Tyndrum to Tuzla Part 1.5

The holiday didn’t really start until we got our respective bikes furtled at the Dalkeith BMW dealership. They were expecting us, so had a bit of a list. Ed, a service and for my Smoggy, replacing bearings and one or two other checks, including my back brake pads. Yeah, I do wear them out now. How’s that happened? Ed did ask how many sets I had gone through. Two sets in a year. Oops. Seems I have discovered what they’re for!

Whilst all that was being done, we did bits and bobs, including going out for lunch with Ed’s Mum & Dad. Jobs done. Tick.

The weather forecast was to be biblical. Ed persuaded me to leave Edinburgh early on the Thursday morning. Ok. 7am with ass on bike is early for me! We headed down the A68. We rode for 2.5 hours. It was 7•. My small gluten free early morning snack was a dim and distant memory. It was cold and miserable. We went to the A68 cafe. I ordered everything that I could get on one plate. I lobbed on another thermal layer and drank another mocha before venturing out into the cold damp morning. Ed gifted me (leant) his over mitts. I grabbed them and put them over my new, dry gloves.

He did give me user instructions. Bless. Mitts and using clutch / front brake. Seems simple? No. Clutch? ok….. front brake, when you normally use two fingers? Not quite so pretty when you ‘give it a handful’. HOLY POOP…. These are pretty darn good brakes when you need to use them and pretty scary when you don’t mean to…. Generally I don’t brake much. Feck. A few furtles later, I have it sorted. Lighter-4-finger-touch developed, must invest in a pair, those and waterproof boots.

South of the Watford Gap, the temperature rises. Heated hand grips switched off. I am glad of my thermal layers up to that point.

We are staying the night in Milton Keynes with Sue, Neal and my lovely god daughter, Fiona. A catch up and a blether over a Chinese dinner set us up nicely. No problem sleeping!

The next part of the journey was as boring as pig shit, however the only way to get to the Chunnel. I would at this point like to thank the hundreds of cars at the Dartford crossing that so gracefully let us filter through the miles of traffic. I don’t envy anyone that has to suffer that traffic on a regular basis.

In the meantime, our travelling companions Paul & Andy left Tyndrum at 7am. Spooky? We all arrived at our accommodation at the same time. The lads were starving, no wonder. We had a snack and later we met up with Marianne our Swiss pal for food and a catch up. All too soon it was bed time. Andy had booked a stupid o’clock train in the morning.

There started the adventure properly:

TYNDRUM TO TUZLA:
Three Porridge Wogs & a Tyke

We all have our bikes well and truly ‘stickered up’ with bright yellow touring badges! Just in scare you can’t work it out, Andy’s the Tyke!

We got to the terminal early and we opted to get the earlier train. Ed, Paul & I had no bother, by the time Andy got checked in, there wasn’t any space left in the same train. Oops! Och well, he just joined the queue with us and hopped on without a problem. Just as well, it could have been awkward. In no time we were in France. That’s when I felt we were really starting our holidays.

Isn’t it amazing how the brain works though; straight away you slip into ‘drive on the right’ mode. I can say I have never had a problem switching to driving on the continent, you do however have to have your wits about you all the time. Expect the unexpected all the time and keep your survival instincts on full alert. It is tiring though, I am always pooped after a day riding on the continent. A good feeling though, bed is generally early!

That day we covered a few countries; France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. Destination Dusseldorf. We ‘hit the town’ a bite to eat then off to a random bar. Paul the shite was feeding us shooters. It was JD which didn’t go very well with my white wine, in the slightest! Ed nearly had to carry me home. I have bruises! I was tucked up in bed at around 11pm, lightweight, Andy & Paul did a great job, early hours and a kebab on the way back to the hotel. Andy found an onion attached to his trainers in the morning, nice!

Just as well the train was the next evening. The hangover was large. It’s always the same at the start of a holiday! Well, sometimes. Luckily we could see the waiting area for the train out the front door of our hotel. You are given a slot to arrive which we duly did. Getting the bikes on the train was another education. Smoggy and I were ok, the lads on the GSA’s had a tight squeeze riding along the lower level of the transporter. You are so busy trying to keep your head down, the first thing you do is smack your helmet off the very low roof when you stop the bike. It’s all pretty slick though, 4 wee tie down straps which you decide where you want them put, bike held in place by metal fixings front and back, then the experts finished the tie down. Satisfied that our pride & joys were being cared for, we headed off to the carriages. Wait a minute, no carriages. There had been an accident earlier in the day which meant a 2 hour delay. Off to Pizza Hut for the crappiest meal ever. Part of the information we were given was there was to be no restaurant car on the train. It was involved in the accident.

Notes for an enjoyable train journey:

Travel light, take as little as possible to your cabin. A pair of knickers & a toothbrush. In Andy’s case, a toothbrush. The carriages sleep 6, you may be bunking up with strangers.

Take water and snacks.

Be prepared to have a disrupted sleep which can be interrupted by sharp braking and going round bends! There are rails on the bunks to stop you falling off onto the floor.

Have a head for heights if you are in the top bunk. Be prepared to smack your head if you’re in the lower ones!

Be prepared for snorers. For once it wasn’t me snoring. Really, I know it’s amazing. Pack earplugs in your minimalist overnight bag. Don’t forget the farts. Oh dear.

It was all worth it for the view in the morning. Austria. Paul’s an early bird, and the pair of us stood in the corridor admiring the view, whilst most of the train still slept. There was something really satisfying about it.

We got breakfast served in our compartment / room / bunk beds. Lots of bread however, I snacked on Nairn’s gluten free biscuits. Sorted. Could have done with a fill up of coffee though!

Getting our bikes off the train I found easier than getting them on. I guess I knew what to expect. Didn’t bump my head this time. Sunshine and a chill in the air. Nice. Long sleeved t-shirt too warm though, had to change. Hello Villach.

Route set, we headed off. Austria, Italy, Slovenia. Thanks Vodafone for keeping track of the countries we were in! Slovenia. DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. Wow. Stunning clean roads, breathtaking scenery, all good. It was as if we were on another planet entirely.

There had to be a drawback. 50mph limit. They are also very fond of a solid white line and the most popular road sign by far was ‘no overtaking’. I would have to say that it was on occasions quite unnecessary. Really. I would have to admit to some *ahem* occasional traffic law infringements. Bugger that, behind a slow moving vehicle doing 30 and the line of sight is clear and it was safe to overtake. Go for it. I only have a 2 week holiday.

The good thing about the steady riding was plenty time to think about cornering techniques and other Roadcraft skills. Quality time spent on the bike. Tried out all sorts of different things. I reckon everyone should ride abroad it does your riding the world of good, makes you pay attention that’s for sure. A distraction going down the coast was definitely right hand bends with the beautiful sea below with no safety barriers. Just don’t look. You’ll end up in the sea.

Our accommodation all the way through has been exceptional and pretty cheap. The food has been very very good too. All the way through to an eclectic Hotel Michele in Sarajavo. Comfy beds are essential, a good breakfast in the morning sets you up for the day. We weren’t that worried about lunch, more attracted to a cooling ice cream. I blame Andy for that one! All the people we have met have been so lovely.

Slovenia was stunning, we didn’t really have much contact with the locals. Croatia have embraced tourism and really look after their country. Lakes, rivers and the sea are the most amazing turquoise colour. Bosnia on the other hand was fairly sad in a lot of ways. A lot of poverty, unfinished buildings (some being lived in, with no doors or windows). Houses that had been blown up in the conflict, some still had bullet marks and there was occasional evidence of mortar attacks. The people were friendly though, especially the team at the Hotel Michele.

Our day trip to Serbia and the adventure there in, have been recorded in my previous blog. That’s us starting to head home now, so I will post soon about that journey when I get home…. We did however go to Tuzla to make sure we did as it said on the sticker! Sorry about the lack of pictures in my blog this time. When I do my next one, I will pop in my favourite images from our trip.

Another day of riding done today. Soaked to the knickers today. As usual I’m ready for my bed early. Paul’s expression is a cracker; ‘I could sleep on a galloping hedgehog’. Brilliant. Ever day’s the same when you’re riding on the continent. Content.

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