This is the day I picked up the bike from 'Overland Solutions' Ernie has worked his magic on strengthening the rear subframe and new pannier frames for the 'ZEGA' panniers. On the panniers themselves he replaced the standard catches with heavy duty ones and annodised them to stop the'Blackening' which marked everything that came into direct contact with the alli'. He also fitted a sidestand with large foot, wrap round crash bars which protect the rocker covers, headlamp protector and a custom made instrument console to replace the original I removed in order to fit the 43ltr HPN tank. He also fitted accessory sockets for the GPS and anything else that needs power. All the work he's done is fantastic. I feel confident that the bike is ready for the big trip. Looks great too, just like the owner!
We are currently in CARCOSSONNE in the South of France. The weather has gone completey stupid and on Sunday reached 102f The oil temp gauge was reading 130c for most of the day, but the bike didn,t make the horrible rattly noise it usually makes when it,s overheating. The scenery and the hospitality in France has been fantastic. We stayed in a friends house for four days. These were the only days we,ve managed to stay within our budget, hopefully things will even out when we reach Eastern Europe and Asia.
We've travelled through France, Italy, Slovenia and are now in Croatia.
France, as always, was fantastic. Each region is so different and we discover something new everytime we visit. On the way through, this time, the weather was unusally hot and in Avignon on one particular day the temperature reached 102f. The roads are empty and well surfaced and the campsites have had excellent facilities. The scenery is spectacular and the people very helpfull and friendly as we discovered on numerous occassions when lost or in need of some other asssistance. Half way through France Jules decided she'd had enough of carrying the rucksack and we decided to get a tank bag. We tried a couple of shops and the found out that 'Touratech' had a shop in 'Orange' near 'Avignon' where we were headed. The staff there were more than helpful and sorted out the correct bag to fit the 43ltr tank and fiited it for me. One of the guys there was the French importer for the company and told me that there was a 'Touratech' Travel Event and that there would be rideouts into the Alps, both on and off road and film shows about overland journeys by motorcycle. Unfortunately he didn't telll us where it was which was a shame as it sounded right up our street. The day after we were heading through small town in the French Alps, Chateaux Arnau, and Jules spotted the 'Touratech" van. The guy I'd seen the previous day was very pleased to see us and invited us to stay for the weekend. We had a great time. I took the GS off road for the first time and suprised at how well the big bike, especially with Jules on the back, coped with it. We saw places and rode on roads we wouldn't normally have done. We also met some great people, one of whom was Jurgen who had just ridden his GS from New Zealand. As great as France was we had now been there for a month and it was time to move on.
Italy was more of a blur than a visit and we rode through the Italian Alps and into Slovenia. The scenery here was as spectacular as anything we've seen in Switerland and Austria and most things were about half the price. A bikers paradise in more ways than one. The BM needed a service and we tracked down the BMW dealer in Ljubijiana. A full dealer service and two new tyres came to just under two hundred and sixty pounds sterling!! Lake Bled was stunning and we did a fantastic ride through the 'Julian Alps' to Kobarid. The route took us through stunning alpine scenery along a road with hundreds of sweeping and hairpin bends. Some of the roads in Slovenia are a bit on the rough side, but with loads of sweeping bends, ideal for big trailies.
We're currently in Split, Croatia on our way down to Dubrovik. The scenery here is typically mediterranian and the roads reasonable. The weather is even hotter, but at least we have an air conditioned room or the sea to cool off in.
We've finally ditched the tent and the sleeping bags as we didn't need them anymore and the weight on the bike unsettled the handling on the twisties. We'll probably be in Croatia for another week or so before heading back up through Slovenia and into Hungary.
Alot has happened since my last entry. We travelled down as far as Split in Croatia. The old town was pleasent enough so we chilled out for a few days, window shopping and swimming in the clear water. We had intended to continue on down to Dubrovnik, but time was pressing on and we found that our cash wasn't going as far as we'd thought it would so we decided to head back up into Slovenia and then Hungary. Back in Slovenia we happened accross a great motorcycle museum. It was owned and run by a local guy, Peter, who had started the museum 12 years ago after returning from Italy. He is also in the involved in the building Slovenia's first Grand Prix circuit nearby. There were loads of British bikes, Harley's, Indians, BMW's, and other makes that I'd never heard of. He told us the Mr Puch (pronounced "Poo") had started his company close by and there were a few examples in the museum. Unfortunately I haven't got any details of the museum 's location, but it's signposted from the motorway headind towards Hungary (no help at all I know, but everything got wet one day including the maps and the guide book which was all binned!)
Hungary was like going back in time. The vehicles, specially in the more remote areas, consisted mainly of CZ's Trabants and very old Skodas. One evening I phoned home and recieved the news that my father had become very ill. I flew home leaving Julie and the bike in Hungary. Having assessed his condition we decided that we would have to a very premature end to our trip and return home, permantently, to care for him. I flew back out to Hungary and over the following week we rode back through, Austria,Germany, Switzerland, France and back to the UK.
We're now sorting out our lives and are returning to some form of normallity. My fathers condition has improved significantly, but he will need long term care. We have rented a flat for the time being and will probably buy somewhere within the next six months or so big enough for us all to live in. We both return to work on Monday and by Tuesday it will probably feel as though we've never been away.
So thats about it. We both enjoyed the two and a half months of the trip we managed to complete. The bike went like a dream and proved the ideal mount for two and all our gear. We saw some great places and met some great people. We learned alot and feel confident that come the time of preperation for our next trip we know how to go about it. We're not sure how far in the future it will be, but we're definately going again.
Anyway for now, good luck to everyone and happy travels....
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