Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/369.html

    [​IMG]

    It's been six weeks since we last left London to tour the British Isles and it's been such a wonderful leg of our trip - rounding the top of the Scottish Highlands, island hopping from the Isle of Man to Ireland, then meandering down the Wild Atlantic West Coast. But now we're super-exhausted from traveling.

    We brace ourselves for re-entry, the thick, congested urban atmosphere slowing our crafts' descent. Ugh, the traffic. We tiptoe between stopped cars, our wide panniers prevent us from lane splitting with any amount of confidence. I forgot how bad it was. At least the weather is sunny!

    [​IMG]
    Getting off the roads to grab some nosh

    We are coming into London from the west, and the Ace Cafe just happens to be on the western outskirts of the city. There's a symmetry in stopping here, because this is the first place we visited when we first stepped foot in the UK and now it will be one of the last!

    It's the middle of the day during a work week, so the parking lot is empty. We don't have to fight vintage cars for a parking spot.

    Food in the UK has been spectacularly unhealthy for us. So we have vowed to eat better.

    [​IMG]
    But not just yet...

    In the UK, I've discovered that everything tastes just a little bit better with mushy peas.
  2. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    As we leave the Ace Cafe, Nick, a fellow rider from Italy spots our license plates and we chat a bit

    If people we meet along the way show interest in our trip, I normally hand them a business card with our blog and contact information on it. Later on that evening, I find this picture sitting in my inbox! Grazie Mille, Nicola!

    [​IMG]
    Staying with my aunt and uncle while in London

    My cousin is in the middle of moving to Scotland, so we're now staying with my aunt Jennifer and uncle James for a couple of days.

    It is just not sufficient to say that they are wonderful hosts. They've raised three kids of their own, but my aunt and uncle have played the role of den mother and father for the extended family for decades. The post-secondary education system in Malaysia is neither good, nor very well-recognized internationally, so nearly all of my cousins have studied abroad, attending universities and colleges in Australia and the UK (and Canada). And the cousins who do study in London automatically have a mom and dad away from home.

    I think it's a role they feel very comfortable with. We sit in their kitchen one morning and my aunt is cooking a hearty English breakfast for us, and it just feels so homey!

    Later on that evening, they take us out for dinner and my aunt regales us with tales of my dad when he was a young man. Fascinating stuff!

    [​IMG]
    Spending our last night in London out on the town. This part of the city is known as the West End

    The West End is also known as TheatreLand, with over forty theatres in the district. One of them is The Queen's Theatre.
  3. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Inside the Queen's Theatre!

    Neda has always wanted to see Les Misérables, which is one of her favorite plays. She's listened to the soundtrack a million times, seen the movie, and the play was set to come to Toronto in 2013, but we had already left on our trip by then. But now that we're in London...!

    Neda was super-stoked! This was high on her bucket list, it made me very happy to see her so excited.

    Les Mis was not actually #1 on her bucket list. She wanted to see the new Harry Potter play, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child". The grand opening was in London three months ago. She thought we'd just swoop into town, go online and pick up a couple of tickets.

    So I went online and checked. Sorry, Neda. There's an 18-month wait for tickets...!

    At least Les Mis has been running for 32 years (longest running play in the West End), much easier to get tickets for that!

    [​IMG]
    Spilling out onto the streets of Piccadilly Circus after the show, we were both humming, "I dreamed a dream in times gone by..."

    So... many people have complained that in all the riding videos I've taken, looking through my windscreen is like looking through a glass of muddy water. A very thick glass.

    [​IMG]
    Ta-DAH! My cousin's partner works at BMW and got me this new windscreen at cost. Thanks Martin!

    We said our final farewells to my family in London and headed out back on the road.
  4. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Trying to find the tickets for our Eurotunnel reservation to take us back under the English Channel

    [​IMG]
    Neda and I get separated on the train! The doors close between our bikes

    When we exit the train at Calais, France, we follow the line of vehicles out into the roadway. We have to drive on the right-hand-side now! Six months in SE Asia riding on the left, then three months in Eastern Europe on the right, after that, two months in the British Isles on the left, now we're back on the right... Ugh, our brains are so confused!
  5. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    It's only a couple of hours on the highway and we arrive at our next stop (No, not Arches National Park):

    [​IMG]
    Visiting our very good friends, Thomas and Eva in Belgium!

    It's only been a year since they visited us in Thailand, but we've missed them so much!

    We're spending the weekend with them, and it's a good thing that we've been to Leuven a few times before, so there's no great need to go out sightseeing. Because all we want to do is relax, hang out and catch up with them. Every time we visit their place, their renovations come along a bit further. Eva shows us their new wall decoration: The National Parks of the US. They've fallen in love with the vast North American wilderness! Having been on the continent for the last couple of years, I can see why. It's so different than anything you can find in Europe.

    Thomas and Eva are vegetarians, so it was quite a change coming from our steady diet of saturated animal fats in the UK to super-healthy plant-material-food-stuff in Belgium.

    We also take some time to run some errands. We've been to Leuven so often that I have a favorite barber just down the street that I go to get my hair cut. Thomas decides to try out my barber as well, getting his beard professionally trimmed. He is so happy with the way it turned out, that he's going to go all the time now. Me, not so much because this time, they cut it a bit too short for my liking. :(

    All weekend long, Thomas, Eva and Neda poke fun at my too-short hair. Mainly the fact that I don't like my too-short hair. Because that's what friends are for.

    [​IMG]
    Eva is learning how to play the ukulele! I pluck out a few notes on the couch

    One afternoon, Thomas and Eva leave us to attend a family birthday party. So they trusted us to look after their apartment while they were gone.

    [​IMG]
    We PMed them while they were at the party. Thomas is not amused...

    Oh, it's so awesome to hang out with them again!
  6. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    After a too-short weekend with our friends, two lone bikers exit a garage in Leuven, back out onto the European roadways

    Keep right. Keep right. Keep right.

    Winter is coming. So like single-celled organisms that respond to stimuli, we instinctively head south, away from the impending cold. But also because of White Walkers.

    Along the way we have another friend in Basel, Switzerland we want to visit, but since she has cats... we book into an AirBnB just 30 minutes away across the border just outside of a small town in France called Mulhouse.

    The AirBnB is run by a German couple. They have SIX KIDS!

    We found out that the reason they live in France is because they have decided to home-school their children, and back in Germany, home-schooling is illegal. So to escape prosecution (and persecution of sorts), they emigrated to Mulhouse, which is also right across the border from Germany as well, so they are not too far away from their friends and family back home.

    There's a certain stigma attached to home-schooling. The stereotype is that it raises socially awkward kids, not having been exposed to other children their own age. But living with this German family for a couple of days, I could see that this is not the case at all. This tiny community outside Mulhouse is actually a German exclave. All of the neighbours are Germans and they've also escaped to France to home-school their kids. Every day, all the neighbourhood kids get structured time together in the local playground down the street to socialize, like recess at school. It was all very methodical.

    The house is littered with books, the walls lined with educational posters. These parents take their children's schooling very seriously and I get the sense that they want their kids to have a better education than what the state would provide them. Socialization included. Every year, their kids would take a German standardized test to ensure that they met (and probably exceeded) the government guidelines.

    Our stay here has really opened my eyes up to home-schooling and erased a lot of my preconceptions.

    [​IMG]
    And their kids are cute!

    Five girls, aged 3 to 9, and a little baby boy. I realized that the AirBnB is not just a business to help raise money. It's also further socialization for these little girls. When the mother found out that we were traveling the world, she asked if I would provide a geography lesson for the kids. I was delighted to, showing all the places we had been to on our laptop and showing them our pictures. And when I saw they had a piano in the living room, I gave the eldest daughter a short piano lesson!

    The girls found us very amusing. Initially, they would peep shyly around the corner and giggle when Neda was in the kitchen cooking, but by the second day, they were actively helping her make the meals, chattering away in German.

    Such a great experience! It was very educational for me, just to see a slice of the world that's normally hidden away.

    [​IMG]
    When our AirBnB host saw our motorcycles, she suggested a great, twisty road nearby up in the mountains
  7. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Cows watch us on our day ride through the Grand Ballon mountains, 15 minutes outside of Mulhouse

    [​IMG]
    Switchback! Grand Ballon in French means a round-topped mountain. There's an observatory at the top of the summit of the Ballon.

    [​IMG]
    We go for a short hike near the summit, you can see all the twisty roads below
  8. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    I'm happy because it's a *short* hike

    [​IMG]
    The observatory looks like "Rover" from the TV Show "The Prisoner". LOL!

    I just found out it's actually not an observatory, it's an air-traffic control tower. The round globe looks like a Grand Balloon, which is what we initially thought the mountain was named for. It's a radar device used for air navigation. Very cool-looking.

    [​IMG]
    Hiking around the Grand White Balloon Radar Station, view of the Alsace mountain range around us
  9. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    And then back down the mountain. We have a date for this evening!

    [​IMG]
    Sun is setting so early these days. It's not even 5PM!

    [​IMG]
    Find a spot to park in downtown Mulhouse

    We're meeting up with our motorcycle friend, Colleen! She is riding up from Basel to see us. She is not only a motorcycle friend but she's also a cat-lady so although she's invited us many many times to stay with her, I unfortunately cannot. Because I would literally die.
  10. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    [​IMG]
    Colleen found a great Alsatian restaurant in this French town. All of our good intentions about eating healthily go out the fenêtre.

    Om nom nom, so yummy! Alsatian Cuisine is basically a lot of pork, done up German style.

    It's so good to see her again. We've only met her a couple of times, but we've chatted with her so often online that we feel like we've known her for much longer. As a North American ex-pat living in Europe, it's so interesting hearing about her experiences because they sound like exactly like what we'd go through if we were to settle here after our trip.

    Which after having been in the UK for the last little while, is a *VERY* strong possibility. Maybe this Brexit thing will lower the £ enough that our Canadian dollar will actually be worth something...

    After dinner, we walk back outside to our bikes. "Where did you park, Colleen?", "Oh right beside your bikes!"

    There's a truck parked in front of all of our bikes, blocking them from view of the street. As we say our goodnights and goodbyes, I notice that the straps covering my toolbox on my passenger seat were undone. Strange. They must have come undone somewhere on our ride today.

    The next morning, as we were packing up to leave Mulhouse, I notice something else amiss on my bike:

    [​IMG]
    Someone had stolen my BMW roundels on both sides in Mulhouse last night while we were eating dinner

    F**KERS!

    We surmised that when the truck had parked in front of our bikes, they were hidden from view from the street and then some opportunistic vandals (probably drunks) had come by to steal stuff off our motorcycles. They were probably working on my toolbox when someone must have walked by and scared them off.

    I was pissed. It's obvious that they were just vandals and not stealing stuff because they needed the money. This will be so inconvenient to replace.

    Bah. Maybe I'll replace them with something else. Like the Transformers logo or something funny like that? Wonder if they sell those online...
  11. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    We're just motoring down the Autoroute in France, hightailing it to the southern coast of France.

    [​IMG]
    Along the way, we stop at the Pilat Regional National Park to set up camp. Neda prepares for us a healthy lunch.

    Eating healthy starts right now! For real.

    Seriously.

    [​IMG]
    Thomas and Eva gave us this waterproofing spray. Perhaps this will stop the leak in our tent. Crossing our fingers for the next time it rains...

    It's been an amazing six weeks of motorcycle touring in the British Isles, but it got a bit lonely with just the two of us. We're now seeking out all of our family and friends to fill our lacking social quota.

    And it's not over yet...
  12. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,817
    Location:
    LacLaBiche Alberta Canada
    My neighbors also home school their 4 children. They are socially active in their church as well as multiple sport and recreation activities after "school" and on weekends with friends and family. Their test scores are mostly in the 80s and 90s. They are some of the smartest and most well behaved kids I know. Seems like it works well for them!
    JJ
    DunkingBird and Sunday Rider like this.
  13. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Dirt Farmer

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,660
    Location:
    Eastern Washington State
    My ex was home schooled and she is absolutely the best organizer, budget maker, and hardest worker you have ever seen. But she couldn't spell her way out of a 2nd grade spelling bee, has no clue about history or science etc. When I met her mom, she is exactly the same way. I hated to see that because she is so smart, if given the chance, she could have been brilliant in those subjects too.
    VisionPilot likes this.
  14. Chat Lunatique

    Chat Lunatique aka El Gato Loco

    Joined:
    May 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,295
    Location:
    Niagara, Canada
    My experience of home schooling here in Canada is that it is not being done so much for the benefit of the children, but it is more an act of rebellion by the parents against the state. The best alternative schooling (IMHO) that develops truly well rounded children, is done by parents who take their children with them on long term global travels. A child who can jump into play with children in Africa and be accepted and do the same in India 6 months later, gives me confidance this child will be a well rounded adult. Those from religious sects, not so much so.
    mikecbrxx and Jimmy the Heater like this.
  15. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Of course, once you move away from a standardized curriculum, the level of education is entirely dependent on the competence of the parent. That explains the wildly varying accounts of smart home-schooled kids, vs not-as-smart...

    That's where the standardized testing comes into play, which I'm not sure every parent-educator subscribes to. Especially if the reason they are home-schooling is because they reject the standard curriculum in the first place.
  16. danh600

    danh600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    571
    Location:
    South Florida
    At the pace you guys set. How is that a problem? You will be maybe one or two towns down the road.:-)

    Actually your pace is one of the reasons I love your RR. You guys are truly travels. I really want to go on a trip where I am not a tourist using up my few weeks of vacation. I think my wife and I need to just ride to a little village somewhere and spend a month in an apartment.
    roadcapDen likes this.
  17. DantesDame

    DantesDame Ridin' Fool Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,081
    Location:
    Switzerland
    :rofl


    True, but in the back of your mind you will always be thinking "We only have a month here." Whereas Gene and Neda don't have that "problem." They just have to sort out where they're going to go after the month is up :lurk
  18. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    121
    Location:
    Yorkshire, England
    I hope this doesn't appear 'wrong' but I am so glad the theft of your two roundels didn't happen in the UK. It seems we have it annually where a world traveller lands in the UK and gets something stolen, or his/her bike.
  19. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Et touché, Brute?

    Well, theft happens everywhere in the world. No one country has a monopoly on assholes.

    Years ago, I had a brand new Shoei RF-1000 stolen off my bike in Richmond Hill, which is a fairly nice neighbourhood north of Toronto.

    But I totally understand about not wanting something bad to happen to someone in your own home town or country. @Quezzie of A Short Scooterist on a Long Ride: Around the USA by Vespa fame rode up to Toronto to visit us a couple of summers ago. We met up at a Tim Hortons and when she was pulling out of the parking spot, the car next to her almost ran over her! I was mortified that she had ridden all over North America unscathed only to be flattened into a pulpy pancake while visiting us.

    I would have felt such guilt and shame on behalf of our town/country.
    Max Wedge, SmilinJoe, B10Dave and 3 others like this.
  20. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,874
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/370.html

    [​IMG]

    Marseille is not the prettiest city in the French Riviera.

    Not by a long shot.

    Our impressions of it are from when we rode through it a couple of years ago, on our way to spend the winter in Barcelona. Although we tried to visit and see the nicer parts of the city, on the whole, I remember it being very grey and industrial.

    [​IMG]
    Yes, I chose the crappiest, blurriest pic of us riding into Marseille to prove my point...

    We find some parking on a street island cluttered with motos and scooters, all chained to posts provided by the city. On the ground was a piece of a link of security chain (inset above), presumably cut by thieves.

    Super.

    I'm still pissed off that somebody stole my motorcycle badges yesterday. That broken chain link on the ground next to our parked bikes did not make me feel any happier that we were in Marseille.

    Really, we are in town for a couple of reasons:

    [​IMG]
    Yaw and Hélène from Seattle are now Yaw and Hélène, Nomadic Citizens of the World!

    Although we last saw them when we rode down the west coast of the US in Sept 2012, we've kept in close touch online. So many things have happened since then. 1) They're married now! and 2) They've sold their home and all their belongings and become full-time nomads! All the cool kids are going Nomadic!

    Next month, they'll be celebrating two years on the road!