May 3, 2013 – Milan, Italy
We’re here. Some disasters, but all overcome. I left my camera at home and when we got here in Milan our credit cards didn’t work. Now that’s adventure!
All overcome. I bought a camera and after some time on the phone with the card companies, I have credit. All is good.
We had a couple of minor maintenance items to do on our bikes and that went well. We packed up and rode a few blocks to our hotel for a shower and a nap. We feel human again after our 15 hour flight.
There is a nice place to eat just a block down the street and they didn’t disappoint. See the photos. Tomorrow we are off to the south of France on our way to Barcelona.
Wish you were here!
May 4, 2013 – Aix en Provence, France
Another day of firsts for us, not the least of which is France. And the Mediterranean coast of France is a pretty good place for a first. There are some nice neighborhoods in this part of the French Republic. It also means another first for trying to communicate with folks I don’t understand. We are managing.
It is not cheap traveling from Milan to Aix on the toll roads. I think we were near 100 Euros for today’s ride. And that’s with cheating a little. Not much cheating however, Italy and France staff the toll booths in this area so when two of you show up with only one ticket, they get all excited. One incident was noteworthy: Debb’s default toll with no ticket was lower than my toll with a ticket. The ticket agent thought that was wrong, the cars waiting behind us were showing their displeasure with their horns, and I kept saying “I don’t care, just give me my change!” Just across the border into France there is a construction stretch with a toll booth at each end to help pay for it. Big signs all along; in French but you get the gist.
My credit cards are still an adventure. My Visa and MC cards from Chase work fine at a merchant but not at tool booths. And most distressing, not at cash machines, the lifeblood of tourism. After a pleasant dinner on the plaza this evening I used a modern cash machine that told me why the transactions failed. My BECU cards are turned off and I didn’t remember my PIN number correctly for the Chase cards. Maybe Bitcoins will be the answer. Fortunately, Chase has a toll free collect number. Unfortunately, I don’t have a cell phone here. Fortunately the hotel we are at has very fast internet service. Unfortunately, it costs 2.50E per hour. Fortunately, I quickly downloaded and installed Skype, called Chase and got my PIN number set. Monday we will deal with BECU.
Aix is pronounced here as X, as in ‘my ex-wife took the dog’. This is a very old town full of narrow twisty streets, some of which are filled with some very nice shops. Lots of fun people-watching.
I commented to Debb at one of the rest stops along the freeway; “This place is full of Harleys and the people talk funny. We could be in Georgia!”. Probably more HD bikes on the road today than any other. We’ve never seen that before over here. One pack of 10 was the Bandidos International with 3 or 4 novices bringing up the rear. They really were a pack. All of them were rarely more than one bike-length apart even at 120kph. Scary. But some very nice four-wheel hardware on the road as well. Name any premium brand and I saw several today.
More people smoking here than we’ve seen before. More businesses only take cash than we have encountered previously. Gas seems slightly less expensive and the roads seem in better repair and more uniform in appearance. The freeway looks much like ones back home. The speed limits are higher here. Most of France around here was posted at 130kph. Very dramatic scenery just over the border from Italy. Serious mountains and coastlines. We’re smiling.
Update: Got cash from the machine this morning. All is well.
May 5, 2013 – Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain
First things first – I have money. No need for any overnight FedEx packages. Thanks.
The freeways got better as we went along. In Spain they were perfect. Amazing maintenance. They should be. 7.50E each for about 50 miles. But that is behind us now. Tomorrow we follow the coastline south. Apart from some light rain this morning it was a perfect day to ride.
Yesterday was HDs, today was Goldwings and trailers. And more HDs. No more packs, but you couldn’t tell either the HD or GW riders from any in America. The t-shirt vendors have it covered worldwide. When we got into Spain, nearly all the riders started waving at us. First time for us here in Europe. Even scooter pilots. It is like Idaho here – you can get a plate for anything. 4-wheelers, 2-smoke tiddlers, mini-motards, anything. And there doesn’t seem to be a minimum age requirement.
Our room this evening is in the Noray Hostel. Under 60E including breakfast. It is deep in the old town on narrow streets with a fun mix of old and new. Only a short block to the beach. No overnight vehicle parking here so our bikes are a couple of blocks away and securely chained.
The beach front area was crawling with people when we first arrived. We sat on the beach enjoying the best mojitos ever. Then the sun dropped behind the buildings, the breeze came up and it cooled off, so we headed back to our room. A couple of hours later we are back out looking for dinner. Nothing open. Oops. Maybe everything closes up on Sunday evening. Nope. We were just too early. Most places don’t open until 8:30 or 9. We knew that, but not really. Now we do. We enjoyed excellent tapas at the Nou Casino la Constancia. Where we ate, and every other place was full of football fans awaiting the FCBarcelona game being broadcast live. We also saw highlights from the MotoGP race in Jerez. No spoilers, but Spanish riders seem to be doing well this year.
It was a good day to ride.
May 6, 2013 – The Road of the Year
GI-682 between Sant Feliu de Guixols and Tossa de Mar is called The Road of the Year because there are 365 curves between those two places. It was a treat to ride it today.
There was quite a bit of traffic including a couple of tour buses. Some sections are quite rough so it is not a road to test your limits on. But the scenery is delightful!
It was an excellent day.
Continue to Barcelona 2013