An Otter on the road: From Lille to Limoges in 12 Days
An Otter on the road: From Lille to Limoges in 12 Days
Here it is, I finally found the motivation to publish (write, going to write... whatever) my very first ride report – journey (in english...) (so be indulgent: my queen's English may be a bit rusty. It's not my first long trip, but the very first one I think that will be worth mentioning (in english :o) (especially because I just bought a new Pentax WG-II that I really want to test).
Anyway the ride will take place between Lille and Limoges (both in France) going trough Germany (Aachen, Wolfsburg, Berlin and Dresden), Czech Republic (mostly Prague), Austria (Vienna and Innsbruck) and Switzerland (Biel) to finally rest and party at Limoges (I really don't like straight lines... why doing 600kms if you can make it 3600kms?)
The journey will take place between the 6/08 and the 18/08 on my F800GS.
I already know that the update will be irregular because I don't think I'll have internet everyday (who cares anyway) but every evening I'll keep up my journal on my laptop.
I'll be camping mostly except in Aachen and Berlin were I meet friends of mine and finally in Limoges were I'm invited to my GF's cousins birthday.
A little introduction? - Ok here you go:
The “plan” started a couple of month ago when I was studying for my exams. My favorite band “die ärzte” were on tour in Germany (oh yeah I'm from Cologne btw, studying in Lille) and I wasn't able to buy a ticket because they were sold out and anyway the concerts took place during my oral-exams. But then one day (magically), I saw a new date in august near Dresden (about 1000 km from my apartment) and like I said to a friend 5 years ago (when I saw them for the last time... sniff), I'd do anything to see them again, even if I have to ride 1000kms over night... oh hey... what a coincidence! As I am a man of my words I took the ticket and saw an opportunity to make a nice ride through Germany. So there we had my first “dead line”, being next to the Czech Republic (in Dresden) the 12 <sup>th</sup> august. A few weeks after having bought the ticket, I went with my GF to her family in the middle of France where her cousin invited my to his birthday. Free beer and a buffet? Ok I'm in! So there was my other “dead line”, being back in “southern” France for the 18<sup>th</sup>.
The weeks passed by and last weekend I realized that the dead lines were approaching but I still didn't knew what way to go and how to “occupy” my time between the 12 <sup>th</sup> and the 18<sup>th</sup>. I took out my old friend Google Map and a picture began to draw itself into my head. The "map" is made but as always I'm up for surprises and it'll be hard to keep up with my schedule
I hope you'll enjoy the journey as much as I will and I hope I'll be a good story teller even in English.
If you have any suggestions to make (about things to see, to take with me, precautions to take in a country I'm all yours!)
Ride safe and see you around!
Loutre (Otter) - Tom
If you're in Aachen, I know where you can spot an awacs or two you don't see everyday :photog Being from Köln you probably know the area better than me. Have a good trip :lurk
Day 0 (5/8/12): 0km
Ok here we go, several tasks to do. Find the stuff that I'll take with me, pack it up and then go get my bike from my garage (which is 45min away from my apartment). The print out a map for my trip with some addresses of places where to crash etc.
Done everything and I realize that the night will be short because I can't sleep at all. I called my Girlfriend and ended up playing counterstrike until 1am, reading 'till 2 and 5 hours of sleep later I woke up ready to start that bloody trip.
Here are the pics of the day.
All my stuff... let's see... gear, another pair of footwear, book and a magazine, 2 pair of gloves, tent, mattress, sleeping bag, hut, 4.5 liters of water, toolkit, stuff to eat, extra fuel, energy drink, cooking supplies... you get it.
Washed the bike before heading home. The last time I saw her that clean I picked her up from the dealer.
Day 1 (6/8/12): ~320kms
About the road? Nothing special, it was the highway through Belgium. I didn't want to lose my time in that country (I hate they roads). Anyway I arrived in Aachen at 11 and it's my pleasure to present you “biker's heaven”. It's one big BMW and Harley dealer with 5 floors full of BIKES yeah!! (and in it a Bar and a restaurant... what more do you want?... oh I know... A Touratech store? Here it is!)
So I went in there for a Zego Pro topcase + platform and I went out with a top case, extra fuel holder, side stand enlarger + the platform for the case and fuel holder... man I love shopping in there. I talked to the Touratech vendor and he told me stories about some hard core riders and one from Luxembourg, a millionaire, who's spending his time riding his f800gs. He climbed the highest mountain of every continent and he even wrote a book about his trips. Dreamy isn't it?
So after the chit chat I mounted the top case on my bike. Sadly the screws were to tight so I asked the mechanics for their help. They were so nice that they mounted the whole thing for me, making me look like a weak sponge (that I surly am :o)
Anyway, I spent my afternoon with my grandparents and the evening at my best friends father. She is now working in Paris for the summer... irony? Sure why not :o). But who care if I can enjoy a couple of beers with her father and ordering a pizza to celebrate the beginning of my adventure. I hope tomorrow will be more fun... like no-highway-at-all fun. I'm looking at the sky now and I think someone up there doesn't want me to have fun because it's all gray. If it doesn't rain during the night it will tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers.
Here are the pics of the day.
The bike is ready to start it's journey.
Biker's heaven... Bikes everywhere and a restaurant... and a bar... and TOURATECH :o)
Every TT farkle imaginable... it can be yours for only 20.000€...
Inside of biker's heaven...
My new Topcase... man am I happy :o)
Day 2 (7/8/12): ~630km – Total 950km
Ah day two... how you inspired me driving through landscapes with nothing but green land and trees... You did wake the philosopher in me... ok now it's getting cheesy.
So it began with a quick breakfast and trying not to wake my best friends father (he wasn't singing as he promised dirty songs but he didn't end well though). I enjoyed some heavy duty Müsli (kinda like a horses meal but with some yogurt in it, it becomes a glue-like paste. Anyway eventually he woke up and we had some coffee together. Then we talked about some stories about Germany's secret history and about the theory that the Nazi's believed in a black sun and that the 1000 age Reich was in the bible told by Jesus to a German-Roman soldier (I'll give you the 1000 age Reich). I like listening to his stories because he's a great teller. But with that I already go one hour late.
The plan for today was to head up to Wolfsburg, sleep there and then go to Berlin the next day. After 5 hours on the bike looking at sheep, landscapes, the new electric windmills and some unfriendly riders (didn't even say hello to me o0), I changed the destination to Berlin to see what's left. As expected only 2 hours more. Hmmm... the motivation was there but I finally agreed with myself to see in about 3 hours at 6pm if I'm tired or not and if I could find a safe and nice spot to camp.
Whilst doing that, I crossed a city where a factory caught my eyesight. I thought it was Lenin... but no it is Fritz Züchner and looking at that “mosaic” I think he was a butcher.
Nothing, niet at 6pm... for 50kms only farms with corn everywhere! Impossible to plant my tent. I was indeed tired but I didn't want to go in a camping place.
I ended up calling my friend and told him that I'll be in Berlin in about 3 hours. Immediately after the phone call I saw a sign that my decision was the right one... the Shuberth factory... looked great from the outside but I'm sure it was closed... and anyway I hadn't much time to waste.
I arrived at 9pm in Berlin, my friend met me up one hour later at the Alexanderplatz. We had a nice Currywurst together and headed “home” to drink a couple of beers. We talked for hours and had great plans for my stay in Berlin: doing all the touristic places (he's like me from France and for the first time there), picking up our piece of the wall (with our own tools... by night:huh) and buying him a helmet :o).
Here are the pics of the day.
My best friends dad, a very nice man and great story teller. Would like to go camping with him (and of course his daughter) just to listn' to his stories next to a bonfire)
Here is where they live... I love spending time there :o)
not one car in sight...
Fritz Züchner (alias Lenin o0) and his mosaic:
I would like to know in what the pig is jumping...
Being extinguished - My last rest before the "finishride to berlin"
Arriving in Berlin: The Alexanderplatz!
Looks like a great trip, thanks for taking us along :thumb
Day 3 (8/8/12): ~0km – Total 950km
Oh yeah today no riding but walking... but man did we walk. My friend has the excuse that he's only been in Berlin for one week but I think his orientation sense got mixed up when he was born. We walked around Berlin for 6 hours and managed somehow to not see every sight seeing thingy (I'm just talking about seeing it, not visiting) on their tourist map, which is not that big (and somehow we always walked in circles). Tomorrow we'll continue that Berlin visiting and actually go visit some museums. I'll post some pics trying to avoid the classic touristic places (if you want to see some I still can edit and upload some).
Pics of the day:
A Stormtrooper explaining to two soldiers how to handle war... or at least I think so :o)... oh yeah behind it's the Brandenburger Tor. I think you don't need a pic of it, you see it everywhere (but if you want one I still can edit).
I love Berlin for its parks inside the big city. It was a nice summer day and a lot of artists were around.
They played some awesome music. On second thought I should have bought their CD.
Another touristic spot (I try to avoid posting them but I simply love this one: In the memory of all Jews killed during WW2: going from 1m up to 3m).
Here is my friend Ben in the park... He says it looks like a Bretzel :lol3
ok I admit it... I cheated on my bike :o)
That fountain made my day. It looks very nice with a lot of details. Amazing!
Again some artists making the map of Berlin with (I think) chalk.
Day 4 (9/8/12): ~0km – Total 950km
Still no motorcycling? Yeah no I'm sorry again :o) We did as I said visit the Museums in Berlin, thinking it was for free every Thursday (as it is notified on their website... but as we checked it again the website didn't update since '09. As we moved forward to the museums (like innocent students, with no bad intention whatsoever), two girls sitting in the grass asked us if we wanted to join them. It seemed to be a nice plan (instead of visiting the museums), but my friend declined in his best german, telling them that we had no time. “What the hell is wrong with him”, might you ask... so did I... and a couple of meters later we already regret our choice. As the perfect gentleman that I am I told him that we can't go back with empty hands... so we did check out a Kiosk to buy some beers.
As we head back to them they were already gone... (what a retard...). Anyway some other girls came to talk to us with a petition formula, and of course we did the ones who didn't understand crap, talking only french to them. They wished us a nice day and as they were far enough away my friend told me that these two girls were the same sitting in the grass. IT WAS A TRAP!! at the bright side: we had twice as much beer as we planned to drink anyway... isn't that always good news? We decided to chill another hour in the grass before heading to the museums.
The museums were pretty nice! They had the nofretete mask, the hammurabi statue (in law university they told us during 2 hours how important it is, being the first dictated law in history), one of the 7th world wonders (the ischtar gate).
After that we met some foreign students and hang out with them in a couple of bars. They came from everywhere in the world, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, China... We spent an amazing time talking with them and we got new friends.
Oh and did you know how amazing ADV stories are to pick up chicks? I mean I told them I came from France to Berlin on a bike just to visit a friend and they were all over me. If one day I'm single again I'll remember that one! Anyway I made some publicity for our website and I think we'll have some new lurkers around :o)
We decided to meet again the next day to play some beach volleyball and split up at 1am.
As my friend Ben and I were wondering around the streets we saw a big waiting line in front of us. As we read the sign above their heads we saw something about “versicherungen” or insurance if you want. Slightly confused and amused we talked to one guy in the waiting line and he told us that at the rooftop we would find the“hippest bar” in Berlin. Tired, we decided to go home instead.... Oh yeah about that... I told you about the “orientation sense” of my friend... for something that should have been an half hour walk we needed 3 hours. And no we weren't event that drunk... oh and yeah he had a map.
Anyway tomorrow beach volleyball and going to the east side gallery.
Pics of the day.
oh yeah... good times hanging in the park after escaping "the trap"
ok just posting some of my favorites museum pics. shot like 200 pics from the 4 main museums on the "museum island" so if you want more just scream!
The following two made my day. I mean I was really really happy seeing them. Like a child on X-mas eve. I mean you go through a big ass door and there it is PAAAF one of the seven world wonders... just there you can touch it, it's beautiful, so much history, the gate of babylon!
I think this one is maybe even more important to me than the gate. I mean they teach you a lot of useless stuff in university and when they talk you about some ancient thingys that were important because some god send it to earth but this one is from an actual king and seeing this in some non important corner and having one of these WTF moments is just better than a cold beer on a hot summer day! period!
a last one? I simply needed to take a pic of our "meter of beer" for two persons. Thanks to that meter we met the other students. hmm like ants attracted to shugar... maybe this will increase the readers of my RR. oh and if you're wondering... yes indeed that is a strudel :o)
Day 5 (10/8/12): ~0km – Total 950km
My last day in Berlin... a bit sad I have to say, I really really liked it here. This city is amazing and I think I'll come back very very quickly.
Anyway after a brief sleep I took my bike and went to the East-Side gallery. It's the old Berlin wall painted with spray cans by artists from all over the world. It's 1km long and one of the free artistic stuff you have to see when you're coming to this town. Anyway I'll post some pics of the spray-art but if you want some more I took a picture of every single one (about 140) for those who can't come to Germany.
During the afternoon we met the students from yesterday and played some beach volleyball. It was a lot of fun and really quickly we all communicated in English because it was so much easier to communicate strategies etc. Anyway the bad part came at about one hour into the game. I twisted my ankle quite badly. The thing is that I already twisted it 3 weeks ago and that it was still fragile and did hurt when I pushed it a bid harder to one or the other side, you know the feeling. Anyway now I'm at his apartment whilst he is out there partying... ah life you can be so unfair. Now that gives me time to make me a bandage and hope that I can walk correctly tomorrow and most importantly during the die ärzte concert in 2 days. Lets cross our fingers. Anyway now I also have time to complete my RR and to pack up my stuff for tomorrow... whilst drinking beer (of course).
Pics of the day.
a classic one.The line reads: "Dear god, please help me surviving that deadly love"
I really like this one. "we tried to bring color to the other side". not much but the meaning is really powerfull.
"we need to deconstruct walls"
the volleyball game, meaning the end of my ankle, now the real adventure can start! :lol3
How about beginning the day with a little felony. I always said that i'd never leave Berlin without a piece of the wall. So I straped on my "ninja riding gear" and began to check out a weak point of the wall. hmm first problem there! These russians knew how the build a wall! but with a bit saliva and adv-power-skill I finally managed to get a few pieces out of it.
A special thanks to Ben who agreed to help me and a special sorry to the people living infront of the wall... I did not expect a wall making so much noise :lol3
Man vs. armed concrete (luckily I did not keep score
Finding the otter :o)
My treasure... or maybe I should open a store, who knows merchandising could pay off!
So I'm back. I wrote the report but had no internet to update it.
then when I got back my USB drive crashed and it got erased. I'm going to re-write it right know. Sorry for the disappointment but you'll have the story.
See you all later!
Day 6 (11/8/12): ~210km – Total 1160km
After my little « escapade » from the night, I woke up ready to race and was glad to be back on the bike. The weather was great and I rode the whole morning through woods. I looked at my watch and it was lunch time. I was searching for a nice spot to have my china noodles and found it a bit further. What you see is a “artistic place” next to a gas station. You give them a picture of something and they make a wooden statue out of it. Since the woodsmen were out of sight (think they were having their own lunch) I took the liberty to cook some nice noodles with some dried meat. It's not much but like my dad used to say, when you're out camping every meal is a god sent.
Anyway I got back on my bike and about 3pm I arrived at Dresden. I was looking for the Camping place I found on the internet to unload my bike.
When I got there a biker told me that the reception is closed for the afternoon but that they'll be back in about 2 hours. I looked at him and asked him what he was waiting for... “for the reception to open up”... yeah no that was not in my plans. I took my bike and searched a nice spot to build up my tent and to leave my stuff in it. Found it. Done it. I headed back to Dresden to visit it. I'm sure the receptionist won't through it all out because I didn't check in. I passed the biker, smiled at him and went to Dresden, searching for the place where I'll be rocking the next day.
Dresden is a very nice city. Even if it was destroyed during WWII they build it up nicely. Too bad that I had no time visiting the museums but I'm sure, since my Grandparents wants to go back there again with me, that I'll have time for that later (even though it won't be on a motorcycle :o().
In the city I saw a lot of die ärzte fans with their t-shirts. Since there was a concert that night too, I smelled that the spot couldn't be far away. Soon enough I found out that I was right (again). I reached a “big ass mega (I think) museum” and on the other river side I saw something that looked like a riot, fair enough it was the place where I would rock the next day.
I went to the other river side and saw that the place where the band would be playing was in sight from the outside. Would it be possible that I'd be able to see them twice? Oh dear lord please!
I went back to the camping to get into some lighter cloth and saw when I got back on the bike that I had a dark oily liquid next to my rear fender... Oh comon! I don't want this road trip to find an early end! I tightened them a bit more and decided to wait and see. When I'm looking back at that decision I think that I didn't think enough about it. I mean 2 days later I was in Czech Republic where no-one would speak my language and I wouldn't have the right form of cash... Anyway I made it.
I got back to the place and rocked my arse off that night and slept well until 3 o clock in the morning. It was COOOLD. I took my 15°C sleeping back and thought it would be enough... I mean last year it was and anyway, it's supposed to be summer! I put on some more cloth and got back to sleep.... Tomorrow would be an even bigger day!
Pics of the day:
Here is the woodplace I mentionned. I like the work they do! Looks even better with a GS next to it.
Here is some work they were working on. the picture of the dog was right next to it
Lunch for one... Everything you cook under some real fire in nature tastes delicious!
The crowd was waiting to rumble! On the other side was the same amount of fans waiting!
The beginning of the end? Would be a good "excuse" to change the read fender...
Day 7 (12/8/12): ~0km – Total 1160km
Today motivation woke me up. I headed down to the next store and bought some milk, müsli for breakfast and then some nice sausages with vegetables for lunch. I thought it would be a nice moment to inform the receptionist that I already slept a night in their camping... oops... did I forget? I told them a story about how late I arrived and that I was a french dude with only some little knowledge in german. I really do a nice fake french accent!
Anyway I headed back to my tent to have my breakfast when I suddenly heard a woman complain. Nothing special you would say... but she was starting an argue with her husband... again nothing special... but they were french and had some gray hair and as I said before, motivation woke me up that morning. The man had problems fixing his bicycle. “If you don't know how to do it, don't touch it!”... Ah women, always the right words to cheer you up! I took my leatherman and proposed my help. After some dirty minutes I fixed the bike and we got into a chat.
They were retired and decided to do some trips on their bikes. They had the same destination as me: Prague but they'd have 2 days more to ride. They told me about a convention that would take place in September with some globetrotters telling their stories and showing their pictures on big screen.
I liked their spirit “I don't need money to ride a mountain bike and I don't pollute the nature”. We agreed that cars sucked and had a coffee together. I told them about my trip and made some advertising about ADVrider :o). I took a picture of them and gave them my e-mail address and told them to write me as soon as they had finished their journey.
After that conversation I looked at my watch and it was nearly time to leave. I ate a sausage and decided to do some washing. Here is some advice if you have aluminum panniers and you are in a camping where the showers aren't for free(!). Go next to the washing room and take the hot water from there and fill up the top of your box. Go back to the shower cabin and wash yourself. Really I don't see why showers aren't for free! First time I see that, even for a cold one you have to pay. They ask 1€ for 5 minutes! I took my times and washed my dirty clothes too.
Soon I was ready to jump on my bike to head to the concert place. I didn't want to be the last guy in line and since I already did 3 of their concerts I knew that if I wasn't there at 2pm, I would be one of the last people in line.
When I got there some people already sat on the ground waiting like me 7pm to start. I met a nice couple: Frank and Simona. They had 2 kids and took their day off to see die ärzte. This guy was amazing, he taught me a valuable lesson for life. Always take a newspaper with you. We had to wait for 4 hours and I was glad to have some of his articles. He took some great videos of the concert, I'll post a link later.
The concert itself was breathtaking. Best one in my 7 year "career". The for-band was really really strange but in a good way. Bonaparte, look it up. It's like 20 artists, 5 of them playing tunes and the rest are acting on scene. We were lucky to have them since the day before Bonaparte were on a festival and there was no pre-band.
At the end I bought the mp3 stick of the concert and headed back “home”.
The next day would be Prague... wow I'm excited to drive in that country!
Pics of the day:
A very nice couple, I hope to hear from them.
I think ADV isn't ready to see me naked yet so let's start with a nice shower place... leave the rest to imagination :o)
I hate paying for stuff... especially for showers!
Ah... laundry day :o) I looooove those boxes!
Newspaper on a concert: Great idea isn't it?!
Here is the link to Bonaparte: Y'ou'll be able to see Simona then me (at 23sec :o)
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