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Old 10-18-2013, 07:07 AM   #61
eightup OP
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Location: Arkansas
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To Paris

After leaving Omaha Beach we saddled back up and headed south to Paris. After accidentally heading too far into the city once, we stop to find some wifi and a campground. Thank god for Mcdonald's and free wifi. From our campsite it was a short train ride to the middle of the city.

The Gare Du Nord train station in Paris


Useful tidbit perhaps: The automated ticket machines take coins and European credit cards (all three of our cards would not work). There is not one that takes paper Euros. If you happen to return late and all the ticket windows are closed, I hope you have coins. The bars in Paris tend to close around 2am and that's a pretty big gap between time where you could be drinking and time between the first train. We spent the night on Paris' streets










Notre Dame was impressive to say the least. All of the architecture in Paris was but the finer points of Notre Dame really stood out.





We spent 4 days in Paris sight seeing, 2 of those days I happened to be sick for. I blame the addition of the woman.



Of course we went to the Louvre and spent a solid day there. Although I think it would take a week or so to see everything. We had to almost fight our way through a crowd of 200-300 people in a room to see the Mona Lisa. I really didn't expect it to be so small. They had about a 10ft perimeter established around it and the glass made a picture difficult.

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Old 10-18-2013, 07:13 AM   #62
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We of course had to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I really wish I had a camera that would take panoramic shots because almost all of Paris was viewable from the top.



Views from the top:









Nothing like a cloudy day for big shots

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Old 10-18-2013, 07:29 AM   #63
eightup OP
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Vincent Van Gogh

After packing up camp outside of Paris we headed off to see the grave of Vincent Van Gogh. He is buried in his home town, Auvers-sur-Oise, in the town cemetery. The whole town is kind of centered around Vincent. With numerous museums and parks around town. Definitely worth checking out if you are into that sort of thing.

His grave marker.


After visiting his grave we hit the road again and headed north towards Amsterdam. We used windmills to judge when we were getting close


All the stories about Amsterdam are true. We found a campsite in the city near a train station and decided we should stay. Would have been forever but money didn't allow for that. We would go find us a cafe and smoke it out then take off on foot to explore the city. I watched a father explain to his two young boys (around 8 and 10) what the red light district was and then proceed to take them there so they could see.

I also didn't grab a lot of pictures while we were here. Sorry guys.

After 4 days in Amsterdam it was time for her to fly home and my bike to get returned to Germany. She was lucky enough to have a 12 hour lay over in Sweden at the time I didn't know I would be having to do the same thing a week later.

Riding from the Netherlands back to Germany, I was cruising on a main road and this black Mercedes station wagon pulls in front of me and a sign lights up in the back. I'm pretty sure it said "Police. Follow" or something to that degree. No flashing lights or anything so I had my doubts right up until an officer stuck his head out of the window and motioned to a rest stop. I obliged and it was quickly made aware that I don't speak German. Some badges were shown and they explained they were looking for drugs. This is where it gets funny. I stored all of my clothes in a dry bag and had just went about 2.5 weeks without washing anything. It was rank. In fact, that's probably an understatement. When I opened that bag for the police to search they quickly wrapped things up and were on their way. I did my best to hide my laughter.

The rest of the return trip was uneventful. I dropped off the motorcycle at Knopf Tours to be shipped back along with the riding gear. Booked a plane ticket home, with a 12 hour lay over in Sweden, and went through the most vigorous border crossing yet to get back into the states.
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Old 10-18-2013, 07:43 AM   #64
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Summary

I enjoyed the shit out of this trip and I cannot wait to go again. In hindsight I do feel like I travelled too quickly though and didn't take the time to fully immerse myself in the culture. If I were to do it again it would only be one or two countries for a couple months. Plenty of time to learn the language, the cultural differences per region, and stuff like that.

The route: Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and back to Germany.

All in all I covered around 15k miles I think.

My favorite parts were Russia and the last couple weeks when I had someone to travel with. Travelling alone got boring after a week or two. While I don't think I could convince her to get back on the DRZ, I see more trips in our future together. Maybe by train this time. I will save the motorcycle for me

While I was in the planning stage, my family was worried about me travelling through Ukraine and Russia. Thanks to this forum I already had a pretty good idea that those parts of the world weren't bad or unsafe. It took more common sense and street smarts than driving around in America did but I never felt "unsafe" or threatened. I met helpful people all throughout my travels and it helped restore a bit of faith in humanity.

I have had a decent amount of survival and medical training so being in the wilderness didn't bother me. It did draw a lot of curiosity from other travellers when I mentioned that I had no phone, gps, or spot beacon. I knew the risks associated and having a GPS would have made things a lot easier but there is no greater freedom than knowing your route is East. All the finer details I made up as I went. I probably missed a lot that way but at the same time I saw a lot that I would have missed if I followed a planned route.

Hopefully you all have enjoyed following along with me. I apologize for my lack of writing skills and that it took so long to complete this.

If anyone has any questions, whether it be about shipping, border crossings, campsites, or anything else, please don't hesitate to ask. I'm not claiming to be an expert but I picked up a few things here and there. Or you could just wing it
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:05 AM   #65
eightup OP
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The Motorcycle

My trusty 2006 DRZ400S, Nicole. A few people said the DRZ would be too small and it was for 2up travel. When I was solo it was perfect. Small enough to pick up easily (which I did a lot), reliable though she had a few hick-ups I never felt stranded, and excellent range with the 4 gallon tank. A lot of the limitations I reached weren't necessarily because of the bike but because I didn't have a lot of riding experience and I was alone in some remote places. Although there were some parts in Finland where I would have liked to travel faster than 85mph.

A few changes I plan on making before the next trip:

Upgrade the headlight. I was scared driving at night and avoided it at all costs.

More durable luggage racks. Those won't be breaking next time.

Ditching the hard luggage. While it was nice and secure, after a certain point I no longer worried about stuff getting stolen.

Pack better. I brought too much stuff and regretted it.

Windscreen. This would have been helpful. I could only tuck in so much when it rained.



My riding gear was pretty basic compared to some on here.

Cortech gx 3.0 riding jacket. It would soak through after a couple hours in the rain but was a champ in every light drizzle. I carried all the documents in a ziplock bag in the chest pocket and they never got wet. It did what it was suppose to protection wise. I walked away with very few scratches after my lowside. I used the liner while I was far north and it would keep hypothermia from setting in with a fleece underneath. Still chilly but not unbearable.

Tour Master Caliber pants. They would soak through where the water would sit in my lap and condensation would build up in the pockets. The leg zippers were a life saver when it got hot and I would only ditch the pants if I was off the bike for a long time. Otherwise they were cool enough to wear. Protection wise they work. Slight scrape on my knee and the legs were even partially unzipped. The armor stays in place and does its job well.

For thick gloves I used Cortech Scarab winter gloves and man were they nice. They would keep out the water and insulate quite well. If they do get damp though the liner likes to stick to your fingers and make for difficult removal and putting them on.

My lightweight gloves were Cortech Accelerator 3 gloves. They breath a lot and went on as soon as the weather warmed up or once the rain stopped. Not quite enough dexterity to fish coins or keys out of pockets but maybe its an acquired skill.

My boots were just some old combat boots that I picked up while in the military. Not the best protection wise but I think it was a good compromise between safety and comfort. Considering I wore those boots while exploring all the big cities. I only wished they were a bit more waterproof. My feet were always the first thing to get wet.
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Old 10-18-2013, 02:03 PM   #66
jorrizza
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That sure was a nice read. Thanks! I'll definitely buy you a beer next time around, then.
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Old 10-27-2013, 02:51 AM   #67
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Great RR, thank you
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:30 PM   #68
babar69
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Laugh great !!

t
Quote:
Originally Posted by eightup View Post
Starting Point: Rockenhausen, Germany

Heading east through the winding roads of what I assume was wine country my worries slowly started to wane away. The weather was beautiful, the roads were perfect, the contrasting colors of the fields were breathtaking, and I knew just enough about the road signs to keep me out of trouble. My only itinerary was that I would like to be entering Russia on the 20th.

In my south eastern route I stumbled upon the ruins of the Limburg Abbey



Country side from an overlook:




Some where along the 200km mark, I noticed that a tab had sheared off on the right side cargo rack. With no real way to repair it, the luggage was readjusted, and the rack discarded.

As the sun was setting, I started hunting for a camp site. I found what I thought was a suitable location in the woods, away from any paved road and a good 200 meters from any dirt road, with plenty of brush to cover the line of sight from the road. Standing around for a few minutes to reminisce on the day and oil the chain I heard a branch crack. Thinking to myself how funny it would be to meet a bear or something on the first night out, I was relieved to realize it was only a dog. It just so happened that attached to the dog was an older gentleman carrying a crossbow and double barrel shotgun. It had just become a party!

I donned my best smile and prepared for the worst. After explaining my lack of German, I was relieved that he knew a bit of English. I explained my intentions for the night and he was kind enough to explain the wild pig problem in the area. Hence crossbow and shotgun. I thanked him and promptly relocated to a more suitable location about 30km away.

Ending point: Unknown
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