August 02, 2012 GMT
Europe 2012

Gday from our beloved Switzerland! We have just found out about the "Schengen Agreement" which means non Europeans can stay in Western European countries for ONLY 90 days in any 180 day period.., so a slight change in plans is required!

Early June, after a too short a stay in our beloved Cairns we headed to Greece to meet up with Csilla and Oli and our shared European motorbike "Miss Adventure3" from Romania. We met at a beachfront resort near Thessalonika, Greece and spent a week relaxing and enjoying their company and getting to know their 2 young, energetic boys. Oli had our Yamaha Super Tenere motorbike serviced and a few other changes made, so getting the bike ready to go was easy.

Our next stop was a seaside village south of Volos, Greece to visit our nephew Duncan Peck who is studying archeology and doing field work at a remote site nearby. Heading west through Meteora, Greece to Igoumenitsa we caught a 20 hour ferry to Ancona, Italy. We cruised through Tuscany to Cinque Terre. Amazing scenery and awesome pizzas, but very sad to see the damage sustained by a number of villages from the landslides from last winters rain.

Using precipitation websites we avoided a lot of rain:
http://www.wxmaps.org/pix/euro.vv.html
http://meteo.search.ch/prognosis
The Dolomites Mountains in Northern Italy is a real highlight and we stayed in gorgeous little Italian villages in the mountains. We arrived on time for our housesitting "job" near Annecy, France looking after 4 rescue dogs for an English couple living in a gorgeous stone home in a little village in the Alps. Ten days of having a base, walking 4 dogs through the countryside, getting to know the neighbours and going for Menu de Jour for lunch for 13 Euros each, including wine and coffee was hard to take! We were spoilt for choice where to go for day motorbike rides, walks and lunch everyday! This was our first experience at French living and we liked it a lot.

Only a short distance away over some mountain passes to Lake Geneve, Switzerland we next went to where our good friends Nathalie and Patrick live. The famous Montreaux Jazz Festival was going on, so we thoroughly enjoyed the carnival atmosphere and some free shows during the day. The famous bands were on at night, but at up to $300 per person, we didnt go to any!

Celebrating anniversaries with friends is always fun, but meeting in a foreign country, travelling together, exploring and partying for 3 days and nights was an awesome way to mark 40 years of Wedded Bliss for Canadian friends Brian and Sandra Smith. Pat set out on his first long distance motorcycle trip with Brian from Canada to Mexico back in 1971! This trip we saw a part of the Tour de France with them and in one day visited 3 countries! Phew! It took us 2 days to recover after Cyclone Smith's departure! We relaxed in thermal pools in the spa town of Baden Weiler in Germany's wonderful black forrest.

Our next housesit was overlooking Lake Murten in Switzerland for our good friends Franziska and Romano. We looked after their wonderful home 2 years ago and "Peti" the cat remembered Pat's very attentive, gentle brushes...He purrs so loud! Every day we went cycling or motorbike riding on the small country roads and over mountain passes in the great summer weather. Our GPS tracking looks like a spiders web! Most single lane roads rolling through the hills and forrest are paved making very relaxing and entertaining rides. The old architecture of Switzerland is everywhere and we assume its because Switzerland wasn't involved in the last 2 world wars! Every scene is a screen saver...so pretty and perfect...we just cant get enough of it!

Just by luck, we were informed that a couple we knew from Cairns (Ted and Vicky Riddle) were housesitting in the area, so we spent a couple of days touring the area swapping stories and travel info. It was an unexpected treat and we will keep in much closer contact from now on.

Just around the corner near Murten our old friend Mika Kuhn is working between motorcycle trips around the world. We met Mika and Ian Coates in Cairns in 2001 and they told us about horizonsunlimited.com and answered our many travel questions. After a few dinner parties with them we decided to travel the world too by motorcycle!
Murten, Switzerland really feels like our second home as we have now spent 6 weeks in this area!

Our time is almost up to leave here! We are off to see Patrick and Nathalie near Vevey again; then visit Claudia and Ingo in Zurich and then we must leave our beloved Switzerland before our 90 days are up!

The plan is now to spend the next 6 weeks out of Schengen countries, so we will visit Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria before popping back into Thessalonika, Greece for our flight to Muscat, Oman mid October.

Explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, who led the Central Asiatic Expeditions in Mongolia in the 1920s had a great quote that we like a lot. He said: "Always there has been an adventure just around the corner... and the world is still full of corners!"


Posted by Patrick Peck at August 02, 2012 09:09 AM GMT
 



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