Thread: [YEAR 5!] Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

  1. #2151
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605

    Trying to find the tickets for our Eurotunnel reservation to take us back under the English Channel


    Neda and I get separated on the train! The doors close between our bikes

    When we exit the train at Calais, France, we follow the line of vehicles out into the roadway. We have to drive on the right-hand-side now! Six months in SE Asia riding on the left, then three months in Eastern Europe on the right, after that, two months in the British Isles on the left, now we're back on the right... Ugh, our brains are so confused!

  2. #2152
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605
    It's only a couple of hours on the highway and we arrive at our next stop (No, not Arches National Park):


    Visiting our very good friends, Thomas and Eva in Belgium!

    It's only been a year since they visited us in Thailand, but we've missed them so much!

    We're spending the weekend with them, and it's a good thing that we've been to Leuven a few times before, so there's no great need to go out sightseeing. Because all we want to do is relax, hang out and catch up with them. Every time we visit their place, their renovations come along a bit further. Eva shows us their new wall decoration: The National Parks of the US. They've fallen in love with the vast North American wilderness! Having been on the continent for the last couple of years, I can see why. It's so different than anything you can find in Europe.

    Thomas and Eva are vegetarians, so it was quite a change coming from our steady diet of saturated animal fats in the UK to super-healthy plant-material-food-stuff in Belgium.

    We also take some time to run some errands. We've been to Leuven so often that I have a favorite barber just down the street that I go to get my hair cut. Thomas decides to try out my barber as well, getting his beard professionally trimmed. He is so happy with the way it turned out, that he's going to go all the time now. Me, not so much because this time, they cut it a bit too short for my liking.

    All weekend long, Thomas, Eva and Neda poke fun at my too-short hair. Mainly the fact that I don't like my too-short hair. Because that's what friends are for.


    Eva is learning how to play the ukulele! I pluck out a few notes on the couch

    One afternoon, Thomas and Eva leave us to attend a family birthday party. So they trusted us to look after their apartment while they were gone.


    We PMed them while they were at the party. Thomas is not amused...

    Oh, it's so awesome to hang out with them again!
    Last edited by lightcycle; 12-06-2017 at 04:33 PM.

  3. #2153
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605

    After a too-short weekend with our friends, two lone bikers exit a garage in Leuven, back out onto the European roadways

    Keep right. Keep right. Keep right.

    Winter is coming. So like single-celled organisms that respond to stimuli, we instinctively head south, away from the impending cold. But also because of White Walkers.

    Along the way we have another friend in Basel, Switzerland we want to visit, but since she has cats... we book into an AirBnB just 30 minutes away across the border just outside of a small town in France called Mulhouse.

    The AirBnB is run by a German couple. They have SIX KIDS!

    We found out that the reason they live in France is because they have decided to home-school their children, and back in Germany, home-schooling is illegal. So to escape prosecution (and persecution of sorts), they emigrated to Mulhouse, which is also right across the border from Germany as well, so they are not too far away from their friends and family back home.

    There's a certain stigma attached to home-schooling. The stereotype is that it raises socially awkward kids, not having been exposed to other children their own age. But living with this German family for a couple of days, I could see that this is not the case at all. This tiny community outside Mulhouse is actually a German exclave. All of the neighbours are Germans and they've also escaped to France to home-school their kids. Every day, all the neighbourhood kids get structured time together in the local playground down the street to socialize, like recess at school. It was all very methodical.

    The house is littered with books, the walls lined with educational posters. These parents take their children's schooling very seriously and I get the sense that they want their kids to have a better education than what the state would provide them. Socialization included. Every year, their kids would take a German standardized test to ensure that they met (and probably exceeded) the government guidelines.

    Our stay here has really opened my eyes up to home-schooling and erased a lot of my preconceptions.


    And their kids are cute!

    Five girls, aged 3 to 9, and a little baby boy. I realized that the AirBnB is not just a business to help raise money. It's also further socialization for these little girls. When the mother found out that we were traveling the world, she asked if I would provide a geography lesson for the kids. I was delighted to, showing all the places we had been to on our laptop and showing them our pictures. And when I saw they had a piano in the living room, I gave the eldest daughter a short piano lesson!

    The girls found us very amusing. Initially, they would peep shyly around the corner and giggle when Neda was in the kitchen cooking, but by the second day, they were actively helping her make the meals, chattering away in German.

    Such a great experience! It was very educational for me, just to see a slice of the world that's normally hidden away.


    When our AirBnB host saw our motorcycles, she suggested a great, twisty road nearby up in the mountains

  4. #2154
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605

    Cows watch us on our day ride through the Grand Ballon mountains, 15 minutes outside of Mulhouse


    Switchback! Grand Ballon in French means a round-topped mountain. There's an observatory at the top of the summit of the Ballon.


    We go for a short hike near the summit, you can see all the twisty roads below

  5. #2155
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605

    I'm happy because it's a *short* hike


    The observatory looks like "Rover" from the TV Show "The Prisoner". LOL!

    I just found out it's actually not an observatory, it's an air-traffic control tower. The round globe looks like a Grand Balloon, which is what we initially thought the mountain was named for. It's a radar device used for air navigation. Very cool-looking.


    Hiking around the Grand White Balloon Radar Station, view of the Alsace mountain range around us

  6. #2156
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605

    And then back down the mountain. We have a date for this evening!


    Sun is setting so early these days. It's not even 5PM!


    Find a spot to park in downtown Mulhouse

    We're meeting up with our motorcycle friend, Colleen! She is riding up from Basel to see us. She is not only a motorcycle friend but she's also a cat-lady so although she's invited us many many times to stay with her, I unfortunately cannot. Because I would literally die.

  7. #2157
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605

    Colleen found a great Alsatian restaurant in this French town. All of our good intentions about eating healthily go out the fenêtre.

    Om nom nom, so yummy! Alsatian Cuisine is basically a lot of pork, done up German style.

    It's so good to see her again. We've only met her a couple of times, but we've chatted with her so often online that we feel like we've known her for much longer. As a North American ex-pat living in Europe, it's so interesting hearing about her experiences because they sound like exactly like what we'd go through if we were to settle here after our trip.

    Which after having been in the UK for the last little while, is a *VERY* strong possibility. Maybe this Brexit thing will lower the £ enough that our Canadian dollar will actually be worth something...

    After dinner, we walk back outside to our bikes. "Where did you park, Colleen?", "Oh right beside your bikes!"

    There's a truck parked in front of all of our bikes, blocking them from view of the street. As we say our goodnights and goodbyes, I notice that the straps covering my toolbox on my passenger seat were undone. Strange. They must have come undone somewhere on our ride today.

    The next morning, as we were packing up to leave Mulhouse, I notice something else amiss on my bike:


    Someone had stolen my BMW roundels on both sides in Mulhouse last night while we were eating dinner

    F**KERS!

    We surmised that when the truck had parked in front of our bikes, they were hidden from view from the street and then some opportunistic vandals (probably drunks) had come by to steal stuff off our motorcycles. They were probably working on my toolbox when someone must have walked by and scared them off.

    I was pissed. It's obvious that they were just vandals and not stealing stuff because they needed the money. This will be so inconvenient to replace.

    Bah. Maybe I'll replace them with something else. Like the Transformers logo or something funny like that? Wonder if they sell those online...

  8. #2158
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605
    We're just motoring down the Autoroute in France, hightailing it to the southern coast of France.


    Along the way, we stop at the Pilat Regional National Park to set up camp. Neda prepares for us a healthy lunch.

    Eating healthy starts right now! For real.

    Seriously.


    Thomas and Eva gave us this waterproofing spray. Perhaps this will stop the leak in our tent. Crossing our fingers for the next time it rains...

    It's been an amazing six weeks of motorcycle touring in the British Isles, but it got a bit lonely with just the two of us. We're now seeking out all of our family and friends to fill our lacking social quota.

    And it's not over yet...

  9. #2159
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/370.html



    Marseille is not the prettiest city in the French Riviera.

    Not by a long shot.

    Our impressions of it are from when we rode through it a couple of years ago, on our way to spend the winter in Barcelona. Although we tried to visit and see the nicer parts of the city, on the whole, I remember it being very grey and industrial.


    Yes, I chose the crappiest, blurriest pic of us riding into Marseille to prove my point...

    We find some parking on a street island cluttered with motos and scooters, all chained to posts provided by the city. On the ground was a piece of a link of security chain (inset above), presumably cut by thieves.

    Super.

    I'm still pissed off that somebody stole my motorcycle badges yesterday. That broken chain link on the ground next to our parked bikes did not make me feel any happier that we were in Marseille.

  10. #2160
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    No fixed address
    Posts
    1,605
    Really, we are in town for a couple of reasons:


    Yaw and Hélène from Seattle are now Yaw and Hélène, Nomadic Citizens of the World!

    Although we last saw them when we rode down the west coast of the US in Sept 2012, we've kept in close touch online. So many things have happened since then. 1) They're married now! and 2) They've sold their home and all their belongings and become full-time nomads! All the cool kids are going Nomadic!

    Next month, they'll be celebrating two years on the road!

Page 216 of 219 FirstFirst ... 116166206214215216217218 ... LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •