Hacking Our Way Around Europe 2012

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by mikepa, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Seattle, WA in the Great Pacific NorthWET (USA)
    Back on the 29th of April (Day 5 of our ride), one of us had a birthday (that would be me) so a proper toast was in order to celebrate the occasion.:

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    Fast-forwarding a day, we set out from Garmisch-Partenkirchen:

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    And enjoyed this view from the "office" (of the Alps):

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    We had hoped to take the cable car up the Zugspitze (the highest point in Germany), but our timing was off. Here's what it looks like from the parking lot:

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    Everywhere you look is a photo-op waiting to be captured:

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    Before lunch, we had traveled from Germany, through Austria, into Italy, getting our first view of the Dolomites:

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    The castles have been few and far between, but here's one of the near-obligatory shots:

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    The photo below, not a castle per se, but you can choose the caption:
    (A). Ran out of energy.
    (B). Ran out of money.
    (C). Ran out of paint in that color.
    (D). The result of a divorce:
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    Our destination was the beautiful lake resort area of Lago del Darda in northern Italy, south of Trento, north of Venice, where I was able to hook-up with a long-time riding friend Pawel (who currently works in Munich, but was formerly in the Seattle area). Pawel shown with his BMW R1150GS, which attracts a lot of attention due to its unusual Rhino-Liner coating on the tank:

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    It's a truly idyllic place, and we've decided to layover her for a couple of days, highly recommended if you're ever in the area:

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    The Carpaccio is most excellent:

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    . . . and our room comes with a view:

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    . . . rendered here in another stitched pano image:

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    Until we move again:

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    Best,
    #21
  2. Hillbillybill

    Hillbillybill n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1
    Hey Mike,

    So excited for you and Aillene being on such a fantastic trip. Your picture posts are great. I still think you should be a professional photographer for restaurant menus. Give a big howdy to Debbie and Harrison for me. Farm is still coming a long. Had our first Devon bull calf three weeks ago.

    Look forward to seeing you and Aillene soon.

    Kindest regards,

    WildCat
    #22
  3. RidingAgin

    RidingAgin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    409
    Location:
    Near Black Diamond, WA.
    Ciao Mike,
    Great photos of the trip, so do you squeeze the lemons on the Carpaccio?

    This is inspiring me to do a mc ride 2 up in Europe. Recently my wife and I did the twisties of Vashon Island 2 up and was impressed how well we did on my R1200GS.

    This trip looks like fun for sure! :D
    Dennis
    #23
  4. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Seattle, WA in the Great Pacific NorthWET (USA)
    Riding Europe is a non-stop series of wonders. If you’ve been wondering where’ve we’ve been, a modern-day wonder that has yet to become universally available (or if “available”, actually works) is broadband access. It’s been 7 days since we last had a decent internet connection, so apologies for the paucity of updates. But as you can see below in a very simplified map of Central Europe, we’ve been moving along each day, every day – we’ve done about 4,000km or 2,500mi thus far, our aggregated tracks below:

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    (And remember, if you want to se our track progress to date, all you have to do is click here and you'll be taken to our track page with all the uploads from our SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger transceiver!)


    Rolling-back about a week to our departure from Largo del Garda in Italy:

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    The morning commute was pretty light traffic-wise, as much of Europe had just been on Labor Day holidays, and everyone else was back at work:

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    From the fresh waters of Largo del Garda, we made our way down to the cost of the Mediterranean Sea. After hours of winding roads, we made our first stop of the trip for seafood, and “we done real good” at a local Osteria. Switching now to the food channel portion of our blog, lunch began with a mixed assortment of prepared dishes:

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    . . . and moved into a righteously stuffed risotto:

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    We took a bit of a breather with a mixed salad:

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    . . . to prepare us for some of the best fried calamari we’ve ever had, anywhere:

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    . . . and fully sated two courses ago, we then "suffered" the main course, a mixed seafood “grill”:

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    Up into the higher elevations above the sea, a winding road led us to a lookout for a view of St. Angels – they sure knew how to “landscape” back then:

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    Mandatory photo-op:

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    We made our way back down to the Italian coast and found a seaside hotel for the night, Aillene found her perch:

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    Prior to dinner, we headed out for a more festive evening at a local cocktail lounge:

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    . . . where the included all-you-want appetizers during “happy hour” were more than enough for dinner as it turned out:

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    You don’t have to work too hard to find winding roads along the coast, though it’s a bit of work to pilot 1,200lb of sidecar, gear and people through all that, but well worth the effort:

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    We stopped at a local farmer’s market for lunch, and spied the largest pan of Paella I’ve ever seen:

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    The smallest "take-away" portion was plenty for the four of us:

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    Just up the coast from Monaco, this local hotel was recommended for us. A great thing about travel pre-(high) season, room rates are 40% to %60 less than you’ll pay just a few weeks later. A gorgeous building on lovely grounds, but ugh, full of “bus tourists” (the bane of motorcyclists/hack pilots everywhere, yes?):

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    As we motored along a few days later, Debbie had a bit of a “handling issue”, the instantaneous decompression flat that can occur with tubed tires. Fully equipped to deal with a repair on our own, we pulled over for a tube change:

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    The cause was easy to find:

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    How a tire can ever pick-up something this long is a mystery to me (and no, it's not part of one of her spokes, different material/diameter, I checked!):

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    Needless to say, the tube didn’t like it one bit, totally blew apart, even the valve stem was separated from the carcass:

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    Some roadside yoga and a bit of WD40 does the trick:

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    As we were working, people stopped by to offer help, a pump, tire inflation repair in-a-can – this English gent stopped to ask if we had a set of metric hex wrenches, as part of his powered-wheel chair were coming loose. We fixed it all:

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    A BestRest Products CyclePump rules, don’t leave one without one!:

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    Many French cities besides Paris have their local Arc de Triomphe:

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    Apparently, like much of the former Soviet Bloc, the French also like to put military hardware up on display in the oddest places:

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    Towards evening one day, after searching in vain for any accommodations for a bit, I finally spied a sign with the words “Gourmand” and “Hostellerie”, and we navigated a twisting two-track of broken pavement up to a lovely stone former farm-house with this view from the dining room:

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    Here’s a small panoramic photo of that view (click here for a larger image):

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    Gourmand indeed! Aillene began with a Cassoulet of Escargot, put enough butter and cream into it, even snails are tasty:

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    An Assiette of Charcuterie (assortment of prepared meat products):

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    A warm salad “St. Jacque” (scallops):

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    We had four main courses, one of young goat, one of oxtail, one of lamb Catalonian style, and shown here, duck breast in a raspberry reduction:

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    The French LOVE their cheese, but this evening’s assiette was over the top (our host Phillippe insisted we try pretty much everything):
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    As we had ordered on “Le Menu”, dessert was included. Crème brûlée is not that uncommon at home, but never prepared like this:

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    Harrison couldn’t decide what to have for dessert, so he got an assortment, none of which were otherwise served individually:

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    Two days ago, we stopped to layer-down after a cold morning's ride, and a cheery woman in a small pick-up truck stopped to ask if we were by any chance looking for a place to stay, which we were. Monique was from the Netherlands, and she as her husband John had just bought a former campground, and were converting/remodeling it as a motorcycle-only campground:

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    They currently had chalets:

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    And are also putting up military-style tents for those who really want to sleep on the cheap and travel light:

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    The Camping Moto Route 99 website is at: http://www.campingmotoroute99.com/ If you plan on being in the area, the waypoint is: N46 03.976 E2 56.664 John and Monique are good people, they could use your business, they both speak English (Dutch, French). You'll be in good hands.

    However, road weenies that we are for this trip, we wanted a private room, with bath, and attached restaurant, so we carried on, and finally found an inexpensive Auberge with all of the basic requirements, and cold beer on tap.


    our destination for the following day was outside of Blois, France - the home of Harrison’s friends Patrice and Chantal, their son Morgan, and visiting daughter Jennifer. It’s a magnificent work-in-progress that Patrice is painstakingly restoring in the original style and materials:

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    A beautiful kitchen in the country style:

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    Comfortable living space in stone and wonderful exposed hand-hewn wooden beams:

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    A welcome fireplace after our only day of rain since we set out from Heidelberg two weeks ago:

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    A complete country home with a grate-protected well opening to the right, and entrance to the cave or cellar to the left:

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    Harrison descends into the cave:

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    Not the usual “stuff” that would be found in basements/garages back home:

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    Back to the dining portion of our shown, lunch began with the 1st of 9 bottles opened over the course of lunch, dinner, and dessert, this, a local “still” Vouvray:

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    A “simple” country lunch in still life:

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    Of course, there is a motorcycle connection, Patrice is an enthusiast, and his collection includes this gorgeous Ducati Desmo:

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    Check out the binders!:

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    And Patrice's pride and joy, his Magni (there were only ten of this Suzuki-powered model ever built):

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    We’ve rented a great “Chambres d’Hotes” (B&B) near Chantal and Patrice’s home, and are taking three days of downtime to just chill out, do laundry, and for me, the roughly five hours it takes to process photos, upload to servers, and publish this blog. We head out for Augsburg, Germany, the day after tomorrow.

    Best,
    #24
  5. Rupertexists

    Rupertexists I am That

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    London, England
    By your tracks it looked like you were making a run for the Channel Tunnel and London, hopes dashed, next time I won't take no for an answer (and now I even have a garage :clap) safe trip back...
    #25
  6. Roadscum

    Roadscum Long timer

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,603
    Location:
    SW Florida
    Great stuff Mike, keep it coming and........... I LIKE the way you eat. :thumb

    Regards, Paul
    #26
  7. isaac-wombat

    isaac-wombat Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    31
    Location:
    Gold Coast Hinterland Qld Australia
    I look forward to your posts; great stuff.
    #27
  8. TouringDave

    TouringDave Tri Moto Veritas

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,124
    Location:
    Frankston, Vic, Aust.
    A week since your last post!!! Ahhhhhh, withdrawal symptoms!
    #28
  9. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Seattle, WA in the Great Pacific NorthWET (USA)
    After three weeks, 5,900 kilometers (3,687 miles) on the road hacking our way around Europe, the rig is back in the barn, fully serviced for next year:

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    Will post a last update tomorrow, stay tuned for a final installment.

    Best,
    </IFRAME>
    #29
  10. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,199
    Location:
    Chambers Bay, WA
    Amazing. The food. The accommodations. The roads. Just amazing.
    #30
  11. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
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    Location:
    Seattle, WA in the Great Pacific NorthWET (USA)
    #31
  12. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Seattle, WA in the Great Pacific NorthWET (USA)
    I normally prefer micro-brews, good sake, smokey scotches, but I have to admit, after a few days with our new friends in France, starting lunch with a Rose, moving into a sparkling Vouvray, and imbibing our way through 7 or 8 other wines through the conclusion of dinner does have a certain appeal:

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    Especially as our hosts have &#8220;connections&#8221; with access to special bottlings:

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    No visit to France would be complete without castle tour, in this case the Chateaux Chambord:

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    Construction began in 1519, and was completed 50 years, 440 rooms, 230 some odd fireplaces, and 31 kilometers of stone wall later:

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    Here&#8217;s your pano view:

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    And click right here if you want to see a higher-resolution image of the same.


    I looked forward to our next touristic stop:

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    Le Clos Luce was where Leonardo de Vinci spent the final three years of his life:

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    Here is his study and bedroom:

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    It is said he moved in with only three paintings, one of which was a famous lady (or was it a boy???). Obviously a replica below, but we have also seen the original in the Louvre:

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    The lower floors were filled with models of Leonardo&#8217;s inventions, below, a cross-section of a human-powered paddle-wheeler:

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    And a cut-away of a human-powered tank, surrounded with a periphery of cannon:

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    We&#8217;re paying about USD$4.20 a gallon for premium gas. What&#8217;s astonishingly expensive here is motor oil, I paid almost USD$30.00 (yes, thirty!) for a liter of synthetic oil. But, you gotta&#8217; love a fast-food gas station with a cheese plate in the lunch buffet:

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    And also has a wine dispenser larger than a coffee dispenser that you might find in the US:

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    On our last night in France, we happened upon a small 5-room hotel, Le Hotel d&#8217;Isle. Nothing special about the rooms, but the restaurant blew us away, so here we go to the Food Channel on the Road again. Our Front Desk clerk, parking lot attendant, bartender, waiter, and part-hotel-owner Fabien explains the menu options to us:

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    Dinner began with a Carpaccio layered with cheese and tomatoes:

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    Next was Foie Gras (hey, we&#8217;re in France fer&#8217; chrissakes, get over it!) prepared four different ways:

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    Fabien presents the main courses:

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    I don&#8217;t even remember what all we ordered, but the presentation was 5-star throughout:

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    Of course, cheese and fruit precede dessert:
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    And boy, what desserts!:

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    Before crossing back into Germany, we bought some &#8220;souvenirs&#8221; of France, can you guess what?:

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    Back into the Schwarzwald in Germany, so many routes, so little time!:

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    The amazing roads and scenery aside, one of the reasons I love touring Germany are surprisingly affordable accommodations. For less than the price of an off-freeway motel in the States, you can instead overnight at an inviting GastHaus:

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    The woodwork is unlike anything you&#8217;re likely to find in a motel back home:

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    And instead of a stale donut, Cheerios, and Styrofoam cup of acidic coffee for the included &#8220;free breakfast&#8221;, here, a fine German Frustuck begins your day, with local honeys, coffee made by the pot or cup on demand, eggs, sliced meats, cheese, breads, yoghurt, fruit:

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    On the way back to Heidelberg, I mixed a little work with pleasure, a visit to the world&#8217;s premier industrial robotics company, KUKA, located in Augsburg. We were given the full-on three-hour tour, a fine lunch, and some hands-on time with the most sophisticated stationary robot systems on the planet. Understandably, photos were not allowed, but they did allow me to take this one snapshot of a batch of &#8216;bots that had just come out of the painting facility:

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    Our host, Dominik, was kind enough to show us around Augsburg in another fine piece of German engineering (assembled with KUKA robots of course), his BMW 750:

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    . . . which I can personally attest, can reach its speed-governed top speed of 250 kilometers per hour in VERY short order:

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    Remember the photo of those brand-new tires atthe start of this blog? Here&#8217;s that same tire now:

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    Time to head home, as our packing discipline was going to hell <G>:

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    Back at Stefan's in Heidelberg, a handy beer crate allowed me some under-body time to lube and check fasteners and fittings in prep for our next trip:

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    Oh, and our French souvenirs? Cans of Confit de Canard, or Duck Confit, here about 1/5th of what we&#8217;ll pay back home, and almost as good out of the can as the product of the 3 to 5 days of time it normally takes to make &#8220;from scratch&#8221;:

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    As you can see, we bought rather a lot, along with some pork and duck Cassoulets (bigass cans of both, those are full-size fifths of wine!):

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    So, three weeks, 5,900 kilometers/3,600 miles, one set of tires, tons of great riding, ton-up speeds, twisties, fine dining, only one day of rain, and zero problems with the rig and our kit, can&#8217;t wait until our next opportunity to ride over here:

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    So, until next time, Au Revoir, Arrivederci, Auf Wiedersehen!
    #32
  13. Abenteuerfahrer

    Abenteuerfahrer Deaf on Wheels

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,310
    Location:
    Prescott, Arizona, USA
    Thank you for the memories Aileen and Mike...I am homesick for all these culinary delights and of course my Motherland.

    Did you have any problems importing these French delights into the USA. Did the same at one time and 1/2 were not allowed thru customs here.

    Cheers...
    #33
  14. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Seattle, WA in the Great Pacific NorthWET (USA)
    Bitte Sehr Abenteuerfahrer! Germany is indeed a wonderland for der motorrad und gespanne reisen. Right now, we've just checked in at Frankfurt for the flight home. We'll see if those customs people in Detroit have any flexibility in regard to our canned good, all of which, of course, are available for sale in the USofA, at five times the cost.

    Best,
    #34