On the move - Europe
April 11, 2007 GMT
Pie-rats on the run

It´s been a fun time of snow, snow and more snow, oh, and VERRRRY windy bridges going over to the Ile de Oléron, but now we´re in northern Spain, enjoying the delights of super twisty roads through the Picos de Europa.

We spent a few days in Arcachon by the Dune du Pyla (all those aiki types who went to Bordeaux a couple of years ago should know this one!)

bread bokken on the dune.JPG


From one pricey campsite to a spot of free camping in the Basque country, where we were very nearly rumbled by the owner, who having heard the Twinky start up, gave a suitably gallic shrug as we sped past him, tent flapping in the breeze.

A fantastically twisty ride through the Pyrannees was quite amazing (and yes, snow!) on the Ibaneta Pass (1059 metres) so decided on the coast route to lower the altitude and warm our chilly arses up...

Found a magic spot called Santillana where there are the prehistoric cave paintings in Altimera - well worth a visit if you´re passing.

We´re now in the Picos de Europa, which is ace riding and birding country (golden eagles, chough and alpine ascentor, plus griffon vultures, white storks (yes Binky, I have buried my bracelet!) and a blue throat in Archachon - Alan, are you jealous yet?!) we´re chilling out here with bargainacious wine (EUR 2.49 being a ritzy bottle!) looking over the mountains and scrubbing our road-filthy clothes.

camping in the picos de europa.JPG

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 06:13 PM GMT
April 24, 2007 GMT
Camino de Santiago da Compostela

Yes, for some reason we found ourselves on the Camino de Santiago da Compostela, so made that our destination for northern Spain. Yet again, there were snow covered mountains (normally near our campsite!) and one memorable day there was a nice thick layer of frost on the tent, hoorah for the Softie 9.

Immy and James camping spot in the Picos.JPG

We've been zipping in and out of Portugal and Spain on some of the twistiest, weenyist roads (cobbles, sand, anyone?!) and tailgating madness from the Portugese drivers.

James had been having super fun birdwating - Montfrague in Spain was quite the most remarkable place (saw Eagle Owl plus chicks, Spanish Imperial and Booted Eagles; Black, Egyptian and Griffon vultures... the list goes on)

Imogen had found some rules of camping, number one being, "don't leave any food in the tent or indeed outside it" as we had what Imogen was convinced was a BEAR ATTACK (James reckoned a fox, boring) lifting an empty bottle of wine out of our bowl (outside the tent, don't panic mum!) to get at some saucisson and cheese dribs....

Other rules of outdoor living, "check your gloves in the morning" (beetle crawling over hand, nice); "don't use your washing up bowl as a rubbish bowl" bye bye cutlery, and "don't pitch up too close to a reservoir unless you know for SURE it won't rise" - cue panic at 3am as the waters lapped perilously close to the tent.

immy by rising reservoir.JPG

Other memorable moments were being caught in a hail and lightening storm on the road to Salamanca, so were rescued by some workers who let us shelter in their (refridgerated!) artisan saucisson factory, James was in heaven, Imogen not too sure (yes, Scottie, I thought of you!) and James having his head shaved by the maestro Willy near Trajan's Arch in Merida, a chappie of local renown - ageless, bald, and with a Dali style tash.

Had some great walks in the national parks, one memorable one ENDING with a 5 1/2 mile uphill switchback back to the bike, how much do we love the bike now?!

Now back in Portugal in the UNESCO town of Evora, having had our first swim in an outdoor pool, lining the crystal waters with a layer of road scum...

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 08:00 PM GMT
July 26, 2007 GMT
Tirana tearaways

After a brief spell in Croatia (expensive!) we legged it to the more hardcore countries of Bosnia and Albania. The borders for both were suprisingly easy, the Bosnian one took a few of our hard earned sheckels for (needed!) insurance but got a free import docket from them (result).

First stop was Mostar, staying in the weirdest 'pansion', where much dodgy homebrewed moonshine (loza rakia and orahovaca) was drunk, accompanied by the bingo, which was avididly followed by our ex gymnast host (also saw footage of uber floods in dear old Blighty!)

Lots of war-damaged buildings and 'beware mines' signs, encouraged our non-free-camping status. There was an excellent road to Sarajevo with lots of Africa Twins zipping round (obviously a more rufty-tufty crowd!) Found the only campsite in Bosnia and headed (by ancient tram!) to Sarajevo, which is a really happenening city - full of life and really getting on with sorting itself out (oh, a good local beer - Sarajevsko pivo??)

minor worries.JPG


Best road was in the Republica Sprska, with the added bonus of all the signs being in Cyrillic (a quick gen-up was duly done). Some of the borders into Montenegro were closed (no reason given, of course!) so back to Dubrovnik and a looong wait in the heat (yup, it's been constantly in the 40s for the last couple of weeks). Turned left into Montenegro for a quick dip in southern Europe's deepest (only?!)fjord, and into Albania. A quick enquiry about whether James would like to give his biking gloves as a gift to the border guard was gently (and successfully) rebuffed by the pierats as the AT gently ooozed into the melting tarmac.

soviet era fun in Sprska.JPG

Tirana was our first stop and we managed to find, what we can only assume was a "love hotel" (yes, AGAIN) as rooms were by the hour or a "rest" for the night... Again, a happening city, with a multitude out and about enjoying the park and pavement cafes, feeling totally relaxed and safe, even after hearing all the horror stories of armed police waving guns in faces at the border and the like ....

Through into the mountains and being miles and miles from anywhere opted to freecamp. Saw forest fires coming closer and wondered about the bears, wolves and gun toting locals, surrounded by Hoxjo's weird bunkers (of which there are 70,000 apparently fact fans).

bunker love.JPG

Our last stop was the bizarre UNESCO town of Gjirokastra, where we watched the presidential elections (for those not fully versed in AL politics, it's Bamir Topi) on tv and the fireworks being let off in the streets by happy locals (we assume).

twinky in restaurant.JPG
Note: here is the bike in our B&B restaurant, to get it off the streets.


We really enjoyed Albania, and altho it has more than a whiff of Morocco to it (bad roads, even worse drivers in their ancient Mercedes, cows being butchered in the dusty streets...) it's a great country to explore, the locals friendly, and very beautiful countryside to explore, and we even managed to get out without paying the exit tax OR daily tourist tax - result!

After navigating the whole of Albania by the map ripped out of a Lonely Planet, we decided on buying a Greek map to help us traverse our way. Into Greece and our stops have been the amazing Meteora monasteries, swimming in the Aegean by the moonlight shadow of Mt Olympus and birding at the Dadia National Park, with more black vultures and raptor fun, despite the fire department closing the park as we left due to fire hazards from the heatwave....

Next country, Turkey!

Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 12:30 PM GMT
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

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.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

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

contest pic

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!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

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, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

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.

Susan and Grant Johnson 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

amazon

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.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

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 ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

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!