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Old 10-22-2009, 08:42 PM   #1
Marco Moto OP
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Talking Europe 2009: old friends, new places

It has been two years, two years since the last time I went home to Livorno, Italy, my hometown. I live in Michigan since 2001 and, don’t get me wrong, I love this place, my family and my friends, but going back home is something that I must do every chance I get, because of many reasons, but mainly because I have learned that unfortunately I might not get a second chance to see the ones I care about.


A hop and a skip ($890.00 + 15 hours) and I’m home:



























I am lucky to be able to get a month off from work, a month seems like a long time, but I assure you it’s never enough. I have learned over the years not to try to visit “everybody” during the action-packed month back home, but instead to try to dedicate as much time as I can to a few close friends and of course, to my family.
This thought, along with the fact that I have never rode a motorcycle in Europe, outside of Italy, led me to this adventurous ride with my two close friends Claudio, from Lyon, France (Honda Transalp 600) and Lorenzo from Livorno, Italy (Honda Hornet 600). I haven’t seen Lorenzo since 2007 and Claudio since 2002, this seems like a great opportunity to catch up and have a good time , here we go: 3600 miles in twelve days through Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany and Switzerland, looking for nothing but ourselves.









to be continued...
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Old 10-23-2009, 03:02 PM   #2
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Old 10-23-2009, 03:13 PM   #3
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Hi Marty, I'm glad somebody's watching, enjoy!
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Old 10-23-2009, 04:52 PM   #4
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Me too!!
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Old 10-23-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
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to Lyon and beyond!

Now on a somewhat sad note: this is what I ride in America:








…I’d love to take the V-Max for this trip but I can’t afford the shipping bill: $1,750 one-way, definitely not in my budget, I am going to pack light, My brother’s XT 600 is in great shape and apparently “was a great deal”, he installed new tires for me, got it all tuned up and ready… but…




….























..











.










It’s one of those models from the 90’s in PINK!!!














Well that sucks... but! The XT is a great, reliable bike, and it’s FREE , it’ll do and I'm sure it's going to be fun on the Alps.

The first day will be the longest stretch, mostly autostrada, the "tollway" so we can get to Lyon tonight, I pack the bike and meet at Lorenzo’s place, he lives just five minutes away from my parent’s house:







It’s raining but not too hard, I’m ready to go…


Marco: …rain covers?


Lorenzo: …don’t have ‘em.


M: Did you change the oil?


L: Why? What’s wrong with the oil that’s in there?


M: How’s that rear tire?


L: It's got some miles left.










…..........

nessun problema!










M: ...good! , you haven't changed a bit!




Unfortunately our days are limited and we have to be in Lyon by this evening to meet with Claudio. The weather is pretty crappy but we don't care, we head for the Alps and the Frejus tunnel:




Beware of the “peage” or “pedaggio” or “toll”!!! Riding the toll-way in Italy and France can get very expensive: 75 Euros later we are in Lyon, welcomed by our great host and travel companion, Claudio and his well-farkled Transalp 600:









Day 2: breakfast with excellent espresso and local specialties: Pan au Chocolat and Croissants, delicious!



Today we are visiting Lyon, this is my first time in France and I love the way the drivers let the motorcyces through! Oops, whas that supposed to be a secret?












Kebabalogue is the best in town!














check it out: www.demeureduchaos.org





This next one makes a lot of sense in Michigan...





After a good night of rest it’s time to get on the road again, we are headed north to Dijon, our destination for tonight will be whatever campground we can find in the vicinity of the Belgian border...



Not many pics of the road, we left late and needed to crunch as many miles as we could, going through all the villages was pretty scenic but the intense traffic made it time consuming. We arrive at this nice campgroud near Dijon:




leave it to the Italians:




All that pork late in the evening came back to bite my ass, I had nightmares that night, better keep it lighter tomorrow .



:)


Tomorrow we start heading to the hills of north-eastern France and we shall try to manage to get to Bastogne, Belgium. My friend Fred is a WWII enthusiast, he told me many stories about the Battle of the Bulge. I'd like to go check out this town...
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:32 PM   #6
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Lucky to be able to enjoy riding in both the old world and here! But riding in Europe can't be beat

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Old 10-23-2009, 06:53 PM   #7
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Lucky indeed, I won't deny GB!


Thanks for joining neighbors!
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:49 AM   #8
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This looks interesting! I'm in.
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Old 10-26-2009, 09:56 AM   #9
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thanx for taking the time to do the RR..

Moremore...
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But if we stop making foolish things, we get old to fast...(that goes for foolish nicknames too... )
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Old 10-26-2009, 10:21 AM   #10
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great start ..........
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Old 10-29-2009, 12:57 PM   #11
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Nice report so far, looking forward to more
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Old 10-29-2009, 07:04 PM   #12
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day 3: Belgium and beyond!

Breakfast time, we ordered it at the reception the night before, this is what it looked like:



the smell of the freshly baked bread was unbelievable... all of this, with coffee and orange juice for 6 euros, not bad!

Well, boys, it's a beautiful day, our bellies are full, what do you say?



Heading North Through Chaumont and Bar-le-duc, destination Bastogne, Belgium:





















We all agreed this was the perfect riding road, the best so far. Curvy and smooth with no traffic, I was pushing it quite a bit and the XT was fun on the curves, so nimble, truly a fantastic ride. Then I don’t see Claudio anymore, I turn around and there he is with a rear flat:





Fancy pants has road assistance so here’s the tow truck:




Just joking:




He said the tire went down really fast, no kidding, check out the tube:




Weird. I have never seen a tube splitting like that. No nails or anything in the tire, could it have been a defective tube or was it overinflated? Claudio says he was right at 1.9…

We’ve lost a couple of hours with this flat tire business; we have to settle around here for the night, TomTom finds us a nice campground near Marville, where the main attraction of the area, an artificial lake, was dry because of a dam failure. The owner could not open for the whole season, but he lets us stay for the night, we are the only ones here and it only cost 12 Euros for the three of us (hot shower and all), sweet, that’s my style! Merci Monsieur!





Dinner will have to be out tonight, we’ve got here pretty late and there’s no open grocery store: there’s only one restaurant in this small picturesque village. Dinner is going to be an experience for me, truly my first one ever in France. We started with a nice local pinot noir:




Then Quiche Loren, excellent!




Claudio spoke highly of the “anguiette”, they had it here, so I had to try it:




Sadly I didn’t like it that much, it reminded me of what pee might taste like. Claudio said that it wasn’t too good either, oh well, the rice was good, and so were the fresh homemade fries and the Dijon mustard, of course!
The cheeses are incredible, the waitress leaves the tray on the table and we dig in, if you like soft cheeses these are for sure the best you can have. I especially enjoyed the orange one, it would melt in our mouth, too bad I can’t remember the name…



In the morning, while Claudio deactivates the (darn) internet before crossing into Belgium, Lorenzo and I head out to scope the nearby Marville:













then North , and Belgium it is:







From here we head to Bastogne, famous pivot point of the WWII Battle of the Bulge, McAuliffe square and the “Sherman” tank welcome us to this cute and chaotic town filled with American memorials





















Yours truly, obviously trying to compensate for the pink bike:









Then, Le "Mardasson": the Battle of the Bulge is remembered here:








view from the top:












After this visit we are out, we are not planning on seeing much of Belgium at this time, we head directly for the Netherlands.
The ride wasn't anything spectacular, but I really liked riding through Antwerpen. This city is located in Belgium, but the people clearly feel Dutch: they speak french and dutch and the street signs are written in dutch, a quite shocking and amazing mix of the two cultures.

We only stop for gas, arriving in Dishoek in the evening; the campground’s restaurant is still open, but the menu is only written in Dutch. The corteous staff helps us with the order: good luck with that thing Lorenzo!




Lorenzo’s chicken kebab is actually not bad, but the peanut/ketchup/lemon/curry/whatever sauce is not bad either, just not very flavorful.

My dish was pretty good, mussels and vegetables in curry sauce, I don't have a pic of Claudio's dish, but it was an excellent plate of shrimp ("gamba", in dutch).





This Campground in Dishoek was the most equipped and clean I have ever seen, located right behind the magnificent dunes of Zeeland and the Atlantic ocean.





















What a great team. Even after all these years we still get along great, and our daily needs are very similar. This is the moment when we realize we will do this again...


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Old 10-29-2009, 08:10 PM   #13
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day 5: Zeeland

This campground is excellent, the staff is very cordial and so are the other campers, mostly germans. We are the only ones on motorcycles. We decide to check out the surroundings and stay here for a couple of days.
Claudio is a very talented professional percussionist; here he is studying with some thimbles:



Check him out here: http://triodebubar.net/Accueil.html
And here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x874u0_deplace-zad-moultaka_creation
In the morning while Lorenzo goes for a walk along the dunes, Claudio and I decide to go check out Vlissingen and its surroundings
















Back to camp after buying fresh groceries at the town's farmer's market, this is what we find:





Poor Lorenzo got lost! He must have walked for ten miles along the shore, when he gets back he’s tired, hungry and sunburned, the joke is on him today, but we’re glad he made it back!


After some rest, dinner and coffee, it’s time to paint the town











Every corner of Zeeland reminds you of the constant battle against the ocean and its tides. These people are amazingly ingenious and courageous.



I think she is waiting for her man to come back from the sea. Reminds me of my wife waiting for me to come home from across the ocean.








why don't we build these anymore? Oh yeah, oil...




We didn’t mean to be this badass, the locals were scared of us and also for some reason everybody thought we were spanish… it’s gotta be these guys’s hair!














This arcade by the harbor was full of cool and a bit creepy vintage games and marionettes, I loved it.





fusbol table:








see honey, no strippers!





from this point forward, after hitting a couple of bars, the night got a little blurry...






inside some bar...




...tomorrow we are packing and riding even further North. Not too early though... I might need some sleep...




...good night.

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Old 10-31-2009, 09:01 AM   #14
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...in the mornig we pack up and leave this campground, we are pushing forward North, our destination for tonight will be Rotterdam.





a few miles an we stop for breakfast, Uitsmijter is quasi-american, delicious!





one of the massive dams designed to keep the ocean waters at bay


























the weather turns crappy as soon as we roll in the campground, I hate setting up the tent while it's raining but the big tarp we bought in Dishoek helps a lot





coffee and a break, waiting for he rain to slow down...






the rain comes and goes, we decide to go into town on the bus: the stop is just a few hundred feet from the campground's entrance

Into Rotterdam:



















...no comment:








the Dutch have no fear when it comes to architecture











the weather is still kind of crappy, back to camp for food and sleep, and tomorrow we are visiting Leiden and Den Haag before heading back south.



Leiden











in Den Haag




this city is an incredible mix of old and new, rich and minimalist at the same time...










...since we are here I really want to stop nearby to visit who I believe is one of the most creative thinkers of our time: meet Mr. Theo Jansen, his WindLab, and his creatures, the "StrandBeest":


































...nobody was there as we arrived, then, all of the sudden, this little white puddle shows op and Mr. Theo in person right behind him! What a gentleman he is, he wants us to see the lab, even though a TV crew is starting to show up for an interview. We shoot the shit for a while then group picture and off we go, trying to see if we can find the creatures by the beach...





When I grow up I want to be like him
















...couldn't find them, the beach is endless, I wish I could ride on it, oh well I saw the videos... let's get something to eat.


"gamba", fries (with mayo, not ketchup) and, of course, local beer!













at this point we need to crunch some miles, we head south towards Germany, but a torrential downpour forces us to a stop. We are geared for light rain, but this is way too much rain for our equipment. We are completely drenched, I mean, soaked all the way to the socks, we find this campground and splurge on a heated cabin, it's only 36 euros for the night! Just what we needed.














the nearby grocey store has fresh salmon and whitefish, they have this portable charcoal grill for 10 euros.










...tomorrow we will try to make it to the Alps, we decided to go through two passes and we need a day just for those, I can't wait to get to Switzerland!
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:13 AM   #15
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