Is there a connection here?

 this was the cause of some of my bike woes! 

this was the cause of some of my bike woes! 

 my first thought when I approached this roundabout in Calais was that this is a BIG magneto!! 

my first thought when I approached this roundabout in Calais was that this is a BIG magneto!! 

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!!! 

Belgium

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. 😩

 Just inside most countries there is a reminder for the local road laws. Quite handy really. 

Just inside most countries there is a reminder for the local road laws. Quite handy really. 

 I'm not sure if Bus drivers are dyslexic? 

I'm not sure if Bus drivers are dyslexic? 

 Town signs were quite different.

Town signs were quite different.

 Belgium number plate. 

Belgium number plate. 

Lucie and Raymond Aubrac

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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). 


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Ooops, what have I done now??

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.  

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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!! 

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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!! 

 

 

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My travel buddy

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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.  

 

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Bon jour Monsieur

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.  

 looking towards France from my balcony in an Italian ski resort. 

looking towards France from my balcony in an Italian ski resort. 

 and yes, I got to France and had a close up view of this mornings horizon. 

and yes, I got to France and had a close up view of this mornings horizon. 

 beautiful landscapes at every turn 

beautiful landscapes at every turn 

 you can see some of the tunnels I came through today. 

you can see some of the tunnels I came through today. 

 very pretty villages and flower boxes everywhere. 

very pretty villages and flower boxes everywhere. 

 the villages are to far apart. 

the villages are to far apart. 

 tunnelling along. 

tunnelling along. 

 not in this tunnel though 

not in this tunnel though 

 more tunnels 

more tunnels 

 mountains everywhere, on all sides and even in the mirror. 

mountains everywhere, on all sides and even in the mirror. 

 and a dip in the pool to end a spectacular day. 

and a dip in the pool to end a spectacular day. 

I'm in a ski resort!

And all the snow is at Cradle!!  

 Cradle car park, mid September, 2018  

Cradle car park, mid September, 2018  

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.  

 Bells ring on the hour and every 30 mins. Not as tuneful as the Camogli bells though.  

Bells ring on the hour and every 30 mins. Not as tuneful as the Camogli bells though.  

 One of the many purpose built ski resorts in this area.  

One of the many purpose built ski resorts in this area.  

 Looking down the valley to another of the early villages.  

Looking down the valley to another of the early villages.  

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. 

 Looking straight up to the roof I could see the slate slabs resting on the roof beams. Their weight would keep them in position.  

Looking straight up to the roof I could see the slate slabs resting on the roof beams. Their weight would keep them in position.  

 This home has just been re roofed. Not quite finished, the snow bars not yet in situ.  

This home has just been re roofed. Not quite finished, the snow bars not yet in situ.  

 Typical 200+ y o home, wood heap out the back.  

Typical 200+ y o home, wood heap out the back.  

 These people have a veggie patch that must be the envy of their neighbours.  

These people have a veggie patch that must be the envy of their neighbours.  

 some thistle head!!! Many of the homes here have one over their entrance. 

some thistle head!!! Many of the homes here have one over their entrance. 

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.  

 Donna Verde, the green woman poster was created in 1937 and since then she's become legendary. She is a beautiful Italian woman who likes to chase the sunshine.  

Donna Verde, the green woman poster was created in 1937 and since then she's become legendary. She is a beautiful Italian woman who likes to chase the sunshine.  

 She made a comeback in 2006 for the Winter Olympics.  

She made a comeback in 2006 for the Winter Olympics.  

Horizons Unlimited, Italian style.

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. 

 boy was I glad to see that sign. 

boy was I glad to see that sign. 

 the sun was almost on the Horizon. Haha. 

the sun was almost on the Horizon. Haha. 

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, one of the organisers is very hands on. He ran many practical workshops on picking up your bike and repairing flat tyres. 

Diego, one of the organisers is very hands on. He ran many practical workshops on picking up your bike and repairing flat tyres. 

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. 

 After the first workshop there was time for me to register and get my accom sorted. There were three Guzzi's parked outside the lodge. Unusual choice for an adventure bike, I thought. 

After the first workshop there was time for me to register and get my accom sorted. There were three Guzzi's parked outside the lodge. Unusual choice for an adventure bike, I thought. 

 very comprehensive program with a good balance of practical sessions and inspiring travel stories. 

very comprehensive program with a good balance of practical sessions and inspiring travel stories. 

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!!

 just some of the thirty+ bikes. Two from North America, one from Australia and the rest were from all over Europe. one fellow had ridden his bicycle from England. Everyone else was on motorbikes. 

just some of the thirty+ bikes. Two from North America, one from Australia and the rest were from all over Europe. one fellow had ridden his bicycle from England. Everyone else was on motorbikes. 

 part of the tent area. 

part of the tent area. 

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And I made a few friends  

 Matteo made a go pro video of his trip from Greece to Mongolia. He was 21 and quit uni to fulfill this dream of riding a dirt bike half way round the world. 

Matteo made a go pro video of his trip from Greece to Mongolia. He was 21 and quit uni to fulfill this dream of riding a dirt bike half way round the world. 

 Miriam is well travelled.  Her last trip took two years riding from Alaska to Tierra del Fiego. She'll be in Tassie later this year. 

Miriam is well travelled.  Her last trip took two years riding from Alaska to Tierra del Fiego. She'll be in Tassie later this year. 

 Manolas has just bought himself a WR 250 and is ready to go!! 

Manolas has just bought himself a WR 250 and is ready to go!! 

 Dimitar hails from Bulgaria. He was best man at his friends wedding last week. There tradition is when a family has a daughter, they make homemade rakia and bury it in the backyard until their daughter gets married. It is then dug up and what is not drunk at the wedding is distributed amongst the guests. Dimitar arrived with three litres of this fire water, which needless to say was all consumed by the end of the weekend. 

Dimitar hails from Bulgaria. He was best man at his friends wedding last week. There tradition is when a family has a daughter, they make homemade rakia and bury it in the backyard until their daughter gets married. It is then dug up and what is not drunk at the wedding is distributed amongst the guests. Dimitar arrived with three litres of this fire water, which needless to say was all consumed by the end of the weekend. 

 Rebecca, from Italy. I met Rebecca on the ferry two weeks ago and she mentioned the HU thering. She was probably the youngest attendee and I was the oldest on a bike. 

Rebecca, from Italy. I met Rebecca on the ferry two weeks ago and she mentioned the HU thering. She was probably the youngest attendee and I was the oldest on a bike. 

 yes, I did enjoy myself. 

yes, I did enjoy myself. 

Robena's challenge letter R for Romance.

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.  

 A very romantic little village

A very romantic little village

 The beach is not huge, not too busy in mid September. I imagine a month ago it would have been bedlam, in a romantic kind of way!!  

The beach is not huge, not too busy in mid September. I imagine a month ago it would have been bedlam, in a romantic kind of way!!  

 Harri and Monti enjoyed their beach time.  

Harri and Monti enjoyed their beach time.  

 The reflections are pretty crazy!!  

The reflections are pretty crazy!!  

 I love this! Two groups of oldies playing cards on the beach.  

I love this! Two groups of oldies playing cards on the beach.  

 Little boats all lined up for the night.  

Little boats all lined up for the night.  

Thankyou Robena. I love this place. How does one get a house sit or house swap here????  

Peter's Pantheon

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.  

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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. 

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Thankyou Peter. What a structure and easy to see now, why it is your fave. 

Quartiere Coppede

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. 

 A local church 

A local church 

 this structure might be regarded as the entrance to the Coppede Quartiere. Very limited parking within the area. 

this structure might be regarded as the entrance to the Coppede Quartiere. Very limited parking within the area. 

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 Frog fountain 

Frog fountain 

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 the Moroccan embassy. I wanna go back there!! 

the Moroccan embassy. I wanna go back there!! 

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Villa Borghese Gardens.

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.  

 From inside the Villa  

From inside the Villa  

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 The Zilles girls

The Zilles girls

 Margot and I waiting for a sculptor to come past.  

Margot and I waiting for a sculptor to come past.  

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 the gardens did not have many flower beds, but I did find this on a sage bush. 

the gardens did not have many flower beds, but I did find this on a sage bush. 

 the ornate bird house sans birds. 

the ornate bird house sans birds. 

Bernini's Sculptures

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.

 self portrait. 

self portrait. 

 just one of the twenty rooms filled with art and sculptures. And not too many visitors. 

just one of the twenty rooms filled with art and sculptures. And not too many visitors. 

 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.

 Zeus 

Zeus 

 Daphne 

Daphne 

 and the ceiling in the room with her sculpture. 

and the ceiling in the room with her sculpture. 

 cherubs over a doorway. 

cherubs over a doorway. 

 great facial expression on this fellow. 

great facial expression on this fellow. 



 bernini often used contrasting marbles for his bust sculptures 

bernini often used contrasting marbles for his bust sculptures 

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.

 the ceilings, to me were more magnificent than in the Sistine chapel. Yikes!  Hope I don't get into trouble for saying that. 

the ceilings, to me were more magnificent than in the Sistine chapel. Yikes!  Hope I don't get into trouble for saying that. 

As happened with many of the villas in Italy, the family fell on hard times and left their villa and collection to the public. 
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 my bodyguard while in Rome!

my bodyguard while in Rome!

 this marble inlay work is in a table, the floor in most rooms is just as spectacular. 

this marble inlay work is in a table, the floor in most rooms is just as spectacular. 

PS. Look up the story of Daphne if you are not already familiar with it. ❣️❣️

Piazza Venezia.

Piazza Venezia, a building of grandeur. 

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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.

 nice to notice that both genders are represented here. 

nice to notice that both genders are represented here. 

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.

 Cool fresh drinkable water. 

Cool fresh drinkable water. 

 part of the detail on the base of the monument to Victorio Emmanuel 11. I've obscured part of the bow of a ship and gorgeous winged creature aboard. 

part of the detail on the base of the monument to Victorio Emmanuel 11. I've obscured part of the bow of a ship and gorgeous winged creature aboard. 

 Colonna Traiana and Church of Madonna dI Loretto   

Colonna Traiana and Church of Madonna dI Loretto   

 The base of this towering column (30m) houses the Tomb of the Emporer Trajan. A statue of him crowns the top of the column. Access via an internal staircase. 

The base of this towering column (30m) houses the Tomb of the Emporer Trajan. A statue of him crowns the top of the column. Access via an internal staircase. 

 The tower tells the story of his battles with Dacia, (the present day Romania). 

The tower tells the story of his battles with Dacia, (the present day Romania). 

 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.

 piazza Venezia from the nearby park. 

piazza Venezia from the nearby park. 

Wish fullfillment.

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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!! 

Vatican City Gardens


Gorgeous gardens, a botanists delight, lots of grottos, sculptures and avenues of trees from all over the world.  

 one of the larger grottos. 

one of the larger grottos. 

 Margot suggested that we take an open air bus tour of the gardens. They are quite expansive and cover a hillside. It was the best way to explore the gardens. 

Margot suggested that we take an open air bus tour of the gardens. They are quite expansive and cover a hillside. It was the best way to explore the gardens. 

 The Vatican City is its own political entity, the 'country' has many buildings including the Popes residence, embassies, local administration, finance etc. 

The Vatican City is its own political entity, the 'country' has many buildings including the Popes residence, embassies, local administration, finance etc. 

 beautiful fine mosaic detail on this building. Tortoises live in the pond. 

beautiful fine mosaic detail on this building. Tortoises live in the pond. 

 The dome of St Peters Basilica can be seen from all across the garden. 

The dome of St Peters Basilica can be seen from all across the garden. 

 Entrance to the rose garden. 

Entrance to the rose garden. 

 They employ 30 full time gardeners, and it's still not enough. 

They employ 30 full time gardeners, and it's still not enough. 

 Grotto for Mary Magdelena.  

Grotto for Mary Magdelena.  

 Parterre garden with clipped box hedges and fountains. 

Parterre garden with clipped box hedges and fountains. 

 I can't remember if this sculpture was made by Michelangelo or dedicated to him. 

I can't remember if this sculpture was made by Michelangelo or dedicated to him. 

 the Dome, again    

the Dome, again 

 

We then spent the rest of the day wandering through the many museums and art galleries, the Sistine Chapel, St Peters Basilica and crypt.