Who would have thought a week would whizz by so quickly, yet here we are, Day 7 of the Rally!
We are both still alive, and have not befallen death by either each others’ hand or some other misfortune. That’s not to say we haven’t come close. Kerry’s list of calamities (self induced, not counting Peter’s attempts to kill her with his crazy bikemanship) currently stands as follows:
- twisted ankle falling down steps at Blarney Castle
- bruised bum falling off motorcycle en route to rally
Since Rally start
- bug guts in eye
- friendly nibble (which drew blood) by Australian Cockatoo ‘Rocky’ while having breakfast in Croatia
- bruised arm when she tried to insert her head into the stocks in a Croatian museum, though better of it (they were heavy) and dropped it back into place with hands still in place but too far into the holes
- attacked twice while riding by same killer stinging insect (species as yet unidentified)
But before we get into the juicy details, let’s pick up where we left off, because I’m delighted to report that Dijon has rescued my romantic notions of France which Paris had crushed beneath her dirty boot. Before hitting the road on Tuesday morning, we did a quick walking tour of Dijon (with the aim of buying mustard!) and discovered the most gorgeous, quintessentially French town (based of course completely on my own expectations from years of reading Mills & Boon). It was both exciting and interesting and yes, I got my mustard!
It is the first place on my list of places I would like to go back to and spend more time. One of the great things about the Rally is getting to see so many different places, but we only have time for a snapshot of each location so a ‘redo’ list is essential!
After Dijon we headed for Switzerland . We enjoyed a spectacular ride through the French countryside, which only strengthened my view that capital cities should be avoided – they may be the heart of a country, but head for the back streets and small towns and you’ll find the soul.
What can I say about Switzerland? It was spectacular. I cannot confirm nor deny that I sang the theme song to Heidi as we swept along the sweeping Furka Pass which wound its way up past lakes and glaciers. I was terrified at times riding over cantelever roads and tight corners with no railings! But it was an experience I’ll never forget.
After an exhilarating ride, we headed for Italy. It was on our way that the ‘bug guts’ incident occurred. It was disgusting. Now, I’m somewhat accepting of the fact that I swallow my fair share of flying insects as we ride along in the fresh air. A small price to pay. I also understand that some bigger insects fly into you as you ride along, and although they are innocent, peace-loving creatures they do feel like small missiles being launched at you as they are driven into your face and chest at the speed of light. What I don’t appreciate is a GIANT bug splattered on my face! I mean, EEEEWWWWWW!! I heard this massive whack and the next thing I knew I was peering through magnified bug guts. I was trying to tell Peter through our intercoms that we needed to stop so I could wash off the guts, but I was too scared to open my mouth and yell for help because I could feel guts on my face too, and was scared it might go in my mouth! Eventually he was able to decipher my closed lip pleas for help, and we pulled over to wash up. I’m no princess, but it was bloody awful!
Having recovered from the guts trauma, we commenced our journey. We made it to Verona, Italy, where we spent the night and had awesome, real Italian pizza for dinner. They also have red wine on tap – heaven! The next day we did some exploring in Verona and discovered their amazing coliseum which was being staged for an Opera, and then set out for Venice.
While Peter was keen to visit the sinking city, my sole intention was to acquire a beautiful Italian leather handbag. I had already envisioned myself closing my eyes, handing over my credit card, holding my breath and hoping for the best. However, it was not to be. It was stinking hot, took us ages to park (it’s a walking city – hence the gondolas – so you have to pay a fortune or park miles away), and frankly I was so taken with the City of Love that the handbag was soon forgotten.
After we had sweated it out in Venice (and indulged in some Gelato which was almost as good as the handbag!), we headed for Croatia. To get there, you have to pass through Slovenia, but don’t blink or you’ll miss it! One bonus was that we finally got some stamps in our passports, one leaving Slovenia and another entering Croatia. We hadn’t had any controls until then – this EU ‘freedom of movement ‘ concept is taken really seriously, even we non-EUers are just waved through borders!
By now Peter and I have settled into a routine of sorts. Peter checks Google Maps and I read the road signs. Somehow that has worked to get us this far. We don’t have SIM cards so we use ‘offline’ maps – controlled by a satellite a gazillion miles away, so there can be a delay (but it’s free). If I keep my eye on the road signs and Peter the map, we tend not to get lost too often. Just as well, as at one point I happened to spot a sign which (not in English) appeared to indicate – as we Whizzed onto the highway – that bikes 149cc and under aren’t permitted on the highway. But I wasn’t sure if I’d read it correctly. Just as well I mentioned it as we were stopped at the next toll station and in halting English asked what size our bikes were. Luckily they have no markings, so Peter said “150! 150!” and after a brief inspection we were waved through.
Our Devi on to go through Croatia had two aims. Peter has always wanted to ride down the Croatian coastline, and he also has old friends (who were his neighbours for 40 years in Australia) who now live there. We had an address (unrecognizable by Google Maps) and a phone number (we weren’t sure was correct). We started calling a few days before our anticipated arrival, but only got an automated response. Peter didn’t want to leave a message as he wasn’t sure he had the right number. We scoured the map in detail with the clues of:
- it’s close to the ocean; and
- the incorrect address
and found a street which looked like it may be the right one. So off we went, and arrived to an empty house but one which Peter knew to be the right one when he recognized the dog and Cockatoo which had also made the journey from Australia. We spoke to some neighbours who directed us to other neighbours who knew Romano and Philameno. She invited us in for a much welcomed cold beer, and told us they were not far off. Peter hadn’t told them he was coming, and his arrival was such a surprise. It was a great reunion and lovely to be part of.
We wanted to stay two nights and so the next day we set out to explore Pula. At breakfast, I was introduced to Rocky the Cockatoo who shook my hand and then decided my fingers looked like tasty sausages. A little nip and he was relegated to his cage, but we made friends.
Our day in Pula was extraordinary and it was made so much more interesting to see it through the eyes of locals. At the castle museum, they have kindly set out all the instruments of torture used in medieval times. I slipped my hands into the stocks, then thought I could lift it and put my head in too before Peter got to that point. But it was really heavy so I put it down again not realizing my hands were too far in the tiny armholes and jammed my arm which gave me a lovely bruise.
Today, day 7, was spent meandering down the exquisite Croatian coastline. The water is crystal clear and the beaches are packed with tourists from far and wide. We hopped onto the freeway from time to time, but the views of the coast were simply breathtaking.
My final calamity (so far) happened on the way to Trogir when some sort of stinging creature managed to get under my shirt. I could feel it stinging me and tried to kill it by bashing my torso where it was burning like hell, desperately waiting for a safe place to stop. When we finally found a spot, I half undressed on the side of the road, to make sure it was gone. Our came the first aid kit for some allergex cream for the already swollen welts. About ten minutes later, I felt it again down my back! The bugger was back! We again found somewhere to stop and this time I took my shirt off completely, and standing in the side of the road in this busy tourist visage in my bra, shook out my shirt and made Peter do a full inspection. Alas, the perpetrator was gone!
Tonight we are spending the night in Trogir, and tomorrow will start making our way to Turkey. We are doing well as far as our timeline is concerned so should reach Turkey ahead of time. That means we can either choose a different route from Croatia which takes a bit longer, or we can get a new visa for Turkey so we can enter earlier and spend more time there. But that is a decision for tomorrow.