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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #421  
Old 27 Jan 2015
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This is our third Christmas on the road. It's another low-key event for us, but that's all about to change. After three restful weeks in Calella, we're packing up the bikes again! But this time we've got company!


Tajana and Iva have joined us on our trip!

Neda's high school friends have driven all the way from Croatia and they are spending a couple of weeks of their vacation with us. The reason we took an extended break in Calella was to prepare for the arrival of The Pula Girls. I remember how we used to travel when we were on vacation - wanting to see and do everything in what limited span of time we had. So I convinced Neda to take some time off beforehand in preparation for a whirlwind tour with her friends.

The girls descended onto our apartment bearing Christmas gifts - namely lots of food! All the Croatian favourites that put a smile on Neda's face and made me have to loosen the belt on my riding pants. They were very excited about traveling with us and were very curious to discover how we travel: how we packed all our belongings on the bikes everyday, what our pace felt like, how we lived on the road.


Looking down onto our Barcelona neighbourhood

Barcelona is only half an hour away from Calella, so the next day, we gathered all the belongings that we had strewn all over in our settled-in apartment and got ready to leave. The Pula Girls got the answer as to how we pack our bikes: Very slowly. I anticipated this and Neda and I started an hour earlier to stuff all our belongings into various dry bags, liners and jacket pockets. Everything had a place and it was rare to leave something behind because of the Tetris-like hole it would leave in our crammed luggage.

All the girls did was throw a suitcase into the trunk of their car. And despite the hour head-start we had on them, they were still waiting for us.


More free parking in downtown Barcelona

Through AirBnB, we found a rustic apartment right in the downtown area, which turned out to be not so expensive since we were sharing the costs four ways. Unfortunately for the girls, parking in downton Barcelona is super-expensive. Some places nearby were asking €40 a day! That was more than what their share of the apartment was! They found parking quite a ways away, but it still cost them €24 per day.

In contrast, we rode up onto the sidewalk outside our apartment and left the bikes parked there. Free. The girls may be discovering how we travel, but we are also learning how expensive our trip could be if we were doing it by car. I estimate our costs would have easily doubled in some of the larger cities we were visiting just because of the parking alone!


La Boqueria

We are leaving all the planning of the trip to The Pula Girls. This is their vacation so we are merely tagging along and following them to all the places they want to visit in Spain. It feels good not to have to plan at all.

One of the places we visited was La Boqueria, one of the largest markets in Barcelona where you can pick up all sorts of fresh vegetables, meats, pastries, sweets, etc. I loosened the belt on my pants a little bit more in anticipation...


The minute I saw this octopus on the counter, I knew it was not going to last very long


As predicted,The Pula Girls all ordered octopus salad
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  #422  
Old 27 Jan 2015
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Iva is toasting to the start of a great Spanish vacation


Barcelona is cold this time of year. Iva moves faster than we do, even off the bike...

We got a good idea as to how our trip was going to go. Iva and Tajana spent every waking minute exploring Barcelona. Neda joined them for most of it, opting out of the night-time events since she falls sleep early. And I let all the girls hang out by themselves while I relaxed in the apartment, venturing out for sporadic walks and meal-times. When they would come back, they'd regale me with all the things they saw and did in the city.

I felt tired just listening to them! There's no way I could travel like that! Not full-time, at least.


Barcelona Cathedral


My favourite part of churches are the votive candles


Casa Batlló

One of the most distinctive features of Barcelona is the architecture of one of its residents, Antoni Gaudi. His modernist buildings are found all over the city. The Casa Batlló above is made to look like it was constructed out of skulls and bones - the skulls are the balconies and the bones are the pillars of the building. Gaudi decorated the exterior as if it was coral, you can see the marine relief and colours in the higher floors.


Barcelona's longest pedestrian street, La Rambla, all decked out for the holidays

Like the rest of Spain, Barcelona comes alive at night. This was one of the busiest cities I've been to. It ranks right up there with New York City and Rome, and I can imagine it's what Tokyo also feels like. Although only having a population of 1.6 million, most of the people that we were swimming with and against on the crowded streets are definitely tourists. The cold night air was thick with the din of many different languages.
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  #423  
Old 27 Jan 2015
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"Who knows where the road may lead us, only a fool would say"

Is it embarrassing that for the longest time, I thought La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family) was just the title of a cool song? It was only very recently that I found out the song (by Alan Parsons Project) is about a church designed by Gaudi and is one of the most famous buildings in the entire world because of its unique interpretation of gothic architecture.

I think it looks amazing, but like most of his buildings, it resembles something out of a twisted dream. Construction started in 1882, and it is still unfinished today. There is transparent protective wrapping around the bottom of the church that from afar looks like a spider web, lending to its nightmarish quality. The cranes towering above the church are a constant fixture and they say it will finally be complete in 2026, 100 years after the death of it's architect.

When construction is finished, it will be the tallest church in the world.

Gaudi himself is buried in a crypt at the basement of La Sagrada Familia. He died after being hit by a streetcar less than a mile away from the church he was building.


"First we'll have some of these, then we'll have a bit of those, then..."

*sigh* While the girls stock up on supplies, I go shopping, looking for a bigger pair of pants...


The bone-building, Casa Batlló, during the day


Close-up of the top of the building


I'm not lion when I tell you I'm having a great time!


Watching the boats come in for the start of the Barcelona World Race

In a few days time, a fleet of two-man yachts will leave from here and race around the globe to arrive back in Barcelona in three months time. The ships are only 18m long and they will have to survive three oceans, 12 climate zones and 23,000 nautical miles. Very extreme!

It's a bit funny contrasting those race statistics to our own trip. Based on how slow we go, we're never going to be able to boast: "xx kms! xx countries! in less than xx days!!!"


A bit of modern architecture amongst the old


Some girl-stuff happening in our apartment. I walked in, took a picture and left.

Neda is having such a great time hanging out with her old friends! Iva and Tajana are the first friends that have visited us while on this trip! We have been traveling with only ourselves for so long and although we are good company together, Neda does miss being all girly and doing girly-things.

The dynamics are working out very well, because the girls' pace allows Neda to do all the things she wants to do without feeling like she has to drag me out when I'm feeling lazy (which is most of the time). For me, I've never lived with a bunch of women before and it was eye-opening how much talking, giggling, talking, finger-nail painting and talking goes on...
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Last edited by lightcycle; 27 Jan 2015 at 23:40.
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  #424  
Old 29 Jan 2015
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We are on the move again!

Lugging all of our soft bags on and off the bike is a bit of a pain, but at least in Barcelona, Iva and Tajana didn't have to wait for us since they parked so far away. We ended up leaving at the same time, and headed south on the coastal road. It was a very scenic ride, here's a short video:


Barcelona to Valencia

Although the sun is shining bright, it's still a little chilly. Neda and I are bundled up in all of our layers, meanwhile the Pula Girls are sweltering because of the greenhouse effect inside their car tailing behind us. They tell us that we look very synchronized in front of them, with our staggered positioning. Cool!


Enjoying the twists and turns along the coast

The girls wanted to stop in Tarragona, which is about an hour south of Barcelona. When we arrived, I realized why: there's a Roman amphitheatre right in town! Tajana paid the admission price to go inside, since she is a historian by profession. Neda and I looked over the railing because we were too cheap to pay. Iva said she'd keep us company.


The Tarragona Amphitheatre could house 15,000 people!


After walking around for a while, Tajana yells up to us: "Neda! Iva! Ours is better!"
I'm starting to sense a pattern...


Because we left a bit later, we arrived in Valencia after dark. This is going to be a problem for us because while the girls like to pack in as much sightseeing as they can during the day and arrive at night, Neda and I prefer to ride while the sun is still shining. It's a bit safer for us, and at this time of year, it's also a lot warmer. We were freezing when we arrived!


Valencia oranges outside our apartment

Valencia is known for its sweet oranges, but the orange trees that the city planted as decorations must have been genetically engineered to taste bad. There were a few half-eaten oranges lying on the ground under the trees - a warning to other tourists not to pick them. Neda seems to think there aren't enough nutrients in the soil for them to grow properly on the streets.

They did look juicy enough though...
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  #425  
Old 29 Jan 2015
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Iva brought decorations from home so every apartment we're staying at can feel Christmas-y!

Neda found us a great apartment in Valencia, it was even cheaper than Barcelona and it was way nicer. We're discovering that Barcelona is a bit of an expensive outlier - that the rest of Spain is actually priced quite fairly. Also this was the off-season, so I think we were getting very good deals.


New Years Eve Dinner in our very swanky apartment

It is soooo nice to be celebrating the holidays with friends! The meals are more elaborate and we help lighten the girls' stash of Croatian alcohol. I tell Iva that we're actually helping because now she will have to carry less on the way back to Pula. She replies no, she is slowly replacing the Croatian booze with Spanish ones to bring back home!

The green "flowers" above are made from artichokes, compliments of Tajana. Delicious!


So you wonder why I am not in a lot of these pictures...

We thought we'd go into town for the New Years Eve countdown, so being responsible adults, we planned to catch a streetcar. In our drunken haze, we didn't notice that we were waiting at the wrong side of the bus stop and that these streetcars were going *away* from the city.


Nice face, Neda. And yes, we brought glasses with us to the bus stop, because we're classy that way...

So by the time we realized we were on the wrong side of the bus stop, we were too late to make it to the city, but at that point we didn't care too much. We took our bottle(s) of wine and champagne and merrily made our way to the beach (did I mention our apartment was right on the beach?). This was a waaaay better idea.


As midnight approached, there was much drunken Croatian singing and dancing on the beach!

With the clocks on our iPhones counting down the last seconds of the year, we popped the cork on the champagne and made a toast to 2015! Wow, 2015. I know people normally say that time speeds up as you grow older, but so much has happened in the last two and half years that it actually seems a lot longer than that!

Time seemed to have rushed by faster when we were back in Toronto. As each carbon-copy-day stacked up on the tray of the Xerox machine, I found that I ended up skimming through every sheet because they were filled with the same details of the same commute, the same job, the same routine, and before I knew it, pages of half-read years piled up behind me.

Time moves normally now. Every day is different for us now and we're eager to greet each new day, devour its pages like a good book.

I may not know how many years I have left in my life, but I'm going to try to put as much life as I can in those years.


In the distance, fireworks were going off in different parts of the city. Happy New Year, Valencia!!!
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  #426  
Old 29 Jan 2015
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We are going to kick off the first day of 2015 with a ride! I really thought Neda would be hung over, but she pulled it together and managed to get onto the bike okay. We figured with January 1st being a holiday, it would be a great day to cruise around the city with no traffic. The girls went off by themselves to do their own sightseeing and we made plans to rendezvous later on in the day.


There's a familiar sight! I had to get Neda to stop at this roundabout for a quick picture.

We've actually been to Valencia before by motorcycle. On our European tour seven years ago, we passed through the city like a hurricane but one of the few pictures I took was of this statue, because the hotel we stayed at before was right here!

I'm so glad we're keeping a record of all our travels because there's absolutely no way I would remember all these details.


Valencia train station


And guess what? Neda found another Arena in Valencia...
She said we had to ride around it to get a better look


Later that day, we met up with Iva and Tajana and I told them we saw another arena in downtown Valencia. Iva replied, "Yes, we saw it too. Ours is better."

Haha! Right. Of course.


Our rendezvous point with the girls was the City of Arts and Sciences. This is what it looks like as we rode towards it

The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge, sprawling tourist attraction composed of a bunch of buildings that look like they were purpose-built for a Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica movie. When the girls suggested we meet there, I had no idea this even existed. How the heck did we miss this the first time around?

Oh yeah, because we were riding to a different country almost every other day...


Unfortunately the buildings were closed for New Years Day, but that didn't stop us from frolicking around

These buildings house different exhibits, loosely related to science. Most of them remind me of a giant Darth Vader and his Samurai friends buried up to their eyeballs, with only the tops of their helmets poking above the ground.


L'Àgora, pictured behind the bridge, is a covered entertainment and sports complex


Tajana takes a breather from her hectic sight-seeing schedule to check up on e-mails


More sci-fi statues. This one reminds me of the aliens in A.I.
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  #427  
Old 30 Jan 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
I'm so glad we're keeping a record of all our travels
So are the rest of us Gene

Now, is it too late to wish you guys a happy new year?, now that you're that far behind

Continued safe & joyous travels to you guys
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  #428  
Old 30 Jan 2015
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Feel so bad that I didnt know when u came to India. Good to know all the stomach .... are all ok
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  #429  
Old 2 Feb 2015
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The girls are waiting for us again. It was a tedious process walking to the parking lot, riding our bikes to the front of our apartment then taking a couple of trips in and out of the building to load up all our bags again. Meanwhile, the girls were sitting in their car, watching us with bemusement as we fussed around with all manner of straps, tie-downs, dry bags and tank bags, etc.

It reminded me of when we used to snowboard and we had a few skiers in our group. When we reached the top of the lift, the skiers would stand around impatiently and watch us as we sat down on the snow to fuss around with our bindings before heading down. Invariably, the skiers would tell us that they would just meet us at the bottom or meet us at the chalet for lunch.

So I think that's what's going to happen. We left Valencia together, but because of the different pace and scheduling, we might just meet up at the next apartment and compare stories at the end of the day.

Motorcycles and cars just travel differently.


Taking the path less traveled. AKA getting lost...

The girls wanted to see a place called El Castell de Guadelest, an 11th-century castle built by Muslims as a watchtower for defense. So we turned inland and the coastal scenery was replaced by semi-arid scrublands and the mountains of the Alicante province (La Muntanyas d'Alacant).

Along the way, our GPSs routed us along this broken road that turned gravelly. Neda and I were really enjoying ourselves as the scenery was fantastic and the road was a lot of fun, but I looked back often to make sure the girls were okay in their car. Tajana's little Opel Astra seemed to be handling the uneven terrain okay, and there was no oncoming traffic on the narrow "road" so it all worked out for everyone!

Here's a taste of the scenery before the road crumbled away and I had to use both hands on the bars:


Riding the Alicante Province


Back on the main road, and the Castell de Guadelest appears in the distance

Not much remains of the castle, but we could see the watchtower from the bottom. Once again, we opted to not pay the entrance fee, so Tajana the historian went up for a look while we walked around the town at the bottom.


View of the castle from the bottom of Guadelest
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  #430  
Old 2 Feb 2015
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I'm sporting my new palm tree hat. Picture by Iva


Amazing semi-drylands of Alicante


Girl-talk at the fountain in Guadelest

From Guadelest, the skiers parted company from the snowboarders. Iva and Tajana wanted to see Cartagena, but if we were to accompany them, that would mean arriving at our next apartment after dark, so Neda and I opted to head straight to our next stop. The roads around Guadelest are very entertaining and the two of us had a lot of fun until we hit the coast and then it was straight onto Roldan.


Trying to find our next apartment, through the wastelands between urbanizacions

Iva booked our next apartment in a town called Roldan. It is what's called an "urbanizacion" in Spain, which is sort of like a gated community out in the middle of nowhere. These urbanizaciones are mainly created by ex-pats who want to live in a warm climate, but don't want to live in an expensive city or an expensive beach or mingle with the locals . So they create a community of houses and condominiums in the middle of nowhere, maybe also build a golf course, swimming pools and supermarkets nearby as well.

The result is a super-cheap place to stay with all the amenities for vacationers and snowbirds. Since this was low season (too cold for golfing), a lot of the apartments here are put up for rent for short-term stays. Our place in a golfing community was super-luxurious and cheap to boot! I wished we could have stayed more than one night, but this was just a pit-stop.


We got lost and entered the wrong urbanizacion. But you get the idea... very ritzy...
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  #431  
Old 2 Feb 2015
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From Roldan, skiers and snowboarders departed the next morning separately and headed into the hills of Andalucia! It was quite co-incidental that the next place the girls wanted to see was also where we visited on our last tour of Europe. Looking back on our path, we are actually doing our trip in reverse!


Twisty roads in the rolling hills of Andalucia. That's me, riding somewhere in the middle of the picture!


I think I have almost the exact same picture from the same area from our last trip!


Pausing for a relaxing break by the fireplace *whew*

We have stopped in a small town called Alpujarra de la Sierra, which is just a few kms from Berchules, where we stayed seven years ago. I took a look at our path in the last few days and I'm astounded at our pace. You know when you're walking in the airport and then you step on one of those moving sidewalks and then suddenly you're walking twice as fast? Well traveling with The Pula Girls is nothing like that. Instead, it's like riding around and then suddenly being towed by a rocketship compared to how we usually travel.

And the funny thing is that the girls are doing twice as much as we were, cramming in all sorts of sightseeing in between stops. They are literally running circles around us!


Walking around the very tiny town of Alpujarra de la Sierra


Looking out over our apartment. Andalucia is beautiful!


Shaking the olive tree. There's a net underneath that catches the olives as they fall from the tree.


Yes, I am deathly allergic to cats

Cats are bastardos. When you call out to them, they'll never come to you. But the minute you ignore them or go out of your way to avoid them, they make a beeline straight for you.
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  #432  
Old 3 Feb 2015
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I love that part of Spain! Spent a week there a while ago riding around on a 1200GS on a fly/ride holiday getting lost on all of the twisty roads.
If you're still around there check out La Calera in Teba. Amazing views, cheap accommodation and not at all on the gringo trail.

Enjoy the never ending, near perfect roads!
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I know now why we travel so slowly.

Every place we've stopped in Europe, we have been able to score free parking. But the drawbacks to keeping your bike out on the street is that you have to unstrap all the soft bags and bring them inside. Then rinse and repeat in reverse the next morning when you leave. So we are basically packing and unpacking twice a day. Something we rarely did in Latin America because we always rode the bike right into the hotel lobby... It's a Major Hassle. General Pain-In-The-Ass! Like Corporal Punishment! (HIMYM)


Strap on, strap off. The Strapper.

The Pula Girls are waiting for us again. Since we only have a short ways to go for our first stop of the day, we leave Alpujarra de la Sierra together and start heading westwards on the very twisty Andalucian mountain roads. Iva has an idea to take a video of us riding away, so I combined some of her footage with mine to make a short video:


Ewan and Charley better start looking for new jobs...

Iva is now the official RideDOT.com videographer. We are going to petition her to change her name to Claudio. Every ride needs a Claudio.


Around the curve, the white village of Trevélez appears ahead of us

We meet up with the girls in Trevélez, which is known for it's air-cured Iberian hams, specifically the Jamon Serrano. The buildings are white-washed like all the Pueblos Blancos (White Towns) in Andalucia. They say that alkaline properties of the white limewash are anti-bacterial and is also a natural insecticide, but also the buildings are all the same colour for "social cohesiveness". The paint is a relatively recent development. No record of Pueblos Blancos can be found before 1920.

So in other words, "make it appealing for the gringo tourists and their cameras"...
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Gonna find us some yummy ham now!


Instead, I found an I am un chien Andalusia

We did find a store selling the Jamon Serrano and perused the various sizes and shapes on offer. We wanted to buy a chunk that we could slice off for sandwiches while we were on the road. The owner came out and offered us some samples. They were delicious! Very salty, I like that. I know the Istrians also are well-known for their dried ham, called pršut, so I tried not to be too enthusiastic about the Jamon Serrano, lest I fall into the Pula Amphitheatre trap again...

"It's okay, but I prefer the ham in Pula"

"Don't be ridiculous, this is great!" They picked up a kilo of Iberico.

Oh.


The owner of the store took us for a tour of his curing facility

Although the pork is not indigenous to the area, the clean, dry mountain air in Andalucia is favorable for curing the meats, and the Jamon Serrano here has been very popular since the 18th century. The Pula Girls remark on the slightly different curing process here. In Istria, the jam is cured with salt and pepper and a few spices, whereas in Trevélez, they only use salt.

mmmm... salt.


The Pula Girls having a laugh

We ate lunch at a little outdoor diner in Trevélez, a tipico Andalucian dishe called plato alpujarreño with chorizo, eggs, potatoes and blood sausages. The sun was shining and we were all smiles and laughter. That's when it struck me that we've been traveling with Iva and Tajana for over a week now and it hasn't rained one single day. I think this is the longest stretch of good weather we've had since returning to Guatemala in September 2013 (not counting escaping to the Galapagos for a week).

I'm not superstitious normally, but I was starting to see the Pula Girls as a good luck charm. Like some kind of totem against rain.


Enough of this dog and pony show, let's go!

About this picture: While the girls finished off their meal, I had some leftover blood sausage that didn't taste very good, so I packed it up and walked around trying to find a dog to feed. This little guy was hanging out with the horse behind him like they were buddies. He sniffed at the blood sausage and refused to eat it. Ok, so it's not just me, then...

A bit later, the horse's owner came out and the dog greeted him. They were all from the same family!
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I hope not.

It's only another couple of hours of driving to our next stop for the evening, Granada. Instead of finding an apartment, we were surprised to discover that the place that Neda found online for us was an entire house! Holy crap, every new place is better than the last. It really is better to travel in a group to share the costs!

We settled the communal grocery expenses the other night as well, and we calculated that we are feasting for a couple of Euros each. Not per meal. Per day. Wow!


Walking through downtown Granada


We are seeing these big bubble makers everywhere in Spain.


Hanging out at the square


Cathedral of the Incarnation


Classical music fills the air


Colourful Moorish lamps in a Granada store

There is a lot of Moorish culture in the south of Spain. The cities here have Arabic names like Jerez and Algeciras, which would not seem out of place in Northern Africa. There is also alot of this influence in the architecture and design here. The name Granada comes from the Arabic word Gharnáta. Funny that the Spanish conquistadors carried this name all the way across to Nicaragua. Seems like so long ago that we were there!
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"Ultimate global guide for red-blooded bikers planning overseas exploration. Covers choice & preparation of best bike, shipping overseas, baggage design, riding techniques, travel health, visas, documentation, safety and useful addresses." Recommended. (Grant)



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Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ combines into a single integrated program the best evacuation and rescue with the premier travel insurance coverages designed for adventurers.

Led by special operations veterans, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, paramedics and other travel experts, Ripcord is perfect for adventure seekers, climbers, skiers, sports enthusiasts, hunters, international travelers, humanitarian efforts, expeditions and more.

Ripcord travel protection is now available for ALL nationalities, and travel is covered on motorcycles of all sizes!


 

What others say about HU...

"This site is the BIBLE for international bike travelers." Greg, Australia

"Thank you! The web site, The travels, The insight, The inspiration, Everything, just thanks." Colin, UK

"My friend and I are planning a trip from Singapore to England... We found (the HU) site invaluable as an aid to planning and have based a lot of our purchases (bikes, riding gear, etc.) on what we have learned from this site." Phil, Australia

"I for one always had an adventurous spirit, but you and Susan lit the fire for my trip and I'll be forever grateful for what you two do to inspire others to just do it." Brent, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the (video) series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring!" Jennifer, Canada

"Your worldwide organisation and events are the Go To places to for all serious touring and aspiring touring bikers." Trevor, South Africa

"This is the answer to all my questions." Haydn, Australia

"Keep going the excellent work you are doing for Horizons Unlimited - I love it!" Thomas, Germany

Lots more comments here!



Five books by Graham Field!

Diaries of a compulsive traveller
by Graham Field
Book, eBook, Audiobook

"A compelling, honest, inspiring and entertaining writing style with a built-in feel-good factor" Get them NOW from the authors' website and Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk.



Back Road Map Books and Backroad GPS Maps for all of Canada - a must have!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80G/S.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events all over the world with the help of volunteers; we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, or ask questions on the HUBB. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.




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