BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Saturday, 15 December 2012

We're in Pezenas, Southern France, and nice and warm.


I read the weather report on the net first thing in the morning and it said - Pezenas, nine degrees at nine am today, heading for a high of eleven, and a high of FIFTEEN tomorrow. Now that's exciting.

As we loaded our gear on the bike I could tell it wasn't going to be really cold like it has been. The air didn't have that icy chill to it it's had for days. Once we got going I checked the thermometer and it was reading eleven degrees, and it stayed between eleven and fourteen all day. I even took one pair of gloves off at our first stop.

It's incredible what a difference a bit of warmth can make. We rode the 360 kilometres to Penzenas with only one stop today, and that was because we were hungry, not cold. You'd think I'd be happy wouldn't you? No, I wasn't. The wind today was like nothing I can remember experiencing before. It was gusting from all directions. Those of you that don't ride won't understand how hard that makes riding, especially when overtaking trucks. A big gust of wind can actually blow you right off the road. It happened to a friend of mine in South America this week. Luckily it was only for an hour or so, but I was ready for a break and was happy to stop for lunch.

I still can't get my head around the road signs in Europe. We're belting down a highway in France, and the road sign says 305 kilometres to Barcelona. It does my head in that we could ride through three or four countries in one day over here.

Something that did make me chuckle was we were cruising down the motorway at about twenty kilometres over the limit when a Police car pulled along side us. I thought "Oh oh!" but he just went straight past, with another car (non Police) right on his tail. When the Police car moved over, the other car passed him and sped off into the distance. He must have been doing at least fifty kilometres an hour over the limit, but the Police didn't care. Just like home eh? NOT!

We had a little bit of an issue at a toll booth on the way. They are automated and you take a ticket when you enter the toll way. When you exit, you put your ticket in the machine and it tells you you have to pay so many Euros. We've been doing this for months without a problem, but not today. We inserted the ticket, no problem so far. Then the machine wouldn't accept my credit card, or the second card, or notes, or coins. These booths pump through a huge number of cars very quickly, so as soon as you stop you have two or three cars waiting behind you, and they are impatient, and they don't mind letting you know that you are holding them up.

Suzanne pushed the "Help" button and we got a recorded message, in French of course. I must admit that I did have a bit of a chuckle when Suzanne asked the recorded message if it spoke English. LOL. (insert Suzanne here . . . "actually Simon you weren't chuckling at all as I recall, cursing more like it!" ) Eventually a staff member came over and sorted out the problem for us and we were on our way. I did stop and get some cash along the next section just in case though.

I took a punt and booked a cheap hotel on line because it's in the middle of town and near the markets. We were a little dubious as to it's quality but it's bloody fantastic. As soon as we arrived the guy from reception took me down to the garage so I could park my bike in there all locked up safe and sound.

Then I walked into reception...

The dining room next to reception.

OK, it's not like new, but it has real character. I can see myself sitting in one of those chairs a few hundred years ago wearing a powdered wig and taking snuff. The floors upstairs have an open area looking down to the ground floor breakfast area...

The hotel is full of antiques and is a treasure trove to explore. We're loving it. I can only imagine what it would have been like in it's heyday. The rooms are thoroughly modern, right down to the huge HD TV in the corner.

We had a quick look around town.

Then we had some pre dinner drinks...

...and a meal then made our way back to the hotel for an early night. 

While wandering around town we did spot a barber shop that specialises in tribal hair cuts...I'm wondering what I should get done...and trying to talk Suzanne into the same. Wish me luck.

Tomorrow we visit the famous Pezenas Markets.

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