Europe On My Lil V7 Guzzi

HippoDrone

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When I left the Royal Navy and having a job sorted with a bit of time spare in between I decided to bite the bullet and go do somit I'd wanted to do for years: A trip round Europe.

I got the ferry from Dover to Calais then travelled through France to Switzerland, down to Italy then back through France to Spain and ferry from Bilbao to Portsmouth.

The original route would have been about 1600miles riding so if I averaged 200miles a day it should have been easy :)

Am only took a toothbrush, a spare set of underwear and a sleeping bag and small single person tent plus a small backpack and my wallet, oh and if I got lost following my nose a satnav.



Lord Vader had the biggest tank range and more comfortable than my other bike at the time (Kawasaki ZX636R) so was the obvious choice for the trip.

All packed:


The rest of this is taken from my journal through the trip:
 

HippoDrone

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Jan 2, 2017
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Europe, Day 1. Crawley (UK) to Connantre (France) - 333miles

Gonna be a tough first night as it seems the only restaurant/bar in the village is closed. No shops either. It is 8pm now France time and I don't know where the nearest shop that would be open is. The ride so far has been mainly on motorways (tolls are gonna get expensive!), may try to adjust any route for tomoz if possible to avoid them. It rained a couple of times just to let me remember I have no waterproofs lol :D I'm pretty tired now so may just kip and grab a decent breakfast tomoz.



















 

HippoDrone

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Europe, Day 2&3. Connantre (France) - Cannobio (Italy) - 450miles

Woke up to cookoos and birds chirping, slept well once I got to sleep. Can't wait to get some food! So far ridden 350 miles today, I thought I was good to keep going until I got off the bike to eat. I think I am a little overwhelmed by it all, I thought the highlight of today was going to be the French Alps, but sitting here at the moment looking at the Swiss Alps from the bottom of them has just blown me away. The French Alps are like a down/uphill Motogymkhana! :D Am currently in 2 minds: Try and cross the Alps today so that my clothes get a chance to dry out before Italy or to see if I can get a room here for the night and attack the Alps fresh tomoz. I am almost 300 miles ahead of schedule so may stop here and enjoy a few beers! :p ....Ok, well hotel fail, had me head off into the Alps, I could see ahead that it was torrential rain and was bracing myself to get very cold and very very wet, then someone built a tunnel pretty much everytime it rained a tunnel appeared except one longer stretch where the heavens opened, I was shivering and soaked until one more tunnel appeared; a 17km tunnel that was 35'C so not only did I completely dry out, I was now too hot! :D When I emerged out the other side there was blue skys and the ambient temp was 20'C, a few miles later it was 21 and so it rose to a peak of 28'C just before the Italian border so I am so glad I continued on with the ride. I am now way ahead of schedule with nearly 800 miles covered in just 2 days. I only have 1000 to go and 8 full days riding to do them so tomoz is a day off from riding except around town. Tonight's campsite is lovely, the owner speaks good English... a LOT lol, there is a bar which will entertain me tonight so cheers! (hic) After a couple I headed over to a recommended pizzaria, fortunately the food and beer is good because my bad Italian (thanks google translator) is getting me very funny looks from the waitress lol :D .....OMG, I have just seen the girl I want to marry, looks like P!nk but 10yrs younger with black hair and such a sexy smile! :p I have love heart shaped food thing, she should have it but has gone now damn it! I had a lay in and got up around 8am, am glad I robbed some toilet roll from the restaurant! Stopped at the bar/cafe where I saw the woman of my dreams for a double expresso which I drank in the glorious warm sunshine then popped back to my tent to grab some sun lotion and went for a wander. The campsite ownder (Pedro I think his name is) told me there was a market in town which I nearly bought a lovely cotton shirt but it'd get trouncedif I wore it and get relegated to the unwearable pile on my return. After the market I strolled upstream where people were fly fishing and there was a bridge which wobbled lots. My ankle is a little sore with the walking now so have found a bar to have a rest of it, one cappachino and an icecream and my ankle is recovered so I headed back to the campsite. I popped out on Lord Vader for a short while but didn't go far. Time to chill with a beer at midday, maybe go for another stroll this afternoon, or maybe just have another beer. The site owner speaks 6 languages, kinda puts my one and a bit to shame, I was so embarrassed last night buying the pizza. BUCKET LIST: try and learn at least 2 languages to a level that will stop me feeling like I did last night, French makes sense as is the way into the continent, not sure if Spanish, Italian or Germon should be the other? I think Spanish would be most useful but Italy is so nice, I def want to visit again if this lil place is an accurate dipiction of the rest of Italy? [need a fix of a status update]Such a good idea doing this trip[/need a fix of a status update] I think I may be a little sunburnt, not currently looking pink but got that feeling of the familiar sting on my face, I wish I had my sunglasses, never packed them as didn't want to break them. 200miles a day is too easy, I hope I get to do this again soon, when I do I think 300 miles a day (with my mentality nd me on my own) is a good pace. Think my lack of want or need to organise visits to places may annoy potential compadres from this style of travel tho! Gatta say this tho - RUKKA... Shmucker, def right choice jeans and jacket; ty Mic :D (that pic you posted made that choice for me! "sending out an SOS" is on the radio... no its not its "walking on the moon". Am so chilled, have not felt this relaxed in so long, I 100% approve of holidays now! :D. I wonder if I shared this experience with someone I'd feel the same? I'd love to be able to but the stepping away fom it all is so nice to not need to worry if my choices contradict someone elses. Oh, Pedro is actually called Marco and he is an incredably wise man! I am not used to having this much time to myself.... I guess having someone with me would reduce this time, in a good way as I would be able to do their thing as well as my own, but would I then not be relaxing properly? Stafford, what was it I was not supposed to eat? coz I think I just ate it lol, I feel dirty inside! I had my dinner back at the same place as last night, my Italian still sucked but it was better and the same waitress served me and was surprised I had come back, she chatted to me after my meal too which was nice.... I knew she could speak more English than she portrayed lol. So many happy vibes today, so glad I came on this trip. It is still only early eve, I will pay my bar/campsite bill when I get back so I can head off to Milan as soon as I wake in the morrow.... Milan, Monaco and that road I found await! :D TOP f**kING TIMES.... Best thing ever! I am sad I was unable to make it to Australia this break but didn't know I had a job until this month so could not sort it or justify it without a future pay packet. Love and miss you JimJam! In th mean time; beer, beer then sleep ready for tomorrows new adventures. Marco was away so I found another bar to say goodnight to this part of the adventure, I am glad to an extent as it has let me contemplate this trip so far and how I might do it again. The sun has set one final time on this beautiful part of my trip. I will miss you Canobio :)









 

HippoDrone

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Europe, Day 4. Cannobio (Italy) to Genoa[ish] (Italy) 250miles

I woke up nice and early so I could munch some miles and see the lake and mountains as the sun rose through them. It really is a breathtaking part of the world, I wish I could have taken so many photos but to take them all would fill my memory card over and over and I'd never get any riding done. I travelled round the lake then south to Milan and on route I went up one of the mountains on an almost perfect supermoto road which hopefully I captured on my GoPro. Lord Vader likes these roads; the sweepy winding roads through the mountains, the super twisty hairpins when climbing the mountains and it really loves the coastal/lake roads. It doesn't like citys tho. Not one bit. The clutch was struggling and the engine was getting hot. Because of this Milan and Monza were covered with a little frustration and I didn't really get a chance to enjoy the cities. when I got out of them and started heading south again the roads were perfect tightly twisting duel carriageways and the temp went up from a chilly 18'C at 8am to a lovely toasty 28'C as I reached the coast of Genoa. I had to get some fluids in me so stopped at the beach for a small beer, then a bottle of water, removed some clothes as now had way too much on. My face was feeling a bit burnt but wasn't painfully so and I had been keeping the sun lotion on it. From Genoa I headed west desperately looking for a campsite which there were none but I perseverred and jumped off the coast road to "Ali-Barbar" campsite which looked lovely although seemed only set up for motorhomes and caravans and was told they had no room, I soon found another site tho, which again was only set up for campervans so the ground was rock solid and my tent pegs would not go in. adapt and overcome was the name of the game so I tied the tent to a fence which just about did the job for a night. the heat was wearing me down so I had to stay here. I went for a wander once I was set up to find some food and eventually found a pizza place and had a yummy "peppers-only" pizza... damn my pish accent lol. The saving grace of the campsite was it had WiFi so I was finally able to hook up to the world :D

























 

HippoDrone

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Europe, Day 5. Liguria (Italy) - Sanery-Sur-Mer (France) 207miles

I felt like I had covered far more than just 207 miles, but the speed limits were very low so I guess that may explain the slower progress! I was glad to get on the road and away from the campsite, WiFi is nice but I didn't really like the town. I put Monaco in my sights for a late breakfast and I was very hungry by the time I got there, I also wanted to ride some of the F1 track there but try as I might I couldn't find my way onto the circuit to do so as the roads were so busy you could not afford to be looking for road signs when above ground and then below ground there is a maze of roads and junctions to navigate through which was proper surreal! :D I generally do love the way the Italians drive, they are crazy but also actually quite observant, in France the are just crazy and ignorant! lol as my belly was turning inside out I really wanted some food but Monaco was just too crazy for me so I continued onwards to Nice where I had some amazing eggs. I had a daudle back along the beach after what was now lunch as it had taken so long to eat. The bends along the south of France are amazing at times and west of Nice they were beyong expectations. There were no campsites on route so I headed off the coast road and about 5km later found a loverly campsite with posh looking restaurant and bar and even had a pool! As I entered the reception two beautiful lasses greated me with a smile and spoke to me in English, I tried speaking in French but they found it easier to stick with English. The lasses were so pretty I actually walked into the door three times while talking to them lol. Once I had my tent pitched I went to the bar where I just managed to get a beer before it shut, and also noticed the restaurant was closed so I asked the manager where I could eat and she suggested in town, unfortunately we couldn't get a cab for me but the manager drove my into town so I could get some food and a few beers. The bar I went to said it served food but it was all lies, they did sort me a snack tho and a beer as big as my head! :p I thought I was able to drink 2 but only got halfway through the second before asking the waitor to call me a cab, this was when the floor in the plan became apparent... no bloody taxis! My phone was nearly out of juice so I had a quick skeg at google maps and wandered off in what I thought was the right direction.... It wasn't and I ended up twinging my ankle stumbling down a stupidly dark road in the middle of no where trying desperately to find the campsite which I did manage in the end :D I got back to the campsite with just 100% battery left... not bad timing! :D As it was so warm I grabbed a shower and thought I'd wash me grots while I was at it, I hang them up to dry on my bike but it rained on them so they never dried. The rain stopped but I had a feeling it would return judging by the clouds and I had no 35'C tunnels on route to dry me out :D I delayed packing the tent as long as I dared so it dried a bit but not much.































 

HippoDrone

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Europe, Day 6. Sannery-Sur-Mer (France) to Narbon Plage (France)

300+ miles estimated. Yes I was right, am now rather soggy but I have done well with the weather up until now. I have also discovered that my satnav knows where campsites hide so I needent have upset my ankle last night on the way home! Downside to rain is my tent is almost as wet inside as it is outside, I have put bin bags under my sleeping bag so should be mostly dry. Todays ride was mostly pretty dull tbh but it got me here and Barcelona is only a days ride from here now :) It is now 6pm and still raining, too early to go to bed so gonna mooch to town for a beer. I had snails for lunch and some weird battered fish full of bones. snails are a bit like squid which sort of makes sense I guess, I expected them to be warm tho although the shells were so they had been cooked (I hope lol). The beer was good, there was a pic of boobies and bums on the wall and I had some top company ; Bernardo who was a sailor and Fredrico who owned a tabac, we all got shedded and they made me feel very welcome, they even invited me to a festival in a town called Gruissan but I don't think I have the time to jiggle the route about to be able to make it. It really was an awesome night out and I really thank them for introducing themselves to me :)





















 

HippoDrone

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Europe, Day 7, 8, 9. Narbon Plage (France) - Barcelona (Spain)

200 miles ish. Am stopping here for 2 nights(ish). After last nights beers I had a lil lay in, my tent has mostly dried out on the inside but the drizzle in the morning had kept the outside wet so when the rain stopped I packed up leisurely to give the wind a chance to dry it some. Once I was ready tho I set off heading south ish.... I had 2 route options, the easy way along the coast or go through the mountains. I chose the mountains. If the sun had been out this would have been an amazing ride, however it was already overcast and as I got nearer to them I could see it was going to be a slow and wet ride. As I got into the mountains it was raining and as I got higher and higher it got harder and harder and colder. I stopped in a village for breakfast and could hardly get off the bike, I found a public toilet and put on my thermals which instantly warmed me up, I had a couple of croissants from a very lovely lady :p and once again set off but quickly found myself regretting the choice of route. The temp went down to 4'C and visibility in the clouds was at best 30m (although with tinted goggles that was 20m) and hairpin bends with squared off tyres in the wet made me very slow and wobbly, my average speed was about 25mph and I was actually fearful of what could go wrong up there. I fortunately packed my yellow lensed goggles which helped me see better in the clouds but it was still pretty scary. I had my satnav zoomed in to give me as much detail as possible. I stopped at a lonely pertol station, not to fuel the bike but to get some chocolate in me as my energy levels were totally zapped. The ride down the other side was a little nicer and warmer 7'C, the rain dried off some too. I really needed a wee and some fluids so stopped at a town and noticed all the number plates on the cars were Spanish.... WELCOME TO SPAIN PT! :D I rechecked my route to Barcelona and once on the motorway I got my head down and motored on, eventually the rain stopped but the roads remained wet all the way to Barcelona. I had dried out tho and once the sun came out in Barcelona it also warmed up too. I searched out a campsite on my satnav but missed the turning which caused me to end up in this lovely site, 3*, decent shop and bar and restaurant, and toilet roll and sit down loos.... I dont want to talk about the stupid squatting ones where you have to hover and aim! :O lol. I grabbed a beer and headed to the private beach! :D A chap turned up later on a KTM Adventure who came and said hello, he is from Pompey and called John and is a fireman. He had just ridden up through Morrocco and was heading roughly the same way back as I had just done in reverse :) Said I'd meet him in the bar later if he was up for it. Thought I would try the food in the campsite's restaurant, it was quite odd there as it all looked posh but the food was not that good. I caught up with John later that eve in the bar for a natter. Found out we are dure some good weather and have decided to stay an extra night as I am loving it here. I went in the sea today, loads warmer than UK water but I was still squealing like a piggy! I was determined on my last full day here to go and do something so I got my satnav to point out some historic monuments, the first was a castle in a town but it was closed and didn't look all that. I then found another out of town so headed along these lovely winding roads till I got to the bottom of a bloody great big hill with some ruins at the top and an old chapple at the bottom. There was a really craggy path so I parked up and headed off along it :) The path became rather quickly pretty hard going and my recent lack of exercise, the heat and dehydration took its toll on me especially as I was carrying my lid and jacket. I had to stop several times on the way up. When I eventually made it to the top it was also closed but a Spanish family told me I could sneak around the fence and climb in round the corner so off I went. I followed the fence round and as there was no path and quite a drop I had to hold myself up on the fence at times to stop me slipping down the cliff. I soon found the gap under the fence and squirmed my way through it. The castle was very ruined but incredible to think when it was built they would have had to carry the bricks up possibly the same route I had just struggled with. The views and rock formations were totally amazing but I actually felt wobbly at the cliff face and had to lay down holding on to the ground to take any pictures as I was just getting dizzy. I am really gonna miss this campsite, the beach and the staff in the bar/restaurant. It was nice meeting John too and hearing about his KTM adventures. Hopefully catch up with him again if I ever head to Loomies and he ever finishes his adventure :)









 

HippoDrone

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Europe, Day 10. Barcelona (Spain) to Bilbao (Spain) - 380+miles

Not quite to the ferry port as still about 35min from there. This was a hard slog as I was so settled in the previous campsite, I also only wanted to pitch the tent once more so knew I had to get as close to the ferry port as I could in one hit so I could do as short a journey as possible to catch the ferry on the 21st. It was however in places the best part of the whole journey due to me wanting food and fuel so left the motorway into a sleepy village that just had a bar/restaurant and a petrol station, unfortunately they were both closed lol. My satnav now perked up once again and gave me a new route. I expected it to just take me back on to the motorway at the next junction, it had other ideas tho and OMG what a route! :D It took me back into the mountains and it really was breathtaking; it looked just like the old spaghetti westerns with beautiful rock formations, old bridges that were now forgotten and ruined, reservoirs, dams, rapids, kayaks, underwater trees... there were so many different birds of prey too, am sure I spooked an eagle which escorted me away from its nest flying at the same height as me no more than 10m away for over 50m or so, it was huge! :) Catherine, you would have loved the rapids, the kayaking looked so much fun :D. The water was beautiful and mesmerising as it was reflecting the colours of the sky with such an eary glow. As I got closer to another set of mountains the weather became more and more storm like and the temp dropped quite a bit. There was fresh snow on the peaks and it started to rain quite hard so I braced myself to get very cold and very wet.... then, once again, my awesome satnav for no reason at all sent me off the road I was on and took me around the clouds away from the rain until we had passed it, then about 10miles later it put me back on the original road beyond the reach of the bad weather! This holiday has been an amazing adventure, made so perfect by my rash (others may say stupid) choices and a total overwhelming amount of shear luck and good fortune. I honestly can't imagine how I have been so lucky, it makes no sense at all, but WOW, yes please, I'll take all the good luck going while it lasts! Even the route into the campsite had no open petrol stations until I really was worrying I was gonna run out with over 185 miles already ridden on the current tank full. I was doing everything I could to conserve fuel, even not slowing down for corners so I'd not have to accelerate again after. When I really thought there was no way it could keep running I came across a Repsol forecourt and filled up. Turned out I still had around 5l in the tank and could have probs gone another 60miles, but I didn't know that till then. What a bloody fantastic bike :) As I pulled into the campsite I was greeted by a thick Dublin accent and a smile, Paul and his lovely wife Clare,were just at the end of their holiday too so we shared stories and laughs and even their beer! :p Another chap called Trevor who was from London but now lives in Tenerife and an ex-Para heard us chatting so joined us too. It rained quite hard in the night but my tent kept the water out, it was soaking on the outside tho so really needs a good airing: "Look after your tent and your tent will look after you!" I am sure my dad taught me that? In times while I have been writing this diary I have honestly been close to tears of joy. If you love bikes and want to go on an adventure just go out and get it done! I am not saying leave your textiles/leathers/towel/spare clothes at home like I did (this was just how I wanted to do this trip), but just find a route and go explore! Thanks to Mic, Catherine, Marco, The owner of the campsite that gave me a lift, Bernardo and Fredrick, John, Paul and Clare, Trevor, Douglas, Bill and most of all my satnav that made the whole thing work out properly :D









 

HippoDrone

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Jan 2, 2017
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Europe, Day 11, 12. Bilbao (France) to Portsmouth (UK)

all good things come to an end, so this is the last album of my story.

To get to the ferry port I had to cross the river at Bilbao, they had a cablecar for cars, was awesome and so much faster than a chain ferry! :)





Getting ready to board



there were over 100 bikes all in on the ferry





and then we were off

















 

HippoDrone

Admin
Jan 2, 2017
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I ride a
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my cabin was far more spacious than the bunks on my last sub, and had a lovely on suite shower



I was a little concerned at our depth tho! lol







gotta have some food pics









nearly back on dry land. This is the Isle of Wight



I see no ships....

















This was just one hell of an amazing trip for me, made more special by being my first proper adult holiday. I would love to do similar again, I doubt I would get as lucky as I did with the weather though. Funnily enough, it was this trip that almost got me to hang up my leathers for good as riding in the UK is awful compared to this!
 

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