Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Holland aka The Netherlands!


Yepp.. I'm in Holland!

I'm here for 2 reasons.  First, to get some special attention to the bike.  Captain Magadan emailed me weeks ago suggesting I come to see his best technician at Hyperpro to get my suspension worked on. His friend Bas was kind enough to make an appointment for me to come in on his day off!!  You know he's good if he's booked that far in advance..   Secondly, I've heard so much about the Netherlands and always wanted to come, but didn't think I would catch it on this trip..  So! To be able to add another country to my list of places I've been is always a plus for me!

In the organizing of it all, I get to stay with wonderful Marco and Dorine, whom you might remember me meeting near Kos Turkey earlier this year.  They are so fun and we've kept in touch.

                          Marco and Dorine in Turkey..
   
Now I'm at their home in Haarlem, Netherlands
 

I wasn't sure I was going to like Holland and quite frankly from the highway, I wasn't looking forward to it (highways will do that to ya.)  Other than the odd windmill and cows, looking pretty flat and boring. This is why it's best to never take the highway! Because once I arrived, look what a fun trendy place this is!

They suggest I bring the bike into the house.. it's normal...ha!


First job is to get to Hyperpro in the morning to meet Bas and see what to do.. In all my photos and visuals, you never get to to hear the developed sound of my bike!  My "sound" since I've been in Montenegro last March is that of a squeeky rusty old jalopy.  So loud every time I got on the bike, and sat down.. rreeek.. rrrrrreeeek!! (not good at how to word the sound, but I tried..) It was well worth the chuckles it created from those around me..

Always hoping its just a squeek and not a warning of something coming.  (yes, I know better..) I should have taken photos, when the guys in Italy I bought that rear tire just after Portugal were dead set on finding the source of the squeek.. They took oil spray to EVERYTHING!  Both men on the ground, upside down, pushing on my bike, backwards forwards.. with all that extra oil, it squeeked just as bad as when I came in and they eventually got disappointed and gave up.

Bas on the other hand is on top of his game and goes right to the source.


The squeek is here, Sherri Jo.....  (I knew that.. seriously! ;-)  Not really, but now I see where the inside part was rusted out, which the oil could never reach.


This is going to be a day job.. executive decision is to send Sherri Jo on the train into downtown Amsterdam for a few hours as there's nothing I can do here.  Feeling guilty again!  Wish I could be more helpful.. but welcome the opportunity to see the city since I've heard soooo much about it.. Most comments I remember about Amsterdam is that it's so much more open and advanced about MANY things than we are in the USA.. is it true?











INVASION!!!  Masses and masses and MASSES of bicycles.. everywhere!! 


It's all about the "advanced" civilization of the bicycle around here! Keep in mind the parking "garage" in the background is all bikes too.. besides the masses of them parked in the city..


Amsterdam is a very good looking, unique looking town.. a style all its own.  Only a quick look around. It is very touristy.. lots of 'tours' I could take.. but I was just happy to get a feel for the place and get the train back to the shop. When I did, I find Bas is nearly finished..Very precise, a true perfectionist!
















Walter who knows my bike so well, wants to test it out.. I think he looks quite happy to be re-united with his little 690 Siberian friend.. look at that grin! ;-)


Bas put in many hours over 2 days to make my bike perfect.. in support of my journey.. The rear end is lower now.  When I sit on it, there is a slight bend in my knee, and those who know I've been wobbly with the height of this bike all along (I was supposed to get used to it.. never did..) Thanks Walter for organizing it all and letting Bas stop his work on YOUR bike and spend that time on mine instead.. really appreciate it!!!

My bike feels really good, what a huge difference it makes to get the best surgeon on the planet to fix up the suspension. and I couldn't be more grateful. It's been a struggle with this bike for so long.. and as a bonus, Bas even perfected my wobbly side stand!  I can park anywhere now!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Still on the run and just in time, I will be able to make my ferry to England tonight..  but they convince I have plenty of time to come for their weekly club family super great Dutch meal at Peter's house.. hope that makes sense!

These guys are the best, including Peters' wife behind the camera..couldn't feel more welcome anywhere..  ;-)


In the back, Peter and his wife have a bike club.  They have gone to so much effort to put these memory boards on the wall of many of their great group rides..


And, they can pick any bike they want to ride today.. what a pleasure!!

One last photo with the master, Bas. Ruud, on the left, kindly offered to ride with me on his black BMW to the ferry port in Rotterdam.. 

(this photo taken the day before on his yellow BMW.. I just like this photo better)

Big thanks again (can't say it enough) to Walter and Bas at Hyperpro for working so hard and for so many hours over 2 days on my bike..

I didn't care I was around a motorcycle shop more than sightseeing Holland.  All these guys are my Netherlands experience, and it was the best.. ;-)

Monday, 22 August 2011

France


I think I mentioned that my original plans to travel north to England was via the French coast with a visit to Normandy.. This wasn't going to work due to ridiculously bad weather, so I diverted to Switzerland.. good call!!  Very happy I did!

My next overnight stop in France, however, still welded some serious American history that I didn't expect.. Mainly because I hadn't studied the details of the war(s) in this area.

Anyway, during my daily research, I came across an English couple who live and own a Bed and Breakfast in France.  They so kindly invited to me to stay... free of charge!!

They've been here for 8 years, and told me I am their FIRST solo female rider to visit... YAY!!  and secondly!!  I am their FIRST, round the world rider from Australia to visit.. double YAY!!!! 



They have only a tiny sign, but it's a whole different world inside..
Check out my very gorgeous, very comfortable room!!  So happy to be here.. The house is large and lovely inside.


The place is called Two Wheel Moorings in Dun Sur Meuse France.  http://twowheelmoorings.co.uk/default.aspx  They only allow visitors here on 2 wheels.. mostly motorcycles, but if you ride a bicycle..you are welcome too!  Keen riders themselves (hence the two wheel theme) they have ridden around so much and have the absolute best advice on roads, places and everything needed while here.

Indoor parking for the bikes too..


Right outside the B&B is a very important statue of a charging American Infantryman WW1 1914-18.  The Americans crossed right here at this point on the bridge over the Meuse River for the first time during the war.


So many battles took place right around here.  






Ian and Carol insist I must go and see the largest American Cemetery outside the United States, just down the road..  really, just here in countryside of France?  Turns out there are over 14,000!!!!! soldiers buried here.  They tell me there was actually over 50,000 soldiers .. can you believe?!  But the difference is the amount of families who chose later to take their soldier home.







Really makes you see CLEARLY the effects of war, and think about how many DIE on behalf of their country. Not just Americans, but all countries.  And how lucky I am to have been born into freedom and knocking on wood, have never had to live through the hardships and death war brings.

Just remembering some of my earlier posts... "Hiroshima in Japan",  being on "high alert" with navy ships from North Korea as I was traveling through South Korea, the recent Yugoslav wars, still very visible in Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia... all the castles and fortresses I've been through in Europe..(they weren't just built for decoration and tourism!)  In my life, the biggest things I have to fight for is a parking space, or corrections on a telephone service bill.


You know what I read in my iphone app "National Georgraphic World Atlas"  the other day, that blew my mind.. :  "The number of nations has soared form 65 in 1946 to 194 today - with 30 new independent countries added to the maps since 1990."  That is incredible.. I had no idea THAT many!


Okay, I've gone off on a tangent..best get back to France.


After I visit this amazing place, I must keep riding north..  One thing I can say about France, is their countryside is really beautiful (I know I've already said this.. plus I like their food..ha!)

Views from the road...






And up to the 8,000th castle I've been to in Europe.. but they are all cool.  I try to pretend I have permission to enter with my white horse (no disrespect to my black and orange horse).. ;-)


The Mote

 Darn, another castle entry with a stop light.. where's the guard.. and still looking for that Prince!!?? ;-)


Once inside, it looks like this.  People still live and work here.  How cool would that be to say I live in "Montmedy Citadel!"


Now I am seriously on a marathon, time is running short.  I make a mad dash from France into the tiny country of Luxembourg (just to say I've been there!) No photos, rainy, windy, yukky..

Then to Belgium, where my friends Sho and Pat have hooked me up with their friends Pascale and Gretel for a nights stay on my way north.


These two girls travel heaps by motorcycle as well, with tons a great stories from South America!  Gives me inspiration and more countries to look forward to!!  Besides hosting me for the night, they made a kickin' meal including Belgium Fries!! They tell me Belgium is really famous for the best "fries".. I did not know this, but the ones they made were truly awesome..!  And not ever having "fried potatoes" in France, we question where the term "French Fries" comes from..

My mad dash to England has taken me off the lovely country roads and on to the big bad highway..blaaaaa...


So there you go.. a super quick drive through Belgium.. no famous Belgium beer, (some very good wine though..) only a taste of Belgium chocolate,  happy enough with my Belgium Fries and I'm off to one last stop in Holland.. before I catch the England ferry.

See you!
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