Category Archives: out and about

Never a Driech Day with the CRF 250RL

Driech – if there was ever a word to describe a wet June day on the west of Scotland it is that fine old Scottish word ‘driech’. Best analogy I can make for those down south is to imagine Theresa May’s face when she had the recent election results relayed to her – bet it was even worse than Nicola Sturgeon’s..

Best thing Theresa could have done was to take a few days off – summon up a CRF 250RL from somewhere and head for the wilds.

For if ever there was a bike to brighten up your day it’s the honest little CRF.

Prior to taking delivery I had my doubts if I could live with her gaudy colours but in actual fact I don’t see them from the seat. On the trail I am too busy praying I stay on the thing and picking my route while on the road I am happy that even the most myopic of drivers will see the bike.


Although I’m not so sure about her from head-on – it will probably send small children screaming for their mammy —


If all else fails I can always use the advice I received from my Nigerian driver back in the day —

‘Give him hooter Master! ūüôā



CRF 250 Rally – More Angles

Have turned up a few more – hopefully unused – pics from my foray’s on the little Honda. This first one indicates just how well made and finished the new model is —

Not in the same heavyweight league as the Connel Bridge perhaps but that was built in a different era.

The bungee fixings keep my Givi tailpack secure.

Most of the time.

If there is a part built down to a price it’s the handlebars with their welded cross-brace which is a shame because it’s the first thing you notice when you climb on the CRF. The bars don’t do the rest of the bike justice but the tidy wiring and well clipped brake hoses will stop it being a straightforward job to replace them with something that suits me better.

Not enough to condemn the whole bike tho’ I do remember spending a day hunting around Switzerland for a pair of Renthals that would make touring easier on my XJR1300 – a four thousand mile round trip is a long way to carry a crick in your neck.

On the other hand the mirrors are as good as anything I’ve had on previous bikes and if they escape damage on my off-road excursions they could be on there for a while.

Sidestands can often be a source of aggro – especially on dual purpose bikes with their long-travel suspension but it’s hard to see how this one could be any better. It just needs a watchful eye for ground levels when choosing a parking spot.

Like jeans – riders come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Oops! – Sorry missus.

Some bikes fit —

Some don’t.

But they can all make me smile ūüôā



Honda CRF 250’s First Adventure

This is her first adventure off the island if we don’t count a day trip into town to measure up her worth on the open road – where – much to my relief – she did well enough for a 250cc dual purpose bike even at this early ‘running in’ stage.

The CRF has already proven her worth on our current ferry – the Grey Dog – which measures about one car in width and three in length. Cars drive on and reverse off when they reach t’other side – some with greater difficulty than others.

Having to wrestle my tall Tenere or the heavyweight Pan European round in their own length so that I could ride off the boat was in danger of giving me a hernia – something I didn’t want with my wedding coming off in two weeks time –¬†Helen would not be amused!

No worries – the lightweight CRF 250 Rally can spin around on the ferry in it’s own length and be off down the road like a whippet after a hare while the car drivers are still looking for reverse gear.

Over a coffee and breakfast bun in town this morning I was able to catch up with news in the MCN of the TT races currently running on the Isle of Man before heading north over Connel Bridge —

I remember that bridge when it carried a single lane for motor transport and a railway line along side it. The single line to Fort William is no more leaving a single lane and a safe pavement for walkers.

This is what happens to the ‘safe’ walkers when they stray into the woods on the far side. They are de-bagged – their jeans stuffed with compost and flowers planted in them. I’ve heard a few stories about the strange habits of North Connel residents but never came across this one til today.

Best keep the wheels turning – I’m gone – to quieter places. Just up the road I found a natural water feature as the burn emerged from under the road —

No doubt all that rushing water will have the same effect on you as it did on me and it was quite a relief to find a deserted spot for a break on the dirt track by¬†Loch Etive —

The hills in the distance are overlooking the wilderness of Rannoch Moor where I rode a 197cc Seeley Honda in trials during a previous life —

Fantastic views and the CRF does look tidy in this setting —

Not another soul around —

just hills – trees and more water tumbling down the rocky hillside as I head for Barcaldine —

Time for some wildlife to get in on the act – first off – some long-horned hieland coo’s —

Well worth another shot —-

Helen and I have been trying hard to find a cattery to take Seamus for a few days after our wedding but they are in short supply in this part of the world so when I spotted this sign on the side of a dirt road heading off into the forest I thought my luck was in —

Two cedars —

three gates —

and a stunning bunch of ponies —

later —

on the cracking cross country route – (I love you too honey) —

I pitched up at the best cattery cum kennels in the world set in the middle of the forest – only to find it completely booked for our dates.

No worries – we will sort something out for Seamus and Sid —

and in the meantime the wee Honda and I are getting on just fine ūüôā


CRF250 Rally Get’s Wet

Doesn’t seem to make any difference to the wee bike – wet or dry she carries on regardless —

and I didn’t feel the need to ford the pond to test my theory – there’s a ferry for that sort of thing.

Besides – the biggest lobster pond in the UK is over there on the island and by all accounts it’s guarded by gentlemen who were once employed by the SAS.

Best to stay on this side and point the camera somewhere else —

That will be Isle of Mull in the distance but there’s a lot of sea between here and there and even a trip to Belnahua via Fladda Lighthouse would mean getting the feet wet. Yes the days when I thought I could walk on water are long gone —

Nice to be out and about tho’ – here we are at the other side of the island – on the quay at Toberonochy —

Looks like the wee Honda has given my dodgy knees a new lease of life. I find getting around on her much easier than hirpling over the hill with the help of two poles.

The lobster pond isn’t the only thing around here that’s well protected – back home the Bardrishaig Spuds have their own Home Guard behind the gate ūüôā


Honda CRF250 Rally Trick Bits

The recently aquired CRF250 Rally came with some good bits as standard fitments.

Her close ratio six speed box lets you make the most of the 250cc’s both on and offroad with no noticeable steps between each gear —

The wide footpegs come as standard too and the dinky little gear lever with the spring-loaded toe-piece does it’s job just fine even with size 11 riding boots.

The chunky – grippy off-road tyres came on the bike and are easy to live with both on and off-road —

Unlike most road going bikes this one has a handbook that expects you to ride offroad and actually covers that aspect.

ABS is switchable on the rear —

and the wavy discs aren’t in the least fierce overall – needing a good firm pull on the lever to haul her down from road-going speeds.

Bringing her out with this well made alloy swingarm and chain/sprocket guide shows that Honda expect this bike to be taken offroad and with the long-travel suspension demanding 40-60 mm slack in the chain the robust guide should help prevent the chain being de-railed when the rocks start flying —

I’m impressed with the suspension – the rear shock feels plush and does it’s job really well with my 15-16 stone riding weight aboard and the front end felt quite planted on the road even with the dirt biased front tyre —

The cockpit appears to be a busy place but everything falls readily to hand on the ride – lack of gear indicator is noticeable by it’s absence but she does have a digital clock to make up for it —

Radiator is tucked well out of the way where hopefully it will remain safe – and – with luck the rider will stay safe too as it’s twenty years since he spent his ‘Every Sunday’ riding the testing Welsh mountain tracks and even more water has flowed under the bridge since he was riding trials on a regular basis —

Yet – he gave into temptation yesterday and took her over the hill for a nervous spin —

But there was no sign of nerves when he took her up our rough farm track on the back wheel in places on the way home.

Magic! ūüôā



Honda CRF250 Rally Owner’s Club

I got tired of looking out the window for passing ships —

and sitting under a tree at the bottom of the garden reading a magazine —

So – when the opportunity arose to get my hands on the new CRF250 Rally I was right there —

She is a little beauty – especially now that I have her singing her throaty song on the Isle of Luing —

With lots of nice touches – she is much better than I expected —

Suspension feels plush —

Her six speed box has a gear for every occasion both off and on road where 6000 rpm in 6th gear equates to 60 mph and without a motorway within 100 miles we should get along just fine —


Possibly first on the road in the country as the Rally has yet to be officially released for sale in the UK – she won’t have anything like the poke of the Dakar racing 400cc version she is cloned from – but she’s sweet and should suit my old bones just fine —

thank you Mr Honda ūüôā


An Evening Ride on Luing

With less than ten miles of tarred single-track on our Isle of Luing it’s hardly worth bringing the Pan European out but that was the weapon of choice for an evening ride – here she is with Caledonian MacBride’s Hebridean Princess in the background in the Sound of Luing —

The old jetty at Blackmill Bay is always worth a picture —

or two —

but three is pushing it – just a bit —

The old rusted Diahatsu still earns it’s corn by putting the rib in the water for trips to Scarba and beyond ¬†—

Did someone mention Scarba? There she over there in all her glory —

That will be the mountains of Mull in the distance —

To finish – a shot from earlier in the day – over the sheltered bay where my son moors his boat – with views to the mainland —

Thanks to Helen who was riding pillion – she really does take some lovely pics ūüôā


More of the Tenere XT660Z

The Tall Ten is always my ‘go to’ bike despite the fact I have become disenchanted with her a few times during the six and a half years I have owned her. the-urr-018She will do a a modicum of off-road and is brilliant on stony tracks for instance – she will tour till the cows come home and hold her own in main road traffic. In addition – 150 – 200 mile day trips are meat and drink to her – especially with a variety of going so where does the ‘disenchantment’ set in.

Probably at her worst when conditions are gusty – passing trucks can be a lottery as sudden cross-winds make the Tall Ten dance across the road if you are not prepared.

Being a big single she will always vibrate – but not to excess. The most annoying thing is the ever-present rattle from the screen area which I have tried so hard to cure – even resorting to removing the bloody thing altogether and strapping it on the back at times.

Did I say ‘most annoying thing was the screen’? What about the seat? ‘Torture chamber’ on long hot days is too nice a description of it.

Doesn’t sound like much but it takes little or nothing to disturb a rider’s equilibrium on some long hauls. On one return leg from Croatia on my XJR1300 for instance I decided that the bend and height of my aftermarket alloy Renthal bars wasn’t suiting and I wasted hours checking out the few bike shops in Switzerland in my hunt for a more suitable set. Numpty that I am!


But – after all that moaning she is still here —


and I can’t wait to throw a leg over her.


Living on the Isle of Luing will mean a full sea-change to my riding habits.


No Sunday vehicle ferry for most of the year means I won’t be able to nip down to Lochearhead for a natter with my old mates by the fire on a Sunday fer instance.


But – we will just have to adapt —


where there’s a will —


there’s a way ūüôā


cheers – Don


Tenere on Tour

The Tall Ten came into my life early March 2009. The new model was designed and built by Yamaha Italy for the Euoropean market and went into production in 2008.


I searched the UK Yamaha Dealers in 2008 for one – to no avail. ‘Oh – they are all being sold in Europe Sir’ – load of nonsense – I had been all over Europe that year and never got a sniff of the new Tenere till December when one turned up at my hotel in Cyprus. It had cost the happy owner over 9000 euros to bring it in from the Italian factory as a Direct Import.


When they did arrive in the UK in numbers early in 2009 I was first in the queue with my pile of readies Рless than £6000 for the bare bike plus a set of panniers and a few bits and bobs like engine protection bars and an essential centre-stand. Longer dogbones to lower the bike came later but were whipped off again after a fraught visit to a fussy MOT station one year.


I took possession and had intended heading for Europe – down through Germany with the Balkans my target. Unfortunately the keys had snapped in the stiff locks of the panniers first time of trying and neither I nor the dealer could get Mr Yamaha to cough up a new set in time for my departure.


As you can imagine Givit was real upset by this time. His humour improved when his local Timpson KeyCutter produced a fresh set of keys which did the job so well that he got on his way south and never fitted the spare lock barrels and keyset that had eventually arrived from Mr Yamaha by the time he returned to the UK.


Yes she has had a taste of ‘weather’ but through both good and bad she has never missed a beat.


We covered about 20000 miles those first three years – over to Eastern Europe – down round the Balkans – all over the UK too including a snow-bound Braemar – wind swept Tiree – beautiful Barra —



and the rest of the Outer Hebrides where it rained virtually non-stop for two weeks solid. It will certainly make me think twice about going back there although islands don’t come lovelier than Berneray when the sun shines.


The 60 odd mpg from her single cylinder motor is a blessing with the Ten – unlike the big four cylinder bikes I had become accustomed to.


I carried out some minor mods along the way – some worked – I pulled off the autobahn one day after hours of hammering her flat out at 108 mph. I took out my Swiss Army knife – lifted the seat and cut the right-angled snorkel clean off the air cleaner inlet.


A ‘result’ – after brimming the big tank with fuel my next couple of hundred miles were covered at 113 mph!

Then there was the neat ‘chin’ deflector I made and fitted in an attempt to stop the 100 mph wind coming up through the fork leg aperture in front of the fuel tank. It worked well – until one very windy day scudding down the M74 – an extra strong gust in our faces almost lifted the bike and I over the banking into a roadside field. The neat ‘chin’ deflector soon joined the scrap pile of ‘bad ideas’ after that!


All-in-all she has been a good buy. The tall after-market electric blue screen was a pleasure to sit behind although it did cut about 8 mph off her top speed. Shame I managed to break it in a clumsy attempt to modify it – something else for the scrap pile in the corner.


I still have the Tall Ten although she has yet to join me on the Isle of Luing – but —


after going through all my old pics of her for this post I have the urge to ride again and don’t be surprised if she arrives up here sometime soon.


Don ūüôā



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Alps – Adriatic and Alcohol by XJR1300

Alps Adriatic and Alcohol is the story of my first ride to Croatia on my XJR1300¬†in 2004. I wrote it from my Travel Journals when I returned home. I haven’t read¬†the tale¬†in it’s entirety¬†since and I’m sure some of it will make me blush. Odd bits have been used by popular motorcycle publications but most of it is as fresh to me as it was seven – nay – twelve years ago – as are the memories.

The opening photograph was taken by a fellow traveller at the entrance to the KrKra National Park. He was a braver man than I was Gunga Din. He was on his way home to Germany from a holiday in Bosnia with his wife and two very young children in a venerable old split screen Volkswagen camper van. 

I was nervous of going to Bosnia as I had no insurance cover for that country. His reply was ‘I don’t know what you are bothered about as nobody down there has insurance anyway’.¬†I like his style!

Alps, Adriatic & Alcohol – 2004

by givitsum

I have had my Yamaha XJR1300SP since it was new in 2000 and over the past four years I have carried out a few modifications with the aim of improving the handling, power and comfort of the machine. A naked bike without protection from wind and weather isn’t generally regarded as a long distance tool, particularly when planning some mile-munching in short order but the big-finned, air-cooled, four cylinder motor in the XJR certainly rocks my boat and together we can usually hold our own when the going get’s tough.

Big Red in her Weekend Warrior clothes   

Purchased for the trip were a set of Oxford Sports throw-over pannier bags and a Baglux tank cover fitted with a bag big enough to hold my camera, binoculars, spare maps and a few other bits I thought be useful.

These together with my well-travelled Camel holdall¬† strapped on the pillion would have enough capacity to swallow spare gloves, clothes and footwear plus cans of sealant, chain lube and¬†WD40 or ‘instant maintenance’ as it was known by the African mechanics in my civil engineering days in Africa.

H-mmm — still room in the expanding pannier bags! In went a handful of cable ties, tying wire and pliers plus the heavy duty ‘just in case’ ratchet and sockets. We’ve all been caught out at the side of the road with a flat tyre.¬†The wheel nuts have been done-up some months previous by an eighteen stone gorilla tyre-fitter with his windy-gun set on maximum. The manufacturer’s chocolate wheel brace is in our hand bent into a ‘U’ shape and the wheel is still on the vehicle! Well it wasn’t going to happen to me – not in the places I was headed for!

I couldn’t have been carrying more gear had I been setting off with Charley, Ewen and Claudio on their Long Way Round World Tour!¬†

My first thoughts of making a European tour in my summer holidays kicked off in January. Bjoern, a member of a biker website¬†I used had posted a thread about a meeting of the German XJR Owner’s Club to take place in the Eifel Mountains. The meet, known as the Rhineland Treffen would be held at Bad Neuenahr airflield between Cologne and Koblenz in late August. Minor problems like language difficulties and how to send the entry fee without the banks adding their margins were overcome when the thirty five euros went off in a plain brown envelope.

The Rhineland Treffen was to be just for starters and I had spent months planning a ride to the Nordkapp in the Artic Circle to tie in with my German jaunt. A wet summer in the UK leading to a few soakings changed my plans and¬†I had another look at my map of Europe. All the way down in the bottom¬†left hand corner I spotted Dubrovnik and thought, ‘that will do’- ‘it should be dry down there.’

My plan was to finish work on Thursday afternoon, load the bike that evening ready for an early start Friday and reach¬†the airfield¬†for the Treffen¬†by Saturday lunchtime. It’s amazing how¬†plans¬†change when you get the bit between your teeth and what was to be a leisurely ride becomes an imaginary¬†race against time!

Big Red in ‘eye on the horizon’ travel mode —

Packing and overnight parking in the kitchen went to plan and I was on the road by six o’clock next morning. There would be no motorways if I could help it and the rising sun was a red ball of fire in my eyes as I crested the ridge at Wenlock Edge heading south-east to Oxford and the Folkstone rail tunnel terminal.

I grabbed a hearty breakfast from the well stocked buffet at the Travel-Inn on the Evesham by-pass just a few miles from the gentile Cotswold town of Broadway where I arrange our annual meet for XJR Owners every September. I had put on a pair of long johns under my bike gear to ward off the early morning chill and as I couldn’t find a waste basket in the Travel Inn I squeezed them behind the radiator in the gents toilet and sneaked on my way.

Back on the road and raring to go it was a pleasure to givitsum up the winding Fish Hill that sucks you in with it’s two fastish left and right sweepers before it hits you in the guts with a tightening left-hander! Thought I could have done it even quicker and I was still chewing it over when¬†I ran a couple of gatsos around Chipping Norton shortly before picking up the motorway network at Oxford.

Hoping to save time on the journey I had decided to use the chunnel crossing instead of my usual method of catching the first available P&O ferry from Dover. By pre-booking I had secured a good deal at just over sixty quid return. Allowing for the fact it would be the first day of my holidays I had left plenty in hand when I arranged to travel on the three-fifteen afternoon train.

I¬†was quite surprised to arrive at the terminal for my¬†crossing shortly after eleven o’clock in the morning, only to be told at the kiosk that as I was so early I could either go away and come back in two hours, or pay thirty quid extra and go on the next train which would be leaving in ten minutes!

Well, what would you do? Yup! I flashed the plastic, rode onto the train, packed my remaining sterling into the back of my wallet, shoved my wad of euros in the front, re-set my watch to European time and was riding out of Callais within an hour of boarding.

My plans to steer clear of motorways didn’t help with route-finding. I had hoped to do a loop south of Dinant and arrive at the meet via Luxemburg and the Nurburgring but that habit the Belgians have of changing place names between one signpost and¬†the next in Femish/Walloon speaking areas threw me again. I got totally lost near Lille, it was coming down in buckets and as I stood there dripping all over his posh carpet a helpful head waiter in a smart restaurant by a roundabout directed me on my way. I was confused when he sent me towards Paris, the exact opposite direction to where I was trying to go but I soon picked up signs for Brussels and followed the auto-routes east to by-pass Liege.

I could have taken the easy option at this point by staying on the auti-route to Cologne then south on the autobahn to reach my destination towards dusk. But – names like the Eiffel Mountains, Nurburgring, Bad Munstereffeiffel were calling to me from my right and I turned onto a narrow washboard surfaced concrete road signposted for Eupen and the Ring.

I had a ‘square go’ with two sports cars both wearing the Ring logo on their bootlids. An Audi and a two seater Merc. Both were fitted with full roll cages and obviously knew where they were going. After a few kilometres I let discretion get the better of valor and let them go. There was no point tempting fate and getting in trouble with the law for speeding this early in my tour.

I rode on through some lovely places as I staggered this way and that across the mountains in the gathering gloom and eventually found the well hidden airfield site for the Treffen just as it got dark. Signing in completed I dropped by the club bar for a word with my German friend Chromi before heading back down the hillside to find the hotel he had booked for me in nearby Bad Neuenahr.

With the best part of fifteen hours in the saddle up to that point less fuel, minimal food and chunnel breaks I was relieved to feel my way off the hilltop and park in the carport behind the hotel and unload my gear. For twenty three euros per night I had a comfortable double room with en-suite services and breakfast in a small main street hotel boasting a public bar and restaurant.

After a quick wash it was down to the bar where any plans to get a taxi back up to the site for what was left of the evening were quickly dropped when the barmaid and her lovely pals, knockouts all of them, sang the Cologne FC song to the tune of ‘By Yon Bonnie Banks’! My first day on the road and I thought I’d arrived close to heaven! This feeling was reinforced when I saw the white sequinned Elvis suit hanging¬†from a peg beside my table for the night then it dawned on me that he had done his National Service nearby. Heartbreak Hotel – no sir!

Saturday morning after a topping breakfast, fresh and up for it¬†I rode back to the Treffen site hoping to look round some of the bikes, meet some of the riders and maybe take part in one of the rideouts. Despite or perhaps because of their tightly regulated life-style German bikers are really into the streetfighter cult and the retro looks of the XJR give would-be customisers a head start. With over two hundred bikes at the meet there was every configuration you could imagine. chopped – stretched – polished¬†– tuned and turbo’d, my head spun just looking at them!

A rare mod in the UK is to fit upside down front forks from a sports bike to improve on the conventional spindly items fitted as standard. Over there every other machine had the conversion from a whole variety of donor bikes despite the strict TUV laws which presumably have something to say on the matter.

Rideout groups were running¬†at fifteen bikes max with a choice of fast – medium or slow pace. When Chromi asked which group I wanted to ride with¬†I picked the ‘fast’ out of habit. Little Gunter the lead rider took one look at my white locks and said his ride was full or something along those lines. Chromi was made of sterner stuff and told me just to go and join them. At this stage Big Gunter came over and asked if my riding was ‘dynamic’. I muttered¬†something like, ‘yeh,¬†I should be¬†ok. If I can’t keep up I’ll drop off and find my own way back’. ‘Ok then, take number two spot behind little Gunter and I’ll follow’.

The ‘fast’ group stop for a chat or a fag —

Couldn’t have been better for that’s my favourite position. The lead rider sets the pace and I have a clear view of the road ahead from my off-set line a few lengths behind. Formalities over and pleased to be free of my touring luggage I was quickly on the pace and fit for anything that came up during the ride. Including the tuned ex-Ring Taxi Fazer Thou that Big Gunter was riding. There was no more mention of ‘Dynamic’ riding that day. They were pussycats really.

We ambled down the banks of the Rhine for a few kilometres then caught a ferry to the other side. A really nice way to start a ride. As we¬†waited for the boat I counted our lot, nine in total, so little Gunter had been taking the proverbial when he said his group was full. No worries, I know what it’s like when you want to make progress and you have someone along with other ideas or abilities, frustration all round!

After covering about one hundred and fifty kilometeres on some interesting undulating twisties we found a little restaurant and had a slap-up lunch accompanied by the usual banter on such occasions. During the meal the heavens opened and after an extended lunch break with no sign of the rain letting up we decided to head for the nearby autobahn¬†where Little Gunter and I gavitsum down the flooded carriageway back to the airfield. The rain had moved on by the time we got there and I noticed the 137bhp Ring Taxi Fazer went straight on the dyno, no doubt to find out why it couldn’t out-drag¬†my supposedly less powerful XJR.

Big Gunter with his 137bhp Fazer Thou ex-Ring Taxi — yes for a fee you can hop on the back and be taken on a fast lap of the Nurburgring —

The meeting was a typically well organised German affair. A mobile dyno was on-site throughout and always had someone’s bike strapped down to it being revved to near oblivion! The tyre fitting bay also came in useful for the guys who couldn’t resist the burnout pad. One in particular was doing ‘Wheels on Fire’ donuts after dark. Very spectacular but I did notice his mate kept the fire extinguisher at hand just in case!

Another feature was the use of the airfield runway later in the day after the local flying club had put their planes to bed for the night. Timed runs one against one were much better than the dyno for settling who was the fastest. A visiting Kawasaki sports bike was taking on and beating all the XJRs until Marc Muller on his very tidy Cologne Motorcycles sponsored XJR comlete with upside downies, special big bore underseat exhaust and tuned oversize 1400cc motor burbled down the strip and blew the Kawasaki away. That bike was no slouch and neither was Marc who told me later he races regularly in the Macau Grand Prix.

It was dark by then, time to retire to the spare hanger where the stage was set for the Streetfighter Band. But first some sort of wordy ceremony. I wasn’t sure what was being announced but everyone was looking at poor me! Next¬†thing I knew I was being¬†pushed up on the stage and receiving the Iron Butt¬†– Farthest Travelled award for covering nine hundred and sixty eight kilometres in one day on my way to the meet. Had I known I would have been tempted to do a second lap of Liege to complete the thousand!

Picture quality is bad¬†as it’s a copy of a copy of a newspaper report – I’m far right with the other prize winners.

As I didn’t really understand the lingo, the award ceremony seemed to go on for ever and I would have died of thirst up there on the stage if Uwe from Bremen hadn’t kept me supplied with beer. Very decent of him for I believe he was the next farthest travelled and I had nicked his prize!

Speeches and photo sesions over it was time to turn up the wick on the Streetfighters Heavy Metal Band who¬†were let loose next on the stage. They were something special! Boy did they rattle the rafters in that old hanger and were still givinitsum long after I’d called it a night and got a taxi back to my hotel!

My initial plans made way back in¬†the spring were to take a long weekend off work and just do the Rhineland but somewhere along the way I thought as I’m over there anyway why not make a proper adventure of it. I worked out all the ferry¬†times and costs for a circular route round the North Sea¬†riding from the Treffen to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Shetland Isles and Aberdeen. I would¬†like to see the Norwegian ffiords and the Icelandic ferry from Bergen dropping me off¬†on the Shetland Isles sounded interesting.

From there I could make my way home via Orkney and Scrabster or take a direct ferry to Aberdeen. I was all set to do it that way when the soaking of all soakings while on a camping weekend with some biker mates in the Lake district made me think again. August and September can be pretty late to be touring as far north as Scandinavia if you want to stay warm and dry.

Next favourite was to follow the mighty River Danube all the way across Europe to Romania and try to reach the Black Sea. A tall order to make it there and back in my two weeks holiday but achievable. I got real excited about visiting Transylvania the home of Dracula  and riding the highest trunkroad in mainland Europe. The Trans-Fargasian Highway, open only in summer but I allowed some bad press about the country to put me off.

I was running out of places to go when I saw Dubrovnik on the bottom corner of my map of Europe. Last time I came across that name it was on the telly having lumps shot out of it during the wars between Bosnian Serbs, Christians, Moslems and anyone else around with an axe to grind.

Should be warm enough down there I thought. Slovenia and Croatia were in the proccess of joining the European Union and the clincher came when my insurers told¬†me that I was covered for those countries at no extra cost. All my enquiries regarding travel to Croatia by road appeared to point me in the direction of Italy where¬†I would catch a ferry across the Adriatic to my final destination in the Balkans. Couldn’t work that one out as there were plenty of roads showing on my maps so I decided to head on down to Croatia via Austria and Slovenia to find out why.

Sunday morning – my landlady was good enough to take a picture of me with my unexpected ‘Numb Bum’ award before I hit the road once more. The trophy was placed on a shelf behind the bar for safe-keeping until my return some day to collect it. It looked to be a tad fragile to survive a motorbike trip¬†to the Balkans.

I was off and running. South on the autobahn to Pforzheim where I would switch to lesser roads through the Black Forest. I had ridden in an International trial in this area back in my trials riding days in the eighties and hoped to look up some old friends I’d stayed with on that occasion.

Somewhere in that spider’s web of junctions around Mannheim I took¬†the wrong route and had turned east for Nurnberg without realising it. B*gg*r! Only thing for it was to take the next road south for Ulm and Austria missing out the Black Forest completely. I probably¬†wouldn’t have found my old trials riding buddies anyway or the little village of Sulz after twenty years away.

I had pulled into a lay-by just south of Ulm later in the day to stretch my muscles and had the maps out getting my bearings when a dusky young motorist approached me. It turned out he worked in Bournemouth. He insisted I must visit the Boden-See, take the next exit and on no account was I to miss it! I did as instructed and followed the signs for Lindau and the Boden-See Рalong with half the German nation!

The last weekend in August must be a universal bank holiday! A boiling hot day with¬†an air cooled motor in nose to tail traffic I was forced to filter to keep some cooling air flowing round that redhot motor! She kept going but I’ve known her run smoother! I filled her up with a better grade of fuel when I reached Lindau which seemed to help matters. A Mercedes saloon I had¬†seen earlier towing a twin-axle trailer loaded with four or five road bikes had dropped a sumpfull¬†of oil on a busy junction. There were¬†bits of engine all over the road and that Merc certainly wasn’t going any further under it’s own steam that day.

I had looked at the road alongside the Boden-See but it was too busy. With the cool Austrian Alps inviting me to the south-east I was desperate to get into them. I just couldn’t find the road I wanted! Everything was gridlocked! I pulled onto a filling station forecourt for some respite and asked a ‘white van man’ where I could find my elusive gateway to the mountains. ‘Follow me’, says he and we were off across the main road, along some back streets like there was no tomorrow and out into the open countryside.

‘Turn left at the¬†first lights’ was his next command and sure enough it was up-up and more up all¬†the way into the Alps.

Cool, clear air, bend after bend, not much traffic but truly magic riding after my struggle to get out of Germany!

I spotted a Honda CBR600 sports bike parked by a filling station with nicely frazzled tyres and a Scotspeed of Dumfries logo on the numberplate¬†so had a natter with the owner. It turned out it was owned by Neil, a young Glasgow lad working in the area and he encouraged me to buy a pass for the toll roads in Austria as it would mean a¬†heavy fine if I was caught without one. I had no plans to ride the toll roads but¬†after my problems route finding since arriving in Europe I bought one just in case. My German friends had advised me that a first-aid kit was mandatory in Austria too so I was well sorted. Sod’s law¬†says – ‘if you’ve got it, you sure as hell won’t need it’! ¬†Better safe than sorry.

I was well into the mountains and had passed a few gasthauses with ‘Bikers Welcome’ signs hung out when, with over four hundred miles¬†clocked up¬†for the day I found a neat looking place in a riverside setting and quickly booked in. My bike had a garage all to herself and I was shown to a comfortable double room. I was too tired to ask ‘How Much’ and it was only in the morning that I found I was to pay for a double!

Day Four! Up early, fully refreshed after a good sleep and another good breakfast I’m up for it! Makes me wonder why we ridicule continental type brekkies. I was soon loaded up and on the road. At least I didn’t feel so bad about being charged for a double room when I found my landlady hadn’t hit me with the bill for phoning home.

Uphill bends, roads on stilts, corner after corner, absolute magic! The air was so clear all the way over the Hochtannbergpass to the small tourist town of Warth at a miniscule 4500ft but the first one feels high. Next in line was the Flexenpass at 5400ft to Abergpass then down by Landeck and Imst swinging right for Oetz and the challenging Passo d’Rombo Timmelshoch at over 8000ft!

The route up the by the snow-filled glaciers on the Austrian side is a dream, good tarnac and scenery to die for!

This is the Austria I’ve imagined since I was captivated by the views in the Sound of Music back in the sixties.

I was never much bothered with Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family but the¬†opening scenes¬†when she came skipping across the upland meadows, knee-deep in flowers has stayed with me ever since. I bought a new BSA Lightening¬†in January 66 intending to ride to Austria that summer but life got in the way¬†and I’m in the midst of it now almost forty years later! Magic!

Was til later that I learned that the opening scenes in ‘The Sound of Music’ were filmed in Norway.

I had been riding with a Dutch guy on an Aprillia Tauno on the way up that morning. He was heading for the Italian Dolomites, a popular biking region so we exchanged cameras and photographed one another at the top of the pass. I paid my eight euros at the kiosk, received a proof of passage sticker and crossed the border into Italy.

Italy! Boy what a shock! Austria had been bend-swinging, givinitsum all the way to the top and looking at the scenery, especially¬†the glaciers. That’s when you realise why the rivers are grey with melted snow even in late summer.

Italy is so different! The road just drops off the mountain! Short straight¬†followed by tight hairpin followed by another short straight into another hairpin and so on all the way down the mountain! That’s when you’re pleased you picked the little tankbag because you are on full lock getting round!

That descent was a real challenge, particularly with full luggage. I was overtaken which is itself quite unusual. First to come past was a German rider on a Triumph Triple. He was the leader of his pack and had obviously been there before but the real top-dog in my estimation was the young Italian on an oldish looking Guzzi. Wearing combat jacket and jeans he was going for it like there was no tomorrow! Gunning it down the short straights, dragging her round the hairpins, Burberry check scarf flying in the breeze! Only an Italian could ride like that!

After the snow-line you are¬†down into forests, feeling about in the gloom in your fashionable tinted visor. That’s when you realise that some¬†gippo has nicked the tarmac and you are sliding around on the damp dirt! I was tucking into a lunch of taglatelli and frites at a fresh looking, pine clad open air cafe when my Triumph riding friend went past. He had waited for his mates at a hostelry further up the¬†hill. Of my young Italian hero on the guzzi riding with all the skill and panache of his fellow¬†countryman Valentino Rossi there was no sign. He was probably halfway to Milano by this time!

I watched the Transalps, Beemers and Africa Twins heading up or coming off the mountain and could imagine¬†the rider’s heart beats going just a little faster than normal. The deep, melodious sound of the cowbells as their wearers shook off the flies in the shelter of the trees behind the cafe helped slow my own to sensible levels before I got back on the road.

All too soon¬†I was back on the bike and off down the mountain to cross the main Innsbruck/Verona route at Sperzing. On the way I picked up another young Italian riding a Ducati Monster with his girlfriend on the back. I had a great blat with him on the old road running¬†alongside the new auto-route. No respecter of speed limits, it made for an interesting ride. When I pulled alongside him at a temporary set of traffic lights at some roadworks I used my two words of Italian, pointing at him,’Valentino Rossi,’ the beautiful Madonna riding pillion just smiled and we were off again! I was so engrossed watching her tidy rear that I missed my¬†turning for Brunico and had to back track!

It was certainly Bank Holiday Monday again in northern Italy as the next stretch of road had very heavy traffic with a fair smattering of trucks from eastern Europe. Obli-Tablach was the dot on the map I was heading for and it turned out to be a busy holiday centre with quite a mix of Austrian, Italian and German visitors. I was running out of steam by this time and so was my wallet with the XJR averaging 38-40mpg over the fifteen hundred miles covered up to that point.

I found a hole in the wall to replenish my funds and a proper Italian ice-cream from the cafe across the road revived me enough to carry me over the border and into the Austrian Dolomites. I soon picked up a fantastic biking road that took me to the promising looking village of Maria Lugga.

This tiny village set in a beautiful valley¬†is dominated by it’s massive church and I was very fortunate to find lodgings with Herr Imtal – Gastronome – Retired!

First impressions of his roadside guesthaus were misleading. When I parked and was led downstairs from the main entrance by this little old man I had visions of sleeping in some dark, dungeon type cellar. Imagine my surprise when he opened the door to a pleasant double complete with en-suite facilities and it’s own south-facing terrace looking out over hayricks in a peaceful valley with the majestic Italian Dolomites rising in the distance. I wanted to stay – and did for two nights.

The icing on the cake was to find that my terrace connected with a bar-cum-restaurant nex door and another plus was that Herr Imtal had me park my bike safely locked in his sun lounge on the side of the house.

I was soon showered, changed and over to the bar for a tall glass of Austria’s finest to enjoy as the sun set over the mountains to the south-west. It was even more magical when the moon rose between the two main peaks.

M-mmmm—– I must have had two glasses – but I do put in long days in the saddle. My face does get burned through that visor. Where’s the aftersun cream?

The following morning I sat down faced with a breakfast that would have fed a battalion and plowed through it as much as¬†I dared. I didn’t really want to go up two sizes in my trouser fitting! Without my luggage for a day I was off down the valley and over to the Italian Dolomites to play. The roads were brilliant! Over, round and through the picturesque mountains. There were a few bikes about but the previous day must have been the end of the busy summer holiday period and judging by the massive logpiles by the back doors of all the houses, winter would be a long drawn out¬†prospect.

My route took me over the Plockenpass on the road to Tolmezzo. Not too high at 4500ft but the weather had changed and the top few hundred feet were shrouded in low cloud. Wet and miserable just like a bad day at home.

I was back in Maria Luggau in time to take a walk in the late sunshine by the river on the valley floor. The villagers were taking their last cut of grass from the communal fields round the village and the thought taking a few days into the mountains with my boots and rucksack was an appealing proposition.

I had a look round the churchyard when I was out as old graveyards facinate me. I notice that members of the Imtal family had been interred in that little burial ground since 1410 and probably before that! Considering our different backgrounds, aspirations and languages my host and I hit it off really well. As far as I could gather he had lived in the village all his life while I on the other hand had spent much of my life travelling. There was little doubt that we were both somewhat envious of the other’s lifestyle.

Road hazards Maria Luggau style –¬†the children bring the cows home to be milked.¬†The second¬†cyclist doesn’t look too sure but I think she picked the wrong side¬†because that cow is turning right and she has right of way!

The cow won! But the owner was fined for not fitting her with a bell.

Mine Host – Herr Imtal – Gastronome – Retired.

My second breakfast in Maria Luggau was even more imposing than the first! Splendid! Frau Imtal had set it up before going to clean the church at seven o’clock leaving the Gastronome himself in charge. No wonder I wanted to live there!

Time to go! Settling up was no hardship at twenty three euros per night and I was on the road again heading east¬†right after the photo session with Herr Imtal. Maria Luggau had marked the end of that fast biking road and the first thirty kilometres were on a single track clinging to the side of the mountain. There were many sharp blind bends, crumbling road edges, narrow bridges and the odd hamlet where there was sufficient suitable land to grow fodder for the cattle. Grassland didn’t¬†have to be flat. On¬†slopes too steep to be worked by the tough, Austrian built four wheel drive Stehyr tractors, scythes were used. The cut grass would be raked off by hand held rakes, back-breaking work, just like farming at home in Scotland in my youth.

All too soon I was out of the valleys and on to the modern road system that connects Austria with it’s neighbours down the eastern flank. A massive new tunnel has been built through the mountains all the way into Slovenia and unlike some of the Italian tunnels I was to encounter later, the Karawanken is a modern, state-of-art job with splendid lighting and many safe refuges in case of breakdowns. You emerge from the mountain on the southern side virtually on the border with Slovenia at Jesenice. The town itself is a bit of an old communist style culture shock after the splendour of Austria but is soon passed by as you head south.

Funny how it is when you stop for a break and get the map out, some well meaning soul will come over and ask if you are lost. Before you can say ‘not really’ they will give you advice on where to go next. Usually somwhere you have no interest in! This time it was a well-tanned German lady dripping in gold jewelry who accosted me at a wooded service area in Slovenia.

When I told her I was heading for Dubrovnik by road she thought I was mad! ‘On no account take the coast road – far too dangerous!’ ‘Go to Rijeka and catch a ferry for Dubrovnik stopping at the islands¬†on the way!’ That would have been fine if I¬†had the money and plenty of time to do it in. I explained that I had worked in Africa and the coast road couldn’t possibly be more dangerous than that. ‘Oh yes it is, absolutely no-go on the coast road! Ok, if you must be stubborn take a ferry to the nearest islands, go to Rab, ask for Anna, tell her I sent you and she will give you a room!

Give me moe than a room I bet! What did this bossy shiela know about anything? Poncing about with all that jewellry she was asking to be mugged! She didn’t have to go to Croatia for that!¬†Once things calmed down it transpired that she was on¬†her way to the Adriatic to spend a few days with her husband on her yacht. She didn’t even offer me a bite of her prawn sannies from¬†the coldbox although my mouth was watering just looking at them!

My brush with the fraulein made me more determined than ever to do my own thing and I took the direction for Ljubljana, aiming to run down the backroads of Croatia rather than the ill-starred coast road or touristy island route.

Lunch was taken in the company of farmers, builders and truckers at a roadside restaurant in a forested area south-east of Ljubljana then I headed for the border with Croatia on the 108 hill road. I thought¬†I was doing ok till I ran out of asphalt and had to ride for many kilometres on marbled gravel wishing I had fitted the engine protection bars I’d considered prior to my trip. That Akroprovic titanium exhaust hadn’t come cheap!¬†I’m sure the armed border guard at that remote crossing thought it was Bin Laden himself on that red-hot motorcycle coming down the track that afternoon. It wasn’t exactly the main road into Croatia.

A  quick scan of my passport, on went the appropriate stamp and I was in.

There are still some areas near the border between Slovenia and Croatia under dispute which would account for the unsurfaced road on the Slovenian side. Most of the signs in the north were directing me to the new motorway down the central spine of the country and I was determined not to use it. I got ever-so-slightly lost soon after crossing the border and stopped to ask a young lady in a small town where I would find a particular road. I usually find that young folk are more likely to speak English than the older ones.

A bolshy school-teacher type rode up on his scooter and interrupted my young lady guide who was doing her best to give me directions. ‘No don’t go that way on all those interesting back-roads, follow me!’ – and he guided me to all those signs that I had just passed for the new motorway!

B*ll*x! For one thing I didn’t want to ride down his bl**dy motorway and for another it ain’t even finished yet! The bits that are, run for miles through dry thornbrush covered, uninhabited countryside with few completed service stations. Quite worrying in the event of a puncture or breakdown.

Sorry about that outburst – it’s been a long day! I gave¬†my scooter riding guide¬†a smiling thankyou¬†– headed for his motorway and turned off it for the backroads first chance I got.

I was heading for KrKra National Park, a series of lakes and waterfalls, crystal clear water holding shoals of darting fish and many species of birds and butterflies.

At least that’s what it said in the brochure I had come across before leaving home. The park lay about halfway down the country and was twenty kilometres or so inland from the coastal city of Sibernik.

Many ot the towns in the hinterland are still uninhabited, bullet, grenade and shell scarred¬† roofless buildings then nothing but roadside brush for miles.¬†It was getting late and I was riding into the setting sun after a long haul from Austria when I reached Kistanje, a two-street town. It looked big enough to have a hotel or lodgings of some kind but I guess they weren’t expecting visitors. The men dressed all in black sat silently in various groups on the sidewalk, not a woman or child to be seen. I kept the engine running and pretended to check my maps as I looked around for a guesthouse. Nothing moved! Not even a dog so¬†I selected first and¬†rode quietly¬†out of town!

It’s obvious these people have been to hell and back in the last ten years or so and have little time for anything so frivolous as a touring motorcyclist.

Another thirty kilometeres in the gathering gloom¬†took me to Skradin, gateway to the National Park. Dark by this time I passed the floodlit football stadium on the edge of town where a match was in progress and stopped to get my bearings. I hadn’t time to raise my visor when this girl was by my side. In her tight pants and forward manner¬†I thought I’m too tired for that nonsense but when I explained¬†I was just looking for a room she was good enough to sort me out with a bedsit behind the bungalow just across the road.

I’d fallen on my feet again. My converted garage came complete with cooker, kettle, washing machine and en-suite facilities plus safe parking and I negotiated with her¬†a reasonable rate at twenty euros per night.¬†The bungalow was owned by a war-wounded veteran of the recent troubles. He lived there with his wife¬†complete with¬†shrapnel scars¬†in the walls and¬†in the morning I found my young lady English speaking saviour was none other¬†than the car-park attendant from across the road working late to cater for the football crowd.

Beautiful Skradin – I could live there —

And the good lord said – ‘ on the seventh day thou shalt rest,’ – or words to that effect. I know it was only Thursday but with¬†around two thousand miles of mixed going under my wheels in the past six days I thought¬†I would take his advice. having found a safe haven amongst the Croats, I parked my bike and became a tourist for the day.

First impressions were not so good – the table and bullet pocked walls of the ruin were only two doors from my bedsit and my landlord had lost a leg in the fighting —

Someone had obviously had their last supper at that table but I didn’t ask who.

I wandered round Skradin for a while and looked over the yachts in the natural harbour. There were some big ones. Although the Adriatic is over twenty kilometres away, a deep gorge runs out to the sea making this one of the safest harbours on this oft-times windswept coast.

I¬†sampled a couple of pavement cafes and just chilled out. Then I had a flutter¬†round the market stalls, found the local grocer and arrived back at my digs laden with carrier bags. Thought¬†I had better eat some of it while the bread was fresh. Lunch of local produce consisting of hard boiled eggs, cheese, ham, grapes and tomato went well,¬†perhaps the ‘olive oil’¬†I purchased on the market stall had something to do with it. I had seen the locals dip their bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter. ‘When in Rome’ – so I dipped – pooffff!

Just as well I wasn’t smoking! My olive oil turned out to be local fire water! I should have known when I saw the twig of berries floating in¬†it. Hence the ‘Alcohol’ in my title!

Fortunately I had no plans to ride that afternoon. Instead I ambled down to the jetty and joined the rest of the tourist herd on one of the five boats taking visitors to the waterfalls.

The sail upriver under the bridge seen in the photo on my title page and walking amongst the falls and greenery was totally unexpected. Shoals of fish darting this way and that and a myriad of butterflies. So much better than I could have imagined it would be. Most of the day-trippers were Croats and had come equipped with picnics and swimming gear.

Silly me! I’d had my picnic for lunch back at the digs so after wandering around, snapping a few shots and admiring the birds, butterflies and fishes I caught a boat back down river to town in time to chill out over a few beers at a waterfront bar near where the tour boats were moored.

The sight and smell of the crew cooking a big seafood risotto on the afterdeck once the last tourist had been brought down for the evening made my mouth water. Nothing else for it but to head home and do my chores before having my own seafood risotto and a drop of red on a softly lit hotel veranda.

Lovely, lovely KrKra National Park had woven it’s spell on me¬†– I was at peace with the whole world —

I had taken my bedsit for four nights all told and decided to ride over the back roads to the port of Zadar on Friday to book my ferry to Italy in preparation for my Sunday night crossing. Yes I thought I might follow the advice I had been given by all and sundry and go home that way.

After booking my ferry I had a look at the coast road to see what all the fuss was about. Absolutely no problems. Granted it was a bit stop-go as with any tourist trail, only worse because apartment owners, mostly German, had every layby staked out as they tried to attract passing motorists to stay in their newly built houses.

Next I parked in the shade of some pine trees and went for my first dip in the clear waters of the Adriatic. Two beautiful girls wearing only miniscule thongs from a family group bathing next to me made me realise how much I was missing the comforts of home! When I couldn’t take any more I got back on the bike and rode down to Sibernik. It has a beautiful promenade,¬†gorgeous girls, waterfront bars and cafes. I found I couldn’t chill out¬†so I¬†struggled out of town through the grid-locked traffic and headed for the hills again!

I approached the lakes from the west this time. Down past some dusty lime-stone quarries by the hill-top town of Drnis where I spotted barbed wire fences and watch-towers surrounding a group of nissen huts in the dense scrub. It could have been a prison camp, a¬†munitions dump or even a mine field but with all the scull and crossbones signs on both sides of the road I wasn’t tempted to investigate further. Mindfull of the fate of the British plane-spotters in Greece I didn’t take pictures either.

The upper lakes were fantastic! There was quite a variety of birds including heron, cormorant and duck plus many colourful smaller birds. Every kind of butterfly you could imagine fluttered about the lush trees and undergrowth near the water which was full of shoals of small fish darting this way and that in unison and possibly even big uns too for all I know. Best of all I had most of it to myself. I even found my own waterhole and went for a dip in the cool, clear fresh water.Magic!

I think it was about then I realised I had missed lunch so it didn’t take much to persuade me to stop¬†at a quiet restaurant terrace in the middle of nowhere with views down to the lakes. Their grilled trout tasted just like the rod-caught or¬†‘tickled’ brownies I remembered from my youth in the Scottish Borders. The only thing missing was the¬†oatmeal dressing.

I washed my meal down with a cool beer and scrambled out of there up an old dirt road that was rough enough to have me worrying again about  my precious titanium exhaust but thankfully my exhaust and I emerged unscathed.

My favourite photos? It’s hard to choose¬†my absolute favourite¬†but this first one¬†taken from the Sibernik¬†road to the south¬†comes¬†close —

The bridge beyond the yachts is part of the new north/south motorway system which was being built while I was there in 2004.

the bridge in this next photo is at the entrance to KrKra National Park and the official tourist boats sail under it.

big and small – it has them all —

Another day ended with a few beers at a waterfront bar in Skradin and a sneaky night-cap from my ‘olive oil’ bottle before bed. I told you it can be thirsty work being a motorcycle tourist.

Saturday was my last chance to see Dubronik as I would be starting my homeward journey on Sunday.

The coast road runs through Bosnia at one stage and I had no insurance for that country so to be on the safe side I made a detour by ferry from Ploce to Pelejesac Peninsula and carried on south.

After riding all that way¬†I didn’t actually enter the city but saw it from across the bay. Struggling with a large capacity air-cooled bike in grid-locked cities isn’t really my thing.¬†Far better to fly there for a few days at some time in the future and ‘do’ the city of Dubronik properly.

I had no problem with riding back to Skradin to spend my last night in Croatia in the beautiful old town. Yes it had obviously taken a few hard blows during the Balkan wars but it felt right for me. In fact I was quite sad to be leaving as I could easily have spent a few days more down there.

No worries – time to pack and get on the road again. Heading for home this time.

Lazy Sunday. I¬†rode over to¬†the ferry port of Zadar in the morning stopping for a¬†snack with the locals at a village cafe on the way. The laden XJR was parked under a shady tree while I had my coffee and pastry —

Then it was over the last range of hills and into Zadar where I checked out the dock gates and the times of loading as much as I could before going for a tour of the old walled city built on a peninsuls jutting out to sea. There are eleven churches, all busy on a Sunday, an internet cafe, numerous bars, restaurants and market stalls within the walls with yachts of every description on the water around the city.

As it was a beautiful hot sunny day I chilled out in one of the many shady parks by the promenade and watched the girls go by. Excitement would come later in the afternoon when Croatia won a gold medal at the Olympics. Probably gold in the netball competition. Everyone was on the streets celebrating, convoys of cars and scooters with horns blaring and flags waving were soon speeding round the city! The celebrations didn’t last long before everyone returned to the more¬†serious work in the bars and I made my way to the port to catch my ferry to Italy.


15/11/2016 – Quick Edit.

I seem to have mislaid my journey home across the Adriatic to Italy then north through Switzerland – Germany – Belgium and France.

No worries – you readers don’t get off that easy – I remember it as if it was yesterday and should be able to put it together again.


Don ūüôā

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Posted by on November 15, 2016 in Motorcycling, out and about, yamaha xjr1300