The diaries - 19   

05 September



Tuesday 23 August

We aim to leave Slovenjia and enter Austria by the little-used border crossing at Ljubejl. There was no traffic and the customs official was engrossed in his crossword puzzle, he barely lifted his head to motion us through. No checking of documents, or ‘bikes, but then we could hardly get illegal immigrants in our baggage – for the Bukhara carpets. We head towards Klagenfurt and Villach and by devious by-ways, keep away from the tourist routes until we get to the Gross-glockner.

The temperature has cooled off by at least 20 degrees and, with fresh snow high on the surrounding mountaintops, we really begin to feel that our Asian Adventure is reaching an autumnal end. The roads are in superb condition, the 50 hairpin bends on the way to the bikers’ meeting point cause no problems at all, unlike a few miles over the hill in the Julijske Alpe, where the same hairpins are on unmade roads with hundreds of feet to drop if we get it wrong.

Mick teases me unmercifully one day for wanting to stop 60 miles after setting off, but the small town of Mittersill demands further exploration. The worst summer in memory has left Austria, Switzerland and Germany with more water than they know what to do with! Sand bags are everywhere; detours take people long miles around, where the rivers have washed away the roads. The upside of all this is that Krimml waterfall is spectacular!

Internet cafes are almost non-existent in this part of Europe, which is why we are unable to do an update for the website. We find a hotel that has a ‘pay-as-you-go slot machine computer’ and at 2 euros for 15 minutes, very poor value, so again, no new photographs can be sent. In Mongolia and ‘the Stans’ internet access is superb, they have made full use of the new technology, but in Europe where most people own their own computers there would seem no need for internet cafes.

It is still raining as we leave Austria and enter Germany, we keep away from the heavily flooded areas and go towards the Bodensee. It is quite obvious that the poor summer weather has kept the tourists away and the roads are quiet considering the time of year.

Mick wants to visit the ‘toy shop’ Touratech and he buys a Xenon light to build a new 1200 adventure around. Is that the way it is really done? It gives me enormous pleasure to wander through Touratech. The walls are covered in action shots of bikes in exotic lands, camping gear abounds, the place is full of every goodie a person could possibly want for their ‘adventure’ bike and lifestyle. Do we really need all this gear? I just rode through the Gobi Desert on a bog-standard F650GS. I guess I am the type of customer they hate to have around!

We stay overnight in the Black Forest and the next day, in lovely sunshine I might add, head for the Schwarldhochestrasse 500, the Black Forest Highway and Baden Baden. In the three or four times I have been on this road this is the first time I have actually seen anything! Low mist and cloud, or pouring rain have always spoilt the ride. Today, what spoils the ride is the F650gs Dakar! I told Mick he shouldn’t have mentioned getting a new bike in front of the one that has seen him through 23 countries and upwards of 19,000 miles - she does have feelings, and he has hurt them! She demonstrates her hurt by refusing to tick over, running rough, her engine racing and surging. No doubt she will settle down again when her feelings are soothed!

The end is in sight now for this epic tour. We amble in warm sunshine up the Mosel towards Christian’s hotel Forsthaus in the Eifel and a warm welcome from friends who have come from Holland especially to see us. It is party time!
Arriving in Hull on 1 September it is fantastic to see friends waiting to greet us and ride back to Rainbow Motorcycles where we started from all those months ago. We both begin to feel ‘flat’. Is it really over? Do we really have to settle back into routine instead of packing up and moving on?
We shall do a final update to the website with information on how equipment has fared and all those facts and figures we have collected, on everything from what not to take and what we wished we had taken, documentation and help for border crossings, and of course, information will be on there for the tours we will be taking in the future. So please keep visiting the site.

So many adventures, so many memories, people ask us what on earth are we going to do now - well…….. how about Africa?

Sue & Mick


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