Saturday, 27 July 2013


By Sanne

Welcome to Paris - the most expensive city I have ever been to!
As with Rome we stayed in a campground just on the outskirts of the city. Despite the traffic being horrendously busy and jam packed when we rode in, with a little bit of lane-splitting we managed to find our exit to get onto the ring road fairly quickly and off to Bois de Boulogne where our campground was and we set up camp right next to the Seine.

Camping wasn't the cheapest, clocking in at 35 euros a night but it was at least cheaper than a hotel room, which we had initially looked for but given up when we found that hotels with private parking in Paris are virtually non-existent. Again, our bikes are the main priority, they have to be safe, everything else comes after. Luckily the metro system in Paris stretches pretty far so the next day we went out exploring the city.
To be honest Mark was never really that pumped about going to Paris, it was purely due to my insistence that we ended up going. I just felt that when will I ever have a chance to go there again, and isn't it just one of the cities that you have to see before you die?

We walked A LOT that day! But we managed to see most of the major attractions: The Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Jardin des Tuileries, Louvre (we didn't go in), the Seine, Notre Dame, Jardin de Luxembourg and of course: the Eiffel Tower. All of these places are really nice and especially the Notre Dame was really beautiful...but at this point in the trip it is like both Mark and I are a bit over big cities. Whenever we're off the bikes for a few days it starts feeling a bit like we're on a separate, different kind of trip. I feel like we're just "regular" tourists. I think for most motorbike travelers the magic is on the open road, not in the cities.

The next day we met up with Jenny, Mark's cousin, who was on holiday from Australia. We both hadn't seen her for 9 years! It was awesome to see her and hang out and we had (expensive) beers under the Eiffel Tower. Jenny, poor girl, had an unfortunate firsthand encounter with the Parisian Man. On her way home on the metro a man actually masturbated in front of her! However shocked she was by this experience, the thing she was most shocked about was that he had been so good-looking!
We went to see Jim Morrison's grave which was a lot smaller and unimposing than I had expected. I had half expected to also find hippies high on LSD dancing around with flowers in their hair, but yet again I was disappointed to just find a few other tourists. Guess I live in the wrong decade.

We couldn't leave Paris without taking the bikes around the Arc de Triomphe roundabout so on the day we left we rode up Champs Elysees, took some photos, braced ourselves and forced ourselves onto the biggest roundabout we have ever been in. It has no lanes but can fit about 8 cars side by side and you give way to traffic coming onto the roundabout! But we managed to get around it without getting caught in it National Lampoon style.

Paris is no doubt a beautiful city with some impressive historic buildings and gardens (the gardens being my favourite part), but somehow we never really managed to get a "feeling" of what this city is really about. I didn't enjoy it as much as Rome or other cities I have been to, and this surprised me a little, as I had always expected it to be amazingly spectacular and the most romantic city in the world. I didn't find that to be the case, but hey, that's just my impression. I'm happy I have now seen it, but I'm not in a hurry to return any time soon.

Our bikes at the Arc de Triomphe

A look up Champs Elysees

 Mark in the Jardin des Tuileries

The Louvre

The Seine

Notre Dame

Jardin de Luxembourg

 The Eiffel Tower

Jim Morrison's grave

Le Moulin Rouge

Sacre Coeur

 Mark and his cousin Jenny looking over Paris from Montmartre

 Me and Jenny with our pimpin' new rides!

 Petit Palais

Appealing to Mark to take us shopping - with no success


Chillin' at the Eiffel


Wednesday, 24 July 2013


By Mark

We decided to take the motorway to Amsterdam all the way from Luxembourg. 450kms of hell to me. We both knew that if we tried to take the minor roads it would have taken us two days to get there.There was a bonus however, no tolls on the motorway.

We had arranged to meet with Iaonnis at his workshop: at 6pm and we managed to arrive right on time for a change. Our change in direction for Amsterdam was all to do with the motorcycles running poorly and needing some much needed maintenance and had nothing to do with the fact that marijuana and mushies etc are so readily available and legal (kind of).

My first few days revolved around getting up early and heading to the workshop with Iaonnis to sort out a few issues with the bikes. It had been a while since we have had any major work done on them.  Iaonnis worked on them in Greece last year so he knew what was needed to be done and had already pre-ordered some parts for us. Sanne’s bike was up first and it was severely in need of a new set of rings, along with a new set of seals that fit around the front driveshaft where it had been leaking sporadically for quite a while now. We also replaced all fluids, lubed and adjusted everything that moves, we measured disc thicknesses and valve clearances and we were happy to find no major problems at all. Iaonnis was impressed at the bikes overall condition especially now that the odometer reading is in excess of 75000 kilometres, 65000km’s of those have been on this journey. My bike had similar issues but the rings were fine as they had been replaced last year in Greece. Just a few electrical things needed to be tidied up. Luckily all the parts we needed were in stock and we had time up our sleeve to take our time to look over everything.

I enjoyed the daily routine of heading off to the workshop, firstly having a brew, checking emails etc, then get stuck in to working on the bikes. There was still one major thing to solve: the carb on my bike, previously Sanne’s. It has been troublesome for some time now and I had hoped to get it sorted at last. So we pulled it out again and cleaned, inspected it, swapped parts off the other carby put it back in again and repeat. Sadly though we were getting nowhere.  Iaonnis said we will just have to put it on the dyno to get a better look at where the problem is exactly. Cool if that is what is needed let’s do it I said! Really, I just wanted to see how much horsepower the old girl still had in her. Surprisingly quite a bit. Out of the factory the bike has an arm wrenching 40hp, now 6 years old and many km’s on she is still packing 38hp on the rear wheel. Yeah I know all you guys out there are having a laugh with your big bikes but all in all I couldn’t be more happy with how these little bikes have performed on such a long journey and with still many, many kilometres to go. I am sure with regular upkeep they will keep going strong.

When we had finished the work on the bikes we finally had time to check out the sights of the city. I would like to go into detail of how much fun we had here but my mind is still kinda hazy and having troubles recollecting what we did. There were many late nights and sleeping in came easy. I know one thing, Amsterdam is one of my top 3 favourite cities in Europe along with Berlin and Barcelona. If it was not for the terrible weather that plagues this place most of the year I could easily find myself fitting in there. Luckily for us we were in Amsterdam on a good week when the weather was at its best and temperatures in the mid-twenties.

We checked out all the usual sights and would have loved to hire a boat for a day to float around the canals but with our tight budget we could only afford a pedal boat, but that was  good enough for me. We still got to see the city by the water and at our pace and where we wanted. And we were not mingling with the throngs of tourists who had flocked here on the crowded tourist boats.

One of the best things was that Iaonnis lives in a really cool apartment very close to the city in the suburb of Jordaan. A very hip and cool place away from the main tourist areas so we got to have a taste of local life, only downside was the cost of living here, it was not cheap to eat out so we had a routine of going out during the day and return in the evening to cook before heading out to a bar or to catch up with Mary Jane in the evening. We had met up with her on previous occasions but those encounters seemed to be more regular here in Amsterdam.  We would find her at a bar, then out on the street and in all the cafes.  As each day passed I was finding it harder and harder to tear myself away and our departure date was getting put back. There was a reason of course and it was that my cousin was in France and I was really hoping to meet her in Paris. She would be the first person out of my friends and family that we finally had the possibility of catching up with on this trip.

The Workshop

Iaonnis and I trying to think of what to do next with the carburetor

Sanne's bike getting a new set of rings fitted

A bit of open heart surgery 

My bike ready for a tune up on the dyno machine

The shaded tree-lined canals are picture perfect

Just a few of the many houseboats on the canals

It's very popular to get out on your boat on the canals on the weekend

We got in on the action with our little paddle boat!

I wish we had had one of these though!

There are so many weird and wonderful buildings, many lopsided due to subsiding

This is a cat sanctuary set up for street cats and dumped ones hoping for a new life

Not a bad life for them now

Couldn't come to Amsterdam without checking out this place

Or this...

Some interesting things inside the museum

And my favourite:

And we paid a visit to the Red-light district (although not to this particular venue!)

Hanging out at Ioannis' place