ALBANY VINTAGE & CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE CLUB

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February 2010 Club News

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Six Week Trip Through Europe on the Guzzi

Story and Pics: Antoinet

Above-ground cave-dwellings in FranceRonnie and I had just travelled and worked our way around Australia. We both had quit our jobs in Sydney and Wollongong to go travelling for a year and a half. In May 2003 we arrived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We hadn’t been back for 3 years and it was great to see our families and friends again.

We bought a Moto Guzzi SP 1000 so we had transport and so we could get ready for our big trip through Europe. We planned to go for 2½ months, with all the money we saved from working in Australia we thought it would be possible.

We packed up the bike with all our camping gear, clothes, basic food supplies and after saying goodbye to our parents we were off! The first night we stayed with my old friend who’ve I have known since I was 3. We hadn’t seen each other for 8 years so it was great to catch up. We went fishing with her husband and headed for Belgium the following afternoon. When we left the Netherlands it was raining but when we set up camp in a little town in Belgium it was nice and sunny.

Le Mont St Michel - northern FranceThe next stop was France, we stayed in some beautiful old and historic places. Lots of castles and cathedrals, especially Le Mont St Michel was amazing.

Every time we went towards the coast though it would start to rain. Le Mont St Michel was very mysterious in the fog and mist, it was so busy there with all the tourists and buses so we decided to admire it from a distance and to take lots of photos.

A tent site in Europe is very expensive, you pay per person, for your vehicle and for your site. Sometimes we had to pay 20 euros which is about $33.00. Most camping grounds also charge for the showers and there is never any toilet paper in the toilets. Annoying because you can only buy packs of 4 or 6 rolls, fine when you’re in the car but a bit harder to pack it all on a bike. 

Camping with brother (and sister) motorcyclistsA positive thing of camping in Europe is the motorbike camping grounds. Only motorbike riders are allowed to camp there and it is nice to get to know other people with the same passion. In France we stayed on motorbike camping Dordogne and another great spot was in Portugal: camping Toca da Raposa.

In Spain we had to get a new front tyre, we had to pay about $120.00. Spain was completely different to France, drier and very hot in the north. We had the same problem here, every time we went to the coast it was getting colder and wet. We only spend a couple of days in Spain and headed for Portugal to spend some more time exploring.

Seen at bike camping ground Faro, PortugalWe were also going to a huge motor bike show in southern Portugal. We stayed there for 3 nights. The organization was excellent and we had a ball, met some great characters from all over Europe. We caught up with 4 club members of Ronnie’s motorbike club in Holland and spend the days relaxing, riding, eating and drinking.

The entry fee was about $55.00, this was including badge, camping, breakfast, lunch, dinner, motor shows and entertainment. We paid $0.90 for a glass of beer and we had some local sardines and white wine for lunch, traditional Portuguese. There were about 40,000 people, it was huge!

Spanish border countryWhen we were back in Spain we heard strange noises, a noisy bearing in the gearbox, Ronnie said.

We decided to go back to the Netherlands. We were going to take it easy and see how far we would make it.
On the way from France to Spain we went over the Pyrenees which was absolutely amazing and on the way back we took a 5 km tunnel through the Pyrenees. It was freezing inside and it never seemed to end, unbelievable how they made those enormous long tunnels.

It was one of many great things we saw and experienced on this trip. Another amazing place we visited was Lourdes. Sick and handicapped people from all over the world come here to get better, they hope. There are young priests everywhere and you can buy holy water. The sick people go into a huge cave and there are priests who try to cure them.

Tourists could also go into the cave and we watched the scene for quite a while. Some were rolled into the cave on a stretcher or a hospital bed and half an hour later they walked back out again. Back in southern France we caught up with my sister, brother in law and their 2 children. They were traveling through France in their campervan.

We had some yummy cooked meals and we made Aussie damper with the kids. We travelled with them for a couple of days but the gearbox was getting worse so we decided to go back to Holland as soon as possible.

It took another 6 days before we were back in Friesland. Ronnie took the gearbox apart and saw quite a mess, he had to replace all bearings. We were surprised to find camping and travelling in Europe so expensive and were a bit disappointed. We had travelled all the way around Australia for more then a year and here we were back in the Netherlands after travelling for 6 weeks through Europe.

Sunning in the Algarve, PortugalWe did have a great time and met great people and saw some amazing places. Every country over there is so completely different. We loved Portugal, the people were very friendly and the scenery amazing.

Traffic in Europe is hectic, they can’t drive and it is so busy, people and cars everywhere. But it is worth going there.

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