June 17, 2011 GMT
Leaving for the Baltic Lap Soon!

The paperwork is all sorted (I hope). Got my International Driving Permit, the motorcycle is contracted, plane tickets are purchased and I have my Russian Visa and an invitation letter as you can see here.




Of course I have NO idea what they may say since they are in Russian. I’ll find out if everything is OK when I get to the border. Hope I don’t wind up in a gulag somewhere. :=) Now I have to try to fit a HUGE pile of stuff into ONE suitcase that weighs less than 50 pounds. The airline restricts me to that unless I want to pay $70 to check a second bag. I remember some advice I received from a world traveler before I left on my first adventure trip to Central America in 2003. He said “put everything you think you will need for the trip in one pile, and put all the money you think you will need for the trip in a second pile. Now take HALF the stuff out of the first pile and DOUBLE the size of the second pile and you should be good to go.” :=) From the looks of things, if the dollar gets any weaker against the Euro, I will be looking for a second (or third) part time job when I get home (got to add to that second pile). :=) Shelly (who has the house and motorcycle in Sweden) says we can expect to pay about $8 or $9 a gallon for gas on the trip and even WORSE, $15 FOR A BEER. Thinking of going on the wagon for a while (he says that now, but at the end of a long hard day of riding ……..) The next update should be coming from Europe. Thanks for riding along. Don’t forget that I will have access to email while on the road at my usual email address so feel free to stay in touch especially if you want removed from the update notifications (please don’t do that).

Rick

Posted by rickmcd at 07:05 PM GMT
June 27, 2011 GMT
Frankfurt, Denmark, & Points North

A fellow I know that rides all over the world says "the REAL adventure begins when the plan goes to hell". Well, our plan took a bad turn 3 hours after we left Los Angeles. Our LA to Houston flight landed 20 minutes AFTER our Houston to Frankfurt plane took off. Bummed, but Continental set us up in a “multi star” hotel (2, IS multi, right) and gave us breakfast, lunch and dinner while we waited till the next day for our flight. We finally made it though, got the bikes sorted, repacked from suitcases to saddlebags and were ready to be “on the road again” (sounds like it could be a song huh?)




One little setback though, Corey got separated from some of our equipment. Air pump and gauge, tie down straps, and the GPS mount which was a GREAT loss but fortunately the motorcycle rental place set us up with GPS stuff at least. Some TSA person must be a motorcycle rider. With only one night in Frankfurt, we thought that the least we could do was find an authentic German dinner. We walked into a typical village (btw, we were actually quite a bit north of downtown) and after passing up the McDonalds found a perfect restaurant. NO ONE spoke English and they had no English menu. Dos Cervezas por favor got us NOTHING! :=) Actually, I took a little German in high school so I was finally able to get some pork loin with spaetzels (sp) that was excellent and so was Corey’s beef surprise.



Since we were a day behind already we decided to take what will hereafter be referred as the Mileage Disposal Route (MDR) otherwise known as the Autobahn. Headed north toward Denmark at a VERY FAST pace. Max speed for the day was 112mph and the moving average was 74mph (probably would have been higher but it was raining off and on). :=) At those speeds you can dispose of the miles very quickly (540 for the day). Made it to the ferry. Had no idea how the system worked but met a very nice couple while in line that held our hands and made it easy for us.



Thanks to Anders and Karina (why does she ride a Suzuki when he has a KTM store?) The ferry took us to Denmark and much more importantly AWAY from the high speeds and onto some great motorcycle roads with lots of scenery.



Not in Denmark very long. We crossed a beautiful new bridge and suddenly we were in Malmo, Sweden where we spent the night after we found a great sidewalk café for dinner.



The next day, it was more perfect motorcycle roads along the ocean,



plenty of scenery,



many nice places to stop,



and great weather (finally). We toured the very southeastern tip of Sweden on our way to Okarshamn to catch another ferry for Gotland Island to pick up Shelly so we can be the 3 Eurotrash Amigos. I’ll let you know how that goes later. You may have noticed that I didn’t say anything about tall, blond, good looking women from the intro. That’s cause I didn’t see any (Julia, that’s my story and I’m stickin' to it!!!!)

There are more pictures here if you would like to look in.

http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/15599906_8ri5r

Rick and Corey (haven’t found Shelly yet) :=)

Posted by rickmcd at 08:45 PM GMT
June 29, 2011 GMT
Gotland Island, Sweden

We made it to the terminal in time for the ferry that would take us to the town/village of Visby on Gotland Island where Shelly and his wife Barbro live for the summer. Since Shelly had already been on the island for a week or so he said he would meet us at the ferry terminal and he did (he was only 5 minutes late, which Corey and I considered to be very early for him) :=)



We were now the 3 Eurotrash Amigos. Shelly led us to his place right on the beach and gave Corey and I accommodations in our own private bungalow with a patio facing the beach.


GREAT digs. Barbro fixed us a great dinner while Corey and I made a HUGE dent in their beer supply. Later that evening we went to the patio of the restaurant next door to Shelly’s place and “poached” some internet time so we could check on things back home. The sunset that evening was not to be believed. Beautiful.






The next morning Shelly took us on a tour of Visby which turns out to be one of the coolest towns I have ever visited.












It is a walled, fort like city with narrow, hand laid brick streets, hundreds of quaint shops, churches with some great leaded glass, and many sidewalk cafes. Erected around 1300 AD. Shelly explained that the wall originally was not a fort but was erected to keep the farmers away from the merchants (didn’t want those smelly farmers coming to town I guess). The walls and towers were later used for protection from several invaders but the café’s accommodated them all I’m sure. Visby is known as the city of “roses and ruins”.



Here are some of the ruins (and that wall is pretty old also). Definitely worth a visit (if you ever hit the lottery). :=) We all went on a tour of the Island and met many of Shelly and Barbro’s friends and family.


Fortunately, Barbro has a brother that owns a great restaurant right on the water and he serves BEER,



so of course we stopped in. Tomorrow it’s another ferry ride to Stockholm to see what it has to offer (besides VERY high prices). Speaking of “high”, Julia asked me about the picture of the gas station sign from the last entry.



It shows the gas we use as 152.9 per Litre (and there are about 4 of those in a gallon). That is in Swedish Kroners which converts to about $9.00 a gallon. Now you see why I said “if you ever hit the lottery” :=) Hope Julia gets in a little overtime. More from down the road.

Many more pictures here if you like.

http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/15599906_8ri5r


Posted by rickmcd at 07:44 PM GMT
 
 

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