May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind blow always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
Until we meet again
So goes the old Irish Blessing.
Ireland, the soft green place of damp air, great learning, amazing friendliness and intense struggle
Monument to Irish immigrants
The Irish diaspora spread all around the world
The contrasts of Ireland so stark
From the halls of Trinity College
To the murals that are are a record of the troubles found in Derry
And of course the contrast is an actual divide
The north and the south, the Republic and the British
Can this divide be overcome?
People of good will can achieve anything
Peace statue Derry
And on the border of Derry and Donegal bikers from both of the border come together to raise funds for a lifeboat in a little village in the Republic
Mizen Head is the most southern most point of mainland Ireland
As good as place as any to start the Wild Atlantic Way
They even give you a starting line
The route winds up the west coast
Through foggy Irish mist
Over mountains with wonderous views
Mountains where Irish legends such as Finn Mc Cool sat.
A coast where there are fishing villages both small
With cliffs towering out of the sea
Relics of stone age and Celtic history dating back 5000 years
Quintessential Irish pubs
And then at the end
After 6 days of challenging riding
At Malin Head the most northern point of mainland Ireland
They provide a finish line
Jutting out into the Atlantic
Brittany has much in common with the Celtic cousins in Cornwall and Ireland
The quaint seaside ports also along the coastline
Reflecting the Brittany’s place as Frances finisterre (lands end)
Brest it’s major city
With its ancient citadel apon the hill
A long maritime history
And beautiful beaches
By Brest in Brittany I realised nearly 10,000 km of mainly mountain riding had taken its toll on the front tyre
The left hand side had totally worn out.
But it was holiday time in France.
The Moto Guzzi dealer was shut for holidays.
The big parts store had a tyre but the mechanic was on holidays.
I was searching my phone to find another store
Then divine intervention
This young lady comes out of the store and says “follow me”
Who was I to argue as she climbed onto he Kwaka 1000.
She let me around the back streets of Brest to the Kawasaki dealer
The only shop that was open over the holiday period.
It was kisses all around. A bit of quick French I didn’t understand
Then I was told to take the bike into the workshop and choose the tyre I wanted.
Had to have the pirelli angel to match the divine intervention
Piece of fence chain
Nicely sharpened by being dragged behind a wedding car
Then fallen off on the road to await its victim
The mighty breva II
The sharpened chain slashed the tyre and flew up breaking the rear lens and numberplate cover
The plug that couldn’t last the distance
Need for rescue
Wow now wasn’t that wise to buy European recovery insurance.
Pete and Vikki, fellow guzzista who run a BnB in France
Pete also runs Reboot Guzzi Spares
So wonderful Carole Nash agreed to put me in a hotel for the night and transport myself and the mighty breva the 200 odd km to Pete and Vikki’s Fortified Farm.
Which was my intended destination.
Pete had a near new tyre off a breva in his shed and a lens in stock.
So the next day the might breva was ready to roll. But I was not ready to leave Vikki’s fabulous food and the fantastic company quite yet.
Pete and Vikki’s BnB
One of the reasons you own a Guzzi was encapsulated in Pete’s words when I thanked him for all his help.
“well we are all part of the Guzzi family.”
As it turned out another guzzista from Melbourne arrived that night. 15,000 from home in the middle of France I was drinking red wine with a bloke that lives just the other end of Melbourne from me.
Its a small but special guzzi world.
But not a drop to drink
So it was set camp
And taste the fine wine and unique blend of French and Bavarian cuisine.
In the wonderful medieval charm of Riquewihr, in the Alsace
At La Grappe D’or
What is it about Switzerland that takes my breath away
The amazing vistas across the lakes
Amazing mountain passes like the old San Gotthard pass with its cobblestone surface
And party atmosphere at the top
Or village of Gletch where the Furka, Grimsel and Nufenen passes all converge
Maybe it’s the white Glacier topped mountains
Or is is the amazing biker culture that see riders of all types out enjoying the Alps
The goulash soup at the resturaunt at the top of Nufenen pass comes close
But maybe it’s the subtle heartfelt welcome that is so Swiss that makes one say ahhh
The beautiful big expanse of water
Baked hot in the mid July sun
It spans the border I to Switzerland
But it’s so Italian
James Bonds amphibious car
The exuberance of the Italian language
Talking with the hands
The language almost a song.
On a hot day in July on Lago Maggoria
Worth a kings ransome
The Kings hunting ground
Gifted to the people in 1922
Italy’s oldest national park
Nestled at the end of the Conge Valley
In Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost he regrets the loss of innocence and in some ways the loss of beauty to sin and greed.
Gran Paridiso is the opposite to that natural beauty returned to the people.
A hot run across the Spanish border
Roads lined this plane trees in the Midi Pyrenees
And on to Carcassonne
Relic of the Cathar Dream
Survivor of the Cathar Wars.
Bastion of the past
Standing on the hill
Survivor of centuries
Weathered wall the keepers of secrets through the ages
The ancient citadel on the hill
The citadel dressed up for the Tour d’ France
It well hold its secrets to the sun sets over it for the last time.