The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by V@lentino, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Hey RW,

    You are very right when saying you can find whatever you love, in my mind Europe has it all -the good and the bad- great natural beauty and extraordinary man made artifacts, bundled in a very civilized package. Plus as another inmate posts in his signature block ''traveling is extremely detrimental to prejudice''.

    We could have opted to spend more time in France, but had to make some tough choices, on where to go, next posts I'll take the RR through La Camargue and La cote d'Azur.

    I know about those crazy Cathars, maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the end it turnout to be little more than another Jim Jones Guyana/Waco type endeavor, this time with a middle age flavor:asshat.

    I know I am vulgarizing, but sometimes you have to do what makes sense and pick your battles.

    We are or will be able to say ''From Winnipeg'' very soon, I start my new job in Victoria, BC at the beginning of February.

    Can you say: ride your motorbike all year long yeahhhh! :rilla
    #81
  2. Deuce

    Deuce Crazy Canuck

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    Vancouver Island, Bitchin' Columbia, Canada
    Not this year :puke1 We have had snow since Dec.14th. Looks like this might be the first time since 1971 that Canada will have snow at Christmas from Coast to Coast :1drink
    Awesome ride report. Ingrid and I hope to do the same type of trip soon.
    #82
  3. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Someone told me to bite my tongue, with more still to come, you might want to get a shovel.
    I know for sure I'm going to throw one in my bag when I go look for a house.:eek2

    Better get back on the road to Italy...
    #83
  4. C2W

    C2W Semi-Gnarly Adventurer

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    Thanks for all the great Pix.....

    Your photo tour of Barcelona brought back a flood of memories from our time there in 01.
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    #84
  5. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Barcelona was our last Spanish stop, and marked the first third of our trip already behind us. For the next few days we will be hugging the coast (Spain - the Eastern Pyrenees - la Camargue - la Cote d'azur - Northern Italy to spend a night in Genova.

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    We left Barcelona under cloudy skies light showers on and off, it took a while for the coast to get pretty, the railway tracks were kind of in the way.

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    Sometimes looking to the left is better.

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    But when it did get nice, it got reeeaal nice!

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    Very narrow roads giving out to even steeper cliffs, and endless blue sea.

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    My riding skills in the twisties have really improve, you got to understand that I bought ST at the end of 2006, after a long riding drought of about 12 years. Living in Manitoba does allow you to go very fast for very long, but no need to turn.

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    Summer 07 we tested rider pillion and gear by doing a mini IB of 5000 km turn around Winnipeg to Montreal and back in 10 days, but not so many twisties there either, I mean a few but not like Le Vercor, or the Pyrenees.

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    So when I mean improve, I feel more relax maneuvering the heavy beast, my turns are much smoother and with more velocity. I am neither getting cocky, nor overconfident, just a lot more assured.

    For instance I have stop closing my eyes when making hairpin turns...

    That Valentino dood s'got game.

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    The Russell Day Long saddle is truly a blessing, and neither of us is reporting any sort of cramps.

    View from the top.

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    The ride was just amazing, and for the most part the weather held.

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    Of course in Europe there is always a old building somewhere.

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    We stopped to purchase a bottle of water and ended up with samichs, freshly grown tomatoes, queso, jamon and a bit of EVOO.

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    Hasta luego España-Salut les potes.

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    Just a few more km to go for the day.

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    Time to rest for the night. This place looks good.

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    From close.

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    And to the left.

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    Sometimes you just gotta have fish.

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    It doesn't get any better than this.

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    More to come...
    #85
  6. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Glad you are enjoying the RR, neat to see the city growing a bit older from your pics to ours.

    Cheers :freaky
    #86
  7. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    At our first night stop, we were waken up in the middle of the night by a hailstorm hammering the roof of our small hotel in the sleepy coastal village of Cerbere, the first French town after Spain in the Eastern Pyrenees.

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    This I thought, as I laid in bed with my eyes open starring at the ceiling of the darken room, did not forecast anything great for the coming day. And we had a challenging pass ahead of us.

    Not very long about 30 km or so, but mountainous terrain on narrow roads in heavy rain and thick fog would require extra care. So we would proceed cautiously as we entered Languedoc-Roussillon to cover the road from Cerbere to Racou-Plage.

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    As expected we woke up to find gloomy dark skies filled with low hanging black clouds just waiting for us to take the road to unload their fury. And so it rained, and rained, and rained.... Steady and at times hard for the next four hours.

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    Well this was a chance to further test the adherence of the Michelin PR2’s, and get a chance to practice my cornering skills under wet conditions. And so I did.

    What I did not mention is that today’s forecast included a violent wind warning for the southern coast of Corsica. Although I did not worry too much about it, a little voice in the back of my head told me that the day was not only going to be wet, but maybe a bit windy. The great thing about very wet, then very windy weather when you are riding a motorcycle is that you get very dry, very fast.

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    As we entered Camargue, the salty-marsh region of France just ahead of Marseille, famous for among other things spectacular wild white horses, sea salt, sea rice, sand wine, and an indigenous species of Bulls.

    And Flamingos too apparently.

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    We got hit hard by the wind, but I mean hard. I am used to riding in the Canadian Prairies where it can get pretty gusty, but this was out of this world.

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    Coming from the south over the sea, the wind stroked, spanked, battered, and pummeled us as never before. What a wallop it was. Because we were so close to the sea, we actually tasted salty-grainy-wet air through our helmets.

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    Once we entered the actual Park of La Camargue, the rain eased up, but the wind pick up even more. During that stretch my top speed never exceeded 82 km/hr on the straights, I was leaning on the tankbag, and Liliane was leaning on my back to reduce wind resistance as much as possible.

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    The elusive white horses, they brought back childhood memory of the stories of Crin-Blanc.

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    The top box was creating a lot of turbulence, and the wind was hurling through the microphones in our helmet. We could not stop laughing until we had to close our mouth, so we could lick the salty taste of the ocean of our lips.

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    By the time we hit the busy port of Marseille, and heavy traffic, the elements had beaten us into submission, we had enough tumultuous riding for one day, and we were ready to call it a night.

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    We slept in Aubagne just a few kilometers from Marseille for a well-deserved rest.

    We woke up the next morning after spending a night at l'Étape (a chain of cookie cutter motel type), but clean, comfortable and only 39.00€.

    We woke up rested the next morning, and after having made the minor gaffe of draining the battery, from having GP on while we loaded and geared up, we were on our way to Italy via les Crêtes.

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    The first thing I noticed was the flags dressing the entrance of our motel now resting softly against their mast, as opposed to the violent bat-out-of-hell flapping of the night before. The weather called for possible thunderstorms, but more to the west of us, Italy promised a bit of clemency.

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    The ride from Aubagne to Genova was extraordinary.

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    More twisties overlooking the sea’s crashing waves. Sheer cliffs of red earth sculpted with deep grooves by the relentless motion of the white foaming, blue breakers.

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    Small beaches.

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    It was magnificent. Denime, Juan Les Pins, La Napoule, Cannes, Aix en Provence, and Nice came and went.

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    The Marina.

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    Into the village.

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    One more.

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    And back on the road.

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    Entering Cannes, just a few days past the Festival.

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    Jackie felt right at home.

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    A few glitzy hotels.

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    Then headed to Monaco and even glitzier (read full of hot air) Monte-Carlo.

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    We took a ride on the Grand Prix, and it was a good thing that the streets were busy, or I might have been tempted to see how much of the 260 km/hr showing on my speedo I could try to reach with the red needle before I chickened out.

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    We toured the small principality, and opted for the Auto Strada to enter Italy through Andorra, and San Remo so we could sprint the last 165 km to Genova where our first night booked in a youth hostel awaited us.

    A classic -The famous casino-.

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    And a couple from the top.

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    As we entered the province of Liguria we were so impressed by the topography of the highway, long bridges closing the gap between very deep gorges, only interrupted by even longer tunnels plunging us into the depths of the mountains, some a long as 5 km.


    We were now in Italy :clap :clap :clap
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    This went on for a good 125 to 150 km, until we reach Genoa our first night in Italia.

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    Nice tarmac.

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    Great view.

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    Despite a few wrong turn, GP safely got us to our youth hostel, which sat completely at the top of the city. We were disappointed, not that we had high expectation but, call it clean and clinical, a huge building that could have once been a school or something of that nature, the place was mostly empty (we had a eight person dormitory for the two of us). Charges 20 € each instead of the advertised 16.

    In Madrid we paid 37 € for a one star hostel, super well located in the downtown area with a TV and the internet in the room. At the youth hostel we had to make and strip our beds, and used our own towels for the first time of the trip. We are not opposed to doing any of it but the price should match.

    Ok ok! We had a nice view.

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    Nighty night, tomorrow we look for the Stelvio.

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    #87
  8. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    After our incongruous night at the hostel, we woke up relatively rested, but nonetheless ready to head for the mountains.

    It was a bit rainy but not so bad, the forecast was calling for partly cloudy skies so we should be ok to make our way out of Genova to Bormio.

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    About 360 km to cover.

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    We opted to bypass Milano and Turino. Broke my heart but we have to make choices, its May 30th and we still have a lot of ground to cover.

    First glimpse of the Alps.

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    I had little prior knowledge of Northern Italy, and it was great to discover this beautiful alpine region that at times felt more like Switzerland than anything else.

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    Just a second before backing out please.

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    Maybe Heidi was Italian after all.

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    So we maintained a straight Northern heading, and entered the Val Camonica valley, just between Bergamo and Brescia.

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    We stop in this town right on the shore of Lago d'Iseo in the province of Lombardi, and had a great meal of pasta e Arugula and cinghiale salsiccia.

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    With a great glass of red that maybe came from here.

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    Then back on the great Italian tarmac to find these great roads tunneling through the Alps.

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    And on the other side.

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    And of course an old church.

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    At times under cloudy skies and even torrential rain, ok ok... and a bit of sun we headed for the mountain, what a smooth and beautiful ride, the Italian Alps were.

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    As you can see, traffic was again a real problem.

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    And we made it to Bormio at the foot of the Stelvio.

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    This time of the year we are just after ski season and before the bicycle season start, a lot of hotels were closed in Bormio.

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    But we found this place with an ok view.

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    Perfect, just what the doctor ordered, a great place to spend the night while I dream of the Stelvio Pass.

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    #88
  9. gaulstat

    gaulstat Keep on riding

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    You two having way to much fun. These pics of Saint-Tropez, Nice and Monaco bring back memories. But this part of France is sooo expensive that it can brake your wallet very fast. :D

    Take care and stay safe.
    #89
  10. Subdivided

    Subdivided Citizen of the World

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    V & J

    Thanks for the great ride report! I am living in Luxembourg since August and will travel many of these same roads in the next 3 years on a Honda XL 1000 Varadero. You have given me a good road-map, and a Goal.

    Sub
    #90
  11. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Yup that's for sure, it's why we opted to stay at l'Étape in Aubagne and just rode through the more expensive spots, more money for Greece.


    The Vara will be a great bike to do this type of ride, you can take it off-road a bit, which we could not do with the ST.

    If you want specific tracks just send me a PM.

    Cheers,
    #91
  12. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    "Freewill":super

    There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
    A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance

    A planet of play things
    We dance on the strings
    Of powers we cannot perceive
    'The stars aren't aligned
    Or the gods are malign...'
    Blame is better to give than receive

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
    I will choose a path that's clear
    I will choose freewill

    There are those who think
    That they were dealt a losing hand
    The cards were stacked against them
    They weren't born in Lotusland

    All preordained
    A prisoner in chains
    A victim of venomous fate
    Kicked in the face
    You can't pray for a place
    In heaven's unearthly estate

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
    I will choose a path that's clear
    I will choose freewill

    Each of us
    A cell of awareness
    Imperfect and incomplete
    Genetic blends
    With uncertain ends
    On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
    I will choose a path that's clear
    I will choose freewill


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    #92
  13. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    One of the most anticipated part of the trip for me was the Stelvio Pass, the highest road in Europe at close to 3000 meters, it consists of 48 hairpin turns in the Italian alps. This road was originally build by the armies of Napoleon to open a way for his troops and armory to attack Austria.

    This morning we again woke to the sound of thunder, and stormy weather as we peaked from our hotel room window.

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    Starring at the white peaks of the Italian Alps surrounding the ski resort town of Bormio in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, just at the edge of the National Park de La Stelvio, we felt more in Switzerland than in Italy.

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    Boy it was wet, pouring out, the peaks were covered by clouds. Over breakfast we reviewed our options; we would first go to the information desk to see if the pass was open, yesterday we had met a couple of German bikers that came in from Milan, and they told us that the latest info on the pass said not open for the season yet. It didn’t look good for today.

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    Hum! what do they do I thought to myself.
    Cliché, but as usual, I expected the best but braced for the worst, and thought about a potential alternative to get to the Adriatic side of Italy from way up here without having to trace back our steps.

    Hence, we headed under heavy downpour to the tourist information place, and to our surprised (or maybe not...) you know serendipity theme for the trip and all.... the pass was open, actually I believe it was open just for us.

    I am a fool, but hey! First day of the season, time to go for a ride.

    We first had to make our way to the top,

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    The 19 km to the top were perfect to get acclimatized to wet and cold.

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    It reminded me of Soccer practice when I was a kid and had to fill in for an absentee goalie, first thing you did was get your cleats and socks wet to the ankles, so you would be ready to dive in the mud hole to make that save.

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    Cascades were impressive.

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    We made our way to the summit, getting wetter and wetter as we climbed and shedding a degree or two every 100 meters or so.

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    Ok half way there let's have a look back.

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    The peaks were magnificent.

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    I'm getting the hang of this, and we are wet and cold, so all is good in the Alps.

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    Come on bring it on, we grew up in Montreal and live in Winnipeg, snow is great.

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    :pynd We're not pussies, we're Canadian Hey!

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    Pressing on.

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    Almost there.

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    And that Valentino dood so cool with his mesh Jacket with a Corona logo at the top of the Italian Alps.

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    By the time we reached the summit it was -2 C and snowing. Yup you got it, it was snowing. I was a bit worried about ice on the road, but differed it to a meteorological misinterpretation on the part of ST. It really was +2 C, despite what the temp gauge said.

    However this reminded me to proceed with caution.

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    So it wasn't very sunny, but considering that the Stelvio is a very coveted spot. At times a territorial battleground between sports cars, crotch rockets, and bicycles for every inch of space on the narrow sinuous pass.

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    Well not today, as we made our way down the mountain, it was not until hairpin 42 that we crossed an Audi Quatro tail gated by a red Ferrari. The Descent was glorious, we had the pass to ourselves, we stopped at least 3 or 4 times to take pictures and admire the view.

    The quintessential Stelvio.

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    Ok, one more.

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    By the time we reached 2400 meters, Mother nature was even kind enough to reduce the snow to a light drizzle, before resuming the downpour a little bit after hairpin 48.

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    To the sounds of RUSH, Freewill if you haven't guessed by now, we twisted and turned at every heart stopping curve, zigged and zagged our way down the Napoleon express, veered, and snaked to the bottom of the Stelvio.

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    Without missing a turn, loosing my line, or causing Jackie to cringe more then required. -not-

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    It was pure bliss, would the weather had been more cooperating we would have shed all the cargo, and turned right back to do it again.

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    But, cliché for cliché, once lucky, twice a fool. Instead we decided on a hot cup of Java, and a piece of almond cake so we could warm up before completing the next 3 hours of riding.

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    And down we were.

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    We remained under steady downpour till the Alps were far behind us and we entered the province of Veneto.

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    With the sun finally peering through the clouds and the air, now warmed up to 25 C, to drying our wet gear. By the time we made it to Padova at about 1600, we had gone through the complete cycle and were almost dry fluffed, and although the adrenaline had left my system a while ago, surges of insanity still made me shiver, or was it moments of pure clarity, moments as they rarely exist, still sending tremors of joy coursing through my veins.

    Hard to tell, but we still had a wide grin on our face some 200 km later. Whatever it was, today was a perfect day, and will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

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    Must rest now tomorrow Venice...
    #93
  14. Catalyst

    Catalyst Explorer

    Joined:
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    Hey J&V,
    Just wanted to check in and say I've really enjoyed reading your report. What a trip! And great pictures too!

    And I grew up in Montreal too...lived in Dorval for 17 years!

    Keep up the great report!

    :clap
    #94
  15. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Thanks for checking in Catalyst,

    I have been busy with our move lately but it's time for another installment.
    #95
  16. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    We would spend the last day of May in the mythical city of Venice. We are now well into the second part of our trip -Italy- a good place to reflect and take the time to breath in all the magical places we were privilege to visit. I know I don't have to try to sell this crowd, but for those of you that are thinking about about a long bike trip, start talking and get planing, until you reach that point of no return and you can let yourself be carried by the wave of things to come. I don't believe trips are ever about time and money, their just about making choices, in our world of instant gratification its sometimes hard to see how those choices will payback in the future. This adventure is for us the most amazing thing we've done yet, but as so many before us all it has really succeeded in doing is setting the stage for things to come.

    Over there to the left, there she is.

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    Ponte della Liberta, would take us as close to the city as possible with anything on wheels.
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    The great thing about riding is the ease of finding parking space. This said, as we arrived at the last parking space possible in Piazzale Roma, ST was again the fattest gal on wheels, and it took a lot of maneuvering until we felt she would be happy to wait for us for the whole day.

    We parked just next to the bus terminal were the "F" points to on the map.
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    And off we went.

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    Recorded, or known history dates Venice as early as 150 AC, however there are no historical records that deal with the origins of the city.

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    To many visitors, it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Build on more then a 100 small islands, the city of water stands at the north of Italy on the coast of the Adriatic. Despite its fairly small size (412 km2) and a population of just 271000, it’s a complicated place to get around in.

    But the mail still gets there on time.

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    The streets are very narrow, some less then 2 meters wide, with building 4 to 6 stories high, and many many bridges, and narrow canals make it very confusing to walkabout.

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    Undoubtedly it's part of its charm, and we had great fun getting lost, and not finding our way. Once you stray away from the Grand Canal it quickly becomes confusing to know where you are in the city.

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    Comparing notes with other tourists just adds to the confusion. To put it in perspective, Venice has a 150 canals, and 409 bridges.

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    No wonder we got lost a lot. What was also a bit disconcerting (in terms of landmark) is the abundance of Murano glass jewelry stores, and boutiques-workshops selling masks, all having more or less similar displays in their windows.

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    Yes yes I know where we are... ask for direction! Why would I do that? I don't know where to go:confused

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    The only remedy to this confusion other then an aspirin was to get on the Vaporetto. The Vaporetto is the water bus that allow you to get around the city of bridges, and let someone else do the thinking.

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    Yes the city is quite beautiful, and being in Piazza San Marco was extraordinary, magical. Venice was crowded with tourist, and at the end of the day we were, if somewhat melancholic, glad the visit was done.

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    What I personally found the most extraordinary about Venice is its absence of anything on wheels. There are no cars, no scooters or motorbikes, and no bicycles. To get around in Venice you either walk, or take some kind of floating device, hence there are no sidewalks, or better there are only sidewalks, the entire city is pedestrian only. To me that was truly special.

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    For those of you who have not been to Venice, don’t take that statement lightly, it is actually quite something to be in a fully functional city without seeing anything on wheels, no road signs, no lights, no stops, no noise. no traffic (there is a bit of noise pollution from boats), but nowhere near as loud as any busy downtown street of any city in the world. It was posted in several places to please walk as you would drive (on the right side of the street) and to avoid stopping on bridges. Nice advice, but from the number of people that were perched on the Ponte Rialto, easier said then done.



    The city is also quite romantic, the gondolas, the piazzas, the small secret corners... As Charles Aznavour sings in if famous "Venise au temps des Amours morts", it must truly be a hearth-wrenching experience to be alone in Venice, on a rainy afternoon thinking about the one that does not share your love for them.

    Indeed quite a romantic place:velvt
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    Jackie was having a good day.

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    She found some friendly critters.

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    The cathedral was another beauty, time to start to tally how the Italians will fare against the Spaniards in the Cathedral contest.

    Saint Mark would get a high mark.

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    And the arches.

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    From this side

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    The famous clock of St Mark, most known in the world after Big Ben, one of the outstanding characteristic of the mechanism is the astronomical indications.

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    Watching the sun set over the canals and lighting the building from a westerly angle was truly mesmerizing.

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    As you would expect Venetians have, like most Italians, a lot of style, and more than anywhere else in our trip so far, tourist were the easiest to spot here. It was quite neat to watch people leaving the opera house, or just sitting in cafés, you could instantly identify the locals. Thinking about locals, I wondered how difficult it would be to live in a city that is so small, and constantly overrun by visitors, indeed something to be proud of, but at times they must get on your nerves.

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    Looking at the Venetians strolling their amazing mazed city, going about their business, they appeared to be quite content and unbothered by their surroundings.

    Ponte Rialto.

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    A quick note on style, if you want something really nice, be prepared to pay. We saw in the window shop of a designer who’s name we were not familiar with, not that I would know much about designer names anyways, a purse that would set you back € 4700.00, add € 1800.00 for the shoes, and € 475.00 for the gloves, and you have the beginning of a very nice ensemble. You will need to add a few more thousands for a skirt, belt, and shirt. Then, step next door to complete everything with a nice negligee for just under € 700.00. Nice if you can afford it.:eek2

    Indeed Jackie was having a great day.

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    Thank you Venice for sharing your magic with us, truly wonderful day in a magical place.

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    Tomorrow we rest and spend the day around Padova, time to get ready for Tuscany....

    Ciao.
    #96
  17. Fat Man Bass

    Fat Man Bass n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Hello twin (bike & name) and Lilianne

    I followed your trip on your blog, but this is a great report.
    I assume 'you did it again' while you wrote this.
    My bike is so happy that you are back in Canada, now she is the only black ST 1300 in the Netherlands, as it used to be...

    We hope to visit you in your new house!

    Take care!

    René and Laura

    ST1300 2006 (the only in Europe) black metallic!!
    #97
  18. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    I am have been having a bit of trouble with photobuckets the last few days:cob , I will try again this weekend to update.

    Thank you for the readership.
    #98
  19. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    June 3,

    We left the province of Veneto, and the city of Padova after a couple of days resting and visiting the beautiful Venice, then Padu, and Treviso.

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    We have been lucky with the weather, it’s perfect for ridding. Hopefully it will hold for a little while. Even if the weatherman's predictions do not seem to be on our side.

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    Next stop is the walled city of Lucca, just for one night, we found a really nice B&B our first Tuscan stop, after a ride through the most famous arched city in the world - Bologna.

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    We had wonderful pasta at a roadside restaurant, and chatted up with some Italian bikers on fancy looking Ducs who had a lot of questions about the ST, and the bufala (buffalo in Italian) on the license plate. (Manitoba plates have a buffalo on them). It was quite fun to explained where we had been, and where we were going. When they asked us if we had flown the ST over from Canada, it reminded me of another traveling tale of long ago.

    The roads were glorious
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    Nice and curvy smooth as silk

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    Pure joy.

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    And more.
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    Quaint little village, the first of many to come.
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    And so the story goes a bit like this:
    Working for the airline industry you do a lot of travel, and surprisingly enough to those that are not familiar with the industry, a lot of this traveling is done by car. This is mostly due to the fact that airline companies have the recurrent habit of going bankrupt, and before you know it, the quest for your next jobs takes you on the road again. Where am I going with all of this? Well back to our Tuscan bikers, and their questions about our trip, and our plate.

    I have crossed Canada many times from East to West and back, seeking that ever-elusive airline jobs. For the longest time my car was plated from Quebec (the province only requires one plate in the back). So in the front I had placed a Hawaii plate with the prodigal slogan of the islands: “ALOHA”, I was then asked countless times by as many countless people: “But... but... how d’you get the car in the boat?”

    I am unsure what the fascination is with plates from a foreign land, but they seem to instigate as much conversation as the last team to qualify for the Euro cup, or this time of year the Super bowl.

    From this
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    To this

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    Ok, ok! Enough about plates, and back to Tuscany. We left Lucca around 10:00 (sorry not many pics of the city the 3 batteries of the camera were dead).

    View from the room of the B&B

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    A short hour drive true rolling hills with twisties galore, was a great start to what would be a wonderful day.

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    Since we have now ridden over 8500 km, I thought it would be time for ST to get an oil change, so the original plan was to drop her at the Honda spa that stands a stone throwaway from the leaning tower of Pisa, spend a few hours at the monuments around the oblique tower, pick up ST, and head to our second Tuscan stop, Heart of Tuscany, a hostel in the middle of an olive grove, some 10 km from the sleepy village of Lamporeccio, where we would relax for a few days. Once again thanks to lastminute.com.

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    What a great morning ride this was.

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    Well, so that plan did not work, three of the mechanics at the shop where out with the flu, and the boss would be alone for at least the next three or four or days, funny how its always the boss that’s left alone. So instead of getting its fluid changed ST also got to see the leaning tower of Pisa.

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    And what a site it was.

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    And I do mean a site, although I could also say what a sight it was.

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    It's the lean to look at the leaning tower picture.

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    The phrase “Piazza dei Miracoli” (the Miracle Square) coined by Gabriele D’Annunzio, epitomizes the amazement and admiration that for centuries have seized those who, upon passing through the gateway of the circle of walls from via San Maria, embrace in one single glance the pure whiteness of the monuments, with its leaning tower rising over the lush green of the turf. One is also amazed by the unique isolation of the group of monuments.

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    The large walled area where the sacred buildings rise is actually on the edges of town, in the northwestern corner. Jackie and Valentino were quite impressed, and ST was beside herself.

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    That Valentino dood is so slick.

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    As I climb the 300 steps to the bell tower, I could not help but ponder on the millions if not billions of feet that have done the same before me. There are actually deep rounded grooves in the white marble steps formed by years, and years of trampling.

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    It was phenomenal, so many amazing things to see in the world and so little time to do it.

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    The tower of Pisa was absolutely amazing.

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    Plus, you do get that funny feeling due to the angle on the south facade, of going down as you walk up the steps, and going up as you walk down the steps. Sounds confusing?

    View from the top:

    The Cathedral

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    The Bell

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    Pisa to the left.

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    And Pisa to the right.

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    We then rewarded ourselves with a chocolate and pistachio gelato from a Gelateria propria (home made).

    Well in very short that was Pisa. We got back on ST, she was especially frisky from having been included in the visit, and quickly made our way via some more twisties to the Heart of Tuscany.

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    Ciao Pisa molto gracie

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    The way to our villa.

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    And the view from the balcony.

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    Tomorrow I think we have a date with Firenze...
    #99
  20. Subdivided

    Subdivided Citizen of the World

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Luxembourg, Western Europe
    The Adventures of J&V! Thanks for posting!

    The weather here in Luxembourg has been well below 0 grad for the past several weeks, unusually cold for this area I am told. This makes the roads very slick, even with the salt.

    I have managed to get in a weekly ride though, Sundays around nearby:

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    My wife Diana goes along for the ride on the Varadero

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    "Some will sell their dreams for small desires
    Or lose the race to rats
    Get caught in ticking traps
    And start to dream of somewhere
    To relax their restless flight

    Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights..."

    (Niel Peart)


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