Greg & Michelle's 2011 European Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by g®eg, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    the prologue:

    Michelle & I have been riding together for the last three years. We have done plenty of local trips, Guzzi rally in western NY, Vermont weekend, the Catskills, and more western NY, to name a few. She's seen all the pictures from Euro tours & heard the stories, and after Joe & I went to the UK last year (wandering around England) and left her at home, she said "it's her time!" :D

    So this year Joe & a group of lads from the New England area headed over in July, and Michelle & I made our plans for September. The maps came out shortly after Christmas, the arrangement for rental bikes was made with MotoMader in Aarau Switzerland and the flights were booked. It was countdown time.

    We had a rough plan:

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    The plan included some of the best passes the Alps have to offer, along with a helping of Dolomites, and side of Lago di Garda, and visits to the Ducati museum & the Moto Guzzi factory. There was also a strong possibility of meeting up with inmate Tagesk of "Riding in Tuscany" fame and his lovely Capa Superiore della Famiglia.

    We also hoped to have a drink with inmate "Cooltours", master of the [FONT=arial, Arial, Helvetica]Schwartzwald [/FONT]and a local of the Zurich area (and a new dad! :clap).

    So with that,, the plans were set. Now it all depended on the countdown.
    #1
  2. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    finally that day has arrived!!

    we have a noon flight out of Providence RI to Philadelphia, so plenty of time, but I am chomping at the bit. I wanna go!!

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    flight to Philly... uneventful.
    parking yourself in the US Airways Envoy Class lounge pre-flight? priceless!

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    ah yes... the girl is happy too!

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    for my friends working today...:D

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    ready for our relaxing Trans-Atlantic as the riff raff find their seats in the way-back :evil

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    #2
  3. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Flight across was great.

    Being able to stretch out & actually sleep was a big plus! Would I be willing to "pay" for Envoy class? Probably not.. ask Kevin, I'm frugal... :rofl
    but when you do it on miles... damn sweet! :thumb

    Customs & immigration at Zurich was a breeze, bags came pretty quick & we were off on the Swiss Rail to Aarau! yay!

    Erwin from MotoMader came & grabbed us at the train and brought us to our bikes. Originally we had requested a pair of F 650 GS's (800 cc parallel twin BMW's) but they were unavailable. :eek1

    Erwin says "not a problem" and he produced an F 800-R for Michelle and a R 1200-R for me. Problem? What problem? Life is sweet. I cannot say enough good things about this dealer. they are amazingly professional & courteous. I have rented from them in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and each time just confirms they are top notch! :thumb

    the bikes:

    aforementioned F 800-R

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    and the mighty R 1200-R

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    Almost ready?

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    I am...

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    So with the GPS dialed in for points south, we head off (slightly jet-lagged) through the lovely Swiss countryside.

    The plan for day one:

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    I figure may as well get Michelle into the passes before she has her wits about her. That way the adrenalin will overcome the jet-lag. It's surprisingly warm as we stop near Umer See to take off jacket liners & snap some pics.

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    Gear adjusted, we are off again.

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    Mountains getting closer.

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    The top of Michelle's first pass, Susten Pass.

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    Time for a coffee...

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    and check out the local bike scene:

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    Next pass: Grimsel!

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    I think she really likes this... I may have created a monster. Well at least she doesn't pass cars & buses like an Italian rider.... yet.

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    No pictures on the Furka, as it was getting on in the day & we wanted to find a place to stay. Heading down in to Andermatt:

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    The town:

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    I'm knackered....:snore

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    Then dinner came, it's hunting season, so we got the "deer, hunter style". Pretty damn tasty... but it's time for sleep.

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    So far, so good and about 230 km down. Not bad for half a days work.
    #3
  4. phoenix49

    phoenix49 wizard64

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    Ain't life GRAND!!!:clap
    #4
  5. 907Duc

    907Duc ducatisti

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    nice :1drink
    #5
  6. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Day Two

    Just when you're so tired you think you'll sleep until morning.... you wake up at the crack of midnight :D
    Our room was over the bar at the Hotel Aurora, so it was hard to tell at first if people were up for breakfast, or not gone to bed. Sadly it was the latter. Nothing a Tylenol PM doesn't cure though, and soon it really was morning.

    Our rough plan had us heading east, over the Oberalp, Albula, and Bernina passes into Italy. Originally we had considered a jaunt into Livigno for a little duty free, but decided against it at the time.

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    The morning view

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    Dressed & ready to eat

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    The mighty R-1200-R is loaded up

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    and Michelle is ready to roll too

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    Oberalp approaches

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    the view back towards Andermatt

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    all GoPro'd up and ready :thumb

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    a little stop action courtesy of me hitting the wrong button on the GoPro. The back-roads from Reichenau to the Albula Pass



    As you can see the weather was spectacular. Top of pass shots:

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    We had a coffee & some dolce at the top of the pass & chatted with a couple on a Moto Guzzi. They were headed for Mandello Del Lario for the Guzzi 90th birthday. We wished them a safe journey & tucked in to our snack.

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    a reflection of my face....

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    paid up & ready to roll

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    next stop: Bernina Pass

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    last of the Swiss countryside for a while

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    a stop to remove liners (I mentioned the weather was fantastic right?)

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    middle of the road train

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    and another

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    hello Italia!!

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    bye Switzerland

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    Italia

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    we made it to Bormio and got a room at the same bed & breakfast I stayed at in 2004, Adda. Nothing special, nice & clean, and only Euro 45 / night!! Much less expensive that the CHF 170 we paid in Andermatt. Since it was still early, we dropped our bags & took a run up the Stelvio Pass.

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    plenty high!

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    not too busy

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    tomorrow's job

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    Michelle's not worried :thumb

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    the way back to Bormio

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    we ran into an English chap who was traveling alone & swapped "here take a pic of us" shots with him. He was on his way to a bachelor party at the Nurburgring via a bunch of Alps passes... good for him!

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    after dinner in Bormio we head back to our room.

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    about 250 km for the day, and three passes (four if you count up & back one side of Stelvio).
    a GREAT day! :clap
    #6
  7. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Day Three

    After a really nice night in Bormio, and a pleasant (yet a bit small) breakfast at Adda it was time to start the day. the plan (as far as Michelle knew) was pretty simple: an assault on the western face of Stelvio, a stop at the top for some pictures, then off to the east ending up in Canazei near the bottom of Passo Sella.

    getting ready to leave:

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    ever have that deja vu? I've been here before... birthday 2004

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    a little Stelvio teaser of Michelle going up (thanks GoPro!)



    anyway, view from the top

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    pretty quiet (it wasn't that early)

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    the "hey, can you take our picture?" shot

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    mountain top chapel

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    the author (looks a bit nervous maybe?)

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    Michelle & I walked around & checked out the scene. Michelle bought a couple of pass stickers, a Stelvio cap and a key chain while I took a few more snaps. A group of riders walked by talking English, so I asked where they were from. "the UK" was the initial reply, but then Mike admitted to being Canadian :D. Mike Lives in the UK now though doing rider training & organizing tours (check out peak rider training)... I should have asked for a job application :thumb

    We chatted for a while, discussed plans, and how nice the weather was, and then said our good-byes. Mike and his group headed up to the hotel for a coffee leaving Michelle and I to admire the view.

    This was my opening....

    I had been planning this for a little while, but had kept the secret well (amazing... knowing me).

    My one hint to Michelle a week or so before the trip:



    So, yeah.... I asked her to marry me. Although I am sure she will (correctly) point out that it wasn't exactly like that. After a very long pause... she said "Yes"
    :happay

    So yeah... I am a happy camper!

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    Mike came back down the hill to snap a pic, and ended up being the first person we told. He was pretty chuffed as well and wished us all the best. He got a great pic of us:

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    At this moment the eastern side of Stelvio was a bit more than either of us could face. So we sat quietly and just watched the world go by.

    .... to be continued ...
    #7
  8. Serbchaser

    Serbchaser Chasin' the Serb

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    Love this report. Looks like an unbelievable trip. Thanks.
    #8
  9. Chelle

    Chelle Polish Princess

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    It was an amazing trip......and I'm loving the story as Greg's writing it, even though I know how it goes. ....and it's a story I will love for the rest of my life.

    Greg may have proposed without actually saying the question....but....as he countered, "... we can have a complete conversation without saying a word"...and he's right.

    Perfect place and fantastic surprise. How did I ever get so lucky[​IMG]
    #9
  10. Nan-Lo

    Nan-Lo Been here awhile

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    I'm so happy for the two of you! Dream engagement location, that's for sure!! :clap
    #10
  11. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

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    That is so cool.
    Have just returned thursday from a 10 day ride in the Alps, my rr will take a while to put together. Tuned in for the rest of this one.
    Jim
    #11
  12. 907Duc

    907Duc ducatisti

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    :freakyCongratulations we are both thrilled to hear the news. Welcome to the family Michelle. Love you guys.
    Mark and Sandy
    #12
  13. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Day Three Continues....

    deep
    calming
    breath.....

    :D

    OK.. onwards and downwards

    not sure I would be into a ride on one of these

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    into the countryside

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    I love Italy! I wonder if anyone is hiring?

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    towards Jaufenen Pass

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    top of Jaufenen. Michelle still smiling.. score one for Greg :D

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    more renters

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    Dolomites!

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    top Of Sella Pass

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    we made it down into Canazei and started looking for a hotel. My friend Joe had been through earlier in the year & had mentioned the place they stayed was really nice.... Of course I don't remember the name :doh
    So, in true "follow me I know what I'm doing" fashion we head to the end of town to the place we'd stayed at in 2003 (the same place that was closed in '04) and find yup, it's closed... double :doh

    So we turn back towards town & stop at the first place on the right.... Turns out this is exactly the place Joe had stayed. Funny how that works. :thumb

    the route was good
    the results were fantastic
    tomorrow is my birthday with a plan to do nothing but ride Dolomites passes all day :thumb

    another 250 km behind us

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    #13
  14. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Day Four

    So Joe didn't steer us wrong. Hotel Fiordaliso was really nice. Big, clean room, nice breakfast, friendly staff, and a nice balcony to watch the bikes rolling through in the evening. Today we have no bags, and no where to be... just RIDE!

    Another beautiful day and we have a rough plan

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    We head out towards the Sella at the east end of Canazei and climb up to Pordoi.

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    weather? gorgeous!

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    we also did Campolongo and Gardena, essentially going around in a big circle.
    three passes down just like that... sweet

    the Edelweiss tour squad rolled in... all very "unique"

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    Pordoi

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    never get tired of these views

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    auto focus let me down.. oh well

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    fantastic

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    happy girl

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    I caught Michelle checking in with a colleague in the Netherlands.... ciao Daniella! :wave

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    Passo San Pellegrino?

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    I love this area!

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    classic shot

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    time for cafe

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    happy camper

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    Back towards Arabba?

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    when we got back the sky was full of these guys

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    we went for a walk after dinner through the town
    Michelle corrupting youth....

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    another great day. a fantastic birthday!!
    couple of hundred k's though pass after pass. couldn't ask for better. our waitress, who spoke very little English, actually came & sang happy birthday at dinner :clap

    life is sweet. :thumb
    #14
  15. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    Day Five

    After a tremendous day of riding in the Dolomites with my new fiancée!! we had a plan to head south....
    my company has an office in Torbole, and every fall we have our sales meeting there. I had been a couple of years ago, and being as it's a beautiful place, I wanted to show Michelle.

    the plan

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    ready baby?
    (I'd brought her bike around from the garage and carried down the luggage (who says an old dog can't learn new tricks?) :evil

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    bye Dolomites, I would stay forever if I had the chance :cry

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    railing south.. damn its warm

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    Kevin will love this: blind Greg + road closed + Garmin detour = PRICELESS!

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    ok, almost sorted

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    on the road again

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    Castles

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    Michelle leading

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    Vivi La Vita... yup, you betcha... how can you not when the country is so beautiful?

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    close to Lago di Garda.. but not yet

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    we finally make it in to town. we actually have a RESERVATION!! at Hotel Santoni (the place we stay during the sales meetings). A really cool place, nice bar at night and great breakfast.

    we realize 30°+ C and long pants = :(:
    so we go into town & grab some suitable clothes

    sunset at Garda

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    I think I have brought Michelle to the most beautiful place in the world!

    not a crazy long day, and no real passes to speak of... but we had a damn good time. I have video of Michelle passing trucks like an Italian (aka Lunatic) but that will have to wait.

    :D
    #15
  16. Mercury264

    Mercury264 Once you go Triple...

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    Blind Git

    :rofl
    #16
  17. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

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    the sun was at the wrong angle....


    :hide
    #17
  18. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    Greg,

    Congrats on the future nuptials and great ride report.

    How is Michelle liking the 800R as a sport tourer?
    #18
  19. Chelle

    Chelle Polish Princess

    Joined:
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    Location:
    The beautiful Pacific Northwest!
    I loved the bike and was a perfect sport touring ride for this trip. Plenty of power, handled beautifully and was able to carry what I needed for 9 days in the sidebags and top box without much struggle. Loads of fun and I'd definitely choose this bike again for the next trip. :clap

    Thanks for enjoying our story so far!

    Michelle
    #19
  20. 907Duc

    907Duc ducatisti

    Joined:
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    For a woman? It must have HUGE storage :D
    #20