I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

One Hundred and Eighty°



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Sunday, 4th October

The downpour of rain occurred as predicted, but it all happened during the night-time of Sat-3rd / Sun-4th. No doubting it was the tail-end of the violent storms that hit the French Riviera that night, devastating the region and killing at least 17 people. The BBC News Report of the event.

We stayed dry in a cosy Ibis Hotel room, watched the match and mourned the temporary setback of the English rugby team, which that night clearly lost to a better side.  Whilst down on the car park just below our window the bike got a real dousing, which washed-off the dust and most of the splats of dead bugs.

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Into Switzerland for a spot of luncheon on the northern shore of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva.)

 And not a rain cloud in sight.

The significantly less than mediocre lakeside Swiss lunch at the O' Les Terrasses du Lac Restaurant in the township of Nyon didn't do much to promote and enhance the country's reputation as far as we were concerned.

Some fried slithers of lake perch, a kebab of very tough skewered pieces of indigestible beef steak; a few limp salad leaves and some cold processed chips. Accompanied by a solitary glass of cheap Chardonnay and a small bottle of sugar-free Coke.

Throw-in 90 minutes-worth of crap service - and it can all be yours for the outrageous price of 93 Swiss Francs, which in real money converts to GB£64.
 
On the bright side, I never really mind bad service in a restaurant. It makes me feel better about not leaving a tip.

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A quick scoot down the lakeside Route de Suisse (Hwy 1) avoided the nearby motorway and thus cunningly dodging the expense of a Swiss motorway vignette (permit) costing CHF40 [GB£28].

Brought us to the city of Geneva - and the famous Jet d'Eau.

I prefer the water jet in Hamburg though, because that one makes rainbows!



Geneva's Jet d'Eau was first brought to my attention during my early teenage years, as it featured in the opening titles of the 1968-69 hit TV series 'The Champions' starring the highly shagadelic - in my adolescent dreams at least - Alexandra Bastedo.

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And with the earlier restaurant rip-off incident still fresh in mind: Just what have the Swiss ever done for us? Let's take account of some of their major accomplishments shall we:
  • To start with, here in Geneva, they hold conventions that no self-respected warmongering dictator pays the slightest bit of attention to.
  • Banking secrecy - the word 'corrupt' also springs to mind
  • Army knives 
  • Cheese with holes in it
  • Velcro
  • First chocolate factory (Philippe Suchard, 1826)
  • Cellophane
  • The potato peeler
  • Ink blot tests
  • The "Robidog" (a dog shit collecting system)
  • Fondue
  • The psychedelic drug LSD
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • Yodelling
  • The garlic press
  • Logitech web-cams
  • Humane ways of flushing goldfish down the toilet, and
  • Cookoo clocks.
Quite a handy list, I suppose, especially if you're fond of goldfish, or partial to tripping on the occasional tab of acid. But apart from that the above listing is not the most remarkable inventory of contributions towards the advancement of our specie is it?

Maybe I'm missing something? You tell me, just what have the Swiss ever done for us?

And with all of that, plus outrageously expensive everything of course, together with far too many sets of Geneva traffic lights to contend with we crossed the border out of cookoo clockland .. and re-entered France.
TFFT.

We then stayed the night in the city of Chambery, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.

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Monday-5th

A totally unmemorable - 100% overcast, but nevertheless still dry - ride of 330 km [206 mi] down the A49 and A7 /A9 French motorways brought us to the outskirts of Monpellier, where we spent an equally forgettable night in a B&B Hotel chain 'plain vanilla' bedroom.

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Tuesday-6th 

Another dull morning start. But still no rain.

186 km [115 mi] - about 1hr 45 mins - after leaving Montpellier and we passed through the border, crossing the Pyrenees - the mountain range that separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe - then it was like magic .. as we rode through an invisible barrier-line in the sky. Almost instantly we were riding in clear blue skies. What a wonderful contrast - and fab welcome into sunny Spain.

Less than two hours later and we pulled-up outside our pre-booked hotel, right in the centre of Barcelona; to the voices of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé singing the city's name in my mind:  
♫"Such a beautiful horizon · Barcelona · Like a jewel in the sun · Viva! · Barcelona!"♫

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Wednesday-7th

We actually walked the four kilometres - there and back - from our hotel to one of the most famous and breathtaking locations in Barcelona, the still unfinished La Sagrada Familia. The anticipated completion date is supposed to be 2026. Yeah Right!

A 'selfie' .. just to prove ... I was there

With prices starting from €15.00, we took one look at the crowded queues and decided to give entry a miss; then pounded the streets for another four kilometres back to ..

.. La Rambla, the busiest and most lively street of Barcelona, mostly patronised by tourists, who pay higher prices for lower-quality food and drink. We just bought ice-creams.

We met-up briefly with Jordan, whose home town is Las Vegas USA, but has now settled in Barcelona with his Swiss girlfriend, Magdalena. Some good stuff comes from Switzerland after all.

Young Jordan (35) and I in the past have sent each other numerous messages, talked on Skype, and nearly got together on a couple of occasions in New Delhi and Kathmandu. We even had provisional plans to air-freight our bikes together out of India at one stage .. but it never happened, for reasons that are to lengthy to explain here.

We met at last here in Barça. What a very cool guy Jordan is, who rode his old beaten-up Royal Enfield motorcycle around India and then across northern central Asia .. all the way to Barcelona. You can read about his adventures here: The Scenic Route Through Life.

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Thursday-8th

The bike loaded-up. We departed from the most expensive accommodation of this leg of the trip,  the Hotel Caledonian located just 5 minutes' walk from Plaza de Catalunya and La Rambla. Chosen primarily for the secure underground parking facility.

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We then made our way down the Mediterranean coast to Penis·cola (as opposed to Pepsi·cola) on the Costa del Azahar. And what red-blooded girl wouldn't want to spend a couple of nights in a town with a name like that? 

For a northern European the temperatures around the town, with its headland castle, was a very acceptable 23-24°C [mid 70s°F]

And we were back in mozzie territory; therefore a tube of Boots antihistamine cream was always at the ready.

It was nearing the end of season, for sure.

Peniscola has a nice working harbour.

We watched as fishermen landed their day's catch.

Spanish sandcastle on the sea front at Peniscola - a 'castillo de arena'

An old man taking a paddle along the Mediterranean seashore.

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From Ellen's journal: click on this link →  The Last Leg - Number 2

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From Peniscola, over the course of the following three days we covered around 1,000 km [625 mi] down south through the Spanish costas, stopping-by in some of the less well known tourist destinations, such as:

  •   L'Albir. We visited this little place, sandwiched between Altea and Benidorm, twice during the mid-late 1990s. 
A milestone moment occurred in L'Albir. The odometer clicked over to 00000.0. My little 650 cc Honda Transalp had therefore just covered 100,000 kilometres. Still going stronger than ever.

  •  El Campello. The perfect - two fat b@stards - couple watch the sun go down at the esplanade.
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Sunrise on Saturday-10th, in-between street blocks, at El Campello.
  •  Aguadulce, just sounth of Almeria. Nearing sunset time (pic above) at Aguadulce, Sunday-11th.
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Monday-12th

During the late afternoon of Mon-12th we reached the township of Tarifa in the province of Cádiz - the southernmost point of Spain.


The small port of Tarifa at the narrowist point of the Strait of Gibraltar, with the north African coastline in the background.

We were no more than 15 kilometres [9½ miles] from Africa.

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And what, you might reasonably ask, is the significance of the small Andalusian township of Tarifa?

Well, apart from being the southernmost point of the European continent, located even further south of both African capital cities of Tunis and Algiers; it is also known as one of the world's foremost destinations for wind sports (windsurfing, kite-surfing etc.) AND it is the antipodal point - meaning: situated on the opposite side of the Earth - from where I started my adventure.



Click-on this link: Antipodes Map (AKA Tunnel Map) and type-in the name 'Tarifa'  into the location field-box (as arrowed in red above) and it will display - in GoogleMaps.com - the Antipodal point of Tarifa in the southern hemisphere, which you will see is very close to New Zealand's SH1 (State Hwy 1); and the Kiwi township of Ruakaka, which is where my bike is still registered to this very day.

Reaching Tarifa, therefore, meant that I had ridden my little black motorcycle exactly 180° from one side of our Pale Blue Dot .. to the other side. (Please see, listen and read what Carl Sagan has to say about the Pale Blue Dot below.)


The time had arrived to finally turn north again .. and head for home.

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From Ellen's journal: click on this link →  Round the World - Completed

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1 comment:

  1. You guys are amazing!
    Vic and Linda, Summerland BC Canada

    ReplyDelete