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Bill just asked me to write up about our epic 2001 Euro tour to bring his web site up to date, it takes me all my time to remember what happened yesterday let alone 3.5 years ago!
Billy & Karen on BMW teamed with Dave & Jen on a Harley for a tour of Europe

 
Map showing route taking on the tour

3,500 miles in 19 days, four people on two very different bikes. Bill you know about from this great web site, Karen is also mentioned on the site as Billís long suffering wife Ė well she had an announcement just as we left that Bill and Karen were expecting a new family member who later turned out to be Paul! Well I get ahead of my self, I am Dave Badcock a long time biking buddy of Billís but our routes rarely cross now because I ride a Harley Davidson Electra Glide and as you know Bill uses a BMW Adventurer! My wife also now rides with me, especially when we head south! Jen and I have now been married nearly 32 Happy Years and for the last five or so have ridden together, now on a 100th Anniversary Electra Glide.

So back to the Euro Tour 2001.  Our furthest target point was Zagreb in Croatia.  Bill was our lead organiser and his years of travel experience paid of big style in many ways during the trip.  We had, for a change elected to take different ferries out and home, Portsmouth/Bilbao out and Ijmuiden/Newcastle back.

Day 1. 15th May 2001; South Shields to Portsmouth 369 Miles. 

An uneventful ride down in reasonable weather, a good omen for day one.  We arrived in Portsmouth in plenty of time and found a few members of Geordie Chapter HOG at the ferry terminal.  Their bikes were immaculate – I later discovered that they had ‘vanned’ the bikes down to the ferry!  They were headed for the Harley Owners Group (HOG) European Rally to be held in St.Tropez the following weekend.

Day 2. 16th May 2001; Bay of Biscay. 

Having been a merchant seaman for six years and left due to Mal de Mer ; then the less said about the crossing the better!

Day 3. 17th May 2001; Bilbao to Andorra 349Miles. 

What?  Inclement weather!  Rain in Spain, whatever next.  We met the Geordie HOG people at one ‘rain’ stop and that was the last we saw of them.  Made a couple of minor wrong turns and spent a pleasant evening in country three (UK is one, Spain is two, Andorra is three).

Day 4.  18th May 2001; Andorra to Arles 247 Miles. 

The altitude of Andorra meant snow covered peaks and snow at the side of the road for the passes, but it was a brilliant day with a clear blue sky for the run into country 4, France, this before the Euro was introduced in January 2002; so Bill was the treasurer – balancing and dealing with each new currency.

Day 5. 19th May 2001; Arles to St.Tropez 122 Miles. 

Who would have believed there was room at the inn when a HOG rally was in town?  We had not booked but all knew I would love some time with my fellow HOG Members at our annual European bash.  This was the first I had missed in all the years of membership – we were on a greater mission but the opportunity to have one night with my fellow Harley Riders was too much too miss.  We sneaked in along the beach and soon met up with many mates from the UK who had travelled across Europe for this event.  Harley riders do do the miles; our bikes are not only mobile works of art but also they are practical mile crunching iron steeds (wonder if that bit will stay in on Bills BMW biased site!).


HOG Rally St Tropez


Dave gets a chance to catch up his Mates

Day 6.20thMay 2001; St.Tropez to to Rapallo 208 Miles. 

We took the opportunity to visit Monaco as the Grand Prix had just finished.  Country 5 in the form of Italy.  Rapallo is just along from the Cote de Azure and is the Italian equivalent; it’s seen better days but we had a very pleasant evening there.


That film festival was here last year when I passed through as well


Dave and jen outside casino Monte Carlo, Monaco

Day 7. 21st May 2001; Rapallo to Assisi, 251 Miles. 

On the way to this historic walled town we took in Pisa.  Now that was a great call by Bill to check out the very famous leaning tower – work was afoot to shore up the ancient towers footings so we could not climb to the top; probably best in Karen’s condition!  Then a magnificent overnight in the walled town of Assisi, we had to prove we had accommodation inside this medieval walled town just to ride into it.  A smaller version of York but beautifully formed.


Karen and Jen at Pisa...is that building safe?


Everyone does it


Jen and Dave at .....???? been twice now

Day 8.22nd May 2001; Assisi to Florence, 106 Miles.

  A very short run today so we had the morning exploring the convent and monastery of St.Assisi.  On arrival in the bustling metropolis of Florence Bill and I were dispatched to the Launderette while the girls went to the bar!  We soon had the weeks wash sorted and stowed away.

 
a group shot outside Cathedral , Assisi , Italy


Assisi is a delightful spot


Florance by night

Day 9. 23rd May 2001; Florence to Florence, 0 Miles. 

Florence deserves at least a day to explore.  We separated today to have a bit of time on our own, Jen and I thought the Ponte Vechhi was the high point and of course all the Cathedrals.

Florance is wonder for Photographs

Day 10.  24th May 2001; Florence to Ljubljana, 383 Miles. 

Country 6, Slovenia and what a beautiful place.  It is going back in time and all the better for that.  Definitely worth the ride.

Ljubljana is a pretty spot

Day 11. 25th May 2001; Ljubljana to Maribor via Zagreb, 314 Miles. 

Country 7 and Croatia had the best border welcome ever.  The usually dower border guard burst into life with “Are you tourists? Welcome to my country!”.  He appeared genuinely pleased that we were visiting his country.  In the centre of Zagreb there were hordes of students all in brightly coloured t-shirts celebrating the end of term.  Then back to Slovenia to Maribor and the best hotel of the trip.  Bill has a patented hotel scoring system and the hotel gained full marks in all categories.  They even had a bike jet wash and a uniformed hotel man who helped use it!  When we advised the Hotel they had max’d out our scoring system they presented us with two bottles of wine.


Dave never misses a opertunity to clean the bike


Zargreb


The hotel at Maribor is special 10/10

Day 12.26th May 2001; Maribor to Salzburg 223 Miles. 

 


The hotel even had a bike wash and a man to help us...


Salzburg

Day 13. 27th May 2001; Salzburg to Innsbruck 155 Miles. 

The low mileage day meant we could explore Salzburg. Today’s twin highlight was a visit to the Von Traps gaffe from the Sound of Music and Adolf Hitler’s summer gaffe the Crows Nest. Two very different owners but both stunning visits.


Home of the Von Trappe Family "Sound of Music"


Hitlers nest tour

Day 14.  28th May 2001; Innsbruck to Interlaken 230 Miles. 

We had a new experience today.  In the Alps a pass was closed so we stuffed our bikes onto a train and went through the tunnel. 

We only just made the train and Jen and Karen caught it by the skin of their teeth as they had hoped off the bikes to get snacks but it nearly caused them to miss the train; of course it had to be Bill and my fault!


Too much snow so we put the bikes on the train

Day 15. 29th May 2001; Interlaken to Interlaken 0 Miles. 

Our second rest/wash day but what a treat today, once again Bill’s Euro travel experience paid of in Spades.  He had tried to get a weather window in the past to visit the Jungfraujoch at 3,571m (11,782ft) the Top of Europe

because on a cloudy day it would be a waste of a brilliant

view – we got that day, bright blue sky with not a cloud in sight.  Three trains, the last a rack & pinion job and we were at the centre of a Glacier where a tunnel complete with ice sculptures lead us to the mountaintop.  What a view.  We celebrated with the Maribour wine!  If you are anywhere near Interlaken and it is a blue-sky make the effort to climb to the top of Europe you will not be disappointed.


Top of the world tour

Day 16. 30th May 2001; Interlaken to Hochenschwald 118 Miles. 

I had booked the Swallows Nest just South of Titisee on the Black Forest Highway (oh by the way country 12 – I should have said Austria as 9, Switzerland as 10, Liechtenstein 11!) and the hoteliers called to say they had to leave the hotel to visit friends, my one booking contribution and it was going pear shape – but no; it was a proper biker place and they would leave the key for us under the door mat!  How is that for respect?  The hotel is picture book perfect and a short walk from a fantastic forest retreat where our evening meal was prepared.  The prolific mosquitoes had a feast too on Jen and Karen.


Casino Interlaken

Day 17. 31st May 2001; Hochenschwald to Dusseldorf 331 Miles. 

Heading homeward now and getting into industrial North Europe but I had many a happy night in the Alt Stad (Old Town) of Dusseldorf so this was my second hotel booking and of course I had not secured bike parking; soon sorted we were right in the Heart of Dusseldorf and had a brilliant end of trip beer orgy in the many micro breweries selling the Old Town Beer.

Day 18. 1st June 2001; Dusseldorf to Ijmuden 155 Miles.

 As always those last few miles on holiday have mixed emotions, joy at the thought of your own bed but sadness that it is back to work to pay of those imminent credit card bills!

Day 19. 2nd June 2001;  Ijmuden to Home 5 Miles.

That’s it country 14 (Holland was 13) and about 3,500 miles.  BMW back brake taken apart twice, not sure why, and one passing lamp on the Glide blew on the last day so effectively no bike related problems which is brilliant.  Our target destination was achieved and the doubts about travelling in Croatia well and truly expunged.  Mountains and rivers crossed, weather tamed and home safe and sound wiser for the experience just what having a bike is all about – Riding Your Bike and Having Fun.

Facts
day
where
Country
miles
total
Staying at
cost
1. Portsmouth UK 369      
2. Bay of Biscay Spain 0 369    
3. Andorra Andorra 349 718   £115
4. Arles France 247 965   420sf
5. St.Tropez France 122 1087    
6. Rapallo Italy 208 1295   200k li
7. Assisi, italy 251 1546 il Palazzo  
8/9. Florence, Italy 106 1652 Bonciani 260k li
10. Ljubljana   383 2035 Best Western  
11. Maribor   314 2349 Hababuk £100
12. Salzburg Austria 223 2572 johreszerei  
13. Innsbruck Austria 155 2727 innsbruck 1690as
14/15. Interlaken Switzerland 230 2957 Crystal  
16. Hochenschwald Germany 118 3075    
17. Dusseldorf Germany 331 3406    
18. Ijmuden Holland 155 3561    
19. Home   5 3566    
             

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14-Oct-2009