Monday, 25 July 2011

Fast forward through Slovenia and Italy!

Not far from Umag Croatia, I ride through Slovenia.  Heading for a planned stop at Lake Bled, as so many people have recommended it to me.  It's not far, I'm not in a hurry, so I pick the little dirt roads.. well me and Mr. Garmin picked them.


My camera is still very sick if not dying.  It's getting really bad.. I get the odd picture okay, but the majority come out pure white.. Luckily I got a couple photos on my track.

This really pretty road as closed actually.. but I decide to take it anyway!  Not normal for me, but I thought, it looks really pretty and I'm on a motorcycle, hopefully the reason for closure is not a major river crossing!

It wasn't. I was worried that I would find the reason for closure after the "point of no return".  It ended up being closed many miles and miles over the top of the mountain and down the other side. Once I got there, was able to pass the problem via a little dirt walking track.. easy on a motorcycle.. score!!  And as you can imgine, no other traffic, a perfect beautiful day!!

I made it off the dirt roads over the mountains to civilization, I tried to get a photo.. again with adjustments, you can barely make out the mountains and it was such a beautiful view.. darn it.. Mr. camera!!


This one nearly came out all right, riding through a gorgeous little village..


Same village, and all white again.. didn't touch or change a thing, the camera decides when it wants a white one.. with color adjustments, it was able to pull out the image, but not enough for good color.. However, I quite like this one.. looks kinda funky!


Now it takes one WITH color.. huh!


Making me panic a bit , but what can ya do.. middle of nowhere land, and not sure if I should tackle getting the one I have fixed or buying a new one when I get to the next city.  My hesitation to the fixing, as I already knew but confirmed from a camera shop physically and online.. they'd have to send it away.  No time, no way to do this.. not worth it..

So at this point I give up.. I went to Lake Bled, a most gorgeous lake, very well known in History, and didn't take any photos...! But it's in my memory.  To let the pressure off, I decide it's okay if I don't have every single destination on the blog.. right?  Not sure how long that attitude will last, but I'll take it for now.. ;-)

If you click on the Lake Bled link, you'll see some Wikipedia info with photos.. sorry! I hadn't heard about it before this trip, but it has been a top tourist/spa destination in Europe for many centuries!

I was only here for one night (which was enough for me) and I had a message from Captain George Apistolas, whom you've heard of twice now!  He's been asking me to come to visit him in Spain where he works on a yacht ever since we met up in Athens several weeks ago.. He was disappointed at the time that his assignment on that boat was going to keep him in Spain all summer, however he just got word that his clients need him to take the supersize boat out for a ride around Greece and Turkey.  He sails in only one week!

Geez!  So much for slowly making my way there, it then became a mad dash from Slovenia to Barcelona Spain to catch a ferry over to Palma de Mallorca where he stays, over 1500 km (950 miles) away!

Small glitch.. my bike is over due for service and oil change..  I must not neglect it, as I am not a mechanic, so I like to keep all my service and checks on time to avoid any problems.. But this time, I was actually overdue already and I was about to add another 1500 km to that..

Started looking for KTM service shop between Slovenia and Barcelona as well as contacted my good friend (since I was in Italy over winter) Gianpietro who rides KTM 990 Advneture..  He emailed straight away and said he would contact his local service guy and let me know..  Right away they agreed to have me come in the next morning.. what a champion!  So the day is sorted, I just need to ride to Gianpietros home near Cremona in northern Italy.

And to add insult to injury, during this ride from Slovenia, I cross into Austria once again.. enjoy the most amazing mountains, just beyond beautiful to look at from the road!  Why die camera.. why??

And then I end up completely dropping my failing camera on the highway, in a tunnel, between Austria and Italy..  Can you believe it!!?? Actually I can't!  I still have no idea.. no clue how I did this.. such a bummer! I got through the tunnel, no stopping or emergency lane.. and it was far too far to walk through it, even though I tried against traffic.  So I decide to get on the bike, go to the next exit, illegally road backwards down the oncoming ramp, crossed over and got on the highway again going the opposite direction..  eventually found another illegal way to cross over the highway after the tunnel, and turned back.. searching searching searching for smashed pieces of my camera inside.  Quite dark in there, but not too much.. they have better than normal lighting in Austrian tunnels.  Then I see the black camera lens appear.  I put on my turn signal (no hazard lights), and hope to God I am seen and nobody hits me from behind.  Pick up the poor mangeled thing (but still in tact).  Quickly shove it in it's normal little camera bag home and get out of there.  I did not pull it out again until late that night at Gianpietros.. I just didn't want to see it.

Good news is, Gianpietro and his lovely wife and son live on a beautiful farm!  When I met them and they show me around, I must get that camera out and see what we can do..  And have a look, it still takes photos.. horrible ones, but it's not completely dead.. yet!


And how cool is this place.. I wonder how I get so lucky to experience life on a north Italy farm.. ;-)

Gian has retired from working the warm, but he's very keen on these Birmingham rolling pigeons! (That's the award above his head).. I never heard of this breed before, but they are unique!  They fly up and literally "roll" or more specifically, do rapid backwards somersaults while flying.. how odd!


Aww, look at the babies!! ;-)



The next morning, we have an early departure to get to the KTM shop first thing.  Gianpietro is like me, an early riser, and he had BOTH our bikes out of the garage and ready to go.  One last photo from the screwy but operating camera.. colors adjusted as much as possible.


And we're off!  (Wait.. I should mention that Gianpietro's close friend Giorgio came over the night before. I had met him during the winter as they drove all the way to where I was staying south of Florence to take me to lunch one day) Actually I put in a couple photos of that day in February from my Italian village, San Casciano.  (These are the flashback photos from then.)


Cheers to the Italian wine connoisseur ;-)

Back to young Giorgio -- who speaks NO English.. but with my little bits of Spanish we get by..

Giorgio came over with his fancy blue Porsche the night before while I was staying at Gian's family home.  He is quite the ladies man, having 2 or 3 girlfriends.. (depends when you ask him!..ha!)  He talks me into a ride in the car, and I reluctantly got in..  Then down the skinny curvy country lanes at top top tippy top speed, I was screaming so much, the local farmer neighbors must has thought medieval times down these original Roman roads were on the return!

Giorgio got a kick out of this as you might imagine..

Anyway, I thought of this because the photo of Gianpietro on the skinny lane below is the same one seen now in daylight.



We get to our KTM appointment with much relief on my part.. my overdue service was really making me nervous.  And I meet Paolo Canavese and his team at Sissi Racing in Crema.  These guys were a delight to meet and got to work straight away on my bike..

They have a fun website if you want to see or even better if you are in the area and needing the best service guys around!  www.sissiracing.com

Paolo himself has lots of racing achievements under his belt, and he really knows the bike.  They organize a complete check and big service AS WELL AS, organizing the local newspaper guys to come over to interview me.. wow!  He also put me onto the phone of the KTM head Marketing Director for Italia.. whom wanted me to stay around a little longer until Monday to meet.  Since I've committed to meet with Capt. George before sailing,  I can't hang around another 3 days. But I loved their interest and enthusiasm for sure!  I'm feeling a wee bit special here.. thanks so much Paolo... ;-)



Then on top of all this,  they take me for a wonderful Italian lunch.. and would not let me pay for any of my service!!!  And it was a big supersize service!  Such great guys and such a professional shop.. I would highly recommend them to anyone. ;-))


Lunch in Italy is quite a cultural daily routine that I never got used to the entire 3 months I lived there.  Everything shut down from 1-4..! It never failed that I got caught out needing to get that one last very important thing done in an office or a shop and I couldn't.. meaning I would have to come back from a country home all the way to the city for one dag gone thing!  Urgh.. Coming from American or Australian culture where we work all day, it was sooo hard to get used to.. and on my part, never did!

But it's a really nice custom if you are in town and know you have time with friends like these guys to eat or do whatever you want for 3 hours every day.  And remember, Italy has THE BEST food! I diverted my story again.. sorry.  I eventually got on the road south.. it's late enough in the day, that there is no way to accomplish my Barcelona ferry goal in one hit. But I'm doing all right. Might as well stop along the way and make it to Barcelona tomorrow.. still enough time to visit my friend there..

Soo... see you next time in Palma!

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