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Thread: Round 2: Another European Sortie

  1. #17
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    Goudet To Millau

    The following morning Madame Goudet arrives to settle up. 7.45 Euro for the night. Paid up and sorted. Said Mme Goudet disappears in her old Renault 5 in a cloud of blue smoke. Tent down and away we go.

    I head towards Florac and the Gorges du Tarn as anticipated. It is brisk, excellent riding in spectacular conditions, road and weather. Once in Florac, I head over the top to St Enemie more mooching around the Gorges. The road over the top isn't for the faint hearted- no barriers in many sections and the locals aren't shy in cracking on. The road down towards St Enemie is tiny, but all good. St. Enemie is very pretty, but very busy.



    Florac from above.. Traversing the 'difficle et dangereuse'..



    After lunch I finally properly sort out my electricals on the bike. Which is cool, because I can now charge the laptop and a USB item too, so I should be all powered up for the forseeable.

    I hit the Gorges du Tarn and it is a splendid place indeed.

    Typical Gorge-ousness. I don't take too many pictures as I'm too busy 'droppin' a cog and givin' it a handful. Innit'



    Nice garage, there.



    Later on, post much Gorges gawping I head in to Millau. Quick look at the viaduct from below and buy myself a sticker.



    I stop at a campsite that's a resort type of place. It's OK but I would have preferred somewhere quieter, but I just want to pitch up and get off the bike.
    I meet two bikers, Roy and Rob from Manchester. Good lads and we chat the usual bike stuff. Rob has traded in his 5 year old GS for a VFR1200 and it's quite a mean looking bit of kit. He's happy with it.

    I walk into town and have a salad.

    'They are happy because they eat lard' (I believe I read that in 'Viz' once).



    Millau itself is quite pleasant. There's an singer and a pianist in the square featuring generous helpings of boogie woogie. Different and fun and very well received by the locals.

  2. #18
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  3. #19
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    Millau to Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon

    I surface around 8.30 and pack in very quick fashion and go for the Millau. There is a toll booth just before the run down to the bridge.

    On the exit to the toll area, in the middle of the carriageway two Gendarmes stand, sunglass clad, mean looking, arms folded. I do what I do best: I wave like a tourist simpleton and it continues as it has for most of my trip encounters.. They're smiling and waving back and both spin round in synch to watch me pass, pointing. My very own ZZ Top video.
    Note to self: I wonder if it'll work at speed traps?

    So, ride the viaduct. Ah, there it is. EUR 4.20 of bargain…



    ... and a chance to inspect the engineering marvel at close quarters...



    Stop for a coffee soon after making it with my gear have a sit at a bench under a canopy in the shade. Pure peace, I could stop here all day.

    We're paid a visit by Roget Moore on board La Petit Nellie..



    The thing sounds like a lawnmower and makes the GS sound positively refined. You wouldn't get me aboard that, not for a big clock.

    I write a little more drivel and am inspected by a curious Norbert Dentressangle driver.

    As I am packing up to head away a Scotsman approaches.. 'Where ye headin?' he enquires. He sits and we chat for a good half an hour or more; he's got many bikes, rides an LT predominately these days but has several Matchless classics in various states. A very cheery fella indeed. He delivers wine and says that he has the best job in the world. Can't argue with that. I learn more about Spain, which in current plans will feature in Sortie number 3.

    So I've spent over 90 minutes in a layby, having done about 20 miles so far today, but good times and such is the beauty of no particular place to go.

    I carry on heading east into Provence. All just peachy.

    My GS celebrates its 30k th birthday at an errant tollbooth, the product of not paying attention and wandering on to the peage. Straight on and straight off for the princely sum of 20 cents. I stop for a photo of the moment.



    When I restart the bike gives me my own special acknowledgement message. 'LAMPF'. Balls.

    After much good riding I get tired so crash in St Croix de Verdun, in a campsite by the lake. All set up, but the ground is gravelly like a sodding boot sale car park. Better news is there is a lake view so that makes up for it.



    I relax for a while and hit the sack. Unfortunately I'm being serenaded by the most dreadful covers band who are playing up in the village. It is seriously loud. Please, please stop. By the time they're murdering U2's 'New Year's Day', with a pianist that sounds like someone who's never played before (for chrissakes, it's only 6 notes to play). I get the mental vision that the piano player has no arms and is playing with a chopstick in his mouth (I really need to stop necking that Kahlua). Anyway I'm getting seriously annoyed by their crimes against music.
    At about 1am they stop, lordy lordy praise be.

  4. #20
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    St Croix de Verdun to Del Ponte

    I'm up and away before 10 and head into the Gorges du Verdon. I bid goodbye to St. Croix-de-Verdon. Pretty place it is too with a smashing lake.



    Castellane. Bit of a trek to Sunday morning mass. Churchgoers have very well developed thighs I am assured..



    The Gorgres du Verdon are magnificent and well worth a visit. It is fantastic.. amazing.. but loaded with Tourists. To be fair, that's wasn't at all unexpected given time of year. It's absolutely tootling scenery though so not all bad and at least the traffic moves freely. Here is a picture without a Vauxhall Zafira or a Renault Megane Scenic in it. Please treasure it.

    I quietly kick myself for never visiting before. Wonderful.



    Ooops.. a Renault Megane Scenic. Now, where's me photoshop…



    I stop at a store and buy myself provisions for lunch by the river later on.

    Get behind thee, satan..



    'Maniac Grany'...



    I have no particular urge to learn more about Maniac Grany, although it describes the store owner perfectly who tells in no uncertain terms (although, I say that, they were actually uncertain because I can't understand the actual words themselves).. that I should get my sorry clogs off of her wet floor. I haven't learned the art of levitation as yet, being of only tender years, so I hop about a bit, a bit like playing the game 'Drogna' in 'The Adventure Game' on BBC2 (I bet none of you will remember that).

    I stop for lunch by the river.



    I break out of the Gorges area to take a more direct route over to Nice. It is Excellent biking. I'm joined up with a gent on a K1200LT who tags along for a bit and we're riding swiftly and nicely, with some nice overtakes in tricky territory. Flowing and nice. Now. I wear contact lenses. And in twenty years of wearing them I haven't ever had one fall out. Not on the bike, not in the pub, not doing the hokey cokey, not in the shower or the swimming pool, never. And now I do. Not just anywhere, mind. This one departs mid way overtaking a car caravan combi in a pretty tricky little bit, with said LT rider following on and trusting my craft. I blink, fiddle and get on with the incidental part of staying on the road. I succeed, but need to continue down to where it is safe to stop, so for the oncoming few winding KM's it's all a bit like the Monty Python Mountaineering sketch. As we reach a relative suitable place I see it is time to turn off, so I take the road, which no one follows on, and so I keep going, and get a little practice of what it would be like if I had only one clear eye. Manageable once you get used to it, but not recommended. I think I'd need an eye patch actually for any length of time. Yarr.

    I stop and fit a new lens. That's better. So off we go towards Nice, with a few more twisty features and rugged terrian.



    Soon enough we're on the main med coast road, I decide to have a nose at the glitterati and have a shufty around Monaco.



    Off I go into Monaco and head in towards Monte Carlo. Mandatory casino picture. Working in to Monaco is chaos, heavy, heavy traffic, thankfully it isn't too hot and I kind of enjoy the traffic as it gives me time to watch and there's bugger all place to park.

    I make my way up to the Casino, where I am flagged down by a policeman. He's athletic, early forties, in a white uniform, a sort of sweaty Richard Gere. 'No motorcycles here' says said plod. I'm directed to the side of the road. 'Passport' he says. He's also flagged a couple on a French registered Maxi Scooter. He deals with them first. There's writing, talking, shrugging of shoulders, animated hand gestures and blowing out exhaling. I get the distinct impression he's giving them the 'You should know better' treatment. After a few minutes of dialogue things conclude. The woman gives me a smile and a thumbs up. I think her charm worked a little, but I ain't got that particular charm set in my locker.

    Now he's to me. OK 'Great Britain'.. He says. 'Yes.. Great Britain.. hmmm'. 'Yes' comes the natural reply. 'Well, you can't come here; there is a sign, it's international you know, no motos'. I plead ignorance, and I genuinely didn't see a sign. He looks over the bike, and writes my name and registration number in his book. He walks around the GS looking up and down, it appears curious at just how much shite I'm carting about, and wondering if there is indeed a motorbike under there. He raises his eyebrows and returns. 'OK then, you can go'. He warms up and smiles. My lucky day. If it's 7 Euros for a can of Fanta here I shudder to think what a traffic violation would work out at.
    I need no more encouragement and I'm orf.

    Casino. Crap pic due to said intervention by le fuzz.



    Monaco. Byeee.



    I head on to the Autostrada. It is an impressive run along to Genoa. Elevated sections high over valleys, many tunnels, with the customary crazy Italian traffic. Not boring in the least. I stop a couple of times and fill up on Cappucino at the Autogrill.
    The Autostrada gets more and more winding as it works it way into Genoa. If it were in the UK, the limit would be 40mph, and it would probably be about right. The traffic wobbles into other lanes at high speed, struggling to take corners in the space available. Freaky.

    Some time later and its off of the Autostrada, and time to pay up. EUR 18. eek. Mind you, not bad I suppose when compared to the M6 toll.

    Genoa, where GPS directs me to waypoint reference '052' which I had no idea existed, nor why the Zumo has sought to take me to it. Ah. Unfortuantely for me, it's in the port, and even more unfortunate for me, I'm now in the queue for the ferry to Tunisia, which was at no point anticipated. This will take some explaining.
    Fortunately I find a cut through and manage to get out. I mingle with the Genovese and it's fun bobbing about in the traffic.



    Eventually heading for the hills I decide that a hotel is in the offing for tonight.

    I pass a lovely looking place by a river and learn now through so many times of just carrying on and regretting it to actually turn around, so I do. I get a charming room with a balcony overlooking the river, and parking for the GS down the side of the hotel, snugly tucked away. Motorcycle friendly.

    Dinner. Wonderful. Pasta, al dente style, with a lovely rich tomato sauce starter, then what is described as 'meat', which turns out to be three large slices of pork with roast potatoes. Three glasses of the local red, some Lemon sort of stuff for dessert, a weeny coffee and then a cheeky large glass of beer to send me off. 20 Euros for all of that tuck.. which is spoiling myself for little cash don’t you think.



    Time for a quick call on Skype and a Facebook picture upload, the folks at home are relying on that, if they don't see anything regularly they start to get anxious.

    I get back to the room and there's this noise. On and off, on and off. What the hell is that. I watch some of the Olympic opening ceremony on the laptop. Still noise, getting worse. Then I tumble: It's someone snoring in an adjacent room. Jaysus, it sounds like a jumbo jet trying to land on a postage stamp. I play a trick done once or twice before, I shout some loud random tourettes style abuse. It does the trick and I have peace and quiet, which is nice. I'm buggered if I'll be having my worst night of sleep in a fancy hotel.

  5. #21
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    Brill report, some of the locations I have transversed too, you have a great skill in writing R, you should write a book, having a rite laugh here, ride safe.

  6. #22
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    You're inspiring me to go to France this weekend. Now how do I convince the wife that I go without her?

  7. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    You're inspiring me to go to France this weekend. Now how do I convince the wife that I go without her?
    Easy money seems to come easy to your good self ,let her go shopping but you'll need more than a weekend to have French fun

  8. #24
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    that thing about the casino has been there years

    group of us did millau and i carried on to monaco and got the same thing

    (it was the week after the gp) got the lowes hairpin pic and that was it

    flea market just after the tunnel was a larf but the prices

    dignes N85




  9. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    You're inspiring me to go to France this weekend. Now how do I convince the wife that I go without her?
    Tell her that she won't be allowed through customs without 3" of armpit hair

    ballistic

  10. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1157 View Post
    Easy money seems to come easy to your good self
    How do you work that one out?

  11. #27
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    Cheers again for the comments. It's grand to know some of ye are enjoying

    I find this jotting lark very therapeutic and enjoyable. The drivel seems to flow easily, perhaps it's the ale.


  12. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    You're inspiring me to go to France this weekend. Now how do I convince the wife that I go without her?
    Take her with ye per chance mate?

    However you do though, do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hairnet600 View Post


    that thing about the casino has been there years

    group of us did millau and i carried on to monaco and got the same thing

    (it was the week after the gp) got the lowes hairpin pic and that was it
    Understandable really, it was total chaos up there. It would have been nice to park up but everywhere was rammed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hairnet600 View Post



    Legend!

    Great find that..

  13. #29
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    Del Ponte to Bukovica

    You know when you're in Italy when you see a taxi that is a Subaru. Not any Subaru mind, one of those ones with the mahoosive letterbox on the bonnet. Wish I'd got a picture of that.. it just says it all.

    I head away from the hotel, refreshed after a beakfast of a vacuum packed croissant (meh) but oodles of Café Latte (yay).
    As I'm packing I find a group of elderly moto enthusiasts gathered around the bike. 'Mama Mia' says one of the ladies, presumably again referring to the size of the loaded red beastie. I get across to them that I'm hardly small either, and they have a chuckle and return to their morning constitutional.

    I pull away, and within thirty seconds I'm greeted with someone knee down coming around the middle of the road, a blind corner no less. Fortunately I'm in check and can veer away. If that had have been a car there he'd have been in big trouble. A reminder of what Italy is all about in the motoring sense of things. Valentino lives to fight another day.

    It's back on to the SS45 in the direction of Piacenza. What a terrific road, twisting and turning like a twisty turny thing, up and down, left and right. Excellent biking and my resolution to just have a poodle this morning is instantly broken, keeping in mind Valentino's are out there practicing- but hey ho it's rewarding stuff.

    Smoothing out any nasty squaring from yesterday's Autostrada…



    I stop for a cappuccino just short of Piacenza and a tiny cake in a splendid little place. I love coffee in Italy. This update is brought to you by 'illy' The problem is I just don't want to leave when I get nestled in these places.



    Cakey. We likey.



    I continue North East to look in on Lake Garda. It's nice, but so very busy, so I pass through. I take a crap self photo for which I will spare you. It is impossible for me to look jolly in a system 6. My cheeks are all squashed in Hamster stylee, and if I smile I look even more stupid and gormless than I do outside the gear.

    I drop in to see Ronald for some Wi-Fi, but it's only available to Italians, which is annoying.

    I stop at a petrol station, and its another one of those Crystal Maze self service challenge affairs. I can't remember but I think it is a Tamoil place. It has very loud music. I put in my 15 Euros which takes forever to do and now the sodding thing won't give me any petrol. Of course, it says I can select English as a language, which I do, and it says 'Insert Notes or card' and then everything reverts back to Italian. How very thoughtful. Bastardo. I'm hopping about getting very annoyed to Pat Benetar's 'Love is a Battlefield', which isn't at all helping. Finally I twig I need to put the pump back again so it can work out it needs to give me the petrol. At long last I get petrol, but not a great deal as I forgot to say, Petrol in Italy is very expensive, and it hardly affects the petrol gauge.

    I decide to make for Slovenia, which I very much regretted bypassing last time around. Sod it, I'll take the Autostrada and associated open wallet surgery. In all honestly, I like Italy for the food (and coffee as previously mentioned) but the motoring I find wearing. Italian motorists have three factory settings: 'Careless', 'Insane' and 'Totally Insane'. There's a special optional 'Madman' pack available too, which many upgrade to. I'm just tired of them all. Pasta and coffee aren't enough to entice me for more time to dwell with the minuses of crap driving, expensive Petrol, and I'm just not bothered enough to head up to the alps for better.

    On the final leg of Autostrada we meet a traffic jam in a long roadwork stretch. A local aboard an RT is attempting to carve through and pave the way. Clearly, Italia does not approve of filtering; for that another would need to pass one's self, and that is clearly unacceptable.
    Nevertheless, we barge on and I take great joy in manhandling the GS through the agog audience once they realise what I'm actually doing. I've also stuck a bit of Chas 'n' Dave on the audio for that extra little bit of class, polish and sophistication. Danny Boyle would approve.

    Some considerable KM further on we discover the end of the melee. We find a broken down Dutch Audi, fronted by a dead pan bored stiff Carabineri holding a lollipop. Smart uniform though; think Trumpton, Pippin Fort.

    We cross in to Slovenia where I stop at a Petrol Station imaginatively named 'Petrol'. High fives and new Bentleys all round at the Saatchi folks for that branding pearl. Anyway, It has a sort of pub/bar and there are groups of folks outside loudly getting spangled. Curious. Still, they have free wi-fi, which I've missed, so I have a mooch on booking.com to see what might be around should I dare to abandon canvas for yet another night, perish the thought.

    Close to the border it gives me a room for a miserly 30 Euros and well it looks fine so I take it. The Hotel Garni. And it is very fine. Basic, but clean and tidy and all good and the charming girl working there couldn't have been more helpful, offering to put the bike in the boiler room of the place, but I explain it's too big. She laughs at me, but she sees the bike and then comes back to tell me now she understands.

    I wash and brush up and buy two tins of Union Beer (or Pivo). It's pronounced 'Onion'. Arf arf. And it's very good indeed

  14. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    How do you work that one out?
    Ummh regular bike changing

  15. #31
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    Thumbs up

    Rivetting stuff Gr8roberto and nicely written.
    I read a tour book describing the Ialian driving style as "robust." Understatement methinks.
    Can't ride the bike for 3 months as my arm's in a cast having put a saw through my hand last month, so I'm living on your reports.
    Happy riding. Looking forward to next thriller.

  16. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1157 View Post
    Ummh regular bike changing
    Not sure how you seem to think money comes easy to me, you don't even know me. Anyway, this isn't relevant to Rob's thread, so F off.

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