Here we are in Crete, finally on the road!
After a quick-ish ride down the back roads of France, Italy and Switzerland a ferry has taken us to Greece where the pace has slowed to the way it should be, the sun is shining like it should and all is well with the world.
We finally set off at the end of November. Four days took us through France. Living so close to the cross chanel ferry we usually make several visits a year so our love of the country is proven and there's no real need to justify a highlight being a particularly good Doner Kebab in Gien in the Loire Valley. What marked this kebab apart from others was that eating it one could have really sworn that it was a bacon doner. But surely not in a Turkish kebab shop surrounded by the Muslim youth of Gien? Perhaps there was a secret code of pork eaters that we had unwittingly uttered... Surrupticiously checking with the chef what we had just eaten revealed that it was a clever combination of goose and veal. Veal would not normally be on the menu for me but for this one time it was the tastiest thing on earth. The popularity of a muslim kebab joint serving up fake bacon doners as well as the existance of non-alcoholic beer and vegetarian sausages brings up plenty of interesting questions about human nature, but these can be explored another time....
France was also noted by a bone-chilling coldness that could only be cured by hot baths and hearty food. Switzerland continued in the same manner apart from a couple of nights in Andermatt that were marked by the majesty of the mountain scenery, quaintness of the mountain villages and a day of glorious sunshine to go out hiking in. The Swiss road system necessitates the occasional foray onto motorway, best avoided on a bike that cruises at 50mph and with half the truckers of Eastern Europe bearing down on you through tunnels that take 20 minutes to get through. With this experience fresh in memory we decided to exit Andermatt across the old passes. First the Oberalp and then the Splugel to Italy. The plan went well until halfway up the Splugel we encountered the first snows of the season. It settled at a remarkable rate and by the time we had managed to turn the lumbering bike around on the narrow road it was already an inch deep. Thankfully we lost altitude quickly and the snow retreated to be replaced by a miserable cold drizzle that accompanied us for the rest of Switzerland and right across Italy.
At the top of the Oberalp Pass
Italy, what can we say. Motorways lined by grim factories. Rain Cold. Fog. A glimmer of light provided by a cheap bed in a swanky hotel and a cheap and tasty take-away pizza. The arrival in Venice confirmed that hotels there are indeed overpriced. Folks at home had said that it would be cold and wet in December and it was. A lucky break came with the discovery that the ferry to Greece left in 2 hours so without getting off the bike save to ask hotel keepers how much it cost to stay in their miserable hovels we left.
What glory to arrive in Greece. Sunshine and heat. Direct boats to Turkey being lacking we decided to Island hop to Rhodes where apparently a boat crosses the line between the ancient enemies. Within minutes of arriving at the port in Patras we had come to the conclusion that Greece is A Good Place. Two weeks later this conclusion stands. Fantastic roads and scenery. Everything is deserted off-season and gives us the impression of having discovered somewhere wonderful all by ourselves. We've traversed quite stunning mountain passes, ridden coast roads winding their way along the bottoms of mountains and overlooking sparkling blue waters and ridden dirt roads free of traffic. Costs have been kept down with liberal use of the camping stove and being introduced to some great free-camping spots by a German cyclist we met, Stefan on a winter tour of Greece and demonstrating scary levels of fitness.
Free-camp on Elefonisi beach in Crete
The dirt road going up out of Elefonisi, just before a puncture...
From now it should be Christmas in Crete, New Year in Rhodes and then on to Turkey.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."
"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.
Next HU Events
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!