On our great adventure

Viva La Barcelona…

The mornings rain made for a very miserable ride to Barcelona, as we arrived at the outskirts of the city, we followed the GPS direction to our hotel, the GPS was taking us up some crazy steep, narrow one way road in the hills behind the city, this was defiantly not the correct area. On the plus side though it gave us the best view of Barcelona.


We managed to get to the bottom of the hill on the other side without overheating the brakes…
But managed to go round in circles trying to figure out where to go.

We did eventually find our way to Hotel Exe Parc del Vallés Cerdanyola del Vallès, which is about a 15 minutes ride from the city centre, as we had the bike, it didn’t bother us being that far away from the centre, plus it was cheaper.

As Clive began to unload in the now persistent rain, with black clouds and a thunder storm looming in, i went in to check in, the girl behind the desk was a happy as the weather, miserable, she must be having a bad day!

Our room was large, clean (we get pretty excited about these types of things) with great wifi.
By the time we had a hot shower the rain had stopped..wohoo… so we took advantage to have an explore around the local area and grab some dinner, taking the umbrella just in case.

Clive likes to eat like’Fred Flintsone’

The town was small and was not a touristy area, but pleasant all the same, and it was nice to stretch our legs.

We couldn’t believe it when we woke up, brilliant sun and cloudless blue skies, just what we wanted as this was going to be our only full day here and we were going to need to cram in as much as possible, so no time to waste we get on the bike and head into the city.


First on our list of places to view was
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
a Roman Catholic Church designed by the Catalan Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) the genius architect, who died after being hit by a tram.


Parking the bike was not a problem, with all the bags and side boxes off it made it even easier. We parked in the prime spot right outside the church…
Like most people walking towards the church, you walk with your head tilted upwards, taking in this spectacular tall building that a brilliant man designed.


The queues to get in to the church wrapped around 3 sides of the building and they didn’t seem to be moving either, we noticed a cafe opposite the church, so while having a much needed coffee, we could also see how fast the queue was moving…well it wasn’t even moving at a snails pace, it was way slower!

So the decision was made, we weren’t going to go inside, not this trip anyway…

This astonishing Church was started construction was inspired by the organic shapes of nature, Gaudí studied every detail of his creations integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled… ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry..


Its style Orientalist, Neo-gothic, Naturalist, Modernist and eclectic, construction started in 1882 and is going on even after more than 100 years.


Even though its unfinished it attracts around 2.8 million visitors a year and is the most visited monument in Spain.


The Church is meant to be completed in 2026…i wonder how Guaudi will feel about it when its finished as Critics have warned that its final design will has little in common with Gaudí’s original vision, a failing that the architect may not have had much trouble with, something we will never find out, even though its amazing.


Back on the bike , Barcelona is a easy city to navigate as it is mostly set out as a grid pattern, we are going to check out Park Guell, parking again was easy, we parked in the corner of the bus park.


This park started out as a development project. Eusebi Güell, acquired 42 acres of a large hilly plot in the Gràcia district. He wanted to turn the area into a residential garden village based on English models which was to be Sixty housing units and a few public buildings.
The project was a commercial flop and was abandoned in 1914 – but not before Guell’s friend Gaudí had created 3km of roads and walks, steps, a plaza and two gatehouses in his inimitable manner.
In 1918 the city of Barcelona acquired the property and in 1922 it opened to the public as a park.


There are a few entrances into the park, ours was not the main one, we followed the twisting paths and gradually ascended, the paths lead to the most amazing arcades and viaducts.



Gaudí’s imagination is astonishing and is revealed in the different elements that amaze visitors from around the world.


Some strange people here!!

We find ourselves at a huge circled area with curving broken ceramic benches around the perimeter, this is impressive, we find a space on the bench and take in this fantastic creation from a brilliant mind, i’m sure Gaudi would be more than happy to know that his brilliant achievements had brought so much happiness to millions of visitors.





We make our way its famous dragon covered steps (covered in coloured broken-ceramic pieces)…this leads to the gatehouses, which look like they were built for the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale WOW WOW WOW.

We head back to the bike and decide to take a little ride around this colourful, vibrant city and end up at Catalunya Square, we park with all the others hundreds of motorbikes that are parked next to the square, then head of to find something to eat, walking past the hot dogs was too tempting, hardly local Spanish food, but never the less very delicious, we head back over to the massive square which is 50,000 square metres, and is known for its fountains and statues.


The square over looked by huge buildings, and at the edge of the square are tree and lawn that give it more of a park feel, apparently this square is where all roads start from Barcelona and you can practically go anywhere, we’ll test that out shortly.. as we are off to check out the old fort that over looks the Mediterranean.

We road up towards the fort zig zagged until we could get no further, and walked the rest of the way up, the walk up was pleasant, the gardens that followed the pathways were simple and well kept, we could have got the cable car up, but we were glad of the walk.


The castle was way smaller than i thought it would be, but still impressive and with sweeping views over the city and Mediterranean.
We walked across the old bridge, underneath where what would have been a moat? were beautiful designed gardens.


This castle or Fort has a rather dark history…it has been used to watch over the city and as a political prison and killing ground, anarchists were executed here around the end of the 19th century, fascists during the civil war and Republicans after it.
The castle is surrounded by ditches and walls (from which its strategic position over the city and port become clear).


Massive guns point out to sea and over the city and areas, it was a shame that people have taken to graffiti the guns, and take no notice of the signage that ask you not too climb the guns!


One last look out to sea, revealed the cruise ships below us, Barcelona is now the main port of call in Europe, with over three million passengers every year!

Time was now getting away from us, we have been here for hours, where does the time go?
The air was getting cold, and the sun was slowly dipping.
Thankfully the walk to the bike was all down hill, the ride down the twisting shaded roads was a cold one, but once past the cypress pine tree and down near the port, we were once again in the sun, but were still cold
making our way back to the hotel. Repacking tonight, we have a long trip tomorrow, we want to make our way towards Gibraltar

Espana Bound…

All loaded up, we leave the beautiful town of Antibes and our temporary home with all the creature comforts, now heading towards Spain hoping we would miss the nasty weather that was looming on the weather sites!
The border was about 5 hours away, so we weren’t sure if we would make it into Spain today, as we were going to take it easy and not rush through this part of France.

We rode most of the coastal roads until lunch time where we stopped at a beautiful beach, we had bought earlier some cheeses, meat and some tomatoes, we sat down on grassy area where lots of families were enjoying the last few weeks of good weather before Autumn really sets in, the sea was calm and the sand was warm, children were either swimming or playing in the sand, a perfect family holiday spot.

With our picnic lunch over, we were back on the road still hugging the coast line, the roads were quiet which was nice, out in the sea we could see a large Navy ship, it looked like the crew were doing some sort of exercises as there seemed to be a lot of activity happening from what we could make out anyway.

We soon end up on some boring straight roads and our once beautiful scenery was now replaced with the industrial ugliness of Marseille, even though it was the afternoon we decided we didn’t want to stop here for the night so we push on towards Spain, then we see a sign for an Ibis Hotel on the side of the highway, they usually do a cheap deal for the night, so we head to the Ibis Budget Hotel in Arles, booking in for one night, we drop our gear off into our damp smelling room and head off into town, and find out what a treat we are in for, this little town is a real gem..


Arles is a small Roman town that sits along the Rhone River and these days is well known for some of its agricultural products such as rice and olive oil.

We ride slowly into the town centre past colourful sun-baked houses and to the Rhone river, park the bike near river and along side dozens of camper vans, that seem to be set up for overnight what a stunning site they have, we stroll towards two huge stone buildings that sit beside the river, at first being unsure what they are but on closer inspection we find two stone lions high up on stone pillars and seem to be guarding the remnants of a bridge that once crossed the Rhône, the lion is in fact the symbol of Arles.



Apparently the Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles in 1888–1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during his time there.
Once back in the town centre, we decide follow the Van Gogh trail, which is a walking circuit of the city and is marked by footpath-embedded plaques, and takes in spots where Van Gogh set up his easel to paint canvases such as Starry Night Over the Rhône (1888).


I don’t think Van Gogh, painted this duck impression, that was on the side of an Arles house!

At each stop there’s a lectern-style signboard with a reproduction of the painting and interpretative information, that was really good.

The next site we wanted to view was the massive Arles Amphitheatre which is now one of the town’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.


Many years ago Slaves, criminals and wild animals (including giraffes) met their death before a delighted 20,000-strong crowd, the arena was built around the late 1st or early 2nd century AD and is 136m long, 107m wide and 21m tall, topped with four defensive towers to become a fortress, in the 1820s, when the amphitheatre was returned to its original use, how ever there were 212 houses and two churches that had to be demolished first, before retuning the arena back to its former glory, it truly is a magnificent building and in remarkable good condition, we were however too late to go for a tour of the inside, but i’m sure it couldn’t have been too different from the Colosseum in Rome, Arles Amphitheatre is now one of the town’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.


Unfortunately there is still bull fighting that goes on today, and in no uncertain terms would we ever go and watch that horror thats played out in the name of ‘sport’… man against beast.



Close by was the Church of St. Trophime (Trophimus) which is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral built between the 12th century and the 15th century, very nice it is too.


The late afternoon was now turning chilly, and as we were hungry so decided to find some where to eat, feeling full the sun had now gone down and the sky was a clear dark blue/black, but before we returned to the hotel for the night we wanted to have a walk around the town centre in the dark with just the street lights for our guide.


Wow the town was as stunning under the street lights as it was in daylight.



This town has captivated us, and after a quick ride once more around the town we then decide to call it a night, as we were wanting to get an early start in the morning. Before getting to Spain we had another place we had researched a while a go and as we were pretty close we could now get to see it, its the town of Avignon.

With the bike parked directly underneath our 2nd floor room, to save time running up and down stairs with our bags, i got to throw a couple out the window with Clive at the bottom catching them, lol, now all loaded up we were ready to leave, saying a sad goodbye to this little surprise town of Arles, a town that we could have explored for days if we had had the time, but we always knew we couldn’t do it all sadly.

The bike was making ‘clunking’ noises which was becoming really annoying now, we were both hoping that the chain will survive the rest of our journey!
The morning was cool and the clouds in the sky were high and cold looking, Avignon wasn’t too far away.
We passed low lying empty crop fields, and in the distance we spotted what looked like an old castle that had been built on the edge of small cliff, as nice as it would have been to visit, we can’t do all the castles we see, now can we?

Arriving in Avignon we rode through the beautifully preserved medieval towns walled entrance, it was like going back in time, but we were on an iron horse not a real one!

Even though we arrived early we had to ride around the old streets a few times to find a suitable spot to park,wow some of these streets are so narrow if our bike had been any wider we couldn’t have got through, we finally found a small park and managing to squeeze the bike through the bollards (after having to unload the bikes side boxes first).
Locking up our helmets and jackets, with the rest of our gear, we hoped that it would all be still there when we returned later…

This walled city is incredible, another stunning piece of history and so well persevered, the ramparts still encircle the entire 4.3 km city, building started in 1355 during the Papacy of Pope Innocent VI, to protect from the assaults by the roving bands of mercenaries, the wall was finished in 1370 under Pope Urban V.


We walked through the quiet old narrow streets, only a few cafes were open, most were setting up for the day and as for the rest of the shops, well they were all closed, the footpaths were narrow so we walked most of the way on the cobbled roads that on occasion turned to modern flag stones, we pasted old and picturesque squares that were dotted throughout the old town our way towards the popes palace.

As we were walking past many cafes we kept getting that ‘waft’ of coffee, the smell got too much to bare so we decided we had better have a coffee and some breakfast…and enjoy our surroundings.

Love is in the air, or coffee…

A short walk from the cafe was Place du Palais (the Popes Palace)…what an impressive building this is, it stands so prominant in the square, its such an interesting looking building, i found myself just staring at it for what seemed ages.


The Palace of the popes was built in less than twenty years, starting in 1335. The first part was built by Pope Benedict XII and was continued by Pope Clement VI, Nine popes lived here and ruled from Avignon during the 1300’s, making the city a major political and spiritual capital of the western world and is a significant architectural heritage, it is the biggest Gothic palace in the world, and has 15,000 square meters of floor space – which is the size of 4 Gothic cathedrals!


It was hard to take a picture that included the whole of the palace!
The long queue to get in made our decision up for us and we decided not to go into the Palace, it is however a good excuse to return one day!



Close by to the Popes Palace were some stairs that lead up to some beautiful gardens and had a panoramic view of the Pont d”Avignon, the only thing that was a let down was the man made water cave, it was so unnatural and tacky looking that we felt it really spoilt the beautiful gardens.


Back into the Palace square, there were now many more tourists about and a few street performers, doing there best to trick people into believing they were statues, they were very good.

The sun was warm on our backs as we walked to the area where the bike was, Clive looked at the weather radar installed on our phone and it didn’t look good for our ride into Spain!
Despite the weather radar telling us we were in for some downpours we decided against putting on the wet weather gear for now!

Back on the bike we stopped for a quick photo of the Avignon Bridge, a beautiful stone brigade that only goes part of the way across the Rhone River, today only 5 of the 22 arches remain, the bridge was built in the 12th century and due to Wars and the Rhone river flooding the bridge was damaged even though over the years it was consistently rebuilt, before being abandoned in the 17th century, the river won that battle over the bridge!

This is one impressive little town, if you are down this side of France at all, i would suggest a visit, hopefully we will be back!

We rode for about 20 minutes before we had to stop to put our wet wether gear on lol.
We were only about less than 3 hours from the Spanish border and tried to avoid the main roads as much as possible, hoping to stick to the local roads, the rain got really relentless at times, stopping for some lunch and getting a break from the weather, we came to some coastal hills, that had some tricky switchbacks for this horrid weather, at times it was hard to see anything as we rode into fog, high on one of the hills we came to the Spanish border, the once used border buildings were run down, had smashed windows and were covered in Graffiti, bit sad really.


Wohoo we are in Spain and the weather was still crap, we came to a few coastal towns and thought we would call it a day, but it wasn’t meant to be, these towns were pretty much empty, creepy even, so we pushed on further and stopped in a supermarket to stock up on a few items, just in case we needed to camp, at this stage it was looking like thats what we will have to do, but where i don’t know.

Even though it was the early afternoon, it looked more like early evening, as the dark clouds turned day into night.
Looking at the GPS we knew a bigger town was only a short ride away, the town of Figueres, riding through the town i got off the bike and enquired at the Hotel Trave, a bit above our budget but at that stage we didn’t care, we were cold and didn’t want to ride around just to save a few bucks, so i booked for one night.

Lucky for us the rain slowed down just enough for us to get the bags and side boxes off the bike and up into our warm, massive room, we even had a balcony but it was too wet to check it out, claps of thunder and a few strikes of lightening were now joining the rain which had started again with such force that the balcony looking like it had marbles bouncing off the tiles.
Hopefully when we leave tomorrow comes so will the sun…

After a long hot shower, we decided that we should book a hotel in Barcelona (our next stop) we certainly don’t want to be hunting for rooms in the rain.

With our hotel all booked for Barcelona we could now relax for the evening…

To be continued…

Memories in Antibes

After doing a walking lap of the campsite, we stopped at the camp shop to buy a few supplies for dinner, good old English bangers and mash with Heinz baked beans for dinner tonight, washed down with a bottle of wine.
It felt good to have a decent fridge and cooker, something we haven’t used for along time now…


Up early the following morning we didn’t want to waste this ‘down’ time, we or should i say i, wanted to wash our bike gear while we had the chance with some decent weather (not all bikers are dirty!)
While i went to the laundrette Clive gave the bike a good wash and did all the usual checks etc…



Next was a short ride into the old town of Antibes…
Antibes was founded by the Greeks over 2000 years ago with the name Antipolis, Shortly afterwards it was incorporated into the expanding Roman empire when it was known as Antiboul. With the fall of the Roman empire Antibes was a target of pirates and raiders until the growing power of Genoa (Italy) removed most of these threats.

We found a park for the bike, and only needed to remove our helmets and lock them up… it felt so good not wearing all the bike gear and back into our summer shorts…


First up we walked around Port Vauban which is near the old town and is renowned throughout the sailing world as a place where super yachts for the super rich gather. It is Europe’s largest harbour and is home to more than 100 berths, over the 23-metre in length, with some berths accommodating 165 m yachts!


The sky was blue and cloudless, the air was warm and felt so good, and the yachts were stunning, wow the wealthily sure know how to live, defiantly no fishing boats moored up here!

As the yachts very gently bobbed up and down on the clear aqua waters, their crew hosed, polished, brushed anything and everything till it sparkled, these yachts are unbelievable, although it doesn’t compare to Monaco when we were there years ago, i had never seen anything as spectacular, but all the same it is amazing.

Art work facing the sea..

Walking back towards the old town,we walked through a familiar stone arch way, that lead to a small beached area surrounded by the harbour stone walls, we brought our kids to this beach in 1989, the great thing about these old towns are that nothing much changes, it was like we had been transported back in time, minus the kids…

The sand was warm on my feet, but putting my feet into the clear water was a shock, it was freezing, there’s no way i’m going for a swim, even if there were lots of children and adults being very brave, but i’m not one of them and nor was Clive!

To get to the old town we had to walk past our bike, even though there were a few people looking at our number plate and looking confused as to where the bike was from, we kept on walking, not feeling the need to put them out of their confusion!


The old archway into the old town is big, just how we remembered, the narrow streets, were full of gift shops, bars and outdoor restaurants, the whole place has such a relaxed feeling and it shows, people lazily sitting, drinking, laughing and chatting without a care in the world, we followed the path into the back streets which took us down some narrow pathways, these streets were residential we gingerly walked on the cobbled stones, knowing full well they have hidden dangers…lol…


The lanes full of stone and multicoloured homes with small windows, some with shutters and some with low doors that only kids could get through, the shinny brass door handles, sparkled as the sun hit them, plants in hanging baskets were full of stunning coloured flowers, so many streets to explore.


Back into the busy town area we end up near a large covered area-Marché Provençal (covered market) at the Cours Massena, unfortunately for us the market stalls were all but packed up, i remember this market area from our last trip here.


It was cake time again..

I’m not sure where the time had gone, but it was way past lunch time, finding a quaint little cafe we order a spot of lunch and enjoy our relaxing surroundings for a while in the sun. With a bit of sadness we knew we were near the end of our trip, as we could hear so many English voices, a few months ago, we could only be understood by speaking a bit of Russian!
Later in the afternoon we stopped at the supermarket to stock up on supplies, this part of Antibes has been having a lot of road works done so we went the wrong way a few times, getting a bit frustrated with the lack of road signs, it was a bit like being back in India lol.. but as always Clive could sniff out the right way..

We head back to the caravan park, and take full advantage of having a ‘real’ kitchen by cooking a roast dinner with a cheap but nice bottle of wine, the perfect end to a perfect day.


The following day was just as beautiful as the day before, we rode back towards the old town, parked up and walked up an old lane towards the sea, we walked along the old sea wall that protects the town and found some where to sit, the air was warm and felt so good, closing my eyes for a few moments to enjoy the sounds of the sea…eyes now open we enjoyed the view of the surrounding areas, as the clear blue waters calmly hit the wall below us.


After walking around for what seemed miles we turn back and head towards the Musée Picasso where we saw what looked like giant maltersers in the courtyard…yum..if only..


After a spot of lunch we got back on the bike and rode along the coast road, passing busy beaches and beautiful private homes, we come to a small cliff area that looks over Antibes, as we park the bike we notice that someone has put up their tent illegally in a park area behind some bushes, what a multi million dollar view they would have.
We clamber down the small cliff and sit amongst the rock pools, enjoying yet again the sun.


On our way back to the caravan park we pass the 16th-century Fort Carré which is a massive, star-shaped fortress on a promontory overlooking the Port Vauban. The fort is built on the site of the Chapelle St. Laurent, which sat on the ruins of the Temple of Mercury. You can’t visit the fort, unless you are going with a tour group, but there’s a nice walk around it, i remember walking around it years ago.


The following day was spent going through our luggage and repacking it, trying to make space where there wasn’t any!.. Time was also spent doing some more maintenance on the bike, i think Clive just likes playing with his tools!

In the afternoon we decided to go to the local beach near the caravan park, crossing the road to the underpass hadn’t changed at all, i don’t think even the underpass had been painted since our last visit!
The pebble beach was uncomfortable to walk on and was also deserted except for a few locals trying their luck at fishing, it was how we remembered it, not a particularly attractive looking beach… we managed to walk a fair distance on the awkward shape stones, taking time out to act like kids by throwing stones in the sea.



The evenings dinner was washed down with more local wine, it almost felt normal to have fully functioning kitchen to work in after being on the road for so long…
Another pleasant day had, we know we couldn’t stay here, we need to move on, after discussing over dinner that we should head for E’spania to chase the fading European summer and hopefully keeping the sun with us for a while longer.
So spain it is, its always sunny in Spain, isn’t it?
So the following morning all loaded up we head off on the coastal roads towards Spain, noticing on the forecast all the rain crossing northern Europe, we will keep south thank you very much…

cherche le soleil…

With the bike maintenance checks all done, Clive loaded up the bike and rode out of the underground car park standing up, missing his head by inches as he came through the roller doors, that was close…

As we left the hotel, the staff informed us that the forecast was for rain…yep just what we wanted to hear…
Even though it was overcast the rain was holding off, we studied the maps last night and worked out a route that would mostly keep us of the motorway and put us on twisting roads that led us to some beautiful old towns, that oozed charm.


I kept seeing signs to Francia, which i pointed out to Clive on several occasions!…Clive being ever so knowledgeable said that was a sign for a nearby town, not France, i protested and said ‘no’ thats just the way the Italians spell France, Clive was a non believer….lol… but the funny thing was we kept on seeing this sign all the way on our route!

Gradually we started to climb, and ascended the twisting roads, which took us through small villages that were dwarfed by mountains with forests perched on the side of them, getting us closer to the border tunnel Col De Tende.

Passing through the twisting roads around the small villages, cows lazily grazed under the warm sun, not having a care in the world about the stunning area they grazed in, i think time has stood still here…old buildings dotted in fields have been left to go to ruin…they would have been great to explore.


Finally we arrive at the border tunnel-Col de Tende, a bit of a queue was waiting at the lights- one way through the tunnel- we had a bout 20 minutes waiting time so we took advantage and enjoyed the views from the top, over looking the valley below, Col De Tende is a high mountain pass in the Alps with an elevation of 1870 m, the tunnel itself is only about 3.3k’s long.

col de tende

With the lights now green we were off through the dimly lit tunnel following the slow stream of cars that were in front of us, as soon as we got out of the tunnel and into France, the cars all suddenly sped up and drove off like looneys down the narrow twisting roads, over taking each other like their lives depended on it!


We took our time, Clive enjoyed the twisting roads while i enjoyed the surroundings, we were also just happy to finally be in France, looking forward to some warm sun.

Following the road to Sospel, which was only a short distance away, we thought it would be a great place for a break and recheck our route.
We rode down a beautiful tree lined avenue, that lead to a street with cafes and restaurants on one side and a rather looking low (more like a trickle) Bévéra river on the other, the town of Sospel ozzes charm and dates back to the 5th century, when it served as an important staging post on the royal road from Nice to Turin, and later became prosperous in the 13th century when an important salt trading route between Nice and Turin.


We parked the bike at the end of a bridge and found a quaint little distinctive French cafe (must be something to do with the fact we were now in France…lol) .


We found a table and sat under a wide brimmed umbrella, ordered a coffee and made ourselves comfortable, just as our coffee was being brought out the heavens opened, grabbing our coffee we retreated to inside the rustic pink painted cafe, the rain didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon, so after about 1/2 hour of heavy rain, it finally started to ease, that was our cue, to get a few photos of this pretty little town.



Lucky for us the bike was parked near a bus stop shelter, which was just as well as when we were suiting up, the heavens opened again, after 10 minutes it eased again, the sky was black, and we didn’t hold out any hope of the rest of our journey being a dry one.
The rain was on and off as we rode along the wet twisting roads, in the distance i could just make out a strange shape, as we got closer i could see a stone multi-arched curved viaduct, what is this strange bridge, that looks so out of place sticking out? …i later found out is was the Menton-Sospel Tramway, a narrow-gauge tramway which was built in 1913 to link Menton and Sospel.


The hillside roads were now laden with lots of gravel and rocks that had washed down from the rock face and gardens above us which made it rather challenging for Clive on the hairpin bends, normally we would have enjoyed this type of road, it was made worse by the torrential rain that was now coming down and having a front tyre that has long past its use by date was making things a bit slippery.

At certain points on the road we could make out the Mediterranean, the skies also looked clear in the distance, but Monaco was not on our route this time…we were there in 1989 and covered most of it then, it seemed pointless to us to do it again.

We found our selves back on the toll roads again, just as the skies turned a nasty shade of black, the rain was so heavy we had to pull over into a service station to take refuge from the weather, many cars had the same idea as well, it would have been stupid to ride on in this weather.

We were soaked and made good use of the hand dryers in the toilets, turning the the hot blower on our wet clothes to dry them out a bit.
Just to add a some more excitement to our day a fierce electrical storm with amazing lightning decided to make an appearance…
An hour passed and the storm eased a little and we felt safe to get going again. This time we couldn’t avoid the toll road and we bypassed the city of Nice.
Then as if by magic the rain stopped when we saw a sign for Antibes, blue skies were above us and the blackened clouds blew off and into the hills, wahoo we were in warm sunshine again, it had eluded us for quite a while now…well it felt like it anyway.

As we rode closer to Antibes we started getting hot, we had to stop and strip off our wet weather gear.
The roads were starting to look familiar and it didn’t take long till we found the camp site that we stayed at in 1989 with our then, two young children, unfortunately the gates were locked, the campsite closed a week ago and wouldn’t reopen till spring, we looked through the gate and it looked just the same as when we were last there.


Close by was another campsite, so we rode in and parked up while i enjoyed the sun Clive talked to the manager, it worked out to be only a few Euro’s more to stay in one of the mobile homes than it was to camp plus we would be staying for 4 nights, i think also the manager could see we had been traveling for a long time and was impressed for what we had achieved , he gave us a great deal, brilliant.

Our mobile home was pretty big and all the amenities we needed to live comfortably for the next few days, oh and wifi, an onsite supermarket, bar, laundry, pizza shop and pool.
It felt great to wear shorts and just a t-shirt again, while taking a stroll around the grounds, we didn’t realise it was so big, in fact massive, as we walked to the site supermarket all we heard were british voices, it seemed like this campsite had been taken over by the British, after talking to some of them we found out many of the mobile homes were owned by the British, some live here permanently and some come at the end of the holiday season to have a warm winter, escaping the English winter…But also we felt sad by hearing the familiar language, it meant we were coming to the end of our trip…

To be continued…

Its Been A Hard Day’s Night…

Not long after we had fuelled the bike up, we checked the map and realised that we were not that far from the border of Switzerland…wow that came up quickly.
The sun was going slowly going down and it was getting chilly, we were thinking may be we shouldn’t have spent such a long time relaxing and warming up in Lindau at lunch time!..

We decided maybe we should look for a place to stay for the night.
After stoping and enquiring at many hotels on our route for hours, we found they were either fully booked, closed down (but still had signage to say otherwise) or they were ridiculously over priced, the most expensive we have come across and believe me these rooms were nothing exciting, there was no way we were going to pay that as our budget has been taken a hit recently, so we made the decision to carry on riding until we get either tired or hoping something would come up!

It seemed like we were riding for hours and of course we were, the small towns and lush green countrysides went on and on, the sun was slowly leaving the beautiful, clear blue skies behind, we were now riding in the dark, which is something neither of us are keen on.

At times i found myself dozing off, maybe for a minute or so, Clive awoke me as my head would crash into his!
Clive was also feeling the effects of a long day, and both needing to take a break, we rode into a town and kept a look out for some where to rest, we found a Macdonald’s on the outskirts of Zurich and stopped for a bite to eat and a much needed coffee, discussing our next move, making our selves at home in Maccas for about an hour.
Feeling as refreshed as we could get we decided to hit the road again, maybe finding somewhere we could put the tent up, the motorway was dark and there was a lot of traffic about for this time of night, particularly big trucks.

We rode on until about 12.30 am, and decided this was getting stupid, we could get wiped out at any minute with the big trucks thundering pass so we pulled in at a service centre, we noticed that there was a hotel foyer in the mall area that housed the takeaway food venders it was then that we decided that what ever the cost we will just have to pay it, Clive went to check it out, while i stayed with the bike, he came back saying that he couldn’t get into the building, it was closed up, so we rode around the car park looking for some where to put the tent up, but then decided the place didn’t feel right, so back onto the bike and down the motorway again.

We find another service centre, there was no hotel but there were some big trees with a huge canopy so our idea was that the tree cover would keep the cold and damp off us (as it was now getting pretty cold).

We had a idea if we put the bike onto its centre stand we could sit on it and maybe get forty winks, So with the bike on the centre stand, Clive leaned forward with his arms on the tank bag and i leaned into him.
I think we managed about 10 minutes of sleep then it got too uncomfortable plus there were lots of coming and goings of people, so we got back on the motorway until we came across the next big service centre.

The next service centre, which looked pretty new and had a huge car park, we pulled up and went inside the service centre, to have a hot drink and a wash and to thaw out my hands under the hot water, while i went back to the bike Clive was off wondering the car park grounds, there was a small area that was grassy and a few RV’s were backed up to the grass area, Clive had a brilliant idea of putting the tent up between the RV’s so we couldn’t be seen (as camping was not allowed), we didn’t have much choice as Clive was really tired and felt he couldn’t ride any more, plus it was nearly 3am.


With the tent up we dived in and didn’t even bother taking our motorbike gear off (except our helmets!). It didnt take long for both of us to fall asleep.
We woke up as the sun was rising, packed up our damp tent, before anyone noticed we were even there, and went off to have a wash and some breakfast, we don’t want to be put in that position again if possible, with both of us feeling better for a few hours sleep we set off in the direction of Vevey, which is on the northern shore of lake Geneva.

It was really a gorgeous morning once the fog had lifted, clear blue skies…just perfect.
We got off the main highway and took the country roads when we could, Switzerland is a visual delight, we rode past lush green hills, snow capped mountains in the distance, turquoise blue lakes that looked very inviting!- simply breathtaking.


As we neared Vevey the scenery was very mountainous on both sides of us, produce gardens were perched up on the sides of the rocky hills, this area is very beautiful.
Riding through the town, trying to get closer to Lake Geneva was a challenge, as there were lots of man made barriers blocking the streets, it looked like there was some sort of push bike race happening today.
Eventually we made it to the lake, the water on the lake was clear, a few boats were sailing around but not as many as we expected, may have had something to do with it still being early!


Some great artwork along the shoreline…

Charlie Chaplain was born here and in his later life came back to end his days here.

Eager for a coffee we were disappointed to find no coffee shops around this area that overlooked the lake were open, so back on the bike, the roads were quiet and the scenery was awesome, we had the lake to the right of us, the lake was a mirror of ‘grey’ that blended in with the mountain backdrop.
Still eager for a coffee we find that ever popular restaurant Macdonald’s again, taking our time to enjoy our coffee and the backdrop of the mountains… but we need to keep going, the lure of the South of France and warm sunshine was getting closer each day.

Gradually we start to climb, we are now heading towards the Great St. Bernard Pass (Col Du Grand St. Bernard), which is the third highest road pass in Switzerland with an elevation of 2469m or 8,100ft. It connects Martigny in the Canton of Valais in Switzerland to Aosta in Italy.
It is the lowest pass lying on the ridge between the two highest summits of the Alps, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa.
Great St. Bernard is the most ancient pass through the Western Alps, with evidence of use as far back as the Bronze Age and surviving traces of a Roman road. In 1800, Napoleon’s army used the pass to enter Italy.


A few sportbikes ‘fly’past us on these twisting roads, they certainly aren’t loaded up like us!
The view from up here was mind-blowing, but that wasn’t the only thing that was blowing, the wind was keeping the temperature pretty cool, even more so when we were in the shade of the mountains.
Once we enter the tunnel we pay the toll and head off through the tunnels towards Italy, the tunnel wasn’t a solid wall of rock all the way through, there were large ‘gaps’ that gave us glimpses of the surrounding mountains, boy this area is beautiful, a few K’s before the end of the tunnel we could a ‘roar’, all of a sudden a red Lamborghini heads towards us, the noise was incredible, made worse by the fact we were in a tunnel, this car was defiantly not doing the required speed limit of 80 km/h or 50 mph and then it was gone, leaving a faint sound behind.


We exit the tunnel into glorious sunshine we are now in Aosta Valley, we start descending down this smooth road, as we have said many times in our blogs and i shall say it again, we were over whelmed by the amazing scenery.


The roads zig zagged through small villages with dark stone and slate roofs, we have gone back in time, in the distance sat castles on top of ‘lone’ hills, picture perfect.



We were now getting quite warm so we found a ‘lay-by’ stripped off our bike gear and made a cup of tea. There were a few benches so we made use of them by spreading out our damp tent, in this heat and wind it won’t take long for the tent to dry.

We did have to chase the tent around the ‘lay-by’ when the wind decided to take the tent with it!
With our cup of tea finished the tent was dry enough to be packed away properly.

As we declined further the scenery, got boring, or was because we had just ridden through some amazing scenes?
The towns were bigger as well, some pretty some not, much of this lower lying area was surrounded by corn fields.
There seemed to be a lot of girls wearing practically nothing standing on the side of the road in the gaps of bushes, hmmm.. what were they selling….

Trying top avoid the expensive motorways was impossible at times, but apart from being expensive they were boring straight roads, with not much to view but the barriers.
It was now mid afternoon and our lack of sleep from the previous night was catching up with both of us.

Turin was the next big city, but we really didn’t want to start trailing hotels in a big city to find the best deal, being tired can make you short tempered!!!!

I could see that there was a hotel located near an exit off the motorway, i pointed at it to Clive, as we got closer to the hotel we could see it was Holiday Inn, fearing that it was going to be out of our price range, we thought we would ask anyway.
Clive pulled up and i got off, taking my helmet off, i tried with out luck to tidy my hair, thank goodness for my scarf, it has hidden many bad hair days lol.
As i approached the entrance doors a well groomed lady asked me if i needed any help (i thought maybe she was going to stop me from going into the hotel!) i explained we were after a room.
At the front desk, i enquired about a room, wow a bit pricey, but not as bad as Switzerland.

As i exited the hotel, feeling a bit deflated, the well groomed lady asked if i had got what i wanted, i explained it was a little out of our budget, she then said we can have the room for 60 Euros, with free parking in a secure park plus an all you can eat buffet breakfast, wahoo.

The receptionist who checked us in said the mangers has never reduced rooms like that before…
After registering we freshen up in our big, clean modern room with lashings of hot water.
We hadn’t eaten much today, so we decided to go into the local town which was 10 minutes down the road, on the way i felt something hit my leg, i mentioned to Clive about it, he immediately knew what it could be, his glasses, upon turning the bike around we could make out something on the road, but as we got closer to them so did a few cars, running over them we feared that they would be crushed, i finally managed to pick them up in between on coming traffic, the frame was bent out of shape but the glass wasn’t broken, thats amazing, it would help to have an odd shaped face to wear them now!!!


At this time of the day we found not a lot open, we did find a super market and stocked up on supplies, on our way back to the hotel we noticed a patisserie, and feeling the lure of a cake, we stopped off the get a couple of ‘samples’, it was our duty to keep small businesses going!

An early night was on the cards for us, hoping to catch on on some much needed sleep, but first we had to Skype the kids…
Breakfast as we thought was amazing, the manager really did us a great favour, we think most people there were paying triple what we paid for the night and the breakfast.
We once more loaded up the bike and a great nights sleep we sped off in the direction of the Italian/ French border.

The road of Romance and Fairy-Tales….

The bikes all loaded up, and our good-byes said to Steven.
Looking at the sky and previously reading the weather report we know we are going to be in for a damp day :(
We have had enough of the rain and cold that seems to be set in the middle of Europe, we decided to head for the south of France for some much needed sunshine…

Yesterday Steven advised us of a great road south through Germany that would avoid the autobahn and he printed out a map with directions to follow, that would follow the famous Romantic road.


Which flows through medieval towns of half-timbered houses on a route that starts from historic Würzburg to the alpine glories of the city of Fussen and ends at Neuschwanstein, where as most people would know it as the castle that was in the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ movie (1968) and for those that don’t know the palace was also the model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle of Disneyland!


We were really looking forward to this ‘romantic’ ride, which goes on for about 410 km, passing through some beautiful countryside, cobblestoned villages and the medieval, walled towns, and arched gateways with guard towers that stand at the entrance to towns, it sounds like a fairytale, but the weather had turned pretty nasty, before we could take the exit to these medieval towns, which put us in the non romantic mood!
So we were going to head straight for Neuschwanstein Castle.
Several times the rain was so hard that we had to pull over, it was unbelievably hard to see anything..
Thankfully the bursts of rain didn’t last too long….at times!


As we neared Neuschwanstein, the scenery was incredible, big lush green pastures lay below the mountains, this is amazing there is no other words for it, we could just make out Neuschwanstein Castle in the distance, proudly sitting high above the Hohenschwangau Valley.


Clive was not keen to do the castle tour, but i was, even though i had read some negative comments about touring the castle , e.g. that no photos are allowed and that you don’t have time to enjoy the rooms as you are hurried along by the group leader, but i still wanted to go in.

So after admiring this majestic castle from a far in a stunning setting and taking dozens of photos we rode into the village, oh boy it was busy the place was full of tourist coaches and upon looking at the queue which was ridiculously huge i decided against going into the castle, looks like we defiantly have to return to Germany now, so i can fulfil my romantic dream…

We rode into Fussen town for a bite to eat, and just as we were about to walk out the door, rain hammered on down, so much rain in fact that the road looked like a river, drains were so full they couldn’t cope, this weather was just another reason why we wanted to head to the South of France.

As soon as the coast was clear we ‘layered’ up again and rode on hoping to make as much ground as we could.
The rain continued for the rest of the day, feeling cold we made a quick stop off to a bakery for a hot drink, parking the bike directly outside the bakery on the wide pavement, we were welcomed in by the old lady that ran the store, she told us to relax and warm up, just them a police car pulled up and asked us if that was our bike outside, ‘Yes’ we said, he then went on to say we can’t park where we were and to move it, he then went on to buy a pie, as he walked out the door the old lady did the V sign to him behind his back and called him something really not what we expected an old lady to say…ha ha, it took us totally by surprise and as he drove off, she told us not to bother moving the bike, so we didn’t, but we weren’t there for much longer anyway.

We noticed all these pumpkins for sale at a road side stall and were amazed there was a Queensland Australia pumpkin , the part of the world we left behind nine months ago on sale there …


There was a colourful mix of pumpkins on sale there..


We rode until we had both had enough of being cold and wet, which was only after few hours, we stopped at a biker friendly bed and breakfast, and after a lot of confusion about whether they were were going to make us breakfast as they were having the next day off, the owner than finally said his mother will cook breakfast for you, so i booked the room without viewing it!…

I should have taken all the ‘above’ as a sign and walked out then, but we were tired, so after lugging all our gear upstairs and really looking forward to a hot shower, we got into our room, which was freezing cold and damp, taking off all our wet gear i walked through one of the doors thinking it was the bathroom- NO- it was a store room- Shit- no bathroom, they said there was a bathroom, so i went back downstairs and talked to the owner who said they do have a bathroom, its on the floor above us, but you have to share it.
We packed the bike back up and high tailed it out of there lol.

A few Klms down the road we came across another ‘Biker Friendly’ hotel.
I checked out the room….hmmm ‘very cozy’ but, yippee it had an ensuite which was the size of a broom cupboard, we didn’t care it was private, the room was warm and we were out of the rain, hoping to dry out our clothes and Clive’s recently acquired bike boots that were pretty wet.

The following morning we were again greeted by grey skies, but no rain, our plan for the day was getting into Switzerland.


Later in the day we crossed a bridge and arrived at the small town of Lindau, which lies on an island on Lake Constance. It looked beautiful and with the sun out and blue skies, we felt so much better, back on top of the world, it amazing how the weather can change your mood..


Parking was difficult to find even for the bike, we managed however to literally squeeze the bike into to an tiny area near the railway.
After stripping off our jackets, and postioning the rest of our gear over the bike to dry out, as it was now quite warm we would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Walking around the harbour in the warm sun was bliss, we could feel our bones warming up, oh the sun feels good.
We found a great little restaurant facing the harbour entrance-this will do nicely for lunch, even though it was warm we ordered the homemade soup.

While waiting for that to arrive Clive took off his still damp boots and socks hoping they would dry out a bit more in the sun, with Clive’s socks hanging over the arm of his chair we enjoyed our soup, ohh this sun feels so good we really didn’t want to move, so we stayed there for a while longer, Lindau has a great relaxed feel about the place, we sat there until the sun had moved away from us.

Oh well back on the bike and into Austria again but only for a short time we needed to fuel up before we head in to the birth place of my favourite chocolate-Lindt.

Wurzburg… Smokey beer and Bratwurst’s…

It was a beautiful blue sky, but chilly morning for our short, hour plus ride to Würzburg this morning, we were really looking forward to staying with our friend Steven.
Steven is a fellow traveller, who we met up with in Malaysia and then again in Thailand and we kept in contact throughout both our journey’s, Steven got back from his trip a few months before our arrival into Wurzburg and was heading off to ride around Africa in a few days time even though Steven is young enough to be our son, we had a great connection with him as he shares our love of travel and interaction with people we meet on the road.

Even though we were guests of Steven’s it would be his Mums, Andrea’s apartment we would be staying in, we were really looking forward to this part of our journey through Germany, staying with a family always gives you a real insight the their country and customs.

The ride was just over an hour, but in that hour gloomy grey clouds appeared, with some blue sky playing hide and seek with the clouds.
We found Stevens home pretty quickly as Steven had gave us GPS coordinates.
As Clive unloaded the bike i rang the door bell, Steven greeted us with his usual smiley face, it was so great to see him, such a lovely young man, after a quick chat we took our gear up to his mum’s top floor apartment, (thankfully it was only 3 flights).
A lovely apartment, where Steven made us feel right at home and first thing he did was grab all our riding gear and threw into the washing machine, as Steven has been on the road before he knows just what was needed…

After a long chat and a few cups of coffee, we head into the city centre to meet up with Andrea, Steven’s mum.
No riding the bike this afternoon, we all piled into Steven’s car, and parked in an underground car park and came up into the market square “Marktplatz”, one of the first things you notice is the Chapel of St. Mary- 1377-1479, and was restored after 1945, the chapel is an unusual colour of red and red brick and white plaster its one of the most interesting late-Gothic Bavarian churches, and has the Virgin Mary at the top of the steeple.



Also around the square were many small shops, cafe and market stalls and one in particular that Steven was interested in, and that was the Brattwurst stall, Steven is a bit of a connoisseur of Bratwurst sausages and said these were the best he had ever tasted, so we had to try them to make sure he was right, hmmm… pretty good.


Wurzburg is set in the Franconian winegrowing region in Bavaria, is set idyllically on both sides of the river Main. It used to be home of the powerful prince-bishops, you can still see their legacy in Würzburg’s baroque architecture, its so amazing.


Although about 90% of Würzburg, including its churches, palaces, and historic monuments, were destroyed during the Second World War, the city has been reconstructed to its former splendour, we soon begin to realise our short time here will not be enough to enjoy the sights this city has to offer.

After experiencing our first real German sausage, we had a little walk around this beautiful old town, until it was time for us to meet up with Andrea who was finishing work for the day.
We were meeting Andrea on the busy old bridge “Alte Mainbrücke” and the sun came out for drinks as well.


After a warm welcome from Andrea, she informed us that having a glass of wine on this beautiful and romantic German bridge, is a tradition of the locals, plus you also get to enjoy fantastic views of fortress Marienberg on the hill that is surrounded by vineyards.


On both sides of the bridge are statues of Saints, we were overwhelmed with the beauty of this place or was it the wine?, No it was definitely the beauty.
This bridge is a fantastic place to meet up with friends and enjoy a few glasses of local wine and catch up, i can see why it is so popular.



Back to Andrea and Steven’s place where they made us a delicious dinner of home made German beefs rolls (not bread rolls) they were perfection on a plate, so tasty, sorry Steven but your mums cooking were better than those Bratwurst!
Steven wanted to checkout his new camping gear that he was going to take on his trip, so he set up camp on their veranda to test it out, for the night…
Upon going to bed we found chocolates on our pillows, Andrea said it was to give us sweet dreams, Germany we love your traditions…

After our ‘sweet dreams’, we woke up to the smell of coffee, we got up to find Steven was on his third coffee for the morning, Andrea had already left for work.
Steven was thrilled with his new camp gear, that was going to be put to good use on his trip around Africa.

Today Steven was going to be our guide and drove us to old town of Bamberg, which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and extends over seven hills, each crowned by a beautiful church!


There is only one way to see and feel this old town and that is by Walking, Bamberg is an enchantingly beautiful architectural masterpiece with an almost complete absence of modern eyesores, Bamberg’s entire Altstadt (old town) and one of Bavaria’s unmissable places to visit, it is regarded as one of Germany’s most attractive settlements, the town is bisected by rivers and canals and was built by archbishops on seven hills, earning it the sobriquet of ‘Franconian Rome’.



The narrow medieval cobbled streets are full of charm, I feel like we have stepped back in time. Cafes, pubs and various small shops (all be it modern) blend into the streets and don’t look out of place, there are no fewer than ten breweries cooking up Bamberg’s famous Schlenkerla (smoke beer), Steven was keen for us to try one, me i wasn’t so keen, i’m not a big beer drinker and the thought of smoky beer didn’t appeal to me, but i will try it.


The Schlenkerla Tavern, was a busy place, lots of tourists and locals, the rooms in the tavern were dark with heavy wooden furniture, we were lucky enough to find a table by the window, tour groups, after tour group would stop and take photos of this famous old pub which is one of Bamberg’s most famous.
The Original Schlenkerla Smokebeer is still brewed here at the tavern and is still being tapped directly from the wooden barrel according to old tradition.


Clive and Steven ordered their ‘smoky beers’ and i thought i would have a sip before i brought one, when the boys beers arrived i did try it, but it wasn’t to my liking, so i had a very boring and had a lemonade.

Mouth watering lamb shanks…


Bamberg is a feast for the eye, we would definitely like to revist this area one day, what a brilliant day we have had, plus the sun shone for all of it, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Later that evening Steven and Andrea took us to ‘Backoefele’ Restaurant, which serves good traditional Franconian dishes with generous servings, it was a great evening with great company and the food was delicious, we did not leave disappointed…

The following day was more relaxed, although we did have to go into the city to get Andrea a birthday present, while in the city Steven took us to his favorite coffee shop where you pick your own type of coffee beans,wow it was strong coffee, if you weren’t awake when you went in you would be when you left… lol.

In the afternoon Clive needed to do an oil change and some much needed maintenance on the bike before we leave (which was the following day).
So the boys had an afternoon of bike maintenance, Steven was also getting his bike ready for his Africa trip, he had decided to go on a smaller engine bike this time (his last bike was a 650cc) and was in the process of building some luggage racks for it, the reason he chose the smaller bike was because he wanted to blend in more with the locals and not look like a rich westerner.

Later in the afternoon we were to meet up in the city with Andrea and her partner for cake and coffee, which is another great German tradition (i love German traditions, did i say that before?)…we met up in the town square at this amazing cafe, sitting outside enjoying the warm afternoon sunshine eating cakes (choosing the cake was a hard job…so much choice), coffee, cake and wonderful hosts, what a great way to celebrate a birthday.

That evening we were invited to continue the birthday celebrations at the home of Andreas parents, we were welcomed like we were part of the family, Andreas parents were so warm and friendly, we feel blessed to have been let into their home. Steven has very youthful looking grandparents and were fantastic hosts, we had a great evening chatting and eating the most amazing home made onion tart we have ever tasted, it almost brings tears to my eyes it was so good…!!!
It was served with some rather yummy homemade unfermented wine.

With great sadness the following morning, we had to leave, we were heading to the south of France to try and grab some warm weather and sunshine…

We would just like to say a sincere ‘Thank-you’ once again to Steven and Andrea Hoffman and their family, you are all truly generous, wonderful people, who made us feel so welcome, if ever you are planning a visit to our shores here in Australia, our door is widely open for you….X

Pilzen…One For The Road…

Before breakfast we did his usual pre bike check and as it wasn’t raining thankfully as the chain needed to be oiled , the ‘work horse’ has been going really well, but we had started to notice ‘clunking’ noises from time to time, which was the chain, so again the chain was adjusted, we really didn’t want to purchase a chain so late in our trip, we were just hoping that the adjustments would be satisfactory and get us to the UK.
With breakfast over and our bags packed and on the bike, we ‘suit’ up and hit the road, feeling rather sad to leave this charming little town.
Today we are off to Plzeň or Pilsen a city in western Bohemia, which is also the home of Pilsner beer, a place many men would like to call home i’m sure!

We didn’t need to hurry today as it should only take about two hours to get to Pilsen, but on the other hand we didn’t want to leave it to late either as we had plans!
Rain and grey gloomy skies accompanied us for most of the trip along road D5/E50.
The Czech Republic, from what we have seen so far is a a mixture of modern and old, the old villages we passed through seemed to be stuck in the old Communist regime with collective farming and old abandoned factories…


On entering the city of Pilsen the sun came out, the sun really does make places look even more beautiful, we rode past the famous Pilsner brewery, yep… thats our plans for the rest of the day!

But first we just need to find a hotel as last night i did try to book but had no luck, most hotels were full or didn’t have parking, so we thought we would ‘wing it’ like we had done so many times on this trip, as not all hotels advertise on the internet do they?
So off the bike i go to enquire on a room, yes a room and parking, BUT the parking was in the town centre multi storey car park about half a klm away from the hotel, thats not good for us.

So we rode a little bit further up the road, which looked like an unloved area…
down one of the streets were a few hotels so off i went in, the hotel was very gloomy and old with and had a moth ball smell, an elderly lady who was the manager showed me a few rooms, wow for $60 it was just ok, it sort of looked clean, but could have just been that the hotel and rooms had strange coloured walls and mismatched furniture form different eras of last century, the curtains are see through, so pretty useless really lol…its only for one night, so we’ll take it, plus it had secure parking, breakfast and WifI, so i payed for the night and all we needed to do was get the bike around to the parking area which was through an arch way, next to the hotel, Clive waited while the manager opened old wooden double doors.
After lugging the bags and boxes up two flights of stairs, we washed and got ready to go to the Pilsner brewery and hopefully get on a tour.

Just as we were heading out of the door to get on the bike the manager came and told us that the chef said we would also have to pay for the bike to be parked, that was the first we had heard about it, ‘you can talk to the chef, when he comes in for his shift’ she told us, there was no mention of parking payment when i booked us in, hmmm was that an after thought to get more money out of us?

Finding the brewery was easy, we marked the position on our GPS when we passed it earlier, on entering the site we rode through a big stone double archway, which had a steel girder over head and beautiful iron work on top…



The car park was packed with all sorts of motorbikes, lots of bikers must like beer..
We walk into the old Malt House, which is now the ticket office and purchased our tickets for K150 or just over AU 8.00, the next ‘English’ speaking tour was in about half an hour, so we took a few photos and relaxed with the other tourists.


I’ve never been on a beer tour before, so wasn’t really sure what to expect, Clive was well excited, he fancies himself as a bit of an authority on beer and i had gained a bit of a taste for it on this trip..!
We set off on our tour with about 30 other, tourists, mainly excited men who looked like it was Christmas!
Our ninety minute tour started with our guide talking briefly on the brewery and its history before visitors are taken on a coach and onto the bottling plant, which as well as using recycled glass bottles has recently added a plastic bottle line. The cleaning line sterilises the incoming bottles and removes the old labels. There’s also a canning line. The bottling plant operates round the clock, the world is thirsty for beer!


A coach then took us to the old brewery which had a modern visitors centre attached to it. We then had to all get in a massive lift, which is said to be the largest in the Czech Republic and can hold upto 72 people, the first stop is a modern theatre to watch a movie on how the beer is made.

Next stop is an exhibition area where if you want you can taste the barley, malt and hops, it didn’t taste that nice!
Next was the old brewery room, inside were huge copper ‘kettles’ they really were beautiful and so shiny, some poor person, has to use a lot of elbow grease to gets these clean!
Brewing in these ‘Kettles’ stopped in 2004, with the new brewhouse, producing three times as much beer.


We were then taken to the hall of fame, which includes a painting of Josef Groll (1813-1887), the first chief brewer and the man who invented pilsner. The original copper vessel Groll, film clips of the brewery in action in the 1800s plus various other items.


From there we went deep underground, you could feel the drop in temperature, it was a little chilly as we walked through the tunnels, they branched off in every direction, some with doors, some we couldn’t see how far they went as the tunnels were dark, the walls were all white with lime wash and dripping with water, thus making the stone floors quite tricky to walk on!


The coolness down here is ideal to preserve the beer. There’s still some Pilsner made down here but this beer never leaves the brewery as its for tourists to sample and is still made in the old fashioned way rather than at the new modern mass production brewhouse.


This is followed by a tour of the old brewery room. Brewing ceased here in 2004. The new brewhouse, which is attached, can produce three times as much beer.

The time had come and we were served a glass of beer straight from the huge oak barrel, Clive enjoyed his beer, but i really wasn’t impressed with it, i think i was the only one that didn’t enjoy it, lol




Water tower for the beer process…

With the tour over and feeling a little educated on the beer making process, we hit the road to find a place to eat then back to our hotel.
As we parked the bike in the empty car park we went inside to get our room key, the manager did mention again that the chef wanted parking payment, so we said, he could come and ask us himself and we will pay him, but we want a receipt.
We retreated to our room to catch up on email etc, well that was our plan anyway the Wifi was ‘crap’ no signal at all, i reckon someone is selling ‘WIFI’ stickers on ebay for hotels to entice travellers Grrrr…what makes it more annoying is i especially asked about it before we booked, so we watched a movie while waiting for the chef to knock!

Up early for breakfast, the manager told us where the dinning room was, as we walked into a salmon pink and wooden room, laden with ‘ugly’ furniture we found a table really easily as there was no one about, i reckon we were the only ones in the hotel plus there wasn’t any type of hostess, so we just helped our selfs!
With breakfast over we once again loaded up the bike, while handing back our key there was no mention of car park payment, so not sure what was going on there…?
The morning was grey and quite brisk, with rain looming, we were really looking forward to our next country, Germany and meeting up with a good friend we had met way back in Malaysia…


Prague, City of a Hundred Spires…

We were lucky the train station was pretty close to our hotel, just a ten minute walk…

We walked past a Police traffic training day today…

The sky was very threatening this morning, very black indeed, but the rain held off while we walked to the station as we got to the small train station (Město), we were hoping that this was the correct train station as there are two in Kutna Hora!


We got our tickets to Hlavní Nádraží, which is the main station in Prague, on the train we wanted to double check with the ticket collector, as we thought we may have gotten onto the wrong train as it was heading in the wrong direction, the grumpy short tempered ticket collector told us to ‘sit down’ and told us in no uncertain terms ‘this is the correct train’..feeling like naughty school children we did as we were told, a young girl in the seat in front of us must have felt sorry for us and promptly told us that the train is going the wrong direction, but it is the right train for Prague…
But you need to get off at Kolín station, then catch the train Hlavní Nádraží thus going past the Kutna Hora station that we left on!

The train was quite fast and we passed the very beautiful country side, but it was raining hard, so we made the right decision to leave the bike at the hotel…
An hour or so later, we could see we were very close to Prague, what a beautiful city we could see in the distance, i’m not sure how we missed our stop, but we did and we were soon on the wrong side of the river, we weren’t the only ones who weren’t paying attention a couple of young Japanese students did the same, they were wanting to go to Prague Castle like us, we all got off at the next station and tried (with no luck) to find out where to go, we all ended up hoping on the next train that we thought was going in the correct direction, back over to the side of the river that we needed to be at.
Phew…we got off but the young students didn’t, not sure where they were heading but it wasn’t anywhere near the castle.

Within taking a few steps off the train we new we had come to a place that was very special, the architecture this side of the river was spectacular, so heavens knows what it will be like on the ‘Lesser’ side of the town…we couldn’t wait to start exploring…this is what travelling to the ‘far and wide’ is all about (for us anyway).
We needed to follow the Vltava River from the side of ‘The Old Town’ and across the Legii Bridge to ‘The Lesser Town’.
We find our selves walking through a park along the embankment, despite there being quite a few people around it was peaceful, until we came to a huge blackboard with American tourists deciding what to write on the ‘Before I Die’ board, it seemed it was a big decision to make and they needed to discuss it very loudly with their friends spoiling the peace…I can’t tell you what we wrote or it won’t come true!


A short way along the path we came across some big poster boards of the devastating floods that they had earlier in the year (2013).
The Kampa Museum was close by so we took a look, there was certainly some strange art, but very clever though, we also came across this ‘fella’ Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007) a spiritual teacher. The beautiful statue was created by British sculptor, Kaivalya Torpy, during the floods earlier in the year, Sri was up to his neck in water!


As we were walking through the old cobbled streets, we recognised many of the buildings from the photos about the flooding it was hard to believe that the water came us so high, it took us back to the floods of our city of Brisbane in 2011.

The weather has turned on us, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the beautiful old buildings that have been loveingly transformed into souvenir shops, restaurants and stylish hotels.
The cobbled stones were a challenge at times, as not to slip up on them!
Time for a coffee and hopefully the worst of the rain will go!

Strange place for a Thai massage place….

Checking outside its still raining, so we decide to carry on through the maze of small cobbled stone streets, outside some of the shops were canopies, the trouble was everyone was under them trying to keep dry, proving a little difficult to get past everyone at times.
Eventually we make it up to what can only be described as a massive courtyard filled with imposing buildings, this place is incredible, the umbrella had to come down, as it was restricting my photo taking!


Prague Castle was built in about the 9th century, and over the centuries it was expanded. Around the castle, a small community started to grow and was known as The Lesser Town. Its free to get in, but if you want to see inside the magnificent buildings it will cost you, but being on not just a budget but a time limit we will have to decline checking out the buildings until another day.



After the First World War the castle became the seat of the government of Czechoslovakia and today the president of the Czech Republic still resides here.
The stunning main entrance to the palace has a guard on both pillars, and if you are there at the right time you can watch the guards change over.. we missed it…


Within a short walk around the square you come across Smiricky Palace, Sternberg Palace,St. Nicholas Church and Holy Trinity Columnthe which was erected to celebrate the end of the bubonic plague.




We make our way down the narrow cobbled streets between the tall narrow buildings and come across a semi-famous statue of a boy, the statue of the boy is black, but his penis is shinny and gold from all the polishing!
Somehow a story got started that rubbing the penis of this statue gives a person good luck, i had to give it a go, can’t miss out on a chance of good luck now can i…?


Blue skies greeted us as we head towards Charles Bridge, Charles IV had this bridge built to replace the 12th-century Judith Bridge, which was washed away by floods in 1342.
The new bridge was completed in 1390, and only took the name ‘Charles’ in the 19th century – before that it was known simply as Kamenný most (Stone Bridge).
We struggle to make our way onto the bridge-it was packed not only from an army of tourists, but also hawkers that lined the bridge, selling touristy trinkets etc, thankfully we didn’t have to worry about traffic on the bridge as since 1965 it has been a pedestrian bridge, so at least we didn’t have to worry about cars running us over, just tourists!
In the late sixteen and early seventeen hundreds, thirty statues of various saints, knights and a crucifix, were erected along both side of the bridge.


We noticed that a few statues had brass spots on them this had happened due to the sculptures being rubbed by mostly tourists, these statues were inundated by people pushing and shoving, so gave those ones a miss.

There is a plaque that marks the exact spot on the bridge where St. John was thrown into the Vltava its marked with a small brass cross with five stars above it, portraying the stars that hung over the water that fateful night!

You can make a wish come true by reaching for the stars, touching one star for each finger tip, while sending a Plea to the universe!
Hmmm everyone needs good luck so i line up in hope of ‘touching the stars’ this proved very hard, as i was getting pushed out of the way by excited people, it got a bit too much when the elbows came out, so i decided to get in on the ‘fun’, i got to touch the stars with nobody getting in my way!


At the end of the bridge is the famous sandstone Gothic Old Town Guard Towers, you can see why this bridge is one of the most visited places on prague its simply amazing.


As we head of down the old streets past building of five or more stories high, we suddenly feel like we have been transported back in time, we are now in the 600+ year old square, its massive, but before we explore we need to get something to eat, all this walking and cold air makes you hungry, we really didn’t have time for a sit down meal, so we opt for a delicious Czech sausage hot dog, that were being sold on trading style old carts, the sausages were huge and sooo tasty, while eating them we sat on a nearby bench, taking in our centries old surroundings, amazing…

We reflected on how lucky we our to see so many amazing things on this trip and we our so glad we had the guts to take on this epic trip of a lifetime…

The rain had held off for quite a while now, but just as we finished out sausages the rain came down like no tomorrow, we quickly raced (with hundreds of other people as well) to the closest shelter, the rain continued at this fast heavy pace for about 15 minutes, before it subsided to a drizzle.


With the coast clear we walked back into the Old town square, then onto the Jewish quarter, then back to the old town square, just as the rain decided to come down pretty heavy again, typical as i wanted to get a photo of the Astronomical Clock, which is a 600 year old medieval timepiece on the facade of the city hall and displays the twelve apostles as the clock strikes, sadly we didn’t get to the clock in time to see it strike but i did mange a couple of photos, it is a fascinating clock, in fact Prague is fascinating, charming, and so old, its clear to see that its a City well loved by tourists…

After a long day of walking and adsorbing the spectacular City, we head back to our quiet little town on the train for our last night in Kutna Hora.
Back in our room and feeling exchusted we decided, that we weren’t hungry enough to go out for dinner, to many coffees and cake again…. we just longed for a hot shower and have a relaxing evening packing…

The next morning came around fast, and some of our washing was still pretty damp, the heating was off, so i had to resort to socks over the tops of the bedside lamps, hoping they wouldn’t catch fire from the bulbs and turning the hair dryer on and trying to wedge it somehow so i wouldn’t have to hold it while it dried the rest of the clothes, it proved to be a challenge lol, but i did it and all our clothes were put away dry!

It was sad to leave this charming little town we wished we could have stayed a little longer, but we had to get to Germany by a certain date to meet a friend, plus we had we had one more stop that we wanted to make in Czech before we left.
Well at least we have a defitnite plan now where we are going, we have been zigzagging around Europe for the last month, mainly because there is so much to see and it doesn’t really take long to get anywhere…

The chain on the bike is still giving us grieve, our daily adjustments don’t last long, we are sure if it wasn’t for the extra heavy chain we put on, at the beginning of our trip we would have replaced it a long time ago…

Rallying in Nuremberg…

It took us about two hours to get to the city of Nuremberg from Pilsen, the weather was kind to us this morning, the grey clouds turned to clear blue skies, even though it was chilly, the sun was most welcome.
We were now heading west in Europe, again there was no passport control at the border, just a drive past the control buildings, into Germany from the Czech Republic.

This was our first encounter of the German Autobahn where there is no speed limit, we didn’t felt comfortable cruising along at 100 to 120klms, because we were constantly having to go out into the outside lane to overtake a constant convey of big trucks, where having checked the mirror to see if it was safe to overtake, no sooner were we overtaking a truck a big Mercedes or BMW would come so fast up behind us making us feel it was dangerous to be on the autobahn…

Our stop for the night is Nuremberg, its the second largest city in the state of Bravia the largest is Munich which is about about 170 kms away.
As beautiful as this City is, it is Possibly more famous for The Third Reich and the Nazis’ rise to power and is known not only for its infamous anti-Semitic laws, the Nuremberg Laws, but also for the Zeppelin field, where Hitler held massive party rallies.

Nuremberg is also known for the 1946 Nuremberg trials, where the city once viewed as a symbol Nazi power became a symbol of the downfall of Nazism, this beautiful medieval city will unfortunately always have an evil past linked to it.

We quickly find a hotel, The Astoria, after checking out a few in the area we found most were out of our budget, nothing new there! lol…
The Astoria is located across the road from the old walled city, such beauty and history lies behind those walls, but we won’t have time to check it out unfortunately.
As we check in the manager informs me that if we want to use the hotel car park it will cost us, flaming heck, more money, but once the manager saw our passports and in particular saw that we had been to his home country of Pakistan, he decided to waiver the fee, we felt like we had won the lottery.
We squeezed into the tiny mirrored lift with all our luggage boxes, leaving us barely any room to stand in, we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror ekkk do we really look that haggard…ha ha

We get to our room, have a quick shower then head straight back out on the bike to the Reichsparteigelande (Nazi Party Rally Grounds, which is only about five klm’s away.

The car park was full, but there was plenty of room for the bike, but rather than park straight away, we decided while it was still sunny, we would ride around to the back of the building, taking us past the document museum, which had an odd shaped rectangle building perched off the edge of it, and underneath that was what looked like a steel girder that belonged on a building site, it was in fact a stairway, that leads onto the Documentation Centre.


We rode around the building and came upon a massive courtyard, which was in fact the ‘Rally’ grounds, that was shaped like a coliseum but on a much larger scale.
The Congress Hall (Kongresshalle) as it is known was planned by the Nuremberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff. It was planned as a congress centre for the NSDAP with a self-supporting roof and would have provided 50,000 seats, and the building remained unfinished and without a roof as the build was interrupted by world war two.
The Construction of the Congress Hall started in 1935 and by 1937 and 1,400 employees worked daily on the Hall.
It stands with a diameter of 240 meters, 280 meters on the straight end and is 39 meters high. Originally its planned height was 70 meters though, which would have been high for 1935 Europe standards!
The design is inspired by the Colosseum in Rome, that would be why i thought it looked like a Colosseum then!
The inside of the Rally grounds were built in a dark red brick while the outer part was built with large stone blocks.


The grounds were not kept very well, weeds were growing everywhere, maybe thats how they want it to be?
Back now to park the bike and head into the Document Centre, we lock up our helmets and jackets and walk up the ‘steel girder’ and into a large glass and brick hall, with the purchase of our tickets we got an English audio guide, finally after working out how to stop and start it (it wasn’t easy lol) we could finally start our tour, there was lots to read much on how the nazi movement and the horrific power Adolph Hitler had over the German people also copies of the original Nuremberg Laws.



It was chilling to see these documents that had the power to make life unbearable for Jews in Germany.
Many enlarged ‘graphic’ photos, black and white films, it was very sad, i found myself closing my eyes for some parts of the exhibition, it is very powerful and moving…

Back on the bike again, we ride around this vast Nazi complex, which was said to be 11 square kilometres, we now find ourselves on the ‘Great Road’, which is made from granite plates it was originally intended for mass parades, as it was finished after the last party rally, it never got to be used as such, it seems it is just used for parking cars and trucks today.
A short distance away is the Zeppelin field. Where they used to tie up the massive zeppelins.
There has been much debate in Nuremberg lately about the vast amount- €70 million which is to be spent on re-building Nazi rally grounds…its a tough one!

The sun was starting to go down, plus it was also getting cold, so we decided to head back to our hotel and get some dinner.
We check emails and get a message from Steven, we now know how to get to his place in Wurzburg tomorrow, now time for some dinner.

The following morning i opened the curtains to bright sunshine and blue skies, thats a welcome sight.
Not needing to leave to early today was great, as we only had a short ride to get to Wurzburg where we were going to stay with Steven (another fellow traveller).
But, however we did need to get some oil for the bike, so we could do a much needed oil change, so after breakfast we set off to find Clive’s ‘new’ favourite motorbike shop, ‘Louis’, i have to admit it did have some great gear for sale for the motorcyclist, the car park was packed with motorbikes, balloons were bobbing around in the gentle breeze as were flags, all this activity are they having a party for us? No, apparantly ‘Louis’ does on certain dates is have a biker to biker sale of motorbikes, in their car park.
All the bikes for sale were gleaming and without scratches, these bikes didn’t look like they had seen rain or anything exciting let alone parts of the world our bike had been too, i think i prefer our ‘Strom’ even if it did look dirty and with a few battle scars, a few bikers glanced at our bike in awe of where we had been, checking out our drawn red line on the map on the side box.

We finally made it into the store, where we purchased some oil and looked at the great gear on sale, so much more than we can get in Australia..
We also tucked into the free coffee and cake that was laid on.
With our essentials bought, it was back to the hotel to collect our bags etc and onto Wurzburg to meet up with Steven, it’ll be so good to catch up with him, and swap stories of our travels.

Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 232 other followers