A Travellerspoint blog

France & Switzerland

semi-overcast 28 °C

Tuesday 14th June
French pit stop for the Bird

A little bit of a late start from our camp in Guise but what the hell, we’re on holidays. Pointed the Bird towards Reims & in no time we were having a coffee ’n’ croissant at a local café. We had a chat to a couple of Frenchman using our limited French & their limited English. We managed to get directions to the local Honda dealer as the Bird was up for some new rubber & fresh stoppers. I spotted something cool in the centre of Reims so we checked it out; it was the Cathedral Notre Dame. My Sister Michelle told me about this place & it totally blew us away. It’s absolutely massive & I’ve never seen such ornate stonework & I’ve seen a bit in my travels so far. Bird needed a pit stop so we found our way to Honda & fitted a new Pilot Road 3 tyre & new rear brake pads. The owner offered me a job because I did the work myself & he was impressed. The mechanics back home are total rubbish so I’ve taught myself how to do it properly. Anyway we were a fair bit behind schedule so we made a B line to Epinal which we did in great time with the help of a couple of wood ducks traveling at 150km plus. Set up camp & went for a walk into town & managed beers & Pizza for the night.

Wednesday 15th June
A Perfect Day

We eventually left the town that did not want us to leave (Epinal) due to road works and Denis not giving correct directions which also became the theme of the day. I think Denis was out on the town the night before & was suffering a major hangover. Denis giving incorrect directions allowed us to see some fascinating little villages and a registered horse and cart with a travelling family. Our breakfast was divine from a local bakery in a small village still in France, quiche and chocolate éclair with chocolate cream…mmmmmmm yummy. The roads started to get twistier and we started to climb in altitude the closer we got to Switzerland & with a fast traveling Audi in front of us that obviously knew the road very well the pace was very entertaining. Finally we were waved through the border check at Switzerland and immediately the scenery became absolutely breath taking, winding through hills, up and down and around, Ross was having a ball but was also disappointed he could not take in more of the view, you could even see Mount Blanc in the distance covered in snow. We arrived at our 4 star Camping ground just after lunch and took care of the mundane stuff (washing) which was slightly entertaining working out how to use the machines with no English instructions. Finally with that out of the way we headed to the shores of Lake Geneva………..Freakin Awesome this would have to be the most beautiful Landscape I have ever seen and the moment we clapped eyes on it I will remember forever. Winding down through vineyards on a narrow road sided by stone walls we looked down on Lake Geneva and Looked up at the Mountains. The water was blue and calm and even though there was a little haze in the air the mountains were picturesque. As soon as we parked the bike in Vevey and walked out onto to the shores edge a gentle calm came down on us and we knew we were in for a perfect evening. Ross’s first stop was a bar where a boat was moored and the owner was enjoying a beer, then we found a beach bar with sand and beach chairs which was right up our alley so we kicked of the boots and wriggled our toes in the sand while throwing back a couple of beers enjoying the awesome view. We then proceeded back towards the bike and grabbed a couple of pizzas where the waiter told Ross his French was not as good as he thought it was Mate Hehehehe was funny. We sat on seats stuck to the rocks and watched the sunset on Lake Geneva. (Words cannot describe the beauty of this place) To finish the evening we ordered a bottle of wine back at our camping ground and sipped and enjoyed twilight in Switzerland.

Thursday 16th June
Tess’s Planned Day
Chateau Chillon on Lake Geneva

We woke early due to a hole in the air bed caused by one of my rings. So we were away to get to the Chateau Chillon for opening at 9am because I had been warned to get there early to beat the crowds. We spent 2 hours exploring the Chateau which was very cool, I even managed to super impose Ross into some armor in a photo and we managed to stay ahead of the bus groups and school children which by the time we left were swarming all over the Chateau. Our next stop was Gruyere village and Chateau where we were to get chocolate and cheese. The roads on the way to our stop were to Ross’s liking as they were very twisty and bendy and windy and twisty and bendy and windy all very good for the bird and her new tyre. Why you would pay to take the toll roads and miss out on the scenic route I do not know cause we had more fun and did not pay a cent. We arrived at Gruyere and parked at the bottom and climbed a steep hill in 27 degree heat while viewing snow capped mountains, the weather was fantastic again. The only disappointing thing about our stop was the battery died on the camera due to me taking too many photos, lucky I did not miss too many picture opportunities. Then of to our final destination for the day, Interlaken, via even more twisty, bendy roads. The ride in was awesome following the mountainest shores on another lake through heaps of hand cut tunnels, pity the cars in front were not traveling at a pace we preferred. We thought the views of the mountains around Lake Genève were specko but the ones coming into Interlaken are even better and that is where we are going tomorrow up through the alpine passes, COOL! Denis (GPS) failed on the first attempt to find a campsite but the second one was spot on, best campsite yet. Right on the shores of a glacial river which is a bright turquoise blue due to the melting ice. Pity we weren’t here last week as there was a music festival here with bands like Foo Fighters, System of a down, Disturbed, Apocalyptica & Wolfmother to name just a few. Next stop Andermatt.

Friday 17th June
Swiss Alps & Strawberries

Today was the day to have a crack at a couple of Swiss passes we have watched heaps of times on YouTube, Sustan & Oblepass. First victim was the Sustan pass which is only a bit over 60km but climbs 8000ft in that distance so you can imagine how many bends are on it. We made our way to the summit through the clouds, above the snow line and on mainly dry roads, the only damp patches were in the tunnels carved through the mountains. We stopped for the usual photo & for Tess to do her first snow angel in real snow, there you go Wendy she has now done it. Over the other side & down into Andermatt for a break & a refuel. Oblepass was next which is over 2 hours of more mountain roads to the town of Chur which we covered with a huge grin on my face the whole way. There were a couple of tunnels along the way that went down through the mountains & took at least 10 minutes to get through, furkin huge. My new tyre are going to be worn out on the edges instead of the centre & I bet we are going to be a little sore in the morning. We made camp at Chur in another spot on campsite which I found without the use of Denis cause it had no idea where it was.
We had tea at a small motorway café and conversed with the owner whom did not speak English but we managed to get our information across and so did she. While we were eating we watched a lot of people walk into the forest across the road and decided we were going to investigate what’s going on after tea. We walked under the motorway and up the path to discover it was a hot spot for young people to drink and sit around the fire and also along the walking path we found wild strawberries and proceeded to gorged ourselves on them as we walked. Back at the camp grounds we also found that the tree bearing fruit next to our tent was a Cherrie tree YUMMY. Plan for tomorrow is off to a new country, Germany & explore the Black Forrest.

Posted by Ross_Tess 11:20 Archived in Switzerland Comments (1)

Of to France

semi-overcast 24 °C

Monday 13th June
We left our premature stop in Stafford at 6am, which had quite a few more bikes parked out the front due to the torrential rain, so we could make it to the tunnel over to France or should that be under to France. The GPS was supposed to allow for traffic but of course we hit London peak hour, DOH! We were also supposed to get fine weather but that of course did not occur, bloody pommy weather. Ross was a little worried about our time and decided to go on the emergency lane to get through the traffic and you guessed it we were pulled over by the police with a polite warning but we did put quite a dent in the traffic anyway. We eventually arrived on time in Dover for the tunnel and proceeded to go under the channel to France, pretty cool catching a train with your bike under the English Channel. Today has been a very long day on the Bird and we managed to get 400km into France after 400km in England plus the Euro Channel before we pulled up at Guise to camp for the night. We were planned to make it to Reims but fatigue kicked in & the first camp sign that came up we pulled up. The Bird has done it again & found the most ‘spot on’ place in an old French Village away from the usual tourist tracks. The weather is fantastic as we could sit drinking French wine from the servo in a t-shirt and shorts as there is some kind of holiday and everything is shut, think it might be some sort of war memorial day, will Google it when we have internet. We have survived our first day in a non-English speaking country, I even had a conversation with some old Italian guys playing Bocce who did not speak English at all. (Lots of hand gestures).

Posted by Ross_Tess 10:52 Archived in France Comments (0)

Last of the TT race week

sunny 17 °C

Wednesday 8th June
Supersport Race 2
Today was supposed to be the second race for the 600cc Supersport race so we set ourselves up in our room to watch from our bedroom window. There was rain in the morning so it was delayed a couple of hours before they made a start. None of the riders wanted to go out as there were still quite a few damp spots around the track. The red flag came out on lap 2 as it started raining again with a few of the riders not being able to keep the shinny side up so that was the end of racing for the day.

Thursday 9th June
Race Restart & The Great Aussie BBQ
The morning was perfect weather so we decided to hit the track before the road colures & I wanted to buy some Manx knee sliders for the Nurbergring track day coming up. The run up over the mountain was sweet but there were a crap load of caulk marks on just about every corner where the police have marked out accident sites. Unfortunately there were no Manx sliders left so I just bought some plain ones & went around the rest of the track to have an ice cream & coffee in Peel then head up to the Bungalow for a different view of the restarted supersport race. The young gun Gary Johnston was off to a flyer with the Aussie Cam Donald a little of the pace with John McGuinness & Guy Martin in the hunt too. Cam come back strong & it was looking like he might catch Gary Johnston when his bike shit it’s self on the final corner. So the final result was Gary Johnston for his first win with John McGuinness second & Guy Martin in third. The press conference after the race was a funny one with John McGuinness complaining of his foreskin coming back & chaffing his knob on the leathers zipper.
We went back to the Ginger Hall & with all of the Aussies having enough of traditional English food we decided to have an Aussie BBQ. Tess jumped into action & got everything organized but the English BBQ’s are not like ours but are very small & run on charcoal. We managed to get what we wanted though with perfect steak burgers and another ten thousand pints, all were happy.

Friday 10th June
Last day of Racing
Today is the big race with the TT senior & the final race of the 100 centenary of the TT mountain circuit. It was a sunny day but on a practice lap there was a spot of rain in Ramsey so the rearranged the race format so the track had a chance to dry out before the senior race. Finally the race got underway with 6 laps & 2 pit stops. Guy Martin got away in front & looked like he might break his duck with Cam Donald back in the pack in 8th. By the second lap John McGuinness started to show his class & reeled Guy Martin in with Cam Donald starting to move up the order too. The Kiwi Bruce Anstey had his ears pinned back too & was towards the front which isn’t too bad for a 42 year old. In the end it was the master John McGuinness first, Guy Martin second, Bruce Anstey third, Cameron Donald 4th.

Saturday 11th June
Last day at the TT
With this being our last day on this beautiful Island we had to prepare for the next stage of out holiday, off to Europe. We just spent the day replenishing supplies, packing & giving the Bird some TLC. We all headed down to the Sulby Glen for dinner that night with the winner of the first sidecar race, Klaus the Austrian, sitting at the table next to us.

Sunday 12th June
F#@K’N English weather
It was another perfect morning on the Isle of Man but it’s come time to leave & I probably should not of joked about it will most likely be raining in England. We were up early & onto the ferry heading to Heysham in England with hundreds of other Aussie bikes. John McGuinness was chasing around after his little daughter hanging out with all of us commoner Aussies, top bloke. Klaus the Austrian sidecar winner was there also hanging out for the 4 hour trip across the Irish Sea. True to form it was pissing down & freezing cold in England. We only made it 200km to Stafford before pulling the pin & checking into a hotel looking like drowned rats. We were supposed to camp it but bugger that. The forecast for the morning is looking much better so we should be able to make it to our target destination or Reims in France by early tomorrow afternoon, here’s hoping.

Posted by Ross_Tess 11:52 Archived in Isle of Man Comments (0)

Race day & Shopping day

overcast 15 °C

Monday 6th June & Tuesday 7th
Race Day & Shopping day
Monday morning we were invited to watch the races from one of the Ginger Hall staff’s place, Olives, which is right on the fastest place of the track, Sulby Straight. They have a little scaffold set up with 2 seats with a perfect view up the track so we were set for the first of the 600cc supersport races. Everything was looking sweet for the Aussie Cameron Donald running out to a 20 second lead in the 2nd lap of a 4 lap race when there was an unfortunate fatal accident involving an Irish rider Derek Brien which brought out the red flag. The restart is a whole new race with a reduced 3 lap race which bought out a few different tactics as the bikes can only do 2 laps before a refuel so some were going in on the first lap & some on the second so we could not tell who was leading until the final lap. Cameron Donald was out in front with only a 5 second lead this time with the Kiwi Bruce Anstey in second & Keith Amor in third. Then we watched the front riders come through & no Cameron Donald in sight as he broke down just down the road at Kirk Michael, BUGGER! So there was a win for Bruce Anstey, Keith Amor in second & Guy Martin in third. We returned to the Ginger Hall to watch the second race from our bedroom window which looks down on the Sulby Bridge. After a few demo laps with one of the a record attempt by a WRX to break the 100mph average lap, which they achieved with a 113mph lap it was superstock race time. Michael Dunlop was on a mission after a string of breakdowns with Cameron running down in fifth so the end result was Michael Dunlop first, John McGuiness second & Guy Martin third.
Tuesday 7th June
Shopping Day
Day off from racing so we went out shopping as I wanted a Mad Sunday shirt, some Manx knee sliders for the Nurbegring track day & Tess wanted some bling. We got everything bar the knee sliders because they were sold out & managed to bump into Guy Martin on the Promenade in Peel. He seems like a bit of a tosser though as he blew of a couple of kids wanting a signature & none of the other riders I have meet would ever do that so he will be the only signature missing of our jackets cause he is bit of a knob. Anyway after a day out shopping and a successful run over the mountain we retreated back to the Ginger Hall for a few more thousand pints. The youngest Aussie of our crew, Clint, came into the bar looking a little pale as he just binned his R1 down at his favorite corner at Sarah’s Cottage so we organized to recover it with one of the locals vans who happens to be a bit of a racer himself. The run down in his van was a real white knuckle ride as he knows all of the corners very well but we made it back in one piece & the R1 will be good to go with new handle bars & a couple of levers. The night was a late one with the owners of the Ginger Hall, Garry & Pam, shouting us Aussies a few drinks until the wee hours of the morning.

Posted by Ross_Tess 02:49 Archived in Isle of Man Comments (0)

Superbike Podium

Cameron Donald comes in second place

Posted by Ross_Tess 01:25 Comments (0)

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