BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Thursday, 31 May 2012


Touchdown - United Kingdom.


27/5/12

No photos today peoples. We were all far to busy catching up with friends to pick up a camera.

After a quick seven hour flight we were on the ground in the UK in London. Paige saw a Harry Potter World brochure on the way out and just about fell over herself to get to it. Just reading it made her super excited. Then she asked when we are going and I told her it was on our last day in the UK. I think she would have gone there straight from the airport. Of course the first thing we had to do after passing through immigration was...go shopping. We didn't even make it out of the airport. So after picking up some supplies (Gin, Whiskey, and perfume for Paige) in the duty free shop, we were off to pick up our hire car.

Now this trip doesn’t have an unlimited budget so we hired a car from a smaller company that doesn’t have pick up facilities at the airport. We were to be picked up outside the terminal and taken to the offsite office to pick up our rent-a-rocket. So after about 30 minutes our lift arrived and took us to the office. Another 30 minutes of paper shuffling and then squeezing six suitcases in the car we were ready to go in our black Hyundai something or other.

No problems, plug in the Garmin sat nav with the brand new European maps installed, punch in the address, and we’ll be off. Half an hour later after cursing and swearing Suzanne went back into the office and got a Google maps print out with directions to our host’s home. Now, my Facebook friends will have read about the dramas I had with my Tom Tom and not being able to load the European maps that I had bought. I picked my Tom Tom up the day before we left after leaving it at a shop for two weeks to be sorted out, with no luck. I left it sitting on my desk at home and will contact Tom Tom when I finally calm down. I decided I’d take the Garmin to use in the car then buy a new bike sat nav in the UK for the trip. Now the #^*!@# Garmin wouldn't work. There was a little tension in the car as we followed Google’s directions and got lost a few times but eventually we rocked up at Julie (one of Suzanne’s publishers) and Brian’s house.

We haven’t seen Julie or Brian for a few years and they have been working extremely hard at losing weight recently. We've seen a few photos but when we saw Brian we were blown away. The results are AMAZING. Brian, with his 30 inch waist, looks super fit and I keep telling him not to stand next to me because he makes me look even fatter than I am. Julie was out at a family function and was due back soon.

An added bonus, one of our face painting friends was there to greet us as well. Carla-Jane (a real nut case) presented us with a mobile phone we can use in the UK and keep in touch. Carla is a crack up and has decided she’s coming to Disneyland Paris with us. I'm not sure if Paige is ready for this. 

We all headed out for a pub meal. Now, Aussies, hang onto your hats. Dinner for five people including drinks was….55 GBP! About $90. Everything over here is so cheap, except petrol.

Julie rolled up at the pub after about an hour. Julie has dropped 70 kg since we last saw her. That’s like losing a whole Paige in weight. It’s taking some getting used to because although it sounds like Julie, it definitely doesn't look like Julie. It is a little bit weird and like having a different person around. 

It’s so good to catch up with these guys. We’re pretty happy to be here .   : )

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

We're on our way - First stop Dubai, U.A.E.


24/5/12

After a 6am start and an all nighter finishing off most of the "must do" things before the trip,we finally loaded into a taxi and headed to the airport at about 3.30 am. The Emirates flight left spot on time at 6 am and our adventure was under way.

This is Paige's first time overseas and after ten hours in the air we touched down in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. We had planned a three night stopover just to break up the extra long flight to the UK. Boy am I glad we did.

Paige was a bit freaked out by the number of people at the airport (it's a little bigger that Perth's airport) and the range on nationalities all chatting away at maximum volume. It was sensory overload on top of  a very tiring flight and left Paige a bit uncomfortable. The fact that every male over the age of twelve was staring at her probably didn't help either.

We rocked up to our hotel, The Raffles Dubai, and were welcomed by the friendliest bunch of staff you could imagine. We were shown to the Club Lounge and introduced to Anup who was there to take care of us. Unfortunately when Anup showed us to our room there was a bit of a mix up with the beds, so Anup quickly raced us off to the Club Lounge for a comfy seat, some tasty snacks, and drink while he sorted it out. Anup came back with a beaming smile and asked us to follow him to our new room. He sorted out the problem alright. He transferred us to a suit that was about 140 square meters, with a spa, dinning room, lounge room,  three large balconies, and so on. 

Paige chillin' in the lounge while Suzanne Facebooks at the desk in the background

Suzanne's candle lit spa in our bedroom.

Slumming it. The night view from our room.

The views were 180 degrees from inside, but from the balcony you could see around about 270 degrees. It was soooo big Suzanne actually complained that it was to far to walk to the toilet! I pointed out she could always use the second toilet off the entrance hall. My favourite feature was the push button curtains. Push a button to open or close all the curtains in the suit. Magnificent! The butler was a nice touch, but not really our style.

There was a huge shopping mall next to hotel so obviously the first thing we had to do was go shopping. We wandered around a near empty shopping centre then down into the Souk which was a maze of little stalls and very "enthusiastic" sales people. As you would expect, the girls found something to buy. Paige bought a pair of shoes and Suzanne bought a pashmina. We did find a very interesting art shop that sold embossed aluminium, coloured, clear coated artwork. The stories behind the works were wonderful, but they just didn't suit our d├ęcor at home, which is early Australian messy.


By this time we were all pretty much exhausted, so after a room service dinner it was off for a good night's sleep.


The level of service by the staff here is exceptional – Aussies should train here

25/5/2012

After a delicious (late) breakfast we were off on a City Tour for the afternoon. We climbed on the bus and I sat next to Paul from Sydney who rides a Triumph Tiger 800 and bagged his local dealer. Behind me was another Aussie guy who rode a Suzuki VZ800 but was half thinking about buying a new Triumph Adventure 1200. He was a little surprised that I knew so much about the bike when I filled him in about it, but I'm pretty sure he will buy one now.


The tour took us through new Dubai to the museum. After the museum we jumped on a Dhow (small boat) and sailed across The Creek to Old Dubai. Here we visited a spice souk and a gold souk.

Dubai Museum

A Dhow similar to the one we were on. Health and safety? Life jackets? Yeah right.

This shot doesn't show the seething hoards at the gold souk. It doesn't show the stacks and stacks and stacks of gold in EVERY shop in the place either.

Spice souk. What a range of aromas there were in this place.

Paige struggled again with the pushy guys trying to sell us anything and everything and started to get a bit angry. We had a bit of a chat and I explained that they were just trying to make a dollar and this is how they do it here. The whole idea of travelling is to experience different ways of life. I told here to just give them a firm no thank you with a smile, and to keep walking. She settled down a bit a coped alright after that.



Suzanne had no such problem and promptly found a nice pendant. It was in the form of a snake and made of black gold and encrusted with black diamonds (no, I hadn't heard of them before either). Even after a little haggling I could only get it down to $15,000 AUD. No, you won't see Suzanne wearing it.

Now as you know, I'm a fairly friendly person and don't mind making the first move to get to know people, but...according to Suzanne it’s not the done thing to speak to the women who are wearing the full black head, face, and body covering outfit. I guess that’s why when I smiled and said good morning to one as she got out of the lift I didn't get a reply. How rude! : ) I was just trying to do my bit for international relations.

Back at the hotel it was off to the Club Lounge again for a few pre dinner drinks (A very nice Malbec from Argentina) and nibbles. Our new best friend Anup showed up. He is brilliant at his job. After a friendly welcome he asked where Miss Paige was then spent a lot of time chatting to us. When Suzanne looked at the wine label he said “You are interested in design” and we both thought “how did he know that?” He watched Suzanne look at the label but study the logo and run her finger over it, not read the back of the bottle. So he knew it wasn't the wine, but the label she was interested in. Like I said, he is VERY good at his job. Anup, if you are reading this, please tell your boss we said you deserve a raise,

After a fantastic Dinner at the Fire and Ice restaurant in the hotel it was time for a bit of fun. So on the way out I approached a table of Aussies, put on my best French accent (which one of the women thought was Italian, so it mustn't have been very good) and asked if they were Australians. When they replied yes I got stuck into them. You Australians are so arrogant, loud and obnoxious all night. I was trying to enjoy my dinner with my wife and daughter and you ruined it" and so on. After I thought they were uncomfortable enough, I just smiled, and said "Got Ya!" The looks on their faces were gold. After a few laughs we finished the day about midnight back in our room. A perfect way to finish off a night out, although Suzanne and Paige may disagree.26/5/2012
We're a bit sad today is our last day here as we love it. Paige is pretty keen to get to London though.

Paige and I did a dad and daughter thing and went to the Dubai Mall while Suzanne was getting pampered in the spa at the hotel. We found a pair of Paige brand jeans at Bloomingdale's. 



Winner. We had to buy a pair of those. We then spent four hours wandering around this huge shopping centre looking for a top, with no luck. This shopping centre is enormous and has an indoor ice skating rink, an underwater aquarium that houses thousands of fish with a glass tunnel in the middle that you can walk through, and some phenomenal shops.


That afternoon it was time for us to head out on our Desert Safari. Wow, you have to do this if you are in Dubai. It's a fantastic blast through the sand dunes in the desert in Land Cruisers (about 40) with a few photo stops on the way. Suzanne’s line of the day as we bumped up and down over the dunes was “I think I need a new bra” which got a good laugh in the Cruiser. Our driver Waqim was from Pakistan. Wokka as we called him was a very funny guy and obviously enjoys his job, a lot. Every time we came up to a speed hump on the way there or any bumps in the he’d say “Bumpy bumpy” and it is now a part of our vocabulary. He gave us a running commentary as we drove through the desert, with quite a few jokes thrown in. Did he really go to university and study “Camelology” so he could answer any question we asked? Suzanne and Paige loved it. Then we stopped at a Bedouin camp for a big feed and drinks, Falcon (bird) show, camel rides, belly dancing, henna artists, sand writing and more. Paige bought a glass bottle with sand writing in it. It shows a desert scene in multi coloured sand, complete with camel, and 2012 in a heart.  The Safari costs $100 a head and it is probably the best value you'll ever get for $100.


Yahoo! Four wheel driving in the dunes.

The falconing demonstration in the desert.

Four wheel driving in the dunes. Hang on Suzanne.

Our family in the desert. One of us doesn't need to lose weight!

Our little sand angel holding the sun in her fingers.

27/5/12

After an early 4.30 am start to go to the airport it was a sad good bye to Dubai. A last bit of shopping was done at the airport with Paige bagging a "Sleepy Camel” soft toy. We bought some camel milk chocolate and a couple of wooden carved souvenirs. Paige had obviously gotten over her culture shock and coped with the airport very well today and is very excited about getting to England.


One very noticeable thing we all felt in Dubai was customer service isn’t just a phrase, it is almost a way of life. Every single person we spoke to would go out of their way to help you however they could. We need to send anyone in Australia in the service industry to Dubai for training.


Three days definitely wasn't enough time to do Dubai justice, it’s so much more than I thought it would be. Next time we go it will be for a week at least. And we won't be staying anywhere else but the Raffles. Cheers Anup.

Product reviews:

Raffles Hotel Dubai. You know I love it. If you stay there please say hello to Anup for us. http://www.raffles.com/dubai/


Desert Safari by Arabian Adventures.  Bloody fantastic day out. A must do in Dubai and we'll do it again when we go. http://www.arabian-adventures.com/en/tours-and-safaris/index.aspx

Thursday, 17 May 2012



Almost time to go.

17/5/12

Well we're off in seven days for the start of our family holiday, then the start of our epic adventure. There hasn't been much happening around here apart from organising the last details for the trip, and trying to finish the house renovation. The trip is coming along OK but the renovation has very been slow progress with only a couple of rooms finished. To make things interesting the internet went down yesterday for 24 hours, and I woke up to a pool of water on the bathroom floor this morning due to a leaking cistern. Just another couple of little jobs to take care of. Oh yes, my Tom Tom spat the dummy and refused to upload my new European maps so it was sent to the Tom Tom doctor who after a week said he can't get it to work either. This is all happening as we try to prepare for our going away party on Saturday. To say things are a little tense around here at the moment would be an understatement!

Luckily I escaped for a weekend ride on my Speed Triple last weekend. Twelve of us rode down to Margaret River and stayed over Saturday night. It was a lot of fun and the 550 Km ride in perfect conditions on Saturday soothed my frazzled nerves. There's nothing like a good ride to make you feel human again. The odd beer or two Saturday night didn't hurt either.

A couple of years ago I had a little run in with a kangaroo while I was out riding and spent a bit of time in hospital and a few weeks off work. I now get nervous whenever I see kangaroo signs on the side of the road. On the weekend ride we rode through a town called Collie and this sign greeted us on the way in:

A 'roo warning sign just for me.

Then to add insult to injury, we stopped at a brewery just out of Margaret River for a cleansing ale. It was late in the day and as we were leaving a young waitress came over to me and said "Be careful riding into town. We had a guy hit a kangaroo and come off just down the road a few weeks ago". Anyone would think they were out to get me. 

With a little luck the blog will get a bit more interesting as on next week. Check in and let me know what you think.

Well, back to work. My next post should be from the airport as we ready to board. Yahoo!