01 February 2010

Another Ending

Back to the Alps once more

After my trip in 2007, one of my mates at work got keen on motorcycling as well. Kev hadn't ridden before, so he went through Direct Access and quickly got himself sorted with a decent bike (A Susuki GSX600F). That meant it was time for another blast around Europe.

 Our intention was to get down to the Alps, but we were attempting to avoid the bad weather if we could. France and Belgium were lovely and toasty. If anything, too hot! But once we got to Luxembourg, the weather turned. That meant we really didn't enjoy Germany's Schwarzwald as much as we would have if the sun had of stayed out.

Three days of rain, followed by some more lovely sunshine while in the Swiss Alps. Unfortunately, we'd taken so long getting there, that there wasn't time to go and explore more of the French Alps (which I love, and possibly prefer, even if the roads aren't as immaculate as Switzerland's).

Our last day, we did see a sobering site of one biker who'd had a rather nasty looking accident. I thought he looked pretty messed up, but Kev reckons he was okay...   Hope he was!

My least favourite bit of the ride is that blast back when you're just trying to make the tunnel/ferry. Since we didn't know what time, we hadn't booked ahead. As it was, we managed to get separated somewhere around Nancy, so both made our independent ways there. I stopped at Arras for some dinner and met another biker who was just about to head off on another trip. I almost joined him, as the weather looked like it was going to be spectacular from now on.

Got to the tunnel entrance at Calais and they wanted some extortionate amount of money for a passage. Think in excess of 100 Euros. Getting a return ticket was about 75 Euros (and just not come back). But in the end, I got Liezl to book me on online for the next morning for £30 and then went to the booth and asked nicely if I could sneak on the next train... Think I had to pay an extra few Euros for that, but well worth it in the end.

Was a long long ride back. Met up with this guy who'd been riding non-stop from Poland and was going my way as far as Swindon, so we rode together. But once I got home, I parked my bike and don't think I touched it again all year. Must have been all biked out!

Liezl's Birthday trip to Corfu

Keeping in theme with our always trying to get away somewhere for our birthdays, Liezl and I headed to Corfu in October. I'd found this hotel that was rated incredibly highly on TripAdvisor (love that site for holiday research) and it looked really good value.

October is pretty much shoulder season, so while the weather was nice and sunny (and a good deal warmer than the UK) it was pretty quiet at Agios Stefanos. Admittedly, it's not a massively touristy place in the first instance. We did hire some bikes and rode over to Sidari. I've got to say, what a complete and utter shit-hole. X-Factor in every pub, just the typical Brit-abroad sort of place. So glad we didn't end up somewhere like that. Sorry, just not for me.

Enjoyed the swimming, but would have loved a little extra heat in the sun. And I just love Greek food. Mmmmm....

Back down-under once more

Not keen on experiencing another UK winter, it was time to escape once more. This time to Australia first.

Neither of us had been to Sydney, although we almost got offloaded here back in 2003 after our visit to New Zealand when the place was almost too late to take off. (Think there's a midnight curfew in Sydney)

We stayed with my Uncle John and Robyn just on the north side of the harbour near McMahon's Point. Was a lot of fun exploring Sydney. It's definitely a beautiful city.

Quite surreal to go swimming in a salt water pool right underneath that iconic harbour bridge.

Also managed to head out for a wine tour in Hunter Valley. I'd hoped to find some really good wines, but I've been spoilt by French Reds. (And as a kiwi, I probably should stick to whites from Aotearoa... they really are superb!)

New Years on the point watching the fireworks on the bridge was great! Huge crowds and fairly well controlled by the Police. Fortunately we were inside the residential area, so were allowed to go out onto the point. Otherwise we'd have not seen anything. They block most of the roads to limit how many people get access to the waterfront.

And then it's 2010!

Headed up to Brisbane to spend a few days there before exploring some of the Sunshine Coast. I'm still undecided about Brisbane. Liezl's been in love with it for ages, whereas I far prefer Melbourne. But I'm willing to give it a chance at least!

Headed out west a little to catch up with my cousin Abel, who I hadn't seen for maybe 15 years? He's got a lovely family and it was really neat to see him. +1 for Brisbane then. :-)

Boring-arse drive up to the Sunshine Coast. Not that the scenery isn't gorgeous or anything. The weather was fantastic and I really shouldn't complain. But the speed limits feel so incredibly slow! I think that's something I'd struggle with living here. I'm all for driving to the conditions, but the Aussies and Kiwis take speed enforcement to ridiculous extremes. Admittedly, they're probably the worst drivers in the western world, so maybe there is some reason behind it...  But I don't think the statistics support the legislation. Europe's approach seems far more pragmatic.

I loved Coolum! Miles and miles of beach!

Went for a run early one overcast morning - and next thing I know, I'm burnt. Forgot how bloody lethal the UV is here. Glad it wasn't anything past a mild pink tinge. Could have been very nasty. I really need to watch my skin!

The surf was great, only the jellyfish detracted from the fun. Sounds like the water is so warm here, that you get jellyfish for more months of the year. Shame, but not a deal breaker. I honestly felt like I could be happy renting a place here for a while. Seemed very chilled.

One of my favourite features was the free barbeques on the beach. That made life pretty nice I can tell you.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all this sunshine, food, sea and sand, Liezl and I called it a day on our relationship. She still came with me to New Zealand, but it was over. We had given it another try, but some of the same problems persist. Such is life.

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