Introducing "Zora"... our Susuki Vstrom 650 currently travelling from Rio to Amazon River in Brazil with very helpful Rio HU members George and Denise Bunker.
Over the last few years we have been travelling in Canada US and Mexico in an RV/ Motorhome. We loved every minute of it, but miss the freedom and comradery that motorcycle travelling gives us!
So, we did a worldwide horizonsunlimited search for a travellers motorbike to buy in South America! The bike we found, the owners could have come from anywhere, but they come from the very same suburb in the very same town we live in! That is amazing, but what really is amazing is that their helmets fit us, jackets, pants and even boots fit us! How easy is that! We will fly to Rio at the end of Sept, pick up "Zora" our 2012 Suzuku VStrom 650, pack our underwear and we are off!
We will be heading north along the Brazillian coastline towards the Amazon River, then into Venezuela (hopefully!) then Colombia, down to Ecuador, Peru and Chile where we will either store the bike or sell her to another traveller in March 2015!
Check out Mark and Carlie's website and Zora the bike:
As usual, we love to meet other travellers on the road and encourage knowledge and feedback for the road ahead! This trip will test us physically and mentally... pray for good weather, open borders and no robberies! Yikes, hang onto your hat and come for a ride with us! We will try and do updates from the road, but think wifi might be rare!
Thank you for following us and we hope to meet you all in person again somewhere sometime real soon!
Howdy folks! You haven't heard from us for awhile, but you are about to regularly! hehe
We have just spent an awesome 3 months at home in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Catching up with family, friends, health issues, health tests, get fitter, financial stuff etc and planning the next trip!!!
Happy Davis-Peck Clan! Nephew:Daniel (12), Brother:Paul, Sister in law: Jacqueline, Belinda, Neice: Hannah (7) and Patrick!
Canada, USA and mainland Mexico are our next destination in our 30 foot Winnebago motorhome fondly named "Miss Adventure 6". She has been stored nice and warm in John and Jerry Burden's heated shed on their farm outside of Edmonton, Canada and they have used her as a spare bedroom mainly!
She is about to go an another adventure with us!
John and Jerry Burden and Pat relaxing in Baja, Mexico 2 years ago!
We will be doing a presentation about Montenegro and Rules for the Road at the HU meeting August 22-25 in Nakusp, BC, Canada. Vancouver and Vancouver Island will be our next destination and we hope to cross into USA mid September. Heading South through as many national parks in USA as possible along the middle and West coast of USA, we will check out whether it is safe enough to spend winter in mainland Mexico or not.
Our plan is to travel slower this time and catch up with other friends and HU members along the way. We will zig where we zagged 2 years ago!
Pat is already in Canada doing a motorcycling trip with his brother Bernie in the Banff/ Jasper area. Belinda will be in Edmonton, Canada 12 July, when we will pick up the motorhome and head West!
We hope you are all healthy and happy and living the life you dream about!
Motorcycle Travel Hints
- Only ride at night or in the rain if it is unavoidable, due to poor visibility for you and other traffic.
Poor road conditions are magnified exponentially.
Beautiful surroundings are not visible. Remember that travel is not all about just getting there.
-Constantly check your turn signal switch.
It’s something simple, but it can KILL you if you don't.
-Relax your shoulders continually as tension will exhaust you on long rides.
Your reflexes are much quicker in emergency manouvers if you are relaxed.
-Be very aware of your blind spot and the blind spot of other close vehicles.
Never ride in someone else's blind spot.
-Learn to read the "body language" of other vehicles and assume they cannot see you.
Use head movements and wheel directions to help you to predict if a car will cross your path.
-Never drink and drive a motorcycle.
Even a small amount will effect your balance and coordination.
-Get in the habit of shoulder checking EVERY time you change lanes or cross a lane of traffic.
Remember your blindspot.
-Know when you will go to reserve and how far reserve will take you. Zero your trip meter at fill up and know your fuel capacity.
-Know when your next service is due.
Carry spares like oil filters, sprocket and brake pads.
-Cold start- Idle your bike for at least a minute.
Most engine wear occurs in that first minute from a cold start.
-Cross railway tracks and road ridges as close to right angle as possible.
You never know if oil or water has made them slippery.
-Keep your visor clean.
I use water and my bare hand to clean.
Setting sun on a dirty visor is blinding.
-Avoid distractions like map or GPS reading on the move.
Things will come for you when you are not looking.
-Try to keep up with traffic to avoid being an obstacle to other traffic.
We all know the dangers of passing a slow vehicle.
-Constantly watch for sand or oil on the road when cornering, or anything else that may cause you to loose traction.
-Stand up on your pegs while crossing rough terrain.
It's easier on your back and stops the catapult effect as well as lowering your center of gravity.
-If you fall off your bike, get off a busy road.
Do a quick check of you and your bike and ride on to a safe area.
-Always drive with your headlights on.
You are so much more visible to drivers only looking for other cars.
-Try NOT to brake strongly and suddenly.
The vehicle behind may not react quickly enough.
-Keep your distance from the car ahead.
They may do an emergency brake.
-For emergency braking use your front brake in stages.
Full on front braking may lock your front wheel and down you go!
-Never ride with your foot resting on your back brake pedal.
It wears out your brakes and keeps you brake light on.
-Avoid passing a slow vehicle that could be slowing to make a turn, possibly in front of you.
-Never pass a vehicle indicating across your path.
In some countries, this is a signal from the driver that it is clear to pass!
-Think ahead and use your engine and gearing to slow you down rather than your brakes.
A set of pads will last you a lot longer and you get better fuel consumption.
-Watch your mirrors about 5% of the time as 99% of collisions come from the front.
Still, know whats coming up behind you.
-Check tyre pressures regularly.
This will save fuel , make your tires last longer and may save you from a fall!
-Always cover your bike at night or long storage.
It stops rust and corrosion and hides the bike from thieves.
-Don't ride in salt water.
Rust will quickly disintegrate your bike.
-Check oil at each fill up until you get a usage pattern for your bike.
-Wear protective clothing for the season.
If you are too hot or too cold it will affect your judgement.
We find that layers is the answer.
-Drink lots of water on the road.
Dehydration will also affect your judgement and energy.
-Don't get angry if someone cuts you off.
You need full focus and concentration .
Just practise collision avoidance and stay mentally positive.
-Count to 5 at the intersection when the light turns green.
How many times have you seen people run the RED?
-Be obliging and respectful to all police officers.
They have the capacity to make your life a misery.
-Keep a record of all services and maintenance so you know what to
do before your next trip or for the next owner.
I will pay more for a bike that I know is maintained properly.
-Many nice things are always at the end of a gravel road!
Don't be afraid, just adjust your speed to suit your bike.
-Stick with your mates:
Keep them visual in your mirror- If you haven't seen them within in a few minutes, slow down for a few minutes and if you still haven't seen them then stop for a few minutes. If still no sight then turn back to the point you last saw them. No contact then phone, if out of range then go to a phone reception area or the original destination and call or email your friend.
-Keep the lead guy in front in sight.
Never turn off the road if the guy behind cannot see you. Stop and wait.
Which country do you visit?
- Choose a cheap and safe country as your daily budget will be lower and the trip can be longer.
It may not be cheap or safe the next time you travel.
-Time your visit to avoid the cold or wet season.
-If your time is specific then choose a country for the season.
-Shipping is expensive and a hassle, so choose a country that is easy to get to.
-Make sure you have valid 3rd party insurance for the country of travel.
A lawsuit could ruin your life.
-Choose the lightest bike possible to do the job.
No one has ever complained about having a bike which is too light!
-Choose a bike first for it's reliability.
-Choose a bike that has many dealerships in the country of travel.
Bring a parts manual (on a CD or USB) as dealers can order your parts even though they didn't import the bike.
-Contact the H/U community members ahead of your travel.
They are like minded people wanting to meet fellow travellers.
-NEVER BORROW MONEY TO TRAVEL!
Enjoy every moment, sometimes riding can be like a computer game, but in this game you only have one LIFE!
We are now back in sunny Australia and will attempt to summarise our 3 months motorcycling around Sri Lanka! Having searched the season weather for Sri Lanka, we were mentally prepared for the wet November that is expected each year, but the following two months of predicted sunny weather would make it worth while (or so we thought!!)
Alfons Van Hoof the Horizons Unlimited community member for Sri Lanka met us at the airport and found us great accomodation near the Nagumbo beaches not far from the Airport. He was an incredible host, providing us with local knowledge of where to go and what scenic roads to take as well as GPS software for our Garmin handheld. Alfons was nice enough to rent his second Bajaj cruiser 180cc bike and fitted it with any extras and mods needed for a 3 month overland trip. This Indian built Japanese design bike never gave us a moments grief and disproved our doubts in Indian machinery. An added bonus was the 43.5 kms/litre fuel economy, giving us a 500km range before reserve making it a total of 600kms range.
Alfons also provided us with soft panniers big enough to carry everything needed for three months of blistful touring 2 up.
Our first overnight stop enroute was the elephant sanctuary on the way to Kandy. Most of the Elephants were orphans from the landmines of the Tamil Tiger civil war that had been raging for more than 20 years. One adult had lost the bottom half of one leg and the other front leg was badly disformed from the explosion. Another more fortunate occupant was a 95 year old mammoth tusker. The guide tried to temp Belinda into stroking his enormous donger that nearly had the circumferance of one of his legs and nearly hung to the ground! We heard he died a few weeks after our visit.
The roads are really quite good for motorcycles, providing you stay off the main busy roads, as they are mostly asphalt and wind thier way through rice paddy fields and tea plantations with little traffic.
The main roads take a bit of getting used to if you are from a first world country where "might is right" and buses are at the top of the foodchain. Locals refuse to use their mirrors and use their horns to make their presence known.
If you see a local with his right indicator (turn signal) on it could mean a number of things: They may want you to pass them on the right or they want to turn right themselves or they really want to turn left but forgot thier indicator was on!
All western driving rules are "out the window" with vehicles and obstacles coming onto your path of travel from all directions and various speeds. A driver needs 110% concentration as if in some fast action computer game. Its all about collision avoidance and in our 3 months although we had many close calls, we didn't see one accident, so the system does work.
The city of Kandy was not as nice as its name may indicate with a lot of slow moving taffic congestion and a lot of noise and air pollution, although we really did enjoy the walk around its central lake and a visit to the Tooth Temple.
From Kandy's central highlands we meandered slowly through manicured tea plantations toward the national park of Yala near to the southeast coast to see our first wild Indian Elephant (which is much smaller than its African relations)
Before picking up our daughter Kate at the Columbo Airport we stopped into nearly all of the beaches along the southern coastline and there are many!
Belinda and I felt very fortunate to have Kate accompany us by motorcycle for nearly a month. We rented a DR 250 Suzuki to accomodate her long legs and some rough terrain we had experienced from time to time for around US$15 per day.
With the monsoons persisting, we became good at reading precip forcast maps on the internet and dodging looming thunderstorms on each horizon. As good as we thought we were, we still got a good drenching on a few occasions.
Together we travelled to the north along the west coast which took us past many abandoned beach towns and fishing villages. We spent our first travelling night together on the sandy peninsula town of Kalpitiya.
The next day would take us to the ancient ruined cities located in the central north and closely accessable from the more mdern city on Anuradhapura.
Our favorite ruins were at the Sigiriya Rock and well worth the US$30 each entrance fee. The ancient carvings and views from the top of the rock were a trip highlight.
Trincomalee was our first east coast town which brags of a surf season starting in April when the prevailing winds change direction. Even being Christmas, we had our choice of accomodation with very flexible rates.
With all the rain in the highlands catchment and flooding coastal rivers our trip south was cut short when the Army blockade turned us around because the main road south was "broken". The 2 hour ride back to Trincomalee was made a bit more exciting with the developing thunderstorms threatening to dump on us Christmas Eve!
Our inland detour took us to the mountain town of Ella, a great travellers destination having many mountain trail and fabulous views . Accomodation even in this shoulder season was at a premium. The detour had taken through many roads under construction. Kate enjoyed riding in the mud and slippery undulations and spent most of the ride standing on her pegs. Needless to say, our cruiser posed a bit of a challenge with its short suspension, smooth road tyres and carrying a heavy load. (hey!)
We were determined to explore the remainder of the east coast, south of the "broken road", so we headed east again to Arugam Bay another surfers hangout in the season. Once again we had our choice of accomodation at bargain prices along with long stretches of coastal roads hugging the beach.
Although very friendly the police didn't like you riding on your pegs or with the headlights on. One Sargent offered us sponsorship should we want to attain permanent residency in Sri Lanka!
The only part of the island experiencing constant sun was the entire south coast, so that had to be our next leg of the journey.
The sun did not disappoint as we leapfrogged the many beachtowns and feasted on the magnificent seafood served at beach restaurants everywhere. Midway along was the ruined Dutch Fortress of Galle, built in the 18th century and is now attractivelly restored. A bit west of Galle is the site of the biggest train wreck in the world from the 2004 Christmas day tsunami killing 1700 people.
A modest museum housed hundreds of trajic photos taken on that memorable day.
Our last beach along was perhaps our favorite - Bentota. This beach is very wide and stretches for kilometers only broken by the Bentota River. It was on the banks of this river that we found a magnificent guest house with only 4 available rooms. Our choice room was on the top floor overlooking the two swimming pools and a large wooden deck extending over the river. The view was across the river to a narrow sand peninsula with ocean waves crashing on the far side. The scene allowed for some magnificent sunsets and meals with our great friends from Cairns Mike Mabbutt and Annette Cooper who joined us for a fun filled week in Sri Lanka eating like the locals do with their hand!
A small ferry boat was available to take us to the opposite bank we could walk down the beach to the turtle hatcheries where we were allowed to release a few babies on our own.
River Edge Guesthouse deserves special speacial mention and is a must stay.
Bobby the owner will make you feel at home and was our source of local knowledge.
Kate heard that Adams Peak is a highlight trek on the island and thought it might serve as a test run for her Kakoda Trail trek the end of March in Papua New Guinea.
A direct route to Adams took us on the less travelled roads through lush tea plantations where we encountered teams of Sri Lankan ladies picking tea and earning $4.40 per day provided the can produce 16 kilograms of the finest tea leaves.
Our last day spent with Kate was enroute to the Columbo Airport where she would depart at midnight. As parting gift to Kate from Sri lanka the skies opened up and we spent the last 4 hours in torrential rain! Her luggage was now double its original weight as all her clothes, boots and helmet were utterly soaked.
Our last two weeks were spent beach hopping and in the end we were sad to return our trusty steed back to Alfons. We bid fairwell with the promise to return one day soon.
We can highly recommend an extended visit to Sri Lanks as the locals always greet you with a smile, the scenery is warm and varied, crime is almost unheard of and the cost of travel is a quarter that of travelling first world countries. We enjoyed the culture being midway from Indian and Asian with the food being of this wonderful mixture.
Now, we are returning to hometown Cairns, via a "friend and relations catch up" of the east coast of Australia by car... look out Cyclone Peck might be in your neighbourhood real soon!
A relatively short flight from Greece to Oman took us to our Muscat based friends from our home town Cairns, Chris and Dale Bartlett. Now did they have an action packed agenda for the next 2 weeks! From porsche drives through the country to a 4 day desert and mountain 4WD camping trip.
We explored ancient Arabic ruined cities, abandoned cliff dwellings, wadi bashing (driving up dry, rocky river beds) as well as a motorcycle day trip with a loan bike (BMW1150GS) from Tim Seed, The HU community member in Muscat. Tim is our hero as he located our lost motorbike from our previous trip to Oman. The freight forwarder took our money and our bike with no intention to ship it to Zanzibar. Tim forced the forwarder to ship the bike, thus saving us one huge monumental hassle and a ruined trip!
We were very impressed with Chris and Dale's adventure equipped 1998 Moto Guzzi Quota 1100ES ready for their upcoming trans Africa trip two-up.
We went hiking at the Grand Canyon of Oman, boating along the scenic coastline, beach combing and photography club at sunset, souk shopping for frankincense, cocktails at awesome palaces, met lots of their friends, BBQ's on the beach and had a fantastic time!
The fuel prices at .24 Euro Cents/litre made the touring cheap!
We found the Omani's extremely friendly and tolerant to the Western ways. Our two weeks were up before we knew it and we were on a plane to our next destination ....four months motorcycling around Sri Lanka!
With only days left on our Schengen visa we must leave our beloved Switzerland to enter Croatia (which is scheduled to join the Schengen programme July 2013). We had heard many great reports on the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps and as it was on route the accent was a must. The switchbacks were so tight that you had to carefully plan your approach to each 160 deg turn and it was to our amazement that we passed a few medium sized motorhomes creeping up and down the slopes! We still dont know how they did it.
A response to our email to the members of the HU community in Croatia came from Goran Radetic in the small town of Porec on the West coast of the Istrian peninsula. He invited us to stay at his house with his new bride Jelena. They were so kind as to escort us around the peninsula showing us and telling us about the Greek and Roman history.
Heading south to the island of Krk we all met up with Nikola Mrakovcic, another HU community member. We had visited Nikola on our first pass through in 2005 and found him a wealth of knowledge on most Slavic countries as he writes motorcycle travel articles for the Croatian Bike Magazine.
Nikola instructed us to make contact with his friend Anton Rozic on the island city of Trogir. He and his wife Marija and daughter Paulina were fabulous hosts and treated us like family! Once again we had a local tour guide in Anton and he really showed us around the mainland on some fantastic roads.
He was kind enough to organise a 5 day inter island boat trip for us and store our bike til our return. One island visited was Korcula, the claimed birth place of our hero Marco Polo.
South of Croatia, along the Adriatic Coast is the magnificent country of Montenegro. We had no idea how beautiful this country really was when we took 24 hours to pass through along the coast in 2007. Having no expectations we were in for many surprises: from the cliff chiseled Monastery of Ostrog to the Pivsko Jezero Canyon with a section of road containing 67 rough tunnels in a 20km stretch leading to Durmitor National Park. This road was made to literally hug the canyon wall. The mountainous interior is dotted with ski areas and associated ski towns. The small windy interconnected roads made for some real "magic carpet rides".
Along the coast was just as jaw dropping with the island Monasteries surrounded by coastal mountains. We were lucky enough to find an apartment just opposite and overlooking these monasteries in Perast and that was enough to stop us in our tracks for over a week! From Perast there were too many spectacular biking roads to mention. Every day we would do day rides, only to return to our apartment on the water at night. The fortified town of Kotor, with its walls stretching for over 2 km's kept us enthralled for 2 days. Our thought was that Montenegro is the Switzerland of Eastern Europe.
Just to the south lies Albania and we were pleasantly surprised at the upgraded condition of the roads compared to our previous ride in 2007. Two worthwhile forts to visit are Rozafa Castle and the UNESCO listed Berat Castle. Fuel in Albania is considerably cheaper than the other European countries that we visited.
Heading east to Macedonia we entered Macedonia at Lake Ohrid and spent the night in a modern guesthouse on the overcrowded shoreline of Ohrid city. Thank goodness we fueled up before the border as Greek fuel prices rate amongst the highest in Europe. We had made arrangements to meet up with our old friend Orestis, the HU member for Athens at the picturesque town of Kastoria.
We celebrated our 3 year reunion with many bottles of wine on our penthouse verandah overlooking the Lake. The windy mountain rides and great Greek food, with great company made for an awesome 3 days. Sadly it all came to an end when we heard from HU community members and our bike partners Csilla and Oli, that a truck had been booked to take the bike back to Oradea, Romania. Upon leaving Greece the Immigration Officer thoroughly checked our passports for Schengen overstay.
Next stop.... Muscat, Oman.
Pat and "Miss Adventure 3" in front of an awesome Swiss House...just cant get enough of them...so unique!
The beginning of our trip...Belinda, Patrick, Oli, Dominik, Erik and Csilla, with Miss Adventure3 on the trailer.
Brian and Sandra Smith and Patrick in Southern Germany celebrating their 40 years Wedding Anniversary
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:
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!"
Its been a while since we wrote last! We had an absolutely amazing time in our motorhome in the Baja, Mexico and would thoroughly recommend it! We didn't feel unsafe for one minute..in fact we haven't felt so relaxed and welcomed in a country as much as the Baja! It is right up there as one of our favourite destinations and by motorhome has to be THE best way to experience it!
John and Jerry Burden, our partners in the motorhome, flew from Canada to Cabo San Lucas and we spent an awesome week with this awesome couple! We then flew back to Vancouver direct via Westjet for $400 each....bargain hey! J+J drove "Miss Adventure 6" safely back to Edmonton, Canada to commence their year of motorhome heaven!
We then commenced our journey home to Cairns after an amazing catch up with the Peck-Paddon clan in Vancouver and Paul's family at Ocean Shores, NSW. Belinda's Mum and Cairns welcomed us home and presented us with an awesome apartment to lay our heads in for 10 fantastic weeks (way too short) Special mention has to be made of the wonderful visit we had with Kate, Johnathan and the lovely Michelle and the bike share we have with Annette Cooper and Mike Mabbutt! You might have gathered we like to share when it comes to owning travel vehicles! We have caught up with most of you in Cairns..those we haven't, we better catch up soon, if not see you next time round!
We will be back on 2 wheels again this trip. Our great friends Csilla and Oli will deliver our European Super Tenere (that we own with them) to Thessaloniki, Greece where we will stay with them at a bargain 5 star resort with everything included (including cocktails apparently!) for E100 per ROOM in early June for 8 magic days with their 2 young boys!
The bike is set up and ready to cruise to amazing Annecy, France (via Italy) where we will housesit 4 dogs for 10 days, then we will meet Brian and Sandra Smith in Southern Germany for their 40th wedding anniversary on 8 July. (Pat introduced them to each other, so we just HAD to be there!)
Next destination is another housesitting "job" in Switzerland near Bern for 3 weeks (the same wonderful couple that we housesat for 2 years ago- Franzisca and Romano!)
We will then ride the bike back to Thessaloniki, Greece mid Oct where we fly to Muscat, Oman to see good friends now living there...Chris and Dale Bartlett...enter the scene again! They will show us the REAL Oman for a couple of weeks.
End October we will be on our way to wonderful Sri Lanka. We have heard great reports of this place and cant wait! We would love to housesit there too. Bin's cousin Olivia is marrying Nick and honeymooning in Sri Lanka so it would be great to see them, but give them some time alone...hehe! We will probably drop into India as a visa run..maybe check out Goa and a few other "must see's in India". The next flight is back to Jill's arms in Cairns end March 2013 from Sri Lanka via Ocean Shores to catch up with 2 kids that are growing up WAY TOO FAST for their wayward Aunt and Uncle's liking!
We will have our Australian phone with us for sms (text) ONLY 0061 419 309 309 and our NEW ADDRESS: patandbin (at) gmail (dot) com Please delete the old one's as we dont check them anymore!
Keep in touch and we hope to meet up with some of you on this trip...these moments are always highlights for us...and remember...life is full of moments...just make them magic ones!
We are getting ready to get back on 2 wheels on "Miss Adventure III" in Europe...leaving Cairns in just over 2 weeks!
We are writing to let you know we have fallen for a yahoo look alike email to upgrade. We clicked on it, put our email address and password in and wham..they had everything they needed to delete our contacts, inbox and folders with all our details! Somehow they also got into our hotmail account as well.
They also wrote to all our contacts saying we are in Manila and in trouble and need money. This is a scam. We are in Mexico, not in trouble and do not need any money...
We have no other way to contact our friends to tell them not to worry..please tell anyone we know in case they also got the email and are worrying about us!
We will not be using the yahoo or hotmail accounts any more. We now have a gmail account with the same beginning as our old accounts.
We hope nobody else ever falls for this trick...believe us...its a real pain!
We have just found paradise in the Baja, Mexico and we must describe this place to you!
About a 1/3rd of the way down Baja we were driving along the coastal mountain roads when we looked down to see this big horseshoe bay with small islands and yachts anchored just offshore. We couldn't resist it...100metre wide beach stretching for 2 km. Getting closer we noticed a tropical restaurant at one end and a couple of RVs parked next to palm sun shelters just above the high tide mark and facing a waveless shore line.
The few people that are here are all Canadians and are so relaxed and friendly and help with any questions we had. The regulars say there are better spots only a few km's down the road, but we are finding it hard to weigh anchor!
Walking around the headlands we have never seen such an abundance of colourful and multi shaped sea shells. While having our morning coffee in our arm chairs we watch countless birdlife, like pelicans and ospreys dive bombing for fish. Egrets, sandpipers and herons strolling the beach, while vultures spiral the updrafts.
Each morning the local Mexicans come around selling fresh fish, fruit, vegies, bakery and handicafts. The American who runs the restaurant and collects parking fees charges $5.50 per night. The climate here is so mild with the days hitting 25 deg C and down to 15C at night.
The downside is no telephone, internet, TV and electricity.
Today we took our bicycles to explore the beach villages down the coast. At our first gringo style village a lady came out to chat, next thing we found ourselves having tea on her patio when her husband roared up in his fishing boat, yelling for us all to get in to see the 200-300 dolphin pod in the next bay.
It was an unbelievable site and the dolphins were attracted to us by curiosity and to the sound of our outboard motor. They swam just under the boat and surfaced an arm span off the bow and Belinda could nearly touch them as they surfaced. After half an hour we headed back to the cottage for a beer and barracuda tacos that Bob had just caught. We eventually had to force ourselves to leave as there was a live band playing at our beach restaurant and we had to shower up for the party that followed. What great serendipity! All of the gringos living here are so friendly to open up their home to strangers.
Next morning we rented 2 kayaks to venture to the gringo village in the opposite direction. Only to find equally inviting residents there. Such a relaxed atmosphere. On this adventure we spotted frigate birds, oyster catchers and many hummingbirds, as well as all the others we mentioned before.
For a change of scenery we decided to change beaches to a free camping sand spit beach, some 20km down the road to meet up with some new friends. We only made it 2 km to the next picturesque beach as we just couldnt drive past it.
Next morning ....off to the spit. We only made it another 2km to the next postcard beach. Tomorrow..off to the spit..we hope!
Each beach we kayak out to circle the islands. Some beaches have kayaks for rent, at some the neighbours lend us theirs. The whale sharks are in the area, so we soon hope to paddle amongst them.
Last night we were invited to a pot luck dinner on the beach put on by some of the other RVers. Some return each winter since the 90's. A few had guitars, so the entertainment started shortly after dinner and finished about 9pm, which they call Baja Midnight!
This morning we must leave, but it is already 2pm and we are having trouble getting the energy to move the RV! Our biggest concern is how to keep the beach sand out of the RV!
Ths Spit...with 360deg views...eventually!
We entered USA near Vancouver mid September 2011 with the aim of going down the Rockies to Mexico and then coming back up the West coast in Feb 2012 as far as the weather will allow us. Our RV partners John and Jerry will then have a holiday in her, drive her back to Edmonton and we will fly back to Cairns via Vancouver early March 2012.
One of the best buys in the USA is a year long National Parks pass for $80. When its $20 per entry, thats a great deal! So that was our plan National Parks here we come. Now we don't need cities and hotels we can wake up in the middle of national parks, watch sunrises and sunsets, do some great hikes and bicycle rides...not to mention the stars at night...awesome!
The first state we travelled in was Washington and our goal was small country roads, away from big cities, so we followed stunning route 20 to Sandpoint in Idaho. We wanted to do Waterton National Park- Highway to the Sun Scenic Road, but it was closed for the season already...we had to get moving! So we headed more SE along highway 200, 90 and 191 to Yellowstone National Park. We were late in the season, lots of campgrounds had closed, but the weather was perfect! With an RV you have to watch freezing temperatures and snow as your pipes can freeze and crack...picture the sewerage pipe doing that??
We heard about a great motorcycle road called Bear tooth pass, so we did that at sunset...awesome and ended up in Cody, home of Buffalow Bill. While travelling we don't do any homework, just wing it...we never know what to expect and whats around the corner! We ended up in a gun fight in the main street with prostitutes and drunk men everywhere...it was all a show..hilarious!
Then back to Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. By now it was definately end of summer tourist season, early Oct, and all the sales were on! We bought hiking boots, Chaco sandals, warm jackets, all for around 60% off!
We then headed West on route 20 towards Craters of the Moon and Sawtooth National Park. We stopped for lunch at Sun Valley and were still there 2 days later! Sun Valley is a gorgeous, upmarket ski resort town where the rich and famous ski. While we were there the weather was gorgeous, so we parked right in the centre of town and cycled everywhere. Pat gets Belinda to knock on the door of the house we are parked outside of and asks if its OK to park there the night...they are all so friendly, one lady even offered to do our clothes washing!! We found a great thrift shop that had lots of jackets, warm boots, waterproof jackets, thermal underwear, all for bargain prices..heaven! There was a great wholefoods supermarket and the library had wireless internet...its a wonder we ever left!!
A big storm was coming so we decided to try to outrun it and head East towards Salt Lake City heading along route 80 past the salt plain. Mistake! Never try to outrun a storm...you would think we had worked that out by now! Well, we thought we were going to beat it, cruising along the Salt Lake when a mini tornado (that we didnt see coming) blindsided us and ripped our awning to threads..it was old and rotten anyway! It was the scariest 5 seconds (felt like 5 minutes) of our lives and Pat heroically kept the RV out of the salt lake and out of the way of oncoming traffic til we could get to the Salt Lake City Library where we camped for the night with free wifi internet and a stiff rum! Next day saw us headed up to the gorgeous ski resort town of Park City, then highway 40 east towards Dinosaur National Monument.
Our goal was to get to Boulder, Colorado to see Chris and Erin Ratay before Chris went on a rafting trip. We got there on time and Chris asked Pat to go on this BOYS only trip, so off they went! Erin and I stayed home waiting patiently for their return!! NOT..we painted the town RED! Boulder is a gorgeous University town with bike paths, coffee shops, gyms and great outdoor shops!After about 10 days...completely breaking our 3 day guest rule, we reluctantly left our very comfortable American home base and headed for Aspen via gorgeous Independence Pass. We camped (in the RV) in the front of a vacant house in downtown Aspen, a holiday home of some rich and famous person and rode our bicycles all over town, even did a guided historical society tour by bicycle! We loved it, the Aspen leaves were changing colour (amazing rainbow of colours) but it was getting cold -6deg C in our RV at night and we didnt want any frozen pipes!
South we continued to gorgeous Crested Butte, Black Canyon National Park, through Silverton to stunning Durango, Colorado. Colorado really is stunning and if you like hiking, biking or just driving...it doesn't get must better than this! Scenery to rival Belinda's favourite country Switzerland.
West we headed towards amazing Mesa Verde National Park, back up the mountains to Telluride (another gorgeous ski town) and down before it snowed to Moab, Utah. Snow was on our tail and keeping us moving! Moving is expensive when your RV runs at 4km/litre!
Utah has got to be USA's best kept secret with Arches and Canyonlands National Park, camping alongside the Colorado River, cycling around Natural Bridges National Park and driving down through Monument Valley! Our eyes and camera were working overtime!
The grand finale was the Big Daddy Grand Canyon! We saw it from the north and the south rim. They closed the north rim for the season the day after we left due to snow...we had to keep moving..damn snow!
Zion National Park was stunning on a gorgeous sunny day. The next day a huge storm came with lots of snow and we couldn't get up to Bryce Canyon National Park...time to head south towards Las Vegas. We stayed at Circuscircus resort from Mon- Thurs for $33/night, cheaper than the RV park at $45/night and free camped at Walmart during the weekend when the price went up! Vegas is an amazing place with lots of deals and not so FREE shows! We loved it and checked it all out!
Chris and Dale Bartlett, long term friends currently living in Muscat, Oman had arranged holidays before their conference in Vegas, so we picked them up in our RV and raced them off to Red Rock Canyon to cycle the scenic loop. They travelled with us for about a week and we visited Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Park. We even got up to Lake Tahoe and dropped them off at the airport at Reno. It was great seeing them again and we loved having them for every kilometre of the 2,000km we did together.
Chris and Dale in Yosemite, California.
We then came down scenic 395 back to Death Valley before another huge snow and wind storm closed route 395. We arrived at Tecopa Hot Springs RV park 5 minutes before a huge windstorm that lasted 2 days. We had died and gone to heaven. There were 2 indoor private 2 person spas, a communal hall, a huge DVD swap collection and THE friendliest people we have met yet! They are all snowbirds, have been coming to this place for years and we were the new (and young) kids to arrive! They made us feel so welcome, with happy hour at 4pm, early morning coffee together, music jam sessions, Date Farm tours...unbelievable! We didnt really care about the 80km/ hour winds outside! But...we had to keep moving!!
Still heading south in California we went through the Mojave Desert, then along the famous route 66 to the Colorado River, then to Joshua Tree National Park, Palm springs, Borrego Springs and finally to the famous"Fountain of Youth Resort and RV Park" near Salton Sea. Its a mini city with amazing activities and facilities and more friendly people with lots of time on their hands! We could have stayed there for a week, but we only had a few days left on Belinda's 3 month visa so had to keep moving...we will be back!
Yesterday we crossed the Mexican/ Californian border at Tecate and will finally slow down and spend the next 2 months in Baja, Mexico. We have put on 25,000km since Edmonton (6 months) and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment and have never felt so free in our lives! Retirement has just become a reality for us and we intend on making the most of every day that we are blessed with together.
As usual its the people you meet that make a trip and a life and we have the good fortune to have met some great people, but then you make things happen don't you.
Wow, what an awesome 6 months its been!
We arrived in Edmonton, Canada early June 2011 to see our new purchase, a 30 foot Winnebago motorhome (fondly named "Miss Adventure VI") that we had just purchased sight unseen from www.craigslist.com. Pat was born in Canada, so knew that cold wet rainy weather is always in the forecast. As we have developed into fairweather riders an RV was a great alternative to a motorcycle.
We have many friends and family who checked out Miss A for us. Thanks heaps to Doug Temple, Kathy Jones (Pat's sister) and Bert Walker! The sellers, Gwen and Gerry were extremely helpful and patient and John and Jerry Burden (Pats friends from University days) decided to share the purchase and use of the motorhome with us. The main stumbling block was insuring the motorhome with an Australian drivers license... so Pat got a Canadian license, we got insurance, registration and we were off!
First priority was to bury Pats Moms ashes in Fairview, Northern Alberta. All of Colleens 4 children and 2 daughter in laws were at the burial and then we had a wake in our RV....she would have enjoyed the party!
Colleens family: Kathy, Pat, Loraine, Bernie, Jocelyn and Belinda at the burial.
Alaska was our next goal! It was a long drive from Edmonton to Anchorage, but we did it in a week (600km days) and met good friends Nevione and Don Crawford who were finishing a cruise there. Anchorage is a wonderful place and we free camped on the city streets from 6pm-9am when the meters were not working!
Fairbanks, Alaska was our most northern point, as the road further north is a rough, dirt road- no good for an RV! Valdez was a highlight in Alaska..watching the seals, sea otters and brown bears all catching the poor salmon trying to get upstream to mate.
Alaskan dogs love to run!
We got a big fright while camping at the end of Homer Spit one night. A Police car had it's sirens blaring and announcing to all that a tsunami was on its way and that everyone must evacuate immediately! The only road in or out was instantly blocked and no vehicles (except motorcycles) could move. We could only sit and wait our fate. It took an hour to make the 2km journey and once we reached the safety of the mainland it was announced that it was a false alarm!!
At Haines we caught a ferry (with the RV) to Prince Rupert via Juneau. It was very expensive due to the size of our RV, but we heard it was a beautiful stretch of water with amazing scenery. Usually we are lucky when it comes to weather...this time we were not, a strong storm followed the ferry for the whole 2 days and we didnt get to see much scenery..oh well! Another time!
Back in Canada, the same storm followed us all the way to Jasper and by then we realised that we had made the right decision to leave our motorbike at home.
Pat lived in Jasper for 10 years (Kate was born there) and has many awesome friends there, so we had a great time. Duncan (Pat's nephew) and Suraya got engaged, so we went back to Edmonton to help them celebrate. We went to Lorraine's (Pat's sister) lake cabin and Doug + Barbs cabin to celebrate Bernie's (Pat's brother) birthday hooning around on Doug's ATV's.
Barb, Doug, Jocelyn, Bernie and Pat on Doug's toys!
Back to Jasper, along the top of the Rockies (gorgeous drive) to Banff. We spent the next 2 months cruising around Calgary, Sparwood, Nelson, Kamloops, Mara, Kelowna, Whistler, Vancouver Island, Vancouver catching up with friends, (I wont mention everyone's name) some Pat hadn't seen in over 30 years!
British Columbia is really picturesque, very lush, green and mountainous, we will be back! Our Cairns neighbour, Caleb travelled with us for a fun filled week and we attended our first HU meeting in Nakusp where we finally met Grant and Susan Johnson. Good friends from Cairns, Skip and Rach were there as well and John and Jerry camped on our couch! We had 5 sleeping in our RV one night (all 3 men snoring and over 6 feet tall!!)- people were amazed how many big bodies piled out of the RV in the morning!! hehe
We crossed into USA mid Sept 2011. Pat is travelling on his Canadian passport, no problem can stay 6 months. Belinda with Australian passport only 3 months! Oh well, lets see as much as we can, then Mexico for Christmas! Next installment...our USA adventures..our goal..to see as many National Parks as we can with our yearly pass.
Our route through Alaska, Canada and USA from June-Dec 2011.
We are now in Baja, Mexico heading south to La Paz, Mexico over the next 2 months. It would be great to catch up with any other travellers in the area.
We have just celebrated 6 months travelling around Canada, Alaska and USA in our wonderful 30 foot RV! Next destination: Baja, Mexico for 2 months and then back into USA early Feb and Vancouver early March...to fly home to Cairns, Australia for a few months.
Belinda, (HU members) John and Jerry Burden and Pat...new joint owners of "Miss Adventure VI" in Canada, USA and Mexico!
Pat, John, Jerry and Belinda at our RV warming party!
PatandBin and our wonderful RV in Death Valley, California.
Moving party with Pat, Caleb (our neighbour from Cairns), Linda, Con and Belinda in Nelson, B.C, Canada...always moving and always a party..hehe!!
Skip, Lorraine, Kevin, Pat, Caleb, Rachel and Belinda at HU meeting at Nakusp, BC, Canada in August 2011. Awesome to catch up and get together, plus learn heaps about motorcycle travelling. Skip and Rach are also Cairns HU members and great friends.
Bin and Chris Ratay in his toy car in Boulder, Colorado! We had a great time with Chris and Erin and thoroughly love Colorado!
Our rear end sticker collection of cheaky stickers... lots of people comment and take photos!
A big apology to all our diehard motorcycle travelling friends, but we have jumped ship! We are now travelling in Alaska, Canada and USA in a 30 foot Winnebago luxury motorhome and its awesome!
Currently, we are near Anchorage, Alaska. Our rough plan is to drive around Alaska for a few more weeks and then head towards Jasper, then Vancouver 19 Aug when we pick up our neighbour Caleb to travel with for awhile, then south into USA for about 5 months. We will fly back to Australia from Vancouver 4 March 2012.
We would love to go to as many Horizons Unlimited meetings as we can, we are going to the Nakusp, Canada meeting in August to catch up with as many friends as possible on the way to nowhere!
When we last wrote we were leaving South Africa and finally heading for home, Cairns, Australia. We eventually sold Miss Adventure II (our Yamaha XTZ750) and ALL our gear to Chad and www.wilddog.za.net members. If you are riding in South Africa you HAVE to join this group of passionate bikers! We love em..they are awesome! We hopped on the plane home with hand luggage only after 18 months of riding in Africa and Europe with big smiles on our faces.
The last 2 months we have been living in an apartment on the Esplanade in Cairns catching up with family and friends, having health check ups, trying to fix up Belinda's frozen shoulders (which are coming along nicely, though slower than she likes, thank you for asking!!), doing taxes, going through 18 months of mail, trying to get fit, studying about the stock market (with the help of Rich Dad, Poor Dad coaching programme) and helping Bin's Mum maintain her house and garden!
Pat's brother Bernie and his wife Jocelyn from Edmonton, Canada have stayed with us for 2 weeks and we think they now know why we live in paradise ..oops Cairns! HU members John and Allana Skillington also stayed for a few days of eat, meet and greet!
We are now 5 weeks away from departing Cairns again (2 June) ...destination ... Edmonton, Canada.
Our butts are taking a break from motorbike riding and we will spend the next 9 months travelling in a motorhome.
We plan to go from Edmonton, Canada to Alaska and then down to Boulder, Colorado to catch up with Chris and Erin Ratay and then head further south, maybe into Mexico.
We have bought a 30 foot Winnebago in partnership with our Canadian friends John and Jerry Burden.
Our plan is to use it every second Canadian summer.
If anyone is heading for Canada or USA soon, we would love to catch up!
All travellers know that this awesome life is not possible without a hardworking back up team! Thanks heaps to Bin's brother Paul for looking after our rental properties and tenants and a BIG thank you to Bins Mum, Jill, for checking our mail and a MILLION other jobs! What would we do without you!
Look out Canada.. Cyclone Peck is heading your way!
Super Tenere XTZ750 COMPLETELY set up for touring for sale in South Africa
This is a great opportunity for someone who doesn't want to ship their bike into Africa.
For the price of shipping from almost anywhere, you can buy this bike already set up.
She is a 1996 maroon Super Tenere. We have done tonnes of modifications and really looked after her.
She has an Ohlins shock, super strong and reinforced GIVI racks, Bagster tank protection, very comfortable modified gel seat with Australian sheep skin cover, custom made tool box under engine, with all the tools you will ever need!
The mileage is just over 100,000 and we have maintained and serviced her regularly. We don't take her on bad dirt roads.
We will sell Miss Adventure II for US$5,000 and will contemplate selling everything else, ie 3 GIVI boxes, helmets, jackets, pants, gloves, everything needed to do a trip for not much extra.
Belinda is size small and Pat is size large.
Check out lots of photos on www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/peck
We are currently driving around Capetown if you want to see the bike.
We will be leaving Capetown and finished with the bike approx 20 Feb 2011. If we don't sell her we will probably store her with HU member Johan Naude, on his wine farm in Worcester, 120 km from Capetown.
Call on 0727 099 042 (South Africa +27) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The bike has been maintained well and given us NO PROBLEMS.
The bike does not use any oil between its 8,000km services.
She is ready to keep going another 100,000km.
The cost to ship her back to Australia prevents us from shipping her home, as much as we would love to keep her.
Let us know if you are keen! We are running out of time and we have to sell her!
Check out our daughter Kates blog of our trip: www.charitysafari.com
MODIFICATIONS and recent upgrades All INCLUDED in the price:
(US$ cost to replace!)
Ohlins Shock absorber US$1,100
Very comfy custom made touring gel seat with Australian sheep skin cover $500
Scottoiler automatic chain oiler and tube reservoir $300
K and N air filters with pre filters $150
Engine protection bars $285
Plastic protection coating on tank and panels $200
Extended fuel tank 30+ litres
Side stand pad $50
New brake pads (15 Dec 2010) $150
New battery (22 Dec 2010) $85
New X-ring chain and sprockets (10 Jan 2011) $200
Aftermarket handle bars with comfortable foam grips $150
Headlight protectors $30
Heavy duty regulator
2 wrist rests $30
bike cover $60
12 volt adaptor $50
Heavy duty luggage rack and frame strengthener $600
3 GIVI connection plates $400
Barkbuster hand guard and lever protection $250
Bagster tank cover and tank bag $400
aluminium tool box attached to bike and extensive tool kit $250
bicycle speedo $50
Modifications only TOTAL=US$5,290 (36,100Rand) Bike is therefore free!
EXTRAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:
2 X SHOEI syncrotech flip face helmets size XS and XL US$150 each (R1050) US$600 NEW and VERY hard to find here
2 X Summer motorcycle jackets L US $50 (R350) and XL, newer US$100 (R700)
2 X BMW Rallye 2 motorcycle pants S and L US$200 each ($600 new) (R1400)
1 X brand new one piece rainsuit US$80 (R500)
Assortment of gloves
2X trekking boots, good quality small and medium size
New battery (22 Dec 2010) suit Super tenere or similar!
Brand new clutch cable and carburetor cable for XTZ750 -- SOLD
XTZ750 starter motor --SOLD
1X spare front sprocket and a few other spares for XTZ750
Wow, how do we sum up the last 3.5 months in a readable form!? When we last wrote we were leaving Switzerland and following the Alps along the Austrian, Italian, Slovenian border...AWESOME Alpine riding..the best in the world! We also followed the Croatian coast road to Dubrovnik to avoid a huge storm!!! Slowly we cruised back to Romania to deliver our 50% share of Miss Adventure III (the super tenere) to Csilla and Oli. They were anxious parents, not for our return, but for the arrival of their second boy, Erik, who was born a few weeks after we left Romania! Well done Csilla and Oli too!
Next leg of the journey, we flew to Johannesburg to travel with our son, Johnathan for 7 weeks and then daughter, Kate for 7 weeks on a KLR650 that we bought for them when we were in South Africa last! The KLR and our Super tenere (Miss Adventure II) were both stored in Potchefstroom, near Joberg with our wonderful friend Dries Van Schalkwyk while we were in Europe for South Africas winter. Thanks heaps Dries and Jimmy for all your help and support.
We had a wonderful time travelling with Johnathan in amazing Lesotho, Swaziland and along the Garden route up to the Hell, Baviaans and most of the South African passes, putting on 8,500km on the bike!! He is such a great guy and a pleasure to travel with...so positive and happy and easygoing. The kids had a great week together, so we had 2 bikes 2 up which was a hoot and they went cage shark diving, did winery tours, rode the bike around the Cape of Good Hope and checked out our beloved Capetown. Johnathan then handed the keys over to Kate to ride the KLR on her own! She is so confident and willing to learn and will try anything...also a pleasure to have around! How are we so lucky to be blessed with such wonderful travel companions and friends in our kids!
We are now in Namibia with Kate..its too hot here around 45 deg C, so we will head back down to Capetown where we are housesitting a Wilddog bikers home from 20 Dec to 9 Jan. Kate is raising money for YGAP, (Y Generation Against Poverty) check out her website that she is updating regularly...more than us...of her trip and lots of photos: www.charitysafari.com Feel free to donate to feed a poor family for Xmas if you can on her site! Kate leaves end Jan and we will sell the KLR650 2007 with just over 15,000km on her for around US$5,000 if you know of anyone!! wink wink!
While Im doing a sales spiel...we have decided to sell our beloved Miss Adventure II Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ750 1996 fully set up for travelling. We will be finished with her end Feb 2011 and will sell her for US$5,000. Bargain! Enough selling..cant help myself...we have thoroughly enjoyed Africa and seen what we want to see, hence the sale.
We hope YOU have a great Xmas and are REALLY looking forward to coming home to Cairns 27 Feb 2011. Yeahoo!
So here we are having fun in South Africa! Very busy, story coming, first photos!
Peck Family travelling together!
The Pecks travel with the Ratays!
The Baviaans Boys, Dries, Jimmy, Pat, Johnathan, Neville and the rest of the crew!
When we wrote last we were just leaving the arms of Csilla and Oli (H/U members in Romania) and taking off for 5 months on a tour of Europe on our half share Super Tenere, fondly named Miss Adventure III. It is now 8,000km later and we have had many wonderful experiences and made many friends for life.
We followed the Danube River, which was in flood, so a bit tricky in places, from Romania, Serbia, Hungary and into Austria. We had fantastic weather until we arrived in Vienna and the bad weather set in for a few days! That was OK as we were tucked up nice and dry at HU memebers near Vienna, Hanka and Eriks little love shack with their 2 year old son, Mika. We did many rides around their house and went into Vienna many times to check out some of the fantastic museums.
We love Austria and Austrians and then slowly headed west towards Switzerland. From past experience we knew Switzerland was stunning and VERY expensive. Through www.housecarers.com we arranged to look after a house, cat and garden near Murten for 3 wonderful weeks. Franziska and Romano Hunger are the owners of this gorgeous home and became dear friends. Everyday we would either ride their bicycles or our motorbike and discover the area. We really like this way of travelling, it takes away the stress of looking for a place to sleep every night and you can get to know an area and the people better...we will do more of this housecaring. During our 3 wonderful weeks in Murten we met many Horizons members and shared many meals and many miles with them.
We shared a few meals and miles with Patrick and Nathalie (H/U members) from La Tour-de-Peilz, on Lake Geneva. They mentioned that they were going on holidays for 10 days, would we like to stay at their place and water the plants! So off we went to our next near new house with lake views! Lucky hey!
We then visited an amazing guy called Ben Ischer (H/U Member) who lives in the mountains in a lovely village called Frutigen, which is close to a very popular town called Zermatt. Ben had just returned from 3 months working in India and enthralled us with stories of his amazing life and upbringing in all sorts of developing countries. Such an amazing spirit and only 30 years old..it was a real pleasure to meet him and his friends and great Mum.
Next, we moved to Marcel and Flavia Wolfs home near Lucern. They spent 3.5 years riding their motorbike around the world and we have many friends in common. We spent a wonderful week with them, went on some amazing rides and had some great parties, we even had our good friend from Cairns- Anna Marie Minchau and Walter Frey over for dinner one night! Such a busy couple, yet so loving, warm and inviting to 2 fellow bikers!
We are now in Lenzburg with Claudio Angelini and Sabine Salm in their family farm house. Claudio also travelled around the world for 2.5 years and is now working for Moto Mader, the largest BMW and Yamaha dealership in Switzerland.
Next, we are off to meet Dieter Zerndt in St. Gallen for the weekend and then we will have to leave our beloved Switzerland after 6 wonderful weeks. We LOVE YOU Switzerland and will return again one day!
While travelling in South America and the Middle East we hardly saw any other bikers, but in Switzerland on a sunny day there are thousands of bikes out, so many that our wrists get sore from constant waving..Pat wants to get a plastic hand on a spring!!
Miss Adventure III has done her job admirably and now its time to give her some attention, so we are going to Kerstin and Volker (H/U Members) near Stuttgart, Germany to give her new tyres, a service and check the shimms.
Our route back to Romania over September will depend on the weather. We are hoping to cross the Alps again early September and spend some time in Northern Italy, slowly making our way east to Romania early October. We will then fly back to Johannesburg October 8 and cruise around Southern Africa area til March 2011, when we return to the Davis Clan in Cairns, Australia. Cant wait...bring it on!
Every day is a pleasure and a joy, with so much freedom and beauty surrounding us. We absolutely love this life and wouldnt change a thing. We are very lucky that we both love the same things and are both very sociable people...we love meeting new people..chatting to complete strangers and finding out about different cultures and, if we can, helping people to make their dreams happen too.
Super Tenere XT1200Z personal ride review June 23 2010 Vienna, Austria by Patrick Peck
My view of the bike is derived from my years of riding the XTZ 750 since 1990 continually to today over 250,000kms with seven personally owned Super Tenere's. With a 15 year gap between models I have plenty of time to make up my wish list and the new Super Tenere has most of them.
It appears that Yamaha is being very subtle with their marketing as this was claimed by our salesman as the only XT1200Z demo available in all of Austria and it was first released in Istanbul mid Feb 2010. It will not actually be available for sale till mid July.
The bike looks much heavier than it feels at speed and stationary. The salesman went into panic mode when I dropped the bike down as low as I could get it without actually touching the carpark asphalt. It came up faster and easier than I expected. Apparently the sidemounted radiator has allowed the motor to be positioned a few centimeters forward which will give better balabnce to the bike with a pillion and luggage.
Many of my questions to the salesman were unanswered as he didn't speak English and he really seemed unaware. He said that there was a catalytic converter, but it must be hidden in the muffler. If so, leaded fuel countries would be off the list to travel.
With 72kms on the speedo we headed out 2 up, into rush hour traffic of Vienna. Seating was the most comfortable of any bike we have ridden with plenty of room for both me and my wife. The adjustable seat was at its lowest and my feet were planted firmly on the road and my knees were not extended. My height is 183cm.
It wasn't long before the fan came on to cool the engine down, but the heat light had not come on and there was no temp gauge, so I couldn't judge how hot the motor really was.
The minimum walking speed without using the clutch is important for tough terrain and traffic congestion. 20kms/hr indicated was as slow as possible without clutching where the XTZ750 is 12kms/hr.
Finally, heading out towards the open road the bike cornered onto the freeway as confidently any road bike I have ridden and accelerated as you would expect quite exhilarating from 110 horsepower, the XTZ750 has 69 hp. In fact, it had great acceleration at any speed up to our top at 168kph and would have a lot more speed up its sleeve. Redline was 7800rpm and showed 4500rpm at 145kph. Our GPS showed a 9kph over error. Vibration was as low as you will find on any big twin and the bike felt ultra stable including the 3 kms of dirt road that we found which was surprising considering it was fitted with full on road tires.
Gears were very smooth shifting both up and down. Wind seemed to catch only the top of my helmet at all speeds and if it is of concern, there is a larger windscreen available. Braking was very strong but never really put the ABS to use for fear of being overridden by some big Merc. By the end we had 165kms on the clock and the fuel warning light was flashing!!
In the parking lot I measured the ground clearance to the centre of the bashplate while on the sidestand: 23cm where the published stats are only 20.5cm. I spotted a BMW F800GS in the parking lot that measured 25.5cm and my 1994 XTZ750 measured 30cm with the standard rear shock. Front forks were upsidedown, very substantial and adjustable. Rear shock had an easily adjustment, Hard - Soft. Lightweight faring protectors were mounted midway up the faring but it is hard to judge how effective they will be.
The engine has a Dry Sump Oil System that will not allow all of your oil to drop on the road should you knock a hole in the sump from a rock or other hard object.
My wishlist from the old XTZ that are on the new bike:
Good riding lights
12 volt adaptor
Traction control (hadn't really thought of that one)
Adjustable front and rear shocks
Easy access oil filter
Lightweight luggage racks
Stainlees steel exhaust pipes
Very comfortable rider and pillion seats
More horsepower (110hp may be excessive for my style of riding)
Stability at high speed
Six speed gearbox
Heavy duty bashplate
Twin spark ignition system for fuel efficiency
Smaller fuel tank
19 inch front wheel
No easy access for airfilters
Low ground clearance
Lefthand faring seemed loosely attatched
High price tag at 14,750 euros
Shortcomings are few in number and can all be changed with time.
It would be nice if they would release an Adventure model as BMW has done with its 1200GS
From what I have read on the Super Tenere club forums around the world, members would like a smaller version with the TDM 900 bulletproof engine, brakes and lights. Original 26 liter fuel tank of XTZ750 and suspension of the WR450. By using components already in production the retail price could be a lot lower and Yamaha profit could be higher without the risk of experimentation that comes with a totally newly invented bike. Are you listening YAMAHA??!!
Would I buy the new Super Tenere? Yes, but it would live a much more subdued life than my XTZ750 have lived. I have been a passionate Super Tenere owner for the past 20 years because the bike has been strong enough to carry me, my wife and 12 months luggage without mishap or brake down and Yamaha has service outlets in even the most "out of the way places". As long as you carry a parts list to present to the dealer, you can get that much needed part anywhere in the world!
My wife says I am obsessive about Super Teneres, at the moment we own four XTZ750's placed in as many cities around the world, so perhaps I am!!
This is a list of our luggage- we need ALL of this, we dont leave any out or bring any extra, as there simply will not be any room.
Some of this you will not have, so you will need to buy it from a good outdoor, camping shop. Good stuff is expensive, but will last you a VERY long time and you can use it for lots of other outdoor pursuits.
This is a list of our luggage PER PERSON as requested by others!
Our motto is wash one set, wear the other, anything else is too much!
2 pair undies!
2 pair socks, one thin, one thicker
1 pair hiking sandles
1 pair hiking boots
1 pair riding gloves
1 riding jacket (summer)
1 pair riding pants or long pants and knee protectors
1 thin rain jacket
1 fibrepile warm and windproof jacket (quick drying and compact)
1 long sleeve shirt or long sleeved thermal underwear (quick drying)
1 pair zip off long pants (quick drying)
1 singlet for really hot weather
2 pairs quick drying tshirts
1 pair swimmers
1 pair swimming goggles
1 pair running shorts (quick drying and compact)
1 pair sunglasses
1 small compact sun hat
International drivers licence from RACV (very important)
photocopy of eticket from travel agent
photocopy of passport and all other important documents,
plus leave a copy at home
toiletries, all in bottles less than 100ml for the flight
Injections for the country going to
Bring injections book from Dr, plus leave a photocopy of this at home
mobile phone and charger
All of this should fit into a stuff sack in a day pack, with the bike gear in a larger back pack or soft bag, no suitcase!!
Introducing Miss Adventure III that usually resides in Romania! note the flooded Danube River in Hungary in the background.
Brand new Super tenere XT1200Z we took for a test ride in Vienna.
Hanka and Erica riding Miss Adventure III at their place close to Vienna.
Pat on an ATV in Groote Island, Australia
Pat and Murray on hired bikes in the Philipines.
Pat on Miss Adventure II in Oman
Belinda sitting on a rock, instead of a bike in Ethiopia with Gelada Baboons and amazing scenery.
Belinda and some Swiss bikers we met in Ethiopia.
Pat helping a Zambian local get his bike down a steep hill!
Us at the latest BMW at a launch in Windhoek, Namibia
ATVs again in the Namibian desert.
Pat and Johan and Dries in South Africa..playing in the dirt!
We have thousands of photos of us and others on bikes...this will give you enough of an idea!
Quick update! We are now in Romania with our wonderful friends Csilla and Oli and little Dominik (2 years old) Schul. We have bought 50% share in their Super Tenere and Pat is now putting on a Scottoiler and converting her to Miss Adventure III. We now have a Super Tenere in 3 continents in the world- we are getting close to Pats goal!!
We left our beloved Miss Adventure II tucked up nicely for South Africas winter with our great friends Dries and Erica Van Schalkwyk in Potchefstroom, near Joberg, South Africa.
Next step we spent 2 wonderful days in Rome with Bins Mum and Aunty Pam, then a fantastic time with David and Ruth in Holland. Next, was the most magnificent experience in our lives so far!! We did a 15 day river boat cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest with APT tours with Dad and Maz to celebrate Dads 70th birthday. The boat had 145 Australians and New Zealanders on board, average age about 70 years old!! We partied on day and night and 15 days later were absolutely exhausted! I hope we have as much energy as some of those 85 year olds had when we are that old! Pat wasnt so keen on this idea, but loved every minute of it and said if this is as good as Heaven is, then he can hardly wait! Cruising on a luxury riverboat along the Rhine and Danube Rivers, eating 3 times a day the food and drinks of the countries we were passing through, it doesnt get much better than that! It was wonderful travelling with energetic, entertaining Aussies and we just love the Aussie sence of humour! We stopped at many villages and did walking and bus tours around as well. Everything was organized, we didnt have to make any decisions, we didnt have to pack and unpack everyday, it was pure heaven and a real break from roughing it in the last 6 months in Africa!
Csilla and Oli picked us up off the ship in Budapest and hand delivered us to Romania! Amazing friends, hey! Next leg is by motorbike again from Romania to Switzerland following as many rivers and mountain ranges as we can find! Mid July- mid Aug we will spend in Switzerland, then drive the motorbike back to Romania (via Denmark maybe) end September.
October 8 we will be back in Joberg, South Africa with our son, Johnathan (22 years old) riding behind us on a KLR650. Six weeks later our daughter, Kate, 23, will join us in Capetown, South Africa for her turn to ride the bike behind us!! As usual, bring it on!
Peck's going troppo on Zanzibar spice tour!
Loading up Miss Adventure II on ship from Oman to Zanzibar!
Wonderful Ethiopians, such poverty, yet so warm and happy!
Pat and Miss Adventure II in Capetown HU members Johan and Nicki Naude's wonderful driveway.
We have made it to South Africa, home of the friendliest people in the world!
On our way south from Windhoek we visited Fish River Canyon, one of the largest canyons in the world. On the way in we met a group of bikers, all South African fathers and farmers all out for a long weekend ride. We stayed at the same campsite as them on the Orange River and had a great time with them. They all invited us to visit their farms and families all over South Africa! We are now in the process of doing that! One of them has offered to store our bike for 6 months, just out of Johannesburg. Fantastic!
We have visited people on winery farms, Ostrich farms and in the cities! Pat turned the big 60 in the last few weeks and we celebrated that in style at H/U members, Johan and Nicky Naudes wine farm outside of Capetown. We danced to music videos in front of an open fire and drank South African Chardonnay and ate Bins Red Thai chicken and vegie curry with noodles.
We have slowly worked our way along the coast and in the winegrowing region around Capetown..stunning! Capetown has got to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world..gorgeous setting and the weather was fantastic while we were there.
We revisited Jeffreys Bay, one of the best surfing breaks in the world and stayed at www.africanperfection.co.za with our room having the best view of Supertubes available! Yes, it was expensive, but worth it. There were hundreds of dolphins surfing the waves, as well as some of South Africas best surfers! We couldnt watch them enough!
We are now in Port Elizabeth, staying with HU members,Terry and Dorrienne Bakers lovely home with Bins turkish lentil soup cooking now for dinner!
From here we will travel up the coast via Durban and the Drakensberg Mountains towards Dries's place near Johanesburg to store Miss Adventure II again, while we go to Europe for 6 months of summer! Then back to Africa in October when our children Kate and Johnathan will join us and travel on a motorbike behind us! This will fullfill a lifelong dream of ours!
We have had an absolutely superb time in Africa, though its cost us a lot more than we thought! There are 2 ways to travel here...camp for next to nothing or stay in beautiful lodges and pay a fortune! Luckily it was always low season, so we could negotiate with the lodges. B&Bs in South Africa are very nice, plentiful and about US$50 per night..great value!
As usual we cant wait for the next step and see all our great friends. We have a saying that "the world is full of friends we havent met yet!" Bring it on!
Sorry this has taken so long, we have been busy dodging storms in Central Africa! When we last posted we were on our way back to Zanzibar to pick up Miss Adventure II from the ship from Oman. We went directly to the shipping agent in Zanzibar and he didnt know anything about our motorbike coming from Oman and it wasnt on the ship that had just arrived!! The agent, Leo Colaca was still not answering his phone or email! After 4 DAYS of pushing we finally found out it was still in Oman and would not get there for ANOTHER 30 DAYS!! We were forced to relax in Zanzibar! It was wonderful, we read, we beachcombed, we swam, we met the locals and other travellers staying at the glorious Echo Beach Hotel. Two days before the bike was due to aarive in Zanzibar we get a message that they cannot release our bike till the agent, Leo Colaca releases the money that we paid him and no-one can find him!? We wrote to everyone we met in Salalah and Tim Seed, who is a HU member in Muscat and high up in security there, to help us. Tim got to work for us straight away and it turned out thet Leo Colaca was an illegal immigrant in the country and had dissapeared to India with our money! Great! Tim found out he was due back in the country in 9 days time and told his company that he would not be allowed back until he paid this money..miraculously the money appeared the next day and we picked up Miss Adventure off the ship the day after! How can we ever thank Tim enough? Its amazing the contacts you can make in the HU community!
We were on the next passenger boat to Dar es Salaam with our beloved bike! We met Peter Stanley and Steve Luker, the HU members in Dar and had a ball staying at the Sea Cliff Hotel at a drastically reduced rate as the GM, Kevin was a biker! Its amazing the windows that open because we are friendly bikers and not hairy bikers!!
Once the weather cleared we headed off to Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, then along Malawis wonderful lake, through the southern part of Zambia, into Botswana and Chobe National Park then into Namibia via the Caprivi strip. We have stayed in some wonderful lodges, met some fantastic people and seen hundreds of hippos! The benefit of travelling low season is we can stay at very upmarket places for great prices..we could get used to this level of luxury!! hehe
We then hired a car for 3 days to tour Etosha National Park, as they dont let motorbikes into the parks. It is wet season, the grass is tall and we didnt see many animals, which was a bit dissapointing.
Next we were hosted by HU members Martin and Sarah Cowin on their farm outside of Windhoek for a few days and have now been passed onto their friends Christo and Leentjie Brisley in Windhoek central!! While they are at work, we write this and cook them dinner!
Our plan from here is to drive to Capetown, then along the Garden Route, via a few wineries to Joberg, South Africa where we hope to store the bike for about 6 months starting early May 2010. Remember our promise never to ship her again? She will become an African Super Tenere from now on. We will then fly up to Europe for summer from 11 May til it gets too cold, then back to Joberg, South Africa 8 October 2010. Our plan is to meet Bins Mum, Jill and Aunty Pam in Rome 12 May and then fly to Amsterdam 15 May to 23 May, then Canal Boat Cruise with Bins Dad, Owen and Maz from Amsterdam to Budapest, arriving Budapest 6 June. We then visit all our Romanian friends for a week or 2, then head towards Faoug, Avenches, Switzerland (on Oli's Super tenere that we will rent from him) from 15 July to 6 August housesitting which we found on www.housecarers.com. We would love to stay in that area over August if anyone knows of a place we can housesit in Switzerland or nearby, let us know!
Eighth October we will come back to Joberg, South Africa to travel by bike with our kids: Kate and Johnathan for awhile and then back to Cairns to work around April 2011.
Thats about us for now, the bikes running very smoothly apart from our 3rd flat tyre the other day in over 180,000km!
We love this life of visiting people and sharing cheer and our motto- "find your passion and make it happen!"
South African mobile is +27 727 099042 til 11 May 2010
Salem from Ethiopia! When we travel we dont do too much research, so when we arrive in a new country we have no expectations and are always amazed with what we see. When we thought of Ethiopia we thought of poverty and starvation. This is certainly true, but the Ethiopians are a very proud, well dressed race (those that can afford to be), extremely friendly and the country is a very safe travel destination. A lot of the village kids were so poor they had tatters of clothes or no clothes at all, whereas the business people in Addis were very fashion conscious! We found very little litter in the streets as the people are so poor in the country side that they cannot afford to buy packaged products. People were begging just to have our empty water bottles that they can reuse for many functions! The farming techniques were so ancient that farmers harvested with a hand sickle and separeted the wheat from the chaff by trampling the wheat with their Oxen.
We chose not to bring the bike here as we felt Yemen was not safe to travel through now and were not keen on doing the Moyale Rd (the worst road in the world linking Ethiopia with Kenya) We have not regreted that decision for one minute! Internal flights in the country are cheap and save hours of driving on dusty bad roads in public buses that have the worst fatality rate in Africa!
We arrived in Addis (the capital) and flew to Bahir Dar to start the northern loop. This was an hour flight for $47 each compared to a 14 hour dusty bus ride... a no brainer! At Bahir Dar we did a boat tour of Lake Tana and the monasteries on the islands. Having lunch at a lakeside hotel we met Ruth, who was to be our travel companion for the next week! Ruth had spent 2 days negotiating a driver and car, so we just split the cost with her and came along for the ride!
With our private car and driver the 3 of us set of for Lalibela- "an ancient world including 11 magnificent, medieval rock hewn churches- a world heritage site and one of the greatest religious historical sites in the world" Wow, these churches are not carved into the rock, but freed entirely from it ...unlike our favourite place, Petra in Jordan. We thought we had seen enough churches, but these were truly mind blowing in an amazing setting and over 1000 years old!...you gotta go to Lalibela. We had a gorgeous, kind guide called Yosef! Belinda cried when we said goodbye as he was so sweet.
Most Ethiopians that we had come across as tourists were only interested in our money due to our skin colour...Yosef was not!
We then roared off to Mekele, with Pat taking photos all the way of the amazingly picturesque, but very poor villages and the people. We then took 3 days to get to Aksum, stopping off overnight at tiny villages and looking at amazing rock churches and monasteries and eating the local food. Injera is the local "bread" that is put on the plate and then the stew and vegies are put on the injera. You break off a piece of injera with your right hand only and pick up the stew or vegies and put it in your mouth! No need for cutlery! Belinda loved it, Pat didnt!! hehe
At Aksum we lost Ruth and didnt get a chance to say goodbye, so if you are reading this Ruth, thanks for a good time! We then picked up Leo, our next travel companion for the next week! We negotiated hard for a mini bus to take us to the Simien Mountains. We knew from Caleb, our neighbour, that this was a highlight area and we were not dissapointed. We stayed at the grossly overpriced (for Ethiopia) Simien Lodge, for Christmas and sat with a few families of over 300 Gelada Baboons for the day. It was amazing to be a natural part of their family. They were not scared of us and we were not scared of them as they are vegetarians! It was a real "Gorillas in the Mist" experience! The scenery was spectacular, making it was a very special Xmas Day. We couldnt be with our families, but felt a part of the Baboon families watching them eating, grooming eat other, playing, fighting and even having sex!
Next stop was Gondor with the amazing 17th century African stone castles and palaces. We stayed at the Goha Hotel which was a lovely treat with hilltop views after weeks of staying in very basic hotels. From Gondor we flew back to Addis, thus completing the northern loop.
We wanted a contrast and flew to Jimma in the south of Ethiopia, which we thought was the base for the Omo Valley and the amazingly dressed tribes with the topless women and the cradle of mankind! We got the wrong town, should have been Jinka!! Jimma was a dusty town, full of stagnant water and mosquitos everywhere! With Pat just getting over Dengue Fever, we didnt want to risk getting malaria, so couldnt get out of there quick enough!
Back to Addis, staying at the Jupiter Hotel again, it feels like home and the staff here are all so friendly! We went to the Ethnological Museum to learn about the Omo Valley tribes that we didnt see! At the National Museum we saw the 3.2 million year old fosslised bones of Lucy. She was tiny with a tiny brain, but walking upright..an amazing link between chimpanzees and humans as we know them today..very thought provoking! Lunch at the amazing Sheraton Hotel with great Christmas decorations and New Years Eve at Jupiter Hotel listening to a live jazz band and realizing how lucky we are to be living our dreams.
Next step, tomorow we are off to Zanzibar to pick up Miss Adventure II from her ocean voyage from Oman and then continue towards Capetown in May.
Have a great 2010 and we hope all your dreams come true too! If anyone is in the south of Africa in the next 5 months, we would love to know!
We thank our Dubai hosts Katharine and Shawn McWeeny who invited us to stay in their high rise unit overlooking the famous reclaimed Palm Island and magnificent beaches below them. They escorted us to the nicest and biggest Mosque we have seen yet as well as to incredibly huge shopping centres, but alas we could only look as our panniers were full to exploding. Our other hosts were Dave and Lynne Mollenhauer who graciously stored our precious Miss Adventure II til we returned from Australia and a big thank you to HU member Dave Midwater who also stored our bike for awhile.
Leaving the glits and glitter of Dubai, we crossed the Oman border to enter the Musandam Peninsula to ride the windy coastal roads and overnight in the town of Khasab. The road was fantastic and the next day we did a boat tour of the area and had a very close encounter with a family of dolphins riding our bow-wave for at least 10 minutes! A great start for our journey!
Dibba was next where we stayed at the newly opened Golden Tulip Beachfront Hotel for US$100, then Sohar and on to the magestic capital of Oman, Muscat (Marina Hotel) We loved wandering around the old town and looking at all the forts and palaces and celebrated Eid in Muscat (similar to Christmas in Muslim religion)
We then headed south towards Sur, Masirah Island and finally to our piece of paradise Salalah 1000km south of Muscat. Where we could we followed coastal roads and went along the new coastal road bordering Wahiba sands and the coast. Just outside of Salalah are the ruins of Khor Rouri, in a very picturesque setting is the 3000 year old port for frankincense trade controlled by the Queen of Sheba!
We have spent the last 3 weeks in Oman from the north to the south and the road systems are improving rapidly throughout the whole country.
The people are really friendly and we have felt really safe the whole way. We have decided not to go through Yemen because of recent terrorist activities. We have arranged to get our bike to Muscat by truck and then by ship to Zanzibar. It will take 2 weeks and we will fly to Ethiopia in the meantime. We met Yousaf Al-Mahrougi who runs a tour company called Sumahram Falcon out of the Crown Plaza Hotel in Salalah. He has so many contacts and made us feel very comfortable in making the decision to send the bike off without us!! He even intorduced us to Edward Chaaya , the General Manager of the Crown Plaza Hotel who gave us a 50% discount on the room price. Yousefs number is +968 95774166. He is a great contact and knows everyone and is really honest and generous. Leo Colaca was the shipping agent, who tried to dissapear with our money for the shipping! Never pay in advance! The total cost to ship the bike came to US$1218. It would have been US$195 cheaper if we had sent it from Muscat. Our bike was over a month late getting to Zanzibar, with no correspondence from the agent, Leo Colaca at all. We would not recommend anyone to ship their bikes out of Salalah with Leo Colaca. He is a very dishonest man and tried to take our money and run back to India with it. It was only that we had Tim Seed, the HU member in Muscat as a contact, who is high up in the security force, that we could get the money out of him...very stressful and we would hate to put anyone else through that. If we did it again we would ride back to Muscat or Dubai and deal direct with the shipping company.
We have stayed 6 nights now at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Salalah www.cpsalalah.com We dont normally stay at such fancy hotels, but we have definately been spoilt here. Some day soon we will have to leave and fly to Ethiopia to see how the other half live....
For photos check out facebook as our photos are too big to download onto this site.
We are finally in Dubai, where we left off last time! We will pick up Miss Adventure II and head south down through Oman, Yemen, into Ethiopia and south to South Africa. In May we will fly up to Amsterdam to meet Bins Dad to celebrate his 70th birthday in style doing a canal boat cruise to Budapest for 14 days, then...who knows!? Maybe, do another cruise around Europe by boat or bike!
Pat picked up dengue fever while sailing on our friends yacht in the Phillipines last week and is now recuperating and building his strength back up for the next leg of our adventure.
We hope to update this blog about once a month and do regular facebook updates as well with lots of photos. Our facebook name is Belinda Patrick Peck. Join up as our friends if you havent already. Only friends can view our photos.
Hang onto your computer keyboard and come for a ride with us! By the way, Pat turns 60 this year and we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary as well, somewhere in Africa doing what we love doing! Feel free to pop in and see us anywhere, anytime...catch us if you can! hehe
Its time for the Peck camp to hit the road again after 10 months of working hard in Cairns, Australia and saving madly for the next trip!
Africa has been calling Pat for sometime now, so hang onto your seats and off we go!
We leave Cairns 9 October 2009, visit RobnRuth on Groote Island for a few days, then to Darwin to visit SandranJohn for a few days, then Singapore, Malaysia, KL and then arrive in Dubai 12 November. We will pick up Miss Adventure II and head towards Oman, Yemen, Ethiopia, Kenya etc south and then over to Namibia. From Namibia we will fly the bike (and us!) to Germany and look at buying a canal boat to be our home for the European summer!! So come and join us on some canal somewhere next European summer!
This is a cheats way of saying Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all our fans and airconditioners!
We are now back in Cairns, Australia and back at work :)
Our son, Johnathan, nearly 21, has just bought a 2007 KLE500 (its like a small Super Tenere, which is our bike of choice for those that dont know about motorbikes!) He is now driving 3,500km solo trip from the top of Australia to the bottom. He spent 6 weeks with us in Cairns choosing this bike and then getting the bike and his riding skills up to the challenge.
Our daughter Kate, 22, has just returned from a stint in New York modelling and has many contacts now and had a blast! You just go girl!
Belindas brother, Paul and his family Jacqueline, Daniel 8 and Hannah 3.5 are preparing to depart Cairns soon for a surf trip down towards the Gold Coast in Australia.
As for our news, its bum up and head down for the next 10 months. Our Canadian nephew Gregory Peck is coming to Cairns to learn about real estate in January and bringing his Dad, Pats brother Bernie with him for awhile.
Our Mothers and Bins Father continue to enjoy great health.
We hope you all have a great Xmas and are surrounded by those that you love. Remember, Youve only got one life, so go out there and love it!
Introducing you to "The Peck Flag", that we hoist everyday in our hotel rooms to let everyone know we have arrived!
Meeting up with the locals in Iran.
HU member David Mildwater in Abu Dhabi kindly storing our bike for a year.
Immam Mosque in Esfahan, Iran, one of the most beautiful Mosques in the world.
A 1,500 year old deserted mud brick village in Iran.
Salam from the Middle East!
Last time we wrote we were in Greece. We spent a wonderful week riding around the Greek Island of Lesvos Island, a lesbian pilgrimage island, with wonderful scenic rides.
Next appointment was with our Turkish friend Baha in his summer holiday apartment! Its amazing the people we have met this trip! We travelled with Baha along the west coast of Turkey for a week and then we drove back along the Black sea coast of Turkey to Trabzon to pick up our Iranian visas from the Iran embassy there. Very easy, US$50 each but it took them 3 weeks to approve us!
Iran....wonderful Iran....how do we tell you about our fantastic time there?
Firstly, its law that women are covered up in public from head to toe. In 40deg heat, its a chore, but its a jailable offence, just like dancing in public or showing affection in public!
Ramadan, a Muslim tradition of not eating or drinking during daylight hours in public for a month was half way through when we entered Iran, so food was very scarce.
The people of Iran have to be the friendliest in the world and we felt very safe, in fact we felt like movie stars and everyone made such a fuss over us to make sure we were happy and everything was OK. One day we had a homeless kid offering us some of his meager rice as a friendship gesture. When we would arrive in a town the "flies"- young guys on motorbikes would drive really close to us to talk to us and touch us and show off doing wheelies in front of us. They would then escort us to the Hotel we were looking for...not bad service and they didn't do it for money...which was refreshing.
Following a group of older Iranian women is like being behind a flock of penguins, all in black.
The food was very boring on the whole... kebabs and rice or kebabs and rice...for 30 days, twice a day....uurrgghhh so dry!
Highlights were Esfahan..the jewel of ancient Persia and one of the finest cities in the Islamic world. Imam square and Imam Mosque are to be seen to be believed, one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
Yazd in the desert is the best old and still inhabited city in the country and one of the oldest towns on Earth according to UNESCO. Buildings there are made from mud brick plastered with more mud and mixed with straw- no problem as it hardly ever rains in the desert. We stayed at the famous travellers meeting place: Silk Road Hotel for 5 nights and had to drag ourselves away. There were lots of other cyclists and a Turkish biker there and lots of other travellers to share tales with!
Fuel for locals was .10c/litre for locals, but tourists have to pay .40c/litre for leaded and .55c/litre for unleaded if you can find it. We were told that the average income in Iran is US$4000/YEAR, which is half of the average wage in Turkey.
Crossing from Iran to UAE was a long and expensive process. When the boat arrived at 4pm customs was closed, so the bike had to stay and we had to go- we hate leaving her alone! Next morning Pat returned to pick up the bike, 4 hours and US$230 later, we were on our way again, one of the worst and most frustrating border crossings ever!
We then went to Abu Dhabi where HU member David and Rita Mildwater kindly offered to store our bike and gear for a year. We also caught up with Dave, Lynne and Harri Mollenhauer, friends from Cairns now living in Dubai. Oman for a few days was our next destination, then Hong Kong to see Murray and Lieve Frame for a few days and go sailing on their new yacht, then home to Cairns tomorrow, Nov 2, 2008.
What a year it has been! Full of fantastic memories, we met amazing people and survived the dreaded Middle East. Not for one moment did we feel unsafe, except a few close calls driving in Iran and Turkey,where there are not many road rules except avoidance driving and "fill that gap"! As usual people are what made the trip. Travelling to us is not about ticking off places seen, but magic moments shared with new and old friends. Saying that we have now been to 76 countries over the last 5 year long trips!
See ya tomorrow morning Cairns! Cant wait.
When we left Oradea Romania, Oli contacted his friend Vali in Timisoara Romania to look after us! Romanian hospitality at its best, thanks heaps Oli! Vali was great, he met us, took us to a great, central hotel and showed us around beautiful Timisoara. We loved it there and stayed 4 days as there were bands playing in the central square most nights, great walks in the area, stunning mountain rides and Vali was there to keep us entertained!
Next destination was following the Danube River which is the border between Serbia and Romania. It was a glorious ride with spectacular scenery and we stayed in a riverside Hotel with really friendly people.
Serbia showed us some glorious rides, but a real shortage of accomodation. Most people were camping and if not, the hotels were about E60 per night. The roads were great, people friendly, tasty traditional food and unique scenery, what more could we ask for!
On our way south we passed through Kosovo, but only really saw the main highway. This is a very small country, we passed through in a few hours, but still had to pay 28euros compulsory 3rd party insurance. The rest of the countries there was no charge for us or the bike.
Macedonia was a real delight. We stayed a few nights in the charming capital Skopje and then drove along a very scenic road parallel to the border of Albania to stunning Lake Ohrid. We went for many long walks around the old town and along the lake...pure heaven...we just love exploring new places.
The next border crossing was back to Greece for the 6th time...our most visited and loved of all the countries in the world. We visited a gorgeous lake village called Kastoria in the North of Greece and did a wonderful picturesque ride around the lake...see the video one day!
Our next appointment was with Orestis in a quaint Greek village called Ambelakia. With our Greek guide we went for some great dirt mountain rides, roads that we wouldnt tackle alone, even if they were shortcuts! We spent a few days driving around Pilio mountain near Volos and swam in some of the most beautiful beaches in the Meditteranean. It was very hot, over 35degC everyday and very crowded being August school holidays, but we all had a great time. Poor Orestis had to get used to our schedule of lunch at 2pm, after lunch snooze, no dinner and to bed by 10pm! We then caught a ferry over to Evia and did some great rides, some the locals havent ever been on, stayed at some great beaches and dont forget the great Greek food!
Before we knew it, we were back in hot 40C, busy Athens getting the parts needed for our bike service. For the weekend we drove to the Peloponnisos and stayed in our favourite mountain villages of Stemnitsa and Dimitsana. That area is the best mountain area for great rides and spectacular monasteries built into the side of the mountain. Check out the photos of the magnificent hotel we stayed in: www.arxontikodeligianni.gr
We are now back in Athens giving the bike a final big service with a mechanic we trust before our final push east through Turkey and Iran to Dubai where we will store the bike for a year. We then hop on a plane to Hong Kong and then home to Cairns November 2.
Orestis (HU Athens member) and Pat with their machines!
Us and Orestis sharing a snapps marinated watermelon, try it you will love it!
Serpentine road in Greece.
Having fun with a Greek God statue!
Back in real estate mode?! Not so soon!
Riding around in Romania.
Partying in Romania with Csilla and Oli.
Beautiful Timisoara in Romania.
Next stop is Trabzon, Turkey on the Black Sea coast to order our Iranian visa at $50US each, as there is a Consulate there, which can process the application in 2 weeks. They issue a completion number and we can pick up the visa from any Iranian Consulate in the world. There is a unique and picturesque Byzantine monastery carved into the side of a sheer cliff and hidden away in solitary location.
Unexpectedly, we bump into Baha the HU member for Istanbul on his TDM 900 who offers his services as a tour guide and companion for the next week.
Weather is clear so we set off for a wonderful ride on the Black Sea road which hugs the coast nearly all the way to Istanbul.
Baha lead us on a merry chase along 1000kms of nonstop surpentine roads which clung to an undulating and cliffy terrain with constant views of this beautiful Blue Sea. Why did they name this the Black Sea? Three glorious days took us to postcard town of Amasra, a popular holiday spot for the Turks as the fortified town is built on a peninsula sandwiched between two beaches and twin harbours and surrounded by high cliffs.
Two days would have got us there, if we hadnt taken another one of Belindas shortcuts and expose Baha and his newish TDM to rough trails which appeared as good roads on the GPS. Luckily Baha spoke Turkish and could ask the local farmers which general direction we should drive. We remained relatively cool with our airflow clothing, but Baha was basting in his own juices as his clothes were designed for much cooler temps and higher speeds.
Our biggest danger to date are the aggressive and careless northern Turkish drivers. They constantly pull out to pass and expect us to pull off the road to avoid them. We saw Baha have two very close calls. The Lebanese drivers have nothing on these guys. Baha had to drive between two oncoming trucks coming around a blind corner in the mountains. Our constant practice on these roads is "avoidance driving".
Baha resides in a quiet and trendy suburb close to the Sea of Marmara and it is here that we rest up for a few days to Bahas generous hospitality visiting nice restaurants, strolling the Esplanade and refreshing our MP3 with new songs.
In order to miss the traffic in a city of 16 million people, we ferry it across the Sea of Marmaras to the coast near Bursa. Here we find more idyllic biking roads with little traffic next to the coastline reminicent of those along the Black Sea coast and followed these to the Gallipoli ferry crossing at Lapseki.
It was a freeway cruise to the Greek Med city of Alexandroupoli and our first fabulous Greek meal in what seemed like months. Fuel now was only 1.30 euro or 2.17 aus per liter.
Browsing the map the next morning for a plan of attack, we spotted the nearby island of Thassos which had a coastal ring road that would be great for exploring the whole island.
During the short ferry ride over, a British couple on a Honda 250 started a chat and soon we found ourselves having lunch at their newly built house for their retirement overlooking the Med.
For three days our hosts voluntered their favourite restaurants, beaches and hideaways as well as escorting Pat to the Medical clinic for a shot of quartizone to counter the allergic reaction of a bee sting on his chest, inflicted while riding.
The 45 minute ferry ride to the mainland cost us 11 euros total and we set off for Sofia, Bulgaria enroute to Oradea, Romania to visit Csilla and Oli Schul, our good friends and the HU members there.
We lodged just outside of Sofia as we have learned that the hotels near the center of capital cities are double the price, usually have no secure parking, and are a hassle to find in congested traffic.
The next day is our biggest day of this trip, with 2 border crossings and just under 600kms as the satelite shows an enormous storm heading in our direction. Our average day is a mear 150kms and we boast the slowest RTWorld trip.
A week of partying and eating with Csilla and Oli and 3 month old Dominik, servicing the bike and replacing the rear tyre with another Metzeler Tourance as we got 28000kms from the old one.
Now we are off to Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Northern Greece to meet up with Orestis and travel around Northern Greece for 3 weeks.
We finally left Cyprus, the ferry to the mainland being 12 hours late leaving at 12 midnight with every seat full and no sleeping cabins available. With very rough seas the toilet reservoirs overflowed which caused even more people to throw up everywhere. Great fun. Cost was 108 euros for ferry plus 29 euros harbour tax.
Upon arriving at 8am we encountered a 2.5 hour queue to get through customs and immigration and a 8 hour ride to Cappadochia ahead of us. Luckily the scenery and roads were fantastic, which helped keep us awake to make our destination.
Goreme in Cappadochia was a return visit for us from 1999 as we loved it so much the first time. A 2000 year old community of caves dug into the cliffs and hills made from compressed volcanic ash, giving you the feeling of visiting a Flinstone village.
Here seemed to be a meeting place for bike travellers including Mike and Dan doing a RTW on their BMW R100GSs and Sami, the HU member for the area and John, on a R1200GS.
Departing 3 days later for Nemrut Dagi we follow wonderful winding mountain and valley roads til Belinda discovers a shortcut which looks great on the map, but none of the locals seem to be using it. One local said that you cant get there on this road, but what do the locals know anyway and besides, its right here on the GPS.
After 4 hours of boulders and 3 ridge crossings we arrive on the mountain of Unesco site Nemrut Dagi using its Back Door entrance. At least this road allowed us to drive the bike right to the top to catch a Super Sunset and not make the long climb that the other tourists did.
Departing our old but only available hotel where we were the only guests , we set off next morning for Merdin on the Syrian Border.
We found no tourists in this ancient castle town overlooking the Mesopotamian plains of Syria. Publicity of PKK rebellions of the past have taken many beautiful spots off of the tourist routes.
We circumnavigate Lake Van at 2000 meters enroute to Dogubayazit which is at the base of Mt Ararat and the resting spot for Noahs Ark. We will be back here again in Sept. on our way to Iran as it is only 35 kms to the border.
Kars is enroute to the Georgian border, but we did stop to visit the breathtaking ancient fortified city of Ani (another Unesco site).
The Pofos border crossing is at a picturesque pass with little traffic, but the Turks still took 3 hours becasuse of a mistake made at the previous crossing. The Georgian side tooks only 20 minutes, but cost 36Euros each and free for the bike.
Fuel here is only 0.89euro as in Turkey it is 1.85euros per liter.
The road leaving the border was so bad that we turned back to ask if it was the right road. Luckily that only lasted for 10kms and became a small but wonderful curvy ashphalt road following this fast flowing river down to the mountain town of Borjormi.
Next day we headed up 30kms to Bakuriani, a small ski resort town where we found a 4 star hotel with full board for 30 US each (thats 3 buffet meals a day). It was a bit rainy so we just had to stay for 2 nights.
On the way to Tbilisi the capital we had to visit Gori, the birthplace of Stalin and where his museum exists. His popularity has definately wained. Iraqli, the HU member there greeted us and showed us around this ancient town of castles and heroic statues , divided by a windy river with high banks.
Next morning "found us lost" in rush hour traffic trying to exit the city for the Mountain town of Signaghi. Out of nowhere comes a CBR1000 with the driver asking if we need help and we say YES. He is George, a dentist on the way to work, but said to follow him to our road. We finally parted after much car weaving with a handshake and a smile.
Sighnaghi , a carasmetic fortified town, was extensively renovated by the Government as Georgias Tourist Gem and really was impressive.
Belinda finds this great shortcut on the way to our next town of Kazbegi on the Russian border so we(?) thought we would give it a go. You guessed it, another battering. Nice scenery though.
Bad roads over, we crossed through the highest ski resort of Georgia on fantastic surpentine ashphalt roads up to 3100 meters with many dark tunnels to pass through on our way to Kazbegi.
The Russian border drew us close, even though we had no visa and it was a bit further down on our itinery. It was all downhill to our nighting again in Tbilisi where we arched off toward the Armenian border town of Sadakhlo. Once again we "found ourselves lost" in taffic and low and behold comes this CBR1000. Its George coming to our rescue yet again. Follow me. On parting he has now invited us to his house upon our return to Tbilisi, but sadly it was not on our route back to Turkey. Next time through.
Armenia border crossing was quick with $50us each and free for Miss Adventure. The small roads to Dilijan were great and interesting and a quaint B&B awaited our tired bottoms.
Temps around the Med and the Middle East were sweltering while we getting 19 to 20c and sunny skies, probably because we were consistantly over 1000 meters.
Lake Sevan is Armenias holiday area, as it is a landlocked country with only one lake, but even though the president has a summer home there, we only spent one night.
Our southern turn around point for Armenia is a mountain town of Goris, near the Iran border, similar to Cappadochia with a bygone village of cavedwellers etched into the cliff.
Good roads lead us on to the Capital Yerevan again at the base of Mt Ararat, but on the Armenian side. Typically a congested city, but with a grand Central Square surrounded by monumentally grand buildings of a wealthy bygone era.
The Georgian crossing at Bavra cost a redused 20us for a 3 day tansit visa, but that is about our time frame, so off we head for Akhaltsikhe on the road parralleling the Turk border. All the spelling of these towns seem to be picked at random from Alphabet Soup, but wait, most road signs use the Russian alphabet.
Next day our hotelier (in very broken English) said that it should take 6 hours to do the 150kms to Batumi on the Black Sea coast and 60kms of that is good ashphalt. That cant be right.
In my 40 years of riding and over 400,000kms I can pick a line where the bike can go, but today I just had to point her in the general right direction and hope she came out OK at the other end.
Leaving the coastal resort town of Batumi next day for the border, we fill our fuel tank to save almost 1 euro per liter on the Turkish side. Quick crossing on Georgia side , but slow crossing for Turkey and our visa still seems to be active as there is no cost for bike or ourselves.
Leaving the border we clock 12 kms of trucks waiting to cross into Georgia.
In summary, Armenian and Georgian people are warm, friendly and very inviting with no hints from the bad rumours we heard. The countryside is mountainous and lush with some great enduro type rides. A week later war broke out between Georgia and Russia, that was too close!
HU bikers meeting in Cappadocia- Mike, Belinda, Pat, Stephan, Waiter, Regina and John
Wide load, there is a motorcycle under all that gear and no camping gear!
Belinda borrowing a policemans gun in Egypt.
Viedma, Agentina HU meeting Dec 2007, motley bunch hey!
Venetian bridge in Cyprus Pat and Bin, Zoe and Antonis.
Bin in the gorgeous village of Kakopetria Troddos Mountains.
Turkish tank fallen off narrow maountain road 1974.
Pat, Belinda, Zoe, Antonis (HU members Cyprus), Krisztina, Elvira, Cosmin and Szabi (HU members Romania) in Cyprus.
Famagusta Ghost Town, prime real estate left to rot.
Gorgeous Girne town harbour.
Us and bike outside gorgeous Greek coastal church.
Goodbye to Orestis (HU member Athens) in Ephesus, Turkey.
On the road to Bagdad!
Tabouli dinner in the Middle East, fantastic!
Thats Belinda on the camel at Petra Jordan!
The Bcharre pass in Lebanon with our helpful guide, what a guy!
Hello again from the long lost travellers! When we wrote last we were in Jordan heading off towards the Oasis town of Azraq in the desert to check out the "Desert Castles" built between 2~7th Century AD. Amazing!
We then crossed back into Syria and then into Lebanon. We were a bit nervous about Lebanon as the Aust Gov website rated it the second highest grade in no go zones, only go there if you have to, so we went!
It was amazing and we highly reccommend it especially if they are not fighting anyone at the time! The UNESCO sites of Aanjar and Baalbek were fantastic, but too close to the Syrian border and full of day trippers. Baalbek is the most impressive Roman site in the Middle East and Lebanons no1 tourist attraction. We were not impressed with the Lebanese that we met up to this point, all they wanted was our money!
We then crossed the Mt Lebanon Range to Bcharre. The road was marked on our map, but as we got higher it was blocked by snow! A local lad on his 250 Enduro bike knew of a clear track and offered to show us the way!! It was the steepest, roughest track full of large stones that we have ever ridden on and we were fully loaded! We fell backwards a few times and broke the stand, no other damage to bike or people. By the time we fought this road for 2 hours we were over the pass and back on the road and all 3 of us were exhausted.
We stayed in Bcharre for a week! It was so charming and the locals were so friendly. Lots of people have relations in Australia and when the word got out that there were some Australlians on a motorbike, they all wanted to talk with us and have a beer with us. We felt really special there! The local welder fixed our stand, wouldnt take any payment and invited us to meet his family and have lunch with them all, amazing hospitality. From then on we loved the Lebanese! We drove all around the lovely valleys, checked out some amazing monasteries built into rock faces and watched how the Lebanese interact with their families.
Next we drove down to the coast around Beirut and onto UNESCO site of Tyre. The Army stopped us and said we could not go by motorbike as Tyre is very close to the Israel border! We could go, but not with the bike! If she cant go, we wont go, so we turned around and went to UNESCO site of beautiful Byblos. Byblos is an ancient port, Roman site, Crusader Castle and restored souq, we loved it here too and the locals were amazing. One couple we met in a restaurant offered to pick us up the next day and show us around the Chouf Mountains. It was an amazing day and we learnt so much about Lebanon and Edward basically said we should move on as Lebanon was on the brink of Civil War! So we did and they started fighting only days after we left! Lebanon is an amazing place with a dangerous undercurrent. The young people live life on the edge as they dont know what their future holds. Many times we saw motorcyclists with no helmet, just shorts and a tshirt doing wheelies along the highway at 100km/hr. There is no speed limit, lots of fancy sportscars, no fear and no rules. We were scared stiff on the freeways! We didnt realize how tense we were in Lebanon til we left, but I would still reccommend it to those who are game!
Back to Syria, then Turkey to catch a ferry to Cyrpus from Tasucu. We caught up with our Romanian friends Szabi and Krisztina, Cosmin and Elvira in Kyrenia/Girne.
Cyprus is a divided Island since 1974 when the Turkish Army invaded and they drew up the Green Line. Turkish people in the North, Greek people in the South with everything separate. It is ideally located in the Mediterranean Sea and has an amazing history of many invaders, conquerors, settlers and immigrants. We love Cyprus and spent 5 long, lazy weeks circumnavigating the island.
We had a great time with the Romanians and Horizons members Momir, Antonis and Zoe. They all exhausted us, riding in the Troddos Mountains all day and partying all night! After 3 days of this we left Limassol and said goodbye to the Romanians and slept for a week! We must be getting old.
We loved Pafos with its ancient archealogical sites everywhere scattered amongst the great beaches, resorts, shopping...it had a real energy we loved and we stayed for a week.
We then headed north along the coast til we hit the most western end of the Green Line. To cross over we had to go to Nicosia, which is the worlds last divided city, then over to the west coast again to continue our circumnavigation.
Girne was the next place to steal our hearts. Its a visual gem backed by tall Gothic Mountains with amazing castles on the top and overlooking the sea with a pretty horseshoe shaped harbour with restaurants, hotels and an amazing Byzantine castle near the harbour. We stayed there a week! We have never done this before, normally a few days and we are off! The best ride of the island was a road along this mountain ridge overlooking the coast. In 1974 an Army tank fell over the edge of this narrow road and is still hanging there to this day.
Continuing East to the Karpas Peninsula where we stayed in little basic bungalows on the beach and ate seafood till we dropped!
Famagusta, what an amazing story. It was Cyprus no 1 tourist destination til 1974 when the Turks invaded it and it has been left to rott for 35 years, this is a whole town where nature has taken over! The whole situation is very frustrating and both sides cannot come to an agreement to solve the problem, amazing.
We then crossed the Green Line again, like crossing a border, back to the Greek side. We fell in love with Pernera, many gorgeous fishing harbours, quaint beaches and hotels right on the beachfront. We stayed in one place and it was like being on a cruise ship with exercises every monring at 10am, volleyball 11am....all the way up to drinking games at 10pm! We loved it and joined in it all!
Finishing our circumnavigation, we spent a couple of nights in a gorgeous village called Kakopetria in the Troddos Mountains and are now back in Girne waiting for our ferry to go back to Turkey. Through all our travels we have never travelled so slowly and methodically and been so relaxed.
Next step Cappadocia, East coast of Turkey, Amenia and Georgia, so its goodbye to our beloved Cyprus and the Med!
Marhaba from Jordan in the Middle East!
Welcome to the next update of Our Magic Carpet Ride. We both celebrated our birthdays in the last month and it was really clear to us both that there was nothing better that we would rather do on our special day than what we were doing. Travelling has taught us to be humble and not materialistic and to realise how very fortunate we are to be in the position we are in where we can simply ride and admire this wonderful world that we live in, like a couple of birds really!
A month ago we left Athens, Greece with our great friend Orestis (HU Community) as our Greek Guide and the best maintained Super Tenere motorbike on the planet! While in Athens we got our visas for Syria (US$32 each and a simple process). With Orestis in tow, we all had a wonderful time cruising around Ikaria, Samos and Chios Islands in Greece. We then crossed over to Turkey where the fuel is a huge US$2-50/litre. No wonder there was no one on the roads! The weather behaved as we crossed along the South Coast of Turkey heading for Syria. The days were long (over 400km/day as our average is normally 150km/day) and cold, but we were dreaming of warmer pastures!
Our goal is to see as many UNESCO sites as we can, so before we left Pat programmed the sites from the internet into our GPS. Yes, we have hit the 21st Century and now have a GPS and even an MP3 player so we play music through our Autocom Communication system while we are driving in the countryside, not in the city Mum and Mom!
We also have a Carnet de Passage for the first time ever. Its a bond to make sure we dont sell the bike in any of the countries we visit. The carnet made entry into Syria simple and saves us US$60 each time. We had to pay US$3 for tax for the bike and US$28 for insurance for the bike, all in U.S. cash. Fuel in Syria was a bargain at .85c/litre, needless to say we crossed the border bone dry! We found that all fuel stations in Syria would under pump the fuel by 5-10% thereby cheating their customers by 5-10%.
Syria was wonderful. It gets a bad wrap because of its long border with Iraq, which has not affected the people at all and doesn't affect tourists at all, except keep them away! They were all SOO friendly, always waving and smiling and passing us food from their cars as we are driving along!
We went to Lattakia, Syrias port; then UNESCO Ancient City of Aleppo; then wonderful Hama with its wooden waterwheels. Next stop was UNESCO Crac des Chevaliers-"the finest castle in the world"; UNESCO site of Palmyra 200km out into the desert; then UNESCO Ancient City of Bosra before crossing the border into Jordan. We were moving fast as we were in a hurry to get to the south of Jordan and Petra before it got too hot.
The first thing we noticed as we crossed the border was no other motorbikes. Until recently the King had the only motorbike in the country! Hence, we get saluted all the time and people treat us like royalty, which quite frankly we could get very used to!
Fuel in Jordan is slightly higher at $1.07/litre, we crossed full of fuel, such good little budgeters we are! "Welcome to Jordan" is the most commonly used English phrase and is shouted at us everywhere we go and everyone wants us to stop and have some tea with them.
We started Jordan at the University town of Irbid; next more ruins of the beautifully preserved Roman city of Jerash; then down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea to have a float! We then drove down the Dead Sea Highway all the way to Aqaba in the extreme south of Jordan. From our balcony window we could see Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and half of Aqaba partying! Friday night is the big party night and our hotel was overlooking all the action which was good but not at 4am! We collapsed at Aqaba, we were exhausted from constant travelling (I can hear all your sympathy!!) and needed to stop in one place for awhile. Well, the Red Sea was the perfect place to chill for a few days and do some serious people watching (well, what else is there for us to do). We had a great time, met some lovely people, locals and travellers and caught our breathe! The dress codes for about 50% of the women is quite strict leaving only their eyes showing and as a tourist said "they look like black mailboxes". The other 50% had varied outfits from covered heads and long cloaks to tshirts, but always with long pants and dresses. The men could wear what they like even though half wore the traditional Arab garb.
Next stop was the amazing desert scenery of Wadi Rum where Lawrence of Arabia fought the Turks for the Arabs in the early 1900s. We hired a 4WD and driver for 8 hours and slept in the desert in a Bedouin tent made out of camel hair. These things are boiling in the day and freezing at night, but with great sunsets and amazing stars at night in the desert.
The awesome UNESCO site of Petra was our next detination and with very high anticipation we were not dissapointed. Petra is half built, half carved into the rock and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. It is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world and for good reason, it is simply stunning. Do not live your life and not see it, its a MUST SEE. We saw it for 2 X 12 hour days and were exhausted at the end of everyday. There are not enough adjectives to describe wonderful Petra. We got to Petra at the right time, it was not too hot, about 26C during the day, early April.
Following the Kings Highway north we visted the charming 15th Century stone village of Dana; Shobak castle; ancient Crusader castle of Karak; UNESCO site of Um er- Rasas and now the wonderful Mosaic town of Madaba where the famous mosaic map is of all the Biblical sites from Lebanon to Egypt constructed in AD560. Madaba has been inhabited for at least 4,500 years and is mentioned in the Bible as the Moabite town of Medeba. Surrounding Madaba is the the site where Christ was Baptised; site where John the Baptist was beheaded and Mt Nebo, the site where Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land and then died (at age 120!) From Mt Nebo we could see across the Dead Sea: Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho in Israel.
Tomorrow we are off to the oasis town of Azraq, 100 km east in the desert; then back to Syria, Lebanon maybe, Cyprus and East coast of Turkey and over to Georgia and Armenia.
Thank you for your continued interest in the life and times of patandbin and we hope to hear all your news too. See you all someday, somewhere soon.
The last month we have spent 2 weeks in Mexico and 2 weeks in Egypt.
Bins Mums lifelong friends Don and Nevionne Crawford have a time share apartment in Puerto Vallarta and invited us to stay with them. While we were there Pats Mum, Colleen and sister, Kathy flew down from Edmonton, Canada so we had a great reunion. Colleen had her 81st birthday Mexican style and we walked all over Puerto Vallarta and watched all the free dancers and entertainment in the centre square every evening. These "oldies" kept us going all day and we fell into bed absolutely exhausted each evening!
We then had a long flight to Cairo, Egypt and it took us ages to get over the jetlag. The traffic was amazingly congested and we had to learn to "walk like an Egyptian" to make it across the street alive! We stayed in Cairo for 4 days and visited to Egyptian Museum with 5000 year old Mummies with visible teeth, hair and lips!! Amazing! We also visited the Pyramids, of course, the Sphinx, Memphis and Saqqara, the oldest Pyramid in the world. Everything here is so VERY ANCIENT.
Next, we took an overnight sleeper train to Aswan and stayed in a hotel with a window overlooking the Nile. Aswan was very photogenic and warm and relaxed with a great souq. The museum was wonderful and we visited the temple of Philae which has been relocated stone by stone to save it when they built the Dam- amazing effort.
We then found a great cruise ship and went down the Nile for 2 days to Luxor- very relaxing way to travel for a few days! We arranged everything ourselves as we went along. Most people in Egypt were on package tours. We didnt take our motorbike as the Egyptian Government doesnt like independent travellers and make it expensive and difficult to get your bike in and hard to travel around. Buses have to travel in convoy at pre arranged times with police escourt. Tourism is so vital to their economy they dont want anything to happen to any tourists and there are tourist police everywhere.
Luxor was any amazing place and we spent many days exploring. The Temples of Karnak, Luxor Museum & Luxor Temple. We hired a bicycle and rode to the Valley of the Kings, which is a city of the dead with magnificent temples to honour the Pharaohs entombed in the cliffs. The tombs were colourfully decorated and designed to resemble the underworld: a long, inclined, rock-hewn corridor descends into either an antechamber or a series of halls and ends in a burial chamber. So much emphasis on the afterlife! Sailing on the Nile in a Felucca and riding around town in a horse carriage are Tourist Must Dos. They hassle you so much you end up doing it and it was fun!
We then flew back to Cairo over the Nile, visited Islamic Cairo area and the Citadel.
Next stop was Athens, Greece which is where we are now with our friend Orestis who has had his mechanic get our motorbike, Miss Adventure II ready for the next 8 months travelling around the Middle East. She is now in top running condition and we are ready to head East any day now.
As Linda and Con Diamond said "You two are having too much fun!"
"Life is not measured by how many breaths you take, but by how many monents you have that take your breathe away"
Whos that Muzlim woman in front of the Pyramids!?
The classic pose in front of the Sphynx.
Horse and Cart in front of Luxor Temple.
Kids and their donkey, so friendly when you are on their level!
We bought the Godess of Love and Pleasure from Egypt to our Greek God, Orestis.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with Pat, Nevionne, Don and Belinda in their Mexican villa, paradise!
Mexican sunsets, the best in the world!
Pats Mum, Colleens 81st birthday party, mexican style. Nev, Don, Kathy (Pats sister), Colleen, Pat, Bin
What a wide load, hey, there is a motorbike under all that gear!
Colleen and Kathy getting into the negotiating on the beach in Mexico!
Life is tough on the road, exhausting for navigators too you know!
Slumming it on Christmas Day! We had this lakeside Lodge all to ourselves.
Flat tyre 2- not bad after 4 years travelling and over 110,000km!
Final negotiations with Roberto "Chillean style", what a great guy Uncle Nuts!
Life on the road, Pat had to do maintenance and Belindas washing had to dry!
Photos at long last, thanks to Orestis in Athens! How can we ever thank you enough for all of your help?
Our farewell party "dress as a Muslim" and everybody did!! John, Hoppy, Lynne and Pat, great bellydancing thanks to Olivia.
Pat and Kate with our motorhome in New Zealand freecamping by a river! Heaven.
Pat, Roberto Thomson and Belinda with Robertos collection of Super Teneres in Santiago.
Oscar, Nancy, Belinda, Luis and Miss Adventure III at Viedma for HU meeting.
Pat with Robertos bike we called Miss Adventure III in Argentina.
Get on your bike and head to Chile! We have just had the most relaxing and visually varied month of travel ever! The secret has been having an enduro motorbike as independent travel to get out of the cities (and stay out) and get to lovely out of the way places on any type of road.
Early on in our time in Chile we picked up a booklet of the best bed and breakfast places in off the beaten track destinations in Chile. Check out the website: wwww.backpackersbest.cl We have met some amazing people, stayed in some unique places and had some of the best seafood meals in our life. We are now spending US$50per day on accommodation up to $100per day if its really special. (A big jump up in standard from $10 per day thet we were spending when here 5 years ago.)
We have also noticed a lot more baby boomers travelling (45-60 year olds) which makes for a lot more interesting conversations than teenagers!
As we travel more, we are travelling slower, we average 100-200km per day. Our daily schedule consists of this:
9.15am: alarm goes off (have to get up in time for breakfast that normally finishes 10am!)
11.30am: hit the road after packing everything up and deciding our destination.
2-3pm: Lunchtime, we have a large lunch and little or no dinner.
3-4pm: Look for somewhere to sleep!
4.30-5.30pm: Pat has a sleep and Bin washes clothes, sews clothes or checks the place out.
5.30-7.30pm: Walk around and check everything out together.
7.30-9pm: Have a bottle of Chardonnay and watch the sun set and read in bed or watch TV and fall asleep whenever.
Pat says when he is driving its like he has an angel looking over his right hand shoulder as Bin watches his every move! Four eyes are safer than two, so at the end of the day we are both pretty tired.
Chile has been very varied ranging from volcanoes, glaciers, many gorgeous lakes, the ever present Andes slow capped mountains, the great surf beaches and the many German villages.
Our route consisted of going down Route 40 in Argentina down the lakes district (which was absolutely wonderful.) We then crossed the border to Chile at the most remote border crossing we have ever seen, in the Andes. In fact the road into Chile we thought was a farmers track to his house! We were the only ones the Customs Agent saw there for the week, let alone the day! The road got rougher and rougher and steeper as we crossed the Andes. Talk about wind and it was freezing! It was a relief to arrive in Coihaique (a very remote town in the south of Chile). Our destination was the end of The Carretera Austral Road way down in the south of Chile. It was an amazing journey on some of the worst dirt roads we have ever travelled on, but with the most spectacular scenery. (The BOUGI boys would have been as proud of Pats performance in handling the bike as Bin was!) We met more than a dozen crazy international cyclists doing the very same road- we would rather spend a year in jail than bicycle this road!!
We celebrated Christmas Day with some international long distance bicycle riders at a little fishing village near the end of the road called Caletta Tortel. It was really unique place in that all the houses were built over water and linked by a 2km timber boardwalk. We had freshly cooked Salmon which we loved which was lucky as it was the only thing on the menu!!
We then spent Christmas night in a gorgeous Lodge overlooking a lake and we were the only ones there! We kept waiting for the crowds to catch up with us, but they never did as we stayed out of the touristy places. We stayed at a few Wilderness Resorts in amazing luxury. Bin negotiated from $370 to $100US CASH!! US CASH is king in this country and opens up many great doors and private fireplaces and spabaths.... you get the picture!
Anyone entering Chile through a small border crossing make sure that you carry CASH as most ATM machines in small towns will not accept foreign cards. Chilean fuel is 1.5 times the price of Argentinian fuel. Fuel is must cheaper south of Bariloche, Argentina as it is subsidised by the Government and is US.60c/litre.
We then slowly worked our way North towards Santiago. Chile is a long thin country, a bit like New Zealand and very varied in countryside. Another highlight was the huge island called Chiloe where the pace is real slow! We stayed in some great places with views overlooking the beach and met some great people and had some great meals...a common thread throughout all of Chile. Next was the amazing lakes district of Chile. Daily, we had the choice of motorbike riding, bicycle riding, kayaking, rafting, trekking up volcanoes, walking along the beach...heaven for us, SO WE DID IT ALL!!
We are now close to Santiago and close to the end of this amazing chapter in our lives! We truly have loved every moment in Chile and would recommend motorbike riding in this country to anyone. We have been very lucky with the weather. The rainbelt in Chile seems strongest below Valdivia and it only rained on us a few days, which is rare. The Chileans and Argentinians we met were always super friendly and we never felt threatened in any way.
Next chapter, off to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 2 weeks starting 3 Feb with Nevionne and Don Crawford, Pats Mum- Colleen and sister- Kathy. Then Egypt for 2 weeks 14 Feb and then Greece 4 March with Orestis and Csilla and Oli. We will pick up our Super Tenere from Crete, Greece, give her a big service and then off to the Middle East.
So enough from us, let us know your news and we hope you are happy and enjoying each day like it may be your last!
For those that are not aware, we have hit the road again.
In November we spent 3 glorious weeks in New Zealand with 21 year old daughter Kate. We hired a 3 berth motorhome and slowly toured the South Island. We had fantastic weather and cooked up some great meals overlooking a river or a beach- free camping. (photos coming)
We then sent Kate back to Australia and we flew to Santiago, Chile. Our South American leg of this trip is for only 2 months, so we decided to rent a Super Tenere for 9 weeks at $60 per day. Roberto Thompson is a HU memnber for Santiago and is also a Super Tenere enthusiast and has 3 Super Teneres he does tours with. He kindly rented us the jewel of his fleet.
It was all very hassle free. We arrived one day and the next day we were riding off on the bike.
Next stop was San Rafael, Argentina to see John and Annette at their finca (orchard). We had a great 3 days with them as usual although Belinda had a bad cold from the long flight.
We then moved on to Viedma (on the east coast of Argentina) for the HU meeting to see Oscar and Luis and their families again after 5 years. We had a great 4 days in Viedma and met lots of amazing motorcycle travellers.
Time to move on again. We are now heading for the Bariloche area, along the edge of the Andes mountains. We will play around the Andes area south of Santiago for the next 7 weeks.
Consider this as your Christmas Card and we wish you all the best for next year. We will update this blog about every 6 weeks. Maybe we will see you on the road, until then, have fun whatever you are doing.
For those of you who are thinking of picking up a motorcycle in South America , this is what wefound:
To ship a bike from overseas , it is relatively expensive for both ways.
To buy a local bike , the cost is at least double or more than most any Western Country. There is no restriction of border crossings if bought in Chile but great restrictions if bought in Argentina.
Rental propositions have no restrictions to enter other countries from Chile or Argentina with daily prices ranging from $48us per day to $140us per day ,depending on the value of the bike .
The cheapest option with the least restrictions is to buy a bike from a tourist, where the bike is registered elsewhere. The price is usually comparable to the country of origin and will have no border crossing restrictions. Roads here can be rough and long so have the bike checked out buy a mechanic. Japanese bikes are dependable and have reasonable access to spare parts.
Customs are happy to swap the entry papers to the new owner as long as someone is willing to take the responsibility of taking the bike out of the country prior to the date previously specified on the paper.
We chose to rent a Super Tenere out of Santiago for $60us per day as our stay is relatively short and the bike is an exact duplicate of our other bike . It is strong enough for two up travel on rough roads and we know the bike inside and out.
Hope this helps with your decision.
Well long time, no hear folks!! We have had our heads down and bums up working for the last year, enough of that boring stuff, its time for our next installment of adventure!!
We leave Cairns (home) Fri November 2 and spend the weekend in Sydney with Belinda's Aunty Pam and Uncle Andrew and cousins Olivia and Melanie. Mon Nov 5 we fly to Christchurch, New Zealand with Patrick's Daughter Kate and travel in a 3 berth motorhome around the South Island of New Zealand for 3 weeks. End of November we fly to South America again to catch up with travelling friends John and Annette, Oscar and Luis and see northern Brazil. We might buy a motorbike for the 2 months we are in South America and store it or sell it at the end. Pats grand plan is to have a motorbike in every continent!!
February 3 we fly to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to see Nevione and Don Crawford and stay at their time share place for 2 weeks. Next flight is to Egypt to see the Pyramids for a few weeks and then to Athens, Greece to see our friend The Greek God Orestis early March.
We then catch a ferry to Crete and pick up Miss Adventure II (our Super Tenere motorbike) who has been guarded by Spiros Amitzoglou for the past 16 months. Thanks heaps Spiros!! We then head east through Turkey and onto Cyprus end March, where we will meet up with our Great Romanian friends Csilla and Oli Schul and party on!! Look out Cyprus!!
Next step is Israel, Syria, Jordan, Armenia and Georgia by motorbike. After that we are not sure. Maybe head east from Iran to Pakistan, India, Nepal, Thailand and leave the bike in Laos OR head back to Greece to store the bike again for the next trip. It all depends how hot it gets over there, in more ways than one!!
We then fly end October 2008 to Dubai to see friends from Cairns Dave, Lynne and Harry Mollenhauer, then Hong Kong and direct to Cairns arrival 2 November 2008 (exactly one year away!)
We love meeting up with like minded people along the way, so if you are in any of these areas when we are there we would love to catch up with you and eat and drink and be merry together with you!!
Our phone contact number is +61 419 309 309 for sms only while travelling or email: email@example.com
Howdy Doody from Edmonton, Canada, home of The Peck Family!
Since we wrote last we were on our way by ferry without the bike from Crete to Athens. We met up with our Greek God friend Orestis Padouvas (see photo below!)who we have been in email contact with for a few years now. He has a Super Tenere too and we stayed in his parents penthouse and had a great time checking out Athens and surrounding area and the Peloponnesus. We travelled by hire car and it was different but great, we saw some amazing scenery and Pats friend, George Andrew's, family roots in a small town called Stemnitsa.
We were a week ahead of schedule, so decided to fly to Romania and have a week of fun and parties with our great friends Csilla and Oliver Schul. They are a really amazing couple who think big, are fantastic company and really good people to call friends. They are a motorcycle accessories dealer for Romania and work and play hard.
Next step was the much looked forward to week in Paris. We had a great time, saw all the sights and walked our legs off while staying at JJs very homely house with a great fireplace! JJ is a lovely, hospitable French biker with a beautiful African Queen wife.
Boulder, Colarado, USA was our next stop to see another biking couple, Chris and Erin Ratay who have travelled for 4 years on their bikes, see we are not the only people who do this!! Check out their site www.ultimatejourney.com The world of long distance motorbike travellers is a wonderfully close and welcoming family! We were very active there skiing, hiking and even went on a motorbike ride with Belinda riding this time! It was great to finally meet them after many close calls all over the world!
It is now snowing and -15 degC in Edmonton, Canada with -25 expected tonight BBRRRR! We will be here till 26 December, with a week in Calgary for a Bikers meeting and a week in Jasper to catch up with friends in the middle. Arrival home in Cairns, Australia on 29 December to +32degC expected!!
Thanks for all your love and interest in our lives! This will probably be the last update till we get on the road again in January 2008. Remember, we are the ODD couple and you can visit us at home in the ODD years only! Have a great Christmas and we hope the new year is a good one for you!
Patrick and Belinda and Miss Adventure II taken 2006.
Our friend Orestis The Greek God! (Horizons member in Athens)
Patrick on Frederics Paris Dakar Replica Super Tenere.
Amazing fortified walls and moat in Rhodes, Island, Greece, complete with cannon balls!
Spiros Amitzoglou (Horizons member for Crete) with Miss AdventureII packed away for 16 months!
The boat we chartered in Turkey for A$139 each for 3 nights, 2 days, all inclusive!!!!
Kas sunken city in Turkey, amazing clear water!
Beautiful Beach in South Coast of Turkey near Kas.
Grant Davis and Susan Markwell with magic lips on our boat in Turkey!!
Lots of people ask us about the bike and what we have done to modify her, so we thought we would put finger to keyboard! This will probably be boring for non-bikers!
We have chosen a 1996 Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750 for many reasons. The year 1996 was the last year Yamaha made the Super Tenere, so its the youngest one available. The Super tenere is an enduro bike, so she can go on any road surface with few restrictions. She won the Paris-Dakar Race 6 years in a row. Yamaha parts are available in all countries. She has a big 30 litre fuel tank. She is big and strong enough to carry 2 people and a years worth of luggage. To date she has proven to be super reliable. Her value is A$5,000 so not a lot of money is tied up and our risk of loss is mimimalised if she gets stolen or damaged. The cost for Carnet de Passage is cheap.
Modifications include: Rear Ohlins Shock absorber, Scottoiler- automatic chain oiler, Autocom communication system, custom made seat (gel inserts) with Australian sheep skin cover, 3 X GIVI plastic luggage- 45litre each, GIVI Passenger backrest Wrist rest on the throttle, Aluminium tube for tools in front of bashplate to keep weight low and forward, strong custommade frame for the GIVI boxes and to reinforce subframe, large plate on end of sidestange for soft ground, foam airfilters that are easy to clean, clear paper fuelfilter, larger GIVI windscreen, Enginebar protectors, Bagster tank cover and tankbag, bicycle speedo as extra trip meter, extra rubber tube liners inside tyres, bark busters handguards, 12v outlet, ball compass and clock on dash. We put the parts and service manual on CD and carry that with us, a lot lighter than the real thing!
The best tyre combination for the dirt is Michelin Desert for the rear and Continental TKC80 for the front (15,000-18,000km). The best allround tyre is the Perelli Scorpion MT90 or Metzeler Tourance for long wear (at least 20,000km.)
We have now bought our fifth Super Tenere and still think they are the best travel bike for us and cant believe the value for money!
Clever Mikes articles crack us up!!
Sunday October 1, 2006 The Observer
The pickup truck drives along the Bodrum esplanade and stops outside the restaurant. On the side, in lurid pink lettering, is: Halikarnas - The Club. On the back are three young women, dancing like they're being attacked by wasps, wearing tiny bikini tops and strips of black cloth for underpants, with which they appear to be flossing their nether regions.
We have just been discussing underpants. By 'we', I mean me, Belinda and Pat, the Aussie couple I've just been reunited with after getting separated from them at the Romania/Hungary border. And by underpants I mean mine, whose regular turnover is a particular obsession of Belinda's. (I tell her I am putting clean ones on every other day, but it is a terrible lie.)
'You gotta get your photo taken with them,' Belinda tells me, mercifully moving away from the issue of my personal hygiene and pointing at the dancers. Belinda is the same age as me, but manages to make me feel as if I'm 14. So I meekly move towards the truck like a petulant teenager.
'Don't worry, I'm not a pervert,' I tell the girls.
'They are Russian. They don't understand you,' the driver tells me as the girls move to the far side of the truck and look at me as if I'm a pervert.
We've all got photographs of ourselves we'd rather didn't exist. I have two. The one Belinda has just taken and one from 1986, the last time I was in Bodrum, showing me wearing a leather glove on one hand and sporting a denim waistcoat, glove-clad hand pointing to the stars, head tilted downwards to the floor. For, during a brief spell that summer, I too was a dancer at the Halikarnas, Turkey's world-famous open-air nightclub.
The driver explains this to the girls. I grin at them and say 'Yes, yes', and stick up my thumbs. But they're still looking at me as if I'm a pervert.
But yes, it's true. And yes, it is a long story. But back then, I didn't let the silly little fact that I dance like a Thunderbirds puppet missing some strings matter. Every night I'd go out on stage, part of a 15-strong mostly English showgroup, murdering 'Grease' or 'Absolute Beginners' and strut my stuff in front of paying punters, full of brio and unquenchable self-belief, and, even writing this, thinking about how terrible I was, is making me want to stuff my head inside my T-shirt.
Belinda insists I go back to the Halikarnas and even escorts me, holding my hand, telling me it'll be OK, like it's my first day at school. But there is a slow accumulation of dread. I really don't want to go back and I'm not sure why.
'He used to be a dancer here,' Belinda tells the doormen and they have a good chuckle. The story is relayed to the young people in the queue, who look as if they've been told to imagine their parents having sex, then the girl on the cashdesk, then the cloakroom girl and, my, how I filled their evenings with a little joy.
I walk through the whitewashed tunnel and into the vast, spectacular space; the dancefloor with the floodlit backdrop of St Peter's castle, the colonnaded terraces. It is more or less the same - give or take the near-naked Russian podium dancers, the foam-filled dance floor and the hip hop - and the memories come percolating back.
I look at the stage and think back to 1986, and the photograph of that fresh-faced dancer with the leather glove and the cut-off denim waistcoat, frozen in time. And I can remember, as if it were yesterday, the innocence and sense of entitlement, the energy and limitless horizons. And sitting there, thinking about the then and the now and everything that's happened in between, I cannot help but smile.
We are now in Crete Island, Greece and have found a great dry, safe, secure garage to park our bike for FREE!! We were riding around Iraklio (the capital of Crete) looking for a hotel with a garage like we had in Seville, Spain last time we left the bike for a year. No hotels here have garages, we did a big internet plea for help, then decided to go for a ride. At a stop light we met a guy on a Varadero (big bike like ours!) and we got talking at the next few stop lights, as you do, and he asked if we would like to go to see a Museum. Sure, we had no plans, anyway to cut a long story short, he offered us the use of his garage underneath his business. His name is Spiros Amitzoglou, he is 30 years old and we have learnt to trust him to look after our baby for 16 months!
The weather has finally caught up with us and its time to put the bike away and continue on foot!! Crete is the most Southern part of Europe, so it will be good when we come back in March 2008 and head towards the Middle East.
We have now done 100,000km travelling by motorbike over 3 trips!!! First one South America, then Western Europe and now Eastern Europe and it just keeps getting better!! We have a great system going, we both know our jobbies and it works. We are travelling slower each trip, which is the secret to great, magic moments and unique experiences. We have had a very social trip this time, which has made it extra special. We still get excited by a new town, ruins, hotel rooms etc but it is time to head for home again.
Our special friends that we have made and met this trip include Kate Peck from Sydney, John Cameron from Cairns, Brian and Sandra Smith from Calgary Canada, Jo and rEkiny from Poland, Oliver and Csilla from Romania, Mike Carter from England, Grant Davis and Susan Markwell from Cairns, Liz Bashford from Cairns now living in Scotland, Alanna and John Skillington from Brisbane. We travelled with all these people this trip for different periods of time and IT WAS MAGIC!! So get off your buts the rest of you and start planning to meet us somewhere in the Middle East in 2008!
Turkey is one of our favourite countries and we travelled slowly (abot 60km per day) down the West Coast of Turkey from Gallipoli to Kas for the months of September. It really was magic, great weather, great people, wonderful food and CHEAP- we highly reccommend Turkey for anyone starting travelling, its perfect!
One morning in mid September we came downstairs of our Pension for breakfast and were looking sleepy eyed at the couple at the table next to us. They were looking at us too and it took us all a millisecond to realize it was Grant Davis and Susan Markwell friends who live 300 metres from us in Cairns!! They told us that Liz Bashford was on her way too!! Amazing, so we travelled with them for about a week and then went on a 3 night, 2 day sail over the sunken city near Kas with them. Check out Lizs photos on her site http://web.mac.com/lizbashford under Sailing Turkish Med. We had a blast, got kicked out of many restaurants, for laughing too loud and thoroughly enjoyed their company. At the same pension we met Alanna and John Skillington, other Horizons Unlimited members see there blog: www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/skillington from Brisbane on their bike. So here we were in Turkey with 2 Australian motorbikes with QLD number plates! Alanna and John continued on to Iran and we went to Rhodes Island, Greece.
Rhodes Island is the "worlds finest surviving example of medieval fortification"- the most amazing and huge walled city we have ever seen and we have seen a few now! We really enjoyed our stay there and walked all over it, amazing photos coming soon!
Then over to Crete where we are now. This weekend we will catch a ferry to Athens, catch up with some HU members there and then maybe hire a car in Greece to check out the mainland, then Paris 7 Nov for an EXPENSIVE week as Paris is the second most expensive city in the world, but we HAVE to see it!!
Thats about us for now, hope you are all doing well if not behaving yourselves!!
Grant Davis, Alanna Skillington, Susan Markwell, Pat, Liz Bashford, Belinda and John Skillington having 'Sex on the Beach' in Turkey.
Pat, John and Allana (Brisbane HU members we travelled with for awhile) near Sarcophagus tomb in Turkey.
Pat and 'Miss Adventure 2' at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey. This is
the site where during WW1 thousands of Australian and New
Zealand young soldiers were killed.
Belinda, Susan Markwell and Grant Davis (friends from Cairns we
accidentally bumped into and travelled with for awhile) in mudbath
Our New Greece number till 13 November 2006 is +30 697 416 3848.
We are now in Rhodes Island, Greece working our way towards Crete and then Athens to find a place to store the bike for 16 months.
Our Turkey number is no longer working. The Government have bought in a new law that all mobile phones have to be registered in Turkey and to do that you have to have the receipt of purchase, which of course, we havent kept in our back pocket for the last 4 years since we bought the phone!! So you need to send sms only to our Aussie number +61 419 309 309 till we get to Greece.
Also, for other bikers travelling in Turkey the speed limit for all motorbikes is 70km/hour. Today we got clocked by radar doing 92km/hour on a major highway and got a 206 Turkish Lira Fine (A$200). Cars are OK at 100km/hour, so its dangerous for us to go this rediculous speed, but they have radars and you cant argue with the law, dont worry we tried for 2 hours!!
Other than that life is great cruising the West coast of Turkey, staying in small beachside villages and travelling about 60km/day. The food is great, accommodation is great and cheap, bike parking is readily available and the water is warm for swimming. The average daily temperature is 32 deg C and the roads are in really good condition.
Pat and Mike Carter on his R1200GS at Auschwitz's infamous TUNNEL OF DEATH
Oli & Csilla H/U Members from Oradia, Pat and Bin, and Krisztina & Szabi H/U Members from Targu Mures
Old style farming methods still the norm.
Pat in front of 12th Century Transylvanian Castle called Corinesti Castle in Hunedoara.
Sovata salt lake on an August Weekend.
Satu Mare, Romania motorcycle gathering 500 motorcyclists watching stunt show.
HU members gathering: Bin and Pat with Super tenere, Jo and rEkiny from Poland with Tenere and Oliver from Romania with Aprilia 1000.
We met and travelled with a journalist Mike Carter from London writing stories once a week for the Observer Guardian newspaper and this is what he wrote, thought you might like it!!
"Travels through a midlife crisis
Mike Carter's motorcycle odyssey gets tangled up in red tape at the Ukrainian border, and he is forced to face up to his anti-social tendencies
Sunday August 20, 2006
'You don't need a visa for Ukraine. Not since they hosted the Eurovision Song Contest,' some guy I'd only just met in a London pub told me during the minutes of intensive research I carried out for this trip. I didn't question his sources - after six pints it seemed entirely feasible.
But now, standing at the Ukrainian border, it occurs to me that perhaps I should have at least checked, because the heavily armed Homo sovietus is waving his big stick at me and telling me, in no uncertain terms, to clear off back to Hungary. 'But everything's cool since Eurovision,' I am telling him. And, in context, it is perhaps the most surreal thing I've ever said.
'Visa, no problem,' he is saying. 'Photocopy of motorbike registration document is problem. You need original.'
'But this is the original,' I say, waving my photocopy at him and thinking about the crisp original, filed neatly at home. 'No,' he says, and I am thinking that this is what happens in Ukraine, that everybody is corrupt, because pub guy said that too, and all I have to do is slip him a few dollars and doors - or in this case barriers - will open.
But behind Homo sovietus is a big sign warning of the dire consequences of bribing an official. And although pub guy would doubtless be surreptitiously handing over the money, he is almost certainly still in a pub in London and not risking an interminable spell in a Ukrainian jail.
So I turn my bike around and head past the queue of cars, back across the river on the bridge of shame, eyes burning into me, and I am transported back to being a 16-year-old in Birmingham, and Boogies nightclub, when the bouncers said my shoes were the wrong colour, or something, and it's funny how rejection never seems to get any easier, even if it's the delights of Chernobyl, and not grab-a-granny night, that you're missing out on.
My travelling companions of the past week, an Aussie couple on a Yamaha, are also riding back across the bridge. 'Our documents are fine but we need a visa,' Patrick and Belinda are telling me, and I'm feeling guilty, because it was me who persuaded them to come to Ukraine, and it is only now occurring to me that Australia doesn't do Eurovision.
So we head off towards Romania to try our luck getting in there. Ever since I met Pat and Belinda in southern Poland, riding with them over the Tatra mountains, through Slovakia and Hungary, life on the road has been immeasurably easier. They are a fantastic couple and terrific company, with an easy, enduring relationship that has gone some way to altering my latterly acquired cynical views of marriage. There's a dynamic to travelling with others that utterly changes the experience. There's the framework of consensus, an external validity to your journey, no more solo breakfasts and dinners and, of course, someone to tell you when you're starting to smell. Somehow a beautiful landscape shared with another, even in a wordless exchange, exists permanently in a way that as a sole witness it doesn't.
But as we ride on, I am thinking that I want to be off on my own again. This voice is annoying because it doesn't make any sense at all. Just what is so wrong with easy?
And, for some reason, an image comes into my mind of a group photograph taken when I was aged four at nursery school, where I am standing at the edge of the frame, slightly apart from the other children. As I start mentally flicking through the group photos of my life, it's nearly always the same, a leitmotif: always at the edge, always apart, them and me. If there's one thing I'd like to change, this might be it. But how?
Ultimately, Romania makes the travelling decision for me. Pat and Belinda need a visa, which they don't have, and I'm thinking there must be a pub guy in northern Queensland too, as I head off alone in the rain towards Transylvania."
"Buna Ziua" from Romania!
Since we last wrote we have travelled through many Eastern European countries and met some wonderful new friends. The world is full of great people!
After a tearful departure from Jo and rEkiny we drove off with Mike Carter, a London journalist writing weekly reports for the Guardian-Observer newspaper. He is writing about coping with a mid life crisis and has been given a brand new BMW motorbike and all the latest gear and told to go travelling for 6 months and write about what happens to him and how he copes!! Lucky bloke hey!
Next stop on the Polish travel circuit was Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp. The death factories killed 2 million people from 27 nationalities, about 90% of whom were Jews. They gased the people with pesticides, so dont use pesticides in your home! It was a terribly emotional day, they had displays of all the peoples shoes, hair they cut off to stuff in mattresses, suitcases; nothing was wasted. They tricked the people into thinking they were going to a better life and even had a band playing when they arrived from the train to welcome them. Then the Nazis told them to go and have a shower and gassed them to death. The fit young men and women they put to work building more gas chambers and most of them died within 3 months of arrival from overwork and malnutrition. The motto was to exterminate the jews through labour. Terrible time in history thanks to Hitler.
Tatra Mountains and trekking with rEkiny, Jo and Norbi was next; have we told you how much energy this man has- never go trekking with rEkiny. Jo was alright though!!
Off to Slovakia with Mike Carter in tow. Levoca was a lovely old walled town and we stayed in a 4 star hotel right in the centre for E40. We checked out Spissky hrad which is Slovakias largest castle dating back to 1209.
Hungary was next with lovely baroque city of Eger being a highlight. It also had a great castle dating back to the 13th century. The roads were great and we wound our way to a lovely little wine village called Tokaj. We then thought we would go to Ukraine and didnt realize we needed a visa. EU countries dont need one, but Aussies do. The same applies for Romania, so Mike the POM got into Romania and we had to go Budapest to sort out our visa. We dont normally like big cities but Budapest was beautiful with the 19th Century mansions, castle hill and huge parliament building. Three days later after amazing displays of incompetence on behalf of the embassy, we had our visa and could proceed into Romania. This is the first visa we have needed for a very long time.
Romania is a very special country in our hearts mainly because of the people we met there. It is the wild east of Europe with gypsies and horse drawn wagons on the streets with trucks and cars fighting for the same space. Somehow it works, but it is probably the most dangerous driving we have seen in Europe. The leader of the communist party Ceausescu had a devistating impact on Romania. He exported food to finance his huge ego driven visions; in 1989 Romania suffered the worst food shortages in decades. We saw inside many communist blocks of grey flats and got to see how Romanians live.
In Oradea we met Horizons members Csilla and Oliver Schul. We were their first guests and we had a fantastic time with them. We stayed 5 party nights as we were waiting for Polish friends Jo and rEkiny to come and travel with us through Romania for a couple of weeks. We all travelled together for awhile, 3 bikes, 6 people and had a blast!
We crossed the famous Transfagarasan Pass, checked out picturesgue Bran Castle and Peles Castle in Sinaia, which was a former Royal Palace. Man, the castles in this country are amazing! Next we saw Brasov Square with its baroque facades and Bohemian outdoor cafes, then Sighisoara to see Draculas birthplace and then we swam in the salt lake of Sovata with thousands of other people! We stuck to mainly secondary roads as there were too many trucks and traffic on the main roads. We then drove over the mountain range towards the north of Romania and said our final goodbye to Jo and rEkiny until we see them in Australia!
We had a magic night in Sighetu Marmatiei with Csillas mother and grandmother and then headed south on our "syrup tour of Romania". We met Alex in Cluj- Napoca, who gave us a whirlwind tour of his city. Then we headed off to Targu Mures to finally see Szabi and Krisztina Santha who we have been in email contact with for a long time. Scilla and Oliver joined us again for more parties. Soon it will be more good byes and then off to Bulgaria and Turkey.
Belinda and John Cameron with the bikes in the lobby of the Hotel in Albania for 7 Euros per night!!
Bunkers on the beach in Albania, they were everywhere!!
Mostar Bridge in Bosnia- amazing 16th century bridge and medieval town.
Bullet ridden house in Sarajevo, Bosnia where the tunnel museum was.
Sandra and Brian Smith from Calgary, Canada (HU members) and old friends of Pats who we travelled with for awhile in Croatia.
We found this very helpful for travels in Eastern Europe, so thought we would share it with other travellers. Relevant for July 2006
Country : Fuel / Exchange rate July06 / Emergency no / Alcohol
Germany : €1.32 / €1=€1 / +49 22 22 22 / 0.5
Poland : €1.07 / €1=PLN4 / +48 6183 19892 / 0.2
Ukraine : €0.70 / €1=UAK6.3 / 987 / 0.0
Czech : €1.09 / €1=CZK28 / 1230 / 0.0
Romania : €0.98 / €1=ROL3.5 / +40 745382715 / 0.0
Hungary : €1.09 / €1=HUF260 / +36 613451755 / 0.0
Slovakia : €0.99 / €1=SKK38 / +42 12444 56860 / 0.0
From Patrick and Belinda last seen in Romania heading south.
Dzien dobry from Poland!
Since we 'talked' to you last we have travelled many miles and met many wonderful people, mainly Horizons Unlimited community members that have done some amazing motorcycle trips around the world- what a great family the HU members are!
We met Pam and Andrew Rorke in Vienna and walked all over, saw it all in one day and then drove to a lovely pension on the Danube River Valley. Back to see Angelique Hochlahner in Rottenmann who took us trekking up the biggest mountain in the area- 2.5 hours to an Austrian means 2.5 hours up and 2.5 hours down!! Be careful of those crazy Austrians, especially the women motorcycle riders!!
Exhausted we travelled west towards Ralf and Caroline Kobler, who we met in Cairns as they had dinner at our house one night 5 years ago and told us about their trip, this was before we started this travelling thing!! We had a great time catching up with them and Pat intensified his search for an immaculate Super Tenere to ship home.
Next stop was Switzerland to see our good friends Damaris and Mika Khun, who we have met up in many places around the world as part of his 6.5 year world tour by Yamaha XT 600. We had a great time checking out the Swiss Alps and even went bumming down the Bern river. We also caught up with Annamarie Minchau who is now living near Lucern and had a great night with her. We loved Switzerland, but it was very expensive, luckily we knew lots of people to stay with there.
Germany to buy a Super tenere was our next priority and we bought the first one we saw there, after all this time looking!! It is in immaculate condition, the same colour as Miss Adventure II, with only 20,000km and it was a good buy (of course) at E2,800. We bought the bike near Stuttgart and it was smooth sailing thanks to the amazing help of Kerstin Gackle and Volkner Aldinger, other travelling bikers! The bike is now (hopefully) on its way back to Australia where it will be our reserve bike when this one is too tired! After a great week with Kirsten and Volker, we were there for the last 2 world cup games and had a dinner party every night, it was time to hit the road again. Kirsten commented to a work mate that Belinda had kicked her out of her kitchen and she was going to miss all the Thai food!!
We then checked out Nuremberg, which is a really pretty German town and saw a few Hitler museums there, then over to Czech Republic. First stop was gorgeous Cesky Kumlov "one of the most picturesque towns in Europe", with its stunning castle and cobblestone streets and the white water river winding around it. Of course, we did a 1/2 day canoeing trip and stayed upright until the last big rapid!!
Karlstejn Castle and Prague were next on the rough agenda and we had an exhausting day in Prague as a heat wave hit Europe and it was around 35 deg C!!
Now we are near Katowice in Poland staying with Jo, rEkiny and Chris after visting Wroclaw and Krakow. Man, do these people have some energy, it has been non stop since we arrived. Yesterday we went rock climbing, abseiling and caving and in the evening we did a presentation to their local motorbike club (which was great fun.)
We are now half way though this trip and finally starting to head south east back towards Turkey and Greece, where we will store the motorbike in November. We are having the time of our lives and we hope all of your dreams are coming true, too.
Gruss Gott from Vienna, Austria!!!
When we wrote last we had just arrived in Albania. Man is that country poor, but the people are super lovely. We often find that in dirt poor countries. The roads were by far the worst in all of Europe and there was no rubbish collection and hasnt been one for many years, so hopefully that gives you a bit of a picture!! The Lonely Planet book said Albania is for the Adventurous, so challenge set, we had to go!!! It was no problem, only the roads got progressively worse the further north we went, like potholes inside of potholes and constant dust and trucks!!
We then followed the coast north to Montenegro which was absolutely stunning and highly recommended. We also took a side trip up to Bosnia and saw the old Mostar Bridge and went to the capital Sarajevo and saw many buildings totally damaged by machine gun fire. A highlight was the tunnel museum that was built from under one house, under the runway and joined up inside another house the other side of the runway. This secret tunnel kept the people alive during the recent war and was amazing to see.
Croatia was next on our list and we had very high expectations of the city Dubrovnik and it was better than we thought. You must see Dubrovnik- in a stunning setting this ancient walled city shows real spirit of character- say no more, go and see it for yourself! We cruised along the coast and went into all the little fishing villages and visited many of the islands. Korcula and Hvar and Brac were stunning islands and we drove from one end of each island to the other, checking out each beach of course!
We then met up with Pam and Andrew Rorke and Brian and Sandra Smith in Split. We had a gorgeous little apartment in the centre of Split for a week and Pat did some maintenence on the bike, while Belinda washed everything!! It was great to stay in one place for a week and behave like normal people, cooking etc!! John left us in Split and drove stright up to England and got there a few days later!!
We then continued up the coast of Croatia checking out the islands of Dugi, Pag, Rab and Krk. We fell in love with Croatia and will return again we are sure. The seafood is fantastic and the people are lovely and the beaches come close to as good as Australia, so we were in heaven for the month we spent there.
All good things must come to an end and before we knew it we were in Italy with the crazy drivers and realized how relaxed we had been slowly cruising the great roads in Croatia with no traffic. Up over the Dolomites- The Italian Alps, and over the Grossglockner Pass in Austria- the most beautiful pass in the world. We saw over 1000 motorbikes that day- true motorcycle heaven!!
Austria is the prettiest country we have ever seen with lovely roads with no traffic and quaint villages and huge houses with flower pots in every windowsill. We visited Salzburg and stayed with a wonderful Austrian family in their Zimmer- rooms for rent. Belinda cried when we left 3 days later they were so lovely!!
We then went to Eagles Nest which was Hitlers secret meeting place. What a wonderful setting right on top of the mountain. You catch a lift up the middle of the mountain, we have never seen any thing like it in our life. Eagles Nest it was alright with the grand birds flying around everywhere. We then cruised around staying in lovely villages and having the time of our lives. We have caught up with Angelique Hochlahner and Hanka and Erik Forkert (Horizons members) and really enjoyed fantastic Austrian hospitality.
Tomorrow off to Vienna, then Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and finally back to Greece in November to store the bike for our next trip. Then back to Canada for a white Christmas and home in Cairns December 28.
Dubrovnik outside walls, simply stunning!!
Dubrovnik from the air from the wall tour around the city.
Gorgeous Croatian sunset from our yacht!!
Pat and John Cameron in their Michelin Man suits in Greece.
Beautiful country roads in Greece. Note: our GPS in the foreground!!
"Monasteries in The Air" in Mainland Greece, amazing!!
Beautiful Moroccan ladies eyes.
Moroccan towns totally built of mud.
Amazing road along gorge in Southern Morocco.
Friendly berbers in their berber tent sharing a mint tea with us.
Our camel trek tour guide in the Sahara.
Pat and Pedro with their bikes in Seville, Spain. (The beginning of our trip to Morocco.)
Pat on Miss Adventure2 with a Kasbah in the background in Morocco.
Pat at Moroccan ski hire that we negotiated for on the spot!!
Belinda playing the drums Moroccan style at night time.
Paris-Dakar truck team training in the Sahara Desert in Morocco.
Yasas from Greece!!
We finally left Seville, Spain for the last time in a long time and slowly travelled inland in Spain towards Barcelona. We stayed in some wonderful walled cities and enjoyed many long, lazy menu del dias (3 course lunch plus a bottle of Spanish red wine for A$11!!) In Barcelona we met up with John Cameron, a friend from Cairns, who bought a motorbike in England and wanted to come touring with us for a while. We then caught a ferry across to Rome, drove overland via Pompeii and the magical Almalfi Coast towards Bari, Italy. Next we caught another ferry across to Igoumenitsa, mainland Greece.
Touring Greece with John in tow was fantastic. He is a very happy chappy and very easy going; ideal travelling companion. There is more coastline in Greece than any other European country and many idealic islands it was hard to choose where to go!! We basically did a loop from Corfu followed the coast south to Patras, visited Mycanae ruins and Delphi ruins dating back to 3000BC (pretty old for Australians) and then followed the coast up to beautiful Volos and surrounding hillside villages. The people in Greece were super friendly and the fuel was a lot cheaper than Italy.
We had a minor rear end crash with John, minor for us, not so minor for him!! He had a momentory lapse in concentration and we were stopped at a light in a crazy spot. He simply didnt have enough time or room to stop before hitting our side pannier and sending the box and our clothes all over the road. In the meantime he skidded along the gutter, just missed a tree and came to a stop next to an electriciy pole. People came from nowhere to help us collect all our scattered clothes and things, help John to get up and get his motorbike upright. His numberplate is PTO so we turned her over!! We then checked out all of Johns injuries and he only seemed to have a few scratces, so we put bandaids on them from our trusty first aid kit and were preparing to check out the damage on his bike. John stood up and immediately knew something more was wrong with his foot in his boot. He took off his boot and had a deep and long cut along the back of his ankle. Miraculously an ambulance arrived a few seconds later and carted John off to the hospital. Pat and I were unhurt, fixed up our box and got Johns bike started. We then locked up his bike, left it outside a shop and drove our bike to the Hospital. John had a few stitches and was waiting for us and ready to go!! We picked up his bike, got a hotel room and proceeded to get a mechanic to fix his bike. Two days later we hit the road again, everything fixed and Johns leg getting better by the day, very lucky!!
We then went across the Pindos mountains in the north of mainland Greece, fantastic scenery and gorgeous ski villages and stunning 14th century monasteries perched on the pinnacles. A few days driving around the large Greek island of Corfu and then across the border to Albania.
We are now in Albania and its very old and run down, but the people are wonderful and very friendly and its very cheap!! Next up to Croatia, as usual, we cant wait!
Saha from Morocco, North Africa!! We are now back in our comfy hotel in Seville, Spain with Pedro around the corner itching to hear all our stories. Morocco, was amazing, such a country of contrasts in everyway and like no other with medieval cities, Roman ruins, Berber Kasbahs, Islamic monuments and massive palaces.
Firstly, it was very cheap (very important to us as you all no doubt know!!). We stayed in 3 and 4 star kasbahs (amazing ancient castles) for average €40 (A$60), same price as a 1 star hotel in Spain, so why not!!
The food, mama mia, harira (spicy lentil soup) tajines (meat and vegetable stews)and couscous, so tasty and so healthy; great homemade yoghurt and mint tea to die for.
The roads were in fantastic condition, built by the French, amazing to cruise around the mountains, down the valleys and up the gorges on our magic carpet ride. The motorbike simply purred along and gave us not one moments problem- she loves travelling as much as we do!!
The people, especially the Berbers in the Sahara Desert, showed us amazing genuine hospitality and it was very hard to leave. We played the drums with them and they sang ancient songs to us around the campfire and we went moon walking in the Sahara sandunes with them- an amazing feeling.
Morocco has been discovered by the French and the Germans and there were hundreds of motorhomes and lots of German bikers on their big BMWs.
Highlights were skiing in the highest ski mountain in Africa, in a town called Oukaimeden, for A$15 per day and hiring the skis outdoors on the snow at the base of the mountain with the ski hire guys fighting to get us to try their boots on in a uniquely Maroccan way!! Crossing the High Atlas Mountains and cruising the Draa Valley, Dades Gorge, Todra Gorge, Ziz Valley and of course, the magical Sahara Desert were fantastic. We also really enjoyed the ride to Tafraoute and Taroudant and the ride over the Tizi-n-Test to amazing Marrakech. Marrakech is our favourite Maroccan city with a huge central square which comes alive at sunset with snake charmers, jugglers, story tellers, musicians, great food and drink stalls and thousands of locals and tourists.
We loved checking out the Kasbah Hotels and the ruined Kasbahsand riding a camel at sunset in the Sahara. We were even offered 100 camels for our motorbike. Camels are the main currency in the Sahara!! We met up with 3 trucks doing training in the Desert for the Paris- Dakar Rally and had a great chat to the mechanics- Pat was envious of their life, but they think he has the better life!!
Now we are off to Barcelona to catch a ferry or cruise ship across the Mediterranean Sea over to Croatia and Greece. As usual we cant wait for the next leg of our journey and wouldnt want to be doing anything other than what we are doing.
We will leave you with a great quote we read the other day; "The person who travels long knows more than the person that lives long".
Rome is a magical city and we walked all over it!! We spent 7 days there and had aching feet after it, but it was truly spectacular. The history in that city is amazing. Everyone has to see Rome at least once in their life!! We stayed in a pension near the main bus station, bought a week long pass for public transport and everyday hopped on a bus going in a different direction, then walked and explored the ruins and statues everywhere. If it rained we went to a museum (and there are many) or we went touring on a bus. We went to the Vatican, the Pope blessed us (not that we needed it) on Sunday 12 noon in Saint Peters Square and we viewed lots of Michelangelos handywork. The Vatican entrance fee was €12 and 11 million people go through each year, making a tidy sum of €132 million per year- not bad business eh!!
Barcelona was our next stop and our favourite city in the whole world!! We stayed right in the heart of Barcelona at La Rambla for €50 per night. Gaudi is the Architectural hero of Barcelona and we saw all of his amazing buildings. We also saw Rembrandt, Picasso and Salvador Dali exhibitions. La Rambla has many live statues that have an incredible imagination; there was one man with a skeleton puppet dancing to music which was very clever and entertaining.
Palma de Mallorca next, to visit Peter and Hella Lea and their 5 years old triplet boys who can speak 4 languages fluently. They opened their home and their lives to us for a few days and we have a new appreciation of parenthood!! Phew.
Madrid to check out a few museums and then onto Seville to pick up `Miss Adventure II´. Pat has completely serviced the motorbike, which was in the same condition that we left her in in the underground Hotel parking lot 16 months ago. Pedro Vero, the Horizons Unlimited member for Seville, kept us up to date throughout the year on its security and has been extremely helpful preparing us for the next leg of our adventure. Thanks heaps Pedro.
Tomorrow we leave for a month in Morocco and intend to go right down to the Sahara Desert- will tell you all when we get back!!
Kate spending Laos kip like a gangster, she is holding equivalent to US$300!!
Kate surrounded by hillside village women testing her negotiating skills and her patience!!
Travel by boat Laos style- very cramped, cold and small hard seat- wonderful scenery though!!
Pat on bike on bamboo bridge at Vang Vieng, Laos.
Pat and the Honda trail bike we rented- the children came out of nowhere for our pee break!!
Pat and the Honda on a ferry in Southern Laos for 50cents!!!
Kate and Belinda up a palm tree in Kho Tao, Thailand.
Cocktail Hour in Kho Tao, Thailand.
Motorbike riding in Kho Tao in front of beachfront bungalow.
Kate and Belinda making fools out of themselves at beachfront karaoke!!
Sabadee from Lovely Laos, historically named "the land of a million elephants". Well, we are on the road again and having a blast. We picked up Kate (Pats 19 year old daughter) and travelled with her for a month. She was an absolute pleasure to travel with: she is very happy and well adjusted, willing to try everything and anything and very enthusiastic about it all.
We arrived in Bangkok just after Xmas and proceeded in kitting Kate out for travel with a large hat (to hide her blonde hair that is so rare here), water bottle holders, money belts; all the travel essentials. She was really getting good at negotiating by the end of the trip!! We stayed at the State Tower on the 48th floor in friends, Wayne and Lorraines apartment that they kindly lent us. Fireworks on New Years Eve from our balcony overlooking Bangkok was fantastic- we have never been above fireworks before!!
Next step was the diving island of Kho Tao, where Kate did her SCUBA Divers Licence and we walked around the island checking out all the lovely beaches, resorts and fruit shakes!! It really was paradise- one of the best islands in Thailand. Kate loved the food and we all had a hard job ordering anything else if Penang Curry was on the menu!!
We then night-trained up to Laos and the capital Vientiane. Laos is a very quiet, peaceful country with surprisingly few traffic. The people are very poor, quietly spoken and very friendly and happy. They are very spiritual people, mainly Budhists with monks and Wats everywhere. They believe Karma determines ones lot in life, so they dont get too worked up over anything!!
The three of us tried hard to learn the language, Kate was definately the best at it and we enjoyed mixing with the very friendly locals. They were all fascinated with Kate and all wanted to know how old she is!! In Laos she is "Sip Cow Pee"- she will kill me for telling you all her new nickname!!
We worked our way north on VIP buses!!! (overcrowded and always leaving early in the morning) to the jewel of Laos- world heritage listed Luang Prabang. Kate and Belinda had a herbal sauna and massage and nearly blew their brains in the heat!! Nothing that a few BeerLoa didnt solve!!
We then caught a boat up river, dodging rapids all the way, to a little town that is only accessible by river called Muang Ngoi. Our accommodation was a lovely bamboo hut with a verandah and a hammock out the front overlooking the river for $1 per night!! We went for walks to the villages, checked out the morning market and even went to a wedding!! We chilled out for 3 days there- it was hard to leave.
Next we headed further north on a very dusty and rough road to another little village called Muang Sing where we went on a guided trek through the hillside villages. The parents were all out working in the rice fields, so it was only the kids at home. It was amazing to see kids as young as 3 with their baby siblings strapped to their back walking around and looking after them!! They were all fascinated by us, especially when Belinda would sing and dance for them!!
Time was running out for Kate, so we started the hot and dusty 2 day journey back to Luang Prabang. She then hopped on a plane to Bangkok and only just made her connection with the flight to Australia- with only minutes to spare apparently!!
We stayed in Luang Prabang and arranged to rent a Honda XR250 Baja for US$18/day from Green Discovery for 15 days to tour the south of Laos. We met up with Dave from www.GT-Rider.com who gave us heaps of information and we bought one of his great maps. We were then free to wake up whenever we liked (buses normally leave really early in Laos and they dont go till they are absolutely chockerblock full!!) and go wherever we liked. Freedom again!!
The riverside guest house we stayed in one night put on a free feed for all the guests and the owners ate 12 songbirds. We were all horrified and said we would rather listen to them forever than eat them once!! Hence, there are not many birds in Laos, in fact there are not many animals they dont eat!!
We had a great ride through the mountains and arrived at the backpacker mekka Vang Vieng and did a relaxing tubing trip down the river. We also did a great ride over the rickety old bridge to the non tourisy side and through the villages that you wouldnt know where there. Every sunset we stop and find a nice spot to have a drink and watch the sunset and to think about how fortunate we are to be doing what we are doing. "Find your passion and make it happen."
Next stop south was the capital Vientiane where we met up with Jan and Warrick who we met in Malaysia 2 years ago!! It was a great night spent on the bank of the Mekong River watching the sun go down and cooking up a hot pot each.
Tham Lot Kong Lo was our next destination south and it really was amazing. We took a boat ride along a river/cave for 7km that went right through a mountain!! The road to get there was really rough, they said it would take 3 hours, it took Pat 1.5 hours!! What a hero!! He was in heaven on this rough track with Belinda bouncing along the back like a rag doll, but with a smile to equal Pats!! We stayed in a gorgeous village in a river side hut. Life is good and so very simple and pleasant in Laos.
We then continued to visit all the towns and villages to the very south of Laos. The highlight being a night we spent at a newly opened eco lodge near Pakse. Check it out on: www.kingfisherecolodge.com They were so friendly and the place was so beautiful, we have written to Lonely Planet about them- we wish them all the best.
Overall, the roads were in amazingly good condition, considering how little traffic was on them. Most of the Laos people are subsistence farmers, with no transport and no need to go anywhere. The hazzards on the roads were not other drivers, but damn pigs (we VERY nearly hit one that raced out of nowhere), chickens, ducks, cows, waterbuffallows, elephants and very small kids!! It was like a dodge em computer game!!
The kids here are worth mentioning. Tourism is quite new here only about 8 years now and they are still fascinated by us and are very friendly and always waving, but never begging. A lot of the villages are right by the side of the road and you see the kids as young as 3 years old carrying big knives that would easily cut off their foot!! Normally, no parents are anywhere to be seen, there are out in the fields working!!
Tourism is definately on the increase in Laos, so if you are thinking about coming to "One of the last quiet countries on Earth"- come soon. Its unbelievable that Laos is "the most heavily bombed nation, on a per capita basis, in the HISTORY of WARFARE" and yet they are so loving and peaceful: theres a lesson to be learnt there!! Speaking of lessons, Belinda has finally learnt the joy in tipping. She was getting a foot massage from a young 19 year old mother and gave her a tip equal to 4 days work and she was so grateful she almost burst!! That has started her and now she cant stop!! The joy in giving- you just cant beat it!!
Next stop for us is Europe. Starting with Rome, then Barcelona, then Mallorca, then Madrid and finally to Seville, Spain March 6 to pick up our motorbike "Miss Adventure 2" (that has been in storage for 1 year) and off to the North of Africa and Eastern Europe. We would love to meet up with anyone who is coming our direction, just let us know by email or sms +61 419309309
Well things are underway for our next trip around the world to catch up with everyone! Tickets are booked and bags are starting to get packed. Pats son Johnathan is coming to Cairns for the month of December and then we take off to Thailand with 18 year old Kate in tow (she is very excited!!). We will spend 6 weeks in Thailand and Laos, then fly to Rome, then Barcelona, then Majorca, then Madrid, then Seville, Spain to pick up our motorbike that has been in storage for a year.
After about a week in Seville getting the bike ready we will go to Morocco in March. The next 8 months will be spent cruising on Miss Adenture II around Eastern Europe. We will then store the bike in Greece in November for another year and then go to Denver then Dallas then Edmonton, Canada to catch up with The Peck Family for Christmas 2006.
Thats about us for now, working hard to pay for it all. Love to hear from you all and any advise on any of these places that anyone has.
In the meantime have a great Christmas- we will be in Cairns with The Davis Family in the pool as it will probably be 34 degrees!!
Kate and Johnathan Peck- our famous and tall kids in New Zealand!!
Beachfront camping at its best in New Zealand.
The motorhome and The Pecks in New Zealand.
Dad and Doc in the kitchen and Kate sleeping!!
Camping in the bush- note: Docs fire in the background.
We spent Jan- mid Feb travelling the north island of New Zealand. We hired a motorhome privately through www.trademe.co.nz The commercial companies were charging $330 per day to hire a 6 berth motorhome, over 6 weeks= $13,000!! which is rediculously expensive, so we looked into buying and then reselling and found the website above. Pat came up with the fantastic idea of emailing all the motorhomes for sale in the website and asking them if they would privately rent their motorhome to us over summer if they were not using it. We got 3 great responses at $100/day (it would have been cheaper in the off season), chose the best one and they delivered the motorhome to us and picked it up from the airport carpark once we were finished!! Perfect win-win situation and the only way to go and highly reccommended.
We slowly moved around NZ with our motorhome that had a shower, toilet, kitchen, 2 double beds and a single bed for Grandma!! We were completely self sufficient and cooked up big curries every night. We free camped next to a beach, river or on the top of a mountain with different million dollar views everynight!! Motorhoming is the perfect way to travel New Zealand with a family.
Colleen (Pats Mom) had a very relaxing holiday and Pats children (Kate and Johnathan) were a constant source of entertainment for us all. Johnathan had a campfire going every night with his beloved hatchet and Kate was a vegie chopping assistant from Heaven!! Kate has finished year 12 (18 years old) and is now working as a model. Johnathan is 17 years old (6'2 tall!!) and is passionate about drama and was the star in the school play!! Proud parents arent we!!
All good things have to come to an end (unfortunately) and this years travelling has also been very high in the best years of our life!! We felt really free and easy and enjoyed every moment of every day.
We are now in Brisbane, Australia catching up with friends and will back in Cairns, Australia on Sunday 20 Feb and back to work :(
Our next trip we will pick up our bike that is stored in Spain and will either travel through Africa or Eastern Europe starting Jan 2006. Stay tuned and thank you for taking an interest in our lives!!!
Last time we updated you as to our movements we were in Corsica, France. We had a great time there and rode the bike all over checking out the gorgeous beaches, mountain villages and spectacular coastal roads.
We then ferried to Nice, France and stayed with HU member Peter Hendricks. Peter was very good to us; he let us use his computer to update our HU entry, download photos, do our washing and catch up on domestic chores. In exchange we cooked up a feast for him every night. It was great to have a kitchen and cook up lots of Thai stirfrys. We even went on a motorcycle ride with his motoclub through the gorgeous French Alps.
Next we drove along the Southern French coast and saw some spectacular real estate and amazing Esplanade drives. Too expensive for us though, so we hurried back to our beloved and much cheaper Spain!! We then crossed across the middle of Spain, passing many quaint walled cities- we will never tire of them- so old and so much character and so different from anything in Australia or Canada.
Seville, Southern Spain was our destination in order to find somewhere to store our motorbike for 16 months while we go back to Australia to earn some more money!! With the help of HU member Pedro Vera Hormazabal we found a great hotel with a space in their garage that they were not using and we negotiated a deal for Euro 9/ month for storage. We left the rest of our gear at Pedros place, thanks heaps Pedro, you are a legend.
It was a great relief to get that sorted so easily, so we went off for our last final fling before leaving Europe. We cruised around Malaga area of Southern Spain and popped in to see Linda Bick, a lady who has ridden her BMW all over the world!! Linda is a real inspiration and such a small gutsy package. Linda entertained us every night and these are the words to Pats favourite song that Linda wrote and sang to us:
"Sometimes the road seems lonely and sad
And there's danger around every bend
But my troubles are halved when I hear in my heart
The voice of my faraway friends
Those faraway friends give me hope when I'm down
I know I can reach journeys end
There'll be laughter and light when I ride into town
And we are together again
Each place that I go I take with me their smiles
The words and the songs that they've penned
To share out the love, the hopes and the dreams
Amongst other faraway friends
Sometimes I'm not sure where I'm headed or why
And I don't seem to follow the trend
But I know more than once I've got back on the track
With the help of a faraway friend
For all round the world I've scattered my life
Seen sights that would make the mind bend
But each trips not complete unless I can meet
And make one more Faraway Friend"
Chorus x 2
Music and lyrics by Linda Bick
Composed in London, Ontario, Christmas 1994
Thanks Linda for letting us share your song with our faraway friends!!
Leaving our bike was a bit sad, she has been so good to us, but the temperature was dropping and European summer was definately over, so time to move on to other pastures. We left Seville and it was 21 deg C and arrived in London to 5deg Brzzzzz! John and Annette are now back in London, after travelling around the world for the last 3 years on their BMWs, so we caught up with them and celebrated in the usual manner with those two!! They have settled back into NORMAL life quite well and we even went to a motorbike show! Everything in London is super expensive, we bought 4 pieces of ham for A$25!!! We only stayed a few days and then flew to Newfoundland, Canada, then off to Halifax to visit some Peck cousins (thanks to cousin Anne and George for the great party and hospitality), then off to Louisbourg, Nova Scotia to party with more Peck cousins and Aunts and Uncles!! Next flight was to Edmonton, Canada where Pats immediate family are and here we are now preparing for a white Christmas, in fact it is snowing right now as I write.
At the end of December we will be taking Pats Mom, Colleen with us to New Zealand and buying a motorhome for 6 weeks with Kate and Johnathan as well, then back to Cairns, Australia to work March 1.
Well, heres cheers that you all have a great Christmas and New Year and hope all your families are well and all your dreams come true.
A body buried in Pompeii!!
Greek Acropolis ruins are very numerous in Sicily.
How they made the stone pillars for the temples in Sicily.
Pat and Miss Adventure II in front of a ruined amphitheatre, very numerous throughout Italy.
Patrick was born in Edmonton, Canada and moved to Australia from Canada in 1987 in search of a walmer climate. He rediscovered motorcycling in Australia as he sold his last m/c in Canada after travelling 350km at -30°C in heavy snow.
Patrick and Belinda met in Cairns, Australia, a tropical town next to the Great Barrier Reef while working together in the Real Estate Industry and were married in 2000 and travelled locally with their 1990 Super Tenere they called their freedom machine.
Belinda was born in the Southern Australian city called Adelaide. As a teenager she rode scooters and small enduro bikes, but now leaves the driving to Patrick.
Pats first long distance trip was from Canada to Mexico and return over a 2 month period with a 650 Triumph. In Australia he joined a m/c group that toured the Outback annually on 3 week long trips ranging from 8,000 - 10,000km each. This experience gave him the knowledge he needed to prepare himself and his Super tenere for Patrick and Belindas first big trip.
In 2002, 14 months in Latin America would take them from Mexico down to Terre De Fuego, Argentina , covering 38,000km.
It took Pat nearly a year to talk Belinda into agreeing to this long trip in such a strange land. With the help of a motorcycle travel website: www.horizonsunlimited.com , Belinda could read diaries from similar couples travelling in South America and thus reduce her fear of the unknown.
At the end of this trip, Belinda said that this was the best year of her life and that motorcycle travel was the only way to go. They both enjoy the freedom, the comraderie of other m/c travellers and the approachability the local people felt toward us as they too use m/c as a main source of transport.
Winding our way through mountain roads, through small villages or along the beach we had the feeling of having a "magic carpet" under us and with the wind blowing in our faces, we knew we were on a freedom-adventure trip.
Many times we were invited by the locals to eat and stay in their homes. A number of motorcycle shops refused payment for services done to our Super tenere.
We work as a team in the real estate industry in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia ( LJ Hooker Edge Hill - PH: 0418873760 ) and annually we swap our jobs with Belindas brother, Paul Davis and his wife Jacqueline, thereby travelling every second year for a year at a time.
Having picked up a little Spanish in South America we thought our next trip must include Spain and as many of the Meditteranean countries as we could fit in.
Our second trip (2004) the Super Tenere was shipped from Australia to England by ship and from there we went through France, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and back to Spain to store the m/c for 14 months until the next trip early 2006.
Our next trip 2006 covered all countries considered safe in North Africa and across to Croatia again to visit many Eastern European countries, such as Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Turkey and we stored the bike in Greece.
2008 saw us travelling from Greece, Turkey, Georgia, up to Romania for Dominiks christening, then back through Turkey again to Iran and then to Dubai to store the bike for another year.
2010 we picked up the bike in Dubai, drove to Oman, shipped the bike to Zanzibar and drove south through Africa to Johannesberg, where we stored her for 6 months (winter). We flew to Europe to pick up Miss Adventure III in Romania and drive around Europe til October 2010, then fly back to Africa for 6 months of driving with our children following on a KLR650.
Many people ask us if what we are doing is dangerous and we always tell them that we have never had a bad experience with no robberies, confrontations or break downs. Choosing a dependable motorcycle and making only a few touring modifications and performing preventative maintenance, we have not had as much as a flat tyre. We are now doing our fourth year long trip around the world, with many more to come.
If you need to contact us while we are travelling, sms on our phone is the best way on +61 419309309 sms ONLY as its too expensive for you and us for you to call.
Advice for other people: "dont think about it too long, just do it!!"
Belinda and the canals of Venice.
Amazing village in Cinque Terre, Italy.
Sandra, Brian, Belinda and Patick with our machines in B&B in Cinque Terre.
The usual pose in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Our new custom made seat made in Toulouse, France for €200.
Italy is visually and culturally spectacular and the people are very gregarious, friendly and good fun. They drive like maniacs- they love riding right up behind you, overtake whenever and stick their noses out into the traffic so you either have to stop and let them out or hit them!!! Crazy, but they all do it and it seems to work!! It is definately the most expensive country that we have found in Meditteranean Europe.....mamamia!!! I cant believe we actually stayed for 6 weeks....mind you we are very slim now!! The food....pizza and spaghetti everywhere...we dont want to see either of them again for awhile. Overall, we had a fantastic time, met many wonderful people and saw some spectacular sights, so its a must see.
After Slovenia, we went to Padova to visit Beppe Trj, the webmaster for Super Tenere Club in Italy. Website is www.clubtenereitalia.com What a guy, he wrote to all his members telling them about us and asking people if they can help to contact us. What a great service and "Welcome to Italy" that was.
We rode the bike to Venice for the day. We got a day pass and hopped on and off the "vaporetti" (ferry) up and down the canals and walked around with our mouths open all day. Venice is extraordinary; exhausting day, but fantastic. We had lunch in Venice (big mistake). For one pizza and one coke the bill came to €20 (A$37-
€7 was for the coke!!) We heard Venice was expensive and put that mega rip off down to experience and didnt spend another cent there.
Beppe Bonardi, the HU member for Marradi invited us to an Africa Twin Club meeting in his town as he wanted to use our Super Tenere as a BBQ!!! Marradi is an old stone town nestled in a mountain valley, where Beppe treated us to a fantastic lunch with many local dishes. We wish we had more time to spend there, but we raced off to meet our old friends Brian and Sandra Smith from Canada in Cinque Terre National Park.
The Cinque Terre National Park consists of 5 villages clinging to the seaside cliffs above the Meditteranean Sea. We had a wonderful few days walking the trails between the villages and everywhere you looked was a postcard shot- a definite must for any visit to Italy.
We couldnt resist visiting the Leaning tower of Pisa on our way into the Tuscan area of Central Italy. We flittered from village to village visiting towns like Siena, San Gimignano and Assisi. All hilltop fortressed stone towns, we never tire of riding the Super Tenere down their narrow cobblestone streets.
Francesco Campo, a member of the Super tenere Club invited us to stay at his home in Pescara for a few days. What a great host and guide Francesco was. One day was spent riding the Tuscan mountain roads between Pescara and Rome....bellisimo!! We are sure a long term friendship has come from this meeting.
Taking a short cut????through the centre of Rome with no city map at 5pm on Friday was definately not a good idea!!! The caos and traffic jams left us no desire to sight see Rome with the motorbike, so off we headed towards the dead Roman city of Pompeii and its killer volcano Vesuvius.
Pompeii was once a resort town for wealthy Romans, now buried under a layer of pumice stone during the eruption in AD79. It was an amazing insight into the lives of ancient Romans. Streets lined with shops and luxurious homes with the occassional body on display!! Magnificent paintings are still on the walls of many buildings depicting life in those old days. Pompeii was much larger than we thought, having a population near 100,000 people at its peak.
Due south, the Amalfi coast, a 50Km drive along the coastline with natural beauty of the sheer cliffs with clinging villages- dramatic and spectacular. Off season we could enjoy the curvy roads and breathtaking scenery without the traffic jams of August.
Down to the toe of Italy where the cities and people appear much poorer than further north. The drivers there are either doddling along or are rally drivers and in each case a danger to anyone on the road.
Crossing to Sicily by ferry we stopped in the small seaside village of Naxos, where, at night we could see the red hot lava flowing down Mount Etna volcano. (The largest and most active volcano in Europe) It seems a contradiction to have a snow capped peak and red hot flowing lava.
The next town we stopped in was Selinute, which overlooked the many ruined Greek Acropoli next to the sea. It was a marvel how they hoisted such huge rock blocks so high and to imagine the intensity of the earthquake that brought most of them down.
Erice was another hilltopped walled city over looking miles of rugged coastline, most of which we could see from our B and B bedroom window!!
On the ferry to Sardinia we met Tobias Kammerer from Germany. He travelled with us on his Triumph road bike for nearly a week. He loved the fact that he was using up a lot of side tread from his tires because of the curvy roads. The views were breathtaking and some stretches we decided to ride twice!!
Corsica roads and views were even more dramatic with many rough narrow roads being etched into the sides of the cliffs overlooking the sea. One evening we stayed in a ski resort with the lifts starting next to the front door.
A big thank you to GFTed from Super Tenere Club for his detailed notes and great ride roads in Italy and the islands. Website: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/xtz750/
We now have only a month left in Europe and will go back to Southern Spain to find somewhere to store the bike for 17 months for our next trip. Then off to Nova Scotia and Edmonton, Canada for Christmas with Pats family; then New Zealand with Pats children and then back to Cairns, Australia in March.
Belinda collecting water in full battle uniform!!
(Romeo and) Juliettes balcony in Verona, Italy.
Pat with Miss Adventure on the beautiful coast.
Heading east along Spains northern coast we began to encounter the August hordes of marauding European tourists and every point of interest was incredibly crowded, so we kept a steady pase to the Picos De Europa- a small mountain range west of the Pyrenees mountain range. The roads were narrow and windey in the Picos and were surprisingly void of crowds. We love pointing out to each other all the roman built roads, bridges and buildings.
The Pyranees mountains seemed to attract more people as the roads are wider and we began to see many big touring bikes loaded with panniers and pillion.
Next stop was Toulouse, France where we got a custom made seat for our tired bums. From there we visited Nick and Lorna, HU Community members in the winery country in Southern France. Next day we were treated to an escorted tour with their new Triumph Tiger towards Gorges Du Tarn. This is France's Grand Canyon and most of France was there!! Traffic line ups were over 10km long, moving at a snails pace, so we passed them all as only a motorcycle can!!Travelling along the white line with oncoming traffic simply moving over to make room for us!! This manouvre is very acceptable in Europe. Passing like this in Australia or North America might receive much flashing of lights and honking of horns from oncoming traffic.
The search for accomodation began at 3pm and after about 40 enquiries we finally found a vacancy at 8pm and surprisingly it was only €22, but in an older hotel. We loved the winding roads of the French Alps and found the ancient town of Annecy, next to a large mountain lake. It is within an easy ride to Mont Blanc, which is France's highest mountain with glaciers flowing down all sides. The ski resorts looked numerous and fabulous from the back of our motorcycle.
The next 2 nights in Italy were equally difficult to find accommodation, but we utilised local people that we bumped into to reccommend little hidden away hotels with great results. The Italians were very helpful, either making phone calls for us or escorting us directly to our hotel!!! Cant complain about that!
All accommodation was charging peak season rates and we were told that even fuel prices go up in August! France was €1.15/litre, Italy jumped up to €1.24/litre. All this pushed us on towards Slovenia as quickly as we could go as the € has not hit there yet and was supposedly a lot cheaper.
Still in Italy, we lingered in Verona to see the houses of 'Romeo and Juliette', it truly was the most beautiful European city we had seen with very old stylish architecture as well as a 3 level Roman theatre. There was a 20km traffic line up into town moving so slow that the passengers were walking faster than the traffic. We think the Italians would look forward to the end of Aug when they could reduce their stress levels at work!! We werent surprised at all to find the town 'complete'
or full, so we pressed on towards Slovenia.
Arriving late to Slovenias Triglavski National Park we stayed in Bovec paying €30 for a fully serviced apartment owned by the nicest Slovenian family. Belinda opted for a glorious sunset paraglide off a nearby mountain in the Alps and came down to the grassy landing point with shaky knees, but totally exhuberant.
All the next day we spent circumnavigating the entire National Park taking any small exploratory roads that we could find. Where the scenery was beautiful and the roads wide and windey we would see litterally hundreds of big touring bikes, but once off these main roads we didnt see any, even though the small roads were in great condition. This has got to be one of the best bike rides in the world!!
All bikies would give a friendly wave with hand or leg as we passed, but would seldom go out of their way when stopped to make convesation. Once approached they opened up a bit. We never really knew what language they would respond with and most conversations were brief unless they could speak English or Spanish.
On to Croatia to visit Darko Gregurek, the HU member in Zagreb and to find a new rear tyre. We ordered one to be sent to the island of Krk where we were to meet up with Nicola Mrakovcic, the HU member there. Darko was kind enough to escort us through the rolling countryside with lunch at a Croatian ski resrt, with no snow!! Darko handed us over to Nicola at the bridge leading to the island of Krk. After being hosted by Nicolas gratious family for 2 days we ferried it to the island of Cres for 2 more days of exploring the fishing and resort towns.
We just had to stay in 'The worlds smallest town'- Hum with a post office having the smallest number of post boxes. It was an ancient walled town and took 5 minutes to explore and it only had one room available for tourists. The only restaurant had the best sauerkraut and great views.
Both Croatian border crossings were informal with no customs or immigration offices and only a policeman to casually examine our passports. There was no interest given to the motorcycle crossing the border.
Back in Slovenia, not far west was the picturesque coastal towns of Portoroz and Piran to chill out in the sun and the sand and wait for the August crowds to disperse.
On our way back to Italy we stopped in to see the famous cave with a train ride through and the castle in the cave- amazing. We then drove to the capital of Slovenia to have dinner with Benka- what a woman, check out her website... www.benkapulko.com The website is fantastic and gives an insight into this amazing womans 5.5 year motorcycle journey throughout the world. We had many laughs and shared many stories, as you can imagine!
We really feel like we are on a magic carpet ride and are thoroughly enjoying every minute of every day and wouldnt want to be doing anything else. The scenery changes so much every day from the mountains to the beaches, the food changes in every country. The people and their customs are always different, all so neatly packaged into a small area. For an Australian and Canadian its amazing how small some of these European countries really are.
Stay tuned for our Italian adventures during the month of September.
Meeting up again with Annette and John Green from UK.
Belinda on a rally Vespa in Lisbon.
Belinda in a Knights of Tomar castle staircase.
Antonio and Paula, us and others at the Moto Club de Porto meeting.
Three 1996 Maroon Super Teneres looking great!
Moroccan palace guards.
Moroccan camels on the beach.
Our new European mobile number is +34 618 183 038, you can sms or call, but remember there is a big time difference!!
We are getting lots of emails from people asking us where to go in different countries, so now we will put more details in our site, so people can look it up for themselves. We really loved Portugal, such a small country packed with so many treasures, we would reccommend it to anyone.
Similar in cost to Spain, we spent max €35/day on accommodation in bed and breakfast type private homes, €25/day on food. Fuel in Spain is €.90/litre, in Portugal €1.05. July hasnt been extremely busy with tourists, the locals are complaining that since the €uro came into Portugal, tourism has become expensive and therefore decreased. The Portuguese are extremely friendly, but shy, compared to the Spanish.
Here are our highlights of Portugal, but we dont want to sound like a guidebook!!
We entered via the south through Tavira and onto Lagos which had great beaches and rocky outcrops, similar to sections of the Great Ocean Road in Australia. The beauty and the weather of this area are a real drawcard for the English and they were there in the droves- we cant blame them, it was beauiful.
We then headed north and inland to a beautiful walled town called Monsaraz, high above the plains with a wonderful medieval atmosphere. This mountainous area is dotted with fortresses, walled cities with cobbled streets, clean air and good panoramas. All castles seem to be within eyesight of each other, perhaps for protection and communication many centuries ago.
Next town was Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Town with narrow streets and well preserved inner area, wonderful cathedral and museums. There was a Church there that was lined with bones and skulls of five thousand exhumed skeletons!! Who really knows why they did such a morbid thing- it was really creepy in there.
Marvao was our favourite mountaintop medieval walled village with a population of only 190 people. From our bedroom window we had grand views across Spain and Portugal. This castle was Portugals first line of defence against Spanish invasion, you could really see how impregnable it was with steep cliffs all around. There was a great walkway on the wall around the perimeter of the entire fortress, great views from every angle.
Off towards Lisbon and the coast, we lunched at Setubal in a great seafood sidewalk restaurant- the atmosphere was fantastic. Fourteen km down the coast road we stumbled upon an isolated, quaint beachside hamlet and stayed in a fully renovated beachfront bed and breakfast with all the mod cons!
In Lisbon we rondevoused for lunch with Gonçalo Pais, the HU Community member. Staying at the campground cabins was €60, more than we expected because of the mass of Vespa motorcycle members there for the major European rally. Some members rode their 50cc Vespas from as far as Greece and everyone had decorated their bikes to a different theme, some to imitate Harleys and other nostalgic bikes with sidecars, continental tyres and various accessories.
Another highlight was Sintra, north of Lisbon, which featured Palacio de Pena built in 1839 and was used as a design theme for the castles in Disneys fantasyland. The whole town was designed and built by the rich, elite Portuguese royalty with stunning ancient architecture set in thick rainforest with cobblestone streets- we loved it.
Further north Tomar is home of the UNESCO listed Convento de Cristo- former headquarters of the Knights Templar. These Knights became extremely wealthy by acting as escorts and security for the Church and rich, elite through the dangerous times of the crusades. While we were there we saw huge fires raging through the countryside with waterbombers, helicopters and firetrucks all frantic to put out the fires.
Serra da Esterela is Portugals highest mountain range (1993m). The town of Gouveia is positioned high on the mountainside with great views and wonderful narrow old streets for us to explore. The Romans built roads over these mountains and created many dams and bridges near the top of the mountain.
Porto is the second largest town in Portugal where we met Antonio and Paula Caldeira, HU community members. With them we indulged in 20 year old port and many late nights. They brought us to the Moto Club De Porto meeting and we met lots of interesting members.
Geres is a lovely wilderness park nestled in mountain valleys in north east Portugal. We drove around the park and through the sleepy villages of the area- fantastic.
Through the Super Tenere Club we met up with Jose Santos and his friend Vega in Viana do Castello. They have identical 1996 Super Teneres to ours and we were considering purchasing Joses bike as a compliment to ours, but he decided he loved it too much to sell it. It was amazing for us to see 3 identical bikes together.
The motorbike behaved perfectly, except we replaced the chain and sprockets, which has been our only replacement since we left Australia. A big thank you to Wendy for all of her hints and tips, it really bought Portugal alive for us.
We are now in Northern Spain, working our way towards Southern France and then Northern Italy. It is now August, which is peak season, so we will be trying to avoid the expensive and crowded tourist traps!
Smelly leather taneries of Fes
The kids on the road hoping we will throw them some sweets!! Some of them get very close to the bike at 100km per hour!!
Beautiful bluewash buildings in a lovely village called Chefchauen.
Fancy dressed water seller. While Belinda distacts him, Pat takes his photo!
The most southern point of Spain is a surf, tourist town called Tarifa. The African Rif Mountains and shoreline can be seen from most parts of town with the view from the castle being the best. This town boasts the best winds and waves in Europe. It is full of surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers. The old town is wonderful to wonder through and the atmosphere is alive with all the young, active tourists. Beaches stretch for 100km all the way to the old city of Cadiz. We stopped and watched the kitesurfers and windurfers and there were hundreds of them all multicoloured!!
Near Cadiz we caught up with Annette (Internette) and John Green. They are a British couple we travelled with in South America and Australia who have been on the road together on their BMW R80GS,s for the past 2.5 years.
Authorities say that Cadiz is the oldest city in Europe and is the port where the Spanish received all of its plundered gold from Central and South America.
We then rode through Saville- it was 42 deg, so we decided to return in October when its cooler. Crossing the Portugese border just in time for the semi finals of Euro 2004 in Lisbon, Portugal. We will spend the next few weeks working our way North through Portugal and then onto Northern Spain.
Half an hour from the border we find a glorious 10km beach with an older Spanish style hotel with 10 million dollar views right on the beach and next to Club Med Resort. Our room with ensuite and verandah and breakfast was €35, but jumps to €80 in July- 3 weeks away!! Two nights and we were on our way top get some true Maroccan culture.
It was a culture shock on this side of the Mediterranean. Things are not so clean, roads not so good, buildings old and in bad repair and capitalism is in its raw state. One biker we read about said that in Morocco he had more things stolen off his motorcycle than anywhere else on his round the world trip. We watch the bike very closely and had nothing stolen.
If we ordered something in a restaurant and didnt ask the price, then they will charge whatever they can get away with!! We ordered 2 mint teas (yummy) and expected to pay 2 dirhams, but got charged 20!!
The markets are the same as they were 1500 years ago and its amazing to see medieval cities alive and well living inside the walls of the old city or medina. The merchants were a lot pushier than in Europe and we really had to say No Merci many times before they got the message.
One carpet salesman invited us into his shop because he knew some Aussies. When we looked hesitant and said we didnt want any carpet, he looked shocked and assured us it was only for frienship, not business. That lasted about 2.5 minutes before he started laying out the carpets on the floor! You should have heard the sales lines like:
they are a good investment and go up in value,
you can sell them for a profit when you get home,
you could help out a poor Moroccan family!!
South of the Med coast we rose into the Rif mountains to find the old walled city of Chefchaouen. It was a small and quaint town with most of the stone buildings painted various shades of Santorini blue. The atmosphere was amazing especially in the amber light of sunset. Dinner was in Aladdins with the blue colour scheme inside as well. They tried to rip us off by charging too much, so when that didnt work they tried to short change us!! Still it was a great night. We then drove across the top of the Rif Mountains as its supposed to be the most scenic route and the marajuana growing area of Morocco. Everyone on the side of the road tried to stop us and sell us drugs and one car chased us down, nearly running us off the road, just to sell us drugs!! We could see it growing everywhere and could touch it as we drove past!!
Next stop: Fes, the largest of the medieval cities. We were warned that the touts, merchants and would-be guides are out to hassle the tourist and in order to avoid that pressure we hired an authorised guide from the hotel. It worked a charm as he allerted us to all the tricks and no-one really approached us. The guide was pleasant as well as very informative.
The weather was starting to heat up in Central Morocco, so we found that by touring the mountains or along the Atlantic coast we could stay 10-15 deg cooler. Wherever we went there seemed to be countless castles, ruins and Kasbahs (a small walled group of buildings housing a few rich families). This area has had an unsettled past with many races such as the Arabs, Romans, Spanish and the Aboriginal people called Berbers all fighting for occupation.
The most spectacular stretch of road was along the Northern coast of Morocco within view of Spain. It amazes us that the Med Sea is so crystal clear with so many European cities dumping their wastes for the past 100,000 years or longer. The sea is a beautiful opal blue and clear enough to see the bottom a long way out.
Crossing the border back to Spain after 2.5 weeks in Morocco was hassle free with only a stamp out and a collection of the motorcycle entrance papers. No reentry stamp or papers back to Europe. Fuel at the duty free city of Cueta was .60 cents per litre as opposed to .90 cents on the Spanish side. In general things are about half the price of Spain. We did not come across a single motorcycle traveller and only heard about one just ahead of us going down the west coast of Africa. This may be our next trip in 2006!!
From Morocco we go back to Spain and then towards Portugal.
Pats highlight to date was Alhambra, an extravagant, Moorish castle overlooking Granada, which would rival any dwelling Queen Elizabeth would have, but was started well before Christ by the Muzlims from Morocco. We have never seen such granduer and it is yet to be fully restored. For anyone travelling Europe, this is a must which rates up there with Ankor Watt in Cambodia.
Belindas highlight was a beachfront hotel in La Marina, south coast of Spain, with beachviews from the bath. She kept singing a song about being in heaven!!!
You can smell Spain as you drive by the aroma of olives and fermenting wine. Wine and alcohol in general is so cheap compared to Australian prices, but that is where the cheapness ends!! We like the fact that all countries in Europe have the same currency and no official border crossings. Central and South America was a hassle for both these reasons.
So far the toll roads are too expensive and the pace too fast. We would rather ride along the slow, free roads with all of the character, drifting through the villages and stopping for tapas or menu del dia at quaint outdoor restaurants.
On the south coast of Spain we stayed the night in a whitewashed village called Los Negros. It was along a very rugged coast with its own sandy beach sheltered between high rock outcroppings. The sunset turned the sky to an orangy- purple colour which reflected onto the white and very Spanish haciendas and beach.
On the drive to Granada we drove through the mountainside whitewashed villages of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We stayed overnight in an elevated village known for its medicinal hotsprings. It seemed the average person on the street was overweight and over 65 years old. Water fountains continuously pour out from the mountainsides to give us as much free pure water as we can carry. Windy roads carry us slowly up 2000m where we have to don our winter clothes to keep warm near the top. Temperatures dropped from 30 deg on the coast to 15 deg in the mountains, but the roads are clear and dry and the riding was free and easy.
After Granada we drove inland towards Cordoba. We thought we had seen some lovely cobblestone streets full of character, but this was something else. We strolled the streets till 11pm ( nothing to do with the fact we got a wee bit lost!!) It was very hot- we didnt realize how hot until we saw the temperature was 36° at 9pm!!
Slightly closer to the coast and a bit higher and about 10° cooler we found the city of Ronda. This city was built centuries ago on the top of a cliff and is split in 2 by a river gorge. A stone bridge of considerable magnitude was constructed in the 1700's spanning the gorge to expand the city and extend travel to the opposite side. At sunset we watched the falcons swoop and dive in the updrafts as though they were jet fighters. Flamingo dance classes were conducted in the amber light of sunset on a stage platform overlooking the valley floor. Two hundred dancers moved in harmony to the guitarist and spanish singer ( the Spanish really have style!)
Having heard about the rock of Gibraltor for so long, we had to visit. It astounded us for its military history; it has been an English fort since the 1700's. The rock has 33 miles of tunnels honeycombing inside; with ports for cannons to fire at enemy ships as they approach. Only the rock is English with Spain surrounding it, but never able to conquer it.
We rode the Super Tenere up the rock up its narrow road spiraling nearly to the top where you can see both Europe and Africa from the same spot as well as the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. With all the rock and dirt that was taken from the tunnels they made the airport running across the ithsmus so that you drive across the middle of the runway to reach the Rock from Spain. Gibraltor is a tax free zone, so we were surprised to see no bargains available except fuel and cigarettes. The accomodation is double that found in Spain, only 1km away!
We took the 35 minute ferry across to Morocco the next morning to find a huge queue 2 km long to get through customs. One of our favourite customs in Spain is that all motorcyclists can move to the front of any line any way they can to take the front position, even at traffic lights. So we hit the front in a matter of minutes and we were through shortly afterwards. We were surprised to find that we need not check out of Europe before entering Morocco, which may prove invaluable when we store the bike in Europe and only have a 6 month permit for the Super Tenere. We will see when we have to go back in!
Stay tuned for Moroccan adventures during the month of June.
Sorry, this has taken so long, too many things to see and too little time!
Palma, Mallorcas capital city, has an old city area surrounded by fotified walls with turrets on all corners. Inside is a medievil city with narrow cobblestone streets, stone buildings and modern shop facades; tapas bars and small restaurants flow their tables right onto the streets. Outside the walls and on the waterfront is the sheltered harbour mooring the most expensive boats in the world- those being owned by the Arabian oil rich Sheiks.
Windy ashphalt roads took us to all extremes of the island to explore resort beaches, old hillside towns and the sheer high cliffs. It was strange to see Dutch style windmills scattered throughout the island that were once used for crushing grain and pumping water from low lying areas. There were hundreds, where there used to be thousands.
We hiked to castles on mountain tops and treked cliff faced trails to catch sea views with Peter, Hella and the 3 Lea Muskateers!! The triplex are 3 years old, how could 3 triplets be so different in personality?
After 2 funfilled weeks in Mallorca we ferried back to Barcelona to explore its Rambla (an open aired market) rambling the length of an old river bed full of live statues requesting money for immitating Pharoahs, Christopher Collumbus, to someone sitting on the toilet! You dare not take a photo without first depositing money. We saw one statue spring from its pedestal scaring the shit out of 2 young girls passing by.
Barcelona is the home of such great talent as Picasso, Salvador Dali and the great architect- Gaudi. The Imax theatre was so real that Belinda got sick on one of its rollercoaster rides until she closed her eyes and realized she wasnt moving at all!!
We were hosted by a young professional couple- Marta and Roger, who opened their home and their hearts to us. We met through the internet webpage- www.globalfreeloaders.com They welcomed us strangers into their home and showed us the sights of their home town- Sabadell.
Heading south along the Med coastline the beaches were great with many rock outcroppings which have a huge castle on top to protect that part of Spain many hundreds of years ago. Our winding tour through inland mountains found many more castles perched on mountain tops with villages surrounding. We found a great classic hotel (brought up to todays standards) on the inside of the ancient wall next to the gates and overlooking the river that protected the walls of Valderrobres. Very picturesque. We spent hours wandering the narrow, cobblestone streets and many ascending stone stairs leading to the elevated castle and cathedral.
Wherever we go in Spain the roads are great and even the "bad" ones are supreme compared to parts of Ruta 40 in Argentina. Everything here is so civilised, organised and well signposted. The Spaniards are very friendly when approached, but the Spanish Argentinians would approach us to invite us into their lives. Spaniards lead the life of late outdoor dining and it has taken us awhile to change our timeclock to eat at 10pm!!
We love driving through the rolling countryside, through whitewashed villages and spotting the castles on all of the tallest hills. After having been in many castles we have decided that they look the best from the outside, so seldom venture in except for castles like Alhambra in Granada. We will tell you more about this in the next installment, coming soon to your screen!!
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.
We left the gorgeous islands of Thailand for the dirty Myanmar border town called Kawthoung and nearly did an about face! The land borders are just starting to open to tourists and we only saw one other tourist in the 10 days that we toured the southern arm of Myanmar.
The people were as friendly as the Thais, but there subtle differences were: the mud coating on their faces to protect them from the sun; most of the men wore sarongs (like a long skirt) and the women would carry heavy loads on their head and do most of the physical labour, ie construction.
Their Government is a military dictatorship that suppresses the people and restricts all information bought into and out of the country. Therefore, there are restricted international phone calls, all emails out of the country are banned and sms messages are impossible.
Many local people earn $6 per month and forced labour camps have closed as recently as 1996. One member of a comedy team, called The Moustache Brothers was sent to jail and forced labour for 7 years for telling derogatory jokes about the Government!!
We visited villages made from grass and bamboo in the forrest that would have looked the same 4000 years ago. We both celebrated our birthdays walking through villages and waving to the kids- our second favourite activity after walking along beaches. Life is simple there, with little stress and even fewer possessions and the people seem really happy and content.
Began is a budhist town with 2000 pergodas (temples) which makes an impressive skyline. It is hard to imagine its peak of 17,000 temples in the 11th Century destroyed in the 1970's by a huge earthquake.
Began Temples as far as the eye can see.
They say that Rangoon (The Capital) was the origin of Budhism and the first pergoda "Swedagon" was initially built 2,700 years ago.
Tourists are not allowed to bring vehicles into the country, which is just as well as most of the roads are dreadful!!
Overall, we are glad we visited Myranmar, but are glad to be in more civilised and prosperous Thailand now. Next, we fly to Germany for a few days and then London to pick up Miss Adventure and start the Mediteranean leg of our journey for the next 6 months.
Bin and Pat watching the sunset with a cocktail!! Way to go!
Magical Phi Phi Island great beaches, snorkelling, restaurants- paradise to us.
When we dont have a motorbike, this is how we cruise- on the back of a bus!
Pat and Dr Gary Wilson putting Miss Adventure to bed in her crate for the trip from Brisbane to London Feb 2004
Miss AdventureII (Super Tenere- the motorbike) Bin, Beth Penhalagon, Beths daughter-Mandy, Pat on our first day.C
We are in paradise (we know we have said that many times, but this really is the ultimate!!) Great beaches, great snorkelling, great food, friendly people and dont forget Cheap as Chips!!!
When we last wrote we were on our way to The Perhentian Islands in Malaysia- they were fastastic- great snorkelling right out the front of our gorgeous bungalow right on the beachfront. The food was fantastic- fresh seafood and mango shakes to die for. We stayed for a week, beachcombing and discovering something new and exciting every day. The beach sand was white talcom powder, we saw lots of turtles snorkelling and even a 2m lizard (like komoto dragon) going through the garbage. We also had a family of monkeys in the tree outside our bungalow, that gave us hours of enjoyment. Who was it that asked me: " What do you do all day when you are travelling!!?"
We then crossed the border into Magnificent Thailand where the people are the friendliest in the world. Our favourite destination so far is Kho Phi Phi. We slowly worked our way up the coast of Thailand island hopping from Kho Mok to Kho Phi Phi. We have got to be experts now on tropical islands and beautiful beaches. They never seem to lose their appeal as each one is different. At Phi Phi we stayed for a week in our beachfront hut for $15 per night. There are no cars on Phi Phi, many magnificent beaches- we saw the beach that the movie "The Beach" was filmed at. We also swam through a cave for 100m at it came out to an inland beach- magnicient. Its such a wonderful world to discover, I cant work out why everyone doesnt travel. Then again, we are glad they dont as everywhere would be too crowded!!
We are now in Rai Leh beach which is a similar beach to Phi Phi but smaller. The coastline is spectacular with limestone cliffs towering up and rockclimbers scrambling all over them. There are caves everywhere and we spent half an hour watching 14 monkeys swimming amongst the mangrove trees and underwater (didnt know they could do that!!)
We are now off to Myanmar (Burma). Not sure how popular internet is there, so you might not hear from us for a couple of weeks. We are going into hiding for Belinda's 40th!! Photos coming hopefully.
Since our last entry we have travelled down the Queensland coast to Brisbane, stopping in and seeing all Pats BOUGI Boys mates (motorcycle club- stands for Bad, Old, Ugly, Guilty, Insane) all along the east coast of Qld. Highlights included: Ninbin- a hip, little town from the 60's where even the kids greeted us with "pease man, wanna buy some pot?!!" We thought it was a hoot! Byron Bay was also fantastic and the surf was pumping. We had a great time with Mum and Nev at Tweed Heads and walked Chris's dog 4 times a day!!
Then we arrived in Brisbane and the work started on the bike- getting the crate (a Harley full dresser), putting the bike in it without having to dismantle it, change the tires, install the Autocom intercom that works brilliantly and heaps of other last minute jobs- thanks to Gary (Doctor Wilson - our motorcycle mechanic with a passion for Super Tenere's). We partied with Karen and Rodney, Jenny and Michael, Leive and Murray (again) and Ken and Carol Duval (Horizons Community contact).
On the 16 Feb 2004 we flew out to Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. We went directly to a lovely little beachside village called Cherating (on the East coast of Malaysia) and stayed put for 5 days. It was fantastic- we had a beautiful bungalow right on the beachfront with private bathroom and verandah for AUS$16/night!! We had a choice of about 10 superb seafood restaurants to choose from with fresh seafood and fresh fruit and fruit drinks. We really chilled, reading, sleeping, walking along the beach, canoeing along the river spotting monkeys, generally taking it easy. One day we saw 2 drownings- the Malaysians are not very strong swimmers and the women swim with all their clothes on- Muslim.
We are now in Kuala Terengganu, heading north up the East coast towards Thailand. Tomorrow we are going to Perhentian Island group which is supposed to have fantastic snorkelling and diving and lovely bungalows and food again!
We have seen heaps of groups of big road bikes ridden by Singaporeans driving like madmen!
We have finally broken free, left work, rented the house, got the bike ready and hit the road. We fly out from Brisbane 15 Feb 2004, so we have heaps of time. Our first night we spent with Col and Rowena Neate in Port Hinchinbrook in their stunning ocean front apartment; second and third nights with Leiva and Murray Frame in Townsville in their magnificent show home with views from every room overlooking Magnetic Island!! What a great start to a great trip!! We will be stopping in and seeing everyone we know on the way down, so if you are situated between Cairns and Brisbane- prepare yourselves for our iminent arrival!!
Hi Us again!! We have got another Yamaha Super Tenerre and are preparing our next trip. We will go to Thailand and Malaysia from Feb 2004- April 2004. We will then fly to London, pick up the bike from a ship and cicumnavigate the Meditteranean Sea. Bank to London or maybe Germany, leave the bike there and fly to Canada Nov- Dec, then home via New Zealand and back to work Feb 2005.
Thats the plan at this stage. We will keep you posted. In the meantime, its back to work to pay for this trip!!!
From Salta we travelled over the 4,700m pass (Paso de Jama) to San Pedro de Atacama. We travelled through the largest and dryest desert in the world- it was amazing.
We then arrived in Iquique, which is a duty free port, the only legal place we could sell the motorcycle to a Chilean. We put posters everywhere and put the bike out at the beach on the weekend- where everyone was!! We had a few guys look at it, but they didnt have enough money to buy it. We then went to the only big Japanese motorcycle shop in the Free-zone and they didnt even look at it- said they had enough bikes to sell!! Our hearts sank- what were we going to do. The pressure was building up to get home and we were getting nowhere fast.
We decided to go shopping in the freezone and parked the bike outside the bike shop- target marketing!! When we returned the bike shop owner made us a really low offer on the bike. Then Grant and Susan Johnson from Horizons Unlimited rescued us!! They put our bike on the home page and said how desperate we were and the buyers came out of the woodwork- in the end we had four offers for the bike and chose the most convenient offer, but not the highest one (believe it or not!)
We found a like minded traveller- Daniel on the Lonely Planet website who was looking to buy a motorbike- he was in Buenos Aires and we were in Iquique- top end of Chile. We decided to meet in La Serena - Central Chile.
How we did the paperwork: We went to Customs in La Serena and they redid the motorcycle paperwork in Daniels name, took the ´entered with motorcycle´ stamp off our passport, put ´entered with motorcycle´stamp on Daniels passport, changed it all in the Customs computer and we were off- no money paid, no hassles! We then gave Daniel a bill of sale and put the registration in his name.
After this we were free to cross the border without the bike and he was free to leave with the bike.
We have set ´Miss Adventure´ free to continue travelling the world! Daniel is going to drive her up to North America- where we came from! We are glad that is all behind us now. We then did a tour- the first time we had travelled in a car for 14 months and then hopped on a bus to Vina del Mar- Chiles beach resort town and RELAXED for the first time in a month- the relief was enormous.
Pat and Monno Argentinian kissing in Mar de Plata!!
Oscar doing a great Argentinan BBQ in Viedma.
Luis and Pat sharing a cerveza at a beach in Argentina.
Now thats a glacier, just ignore the honeymooners kissing in the foreground!!
Us and Luis at the End of the World in Ushuaia.
Us at the End of the World sign in Ushuaia.
Guess who in Argentina??
The Viedma crew sharing a Mate (Argentinian hot drink!!)
Pat and Bin going for an ultralight flight in Mendoza- now Pat wants one of these!!!
Anyone for a mudbath or a mudfight!! Pat and Belinda at the right of the photo!!
Pat on another makeshift bridge in a volcanic area in Equador.
Crossing the border to Brazil was both expensive and time consuming as it is the first country in Central and South America that we have visited that you need a visa US$50 each. The views from Iguasu were more spectacular from the Brazil side.
Changing the tyres in Foz De Iguasu we met the owner of the Pirelli shop- Roberto Apelbaum, who is a member of a motorclcle club called Route 277. He invited us to the club meeting and we all had a meal together. As they make lots of large annual trips they filled our map with all the great places to see. They have a great website www.route277.com.br full of fantastic pictures.
Next we off to the Brazillian coast and will work our way south towards Uruguay, then back to Argentina.
24 September- PUNO
We stayed in a great place- Casa Nostra in Yanque in Colca Canyon and had a great thermal spring all to ourselves and saw many birds souring the thermals.
Currently we are in Puno in Southern Peru on Lake Titicaca at 3855m high- 165km long and 60km wide. We are off to Bolivia today.
We have really enjoyed Peru and are quite sad to be leaving, but looking forward to more adventures.
Here are a few things that we found unique and interesting about Peru:
- The ancient civilisations going back many thousands of years with many secrets unsolved ie Nasca Lines and Machu Picchu.
- Lots of the houses are made of mudbricks and the people are generally very poor, but there is not much begging- they are very simple, but proud people.
- There are pre Inca and Inca ruins and tombs scattered everywhere in the very dry desert that runs right down the coast of Peru- 2500km long.
- Along the Andes there are many volcanoes (some quite active) and many quaint maintain (pueblo) villages.
- The altoplano is a vast plain at 3500m high running the length of Peru between the Andes Range and The Amazon Jungle.
- There are many fake coins and notes which the locals think they can easily dispose onto unsuspecting travellers! Once we filled up with fuel and got 4 fake coins in our change. It was so funny telling the local that we knew they were fake and would not accept them!
- The food was surprisingly good withMenu del dia (menu of the day) costing US$1 for a 3 course meal with great thick soups!
- There are no road rules (not apparent to us anyway) and everyone honks their horns continually. There are not many road signs, so we have to ask people continuously donde esta...? (where is...?).
- Everything is quite cheap, except fuel at US.85c/litre. We have got off the beaten track with the motorcycle and avoided dangerous bus stations and seedy parts of town and had some unique culural experiences as a result. Patrick was right travelling by motorcycle is way safer and much more fun than travelling by public buses.
- The Peruvians now realize the great benefits of tourism for themselves and their country and greet tourists with friendly and open arms. It is a fun and easy country to travel in with the only problems being pickpockets (which we havent experienced).
- There is an amazing similarity with Nepal- with the physical appearance of the people and their traditional dress and the geographic features of the country and the type of basic housing.
We will ´Talk´ to you from Bolivia!!
We are an Australian couple from Cairns, Queensland, Australia travelling 2 up on a Yamaha Super Tenere XTZ 750, fondly nicknamed Miss Adventure. We started ground travel in Texas in Feb 2002, then through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Hondurus, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. We then all flew (bike as well) to Lima, Peru. We will eventually finish in Chile in March 2003 and will sell the motorbike then. ( see our ad in HUBB section of this website: www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/Forum18/HTML/000213.html if you are interested in more details about the bike and all our modifications).
We are real estate agents ( LJ Hooker Edge Hill - 0418 873 760) and job share with Belindas brother-Paul Davis and his wife Jacqueline. We work for a year and travel every second year, working half a financial year each year. If you need to contact us while travelling sms ONLY on +61 419309309 as its too expensive for you and us for you to call.
We will start this website from Equador in 2002 and continue through South America our next trip was a year, 2004 in Western Europe and in 2006 a year in Eastern Europe.
20 AUG 2002- ECUADOR
Our first stop in Ecuador was the lovely gringo village called Vilcabamba, nestled in the Andes Mountains, where we attended there annual rodeo. We stayed in a gorgeous new resort run by a couple of German brothers. The views were magnificent, food fantastic, weather was very mild and we had a ball. Everyday we would go for a hike, explore the village, go for a mountain bike ride and have lunch in one of the many high quality restaurants. (not all in one day!!) We had a bonfire every night, met and partied with some wonderful people, including John and Annette (an English couple travelling on 2 BMWs)- you just go girl!!! After 10 days we reluctantly left to explore the rest of Equador!!
We drove towards another gringo hangout called Baños, located at the base of a VERY active volcano. We took a short cut road from Riobamba to Baños, which was effectively closed due to volcanic damage in 1999. We heard it was Ok for motorbikes and bicycles. Being the adventurous type, we decided to give it a go- 40km took us 4 hours!! So much for a short cut! The road had been totally wrecked, there were 10 makeshift bridges, all with 20m drop offs and NO siderails!! It was nervewracking and I wouldnt recommend it to anyone, but I was so proud of my heros driving abilities!! We walked up towards the volcano and actually saw some puma exploding out of the volacno and heard the explosion- all very exciting.
We then headed north of Quito, checked out the Equator monument and a fascinating museum that showed water going around clockwise on one side of the equator and anticlockwise on the other and only 3m apart. It was quite cold on the equator due to the height!! (one pass at 4,000m was 7 Deg C at noon)
We have been following the Andes range the whole way up Ecuador and were looking forward to being warm again and seeing a few more beaches!!
We headed towards the coast via The Quilotoa Circuit (boasts a volcanic lake) which turned out to be quite a rough, winding dirt road, but at least there were no camacazi truck and bus drivers on this road.
We then went whale watching in Puerto Lopez. Next was Isle de Plato, the poor mans Galapagis, which was $30 each per day, compared to $3,000 each per week. We saw lots of nesting Albatross and nesting Boobies- (the bird variety!!)
We found a paradise beach-Montañita-the best surf beach in Ecuador- with lovely cabanas with hammocks in the spacious balcony- called Kamala, but it was too overcast for us beachbums.
We are now heading back towards Peru and will cross the border tomorrow.
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