I realized that I typed out a page and forgot to add it to the blog so I will slide it in right here. Itís only fitting; somewhere 150 miles north of the Artic Circle in the rain/snow/sleet I tuned over 50,000 miles.
On Friday we took a ride to Tromso, very nice town. Two things stood out. IĎve been in a lot of tunnels over the past 11 months, some of them pretty far under ground and some over a mile long, however this was the first time not only did they have tunnels but intersections and roundabouts underground. I was amazed. The second thing I noticed was how many people were pushing baby carriages on one street, I counted over 30. I guess we know what they do in the 3 months of no sunlight.
I also noticed people from north of the Artic Circle make sure you know they are from NORTHERN Norway, I donít know maybe itís a pride thing or if there are any hard feelings with those from Southern Norway.
In the Scandinavian counties a lot of the bikes only carry one saddle bag. I donít know the reason for this, to me it made the bike look off balance, but after saying that I bike that Jimmi/Jeff and I built for me only has a saddle bag on one side, never thought of it before.
I did try some different foods at the rally. They severed reindeer, tasted much like venison. I also tried whale, tasted like chicken ( not really) maybe Iím the only one that didnít know this but whale is meat, I knew it was a mammal and all that good stuff but just never figured it to be meat.
July 26th, 27th, 28th, 2006
I spent the next 3 days walking and riding around Stockholm, as big cities go it wasnít too bad. I enjoyed walking around watching people. From what I was told, the city wasnít as crowed as normal because everyone(locals) were on holidays, looked pretty crowed to me, but like myself, Iím sure most were foreigners. On this trip my geography has improved so much, I donít know if itís because I never paid attention in school (surprise surprise) or we just werenít taught some information but I never knew that Stockholm was a town of islands. Youíre always passing over or under water, like a lot of the cities here they block off vehicle traffic for the main streets, I think thatís a good idea. It gets people to walk around and get some exercise and enjoy what the city as to offer.
I did manage to make myself look like an idiot, even more then normal. A while back I was riding when I hit a bump so big that the tour pack popped open and my camera fell out. I wasnít going that fast but I thought for sure that it was going to be broke, to my surprise everything seemed to work fine. About 2 weeks latter (just into Poland) the auto focus stopped working. I ride a lot of times with the camera around my neck and itís taken a pretty good beating over the past 9 months or so plus being dropped while riding I wasnít to surprised. The only thing I didnít know was if the auto focus was in the camera itself or in the lens in which case I would just buy a new lens, I have wanted a little better lens any way. Here was the first chance to find a camera store that carried Canon lens. So I went walking in and I asked if the auto focus was in the lens or the camera, the kid behind the counter (no more then 18, still had pimples) asked to see my camera and he would let me know. He looks at it and asks ďdid you ever try to take it off of manual focus and put it on Auto focus? (There was a switch on the side of the lens that said AF/MF) I just gave him a dumb look he changed it over and the camera worked just fine. What could I say? I said ďI knew that I was just testing you and you passed!Ē Took my camera and walked away. Iím sure he got a good laugh out of it.
The rally was only 35 minutes outside of Stockholm and was easy to find, just follow the Harleys! I checked in and spent the night BSing with the people. Luck would have it most spoke enough English for us to get by.
July 29th, 30th, 31st 2006
Today started with rain, that sucked because they were doing a charity ride for ďBikers against RapeĒ It didnít dampen our spirits any and soon after the ride began it stopped and turned out to be a pretty good day. We had about 250 bikes and rode right to the center of Stockholm, we got lots of looks and everyone was taken our pictures. After lunch about 15 of us broke off and took a different way back to the rally. Going in the city was fun but this part of the ride was great. We took all back roads; we even had to get on two ferries, got a good look at ďcountry SwedenĒ of course we got back just in time for dinner. It was a good rally but I liked the one up north a little better, I think because it was smaller and you got to talk to every one or maybe because I knew some people there and they made me feel at home. But a good time was had by all. Sunday morning I headed west and south, I enjoyed the ride around Sweden so much I thought I would take one last ride in the county side before heading out. I wasnít disappointed, just a great day of riding. As I was looking for a place to camp I saw a car with its four way flashers going; as I slowed down I could see it had a flat right rear tire. I pulled over to help (I carry a tire repair kit and air pump) when from around the car walk this girl that almost made me forget to put my foot down as I stopped! She was what every guy thinks of when he thinks of woman from Sweden, tall, blond, blue eyes, (drool) (for the record, I saw very few tall blonde Swedish women) back to the story, she said they got two flats and fixed one but only had one spare and would I mind giving her or her friend a ride to the camp site so they could call someone. I didnít see any one else and figured her boyfriend was off in the woods taking a pee or something, I was half right, he was off if the woods peeing but he was a she and if I thought the first was pretty then there were no words for the second one. As much as it would have been nice to have one on the back of the bike I told them I could do one better and could fix both tires in ten minutes. Well it took me 15 (it was hard to concentrate with them leaning over. (Iím sure by accident) They were camping at the same camp grounds I was looking for, so they showed me where it was. As I was getting ready to leave they asked if I wanted to have dinner with them, they were coming back from the store when they had their flats how could I say no, so I set up my tent right next to theirs while they cooked dinner. While we were eating they would look at me say something in Swedish and laugh. I can just imagine what they were saying ok maybe not imagine but fantasize. After dinner we sat around the fire (they were drinking wine pretty hard) talking about each others counties, they seemed pretty amazed what I was doing and wanted to hear all about it. The only bad part, the more they drank the worst their English got. At one point they both got up to get some more wine, I could hear them giggling, and I swear doing ďpaper, rock, scissorsĒ they both came back with a smile on their faces and held their hands out to me as if to help me up, I just smiled but realized shit now I have to go pee, then I thought I really did have to go pee so I woke up and that was the end of the dream hehehe ok so I did help to ladies with a flat and I know 45 years ago they were HOT, and they did give me a kiss on the cheek when I wouldnít take any money for helping them, thought I would just add to it a little. Great day of riding!
August 1st, 2006
Happy Birthday Bro! Just a great day of riding. Crossed over to Denmark from Sweden. Rode around Denmark for a while then into Germany. In fact I didnít even know I was in Germany until I noticed a change in spelling in the signs! Camped to one of the best starry nights I have even seen with a smile on my face!
August 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 2006
As I pulled into Holland I had to stop and get gas, wouldnít you know it, the first guy I see was really wearing wooden clogs, I never thought they really wore them. I was surprised how many actually did. Welcome to Amsterdam! Four days of just walking around, it was a good time to rest and not ride. The weather had turned bad and rained the whole time. I do feel very cultured; I took a walk in the Rembrandt exhibition, and then took in the Van Gogh museum (I learned we share the same birthday). Then walked and visited the sex museum, at least I understood that! I did do the ďHolland ExperienceĒ this is a 3D movie theatre, what a great show, when they showed the tulips, not only did it feel like you could reach out and touch them but they fixed it so you could also smell them.
I was surprised on all the water canals, again I just never knew or realized the city was built below sea level. Another thing I was amazed at was the amount of bicycles, they city is overrun by them; they have their own bike paths, stop lights and parking. I learned very quickly you donít walk in the bike paths; they all have those push bells on the handlebars and sure let you know to get out of their way, because they are not slowing down.
Of course I did take a stroll down the ďRed Light DistrictĒ The smell of pot from all the ďcoffee shopsĒ was pretty noticeable, the strange thing is I like the smell of pot a hell of a lot more then the smell of regular smoke. No I didnít partake in any ďspace cakeĒ or pot. The sex shops were pretty interesting; to bad I didnít have any room on the bike heheh. I was surprised to see how many families with kids were walking around, Iím not talking babies but kids between the ages of 7-13, they got an eye full and Iím sure were full of questions. I can just hear it now, ď go ask your mother that questionĒ. I must have hit the ďoff seasonĒ because I sure wasnít impressed by the woman in the ďwindow brothelsĒ in fact it was kind of sickening, are men that hard up? Woman donít answer that, I know men are pigs.
Amsterdam was one of my favorite big cities so far, not for the reasons youíre thinking but because it doesnít have that big city feeling.
August 5th, 2006
Still raining, riding north to Ijmuiden to get the ferry over to Newcastle, itís a 15 hour ride; most of it was over night so it wasnít so bad. I met some other bikers from England and spent some time with them getting in information. I was reminded that they drive on the left in England/Scotland/and Ireland. Also they use the British Pound in England/Scotland and Northern Ireland but use the Euro in regular Ireland. I asked what that was all about but they didnít want to get into it. Should be interesting.
August 6th, 2006
Since Greece all the border crossings have been a piece of cake, under 30 seconds once you got to the booth, sometimes it took 5-10 minutes to get to the booth because of lines but once there they barley look at the picture and most of the time donít even stamp the passport (this kind of bums me out I like how mine was beginning to look) That was until I got to England of all places. There were about 25 bikers on the ferry and I was going to ride with some of for a while. When I got to the booth the lady at the booth looks at my passport and says ďso are you from America?Ē I of course said ďyesĒ. She got a visible disgusted look on her face and asked to see my information card. Now I had to fill one out for all the counties in South America and other counties but none since entering Europe, I told her I didnít have one didnít know I had to fill one out in Europe. She again gave me a disgusted look and told me to pull over so she could let some of the cars by while I filled out a card. I said no problem. It was a standard card, name, DOB, where coming from, where going to, occupation, passport number (she had my passport) and sign it. So I filled it all out except the passport number. Under occupation I put Ret. Police Officer. She made me stand there for about 15 minutes while she checked cars coming off the ferry (donít forget people are waiting for me) One of the guys walked up and asked me what the problem was, I just told him I had to fill out a card and was waiting to give it back to her. She looked over rolled her eyes and asked for the card. She asked me why I didnít fill the card out all the way I advised her I did except for the pass port number and I didnít want to make any mistakes and she had my passport and I wasnít sure of the number. She writes in the number, and then asks where are you going? On the card I wrote England/Scotland/Ireland. I told her I really didnít know that I was just riding and plan on seeing as much of it as I could. She said something about Bush and how he would make her show a day to day itinerary if she was coming into the US. She again told me to stand back so she could let some cars by. I just told the guys waiting to go ahead a leave I could tell I was going to be there for a while. Another 15 minutes when by before she calls me over and asks, so your a police officer when do you plan on going back to work? I told her I was retired and never plan on working again. She gives me her patented dirty look and says ďso youíre not a police officerĒ, I told her no I had wrote that I was retired thatís what RET meant, there wasnít enough room to write it all out. So she scratches off the words police officer, again says something about Bush and to step back. I just smiled and sat back on my bike, another 15 minutes goes before she calls me back. She asked where are you going first England Scotland or Ireland, I said well since Iím in England now I would have to say England, sad to say she didnít see the humor in that, she scratches off Scotland and Ireland, says something about Bush and said ďI canít believe I had to fill out your card for you, look at all the scratch outs, for a police officer I would have thought you would have been neaterĒ I reminded her as she pointed out I wasnít a police officer. By now another Border Officer was watching Iím sure wondering what was taking so long? I just looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. He walked over and asked me what the problem was, I said I had no clue she wasnít happy with the way I filled out my card. He went inside the booth, she called me over stamped my passport for 6 months no work stamp and I was on my way. All you can do is smile, she sure made it clear she didnít like Americans, or should I say at least Bush. I have to say during this whole trip every where I go Bush has to be the most hated man in the world, over 80% of the people once they find out Iím an American have something bad to say about him. With every one gone off to Edinburgh Scotland, hope the bitch writes Iím going to Scotland next on my card!
August 7th, 8th, 2006
I have really been looking forward to Scotland and Ireland. I was in Scotland in the mid 70ís while in the Navy, loved it then sure Iím going to love it now. I lucked out finding a place to stay in old town, seems I hit right in the middle of Edinburgh Festival the undisputed the worlds largest arts jamboree. In fact its several festivals going on at the same time with the wildest one called Fringe going on now. They turn all kinds of stores, warehouse, and any place they can find and turn it into performance spaces for a bewildering array of artists. In addition there are hundreds of street performers showing off their skills. There are some ungodly talents out there. I was lucky enough to run into a police officer who gave me a VIP pass to get into any show I wanted. I spent the two day seeing every show I could start at 9 am and some ending past 1 am, I know way past my bed time. But I saw some great unbelievable shows and met some great people. With the pass I had they didnít know who I was but thought I was someone important. Not that I would take advantage of that.
August 9th, 2006
Up early to beat the traffic and to start enjoy riding in Scotland and I wasnít disappointed. Took me over 14 hours to ride from Edinburgh to Inverness the home of the Loch Ness Monster. If you look on a map the distance is less than 200 miles, thatís if you go direct, there is no way Iím going to take any direct route here. I was surprised while riding in the Cairngorm Mountains there were some ski slopes, Scotland is not one of the places I would think of going for skiing. Some of the roads were so pretty when I got to the end I would turn around go back the same way just to look at it from a different view, then find another way to go.
August 10th, 2006
Spent the day looking for ďNessieĒ the Loch Ness Monster, I circled the whole Loch, its over 25 miles long one way. Typical Scotland it was raining off and on all day still didnít dampen the day. Didnít find ďNessieĒ either.
August 11th, 2006
The game plan was to ride up to John O Groats the most northern point of Scotland from there I was going to take a ferry over to Scapa Flow a set of islands north of there. After WW2 the Germans were ordered to turn over a bunch of their ships to England, instead of doing that they sunk them here. I was going to do some diving should be interesting. You noticed I said ďthe game plan WASĒ. The weather turned to pure shit. Hard rain with winds up to 70 MPS, you know how I love riding in wind, it was so windy they had cancelled the ferries to Scapa Flow, so I road to the town of Tongue. Even with the rain and wind, I covered just about every paved road.
August 12, 2006
I heard about a hostel that was a castle with a resident ghost, so back south I rode, the ride was great, I wasnít impressed with the hostel, it was nice and all but to much hype and no damn ghost.
August 13th, 2006
I covered most to the paved roads in northern Scotland riding up to Durness. There are times you come across a view you just have to park the bike, sit and enjoy. The roads are pretty good, however they are ďsingle trackĒ meaning only enough room for one vehicle, every ľ mile or so there is a turn out where someone can wait until a car passes. Works out pretty good, a flash of the lights mean keep coming normally the first one to a turn out pulls over.
August 14th, 2006
Ran out of gas for the first time today, from Durness I started south, what I didnít count on is being Sunday the first 4 stations were closed. I stopped in a small town asked where the nearest station was and was told 10 miles, I knew I didnít have enough gas to get there. The lady at the hotel called every one she knew and no one had any gas in a can, or most were in church and she didnít actually talk too many. There were some bikers leaving the hotel, they had their girlfriends with them but they drove in a car. They said they would follow me to the station and if I didnít make it, I could get a ride with the girlfriends. I made it about 4 miles when I felt the engine cough, the bike was still running and there was a great place to pull over so I did. Jumped in the car got the gas told them I would hitchhike back to the bike so they didnít have to back track. Third car that went by gave me a ride all the back to the bike. So I really didnít run OUT of gas technically, but I would have. Just as it was turning dark I made it to the Isle of Skye. You can reach the Island by bridge and Iím told is a nice ride, I will find out in the morning.
August 15th, 2006
Circled the whole island, nice ride but I liked the western coast of Scotland better. Noticed that my front tire was starting to look bad so I headed to toward Glasgow Spent the night in Oban, very nice little town. You can only write great riding so many times!
August 16th, 2006
Into Glasgow, they fit me with a new front tire (#3) and I was off again. I know Glasgow might have lots to offer but again, Iím here to ride!
August 17th, 2006
Took a slow ride down to Stanraer where I will catch the night ferry over to Belfast! I must say I will return to Scotland and ride the same roads over again, not to many places I can say that about.
Iím still trying to figure out the whole England/ Scotland/Wales and Northern Ireland thing. From what I have learned so far its all called the United Kingdom, however Scotland has its own parliament that handles the every day affairs but still under the control of the Queen, and uses Sterling Pound.
August 18th, 2006
I got into Belfast at 430 am, I thought that was a good time to ride around see Belfast and get out before the town wakes up. I did see the worlds 2and and 3rd largest cranes named Goliath and Samson (I have no idea where the largest one is) this was pointed out to me when we were pulling in, I was also told this was the shipyard the Titanic was built. Iím learning so much useful information hehehe. You can still see some of the old signs of the troubles with the government and the IRA. I as told by Sylvia, my brotherís wife who is from Northern Ireland not to talk politics. I just never realized things are not as rosy as I thought, still lots of hard feelings. After Belfast I headed north along the coast, to bad it was cloudy could have been a good sun rise. Again from what Iím told I better get use to clouds and rain here. I made it up to a point called Tor Head, right outside the town of Ballycastle. Itís a little old coast guard house long since abandoned, the view here was spectacular, and itís also the closest point to Scotland just 12 miles. While walking up I ran into a couple coming down, come to find out they lived close by, they pointed at their house and invited me over for some tea after I was done. After taking some pictures and just enjoying the peacefulness I decided to take them up on their offer and stop by for tea(I donít drink tea, itís a long story from my childhood) I figured I could always fake it or just drink water. Come to find out ďteaĒ not only means something to drink but dinner or lunch. Iím glad I showed up they had already had a plate waiting for me.
We just sat around talking. Jimmie like the bike and I told him to take it for a ride, as he took off I knew he was going to have trouble, Ann and I were sitting there talking about 10 minutes went by and I said well Jimmie just tried to turn around and the bike was to heavy for him and he laid it on its side, right now heís walking back. I told Ann not to worry he wonít hurt the bike or himself. About two minutes later Jimmie came walking around the corner with a hurt look on his face saying ďI tried to turn around and the bike fell overĒ Ann Just looked at me and I laughed we walked down about ľ mile and there was the bike on itís side, I just walked over picked it up (lots of practice) and rode it home for him. He was all worried that he hurt the bike but he didnít even move the foot peg.
Before we knew it, it was getting dark, I was just going to go back to the coast guard house and sleep there. They told me there was no reason to do that I was welcome to stay there. I did a bone head move, not the first not the last, I went to download the pictures I took and the camera was missing, the only thing I can think of is I left at Tor Head. I went back but of course it was gone. I even remember sitting it down thinking ďnow donít forget itĒ. I was bummed.
August 19th, 2006
. I got a late start after talking some more, going for a walk and playing with their dog. It was funny when I went to go leave itís if the dog knew and was sitting on the back seat of the bike as if he wanted to go with. Jim got some good pictures of this. I was taking my time stopping at Fair Head, a rope bridge, and the Giantís Causeway. Itís hard to explain what the Giant Causeway is so I will use the description from the pamphlet they give you. I quote ďThe Giant Causeway, 65 miles north of Belfast on the coast, has been a major tourist attraction. Consisting of an estimated 37,000 polygonal basalt columns, itís the result of a massive subterranean explosion some sixty million years ago which sewed out a huge mass of molten basalt into the surface and, as it cooled, solidified into what are, essentially, massive polygonal crystals.Ē Thatís their words; mine are ďa bunch of columns of rocks in the shape of stop signsĒ.
After the causeway I continued to Portstewart, I saw a sign for diving so I stopped in. As it turned out they were having a night dive that night back in Ballycastle. I turned around headed back to Ballycastle. I had some time to kill so I took all kinds of back roads I love the lay of the land, often being stopped while they moved sheep down the middle of the roads. When I left Jimmie and Ann they said come back soon, heheh I bet they didnít know it would be so soon. While I was riding I got to thinking about that damn camera, then I remembered then I picked up the bike Jimmie handed me my hair brush that had fallen out of my bag that was still on the back of the bike. When I got to Jimmieís I went to the spot where he tired to turn around and the camera was sitting there in some weeds, life is good! They were not home to ask it I could stay another night, figure I will stop by after the dive.
I made the night dive. Water wasnít as cold as I thought it would be. I wore a 7 mil wet suit, when you first jump in you get a little ďcold shockĒ but after you body warms the water between you and the wet suit all is fine. The water was also a lot clearer then I thought it would be you could see 30-35 feet. There wasnít to much marine life but we did see some huge lobsters, so bad I donít like them, dinner would have been free! They were happy to see me (or least acted like it) and told me I can stay there any time I want. We stayed up talking I had hidden the famous fart machine and had some fun with it. I thought Ann was going to beat Jimmie with any thing she could find until I set it off with her near it. I know men and their sick humor.
August 20th, 2006
This morning when I left Jimmie and Ann had already gone, as I pulled away I saw the dog jump over the fence and run after me, I kept going until I turned the corner, about ľ mile away. I stopped and waited a few minutes and sure enough the dog turned the corner and kept coming, I took off again watching the dog in the mirror, he showed no signs of giving up. I turned around and headed back to the house; he turned with me and jumped on the seat of the bike when he got to the house. I had to lock him up to keep him in the yard. Made me feel good and miss Ringo. I just followed the coast and spent the night in Dunfana.
August 21st, 2006
I rode the coast line up and around to Sligo then cut back across into Northern Ireland and met up with Sylviaís dad in county of Armagh. Had a great visit and spent the night. The riding and people were brilliant, so many sights. The one thing that was hard, I didnít know if I was in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, why this makes a difference is in Northern Ireland use Pound Sterling, Republic of Ireland use the Euro, very confusing!
August 22nd, 23rd, 2006
Short stop over before heading to see the rest of Ireland, I stopped by Melís and Johnís caravan (Mel is Silviaís cousin, John is her husband). They have two boys Jay and Joe. I have to admit it was nice being around a family again; the boys were a blast I spent the large part of two days giving them and all the kids in the caravan park rides on the bike.
August 24th Ė 31st , 2006
I headed toward Dublin staying off the major highways; I know this is boring for you all but it was just great riding. Like I said before so much to see, so much history. I did most of the tourist ďhotspotsĒ like Blarneys Castle (no, I didnít kiss the stone, and you know how many lips have been there? The rock was worn smooth. How many lips do you think it takes to make stone smooth? Way too many, no way I was going to put my lips there. Plus Iím getting to know the Irish sense of humor, you know some drunk Irish guy as peed on that stone at some point saying ďkiss thisĒ), Killarney National Park, Tore Waterfall, etc. I enjoyed it all but what I like most is when I got off the beaten path and met the locals. I loved stopping in old town pubs, sit in a corner and enjoy the traditional music. The county of Kerry around Galway was unbelievable. My favorite riding was the far northwest county Donrgal with the highest sea cliffs in Europe or the ride from the southwest corner to the Dingle Peninsula.
August 31st - September 3rd, 2006
Another stop over with Mel, John and the boys. John even took me golfing, I still suck. I enjoyed the company of the boys and just relaxed.
September 4th, 2006
The web site that runs this blog is called Horizonsunlimed.com; they were holding a meeting in Belgium starting on the 8th, so I headed out to catch the ferry from Belfast Ireland to Liverpool England. Itís and 8 hour ferry ride again at night so it wasnít too bad.
September 5th, 2006
From Liverpool I headed north almost to Scotland cut over then started down past Nottingham. I avoided London as best as I could, jumped on another ferry from Dover England across the English Channel to Dunkerque France. I spent the night in Dover and would head over in the morning.
September 6th, 2006
The ride over to Dunkerque is only 2 hours long. What was cool about this trip I ran into a guy who was on his first day on his trip around the world on his bike. We sat down and talked the whole way. I tired to fill him in on points I never thought of when I took off. I really wish he would have come to the meeting with me and talk to the experts. I knew how he felt; he has such a great adventure ahead of him. I spent the day riding around the coast of France and Belgium, called it a night in the town of Brugge. Has to be one of the prettiest cities I have seen. The streets were all cobblestone and buildings were unbelievable. In the center of town they had a huge old fashion town square; at one end of the square was a huge church with old fashion bell towers. At 9 the bells started to ring, the ďshowĒ lasted 30 minutes and you couldnít help but to sit down and just enjoy.
September 7th, 2006
Itís a short ride from Brugge to Brussels so I headed north up past Antwerp then to Brussels. I walked around Brussels for a while but sort of wish I would have went back to Brugge. I wasnít impressed with Brussels, just another big city.
September 8th- 9th, 2006
You know I think what Iím doing is pretty cool, but after this meeting Iím just on a short road trip. There was a young couple been on the road for 3 years going around the world on 125ccís. Also met two ladies 57 years old that road all of South America. The list goes on and on. The meeting went great. The couple I met in South America going the other way was there. Every one just sat around exchanged information, told lies and had a good time. Great job Grant, see you at the next one. I did win the 50/50 raffle but donated my half back to the charity that provides motorcycles for Doctors in Africa to get help where help is needed. The bad thing about me winning was I was the one selling the tickets, I kept telling every one I always win.
September 10th, 2006
Left the meeting early headed toward Luxembourg, on the way to Prague, I missed the Czech Republic when I entered Europe, good time to hit it now. Spent the night in Schweinfurt, I asked for directions at a gas station and ended up spending the night, turned out to be a biker. The ride in Germany was great; again I stayed off the main roads. I forgot to add; since I left Ireland the weather has been perfect, high 70ís Ė low 80ís in the day dropping down to low 50ís at night. Great fall weather, the leaves are just starting to turn also. Fall is my favorite time of the year
September 11th, 2006
Made it into Prague, the bike was overdue for an oil change so I headed for the Harley dealer. Three hours later I found it, by far the hardest dealer to find, couldnít find anyone riding a Harley to ask. I had a map of the city, didnít do me any good. At one point I was on the other side of this huge hill, the police said I could just ride up these stairs and would be right there. I donít know if they have been watching too many movies but youíre not riding a Harley up any stairs. Once I found the place they said they could change the oil right away, after I got my bill I could see why, Iím not going to tell you what it cost but since I didnít have a first born I had to give my left nut. Then I had to find a place to stay. Found a nice hostel but I didnít like the parking they had for the bike, so I settled for a not so nice one but I could park my bike right in front of the reception. Since I had already seen most of the city driving around trying to find the Harley dealer, I called it a night.
September 12th- 15th , 2006
Well it took almost a year to happen but when I walked out to the bike this morning all my bags were laying open, so much for better parking or parking in front of the reception. They got just about everything expect my paper work, computer and rain gear. I locked the bags up but the broke the locks; luckily they didnít do too much damage to the bags. It was a good haul for them; they got my GPS, my good small camera, my tool bag, all my cold weather gear (figures I carry it for a year, in 110 degree weather and when Iím about to enter fall and the alps I wonít have it) a bag of souvenirs, my brand new only used one weekend tent (I left my other tent in Ireland), sleeping bag, and Iím sure a few other things I havenít discovered yet. Damn that sucks! Oh well nothing to do but laugh, shake your head and believe in karma. It did change my plans a little; Iím going to leave Prague. Think I will head south I have some time to kill before I head to Munich for Oktoberfest. So can you say ROAD TRIP! So I headed toward Vienna, at Vienna I hung a left road to Budapest and had a late lunch with my Harley buddies there. Then off again, over the next 3 days I covered Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Italy, and into Germany! I have to say I was really surprised how nice and pretty Bosnia was but my biggest surprise was Croatia; I think itís the best kept secret in the Mediterranean. It went on my list of places to come back to. I stopped at a dive shop but missed the dive season by just a few days. He did however invite me out to go help look for his dive computer that fell over board the day before. So we went out to the spot he lost it (GPS is nice, sure wish I had one) set up a search grid and within 30 minutes he found it, we stayed under for another 30 minutes enjoying the sites. The best part was it was a freebie! In Croatia I slept on the beach, there is nothing better then the sound of the ocean and a sky full of stars so close you could touch them, ok there are a few things but its pretty high up there. I spent the night about 20 miles out of Munich; I just happed to come across a nice Inn where four other bikers (all on sport bikes) had stopped for the night. I was lucky enough that 3 out of 4 spoke English, we stayed up late into the night just bsíing. They had just come from riding in the mountains of Italy, but I called the Wussies( or something to that effect) when I found out they were riding to the train station in the morning to put their bikes on a train to Frankfurt because they didnít want to ride the 600 miles.
September 16th, 2006
Today was the start of Oktoberfest in Munich; letís just say it lived up to its reputation, an unbelievable amount of people drinking an unbelievable amount of beer. They set up all these huge tent nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn The food was great, the sights even better but it really is someplace to enjoy with friends, So one night was enough for me and headed south.
September 17th, 2006
Spent the night in Innsbruck Austria, I remember this place from the winter Olympics from way back when, like everywhere Iíve been its even more beautiful in person, I can tell Iím going to enjoy riding in the Alps. I took a short ride from Innsbruck just seeing the sights and back roads, simply beautiful. I canít wait to come back in the spring and do some skiing. Iím sure itís going to give me a whole new view also.
September 18th, 2006
From Innsbruck I rode to Switzerland, via Liechtenstein, now the only reason to go to Liechtenstein (besides being a pretty ride) is just to say you have been there, Itís the fourth smallest country in the world, you blink your in and out of it.
Stunning, picturesque, exquisite, magnificent, scenic, beautiful, marvelous, bravura, grand (ok so I was playing with the thesaurus) that was the ride from Liechtenstein to Milan. The Alps really are breathtaking, in and out of tunnels spectacular scenery, just a pure joy to ride. We had to take a detour off the thruway, itís a good thing I just following traffic because I wouldíve never been able to find this road again or find my way back on, but it was worth the extra hour it added to the ride. (As it turned out the reason for the detour was an accident/fire in one of the tunnels. I watched a rescue helicopter land on a two lane bridge over a river some 200 feet below, talk about balls!) When you ride in so many tunnels you do think of what if a fire did break out, Iím sure itís a mess. There was a little snow on some of the peaks but none at road level.
Made it into Milan found a place to stay and did some sight seeing. I love the different architecture in all these different counties, each amazing in their own way. When you think of how old these buildings are, what it took to build them and what equipment they had back then you just wonder how they did it, well at least I do.
September 19th, 2006
Short stop at the Harley store for a new rear tire (#6 not counting the 2 fucked up ones) the guys at Milan Harley got the bike in and out, I had enough time for me to see the city a little more before heading down to Genoa. Milan is a city in Italy worth stopping in for a visit.
September 20th-23rd , 2006
I rode to Nice France and used it as a base. Stopping in small towns, enjoying the sites. The money in Monte Carlo is sinful; Iíve been to the yacht clubs of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Monte Carlo takes it to a whole new level. I can see why itís the heart of the French Rivera. As much as I hate to admit I really did enjoy this part of France, you canít beat the weather, 80ís during the day, no humidity, high 60ís at night. I also liked all the street side cafes were you just sit and watch people. The French people also didnít disappoint me; they are as arrogant and rude as I thought they would be. One time I was standing behind a guy who was talking perfect English on his mobile, when he got off I asked his were this street was, he looked at me funny and asked in French do I speak French? I said sorry no only English, he just shook his and so ďNo English (pointed to himself) and said ďFrenchĒ). I asked him in Spanish if he spoke Spanish again he only shook his head and said ďFrenchĒ, I asked him in German if he spoke German, again only louder he said (NO, FRENCHĒ ( its a good thing he didnít speak either I just used up my Spanish and German skills when I ask, thatís all I know) I bit my tongue didnít say any thing and with a smile, in French I said ďthank youĒ A lot of times when you went to ask someone they wouldnít even look at the map, they would keep walking saying ďno EnglishĒ I also must give credit where credit is due, I did run into a few(very few) who went out of their way to help, but they were the exception not the rule,(Iím sure they were transplants) Another thing about the French, they love small dogs, you know that kind, all they do is yap and shit, and they shit everywhere, you have to watch where your walking, piles of dog shit on the sidewalks. They carry these dogs in little dog handbags or under their shirts so the head it sticking out the neck. If you ask me it looks stupid.
I spent Saturday scuba diving, water was warm, not really too much to see, we did play with some octopus and I was underwater so I consider that a good day!
Rode from Nice to Perpignan following the coast, not liking the looks of the sky, the weather has been great since Belgium; I know Iím due for some rain.
September 24th, 25th, 2006
This is the heart of wine county, grape fields for miles. The day started off very overcast and with the smell of rain in the air. So to save time I put on my rain gear from the get go. I headed inland towards Andorra, again no real reason to go except to say I was there. The rain hit after 30 minutes of riding. Itís a shame because it was little traveled road pass all the grape fields and Iím sure wouldíve been a very pretty road. Right now is harvest time and the pickers were out in force. I didnít mind the rain but the higher I rode the colder it got, I know Iíve said this before, I donít mind being wet, I donít mind being cold, I just hate being wet and cold. Once in the mountains the roads became very windy and because of the rain very slippery. I was worried about ice on the roads, but the temperature never got below freezing or at least not long enough for things to freeze. As I came out of the mountains toward Barcelona the rain stopped and temperature went back to the 70ís. What a difference a little altitude makes.
Posted by Craig Hutson at January 17, 2007 02:33 PM GMT
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