Thursday, October 19, 2017

I have now returned to the US and it seems funny here now, but quickly is becoming home again! I finally prepared a map of the trip (still pretty rough). I realized later that the image I chose is an old one, but it works. So if you add Montenegro & Serbia you have the 30 countries I visited on the trip. Returning the bike to CK Moto in Haguenau was a breeze and was given the quoted price with no fuss! The total trip was 32,000 KM (20,000 miles).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mickey Redmond once said, "You have to be lucky to be good & you have to be good to be lucky!" It has been wet and cold in northeastern France for a couple weeks, but just as I was bracing myself for it since I absolutely had to go there now, it got nice! After letting the Honda sit for 12 days (couldn't do that with the Road King in nice weather!) while hanging out at the sunny beach where I encountered a good case of skin damage, which most people call a tan, I got back on today and headed back to Soufflenheim to take the bike back and exchange it for a rental car. So on the way back I just had to get off the highway for a while and encountered the "Forteresse de Mornas", built sometime in the 11th century. OK, finally got a castle in there...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Well, here I am - done with my trip 3,000 km early & with 10 days left to kill. Rain in Austria & Switzerland in addition to escaping Italy sooner than expected isn't too bad since I am getting a bit tired of the constant pack up & ride every day. So instead of slowly heading back to the cold/wet northern France, I will be here in the south camping once again on the Mediterranean sea where the palm trees grow and the sun shines. I found something interesting in this area - bayous! (well, almost...) The ride here yesterday looked just like the Louisiana gulf coast riding (minus the oil platforms), where I have spent many weeks riding through and camping in over the years.

Monday, September 25, 2017

My quest to ride safe is costing me - in value since I see very little of the Italian Mediterranean coast and also in money. It cost me $41.65 to go 155 miles on the highway today. That's $1 for every 3.75 miles! However, I am alive to write the blog entry; very nice. When I talk to people here about Italian driving vengence, not only do they agree but in response to my statement that ItalIan roads are not safe for me, one person said "it's not safe for us!" It's too bad that this is preventing me from enjoying Italy. One other unfortunate aspect about Italy is the trash - it's everywhere! Not so much along the freeways, but along other main roads and smaller ones, trash is all along the roads and in piles at roadside areas. Highly unattractive for those of us who have acquired a respect for beautiful scenery & a clean environment. So tonight is my last night in Italy, departing quite a few days early after spending nearly a month here. Took me 19 days to travel from Switzerland to the farthest point of Sicily and 6 days to get to France on the other side. Arrivedeci...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Back on the mainland! Having turned around after reaching the most western point of Sicily, I am now heading back to Soufflenheim by way of the Italian Mediterranean coast and then Provence. I haven't quite seen all of Europe but I did visit most of the places! Yesterday, I camped in Tusa, north Sicily, east of Palermo. Lots of mountains jutting out of the sea and the roads hug the coast, as does the train. The winds were really strong & the result was high waves on the Mediterranean. The roar was so powerful I could hardly hear the train just behind me when it came by! Mountains also means tunnels on the highway and some of these are 2 miles or more. Beats fighting the crazy drivers on the switchbacks. I must say I've yet to see a mule on the road here, but I did see a goat that seems to have fallen off the edge of the hill and found himself trying to jump back up there to rejoin the herd.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I am now in Scicily and will return to the mainland in a few days. I have concluded that even though I am not fond of highways, I will use them until I leave Italy since the other roads are simply too unsafe for me - there are rules which make riding a reasonable activity, but they get ignored here way too much.

Encountered the 2nd Swiss traveler who took me by surpise yesterday - a young girl who traveled from home to Italy's toe on a scooter, of all things! Never would occur to me to do such a thing, but there she was 2,000 KM from home on such a whimpy contraption; brave I call that!

The first was actually a couple weeks ago in Switzerland - I was about 100 KM south of Zurik when I woke up to find my neighbor had arrived on a Unicycle; lives in the Zurich area. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Another day of rain & strong winds found me even though I am now in southern Italy, but safe & dry in a campgroud. Not far from Sicily, I am on the Mediterranean Sea (more specifically the other side of the Ionian sea) with WiFi, electric, shade and good company, though not many Italians speak english, especially this far south. Odly enough I have gone from southtern Greece to southern Italy by way of Czechia & Germany. Since I have another 30 days to do about 18 days of travelling (at 200 KM per day, needing to go around the mountains in October) I have decided this is a good place to take a week off. Might not last that long, since I can get anxious to keep moving. The picture was taken a few days ago and is another "juxtaposition" of old/new. I can imagine a moat instead of grass and a drawbridge rather than a paved road for a truck - but I am North American, after all.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WOW! No wonder Venice was so crowded - the 2017 Venice Film Festival is in full swing!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Accidentally went to one of the world's top tourist destinations - Venice. Had to go out of my way to get there so I wasn't going to go, especially once I had no plans to walk around in it. However, there are few campgrounds outside of destination areas and the coastlines. The picture was taken while riding up to the island on the long bridge - odd that there is a really expensive bridge that goes to a place with no roads, but there it is. Glad I had not decided to spend the day there, there was a really big tour ship docked today. Probably doubled the population all at once. Italian drivers rank right up there with Greece & Albania - horrible (for my safety, that is). It's bad since everyone goes 30 over the limit. But once decided it's better to get a ticket than get run over & drove their way, it got better.

Friday, September 1, 2017

I am now in Italy, the last country of my trip and will be here for about 5 weeks until returning to Soufflenheim on Oct. 11th for my flight back to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yesterday I spent the entire day in the tent while it rained in Altdorf, Switzerland. In thinking back, it is really quite amazing how stark the contrast can be between the high-tax wealthy nations and the low-tax poorer places. There just as many Ferraris in each, but the road and infrastructure quality is amazing in the richer countries. It appears these folks are in in fact getting their money's worth in quality of life improvement. An example is the picture (another in the "taken from inside the tent" series), the Swiss cable-car lift is another way to get around and see the mountains, which could otherwise be very difficult to access. I of course did not do this on such a rainy day. So I wait for the rain to end so I can walk to the store 1/4 mile away and it didn't. So I grab my rain jacket and start walking, thinking there would be a crosswalk to get across the busy rounabout. There wasn't - there was a pedestrian underpass! Awesome way to help prevent children (huh, & old men...) from getting run over by those crazy drivers you see everywhere.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Free camping in France!
Stopped in at "Le camping au petit port" near Saint-Louis just before entering Switzerland - Stella looks at the guitar and says "play for us and you stay free"! It was great & Romik even shared a very unusual dinner - pasta with pork & moose!
So tonight I am in Switzerland where there is a little rain. Hopefully tomorrow will be OK. I am riding along the rivers and so avoiding the mountains, which are very tall indeed.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Well, I am now back at Roberto's house in Soufflenheim, France. I get a new front tire on Tuesday and off I go to see the two places I have not been yet - Switzerland & Italy, maybe a stop in Leichenstein. I have now added 26,000 KM (16,200 miles) to the Honda since I left here on May 10th. The picture is a very rough draft of the trip so far; a more accurate trip picture will come later. The US/EU overlay shows the scale.