Riding in Tuscany

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tagesk, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. BluesCruiser

    BluesCruiser Adventurer

    Dec 14, 2010
    East Bay
    Thank you for sharing your adventures and your beautiful pictures with us...and a Happy New Year to your and to Capa as well!

    For many American bikers in my age group, "the one that is sunk in the ground" will _always_ be the most impressive. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  2. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

    Feb 26, 2007
    Patras, Greece
    :D That is exactly what Dimitra was worried about ...... Who are these people? What if they are serial killers? What if they are thieves and rob us in the middle of the night? She couldn't understand why I had invited complete strangers to come to our house :lol3

    I tried telling her that the "strangers" are probably more scared than we are. They don't know the language, area or anything. For all they know we could be serial killers or thieves that want to steal their expensive BMW motorcycle .........:rofl

    Once Dimitra met you guys though she felt very relaxed and kind of silly for having those thoughts .......... We enjoyed the company of of our new friends.

    We hope you both had a good time with us, a good time in our local area and an overall GREAT time in Greece.

    I look forward to the next post and also to find out how terrible you think our home made coffee is :rofl

  3. tranten

    tranten Adventurer

    Dec 10, 2010
    Always Somewhere
    give us more..Greece and Tuscany of course...:clap
  4. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    It is Saturday 27. March, on this 16th and last day of our Riding
    in Greece
    -vacation. We are in Patras, in the warm hospitality of
    Dmitra and Soto (Quicktoys2). The ferry back to Italy departs this


    There are quite a few things I regret not having photographed while in
    Greece. On top of that list of "argh - I forgot" is the cake Dmitra
    had baked for us, and served in the morning. During our stay we have
    had many different settings for breakfast, so I assume that in Greece
    there is no strong tradition to follow on that time of the day.

    But back to the cake: We're in the sitting room of Dmitra and Soto,
    talking calmly as you do early in the morning, and eating her cake.
    It is hard to envision a better way to start the day in a foreign
    country. If you have a better way, I would like to know.


    Being in the private sphere of strangers, even foreigners, makes a
    strong impression on me. Even more so in the morning: I am not a
    "morning person", and I feel that my skin is extra thin at that time
    of the day. What can be more gentle than Dmitras cake?

    The general plan is that Soto goes riding with us. Then we try to
    meet Dmitra for lunch, before Soto guides to the ferry. We start
    packing; we haul along too much crap. Luggage is like time (here in
    Italy): It is a plastic material that fills all space available.


    As I have said repeatedly: The Greeks come in two models.

    We have only one request: Show us the bridge! If you are an engineer
    there is no substitute for the bridge they have here in Patras.


    We start somewhere different: During the earthquake in 1988 the road
    split open here (if we understood correctly). We, from Norway, don't
    even know what an earthquake is. We find it ultra cool. I guess this
    is as close as we have ever been to one. Admittedly, this isn't very
    close. And we are happy for that, too!

    As we try to keep up with Soto as he zooms through traffic, we talk
    about what vacation is, what is was, and what it should be. In my
    previous life, when I would not venture anywhere without my mobile
    phone and PowerBook within reach, at the time when I had to keep
    abreast of (very!) talented students, at the time when I did spend more
    time at airports that I believe one should, at that time vacation was
    to fly to Thailand, sit on the beach with a cigar, and let three weeks
    pass by without doing anything. It took a week just to calm down.
    It's not like that any longer.


    Ah - those were the days. I even smoked cigars then. And there is no
    more than two meters of snow on the lawn. It's not like that any
    longer, either. At least, not on the lawn that I now own.


    But now, now that I don't need an iPad, now I instead need action in
    my vacation. That is probably why I resist any attempt to plan
    vacation. I want to be invited to Dmitra for breakfast, and if we had
    a hotel reservation we would not have been invited for breakfast. It
    is that simple, I think.


    Patras sports a magnificent bridge. No less that magnificent.


    hmmm, that Greek rider seems to ride on far out the right. hmmm, I
    don't seem to ride far out on the right. Good that we aren't in Rome,
    because when in Rome....

    In addition to the stunning view, there is a pleasant surprise
    awaiting us on the north side of the bridge: Toll. Mr. Soto
    says he is sorry, and seems more than a little puzzled when we are
    full of joy and price.

    OK - I know many hates toll roads. But I like them. I like that I
    (and others) are made aware that things have a cost. Bridges do not
    come for free. If there is no toll too many will quickly demand a
    bridge somewhere else (if they got, why not us?). This is the first
    toll we see in Greece, and we like it.

    Very few other bikes.


    We are on the north side of the "fjord" (at least, that is what we
    would have called it in Norway). We are on the north side, riding
    east. This road is better than what we have become used to; we have
    obviously avoided the main routes. There is very little traffic here.
    After all the slow winding and twisting, it is nice to get some wind
    in our hair. Keeping up with Mr. Soto requires some effort.

    We stop in Nafpaktos. Saturday morning and all places we would have
    liked to sit are full of people. We ride on.


    After a while we arrive at Galaxidi, where Mr. Soto knows about a
    small place. They have a cake with enough energy to launch at least
    two Space Shuttles. The problem is: The taste is outstanding.


    None of us seems to want Greek "coffee". My cappuccino is quite OK.
    She says her "frappé" is OK, but I can see on her face that you need
    to know your theory of relativity to put that into context. Afterward
    she calls me a snob, but in my view the world is like this: If your
    job is to make coffee, doesn't it make your life better if you make
    people happy? Coffee isn't just "something". It is a means to
    happiness. And when you make coffee you are in some sense God: You
    decide if other people are to become happy or not. And that, in my
    view, is a heavy responsibility. Not all coffee-makers understand what
    is at stake.


    The cake-maker has obvious understood his power. He did not choose
    to make my morning miserable. He chose to make me happy. I am
    grateful for that.

    I really need to do something about the side stand. He almost falls
    over. Note: A large puck is already installed. I really need to do
    something about it. One of these days.

    The vest? I've used it all through the vacation. The idea is that
    since no-one (as in zero, nil) else is using one, I really stand out
    in traffic. I saw a (very!) bright yellow helmet the other day. That
    was even better. I'll look into it.


    Have I mentioned that Mr. Soto rides briskly on his Capo Nord?
    I must really get out my whip and give it to Bamsefar to keep up.
    Fortunately I have a young and attack-minded lady riding pillion. If
    I instead had had a sixty-something boring middle-class lady dreaming
    of a new car, what would my life have been?

    There is an important line to be drawn in life from entering a
    left-hand curve on the north side of the fjord near Patras. When the
    curve tightens, we must lean further and further, even though the
    horizon is already at about 45°. There is an immense value in life
    having a wife that does the right thing when you enter a curve like
    this at well over 100 km/t. We meet such curves, as such high
    velocity, both when we ride, but also in life in general. For the
    most part, life is not a smooth ride. At least not a life which keeps
    you alive. Life is more than breathing, you know.

    But I don't make any mistake here, because she does not make any
    mistakes. Together we pull the barge that Bamsefar is smoothly
    through the curve. Before we together pull him up, and make him ready
    for the right hand curve we can see rapidly coming towards us just


    Being on a motorcycle vacation is not so much about riding a
    motorcycle. Bamsefar is, after all, just our means of locomotion.
    But to ride together on a motorcycle is something bigger. It is
    dangerous to drive a car, too. But you are shielded from the
    elements, and one forgets just how dangerous it is. I don't "drive my
    car". I am on my way somewhere. In the car. But driving is so
    ubiquitous that I don't notice it as an act in itself. Not so when I
    ride with Capa Superiore della Famiglia, the most stunning grandmother
    you can envision, the most precious gift a man can get.

    At 100 km/t in a tight left-hand curve, with a right-hand curve in
    sight, one that might be ever tighter, with my wife on board, I feel
    alive. Very much so. On the bike, we live our lives together. Not
    only together as "in the same house", but together as in "close
    together, living together". I don't know if you understand the

    Can you ask more of a vacation than the feeling of living together?


    I, for one, do not need to get anything more from my vacation than
    this. The curve, the bike, and being on vacation with my wife. There
    is simply not room in my small brain for anything more.

    Suddenly we stop for a sign. Mr. Soto photographs it, so I
    photograph him photographing the sign. I have no clue what it says.


    We pass back over the bridge. Then he takes us to a nice place for
    lunch, next to the water. You know, not even a cake lasts forever.
    Not even a high-energy one. The bridge, the bikes, and nice people:
    We're ready for lunch.


    We're going home soon, so I need to use this joke yet another time:
    Completely Greek to me.

    In theory, as we ride by places we would like to explore further, we
    say: We'll be back soon. But reality isn't like that. The world is
    large, there are a countless number of places we haven't seen yet,
    there has already been talk about Portugal, and so on. It is highly
    unlikely that we'll be here again anytime soon. That is not related
    to the place, to the Greeks, or to the lunch.


    Soto arranges for us to have a varied lunch. A couple of salads, some
    sort of vegetable pie, grilled chicken, and some grilled meat. Not
    so much meat, just enough to make sure the lunch changes from
    "something to eat" into "a lunch". We live in Tuscany, remember.


    Dmitra can't make it, and that hinders the lunch from reaching the
    peak it otherwise would have been. Nevertheless, we manage to pass
    the time just fine. The sun is shining, we're sitting by the sea, the
    bikes, and in the background the bridge. This fine piece of

    At the end of every day, not only on vacation, I ask myself if this
    has been a good day. One that has enriched my life. One worth living
    for. Some days aren't. Some days are filled with repetitive tasks,
    boring things, paperwork, and what not. You need to keep watch: If
    the number of "not worth it" days start to grow, your life might start
    to go to waste. When the "not wort it" days are no longer a passing
    evil, but has become part of the structure of living, they action is
    required. When this day draws to a close, and I ask myself if it was
    worth it, I will recall the picture of Capa Supriore and me, the
    bridge, and the bike; it features blue Greek sea, blue sky, and
    everything else you can ask for.

    Yes, this day was worth the effort.


    Just in case you have forgotten that the Greeks use far too much oil
    in their salads (I discussed it the first day), here is a picture to
    show you what I mean. Maybe the oil is the next best in the world
    (after, obviously, oil from Tuscany), but still. It is too much!

    No-one can have everything. I used to have more things, and more
    resources, that what I now have. But slowly the "not worth it"-days
    grew in number. I am very happy I didn't accept that. That I managed
    to turn my back to the salary, the PowerBook, the iPod, iPad, and what
    not. We have managed to carve out a new living. One with far fewer
    "not worth it"-days. Still some (give me a break), but far fewer.
    Or, in other words: More Life in the life I get to have.

    We skip "coffee" not to ruin the otherwise excellent morning!


    We ride back to town, and we check in on the ferry. With the help of
    a local (guess who), we escape from the inside of the barrier to go
    riding instead of waiting for boarding. It is because only one things
    is missing: A small map on a sticker. I want to add one to our a
    pannier. We have looked for one all through the vacation. Mr. Soto
    guides us to an obscure shop in town and there you are!

    Mr. Soto - you are an example that we should all learn from. Your
    hospitality is unsurpassed and you are a fine ambassador for your


    Finally we roll on board. We feel small inside the huge hull where
    large trucks zoom around. Lots of space (even though is filled up
    somewhat more than this).


    As the light slowly gave way for the nigh, the moon rose, and Greece
    slowly sank down into the ocean behind us, I stood on one of the upper
    decks while refraining from smoking a cigarette.


    On the 17th and last day of our vacation we rode the 894 km from Bari
    and home. Here is my advice: Make sure your wife doesn't balk at
    plans that include a 900 km day to get home. Makes planning a lot

    The photo was taken at 140 km/t on the Italian Autostrada. We are on
    our way home!

    Our holiday Riding in Greece was absolutely worth the
    effort. We planned by means of not planning, and it turned out to be
    just as planned. No pun intended. Just as on Sicilia and in Spain,
    the plan of not planning gave us a perfect mix of good and boring
    (nothing bad!), the meals ranged from outstanding (with the crying
    waiter) to the ordinary (grill i Kavala).

    We met a mixed bag of people. From the Albanian teenagers in the
    mountains to the ugly nationalist by the Lion, from the man who came
    out and served us coffee in a village north of Kastoria to the young
    man in the bar in Drama who said the crisis was created by Merkel for
    domestic reasons. Or, in other words: An empirical study of the
    Greeks has reviled that they are like people all over the world.
    Some good, some not so good.

    The wine surprised us. We are obviously tourists, but if that
    compels the establishments to serve watered down wine, that surprises
    me even more. In fact, I don't what is worst.

    Thank you very much for taking a part in our tiny ADVenture. I am
    truly happy you have taken of your time to read.

    Finally, I would, in particular, like to thank the ADVriders who took
    it upon themselves to offer advice on what to do and what to see, to
    meet us for lunch, to share a dinner with us, or, as the ultimate
    sacrifice, share his home. I hope I can pay you back! I will hang
    around in Tuscany waiting for you to pass by.

    The only thing left to mention is the coffee.

    (this page is purposely left empty)


    The last day in Greece.

    Mr. Zumo tells us we rode 3.923 km in Greece and 1.729 km in Italy for a total of 5.652
    (about 3.500 miles).

  5. musicman

    musicman Been here awhile

    Aug 30, 2004
    Atlanta GA
    What can I say... another stellar report. You truly capture the essence of the place, the food, the people and weave philosophy throughout. :clap

    Abbie and I will be back in Italy for the month of May but sadly, nowhere near Pisa or that wonderful little neighborhood restaurant where you go on Fridays :dg. We will lead a large [for me] group of ten riders from Milan, through Marche, Abruzzo and end in Roma. Abbie and I will head south from there and see some parts of Italy I have missed.
  6. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

    Dec 2, 2008
    Behind the Redwood Curtain
    Absolutely outstanding writing... and photos! :clap

    ------------ Something to remember.

    "... And when you make coffee you are in some sense God: You
    decide if other people are to become happy or not. And that, in my
    view, is a heavy responsibility. Not all coffee-makers understand what
    is at stake.

    The cake-maker has obvious understood his power. He did not choose
    to make my morning miserable. He chose to make me happy. I am
    grateful for that."

    Ok so where is next??? Portugal?

    BTW... did you climb the snowbank to get into your house?

  7. IDScarecrow

    IDScarecrow Long timer

    Mar 9, 2006
    PNW Inland Empire
    :clapBravo! Your reports just get better and better. Thanks for taking us with!
  8. matapo

    matapo Been here awhile

    Aug 28, 2009
    That was a really intresting ride report Tagesk.
    It is nice to learn from people who travel around your country how they feel.
    I m sorry we didnt meet.
    Take care.
  9. quicktoys2

    quicktoys2 ADVrider junkie :)

    Feb 26, 2007
    Patras, Greece
    Thank you for all the kind words you said about us. Dimitra and I both enjoyed the opportunity to meet with you and Sissel and enjoyed our time with you both.

    The damaged road in the above photo is from the more recent earthquake that happened on June 8 2008..... Here is another pic of the same road taken a little after the earthquake happened



    We were hoping to go to Italy this last summer 2010 and pass through your area on our way North to see Dimitras aunt, but in April we found out that Dimitra was pregnant and so we canceled our bike trip and did a car trip around Greece instead ..... in 1 week we should be proud parents of a future biker ...... so although I would (we) love to ride to Tuscany, I fear that there might be a delay in that plan.

    Thank you for sharing your ride report with us and I look forward to more Tuscany adventures.

    Best wishes always

  10. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    We're off towards Portugal in April. The plan is, surprisingly enough, not to have a plan. We'll see how it unfolds.

    Regarding the snow: It seems as if the snow reaches half way up the entrance door.
    But you can't see the flight of stairs you need to climb to get there.

    If you look carefully, on the left you can see the (windows) of the car. There is a "channel" dug from
    there to the stair leading to the entrance.

    Tromsø, Norway, sports A LOT of snow. Normally it is all gone by the end of May. I hope you can understand
    why I didn't own a bike when I lived there.

    Thank you for reading, and for the very kind feedback!

  11. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    Keep me informed, will you?
    Capa Superiore sends her best wishes!

  12. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
  13. Elder_Rogue

    Elder_Rogue Loser Gone Wild

    May 24, 2010
    Alvord, TX
  14. fulviapaulo

    fulviapaulo Been here awhile

    Mar 19, 2007

    Great ride report!

  15. nev11

    nev11 Adventurer

    Mar 26, 2008
    Southampton England
    Thank you for sharing your fantastic ride report Tage it's been thoroughly
    With all your comments on good and bad coffee it makes me wonder if I've
    ever had a decent cup of coffee in my life. :lol3

    Thanks again


    Vstrom rider
  16. tagesk

    tagesk Tuscan rider

    Jun 23, 2007
    Tuscany, Italy
    Coffee, and not "coffee", in Southampton, England?


    Thank you for reading!

  17. g®eg

    g®eg Canadian living in exile

    Jul 13, 2004
    based on the "coffee" I had while on tour in the UK, I would say... probably not


    great real ales in the UK tho! :thumb :freaky
  18. PFFOG

    PFFOG Richard Alps-aholic

    Aug 19, 2005
    Western NY, further from NYC than 6 entire states

    In Italy coffee lovers Genuflect the stainless steel icons of the coffee gods. Like their wine, they take coffee, and the time to enjoy it very serious.
  19. Spinalcracker

    Spinalcracker former redriderofma

    Oct 1, 2007
    Western MA
  20. lefteris

    lefteris fat daddy

    Sep 1, 2004
    Athens, Hellas (Greece)
    Hi Tage!

    Once again I would like to thank you for your wonderful report about your rides in Hellas (Greece). Your writing style and your comments about things in our country compose a very entertaining (and educating) narration.
    But I have some things to say, as I don't agree with some of your conclusions...

    Things in Greece are not good. People are losing their jobs, big numbers of almost wealthy families are now struggling to survive and the political system in our country does it's best to get the things worse and worse. People are deprived of their hope and drawn into a state of despair. When somebody has nothing to hope for the future, looks back into the past. That's a fact about the Greeks now! They (we) look more to the past than to the future. To the past when Greece was the center of the world and civilization. (?)

    Another fact is that our neighbourhood (the Balkans) has been for years the playground of big countries (USA, Russia, UK) foreign politics. Countries have been created from nothing, the borders have been changing till now. Nothing is granted and national security isn't a given.

    The two facts above combined make the Greeks very sensitive about the "Macedonia or FYROM problem". Some are foreseeing an evil plan (from the USA, Turkey, the Jews, choose what you like :-)) to take a part of our country and some a very angry as somebody is trying to steal their history...

    Let's discuss something else now.
    Let's say you want to sell your bike to buy a new gsa. A friend of yours wants your bike, but hasn't got the money to buy it. So what do you do? You lend him some money (with interest) and he buys your bike. So you have a double win situation. That's the problem with Greece and Germany. Germany has lend Greece much money, but a great part of it has gone back to Germany through military equipment contracts.

    I'm not writing all this to say that Greeks are innocent... Everybody is responsible for his fate. I just want you to understand the Greek people's point of view...

    Thanks again for the great review, looking forward for your next Tuscany chapters,


    ps. Greece has the highest toll price per kilometer ratio in Europe. I cannot understand how you crossed the biggest part of our country without paying some!