A Travellerspoint blog

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Off to Wales

sunny 18 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

I can only say that as I put my head down last night, thougths of what a hugely satisfying day it had been ensured that I drifted off with a smile on my face. Up early, promise of another lovely day as the paleness of the morning sky warmed into pefect blue. With most of the morning spare before I head to Wales I made a beeline to Bill Granger's new London restaurant in Clerkenwell. Just a brief 5 minute walk and I was there. Not knowing what lies ahead on this food jurney it wasn't hhard to go the Big Aussie breakfast. Looked so good it was worth whacking on Instagram and yes it was good!!
Back to the hotel to quickly pack and head to Paddingotn to catch the train to Swansea. Don't you miss wheels on your bag when you don't have any........punctual departure for the 3 hour trip; there is something about train travel, it has to be one of my favourite modes of travel. Definitely getting excited now as the group all comes together for the first time tonight :-) It'll be nice to break the ice before we actually set off
The B&B we are staying is about 15 mile (hard getting use to that again!) from Swansea and I was lucky enough to grab a lift from one of the other blokes on the tour who had a car. i was surprised when he said I was only the second one to arrive but they steadily arrived as the sun was setting. I wasn't long until the cry went up "must be time for a beer"....there were many takers :-) The pub is only 30 metres away and dinner was booked there & tomorrwow night we are at the other pub that is 50 metres in the other direction ! Dinner was organised during the buzz of the initial meet & greet......and all but one participant was not there. We have Jane & Leanne from Victoria, Tim from Sydney, Geoff from Perth, Ray from Newcastle, Drew from, I'm not quite sure, he arrived late, Blayne & Eric from Canada, Walt, Pam and Robert from the US & my roomie Brian from Zimbabwe.....oh and don't let me forget Robin the cameraman. and also the crew Mick, Veronica & Justin. There was a lot of jetlag going around so once the bikes etc were organised for tomorrow it was an ealry night. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by ScottyJ 09:53 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

Playtime in the dirt :-)

sunny 17 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Brian and I were both awake at 5.00 am so we used the time to sort stuff and there is a lot of stuff, compare gear, discuss the pros & cons of everything that was worth talking about at 5.00 am in the morning and all while getting ready for the off road course being run by Simon Pavey today. Nine time Paris Dakar competitior, completed seven and a really nice bloke to go with it. Big fry up for brekkie and then down to Simon's workshop to gear up...........what an operation, a stable of about 80-90 bikes all for his off road riding skills course. A lot of nervous tension in the air this morning but that soon faded as we got on the road and headed off to the 4000ha property to play in the dirt. What a day, always good to brush up on your skills and test yourself. There will be some well deserved beers tonight; it was fun but hot work! Everyone really started to get to know each other today. I have a good feeling about the group but lets review that on day 21 :-) Well time to head off for a beer and see if I can understand these Welshman, accents are wow so different here @^_^@
Late Note: Great little pub in the village, centuries old, terrace over the river and serving the best ribs that I can remember!!

Posted by ScottyJ 09:59 Archived in Wales Comments (0)

48 hours & counting

London & a round trip to Felixstowe

sunny 25 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Arrived back from Wales without a hitch to check into the Holiday Inn Express in North Acton…the staging point for our departure, great location for what we are doing but missing a good curry house! The bikes for all the North Americans arrived today and many hours during the afternoon were spent preparing………….there is some serious adventure bikers here with bikes to match! FA cup was on in the afternoon and it wasn’t long before a small crowd gathered at the pub across the road to join the locals for what was even for me who had no great love for the round ball game a great game and a thrilling win to Arsenal 3-2 in extra time. Our recently befriended Saudi colleague who was delirious with the win wanted to celebrate and what better way to do that than to shout your new colleagues a round as you then drop 200 pound on the bar and say enjoy…..no one needed any encouragement  We found that curry house in Chiswick much later that night and it rounded off the a great day at the footy.
So what’s this about English weather?? 24 degC today and just a perfect day. Met up with Pia again at Oxford circus and again we didn’t come up for breath………walked and talked through Pall Mall, the Palace, the gardens, Hyde Park, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Piccadilly and I’m sure there’s places I’ve missed; burgers and cheap Spanish white for lunch before pints and D&M’s at the Hotel Cambridge in the sun. Let’s not forget the walk down Rupert St to soak up the experience of the London gay scene Sunday session……….
………….it really is an amazing city, rich and wonderful, proud and playful, you should never lack for something to do but yes it is a pricey place to play!!
Round trip to Felixstowe today to pick up the bikes for all the Australians, now it is getting real, very real. A few train delays but we finally arrived and it was both exciting and strange to see my bike actually here in the UK???! It was not the most amazing ride back to London but it was sublime to be back on MY bike and ticking over a few k’s. We’re all here now and after the pre departure meeting we were treated to dinner at The Castle and the vibe was electric…..there is going to be lots of challenges, physically, mentally & emotionally……..it is the longest tour in the world and you do it with people you don’t know…………Mmmmm but I’m looking forward to it. Breakfast and the official start is at the Ace Café tomorrow morning ; Day 1 and off the Brugge
Late note: lots of talk of beard growth and head shaving so it was no surprise that my roomie Brian got me to finish off his head shave………..he’s just emerged from the bathroom and wants his money back……he's got more chance of getting pregnant!

Posted by ScottyJ 15:00 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Blast to Belgium & places beyond

Bratwurst, beer & brat kartofeln

sunny 21 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Awake at 5.00am and there was no point in trying to get any extra Zzzzz’s we just wanted to get ready and go. Dutifully we were ready with the bags and ready to go by 7.30. All lined up in front of the hotel waiting for the call to roll, it came and the front bike failed due to a flat battery and we’re all lined up behind him! Add to that a wrong turn on the way to the Ace Café and it could be said that it wasn’t the grandest of starts but we arrived at the infamous Ace and chowed down on the last of the English breakfasts washed down with large mugs of tea. Photos, media shots and interviews in the car park and if everyone was like me I just wanted to get going. Well they say ‘things’ happen in 3’s and a wrong turn to Dover added just a few extra miles. Fairly smooth run to Dover to catch the train via the ‘tunnel’ and a chance to get a feel for the traffic before we hit France. Putting your bike on the train via the tunnel is quite a different experience, you ride on, locked in and 35 minutes later you are in France. You can tell the bikers who have done it before; they are the ones with the chairs!
Europe has changed…… not a single glance at either the UK or the France end at passports or vehicle doc’s………..refuel at the first servo in Calais, cheaper there, and then it was north to Brugge or really a blast along the Autobahn until the turnoff however the traffic went up a couple of notches, faster and trucks, trucks and more trucks……haven’t they heard of B-doubles? Arrived into the town of Brugge and our digs for the night was La Barge, a converted 100 year old freight barge, very well done however it was a little disconcerting with the water level 40cm below the window! Just as were about to leave and explore what is supposed to be one of Europe’s most beautiful old towns there was a clap of thunder and the rain came down, waited that out with the captain/manager exploring the delights of the local brews. Once the rain finished we were of into the town itself and it did not disappoint truly a beautiful place, so well preserved and maintained. Walking and taking photos we made our way into the town centre, superb ‘zentrum’ and these folks know how to cater for the tourist…………we picked a brasserie for a beer or two and escape another short downpour. A few of the group decided to eat but for me it was the typical tourist trap and ‘alles mit pommes frites’ so with a few others we set off to find something a little off the track…...The Little Hobbit, hole in the wall, tiny & dark inside but it had the vibe. A superb 5 piece mixed grill each individually spiced and grilled to perfection with a simple mixed salad washed down with a very young and surprisingly scrumptious merlot from I think Spain. First meal on the continent and I wasn’t disappointed, oh and let’s not forget that roomie organised a local digestive which according to custom must be consumed with no hands  305 k’s today and reached a temperature of 20deg C
I awoke to a large freight barge passing our bedroom window, showered and headed off to brekkie in the dining room. Typical European breakfast with it all, breads, spreads, eggs, meats, cheeses, unsalted butter, table bins yum so Europe and after last night’s meal I was in heaven and thinking about what to have in Germany tonight!! Left for Sankt Goar on the Rhine at around 0900 with a mixture of Autobahn, mountain terrains and twisties. Hitting the highway in the direction of Brussels I was truly shocked by the amount of trucks; dancing with death at 130km/h but I’ll give the European drivers their due, it works but its fast and you need to stay aware! We arrived at around 5.30pm to the Hotel Rheinfels of course overlooking the Rhine, great position, views and especially from our third floor room……with no lift . 412k’s today and 28deg!! Finally got to catch up with emails etc. before heading off to dinner and what could be more German than Bratwurst, sauerkraut and brat kartoffeln mit weizenbier. Finished the day off with a stroll up to the castle overlooking the town, now a hotel, to watch the sunset and soak up the views of the Rhine valley.

Posted by ScottyJ 09:06 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Awesome Austria

Bikes, bitumen & Alps......:-)))

sunny 29 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

A long day ahead today with lots of Autobahn to Fussen where the famous Newschwanstein castle is located. (original not the Disney one) The day started with massive GPS problems as well as another continental continental breakfast and as the day heated up again it was a little frustrating but it got sorted in the end. It really isn’t all that much fun blasting along Autobahns so at the first fuel stop a small group of us decided to go the back way. Knowing how good the roads are through the countryside I jumped on board. It was great to get off the Autobahn and we ploughed through Germany and countless villages to finish along the Romantischestrasse and arrive fairly late at our destination. It was amazing day stunning scenery, great people and good roads. We arrived so late that the kitchens in the village were shut so we grabbed a cab and headed into Fussen itself to look for some dinner. Another town with a beautiful altstadt where we found a very authentic German restaurant; the clue being the very large steins on the tables outside. Oh but the food…..I won’t bang on about this but to say one of the best German meals ever…..roasted pork hock, sauerkraut & knodel. Sharing the meal and the night with my ride buddies from the day we had a LOT of laughs and it went on to much later in the night……….! 558km’s & 29deg it was a warm one, no wonder those steins tasted so good 
This morning we walked up to the castle Newschwannstein, built by King Ludwig ll. As you can imagine this castle, the inspiration for Walt Disney, is heavily touristic but with excellent German efficiency you don’t notice the crowds and the tour was as if no one else was there. The good thing about tours is the history and even though the castle now brings wealth to the region it and some of the other grand plans of Ludwig bankrupted Bayern. He was eventually approached by the good burgers declaring that he was unfit to rule, read insane and mysteriously drowned with his doctor some days later……….more German efficiency???
We left around 12 midday for a reasonably long ride to Heiligenblut and ride the famous Grossglockner Aplenstrasse. The day started reasonably well until someone failed to mark a corner which left Drew and I to find our own way; with map in hand we avoided the Autobahn taking the A, B, & C roads and did three mountain passes, Fernpass, Gerlospass and the Grossglockner for the day. It was more than amazing it, epic comes to mind and it was great to be reminded how beautiful and awe inspiring the Alps are. It took us all day with a mixture of weather but we arrived late at our destination the Berggasthof Wallackhaus located at around 2400m in the alps, snow everywhere and the temperature dropping to single digits from today’s high of 25deg. 335k’s of dream riding, pork steak with wild mushroom sauce and spaetzle….does it get much better than this?

Posted by ScottyJ 09:17 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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