in actual fact many of the roundabouts in Calais show different parts of the tunnelling machinery used to create the three tunnels under the English Channel. Two for trains and a third tunnel for emergency services. I'm I not England now and there is a lot of talk about a second referendum for Brexit. Some feel that if England leaves the EU they will fill the tunnels with concrete. From both ends!!!
I did really see much of Belgium as it was pouring with rain. I spent much of my time sheltering under bridges!! In fact every time a car or truck went past it was like being hit with a Karcher. I have a video to add here, just having trouble loading it. 😩
country number 22. That's not counting Australia.
Raymond Aubrac was born Raymond Samuel, he was a leader of the French Resistance during WW2. He married Lucie Aubrac at the beginning of the war. He was used to taking many pseudonyms, carried fake identity papers and was often arrested and interrogated.
Raymond and Lucie's Resistance activities started off with buying boxes of chalk and writing graffiti on walls. They then moved on to writing tracts and putting them into people's letterboxes. In the autumn of 1940, they also formed one of the first underground Resistance groups in Lyon. Lucie was generally able to assist in his escape. In fact in many ways I think she was the brains of the outfit, and Raymond the better communicator. After the war they joined Charles de Gaulle government is exile. Their wartime exploits have been immortalised in two French films: Lucie Aubrac (1997) and Boulevard des hirondelles (1992).
In the next month I have four flights, three train trips, two ferry rides and one wedding!!!
and all before I get back to Tasmania.
It was after 3 pm and time for me to start looking for accom for the night. I'd stopped to ask a fellow by his car if there was a pension or auberge in town and he gave me very detailed directions to a hotel, all in French, I didn't have a clue so it was a cheery Merci beaucoup! And off I headed in the direction he pointed. I think I actually pulled out in front of these guys, didn't even look in the mirror. Oops.
So the first bike comes up beside me and waves, yikes then slows down while the second bike comes up beside me and points to the front of my bike. Ok, so I pull up behind the first bike with the second bike beside me. Hmmm I'm blocked in , so no hasty escape happening to this little fluffy duck!!
Number two said something to me, in French, so I replied I was looking for a hotel for the night. No worries, follow me!! So I did, one bike in front and one behind. We rode like that for about 5 km and then the lead bike turned down a gravel driveway to a hotel. Wow. That was good.
I was barely off the bike and all the hotel staff and guests came out to see why two police bikes had arrived in their car park!!!
Then came the obligatory, Where are you from? Then lots of questions about the bike, and I mean lots of questions, what troubles had I had etc. I think one of them has a friend who is thinking of buying the Himalayan.
They took a few photos of the bike and some of me, know doubt they'll end up on Facebook somewhere. Along with all the other photos people have taken of me with the bike!!
For the last 155+ days that I've been travelling on the bike I've been blessed with fine weather. Some days have been too hot for me to enjoy on the bike but other than that the weather has been great for riding.
In fact I think the worst weather I have experienced for the whole trip was on Day 1, the day I left Tassie. The flight was cancelled until the next day because the weather was so foul!! Strong winds and heavy rain.
I'm back in France and where is Mitchell, so I can have a quick practice of my greeting.
I crossed the italy/France border today, high up in the Alps. The scenery was spectacular to say the least.
And all the snow is at Cradle!!
I'm in Chamlas du Col, still in Italy, not far from the French border. High up in the Alps. It's chilly, today I needed to zip up the vents on my riding jacket. First time I've done that since May in Spain
there is a church bell within arms reach from my balcony and further afield I can see another ski village and plenty of mountains.
All the buildings in this village are over 200 years old, it's small and quaint, and for the most part all the buildings are loved and well looked after.
This little village sits halfway between Turin (Italy) and Grenoble (France). Both have hosted Winter Olympics with the ski events in these mountains. Grenoble was 1976 and Turin 2006.
Horizons Unlimited is a huge website full of info for adventure bike travellers. It was started about 20 years ago by an Australian (I think) couple who saw the need when they did their round the world trip on a bike. They also host gatherings around the globe. Italy held its first gathering last weekend and I attended. The setting was in the grounds of an old Monastry. Plenty of backpacker accom, camping and a wonderful restaurant.
I arrived on dusk and as I pulled up, someone said. Come on, we have a workshop starting now. I hadn't registered, in fact I don't think I'd got off the bike. No problem just come with us.
A great welcome, nice friendly relaxed people.
Diego has a Thunderbird Sport that he turned into a cafe racer. Last year he and a mate on a choppered Harley and another mate on a dirt bike decided to go to Ace Cafe in London!! They made the trip in five days, 2,500 km and mostly in the rain. They got lost several times in London and when they finally found the Ace Cafe, headed in for a beer, only to be told, but you are on bikes!! Diego replied with , yes, were Italian of course we will have a beer.
It didn't take me too long to realise that the hard core adventure riders were in the camping area. I was in the hostel!!
And I made a few friends
Robena has suggested I visit Camogli, a very romantic Italian seaside village and record the unsynchronised church bells (Ringing!)
Now that my days on the bike are coming to a close I wasn't too sure it I would get to Camogli or not. This morning I decided, yes, I would make the effort and make it my lunch stop before heading to France. The riding today has been fabulous, great quiet country roads, lots of chestnut forests and a few clouds. I travelled slower than I expected, I usually do, you'd think I'd know that by now after 150 days on the bike!!
So Camogli is my overnight stop and I stopped early enough to enjoy a swim and listen to the church bells. I also managed to have another farinata for dinner. Today has been one of those perfect days.
The church from the beach
And from the restaurant that made my farinata.
Even the pebbles tinkle with the wave action.
Thankyou Robena. I love this place. How does one get a house sit or house swap here????
Peters letter P challenge was to visit his most favourite ever, building the Pantheon.
From the outside this building looks like a Roman temple with its row of columns and you cannot see the domed roof at all. Once inside it's like magic. It's not rectangular and it has a huge domed roof with an opening to let the light it.
The building is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The dome height and diameter are the same!! 43 metres
it was built in the 7 th C and has been in continuous use ever since.
Thankyou Peter. What a structure and easy to see now, why it is your fave.
Walking distance from the Villa Borghese is the funky Quartiere Coppede. Coppede was an architect who designed and built about 40 structures in a small neighbourhood. These were built from 1910 until 1927 when he died. They are a fantastic mix of Ancient Greek, Roman Baroque, Medieval and Art Nouveau.
Thanks to its strange beauty, the Quartiere Coppedè has been used as the setting for a number of films. Next time you see a funky building in a movie it just might be one of Coppede structures.
Twenty years ago the Borghese Villa underwent a huge restoration. Now it's time for the gardens to have a makeover. They are extensive and one section houses a zoo. The parterre has many sculptures too.
No artist defined 17th-century Rome more than Gian Lorenzo Bernini did, working under nine popes and leaving an indelible mark on the Eternal City.
Bernini's task was fill every room to “stimulate the imagination,” the artist crafted four monumental groups for the villa in the early 1620s — including the spectacular “Pluto and Persephone” and “Apollo and Daphne” — which demonstrate his skill at overcoming the limitations of his material, carving marble as if it were dough.
The marble portraits in this massive collection cover a 60-year period during which Bernini depicted a marmoreal “Who’s Who” of Rome.
Bernini’s fame in his lifetime and beyond — “Bernini is synonymous with the Baroque and the Baroque with Bernini,” Mr. Bacchi said — has made him a much-studied figure.
PS. Look up the story of Daphne if you are not already familiar with it. ❣️❣️
The Spanish steps in Rome is a very popular meeting place, a little like meeting under the clocks at Flinders Street Station. Can you spot us?
Piazza Venezia, a building of grandeur.
The piazza is dominated by the overpowering “Altare della Patria” (Altar of the Fatherland) a monument to honour Victor Emanuel II, unified Italy’s first king. Lying at its foot and guarded by two soldiers is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, built over 100 years ago, serves to honour and remember every soldier who lost his life during the First World War and who remains unidentified.
The story begins with the crossing of the Danube on a bridge of boats and ends with the deportation of the defeated Dacians. Between camp constructions, battles, sieges and speeches of the emperor to the troops, the figure of Trajan appears at least sixty times.
While My bike is having an unscheduled sleepover with other Royal Enfields I decided it would be a good idea to visit the Trevi Fountain.
On the way to the Fountain I came across Aladdin and his lamp. Yes, I rubbed it and for my donation I got a small scroll of paper stating in Italian " in life I wish you peace" Gotta be happy with that.
Still walking towards the fountain I overheard a very very tall Nigerian fellow asking some visitors for a donation as he'd just popped a colourful bracelet on their wrists. They were reluctant to pay, so I turned back and said to him that I would pay for their bracelets. I gave him some extra money. With that he gave me a wrist full of bracelets. He them told me he was over 2 m tall, and he had such a beautiful happy face. Gotta be happy with that.
I arrive at the fountain and the continuous running water and the glacial colour of it immediately took me back to Plitvice National Park in Croatia. Certainly a highlight of my trip, and here I was in a bit of a low light situation. So I threw the rest of my money into the fountain. Said a prayer and hoped for the best.
I came back to my bnb to check emails and the bike shop people tell me my bike will be ready on Friday. Gotta be happy with that. It will be a bit of a mad dash back to the UK to get the bike ready for shipment back to Melbourne. But I'll make it, somehow, I always seem to land on my feet after freefalling or some other emotionally somersaulting event. Phew!!
Gorgeous gardens, a botanists delight, lots of grottos, sculptures and avenues of trees from all over the world.
We then spent the rest of the day wandering through the many museums and art galleries, the Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica and crypt.