January 15, 2004 GMT
Lovin' Germany

So we finally leave the Eastern part of the south of France. No need for further comment except .... Yeah!! Yippee!! Much jumping up and down and rejoicing. We jump on the bike with most of our clothing on as the temp has dropped to about 3 degrees. Makes packing the bike easier ....... A little rain makes the riding nice and slippery just perfect for really testing your riding gear ( it failed) After the chilly ride we stopped for 2 days in Arles. Nice place Arles, lots of cool roman ruins including a cool amphitheatre. From what I understand this area was given to roman soldiers for service to the state, like a pension. The Alycamps is a road with carved stone coffins lining it. We arrived in the morning to find we had the whole site to ourselves. Very cool. Did I mention that it was sunny and freezing cold?? Was a good day anyway. So strange that this part of France is so different from the Cote DÁzur and yet is fairly close.

Onwards to Narbonne. Once again get all your clothes on so that you appear to be the Michelin Tire Man. As an added bonus the wind is blowing at about 90 kms/h . Oh Goody !!! Suffice it to say that this part of the trip was not D´s favourite as the bike was acting like a sailboat. Getting blown around by the wind on the motorways is not the most enjoyable pastime in the world. Narbonne is a nice city once again with lots of old churches and castle type thingies. Also has preserved in the square a part of the Roman road that went through the area. Betcha it led to Rome......

Must say that travelling off season is neat as it feels we have the whole of Europe to ourselves. The weather is colder but still I would recommend it as it is cheaper and the towns like Arles and Narbonne would be packed in summer time. Seems like the people are more relaxed as well. Except in the Cote d ´Azur but I digress.

The autotrain is a neat deal. Drive your car/motobike onto the train and after a nice sleep in your compartment on the train you wake up in Frankfurt rested and ready to go. Good in theory. We arrive at the station early to catch the train. Posted on the gate is a sign that says STRIEK. Narbonne train station is on strike. We have to ride to Avignon 200 kms away to catch the train. So sorry!!! It was no big deal but a quick 200 kms later we find the train and settle in to await departure. The guys that tie your bike down have clearly done this a ton of times and are pros. You get a complimentary beverage on the train and away you go. Getting off is just as easy. What a great set up. Look up Autozug on the internet and you should find it. Lots of different destinations. Good way to get you and your bike to the good riding without lots of boring motorways.

After a slight unintended loop around Frankfurt , we found our way to Heidelburg and Stefan Knopf´s place. Look him up on the internet as well. His site should be listed on HU as well. Tours, B&B, rentals,shipping, he does it all and is one of the good guys in the world.

From here we will arrange transport for the bike back to Canada and then buzz around Germany by train.

See ya soon !!!

Posted by Patrick Harkness at 01:03 PM GMT
January 23, 2004 GMT
Heildelberg and Berlin

We are having fun fun fun !!!!

What Patrick forgot to mention was the train strike in France which ment we had to high tail it to another city in France 200 klms away. That wasn't my favorite as the winds down here are scary and huge !

When we got on the train it was great fun meeting lots of folks who spoke good english and we talked until 11:00 at night. We then had to sneak into our train compartment as we were sharing with two other men......all to save money..... Anyway they were from Germany and Denmark and we talked about their countries and got some inside information.

The next morning, we were told that our stop was 15 minutes away however it was actually only 3 minutes and we had to jump off the train in our shorts holding on to our pants, motorcycle helmets, jackets.....not pretty as all our new friends were laughing their heads off and waving out the train window. It was a funny experience and we learned that you must be ready to get off the train.....

Anyway Heildelberg is a very nice small town in Southern Germany (down from Frankfurt). It has one of the longest pedestrian zones filled with bars, shops and cafes. I am now able to buy a pair of jeans as my summer travel pants are not warm enough. We are staying at Stefan and Petra Knopfs B and B and it is pretty perfect and feels like home.

We head for Berlin on the 11th of January taking the train. We have no German but we have our phrase book and are getting along fine.

Both Patrick and I really like Berlin, it's got a great vibe. Such a great mix of old history and also a brand new sections of the city with high tech buildings and a fab transit system. We must come back to Berlin and spend at least a week here.

So our next stop will be Dresden. We were trying to make it to Poland to Krakow but we couldn't get Visas and accomodations set up in time. So we might do a little detour to Austria.

Must run as trains wait for no one........

p.s. it is a little on the cold side at 1 degree is now the high temp of the day

Posted by Danette Harkness at 04:45 PM GMT

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