra. She led the way to the party in the city and, like most all the other women, was dressed in her Bavarian dirndl. Then men in the traditional leather shorts, suspenders and Bavarian hats. We had a nice chat on the 40 minute train ride. One of the topics we was, interestingly, about the crops grown in the area. In particular, she told us that in Germany, corn is grown more for livestock to eat, not so much for people. We told her that in the US, corn is used to make so many ingredients it is hidden in almost all pre-packaged food that we eat. Alexandra was headed to a corporate reserved spot in one of the tents to meet her friends and colleagues.

Note: The blog automatically inserted all the drinking icons below. I guess we can turn them off but might as well keep them there. That is, afterall, what we were doing.

Once we reached the Oktoberfest grounds we said our goodbyes to Alexandra and walked around in search of a . Most of the drinking is done in the 14 big “tents” - actually big wooden halls. Alexandra had told us that once you have your first everything is ok, but before that it is quite overwhelming.

Following her suggestion, our first was what we were intent on finding. We entered one tent. The music, hundreds of people singing along, you’re pushed and pulled. Everyone is toasting everything and dancing on the benches. And we weren’t even close to getting a . On to a different tent.

We finally found a place to sit at a table outside at the Spaten(sp)(spade shovel in German)- tent where we met Doris, Slatka and Arnulf. Amazing worldly people having a good time. Their company made the night truly enjoyable. In the spirit of Oktoberfest, we drank a bunch of , but not so much that we couldn’t find our way back to our hotel on the train. We also met Hans, Margaret and their daughter Fabian. Hans, Arnulf and Fabian, all worked for Siemens telecommunications. Of course there was some shop talk when I told them I was with Nortel Networks.
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We drank our two liters of and made our way back to our hotel on the excellent German train system.
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  #21  
Old 7 Oct 2011
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Sept 30 to Oct 3 -- Back to Heidelberg

September 30 to October 3
Our pictures exceed the storage limits on Horizons so no more pictures until we set up an outside site.

September 30
Like they said …..”if you go a second time, it is your choice.” ...so we CHOSE to go back to Oktoberfest during the day. We got inside a tent this time, had a , toasted with the locals, left and wandered around. Don’t know what Oktoberfest used to be but it is now a huge carnival. It is very competitive to get into the tents, although we did OK. Many locals don’t go because of the hassle. We heard many languages, including a lot of North American English.

October 1
We didn’t have far to go to get back to Heidelberg so we were looking for an alternative destination for lunch. We decided on Nuremberg. Unfortunately, we came upon a humungous traffic jam as we were nearing Nuremberg. The traffic was completely stopped so for about an hour and a half, we practiced our lane splitting driving. We reset the GPS to Heidelberg and will have to do Nuremberg next time.

We arrived at Knopf tours, a sign was on the door indicating our room. Then we walked to the train station for a nice dinner.

October 2 and 3
Our plan was to do some maintenance on the bikes, some of which required purchases. Because it was Sunday, stores weren’t open. And what we didn’t realize until we got there was that Monday was a holiday. We were flying out on Tuesday so we had to revise our expectation of what would be done on the bikes. Mike changed the back tire on both bikes and changed the oil on the blue one. We washed the dirt and grime off and packed them away for our next trip.
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  #22  
Old 8 Oct 2011
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Mike's summary of the trip

Travelling through Europe on a motorcycle is easier than here. There are many bikers and it is well accepted by hotels. There is usually a good secure place to park, and it seems you can get parts and service everywhere.

One good thing about our trip was the food and wine. I don’t think we had a bad meal the whole trip and the house wine was consistently good.

One month is not enough. The places we visited were interesting and we wanted to spend more time in each place. I guess we can always return to these places but also want to see new places.

It is expensive for us in Europe. Generally, the prices are the same in Euros as they are here in Dollars. So everything is 40% more, except for fuel which is almost triple.

I think the part I liked the best was the beaches in the Adriatic Sea; warm, buoyant, clean water and pebble beach’s. Probably need to give Albania another look before I have a final opinion.

Beverly did great on driving. Two bikes is fun but two up is OK if we had enough room. The Suzuki V-Stroms are an ideal bike for what we are doing. Hope to go to Scandanavia next summer.
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  #23  
Old 8 Oct 2011
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Beverly's end-of-trip summary

2500 miles in just under a month. (Mike did 800 more picking up the second bike in Bacelona.)

Our last European trip in April and May was 2-up for 3000 miles. A round-the-world trip for us can’t be all at once for several reasons. We have to break it up. We started talking about having motorcycle adventures in September 2004 just before we attended our first Horizons meeting in Revelstoke BC. A couple did a presentation of their adventure where they rented bikes in Thailand. It was at that moment that we realized we could do that same trip right now. We went a few months later at Christmas time for 2 weeks and had a wonderful adventure.

On this trip, as usual, my favorite experiences were meeting people. It is amazing to me how people are so eager to talk to you if you are riding a motorcycle. The people who live there can give the best accounts of the history. For example, my understanding of Yugoslavia was improved after a ten minute conversation with a Croat at lunch in a small café on the beach. And I learned a great deal about Bulgaria in another conversation. We met people who I am certain would become our friends if I stayed.

My next favorite thing is a feeling of accomplishment -- that I did it on a motorcycle. Oh, and did we say how much we liked swimming in the Adriatic?

We settled into a schedule of getting up, having breakfast, doing our blog, emails and research on where we were headed. Often we would not leave until 11 am. When we knew we had a long day, we would leave earlier. Quite often, with traffic, the speed the roads could be traveled, meeting people, getting lost, etc. the riding day was longer than expected. Only a few days did I arrive at the hotel really beat.

Our idea of riding in the off-season was to just ride into town and find a hotel. But we found that it suited our travel style to find a place to ssay before we drove into town. We still wouldn’t make reservations days in advance – just same-day reservations.

Sometimes our agenda didn’t include riding at all; where we were headed was out on the town, walking or using public transportation. We wanted to see some of the sights along the way and meet the people. It is a challenge to strike the right balance between moving on and sticking around. With our time restrictions, I think tend towards the “move on” side, or as Mike would say, “trying to put three pounds of s**t in a one pound bag.” Nevertheless, we did manage to enjoy several areas we visited.

I was particularly impressed by the scenery in Montenegro, a country we road through without stopping to smell the roses. I feel we missed something there.
Riding my own bike gave me a larger sense of participating in the adventure. The scenery was even more awesome. It was a challenge at times and I did find myself a few times beyond the limits of my skills in low speed maneuvering—I just had to figure out how to get through it. But that is all part of the adventure. Having two bikes after our 2-up trip, we had lots of packing room. We carried drinking water, wine, and food and still had extra space. I still haven’t given up two-up travel – it is more relaxing.

Our next trip – next year in Scandinavia.
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  #24  
Old 28 Oct 2011
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Smile Image quota has been increased to 10MB

Hi Mike and Beverly, just to let you know you can now put more pics in, should be no issues for space. Sorry for the nuisance, and please let me know if you have any problems.
Cheers,
Susan
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  #25  
Old 11 May 2012
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Another trip -- this time to Scandanavia and Russia

We are taking our two V-stroms to Scandanavia and Russia -- leaving mid May. Watch for another Ride Tale soon.

Thank you Susan. We will be posting more pictures now.

Mike and Beverly
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