Love travel and motorbike riding so a ride through Europe seems like a good idea!!!
Joined July 2016Living in: Brisbane

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  • A 3 hour trip ( no autostrada for me) for the 200 odd kms to Alessandria. Once you leave the Aosta Valley, and head into the province of Piedmont, the country side really does start to flatten out. Piedmont literally means at the foot (pied) of the mountain (mont). Look at that, a free linguistics lesson ✏. Not too much to say about the road except that there are a lot of rice fields in this part of Italy. I stopped off in Casale Monferrato which is the area Dad was born and sent a pic to my mom and sister while I was there.

    Alessandria, again, is a typical Italian regional city with great architecture. Fun to walk around for the afternoon after booking into a very nice, for the price, hotel with safe and secure underground parking for the bike. Europeans, including Italians, are generous and very friendly people but there is a percentage of the population that would steal the skin off 5 day old milk. But then again you can say that about every country!!!!!!! Why are there two sinks in the hotel bathroom? The second one is so low to the ground it's very hard to use!!!!

    I did say I was going to fast for at least 24 hours before eatng solidly for the 5/6 days of staying with relatives. The hot chocolate and pannini was too much of a temptation.

    Right, next stop will be 5 days of talking, eating, sleeping, eating, sightseeing, eating, and then to finish off...more eating.

    Asti here I come (ohh, and my relatives don't even know I'm in the country let alone that I'm going to visit and stay for a while. They will be (pleasantly?) surprised 😲
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  • I've really been looking forward to getting to Italy to visit my parents' birth place, catch up with relatives that I've only ever met once before (previous trip with Anne) and the ability to speak the local language - well a bastardised English version anyway. I won't see the relatives and mum and dad's old stomping grounds until I get to Asti in Piedmont, but can't wait to have a conversation, without having to resort to mime, even if it is with a total stranger.

    Aosta really took me by surprise. I stayed in a cheap (because it isn't ski season yet) hotel about 15 minutes walk from the centre and the "old town". It's a lot bigger than I thought and it's bilingual French/Italian. Most of the town signage is in both languages and streets often have straight out French names. There is even a lift from the town that takes you to close-by ski slopes. The old town was just fabulous with, lucky me, lots of (American) tourists visiting. I got to speak Italian (even when people wanted to talk in English!!!). I'm sure they wondered why a simple request for a hot chocolate turned into a 1/2 hour conversation about what a great day it was. Aosta has beautiful buildings (some back to the middle ages), the obligatory huge piazza & large Cathedral and the best gelato I'd eaten in 10 years (eg. last time I was in Italy). The streets weren't too busy so it was a safer introduction to some of the craziest drivers and riders in Europe.

    I also love Italy's ability to meld old and new together in a very practical way. There are 3 photos below of APM (that's an automatic pizza machine for the uninitiated) 2. a condom vending machine and 3. the local Aosta Cathedral. The two vending machines were almost next to each other on the same building wall which, in turn, was a very close walk to the Cathedral. It was explained to me that this was the practical dating solution for young un-married catholics. With 1 you both got a a cheap meal. With 2 you both got the dessert that you both wanted but couldn't ask for at home, and with 3 you got the immediate forgiveness needed to have an other date next weekend!!!!!

    Next stop Alessandria. I need to fast for at least one day before I go stay with relatives - boy do Italians like to feed you 🐷
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  • This blog is just about the road from Bern to Aosta in noryhern Italy. The route I took goes close along the shore of Lake Geneva and the Great Saint Bernard road that includes the pass over the mountain range separating Switzerland and Italy. It also includes the 8 km long Saint Benard tunnel, part of which is through the mountain range and part of which hangs off the side of the mountain. The pass itself is just under 2,500 meters high. This means a couple of things. 1. Fantastic views and 2. Bloody cold. Had to stop to put on winter gloves and just about every bit of clothing I had until I looked like the Mitchilin man. The road is mostly good and very very windy!!!

    This is hard to admit, but I was glad when the road straightened out - I needed a rest!!!!
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  • Made it to the capital of Switzerland. The ride out of Treisenberg was great. The old proverb of "what goes up must come down" suited the ride perfectly. The road down the other side was fantastic smooth tar with really well banked corners..just fun. Had to traverse a couple of ranges and the weather was looking a bit ominous but held off. Beautiful country side but with a fair bit of slow traffic including the obligatory milk trucks! The problem with a lot of these roads is that there is nowhere to pull over for pic taking.

    Bern is a mix of old and new like a lot of Europe. I thought Lietchenstein was expensive......just add 10% for Switzerland. Spent a couple of days wandering around the city ang got the shortest hair and beard cut of my life. I went into an African barber shop that advertised cuts for both "black and white". Well by the surprised look on all the faces in the shop when I took a seat, I'd say it had been a while since anyone took the sign at face value. There was a bit of whispeting and pointing and then some big smiles (ftom all of us) before I was invited to take a seat. Anyway great hair cut (a number 1 - took about 3 1/2 minutes) but still cost me £30.

    Next stop Italy and a chance to meet some relatives.
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  • I've had 2 weeks off from blogging - did you miss me ❓

    Made my way into Liechtenstein, I'd booked into a little mountain village just outside of Vaduz which is the capital. I was hoping for a cute little relaxing village, and from the pics you can see thats what I got. The country side just gets more and more scenic, and the roads more and more windy (as in curves) - just keeps getting better.

    One thing I will say, the schnitzell in Austria, Liechtenstein (and Switzerland) are a lot tastier/better than those at home. Only downside to this little country, damn it's expensive, even in the slower summer season.

    Fact: Liechtenstein is only one of 2 countries that is double land-locked.

    Cheers for now
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  • Was happy enough to leave Graz and head onto Bad Hall just inside the Austria border from Germany, an overnight stop before going into Lietchenstein. The ride was fine, some beautiful bike roads and some more average roads. The town really took me by surprise, I guess then name had put some subconscious thoughts into my head. It's funny when you don't know a language you try, or at least I do, make sense of it in English, often to disastrous results. Beautiful little friendly vilage. The hotel was very good and the hosts fantastic.

    You can tell how much they like beer in Europe, even the local church was advertising the October beer fest. I have to say, to my mind Austria is like a little Germany.
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  • Made to Austria. The ride/down down the a mountain range from Kransk Gora was much more open some tight corners but a lot of nice sweepers , good bitumen and and not a lot of traffic. Again beautiful scenery, green with rivers and streams everywhere.

    Graz is a bit of an Industrial city (I was sorta expecting all of Austria to be villages surrounded by green rolling hills) so glad I only stayed the one night. At leasT a good part of the ride here was enjoyable. I did have a good lunch along the way!!!Read more

  • I stopped along the way for a hot chocolate (the pic shows it was so thick thst the spoon stood straight up in it....couldn't drink it, had to eat it). And met 3 guys ftom Germany doing a 2 week European bike trip.

  • I thought that mountain road behind Zargreb had some twists and turns. The roads and scenery to this Alpine resort town are just fantastic. Lots of people visiting tjough nothing like during the ski season. The scenery just kept getting better each time I went around a corner, and there were lots and lots of corners. The roads, leading up to the alpine pass (Vrsiska road) were prefect for motorbike riding mostly good fast speed corners on almost perfect tarmac. But the alpine pass was something else steep and sharp corner after sharp corner. As you get closer to the top the hairpins are all cobbled rather than bitumen, I'm guessing it needs less maintenance but it's quite rough and makes it interesting on a motorbike and there were motorbikes everywhere. The hairpins are numbered 1 to 50 and it climbs almost 1000 metres in a very short space.

    I did see one funny/strange sight. A hiker walk along the road had 6 or 7 sheep following him, when ever he stopped did they, when he went off again, so did they. He just looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said they had been following all afternoon and he couldn't get rid of them. I guess if he got lost he could always have lamb for dinner.

    I stayed at a resort in town (much cheaper in summer) the room and food were great and the views of the surrounding mountains were beautiful.

    Down the other side of the range the next day, nowhere near as steep..but fantastic riding, and I'll be in Austria.
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  • Beautiful little country. Stayed in a hotel just outside the capital (Ljubljana - try and pronounce that) that was the friendliest I've ever been to. Owners just couldn't do enough. It was well after lunch when I arrived and asked if there was something light I could have from the kitchen - ended up with a veal roast, vegatbles, salad and the obligatory bread I couldn't jump over. Kept asking me if it was alright so I was obliged to eat the lot 😨. I had to settle for a fruit dinner in case I exploded.

    Slovenia was designed by a god that loves motorbikes - beautiful scenery and fantastic roads. I'll post pics in my next footprint for Kranjska Gora. In the meantime I'll leave you with a pic of a little church and some food.

    Ohh, a lot of the hotels are pet friendly....pretty much whatever pet you want to travel with. A small compact car pulled up for an overnight stay - mum, dad 2 kids, 2 huge dogs and a smaller one. No idea how they fited them in the car, or their room!!!!
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  • The ride here from SlavonskI Brod was uneventful, pleasant country side and towns/villages to pass through. All anyone seems to do here is eat and drink - was trying to work out how they seem to stay relatively fit looking and not overweight. I finally worked out absolutely everyone smokes, and I mean chain smokes (not many restrictions s here you can pretty much smoke where you like). If it wasn't for the side effects of smoking it would be perfect for weight control !!!!

    Nice city, and the centrum (middle) is pretty compact. They have amazing pedestrian crossing here, at T intersection there are 3 crossings that lead to the middle of the intersection, you simply walk there, wait in the missing middle as cars, trucks and bikes etc cross and then when there is a gap in traffic you just walk though to the side you want to get to. No traffic lights and 2-way tram lines. Seems to work but I'm not sure what the casualty rate is. First time I tried it I got stuck in the middle for a while!!!

    Got a mini-service on the bike while I could. BMW fitted me in because I was travelling through - normally a 2 week wait.

    After picking up the bike I took a ride up the mountain range behind the city - only about 10 kms fromm the Centrum. Have a look at the pic from Google maps (that's only a small section that I could fit in a pic) it's just very steep switchbacks one after another. It was hard work going up (climb about 1000 metres in a short space) and it was only on the way back I realised a good part of it is one-way. Was stuffed by the time I got back.

    Food continues to be great and cheap. Deboned stuffed pork cutlet, bread, salad litre bottle of mineral water for under $20 !!!

    Nice relaxing 3 days.

    Next stop Slovenia
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  • Packed and headed off with my trusty GPS showing me the way to my next stop in Croatia.Stopped at a petrol station to fill up and have a hot chocolate. No hot chocolate!!!! I'm forced to drink a herbal tea - primrose or something, just horrible. That will teach you to go to Europe and not drink coffee or alcohol😢.

    A guy struck up a where are you off to? Croatia I say, staying overnight at Slavonski Brod. Ohh, I'm a truck driver and know the roads well, you'll be crossing into Bosnia & Herzegovina the border comes up close to Slavonski Brod and the road goes through there. Are you sure? (Up very close to me, gets right face to face, but friendly) Yes, have driven many times before....2 border crossings for you my new Australian friend. Okay thanks, you don't happen to have any more garlic sandwiches by chance? Or have you just eaten them all? I have a look at the map and the border is pretty close, now I'm not really sure any more.

    Hope on bike and head-off. Get to a border crossing, leave Serbia and enter another country. The border crossing says welcome to "Republic of Hrvatska". Great now there's a 3rd country thrown into the mix. Where am I? Did I head in the wrong direction (pretty sure I never saw that on a map!!! Now I've been lost before, wrong house, wrong street, even wrong town, but have never been in the wrong country 😲. I look at my passport...yep the stamp says Hrvatska, is that how they say/spell Herzegovina? It doesn't look remotely like the word Croatia!!! I say to the crossing guard (pretty stern looking guy with tazer and gun) - this might sound funny, but what country am I in? He looks at me, then laughs and says "2nd Australia today making same joke - go people waiting behind you". Great, well at least there's another dumb Aussie wandering around whatever country this is, maybe we can meet up and be lost together. I head off and then stop out of the guard's sight and have a look at Google maps (am a bit worried now, if this is B & H my vodafone roaming won't cover me and this might cost a fortune!!!). Well it says I'm in Croatia...whew, Croatia is called Republica of Hrvatska. It's their country, guess they can call it what they want.

    Got to Slavonski Brod, found the hotel car park, and put the bike up on the side stand. Am still thinking, "the border was the first time language and really given me any issue". Spot the hotel and see three women come out of a hotel room door and walk up towards the reception area. Quick as a flash I'm across the road up the stairs and follow them in and close the door behind me. It didn't look like a normal reception, but it had a bar/counter and a lounge so after shutting the door I just sat and waited my turn. The women then realised I'd followed them in and shut the door behind me. First there were 3 blank stares with jaws sorta hanging loose, then a bit of talking between themselves rising in crescendo, a bit of backing away, then a bit of shouting. I offered to wait my turn to book in, then, hmm, took me a few long seconds to work out that this isn't a hotel. Actually, it's someone's house (that happens to be opposite the hotel car park) and these three women (I'd guess grandmother, mother and daughter) had a bearded bike sitting in the lounge room between them and a closed door leading to safety. Eventually we all managed to work out what had happened, we had a bit of a laugh, and I was on my way to the hotel about 40 or 60 metres up the road. True story - I took a pick of the house (first pic), it looks like a hotel doesn't it? Remember some of the hotels are converted houses - you could have easily you made the same mistake.

    The hotel (Garten) turned out to be a quirky little place with room extensions running off everywhere, a restaurant full of old "stuff" and an exceptionally nice owner who, despite my protestations, gave me a home collected jar of her own honey when I left. She even put up a shade umberella to park my bike under in case it rained. Even the three women waived me good bye in the morning 😆

    Okay..Zargreb next hopefully without any navigation problems.
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