Friday, 15 October 2021

Euro tour part 2

 We left Vaison and headed towards Marseilles on the Peage before heading along the Cote Azure, skirting the Mediterranean in parts, it was incredibly busy, now its past holiday time so not sure why the normally quiet toll roads were so crazy, a short stop for fuel just before Nice and then into Italy. We took the highway thinking there was less chance of being stopped and having to show our papers (even though they were in order)  as we couldn't be arsed with petty officialdom, the situation reminded us of the TV series Allo Allo where the citizens are always being asked by the Germans "Where are your papers" .

We were correct, no hassle, dropped into Ventimiglia and then to my "home " village Rocchetta Nervina, as the old Tom Jones song says "The old home town looked the same" but thats not true really, it gets busier every year and it is popular with tourists, the village seems to have a bit more life in it as well, I see plenty younger people now living there which is the only way the village will survive. All of our friends and family are good and we spent a few days chilling out and visiting and drinking the odd vino (or maybe two) 

All too soon it was time to move, not too far , just along the coast to visit our pal Steva in Calice Ligure, we actually met him in a small town by the seaside for lunch with him and his colleagues, a very nice affair before leaving them to go back to work whilst we wobbled around and waited for him in Calice, a very pleasant evening and a good meal in town. Then we set off for Mandello Del Lario, home to Moto Guzzi, the roads were crazy busy and there seemed to be roadworks everywhere, once we got North of Genoa it quietened down until Milan, Milan and Monza were also crazy busy, it normally is but it seems to be busier which is probably good news for the Italian economy. We were glad to reach Lake Como and eventually Mandello.

We missed the celebration of 100 years of Moto Guzzi by a couple of weeks but that suited us, despite the official party being cancelled we heard 8000 people still attended which was considered very quiet (and better according to most) We had dinner at the campsite on the first night and in a nearby (new) restaurant on night two and then visited the Mandello Guzzi club clubroom (we had an invitation) another great night talking Guzzi! 

Leaving Mandello we headed North to Chiavenna for sadly our last meal in Italy this trip before taking the Splugen pass into Switzerland but thats for another Installment! 

Summing up Italy, great weather, fantastic food, great people, busy traffic and evidence of building and repairs everywhere so hopefully from those indicators the Italian economy is on the up.  Nobody asked for "our papers" except one restaurant in Mandello and when our QR code didn't work with the Italian Covid app it wasn't a problem, a shrug of the shoulders and "oh well it must only work for Italians" 

Rocchetta Nervina
A vino at our local

My favourite bar in Dolceaqua now closed and for sale 
Bruno's pal working on his Bianchi
Now fixed
And later on his Morini
The path to the village, interesting bridge
My own wine!
Cinquecento meeting in the village square
Chain adjustment
Lunch time
Triumphs parked
Bruno doing repairs to Luigi's pickup
Looking at the Med
Waiting for Steva in the town square
Bikes parked amongst the Olives
Stevas Montessa
Al fresco
Morning view
Fuel and respite just before Milan
Must be Mandello
It is
Even the beer pumps are Guzzi
small harbour on Lake Como
Sun going down, Fiona operating the drone
Lone canoeist
Guzzi club Mandello
Cin Cin
Some of the guys bikes
Mandello camping Continental
Ferry to Bellagio was full and we didn't want to wait an hour for the next one
So we waved it goodbye
Heading up the Splugen pass
Thats all folks!

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Euro tour part 1

 So after a great weekend at the Yetholm Norton meeting we left for Ashford, just over 400 miles South in order to catch our Train (Chunnel) the following morning, the first part of the journey we were on the small roads before a 350 mile blast on the A1, A1M, M11, M25 aand M20, now that doesn't sound exiting and it wasn't believe me. The traffic on parts of the A1 and A1M was terrible so lots of filtering and slowing down but we made good time and rolled into Ashford at 4.30, time to fuel up at the local Sainsbury ready for the off in the morning, we tried to go to the Supermarket but as its England they shut at 4pm on a Sunday, not a bad idea, people need some down time but we will be aware in future.

We have stayed in the Holiday Inn Ashford Central before, if you book it in advance its actually quite cheap, less than £60 on that Sunday but the service was terrible, a barman who obviously couldn't be bothered being there and who kept disappearing, shit service, shit food but hey ho, we are on our holidays. Chunnel the next day went smoothly despite Brexit and Covid (Lots of paperwork to be done beforehand but that's life) and we got a French stamp in our passports for the first time ever! We only had to go a handful of miles to Escalles to meet our Belgian friends, Geert, Peter and Eddie and we found a great restaurant for lunch whist we waited for them, we were just finishing when the guys arrived so we sat through another serving, great service and great food (Unlike the previous night) After lunch we took a small tour of the region with Geert leading the way, it was a small tour with plenty stops including for a beer, something that is a no no in the dictatorial state that is modern Scotland. A nice authentic B&B for the night but with no facilities for an evening meal and not wanting to ride our bikes after more beer the ride to the restaurant and back cost us 160 euros! The only taxi in the region is in Calais and that was our only option!

Lunchtime wine
The guys join us
A stop to look at a map of where we were
White cliffs of Dover
Peter reflecting on life

We said goodbye in the morning and the guys headed home whilst we headed for Dijon a trip of around 370 miles, a long boring and expensive day on the toll roads and we decided to get a Hotel as the weather wasn't great , we got a hotel in an Industrial estate in North Dijon for £45, we didn't expect much but it was excellent with a great restaurant and I'd stay there again. The "Covid pass" was necessary for all Hotels, cafe's and even Camp sites in France, luckily we had managed to upload our QR codes into the French Covid app or we could have been pretty miserable. The next day it was pretty wet and we had a 300 mile run to Vaison La Romain so Toll roads again, a pretty hard day not helped by biblical rain for the last 45 minutes before Vaison, flooded roads and no visibility, we decided again to Hotel it and opted for a posh hotel in the old town for the night, biggest issue was riding up the cobbled narrow streets, at one point I had the Bonnie side on on the cobbles. A great meal in the restaurant, not a lot of speaking though as the storm was that wild we couldn't hear each other, hooray for a hotel bed!

The following day we made the most of our late checkout and then rode into town for lunch and to get our covid tests organised for the next leg into Italy and of course to get provisions, we then rode the short distance to our campsite, pitched the tent and spent the day chilling out. Around 4.30 pm I noticed a very black sky approaching which was worrying, I spoke to Pierre the campsite owner but he didn't thing the rain would reach us, he was wrong, luckily we had battened down the hatches just in case and had taken refuge in the on site common room to have a wine and figure out what the weather was doing. Down it came again in biblical proportions, one of the fellow campers (in a caravan) offered to go and get Pizzas, at least we wouldn't starve and we had copious supplies of wine on site so nothing to worry about, the rain stopped before bedtime and glad to say the tent survived .I have to say our fellow campers (Motorhomes and caravans plus one other tent) were concerned our small tent would survive and Pierre suggested we sleep in the bothy which was a nice touch. The following day we made our way into town for our covid tests, thankfully ok, had lunch, done a washing at the laundry and once again just chilled out, this is a brilliant campsite and next time we will spend more time here. Dinner by the tent and nice (cheap) wine, perfect! Another great night in the bothy before our next leg into Italy.


View from the hotel in Vaison
Nice town
Black clouds though
On the balcony
The owner covered our bikes so the leaves and debris wouldn't fall on them
Dodgy streets
Expensive but worth it
Wet day
Dry day
Laundry time
I love this door
At rest
Next year I could be drinking these
Wet time
Postcard buying
The old town
At ease
At ease facing the other way!