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Europe 2012 Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, UK, Switzerland

3178 Views 18 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  teizms
Hello folks,

Along with the thousands of pictures that we took during this trip, i am going to slowly try to jot down all the important notes from the trip that i feel will be useful for any one looking to do something similar

Bike Shipping:
Handled by Knopf. Can't stress how crucial Knopf was to our tour. From ensuring that the bike shipping was a seamless process, to arranging paperwork and also providing a solid base-camp. Due to some problems that we faced early in the trip, i can easily say that tour would have stopped abruptly right at the beginning if we had done the whole process via someone else. if you are planing to ship your bike EU - use Knopf - don't even think about any other method.
For reference, we had the bike delivered in FL around the first week of March. We got notices in the middle of April that the bikes were ready for pickup. We arrived mid-May to pick up the bike. Stayed at Knopf for 2 nights (they have rooms and also the option to camp) before departing.

you need to remove the windshield along with the side mirrors. i would recommend bubble wrapping the lights

we sent A LOT of stuff along with the bike so we dont have to carry the tent etc on the flight

new luggage from Konvoi was waiting there for us. full review coming soon

Sinbad refused to behave :(

2 days of working on the bike
Tip: keep you bike clean so you can trace leaks easily. also - send your bike ready to ride. never think that o i will install luggage when i get there. the vendor forgot to send us the mounting plate for the top case and we had to make one on the spot. make sure each and every bike related matter is resolved before you ship the bike. the only thing you can leave for later is changing the battery or a simple oil change.

finally ready to go

made new friends on the way - they are traveling RTW for 2 years

we never manage to cover too much distance in a day cuz we take a lot of lunch breaks

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Dick said:
Hey, Ghazi - you got more pics and text to share. Enjoyed the above and thanks - just wondering about some more good reads and pictures. Best always.
yep a lot more where that came from - hundreds of pics coming up - i am just lazy about writing so its all a slow process :)
Slammer said:
Ae you guys still in continent, sorry, in the continent, no! ON the continent?
You are aware that there are one or two brothers here that would be happy to show you around :wave
part 1 of the trip is over .. it will resume in italy later on !
We headed out the Rhine first. If you are into castles, then this the jackpot. Castles on every turn - some in ruins and some are a little better kept. I think there is hostel in Bacharach castle so that is probably a fun experience. We camped in Mainz.

So some tips on camping equipment: We started with the Redverz Expedition Tent. It seemed just perfect - huge and spacious. We could even change our clothes in it. But the camp never even made it out the Knopf building. It was huge, heavy and took too much space. There is no way we could ride comfortably with that thing - it just kept making me nervous. I am sure that it must be lighter than other camps that offer as much space but feel that this camp is definitely not for moto camping - even though it is positioned as a motorcycle specific camp. Perhaps its not much of a problem when riding solo but two up we just could not make it work. But if you are riding solo then why would you need such a huge camp. I think the intention behind the camp is that is meant for either solo riding - or if you are more than one person then each one has his own bike and you split up the tent parts between yourselves. These comments are just addressing the "carryability" of the tent, i am sure the craftsmanship is top notch. In summary - we bought a new tent from a local moto shop.

The german moto shop: We went to the Louis fun shop to pick up what we needed: a new tent, waterproof cover for the tent and also a cover for the bike. Lets just say that the selection there was top notch and everything was available in stock. i wish that one day Cycle Gear would be like this but thats just a wish as Cycle Gear will soon only carry their own items (bilt, sedici). the prices are very reasonable. if you did not bring something with you, i am sure you can find it here at a reasonable price.

This also goes back to my previous tip of being prepared ahead of time. if we had received our panniers in usa, we would have packed the right amount of stuff and known what all we could carry properly on the bike. Since we did not do that, we had to leave behind a ton of stuff just because we did not have space for it.

Also - a small packable bike cover is one of the best things you can bring along - it keeps your bike away from greedy eyes and is essential to protect your bike from the rain ( something that you are bound to expose your bike to in EU).

the first night we did not have a tent as we left the Redverz behind - the camp owners had a spare tent lying around and asked us to improvise:

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folks i apologize in advance for not going in order of the actual trip - i would rather just talk about what i feel like talking about at the moment of posting

No matter how handsome you are, this is what you look like when you realize that this bottle of water cost 6 euros

hash browns if you ask me - ghaiboncoughon if you ask a german. but then, german food isnt supposed to be the highlight of europe heheh

excited to see moto cop:

so as i mentioned earlier - i may bounce around the trip - so lets forward for a few min to holland where i stopped by another moto shop (motoport). saw some bikes that wont be coming to usa any time soon:

spotted elsewhere

i picked up a battery for the GS here. YUSA - cost around $85 euro. i think these were cheaper in germany.

ketchup is not necessarily free you know - one packet is included in your meal sometimes - check menu for exact components of the meal :rofl

ok back to the trip - we headed to cologne next. they had a (very) nice cathedral there:

the 550 step hike up to the top is not for people who get claustrophobic easily.

believe it or not - we were actually kicked out of a campsite in cologne (more like they would not allow us to extend our stay) because we took too long showers

oh by the way, gas stations here have gloves so you dont spill on yourself

coffee is superb everywhere in eu

it's a bit of random thoughts today - will try to be more organized tmrw :)
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a nice pic from the rhine:

and now back to cologne - the lines between rural and urban are often blurred in europe:

some really cool apartments:

more food :freaky

o yes - the top point of the cathedral is pretty high. though i never really understood the point of paying to "excercise" ??? i.e walk up so many stairs

more good coffee:

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lets head on to belgium:

the most disappointing "monument" ever?

some of the best food in brussels (fries are fried in ox fat)



arabian delights in belgium

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moving on to paris - i just simply fell in love with how scooter, bikes and cycles were integrated into the culture. you see women riding around in dresses and skirt. men riding around in suits. everybody had a cute lil rain cover which looked like a blanked. this truly was an amazing destination in terms on a motorcycle/scooter enthusiast. riding around town in GS was a blast. luckily i found parking right below the apartment i was renting. over the span of the entire week, i had no problems with anyone messing around with the bike - i think have a cover over the bike (tied down properly) really helped.

suits and bikes :)

the piaggio mp3 is extremely popular in paris

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I'm glad you liked my home town !
But remember that Paris is not France...
likee - more like loved:freaky
have not explored france entirely but here are some bits n pieces of the lovely country:

the worlds biggest backpack - spotted in mont blanc

Mont Blanc super tip - for just a lil bit more than the price of the main cable car ride, you can buy the unlimited pass which allows you to ride the rest of the cable cars as well. that is the best value for money but requires you to arrive early in the day. the ride back n forth from mont blanc can take several hours due to the (tourist) traffic and the amount of time you will end up spending at the top. if you arrive after 12, you wont be able to utilize the unlimited pass properly. it is recommend that you arrive in time for the first departure of the cable car (check with them for the timings).

some breathtaking pictures below - keep credit card away while browsing to avoid spontaneous travel plans :)

Annecy - the hidden (???) gem of France - there is nothing like taking a dip in an alpine lake :clap

more annecy pictures coming soon
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The next chapter was Switzerland - which made for some seriously amazing riding and scenery. It truly was an experience.
The experience bit however really was an all-exclusive type as in it included the bike being craned away by the police and a 400 francs fine.

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Switzerland Part 3 - the pictures speak for themselves

we were on this train later

stop and put on the rain suits:

one the most amazing rides ever - through the clouds

actually, i have a video of this segment :)

finally reached lugano
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the photos form Swiss are never-ending

ok so for one of the days, we got the swiss pass and essentially did almost the entire switzerland by train as well.
upon return, the bike was missing. it was 1 a.m. and i guess it must be the police so left the worry for the next day. the next day i walked over the police station and it turns out that the bike was parked on the sidewalk without leaving enough space for the pedestrians. the fine was 120 for the parking ticket and 250 for the towing. ouch!!!!

so be careful where you park.

Switzerland was one country that seriously lived up to the postcards. the scenery and riding was beyond description/photos. however, its expensive and the cheap food sucks. even simpler foods are twice or thrice the regular price for e.g. 13 francs for a McChicken meal!!!
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