Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015 Manypause Euro Tour

It's taken me quite a while to get this post done. Mostly because I am lazy. I'm also very busy, but when I'm not busy, I am indeed lazy.

On Saturday morning (September 19th) four of my Canadian buddies flew into the Berlin airport.  A 5th arrived by train (via Stuttgart) an hour before the fly-in crew.  After dumping luggage at my my place, everyone piled into the rented Mercedes Vito van, we went for breakfast at a local biker hangout just south of Berlin called "Spinner Brücke" where they make the best bacon and eggs breakfast I've ever eaten. The fresh squeezed orange juice made it even better.

The rest of the day Saturday and Sunday were spent doing some tourist sightseeing and other things the boys would find interesting: Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Topography of Terrors Museum, Mercedes World, Mauer Park, several of Berlin's bike shops, some remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, Classic Remise exotic/vintage auto museum, etc.

Polo Motorrad store has a cafe/grill/bar

Dave looking for his checkbook.

It's not everyday you see a woman being shot out of a canon at Berlin's Mercedes Welt

Checkpoint Charlie

Sony Center at night

The Touratech shop 

We checked out the exquisite collection of exotic and 
antique cars at Classic Remise.

This original VW bus is selling for €92,000 (~$100,000 USD)

Berlin's Victory Column

Of course we went enjoyed plenty of food and drink.

After a weekend of eating, drinking, sightseeing, and looking at bike shops and car shops, it was time for an extra-special tour of the BMW motorcycle factory. They offer public tours at pre-set days but that's for wankers. We paid extra for a private tour on Monday afternoon. The following photos are the only ones we were allowed (no camera's in the super top-secret areas of the factory).

Now that's a comfy bike.

A civilized gentleman's muscle bike.

6-banger cut-away

S1000RR powerplant

That XR1000 is a sweet looking machine

OK, I managed to sneak my camera into the forbidden zone, 
so I will show this one innocent photo.

When we finished at the BMW bike factory, we finished off with a massive feast of meat at my favourite neighbourhood Cypriot restaurant, called Ta Panta Ri. The next morning, Dave and Jason flew back to Canada since they only came for the weekend party and would not be able to take part in the big ride. They took a taxi to the airport at 4:00am. Part 1 of the big Euro Bike Trip was over, and Part 2 was about to get underway.

The big ride

DAY 01: Berlin > Bayreuth, Germany: 400 Kms

A couple of hours after Jason and Dave flew out, Ian hopped on the train to get back to Stuttgart where his Honda VTR1000 was waiting. His Harley-riding friend, Charles was also waiting in Stuttgart.  After breakfast Paul, John and myself set out on our bikes. We arranged to meet up with Ian and Charles the following day in Innsbruck, Austria. 

We only rode for a couple of hours as we left Berlin, making our first pit stop at the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp. It was fitting that it began to drizzle light rain the moment we arrived, and stopped as we left 2 hours later. What a depressing place to visit, but also very important to learn about the horrific things that happened there. 

Thousands of bodies were burned in these ovens

The crematorium building

Corpses were loaded into these galvanized steel lined
carts and hauled to the ovens.

Prisoners were told to stand at this measuring slide, presumably to determine 
how tall they were. Little did they know that a guard would be standing 
behind the wall getting ready to shoot them in the back of the neck.

From Buchenwald, we set out and rode for an hour or so and found a place to eat. 

As night began to fall, we pulled over and found this nice place to eat and sleep in Bayreuth. This was the end of Day 1 of the big ride. Total 400 Kms for the day. Not bad considering we didn't leave Berlin until 10am, and stopped for a couple of hours at Buchenwald. 

DAY 02: Bayreuth, Germany > Uderns, Austria: 400 Kms

We hit the road around 9am. We stopped in Munich for lunch (250 Kms) and found one of the best German restaurants ever. Amazing combination of nice atmosphere, friendly staff, and terrific food.

Cordon Blue

Lamb Schnitzel

We needed to be in Uderns, Austria (near Innsbruck) to meet Ian and Charles 
before the day was done. The weather turned a little shitty as we covered the 
last few miles of road in Germany and crossed into Austria

As we rolled into Uderns, we found a nice KTM shop. Naturally, we 
had to spend some cash on KTM clothing/ball caps

The AirBnB apartment house that Ian booked for us in Uderns.

Another hearty meal

Cordon Blue

Day 03: Uderns, Austria > Riva del Garda, Italy: 325 Kms

We left Uderns, Austria in the morning after a leisurely breakfast. Cool and damp weather, but not not raining. Wasn't going to be a long day. We just wanted to make it to Riva del Garda, Italy. Less than 300 Kms but it includes some fantastic roads through the mountains when the weather cooperates.

During lunch somewhere in Austria, near the Italian border, we were advised by some locals that the weather through Stelvio Pass would be really shitty...especially for motorcyclists. We found a route through the valley to avoid the famous scenic mountain pass.

Italian gas station

Where the fuck are we, anyway? 

Somewhere inside Italy

Riva Del Garda, Italy 

More excessive eating

View from our hotel in Riva del Garda

Group shot as we left Riva del Garda the next morning.

DAY 04: Riva del Garda, Italy > Cannes, France: 600 Kms

Had to go into the office to pay a toll in Italy when I failed to 
get a ticket from the machine. What a PITA.

And then there were the French toll booths:
a motorcyclist's nightmare

View from the balcony at the Ibis hotel in Cannes. 
This town is highly overrated. Good food, though.

Some people shower with their clothes on.

Dinner in Cannes

Nice sunny weather is good for the mind and the body.

DAY 05: Cannes, France > Island of Corsica, France: 35 Kms, plus ferry ride

It was a short ride down the coast from Cannes to Nice, where we caught the 7-hour ferry ride to the Island of Corsica. 
Waiting for the ferry.

These bastards were tired from the long wait in the sun at the ferry terminal. 
Plus we had 7 hours to kill.

The ferry arrived in Bastia, Corsica as night fell. 

We rode from the ferry terminal to the town of Sisco where 
we checked in for the night. As we parked the bikes, we met a group 
of riders from Romania. They gave us a drink of their home made 
grappa / moonshine and we had a very quick dip in the pool before the 
hotel staff informed us the pool was closed. 

We then went out for a late-night snack: 
some of the best pizza I've ever eaten...and beer.

DAY 06: Bastia, Corsica > Calvi, Corsica: 175 Kms (of the most amazing road ever)

After breakfast, we set out on the unbelievably twisty coastal road. 
Holy shit, that road is amazing. And the breath-taking vistas 
at every corner are quite distracting -- and one should really be 
concentrating on the road.

Meat 'parade' was in fact a meat "pierrade" (french for a hot slab of stone 
on which you cook your own raw meat).  Whatever, it was very tasty.

Birthday boy in Calvi

Calvi hotel

Went for a quick dip to cool off.

DAY 07: Calvi > Bastia, Corsica: 175 Kms

When we got up in the morning, we just backtracked for 175 Kms on the same awesome coastal road, heading back to Bastia (the ferry terminal). Instead of taking the ferry back to Nice, France, we would take another ferry to Savona, Italy.

A very tight squeeze between the pillars when the parking card 
failed to work at the mechanical gate.

Calvi hotel

Café de la Tour, Torre de Nonza, Corsica

Corsica was simply amazing: the food, drink, hotels, beaches, blue sea, weather, scenery, and of course, the awesome riding. It was all spectacular. I definitely want to go back. We spent 2 nights on the island, and rode 2 full days there. It wasn't enough. To circumnavigate the entire island on the coastal road would consist of ~700 Kms but you would need at least 4 days to do it. With such a twisty road, you're constantly accelerating, braking, accelerating, braking, barely ever exceeding 70 km/hr because the next turn is coming fast.

We caught the overnight ferry departing Corsica, lasting about 9 hours,
docking in Savona, Italy by morning. Another awesome day of riding the twisty coastal road and we made it to Bastia in time for dinner, and queued up for the ferry loading as the sun was going down.

On the ferry, we rented a very large "disabled persons" room. 
It had 5-beds and they were available. 

DAY 08: Savona, Italy > Varenna, Lake Como, Italy: ~300 Kms

Waiting to get off the ferry after a long night.

We arrived in the morning and rode away from the ferry terminal around 8:00am. 
It would be ~300 Kms to the next stop: Lake Como, Italy. 

We parked the bikes and checked into a very swanky hotel 
in the village of Varenna, on Lake Como. This is where the rick and 
famous spend their leisure time.

It's also where some people like to blaspheme.

We rented a speed boat for the afternoon and blasted around the lake. 
It should be mentioned that this boat wasn't particularly speedy 
with it's wimpy 40 hp outboard pushing 5 grown men.

Rockin' it.

Agostini Moto Guzzi shop

The lobby of our fancy hotel in Varena

DAY 09: Verenna, Italy > Stuttgart, Germany: 550 Kms


Can't remember which mountain pass this was, but it was definitely 
in Switzerland. And a little chilly, barely 1-2 degrees above freezing.

Lunch break in Switzerland

1972?? Lancia Stratos

This was somewhere in Austria

Beer in Leipzig

The booze cart at our hotel in Leipzig

DAY 11: Leipzig > Berlin: 200 Kms

Managed to find a few Kms of dirt roads and farmers' fields 
between Leipzig and Berlin.

Stopped for lunch on the outskirts of Berlin. Trip almost over.

Dinner in Berlin @ Ta Panta Ri

The T-shits I had made for the trip participants

And a few video clips:

A short video on the 690 (Corsica)

A short video on the 1190 (Corsica)

Video highlights from the entire trip.

By the time we made it back to Berlin, I clocked 3,900 Kms on my Garmin Montana.