Europe - 9 Countries in 10 Days (From England to the Alps and Back)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Krime, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
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    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    While working in London England for 4 months last year, I had 10 vacation days set aside for September. There were two options, 1) fly back home to Toronto or 2) Have my girlfriend join me in London, rent my dream bike and ride it through Europe two up. The choice was clear - we'd meet in London and set out on what would be the most beautiful and inspirational ride I'd ever been on! All said and done we tallied up that we had passed through 9 countries in the 10 days on the road - and yes, this was after cutting down some of our original ambitions (thanks to pre-trip fellow ADV rider wisdom).

    The route took us from England - across France (including the D-Day beaches and Chablis) - Swiss Alps (too many mountain passes to count!) - Italy (including the Stelvio Pass) - Liechtenstein (unintentionally) - Germany (Lake Constance and the Black Forest) - Luxembourg - Belgium (the Ardennes Forest) and back. Approx. 3,250km after all said and done.

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    A video preview from the trip:

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/72210831" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

    Trip highlights in 1080p HD.


    Here's some preview photos from the trip:

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    And here we are:

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    Megan (Day 1 - ferry to France) and yours truly / Erik (Day 5 - Stelvio Pass, Italy)


    It all starts here:

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    After taking the train from London to Bournemouth we walked with luggage in hand to the rental location in the suburbs of Bournemouth - no IMTBike here! The adrenaline kicked in when I saw the bike waiting in the driveway.


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    We rode to the nearby Orchid hotel - we had a good hunch that at 39 euro it would be by far our cheapest stay of the entire trip. We started prepping the gear (helmet cam, Sena headsets, GPS, etc) before starting our first day on the road early the next morning.
    #1
  2. TSRT97

    TSRT97 I am third

    Joined:
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    Subscribed! Waiting for more. TS
    #2
  3. zadok

    zadok Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Western Australia
    Some nice teaser pics so far.
    #3
  4. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
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    631
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Day 1: Bournemouth, England to Chablis, France

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    Up at 5am to catch our ferry to France. It's pitch black and raining out (but it's England so no surprise). Trying to attach 3 fully loaded cases to the bike in the complete dark... for the first time... is not easy. We left the hotel late but the GPS guided us through the confusing winding roads and got us to the ferry port on time.

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    Tying down the bikes.

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    It was all good until the boat hit the open water of the English Channel. This was my technique for keeping my food down - look straight to the horizon and try to ignore the smell of breakfast sausage grease coming from the kitchen vents.

    We met two other riders on the ferry (on an Aprilia and Ducati) and planned to ride through the D-day beaches to Caen with them. After arriving at the port in Cherbourg France and realizing we had over 500km to cover in one day, we had to go our own way soon after hitting the road.

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    Arriving at Omaha Beach just as the sun came out.

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    Eerie scene to see the bunkers embedded in the cliffside and the anti-aircraft guns along the beach.

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    The Omaha Beach memorial monument.

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    More rain along the narrow roads towards Caen.

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    Arriving in Caen for a late lunch.

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    From Caen, we jumped on the toll highways to cover as much ground as we could. Avoiding Paris we still managed to get stuck in traffic along the nearby highways. Legal lane splitting was a dream, although a bit dicey at times with the extended luggage on both sides.

    The camaraderie among riders in France was pretty awesome. I noticed riders kept sticking their right foot out as they passed by... soon clueing in that it's how they acknowledge other riders. You'll see a few riders doing this in my ride video below.

    Once the traffic opened up the highways went on and on for hours. The sun had set a good while ago, and less and less cars were coming in the opposite direction. I looked down at the gas and found the bike was consuming way more than it was estimating... It's 10pm with 35 inaccurate miles showing till empty and we were in the middle of the French country side! GPS directed us off the main highway into what turned out to be an old abandoned station... We got back on the highway and juuuuuust made it to an open station to fill up before we were empty. A great way to start the trip!

    We arrived at our hotel in Chablis at around 11 that night.


    Day 1 riding video:

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/61390603?color=4cbfed" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>
    #4
  5. BeachGuy

    BeachGuy Lost in paradise!

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sandy Beaches in Alabama!
    Looking forward to more.
    #5
  6. Long Trail

    Long Trail adv dreamer

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2013
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    Location:
    North East US 802
    Sounds like a great ride. Your not kidding about the narrow roads.

    We share the same opinion on our dream bike. I test rode three BMWs today, F700 GS, F800 GS, and R1200 GS. This is the first time I have rode a BMW and think I am officially ready to become a GS owner.

    Anyhow I look forward to the rest of your ride report.
    #6
  7. cptdrew

    cptdrew n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I'm in...looks like an amazing trip.:D
    #7
  8. Dr LC8

    Dr LC8 ...soon or later

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    Oddometer:
    970
    Location:
    Manchester...but from Rome!
    Nice pics!

    Nic
    #8
  9. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Location:
    Toronto
    Great ride! Thanks for taking us along!! :thumb the riding is sure is different than the kind we have around here.... straight, flat and boring.

    :lurk
    #9
  10. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

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    Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, eh
    Thanks for sharing, looking forward to more
    #10
  11. jmcg

    jmcg Turpinated..

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    450
    Location:
    The Dandenong Ranges, Vic
    Great pics!

    Thanks for sharing.

    JM.
    #11
  12. bajubaru

    bajubaru Adventurer

    Joined:
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    24
    more photos pleaseee :clap:clap:clap:clap:clap
    #12
  13. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
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    631
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Thanks for the kind words everyone, glad to see my ride report is being enjoyed!

    Absolutely! By comparison, riding around the GTA is about as boring as it gets. Considering this trip was my last ride, I'll be in for an adjustment when I get back on our roads this spring...
    #13
  14. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    631
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Day 2: Chablis, France to Pontarlier, France (Bordering Switzerland)

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    We wake up to another rainy day, and start the morning exploring Chablis - a town famous for its wine.

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    Megan had arranged for a winery tour with La Roche that morning.

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    A historic building now owned by La Roche winery.

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    Inside - A massive 13th century wine press.

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    Inside the cellars

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    Passing through a small village on our way to Dijon.

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    Looking up at the Collegiale-Notre-Dame (church) while stopped at an intersection in Dole.

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    More heavy rain as we stopped by a river flowing alongside the road. By this point we were realizing our rain gear wasn't holding up all that well - the jacket covers were letting some water in, the boot covers were leaking and our 'waterproof' gloves were soaked through.

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    A common sight... Using McDonalds free wifi to find a hotel for the night. ;)

    Arriving at the outskirts of Pontarlier close to the border of Switzerland, we checked into a Campanile for the night. From what we saw of Pontarlier that night it was more of an industrial looking town - super flat and not much for tourists. In fact, finding a close by restaurant beyond the McDonald's was near impossible. There was one open that night, along a highway a good 20 minutes walk from our hotel...

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    Nothing like hearty American food when in France!

    We finish up our French fajitas and the hardest rainfall you can imagine starts up. After getting wet on the road earlier, we had changed into our only set of dry clothes before heading out to dinner. Not looking forward to starting of the next day in wet clothes, we needed to get home dry! After a failed attempt at ordering a cab, our server (refusing any kind of compensation) drove us back to our hotel. We gave him a nice tip in event that this happened. ;)


    Day 2 riding video:
    The country roads in France were lined by a row of trees on both sides, for miles and miles - you definitely don't want to get into a tank slapper on these roads!

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/61400761?color=4cbfed" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

    http://vimeo.com/61400761 - a backup if the video isn't embedding properly.
    #14
  15. Dr LC8

    Dr LC8 ...soon or later

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    970
    Location:
    Manchester...but from Rome!
    Yes definitively nice pictures. I want to know what post-processing program do you use....:ear

    Nic
    #15
  16. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the compliment. Most of the shots were processed in HDR using Photomatix and then tweaked in Photoshop or Lightroom.
    #16
  17. squawk77

    squawk77 Dreamer

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    Classified
    Haha yup, McD is always an easy place to find free WiFi in France. Not so much in Switzerland though, eh? Many of the café bars had it though

    Keep it coming :lurk
    #17
  18. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    northern Arkansas
    I just get done with squawk's trip and here comes another. I'm in tall cotton. Awaiting to see how you pack in your 10 days.

    I was wondering why my photos don't look anything like yours, a few of us here could use a seminar from you.
    Jim
    #18
  19. Katoom72

    Katoom72 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Belgium
    Thx for the story, pictures and video. :clap

    I'm eager to make a trip to southern Europe this summer, this thread just makes me want to leave already.
    #19
  20. Krime

    Krime Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    631
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Day 3: Pontarlier, France to Meiringen, Switzerland

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    The third day straight of rain! Despite this, waking up I was stoked... we'd be heading into the Alps.

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    A late start to the morning at 9:30am means were almost last to leave... the heavy weather makes it far too easy to sleep in later than planned.

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    Roadside stop.

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    Low lying clouds wrap the hills.

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    The lake of Neuchatel in the distance.

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    Arriving at a restaurant in Neauchatel we second guessed if we were actually in Switzerland or still France. When we saw the prices on the menu we got the clarity we needed... Switzerland it was. :nod

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    Docks at Neuchatel.

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    Riding along the Swiss Countryside.

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    I was spoiled with the heated grips... Megan on the other hand wasn't so lucky. A brief stop to warm up.

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    The rugged Swiss mountains I'd seen in so many pictures over the years were within view for the first time.

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    Loving the picturesque scenery... rich green grass with snow tipped mountains above.

    The rain would keep going strong as we travelled through the town of Interlaken (what we'd learn was Switzerland's #1 tourist destination). We'd planned to get through a mountain pass or two still today, but with the miserable weather, wet clothing, and poor scene visibility - with the Alps being the most anticipated part of our trip - we decided to end the day sooner and dry up at a hotel.

    As we stop in town, a kind old British man walking by sees the bike with UK plates and chats up a storm. He's been visiting the alps for the last 50 years. Our original plan was to take Sustenpass the next day, but he insisted on Grimsel to Furka instead. With 50 years knowledge of the Alps it was an easy change of plans - Grimsel to Furka it would be.

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    Arriving at the hotel in Meiringen (no surprise - the birthplace of meringue) just outside of Interlaken, we had our first dinner at a regular hour.

    Tomorrow would be the much anticipated ride through the Alps to Italy... only the conditions wouldn't be quite like we'd expected! :D


    Day 3 riding video:

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/61555414" width="1024" height="576" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>
    #20