May 04, 2004 GMT
HEADING TO ENGLAND

For our last few days in Thailand we visited the Bridge over the River Kwai (built by prisoners of War under the Japanese occupation), shopped, went elephant riding and bamboo rafting. While we were in Bangkok they had a water festival and Belinda bought a water pistol and had a great time squirting everyone in sight!!

Next stop- Germany to visit Britta and Alexander Duelks whom we met in South America riding BMW's. They showed us around Cologne and Dusseldorf area, visiting Roman archeological sites, cathedrals, revamped industrial parks and having lunch in the sun next to the river Rhine.

Next stop- England to visit Kate and Colin Morris who wet met through Horizons Unlimited. They hosted us in London while we waited for the bike to pass customs. CT Frieght quoted us AUS$500 to ship the bike, but the bill ended up being 500, which is 2.5 times more than quoted!!!!!!????? There was really no problem with customs as a carnet is not necessary for Europe. They took days to process their own paperwork and our shippers didnt help matters by always needing another form to fill out or requesting more info, with each request delaying picking up the bike by a further day!! We spent one of those days doing a double decker commentary tour around Buckingham Palace, over London bridge and past Westminster Abbey.

Next stop-Stroud is the home of Monica and Tim Marshfield , another couple we travelled with in Central and South America. Tim had the use of a BMW convertable to tour us arond the beautiful rolling countryside of the Cotswolds with castles, ancient churches and quaint villages scattered through the hills. We found the old house were Shakespear was born. Luck was with us as we had warm sunny days, which is unusual so early in the summer.

It really is great having the locals to visit, who really know the area and can direct us to the best spots - from pubs to ruins, to fantastic scenery.

In the quaint town of Bath we rondevoused with John and Lynn Cameron, Australian friends form Cairns and a member of the bikers group called the Bougi Boys. After having a nice pub lunch and a beer we all stolled the sunny streets and checked out all the free sites.

Back to London we headed to Tilbury docks for the bike . After a few more delays we paid the storage fees and finally unpacked the Super Tenere. We raced off to catch the ferry across to Calais, France ,where everything is much cheaper than England, from fuel to hotels to wine.

After two days of dodging rain storms in France we made the mountain pass to Andorra. Waiting for us at the edge of the mountains was a horrific snow blizzard, which brought all traffic to a crawl. Both the visability and the temperature dropped to uncomfortable levels and our main worry was that the roads would freeze creating an icy surface not conducive to keeping a motor cycle up right or from going over a cliff!! The wet snow built up on our visors, boots and really any surface facing forward. Belinda said she had never been so cold so I told her the tale of me having to ride my motorcle from Jasper to Edmonton in Canada in a blizzard that lasted 350kms where the temp. dropped to -30c. We finally made the pass with only a couple of degrees before the roads froze. The road decended into clearer and warmer air, although the roads were wet and our boots were soaked.

Waiting for us in Andorra was Luis (Nacho) and Carina Martinez. Their last around the world trip on a Super Tenere lasted six years and covered 170,000 kms. Nacho made contact with us through a Super Tenere club website based in England and invited us to visit for a few days. It is amazing that you can make long term friendships through the internet. Andorra is a modern ski and tourist town where people come to buy tax free items. Our Shoei helmets and Casio watch are half the price of Australia. Motorcycle shops are numerous and we can order accessories specific to our XTZ750. We spent hours going through photos , magazine articles where Nachos trip was featured and just telling each other our motorcycle tales.

From Andorra we headed to the bustling city of Barcelona to catch a ferry to the large island of Mallorca to visit our Australian friends Peter and Hella Lea. Peter has the exciting job of being the Captain of a luxury 30mtr yacht and escorts the owner to holiday spots around the med during the summer. He actually gets paid for it!! During the off season he maintains the boat and makes it ready for the next season. Peter and Hella have triplet 3 year old boys and have a bedroom on the top of their house for us with views of the water, cathedrals and three old windmills.

Mallorca is the place of exile for Christopher Skase who was alleged to have stolen many millions from his public Austalian company before the economic crash of 1990. The harbour is crammed with luxury yachts and the game here is 'whoever dies with the biggest boat wins!'

We will spend the next few months checking out Spain and Portugal before heading off to Italy.

Posted by Patrick Peck at 02:27 PM GMT
 


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