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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Auf Wiedersehen

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis at Check Point Charlie(Frankfurt- Sunday, August 31, 2008)It was easy finding the right train to Frankfurt this time. Hans actually walked me to the proper deck and made sure I got on. He wasn't surprised that I knew which door to get on to get quickest access to the bar car. There were only a handful of people waiting at this door as most people were fighting to get themselves a decent berth. Little did they know the lounge seats are more comfortable and there's quite a bit of storage space for luggage that doesn't require lifting your luggage above your head. I decided to take it easy and pace myself a little. I actually started my trip with a nice strong coffee. Yes..s you heard right, coffee. I was a little tired from last evening and I needed a pick me up.


I did a little house keeping with my gear and packed up what I wouldn't be using and put everything I needed to survive the next 18 hours in my shoulder pack. Moving my luggage around is thirsty work so I ordered a beer and the moment that bitter golden nectar touched my tongue my plan to take it easy went right out the door and I turned into a werewolf and began to guzzle. A couple of couples sat across from me cramped into a small table. I could see them scoping out my luxurious space and I knew they were jealous of me. They started playing some card game and they were speaking English. Judging from the girls accents they were Americans. The guy seated at the table with me made a terrible error when he got up and grabbed his bag to go for a walk. He was a big guy and between the two of us we were taking up enough space to seat half a dozen people with a nice spacious table. He was blocking one end and I was blocking the other and we had our gear strewn about to keep people away.

The minute... no the second he started walking out of the bar car the Yanks swooped in and took over his place. Now they began to crowd me out and I wasn't the least bit happy about it. But not unhappy enough to stop buying beers. You know they say alcoholism is a disease (the only disease where you can yell at someone for having it) and like many diseases it would seem it's contagious, because once my American cousins sat near me they began to order beers. The girls were drinking faster than the boys and after the second round the girls overtook them and ordered a third without them. They abandoned their card game and one of them asked me for a pen in slow loud English to which I responded in slow loud English, "of course I do".

The husbands both laughed and the conversation was struck. We ended up drinking all the way to Frankfurt together. As it turned out the one guy was the son of the German ambassador to Croatia so we had a great discussion on Croatia entering the European Union (which I think is a mistake in my personal opinion). I love traveling by train. I always meet great people on the train. When we arrived in Frankfurt we exchanged emails and I made my way back to the Memphis Hotel.

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Beer at Frankfurt Festival

When I arrived in Frankfurt a month ago there was a festival on the river. Now, a month later, there was another big celebration going on. It was absolutely amazing! There was a big carnival on one side of the river and on the otherside there was probably eight different pavilions set up with stages and different bands and music styles playing at each of them. And talk about food and drink, it was unbelievable. You could get anything you wanted. I had a couple of margaritas just to change it up a bit and then went back to beer. The best thing about buying beer from the vendors is that they serve it to you in a glass stein and you just pay a 1 Euro deposit. You're free to roam the streets with it and if you don't want to return it you don't have to. If this were Vancouver, people would be killing each other with the glassware. Here in Frankfurt, not even a sign of aggression. This is how life should be. And then, to top off the end of my adventure... FIREWORKS!

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis Drinks Beer in Frankfurt

It was a fitting conclusion to a trip that spanned two continents, nine countries, and five thousand kilometers. I traveled by plane, train, car, boat, foot, tram, bus, ferry, and of course motorcycle. There were so many wonderful experiences and one bad one. I met amazing people wherever I went and the world became a smaller place for me. The trip was done and here were the fireworks to commemorate it. Frankfurt welcomed me with open arms and now it said it's goodbyes in dramatic fashion. I decided to keep the mug as a souvenir of this moment. I had to catch a flight back to Canada in the morning so I only drank until three in the morning. In retrospect I would have been better off taking my luggage to the airport for storage as I didn't sleep at all. I returned to my hotel and packed the minibar into my daypack, had a shower, and headed for the train station to catch the metro to the airport. I knew my way around pretty good so getting to the airport was a breeze. It seemed only yesterday that I was at this very spot beginning my journey and now as I ascended the elevator up to the terminal the trek was over.
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ich bin ein Berliner

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis at Check Point Charlie(Berlin - Saturday, August 30, 2008) If you have ever been to the train station in Munich you know how many platforms there are. Add to the complications that the trains all run on time and the signage is less then straight forward to non Germans and oh yeah... I'm drunk! I make it to my train and immediately grab a seat. I make myself comfortable and have a little cat nap. I'm awoken by the conductor asking for tickets. He takes a little longer with mine and then stamps away. Good, everything is okay. The person across from me isn't the same person that was across from me when I left Munich. That's always a little troubling. I check the time to make sure it hasn't been hours. It hasn't. Perhaps I was snoring and it bothered the other person.


Being awake now I head to the bar car to spend some of my winnings. I sit down with my beer and strike up a conversation with a couple at the same table. I show them pictures of my bike and tell them the places I've been and they think it's fantastic. As time passes and the German landscape passes by at light speed the wife (I forget her name) asks me a fantastic question.

"If you flew into Frankfurt, why are you flying out of Berlin"

To which I answer, "I'm not flying out of Berlin."

To which she replied, "Then why are you on the train to Berlin?"

To which I answer, "I'm not on the train to Berlin." I don't like where this is going.

As it turns out, I am indeed on the train to Berlin. Sorry, not the train to Berlin... the 'high speed' train to Berlin. It's very late and it's not going to be easy to find a hotel, that's for sure. I begin to go into survival mode and start sobering up quickly. I ask Hans (the husband) questions about Berlin and where I should stay. He gets on the phone and calls a number of places and informs me that most hotels are booked up because of some convention or festival or both. Damn it. Sleeping at a train station. Wouldn't be the first time.

They talk amongst themselves and come up with a great plan. Why don't I stay at their house? What a great idea! We pass by the main station in Berlin and get off at the Berlin/Spandau station. They have a car waiting in the parking lot and we load up and make our way to the house.

Now talk about hitting the jackpot. When we arrive at there place the maid opens the door for us. Food is waiting for us and there is beer on the table. They inform me that I will have to sleep in the pool house as all they rooms in the main are being used by their children and staff. Normally there would be space but they are moving into their apartment in the city tomorrow so hey needed extra staff here. I take it all in stride and act as if I'm used to being taken care of. We talk about houses and he asks about mine. After a little conversion my 3700 square foot (350 meters squared) meets his approval. That and the pictures of the house in Jadrtovac brings me up to a decent class level. We drink 'til about 1 in the morning and we head to our respective beds. My bedroom is a little humid as the pool house means exactly what it sounds like. It's a house with an indoor pool in it. I go to use the bathroom in my room but it's not a bathroom. It's the tanning room with a full lie down bed. I could get used to this.
I have a quick swim and I get some sleep.

In the morning breakfast was waiting. What a wonderful meal it was. They basically took some kind of mixed cereal and added cashews to it. Then, instead of milk, they topped it with unsweetened whipping cream. Plus, the coffee was to die for. After breakfast Hans offered to take me around town and show me Berlin. I refused the offer but he was insistent. But first he said he would take me to the train station and get me the right tickets to get to Frankfurt.

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Hans and Elvis in Berlin

I brought my bag to the front door but he said to leave it. It wouldn't fit in his car anyways. He would make sure that it was waiting for us at the apartment in town at lunch time. So throwing caution, and my luggage, to the wind I got in the only brand new Ford Mustang Convertible in a country full of BMW's, Mercedes, Audi's, Ferrari's, etc. The funny thing? Everyone looked as we drove by. when we got to the train station Hans made me wait in the car. About 10 minutes later he arrived with my new tickets. I offered to pay but he was having none of it.

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Berlin Train Station

The rest of the morning we went around Berlin and took in all the tourist sites. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie were the highlights. What an awesome city though. There's a feeling you get when you arrive in such a large city. It's almost like when you take your first train ride from JFK to 42nd Street station in New York. The hustle and bustle and the amount of people on the streets is unbelievable.

I spent two hours at the Check Point Charlie museum. If you ever find yourself in Berlin I highly recommend seeing this. It's a true testament to the stupidity of mankind and our ability to cause pain and hardship on a mass scale. It also showcases the ingenuity and perseverance of individuals fighting against tyranny to try and make their world better. That being said some of the failed escape attempts were enough to bring anyone to tears and I had to choke down and not cry openly.

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Nazi Art at Check Point Charlie

After playing (actually I wasn't playing) tourist for the morning we went back to the apartment for lunch. Now when he said apartment I shouldn't have believed him. This 'apartment' was the entire top floor of a building that had to have been 300 years old. The place was massive and had a view on all four sides. Lunch was fantastic too. After lunch we had a beer and Hans drove me to the train station with a detailed map directing me to the proper platform. Then with a quick Auf Wiedersen I made my way to the train.

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Beginner's Luck

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel | James Bond Playing Baccarat(Munich - Saturday, August 30, 2008) The bus ride to Zagreb was long, uncomfortable, and nondescript. The sun was just starting to come up as we entered Zagreb and I wasn't looking forward to the long walk from the bus terminal to the train station. At least it's not raining!

The walk wasn't as bad as it was two years ago when I made this trip in reverse. There wasn't many people out at 5 in the morning and the sun wasn't beating down hard yet. Plus knowing the way helps tremendously. So after a brisk walk I make it to there with plenty of time to spare. None of the kiosks are open so I plunge into my daypack to eat a sandwich that I brought along with me. I have a beer in my pack as well but even I have my limits.

I'll wait until at least 6am before I start drinking. If I were already drinking that would be a different story then the rule is don't stop drinking until you pass out.

I buy my ticket to Frankfurt and notice that it is alot cheaper than my ticket from Munich to Zagreb last year. I found out later that you save tons of money if you buy your tickets in the Eastern countries as opposed to Germany or Austria. I love traveling by train. It has to be one of the most civilized forms of transportation. The route to Frankfurt requires that I change trains a few times but that's good too. Gives me a chance to see more places and people. When we get to the Slovenian border the police come aboard and ask for passports. One of the guys I'm sharing a berth with gets into a heated discussion with them and is then removed violently in handcuffs. It's at times like this that I truly enjoy having a blue passport from Canada.

My first stop is Ljubljana Slovenia. I spent a night here last year and I had a great time. It's a beautiful city with a gorgeous river running through it. The people are nice and the food is excellent... and so are the prices. I have about 15 minutes before I need to change trains so I grab some refreshments. I remember how terrible the Union beer (basically the only brand of beer they sell in this country) was so I opt for a small bottle of gin with some Schweppes Bitter Lemon to mix with it. I nab a couple of cups from the cafeteria and get on the train.

This train is packed but I manage to find myself a berth. My luggage is uber heavy and I have to get down and power squat the damn thing into the overhead. People are looking at me and wondering if I have gold bricks inside. Gold bricks? No. Gold beer? Yes!

When we get to some small town in Austria I'm forced to change trains again. I have to book it to make my connection. One thing I know about the Austrians is they may look and act all casual, but nothing ever leaves late or early. They only have one time here... on time! I get a berth but when the conductor comes to check my ticket he tells me I've chosen improperly and that I will have to change berths as this one is reserved. There are no berths available now so I leave my luggage in place and head to the bar. It's nice not caring if someone steals your stuff. It allows you far more freedom of movement. Plus, having a suitcase that ways 72,824 kilograms makes even the most cunning thief think twice.

Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Austrian Train Station

You really have to hand it to the Germans when it comes to their trains. They have by far the best bar cars out of the European fleets. I order a pint (actully half liter but I'll never call it that) and wait for my moment. There it is! This couple gets up and walks away from there seats and I swoop in ahead of the other couple I saw eyeing them up. Tough luck for them. They could have moved faster if they weren't burdened with their luggage.

The half liter turns into 3 liters and a bratwurst very quickly as the train chugs through the Austrian countryside. By the time we reach Saltzburg I'm half in the bag and I've been recruited into a game of Baccarat with a group from Denmark.

"How do you play Baccarat?", I ask innocently.

"We'll teach you", says the young, yet overly large, Danish lad named Karsten

A month of playing Baccarat in Sicily back in the early nineties combined with the arrogance of a true James Bond fan gets mistaken for beginners luck as I'm up 35 Euro. Not to mention the fact that I've switched back to gin as my primary intoxicant just to keep in the 007 mood. By the time I reached Munich I was up 40 Euros and I had to bid my Danish friends Hej hej (farewell).

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Wheels on the Bus

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Jadrtovac on FireI have buttoned up the motorcycle for a year's worth of storage. I drained the remaining gas into the boat's gas tank, disconnected the battery, and put a bit of oil into each of the cylinders. I took a bit of maneuvering but I managed to bring the bike inside the house for storage. I really hope that 11 months sitting doesn't have any adverse affects.

My bus from Sibenik to Zagreb is scheduled to leave at 11pm so I still had time to pack and say my goodbyes. Packing was easier than expected. I decided to leave almost all of my summer clothes here so I wouldn't have to pack as much next year. This was handy as I had to pack 10 bottles of Karlovacko to take home with me. By the time I had replaced my clothes with beer (a good trade in my opinion) my luggage must have weighed 100 pounds. I hope those wheels can handle the weight or I will have to drink my luggage lighter.

My daughter was so sad that I was leaving that my heart was breaking. She had waited almost two months for me to get there and now I was leaving. I would see her in three weeks but when you're two years old three weeks is a life time. We went into town and had ice cream and even that didn't change her mood. I'm so sad.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Olivia is Sad

It was evening when we got back to the house in Jadrtovac and everybody was outside staring at the hills. It would seem a German tourist had decided to throw his cigarette butt out of the car window and start a forest fire. What a terrible decision. What a terrible decision. The hillside was alight with flame and the planes and helicopters were running quick sortēs to dump water on it.

I grabbed my luggage and loaded it into the car. The ride to the bus station seemed like it took no time at all. The bus was waiting for me and I didn't have to wait around. It was 11 at night so there wasn't much to see as I left Sibenik. I had packed some food and beer for the trip but for some reason I didn't have much of an appetite. I don't want to go home.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis on the Bus

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Do videnja ("Goodbye")

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis in CroatiaLast night I could barely sleep. I knew I would have to say goodbye to Croatia today and I was trying to savor every moment until I crossed the border into Slovenia. My motorcycle adventure was coming to an end and I honestly didn't want to leave. I stayed awake until 3am drinking Karlovacko on the patio overlooking the bay in Jadrtovac. I was going over some last details in my mind and preparing myself for what lay ahead tomorrow. I had finished most of my packing but I still needed to put my motorcycle away until next year. The gas would need to be drained, or used up and the bike would need to be put inside out of the way. The funny thing is I knew I would need to drain the tank yet I filled up with gas yesterday. I guess I will have to go for one last motorcycle adventure.



I woke up around 5:30am and snuck out of the house as quietly as I possibly could. I was actually like a ninja. Not quite a super ninja like you see in the old samurai movies, more of a hungover 235lb ninja with a bag of empty beer bottles slung over his back type of ninja. As a matter of fact, when I look back on that morning I'm surprised I didn't wake everybody up.

I went down to my bike and let out a sigh. I was getting a little depressed knowing that this was going to be my last ride for quite awhile. I actually had to stop myself and put in effort not allow my mood to ruin the day. I put on my game face and looked to the immediate future. Today I was going for a long hard motorcycle ride and I don't care where I go as long as it's fast and curvy.

And there better be somewhere to buy beer!

I rolled my Yamaha cafe racer down the hill one last time and I pressed the ignition button when I rounded the corner. It fired up with no problem and I cruised down to the corner store. This was probably the earliest I ever arrived at the store but low and behold there was a group of old men having a beer outside the door. How can you not get used to this kind of life?

I bought two icy cold Karlovacko's and walked down to the water across from the store in Jadrtovac. I had spent many hours sitting on the bench by the beach reading novels and drinking beer. I wanted to enjoy it one last time.

After I finished the beer I brought the empty back to the store and didn't replenish it. I still owed them one more empty but I figured i would just single bottle it for the rest of the morning.

I got out to the Jadranska Magistrala (Highway by the Sea) and turned left. I hammered on the throttle and within about 30 minutes I was in Split. I burned through town like a man possessed and parked down by the market at the ferry terminal. I drank the beer I had with me and then I sat down for a coffee... and then a beer.

I stopped and traded my empty for another road pop and I remounted my steed and headed back north. This time I took the back way and made my way up the switchbacks through the hillsides by Split. These turns are so tight and so much fun. The one thing you have to watch out for is the fact that they are more slippery than ice. The heat and the usage has compacted the asphalt into a glazed finish that looks deceivingly like fresh tarmac. Fortunately, I knew this and armed with that piece of information I compensated for the surface. I was so low coming around the corners that the leather on the ankle of my Pumas kept rubbing as I full on drifted around the tight corners. Both my front and back tires were sliding and a couple of times I either hit the shoulder barriers or slid into the oncoming lanes. I was as fearless as a teenager and confident in what my bike could do. When I reached the top of the mountain (hill to a British Columbian) side I was exhausted. It would seem a summer time spent drinking vast quantities of beer was catching up to me and I was sweating like a fat man looking at a free buffet.

I pulled over at an inhabited look out and the people there were taking pictures. They didn't know what to make of me so they kept their distance. I could see the guys were eyeballing the bike so I walked away from it to let them get in closer while I sat down on the guard rail and drank my beer. I saw them take a few pictures and I enjoyed the view.

The morning was starting to heat up as the sun was rising quickly. The thermometer was probably in the mid 30's now so I geared up and got back on the road. Within about 20 minutes I was looking over the waterfalls in Krk national park. I traded my empty for a full one and had another drink while I meditated to the thundering sound of the waterfalls.

I started to rush myself as I wanted to burn through the tank of gas. The funny thing is by the time I reached Beograd I had to switch to my reserve. I guess I'll need to buy a little more petrol.

I wasn't paying attention and I accidentally filled the gas tank right up to the brim (How did that happen?). I made my way south and before I reached Vodice I mad a right hand turn to head to the water. I had never been on this road which is surprising considering the amount of riding I had done in this area. It was taking a little longer than I expected to get to the water but I figure out why quickly. I was in a little archipelago of islands connected by bridges. What a beautiful little spot of paradise!

I rode the motorcycle down to the end of the road and ended up in the town of Murter. The sun was out full force so I grabbed a piece of shade and enjoyed a beverage.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Close up of Elvis' Yamaha XJ650 Cafe Racer in Murter
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis' Yamaha XJ650 Cafe Racer in Murter
I wandered through the town on my motorcycle and then made the long turnaround to head back to the mainland. The roads were twisty with alot of up hill right hand corners that I could really lean into. I pretended I was on a race bike and opened it up.

I was back on the highway in record time so I headed into Sibenik for one last tour about. These roads had become so familiar to me and I knew I was going to miss them tomorrow. I zigzagged through the back streets and came out at the tunnel near the train station. I blew threw town and detoured past the police station at high speeds to see if anyone wanted to play chase. No takers.

I stopped at a favorite little corner store on the way to Jadrtovac and grabbed a Karlovacko. I put it in my bag and headed to my favorite road side pull over by the new bridge that spans the opening of the bay into Jadrtovac. I savored every last moment and took a couple of pictures for memories.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis drinking beer on motorcycle
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis drinking beer on motorcycle
I made it to the turn off to Jadrtovac but I decided to head down to the beach for one last drink and view of the Adriatic. I turned right into Žaborić, grabbed a beer at the store and headed to the water. I parked my bike right on the beach beside me and the two of us looked over the water and said farewell to Croatia and then to each other.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis drinking beer on motorcycle
Until next year...

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Don't Ride the White Horse

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis with Lipizzaner StallionsWe woke up in Slovenia at the Hotel Jama right at the famous Postonja Caves. Having no cash we took full advantage of the included breakfast. It was absolutely gorgeous out. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the beer looked really cold. I just wish my motorcycle was parked outside. Not that it would matter, I still don't have any money for a beer!

Fortunately I could buy tickets for the tour on my credit card otherwise it would have been a complete waste of a trip. Lining up for the tour you had to walk by all the kiosks flogging food, drink, and ice cream, but they were all cash only.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis in Postonja Caves
Now I normally don't take to the tourist traps but I gotta tell you the caves were impressive. I believe there were 50 kilometers underground and the tour covered about 10 of them.The open train takes you down to a huge amphitheater and there you begin the tour.

After the tour we got right in the car and started driving. We were thinking about going to Italy until we saw a sign that said:

"Lipeza Stud Farm"

There was no conversation needed. I followed the signs and I was in Lipeza in about 45 minutes. When we pulled up the first thing I noticed was a big VISA sign. We're in luck.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Lipeza Stud Farm
The place was a resort! The weather was fantastic and we enjoyed a great lunch on the patio. Slovenian beer isn't the best but when it's your only choice you deal with it. Looking around you would think that "Union" beer owned the entire country the way the signs and awnings litter the country.

The tour of the place was great! If you're a horse lover (which I am) this is another must see. There were only four of us on the tour and the other couple had to leave early for health reasons. So when the other couple left the tour guide took us for a more complete tour and they let us get in with the horses.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis in Lipeza Stud Farm
After the tour we got in the car and left right away. On our way out we saw more stallions near the fence so we stopped and spent some time hand grooming a couple that we coaxed over with an open hand.

We decided to go to Trieste and see a bit of Italy. When we approached the toll booth the lady asked us where our ticket to travel in Slovenia was. This time I wasn't playing stupid. I had no idea what she was talking about and I was wishing that her english wasn't so damn good so I could play the 'no comprendi' card. Fortunately I'm so good looking that she felt mercy upon me and instead of fining me 350 Euros she told us where to buy the ticket and sent us on our way. It costs about 50 Euros to drive in Slovenia, it's there way of getting money out of tourists as they pass through. I'm glad I didn't go through Slovenia on my motorcycle tour.

So I headed towards the place she told us to buy the ticket. Fortunately that was the same directions as the Italian border. Like I was going to stop anyway. I'll take any ticket these European cops want to throw at me.

We crossed the border and Trieste greeted us immediately. I was looking for ATM's the minute I crossed the border and I actually ended up resorting to using the GPS. We zigzagged through the city for almost an hour before we could find a parking spot near a bank. I actually parked illegally, left Izabel in the car, and walked to my destination with the GPS in my hand. The device was more useful walking than it was driving.

I put my card into the machine and hoped for the best. Beep, beep, beep, clickety, clickety, wrrrrrrrrr...

Eureka! Money came out. I'm so relieved. I thought I was going to be broke for the rest of my trip because my cards were canceled. That's another thing I didn't think about when planning my motorcycle adventure. Next year I will make sure to call the banks and tell them where I will be. I mean how was I to know my bank card would work everywhere except Slovenia?

We ran the gauntlet a little more in Trieste circling endlessly through the downtown area looking for parking. Izabel had really no interest in sight seeing, which is fine by me; she also didn't have any interest in drinking beer on some steps in a square somewhere, which isn't fine by me. Unfortunately I returned to the car with far to much money in my hands and she could only think about one thing... Shopping.

Kill me now.

We past by so many little drinking establishments as we went from one shop to another. The city was littered with clothing stores and scooters. There was an occasional motorcycle here and there but I have never seen such swarm of scooters everywhere. Keep in mind that I have been almost everywhere in Italy. Every red light looked like the start of some crazy scooter Cannonball Run. It was enjoyable to watch.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel | Elvis with Scooters in Trieste Italy
There is a saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"

I don't think Izabel knows that one. Here we are in Italy buying French designed, Peruvian made handbags in a town with such a rich history. Oh well. It's my fault for having so much money on me. So after parting with a big chunk of it at the LaCoste store we stopped and bought some souvenirs for people back home and some toys for Olivia because she is very under privileged and doesn't own many toys (editor's note: that was sarcasm).

I never did get a beer in Italy and I was a little more than peeved at that. Of course the only country that makes worse beer than Slovenia is Italy. The thought of choking down a Peroni isn't all that tantalizing.

We kept to the coast and took the back roads to Croatia. The Croatian border gaurds were unbelievably friendly and sent us through quickly. I put the 'hammer' down and flew through the Croatian countryside at unsafe speeds and was rewarded for it by being pulled over by a cop waving a little stop sign. I would have kept going but I noticed a police car pointed the right way to lay chase. Plus, I knew that whatever fine they threw at me I wouldn't pay it anyways.

I made a point of taking my time stopping. It took the poor girl a long time to walk over to us in the blistering heat.

"Paper's please", she spoke after trying her own language. There was no way I was going to let her know that Izabel spoke fluent Croatian. I handed them to her and she looked at us a sighed. She's been here before. I saw the defeated look on her face and had a hard time not giggling. She walked back to her car and when she came back she gave us a stern warning and sent us on our way.

That took about 20 minutes so I wasn't going to worry about making up time. All the cars I passed to get pulled over were probably having a good laugh. I'm not going to give them that pleasure twice. We pulled over and I grabbed a couple beers at the gas station. We bypassed Rjeka and got on the freeway and we were back in Jadrtovac quickly. I was actually excited to see my motorcycle waiting for me outside when I pulled into town.

I think my motorcycle was excited to see me too.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Off the Beaten Path

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Hotel Jama PostonjaAfter the motorcycle accident on the way to Postonja in Slovenia I couldn't get it out of my mind that I had failed so miserably. I mean I had been given the go ahead to take a longer trip and I didn't even make it half way to my destination before dumping my motorcycle at the side of the autobahn. My wife had been very understanding but she could see I wasn't right in the head since the event. There was no way I would be allowed to go off by myself on one last motorcycle adventure before I left but a compromise was reached and we decided to travel together... in a car.


We rented a car in Split and brought it back to Jadrtovac to pack up and go. We hadn't decided on a destination but we really only had to directions to choose from... left or right. Regular readers of my blog would know what my choice would be but because I had a co-pilot along the decision wasn't as easy. We finally decided to choose democratically and flip a coin.

So after turning left we still had to come up with a destination but I figured that could wait until later. Let's start by getting some kilometers under my tires. At least get further than last time.

Along the way I started to put a map together in my mind. The car had a gps but gps is for losers and I wasn't going to use it. I figured with the amount of time we had our choices would be Venice, Postonja, or perhaps Lake Balaton in Hungary. We got to our next choice... left or right? Left again, so we were heading for Rjeka. I guess we'll go to Venice.

When we arrived in Rjeka my co-pilot decided to turn on the GPS and set a destination. The damn thing had us lost in about five minutes.

"Drive point two kilometers then do U-turn", it droned at me in that pompous female voice.

"Drive point one kilometers then do U-turn"

"U-turn"

Yeah right. So I decided to take control of my destiny again. This incident just reaffirmed my decision not to use a gps on my motorcycle trip. I couldn't imagine having to listen to that bitch talk over my tunes inside my motorcycle helmet. I would have smashed it three thousand kilometers ago.

Needless to say, I was lost. I zigzagged my way through residential districts of what must still be Rjeka until I saw a sign that resembled the type of sign you would see on a more traveled thoroughfare. When I saw a sign that said 'SL' in a circle I knew we were heading for Slovenia. OK plan change. Let's go to the caves in Postonja.

We kept to smaller rural roads all the way to Postonja. We took another try at the GPS when we figured we were close enough. We got to the center of town and then we just followed the signs to the caves. We grabbed a hotel room, dropped off our luggage, had a drink from the minibar and then headed into town. There was a festival going on so we decided to get some money from the ATM and go check it out.

"Unable to process transaction", lit up across the ATM screen

OK... try again.

"Unable to process transaction"

Shoot! Try a different machine.

"Unable to process transaction"

This bodes poorly for us. We have absolutely no cash.

We spent the next hour following the GPS around to every bank machine in Postonja and none of them worked with our cards. Being from Canada it's not common practice to withdraw money from credit cards so I don't know my PIN number for any of them.

We're screwed. I guess we'll have to do things that take credit cards only.

We stopped in for a meal and we were so disapointed by the food. Actually, it was terrible. I hope this isn't typical for Slovenia. Needless to say the stress of having no access to cash was making me a terrible dining parter anyways.

We went back to the hotel and dummied the minibar. Can you say, "Charge It!"?

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Octopussy

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel - fishing with ElvisYou know there is more to life than just riding your motorcycle across Eastern Europe and drinking beer in beautiful sunny weather. When you get tired of endless rides down curvy roads overlooking beautiful seasides and cutting through historical towns there are other things you can do...

Like fishing for octopus. Now I'm an avid fisherman but nothing in my experience could have prepared me for this kind of fishing. Octopus fishing is unlike anything I have ever done.


Motorcycle Adventure Travel - fishing with Elvis
(author's note: the person taking the pictures will not allow me to post pictures of her on my blog.)

One of the first things you need to do when octopus fishing is relax. Patience is truly a virtue. One of the best and most tried and true way to relax when fishing is to drink beer. This technique has been used many times all over the world and I swear by it.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel - fishing with Elvis
Now as for catching octopus, let me explain the way this is done. For bait you take a fresh crab and poke two holes through it. You string your fishing line through those holes and you wrap ten or twenty times. After your line is wrapped it's not a bad idea to use zap straps to secure the crap even more. You can't fish for octopus where we are so we have to travel to one of the close by uninhabited islands near Sibenik and Jadrtovac.

Once you reach the fishing grounds you turn off the motor. This is a two person operation as one person must navigate close to the rocky shoreline using the oars and the other person drags the crab along the bottom of the ocean. The water is pretty shallow so it's not too hard to do. Now the person fishing must feel for the pull of the octopus when it grabs onto the crap. As the eight legged monster from the bottom of the sea is trying to crush the crab and suck out its brains you have to gently pull it to the top of the water. At the same time the person manning the oars has to put down the oars and grab a net. When the octopus nears the surface you have to quickly and smoothly scoop up the creature. Once it's captured in the net you need to quickly transfer it into a container.

Sounds simple enough but it took me a couple of tries to catch the little bugger with the net. The thing is smarter than it looks. Also the damn thing has strong and sharp teeth that are well suited for crushing crab shells but double easily for eating fingers. And then if that's not enough, you have to deal with the shock of it shooting ink at you. Who thought up this creature?

If you ever get the opportunity you have to do this. It is so much fun and requires very little energy. Plus, there is always time to take a break and have a drink. Needless to say, it was a great day and it didn't even involve motorcycles!
Motorcycle Adventure Travel - fishing with Elvis
After a few hours of this we made our way back to port. We tried to get out again but weather and timing just never worked out for us again this summer. Maybe next year?

Here's a picture of the booty.
Motorcycle Adventure Travel - fishing with Elvis

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

King of the Castle

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Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Cafe Racer overlooking Sibenik CastleIt would seem I heal fast. Two days after the accident I was walking around fine. I could even fake that I didn't have a limp for a minute or two at a time and it only hurt if I wasn't drinking. I decided to go exploring on my motorcycle and see if I could get lost without traveling too far. I cruised into Sibenik and stopped at a corner store that sold beer for half a Kuna less than most other places. I picked up a liter and stuffed them in my day pack.
I decided instead of heading towards the water I would travel the other way and find high ground. I had been rewarded with some great views of the sea the last time I did that so I thought I should try again. Plus, I was feeling really antisocial today and staying away from the water meant no crowds. I could see some ruins on the big hill behind Sibenik and I decided I would try to ride up there. I circled around the hill and found another part of town where the soccer pitch was. I don't know how I never saw this part of town before as it seemed more people lived here than in the tourist part of Sibenik. Elvis likes finding new places.

As I circled around the hill I would cut up streets to see if they would take me up to the top. A couple of roads took me pretty far but not far enough. I was about to give up trying when I turned up a road on the back side of the hill. The road switched back a half dozen times and the asphalt was polished and slippery. I could barely take a corner it was so slick. This road took me up to a couple of machine gun pillboxes left behind from the war in the 90's.

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Cafe Racer in fron of wartime pillbox

That was about two thirds of the way up the hill but my destination was here:

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - The trail up to the fortress in Sibenik

There was no road so I decided to make my poor little yamaha xj650 maxim cafe racer into a dual sport bike. There was a bit of a rut that led up the hill so I followed it. The rut disappeared quickly and I was doing some true off-roading. It's a good thing the bike is as light as it is because I had to get off in a couple of places to walk the bike over some big boulders. I wasn't thinking how much harder it was going to be to get back down.

When I reached the top I parked my bike and climbed the fortress. I reached the ruined walls and this was the view.

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Panarama view of Sibenik Croatia

There was no one up here so I opened my beer in peace and drank the first one down quickly.

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Elvis drinking a Karlovacko

The second one I savored a little more.

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Elvis overlooking Sibenik Castle

I then took a few more pictures of my bike in the fortress, including one of the best photos of my bike to date.

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Yamaha XJ650 Maxim Cafe Racer in front of Sibenik Fortress

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Close up of Yamaha XJ650 Maxim Cafe Racer in front of Sibenik Fortress

The ride back down was treacherous. There was a couple of times where I nearly went ass over teacup with my back tire standing straight in the air. I stopped on the way down to take this great picture:

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Yamaha XJ650 Maxim Cafe Racer in front of Machine Gun Pillbox

I think the paint job on my motorcycle suits the wartime background. I began to imagine what it must have been like during the war to split up Yugoslavia. I entered the pillbox and it had to have been 40 degrees inside. My god that would have been terrible to have to sit in there and man a machine gun.

I got back down the hill and I toured around this new part of the city. I found a little cafe to sit down and have a cold one. A couple of guys came up and took pictures of my motorcycle.

I wonder what adventure I will find tomorrow?

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's Only a Flesh Wound!

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Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Cafe Racer overlooking Croatian CoastSo I had a couple of beers at the corner store and I'm starting to feel better. The sun was rising in the sky, my motorcycle was starting to shine, and the temperature was rising too. The cold beer and the warm sun loosened me up and I started thinking about changing venues. Don't get me wrong, I could sit here all day and drink beer but I would like to see as much of this countryside as I possibly can.

Here's a good tip if you're planning on touring Eastern Europe and you like to drink beer out of glass bottles as much as I do. Stores and store owners take deposit on glass bottles seriously! The deposit on a glass bottle in some countries is as much, or more, than the price of the beer. Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Elvis and a bottle of KarlovackoThey really discourage you walking away with a bottle. Some stores won't even sell you a glass bottle if you don't return one at the same time. If you want to save yourself the argument with the shopkeeper every time you pull a nice cold glass bottle out of the cooler do what I do. Go to a larger chain store and pick out your favorite bottle of beer. Sometimes these stores won't even have cold ones. Then be very disciplined about keeping your empty after every drink. I actually carry two empties with me at all times. Then when you pull into the small village you take your empty out before you enter the store, making sure you make the empty very visible to the shopkeeper, and put it into the bin they always have for empties and the buy your favorite beer. It saves you having to struggle in another language to get that tasty pilsner or refreshing lager.

So, I put my two empties back in my shoulder bag and climbed on my motorcycle. My leg was well enough to put some weight on it so I tip toed the bike backwards and started it up as I rolled down the hill. I took a left turn and headed for the Adriatic.

Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Elvis drinks a pivo in Primosten CroatiaWhen I reached the Jadranska Magistrala (Highway by the Sea) I took a left and headed towards Dubrovnik. Of course I wasn't going to go to Dubrovnik, but I like the thought of heading there. After about half an hour on the motorcycle I pulled into Primosten, drove down to the beach, and traded one of my empty bottles of beer (the word for beer is pivo in Croatian) and a small brass coin for a full one. The water looked inviting but I wasn't feeling confident enough with my leg to go in. Plus, all the small scratches I incurred during the motorcycle accident would have stung as I entered the salt water. My day was going better than I hoped so why mess a good thing.

After the beer I left Primosten and headed up into the hills. I had no destination in mind so I couldn't get lost. If I did need to go somewhere then after the third fork in the road I could officially say I was lost. The hills were littered with olive gardens and vineyards. Occasionally I would see some horses and pass by a house or two. As I crested every hill the view of the sea would bless my eyes. The higher I climbed the more I was rewarded with a view of the Croatian seascape.
video
I stopped and had another beer. The heat coming off the tarmac was intense in the sun so I took shelter under an olive tree. I pulled out some bread and topped it with some cheese and salami I had in my pack.

Now this is living!

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Where There`s a Will, There`s a Way

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Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Elvis with Custom Motorcycle HelmetIt was hard to get to sleep last night but it was even harder to sleep in. The motorcycle crash was being replayed every fifteen minutes like that accursed CNN Headline News channel. I really tried to sleep but my throbbing leg just wouldn't let me get comfortable. It was nine in the morning and I had to get up. I could feel my body was in need of a morning beer and if I didn't secure that somehow there would be an all out rebellion. The only problem is I'm really not sure how I'm going to walk.

I've had this problem before. I remember when I left the womb all those years ago I had a hard time walking. It took me a couple of years to figure it out but this time I could use past experience to shorten my learning curve. What did I do again?

Right! I crawled first.

So I rolled myself out of bed, thankful that the bed was the European style without a box spring. My arms prevented my crash to the floor. I had a lot of trouble straightening my leg so I did a one legged crawl/stumble/hop move that got me to the other side of my bedroom door. Once out of the bedroom I got a bit of a rhythm going and made my way to the fridge.

Damn it all to Hades! No beer.

I settle for coffee and made myself a small sandwich. I pulled down my pajamas to see what my leg looked like and I'm really quite impressed with the color palette used to create this masterpiece:
Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Elvis with bruised leg
The contrast of purples and yellows mixed with a bile like brown. A real Picasso if I say so myself. Or at Monet at the very least.

I crippled myself upstairs to see if there were any beers hidden in the 'secret' fridge but alas it was barren of any hop flavored medicine. There was no choice left. I would have to get to the corner store about 400 meters away. Oh the humanity!

I realized very quickly that walking 'down' stairs was infinitely harder than walking up them. Damn that was uncomfortable. When I got outside I realized that walking to the corner store was a bigger task than I had planned for. I was beginning to think getting to the store was going to require a travel agent so I sat down and pondered the situation. It was with a simple observation that I realized what had to be done. It didn't hurt to bend my leg as long as it stayed bent. I then tested if I could wiggle my toes. My toes worked. How about my ankle? Ankle... check! I think I'm in business.

I went into the foyer and grabbed my helmet. There was a big crack in it. It doesn't matter. I'm just going to the store I don't even need a helmet! I grabbed my matching green beanie instead of my regular convertible motorcycle helmet and hobbled over to my bike. Normally I would have rolled the motorcycle to the bottom of the hill before I started it, but I didn't have it in me to take the chance that I might have to push it back up the hill. I climbed on the back of my cafe racer slowly and started it up. I set my right leg on the foot peg and put it into 1st gear while it was still on the kick stand. I put the kickstand up and balanced the motorbike with my left leg. I slowly released the clutch and picked my left foot up I tested the rear brake with my right foot and I didn't enjoy the shot of pain so I decided this was going to be a front brake only kind of day.

When I reached the pavement at the bottom of the dirt driveway it was clear sailing. I rode down to the store with no problems. There was the usual group of men congregated outside the corner store having beers and smoking cigarettes but they moved out of the way when I approached. I coasted the bike onto the flat in front of the store, pulled the clutch in, put my left foot down as I braked, and turned the motorcycle off. I couldn't get at the kickstand without putting weight on my right foot so I just dismounted the bike and put down the kickstand from an upright position. Piece of cake!

How am I going to back my motorcycle out? Who cares lets have another beer!
Motorcycle Travel Adventure - Cafe Racer at Croatian Corner Store

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Road of Tears

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Motorcycle Adventure Travel - Fire on the Autobahn in CroatiaThere's really nothing worse than watching a grown man cry. Unless you're that grown man. After crashing my motorcycle on the Autobahn I was forced fight back the tears and make a decision to adventure forth or turn back. I was in a lot of pain and I figured only the adrenaline (and beer) rushing through my body was keeping me upright. By morning I would probably not be able to walk. So as romantic as being stranded and possibly hospitalized in Slovenia sounds I decided it would be better to go back to home base and regroup, convalesce, and continue my travels at a later date.

Why is it that the ride back always seems to take so much longer than the ride there. Just the turnpike to get myself turned around seemed to last forever. What's that up ahead?


A toll booth?

Talk about adding insult to injury. Now after crashing my motorcycle I'm forced to pay to turn around. What a joke!

So I paid my toll for traveling as far as I did on the highway and then I had to make a U-turn and get another ticket to go the other way. This just gets better and better. Is that a fire up ahead?

The ride back was hot, but at least I didn't have to fight traffic through the tunnels again. It would seem the traffic jam was one way only. Even with the lack of traffic I noticed my speedometer rarely read over 100km/h. It would seem that I was too rattled to open the bike up. At one point I was pretty distracted with the thoughts running through my head that I was almost run over by a passenger bus cruising along at a healthy 140km/h.

I stopped at a couple of gas stations along the way to check over the bike and rehydrate. By about the third stop I was more composed and I had faith that my motorcycle was mechanically sound. I started to pick up a little more speed as I closed in on Sibenik and Jadrtovac.

Trying to find the silver lining in every storm cloud, at my final gas stop, I walked away with a good piece of knowledge, nay wisdom, that I can pass along.

"Beer and ice cream don't mix"

I took my favorite left turn and it was starting to get dark when I pulled the motorcycle into Jadrtovac.Motorcycle Adventure Travel - Jadrtovac Croatia Hrvatska
This is one motorcycle adventure that turned out poorly.

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Elvis is Alive!

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Elvis' Bruised Leg - Motorcycle Adventure TravelWhere am I?

How did I get here?

The last thirty seconds of my life start coming back to me. I'm face down on the Autobahn in some nondescript part of Croatia.

Is that gas I smell?

Panic sets in as I turn onto my back. Am I alive? Can I feel all my limbs? Am I bleeding? Oh my God, I have crashed.




Where's my motorcycle?

A lifetime of images flash through my mind as i try to trace the decisions I made in life that brought me to this small piece of asphalt, in this tiny country, at this tiny moment in time. Was this karma? Am I being punished? Was this natures way of paying me back for not having a beer at the gas station? Too many variables, lets chalk it up to bad luck.

I slowly bring myself up onto all fours, as traffic flies past me at speed slightly below the sound barrier. It's hard to hear the cars over the ringing in my ears. I can't support any weight on my right hand and I stumble as I try to. I get on my knees and look at my hand. My motorcycle glove is shredded along the knife of my hand and as I see the blood soaking through the pain is transferred to my mind. It burns! Now I know how the girl in the Exorcist felt.

That is gas I smell.

I've been lying in a puddle of gas. My motorcycle stopped sooner than I did and it was laying behind me. My adrenaline kicks in as I get my feet under me. My bike is lying down under the metal barrier I ran into. I go over and pick up my motorcycle. I don't have the strength to put it on it's center stand so I lean it on the barrier and sit down in the grass. It's all coming back to me.

As I was leaving the gas station and merging onto the Autobahn a nondescript silver, or grey two door or four door car decided to change into my lane at ungodly speeds. I had only a split second to make a decision... not a real decision where you can weigh out the pros on cons and consider the consequences. No, this falls into the category of what's going to hurt less? Being hit by a car doing 2000 miles per hour or running yourself into a corrugated metal barrier doing sixty. I didn't have much of a chance to weigh the pros and cons, but at the time the pros of hitting the metal wall was possible life and the cons of being hit by the car was almost certain death. The fact that I'm writing this story now proves that I was at least half right at the minimum.

I don't know how long I sat at the side of the road but it seemed like a lifetime. It's really hard to put time into perspective. I remember when I was still in elementary school the two months of summer holidays would feel like a year. As we grow older the time starts to speed up. Seasons fly past us like a weekend. Years drop like sand through an hour glass. It takes moments like these to reset a person's perspective and to slow time down. The minutes I sat at the side of the highway felt like months.

Elvis is Alive Monument

This nondescript piece of countryside turned into a monument dedicated to everything I've done in life. If I were to erect a sign it would read, "I'm alive! And if you don't believe me, here's the gas station that proves it! signed, Elvis"

When will the bleeding stop?

I decide to be a little more proactive in my first aid. The blood is dripping down my hand and I see some blood seeping through my jeans. I better get the bleeding stopped. Here's a great piece of advice I can pass on. An experienced motorcycle adventurer would already know this but unfortunately I don't fall into this category. Always carry a decent first aid kit in Europe. What passed for a first aid kit at this gas station was incredible. I spent about 60 dollars to buy this huge first aid kit and all that was in it was gauze, gauze, and more gauze. No band-aids, no disinfectant, no wipes. Nothing that could actually help someone who required medical attention. I mean there was a little bit of tape but nothing to clean a wound with. This would be a great kit if you were perhaps shot at short range and you needed to clean the blood up off the floor. What a waste of money.

So I went into the bathroom and cleaned myself up. The wounds weren't too bad, mostly superficial. My leg was throbbing but the adrenaline kept it moving. I didn't want to look at it because I knew it was worse than it felt. This is what it looked like a few hours after the crash.

Elvis' Bruised Leg

I left the washroom looking like someone had slaughtered a small animal in it and I went out to inspect the wreckage. Some scraping on the engine cover, my mirror was gone, the handlebar was shaved down on one side, some scuffs here and there, and a missing tank of gas. I walked the bike back to the gas station parking lot and got my bearings. I primed the engine and decided to try and start the motorcycle. It started instantly and I was so relieved. I shut it off and walked back to the gas station. There is something missing from this story and I'm not sure if you have noticed it yet. I'm the only one in it. This was a busy station with a busy cafe and lots of people in the parking lot but no one seemed to notice me. No one cared that there was an accident. Even the police just drove passed the crash site.

Strange.

Anyways, I went back to the station and bought a couple of beers. It was hot out and I deserved them. I sat next to my bike and drank them. The first one quickly and then I savored the second and third. It was a good day to be alive and that deserves a beer. I also needed some time to consider whether or not I would continue on to Slovenia or if I would turn back and regroup.

I put my gear back on. My helmet had a nice crack in it where it did its job keeping me from dying. I got on my bike and gave it a once around the parking lot. I filled up with gas, and tried the Autobahn again.

The turnpike was a kilometer ahead I could feel the pain in my body as I was starting to seize up. It's not bad enough that my body is broken but I left a bit of my spirit on that road back there. I can't describe the hurt I feel right now.

I turn my signal light on and turn right onto the turnpike...

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On the Road Again

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I figured out a destination for a motorcycle trip and have received permission to travel. It's amazing what can be accomplished with a mapbook, a bottle of Malibu, pineapple juice, a high powered blender, bendie straws, and the only ice making refrigerator in a 20 mile radius.


I have a few tricks up my sleeve and one of them is frozen cocktails. It is impossible to say no to anything when you're drunk on slushee Malibu pineapple drinks. I think that the ice and coconut rum create a temperature that temporarily freezes the part of your brain that makes rational thought possible. It's never been proven empirically, but I have a lot of field evidence that backs up my theory.

Needless to say I am packing up to go to Postonja in Slovenia. There are some famous caves where the human fish lives that I have always wanted to see. It's not even that far away, about 400 kilometers and most of it is freeway. If I don't doddle I can be there in less than 4 hours.... If I don't doddle.


View Larger Map

I'm not going to bother putting my luggage on. I'm only gone for a couple days and I don't mind wearing the same clothes over and over again. I mean, as long as you're not in the same place for more than a day nobody will know you're wearing the same clothes. They will just assume I have poor hygiene if they get close enough to smell me.

The day is brilliant. I didn't get an early start because I needed to pack and get a few things in order before I left. By the time I started this motorcycle tour it was already noon. I rode up to the freeway, grabbed my toll booth ticket, packed it away, and set the tunes in my motorcycle helmet to keep me company on the way. I made a few good playlists the last couple of days while I drank beer on the beach. One of the lessons I learned on my adventure here is that just because your mp3 player can hold a thousand tunes doesn't mean that there are a thousand songs you actually like. It's amazing how a bad song can affect your mood. It's even doubly so if you are like me and you enjoy riding alone. When you are stuck in a helmet with only yourself as company you become a lot more susceptible to sudden mood swings. This is something to keep in mind if you're planning a solo motorcycle tour. In my opinion a good playlist is more important than clean underwear. So I turned on the music (heavily laden with James Bond theme songs) and burned rubber.

I flew to the A1 Autobahn as fast as was comfortable, about 160km/h until I hit traffic. These highways are fairly new and the Croatians are spending a lot of money to add capacity to the tunnels. Unfortunately, this means it can take a couple of hours just to get through a single tunnel if traffic is bad. Today traffic is worse than bad... it's Superbad according to the song playing in my helmet right now. Not being from here I find myself hesitant to split lanes until I see a couple of other bikes blow past me. So just like Sherriff Roscoe P. Coltrane I find myself in hot pursuit. Is that the Dukes of Hazzards theme playing?

Motorcycle Tour Sveti Rok Tunnel

Now this is scary. People in cars have been inching along for hours trying to get through tunnels that are kilometers long. Impatience and claustrophobia are not good traveling companions. Needless to say people are opening their doors trying to hit me and swerving to try and run me off the road. How exciting. I never knew people could be this stupid and mean. It's not like I'm the one slowing them down. Perhaps they recognize my bike and realize that there is a good chance that there won't be any beer left when they get to where they are going.

That's valid!

As one guy tries to rub me into the inside wall of the tunnel I learn that It's a good thing I bought gloves with decent knuckle armor. I also learn that putting my fist, albeit attached to my handlebar, through a side view mirror doesn't hurt that bad. Mind you, the mirror is completely disintegrated. Thankfully I am learning these lessons at 40 kilometers per hour and not 160.

It takes me an hour to get past all this traffic. It's over 40 C outside and the heat coupled with the constant evasion has me pretty tired. I pass the Sveti Rok tunnel and pick up speed again. I see a nice gas station up ahead so I pull in. There are quite a few fellow motorcycle adventurers at the station. I think the last 60 kilometers took their toll on all of us. It's truly enjoyable seeing the looks on people's faces when I pull up on my bike. Now don't get me wrong, I like BMW's. But does anyone in Europe ride anything else on long rides? They have become so 'dime a dozen' over here that I barely notice them. What I do notice though is how much happier,calmer, and more comfortable they appear than myself. That's OK, I'm only a little jealous, but that wears off every time I get an approving look from a fellow biker.

Instead of my typical beer I actually have a coffee at this stop. You heard right! The day was catching up to me and I was feeling a little tired. The nice thing is that I was rewarded with a really good cup of coffee. I stretch up and have some chips that are not nearly as rewarding as the coffee. I remount my motorcycle and head towards the exit to the Autobahn.

One nice thing about Europe is that they make stopping for gas really easy with nice long on and off ramps to the stations. It resembles a pit stop in Car racing.

I pick up speed as I enter the highway.

What the?!?

CRASH..............................

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