August 25, 2006 GMT
We left Baju, Hungary on 12 /8 /06 having enjoyed the swimming pool facilities at the hotel and meals, including drinks for 13 GBP.
IT cafes charge by the minute but the total for one hour is 83 pence .
The country is less austere than Rumania but , talking to a German girl (who had relocated from Berlin many years ago) she said that there is still a Communist style of running the country. There are Call girls blatantly standing at the cross roads or in laybvs. One of the road signs all the way through this area forbids horse and cart to go on bigger roads and tanks are restricted to 70 KPH.
The stalks are encouraged to nest on the telegraph poles with a grid placed on top for them to make their nest.
There are few places to pull off on the road but the surfaces here are reasonably good.
We had a wet ride through to Austria after a cursory glance at the passports. Through Neusiedler and Passon where there are many vines growing in flat countryside with soft rolling hills in the distance.
Hotels range from 25- 40 GbP and petrol 1GBP per litre.
This part of the trip has been more difficult without reference available to the LOnely Planets book.
Through Germany we followed the course of the Danube till swinging inland; The B roads are exellent and fir trees abound. There are numerous Wind farms lazily turning but for us it was very windy at times and maximum speed was 50 mph. There appear to be diversions everywhere for road repairs at EEC expense.
You can see the old Look out posts that boreded East and West Germany; There are areas with lots of deserted houses and shops and then you come to the beautiful city of Lubeck with its tall spires and houses with pointed roofs . Sometimes the tiles on the roof will cover all the house- presumably for extra protection in the winter.
There are miles and miles of flat straight roads with farms of Roe deer on the side.
17th and crossed border into denmark; there was no border control, just the sign saying you were in Denmark. Changed money to Kroner , petrol is just under 1GBP;
There are cyclists everywhere and they have their own cycle path to the side of the road ,which quite often is wider than the pavement. The cycles have all types of adaptions- prams on the front or back, tandems ,trailors or waist high peddles. How they find their own bike beats me when there are hundreds parked together.
So to odense and Copenhagen, which was well expensive at hotel room 100 GBP per night and beer 5GGP .
We poked our nose into Malmo, Sweden and had a cup of coffee(just to sat we had been there ); You go over 2 bridges 23 and 20 K in length. these you pay for (10 and 26 GBP ).
21 st and back through Gluckstadt and Barwinkhil Germany, through Holland which was totally flat and boring with HGVs on every road. It was here that there was the worst diesel spill of the trip which went on for miles.
We are now in Dinant, Belgium having a few days off. We were tired and needed a rest-- and it still rains !
Total miles 17810
Posted by Dee Masters at 09:51 AM
August 11, 2006 GMT
Alpine and Balkan areas
Went through the Tarn Gorge in France on 2/ 8/ 06 with tunnels of rock over the road to Vallance. The heighest point here was 1,00 metres. This is wonderful biking country and it is nice to see more bikes on the road and they acknowledge you as you pass. We have only seen one other family from England since we started on this leg -- i think we will forget how to communicate with other people soon !
25 degrees and petrol 1GBP but you really need to fill up when you can.
I must say that 3 out of the 4 meals that we had in France were some of the worst of the whole trip !-- we actually resorted to having a Mc Donalds.
Onto Sian, Chur and Piesendorf in switzerland through beautiful mountanous scenery, cows with bells around their necks, pretty 'Chocolate box' houses with flowers on the verandas , lush green fields, wonderful twisty roads , superb Engineering feets of tunnels, viaducts and bridges and water in the rivers that is grey/ green and looks very cold.
On the autoroute here the bikes pay 2.50 GBP . Petrol is 87 pence on the border but in the Passes is 93 pence. Cigarettes are 2.84 for 20 and the beer about the same as UK.
It was wet and the temperature dropped to 9 degrees. A diversion took us over a high Pass where ,in places, the road was above the clouds but prior to that the visbility had been 50 yards . Tight turns of 270 degrees, 1in 3 gradient on a camber, in the wet with diesel spillage evident--- lovely !
We were unable to see Mont Blanc as we passed- but I was assured that it was there. The amazing thing is to see the cyclists who cycle up and pass you ( freewheeling) on the way down-- now they are fit.
On to the Furrrka pass at 7,920 feet. This is the start of the River Rhone and you can walk on the Glacier at the top. temperature dropped to 2 degrees. It was here that we followed a trailor that was carrying a boat with it's brakes on fire.
Just before the second Pass which was the Oberon at 6745 feet the spoken language changed to German. Most people here speak at least 2 / 3 languages and really put us to shame.
There is the most wonderful smell of pine trees and 'warm cow '. The yellow Post Horn bus has right of way and will signal it' approach with a horn.
And so on to Liechenstan on 5th August which is a small Principality with Cusoms control but they did not bother to check the Passports.
Then through to Austria where you need to buy a Vignette Pass in order to use the Autoroutes and main roads. This cost 3.57 GBP for a minimum of 10 days.
Very little traffic and 'soft' snow capped mountains. 15 degrees.
Shops here close on a Sunday and no lorries are allowed to travel on that day.
About 100 miles before the Hungarian border the houses change to brick built instead of wood.
Gradually the Alps were left behind and we crossed the border , East of Graz, on 6th August with a cursory check of the passports, changed Euro to Forents (394 to 1 GBP) and were in flat countryside. Had a very pretty hotel on that first night at Vasszentinihaly.
Then on on to Baja through fields of Sunflowers and Corn on the Cob. Very little English is spoken here and German appears to be the second language.
Petrol is 88 pence per litre, hotel rooms range from 19 GBP to a suite of rooms at 30 GBP per night, beer is under 1GBP and a meal ( with drinks ) costs about 13 GBP.
The main roads are like are 'B' roads but slightly wider with tarmac that is wet and slippery.
8th and on to Caranslebe in Rumania through flat countryside that only seems to grow Sunflowers , sweetcorn and cabbage. Horse and cart are the order of the day, roads are very poor in places and everywhere gives the appearance of austerity. It is reminiscent of Eastern turkey or Pakistan but no laughter and few hotels. Chicken , geese and tethered cows graze on the side of the road with the fruit sellers.
The currency here is Lei or Rons and is confusing as they seem to have both on the go at the same time and you have to guess which one they are using. Petrol is 71 pence per litre, hotel room about 16 GBP. Children will wave madly as you drive past and the bike attracts alot of attention.
The houses are very secure with side gates that are locked and alot are 'run down'. On the other hand the Public buildings are grand , big and imposing. Trees grow beside the road giving the houses protection from the road.
You can see the' Babushka' doing her shopping and lots are wearing the headscarf and coat apron.
The food was very poor-( but you would not starve), greasy soup and fatty meat. After a day we had had enough. At this stage of the journey we need our creature comforts and to know that we will find a hotel relatively easily. So we returned to Baja and are here for 2 days R and R and then return to Austria.
You will have to read the next edition to found out our route from there !!-- watch this space.
Total miles : 15,577.
Posted by Dee Masters at 10:26 AM
August 01, 2006 GMT
Portugal , Spain & France
We arrived in Lisbon on the 24 July_ not too tired as we had had a break for the weekend. Colin had booked the hotel over the net and managed to get one of a chain that was Muslim and therefore "dry" of alchohol. Thought we had left that behind ! However there were many bars on the corner of the street.
The Customs agent phoned us late on 25th and said that the bike had arrived on Mon 24th but he had forgotten to update the tracking system on the net. We had checked and thought it had not arrived.
So bike was collected on Wed 26th. We got a taxi to the Agents to collect the paper work and then onto Air Cargo. It was all so efficient and within an hour the bike was through Customs. Colin rebuilt it and we were back at the hotel within 3 1/4 hours.__ Very different from Delhi and Australia.
The Agent had met us at Customs and hung around for a while and then came back to see if we were OK. Colin mentioned that we needed to get petrol and he took me to the petrol station and put 9 litres in an old water container !___ (memories of pakistan ! ) Total cost of getting the bike out was 60 GBP. How the Agent got paid we never did find out.
We chose Lisbon as it is a good central jumping off point for where ever. Definite route has not yet been planned.
It's hot at 35 degrees and we are back to doushing our head,face and neck at each stop.That,s lush when you are hot.
Left Lisbon on Thurs 27th on the N4. The houses here are pretty with the white paint and the red cupped tiles on the roofs. The storks have built their nests on top of the pylons or Church steeples.
Entered Spain and gained an hour and travelled on to Merida which is a town with numerous well preserved Roman ruins.
On to the N430/420 to Cuenca on Fri 28th. There are fields and fields of Sunflowers along this stretch and all the heads face the sun in the morning. It's well weird to see them all facing the same way without exception.The soil is deep red to chalk white, very lush and fertile. Vines,corn on the cob,all types of fruit and rice paddies.
It was on this section that the tarmac cracks in the road had melted_ just like a skating rink !
On the high plains in Spain (there was no rain!) there are many forts and fortified towns.
The shops shut mid afternoon and reopen at 7pm. Restaurants open at 8/9 pm till 11pm and all the children are out dining with the parents .
From Cuenca to Oliana which is along scrub desert areas with huge rock formations on the side of the road. It,s similar to how I picture Utah- including the cacti. Oliana is on the edge of the Pyrenees and was 35 degrees. We had a hotel with a swimming pool and that was a luxury which we made good use of !
Through the Pyrenees on Sun 30th. A good biking road and scenery of tree covered mountains and babbling brooks in the valleys.
On to the C14 (good biking road) to Andorra which is a small Principality with it's own Customs control. It's one huge shopping area with cut price petrol, booze ,tocacco (15GBP for 200 cigs) and food.
In Spain you can get a good meal for 28 GBP including bottle of wine.Petrol is 1GBP per litre.There is very little traffic on the road and there are plenty of places to stop for a drink or a meal.
And so on to France through Foix where there is a spectaculqr Castle and onto Millau.There seem to be alot of deserted houses around and due to the shutters being closed,( due to the heat,) it gives the impression of deserted towns as well. There are bars galore but you must fill up with petrol when you can.
From Foix to Millau was a good biking road with plenty of twists and turns . On one of the pull offs there was a squat loo !_ I thought I had left them behind as well.
Today (1 Aug) we have been over the Bridge above the clouds at Millau. It is very impressive and very high ! A fee of 2.75 GBP was well worth it.
We think we will route through Switzerland, Austria, Checkoslovakia, Germany, Holland and Belgium. That's plan 1 at present !
Total miles :13904
Posted by Dee Masters at 02:26 PM
Before leaving Oz we managed a trip to Byron Bay to try to see the whales Drove through Brisbane and on to the Pacific Highway.Sadly the trip in the Zodiac had to be cancelled due to inclement weather !___ would you believe that in Australia__ trust us!
We went up to Hastings Point and to the lighthouse which is the most Easterly point in Oz. The wind was so strong that it blew Colin,s helmet out from behind the windscreen. We did manage to see whales in the distance and were close enough to watch the dolphins playing and rolling in the surf.
Also saw a hawk that was hovering for his prey and stayed in the same spot for 1/2 hour _ that was amazing.
Byron Bay is a very hippie area with VW caravanettes everywhere. Definitely "peace man" and great fun.
Back through Toowoomba and the Great Dividing range of mountains.Nice swirlly roads through forests.Had difficulty filling up with petrol here, as it was Saturday afternoon. Finally found a small shop that had one pump. We got very wet as it poured with rain. The rain is badly needed as everywhere is very dry and the dams are well low.
You must be careful of the roos -especially at dawn and dusk. You can smell the road kill before you reach it! The authorities here will do controlled burns of the scrubland and you can see the smoke for miles.
One road sign that we loved was : on the exit of the motorway and facing the incoming way _"Wrong Way; Go Back".
Needless to say I have checked out numerous Dunnies - from ones that have automatic flush to a hole in the ground.
Colin rode the bike to Brisbane on 18th July to the shipper and I followed in the car. We had the pallette from BMW and he had done a practice run to tie all the kit on . He drained the fuel and disconnected the battery after driving it on to the palette. He then proceeded with the kit_Clothes were in an old suitcase , the top box and helmets were tied on. All very tidy. Paper work handed over to the Agent and the bike is to go Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong and then to Lisbon.Total cost was 1375 GBP.
We flew out later via Kula Lumpa and Delhi.
We are very sad to leave Oz. It,s been so lovely but now on to the next part of the travels.
Total miles :12769
Miles in OZ :4382
Posted by Dee Masters at 01:28 PM