Saturday, 23 May 2009

Starter for 10.....France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece

The day has dawned.....

People that know me will be aware of the stop start affair of my touring plans and have no doubt heard many tales of flat sale troubles and visa issues, so for them, i'll spare the details. Hasten to add it's been a fairly hectic and sometimes stressful 3 months leading up to the very moment of my departure.
Thanks to all my friends and family that have heard me moan on and listened intently without telling me to shut up, which is probably what i needed.

I'd like to thank a few specific people who have helped me in my endeavours to quite old blighty..
Thanks to my parents for sending out the stuff that didn't come by the time i left and also for listening to my latest mad cap scheme and resisting the temptation to say 'what you're learning to ride a motorbike, what you're riding it to Australia!'. Yes mum i will be careful.
Thanks to Ollie and Jenny for the shared planning and knowledge. I'll see you in Uzbekistan.
Thanks to Mike for storing my clubs while away. You should try them for size it may bring your handicap down, I'll expect single figures when i get back.
Thanks to Geth and Lynn for storing my crap while i'm away and promising to send out a new chain and sprocket set when needed.
Thanks to Leszek for the great advice, useful equipment and furnishing me with my knowledge in the art of motorcycle maintenance.
Thanks to Fi and Carlos for volunteering to look after the ranch while i'm away.
Last but certainly not least thanks to base control, formerly know as Roj, for being the person at home to help with location and sending me stuff and generally getting me out of trouble when the shit hits the fan.

Finally on the road....
Day 1 - 5

The first 2 days went by in a blur of motorway across France into Switzerland with nothing happenning of noteworthy proportions bar a rather funny incident in Troyes (France) where i was propositioned by a female pimp and her gigolo, it made me laugh all the way back to the hotel.

Troyes, intersting town, interesting hospitality!

After the fairly mundane riding of central France it was good to get into the Swiss and Italian Alps where the roads started to twist and turn providing some pleasant riding with a surreal trip down the longest tunnel in the world through the centre of Mont Blanc thrown in for good measure.

The sun was out, it was pushing 32 degrees, life was good.....
There was then a sudden realisation after all my planning i'd managed to leave the UK without a GB sticker on the bike. I'd remembered reading a thread on the internet about a guy who hadn't been let on the Italy - Greece ferry due to the lack of said sticker, panic set in.

After many fruitless attempts to find one in the service stations and towns of Italy i eventually bumped into a British lorry driver who gave me an Italian sticker which i managed to doctor using a permanent marker and some gaffer tape. Job to Ancona and the ferry to Greece with fingers crossed. The official didn't even bat an eyelid and waved me on to the ferry with a smile. Panic over, next stop Greece.......
Waking up early but not so brightly, i decided that i'd had enough of boring motorways so i took the old road from the port of Igoumenista to Greneva, it was magnificent. 160 km's of endless bends and switchbacks through stunning scenery. As a bonus the road was totally desserted due to the new motorway recently completed. After the insanity of Italian roads this was a welcome return to more placid riding.

Early start through the mountains outside Igoumenista.

Morning fog in the Greek Valleys.

The trusty steed in the Greek hills.

I finally made it to Kevala. After 1600 miles in 5 days i was starting to feel the strain. Time for a break and a hop on the ferry across to Thasos for a couple of days of much needed R&R. Istanbul could wait for the time being..........

Camped on Thasos.