Friday, July 22, 2011

Europe Motorcycle Trip

At the start of the summer this year, I took a motorcycle trip through the Alps in Europe. I started in Italy, went to France, up into Switzerland, into Austria, down into Slovenia, into Croatia, then back into Italy, down to Rome and was done.

Facebook Photos

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I had 3 Trip goals:
1. Get there
2. Drive and take pictures everyday
3. Arrive back in the states with all limbs intact

The Format of Travel

I would wake up around 9:30 after getting about 8 to 10 hours of sleep. I would use the
internet and cache Google maps for the area I was heading to. I'd check email, maybe send a few replies then leave. My routes were not really planned, but I would know the general direction I wanted to go. I would confirm every once in a while to make sure I was going the right direction. Sometimes I chose the city I was going to and even the hostel before I would leave (it was important to do that before I left since I didn't have internet or phone once on the road), sometimes I would just go and find a hostel or a random hotel when I got to my destination. I'd check in at my destination between 7 and 11pm, park and unpack the bike, relax, and ask around to find some dinner. Sometimes I would miss lunch, but I always ate a good dinner.

I would get gas about every 230-300 km, always filling up to brim (you never know when you'll need that extra gas). I almost ran out of gas a few times. I carried everything essential in small tank bag (purse) that I took with me when I left the bike. I would leave my coat, helmet, and other clothing bags strapped on bike. I packed 4 sets of cloths and a variety of other items: 3 travel shirts,1 travel pants, 2 going out shirts, 1 going out pants, 6 pairs of socks, 4 underwear, gym shorts, a swim suit, winter jacket and spring jacket, winter gloves and light gloves. I used pretty much everything except my rain coat. I didn’t bring a laptop, just my iPhone. If I did it again I would get an international phone, SIM card, and minutes. There are many times I wanted to use a phone and it would have been very handy and removed quite a bit of stress. I learned to follow my intuition pretty closely for gas, roads and weather. It was amazingly helpful and right most of the time. Amazing!

Many of the Lessons Learned
  • Wine and beer is free on international flights
  • Never send out the rookie chef send the king chef
  • International travel is not for pussies
  • Alps by motorcycle is for the insane
  • Europe by hostel, train and city walking is a cake walk compared to motorcycle distance travel
  • Friends make friends spend more money
  • When traveling for long periods of time: don't book your return ticket till you are ready to home, having it makes you home sick
  • For really long trips take someone with you
  • Trust your intuition with travel: when to stop, eat, when to leave.
  • Having cash of the right currency in your pocket gives you a sense of security
  • Always have at least 100-150 bucks of appropriate currency in your wallet. Always!
  • ATM's are your best friend
  • Credit cards don't always work
  • French and Italian women are beautiful
  • If you travel a long time, don't rent something, just buy a bike
  • Traveling Europe long distance and bike rental is very expensive
  • Always check the map before you pass through the toll
  • Tolls are REALLY expensive
  • Gas is approx 2-3x more expensive per gallon in Europe
  • Always double lock your bike
  • In Rome (Italy in general) watch for thieves and pickpockets
  • Don't order American-like food, its not that good. You're better off picking something random you don't know than the American standard
  • In France: get gas before noon or from 2:15 to 8pm in the evening otherwise everything closes… and you ain't going anywhere
  • When stopping on a hill just use the kill switch and the leave bike in gear. It's safer and faster
  • Stopping in the autobahn emergency lane is just fine
  • Grease your chain every 1000km, especially with rain
  • Rent a smaller lighter bike with good 1-4 gear ratios on mountain roads. Corners will be easier if you have more power in the lower end
  • When on mountain roads it's all about accelerating out of the corner
  • Going up a mountain road start wide, check road and complete the corner.
  • Going down, you can start wide and make the corner or you can cut the corner
    short, check traffic and then make a wider corner
  • Tires on motorcycles make a HUGE difference. Having good new tires is so important on a motorcycle
  • On motorcycle trips you have to have a balance between trust and security
  • Don't gamble on security with important items like your passport and wallet
  • Don't drive ahead of what you can see
  • Break hard and early
  • Drive extremely defensively in traffic; remember to get out of the way
  • French and Italian drivers are super crazy
  • The Swiss do lots of maintain and invest into there country, not many people immigrate to Switzerland
  • Italians are very generous and kind folk
  • When in doubt, if you see something interesting, just stop (you won't see it again)
  • Be decisive: take the picture, stop to eat lunch, take that side road, go up that mountain, say hi to that person. By the time you finish thinking about it, the opportunity will be gone
  • When navigating in Europe, always know the next few cities on your path then follow the signs. Road names are useless
  • Traveling solo is SO much faster then with people. Decisions are MUCH quicker
  • When traveling: Trust God, he is real, and his angels will be there. There are many times when you will feel lost,hopeless,and afraid. Just smile and pray

Quote of the trip "I am so screwed"

I am pretty sure I said that sentence at least 100 times. Oh the stories. I thank God every time.