All posts for the month May, 2015

After Breakfast we left Freudenstadt and headed along the route described in Great Motorbike Tours of Europe, along the L96 to Gutach (where we refuled and had a Mars Bar), then onto the 531 to Triberg (The land of Cuckoo Clocks and Tourists). We tried to get to Badenweiler but it was blocked off (we don’t know why) so we went into Basel and that was not helped because Vince had the GPS on Curvey Roads/Avoid Major roads so we went on a scenic drive! From Basel we went up through Mulhouse into Cernay.

In the Black Forest we passed a Bear and Wolf Park

Alternativer Wolf- und Bärenpark Schwarzwald
Rippoldsauer Straße 38a
77776 Bad Rippoldsau-Schapbach – Schapbach
phone 07839 910380

We turned back and called in and for just 5 Euro each we spend about an hour and a half there. We managed to see all 9 bears currently there. …awesome…I’ve never been so close to a bear before…..they were amazing creatures. Martmoort, a Ranger at the Park, chatted with Vince (whilst he was putting on his wet weather gear as it was raining when we departed), about how they care for the bears and acclimatise them.

We continuted our scenic route eventually crossing the border into France, finding a Acacias campground in Cernay on the banks of the River Thur. We many stay a few nights here….we will see how we feel in the morning.

Monday 18th May – we decided to spend two nights in Freudenstadt (our overnight stop last night) so we could catch up on some washing and have another crack at the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse (the Black Forest High Road – the B500) after being baulked a couple of times yesterday by slow cars that interrupted the rhythm of the ride. Wandered through the sunshine on legs to the Marketplatz and located the laundromat, only to be told via a little pantomime act that our washing would not be ready for collection till Thursday – fail. We had a coffee/coke & some Black Forest cake in the cafe overlooking the fountains in the square, and then strolled back to our hotel so we could get the bike.

I switched the bike to ‘Dynamic’ mode and with most of the luggage left back in our hotel room we had a sunny and lively ride from Freudenstadt along the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse heading north towards Baden-Baden. Unlike yesterday’s ride on this road there was minimal traffic on the road, and most of that were bikes heading south. We blipped past a couple of cars and enjoyed the sunshine and the drifting rear tyre.  The road provides a scenic view over the valley below and the distant hills, and was magnificent to ride with its sweeping bends. We pulled over just out of Baden-Baden to turn around and ride the road again, and Karen was very complementary of the way the bike was sliding through some of the high speed corners as up to that point she had been very quiet on the back, savouring the experience.

We had another quick run along the High Road, stopping at Mummelsee – the highest point on the road and a lay-over which featured a hotel, a restaurant full of staff that completely ignored us and whom encouraged us to walk out without placing an order, and a shop that sold all sorts of bratworst sausages, souvenirs, and ice creams – and we settled on an icecream each for lunch. A lot of bikes were parked up in the shade, including a skull-festooned trike that also had a stuffed toy on the back of it (the squirrel character out of Ice Age). The owner must have been sitting nearby with a remote-control as when I approached to take a photo the bike’s four-speaker stereo made the sound of a flushing toilet, and a short while later when a mum with two young kids walked past it started to spurt out bubbles like a giant bubble-blower 🙂

We remounted the bike and finished off the remainder of the High Road until the B500 met the B28 leading towards Freudenstadt, and from there we had a leisurely ride back to our hotel. Now it’s time to catch up on a few blogs and emails before we wander back into town for a bite to eat 🙂

After a late start ( saying goodbye to all the wonderfull people we met) we headed South East towards Baden Baden to pick up a route from “Great Motorcycle Tours of Europe” called Forests and Wine trails that eventually ends in Reims in France ( where all the Champage is – yum!) and not too far from Paris.

We tried to cross the Rhine by small local ferry, but the river had burst its banks and was overflowing so we had to turn back and find an different route. Closer to Baden Baden we pulled in to a service station were it cost 70 cents to pee! We then went to a nearby MacDonalds to use their wifi to find some accommodation online …given the language barrier reading signs and going door to door would not be a good option….Whilst there we met a group of 7 Scottish guys who chatted with us about the ANIMAL and our trip and suggested we take the B500 down to Freudenstadt ( which is where they were spring the night). Vince found a great deal on a hotel in Freaudenstadt and we booked it on the spot…..Hotel Hohenried in Rosegarten…..reduced to 80 Euro including breakfast instead of 110 Euro.

We headed off and got onto the B500 and what a road …..sweeping bends and twisties and fantastic scenery! Wonderful! When we arrived we had to ring the bell at reception and the waitress from the restaurant (Yasmin) came to help us….she spoke English pretty well which made things easier. We got settled into our room, which was lovely, had showers and got changed out of our bike gear and went downstairs to dinner. They have a set 5 course menu for 28 Euro …I couldn’t manage it (3 and a bit) all but Vince made a good go at all 5 courses. Vince suggested staying an extra night here …to catch up on washing and as we have wifi to attend to some emails etc…..he also wants to go back to the Black Forest High Road again but with the GoPro….we’ll sleep on it and decide in the morning.

Some people started to arrive on Wed 13th May …. We had gone for a ride and when we got back there were about 6 people in tents….this was nothing to the onslaught on Thursday 14th May with about 200 people attending the meeting. We met Jens (the organiser) who arrived around lunch time with his family.

Over the 4 days of the event we met so many people and so many experienced travellers it was fantastic! It was a very different organisational set up than we had experienced at previous Perth HU meetings and a unique experience for us …..any stereotypes of German people were blown out of the water by the relaxed, welcoming and friendly atmosphere and the very flexible schedule. There were some inspiring presentations ….especially the two given by the famous (crazy) Dutchman, Shaak Lucassen ….truly amazing! So much so we bought his DVD for 12.50 Euro….he offered to sign it for us …which we accepted and he also offered for me to sit on his famous bike …the Yamaha R1 he rode around the world for five years – including through deserts in Africa and mud in the Congo ….awesome!

We also met another larger than life and top bloke Aussie (Sheldon) – “rides four smiles” who Vince knows from Adv Rider and he has offered us some advice and help for some of the counties we plan to go to… generous! We may even cross paths somewhere on the road.

We made many new amazing friends ….too many to name them all individually….but we have already had some emails and they will be following our blog. One particular friend (a kiwi) who lives in Switzerland, has invited us to come and stay …we’ll see where we end up…..very hospitable. 

Sunday 17th May was filled with packing up a wet tent ( it rained each night and sometimes a shower during the day) as well as saying goodbye to people ….it was after 11.00am when we eventually left to head for the “Black Forest”.





The weather here is much warmer and we are finding our riding gear very hot. With no food on hand we set off looking for supplies in nearby villages….initially with little success until we reached Winnweiler, were we spotted an ALDI supermarket. We pressed on to the nearby service station as we needed fuel. Whilst paying I asked if there was a bank or Teller machine as we need cash to pay for our accommodation (they don’t take card). The lady said to go straight on, which we did and we found the bank and got some money out….yahoo one problem solved! We went back to the supermarket were we discovered we could not get a trolley as you needed a special token, there were no baskets……Vince solved the problem by finding a cardboard packing box. It was an unusual shop layout but we managed to get supplies for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days. In the carpark were approached by Peter, a German man, who asked us about our travels and told us how impressed he was and gave us his card to stay in touch.

We rode back to the campsite and unpacked our shopping and had some cereal ….even though it was almost lunchtime. We tied to pay for our accommodation as arranged but the office was closed …it does so every day between 12 – 2. We met Karen’s (the Campsite owner) husband, Walter, and he explained. It was very hot in and around our tent, as there was no shade, so we went down to a outdoor shaded area and I did some work on the computer whilst Vince had a snooze on the wooden bench. At 2.00pm I went and paid our money for three nights (69 Euro) and asked if the was anywhere we could use a power point to recharge our devices, but was told NO!….not helpful!

Back at the tent we moved our chairs along the pathway where a bit of shade from the trees had started. We shared a punnet of grapes and they were delicious! We tried to solve the shade issue with our tarpaulin but gave up in the end. We decided to both go and have cold showers ….it was a bit of a walk from where our tent was. After our showers we fired up the Dragonfly for the first time ….we cooked Chillie Con Carne and had bread rolls accompanied by a bottle of 1.37 Euro Merlot ….highly successful! Vince is looking forward to some coffee in the morning!

Our original plan was to spread the 520km ride from Ypres to the Horizons Unlimited meeting place in Pfrimmtel, Sippersfeld, Germany over a few days as we didn’t need to arrive ’till Wednesday, however we decided to crunch the distance in a single day, and the 130kph autobahn helped us do that relatively easily in five hours. By aiming to arrive at the campsite early we hoped to finish off our presentations, however the absence of electricity to recharge our devices left us somewhat jammed. We checked into the campsite and erected our tent, and then took the bike and went looking for food….. which proved much harder than anticipated. Many of the little villages we had passed through enroute to the campsite did not appear to have a shop or Restauarant, and those that did were closed. It appears as if everywhere is closed on Mondays. We finally found a posh restaurant that was open, and we enjoyed a delicious…. if expensive dinner. Given that we hadn’t eaten much through the day we were grateful to find food, even at 70 euros. The campsite itself wasn’t cheap at 23 euro per night, and the absence of facilities is in stark contrast to the Jeager Stadion Campground we had left in Belgium that morning. Karen noted that we were charged by both the number of people, number of tents we had, and number of motorcycles we had. When we arrived at the campsite it looked as if it as unattended (being a Monday I guess) and I was going to squeeze the bike between the hedges and the office (rather than squeezing under the barrier gates) but just as I started to push through the gap a voice boomed out over a loud speaker (in German so we couldn’t understand what was being said) but we gathered that they had seen us on their cctv cameras and were impressed with our problem-solving efforts. We tracked down the owner of the booming voice and the hostess – Karen by name – helped sort us out.

After rising we went into town, where we discovered Belgians don’t have the kind of breakfast we have become accustomed to….waffles were the only thing likely but we settled for Ham, Cheese and Tomatoe toasted bagels that arrived slightly askew – One Cheese and Ham and one Cheese and Tomatoe! I guess that’s what happens when you don’t speak Flemish!

After breakfast we headed straight to Dozenham, where Vince has a relative buried, who was only 21 when he died. The cemetery was shielded from the road by a forest of trees and was a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. We found the grave without difficulty and spent a good half hour there. Vince signed the visitors book and we looked in the register that showed his relative.

We returned to the Jaeger Stadiom Campground and parked the bike. I spotted lots of people heading to town carrying fold up chairs so we took our Helinox chairs with us and we’re very glad we did! It was only 1.00pm and the parade didn’t start until three but people were already well in position along the route. We made our way to town centre and managed to get a spot right against a barrier and could see down the road to the Menin Gate. We had a bit of a wait and I spent our last 5 Euro cash on 2 diet cokes, Vince wanted to try the dried fish but the bank teller machine would not take our cards! We enjoyed the parade which lasted about two hours. We then went to the clock tower to watch the cat throwing (not real ones of course!). Thousands of people filled the square hoping to catch a toy cat thrown from the clock tower by a man dressed as a jester. Many people were dressed as cats, wearing cat ears, face painting and cool stockings that had black bottoms with cat faces just above the knee and at the back cat tails! It was cat madness! Many International tourist were there…particularly Asian people were celebrating this triennial event.

We then went and had dinner followed by going to see the burning of the witch. On our way home we arrived at the Menin Gate and again listened to the last post. We met an English couple, Angie and Steve, who have travelled to a lot of the WWI and WWII sites. The last post is played every night at 8.00pm and has done since the end of the war.

We had a few chores to complete before setting off on our European Adventure …collect the sleeping bag and Vince’s liners for his riding pants from the Drycleaner and Alterations place….have breakfast at the local cafe (Eggs Hollandaise)…top up our fuel and make our way to Vines Guildford to pick up a replacement bolt and circlip which came off somewhere in Wales. Keith Ackroyd fitted them for us ….he’s very found of the Animal. Whilst this was going on I was approached by a father and young son who were fascinated by the ANIMAL and I gave the young boy one of our stickers. We scooted down the M25 towards Folkestone and a few miles short it started to rain so we pulled off and put on our wet weather gear wishing to avoid another drenching!

Arriving early, checking in at Eurotunnel was simple and we were able to take advantage of their offer to take a train two hours ahead of schedule (2.20pm) at no additional cost (saving us around 40 pounds) – Bonus! At passport control we told the Inspector we were Australians and followed that up with a rousing rendition of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi …when we told him we are travelling home on the bike his response was “You’re Crazy!” and he waved us through without us even needing to show our passports. We boarded the “Johnathon Linton” along with other vehicles including a motorbike belonging to Chris and Dave …a lovely English couple whom we chatted to on the half hour journey. Vince was approached by Jocke, a Fin, he and his fiancé have BMW F800s and dream of doing what we are doing but with two bikes. He saw the ANIMAL on the platform, Googled our website from our stickers and came down for a chat. He is a HU member and asked to take our photo to put up onto the HU Facebook page (which he later emailed to us – very kind). The journey was uneventful and although getting off was a bit slippery it was all good!

In Callais we stopped at the first petrol station so Vince could get his bearings and program the GPS. We were also hungry as we hadn’t had lunch and it was a bit after 3.00pm but all we could find were coke and mars bars – the riders staple diet! A tour bus had also stopped and we found ourselves swamped by Indian tourists from Mumbai. Photo’s, handshakes and a million questions all at once! The ANIMAL sure attracts attention wherever she goes and we were treated like superstars.

We made our way to Ypes ( pronounce Ips) via Dunkirk and the cross winds were ferocious at times. We slipped across the boarder into Belgium without fanfare – as the boarder was unmanned. We made our way to the Jaeger Stadion Campsite passing many Military cemeteries and tiny chapels along the way. At the campsite the sign on the barrier gate said full! The Manager however, was able to point us to the tent area where there was still some space and it only cost us 11 Euros – another Bargain! Ammenities were more than adequate with toilets, showers and a wash up kitchen area. We quickly pitched our tent and made our way on foot into town (10 minutes) along a country path that passed through two gates either side of a cow (with horns!) paddock….In town we quickly realised that we had arrived the day after VE Day (8th May) and celebrations were still in progress with Military bands playing, a music concert and fireworks. In contrast, everywhere you looked there were things to do with cats …posters, paper mâché models, sculptures, toys, chocolates etc and people dressed up as cats, wearing ears and face painting. I asked one of the shopkeepers, Karol, what it was all about and he explained that tomorrow would be the 44th Kattenstoet where the town celebrates the history of cats being brought in to solve a mouse infestation and then they became a problem and were thrown from the clocktower. We subsequently found out they also celebrate burning witches….this is all reenacted throughout the day. We decided to stay an extra day here so we could see it.

Walking back to our campground after dinner, we stopped at the Menin Gate and listened to the Last Post. Through the city arch and across the moat we were stopped by the Town Cryer and his friends, they insisted we stop whilst they proclaimed the opening of the festival….so entering into the spirit of things, we did!

Saturday morning here in grey but dry London. We should be on the Eurotunnel train this afternoon for a 16:20 departure and a 35-minute trip to Calais. The weather forecast for the next week looks quite promising for camping, so the plan is to camp out as much as we can as we make our way to the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Germany over May 14th – 17th. We may not have too much wifi time over the next week or so, but we’ll be back blogging when we can okay 🙂

Today is a chores day ….not off to a good start …the 2L of milk we bought has only 250ml left in it …someone obviously decided to help themselves in the communal fridge/kitchen ….NOT HAPPY!

Picked up our laundry and Vince’s mending (total 25 pounds) we dropped off yesterday and dropped in a sleeping bag (20 pounds) …that although now dry really smells from being wet so needs proper cleaning! We also had to go back as they missed a seam in his pants lining that had ripped. Will both be ready tomorrow.

We took the tube into Hanwell to send 11 kg of stuff home …we are so overloaded…it count us 149 pounds to post ….ridiculous ….costs almost as much as the gear is worth …but we want it home – sentimental! Hard Lesson Learned!

Then we went to the Fox (pub) for a meal with Vince’s relatives as we leave London tomorrow for Belgium.