Woke up to a damp morning in our forest campsite at Umbrail in Switzerland, at the base of the Umbrail Pass – this is the pass that we took yesterday when we peeled off near the top of the Stelvio Pass, having approached that from the southern side and been a little jaded with all the traffic – and it appears to me that Italian drivers in their little cars have a manic need to overtake anything in their way, even if the roads are single lane and large vans up ahead will eventually retard their progress – but that’s another story.

Kristoff – the German rider we were speaking with last night was already up and pottering round outside his tent so I fired up the Dragon Fly and boiled enough water for Karen, Kristoff and myself for a tea & two coffees. Kristoff and his riding mate Christian each have 850cc Tenere’s (Kristoff has 10 of them – including an ex-Paris Dakar one), and he was very interesting to chat with. Every year he & Christian go on a 3-4 week adventure ride, and they’ve done Morocco a few times, Turkey a few times, the Balkan states a fair bit, etc etc. Kristoff is a firefighter by profession but learnt his trade as car mechanic at a young age and loves tinkering with bikes, and has established a reputation throughout Europe as the go-to guy for anything Tenere-related. Christian woke up and joined the conversation, and asked if he could borrow our Switzerland map (we’d been gifted that in Tasch by Earnest) so I gave the map to Christian, and in return he gave us a map of Albania – so it all goes around in a big circle I think 🙂

We were packed up first so we said our goodbyes – Bernard stopped by as well to bid us farewell, and we headed into the nearby village to refuel and find breakfast. Refuelling was a small saga as the driveway of the petrol station was that steep I couldn’t get off the bike, and Karen needed to squeeze around the bowser to pass the fuel nozzle, whilst trying to not knock me over, as I was balanced so precariously on the slope. Refuelling finished we idled through town but couldn’t find food, so we headed back up (south) the Umbrail Pass to the top where it meets the Stelvio Pass road. We paused for a few minutes at the junction so I could fit the GoPro’s, and as we started up towards the top of the pass it started to drizzle. The road side was covered in snow and ice, and a few guys were out on their pushbikes, pushing on through the freezing conditions. We crested the top of the pass and saw a few bikes parked alongside the shop stalls there. but rather than stop we kept on going and launched ourselves down the iconic northern side of the Stelvio Pass. Our progress was slow and cautious as the road was wet and I wasn’t completely confident in our deteriorating front tyre, and when I saw faster bikes come up from behind I’d pull over a bit and wave them through. Google just told me that there are 48 hairpin bends on the northern side of the Stelvio Pass and 60 in total, and the 48 switchbacks we dropped down through this morning were a bit of hard work on our heavily-loaded bike.

When the road eventually straightened out we entered the little sleepy village of Trafoi and pulled over for a hot lunch of spicy spaghetti which was delicious. Back on the road it started to drizzle again, and we rode steadily down the valley, following the SS38 to Spondigna, where we turned northwards and headed towards the border crossing in Austria. Shortly afterwards Karen’s digital camera battery went flat so we stopped for a few minutes whilst she grabbed my camera out of the top-box – but the scenery we passed from that point onwards wasn’t quite as stunning as what we’d seen earlier in the day, and we eventually got funnelled onto the A12 motorway that led us into Innsbruck.

Our GPS led us to south Innsbruck and up the hill towards our hotel for the next four nights, but not without taking us off the main road and down a little goat track of a back road that reminded both of us of the rough track into the campsite we’d followed a week or so ago in southern Switzerland, but fortunately this track was at least sealed and it eventually rejoined the main road, not too far from our small but quaint hotel.

We’re about 8km south of Innsbruck, and tomorrow we’ll start on our list of chores, culminating in the bike service & tyre fitting on Wednesday. And on Thursday morning it’ll be “Slovenia – here we come !!!!”

PS: I don’t have any GoPro photos of the Stelio Pass I’m afraid – yesterday morning I updated the firmware on our two GoPros and without realising it, the upgrade changed the video capture settings and switched off the Video+Photos mode. I’ve checked the video but the camera lenses were smudged with rain drops so the video isn’t too flash. I’ll check Karen’s camera later and see what photos she managed to snap and upload a few of those, so watch this space !!!

A slow day and short ride today. The bike is booked in for new tyres and a service in Innsbruck on 17th June, and when Vince checked the front tyre the other day he found  it’s looking quite worn – the hairpin bends seem to have taken their toll, so rather than push our luck we opted to stay at Cima Piazzi camp site in Valdesotto near Bormio for a few nights. We moved on from their this morning planning to take the Stelvio Pass north from Bormio – Italy’s most famous mountain pass – but we were turned back by a policeman because it was closed til 2:00pm due to a cycle race, so we had lunch at a cafe and stretched that out for two hours before the road was reopened. When we started the pass it was a dog’s dinner with cyclists still on the road plus support vehicles and motorbikes and cars, and the ride was slow with the traffic and Vince had to be a bit cautious due to the state of the front tyre, so near the top of the pass we peeled off left to Switzerland and dropped down into a pretty little valley where we found a campsite nestled between the trees, so we’ve set up camp here for the evening.

Lots of riders stopped at the cafe we had lunch at as they were all turned around as well, so we chatted with some of them ( a group of Italian riders and a lovely Dutch couple) for a while, and did some research on the laptop.

It’s only 150km to Innsbruck and we’ll probably push on tomorrow and complete that, getting there a couple of days before the service is booked, but we have some chores to do and we can go sightseeing a bit perhaps.

The weather here is fantastic, even though it was raining heavily overnight and again this morning as we packed up the tent. By stopping early today we’ve been able to dry out all our gear so we’re set for a good night. We had sausages and mashed potato for lunch – but it was Italian style – flat sausage meat and the mashed potato had cheese and runner beans in it, so that was an interesting combination. Dinner tonight might be a tin of ravioli boosted with our last potato and some carrots ….. Mmmmmm 🙂

At the new campsite we met an interesting Swiss man, Bernard, who is 72 and was very friendly and helpful….even wanting to gift us a Swiss cooking implement! Vince also chatted with a couple of German motorcyclists who have just come through the Balkan states where we will be headed shortly. The people you meet really help make the adventure take shape.

We woke up early and made our way down to the dingy meal area attached to our restaurant for a continental breakfast consisting of (for Vince) a cappuccino, cereals and stale bread and (for Karen) weak tea and cereals. It was drizzling outside as I retrieved the bike from the garage opposite our hotel and started to load it up, but we were so keen to say ‘Arivadechi’ to Madesimo we didn’t want to stay longer and pull on our wet weather gear, so we headed off into the light rain as quickly as we could. 

I’d plotted a zig-zag course to our planned destination – a camp site near Bormio, the base of the Stelvio Pass, with zigs occurring at Chiavenna and Tirana, and the zag taking place in Saint Moritz. The first section of riding took us on a roller coaster hairpin-encrusted ride down the side of a mountain that I wasn’t expecting nor really prepared for. This section of road (Pianazzo) was amazing – the road and it’s many tunnels and hairpins had been chiselled out of the mountainside, a bit like an ant-farm tunnel. The road was wet and chopped up, and the hairpins were so close together it was almost a continual spiral that we descended. Again, Karen was put to good work looking forwards for oncoming cars, difficult to spot in the twisty conditions. 

After leaving Chiavenna we took the more gradual and open road towards Saint Moritz, enjoying the short but twisty Moleja Pass, and then followed the beautiful road as it wound up the hills and past the lakes leading into Saint Moritz. We pushed straight through and then stopped for a bite to eat from our supplies a bit north of the town, overlooking a glacier in the distance that Karen had spotted through the trees. 

The next pass we took was the Bernina Pass, and this was a little gem. The turns were a bit more open than previous passes, allowing for a more flowing ride, and the valley scenery was beautiful. Karen mentioned over the Sena’s that the Bernina Pass goes through a UNESCO World Heritage area, and it was absolutely breathtaking.

The remainder of the ride into our camp ground at Valdisotto was relatively uneventful, the only real challenge was locating the actual camp ground as the GPS led us to someone’s house by accident, and from there we had to do some exploring to find the camp site.

Once located, the next challenge was for Karen to deal with the Camp Commendant, who wanted our passports before checking us in. Karen flatly refused 🙂 We were allocated a cute little campsite up a horrendeously steep hill – it’s paved but an absolute struggle getting the bike up there. Nevertheless, I got the bike wedged into our little plot, Karen pitched the tent, and then (thanks to a local supermarket in Bormio that has a real butcher) she cooked a delicious steak with pepper & mushroom sauce, and mashed potatoes, carrots and peas over our single-burner Dragon Fly for dinner ….. MMMMMMmmmmmm – what a great way to finish an excellent riding day 🙂

Yesterday we’d discovered that the E35 & 2 roads were out, the only north-bound roads leading out of Andermatt, so that required some rejigging of our riding plans to avoid (to Karen’s distinct pleasure) re-riding the Grimsel & Furka Passes. Instead, after packing up our gear and loading the bike, we headed east over the Susten Pass, which was an absolutely brilliant ride. The road rose up through the lush forest before the trees fell away, replaced with rocky hillsides that the twisty road had been carved in to. Numerous tunnels had been cut into the rock to allow the road through, and in one spot a waterfall flowed over a tunnel and cascaded into the valley below, providing a beautiful sight as we climbed up the mountain side. We crested the pass and dropped down into the valley on the far side, making our way towards Wassen, a few km north of Andermatt and the point at which we could pick up the 16.9km long Gotthard Tunnel going south, and through which we travelled to avoid the road blocks around Andermatt.

Popping out of the tunnel in Airolo I hunted around for the start of the Gotthard Pass – the idea being to follow that north back to Hospental (near Andermatt), as from there we knew we could get to Andermatt and the start of the Oberalp Pass. The GPS was struggling to get a good fix on our location deep in the alps, and with roadworks and diversions to contend with I couldn’t easily find the road I needed, so we took some time out to have a ham & cheese roll and a coffee (coke for Karen) at Bar 69 in Airolo, giving me a chance to get my bearings. 

Lunch finished and paid for, we headed up the cobbled street and back into the woodlands, finding the start of the ‘alternative’ Gotthard Pass road – this is the pass we’d ridden in a north-south direction a few days earlier, and now we were redoing it in the reverse direction. The road was a delight to ride, and in places felt like a roller-coaster experience as some of the hairpin bends were suspended in thin air, and there was nothing beyond the flimsy barrier at the edge of the bend, except a long long drop to the valley below. The top of the pass was covered in snow and the views were lovely, but rather than stop we pushed on into Hospental and towards Andermatt, where low cloud cover had dropped down to ground level and made for eerie riding.

We took the cobbled road through the centre of Andermatt and found the start of the Oberalp Pass in the cloud, and headed east up the pass. In some spots the cloud cover lifted a bit and we could get glimpses of the cloud below, and in other places cows had massed alongside the roadway, laying down in the grass and chewing away, oblivious to the few cars and bikes passing by them, with just a few feet to spare. The pass was steep but short, and before long we’d crested the summit and dropped into the valley on the far side, following the twisting river almost all the way towards Chur, peeling off at Tamins to start the 13 south to Splugen.

We deliberately ignored the GPS that encouraged us to switch to the A13 motorway and stayed instead on the older, narrower 13 that ran almost parallel to the A13 in many places, but which offered a much more enjoyable ride. The road entered a narrow, deep gorge, and snaked its way up the hill. At one spot Karen noticed some huts carved into the rock face of the gorge.  We eventually popped out of the gorge and the road narrowed down to a single lane as it entered Splugen. 

From Splugen we headed straight south towards Madesimo in Italy, our overnight destination. The Splugen Pass was single lane only, and I lost count of the number of hairpins we wheeled around as they came up so quickly. It was a challenge to keep moving forwards at times up the steep and narrow track, and Karen was hard-pressed keeping a lookout for oncoming traffic dropping down from the roadway above us.

We eventually made the snow-covered summit, and shortly afterwards crossed the border into Italy, only indicated by a small hut flying the Italian flag. The road surface immediately  deteriorated, with pot holes and broken sections all over the place. We followed the high valley and lake for a while, before dropping down towards Madesimo. 

Madesimo was a ghost town, and our hotel – probably the only hotel open for guests in the town, was straight out of Stephen King’s “The Shining”. We’d booked via booking.com our room in Madesimo because it was 1/2 the price of a room in Splugen, just 22km to the north, but we knew nothing about the town. In winter it’s probably full of life & people, but to us looked like a set from “Dawn of the Dead” as no one was walking the streets. We got our room key – top floor, furthest from the lift (completely opposite to Karen’s request) and I noticed that no other keys had been handed out to other patrons. The ground floor foyer was almost completely dark, and we had to walk down some stairs to catch our lift up to the top floor. Our room was also very dark and oppressive. Karen  lifted out our wet camping gear and spread that out to dry, and then we went for a walk through the ghost town, looking for signs of life. We eventually stumbled across the only bar open in town, and had a drink or two, before walking on a bit further to the only restaurant open in town – a quaint pizzeria. Unable to read Italian we just picked two different pizzas from the menu, hoping for the best. Pizzas eaten, we walked back to our hotel as the evening grew colder in the night chill, locking our door in the hope that would be enough to deter any marauding zombies as we slept that night ….

We planned to do three passes again but this with the charged up GoPro – Grimsel, Furka and Susten! We stopped in at the local Vilg supermarket and got a couple for bread rolls and bananas for breakfast….we planned to come back later for supplies.

Commencing the Grimsel Pass for the third time, it was just a lovely, if not now a bit familiar! Being Monday, there was pretty much no traffic on the road and we had an almost clean run both up and down the Grimsel Pass, only being baulked by slow vehicles right at the end of each run. Leading on from the Grimsel Pass, through Gletsch, we made our ascent of the Furka Pass. Dropping down into the green valley on the far side we headed into Andermatt. This time we went into the village itself and stopped at a cafe for lunch. We then continued out journey towards the Susten Pass only to find the road completely blocked by roadworks.  There was no viable alternative in heading North from Andermatt to reach the start of the Pass, so we had no choice but to return the way we came, taking the Furka Pass for the third time, and the Grimsel Pass for the fourth ….talk about Groundhog Day. Vince had no issues about reriding Mountain Passes, but from my pillion perspective ….I prefer the adiage…..”never go back!”

Back at Innertkirchen, we went to the Vilg supermarket and bought some hamburgers and vegetables to make a simple but satisfying meal.

We ordered fresh croissants from the Campsite office for breakfast this morning….and a loaf of bread for later. When I went to pick it up the lady (who spoke little English) tried to charge me again ….but I eventually managed to convince her that we had paid the night before….which we had….there was no way you’ll get me to pay twice!

We had a bit of wait to try to dry out our tent as it had rained heavily the night before….it fact as we were setting up camp it started…. forcing us to blow up our thermorests inside the tent! Back on the road we headed North and found ourselves in an awful traffic jam….the benefits of being on a bike, even one as big as the ANIMAL, allowed us to do a bit of lane splitting and this enabled us to get ahead without too much delay. However, Vince missed a turn and we found ourselves accidentally in the 16.9km Gotthard Tunnel……it was nightmarish hot and we had no option but to plough on through! It brought us out near Andermatt, we skirted the town and took the Susten Pass……….fantastically beautiful.

There were heaps of motorbikes and sports cars also taking the pass in the warm sunshine. We made a pit stop in Wyler at a little shop and bought some ham as well as some toothpaste (must get supplies when we see them!). Wanting to avoid the mistake of the night before….we wanted to suss out Campgrounds before committing and stopped at 4 campsites, but only the last one offered any shade. Camping Grund cost around 25 Swiss Francs per night but you had to pay for hot water for showers (1 Franc)….at least they had toilet paper!. We  found out many places in France don’t! – Cernay had one large roll find at the entrance door – that you had to estimate from before going into the cubical, Paris and Chamonix were devoid of any paper – BYO!

After putting our tent up and making sure it was dry (inside and out!), we went for a ride to the Grimsel Pass. Vince needed to charge up the GoPros (as everything has gone flat without access to electricity) and we finally got to use the double USB charger we bought from BMW in Annecy. It was 34km out and 34km back and took us to Glestch (where we had been yesterday). The ascent was magnificent, taking us high into the snow and where we crested a dam and frozen lake. In some sections snow and ice falls covered the road but generally the snow ploughs had done an excellent job in opening up the road from the deep snowfall. In many places water was running fast across the road surface, gushing out onto the road as the snow melted. It was late in the afternoon, and on the ascent we passed a lot of oncoming vehicles on their way home after a day of exploring the mountain passes. The descent followed a steep twist and turn all the way down the mountain. We turned tail at Glestch and retraced our path back over the Grimsel Pass to our Campsite in Innertkirtchen.

We had bread and ham for dinner, and watched a wicked thunder and lightening storm from the comfort of our Helinox Chairs! 

Woke up to some EXCELLENT news…..our application for our visa reference numbers for Iran has been approved! Yippee! We are going to IRAN!!!!!

Had the last of our single serve cereals for breakfast before packing up to depart at around 10.30am. We plugged Andermatt into the GPS that would take us over the Furka Pass. The ride towards the start of the Pass was exhilerating in itself and the Furka Pass was phenomenal. As we were about to start the Pass itself, in Glestch, we stopped to get some food, but the prices were ridiculous – so we gave it a miss. Upon returning to our bike we were approached by an Italian man, Roberto and were later joined by his friend, Palmer…..admiring the ANIMAL and asking about our trip. We shared some stories and Roberto proudly showed off his scooter. We gave him one of our 2upadventure stickers so he can stay in touch.

On our way, ascending the steep entrance we commenced the Furka Pass. We lost count of the number of switchbacks we took as we climbed up into the snow and ice. At times there was no barrier and I was scared shitless! I kept telling myself…..”you are braver than you think”…as Christopher Robin would say!

We descended the far side of the Furka Pass and were heading towards Andermatt when we saw a signpost pointing in another direction, towards the Gotthard Pass. As we had no committed plans as to where we needed to be, we made a snap decision and took it. We eventually found ourselves faced with the closure of the actual Gotthard Pass – so could not continue, but took the alternative route Gotthard Aleio. Once again we climbed up into the snow fields before taking a breathtaking descent into the valley below….it was awesome! At times the road engineers had run out of mountain upon which to build their roads and so switchbacks had been built up as bridges and we were suspended in thin air as we peeled around the sharp bends. No room for mistakes on these roads!

Down in the valley we used the GPS to locate the nearest camp site (near Faido Vince thinks) and riding to the campsite started a whole new adventure. We peeled off the road we’d been following through the valley and entered a sleepy village before starting a steep and twisty climb up into the hills. 500m from our camp site destination the sealed road ran out, replaced with a rocky goat track that descended through the forest, with a steep drop to one side and a cliffside on the other. The track dropped down through the trees and the loose surface made for an interesting descent. Upon arriving at the camp site there was no shade to be seen or staff to assist, so after a quick discussion we opted to move on and find a more inviting camp ground. I had a minor melt down……and Vince had to work hard to convince me to get back on the bike for the ride back up. Thankfully the ride out was marginally less harrowing than the descent, but not by much. The track was narrow and every time I peered over the edge I thanked my Dr that my blood pressure tablets work….otherwise I think it would be heart attack or stroke time!

We stopped in the village at the bottom of the hill where Vince had a Beer and I had a scotch….and….we had the most FANTASTIC ham and cheese sandwiches at a fraction of the cost we had paid in France! When Vince went to pay for the food we were a bit confused…the prices were in Swiss Francs, but all the street signs, menus etc were in Italian….we thought we might have crossed a boarder, but when we asked we were told we were definitely still in Switzerland! We were soon back on the road…more relaxed…and decided to press on a little further to somewhere near Biasca!

The Campgrounds, Campeggio al Censo, cost us 37 Swiss Francs….for a patch of the most dead looking grass….highway robbery! To add insult to injury the only food available was from their little store…it cost us 23 Swiss Fancs for 2 Beers, 2 Cokes and 2 small ice creams! Luckily we have started carrying and emergency can of food ….so thats what was for dinner!

After breakfast at our campground, we set off to catch the train to Zermatt, it cost us 32 Swiss Francs for both of us return ticket. It was a quick 10 min trip to disembarking in Zermatt. Cars and other vehicles are not permitted there, only these strange little electric taxis and push bikes are allowed. We walked the 1200 metres to the Cable Car Station to get us up the mountain. Our tickets were 200 Swiss Francs for the both of us, which is probably about $265 Australian, and very expensive as an outing.

We had to change cable cars twice to get to the very top of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise! On the way up we could see the Matterhorn easily as it was a clear day with little cloud cover. We went to the very top were we could see into Italy, as well as the back of the Matterhorn and the Gablehorn. We noticed that there are now locks on the top wire fencing and they are encouraging people to put them on there and leave the keys in a box that later gets sent in ice…Paris may have competition!

We both felt a bit lightheaded at the altitude of 3883m, and went down to see the Glacier Palace, 15 metres below the surface of the ice. We had a lot of fun as the network of tunnels was more extensive that those of Mer De Glace. The sculptures were tasteful and we even got to try out an ice slide….not as fast as you might initially think….some caterpillar effort required!

Upon returning to Tasch we stopped at the shop to pick up some ingredients to make dinner…..Mince Surprise Tasch Style tonight!

Back at our campsite we caught up with Earnest and his wife, and little dog, Faro, and shared out Matterhorn stories as they had also been to Zermatt today. In the process we discovered he is a motorcycle and sidecar addict, so he and Vince had lots to chat about. They are from Lucerne, and shared some local knowledge of things to see in Switzerland, and made us a gift of a Touring Map of Switzerland! Very kind….we shall use it tomorrow.

We left Chamonix about 10.00am following the D1506 up into the hills. We crossed the Col de la Forclaz before staring the twisty descent into Martigny. With the GPS set to survey roads/avoid tolls and fees we followed a little country road (route 9) along the river running roughly parallel to the motorway. About half past 11, we stopped for an early lunch in the deserted town of Riddes, at the only cafe open. It seemed strange that all the shops in both Martigny and Riddes were closed on a Thursday – it was like passing through ghost towns – people were few and far between – we don’t know why?

We carried on again following the back roads until we came to Steg, where I noticed some twisty roads etched into the side of a hill on the other side of the valley, and of course we had to try it out! We followed the beautiful mountain road up into the hills until Vince decided it was taking us too far away from our intended destination, and so we turned around. This is where the fun began as we found ourselves at what we thought was a toll booth….the lady at the window demanded 19 Swiss Francs….. Vince questioned this excessive amount for the short distance we had travelled, only to find she thought we wanted to board a train with our bike. After finding a colleague with more English skills we explained that we wanted to go to Tasch (which we knew how to get to)…we were informed we were on the wrong road and were sent up towards the cars queuing to board the train and were redirected back down the hill ….and were soon on our way….goodness knows where we could have ended up if we had just paid the fee and joined the line.

We returned to Steg, enjoying the twisty descent of our little detour and headed off towards Tasch/Zermatt. A short time later we arrived in Tasch and easily found our campgrounds, conveniently near the Terminus for the rail to Zermatt, where we intend to go tomorrow to see the Matterhorn. I had a bit of trouble with the office as the lady did not speak English, but we managed to indicate two people, one motorbike and one tent…..my miming skills are improving! The cost was 66 Swiss Francs for two nights, over double what we were paying in Chamonix…..Switzerland is very expensive!

We walked to a nearby shop and got some supplies for dinner and tomorrows breakfast. Texas Marinade Chicken tonight for us! We love our new frypan! As we ate our dinner, Vince notices two wild mountain goats that had come close to our campsite….much to the amusement of the local campers. The goats had really, really big horns. Their front halves were all black and their tail ends were all white. They munched happily on the flowers and stalks on the hillside. 

We chatted to a neighbouring camper, Earnest, who has travelled extensively, two 12 month trips. One from Europe through Siberia into Mongolia and then back through the Stans, Iran and Turkey before returning to Europe, the other was the West Coast of South America up the Pan American Highway to North America and Alaska, before heading East to New York. Both trips were done in a large truck that looked like a mobile hotel but now he and his wife have a smaller, but well equipped Mercedes Motor Home.

After breakfast ….we organised the front desk, at the Ace Hotel, to print out the documents we needed for our India Visa Applications.

We headed off to Geneva (Switzerland) 40km away, and paid 3.80 Euro ($6.00) in toll to drive less than 6 km of motorway! Same on the return trip!

After negotiating our way through traffic in Geneva, avoiding the trams and riding down what we now think was a pedestrian mall, we arrived at the address for the India Visa Application Centre. We eventually figured out how to use the secret squirrel intercom system and got them to unlock the door. We proceeded up the dingy steps to the first floor and entered the offices. We were greeted by a young woman, who spoke English, but who was more interested in discussing her personal life on the telephone than actually being of any assistance. She only gave us the parroted information we could already access on the internet ourselves! She kept rabbiting on about Visas on Arrival and we tired multiple times to explain we were not arriving by plane, but riding our motorbike and we would be at a boarder crossing without any vista and our Pakistan Visa would have run out….so effectively we would be stuck in No Mans Land….. She eventually contacted someone in the India Consulate in Geneva by phone and he was no more helpful. The best suggestion they could offer is that we apply in Islamabad (Pakistan) ….not our idea of fun and not practical!

A little disheartened from the experience we pushed on to BMW ( Vince has been trying to organise a service and tyres for days with little luck as everywhere is booked out). When we eventually found the place it was 12.15pm and they close at 12.00pm until 13.30! Not our day today!

So we found a nearby place (the Merena Bar) to sit in the shade and have a drink while we waited! Once BMW opened we discovered they too could not fit us in for another 3 weeks….so we will got with plan B, move on to Switzerland and eventually get the service and tyres done in Austria in a few weeks time!

We had tolls again today…always my favourites …NOT! But I am now using the credit card rather than coins and that makes it easier…in fact I didn’t even need to get off the bike today! I worked it out and now we are back in France at our hotel we have crossed 13 borders so far….check the new page out under the Our Route Tab.

On the way home we stopped in at the “Old Town” in Annecy….the buildings reminded me of Venice. They were so close together that it sent the GPS into a spin and Vince ended up in a one way street ….going the wrong way! The locals alerted us but we could not turn around in the narrow street so just had to keep going until it widened….scary!  

We went back there in the evening for dinner and it was magical….so romantic and beautiful. I gave a homeless person, with two dogs, some money and later I sneaked a pic of him but his freaky friend saw me and went off her tree ….luckily I can’t speak or understand French…the man concerned spoke up to her and said it was ok…so she eventually went away, but it rattled me a bit…guess that’s the risk you take when you take spy shots!

We went for s walk around the lake after dinner, and we met a German lady, Marlese, with her little dog, Speedy. A six year old English Terrier who had not been so speedy that morning and was showing his battle scars from a dog who attacked him. We had a bit of a pat which provided us with a fur fix….as we miss Cebar…our own dog back in Australia.