Days 11 and 12 Lecco to Turin

We agreed that we needed a hotel night. Wifi was needed to update the blog and book a hotel for Grenoble next week. We also needed a change from riding and camping. We have covered 6 countries in 11 days and that is quite tiring.


After much discussion, we decided to head for Turin and we booked a B&B. We left Lecco after a hearty breakfast of veggie burgers and fried veg and decided to stay north where the roads might be good. After about an hour of sitting in traffic on congested, dull roads, we were forced to abandon this idea and set the GPS for a direct route to Turin. We bombed down the motorway for 90 minutes, covering a lot of ground in a short time at a cost of 12 euros in tolls. Again we stayed dry, for which we were very grateful.


Arriving in Turin, our first impression, of the outskirts was that this is a pretty multicultural city. The GPS did a great job in navigating through the tiny cobbled streets of the old city, directly to our accommodation.The only problem was that it was on a pedestrian shopping street and the check in did not open for another 30 minutes. Many of the B&Bs in Italy keep costs low by not having permanent reception staff. You have to inform them of your arrival time and they are there to meet you. We brazened it out, parking the bike up outside and sitting in a cafe to wait. About ten minutes later, a police bike went by and paid us no attention whatsoever. Italy is very laid back like that-made for rule breakers. Having said that, we did get a ticket in Lake Garda in 2012.


The B&B Le Due Matote is manned by Jack White`s (the rock star no the other one) better looking brother and he seemed very disappointed that we did not want to know about museums and sites to see. He was not convinced by our approach to seeing cities of wondering around and soaking up the atmosphere. He directed us to parking 2 minutes away- only 10 euros a night for secure, underground parking. By the time we walked back it had started to rain heavily. The B&B is on the 4th floor of an 18th century building and the room is very quaint and tasteful. One of the highlights is the tiny lift, just big enough for two, that rises very slowly to the top of the building. Jack White´s brother gave us a bunch of 5 keys that we needed to get in and out of the building, so tight was the security.


The rain set in for the night. We bravely ventured out for a beer and a prosecco and even sat outside under a table umbrella but we were eventually forced to look for a restaurant indoors and bought a brolly from a street vendor as the rain became very heavy. Turin was like a ghost town. We were very lucky that the first open restaurant we found was warm, if a bit lacking in atmosphere and the food turned out to be really good. They served bruschetta topped with sautéed spinach- a vegan´s dream. The pizzas were amazing, cooked in a wood fired oven, with thin crusts at the centre and thicker crusts on the outside and the wine was great.



Overnight, we decided to stay for a second day so we chilled out until about 9am and ventured out into Turin. It was raining heavily again. We very stoically headed for a camping shop that we found on the internet. It was a bit grim about town, the streets were empty and the puddles were getting deeper. We were fortified with some Italian coffee and breakfast and we visited some piazzas which must be stunning in the sunshine but were harder to appreciate in this weather. The rain forced us inside the many arcades where the architectural details were really stunning and the signage probably the best we have seen anywhere-even more interesting than Prague or Paris. Turin is full of old fashioned shop fronts and tiny purveyors of tobacco, wine and other old fashioned things. It is very charming and has a unique quality- even in the heavy rain.

By lunchtime the rain had stopped and the sun came out briefly. The city started to come to life and pavement cafes reopened.

In the evening we found the perfect bar offering free tapas like snacks with the wine and beer and there was a much better atmosphere than the previous night, although still no sunshine. After dinner, we wondered back to the room just before it started hammering down with rain again. So glad we were not camping.

Days 4 and 5- Slovenia to Rabac, Croatia



We left Slovenia in sunshine and rode through some great scenery, on fun roads, for a couple of hours. Detouring into Italy (crossing the border in the middle of a housing estate) to ride along the corniche into Trieste was a bit disappointing as there were trees and bushes blocking the sea view all along the coast road. Trieste was a bit crazy with traffic but was a beautiful Italian, port city with a huge main square and a real Italian atmosphere. We both commented on how much we preferred it to Prague. Dave did a great job riding and navigating through the city, with the help of the GPS, under difficult conditions.


We crossed back into Slovenia for a while and felt impatient to see Croatia. On approaching the border, we were surprised to learn that Croatia is not party to the Schengen Agreement and there was a proper border crossing with guards, where we had to show our passports. Some Swiss guys in a sporty Audi were turned away, which made us a bit nervous (as border crossings are prone to do). We had no problems entering our 24th country on a motorcycle together though.


Almost instantly, the landscape became less mountainous and pine forests had turned into vineyards and olive trees, with a real mediterranean feel. We crossed the Istrian peninsula, which seemed totally devoid of life. We passed through a toll booth which seemed to indicate a motorway only to find we were on a normal, well surfaced country road, that clearly warrants a toll in these here parts. When we got to the other end of the toll road, it was free for bikes, so no complaints but still weird.

We checked into our lovely hotel Villa Annette for two nights, as part of Helen´s 50th birthday treats. A lovely room with stunning views over the bay of Rabac from the balcony. A bit of a change from camping. You always feel like a pair of tramps arriving at a nice hotel on the bike with all the gear and the smell of camping lingering. on entering the room, we instantly raided the mini-bar for cold beer and pretzels.10550083_10152608826649515_8878976571951201164_oWe had a posh meal in the upmarket, hotel restaurant where the cutlery was too big for Dave to feel comfortable and the waiter kept hovering. They made a pretty decent attempt catering for a pair of weird vegans. Pudding was a champagne glass with liquid strawberries-delicious. We sampled the local wine which is made by the hotel- it was ok but came in BIG glasses. It was a lot better than the Slovenian beer. Croatian beer is pretty good too. We have a feeling that years of hardship have made drinking a higher priority for the locals here.

10498224_10152610775659515_6713452901484506761_oOn our second day in Rabac, we ventured up the hill looking for a supermarket and found a wonderful Venetian town. Just our kind of thing. What´s more, the restaurant on the main square advertised vegan burgers. We had to change money, as Croatia is not in the euro. We changed 30 euros but found lunch cost only 10. We pottered around the tiny, cobbled streets and admired the sea views before stopping at the supermarket to take a big bag of beers back to the hotel.

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Day 3 Wildalpen to Bovec, Slovenia


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We’ve been to Slovenia before, about ten years ago. This time, we are on a brilliant bike. Last time, we were on a Yamaha Thundercat. We must have been miserable sods back them because we do not remember thinking that Slovenia was stunningly beautiful…and it is…remarkably so.

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Yamaha Thundercat. Not a brilliant bike.

The weather was very mixed today and we had the waterproofs on and off a couple of times but we arrived dry, which is the most important thing when you are camping.

The scenery upon entering Slovenia from Austria, via cutting the corner off Italy briefly, was equally the best we have seen in Europe. We were so high up, looking deep into the valley below that it was almost like being on a plane. The tall, rocky Dolomites to the west and the green Julian Alps to the east and north were staggeringly beautiful. The road was also a lot of fun. It was as if everything had been shrunk down since Austria. The road much narrower, the mountains close enough to touch and finally the sun shining.


Bovec is an attractive little tourist town in a wonderful setting. A campsite, B&Bs, advertising rooms for 25 euros a night, two big supermarkets and a few bars and restaurants. Helen´s favourite place was the tiny greengrocers where they sold big punnets of black cherries and fresh, green figs which we polished off after a meal of tofu curry cooked on the stove. Slovenian beer is pretty terrible but then the people do not come across as party animals. We noticed that back in 2004 on our last visit. Good beer is clearly not a priority.


Dave´s turn to cook breakfast


Day 2 Prague to Wildalpen, Austria

We both loved this campsite at Wildalpen in central Austria. We agree it is number 3 of the best campsites in the world-so far; held back for Dave by not being able to park the bike right by the tent and for Helen by being in the valley (600m) rather than higher up the mountain. Mind you, it was a bit chilly so it would not have been much fun at higher altitude.

It was a great end to a pretty dull day crossing the Czech Republic. We really want to like it there but it is a dull place to ride across. Gently undulating and green but nothing to get excited about.  This was our second time and it did not redeem itself following our first dull crossing in 2012.


The campsite had a great river setting. Most campers had wood fires and the smell of woodsmoke was wonderful. This site is used mostly by kayakers and there was a slightly roughy-toughy feeling about it. Just as we were entering the village Helen saw a Chamois (wild goat/antelope) at the side of the road- very exciting. 10497943_10152608841174515_791660813560487470_oWe feasted on our first camping meal of the trip. No beers tonight after last night´s indulgence in Prague. An early night all cosy and warm in the tent.
Dave (46), Tiger 955i (10), Dave’s fleece (20)

Day 1 Berlin to Prague


Okay, here we go! We were a bit nervous leaving Berlin, as is normal at the start of a trip. Fortunately, we picked the quietest day on the roads since Germany were last in the World Cup Final.

imageThe journey was fast and easy, except for the bit just over the Czech border where the motorway disappeared and became a dodgy, patched up road- very Eastern Europe. A tip for bikers- you do not need a vignette to use the motorways in Czech. They are free for bikes so no need to stop at the border and buy one.

A Bit About Kit

Triumph Tiger 955i

Ten years old, owned by us for eight years, this bike has seen off five other bikes we have owned, including, most recently, a Triumph Explorer. It’s standard except for:

  • CCC exhaust
    • Whatever happened to the Carbon Can Company?
  • Touratech panniers


We booked into the Eurostars David Hotel in the “new” town. The Art Nouveau style of this part of the city reminded us of Barcelona. We really want to like Prague but we just don`t. It underwhelms us. It lacks the atmosphere of the Italian and Spanish cities that we love.


We visited an English and an Irish pub to drink some beer and cider and eat Walkers crisps. Us expats are easily satisfied. We also find Czech pubs either too touristy or too local and a bit scary so we played safe. Czech beer is nowhere near as good as German beer. Call us fussy but we would rather pay extra for German beer. Once you have gone German, it is hard to go back- this only applies to beer.

Predictably, we end the first night in an Indian restaurant- Indian Jewel, opposite The Dubliner in the old town. The total lack of good Indian food in Berlin, leads us to seek out curries on our travels. Helen´s dahl was excellent but Dave´s curry was not spicy enough for a Brit and disappointing. We still ate too much though and waddled back to the hotel early to avoid the match, hoping we could pretend it was not happening.

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