BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Our bike is heading for a new home.


After a little holiday and a rest in Wales, our mighty BMW has been sold and is heading off on a sea voyage to it's new owner Max, who lives in Paraguay. The bike is very lucky and has had a nice comfortable, and safe, custom crate built for the trip.

Strapped down safe and sound...

...then wrapped up...

...the box is built...

...and sealed up for the trip.

I owe a huge thank you to my mates Leigh, Aidan, and Erin (you remember them from our side trip to Cartagena in Spain) for all their efforts in taking care of the logistics at the Wales end. It was no simple thing to make all this happen, so thank you gentlemen. The pints are on me next time we meet. Yes, I know it will be very expensive.

I'm not sure how long it will be before the BM will roll it's wheels on South American soil but I'm sure it's looking forward to stretching it's legs again. Max plans to ride the BM to Brazil next year for the World Cup. I'm still very sad that we couldn't bring the bike home, but I'm glad it's going to a new owner who will use it as intended. Enjoy "your" new bike Max, I know you'll take good care of it.

I'm also pretty happy that I now have my first contact in South America as touring there is still on my bucket list. We will meet up and ride together one day Max.☺

At home things are pretty quiet. I've spent the last three weeks filling in for a friend at a bike shop while he was on holidays and thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe I should get back into retail? I'm still looking for a full time job. A few things have been offered but I don't think it's fair to an employer to just take on a role as a fill in until I find the job I really want.

In the meantime I'm getting sooky, reading about the Moto Clube Faro concentracion last week, and catching up on moto friend's blogs who are still travelling, and enjoying the amazing weather in Europe.

I really do miss being on the road.

Friday, 21 June 2013

The adventure is over and we're home.

Friday 24/5/13

After losing a day in the air we touched down in Perth at about one am on Friday morning. Usually it takes a long time to clear customs and immigration. As we'd been to so many countries during our trip we ticked yes to just about every box on the entry cards declaring we had plant material, we'd visited farms, had medication, and so on. We were expecting a long delay in completing all the formalities of arrival in Australia.

It took all of about ten minutes before we walked out the front door of Perth Airport. Yahoo! That was a real bonus. Suzanne's sister Kathy drew the short straw and picked us up, which was lucky as we couldn't have paid for a taxi if we had to get one.

It felt very strange walking up to our front door.

We were given a normal but sedate greeting from our old dog Milo, while Vader just barked at us and wouldn't come near us. After about ten minutes I think Milo remembered who we were and went a bit crazy. After another teen minutes Vader did the same. Jasmine the cat did the normal cat thing and just looked at us as if to say "Oh, have you been away?"

We'll see Paige in the morning.

So, that's about it for our epic adventure...but, planning is already under way for the next trip.

The top of Alaska to the bottom of South America?

Africa top to bottom?

Who knows?

Where ever it is though, you can be sure it will be the Wrong Way Round. I'll be updating the blog every couple of weeks or so as I build my Suzuki DR750 Adventure bike. There is a Horizons Unlimited in Perth in October, so I have a deadline to have this up and running.

For more info on the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Perth, go here:

I went outside to clean my Suzuki a year ago before we left.
It ended up like this, with everything sand blasted ready for a ground up rebuild.

Maybe I'll see you back here in a few weeks time...☺

Friday, 14 June 2013

We're heading home.

Wednesday 22/5/13

Right. Back to the job at hand, cramming everything into these boxes. A few hours later four suitcases were packed and four boxes were chock a block and taped shut. We were ready to go.

We'd said goodbye to Carla early this morning when she left for work. Now it was Barbara and Phil's turn. Like I've written many times before, I hate this part. Barbara, thank you for allowing us to take over your home and fill it with our stuff. Thank you Carla for giving up your bed to us. Lastly, thank you Phil, for providing humorous entertainment while we were stressing about everything.

It was time to go.

We dropped the boxes off at the freight depot and made tracks for the airport. We had heaps of time because we left early to avoid the risk of getting caught in peak hour traffic.

After dropping of the hire car we found ourselves a little cafe in the airport and ordered some food and a drink. As I said, we had plenty of time so we had a few drinks. When it was time to leave we presented our credit card to pay the bill...and it was declined. How's that for cutting it fine? Our card was over the limit and finally declined in the very last hours of our trip. What were we going to do? Our other card, that had plenty of credit had been cancelled due to the Bangkok hacking, and we had no cash. I thought we might be able to get some money out of an ATM, but after three tries at different machines came away empty handed. Oh dear. We couldn't even do the washing up as we had to board our plane. Then I remembered I still had some cash from Montenegro that I hadn't changed. Our bill was forty nine pounds and after changing my cash, I had fifty one pounds and a few coins. Whew! Suzanne was relieved to see me walk back into he cafe smiling.

No duty free shopping for us though. We are now officially skint, with two hefty credit card bills. It will be time to pay the piper when we get home.

We walked onto our Emirates A380, the first time we'd been in one, and it was very nice. Comfy seats and lots of leg room, even in cattle class. Our seven hour trip might not be so bad. The take off was interesting. There was none of this get pushed back into your seat stuff. It was more of a lumber down the runway for ages, then gently lift off. I guess there is a hell of a lot of weight to get off the ground with these things. The in seat entertainment system was full of new release movies and got a thorough workout and the meals were deluxe. Emirates do it so well. Thank you.

Thursday 23/5/13

The pilot put the A380 on the ground in Dubai in what was probably one of the smoothest landings I've ever experienced. Then we sat at the airport for a couple of hours, not even able to buy a drink. Luckily I managed to "find" the password for British Airways WiFi to keep me entertained.

Time seemed to pass very quickly and we were soon on our A777 and in the air. We'll be home in about ten hours and I'm looking forward to seeing our daughter Paige, and our dogs.

Our adventure is nearly over.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Only four days left.

Hitchin and our exit preparations.

Sunday 19/5/13

We had heaps of work to do to prepare for our trip home. We now had all the gear from the bike, and our original suitcases that we bought with us at the beginning of the trip. There was way too much stuff to fit into the suitcases so we have to freight some stuff home.

It all got a bit too hard, so we went shopping instead. We popped down to the local shop to buy a little bit of food and there was a fair happening in the park across the road. We ended up buying a couple of bags of lego blocks to add to our excess baggage. 

We also spent a bit of time looking at the Ferret Rescue Centre's ferrets. We actually learnt a bit while we were there. The ferrets were great, but I don't think our dogs would get on very well with one if we took one home.

Back home we sorted through our piles of stuff and decided we would need four boxes sent home. If there was any space left over Carla could pack some of her gear in there. Everything has to be perfectly clean to go back to Australia, so the rest of the day was spent scrubbing and cleaning things like helmets, boots, riding gear, and luggage. There wasn't a bug anywhere on our gear by the time we'd finished.

Once that was done, the order was placed with Voovit,a freight company that delivers boxes to you, then picks them up when you've packed, then delivers them at the other end. We should have boxes to pack tomorrow...

...then we fly out on Wednesday night.

Monday 20/5/13

We found out that Voovit's box delivery is due one business day after the order is placed, so they'll be here tomorrow. After the boxes are packed we may have to drop them off at the depot. We don't really want to leave four large, heavy boxes in Carla and Barbara's house.

With a bit of time up our sleeves the cleaning continued. 

I can understand Aussie quarantine wanting to inspect stuff entering Australia. You wouldn't believe how many bugs were on my helmet. I took the visor, peak, vent covers and so on off the helmet and found bees, flies, and all sorts of critters in there. What a mess. After removing the Aussie flag stickers that were peeling on the edges (I can't believe how hard it is to buy a decent Aussie flag sticker that will stay on and not fade in a week.) I gave the helmets a really good scrub. At least our helmets will fly (no pun intended) through quarantine.

Now I have to do the same with our our riding gear, boots, gloves, and camping gear. 

In the evening we went to a pub and surprised a friend for her birthday. Heather let us stay with her for a few nights very early in the trip and was a bit disappointed when we told her wouldn't be able to make the pub for her birthday. She certainly had a sparkle in her eye when we walked up behind her and said "Happy birthday."

Heather with a drink, and a specimen bottle.

How much trouble is there here?
Suzanne, Zoe, Heather, and Jo.

Paul, Heather and I.

It was good to catch up with our pommy crew for a goodbye drink before we left.

Tuesday 21/5/13

Our Voovit boxes arrived around 9am and the game of Tetris packing began.

Voovit. Great idea and heaps cheaper than post.

Can we fit it all in?
Check out the box in the foreground.

What do we need to take home with us in our suitcases? What do we send home in the boxes? What don't we need for a few months? Once we had a rough idea we started stacking stuff in the boxes. After a few hours of this brain numbing torture our friend Jo arrived, and we went to the pub for some welcome stress relief.

When we returned home the boxes were shoved to one side and we just chilled while Carla slaved away in the kitchen creating another great feed.

A few drinks finished off the night and Jo headed home. Saying goodbye to friends really is the worst part of this trip. We've met so many fantastic people on this trip and knowing we probably won't ever see them again is a real downer.

Tomorrow we head for Heathrow and Emirates will fly us home to our "normal" lives again.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Goodbye to our BMW. 

It's been wonderful knowing you.

Saturday 18/5/13

We picked up the rent a rocket hire car this morning and loaded it up with all our gear. I don't know how we fitted it all on the bike because we filled the car right up. Even discounting our riding gear, there was a lot of stuff crammed into it.

Our bike will live with Leigh and Annmarie in Wales until someone gives it a new home. It was a horrible feeling driving away from Wales knowing that we had ridden our bike for the last time. I really wish we could take it home.

Leigh and Annmarie's grand daughter was here so Suzanne broke out the face painting kit and made Amiah very happy with a quick splash of colour.

What a surprise, Amiah wanted a butterfly design.

The sun was shining so it was off to the beach for the dogs to have a swim. What a great beach. At one point we counted twenty dogs there. There were tennis balls going everywhere.

Floyd the torpedo.

Leo scaring the fish.

Back at the house it was time to say goodbye to the Jacksons. Thank you so much for your hospitality guys. Have a great time in Turkey on your holiday and hopefully we'll catch up again somewhere down the road.

I hate goodbyes, and this one was as bad as any.
See ya Floyd. See ya Leo.

We were into the hire car and on the road. Hitchin here we come. The little Astra made good time, but it felt very strange driving a car again. Not really claustrophobic, but definitely closed in, and we couldn't see much at all. We didn't realise just how much better the view is from the seat of a bike until we rode one for a long time, then climbed back into a car.

A few hour later we pulled into Carla-Jayne and her mum Barbara's driveway. We'd stayed here earlier on out trip for a few days. It was nice to catch up with them again and Carla gave up her bed for us during our stay. Then she whipped up a tasty dinner that filled our empty stomachs.

Barbara and Phil. Cheeky Phil is always good for a laugh.

We're really close to the end of our trip now. But we are happy. Carla is visiting Australia later this year, so we can returning the accommodation favour when she's Down Under. 

I have a feeling it will be a fun time while she's in Oz.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Five days in Barry, relaxing with good friends.

Monday 13/5/13

Leigh and Annmarie headed off to work this morning and left us to our own devices. We pretty much did nothing all day. It was pleasant, and very relaxing. Travelling, and packing and unpacking every day does wear a bit thin after a while so it's nice to stay in one place and just have a rest.

It's also a novelty to sit and watch TV that is broadcast in English for a change.  Floyd isn't allowed on the lounge so while we were watching TV he found a novel way to get round that...

"I'm not on the lounge. I'm on Suzanne. So that's OK"

We did venture out to the supermarket and stock up on a few necessary supplies. : )

Tuesday 14/5/13

Today the guys gave us the keys to their car so Suzanne and I could get out and about if we wanted too. We did go for drive to try and find a Morrison's supermarket as we were told they were much cheaper than the little corner shop down the road. We drove around for quite some time before giving up and heading back to the corner shop. More rations were bought and the shelves restocked.

Suzanne did a bit of washing and managed to break the door off the washing machine. Yes, it came right off in her hand. Sorry guys, just what you need a few days before you go on holidays.

Wednesday 15/5/13

Yay, we found Morrison's. I love supermarket shopping here. Today we found some very tasty delicacies. Wensleydale cheese (Gromit) with cranberries in it, pork pies, some very nice Lindt chocolates, and other "essentials" like that. The prices here are so cheap. It's going to hurt when we go home and go shopping.

I also discovered these.

When a good mates name is Thornton, this chocolate is just wrong. Needless to say, we didn't buy any. Sorry Dave.

Thursday 16/5/13

Suzanne and I took the boys for a good walk around the bushland nearby. That's another thing I've noticed here. There are large areas of bush within a two minute walk of just about everywhere we've been. Great for exercising dogs, and people.

Suzanne and Leo the Chihuahua.

The boys at play.

The boys worked pretty hard chasing sticks and slept for about an hour when we got back home.

Annmarie's mum, Pat, was a dinner guest and she is a real sweetie. She and Leigh have different opinions on a lots of things, but are still good drinking buddies. It's good to know someone else has a mother in law that they get on well with.

Friday 17/5/13

Reality struck hard today. We took the bike down the the pressure washer and started to clean it. Removing all of our travel stickers was hard and the bike looked naked when we had finished. Once it had been washed pretty well we headed home where the work continued. Scrubbing, washing, polishing, lubing, and so on. By the time we'd finished it looked pretty bloody good. Too good to leave behind.

Scrub, wash, rinse, clean.

Isle of Man, Bushy's pub, England, Germany, Assen, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Andorra, Spain, Montreux. All gone.

Our baby, all bathed and clean.

Now we have to clean all our gear, make sure it is spotless, and pack it up to send home. Australian quarantine is very strict, and I don't have any problem with that. Australia is very isolated and as a result we don't have a lot of bugs or diseases there. The last thing we want, or need, is a bug that could impact any part of our agricultural industry. Especially the vineyards!

We have decided to leave our bike with Leigh in Wales so we'll pick up a hire car tomorrow to use for the last few days of our adventure. Tomorrow we'll drive to Hitchin and spend our last few days with our friend Carla Jayne and her mum Barbara. While we are there we'll clean all our gear and prepare everything to be sent home.

We'll be washing off a lot of good times.


The decision has been made, the bike has to be sold. It's a bloody brilliant bike and is listed on ebay here:

Monday, 20 May 2013

Some days you just have to have a rest.

Sunday 12/5/13

After last night's fun and shenanigans, today was a very lazy recovery day. We took the dogs for a walk down to the beach where they ran themselves ragged again, then sat down and watched the World Super Bike races on TV.

Leigh and Annmarie laid on a superb roast dinner with lashings of vegetables. We haven't had a lot of veggies for a while so it was a real treat. The veggies here taste so good as well. We definitely have to start our own veggie garden when we get home. It just HAS to be done.

With very full bellies we all jumped on the lounge and watched a weird movie called Seven Psychopaths. I'm still scratching my head about this one.

Suzanne and I have been back and forth about taking the bike home with us. Today we got a couple of quotes and decided "Hang the expense, we'll take it home". Then I jumped on the government website to complete an application to import form. While filling out the form I discovered that because I had been away from the bike for more than forty two days in total during our holiday, I'm not eligible to import it into Australia. I could have cried. We are very disappointed that we can't take it home with us.

We'll try and sell it before we go. Or should we leave it here for our next trip? There are still a lot of places to go and see...


The decision has been made, the bike has to be sold. It's a bloody brilliant bike and is listed on ebay here:

Welsh party time. A night out in Cardiff.

Saturday 11/5/13

As is the ritual in this household, Floyd and Leo needed to be taken for a walk this morning. Leigh and I took the boys down to the beach where they had a great time chasing a tennis ball, digging holes, and running themselves to the point of exhaustion.

Floyd "Throw that ball again and you can fetch it yourself."

Leo "Is it time to go home yet?"

It's a sad sight watching two dogs walking back to the car so slowly that they can't keep up with us.

In the afternoon Aidan, another one of the guys I met at the Isle of Man, rolled up. We spent the afternoon doing boy stuff. Talking about bikes, reading bike magazines, working on Leigh's van, complaining about women, all that sort of stuff.

Leigh had a night out planned. He drove us all to the railway station where we caught a train into Cardiff and after a few dramas with Suzanne and I getting hold of some cash from an ATM, we found our way to O'Neill's Pub. We caught up with some of Leigh's mates and his brother Erin, who we met at Cartagena.

Early in the night. Suzanne, Leigh, me, and Aidan.

Suzanne and Annmarie being kind to an old man (me).

OK, things are stating to go down hill now.
Can you tell?

Many hours later, and after a "few" cleansing pints, we made our way toward the railway station. On the way we walked down Chip Alley and picked up a chicken curry with chips. Oh boy was that nice or what? Yummo! Why does take away always taste so much better after a visit to the pub?

Then it was onto the train for the trip back to Barry.

Some of us coped better than others.
Goodnight Annmarie.

Back in Barry we grabbed a taxi for the quick trip home where those of us with stamina (Leigh and I) enjoyed a lovely whiskey. The rest of the crew hit their mattresses.

It was great night and we all had a lot of fun. Thanks Leigh and Annmarie.

The decision has been made, the bike has to be sold. It's a bloody brilliant bike and is listed on ebay here:

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Calais. Ferry to Dover, then onto Wales.

Friday 10/5/13

Excellent. Blue sky at last. Well, that's what I saw when I woke up. Unfortunately the weather wasn't going to be kind by staying that way. Yup, it was another dark and gloomy, wet day.

Off to the ferry. After a few questions at the English border crossing, the guard kept our passports and sent us over to another building for someone "to check out what you've got". Oh no. I thought we were going to have to unpack everything from the bike. If we had to do that there was no way we would make the ferry on time. After lots of questions, aimed at ensuring we were not going to bludge off the UK welfare system, we were asked if we had flights booked to go home to Australia. Once we produced the booking confirmation and proof of payment, we were free to proceed to the ferry. These guys were just doing their job, looking after the UK's interests. I have no problem with that.

I managed to ride onto the ferry, without hitting anything this time, and the crew tied the bike down. Have a look at the cradle they had on this ferry.

 The most secure ferry trip the bike has enjoyed.

After the crew untangled a rope that was wrapped around the propeller, we sailed out of the harbour about half an hour late. Wales, here we come.

The ferry trip took about an hour, and it was one of those trips where people couldn't walk around on the boat because it was so rough. Suzanne took a quick liquid sleeping pill and slept most of the way across. She didn't even see the white cliffs of Dover.

Obligatory white cliffs photo.

Last time we were here we rode past the battle of Britain Memorial because it was raining. This time I was going to stop for a look, I didn't care what the weather was like. So in we went.

The Battle of Britain Memorial is a large memorial laid out like a giant propeller. At the centre is a pilot looking out over the English Channel. Waiting. It's a moving tribute. 

B.O.B. represents all the dogs that lived at R.A.F. airfields during the war.

Memorial wall.


Another loss.

A waiting pilot.

Our timing was bad because normally there is a Spitfire and a Hurricane on display, but they were away being repainted. Really guys, both at once. I would have loved to see the Hurricane. Oh well. After a coffee and a snack we made tracks for Wales.

After fighting heavy traffic for miles and miles and for far to many hours we arrived in Wales. I'd forgotten how cool the little back lanes were. Luckily as we left the ferry there was a sign reading "Keep to the left side of the road" otherwise I would have forgotten.

I love these little back roads.

Around six o'clock we parked the bike in Leigh and Annmarie's garage. It was so good to catch up with Leigh and Annmarie, another wonderful couple of people we've met on this trip, and of course Floyd and Leo.

The boys were happy to see us, but then they're happy to see anyone.

Floyd getting cuddles from Suzanne.

OK, I have to make a public admission. I think Floyd is the coolest dog I've ever met. 

After a few drinks we sat down to a terrific chilli Leigh had put together. Well, three of us did. I think the gin and tonics that Leigh was mixing for Suzanne may have been a little strong as she was off to bed very early.

We stayed up chatting for hours and enjoyed a couple more drinks or three.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, great people are what has made this trip what it is. Leigh and Annmarie are up there with the best. It's really good to be here.

And, the decision has been made, the bike has to be sold. It's a bloody brilliant bike and is listed on ebay here:

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Villers Bretonneux and the Aussie Diggers.

Thursday 9/5/13

First thing this morning we found ourselves back at the Adelaide Cemetery. The Adelaide Cemetery was started in 1918 by the Second and Third Divisions of the AIF and initially contained ninety graves. After the armistice more graves were brought here from other small graveyards in the area. There are now nine hundred and fifty five Commonwealth servicemen buried or commemorated here. Nearly a thousand lives cut short. Such a waste. Of those, two hundred and sixty one are unidentified. There are four hundred and eleven British, twenty two Canadian, and five hundred and twenty three Australian soldiers here. In 1993 and unknown Australian soldier was exhumed from Plot three, Row M, Grave thirteen, and is now buried in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

One side of this cemetery is full of Australian servicemen. The other side is also dotted with Australians.

It is a very disconsolate place.

The entrance holds visitor and information books.
The sad sight that greets you when you walk through the gate.

A lot of the graves have small decorations.

Like family photos.
Photos encased in perspex.
I wonder what Bill would have achieved if he had made it home to Australia.
Far too many of these. Unknown soldier.
This unknown soldier was taken home to Canberra.
The right hand side is all Australian.
The cemetery is very well maintained.
A big thank you to the caretakers.
We met a couple of Aussies from Sydney while we were here. Stephen and Deanna. We had a bit of a chat but the atmosphere here doesn't lend itself to a good conversation. More to contemplation. We all felt the same about the great loss. I left with a lump in my throat.
I had read about Adelaide Cemetery so in a way I was prepared for what was there. I wasn't prepared for what we saw next. As we were riding back into town I saw a sign that read Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, so we went to have a look.

The Villers-Bretonneux Memorial is home to 10,762 war dead. Nearly 11,000 people. The Australian flag flies next to the French flag, and the majority of the headstones carry the Australian Infantry Forces insignia.
West Aussie Corporal Ball was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in battle.
Aussie and French flags side by side.

More Aussies.
Rod Bruce, a long way from home but always remembered.
This whole place made me feel proud of what our Diggers did, but also very sad.
We had a quiet ride back into town to find some lunch, then go to the museum. What we didn't know that yesterday and today were public holidays in France commemorating the end of the second world war. So the museum was closed. It's actually a part of the local primary school.
Museum on the left, primary school on the right.
Well done kids.
For the people of this town to still hold Australia in such high regard is testament to the Diggers efforts here in 1918. Outnumbered by a large margin, they forced the German's out of the village, then held it, then advanced and pushed the German's back further. It must have been an unbelievably huge achievement by the Diggers for the village to adopt Australia in such a way.

If you're an Australian in France, you owe it to yourself, and our Diggers, to visit and pay your respects. It is a place I will never forget.
It was time to make our way to Calais. Off we go. On the way we came across some mobile chicanes. Some people call them Harley Davidsons.
Come on, come on, hurry up.


Where's the kitchen sink.

We rode through quite a few villages which were nice little places then when we were close to Calais, the sat nav sent us over a mega high bridge, then turned us around and sent us back again. Even Suzanne freaked when she saw how high this one was. It was the Tom Tom's last dig at us.

We checked in to our hotel and discovered that there was a bar near reception. After this morning's visits I needed a beer. As I was walking to the bar I said hello to a young couple playing pool, and got a G'day in return. It was a couple of kids (in their twenties) starting out on their trip around Europe. Sorry guys, I'm old and I've forgotten your names. The guy grew up one suburb away from Suzanne in Victoria. What are the odds?

Grimbergen Rouge? Red beer? What the?
It's actually very nice.
After we had a drink we dumped our gear in our room and headed out for dinner. We decided that as it was our last meal in Europe (for this trip) we'd splurge a little. We found a bar that served food and enjoyed a delicious last supper.
This is how the sun set on the end of our European holiday.

It's an early start tomorrow so we don't want to miss the ferry. When we roll off the ferry it's a four hundred kilometre ride to Barry in Wales where we'll catch up with our Welsh mates Annmarie and Leigh. It's fitting that I end our holiday with Leigh as I met him right at the start on the ferry to the Isle of Man. 

Full circle.