Brisbane2Bristol

On our great adventure

Prague, City of a Hundred Spires…

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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…?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

Bones and Silver…

After a maintenance check on the bike (tightening the chain again!), we left the beautiful city of Vienna making tracks towards the small medieval town of Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic, the journey is less than 300kms, just just a short ride today, thankfully as the weather was not in our favour again. (hope the rest of Europe does not dish out this ghastly weather!).
Once out of Vienna we were back riding through the beautiful green country side, passing through small towns and villages along the way.

In the distance we could make out a couple of small tatty buildings on either side of the road, these must be the old border control huts at Hatě, Znojmo, Wahoo our next country, the Czech Republic…

No checks at the border for us, not even a half hearted glance at our passports!
We pull up at a petrol station right near the checkpoint and put on our waterproofs, we’re heading into some rain by the looks of it..

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A few minutes of arriving in the Czech Republic we came a cross a strange site, Excalibur City a theme park in the middle of the country side, it seemed an odd place for it, feeling curious and in need stretching our legs we rode into the car park and found the perfect spot to park, under the wing of a plane, where else would we park? ha ha

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Our undercover bike spot is a decomissioned plane is a Illuschin UK-62, which is now a diner, the colourful paintwork was designed by artist Ernst Fuchs, one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism!

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Taking a look around we found lots of restaurants, shops and rides for the young ones, it was a great place and not what we expected as soon as we crossed the border.

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That was a bizarre place, right out in the middle of nowhere…

The rain was now relentless and depressing and it was getting very cold, we stop to fill up on fuel, while paying i noticed that the fuel shop had a little cafe, and in need of warming up i wave to Clive to park up and come in, we both were cold, and in need of a warm drink, the Hot Chocolate was pretty good and we weren’t too keen to get back on the bike, we would have been quite happy to stay in the warm cafe, the shop assistants didn’t seem to mind we were forming great puddles underneath our seats from our soggy clothes, on using the cafes Wi-Fi we found that we were not that far for where we had to go, so back on with our wet gear and on the bike, we set off in the pouring rain towards Kutna hora.

Within minutes of arriving in Kutna Hora we found Hotel U Kata, while Clive unloaded the bike i checked in…
Our room was large, so lots of space to spread out, with our ever faithful mini kettle (that we purchased in India) we made a cup of tea, which was just what we needed as we were both still feeling cold.
After a hot shower we decided to make the most of the afternoon, as thankfully the rain had eased off so we could now go off and explore for a while.

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Kutná Hora developed as a result of the exploitation of the silver mines and reached its climax in the 14th and 15th centuries when the city became one of the richest places in Europe…its built above the steep descent of the Vrchlice Creek, in the Kutna Hora plateau, 254 m above sea level and about 60 km east of Prague.

Walking up the cobbled streets past the charming old coloured terraced houses and shops was peaceful, just a few locals going about there daily chores, it hard not to get swept up in the charm of these old building, as we continued up the hill towards the town square…

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There were lots of tiny cobbled ally-ways branching off the main streets, some going down and some up towards St. Barbaras church, we decided not to go up to the church as daylight was slipping away, plus it has started to rain again also the cobbled stones were getting slippery, so we carefully walked back to our hotel.
Some amazing smells were coming from the hotel restaurant so we decided to eat in…

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OMG the meals were gigantic Clive had two whole wheels of Camberet on top of his huge chicken breast, Clive really struggled, but managed to finish the lot.
While enjoying a drink after dinner, a young man approached us and asked us if the bike in the court yard was ours as he had been looking at the map on one of the side boxes, we said it was our bike, he interduced himself as Jakub and wanted to buy us another drink as he was so impressed with our trip, he told us that he has plans to do a trip one day but needs a suitable bike.

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Jakub was very passionate about his home town of Kutna Hora, that he wanted to take us for a walk to show us the delights of the town at night, even though it was raining, how could we refuse such enthusiasm.

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After quickly retrieving our coats and my now very useful umbrella we head out into the dark softly light streets, there was barely anyone around, it was so quiet, except for the gentle rhythm of the rain coming down around us.
Jakub told us that not many tourists stay in Kutna Hora, as they all stay in Prague and come here for day trips, from what we have seem so far i think the tourists are missing out big time.

We head up town towards the silver mine which was discovered in the 13th century, the mine brought great wealth to the town and the royal mint was established in 1300, Kutná Hora then started producing the Prague groschen coins, thus becoming the second most important town in the Kingdom of Bohemia, in the 14th century many new buildings were built as a result of the wealth of the town-residential houses, churches, one of the country’s most significant monasteries, and the majestic Church of St. Barbara, when fires damaged or destroyed many of Kutná Hora’s buildings but the town was quickly rebuilt thanks to the income from silver mining.

The silver mines were depleted in the 16th century, and Kutná Hora’s wealth took a sharp decline as did the growth of the town. The miners average ‘life’ age was 35, thats very sad.
Walking in the dark and up the wet cobbled path we came to a magnificent building- St. Barbara’s Church (Chrám sv. Barbory) my its spectacular, i could just imagine that it looks even better in the day light, we took a few photos and left, we’ll be back tomorrow afternoon for sure.

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Thanks Jakub for the tour of your beautiful town.

Today our plan is to walk the Ossuary / Kostnice (Bone Church), we have always wanted to come here since we saw it on ‘The long Way Round’ documentary by Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor and finally today we were going to see it for ourselves.

We decided not to take the motorbike as the ‘Bone Church’ was only about fifteen minutes away from our hotel and the skies were blue with just patches of black dotted about.

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The old Catholic Church is surrounded by a huge brick wall, we walk up the old cobbled path and decide not to go straight in to the church as a bus load of tourists had just turned up, so we took a walk around the small cramped graveyard first.

A little information on the Church:

There are over 40,000 bodies bones here! You may wonder how all these bodies bones ended up being craved in a small chapel, well it all goes back to 1278 when the King of Bohemia sent the Abbot of the Sedlec Cistercian Monastery to Jerusalem, the abbot came back with a jar of soil from the Golgotha, that was known as the “Holy Soil”, and sprinkled it on the cemetery surrounding the Chapel of All Saints.

This direct association with the holy land led to the graveyard becoming a sought after burial site among the aristocracy of Central Europe, and after thirty years of war in the 17th century, the number of burials outgrew the space available, the older remains had to be exhumed and stored in the chapel.

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An Urban myth has it that a monk went mad and made objects from the bones, and there are stories to suggest that partially blind monks entrusted with the care of the chapel were the first to begin piling the bones into geometric shapes!

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But we also heard that the decorations and sculptures were created though by a woodcarver named František Rint. In 1870, and he was commissioned by the landowners of the time, the Schwarzenberg family, to decorate the chapel with the bones and create a reminder of the impermanence of human life and inescapable death.

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It will cost you 40K (AU $2) entrance fee, not too sure where the bus load of tourists were but there weren’t too many people inside the church.
This place is amazing, totally bizarre bone ‘bunting’ hangs from the domed roof like Christmas decorations, and tall bone and skull pyramids are presented in the middle of the church, there was even a family crest made up of various bones, the centre piece for me was the chandelier, Undeniably brilliant, theres so much ‘art’ here in this special little Church.

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The Church was now getting busy, i think a few coaches have pulled up, thats our exit! but not before we take a quick peek upstairs at the chapel that still holds regular Mass.

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Set into the entrance pathway…

On the way back to the hotel we decide to make a quick stop at the supermarket to get some stuff for lunch, when we get out of the shop the ground outside was soaking wet, looks like we missed that down pour.

After lunch we head back up into the old town through Palackeho Square and up to St Barbara’s church, its as stunning in daylight as it was last evening.

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The UNESCO-listed Church of St. Barbara is a monumental Gothic church consecrated to St. Barbara, patron saint of miners.
Its an exceptional building is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture, symbolises the power and importance of the mining city, which is linked to deposits of silver ore.

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Building started in 1388 and after 500 years (construction was stopped several times during this period) it was completed in 1905 with a Neo-Gothic restoration.

The roof has a unique design with a three-tent roof that reminds me of a circus tent and intricate flying buttresses make it a show piece.
The cathedral sits at the top of the town proudly over looking everything below it.
I have to say this is one of the most beautiful churches we have ever seen, after walking around the outside trying to capture it by camera proved hard to get the whole building in.

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We found a bench in the beautiful manicured gardens and admire this stunning church and its peaceful surroundings.
On the way back to the hotel we take another look at this pretty little town…
The tourists that just come here for a few hours on a day visit from Prague are missing out on a beautiful place, Kutna Hora is well worth more than a hurried visit. We have a very long list now of places we would like to revisit…

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After another wonderful dinner and beer at the hotel…We went for the same meal again! yet again fantastic- we then turn in for an early night, as we have a big day of walking tomorrow, we are heading into the city of Prague by train…

It Means Nothing To Me….Oh Vienna…..

It rained for most of the night and knowing that we were going to spend the morning getting wet on the motorbike didn’t fill us with a lot of enthusiasm, especially while we were in a nice warm room in the hotel…

But we need to ‘get this show on the road’ regardless of the weather, plus we only had about 300k’s to get to ‘The City Of Music’…Vienna.

Hence the title of the blog, we couldn’t help singing the eighties hit by ultravox every time we saw a road sign leading to the city bearing its name…

But before going to Vienna we were making a stop off in the town of Steyr, which was about halfway to meet up with Andy and his wife Andrea, Andy is from Bristol and has been following our trip on line for most of our trip and gave us an invite for lunch if we were in his area, Andy had given us some great tips along the way during our journey and we couldn’t wait to meet him.

We were to meet Andy and Andrea at his office, which is located at the old factory of M.A.N trucks as he wasn’t flying today… we reckon he has one of the best jobs in the world, he’s a pilot for hot air balloons, but he was telling us he is having a bad season in Austria due to all the rain (he is now currently in Myanmar ballooning), Andy is also a motor bike fanatic…

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Andy and Andrea took us out for a fantastic lunch at a Italian place, right opposite his office.
Over lunch Andy being a ballon pilot gave us some great advise on what the weather was doing and also some advise on where the rain depression is heading, it seemed to be right behind us chasing us along, no wonder we have been wet for the last week…

It was really great to finally meet them after exchanging comments on the net for so long, hopefully will meet up with them again one day.

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Andy gave us a sticker of his ballon company to stick on our bike boxes.

With the rain right behind us we took the fastest route to Vienna, looking over our shoulders most of the way, hmmm lots of black clouds around…
I couldn’t believe we could have been so stupid as to not book a hotel, but we just couldn’t decide, as the prices were not suitable or the location was too far out of the city, surely there were other hotels that weren’t online that would be suitable to meet our needs? But we did have a short list though to check out!

We checked a few hotels out when we got to Vienna, most on the list though were booked out, one random Hotel that looked ‘just’ ordinary was ridiculously priced, at over $600 a night and you get the choice of either a parking space or Wi-Fi… For that price I would expect both…

Time was ticking and the rain was still coming down fast and heavy, just down the road from one of the hotels that we enquired in, was an arch way that lead into a court yard that took us to Hotel Fabrik (it used to be a fabric factory).

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In the hotels courtyard was a huge chimney stack that was all lit up, dripping wet I went into the reception area enquired on the price, thinking to myself just by looking around at the low brick ceiling and boutique style, it was going to be way out of our price range, it was, so I booked us in for two nights, lol..

I couldn’t believe that we still had to pay extra to park the bike, unbelievable. That was the most expensive hotel we have used on the entire trip so far…

Our room was modern, clean and warm and overlooked the courtyard. So off with the wet weather gear to hang in the bathroom to dry, next were hot showers and out for a bite to eat.
My umbrella was now becoming handy, Clive really didn’t want to bring it at the start of our trip “we’ll never use it” he said!
Over dinner we planed on what to see tomorrow and where we should go in Europe as so far we have just been bumbling around with no real plan, not that is such a bad thing anyway…
After a massive buffet breakfast, where we got our moneys worth of everything on offer!
Our plans for the day were to see as much of Vienna as we could cram in.

We decided to catch the train to the city centre, there was a station 100 metres away, so in the pouring rain we ran to the station, when we arrive at the station we couldn’t find anywhere to purchase tickets, we asked a few people but they just shrugged their shoulders, oh well you can’t say we didn’t try, we got on the train feeling a little nervous that we didn’t have tickets.

Hope we don’t get caught, we’ll just have to act like ‘dumb’ tourists if we get caught!
After a ten minute ride we arrive in the city centre and back up the umbrella goes, with my brolly being blown around in front of my face i nearly walk into the path of a moving tram! Flamin heck that was a close call…

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The streets are laden with well looked after historical buildings, even with the 21st century shops inside them; it doesn’t alter the charm of the buildings.
Unfortunately we know our time in this city is not nearly going to be long enough.
Following our little guide map we find St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) its the most important Catholic Church in Vienna.

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The Cathedral has a multi-colored tile roof with a diamond pattern and two tall towers, which are the most identifiable symbols of the city. You can see why it’s the number one tourist attraction in Vienna, Simply stunning.

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Inside was another Wow moment…

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We’re not religious, but we lit four candles, one for each of our grandchildren, who we were missing terribly…

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Outside there were horse carriage rides for the tourists.

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Ha Ha ear muffs for horses!

With a reprieve from the rain we head over to the Spanish Riding school, hoping that we may get to see the famous Lipizzaners in action, but we were to be disappointed as they were not performing today, such a shame, this now means a return visit one day ☺, however we did how ever get to check out the horses in their massive yard, even if they were only housed in their stalls.

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Before we knew it, it was lunchtime, no wonder our stomachs were growling, we find a little cafe to not only eat but to rest up a little, our legs were aching…

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Lunch over we decide to walk it off, we must have walked miles, checking out the city centre, some of it in circles lol, our legs were still aching!

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Walking over to the Hofburg Imperial Palace for a look, what a stunning building, for more than seven centuries the great empire of the Habsburgs was ruled from the Imperial Palace, part of it is now a museum, but by the time we arrive, there it was less than an hour to closing, so we decide to give it a miss, but still got to enjoy the architecture.
Every thing about this city is amazing, you cannot help but fall in love with this place.

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Oh dear looks like the rain is building up again in the distance…

Later that day we were due to meet Lisa and Gerhard, a lovely young Austrian couple that live here, we first meet them way back at the beginning of our trip in Malaysia, we were all staying in the same hotel, Hotel Station 18 in Ipoh, where we had a fun packed day with them and we said if we did head to Vienna (it was not in our plans at the beginning of our trip) we would catch up with them.

A bit later we received a text from Lisa to let us know what time and place to meet them, thankfully we were able to get onto Google maps to find out how to get to the cafe.
While walking towards to Café Prueckel we came across Vicki Butler-Henderson from Fifth Gear filming a scene about the new Bentley, it was stunning, believe me the two tone car looked better in life, than in the photo.

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We arrived first at Café Prueckel, and Lisa and Gerhard arrived shortly after, walking into the busy café is like going back in time, the café is more than 100 years old, and was renovated in the 1950′s, and it hasn’t changed much since, there was a great atmosphere about the place, lots of laughter and chatting going on…

A little bit of a wait was in order as the there weren’t any vacant tables, this café is a very popular place with the locals, we did however not have long to wait till we got a table, Hmmm the menu’s were in Austrian, lucky we had Lisa and Gerhard to translate.

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We decided to go for the Fritattensuppe, which is a traditionally home made beef broth topped with rolled up and thinly sliced strips of pancake, it was really good, and for desert (I had been eyeing up the yummy looking cakes), but we were happy to try the suggestion form Lisa and Gerhard which was Mohnnudeln which means is poppy seed noodles in German, i’m not sure what we were ordering but was surprised when it arrived at the table as it looked like thick slug shapes, its made from a potato dough, and is served with melted butter and tossed in poppy seeds and a side of stewed apples, it was really good and dipped in the apple, it gave it the sweetness that was needed, yum yum…

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It was so great to catch up with Lisa and Gerhard, we had a pleasant evening of chatting and laughing, they are a really great young couple, we feel lucky to have meet them.
We catch our ‘free’ train back to our Hotel and settle in for the night, desperately hoping that the rain will ease for our ride into our next country, Czeh Republic..

Well at least now we have some sort of plan of where we are going…

As for ‘Vienna’ it does mean something to us…

Soaring To The Eagles Nest and Finding Mozart…

Apart from a few dark clouds scattered about, the weather was looking good, lucky for us we didn’t have too far to go, as we discussed over dinner the previous night we wanted to go to Hitlers Eagles Nest while we were in the area, it was less than 60kms from the town of Lofer.

Clive had adjusted the bike chain again, but we had our suspicions that this chain was on its way out, we load up the bike and head for the Bavarian Alps, yet again the scenery was spectacular, I have also never seen a country so clean and its so tidy, no litter to be seen, love it…

We stopped in the beautiful little town of Berchtesgaden and go into the tourist information office and grab a map of the local area on how to get up to the ‘Nest’.
The very helpful ladies dressed in traditional costume were very helpful, they explained that we couldn’t take the bike all the way to the top, we have to ride half way up and park up and then catch a bus to the elevator shaft entrance.
We found a spot to park the bike and head over towards the ticket box, the queue wasn’t too bad, i think the grotty weather put a few people off!
While we were in the queue we got talking to an elderly couple of German sisters (but now live in America), they were pretty hilarious, taking the mickey out of each other, thus keeping the queue entertained while we wait to purchase our tickets, when it was the the German sisters turn, she flashed a card to the ticket attendant then passed it to us to use, what ever saver card, she had was great, we got in for something like 40 Euros, saving quite a few Euros..

We had to queue up for our allocated time bus, which was 20 minutes away, so we whiled away the time talking to these lovely sisters, who made sure we understood that they were ashamed of how Hitler treated people, and is not a reflection on what German people are like!
Once on the bus we slowly head up. Its a single lane with a few passing spots and the view is magnificent, but looking out the window down its a sheer drop….

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Due to its high elevation the Eagle’s Nest is open in summer only, usually from about mid-May through October, so we only just made it by a month, phew…
Hitler’s Eagles Nest, is in a little pocket of Germany that juts into Austria, it sits on a mountain peak high above Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps.
It was a 50th birthday gift by the Nazi party secretary Bormann’s to Adolf Hitler.
Its unusual position makes of the daring project a unique engineering feat and when here you can see why.
It took 13 months to construct and was finished in the summer of 1938, it cost a staggering 30 million Reichsmarks to build which is about 150 million Euro’s (2007)…
Few realise that Hitler’s home and headquarters – the second seat of 3rd Reich power – was located at Obersalzberg, at the foot of the Eagle’s Nest Mountain.

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Off the bus we walk into a stone-lined tunnel leads 124 meters, straight into the side of the mountain. At the end of the tunnel we got into a large queue to wait for our turn in the elegant brass-lined elevator that takes visitors on a 41-second ride another 124 meters up through the heart of the mountain and into the building itself.
The inside of the elevator was stunning, but we weren’t allowed to take photos…although we did mange to get a bit of a photo!

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Once at the top, we decided while the rain had ceased we would walk up the path that leads up to a higher point, it was well worth the short climb, even though at times I thought we could get blown off the mountain.
The view is incredible, you are eye level with the Alps, looking over both Germany and Austria, with jagged mountains in all directions, and lake konigsee that looked like it as squeezed in between surrounding mountains.

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Looking flash in my new motorbike jacket..

Ironically, Hitler suffered from vertigo and rarely took pleasure in the views.
Apparently on a clear day you can see Salzburg.

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But today it’s misty, rainy and very cold.
Being here gives you a strange eerie feeling, knowing that such a hated man used to come here.

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Its now raining again so we decide to go to the kehlsteinhaus for a hot drink, this is located in the same spot that Hitler, Eva Braun, Himmler held banquets and entertained foreign diplomats.

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The vast dinning hall was packed, but we managed to find a table next to the deep set windows, and the thick granite walls, the ceilings were high and were heavily beamed the beams in the ceilings are the original ones, as are some of the light fixtures only a few are copies of the originals.

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Looking around this amazing room you can’t help but notice the huge marble fireplace that Mussolini gave to Hitler. There is some names carved into the marble from the American soldiers who liberated the Nest.

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Its amazing to think that Eagle’s Nest wasn’t damaged during the war, although most of the furniture was removed by the occupying forces.
Going up some steps we entered into a small, paneled dining area, which is also part of the restaurant.
There is a sideboard in here that’s the original one!
This is the room where Hitler had a long dining table for banquets.
Eva Braun’s (Hitlers partner) sister Gretl and SS Officer Hermann Fegelein got married here, on June 3, 1944.
Its a very popular tourist site with over 300,000 visit here a year, mostly British and Americans.

With the clouds now completely shrouding us at the top we decided to go and catch the bus back down to the bottom. At least its not raining down here so we decide to go and look at the famous Konigssee lake

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The car park to the lake was packed, and were glad we had a bike as it allows you to park so much closer to the entrance of places, especially with rain around.
We by passed all the tourist shops that were selling the same things and went straight down to the lake, wow, its a stunning spot, alpine mountains either side of the lake, the water was crystal clear, we bent down to feel it, it was freezing although the ducks didn’t seem to mind…

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We sat there for a while and enjoyed the view, but due to the high number of visitors it wasn’t peaceful, we brought a German hot dog and high tailed it out there, got back on the bike and rode towards the city of Salzburg..

As we arrived in Salzburg, coming in the back way we thought the streets looked rather ugly and cold looking, Just like our mood as it’s still raining and we were getting cold.
Yet again the hotels I enquired at were all fully booked and they didn’t have anywhere for the bike..

Riding down the now soggy roads we saw a sign for 59 Euro’s for a room, as Clive parked the bike up on the side of the busy road, I enter the smart entrance of the hotel (dripping water everywhere) I am greeted by a beautiful five year old girl…they put them to work young here lol, the young girls father soon appeared and said the price we saw advertised is for one person for two it will be 89 Euro’s, ok we’ll take it.
We had to off load the bike from the main street entrance then park the bike in the Hotel car park that was around the back of the hotel with no adjoining gate to get into the back of the hotel, the manager assured us that the bike would be perfectly safe, as there is barely any crime in Austria…

To be sure we throw the lock around the wheels and put on the bike cover…
Lucky for us the hotel had a lift, which after loading all our bags and side boxes into didn’t leave us any room to get in as well, so we walked up the stairs leaving a trail of water behind us.
The room was small and spotlessly clean, it had heated towel rails which would make drying our washing easier, its doesn’t seem that long ago that we could peg our washing outside and it’d be dry in a matter of hours, but here it’ll take days (welcome to Europe in the autumn)
After a quick clean up, the rain came down even harder, looks like we’ll be staying in and make use of the fantastic free internet that was super fast.
The rest of the afternoon was a lazy one, internet, Skype and watching movies, looking out the window at the rain, we were both glad that we could take the time to lounge around and not rush out to cram in some sightseeing, we could now spend the whole day tommorow checking out Salzburg, even if it’s raining, we’re going to explore!

After a night of heavy rain the following morning we were welcomed with blue skies, it was still only 8am but we wanted to make the most of the day so we got out early, after crossing a few roads we come across a pathway that ran alongside the Salzach River, what better way to get into this beautiful old town on a Sunday morning, there weren’t a lot of people around except for joggers.

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We need to get over to the old town via the modern Makartsteg bridge, once on the bridge you can’t help fail to notice a sea of padlocks attached to the fence just below the railings, we saw these ‘loveLocks’ when we were in Venice, we have spare padlocks, why didn’t we bring one with us and add to them…

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The old town is a maze of cobbled streets lined with 3-4 story colourful buildings, many dating back to the 15th century, most of these buildings were cafés, posh clothes and gift shops all displaying anything to do with Mozart, of course this was where (full name) Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on January 27th 1756.

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As it was still early most of the shops and attractions were not open yet, so seeing as we hadn’t yet had breakfast we head into the most up market MacDonalds we have come across.

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Walking through the cobbled streets, which were now getting busy, we past buskers (who were brilliant) and street actors doing a fantastic job of staying still while kids poked them…
The city was now stating to come alive with people.

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These guys were fantastic and drew quite a large crowd.

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Breakfast over now to explore Hohensalzburg Fortress (built in 1077)….at the ticket box we brought the Combined ticket which allowed us to see more of this amazing Fortress, so for an extra 3 Euros each we got to go up and down on the cable railway, fortress courtyards, peel towers, State Rooms, Fortress Museum, Rainer Regiment Museum, Marionette Museum, Sound and Vision Show, Almpassage.

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An amazing gun cabinet..

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Great way of showing off the weapons…

We get to do the tour with audio guide in 9 languages – we choose english!… which told us about the interior area (gallery, torture chamber which was a bit gruesome, observation tower and the “Salzburger Stier” – mechanical organ).
At the top you get breathtaking views over the whole of Salzburg and the mountains, we were lucky the day was clear and sunny.

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There is a small museum about the castle and Salzburg history, the exhibits were interesting and informative, i found the masks the most fascinating, Clive thinks i would look good in them lol…

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We spent the best part of the day there, we really enjoyed it, it may not be the most beautiful Fortress (my opinion) but it was one of the most interesting, worth a visit if your in Salzburg.

We decided not to use our return ticket for the cable car, but walk down the very steep and slippery in places cobbled path.
We came across St. Peters church, and decided to take a look at the famous grave yard-which dates back to 1627.
Walking through the huge wrought iron gates, you find yourself in the most beautiful grave yard, full of colourful flowers and graves that had small head stones with ornate wrought iron grave markers.

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Back to the cobbled streets we pass dozen of Haflingers pony and traps a stunning horse that originates from Arab blood, brought back from the Continental wars with the Turks and was crossed with the native Tyrolean Pony – thus establishing the Haflinger Horse Breed.

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Moving on we were now feeling hungry, not sure what we wanted to eat, until we passed a little restaurant and the waitress had in her hand the most amazing looking desert we had ever seen, well we have got to try one of those, we asked the waitress what it was she told us it was Salzburger Nockerl (Soizburga Noggal in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) it’s sweet soufflé with a fresh raspberry sauce on the base, its culinary speciality of Salzburg, we felt it was our duty to try this local dish….
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oh my it looked amazing with three huge mountainous peaks in a large dish, the waitress said the serving is for four people..
We did our best and ploughed through the pudding, it was like heaven in your mouth, and not too sweet either.

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Feeling rather full we decide we were in need of a long walk, first stop was Mozart’s birthplace at No. 9 Getreidegasse. The Mozart family lived on the third floor and Mozart himself was born here on 27 January 1756.

He was the seventh child of Leopold Mozart who was a musician of the Salzburg Royal Chamber, the house is now a museum and was extremely busy, underneath the house is a Spar supermarket, an expensive one at that, i think a music shop would have been more suitable.

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Heading off towards the main part of the city, we came across Mirabell Palace and Gardens, as you entered through the opening you came into a vast garden of many types of flowers and roses, fountains and statues it was stunning, the colours were amazing.

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The man himself…

The building here is a former palace and is now government offices, even so is is a very relaxing place to visit.
The gardens are where the von Trapp children sang “Do-Re-Mi” in the Sound of Music, Clive had to stop me from dancing in and around the fountains, like Julie Andrews lol.

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Some great art work…

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We are seeing Bristol signs everywhere now…

The day was slowly drawing to a close heading back to the hotel, we needed to buy some supplies, but even though we were in a city, there were no supermarkets open, hardly any restaurants either, and what was open we really didn’t fancy, we ended up getting Subway and eating it back in our room with a cup of tea, whilst packing up, for the our next City Vienna…

No kangaroo’s In Austria….

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Crossing the border and into Austria was fast, we still expect to get stopped at borders! But we’re in Europe, its so easy, no more passport controls.
We ride through the Brenner Pass, a mountain pass that goes through the Alps along the border between Italy and Austria, and is one of the principal passes of the Alps.

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It is the lowest of the Alpine passes, and is used during the summer for cattle grazing and lots of vineyards and wineries…

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I just thought I would add in an interesting fact in- On March 18th 1940 Hitler met the Italian leader Mussolini in his railway carriage in the Brenner Pass, to have a little chat…
The pass was also used as a way out of Germany for some Nazis after collapse of the government in 1945.

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We decide not to get on to the busy toll road to Innsbruck and ride the calm road, below the 190 metre bridge pass, which is now towering above us, the roads were good and not too much traffic about, the sky was blue but the air was cold, but who cares, we were in a stunning part of Europe, mountains on either side of us covered in alpine trees, which sometimes made way for the lushest, tidiest grass I have ever seen, it almost looked like it had been brushed with a comb…

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On arriving in Innsbruck we needed to find a hotel, we notice there are coloured signs that tell you how far and what the names of the hotels were, we thought this would be easy, but we managed to turn it into something frustrating lol, it didn’t help that most of the roads were on a one way system and there’s tram lines running everywhere …

The few hotels we found were either closed waiting for the snow season or priced out of our range, so what do you do in that situation?
Go to the nearest MacDonald’s for a coffee and chill out for a bit, so inside the ultra modern Macca’s we have coffee and a huge ‘Milka’ chocolate muffin, it was the best coffee we had had in ages, sorry Italy but your coffee was not up to our standards…
There were now black clouds looming on the horizon, so we have to find a hotel soon…

Getting back on the bike we head out of Innsbruck and through the small town of Tirol, Clive got excited as we passed a huge Louis bike shop, may have to check it out tomorrow! it started raining again and was starting to get dark it wasn’t long till we came across a beautiful Gasthaus.
The wooden inn was run by a lovely family, they were very welcoming…after we booked in the heavens opened and the rain poured down,we were shown through the maze of corridors (this place is small but its like a rabbit warren) and into our massive wooden paneled room, with everything we required finally, a safe place for the bike, free Wi-Fi (take note the rest of Europe), breakfast, hot water and its clean, I think we won the lotto here!

Next on our Schedule for the day was hot showers, washing a few clothes, catching up will e-mails etc and maybe a tête-à-tête with the kids on Skype.
Feeling not at all hungry (cakes earlier) to eat anything we settled on a cup of tea and an early night.
Waking up early to the sound of the rain, didn’t fill us with the excitement to get up and pack…welcome to Europe late summer…
Feeling hungry we make our way through the ‘rabbit warren’ in search of the breakfast room, going round in circles and up and down to different floors, and we still couldn’t find it, how can that be, this place is not that big lol, eventually we find the brightly light room, we were greeted by the owners daughter, who told us to help ourselves to the plentiful buffet and we sure did…

While Clive packed up the bike, i tried to dry off the last of the washing with the hair dryer, which I couldn’t even walk away from it at it was one of those hair dryers that you need to keep your finger on to make it work!

Now with everything packed and back on the bike, we made the decision to back track a bit to the motorcycle store we passed yesterday, we really need waterproof boots if Europe was going to be continuously wet!
The rain decided to follow us to Louis motorbike store…
Wow once inside the store even I was impressed, it was massive, so much choice, everything for the motorcyclist and a good price too…
They even have a wind tunnel for trying on new helmets to see how they buffer you in a real scenario!
With our bike boots no longer holding out water, they have served us well though, countless river crossings and the punishment we had given them to get us here so far away from Australia has been amazing, remembering back to travelling through Turkmenistan in 54 degrees, where the glue on the soles was melting, we decide to splurge and buy some new boots and a new motorbike jacket for me, as mine was leaking like a sieve and was not keeping the cold out, Clive’s was holding up not to bad…

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Good bye old boots, hello waterproof boots…

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My old jacket was not keeping out the rain anymore…

The shop assitant gave us a good deal she even gave Clive’s jacket a extra waterproof spraying for nothing…
Our boots and jackets would have a great test today as it was raining even harder when we got outside the store, so onto the wet bike we ride in the direction of Salzburg,it looks like theres no end in sight with this rain as the sky was a deep grey. We did have patches between the showers and lifted our spirits.
The countryside was stunning, lush green fields sitting in front of mountain ranges and a few farms and houses dotted around-impressive-just as we had imagined it to be…

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One of the things you notice is how clean and tidy this place is, no litter, no falling apart houses even the grass looked like it had been brushed all the same way…
We stayed off the autobahn for most of the journey, one, as we didn’t want to pay and two, because we wanted to see more of this impressive countryside, even if it was showery, to this point of our trip we hadn’t seen a lot of rain!
Part of the way we followed the Saalach River, passing through gorges and snow capped mountains, a bike riders Haven…

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Carrying on the rain got a lot more harder, so we were on the lookout for somewhere to stay, we saw a few signs to some guesthouses and followed the signs through a pretty village, but it was not much fun, not only were the streets narrow, but the roads were mostly unsealed and slippery.
We stopped at a couple of really pretty guesthouses but they were either closed for the season or full, so we turn around and ride back to the main road, we past a supermarket, that had a café attached to it, we pulled up and parked the bike under cover near the door way, and entered the café dripping with water, luckily as it was late in the afternoon there wasn’t a lot of people around and the barista didn’t seen worried about the water mess, i think she felt sorry for us…
While Clive ordered hot drinks, I took off into the supermarket to get supplies incase we needed to camp in a bus shelter!

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This made us laugh…

Back on the bike we rode into the centre of Lofer, which was only a couple of Klms down the road, we decided travelling on was too miserable and dangerous, the bike chain was making a bit of noise and needs to be attended to, so we will try again and find somewhere to stay..
I left Clive with the bike while I enquired at a small boutique Hotel, 120 Euro’s was to much for us, but we don’t have a lot of choice.
When I returned to the bike Clive had disappeared, i wasn’t concerned as no one is going to mug a wet smelly biker are they? I ended up waiting for about 20 minutes, he finally appeared, he had also found a place to stay, even though it was full, the manager said we could have the lower level of the Gasthaus for 80 Euro’s, I agreed to check out the room before making a decision, unsure of what this room was going to be like, I was hesitant, as it was the staff quarters that were let out from time to time, it was two large bedrooms with lounge rooms attached and both had bathrooms, cleanish, warm and we could either use one or both bedrooms either way there was plenty of space for us, the bike could be parked in a garage and if you were in the right area in the room you could get Wi-Fi…lol

So we booked in for one night maybe two depending on the weather, after a nice hot shower, we had to walk up the outside of the Gasthaus to get to the restaurant area for dinner, where we had secured a three course meal at a knocked down rate…

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The dinning room was very comfortable looking with its rustic chunky furniture, knickknacks in every space available and not forgetting the autumn decorations-mini pumpkins in baskets everywhere, also we got the feeling that we were being watched…Ekkk it was only the taxidermic animals that were on shelves above us, looking at us…
We got a few inquisitive stares from the older guests, not sure why, must have been because we were so young, either that or we looked ‘rough’… the over intentive waiter who sorted us with a room was great though and couldn’t believe where we had come with our bike…

It was still raining when we woke up, and the sky was dark and heavy, heading up to breakfast we could just make out some mountains that were just in front our guesthouse, didn’t notice them yesterday. It wasn’t long till they were covered up again, hidden behind the dark grey skies.

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Checking out the weather forecast we decide the sensible thing to do was to stay another night, as the following days forecast was meant to be better…
Still not sure if we made the right decision to be heading this way into Europe, but there seem to be so many great cities to check out over this way.
We arrived late to the buffet style breakfast, so all the ‘golden’ year guests had not left much for us and we still had few more weird stares from the other guests, Hmm why is that?…
We do a quick catch up on the Internet and then decide to check out this pretty little town, the rain had now eased off a little which was great, but it was cold, it was a good chance for us to where our new coats that we had been carting around with us that we bought in Myanmar at a really knocked down price, just for occasions like this…!

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Apologies to our Austrian and German friends, but this sign made us laugh when ever we saw it…

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The village of Lofer itself lies at just over 600m altitudes, the nearby Steinberge mountains, are a reachable range of peaks of around 2500m, its way to wet for us to climb, maybe another day!!! Only a short distance away is Austria’s highest peak the Grossglockner, at a height of 3797m, the chairlifts were closed so thats out as well.

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In the summer Lofer is a popular white water destination, and in the winter its newly extended 58 km of ski runs have made it a firm favorite with families pursuing a taste of traditional and unspoilt Austria.

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The tiny town was unbelievably quiet, only a handful of people out and about, but we are here right in between the summer and winter season, so that would explain it.
The shops are small and quaint and somewhat posh, most had massive amazingly coloured hanging baskets that gently swayed by the entrance of the doors.
Despite the colorful exterior the shops were dark inside, even though the bakeries still had bread and cakes on the shelves, we worked it out that the shops here close at about 12pm and reopen at 2pm or there about!

Our walk through this tranquil alpine village, which soon became a wet one, heading back to our Gasthaus, while the rain poured we stayed in to catch up on some blogs, Clive did some maintenance on the bike in the garage and talked again about our next destination which would be Salzburg via Hitlers Eagles Nest, we are so close and it looked worth checking out…
Dinner that evening was at the boutique hotel that I had first enquired about for us to stay in when we arrived in Lofer…we ended up having a delicious pizza, better than ones we had in Italy!

The following morning we knew if we didn’t get to breakfast fairly early there would be barely anything left for us (just like the pervious morning)…well this time we beat the ‘golden’ oldies at there own game, we were there first and loaded up our plates…
Over breakfast we decided as the weather was looking ok, we should take advantage and move on in the direction of Salzburg, but not without going to Hilters Eagles Nest…

Cliffs, Churches, Coffee and Snow….

The ride around lake Garda out of Siromine was a beautiful one, riding through the ‘sometimes’ tight narrow streets we made our way through the little villages, it’s such a shame yet again we didn’t have more time here, but we knew there would be many places we couldn’t visit, just another place added to list to come back to, although the list is getting very long now…

As we started the climb up the scenic twisting roads, you could feel the temperature dropping and that’s not all, some massive big black clouds loomed over our heads. We pulled over to the side of the road so we could get our waterproofs on, just in case!

After about an hour or so of ascending into the clouds we come to a picturesque town of Spiazza located on Monte Baldo this is where Santuario Madonna della Corona is situated..

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We found a place to park and took our layers of waterproofs off, the sun was shining down on us now…
You can’t see the church from where we were, just a winding path descending below us.
With umbrella in hand, just incase of the threatening showers, we walk down the 200 or so steps trying carefully not to slip on the wet leaves, after about ten minutes we are there, (thankfully we didn’t start from Brentino otherwise it would have been 1540 steps which should take two hours uphill and one hour down).
Once we arrived at the church, it was a BIG wow, what an amazing site…

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“Santuario Madonna della Corona” is situated mid-rock face, 700 metres high, completely excavated in the living rock that falls vertical for 400 metres, simply incredible, stunning views of the valley below, we had a look around before we went into the salmon pink church, as you enter one of the things you notice is the wall on the left side of the church is the cliff face with man made arches joining it, it may be a small church but it has a big impact on you.

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The Knights of the Order of Malta built it between 1480 and 1552, and later a new sanctuary was built in 1625, the sanctuary is named after the statue of ‘Our Lady of the Crown’.
The inside of the church was small and had a comforting feeling about it…
After a cold drink sitting in the sun at a cafe at the bottom we head back ‘up’ to the bike.

Back at the bike we decided it was better to put back on our water proofs, as the sky was still dark, patchy and full of rain in areas that we were heading, even if it didn’t rain the extra layers would keep the cold out.
As we climbed higher we could see less, as the cloud cover was thick and patchy.
The great thing about Europe is that there are many ‘Biker’ friendly cafe’s about, so doing our bit for the local economy we stop for a coffee and cake, the views from the café deck were stunning…

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Lake Garda looked tiny from this height, we were really tempted to stay here for the night, but we needed to push on. We purchased a biker road map of the area that had all the best roads of the Alps, for when we next come back!

We were getting different reactions from fellow bikers, some would look straight through us because we were wearing well worn and dirty bike gear and a now a dirty and battle scared bike, that didn’t match there shiny new machines and matching riding gear, they are what we call ‘fair weather riders’, on the other hand some of the bikers were in awe of where we had come from and what we had achieved and loved to chat…

Back on the ‘iron horse’ we ride off getting even higher into the clouds!
The road started to decent down a fabulous twisty road where we come across a little beautiful town Riva Del Garda, at the other end of Lake Garda..

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The afternoon was closing in so we started to look for a hotel, and came across Hotel Bristol, its gotta be a sign from above…

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After enquiring if they had a room spare, safe parking, and wifi in the rooms (which we desperately needed today), so with all the ‘boxes’ ticked, we signed in (payment required upon leaving) we were shown to our room and carried up all the luggage and side boxes up the stairs… we don’t usually take the side boxes off but we wanted to make the most of what was left of the day and see a bit on the other side of the lake…

I just wanted to check an email before we go out, so i got out the laptop, put in the hotel password and nothing, I tried the phone and nothing, grrrr…
Clive went down to reception and they said the password was correct, but they will reset their Wi-Fi.
Still no Wi-Fi, they said you sometimes can’t get it in the side of the hotel we’re in! so we packed up handed back the keys and left disappointed, the receptionist was dumfounded, but the room was not cheap and we weren’t getting wifi like they promised….

After repacking the bike we set off down the road towards Pietramurata, there wasn’t much here but the back drop of the mountains was stunning, we stopped at Hotel Daino. I checked it out, but again it was expensive (remember we are on a budget) it was 110 Euros…gulp…I went next door to the campground that had cabins for hire, so I checked that out as well, but it was the same price and doesn’t include breakfast, so it was a no -brainer, plus a few drops of rain were now starting to falling as well…

We booked into our room just in time as the sky opened up and it poured and poured with rain.
I went to get the pass word for the Wi-Fi and the receptionist forgot to tell us you have to pay for it, WHAT, you are kidding, how ridiculous two Euros, which isn’t a lot, but damn annoying, it has been free everywhere we have been to so far….

We settle into our cozy room, we enjoy a cup of tea while enjoying our backdrop view of the mountains, just lovely, our balcony also overlooked the swimming pool…we were tempted to go for a swim maybe later! I needed to wash some clothes while Clive checked mail, blogged and Skyped the kids…

With every thing now done, it was time for dinner, after taking a walk down the road and realising that there was nowhere else to eat but at the hotel!
Looks like the hotel is ‘it’ tonight, after a delicious dinner of Ravioli and a few drinks later and we were ready for bed…
After breakfast we packed up and were soon off riding towards Tonale Pass, even though it was ‘fresh’ at least it wasn’t raining.
We rode past orchards upon orchards full of apples, I have never seen so many before, all in neat rows jam-packed together.
The hills soon turned to mountains, it also turned quite chilly, but the landscape was incredible and that made up for the chill.

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After a while we came to the Tonale Pass, which has an elevation of 1883m, the pass is across the Rhaetian Alps, which is located between Lombardy and Trentino. Its a ski town with lots of closed chair lifts waiting for the snow to come so they can open in a month or so…

The twisting roads and the many switchbacks must have been a dream for Clive to ride, especially as they were sealed roads!!!
This small town like many around here, was all but a ghost town, only busy during the winter when people come to ski, snow board or what ever, most hotels and shops were closed, so with a stop for a quick photo, we were soon on our way, but stopped a short distance out of town at one of the few biker friendly cafes that was open going by their big sign outside, to enjoy a lip licking hot chocolate and have a really nice chat with some French bikers who were doing a tour of the Alps…

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The only thing about cold weather riding is the huge amount of gear you need to wear and when you stop, you have to take all your bike gear off, then put it all back on again, allow ten minutes for this…lol

Back on the twisting roads again, at times it was hard to see in front of us as the cloud cover was so thick, some roads turned from wide to narrow, and the green grassy pastures changed to grey ugly rocks with grass patches, the 48 switch backs going up were amazing and on this side of the pass they are numbered with stones, and are a challenge for motorbikes, especially loaded up as much as our bike was…


Finally we made to the top of the Passo dello Stelvio, one of the highest Alpine Passes in Europe and stands a big 2758 m, it’s amazing to think we have been two kilometres higher than this in the Himalayas in Northern India…!

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There were a lot of bikes around, with most all posing around the Stelvio Pass sign, a very popular road with bikes and sports cars…

Its freezing cold up here lets hope we can find a hotel, there didn’t seem to be many hotel choices up here…. But we found one for 90 Euros and included breakfast, a locked up shed for the bike and Wi-Fi, we dropped our bags into our cozy little room and went off and had a famous Stelvio sausage from the Bratwurst Stall, it tasted as good as it smelt and looked, served by the friendly Klaus…

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Now most of the tourists had left i could pose with the bike next to sign for the all important tourist snap…

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But after the bike had been parked up for a couple of hours in the bitter wind, it was hard to start and there was a drop of oil leaking out of the oil cooler… i think the oil was close to freezing as i had summer grade oil in the bike…must change that as soon as possible…

With that i got the hotel manager to open the garage so i could park it away for the night. With some day light left we were feeling a bit energetic and mostly wanted something to do to warm us up, we spotted a gravel pathway leading up a hill that was in front of our hotel, so while the sun was out we decide to climb up, it was pretty steep, and very blustery…

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Within seconds the clouds reappeared and the rain came down, taking refuge under my umbrella seemed futile, so I headed back down the now slippery gravel with Clive not far behind… we hadn’t been up there long and found when we came back that all but one of the shops had closed, don’t blame them, the weather had changed, it was wet and icy cold.

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Our view from our room…

Dinner time soon came around, but the choice of restaurant’s was were limited to say the least, our hotel only did a three course set meal that really didn’t get us excited so we went across the road to another much smaller hotel..
we walked into a charming little bar, that had the open fire roaring, some cozy chairs and tables dotted a round the room, we had the pick of the whole room, as it was empty.
Sitting next to the fire we were brought a menu, hmmm not much choice, but better than our hotel, we settled on homemade soup, very tasty.
Back over the road to our hotel, we sat in the foyer and got on the free Wi-fi, I looked out of the window, and I was sure it was snowing, Clive thought it was rain until he looked harder and then went outside to confirm it, it was coming down fast and thick and didn’t take long to settle, as beautiful as the snow was it was something we didn’t want to see…

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The next morning we woke to a winter wonderland, the sky was blue and clear.

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After breakfast Clive went to check on what the road surface was like, not good, the snow had frozen and was slippery as anything, as time went on, very S L O W L Y the ice melted, so by mid morning we were ready to leave, Clive got the bike out of the garage, and he had trouble starting it, eventually he got it started and parked the bike up so we could load it, then noticing that there was some sort of leak again, this bike is not fond of this cold with a summer grade oil inside…

Finally we were off down the most amazing road, sharp switchbacks, the twisting roads went on for ages and the scenery was breathtaking you can see why Top Gear once named the Stelvio pass as being the greatest driving road in the world, it didn’t disappoint.
The switchbacks were very tight and we noticed more than one car misjudging how sharp they were and were forced to do a three point turn to get around!

From the snow the previous evening it had covered the top half of the surrounding mountains, as we got closer to the bottom, there was no trace of any snow.

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It was just green fields and abandoned ski towns that we rode through, it was all simply stunning then all of a sudden we arrived in Austria…

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We meet some bikers down the bottom who asked us, had the ice melted on the road at the top yet, with a big grin we replied, yeah go for it, it’s fantastic..

Take the Fast Road to Sirmione…

Leaving Pisa on another glorious morning, we passed this fighter jet on the side of the road, it was just something out of the blue!

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We stopped at McDonalds to grab a morning coffee before we headed north towards the Alps, coffee and ‘MILKA chocolate’ muffin ‘done’ we get back onto the bike.
We decided to mainly stay on the secondary roads which took us over some fantastic hills and sleepy villages, With so many buildings abandoned, which would be great to renovate…

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We double backed in one village when we saw some fantastic cakes on display in the window, with a couple of cakes purchased for lunch we stopped in a little park with a great church just outside the village..(maybe this blog should be called the fast road to the cake shops!) oh my the tarts turned out to be sooo good…

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Clive working off his sugar hit…

Making our way north towards Lake Garda, we stopped for petrol and we noticed that there seemed to be quite a few Ferrari’s passing us at lightening speed, more and more Ferrari’s speed past us, Clive tried to keep up, but we were left behind in the tail wind…
We missed the turning that would lead us to the factory and had to go around a round about a couple of times before we got to the correct turn! I’m not that good at navigating, i think i’m gonna be sacked! lol

We then spotted the Ferrari factory,

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It all made sense now why there were so many Ferrari racing around, we tried to get closer to the factory for a photo and it was hard with all the one-way system to get on the correct road to the factory…
The factory is huge, this place has been home to Ferrari since the 1940s, and at more than 250,000 sq. the factory’s 45 buildings house more than 3,000 workers.

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We rode past the factory and around to the merchandise shop and parked the bike up outside and wandered in…

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They had some really great stuff if you had a healthy bank balance with every kind of thing endorsed with the Ferrari logo,from bolts from actual F1 cars to kids apparel …

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We left empty handed, bit too pricey, even for a pencil…!

But it was a totally unexpected stop, it was pure chance we stumbled on Ferrari head quarters…

Later in the afternoon we arrived in the town of Sirmione, it is situated on a peninsular that juts out into Lake Garda, we followed the sign to a huge campsite, only to find that it was full!
Hmmm, we thought getting into a campsite would be easy as most kids had now gone back to school and we are out of the tourist summer season or so we thought.

We knew there was another campsite close by, so we head off towards it. We soon found Sirmione Campsite, the campsite is located at the southern end of Lake Garda.

Yes they have room for us and our small tent, and great facilities, after paying we had to follow a young boy on his scooter, who would show us the available sites, we found suitable grassy site that was also close to a power board, great we can start to charge up all our electrical items.
We managed to get the tent set up just as the sun was setting, noticing that the sun was setting a lot earlier than in the previous countries.

We watched a old couple wandering around the trees in the campsite with a long pole and they were flicking some sort of fungus off the trees that were clinging to the vee in the branches, apparently it was a delicacy of the region..

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Despite the hot weather, you could feel Autumn was now on its way.
The campsite is situated right next to the lake clearly one of the most beautiful lakes we have been too, a really lovely location, there were lots of people feeling very energetic, jogging and power walking under the softly lit pathway along the lake side…
We thought about joining in this strenuous exercise, but decided on opening a bottle of wine and nibbling on some local cheese and crackers instead!

We woke up early to the sound that campers hate…RAIN… dam it, we only have one day here…
By the time we got up the rain had diminished, well at least for the time being anyway, there were still a few clouds looming about though…
After a naughty breakfast of choclate croissants and coffee at the campsite restaurant, I deemed that it was safe enough to do some much needed washing, so I took off to the launderette, just as i was collecting the laundry, the heavens opened to a substantial pour down…doh…

We needed to make the most of the day and i didn’t want to hang around putting out and then taking off the washing from the line… I decided (after consulting with our fellow camp neighbour’s) to hang out the washing under the common area gazebo that was located near our tent, we needed these clothes to dry especially our ‘Ned’ bike jeans, i think this campsite needs a clothes dryer, they have everything else but not that!

With our washing hanging up we head out on the bike towards Scaliger Castle which is located about 10 minutes away by bike, the streets were packed with tourists all trying to make the most of this dry spell, there were very few if any spaces left to park, but the beauty of being on a bike is you can usually squeeze in somewhere!

We followed the huge crowds towards the castle, what an amazing place, but the sky was soon beginning to resemble the dark stone walls of the castle, only light rain this time thankfully, then some blue sky appeared, but we knew it wouldn’t last, as we could see more dark clouds quickly coming our way…

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We walked through the narrow winding cobbled stone lanes, with the smell of coffee wafting in our faces as we past the cafés, and of course being a tourist place it was laden with many quaint gift shops and so many ice cream parlors, which displayed more choices of ice creams I have ever seen, the colours were amazing…

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Feeling rather tempted to try one, but we ignored our craving and strolled towards the pathway that lead us to the path that ran along side the lake, the scenery was spectacular, yachts skating the vast lake like they were on ice, in the distance we could see grand buildings perched into the side of the hills that were then towered over by mountains covered in dark grey clouds,due to the clouds our photos can not do this place justice, and not having the sun out didn’t help either.

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We quickly came across a peculiar smell and lots of people in their swimsuits sitting in a shallow pool of water on the shoreline, it was a hot water spring, it looked inviting on this semi chilly day, but there was no room to squeeze in, and the smell was a bit off putting, so we carried on towards the Grotte di Catullo.

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At the end of the pathway we had to start heading up some steps, we went to far and ended up in a kids playground, finding a different set of steps meant we could carry on towards the Grotte.

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Finally we arrived, just as the heavens opened to a full down pour, this just isn’t our day, even though i have an umbrella it’s really only good for one person!

We decided we would have to miss this place, but anyway here a little bit about it. This villa is the second-best surviving example of a Roman private home in all of northern Italy, the villa is set in over five acres, and is not a grotto, and nor did it ever belong to Catullus, the town simply decided to name its most famous Roman ruins after its most famous ancient Roman resident!

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With the sky cleared from the darker clouds to lighter ones we strolled back towards the castle enjoying all that this impressive place had to offer…we also enjoyed one of the many flavored ice creams that were on display, as delicious as it was, it can’t beat the ice cream we had in Istanbul!

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We walked past a little bakery on the way back to our bike, it had the most appetizing looking cakes ever, so wanting to do ‘our’ bit to help the local economy, we brought some petit fours to have after dinner…

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We were spared the rain while riding back to the campsite, but once we were cooking dinner the heavens opened again, luckily though, the washing (that was still damp) and us were all under the gazebo dry.
We even got to use our new frying pan to cook a dinner of bubble and squeak!, it turned out this was the only time we used our new pan!

Later that evening we head down to the restaurant to use the Wi-Fi and catch up on some mail and off course some blogging, all the while enjoying a glass of wine.
Coffee came later with our yummy cakes, they were only small so we don’t feel guilty about eating them!

The following morning our clothes were still not dry, but the sun was shinning so we moved the washing line and waited for the clothes to dry. Some bike maintenance was also performed, oiled and adjusted chain and checked tyre pressures, by now the clothes were dry, now we could finish packing, we also had some citronella candles added to our packing to the already overladen, poor bike, but we needed these candles as these were the first mozzies we had seen since leaving South East Asia, and they were big…
With our camp deposit back we could now set off towards the mountains that overlook the lake…

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On the Lean… Towards Pisa…

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Hoping for an early start today and get away from the city of Roma early did not happen as planned…for some reason we are sleeping in a lot more now, not sure why…
It was nothing to do with the wine!

We were lucky we hadn’t missed saying good bye to Brad and Kath who were also leaving Roma for their next adventure…

With the bike all packed up we are now ready to leave the magnificent city of Roma, knowing that one day we will return, well we did throw our coins in the Trevili Fountain making it a certainty…

The ride should take about less than four hours on A1/E35, about 360 klms, depending on how many toll roads we can avoid…lol.

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We rode through some stunning countryside; Italy really is a feast for the eye, the magnificent buildings perched on top of cliff faces, overlooking all that travels below it, these stunning scenes are etched in my mind!

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We made good time and not far from the city of Pisa we come across a Suzuki motorbike dealership, we did a u-turn and Clive heads to the shop to find out if they can do the bearing on the back wheel of the VStrom, as it is starting to give us some concern, there was no one was about, and it was only 1.30pm…hmmmm

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Clive took a wander around to the back of the building and comes across one of the mechanic’s, in broken English and sign language, the man agreed to do the bearings as long as we can return at 3pm. After Siesta time…

We Head off in the direction of Pisa, we knew we were close as we could see the leaning tower in the distance…it didn’t take long until we found a suitable camp ground, after we set up the tent, I got the rest of the camp ‘gear’ out of the luggage boxes, while Clive took off back to the Suzuki shop to get the much needed bearings done.

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The mechanics got stuck in changing the bearings and were amazed at how far we had come…
They said after all the roads we had come through it was amazing they lasted this long …

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As soon as Clive returned with me having the camp set up we set off to discover the famous ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’… we only had one night here, so we need to make the most of the day light.

After about 10 minutes we walked through the old stone archway and into The Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”) it is a wide, walled area at the heart of the city of Pisa.
It was built in 1156 and still looks pretty good, you are greeted by four great religious edifices: the Duomo (cathedral), the Campanile (the cathedral’s free standing bell tower), the Baptistry and the Camposanto, as well as many street stalls selling everything from Pisa hats to Pisa snow shaker domes!

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On our left hand side we walked past chained off green manicured lawns…we soon noted that tourists were scrambling onto the lawn the get ‘that’ photo of them ‘holding up’ Pisa or ‘pushing’ it down, these photos had to be done quickly as the ‘lawn’ Police would come and shoo you off the lawn.
We also got into the act as well…

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The pathway takes you into Cathedral square there you will pass the simply stunning Cathedral’s… after admiring the leaning tower we head off to the ticket office to a purchase our once in a life time tickets to climb the Bell Tower. The tickets were expensive and are budget was getting a blowout, but we had to get to the top…
While we waited for our climb, we read up on a little information about it… The start of construction began in August 1173 and was completed in 1373…it took so long to build as there were constant battles going on between the Pisan’s and Genoains.

The Bell Tower was built on soft ground and so started to lean soon after the first few bricks were laid!
The Tower was closed to the public from 1990 as it was deemed not safe for tourists, unfortunately, tourist numbers declined by forty-five per cent.
So in 1995 it was decided that major construction was going ahead to help right the lean on the tower, which was 5.5 degrees and after construction work it is now 3.99 degrees which means the top of the tower is 12 feet 10 inches off center, the Tower was now ready to be reopened, which happened in 2001, the construction work cost a staggering $25 million…Wow..

When it was our turn, we were ushered into the bottom of the Tower and given a little talk…next was the start of the 294 steps…immediately I got a ‘seasick’ feeling, all off balance…because the building is leaning so much the wear in the steps wasn’t in the center of the steps like most stone steps would be, but to the side…depending on which ‘lean’ you were at!

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It really was a weird feeling making you off balance the whole time…finally at the top of this incredible old building, your natural instinct is to hang onto the railings for fear of going over the edge, but boy did we get to enjoy the amazing view of the surrounding areas, it felt so weird knowing that in one certain area we were hanging 5 meters out form the base of the building…!

While Mussolini was in power he was embarrassed by the leaning tower and calling it a disgrace to national pride, he attempted to fix the tower by way of a cement counterweight drilled into the base of the tower, which didn’t work…

The sky was blue and clear we could see for miles, even the mountains in the distance, the ones that we were heading towards tomorrow!

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The tower features Romanesque-themed medieval architecture, and is believed to have been constructed by Gherardo di Gherardo, Bonanno Pisano, Giovanni Pisano, and Giovanni di Simone.
The tower is constructed from white marble, and looks amazing against the blue sky.

There are seven bells at the top of the tower and all have names, which are L’Assunta, Il Crocifisso, San Ranieri, La Terza, La Pasquereccia or La Giustizia, Il Vespruccio and Dal Pozzo….now thats some useful information isn’t it?

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Next we head off towards The Cathedral of Pisa also known as the Duomo.
The cathedral is called The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, the tower and the Cathedral are located in ‘The field of Miracles’
The Cathedral’s construction started in 1064 by Busketo, the facade is grey marble…
WOW…this is one cool church…. the carvings on the huge bronze entrance doors are astounding, so much detail and each door was different…

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These doors replaced the original doors (destroyed in a fire) in 1595.

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Entering in the church you immediately feel at peace, not just because it was quiet, but something else, a feeling that’s hard to define, but you’ll know it when you have it!

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Just like in Roma we leave the church to find that all the stalls and gift shops closing early for the day, also a few of the restaurants were closing for the day.

We found a café and decide to have a coffee and enjoy what daylight was left soak up the atmosphere and to admire the Cathedral’s and the Bell Tower of Pisa in all her magnificent surroundings.

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As night closes in we head to the supermarket to get supplies for a late dinner…. Hmm we can’t be bothered to cook so we get crackers and mini cheeses, plus a bottle of local wine to finish of the day…
Life is good ☺
Unfortunately we have to leave another great place, with not seeing as much as we should have, the winter season is closing in on Europe and we still have so much to see, so we can’t linger long at one place, although you wouldn’t have thought so by todays weather.

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The next morning should have been an early one, but it wasn’t, this time i do blame the wine!
We packed up and set off towards the beautiful area of Lake Guardia.
We haven’t set a route and will wander off aimlessly again…
Thats the great thing about doing a trip on our own, we can change route to suit our needs….

Pomepii-City of Ash

Our next door noisy campers had gone :)
We finally got a good nights sleep which was great as we needed to be up early for todays adventure…
We were leaving at 7.30 am…for a day trip to Pompeii with Brad and Kath, a lovely young Australian couple who are travelling on a round the world plane ticket.

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Heading off on a beautiful sunny day we were off heading south past the city of Naples to what is left off the 250 year old tourist site of Pompeii, we were all excited about this day trip, as we had heard so much about this place and now, today we were finally on our way.
The drive down in Brad and Kath hired car took about two and a half hours, it was nice to have a day of travelling in air conditioning and a day off from from getting ‘helmet’ hair, especially in the hot weather.

We got to Pompeii and were ushered into a car-park right opposite the entrance of the ruined city, its was expensive to park but the deal was that if you ate in their restaurant, parking was free, so a quick look at their menu prices, we all decided it wasn’t a bad deal…although what did the food taste like we wondered?
We walk up the hill to the ticket box and purchased our tickets 11 euro each which is just under $17, we decided on not getting a guide, a decision we later regretted, as we weren’t bargaining on no information once inside the town other wise we may have got one..
Once inside we hitched along with various group and listened to their guides :)
Unfortunately there were no artefacts left in the buildings, which would have made it feel more real and alive, instead the buildings were empty shells…
There are however still some amazing paintings, that had been painted on the walls of these once magnificent homes…the detail is incredible.

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Murals on a very wealthy mansion that was believed to have been visited by Nero himself…

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Grand tile entrance…

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Penis carved into a rock at a junction of a road pointing the way to a brothel…

There are no bodies left but there are plaster casts of bodies! Plaster was pumped into the space left behind in the hardened ash after the the biological body material decomposed. It was thought that the facial expressions revealed in the plaster were the victims’ gasps for air.

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Pregnant woman…

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We wandered around for a couple of hours on this very hot day,trying to imagine what it was like to live here all those years ago, only a fraction of the city has been uncovered and will take a life time of excavation to complete..
During excavations a few skeletons have been found of what is believed to be treasure hunters…they had dug to deep into the rooms with no shoring up of their efforts and the ash have collapsed on top of them…

Pompeii was a very sophisticated city, with steam baths and steam rooms where they had steam actually coming out of holes in walls, there was even underwater heating and proper sanitation many wealthy families lived here..

There was a huge arena for gladiator the spectacles of the amphitheatre were the most popular form of entertainment in Pompeii. Pompeii’s amphitheatre was built after 80 BC, making it the oldest known example of its kind in the Roman world. The spectators enjoyed violent battles… gladiator versus gladiator and men against various dangerous animals.
A large market square was discovered, which sold local products from figs, fruit to bread and other various items.

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We met up with Brad and Kath a few hours later and we all decided that we had seen enough, we ate at the car park restaurant and were all surprised how good the food was..

We headed back to Rome after a great day out, with the leaning tower Pisa on are minds, our next destination…

Roma-City of Amazement..Part two

After another night of broken sleep, thanks to the next tent kids, we have an early breakfast and a quick chat with Kath and Brad (aussie couple) and they asked us if we wanted to go down to Pompeii with them in their hire car the following day, which was great as we had planned to go there that day anyway, but this way we can go on the Autostrade in air con comfort and go half’s with the expensive toll costs…

With that all sorted we set off for another day of exploring the wonderful city of Roma…
The bus seemed very busy for this early in the morning…
First on our list to do was to go back to see if i could get into St Peter’s Basilica that i missed out on yesterday, for not wearing the right so called attire…

Following the crowds again we head towards the Vatican.
Holy Moly- Jorge Mario Bergoglio or Pope Francis as he is known is doing his weekly service, that would explain the crowds this morning in the streets and why the forecourt was full of chairs yesterday, we stayed for a while but it was differcult to hear the Pope clearly plus it was getting so hot…

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So we thought it was better to do the others things on our list and come back to St. Peters Square later in the day.

The queue for the Hop on Hop off bus was crazy, we waited for about half an hour before we got on the bus, we got off at the ‘Wedding Cake’ which we saw the previous day…so now we are in the centre of Roma..
we were totally memerised by the sheer beauty of this city, the history of this place is mind blowing, we would love to one day come back to Roma and spend a lot more time here, but in order to return to Roma we first needed to get to the Trevi Fountain…

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one of the hundreds of fountains in Roma

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Armed with our tourist street map we set off along the old streets, many cobbled…glad i haven’t got high heels on like a lot of the tourists there have… we soaked up the ambience of the historic buildings, that oozed with character, so much history so many stories, you can’t help but get swept up in all the charm.

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Amazing coloured flowers filled hanging baskets…dangling from the old iron balconies, that were attached to beautiful old buildings, life doesn’t get much better than this.

But finding The Trevi Fountain was harder to find than we anticipated, following the map just sent us in circles lol…
Eventually we found it hidden away in a back street, but it was defiantly worth the effort, we were expecting this massive fountain to be in an area that was much larger than the small square it was in, the place was packed and it made getting that ‘perfect’ shot very difficult…the water was clear and very inviting, i would have loved to have taken a paddle!

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The Trevi Fountain as it is today, was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and competed in 1762 its a massive 25.9 meters high and 19.8 meters wide.
The central figures of the fountain are Neptun (God of the sea), and standing next to Neptun are two Tritons, One is struggling to master an unruly “sea horse”, while the other horse is calm and obedient- They symbolise the two contrasting moods of the sea.
We filled up our water bottles from a near by fountain, found a seat and enjoyed the cool fresh water…the whole place is mesmerising.

After our drink we each took it in turns to throw a coin into fountain there are two reasons why people are obsessed with throwing coins- the first is that if you throw a coin from your right hand backwards over your left shoulder, you will definitely return to Rome.

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The second legend is inspired by the film “Three Coins in the Trevi Fountain”, which says you must throw three coins into the fountain, the first coin guarantees your return to Rome, the second leads to a new romance, while the third will lead to marriage…i’ll just stick to returning to Rome.

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After lunch we got the bus back to the Vatican, hopefully the crowds would be a lot smaller than they were this morning, so once again we queued up in St.Peter’s Square and yay i got into the St Peter’s Basilica, the inside of the Basilica can hold up to 60,000 people, and Michelangelo’s dome soars 119 metres above the altar…

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Once inside you are struck by the impressiveness of this building, gazing at all it has to offer in stunned silence…

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I have never seen anything so beautiful and how lucky are we to see a the only piece of signed art by Michelangelo was a true highlight, it is Michelangelo’s Pieta which is a portrayal of Mary with the lifeless body of Jesus draped across her lap, it is sculpted in marble and Michelangelo did this when he was just 25 years old.

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I could write a whole chapter on this Basilica, but i don’t have the time…but there’s plenty about it online if you are interested.

This is a city full of wonder and history, another must see desination for all who venture to Italy…

But before our amazing day finishes we decide to get our moneys worth and do the full ‘Hop on/off’ bus loop and listen to all the commentary, while relaxing our worn-out legs…

Catching the bus back to the campsite was a lot easier, this time than it was the day before!
Clive had his haircut just around the corner from the Vatican and asked for the same style as the pope, while i had a Cuppachino in a cafe..
Once off the bus we bought a few supplies again at the local supermarket, then head back to camp to cook dinner and enjoy another bottle of Italian wine, whilst we talk over last minute plans with Brad and Kath for our day trip to south to Pompeii the following morning…

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