A Travellerspoint blog

13. Austria and Switzerland

A quick glimpse...

We didnt see much of Austria - a bit more of Switzerland as we swung in a broad arc southwestward toward France and Spain. Once you get into the Alpine country one looks pretty much the same as the other - beautiful...

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Posted by StevenCarol11 15:11 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

12. Italy

Thriving on chaos...sort of.

We got off the ferry from Greece at Bari on the Adriatic and headed straight for Naples and Sorrento on the opposite coast. Whilst Sorrento was impressive, the garbage strewn around the place, particulalry Naples, was a big surprise. Neither of us really enjoyed Rome - had a whif of Grecian decay about it and seemed to be relying on its archeological tourism and very little else to keep going. It was also grubby, hot and very crowded. The vatican was of little interest to either of us but we went anyway. I tried hard to photograph the ice cream slurping nuns deftly sidestepping a grotesquely disfigured cancer stricken beggar (one of a number in the vicinity) lying on the sidewalk just outside the vatican gates but was always foiled by others getting in the way.

Our Italian experience inmproved once we were North of Rome, and Tuscany was great. We particularly loved Lago Di Garda and the Italian Alps to the North were fantastic. The Stelvio pass on the bike sans Carol and baggage was a highlight, and the South Tyrol was dramatically beautiful.

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Posted by StevenCarol11 04:48 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

11. Greece

Dodging riots in Athens and other stories...

Greece is an economic basket case but we enjoyed our time there - it is easy to be seduced into the relaxed lifestyle - too relaxed to run a decent economy apparently. Greece is also seemingly the world capital of Suzuki V Stroms so we were in good company and had plenty of other riders to chat with. Greece was where I serviced our bike on a sidewalk and in Mileage terms was close to the midpoint of our journey.

Our first night was spent wild camping on a beach...
On the last day when we left Athens, we were riding on the sidewalks and riding against one way traffic to try to get out in the face of striking and rioting people...

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Posted by StevenCarol11 04:26 Comments (0)

10. Turkey

Phew! Made it through Russia...

After catching a rust bucket ferry (I slept on deck) from Sochi in Russia we arrived in Trabzon in teh North East of Turkey. We loved Turkey. The people friendly, the driving sane, the countryside varied and Istanbul an amazing experience! Only problem is that we didn't have GPS for Turkey and this made finding our way difficult, particularly in Istanbul - an enormous city. But the friendliness of the people meant there was always help at hand, even if it meant going a long way out of their way to guide us. Our accommodation meant we could walk to Sultanhamet (the Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque) and explore the incredible vibrance.

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Posted by StevenCarol11 03:53 Comments (0)

9. Russia

Into the complete unkown - a near miss here and a near miss there, here a near miss there a near miss...

Nervousness about what Russia would hold for us was quickly confirmed. It was the only visa we required and the Finnish/Russian border control was 4 hours of hither and thither and huffing, teeth gnashing and a taste of the legendary Russian grumpiness. In the run up to the border, there must have been 20 Kms of trucks lined-up waiting for clearance from the Russians, so I guess 4 hours was not too bad. The roads from the border to St Petersburg were shocking and we had a tense time trying to keep a decent average speed. That would have been Ok but for the insane driving on those same roads - absolutely and literally blew us away! Hostile overtaking with cms to spare was the norm. We put on a brave face but were not enjoying it, particularly in the knowledge that we had a LONG way to go. We hoped things would improve and some of the roads between Moscow and Sochi were better as the winter olympics are being held in Sochi in 2014 - but the driving nonetheless still manic and suicidal. In general, Russia remains a worrying enigma to us. A rich and turbulent history with amazing Tzar era buildings contrasted with soviet era drabness, incredible museums...However there seems to be a small power bloc running the country and the economy - those must be the ones in the black porsches and BEEMER X5's with no plates, running everyone off the road. If you aren't one of the political or economic elite, then you seem to have very little. Democracy is just a visage. There seems to be a sinister side to Russia, which leave you quite unsettled. However, we did meet some fantastic people who showed us another face to Russia - generous to a fault and without whom we would have slept in a park the first night in St Petersburg. Thank you Kate, and Igor in St Petersburg. Thank you too Viktor and Nellie in Rostov-on-Don for your wonderful generosity and concern for our well being. We should have listened to you and delayed our leg to Sochi for a day...

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Posted by StevenCarol11 04:25 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

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