BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Friday, 17 August 2012

The only way is Essex.

8, 9, 10/8/12

We're squatting at Brian and Julie Oliver's home in South Ockenden, Essex at the moment. There's not much going on as we're in the planning and preparation stage for the next leg of the trip. We have spent four days in pure luxury in the Oliver's Summer House. One place, with a room, and a real bed, for four days. This was a real treat. It was actually a double recliner, but boy was it comfortable. I slept like a baby.

Our palatial abode at the Oliver's.

We emptied every bag and box we have on the bike and have a selection of stuff we can get rid of. Less weight, excellent.

I rode up to Heather's in Watford and picked up our two small suitcases and some paperwork had we left there. We'll need this stuff for the cruise. I must have looked a real sight riding down the Motorway with purple and silver suitcases strapped on the sides of the bike. Once I got back to Essex and opened the cases I discovered our paperwork wan't there. I mustn't have put it in the cases like I thought and in it was our invitation letter to Ukraine. To get a visa to visit Ukraine you must have an invitation letter or it's no go. My stress level went through the roof. We have cut it fine time wise to even get a visa before we leave on the cruise, and of course we'll need our passports for that. Now without this letter we had a real problem. We emailed our contact, Lisa at Harvey World Travel Booragoon, to see if she could arrange another letter, or had a copy of the original. I didn't even know if the Ukrainian Embassy would accept a copy. Because of the the time difference we had to wait overnight for a reply. Stress! 

While we were waiting for our email from Lisa, we finally made it to a laundrette. We washed all our clothes (except for the ones we've been wearing for four days, sniff, sniff), and boy did they need it. Now we just needed to wash the clothes we were wearing and our riding gear and we'll be as fresh as a couple of daises. We were so happy the we went to the local for lunch and a drink.

I woke this morning to find an email from Lisa. She's a gem. She came to our rescue and sent us a copy of our invitation letter to the Ukraine. It was on the bike and off to the Ukrainian Embassy, with our invitation letter in our hot little hands, to apply for our visas. Visa applications are only accepted between nine am and twelve thirty, London is only about an hour away. We're on the road. No problem.

There is some sort of sporting event on in London at the moment (obviously the Aussies aren't competing as we've heard nothing about it) and because of this a lot of roads are closed, and some are reduced to one lane with a dedicated Olympic vehicle lane. It works really well, if you are an Olympian. The traffic was bedlam. 

We finally got to the embassy, with a little time to spare. I was expecting to have a problem here (again, preconceived ideas are usually wrong) and had double and triple checked we had every necessary piece of paper possible, so we were ready. Or so I thought. "Where is your proof of insurance?" What? Nowhere on any form did it mention we needed this. Luckily I thought to bring along our laptop with our life on it. Of course this meant we had to go and find somewhere to print off copies of the insurance documents. It was only fifteen minutes before the visa section of the embassy closed, and it was Friday. If we didn't get this done today, it would be another three days before we got everything sorted. The gentleman behind the bulletproof glass just smiled and said "Go and get your copies, pay for the visa applications at the bank, come back, knock on the door, and I'll let you in". And true to his word he did. We had a nice chat while he processed our paperwork. Job done. Our passports with visas, will be available on the 28th, and we fly out to Rome and meet my sister on the third.

Now we are in a foreign country and have no passports. It's an odd feeling.

Just down the road from the embassy we found Portobello Road so we spent a couple of hours wandering around here and looking at shoes and stuff. My favourite pass time. At least we had some lunch, and a very nice ice cream.

We finished of the day with a very nice dinner with Brian and Julie at Tarantino's Restaurant. All in all a pretty good result.

Suzanne and Julie glammed up for dinner.
(Rex's Buff made a sneak appearance here.)

The plan now is to spend a couple of weeks tripping around England and Wales while we wait for our visas. It will be a good chance to catch up with some friends.

Where's Rex's Buff?

It had to be Julie today. Jules has lost about 70 kg over the last twelve months. Well done Jules. You're a legend.

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