Here's how we drive. We ride one Transalp, Sandra's the duo. We have one top case, two side cases and one tank bag. The top case is the kitchen. It contains plates, silverwear, gas burner, pots and pans, etc. On it we have the tent and matrasses. Each of us has one side case for personal stuff. On top each side case we pack a sleeping-bag. The tank bag contains tools, rain suits, travelling documents, maps and camera. Although we carried less than during our Schotland tour (1993) we still went over the max. load. We use an intercom to keep contact during trips.
Our experience is that the train really is Quick & Safe. Whether it's Value-for-Money is worth a discussion. We choose for the train because it travels at night at average speeds that you do not get with the Transalp. It therefore shortens the travel time to your destination very pleasantly. Instead of driving 1200km, which takes a couple of days, we now got of the train the next morning 10.00am after a (relatively) good night's rest. We left homewith on a rainy/overcast day and woke up under a blue sunny sky. What more do you want ?
For those of you who have never boarded a sleep-train here's the how-and-what. Motorcycles are positioned behind each other and then secured. In Holland that's done by dutch railway employees using professional ties (?). In Milan you have to do it yourself with occasional help of italian railway employees. So bring them ties (?). You can get ties from the italians but youhave to ask for them. In Holland a steel clamp is put before your front wheel. You drive into it and a little upwards. Then they put a similar clamp behind your rear wheel and when you let go of your brakes you 'fall' into the two clamps. They then tie your front fork on the left and right to the train. And do the same with your rear fork. Don't be surprised if they pull the front and rear suspension to the max. It's rock solid. I don't know if it does harm to your suspension.
Pictures of the trip back from Holland to Frejus, France: ( 1 ), ( 2 ), ( 3 ), ( 4 ),
Pictures of the trip back from Milan, Italy to Holland: ( 1 ), ( 2 ), ( 3 ), ( 4 ),
We had decided on sleeping chairs. Lucky for us we had the 5- or 6-seat compartiment all to ourselves. Which is not as good as it sounds because you have to take all your luggage with you. It is not allowed to leave it on the bike. And if you think of what a motor-couple drags along on a vacation like this you absolutely need the compartiment. During the train ride they serve you dinner and breakfast. There's also a dining-car to dine and wine if you want to do so. Meals are served in your compartiment by a hostess, much like on an airplane but without the seat belt and swim suits drill. And she will bring you refreshments to. The seats are comfortable, the bed is OK (even the length) and the sound of the train brings sleep quickly. next morning: "Bonjour mes amis".
From Frejus we followed the old coastal rad to Italy. Riding between mountains (on the left) and sea (on the right), this two-lane road winds along the Mediterenean Sea. Especially the winding part is GREAT !! For me and the Transalp that is. Sandra asked after a couple of hours if we could stop because of an upcoming feeling of severe nausea. She never had that before and she's sat some kms on the back. The Transalp is really doing great, the weight dsitribution is good, accelaration is fine (also in the climbing curves), in short: it's come home.Between the road and the sea is a narrow sandy/stony beach which does not look attractive enough for us to stop and take a swim. It looks like you have to pay to get on. We drive on.
We stood on a total of five camp grounds of which the prices and the quality of the location, toilets and showers varied. We camped under 4m high shadow-gauze (the stuf they use to prevent plants from the sun, never saw that before on a camping), under trees, between italien weekend campers, and sometimes alone, on grass and on rock/sand, with a pool or near the sea, you mention it. We planned to use the ANWB-camping guide but it turned out that there were much more campings that mentioned in the guide. We just had a look if we liked it and if we didn't we would easily find another. On average we paidbetween 25 and 30 dutch guilders per night for two people, the tent and the bike. Sometimes hot water was included, sometimes it was not. Most campings had coin-operated laundromats. Coins and detergent is sold at the front desk. Wet laundry dries excellent on a spanner-tie in the wind/sun.
.... to be continued ....
I did not tell my mom and dad yet to prvent an avalanche of concern and worry. I get a lot of vitamin C in normally, but even that is not eough against that and I usually get running noses, colds and diarhea. So, I took little luggage, boarded the nightboat on sunday and arrived 0700hrs on monday morning in Sheerness. It is a good idea to scure your bike personnally because the ferry employees do not handle it with care.
I have to admit that getting your period for the first time is quit an experience, but it is nothing compared to the feeling I had when riding all alone in the morning cold and freshness through England on the left side of the road. This boosted my self-confidence, I could do anything ! Wow, I'll join the NAVY, I'll run for president, "ANDELE FOR PRESIDENT", I'll climb the Himalaya, I'll swim the English Channel, I'll go and make fried eggs. OK, sorry, I get a hold on myself again.
The first day brought me from Sheerness, over very narrow roads south of London to Oxford. To the left and right of these roads are high hedges that make it impossible to oversee the oncoming curves. Driving on the left was not as dificult as expected, except at a T-crossing where you have to decide where you will go next without letting a car do that for you. HOOONNNNNNNKKKKKK !!! I made a little mistake here.
Looking for a suitable Bed & Breakfast being a girl, alone, with a pair of leather bike pants caused some dealy and doubtful faces. It seemed to me that a number of owners had some difficulty with that. I found the English very friendly and full of interest ( I mean the people from the small villages along the way). They wanted to know everything about me and were very willing to help. B & B costs around 50 dutch guilders per night. Breakfast is usually bacon and eggs and white beans with tomato.
The next morning I thought I was smart and got up early to be in Oxford at 0800 hrs. I wanted to beat the heat and people. Touring the city with my backpack on my back I visited al the interesting places. the University Museum, opened at 1200. Radcliffe Camera (very interesting library) is never open to the public. The colleges can only be visited after 1100 or 1400 hrs. But it was an interesting walk after all and I talked to a lot of people. As an example, I was sitting on the side when a Scot suddenly sits beside me and starts talking about the old buildings, Scotland and more of the like. But seriously, Oxford is very much worth a visit.
Following again a very beautiful route with extreem yellow fields (because of the drought), I found a B & B adres on a pool-farm in Wick. Very good-natured. The wife was a real mother to me. She made tea, that we drank together with two other guests. Her husband has about 40 cows, and I helped him milking them. Standing outside the next morning at 05.30 it turned out that I was an hour early. I interpreted 'half-past-six' as 'half-an-hour-before-six'. But it was nice outside and that's the way to experience countrylife.
A minor detail. When moving the Transalp this mornig the side stand did not fully extend. I fell with the bike ontop of me in the gravel and could not crawl from under it or push it off me. It took a while shouting and using the horn before the farmer found me. The neighbour across the street had seen me and called him by phone. Luckily only my leg was bruised but I saw a broken clutch handle on the bike. The farmer drove me two villages further to a bike shop with a wealth of clutch handles on a wall. A replacement cost me about 15 dutch guilders.
The weather changed to a slight drizzle. I drove to Bath, a very interesting city with a lot of historical buildings, most Roman. Taking the most beautiful winding roads through a hilly and grassy landscape I rode to Cheddar, via Glastonbury. Unfortunately the cheese factory of Cheddar cheese in Chewton Mendip had presented their last demonstration of that day at 15.00 hrs. Again too late ... Because I wanted to see some more of Wales I drove to Chepstow over Seven Bridge Road. The nice thing of this bridge is that you don't have to pay toll riding a motor cycle. Cars do. It took me a while to find a B & B for a decent price that night. But I had succes in a real English Inn in Hunderford. I had breakfast the next morning with a biker from Germany.
His superbike was packed to max on all sides because of the sorry fact that his friend had already returned to Germany. His bike was stolen in Ireland and that ended their vacation early. I visited Winchester, very much worth it. The history of King Arthur and his round table (1220 kg, 5.5m diameter) apeals very much to the imagination of people. The magnificent cathedral is also very interesting, especially because of the enormous leaded windows above the entrance. These were destroyed completely during the 17th/18th century war. The monks have gathered the peices and after many years of hard labour the windows were restored. Impressive.
All in all I was very impressed by this part of England. One advise though: book a cabin on the boat because the chairs suck.
At last years resort we already made plans to go to Greece in 1996. In December 1995 we decidedto leave on June 15, 1996. After that we prepared our bikes and ourselves. His FZR 400 and my Transalp got underwent extra maintenance and got a new set of tires. We bought luggage rolls, which turned out to be very good. We took insurance, we made reservations for the first ferry and ast but not least we took a months leave. Our schedule was set, we would sleep in hotels or have B&B instead of camping, which saved a lot on luggage. Except for the ferry from Ancona we made no reservations. We were ready and June 15th came closer. A month of Vacation. Wow !!
June 15 - We left around 08.00 hrs from Deil. Netherlands, direction Munich, germany. This was going to be my first motor bike vacation ever. I had never done more than 400km a day, was I worried about my behind ! Marco had been on a motor bike vactaion before and he knew what was coming. In one-and-a-half day we would be doing 1700km, because we had to check in before 17.00 hrs. I set the speed at 130 to 140 kmph. But at the German Autobahn I was going full-throttle and that is not wrong at all. Except for the mileage. The many kilometers went smooth, my bottom felt if it was made out of stone. Deil (NL), Koln (D), Stuttgart (D), Munich (D), Innsbruck (A). After Innsbruck we wanted to cross the Brenner but Innsbruck was having a week of festivities and a helicopter had landed on the road. The cops wanted us to take a byway which would nothave been a problem if the sun had not stood that low and that one cop had not stood in the way. I almost crushed a cop. I braked, looked and went on before they could stop me. Lucky, lucky. In South Tirol we stopped for the night. What a day !
June 16 - We left early that morning for the last 550km through Italy. The Autostrada is quite boring, the Autobahn is better I think. Nice weather and we went from Verona to Bologna to Ancona. Were we left the Autostrada and entered a pay-road. 'Piece-of-cake' I thought and took my VISA-card. 'No senor, no acceptione, no cards' I heard. Only cash. That's not good with almost empty pockets. I ended up with a fine, that I had to pay throughthe bank, later. Next time I know better. Around 16.30 hrs we arrived in Ancona harbour. Around 20.00 hrs the ferry Superfast 1 would depart to Patras. The dining facilities were anounced through the speaker system. I laughed ny butt off. I heard him reaaly say: if you want to go dying, please go to the dyingroom'.
June 17 - Superfast 1 was really superfast. We were at 16.00 hrs in Patras, Greece. We started our bikes again and due to misleading information we left for Githio. After leaving the city, we halted to take off our coats and our helmets which is allowed in Greece. Crossing the Peloponesse, via Pirgos and Kalamata we went. The coastal roads are pretty good. Sometimes a little slippery but overall OK. The road from Kalamata to Sparti crosses a mountain ridge and that's the real stuff. Lots of sharp hair pins and always climbing in both directions. That gives a kick ! After sunset we arrived in Sparti and looked for a hotel. There we heard that no ferry would leave Githio for Crete for the next couple of days. So we went to Githio for nothing. According to the dutch ANWB-roadmap they should've left regularly, although I remember (in retrospect) a German ADAC-roadmap that did not show that. Next year I'll go for ADAC.
June 18 - We left Sparti to go via Tripoli and Korinthos to Pireas. After Tripoli we had a toll-road, where Marco (lying on the FZR) tested his top speed. After arriving at Pireas we booked a ferry to Iraklion and left around 17.00 hrs. Due to a small mistake we had a very luxureous cabin. The key had a red label and it showed. You can eat and drink in Firts Class lounges, where waiters asked repeatedly for our key. The could not believe we had a red one. Maybe due to our worn-out jeans and shirts.
June 19 - On Crete we went to Aghios Nicolaos, were we had a SSB vacation six years ago. We stayed for a couple of days on crete, Saw the island, visited some ruines (looks like old stones). And had a chat with a Greek motor freak, who owned a Cagiva Elefant.
June 23 - After a more down to earth boat trip back we were around 17.00 hrs back in Pireas. Pireas is a suburb of Athens and has a population of 6 million people. While in AThens we visited the centre. Long time before you reach it you can see the Akropolis on its mountain in the middle. Athens is not th most beautifull city of Europe. It's dirty and there isquite some smog. We continued our trip to Kiato. From there over secondary roads cause that's more fun. How lucky we were. The road we took was brandnew. No one on it and we experience 200% 'motorbike feeling'. Really great. The road took us to Olympia, where the first Olympics were held. Unfortunately it was closed already. Onwards to Kilini (not to Kilinis because ther is not ferry there). With a little luck and 30km extra on the counter we were just in time for theboat to Zakynthos. One hour later, in Zakynthos, we decided to redo a couple of SSB-days from the past.
June 29 - All relaxed, we went to bed every night around 05.30 hrs, we took off to Levkas. Through Rio (not the 'de Janeiro'), over the Peleponese and onto the mainland. A nice mainroad, several lakes to Levkas, where we stopped in Nidri. We stayed for three nights. One day we hired a couple of mountain bikes. This is not advisable. We rented them for 24 hrs but were totally exhausted after only 3. Back on the motor bikes and of to an off-road trip. Even an FZR can do that although the speed is not impressive. My Transalp looks like a tractor a times.
July 2 - After leaving Nidri we took the ferry in Preveza and drove via Ioanina to Meteora. To get to Kalambaka, a.k.a. Meteora you have to cross the Katara-pass. That's magniicent driving. From the mountains you ride straight into Kalambaka and Meteora is breathtaking beautifull. It reminds me of the Grand Canyon. In the past they build monasteries on cilindrical shaped peaks. You wonder how they did it. This is a must-see if your in Greece.
July 3 - We went back crossing the same pass, which is also a ski resort for the Greek, direction Parga. You see a lot of 'falling rock' signs but you're still amazed if a fallen rock of about 4m diameter blocks the road. Two nights in Parga brought us Rest & reaxation an Wild Water Walking in Glyki.
July 5 - From Parga to Corfu. From Igoumenitsa we crossed for our last long stop. Resting in Pelekas wher by the way we payed the least, NLG 13,00 per person per night. Accidently we veisted the Formula 1 Power Boat Racing in Corfu-city.
July 8 - Early rise to catch the ferry to Venice. Check-in befor 06.30 hrs. This was not a Superfast. It lasted and lasted, very little comfort, rough sea. In short: boring as ....
July 9 - In the afternoon we finally saw Venice. We found a hotle in a small town nearby. By bus (no ticket) to Venice. Spent some time there, had some drinks, not cheap. Firts two beers were NLG 14,00. The last two were NLG 35,00 but that was the San Marco square. For us a reason not to stay very long in venice.
July 10 - We really were on the way back now. Again in the direction of Innsbruck (A), rain for the first time and for the whole day ! After the Brenner pass we took a secondary road and had to leave the motorway, through Innsbruck. That's were we lost each other. After overtaking a truck, I went right and Marco went left. Two hours later, after some phone calls with the home front, we found each other again. Marco had booked a room in a hotel in Sindelsdorf (D) and I was eating pizza in Zirl (A). 100km later we shook hands again.
July 11 - We wanted to see the biggest bike shop in Europe in Munich but could not find it. Maybe it is there maybe it isn't nd maybe the guys who told us were lying. Heading to Luxemburg, full-throttle on the Autobahn. All went well and by night fall we arrived in Luxemburg city. Hotelwere a little expensive and we decided to move on and find a hotel in Belgium. How little we found ! Not in Bastenaken, not in Luik and luckily we heard from a Wallonian that there was one on Leuven, on the motorway. Boy, did we have a good night's rest that night.
July 12 - One day at the Belgian coast would not harm us we thought. We choose Blankenberge but visited Hansbeke first. It is supposed to be a well known town for motor bike riding Holland. The coast looked sunny and we quickly changed into our shorts and visited the town. Shortly after we hurried back and changed back. Misled. Saw the boulevard and had a chinese dinner without sate-sauce. Shame !
July 13 - The vacation was over. We had done 6465km by bike and travelled 9076km total. Great vacation. Short but a lot of fun. We saw crete and the Ionesian coast and maybe next year we'll do Santorini and the Egeic coast if it is up to me. Because if a native from Deilen (NL) would ask me: "hukke mutte, jacco ?" then I will answer in Deils: "zukke !" Which translates to: "what do you want to do, Jacco ? Something like this".