Category Archives: European Tour 2015

European holiday 2015

Road Trip 2015, Day 22, Laon to Chipping Sodbury

Warm, then very wet, then warm again
Our final day.
A decent breakfast followed a good nights sleep at the B&B before leaving for Calais and the tunnel back to the UK.
Looking a bit cloudy but with blue sky with the occasional sunny bit we set off, only about 130 miles to Calais, a stop for fuel and with I must say a little anticipation we approached the Terminal, after all the press about we expected to see some signs of increased security, a few migrants trying to grab hold of moving trucks….nope, nothing…no sign that there was a problem….although I was chatting to a fellow biker that said he had come across country on the A roads and there were plenty of people hiding under bridges etc….
If your not familiar with the Euro Tunnel on the French side you go through French border control first, then 100 metres down the road you go through UK border control, It was at this moment the heavens opened, thunder, lightening, it was lashing it down, of course we’re still in 40 degree mode, jeans, t shirt under a mesh summer jacket, stuck in a queue we couldn’t get out of.
After showing our passports we head over to the terminal building, the roads were like rivers, we were absolutely drowned !
More or less throwing the bike into the nearest car parking space we legged it into the terminal building ready to use the old hand dryer trick in the toilets but alas, the wrong type of dryer…..
So, just time to grab a coffee and watch the rain as a group of touring BMW’s came in….and promptly parked in front of the doors so everyone had to walk round them because it was the only dry place, I think they needed to get their hairdryers and hair nets out or something, but at least all their Rukka suits matched…..(Tom & Allan anytime you want to chime in…:))
Anyway, manning up we jumped back on the bike in the now normal rain and headed for the train, we got into the terminal a bit early so we got bumped onto a earlier train..
40 minutes later we’re back in the UK with just a 3 hour blast down a series of the UK finest motorways, always an uninspiring way to finish a trip but with time constraints and the threat of rain, which we managed to avoid bar a quick shower, it seemed the best option…
So there it is, this years road trip complete, 3,725 miles in 22 days….fantastic…

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Road Trip 2015, Day 21, Bourg en Bresse to Laon

Hot and then a tad cooler..
Woke up this morning, suns out but at least theres a breeze blowing, we didn’t worry about the breakfast, we grabbed a cold drink from the vending machine and sat outside on the benches while we got all our gear together.
Once loaded we were only minutes away from the main road, toll roads all the way today as we had some miles to do…although that not helped by me promptly getting on the wrong slip road so had to do 13K’s up one side only to come back 13 K’s the other side !
Sat on the motorways, rarely dropping below 130kph, nudging 140 more often than not, even with regular stops to fuel up and for drinks it does take its toll on your neck on a cruiser with out a screen, it the 3rd day of high speed riding and I can certainly feel it now.

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The weather forecast was for it to be cooler the further north we went and they were right, although when I say cooler as we rolled into Laon at 4.30, just missing rush hour for once, it was still 31 degrees, but it felt a whole lot cooler than that to us..
The B&B is great, very ‘French’….good meal out too in the shadow of the cathedral, really nice to eat outside all the time, can’t remember when we last ate inside…
Home tomorrow night, we have got to run the gauntlet with the migrants at Calais though, seems there has been a bit of trouble there these last few days, hopefully we won’t be delayed..
About 275 miles today I think, although it felt like a lot more, the heat certainly takes it out of you…

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Road Trip 2015, Day 20, Alessandria to Bourg en Bresse.

Hot…..then just right…..then bloody hot !
Leaving Alessandria, means leaving Italy, thats a bad thing in our books, but leave we must after a healthy breakfast and getting out to the bike just in time as the side stand was sinking in to the tarmac again…oops !image
Belting up the autostrada in a world of my own, missed the turn off again, not the first time this trip, think I’ve taken more wrong turns this trip than ever before !
A quick drink a a top up with fuel would see us to Mont Blanc and France…..The most expensive fuel we have ever seen in Italy…€2.09 per litre but if you need it you gotta have it.
On to our lunch stop, seems to have become a bit of a regular stop now, La Palud at the foot of Mont Blanc, The food is ok, probably not the best but its a nice place with great views and either the first or last restaurant in Italy, depends which way your going….

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So into France, some light relief with the scorching temperatures, even at this altitude as we rode through the tunnel, all 11km of it, last year we were glad of the warmth as we were plagued with rain on the way down, this year we were just glad to be out of the sun for a while.
Once out the other side the roads are quite impressive, yes you pay to use them but you can see where the money was spent…
Once at the foot of the mountains the mercury was rising again, coming into Bourg en Bresse the Temperature was 37 degrees at 6 o’clock at night.
Arriving at the Campanile we went to check in only to find we booked the hotel for tomorrow night not tonight and they had no spare rooms !
Luckly Booking.com to to the rescue, manage to cancel the booking we made incorrectly with a full refund and found a new one for the same kind of money just down the road, a Etap type of hotel, brand new, called Premier Classe, would recommend for sure, more helmet storage !

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Next door is a Pizza place so with a little irony we had Italian food for our first night in France.
Hoping the weather is a little cooler tomorrow as we head north to Laon, somewhere we’ve not been before.

About 200 miles today but there was a lot of up and down as well, and the tracker worked, apart from the tunnels, but thats to be expected !

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Road Trip 2015, Day 19, Todi to Alessandria

Hotter than the face of the sun today, or so it seemed..

Leaving Todi today, all packed up and ready to go when Carlo came round to the apartment to collect the keys and give us the security deposit back, surprisingly we hadn’t broken anything, nice chap Carlo, we had a job to get away from him…
So off we headed for Alessandria in the north of Italy about 550 kilometres to do today in 35 degree heat !
It was like riding in an oven, it comes to a point when it makes no difference how fast you go the wind doesn’t cool you down it just seems to suck any moisture from you.
On the A1 through Italy, not the most inspiring road but it does allow you to sit at 130kph all day, just stopping for fuel, food & water. Even hooning it along we still didn’t arrive at our hotel until 4.30, great hotel though, stayed here a few times now and most importantly really effective air conditioning !
Dinner tonight in the restaurant next door.
Even the track behaved, well, more than most days anyway !

About 350 hot miles today..

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Road Trip 2015, Day 18, Orvieto

Still hot…

Our last full day in Umbria so getting up reasonably early we headed off to Orvieto, typical Umbrian hillside town, most noted for its impressive Duomo, and of course shops, Handbag shops to be precise, I suppose it was inevitable, I think the guy in the shop had every bag off the shelf at one point trying to find the right one, she did, in the end, a nice spot of lunch, meat & cheese followed by some gelato…..tonight we ate at what we thought was the best restaurant of our stay, the one we gave a 30% tip to by accident a few days ago ! yep we got a great table and great service…great memories of Todi and Umbriaimage image image image

not to many miles today, less than 50 I’d have thought

Starting to pack for the trip home tonight, first stop Alessandria in northern Italy, then Boug en Bresse,just over the Alps in France, trying a new hotel this time and finally Laon, northern France..Temperatures supposed to be hitting 40 degrees these next few days….phew..

Road Trip 2015, Day 17 Todi

Damn hot… Bit of and easy day today as I think all the racing around on the bike caught up with me a bit, never woke up until gone 11.00 ! Anyway decided to have a day not on the bike, first day we haven’t been on the bike this holiday…so just wandered around Todi, had a few drinks, few nibbles and of course some gelato…. So no miles today….and just a few pictures of Todi..image image image imageimage image image image image image image

Road Trip, Day 16, Narni

Day 16Getting rather warm now…

Bit of an easy day today, had the weekend blog I wanted to get done before I forgot stuff, still buzzing from it all now….

So stayed local ish, well, local on the map but by the time you’ve gone the scenic route it was still probably 60 miles or so we travelled, heading up to 2,200 miles for the trip so far, looks like a service is in order when we get back as the 24k is fast approaching…

Anyway, Narni was our destination today, small town, very much like Todi, just a little mooch around, Paula chatting to the locals now with a new found confidence after our weekend away, me, hello, please and thank you…never any good with languages..

   
 As always a spot of lunch was found, antipasto & a barley salad for Paula (didn’t sound like something I’d like, meat & cheese for me)

with a steady bimble back, following the river and via a place called Stifone…..

  
With only a few more days left in Todi before we’re homeward bound, although the talk is the temperature is set to hit 40 degrees…..shorts, flip flops and vest on the bike then, Italian style !

Just kidding…

Eating out tonight…Pizza, and very good it was to, unfortunately the Gelateria is closed on Mondays…double portion tomorrow then 🙂  

 

Road Trip 2015, giorno 13 e 14 Triumph Cruisers Italia (versione italiana tramite google translate)

Che week-end fantastico! Abbiamo lasciato l’albergo in Monticatini dopo una buona colazione e con una mattina di uccidere abbiamo spuntata verso Pescia, a soli 20 minuti di distanza da Monticatini, da qualche parte siamo stati qualche anno fa, una corretta piccolo comune italiano, non è un grande luogo turistico, HA una buona classe operaia sentono su di esso. Aveva un caffè e guardare il mondo che passa per un’ora. Lasciando Pescia ci siamo diretti verso Castel Di Casio …. GPS ha detto poco più di un’ora, dopo aver viaggiato lungo alcune di queste strade prima sapevamo che si può prendere un po ‘di più … 1 ora e 45 minuti più tardi abbiamo roll in Castel Di Casio e Lello & Andrea fuori dalla nostra sistemazione per la notte, anche il bar, ristorante, luogo di incontro …. suoi una piccola cittadina .. Un piatto di pasta appena mangiato prima di lasciare il primo giorno della visita mistero di Lello … Bonnies, scrambler , Speedmaster, America, Rocket e naturalmente il nostro Thunderbird …. è stato molto tempo prima eravamo raschiando il gas di scarico su entrambi i lati era abbiamo strappato attraverso la campagna, con pause momentanee come Lello puntato verso qualcosa, o forse era solo essere italiani e agitando le braccia intorno chissà …. un posto meraviglioso, le strade può essere un po ‘interessante, soprattutto quando si guida sul lato’ sbagliato ‘…. dell’Appennino, un paio di passaggi, un paio di laghi a smettere di ‘aperitivo’ e ancora indietro per un pasto di notte in trattoria a Castel di Casio, dopo un cambio rapido. Il cibo è venuto fuori in un modo tipicamente italiano casuale, pane, salumi, formaggi, qualcuno grida “dolce” così sembrava fino alla cucina a venire con qualcosa, tutto perfettamente normale in Italia ne sono sicuro, ma si otterrebbe un paio sembra strano se si è tentato a casa … di acqua naturalmente e vino sul tavolo in ogni momento con il caffè alla fine, anche se strettamente parlando c’è stato un po ‘qualcosa di più forte per finire con! Per fortuna abbiamo solo dovuto precipitare dietro l’angolo per la nostra camera come un temporale stava facendo del suo meglio per pulire le moto off per noi che sono stati rinchiusi a casa di Lello. Colazione la mattina successiva è stata presa, nel bar come il mercato fuori era in piena attività come tutti noi dovevamo essere pronti a partire alle 10.00 sharp ….. 10.30 andavano e venivano ….. 11.00 …… ora di andare di dire Lello, borbottando qualcosa sul tempo di conservazione italiano! Una corsa più breve questa mattina a un ritmo più semplice, un piccolo paese di montagna, deve essere un modo così diverso di vivere quassù, più facile, ma più difficile …. troppo tempo per un aperitvo prima di nuovo fuori in un altro vivace ritmo torna a Castel Di Casio per il pranzo. Non ho idea di quello che un pranzo in famiglia tradizionale sarebbe come ma sono abbastanza sicuro che questo sarebbe chiuso … per il cibo, il vino, tanti brindisi a cose diverse, entrambi ci sentivamo parte di qualcosa, non era del tutto sicuro di cosa si trattasse ma si sentiva bene … entrambi abbiamo detto che dobbiamo migliorare la nostra, le mie competenze linguistiche sono quasi inesistenti italiana, mentre Paula sono di gran lunga migliore, sembra prendere le cose molto più veloce di me, ma quando si va a questi luoghi fuori dalla modo si può ottenere un po ‘complicato. Torna a Lello di far salire la moto per tornare a Todi, a tre ore e mezzo giro di distanza, un’altra differenza culturale divenne evidente, nel Regno Unito di lasciare una rapida mano alzata e un “ci vediamo dopo” e il fuori del porta, ma non in Italia, è come se si sono mai andare a vedere di nuovo, non sto dicendo che non va con qualsiasi mezzo, è una gran cosa e basta …… molto italiano !!! Un weekend fantastico in tutto, molti a tutto ciò che ha reso così speciale, a molti di nome, una coppia che ha aiutato a tradurre in particolare, non voglio fare nomi, ma sanno chi sono e ……… naturalmente Lello, assolutamente unico … uno dei momenti salienti del nostro viaggio di sicuro. Grazie ragazzi! Una volta che siamo a casa mi atterrei un link al video qui.
  
                    

Road Trip 2015, Day 13 & 14 Triumph Cruisers Italia

What an awesome weekend !

We left the hotel in Monticatini after a good breakfast and with a morning to kill we popped over to Pescia, just 20 minutes away from Monticatini, somewhere we had stayed a few years back, proper little Italian town, not a big tourist place, has a good working class feel about it. Had a coffee and watched the world go by for an hour.

Leaving Pescia we headed towards Castel Di Casio….GPS said just over an hour, having travelled along some of these roads before we knew that it may take a little longer…1 hour 45 minutes later we roll into Castel Di Casio and Lello & Andrea outside our accommodation for the night, also the bar, restaurant, meeting place….its a small town..

A plate of pasta soon eaten before leaving on day one of Lello’s mystery tour…Bonnies, Scramblers, Speedmasters, Americas, Rocket and of course our Thunderbird….it wasn’t long before we were scraping the exhaust on both sides was we tore through the countryside, with momentary pauses as Lello pointed at something, or maybe he was just being Italian and waving his arms around who knows….an amazing place, roads can be a little interesting, especially when riding on the ‘wrong’ side….Appennino Mountains, a couple of passes, a couple of lakes a stop for ‘aperitivo’ and still back for a meal at night in the trattoria in Castel di Casio after a quick change. Food came out in a typically random Italian fashion, breads, meats, cheeses, somebody shouts “dolce” so it seemed up to the kitchen to come up with something, all perfectly normal in Italy I’m sure but you’d get a few strange looks if you tried it at home…of course water and wine on the table at all time with coffee to finish, although strictly speaking there was a little something stronger to finish with !

Luckily we only had to dash around the corner to our room as a thunderstorm was doing its best to clean the bikes off for us that were locked away at Lello’s house.

Next morning breakfast was taken, in the bar as the market outside was in full swing as we all had to be ready to leave at 10.00 sharp…..10.30 came and went…..11.00……time to go say’s Lello, mumbling something about Italian time keeping !

A shorter run this morning at an easier pace, a pretty little village in the mountains, it must be such a different way of life up here, easier, yet harder too….time for an aperitvo before setting back off at a more brisk pace back to Castel Di Casio for lunch.

I have no idea what a traditional family lunch would be like but I’m pretty sure this would be close…food, wine, many toasts to different things, we both felt part of something, wasn’t completely sure what it was but it felt good…we both said we must improve our Italian, my language skills are almost non existent while Paula’s are far better, she seems to pick things up a lot quicker than me but when you go to these places out of the way it can get a bit tricky.

Back at Lello’s to pick up the bike to head back to Todi, a three and a half hours ride away, another cultural difference became apparent, in the uk on leaving a quick hand raised and a “see you later” and your out of the door, but not in Italy, it’s as if you are never going to see each other again, I’m not saying it wrong by any means, it’s a great thing and just……very Italian !!!

A great weekend in all, many to all that made it so special, to many to name, a couple who helped with translating especially, I won’t name names but they know who they are………and of course Lello, totally unique…one of the highlights of our trip for sure.

Thanks guys !

Once we’re home I’ll stick a link to the video here.

 

                      

Road Trip 2015, Day 13, Siena & Triumph Criusers Italia

Hot & Sunny…

Time to pack up a few things as this weekend we have our weekend break within our Holiday. 

We are joining with the Triumph Cruisers Italia and heading into the hills, about an hour north of Lucca so instead of doing the 4 hour ride from our place in Todi we thought we’d split the journey and have a stop in Monticatini, the same place as we stayed on the way down, it’s only £35 a night..

So we left Todi and headed for Siena for lunch, a couple of hours ride away. Again, if your ever down that way call into Siena there’s plenty of bike parking, finding it can be the problem……… 

The centre or Campo is home to a great horse race, the Palio, where all the districts or Contrata have their own riders, I believe its pretty insane to watch and also very expensive to get good seats ! 

         The sand track was laid ready for the horses, you can see that in the pictures as the racing takes place this year on the 2nd July, grabbed a quick bite just before all the tables had to be cleared to allow the track maintenance team to water and prepare it.

Its a great atmosphere there, one year we managed to time it when there was a parade, the place was buzzing…….

Gelato….Italian ice cream, you may think you have had good ice cream…..nothing can prepare you for Gelato, the choice and the flavour is awesome. 

 Back on the bike the final hour and a half into Monticatini, one thing we overlooked, rush hour in Florence ! after about 4 km’s of filtering in sweltering afternoon heat a change of road and another 2 km’s of filtering, Paula said she kept her knees in and closed her eyes, I think it helped !!!

Booked a table in the hotel restaurant tonight, been impressed with our visits so far so thought we’d give it a go.

Allora (So), Triumph Cruisers Italia tomorrow, meeting them in Castel del Casio at 2pm, all 30 of them, no idea where we’re going or where we’re staying, Lello has sorted all that……OMG the place we’re staying might not have WIFI !!!!!!!
About 175 miles today I reckon…